Idhrendur

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I fell behind for awhile, and I'm glad to have caught up.

I tend to do the same thing with restored Patriarchs in my games.
 

RossN

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Part Three - Never Grow Old

Empressionna.jpg
The Empress Ioanna in mourning garb.​

The Muradids were still recovering from their great defeat and the Romans, who had recovered far quicker saw the opportunity to strike at the weakened Caliphate. In January 1015 AD they invaded the Muslim provinces around Ascalon. The war would last until late May when the Caliph's envoys agreed to a peace that left the last of the Syrian coastline in Roman hands. There were richer territories but by seizing Ascalon the Romans had left the Muslims only a narrow corridor from Egypt and afforded protection to Jerusalem on her western flank. The inevitable Roman colony would be planted at Semsem near Ascalon two years later but the key gain of the war was the ancient port city of Jaffa.

The process of Romanisation (or Hellenization depending on one's point of view) was first via the Church and the spread of the Orthdox amongst the largely Islamised people of the Levant. Slower was the spread of the Greek language and culture. Tortosa was the only the major province on the Syrian coast that 'turned Greek'[1] but all along the Levant and in Armenia the colonies created islands of Roman influence. Some colonies were settled with retired soldiers but the majority came as always from the bottomless reserves of the Constantinople poor.

The Empire Eusebios saw his reign in terms of cementing the Empire in her newly won territories and stabilising his succession. Rhodante, his daughter was a sickly child and tragically did not live to see her first birthday. The birth of his sons Maximos in October 1016 and Valerios in January 1019 were personal joys that lessened the grief over losing his daughter but they also ensured the survival of a dynasty grown very thin in recent years. Nor did the Emperor forget his familial commitments in the other direction, sending soldiers to assist his mother Judith of Italy in the Italian Civil War of 1016 to 1018. Roman aid proved decisive in crushing the rebellious Duke of Modena and keeping the Queen in power, though the despatch of the Tagmata was politically unpopular at home. Eusebios rightly calculated that the Muslims had far more serious concerns than taking advantage of a passing Roman weakness; with the success of the First Crusade the Kingdom of Aquitaine had been restored to her traditional borders and the Qutids, retreating south of the Pyrenees were led by a boy Caliph.

The Muradids were still led by the aging Caliph Faruk but in December 1018 Idris, the Emir of Damascus revolted. For the Romans it was a heaven sent opportunity. Eusebios had agreed to a ten year truce with Faruk that was not due to run out until 1025. That truce obviously did not apply to the treacherous Emir who amongst his other territories controlled the wealthy city of Palmyra, long coveted by the Romans and considered part of the natural hinterland of Aleppo. Eusebios quickly declared war.

However even as the Tagmata marched East in the gloomy atmosphere of a cold and drizzly winter a crisis was simmering in Constantinople. The Emperor Eusebios had in truth never been a robustly healthy man. His refined and intelligent mind was prone to stress attacks during which he would withdraw from public affairs and seek the comfort of his family. Neurotic and prone to pessimism he did not succumb to outright depression but fell frequently ill. The long winter of 1018/19 left him iller than normal and early in the new year it became clear the Emperor had pneumonia[2].

DeathofEusebios.png
The Emperor Eusebios at the time of his death, February 1019 AD.​

Terrified lest her surving children fall sick the Empress Ioanna sent the infant Maximos and Valerios to Galipoli far from the Grand Palace. Prince Anthemios, who turned seven on 24th January could not be sent out of the capital as it was now clear Eusebios was dying. Instead the young soon to be Emperor was sent to the Palace of Blachernae in the northwest of the city, under a hastily assembled guard of handpicked Varangians. There was to be no contact between the unhappy Eusebios and his beloved eldest son, though Ioanna herself remained at her husband's bedside, holding his hand until the end. On 24th February the Emperor Eusebios breathed his last, tortured breath. He was twenty four years old. He had been greedy in his personal life and decietful in politics and diplomacy, but he had been a clever and far sighted Emperor who had strengthened the Empire and had known when to listen to his advisors. To the ordinary Romans he was popular, a just and capable man though he never set passions alight in the manner of his grandfather Adrianos.

The young Emperor was buried quickly, to the anger of the Empress who knew her husband would have wanted to wait for Patriarch Sergios of Antioch to oversee the funeral. Unfortunately the Patriarch was in Ascalon, preaching to the subjects Eusebios had added to the Empire. So it was Gabriel II, the Ecuemenical Patriarch who organised the funeral, despite his unpopularity with the Imperial family. To his credit Gabriel did a fine job in mixing pomp and piety as the late Emperor's body was led through streets crowded with dark clad mourners. The continuing miserableness of the weather suited the occasion and the people wept to see so young a man struck down.

The Senate moved to appoint the eunuch Sebastianos regent. It was a wise choice. Sebastianos had been Eusebios' parakoimōmenos, a man of great intellect and total loyalty to the Imperial family. Both qualities would be required to steer the state through what promised to be a very long regency.

RomanEmpire1019.png
The Roman Empire in 1019 AD.​

[1] Tortosa shifted to Greek culture during these years.

[2] Euphemios makes the fourth Emperor to die of pneumonia! :eek:
 

RossN

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Henry v. Keiper: I find the role of the Churches here fascinating and I intend to take a deeper look at some point.

guillec87: Sorry, I'm not sure I understand? who do you mean?

Specialist290: Definitely. I think the First Crusade probably heightened tensions as it dramatically increased the prestige of the Papacy in the West.

Nikolai: Heh, true.

Stuyvesant: We'll see - currently the Empire is faced with problems of its own. :eek:

Chief Ragusa: That's interesting to hear. I guess we will see how the dynamic evolves.

Idhrendur & DKM: Glad to hear I'm not alone with it then! :)

scelestus13: Glad you like it and I fully agree!
 

GulMacet

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I think you should start developing modern medicine, this mortality rate is unacceptable. As for the next strategic moves... how about something unexpected? An amphibious landing in Carthage, perhaps?
 

DKM

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Remove that pesky northeast front with that one emir near Georgia!
 

Stuyvesant

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Eep! Another one dies young - very young indeed. That makes nine years of regency? It's a good thing that your enemies are weak and the Empire has had some peace before Eusebios' untimely death: now you only have fear internal strife. Only.
 

guillec87

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I mean, ask them f they want to swear loyalty to the Empire... I am sorry last message was confusing
 

Specialist290

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I think the Blacharnae Palace might be in need of a good round of fumigating. Surely fire and incense will drive away the bad airs that have been killing off all these emperors lately.

Meanwhile, looks like it's time to buckle down for yet another long regency. Hopefully we won't be seeing any more treacherous regents conspiring with other claimants behind Maximos's back.
 

Nikolai

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That family surely is cursed...:eek:
 

guillec87

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Saxon125

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Your emperors at present are dying at a rate that would envy the death rate of Game Of Thrones. :)
 

Idhrendur

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You need to do some expansion in the Italian peninsula. Say Venice, Genoa, Fererra, and Latium? For that matter, Croatia would nicely cement your control of the Adriatic! :ninja:
 

Asantahene

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Just caught up-phew!

I wonder whether there is actually anything you can do to lessen the spread of disease in the capitol?
 

RossN

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Volume VIII

Part One - The Muradid Wars

Sebastianos.png
Sebastianos, regent of the Roman Empire.​

The Muradids would spend most of the third decade of the Eleventh century locked in a bitter and confusing string of civil wars. Faruk the Great died in 1023 AD and for a brief moment the Caliphate stabilised under his son Jabir who made Cairo his capital. However Jabir was soon faced with revolts blossoming across Syria and Mesopotamia and foreign wars with the Romans and Georgians.

King Djavakhi II of Georgia invaded the Muradid possessions along the Euxine Sea in 1021. The Georgians had once owned all of Karlti and had attempted to regain it before but now with the Muslims fatally distracted and divided the time seemed ripe. The Romans were firmly supportive, another decisive factor. This policy was not universally popular in Constantinople with some in the Senate pressing for the Romans to annex the region themselves. Sebastianos judged that it was better to have Georgian gratitude and a strong link with the other Eastern Christian power than lasting Georgian enmity and a couple of relatively poor provinces. With aide from the Empire Djavakhi had driven the Muslims completely out of the Euxine by 1023.

Meanwhile the Romans were expanding in other, more profitable directions. Palmyra was annexed in 1021 but the independence of Sheikh Bahir of Karbala left Damascus unprotected by the Muradid armies. This astonishing prize, the former Abbasid capital and the city linked with Saint Paul fell under Roman control in November 1023. Not even a month later and a new civil war rocked the Caliphate. The Romans, flush with confidence from their recent successes greedily eyed the key Emirate of Outrejordan, ownership of which would make Jerusalem secure from any invasion from the East. War followed in January 1024, this time with the Caliph himself rather than rebel provincial governors or embittered Muslim princelings.

BattleofNablus.png
The Battle of Nablus, 17th February 1026 AD - the worst Roman defeat in two centuries.​

For once Sebastianos had miscalculated the strength of his opponents. The Romans found the war hard and bloody. The Tagmata besieged and captured Madaba and inflicted many defeats on several small Arab armies but the arid weather and reoccurring outbreaks of disease slowly drained the strength of the Imperial Army. In November 1025 Captain Ketil, the Varangian Guard commander died of consumption, severely damaging morale. In January the army, under the overall command of General Gabriel was forced to break off their siege of Al-Karak to march to the rescue of Nablus. Here on 17th February 1026 they were ruinously defeated by the Muslims who drew the weary, thirsty Roman army into an ambush between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. Almost twelve thousand Romans were killed in the disaster, with several prestigious retinues wiped out altogether and the once proud Varangians reduced to less than two hundred survivors after a heroic last stand to allow the Roman rear-guard to escape. It was the worst Roman military defeat in two centuries.

Had the Muradids at once followed up their victory the Romans might have seen their entire field army destroyed. As it was the Muradids had been mauled in the victory with two key commanders killed and distracted by rebels let their chance slip away. Very likely they did quite realise the extent of their victory. The Battle of Nablus was a terrible shock to an Empire grown used to easy victories and for the duration of the war the Romans were forced to rely on levies from the themes but it could have been far worse. The Tagmata would be painfully rebuilt over time, but at least the whole army was not lost.

In December of the same year the Romans inflicted a decisive defeat on the Arabs at Negev that left eight and a half thousand Muslim soldiers dead on the field. In January 1027 Caliph Jabir sued for peace and Outrejordan fell into Roman hands. The price had been far higher than the Romans had suspected or wanted but they had gained a vital buffer between Jerusalem and the East.

Finally there was Irbid. This rebellious Sheikdom was desirable solely for its position; the Romans were frankly war weary and turning towards the approaching majority of the Emperor Anthemios but possession of Irbid would give them a strong defensive line from Negev to Edessa. In June 1027 the Romans invaded, though with one thing or another it would not be until December 1028 that this last war drew to a close.

Across a decade of war the Romans (and Georgians) had profited greatly from the disunity of their great enemy, albeit at a severe cost. The irony is that it could very easily have been the other way around. Many times over the years the politics in Constantinople threatened to spill into outright bloodshed as the different factions butted heads. Sebastianos the Eunuch was a clever and loyal servant for the young Emperor but even he might have been swept away if swords were drawn in the Forum. A constant source of displeasure was how much power and authority was centred in Imperial hands at the expenses of the nobles and the Senate. It was only by shrewd diplomacy, some dirty tricks and quite frankly a great deal of good luck that Sebastianos maintained domestic peace and stability.

Conversely the Caliph Jabir’s decision to relocate to Egypt from distant Spain was a wise and far sighted one that could have led to a very powerful and united Caliphate in the East. It was not his fault that the tensions in the Arab world kept dormant under his father’s long reign would have erupted so disastrously, nor that the Romans would weather their own storm so lightly. Ultimately the decade of war between 1019 and 1029 greatly weakened the Arabs and strengthened the Romans but it could very easily have been the other way around.

RomanEmpire1028.png
The Roman Empire in 1029 AD.​
 

RossN

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GulMacet: Hmm, that is not a bad idea actually...

DKM: Heh, I decided to let the Georgians have it back - they do have claims there.

Stuyvesant: Yes, only! :eek: In fairness I have been relatively lucky there.

guillec87: Ah, okay. :) Rome isn't in my de jure territory yet.

Specialist290: Technically the Emperor still lives in the Great Palace - the Palace of Blachernae is his retreat. :)

Nikolai and Saxon125: I know! :eek:

Idhrendur: The Emperor's grandmother owns Italy. Croatia on the other hand...

Asantahene: glad you are impressed. :)

Also that is a great question about disease!
 

Nikolai

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Good job on the Regent's side!:) I see the Caliphate is still splintering, and in the north the Cumans(?) are in a civil war? Does Rome dare to cross the natural border of the river?
 

DKM

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Romans, war-weary! You sir are an insane babbling lunatic if you think this is true!
 

Stuyvesant

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That could've been far worse. In a sense the defeat at Nablus serves as a valuable wakeup call. Yes, your army was nearly annihilated, but you didn't lose anything (except the troops) as a consequence: no territorial losses, no neighbors pouncing at weakness, no internal turmoil. It's a good reminder that your armies are not invincible and that a degree of caution is necessary. Whether that message is worth the blood of some 12,000 soldiers is another question.

The Emperor is about to come into his own. Let's see what he can do with the roughly 8-15 years that he still has left, if his predecessors are anything to go by. :p