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unmerged(59077)

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The Mongols were stopped by Kiev? Of course! Whoever could think otherwise?

I'm glad to see the Balkan-centric Rus Superstates are a staple feature of CK to this day.

Serbs or Bulgarians, tough choice. I'd say Bulgarian food is better, though.
 

Cecasander

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Enewald - Couldn't agree more :p

asd21593 - Thanks. Guess the only way to know is to keep reading ;)

J. Passepartout
- I always like it when I fight a really good ruler, kill him on the battlefield, and then watch his realm fall apart when his zero-diplo toddler child takes over

RGB
- It's poetic justice, kinda, yeah. It's a shame though, that none of these Russian princes even want to be independent. The only way you could see a Rus ruled by Rurikovices is to play one yourself :(

So far I ignored vassalage requests from Moskow and Ryazan-Novgorod. Don't want to be the next Bulgaria :p
 

Cecasander

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Dear readers,

After a somewhat failed attempt at writing a 50.000 word novel in a month (let's never speak of it again), the Potter will be back this week. That is to say, I hope to have it up either Friday or Monday.

Will Basileios III continue restoring the power of the East Roman Empire? Will we be seeing Mongols on the walls of Konstantinopolis any time soon? Will Alexandros and Kalina finally get some together-time? And what the hell is up with the Bokova woman? Stay tuned for a new episode of The Potter, a Byzantine AAR!
 

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Dear readers,

After a somewhat failed attempt at writing a 50.000 word novel in a month (let's never speak of it again), the Potter will be back this week. That is to say, I hope to have it up either Friday or Monday.

Will Basileios III continue restoring the power of the East Roman Empire? Will we be seeing Mongols on the walls of Konstantinopolis any time soon? Will Alexandros and Kalina finally get some together-time? And what the hell is up with the Bokova woman? Stay tuned for a new episode of The Potter, a Byzantine AAR!

lolwut :p
 

unmerged(59077)

Tzar of all the Soviets
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After a somewhat failed attempt at writing a 50.000 word novel in a month (let's never speak of it again), the Potter will be back this week.

Ah, Nanowrimo, breaker of hearts. I sympathise with you and have three failed attempts to prove it.
 

volksmarschall

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It will be certainly good to see this back in action. Don't look back on the attempt to write a novel.

"Why do we fall?"
"To PICK ourselves back up!"

I would say if it is your ultimate goal or dream to write a novel someday, never let that slip to the back of your mind, for one day it will come true.
 

General_BT

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Amen. And in a way, AARland is a good place to be if you want to get to that stage later on. As a literature prof of mine once said, the two steps to becoming a good writer are reading and writing. :)
 

Cecasander

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Thanks for the support, guys. I intend to try again next year :p

The Potter will continue next Friday due to technical problems on CK's behalf. Or mine, actually (as in, I apparently turned off autosafe when playing forthe next update, and the game crashed).
 

Cecasander

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Pottericon.jpg

That Thursday afternoon, Kalina and I walked to the lecture hall together. We had been strolling though the park near the faculty before class, watching strong quickly catching up with the recent passing of winter. It was almost the end of April, after all. I had subtly tried to hear Kalina out about the relationship between professor Bokova and professor Doxiadus. She had not liked the idea that that women would be present at an informal meeting between me and Doxiadus. She called Mrs. Bokova an arrogant, scheming woman, but I told her I simply wouldn’t be able to get out of her way Friday and she agreed. In the end, she simply told me to be cautious, and that was the end of that topic. When we got to the lecture hall, we were a bit early. Only a few students were seated yet, about half of which I suspected to be professor Bokova’s students. Professor Doxiadus was talking with a couple of students near the door, and he acknowledged our entrance with a nod. We sat on one of the front rows. From there I might have a good view on professor Bokova, who usually sat on the front most row. She entered almost immediately after us, and did indeed took a seat on the front row. Five minutes later professor Doxiadus closed the door. A small dotted map of the Empire appeared on the screen behind the lectern.

Building1250s.jpg

“Well, welcome again, everybody. The day before yesterday we ended the lecture in 1248, which is technically in the middle of an era rather than at the end of one. But because that period is simply too large to discuss in one lecture, we’ll continue it today. The so-called Basilian Peace, as it was known in the day, extends all the way from the final conquest of Edessa in 1236 to the breakout of the Carpatian War in 1256. This period is known for its great domestic peace and prosperity, and it symbolises the maturation of Basileios III’s rule. As we discussed Tuesday, the period is also known for the collapse of the Second Bulgar Empire and the gradual integration of the old Bulgarian lands back into the Empire. Abroad, this is also the period when the Serbian king Dusan Nemanjic takes up the mantle of the Tsar-Protector of Rus from the Bulgarian Asens. Furthermore, the period is known for its many great building projects, which I will discuss in a minute. And finally, and most controversially, the period is known for the final consolidation of the so-called new aristocracy, which is based on the military themata system rather than the old Imperial court system. As of such, this new aristocracy is often compared to the feudal system that was in place in most of Europe at the time. The influence of the strategoi-aristocrate families on internal politics, and especially their meddling in the Imperial court politics from the outside, would also be felt in this period. The prime example of this is the backing of the strategoi of Anatoliakon and Armeniakon for the claim Basileios’ bastard son Romanos Antiochaies to his father’s throne in 1251. Although this blunt claim, as well as likewise sounds coming from the Emperor’s other bastard sons, were not a serious problem while Basileios was still firmly in power, it would lead to potential problems to his son and heir Nikolaus.”

“Anyway, let’s start with the construction spree. On the map behind me you can see that all around the empire, although mostly in the Emperor’s personal holdings, churches and fortifications rose like mushrooms. The blue dots represent cities where one or more cathedrals or major churches were constructed in the 1240 to 1255 period, the red dots represent cities whose walls and fortifications were seriously enlarged in the same period. In the purple-dotted cities, both churches and walls were built. These cities are mostly in newly-conquered Syria, but most dominantly also Constantinople itself is represented with a purple dot. This is, of course, the period that the first stages of the Basilian Walls were completed, the enlarged and improved defensive works that would both augment and replace the fifth century Theodosian Walls. In the workshop next Tuesday, where we will finally be discussing 13th century Constantinople, I will tell more about the construction of the Basilian Walls and the other construction and renovation projects that were going on at the time. Other major building projects on the map include the renovation and extension of the Saint Demetrios cathedral in Thessaloniki, the Great Komnenos Fortress in Trebizon, the Holy Simon and Peter church in Antioch, Palmyra Castle in Palmyra and the Citadel and renovation of the Constantine basilica in Aleppo.”

“The newly found peace and wealth brought more than construction, though. As I said earlier, the new themata-based aristocracy also consolidated its rule in the countryside, not in the least through the increased influx of money. After all, the traditional themata system was still largely in place, that left its peacetime soldiers as land owners. As a result, peace in the Empire automatically meant increased agriculture and thus, income. One of the more noticeable differences from earlier times was the birth of the so-called Koloneion system. This one needs some further elaboration. The Koloneion is a modern term, derived from the modern meaning of the Latin term ‘colonia’. In those times, the koloneion were called emporia, which basically meant the same, but were a novel thing at the time. In the Koloneion system, a strategos of a thema could also be the lord of territories outside his assigned thema. The strategos would act as the master and patron of this area, which would by governed by a local - and often native - ruler in the strategos’ name. This ruler held the title of archon, and like the archons that governed areas inside a thema they answered to the strategos rather than the emperor. However, as these areas weren’t part of the territory of a thema, they also were outside the themata system and thus, outside the direct influence of the Emperor. Furthermore, as most koloneion were far away from their patron thema, they also enjoyed a great deal of autonomy from their strategoi. As of such, the koloneion were often considered part of the Roman Empire in name only. The arrangement was half-heartily endorsed by Constantinople, though, as although they had a higher potency to revolt, the koloneion provided the Empire with trade ports in areas outside the original Greek sphere of influence. The strategoi endorsed the system as it provided them with additional income, as well as autonomy from the Emperor and not to mention prestige. By 1255, four out of seven major koloneion had been created out of lands conquered and settled on the personal account of strategoi families. The prime examples were the Komnenoi holdings of Safed and Derbent, originated from respectively the Cypriot Komnenoi and Trebizine Komnenoi. The most recent three koloneion were the Black Sea koloneion of Belgorod, Olvia and the ‘Lower Don’, which had been native ruled lordships that had voluntarily sought patronage from an Imperial strategos. These were the most volatile, but also the most lucrative territories. Future koloneion would slowly be put on a leach by its patron, and would eventually join into the Greekification that took place in all recently added parts of the Empire.”

“Now, I suggest we take a coffee break now. After getting some coffee, I’ll be discussing what happened in today’s eight years up to 1256. Unlike what you might expect from what I just told, not all was peaceful for the Emperor. For we’ll see the final dissolution of the Second Bulgar Empire and a some court intrigue. So if that’s to your liking, don’t forget to return inside after your coffee,” professor Doxiadus joked.

The coffee break was uneventful, as Kalina and I decided to return to the lecture hall immediately after getting our coffee. I reasoned this would give us the least chance of running to either of the two professors. Both returned to the lecture hall separately, and both were too busy talking with other students to come to us. Eventually professor Doxiadus would have the door closed again, and continued with his lecture. A map of what I suspected to be Bulgaria appeared on the screen.


Bulgarfall1251.jpg

“Now, before we’ll come to this map, and the demise of the Bulgar Empire, some troubles in the Imperial Court would plant seeds of future strife. The marital problems between emperor Basileios III and his wife Glykeria continued to escalate when the queen began to court the Imperial steward and Basileios’ cousin, Onorios Meschos. At the same time, Glykeria’s bastard son Demetrios is pushed by his mother into the disfavour of her husband. The queen insisted that the boy, who was twelve at the time, would be given a court position. Basileios refused, as he loathed the boy who reminded him of his bad marriage. Later, Demetrios would take the chance to escape both his mother as well as the emperor by fleeing to Naissus. Behind the scenes, his mother would continue to support him financially though, hoping the son of the only man she loved would some day be able to claim power of his own. In the meanwhile, Basileios had troubles with his own bastard sons, both Romanoses. Romanos the Elder, archbishop of Kappadokia, would use his title and influence to force his father to include him into the line of succession. Although this would not compromise the position of Prince Nikolaos – who is still older – it would damage Basileios’ standing amongst his loyal strategoi. And like I said in the beginning of today’s lecture, Romanos was supported by a number of Anatolian strategoi, creating ground for a possible succession crisis. Following his big half-brother, Romanos the Younger would also complain to his father about his position in the court. Being younger than the other two bastards, and having no rich, influential mother nor the support of a strategos, Romanos the Younger would give up his efforts though, and would accept a somewhat low appointment into the Imperial bureaucracy. Finally, in 1253 Basileios’ eldest daughter Anthusa became of marriageable age. In a move of either pure scorn or pure brilliance – to your pick – the Emperor decided to marry her off to his cousin and Imperial steward… That’s right, Onorios Meschos, her mother’s new lover. This move created a new breach in the Imperial family, between Basileios and Glykeria’s legal children and their mother. As a result, the queen would double her focus on Demetrios in Naissus.”

“The Emperor’s final chapter of intervention into the collapsed Second Bulgar Empire begins in the early weeks of 1251, when it is known in Constantinople that the archbishop of Turnovo, Romil, had finally gone mad. The Patriarch and the other high gentlemen of the Greek Orthodox Church had had an eye on this ruler of the largest Bulgar succession state for a while for rumours of heresy to his address. When Romil was found dancing naked across his castle’s court, Imperial Army finally took the opportunity to remove him on behalf of the Patriarch. The Patriarch himself was only informed while Megas Domestikos Manouel Argyropoulos had his army at the gates of Serdica, the archbishop’s capital. Serdica soon fell and the entire archbishopric of Turnovo was handed to the Emperor. At the same time, Tervel Asen, still officially Bulgar Emperor and Tsar-protector or Rus, was arrested and executed by the commander of his Greek mercenary army, a man named Georgios of Byzantion. Georgios claimed himself the new Bulgar Tsar, his lands were by now limited to an area around his castle at Tsarevets and some land north of the Danube. The Megas Domestikos decided this would be a good opportunity to bring a complete end to the Second Bulgar Empire now – in his words; if the Bulgars were to be ruled by a Greek, it should be the Emperor. And thus, on November 2nd, 1251, the Second Bulgar Empire came to an end after existing for 66 years.”

“Out of the newly conquered lands, two themata would be formed by Basileios III. In the former heartland of the Bulgarian Empire, and in fact the Bulgar people, the Thema of Boulgaria was founded, with the Greek-Bulgar Nikophoros Cherven as its first strategos. North of the Danube, home of the Vlachs, the Thema of Dacia – though at the time also called the Thema of Vlachs - was founded and the office of strategos was granted to the old House of Tornikes, whose matriarch was the elder lady Anna at the time. And with that, peace returned to the Balkans for five years. What happens after those five years, and what happens to the Balkans… that is something for next week to discuss.”

A colourful map appeared behind professor Doxiadus.

Themata1256-4.jpg

“For now, I present you with the map of the themata as of 1256. As you can see, I used a new design for the map, that allowed me to use colour coding to differentiate themata from archontia. For flavour I also added the capitals of the themata and Imperial holdings. Next week I’ll do… families? Anyway, see you all next week. And don’t forget the workshop that will be going on Tuesday. We won’t be able to discuss all assignments, but I expect all of them on my desk at the start of the workshop. You had enough time.”

Professor Doxiadus was out of the lecture hall before most of us got up. Kalina and I waited for the majority to leave before we got up, and we walked out together. She grabbed my hand as we got outside. “You want to hang out tomorrow evening? I free,” she said as we walked through the abandoned corridor. I laughed as she looked at me teasingly. “Well, I have this talk with Doxiadus in the afternoon, but afterwards, sure,” I said, seeing it as an opportunity of some light after that tomorrow’s meeting which I wanted to get done as soon as possible. “Great, I’ll cook for you,” Kalina said, and she kissed me on the cheek. We both turned around as running footsteps came from behind us. “Alexandros Elias?” the source of those footsteps said, a senior student which I recognise for having seen with professor Doxiadus during the coffee break. He stopped just before us, clearly unaware he had ruined our little moment. I slowly nodded. “You have a meeting with professor Doxiados tomorrow, right?” “Yes,” I said slowly. “Okay, listen… the professor sent me to tell you it has been moved.” The guy gave me a yellow note with an address on it, which I accept only reluctantly. “Moved? Why?” The student shrugged. “He didn’t say. Just told me to find you and give this note. He wants to you meet him there, at three in the afternoon.” I looked at the note again. It was an address in the Koinion ward, in the south-west of the old city. Did the professor have a house or an office there? “He wants you not to tell professor Bokova,” the student said. “He also wants you to come, if you want,” he continued as he looked at Kalina. “Me? I thought this was going to be about Alex’ grandfather?” The student shrugged again, and Kalina looked at each other in understanding. If anything, this messenger had certainly peeked our interest. “Okay, tell the professor we’ll be there,” I said.
 

humancalculator

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And the plot thickens.........


Great to see this thing is back. :)
 

unmerged(59077)

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I love the Byzantine Bulgaria and its wholehearted participation in backstabbery, assassination and sundry struggles and periods of unrest. Very Roman of them.
 

Enewald

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Hmm... strange.
What ought to be a secret that must be kept away from Bukovina?
 

volksmarschall

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The Bulgars are crushed! Great work! Now it is time to turn East I think. ;)

Excellent return!
 

General_BT

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Egypt, ho?

Basil seemed wise, to know when it's time for peace, in addition to making some fantastic territorial acquisitions.

As for the modern plot--secrets from Bukovina, who speaks false truths about Mongols? Hmm... I'm smelling a government conspiracy of some kind that's rewritten history a bit?
 

Cecasander

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humancalculator - Thanks :) I promise the plot will get thinker very soon

asd21593 - Thanks a lot, glad you like

RGB - Ofcourse! They're subjects of the Roman Emperor now! The scheming and backstabbing is just a way of paying homage

Enewald - You'll see, you'll see... *rubs hands*

volksmarschall - Actually, the Bulgars were assimilated (okay, and crushed). For example, very soon all four of my Bulgarian themata will have a Bulgarian strategos.

General_BT - Well, Egypt is still a bit far away. I intend the next conquests to be in the levant again (the crusader states still exist!) so I'll get there eventually :D
 

unmerged(59077)

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I intend the next conquests to be in the levant again (the crusader states still exist!)

Those Latins are up to no good anyway.... :D
 

Cecasander

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Those Latins are up to no good anyway.... :D

Undoubtedly. I'm happy to have evaded '1204' :p

The main predicament with conquering the Latins is that they are part of either Germany or England-Brittany(-Ireland-Half of France), which are the west's great powers. My luck lies in the fact these faraway vassals happen to change loyalty a lot!
 

J. Passepartout

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Assimilation of the Bulgars is good. Remember Claudius' idea of senators from areas that were barbarian a century previously.

The professor should have picked different colours than red and purple on that first map, I can't tell them apart with my colour blindness. :)