Specialist290

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Octavian negotiated a treaty with the Parthians for the return of all legionary standards lost by Crassus and Mark Anthony. Crassus was suitably avenged by Trajan and Marcus Aurelius on the battlefield. The arabs and seljuks can in no way be regarded as having anything to do with Crassus.

A fair point, I'll admit. I had forgotten about Octavian's treaties...

Still, if Friedrich Barbarossa could get away with using the justification in our own world, who's to say that a particularly grandstanding Emperor with Eastern ambitions wouldn't make use of it in this one? Surely those points wouldn't have been common knowledge at the time.
 

RossN

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Part Seven - All the Emperor's Women

EmpressGyrid.jpg
A late Eleventh century painting of the Empress Gyrid.​

The Emperor Anthemios was a good and intelligent ruler and a pious man but he was not a good husband. Throughout his more than thirty years married to the Empress Kale he had several mistresses. Anthemios mistresses tended to be women with beauty and brains and despite their low births became an important, if unrecognised part of the Imperial Court.

During his lifetime the Emperor only had one aknowledged bastard, the boy Theophanes (born 1055 AD) from his relationship with the Cilician born courtesan Margarita who for several years was effectively his official concubine. However after his death historians began to suggest there might have been others. The Twelfth Century writer Diodorus Doukakis claimed that the daughter of Prince Valerios, Doux of Sinai (Anthemios' youngest brother) was actually the daughter of Anthemios himself, though the writer was unable to produce anything that might be regarded as proof, claiming to have lost the love letters in a fire.

Modern historians generally discount that story, but is now agreed that the Emperor almost certainly had a long affair with his daughter-in-law Sergia. Sergia was nearly as low born as Margarita (though literate, unlike Margarita) but very clever and capable, less cunning than Margarita but more intelligent. She was also perhaps the most beautiful woman in Constantinople, with deep, dark eyes, olive skin, a lithe dancer's figure and a cascade of black hair - at least according to Diodorus who saw a statue of her in the Forum at Damascus. Sergia was married to Prince Eusebios sometime prior to his appointment as Count of Damascus, and the Prince was blissfully unaware that his son Hektorios (born 1056 AD) was possibly the son of Anthemios'.

Birthofhektorios.png
The true parentage of Hektorios would later be disputed by historians.​

Sergia's likeness is said to be immortalised in a church mosaic in Ascalon, now sadly lost, but recorded by Diodorus as being famous even in his day. The heyday of the affair, if indeed it took place, was in the 1050s and after Sergia moved to Damascus they drew apart emotionally. Margarita too was eventually married off (at her own desire) to a fellow Cilician made good.

The Empress was increasingly a distant figure, even as Anthemios drew away from his mistresses. Their marriage had been fairly stable but it had never been a love match and in her late forties Kale began to lean into depression. While Anthemios’ philandering was a public humiliation and the recognition of Theophanes was a personal humiliation Kale also suffered from the departure of her sons. Eusebios moved to Damascus, taking a gaggle of admirers and sycophants who wanted to make a good impression on the next Emperor. Her second son Symmachos, universally expected to become King of Italy on his father’s death was given control of Padua; a clever move to let his future subjects become used to him before he took his full inheritance. Her daughter Ionna had also reached adulthood and was being courted by the Crown Prince of Hungary Depressed and with her health beginning to fail, Kale faded away from public life, eventually dying in October 1053 at the age of fifty one.

Anthemios grieved more deeply for his wife than any had expected. While the marriage had not prospered as such, she had borne him several children and been his companion for decades. His mother had passed away in two months earlier and for the remainder of his reign Anthemios went abroad in public, garbed in mourning wear.

Nevertheless he could not remain unmarried; tradition strongly supported the Emperor having a new wife and frankly he needed a stepmother for his youngest children. His choice came as a shock to the Roman world.

Gyrid Gautske was a Norse noblewoman, the daughter of a successful Varangian Guard officer who had settled in Constantinople. She was essentially illiterate but with a shrewd mind and a talent for handling money inherited from her crafty father. She was twenty years old in 1063, tall and stunning, with long auburn hair, a pale complexion and sparkling green eyes that attracted the eyes of many Roman men… including the Emperor.

Unfortunately Gyrid was not just a beautiful young woman, she was a beautiful young woman who happened to be a Pagan. A clearly scandalised (and gossipy) Diodorus Doukakis recorded a story that when she first met the Emperor at a court function, the awestruck Gyrid told her monarch that she had prayed nightly to Freya that he would notice her. She was known to visit a wise woman, an ancient Norse crone who had not seen Scandinavia since the Tenth Century. She was said to practice magic herself and claimed that Thor and Odin had once appeared to her in a dream and predicted a great future for her and her children.

Of course Diodorus wrote many years later but there can be no doubt Gyrid was a pagan prior to her marriage. She was baptised by Maximos, the Ecumenical Patriarch on the day before her wedding and publicly swore herself a devout Christian but many wondered how strong her conversion really was. In some ways her extreme and somewhat exotic beauty told against her. Envious women condemned her as a witch, disappointed men condemned her as a harlot and everyone believed her to be an unlettered barbarian.

Anthemios, with the confidence of a man with an extremely beautiful younger wife in awe of him was aware of but simply did not care what was being said in the Forum, so long as it was not actively treasonous. After everything he had done for both the state and the church his own reputation was utterly imperious to scandal.

Gyrid.png
The Empress Gyrid shortly after her marriage (and conversion), 1063 AD.​
 

RossN

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Wow, definite interest in going East! :eek: :D

I have been giving the matter some thought. First of all I definitely want to restore the borders of the Eastern Roman Empire first, meaning Egypt and probably Cyrenacia too. After that... well, we'll see.
 

Nikolai

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Wow, definite interest in going East! :eek: :D

I have been giving the matter some thought. First of all I definitely want to restore the borders of the Eastern Roman Empire first, meaning Egypt and probably Cyrenacia too. After that... well, we'll see.
WHatever you choose, I'm sure it will be a deligth to read.:)
 

Specialist290

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WHatever you choose, I'm sure it will be a deligth to read.:)

Seconding this notion.

Gyrid Gautske, eh? Looks like if her and Anthemios's union proves fruitful, we'll have some Roman princes with the blood of Geatish princes flowing in their veins, at least if she's indeed descended from the same dynasty that rules that bit of Sweden at the start of the game.
 

RossN

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Seconding this notion.

Gyrid Gautske, eh? Looks like if her and Anthemios's union proves fruitful, we'll have some Roman princes with the blood of Geatish princes flowing in their veins, at least if she's indeed descended from the same dynasty that rules that bit of Sweden at the start of the game.

Note Anthemios is also descended from Charlemagne on his mother's side...
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Missionary dating...royalty style!

Also, the title for some reason put in my head a song: All the Roman ladies, all the Roman ladies...
 

Stuyvesant

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Missionary dating...royalty style!

Also, the title for some reason put in my head a song: All the Roman ladies, all the Roman ladies...

It made me think of All the King's Men. But since I don't know the book/play/movie/whatever it is, except for the catchy title, I have no idea whether there is any similarity between this update and that work of fiction/non-fiction (I really have no clue what it is about).
 

Stuyvesant

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Great update for fleshing out a character, showing a side that usually doesn't get much attention when the focus is squarely on the plots, wars, and conquest. :)

She was also perhaps the most beautiful woman in Constantinople, with deep, dark eyes, olive skin, a lithe dancer's figure and a cascade of black hair - at least according to Diodorus who saw a statue of her in the Forum at Damascus.

The above is the kind of line I really enjoy, because it hints at so much more of the world. It might not actually say much, but it let's my imagination wander.
 

guillec87

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Great update! I hope his younger wife does not distract him from his duties though
 

RossN

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Part Eight - Jubilee

Map_of_Constantinople_1422_by_Florentine_cartographer_Cristoforo_Buondelmonte.jpg

A pilgrim's map of Constantinople.

On 24th February 1069 AD the Emperor Anthemios celebrated his fifthieth year wearing the purple. A young Norwegian pilgrim named Sigtrygg Olafsson passed through Constantinople at this time and left one of the key accounts, that has been of great interest to historians. Extracts of his journals are printed below:


'Miklagard
[1] when approached from the sea rises from the horizon like the halls of the old gods, shimmering, golden and so vast it fills a man's whole mind. The glimmering waters of the Golden Horn were filled with ships of every kind and size with flags of the Italians, Franks and even the Arabs. Guided by the pilot we made harbour and joined the throng of pilgrims and merchants moving into the streets. Everywhere the sounds and sights and smells of a hundred hundred men and women from all the countries of the world, guided here by the hand of God...

The Italian quarter had set up garlands of flowers across the streets. The Venetians, who were richer flooded their homes with the stench of precious incense and the sight of purple dyed banners. I stayed long here, mindful of the words of my uncle who was a Varangian that the women of Venice are the most beautiful yet least trustworthy in the world. To my delight and misfortune I now know this to be true...'

'...In the Forum I found an ancient Varangian Guardsman who had known my uncle. We took shelter from the heat of the day beneath a statue of Old Simon
[2]. The Roman sun is fiercer than our Norse sun and the greybeard grinned to see a man twenty years and more his youth sweat and redden in the noonday heart. He told me many stories and said that he had known the Empress as a girl, being a friend of her fathers. Perhaps he did. I would later see the Empress from a great distance and she is fairer than any Venetian, though I pray more fortunate for her husband!

'The Church of the Holy Wisdom, called by the Romans Hagia Sophia and a building of such beauty a man might weep looking upon held a mass celebrating the Emperor's fifthieth year.
[of rule] Even with the great size of the Church I was lost amongst the crowds and instead sought prayer at the chapel of Saint Oddr[3]. While in the city I saw many of the relics of our Lord and of the Apostles, including the Mandylion brought back from Edessa and a fragment of the True Cross. I was told also that three thorns from the Crown of Thorns had been sent as a precious gift to the Emperor of the barbarians.'[4]

'The Emperor's triumph was held in the Hippodrome but the parade led from the Golden Gate to reach there, a seemingly never ending line of musicians and monks, soldiers and slaves. There were eunuchs with skin as dark as a moonless night that had been taken from the Emir of Cairo, fine horses from Cyrenacia, fabulous treasures from beyond the Tigris. The soldiers were all clad in silver and gold armour, the shafts of their spears and lances decorated with ribbons, hymns on the tips of their tongues. The Emperor himself, not a big man and no longer young but proud and magnificent with his older sons the Princes of Rome and Italy and his son in law the Prince of Hungary.'

'Three Patriarchs walked on foot, their heads and feet bare as a sign of humility to the King even greater than our Emperor. The crowd wept with joy to see them and sang hymns so that the parade, which moments before had been the most splendid of entertainments now became akin to a holy church, though we were in the open with only the great dome of the sky over us.'

'A friend I had made pointed out to be the envoys of the Frankish kingdoms who watched the parade with dark eyes and made no comment, though they looked often amongst themselves. I saw them again at the great feast where the Emperor laid out two thousand tables groaning with bread and fish and meat for the poor to celebrate. They were happy to eat Anthemios' bread but that was all that was happy to them!'




After his visit to Constantinople Olafsson went on to Edessa and Antioch, where historians lose sight of him. It is presumed that he travelled on to Jerusalem and perhaps Alexandria, though his journals for that trip (if they ever existed) are now lost.

RomanEmpire1069.png
The Roman Empire in 1069 AD.​

[1] The Norse name for Constantinople.

[2] Either the Emperor Symeon or Saint Symeon the Stylite. The statue may have been lost in a fire shortly after as Diodorus Doukakis writing nearly a century later does not mention it.

[3] King Oddr the Cruel, first Christian King of Norway (rgn. 994 to 1008). Oddr was not an obviously saintly figure (he was gay, decietful and as the name suggest cruel) but he was the first Christian king of the Norse and a former Varangian.

[4] Probably a reference to the elderly Khan Gzi of the Cumans who was an Orthodox Christian. There was no Emperor in the West during this era.
 

RossN

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I hope no one minds my brief excursion into a different format in the new entry, but thought it might be interesting to get a 'street level' glimspe at things at this point. :)
 

Stuyvesant

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Absolutely! It gives a sense of day to day life (okay, a once-in-a-lifetime event in the Empire's life) and the quick brush strokes - rich Italian merchants, pious commoners, humble Patriarchs, and of course our Norse pilgrim - bring to life the people that inhabit the great sprawling Empire you are creating.
 

GulMacet

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I think the view through converted outsiders works nicely. How does Norse Orthodoxy work out, anyway? Is there straight-up fanaticism from the newcomers who wish to prove themselves, or is there a certain amount of syncretism? Do they use Greek as a liturgical language or did they translate the Bible into Norse? And what is the situation in the Rus?
 

Henry v. Keiper

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I think the view through converted outsiders works nicely. How does Norse Orthodoxy work out, anyway? Is there straight-up fanaticism from the newcomers who wish to prove themselves, or is there a certain amount of syncretism? Do they use Greek as a liturgical language or did they translate the Bible into Norse? And what is the situation in the Rus?

If historical precedent means anything, they would probably translate the Bible into Norse. That was common for Eastern Orthodox missionaries who went into various areas of the world (for example, the Russian monks who went into Alaska, and translated the New Testament into the local language of the natives).
 

Nikolai

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I got inspired by your tale and started my own Byzantine game the other day. Abbasids refuse to fall together, but I've expanded into the Balkans and southern Russia in the mean time.:D
 

Asantahene

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Love the switch in perspective! It freshens things up a bit and gives you the chance to vary your style! Really liked this!