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unmerged(59077)

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1. Lusty, lazy and indulgent. Sounds perfect.

2. Amen to the aesthetical improvements to map borders!
 

General_BT

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Glad to see another Basil is poised to kick some butt, and that ugly Anatolian anomaly has been rectified!
 

Cecasander

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RGB - Yes, a shame she didn't live very long. Lots of potential intrigue could have come from that woman :p

asd21593 - Thanks :)

General_BT - You know, I already hoped Basil would be the one of the three brothers to survive and rule. With a name like Basileios as a Roman Empire, what could go wrong?
 

J. Passepartout

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That is indeed a much nicer border. I would be interested to learn a little more about church politics here if it is possibly relevant. It looks interesting.
 

Enewald

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Beautiful maps!!! :eek::cool:
What be happening to the local turkmen?
 

volksmarschall

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Another fantastic update! It would appear as if tensions are mounting ever more rapidly between the Turks and the Byzantines.

Take back the Levant! ;)
 

Cecasander

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Sorry for the inactivity, but I got a lot of school work going on. Next week is my autumn break, so I should be able to catch up. I'll try make it worth the wait ;)

J. Passepartout - That's a good question, I don't really know yet. I intend to cover the religious aspect in a future lecture, but I really need to story the Patriarchate before that

Enewald - Thanks! The Turks mostly stay where they are so far, although some small areas are already getting recolonized by the Greeks. Can't remember which province it was, but it's south of Heracleia and Sinope :p

volksmarschall - Well, the Levant lies in my grasp. The Turks, in particular, are quite an... elusive bunch though.
 
Last edited:

Cecasander

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Pottericon.jpg

When it became Thursday again, the weather had completely turned around. Most of the snow had melted by now, and if I was to believe the weather forecasts, the spring would be coming any day now. And in fact, the thick grey blanket of clouds that had covered the city for weeks had been broken up in countless cute and fluffy sheep-shaped clouds scattered around a bright blue sky. It was good to feel the sun again, and to leave your scarf at home.

Due to our busy and incompatible schedules, Kalina and I only met again Tuesday morning, when we agreed to study in the faculty’s library. Apparently she didn’t get the job she applied for – she said it was as a store clerk in one of the pottery shops, but she was very vague about it – and I told her I would ask around for her. As my grandfather had paid for my entire education, including rent, and my parents would pay me ten thousand Drachma a month for food and clothing, I never really had to worry about money. At times like these it was actually kind of embarrassing. Our study session was cut short by a sudden fire drill, and after that Kalina had to go to the archaeology department. We wouldn’t meet until we both sat next to each other in the lecture hall. Professor Doxiadus was apparently ready for his lecture, as he looked anxiously around the lecture hall from behind the lectern. Professor Bokova sat next to the lectern with a smirk on her face. Judging from the crowd, she had brought her pupils again. At precisely half past five Doxiadus would ask one of the students to close the door, and he would project a very colourful map on the screen behind him.


TheLevant1230.jpg

“Well then. Welcome everybody, it’s good to see so many have showed up again. I must warn you in advance, as today’s lecture is going to be quite long. I’m really sorry about this, but if we go along you’ll see why this is. And I also think you won’t get bored. A lot of stuff is going to happen in the years following 1230, when our Emperor Basileios III has definitely left childhood and would continue to rise as one of the greatest Roman Emperors of the middle ages. And by ‘greatest’ I don’t necessarily mean that he killed the most people who didn’t agree with him, as seems to be the standard for ranking Roman Emperors. Although, now I think about it, he might have done that too.”

We laughed. Apparently Professor Doxiadus has his groove back.

“But first I will give you a short overview of the area that is now best known by later Latin name ‘Levant’, but was at time times known by a multitude of names. Syria, Palestine, the Holy Land, Oultremere by the crusaders…It was a patchwork of crusader states and bigger and smaller Arabian emirates and sultanates. Almost one and a half century of fighting has in fact not brought the crusades to a close, although the heaviest conflicts had died out. Time and again the Arabian lords would seem resistant to Christian attacks, but the Christians would also be surprisingly tough to remove by the weakened Arabs. So in 1230 there was an uneasy armed peace. We’ll start with the Arabs. In light green on the map is the Ayyubid Sultanate of Egypt, ruled by Muhammad Habib, the son of Saladin. Like his father, Muhammad neither had much luck driving the Christians from the Holy Land, nor to bring the former emirates back to Ayyubid rule. Which brings us to the yellow area, ruled by Najib Seljuk. For this is nobody else but the Sultan of Rûm. If you remember previous lectures, the strategoi had brought the Sultanate of Rûm from ruler of central Anatolia to the ruler of a tiny mountainous region called Toron. From there, however, young Najib would inherit the powerful Emirate of Damascus, previously a key vassal to the Ayyubids but now a sultanate of its own. This not only weakened the Ayyubid rule in the Levant, but also gave the Seljuk Turks another change. And finally there is the area in dark green, which is the Emirate of Edessa. The Emir of Edessa, Sulayman, had been a vassal of the Ayyubids when he had been a teen, but when Muhammad Habib’s power began to wane after his ascend to the throne, he renounced his loyalty. When the Sultan was unable to take Edessa back, the two men instead forged an alliance and in fact a friendship. Soon after that, Sulayman scored one of the only Arab victories of the Third Crusades by taking Baalbek and the fabled Krak des Chevaliers from the Knights Hospitaller.”

“Secondly, we have the Christian lords of the Levant. There is the Roman Empire in purple, which needs no introduction ofcourse. One interesting detail is that this map shows the possession of Safed. Safed was originally nothing more than a trade post on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee when the then-independent prince of Cyprus, Isaakios Komnenos, provided financial and material aid to the Latin Crusaders at the dawn of the Third Crusade. By this time the holdings had grown extensively, and it had gained the status of archontia under the auspices of the theme of Cyprus. Secondly there’s the seemingly ever-present Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. Its current king is Krikor III of the Rubenid dynasty, and it had managed to gather some Armenian holdings south of the Kaukasus, in the area of the present autonomous republic. It was mostly docile though, and had not fought an actual war for the past century. Then there’s the Kingdom of Jerusalem, in red on the map. The man who rules the Kingdom of Heaven is also the one who’s on the throne of England and Ireland; Hugh Angevin. Hugh would later be known as Hugh the Heretic for completely discarding the ruling hand of the pope and the knightly orders in the Holy Land, but truth being said he was a decent ruler and a good commander. Some of his former vassals renounced their loyalty though – they are shown in orange – which would slowly weaken Hugh’s rule in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is not important to today’s lecture, though, so I’ll let that pass until a later moment.”

“Sir, what’s the brown area north of Baalbek?” one of professor Bokova’s students asked.

“Those are the Hashshashins, lads. I covered them in the introduction lecture, three weeks ago. They’re basically murdering fanatics who want the Isma’ili, Shi’ite Fatamids to rule Egypt again, and have the Latins kicked out. I’ll refer to you Professor Okur’s Islamic History class again for more about that. I’ve heard he’ll also start a Shi’a Islam course soon, for those interested.”

“… Right… Okay, thanks sir,” the student said a bit confused. Apparently professors didn’t plug the courses of other professors in lectures at the archaeology department.

Two maps appeared, showing the invasion into the Levant


LevantInvasion1230-31.jpg

“The invasion into the Ayyubid Levant started in August 1230. It should be said that the operation was one of the logistic marvels of its time. For it was the first time in several decades that so many thematoi would be raised. The invasion was planned to start in summer, so the first forces could capture the passes over the Taurus Mountains before the first snow. After that, the themata would be raised in stages, and would march cross across Anatolia across these safe passes into the Levant. The first armies were the Imperial thematoi, raised in Phrygia and commanded by the Megas Domestikos, Mavros Meschos. His aid-de-campagne was Romanos Argyropoulos. Argyropoulos acted as the representative of Basileios III, as the Emperor would lead his Constantinople themata to the Levant only in the next spring. The first army was joined by the army of the archontia of Melitene, thus having the strength of a full thema – around 8800 men. When the passes were captured after little fighting, and Meschos marched on to Aintab, the themata of central Anatolia were raised and directed over the Taurus Mountains. The first goals of the Imperial army were the ancient cities of Aleppo and Antioch, the two key cities in the Ayyubid Levant. When the Megas Domesikos had reached the gates of Aleppo in early December, his army had grown to nearly 15.000 men. Until then, Muhammad Habib Ayyubid had not been able to put up an effective defence. When Aleppo fell three days after Christmas, Mavros Meschos believes to have already won the war.”

“The tides began to turn when the Megas Domestikos steered his main army west, towards Antioch. A smaller force had been directed south to secure the desert strongholds between Aleppo and Palmyra. A large Arabian relief force had been raised in the Ayyubid holdings in Mesopotamia, however, and it had marched through the Syrian Desert had had picked up other conscripts in Palmyra and Homs. Although the expeditionary force managed to reach Homs, its strategos faced an army four times its size, and decided to return to the stronghold of Hama which guarded the road to Aleppo. Desert raiders slowly broke down the expeditionary force, but it reached the stronghold before the Arabian army – led by the sultan himself – could strike them. Strategos Arkadios – strategos of Anatolia – fortified Hama and then faced five months of continuous raids and siege warfare against the Ayyubid sultan. Meanwhile, the Megas Domestikos faced also great opposition at Antioch. Although the first phase of the siege against the city had been going prosperous, the young energetic Emir of Cyrenaica had landed on the coast with an army. Soon the Arabs had retaken the area between the city and the sea, and successfully reinforced and supplied the city by boat. As a result, the siege would last through the spring, and the Megas Domestikos could only close off the city again after reinforcements marched through the passes again.”

“The winter of was a critical one, with the Roman empire being stopped and even attacked on two fronts. It was only in late March that the relief force marched towards Aleppo. This force, counting 26.000 men, was led by the strategoi of Nicaea and Charsianon. While the Nicaean thema was sent to strengthen the siege on Antioch, strategos Maximos Doukas of Charsianon force-marched his army to help strategos Arkadios at Hama. By that time, the defending force had shrunk to a thousand battle-hardened men, fighting off around four thousand fresh Arabian raiders. The thema of Charsianon would tilt the balance though, and on April 12 sultan Muhammad Habib Ayyubid would be forced to retreat. The Roman army, under dual command of Arkadios and Maximos, would chase the sultan south of Homs and would finally defeat and kill him in the Battle of Homs, exactly one months later. The capture of Homs finally turned the tide against the Arabs on the southern front, but did not stop desert raiders to continue harassing the Imperial Army until the final fall of Palmyra the next December. Antioch would finally fall in May, but soon after the Emir of Cyrenaica landed another army on the shores and it would not be until the August that the Megas Domestikos was on the move again. Mavros Meschos marched his armies south, into the mountainous region of Archa. The area had the homeland of the infamous Hashshashins, but when the Roman armies took their holdings they were mostly abandoned. From Archa the armies in Homs could be reinforced, and in October a final push would be made.”

“The final Ayyubid forced had fortified them in Palmyra and Asas. They had been reduced to about four thousand men, however, against a Roman army that had about seven times as many men. Most of these Arabian forces were also disorganised after the death of Sultan Muhammad Habib at the Battle of Homs. It would be until Christmas until the final Arab forces retreated though, another month until Zayed – the exiled Emir of Aleppo – signed a treaty of surrender on behalf of the seven year old sultan Bashir. The sheiks of Hama and Asas had already submitted to the Imperial Army before that. The two sheiks would swear loyalty to Basileios III, and promised to convert to Christendom, when the Emperor visited Aleppo in March. And with that, the Levant campaign finally came to an end. The conquest came at a hefty price, as the Arabs had proven themselves though opponents. Many lessons were learned though, both by Basileios as well as his strategoi. And these lessons would soon pay their dividend. But first… it’s time to get some coffee. I can see you all need some rest. I surely will!”

Professor Doxiadus left the lectern and walked to the front row to have a chat with Mrs. Bokova, apparently. Kalina and I got our coffee and settled ourselves next to the coffee machine as it appeared to be the only place the others wouldn’t want to stand.
“Little too much for you?” “Come again?” It was as if I awoke from a trance. “The whole war talk? It was kinda long, didn’t you think?” Kalina asked me. “No, well… yes, but I don’t mind those. They’re just a little repetitive, summing up battles and people, he just sounded like Sisinis.” “Ah! So Doxiadus is finally boring you,” Kalina said teasingly. “No, not really. Unlike Sisinis, Doxiadus knows when to stop for coffee.” We laughed, and finished our coffee. It was only then, when I had my evening caffeine boost, that I realised how tired I had been that day. We want back to the lecture hall, and I noticed Doxiadus and Bokova still talking. Apparently the professor didn’t need his coffee so much. A minute later, he went to close the door, and then stood behind the lectern again.

“Alright, so we left with Basileios and the Imperial Army made a hard victory on the Ayyubids by taking Syria. The Ayyubid Sultan, Muhammad Habib, had been killed on the fields near Homs, and he had been succeeded by his son Bashir. Bashir was only seven at the time, so the power had mostly fallen to the most powerful of the Sultan’s vassals, the Emir of Cyrenaica. Because of this, and ofcourse because of the loss of Syria, the Ayyubids power center shifted and were no longer any treat to the Romans. Basileios himself had moved to Syria directly after the campaign to watch over the new Arab vassals in Hama and Asas. He would also, together with Romanos Argyropoulos, oversee the first stages of what would become the conversion of the people of Syria to its original Christian believe. This would eventually lead to the official reinstallacion of the Patriarch of Antioch, which would in the future create new troubles between the newly conquered lands and Constantinople. Or rather, the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Antioch, with poor Romanos Argyropoulos getting trapped in the middle. But that is a matter for a future lecture. For now, Basileios and a part of his court had taken lodging in Antioch, while the first Christian churches would be built around this time. On a darker note, Basileios also produced his first bastard child in Antioch, a son whom he would name after Romanos Argyropoulos. In the meanwhile, Prokopios, which is ofcourse Basileios mother and the old Queen-Regent, had once again taken up managing the court in Constantinople together with the Emperor’s young wife Glykeria. With the war so war away, and the realm every-expanding, the Imperial capital was booming. Next Tuesday we’re going to cover mid-13th century Constantinople in the afternoon workshop, and you will see what I mean. Artists and craftsmen had in fact slowly replaced soldiers and beggars in the city streets as the wars of reconquest continued.”

Two new coloured map came up on the screen.


Levant1234-1235.png

“The next war would start in the spring of 1234, and in fact would not be started by the Romans. As I told earlier, the Seljuk Turks had survived the early conquest of Anatolia by seeking sanctuary in the rugged land of Taron. The latest Seljuk Sultan, Najib, would inherit the Emirate of Damascus though, and thus gained a new power base. After the conquest of Syria, Najib and his friend Suleyman of Edessa believed the Romans were at a weak point. Najib had decided to strike from his old stronghold in Taron, and try to either conquer or bribe the eastern edge of the Empire. This area was mostly inhabited by Turks and Armenians, who weren’t very fond of Emperor Basileios and his expansionist ambitions. In May 1234, he therefore invaded the easternmost area of the Empire, Vasparakan, quickly overwhelming the local garrisons and taking the territory. The local archon of Mesopotamia was killed, and for a moment the Imperial army in the eastern lands were in complete disarray. But very soon after, the 12-year old son of the archon of Mesopotamia, Konstantinos Gourzoubathenos, managed to rally the forces and readied them on the road to Taron. When Mavros Meschos came to the east with an army, he allowed the boy to ride with him, and they would free Vasparakan and conquer Taron together. Meanwhile Emir Najib had decided to march his main army into Syria, hoping to keep the armies there occupied while either Najib’s commander in the north – Jarib - or Suleyman of Edessa would turn the tide against the Megas Domastikos. Sadly for Najib, his friend was simply too scared of the Romans, and his loyal commander was outnumbered four to one. Najib’s Syrian army would be stopped by Nizamaddin of Asas, an Arab no less. After his defeat, the army would be chased down south by fresh troops from Antioch and Homs, led by Basileios. It was only July, less than three months after Najib invaded, that Basileios besieged Damascus and forced the Seljuk Sultan to hand over his northern holdings.”

“It was only because Basileios believed that Damascus’ distance from Constantinople would be a problem, that the Seljuks were again spared. Who were not spared was Suleyman Bira, the Emir of Edessa. He did not take up arms against the Emperor, sure, but he had shown himself to be an enemy of the Empire too now. And perhaps even more importantly, Edessa was situated very strategically between Syria and the eastern holdings of the Roman Empire. It was therefore no surprise to anyone – especially not to Suleyman of Edessa himself – that his land was invaded the next spring. Basileios had still kept most of his army on war footing, and could therefore basically invade the Emirate of Edessa from all sides once the snow melted. The conquest of Edessa might be called the antithesis of the conquest of Ayyubid Syria four years earlier, as Suleyman’s resistance was mopped up in weeks by an army about six times its size. The only pocket of real resistance was the city of Edessa itself, where the Megas Domestikos, Mavros Meschos, would get seriously wounded during the final assault on the stronghold. The most interesting issue about this war might be that when Basileios came to the town of Bira to demand Suleyman’s surrender, he in fact offered vassalage to the kneeling Emir and would allow the Emirate of Edessa to continue existing as a de facto, native-ruled themata.”

“Why Basileios gave the Emir a second chance as a vassal is not very well understood. Some historians believe that the Emperor had needed a strong and loyal vassal in the Arabian lands, who knew the customs and culture and had the support of the people. Others simply believe the Emperor had nobody at his court who he trusted enough to govern these areas. And although the de jure power of Suleyman would be limited by the establishments of the themata of Edessa and Mesopotamia, he gained real power as the de facto leader of the half dozen Arabian rulers who had sworn loyalty to the Roman Empire. So in fact, the vassalization of the Emirate of Edessa is often seen as a definite mark in the policies of the Empire. For with these conquests, the Empire extends beyond it’s fairly recent boundries, and it has to control an area of people who have neither really considered themselves Christians not Greeks. Basileios hoped to counter the feelings of foreign imperialism by keeping the loyal leaders and hierarchies in tact. But this also brings new risks, but we’ll come back to that at a later lecture.”

The screen now showed the familiar yellow and white themata map. It was clearly different from the previous one.


Thermae1236.gif

“Now, finally, let’s get a look at the map of the Empire. As you can see, it has grown quite a lot in quite little time. Six years in fact. The thing that most likely caught your eye first is the big blob marked ‘26’, in the very east. This is the newly formed themata of Mesopotamia. It was formed from the archontia of Mesopotamia, as well as some Edessian lands. It’s strategos is our heroic, youthful leader of men Konstantinos Gourzoubathenos, who got that title at the age of fifteen. Secondly you’ll notice two areas marked as Edessa. The first one is the Emirate of Edessa which I just covered, ruled by Suleyman of Bira. And secondly is the Greek-ruled Theme of Edessa, which is ruled by the Kegenes family. It is officially led by the Lady of the City of Edessa, Theophano, although its strategoi are her brothers. And finally there is Syria, which nominally ruled by Basileios. Basileios himself would return to Constantinople soon after the was with Edessa ended, thus leaving a bit of a power vacuum. This vacuum would soon be filled by the church, who would see the Theme of Syria as the first area to reinstall Christianity.”

Two more portraits appeared on the screen. The first one looked vaguely familiar

demetriosmeschos.jpg

“Before I let you go today, I want to cover this important event. As you remember, the Megas Domestikos Mavros Meschos had been severed during the siege of Edessa. Meschos was not a young man anymore – he was 65 at the time, in fact, which was quite an age in those days. On his return trip to Constantinople, his wounds get infected, and he would die before he would reach the capital. The death of the commander of all strategoi came as a shock to all, especially so soon after the last great victory. Now, fate would have it that his son, Demetrios, had come of age only two months earlier. So as homage to the late Meschos, Basileios III appointed Demetrios Meschos as the new Megas Domestikos, who thus became the second most powerful man in the Roman Empire when he was only sixteen years old. Many believed this to be a political move, which damaged both Demetrios’ and Basileios’ standing. But very soon, the young man would prove himself to be at least as capable as a military commander as his father.”
 

unmerged(59077)

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So, incompatible schedules - I can relate.

And in CK 16 year olds have amazing stats all the time.
 

General_BT

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Ah... another Basil III, and another Demetrios as a Megas Domestikos. I think Basil deserves a theme song. :D Good to see an Emperor in position to take advantage of the weak Levant, and restore to the Romans what is rightfully theirs! Iron Council certainly made a good call this time...
 

Enewald

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Quite huge reconquests!
By 1300 the Empire will rule the whole Mediterranean? :D
 

volksmarschall

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The Byzantine Empire looks oh so good with some control of the Levant, but now it is time to finish the job and restore the empire of Justinian and Theodora! ;)
 

Cecasander

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RGB Well, I guess they're just the great people of their age. And some people also take some pride in breeding high stats :p

To illustrate, these are the stats of the new Megas Domestikos, and the eventual stats of prince Nikolaos.

DemeandNiko.jpg


General_BT - A theme song? I did some searching, and I found http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0Lcz--JhXU&feature=related. Also suited because it was written by a Greek.

Enewald - At the current rate, I'd say yes :p

asd21593 - Aye, these holes in the front aren't very pretty, but I am afraid things will get worse before they'll get any better. Just think of Romanion as an octopus with tentacles warding off enemies everywhere :p
The problem is that around 1240, most of the crusader states have become part of Germany, and they are pretty much the only power who can match my imperial army.

volksmarschall - Working on it ;) Problem is that I also have Basil's reputation to think about. Sure, he's the biggest badass emperor since the previous Basil, but that doesn't mean all my strategoi will split on me in a split second.

---

Another thing; Tonight I will most likely post another episode, after which this AAR will (once again) be put on hiatus for a month. Unlike the last three weeks, I have a proper excuse though; I'm going to participate in the NaNoWriMo in November. And as of such, I most likely need all me creative juices for that. Don't worry, this AAR will certainly continue in December, and if I fail at writing 1667 words a day, probably earlier too.
 

General_BT

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Oh how did I guess it was Vangelis? :) It wasn't the song I assumed it was going to be though lol (this one)
 

Cecasander

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Pottericon.jpg

Kalina and I spent most of the next Friday skipping class to hang out together at the Kapitolion, which was only a few blocks away from the archaeology department. The Kapitolion was one of the oldest standing buildings in the city, and it housed the museum showcasing the history of the Imperial governments. And although we had seen the length and breath of the collection in under two hours, the Kapitolion Square also harboured some of the most interested café’s and novelty shops outside the Byzantion ward. Kalina left after our early dinner, to catch her train to Philippopolis and meet up with her parents. As her parents were divorced, and she wasn’t very fond of her mother, she would stay with her father. According to her stories, he was a really swell guy, but when I offered to go with her to meet him, she said he probably get a heart attack when he heard his little girl had a boyfriend. Maybe she was right, and it was just too early. So that Friday evening I waved her goodbye on platform 6, and as always hoped to see her back again in one piece Tuesday.

In other words, the weekend was rather slow, and instead of doing all the due homework I should have been doing I spent most time hanging on the couch or taking small strolls along the old wall. That Tuesday, the online schedule announced mister Doxiadus would once again not be able to make to the workshop. As I didn’t have any time for my assignment for that class, I didn’t really mind. When I saw Kalina before the lecture hall that afternoon, she told me she had gone so tired of her mother’s theatrics that she would invite her father to Constantinople from now on, and that Philippopolis could burn to the ground as far as she was concerned. We went into the lecture hall, where the professor was apparently ready to start. In fact, he closed the door less than a minute later, and he began his lecture with showing a coloured map on the screen. The different shapes and colours indicated it was indeed a map, but not one that seemed very familiar. It certainly wasn’t the Levant.


balkanmap1236.png

“Welcome everybody. I hope your weekend was as fun as mine. I’ve been to Korinthos this weekend, together with Professor Sisinis to visit a new dig one of our friends is leading. He believes to be able find a lot of new and exciting stuff about the city. Everybody who also follows my lectures at the archaeology department; prepare for a treat!”

I heard Kalina say ‘I wonder where he’d been off to,’ and I could see a spark of excitement in her eyes.

“Anyway, today we’re going to turn to the thirteenth century again, and to 1236 to be precise for that is where we left last Thursday. And as you can see, we’re going to leave the eastern borders of the Empire for a while. For this is a map of the Balkans in the year 1236, or rather, the kingdoms inside the Balkan region. They will be the focus of our attention today. Let’s see who’s around. There’s the Roman Empire of course, in Imperial purple, which need no further introduction. Then there is the Second Bulgar Tsardom, on this map in both shades in blue. Apart from what is shown on this map, they are also the Tsar-Protectors of most of the states of Rus. I’m not going to show a map of that yet, as that’s going to be a nice picture later on, but I must tell you what this title means. As I explained in the first lecture, the Bulgars declared themselves independent in 1186 after Isaakios Angelos forced too much tax on them. They would be led by the house of Asen, who would found the Second Tsardom soon afterwards. When the Kantakouzenoi rise to the Imperial Throne, and Romanion and Bulgaria become allies rather than enemies, the Bulgars start some small wars of conquest in their neighbourhood. These wars eventually lead them into battle with the Cuman, Turkish horse tribes who occupy the plains north of the Black Sea. As the Bulgars continue their crusade, their deeds are heard in the small princely halls of the Russian principalities. And soon, Russian princes seek protection and patronage from the Asens. And slowly but surely, even after the Cuman are defeated, the states of Rus gather behind the golden lion of the Bulgars, who will therefore be able to crown themselves Tsar-Protectors of Rus. And as of such, become one of the most powerful forces in Europe, overshadowing even Hungary and Poland. In fact, only the Roman Empire, and maybe France, Germany and Khwarizmian Persians could raise an army to match that of the Tsar-Protector, Tervel Asen.”

“We will come back to him shortly, but let’s finish the map. In the dark grey, west of Bulgaria, lies the Kingdom of Serbs, ruled by the old king Svetolik of the house of Nemanjic. He will too become important of today’s lecture later on, so remember his name. Finally we have some less important kingdoms – less important for this lecture, mind you – to cover. In dark red is the Kingdom of Bosna, whose territory seems to grow and dwindle with the season due to endless wars with the Serbs and Hungarians. In yellow is the Vlach Kingdom, a tiny mountain realm which has so far managed to remain out of the grasp of both the Bulgars and the Hungarians. And finally there are the Hungarians themselves in light grey and the Germans in olive, major powers but completely irrelevant to today’s story.”

Three portraits appear on the screen

tervalandrebels.jpg

“Now, the troubles start in the summer of 1236. While in Constantinople the old Queen-Regent Prokopios dies from a stroke, the Bulgarian Tsar Terval goes insane. The tsar had been on the throne for nine years already, since he was fifteen years old in fact. But from the start he had been under a lot of stress as he was clearly not made of the same cloth as his father. When he breaks, the world knows it soon enough. He begins insulting courtiers and ambassadors, he walks around the castle naked, and he developed serious signs of schizophrenia. Quite soon his vassals begin to question his ability to rule. As news travels slowly into Rus, the first to split were in fact Bulgarian vassals. They are depicted to the left and the right of this picture here; the elderly widow Desislava Shishman of Vidin, and Terval’s own cousin Ivan, who ruled Karvuna. In fact, Ivan wanted the Bulgarian throne himself, being an Asen and more sane than his cousin. If you remember the map I just showed, the rebellious areas were shown in lighter blue. Soon afterwards the Russian princes followed one by one, and Terval and his loyal generals were faces by the choice of either pacifying the ancestral Bulgarian lands or the distant, stronger Russian realms, with an ever-dwindling army. To illustrate this latter problem, Terval had been able to raise 120.000 men early 1236, while he could muster less than 10.000 two years later. Luckily for Terval and the Bulgarian Tsardom, Roman Emperor Basileios III was both honour- and treatybound to come to his aid.”

“So in the spring of the next year, Emperor Basileios himself rode north with an army of nearly seventeen thousand of Romanion’s finest, originated from Constantinople itself and thus containing the Imperial Bodyguard cataphracts, the Varangian Guard and the Imperial Archers. Within a few months, Basileios managed to conquer the cities of Karvuna and Constantia with little trouble, and managed to bring Ivan Asen to his knees. The principality was returned to Tsar Tarval while the Imperial Army moved west to take another rebellious principality called Dorostorum. The only thing Basileios got from this expedition was another bastard son produced with a Bulgarian lady of high standing whose name has gone lost in history. This boy – aptly named Romanos Boulgarios or Romanos the Younger – was brought into the Imperial Court around the same time Queen Glykeria gave birth to a daughter named Anthusa. And although she had had no problems when Basileios had brough Romanos the Elder to Constantinople, she was clearly very angry when she learned her husband had brought another bastard. It is widely believed that this is when the royal marriage began to break. Eventually, Romanos would be brought to the Athos Monastery to be raised by the monks there, just like his namesake half-brother.”

“In the autumn of 1238, while the Russian princes kept abandoning Terval one by one, revolt also started in the Bulgarian homeland again. This time it was the Despotate of Strymon, led by a six-year old puppet of the local nobility. Strymon had been claimed by the past Emperors for decades as there was a significant Greek majority. It was therefore decided that Strymon would be annexed to the Empire. The new Megas Domestikos Demetrios Meschos would lead the thematoi of Thessalonika against Strymon. Before Strymon would be reached, however, it was reported to Demetrios that also Desislava Shishman of Vidin had renounced her loyalty to the Tsar. Therefore he marched on to Naissus and took the principality of Vidin with little trouble. The Roman Empire had suddenly found herself along the Danube again, and Basileios and the court at Constantinople began to realise that if Tsar Terval might not be able to keep his realm together, it might be a good opportunity to retake some parts of what was lost with the Bulgarian independence fifty years earlier. As of such, Strymon and Vidin, which would be renamed to its ancient name Dardanoi, would become integrated into the Roman Empire as a part of the thema of Thessalonika and a whole new thema respectively.”

“Twice more would Basileios have to invade Karvuna again until it too would submit to him, and become another new thema under the name Mousia. In the same days would Queen Glykeria give birth to a boy who, according to Basileios, certainly could not have been his. The boy, named Demetrios after the Emperor’s father, would be locked away in the Myralaion Monastery and the Queen would be put under careful watch. According to the Emperor, he had not consummated his marriage for at least a year, after he believed Glykeria had been unable to produce him sons. In fact Basileios’ only legitimate son Nikolaos, who was thirteen in 1240, had been the son of Alexandra Argyropoulos. Although Glykeria had given birth to Maximos in 1231, he had been of bad health and had died four years later. Their second child had been a daughter. It was said that Basileios had been… errr… making bastard children to compensate for having only one male heir. The fact that his wife now gave birth to a boy only increasing the bad relationship between the two. From Glykeria’s point of view, her husband was an unfaithful and sexist man, who left her alone in Constantinople for months or even years, and then to return with a bastard son. Not to mention he refused to copulate with her for over a year. The situation eventually escalated when Glykeria was found in bed with an underling of Romanos Argyropoulos named Markos of Herakleia in late May, 1240. Although Markos would only be exiled, Glykeria and Basileios would rarely meet face to face again.”

“With this sad merital crisis in our head, let’s take a little break to get some coffee. The next part is also going to be kind of long, so no more than five, seven minutes. When you return, I’ll tell the conclusion of the collapse of the Bulgarian empire, and about the rise of the Serbian one.”

The coffee break was very hasty. Kalina and me were nearly knocked over by Mrs. Bokova, who came rushing into the lecture hall behind us. Apparently she was late or something. She and professor Doxiadus started talking very busily before the lectern. When the lecture started again after everybody was in, she quickly sat on her seat on the front row. I wondered why she always had to be present, if she didn’t do anything constructive. For some reason I had the feeling she was keeping an eye on the professor.

“Okay, everybody got their coffee? Oh, even Alexios?”

“Right here, professor! I got an Extra Large one.” Alexios said cheerfully from out of nowhere. I suddenly spotted him on one of the front rows.

“Didn’t you get me one, lad?”

“What…? Oh, no… I’m sorry sir,” Alexios said, apparently somewhat confused. “But… but you can have this one!” He held his large paper cup up quite recklessly, and some coffee spilled on the girl next to him.

“Hehe, no that’s okay, I was just joking. Just… go help clean up your neighbour… Anyway…” The professor gathered his thoughts again. “We left with Basileios’ and Glykeria’s marriage in shambles, although they would never divorce. In the same year, in Bulgaria, the Archbishop of Turnovo turned against Tsar Terval and with him the Bulgarian corelands would be divided to the core. This would effectively break the remaining power of Terval, who would loose his final Russian vassals and see his realm shrink to his crown lands, one loyal count on the north shore of the Danube and a single loyal lord in northern Russia. To add insult to injury, this was when the Serbs decided to attack. The Serbs had been the greatest contester to the Bulgar’s patronage of the Russian princes. In fact, some princes had instead accepted the Serbian king Svetolik Nemanjic as their protector, and this number grew as more princes renounced Terval. The most powerful of these princes was the prince of Kiev, the old Mikhail Rurikovic. Kiev had not been part of the Bulgarian Tsardom, though, but had been independent until swearing loyalty to the Serbs in 1240. In fact, it had been Kiev who single-handedly stopped the Mongol Horde in the 1220’s and for that they were considered the greatest of so-called High Princes. When Serbia and Kiev declared war on both the remains of Bulgaria as well as the Roman Empire, a new chapter of the so-called Balkan Wars.”

Two maps appeared on the screen. The first one was blue, the second one had all sort of colours.

FallofbulgarianRus.png

“First, let’s see what happened to Rus. The first picture shows the Bulgarian domination of Rus. The lighter blue shows the vassals and holdings of Terval Asen in early 1236, the areas in darker blue show what remains of these holdings five years later. I guess you all agree that is pretty impressive, albeit not very pleasant for poor madman Terval. The second map shows what happened to these lost holdings. Purple shows the Empire in 1236, with what was gained from Bulgaria up to 1241 in pink. In the same respect, the dark grey shows the Kingdom of Serbs and her vassals in 1236, and the Russian holdings that sought Serbia’s patronage from 1236 up. You could therefore say the Serbians more or less inherited the title of Tsar-Protector of Rus, although they would never really wield that title. Furthermore, there are the powerful principalities of Ryazan-Novgorod in light green and Muscovy in dark red, and Kiev in yellow although it had not been part of the Bulgar Tsardom. Then there’s the independent Prince-Bishopric of Turnovo in orange, in dark green the areas that would be conquered by Poland and in cyan the remaining independent Russian princes and counts. Finally pay notice to the pink area in the upper left, for that is also part of the Roman Empire. This is the town of Torzhok, home of the strategos of the Peloponessos, Vladimir of Torzhok. Like Safed before the conquest of the Levant, Torzhok was not an integral part of the Empire, but rather a dependant trading post governed by Roman nobility.”

“Anyway, let’s return to King Svetolik of the Serbs. When he declared war on the Empire, he likely did underestimate the size of the Imperial Army. He also believed Basileios would send his army to chase into Rus to fight the Serbs there. And as you all know Rus is a very harsh place for military expeditions. But Basileios had refused to march into Rus to aid Tsar Terval, and was unwilling to do it now. Instead, he focussed his attention to the Serbian homelands just north of the Empire. Again, the thematoi of Thessaloniki would be raised, commanded by the Megas Domestikos Demetrios Meschos. Also, the thematoi of Dyrrachion under the command of strategos Petros Bryennios would be raised, raising the total of Imperial forces to around twelve thousand. While the Megas Domestikos marched to the coast to take the merchant city of Ragousa and the principality of Diokleia, Bryennios and his uncle Andronikos of Ochrid – the father of Queen Glykeria, in fact – went inland to take the Serbian crown lands of Rashka. Although both areas were quickly conquered, King Sverolik himself had fled to his Russian estates. And if they wanted him to surrender, they would have to march into Rus as well. And so, the armies marched through the Balkans towards Rus. Very quickly though, a message arrived at the army that the Megas Domestikos’ mother, Aikatenina Kantakouzenos, had passed away and that Demetrios had to travel to Lykandros to take his family estates. Weakened by the departure of the now former Megas Domestikos and his forces, strategos Petros Bryennios marched on. Meanwhile, however, the Serbian king had met with the armies of his Kievan ally, and both armies marched to Constantinople.”

“The arrival of Serbian and Kievan soldiers before the gates of the Imperial city was a bit of a shock to Basileios. Although the siege that Mikhail of Kiev had laid on the city could be lifted without much trouble, King Sverolik had crossed the Bosporus and marched straight into Anatolia. For three months Basileios and the new Megas Domestikos Isidoros Paleiologos searched for the raiding Serbian army in a wild goose chase. The Megas Domestikos himself became wounded during an attack near Ankyra. Meanwhile, what was left of strategos Bryennios’ army would be destroyed near Smolensk, preventing an easy victory in the Russian heartland. Basileios didn’t want to spend more time and forces against the Rus, and thus would sign a peace treaty with Sverolik himself in Anatolia. In the treaty it was agreed that although Diokleia would become part of the Empire, Rashka would not and Basileios would accept the new Serbian patronage of the Russian princes.”

“Thus began a new period of peace in the Empire, although not before Basileios had the rebellious strategos of Paphragonia, Bartholomaios Kontostephanos murdered and replaced with his two-year old nephew Ignatios Antiohites. Furthermore, Prince Nikolaos, still Basileios’ only legitimate heir, came of age. In a strong political move, it was decided that he would be married to the daughter and oldest child of the King of Armenia, a sixteen year old girl names Alexeia Rubenid. It was Basileios’ hope to see their children become kings of Armenia as well as Roman Emperors, thus finally uniting the two royal houses. Seeing how King Isaakios’ eldest son had just died of pneumonia and his younger son was also of bad health, this was not a far-fetched dream. Basileios sent Nikolaus and Alexeia to Aleppo, where the prince would become a sort of governor of Imperial Syria, as well as the titular bishop of Aleppo. Already in those early days in Aleppo, Nikolaos would reveal himself to be quite a scholar, bringing not only Aleppo and Antioch back to the Christian faith, but also personally or through patronage discovering old works from both Greek and Arab masters. What made Basileios even happier was that Alexeia wore him two sons in those early years; Nikolaus in 1246 and Eleutheros in the next year. Although the young Nikolaus’ health seemed to be somewhat weak, it appeared the Imperial bloodline was secured once more.”

“Well, before I end, I close with the usual, a map of… yes?”

Professor Doxiadus pointed at a female student sitting in one of the front rows, who had raised her hand.

“Sir, what about the Mongols?”

Doxiadus looked a bit confused. “What about them? Do you mean the Il-Khanate?”

“No sir, the Golden Horde. You know, who swept over the Volga plains and the Russian principalities in the 1240’s?”

The professor looked even more confused, upset actually. “What the hell are you talking about, girl? The Golden Horde was defeated by Mikhail of Kiev twenty years earlier. Now, the Il-Khanate…”

“But sir, Professor Bokova told us that it were the Mongols were the masters of Rus, but the Bulgars or Serbs.” I suddenly heard defiance in the girl’s voice. As well as a Turkish accent. Was she pulling the professor’s leg?

“Well, then she was wrong. No, no more questions,” professor Doxiadus said resolute. He seemed annoyed, but there was something else. The map appeared on the screen, but he didn’t spend a lot of attention to it.

Thermae1248.gif

“You can figure this one out for yourselves, people. That’s it for today… and I’ll see you all Thursday.”

And so the lecture ended. Kalina and I looked at each other, and she shrugged. Then we left the lecture hall together, as the other students also chaotically cleaned up and left. Professor Doxiadus was nowhere to be seen. Just outside the lecture hall, professor Bokova was talking with the Turkish girl who had just asked about the Mongols. She must have been one of Bokova’s students, of course. “Wait, you’re Alexandros Elias, right?” I turned around. It was Bokova. I mentioned Kalina to walk on – I’d catch up with her. “That’s right, ma’am,” I said to professor Bokova. “Professor Doxiadus said you were interested in talking with him about your grandfather. And he wonders if you are available next Friday, in the afternoon.” “Sure… but why didn’t he ask me himself?” Professor Bokova smiled sheepish. “Professor Doxiadus is a very busy man, Alexandros. I help him sometimes, as his personal assistant, I guess.” Right… his assistant… because she wasn’t the head of the archaeology department… I tried very hard not to roll with my eyes, and instead turned the movement into a nod. “Okay, that’s settled then. He’ll be in his office here at the faculty at four-ish. Oh… and one more thing. Professor Doxiadus has asked me also attend this meeting as I also knew your grandfather. I hope you don’t mind.” I forced myself to smile and nod, and quickly walked on to catch up with Kalina. I had a bad feeling about this. Very bad indeed.
 

Enewald

Enewald Enewald Enewald
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Oct 17, 2007
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Strange.
Very strange.
A university professor wants to discuss about a students family?
Even-though he might be a family friend, but a assistant choosing the meeting time is really strange methinks. :D