DKM

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Question- What is your Moral Authority for your religion?
 

Specialist290

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Glad to see you back in action, RossN; I had been wondering what had happened to you after the Godwin England AAR seemed to taper off. As always, I'm enjoying your particular blend of historical and character-driven narrative, especially when applied to one of my personal favorite parts of the world to read about.

Next: A return to Constantinople and a closer look at the Makedon family and our old friends the Iconoclasts.

Looking forward to it! :)
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Ah, good, southern Italy has been taken. Now go to Rome :cool: Uh...sometime in the future, of course.
 

RossN

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Part Six - Fanatics & Families

BasileiosandPavlina.jpg

Mosaic commerating the marriage of Basileios and Pavlina.

Empress Eudokia was dead. The ambitious half-Norse girl who had risen to the throne and had been a lover to two emperors died of one of the waves of Typhoid outbreaks that washed across the Near East throughout the 880s, adding the misery of pestilence to the strain of war and the embers of heresy that seemed ever ready to flicker back into life. Basileios had been in Italy in the time and though he tasked his half-brother Marinos to conduct a funeral worthy of a Livia his letters home were cool and correct rather than full of passion or grief. In his mind he had moved on. Anastasia, Basileios's oldest child and the cliosest to her stepmother had herself reached already left, married to the heir of the West Frankish throne. With both women long gone by the time Basileios came home there was little trace of the old Empress left in the Grand Palace.

As soon as he returned the Emperor married his mistress Pavlina, who having already born him a daughter was visibly pregnant as the wedding took place. Scandalously Basileios had brought her with him to Sicily. As the Caliph's envoy wrote home to his master: 'The Emperor had a woman and a war, both on his own terms... no wonder he stayed in the West so long.' Pavlina was at once unpopular with the public; she was rumoured to be very recently descended from a slave and was known to treat her own slaves very cruelly - more than one maid had been flogged raw then executed for a minor slight. Worst of all she replaced the widely missed Eudokia. This was made clear at her first public appearance as Empress at the Hippodrome in early 883 when the crowd first jeered her and then chanted the name Eudokia again and again. Such active displays of public anger ceased after an enraged Basileios ordered a senator flogged for intemperate remarks at the baths but Pavlina was never popular. Not that she cared. She delivered a healthy son named Apollonios in early 883, followed by a second daughter (Nonna) in November 884 and falling pregnant for the fourth time in June 887.

EmpressPavlina.png

Empress Pavlina.

The death of Eudokia had also caused a crisis in the succession. While Eudokia lived it had been understood that her son Leon would take the throne after Basileios. Leon was officially the Emperor’s son, born in the purple but it was commonly believed that he was really the natural child of the late Michael III. Basileios had always favoured his first born son Konstantinos, the product of a long ago marriage before Eudokia and his accession to the throne, but knowing Eudokia’s carefully cultivated popularity and the lingering doubt over how he came to the throne Basileios had done nothing. In October 883 he suddenly made his move and persuaded the Senate to make Konstantinos co-emperor[1]. Leon's abrupt demotion would be confirmed over the next few years as Konstantinos married a Frankish princess, Bardas (the Emperor's third son) became governor of Strymon after it was seized from the Bulgargians in 885 and Leon... got a servant girl pregnant and was forced to adopt the resulting son. Unhappy, unmarried, unlanded yet not without a following amongst the public Leon was forced to the margins of the Imperial family.

While Basileios had been abroad the Iconoclasts had risen twice, each time crushed for good or so it seemed. Four heretic leaders had languished in the dungeons of Constantinople awaiting his return. Ioannikos and Hierotheos, the leaders of the earlier revolt were sentenced to be publicaly tortured to death due to the influence of the overenthusiastic Empress Pavlina before Basileios intervened and had them strangled. A tough man, Basileios had no sympathy for traitors and heritics (and Ioannikos and Hierotheos were both) but he was far sighted enough to be wary of creating martyrs.

The Emperor himself was regarded with much awe and respect but less love as he reached his fiftieth year. Physically he was much as ever, tall and strong even as his once jet black beard turned grey, then slowly white. Above all his warlike nature was hailed: the Senate had taken to calling him Leodokarthos ('Lionhearted'). His other qualities were less admired. As Marinos had warned he had perhaps been abroad too long, his new Empress was found wanting and there was considerable sympathy for the degraded Prince Leon. The great project of the Emperor at this to make his Sicilian reconquest a living breathing reality. Thousands of humble Romans for the poor quarters of Constantinople were settled in the colonies of Mistretta and Torregrotta[2]. These cities were intended to promote Greek speaking culture, Christianity and prosperity in war ravaged Sicily, aside from helping with overcrowding in Constantinople itself. To his critics it was more evidence that the Emperor was more interested in Italy than the rest of his domains.

In late 887 the Emperor was suddenly faced with a problem with no easy solution. Leon Argyros, the governor of Trebizond converted to Iconoclasm and ordered the paintings, mosaics and statues in his churches to be destroyed. In a way he was a far more serious threat than Ioannikos and Hierotheos and their followers for Leon Argyros did not take up arms against his Emperor. Yet Basileios could hardly leave a heretic in control of a major province, could he?

LeontheHeretic.png

Leon Argyros.

[1] I made Konstantinos Despot, thereby making him count as being born in the purple. Otherwise he would be fifth(!) in line behind his four younger brothers.
[2] I constructed two Cities in my Sicilian territory in 882-84.
 
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RossN

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DKM: I don't normally keep track of that but 60.3 'now' (beginning of 888.)

Specialist290: Very happy to see you again too! :) Hope you enjoy this. I'm sorry the Godwin AAR sort of tapered off as you said. Perhaps some day I'll return to it if I can dig out the old files.

Henry v. Keiper: Of course. ;) Currently Rome is not a target, but who knows what will happen?
 

Specialist290

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Taking a closer look at the Doux's character traits, it seems that he's a man more given to boisterous living than quiet study, and a mite too trusting with his companions. Perhaps all he needs is a friendly visit from the Patriarch, to clarify the finer points of good orthodox doctrine and root out the poisonous tongues among his so-called "friends" who are undoubtedly the real heresiarchs behind this madness?
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Kill the iconoclast! *pets his Sinai icon of Christ*

By the way, enjoying the history book-style narrative of the AAR. Feels like I'm reading a well done article or history book.

Also I like your footnotes...I had an AAR in the works once (I deleted it after I decided it was going nowhere), and intended to use footnotes in a similar manner.
 

Tommy4ever

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I always love a good history book AAR and ever since Rome ARRisen have been drawn to stories of Byzantium. Enjoyed this thus far and hoping for a convoluted and unstable future for the Empire :D.
 

RossN

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Part Seven - Death of Princes

assassination.png

The death of Leon Argyros.

The death of Leon Argyros was recorded by the historian Demetrios of Heraclea, writing almost a century later:

Demetrios of Heraclea said:
'...The Doux had thrown a banquet were he had his guests wore the guise of the ancient Olympians. Argyros himself had come clad as Aphrodite, draped in a flimsy dress and wearing the make-up of a courtesan despite his long beard for he thought it a great joke to appear in such attire. He made love to a slave girl in front of his guests all the time guzzling wine and sweetmeats as he waved on the nobles and soldiers present to follow his lead.

It was the Count of Chalcedon, a well-known friend of the Emperor clad in the vestments of Janus who slipped the poison into Argyros’s goblet and fled the palace with the aid of a servant as Argyros fell to the ground clutching his throat and gasping and none knew how long it took him to die for the guests and courtesans and slaves scattered in terror. Two days later a brave servant returned to find his master dead on the floor, hands still clutching at his throat…’

While it might seem strange a devout iconoclast would throw a quasi-pagan orgy and Demetrios of Heraclea had a tendency to accept whatever gossip he found most interesting as gospel the truth is Leon Argyros was not popular amongst the other notables and his hedonism and heresy were well known. This likely accounts for the lack of outcry over Argyros's murder, even in the eastern themes. The birth of Pamphilios, the Emperor's fifth son and seventh child overall on 21st January 888 also distracted the public as did a tournament later in the year.

The following year war started anew in Southern Italy as the Roman truce with Amalfi ended. This time Basileios remained in Constantinople, sending his heir Konstantinios at the head of an army mostly made up of Varangians and the Emperor's personal Kataphraktoi retinues, bolstered by locally raised Italian troops. At Sorrento in October 889 a Roman over six thousand strong clashed with a Amalfitan force four & a half thousand strong, bolstered by mercenaries from Hispania. Konstaninios achieved a great victory, leaving over three thousand of the foe dead on the field for the cost of eleven-hundred of his own. Advancing on Amalfi itself Konstantinios sacked the city on 17th December 889. The lords of Amalfi surrendered and the Roman prince turned control of the territory to Bishop Arsenio of Ravello. The Bishop was an Italian speaker of Lombard extraction but he was very willing to accept the authority of the Emperor and follow the Greek rites.

Konstantinios and his army did not remain in Amalfi long. The county of Apulia, conquered nearly a decade earlier had drifted back under the control of Radelchis, the Lombard Prince of Benevento[1]. The Romans marched into the Lombard lands and at the Battle of Benevento on 13th January 890 Konstantinios was slain by a stray arrow, his sudden death all the more shocking for the Romans suffered few other losses and routed their foe.

DeathofKonstantinos.png

The late Konstantinios.

The death of Konstantinios did not alter the outcome of the war which ended with the Lombards ceding control of Apulia two months later. It changed everything in Constantinople. Konstantinios had been Basileios's favourite, his first born son and the hopes of his dynasty. When word reached Constantinople the Emperor went mad with grief, howling with rage, tearing at his hair and beard so violently that the Empress fled and the servants feared for his life. The following morning brought a measure of sanity but for the remaining years of his life Basileios wore mourning garb. He ordered a colony founded in Apulia named Konstantine after his lost son and when Pavlina gave him another daughter she too was named Konstantine, the femine form of her irreplacable brother[2].

Prince Leon now found himself heir after all regardless of the doubts over his parentage. Indeed the Emperor and the son he had all but disowned were now united in grief for one had lost a beloved son, the other a beloved brother and it was Leon that presided over his brother's elaborate funeral in Constantinople for the father could not bring himself too. Restored to favour in these melancholy circumstances the Prince was given governorship of the Emperor's lands in Sicily with Messene as his capital. He was also married swiftly to Princess Oda of East Francia, Konstantinios's widow. So swiftly in fact that none were aware the princess was pregnant until after the wedding. More than eight months after Konstantinios's death Oda gave birth to their daughter Agathe. Leon at once adopted the girl as his own[3].

Throughout all his life Basileios had found comfort in war, a way of escape from the unhappiness of his life. So at the age of fifty seven he went to war again at the personal command of an army. The Romans had watched with concern as the Armenians had crumbled in the face of Muslim adventurers. It was to secure the Roman eastern border that Basileios invaded Tarsos in January 892. From the beginning it was explicitly not a Holy War - Basileios was simply reconquering land that had de jure always been Roman.

From the start things went badly, as if God was trying to prove right Basileios's life long reluctance to conduct a war upon the Arabs in Asia. The Bardunid Emirate that ruled Cilicia was no great military power but they defended their cities and castles ferciously and had just erected a formidable fortress at Lampron. The Romans suffered horrendous casualties from the Muslims, but not as much as from Cilicia itself. Hundreds perished from malaria or from flash floods or heatwaves, or died trying to cross the mountains. It was a squalid miserable campaign, barren of the millitary glory that had crowned Basileios's campaigns in Sicily and Italy, or even the smaller wars with Bulgaria. Eventually in June 893 the Bardunids signed a peace treaty signing away Tarsos and the surrounding land. In terms of lives lost it was the costliest of all Basileios's wars, for the least ground gained.

StormingTarsos.jpg

The Romans attacking Tarsos, early 893.

[1] Radelchis II actually inherited his way into the Duchy of Benevento.
[2] Believe it or not I actually had already decided on naming the new City when Konstantine (the daughter) arrived. :eek:
[3] She must have become pregnant immediately before Konstantinios died; I'd checked only a short while before and nothing!
 
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RossN

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Specialist290: I had actually engaged him in a Theological Discussion but he proved recalitrant. Hence the poison. I was worried when I got caught but Basileios's reputation is high enough I could afford to take the hit. I suppose considering what happened to Michael III no one was that surprised!

Henry v. Keiper: Thank you, glad you are liking it! I do want to have some personality showing through via letters and historians like our friend Demetrios.

Tommy4ever: Thanks... I think. ;)
 

Henry v. Keiper

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The gains can be used as ecclesiastical propaganda: you've liberated the home city of the apostle Paul from the infidels. :laugh:

[3] She must have become pregnant immediately before Konstantinios died; I'd checked only a short while before and nothing!

Well, he died happy.
 

Specialist290

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A grueling conflict indeed, but if it helps secure the borders and citizens of the Empire against its enemies, perhaps it has saved more lives in the long run than have been lost.

Also, bad luck with losing his chosen and favorite heir in battle beforehand. Even if he doesn't live up to his father's wishes, here's hoping Leon's own future reign is long and prosperous.
 

RossN

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Part Eight - Final Years

church-of-holy-apostles.jpg

The Church of Holy Apostles, burial place of the Roman emperors.

Tarsos was not the last war of Basileios's long reign, though none others were quite so bloody. In the decade and half following the Romans gained Naissons from Bulgaria (899), finally annexed Benevento (900), conquered the Croatian territory of Zachlurnia (903) and added the province of Lykandos (907) in the east. None of these were holy wars or resulted in great swathes of territory changing hands but they show the increased strength of the Roman Empire at the dawn of the Tenth Century[1].

The aging Emperor still led most of these campaigns in person, taking the field well into his late sixties. The great physical prowess of his youth diminished of course but he remained a physically powerful man, great in stature, his beard now the colour of dull iron, his eyes flashing with barely restrained energy. A born rider he was more comfortable astride a horse than walking or being carried in a palanquin.

The greatest single expansion of the Empire in these later years was not thanks to violence, or at least Roman violence. There was a certain Christian from Tarsos named Makarios, a former mercenary turned devoutly religious who took advantage of the weakness of the Bardunids to lead an Orthodox uprising. By October 903 he and his followers had gained control of the entire Cilician coast east of Tarsos and founded a Christian principality with his capital at Doliche. Late that year envoys from Constantinople approached him, asking him to swear fealty to the Emperor. Makarios, a clever soldier but devout and simple soul wept in gratitude and at once swore his loyalty. In one ceremony he ceased to be an independent princeling and became the Emperor's man in Cilicia. Or one of them for Basileios made his youngest son Pamphillios governor of Tarsos a few months later.

In 906 Basileios turned seventy and the Senate honoured his fortieth year on the throne, in a month long celebration of public feasts, chariot races in the Hippodrome and mock naval battles off the Golden Horn. From the King of the Eastern Franks (whose daughter was married to Prince Leon) the Emperor received three dozen fine horses, their bridles made of silver and gold. From the Caliph he received the gift of an elephant named Atiya that stood ten feet tall at the shoulder and nearly caused a stampede by the horses of the Kataphraktoi regiments as they rode ahead of it through the streets. The Emperor himself, persuaded at the last moment to ride his horse rather than Atiya was a vision in purple and gold, an icon made flesh. He had finally grown frail with age but there was no mistaking that height of proud beard. The veterans of his earliest campaigns in Sicily, now grown ancient themselves lined the streets to cheer on their Achilles - and wept at the sight.

On 27th July 908 Basileios died peacefully in his bed at the age of seventy-two. He had worn the purple for forty one years and seven months, a reign longer than that of Augustus himself and short only that of Theodosius II who had been Emperor for forty eight years. However Theodosius II had come to the throne a boy; Basileios had already been a man and in Roman history no one had ever ruled for so long. He was buried in the Imperial mausoleum in the Church of the Holy Apostles, his body laid beside that of the late Empress Eudokia who was of course mother of the new Emperor Leon VI.

Basileiosat72.png

Basileios at the time of his death.

Basileios had come to power in a civilisation under decline and left the Roman Empire the strongest state in the known world. His most obvious legacy was in Sicily and Southern Italy which he had regained for the Romans and turned into a rich and powerful kingdom in its own right. He had greatly improved the Roman position in the Balkans, humbling the once potent Bulgarians and pushed Roman territory further north than anyone since Heraclius nearly three centuries previously. He had founded three cities Konstantine (in Italy), Mistretta and Torregrotta (both in Sicily) while a fourth was under construction in Cilicia at the time of his death. He had reorganised the army, revitalised the navy and left a full treasury.

There had been failures. Critical historians writing later claimed he had neglected Asia, doing very little to expand the frontier there until the pious adventurer Makarios delivered Cilicia on a platter. He had done nothing to save the Christian kingdom of Armenia though his family had come from there. He failed to take advantage of the difficulties faced by the Caliphate, preferring to avoid full war with the Arabs. Then there was his personal life; by 908 there were few still alive who recalled the murder of Michael III but many remembered the assassination of Leon Argyros, the mistreatment of Eudokia and the Emperor's many years of absence abroad at the height of the iconoclast troubles.

There had been failures but most Romans agreed Basileios had been a great Emperor. He had been like Constantinople itself, grand, unaging, magnificent. And now he was suddenly gone. What could possibly come next?

RomanEmpire908.png

The Roman Empire (and neighbours), 908AD.

[1] All of these were gained in de jure wars.
 
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RossN

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Henry v. Keiper: Very true! :) I'd forgotten St. Paul comes from Tarsos. I ended up giving it to Basileios's youngest son as a reflection of its importance.

Specialist290: Hopefully indeed. Leon is already over forty so I'm not sure how long his reign will last. I wasn't expecting Basilieos to last nearly forty two years! The death of Konstantinios was a blow but from a storyline perspective is fascinating given the uncertanties over Leon's parentage.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Whew, as I was reading I was afraid Makarios and the emperor were going to come to blows.

What's going on in Bulgaria? Are they having a nice little civil war? I hope the new emperor uses that to his advantage :p

And do my eyes deceive me? Is that a giant George over there in the upper right corner of the map? I've never seen that before in a CK2 game, but it's a nice change!
 

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Bulgaria and Eastern Anatolia seem ready for their reconquest.
 

Specialist290

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I've noticed the Makedons tend to generally have long, healthy lives when they're left to run out their full span in peace. The details are sketchy since I wasn't actually playing in that corner of the world at the time, but I think I once saw one whose reign broke the fifty-year mark, though he might have started young.

I'll throw my lot in with those calling for a liberation of the Armenians from their infidel oppressors (and, while we're at it, their own misguided Miaphysite ways). Just watch out for the Abassids; I don't like messing around in their playground much when they're nice, undistracted, and united like they seem to be right now.
 

RossN

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Appendix - The World in 908AD

NearEast908.png
The Near East

The Abbasid Caliphate remains the most powerful empire in the known world in 908, though it is surrounded by powerful neighbours. Caliph Al-Mu'tazz the Cruel has ruled his vast domains for over four decades though he is now dying from the great pox. His son Prince Ramadan, the Emir of Baghdad is a nobler man by far and has all the makings of a wise and tolerant Caliph. The city Baghdad itself has waned somewhat as Al-Mu'tazz prefers to hold court in Damascus were he can keep an eye on his western rivals.

The second great power of the Muslim world - and a rapidly rising one at that - is the great Tulunid kingdom of Egypt. The Tulunids are nominally servants of the Caliph but in practice are an independent empire, grown rich and powerful with the conquest of the North Africa from the weakened Aghlabids of Carthage.

The small Bursaquid Emirate of Aleppo, the Kaysites of Armenia and a smattering of independent Muslim principalities in Asia Minor complete the picture.

WesternEurope908.png
Western Europe

The Karling family continues to dominate Western Europe, though they are more divided than united power is beginning to slip from their hands in Burgundy and Germany. Louis III of West Francia and Eustache of Italy are the most powerful of the Frankish kings and are currently at war with each other. Louis III is married to Anastasia Makedon - Leon VI's older half-sister.

The great Ummayad Caliphate rules most of Spain though the current Caliph is a cowardly and cynical youth of nineteen which does not bode well for the future.

EasternEurope908.png
Eastern Europe

Once mighty Bulgaria has disintergrated into a three way civil war as her princes struggle for their shrinking territory and the other powers look on.

The unexpected conversion of the Hungarians to Christianity has turned what was once the pagan terror of Europe into a bulwark against the heathen barbarians. Further to the east Christian Georgia has profited from the eclipse of the Khazars and is busily expanding into the vast plains of the east.

The greast ruler in East Europe is no Christian however. Helgi of Garðaríki is not far off sixty yet shows no sign of slowing down, nor does the great kingdom he and his kin have carved out. A Norse Pagan he still follows the ways of Odin and Thor, but thankfully this mighty barbarian is far from civilisation.

PersiaandIndia908.png
Persia and India

The Shah Layth of Esfahan rules the Kingdom of the Saffarids. He is a talented warrior and rules a strong kingdom but his misfortune is to be next to a stronger one; with the Abbasids still riding high Persia is unlikely to regain her old power, at least yet.

In distant India the Pratihara Kingdom is the strongest and richest, though is so far away as to have no contact with the world of the Romans.
 
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RossN

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Henry v. Keiper: Diplomacy has actually won me quite a lot of land this game - Neapolis, Rashka and now much of Cilicia. Never underestimate a silver tongue. :)

Bulgaria is in a very nasty civil war which I will detail properly soon and yes that is Georgia. Shocked me too! :eek:

Viden: indeed but we'll see how the next Emperor views things. :)

Specialist290: Fifty? Wow, even as it is Basileios is the second longest reigning Roman in history (in this timeline anyway). I guess we'll see if his record is broken!

I am indeed looking at eastern Asia Minor, though the situation is complicated. More on that shortly...
 

Henry v. Keiper

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  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II
Looking at those maps now, my only thought is "I really hope those Karling blobs go away soon."