GulMacet

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Why would you want to release Georgia? At this point, every soldier possible is needed! There is a truce for now - if such a thing is possible with these barbarians - but you have to fortify the northern frontier of Persia immediately! This threat is worse than Attila and his Huns ever were...

Oh, and the new map style is very informative. I approve.
 

Specialist290

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Agreed on the new map; like Stuyvesant, I was starting to get a little lost with some of the place names as the empire pushed further east. The new style helps me keep things in perspective -- hope it's not too much work on you to have to format them all!

And the first clash of Roman and Mongol is appropriately apocalyptic. I'd imagine that, with this being the first proper external crisis Constantinople has faced in centuries, there's a fair bit of panic among the Senators and surviving Exarchs. Let's hope Konstas can at least keep the Mongols from reaching the Tigris.
 

Stuyvesant

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Good God, that was a brutal slaughter. The Romans have been bested, an experience they haven't had in a long time. Now it's time for diplomacy, particularly that time-honored Roman version that consists of handsome payments of gold and the whispered suggestion that the neighbors next door over would make a far more appealing target for plunder/conquest for the Mongols.

I dread to think what the loss of your standing army will do to the restless nobles, always ready to scheme...
 

RossN

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Varangian2.jpg

An officer of the Varangian Guard, from a Thirteenth Century mosaic.

Part Two - Preperations

More than men were lost at Gonbad-e Qabus. Centuries of invincibility were lost too.

During the three and half centuries the Makedon dynasty had worn the purple the Romans had suffered setbacks. At Hireapolis almost two centuries before an entire army of nine and a half thousand had been lost to the Arabs. Nablus, Beersheb and Roud Avar were all storied defeats that stained the chronicles of Roman history. Yet the war against the Mongols was different. Not just battles had been lost but a war had too, and on such a scale that for the first time in centuries the very Empire was threatened. The Tagmata was left a shadow of it's former self and the eastern themes especially had been bled dry. A very painful rebuilding process began. The core of course were those regiments that had survived the war. The Varangian Guard was recalled from distant Sind to form a core of infantry to the largely Roman cavalry. The reborn Tagmata proper would be focused more firmly than before on horsemen; Dasu and Gonbad-e Qabus had proved what the Mongols would do to even the best armoured and armed foot soldiers.

Östen Henriksson, the Swedish mercenary who had led the Romans at Gonbad-e Qabus (and Daergaz and Sabezvar) was retained by Konstas despite the opposition of some including the Empress Agne. Konstas knew that Östen was the best general available and as the Protostrator [Marshal] of the Varangian Guard he knew his own men well. Besides which as Konstas pointed out to the Senate, Östen was the only man who had defeated the Mongols at all. So the barbarian stayed. At Östen's advice the gradually rebuilt standing army was left in Persia, ready to respond to the Mongols swiftly.

The one relief for Konstas was that none of the Exarchs moved to take the throne for themselves, perhaps because they would then be faced with the Mongol threat. Prince Niphon, who still had some adherents, was surprisingly quiet. This was not out of any great sense of loyalty to his brother-in-law the Emperor but because he was appointed the Exarch of Persia April 1224. Persia was a rich prize, ample enough even for Niphon, but it was also directly bordered by the Mongols. Niphon, no great warrior, needed the Tagmata and the other themes to guard his lands.


Tuzniq.png

Despot Tuzniq of Georgia, December 1227 AD.

The other potentially troublesome province was Georgia. Despot Antiochos died on 20th December 1227. Roman hopes that the Georgian throne would pass to a Christian were dashed when his Muslim nephew Tuzniq took power [1]. It was a delicate moment for Constantinople. Stripping Tuzniq of his crown would have meant a war, and that was the one thing above all others that Konstas dreaded. The Mongols could invade at any moment and even if the Roman army won a swift victory over Tuzniq the troops lost might make all the difference. So Konstas swallowed his principles and ignored Tuzniq's apostasy for now - though he did send his Ecclesiarch to Georgia to preach to the people and (discretely) Tuzniq's court.

The looming threat of Hulegu dominated all concerns in the Roman world. In February 1224 Bishop Theophanes of Aglen arrived at the Khagan's court in Tus, hoping to win the Mongol leader for God. He was promptly imprisoned and though he was later released neither Konstas nor Ecumenical Patriarch Ioseph II dared try again. Attempts to strike an alliance with Shah Hazarasp of the Ghaznavids were likewise unsuccessful. The Shah was not unsympathetic to the Romans and none hated and feared the Mongols as he did but he was mired in a vicious war with the Indian princes who were threatening to drive him from the Punjab altogether.

There was another threat, one not measured by the strength of barbarians but frightening all the same. The Emperor Konstas was old and growing older. At the close of the Mongol War he had already been sixty. As the silver of his beard turned to white the whispers in the palace, the Senate and the Forum turned to the succession. For years it had been assumed that Alexios Makedon, the Exarch of Sind would be the chosen successor. Alexios was a skilled general and his son Bardas had even married Konstas' eldest daughter Viviana. Yet Alexios had grown bitter approaching his middle years. The death of his wife left him bitter and cynical. Bardas himself was a disappointment, an untalented and unlikable youth. Konstas briefly considered making Viviana his heir but there was no enthusiasm in the Senate [2]. What he truly wished was to pass the throne to his son Gerasimos but the boy, though talented and clever was far too young.


Princess%20Viviana.png

Princess Viviana in May 1224 AD.

Empress Agne, the daughter of Kallinkos and the sister of Prince Niphon realised her opportunity before almost anyone else. She was an ambitious woman; any other wife of an Emperor might have been content to act as regent for her son. Not Agne, she had been born to the purple and though her relations with Konstas had been good she had never forgotten how much of his legitimacy came from her and her bloodline. Not only was she ambitious, she was persuasive and experienced, a woman who had spent her entire life as the daughter of one emperor and the wife of another. In 1228 the Emperor began to suffer from depression and his wife, a quarter of a century younger and in rude health began to play an increasing role in Government. She had allies in the Senate and Church, those who remembered her father fondly and who had no confidence in the near atheistic Alexios. Agne also the trump card that she was mother to Gerasimos, who for all his youth showed great promise.

Could the Romans accept an Empress ruling in her own right? Konstas seems to have thought so and late in 1228 he publically called on the Senate to appoint his wife his successor. The move was generally popular in Constantinople, where Kallinikos was still much missed and Alexios a distant unknown. The Exarchs were a more doubtful quality; would they follow, united by their fear of the Mongols and Agne’s unimpeachable blood claim?

Time would tell. On 12th August 1229 Konstas V breathed his last, worn out by old age and the demands of rule. At the time not many chroniclers rated him well, blaming him for the disaster of the war. The partisans of Niphon never ceased to call him illegitimate. Yet later historians have re-evaluated him. He had been a good emperor, a just and intelligent man whose early life had given him no preparation for the role. It had been his misfortune to wear the purple when the Mongols appeared and after the shocking defeat he had done his best to prepare the Romans for the next war. What the unmartial and treacherous Niphon would have done can scarcely be imagined.

As for Niphon’s sister, time would tell…

[1] Actually he is a Yazidi but his son and heir is Sunni. I’m not sure what happened to the Georgian royals…

[2] I switched to Agnatic-Cognatic Elective. I did consider Viviana but I thought Agne was the better bet; she’s an adult, her claim is very good and her son has the makings of a fine Emperor. I won’t lie the main draw is narrative though.
 
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RossN

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Good to hear the map style work for everyone. I'll use them more in future. :)

GulMacet
: Narrative reasons mostly but yes every soldier is needed - hence Tuzniq keeping his throne.

Specialist290: Yes, the next war will probably be decisive, though of course we know (even if the Romans don't) that there are always more Mongols! :eek:

Stuyvesant: Hah, if only I could get away with bribery! :D In fairness I have run with Roman tradition in appointing a friendly barbarian my army leader.
 

Stuyvesant

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When I think about what really happened in this update (there was an unwelcome succession in Georgia, your bishop was unsuccessful in converting the Khagan, and your ruler died), really not much at all came to pass.

And yet you manage to turn it into a compelling narrative: an Empire under siege, the Mongols ready to pounce at any time, an untested new ruler (and a woman at that)... Great stuff - one could easily forget that the Roman Empire is a sprawling behemoth the likes of which the world hasn't seen since Alexander's heyday. :)
 
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RossN

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Heh, don't worry more will happen next installment. :D

That said I did want to get across that the Romans were shaken to their core by the Mongol invasion. It is not just the lost battles, though those battles were disastrous defeats. As I pointed out in the links above the Romans have lost battles before. However those battles were defeats in wars of expansion or successful defensive wars and for the last century or so the greatest risk to Constantinople has been internal - civil war or adventurism. The Mongols defeated the Romans and it was only because they asked for so little that they took so little. Persia was left almost defenceless in 1223 and had Hulegu been more ambitious things could have taken a more disastrous turn.

So yes the Roman Empire is a behemoth but it has just discovered that it is not immune to barbarian attacks.

Which begs the question - does Empress Agne rule Alexander's realm, or Darius'?
 

RossN

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Volume XV - Agne

Empress%20Agne.png

Empress Agne, August 1229 AD.

Part One - An Empress on the throne

The Empress Agne is maybe the most controversial of all the Makedons. Many of the common people loved her for her kindness and bravery, qualities that made her a heroic defender of the common man. Partisans of Prince Niphon decried her as the unfaithful sister who had stolen her brother's throne. Great moralists of the Church lambasted her after her death as a harlot in purple robes, a reborn Theodora playacting as Justinian.

The statue of Agne in Tripoli, believed by historians to be a surviving copy of a now lost 'Column of Agne' in Constantinople, gives us an extant likeness of the Empress. They show a women of typically Makedon build; stocky of limb and of average height at best. Her face was more handsome than pretty, though contemporary chroniclers including Shirzad, the Shah's ambassador wrote admiringly of her dark hair and eyes which marble statues and profiles on coins have not preserved. When she assumed the purple she was forty and in rude health, the mother of several children. Her eldest son Gerasimos was thirteen and some perhaps expected her to act merely as regent until they came along. In this they soon realised their error; Agne signed documents and minted coins as "basilissa" (βασίλισσα) [empress] without any reference to her son and heir and in October 1229 she informed the Senate she had no intention of appointing her son 'or any other' co-emperor. Such was the horror in the Senate house when she proposed assuming the office of Consul that she withdrew her proposal - though she did not forget.

The Empress had been married to a much older man in a political match and by all accounts she remained faithful to Konstas V. She did not however see herself as bound to a widow's weeds, and within months of her donning the purple rumours were spreading throughout the Forum that Agne was taking lovers.


Age%20and%20Ioseph.png

The Empress enjoyed a close relationship with her Ecumenical Patriarch.

More ink has been wasted on Empress Agne's romantic life than any woman other than Queen Cleopatra or Salome. In her lifetime and in the centuries since she has been portrayed as everything from sex-crazed airhead to ice hearted seductress to passionate and liberated heroine. What facts are known suggest she did have an affair with the Ecumenical Patriarch Ioseph II, a man in his early thirties who by all accounts considered celibacy best practiced by others. She was also linked (in letters written by Shirzad to Shah Hazarasp) with her confessor Bishop Theodoulos of Castelfranco and Bishop Iordanes of Dolni Dabnik, which would certainly explain the silence of the Church on some of the scandalised gossip floating around, at least in Agne's lifetime. Her true passion however, certainly her favourite was the soldier Nikodemos, a handsome youth of obscure birth but considerable ability. It was Nikodemos who was almost certainly the true father of Agne's son Eugenios, born in August 1230. Officially Prince Eugenios was the son of Alexios Makedon, the Exarch of Sind whom the Empress wedded in January but no one then or since believes this and it was an open secret that the Empress was with child when Alexios arrived in Constantinople. For his part Alexios remained silent but given the close links his family had with the Imperial Family - his son was married to her daughter - he may have been willing to risk public humiliation for the sake of his new wife [1].


Egypt%20and%20Nubia.png

Roman controlled Egypt, Nubia & Arabia, 1230 AD.

The affairs of the Empress were interrupted by foreign invasion, though from a completely unexpected source. Like Konstas before her the Empress had painfully rebuilt the army to face the Mongols but the Khagan proved elusive. Unnoticed by the Romans great events had been taking place to the south of Egypt. The Muslims had conquered the Christian kingdom of Nubia a century earlier and in more recent times it had passed into the hands of the Jaleelid dynasty of Mecca, a great power grown rich off the coin of pilgrims and the Roman rival in the Indian Ocean trade. All had changed utterly in the space of a couple of years. The Sunni Jaleelids were rapidly ejected from Nubia and in their place the Shia Trinkitatid dynasty had risen, led by a boy Caliph, Hussayn II. In February 1230 the boy Caliph - or rather his advisors - called a Jihad for Egypt.

Egypt was one of the richest provinces in the Roman Empire, the breadbasket of the Roman world. Vast grain fleets sailing from her ports fed the teeming citizens of Constantinople. At the time of the Trinktatid War Egypt was Greek speaking, at least in the cities. In terms of religion she was Orthodox in faith, the Coptic church having faded into the shadows. The Egypt of Agne was more truly 'Roman' than the Egypt of Heraclitus had been. Had the Mongols attacked at the same time the Empress might even have sacrificed Persia to save Egypt. Mercifully she did not need to make the choice. The Muslims seem to have supposed that the Romans had not recovered from Hulegu's devestation, perhaps even that he would seize his opportunity.

Battle%20of%20Thebes.png

The Battle of Thebes, 22nd June 1230 AD.

Agne acted quickly, ordering the themes of Egypt, Judea and Mesopotamia to combine forces, supported by soldiers from the Levantine Ports of Ascalon and Jaffa [2]. It was a huge commitment of strength but the Empress vowed Egypt must be held. Together the Romans raised a formidable army, eventually numbering over 30,000 men and under the command of Exarch Leon of Egypt they inflicted a key defeat on the Muslims at the ancient city of Thebes. The battle, waged on a sweltering June day in 1230 was like the rains after a drought. Other victories would come and the Romans would follow the Nile deep into Nubia before the boy Caliph was forced to make peace the following year, but Thebes restored something that had been lost to the Romans: confidence. The stains of Dasu and Gonbad-e Qabus were cleansed.

The Empress was hailed 'the Hammer' for her victory and she in turn ordered a triumph to be held for her loyal and gallant soldiers. Estatic crowds thronged the Hippodrome, not to see the booty, which was neglible but to see their heroes return. No matter that very few of the soldiers, who were from Egypt and the Levant had ever even seen Constantinople before they were Romans, and what force on earth could defeat true Romans?

That was the question the Empress Agne asked herself. The Mongols had not stirred since their war with Konstas and now reports were reaching the Romans that the Khagan had adopted Persian ways and taken the title of Shahanshah [king of kings] [3]. Well the Romans knew how to fight Persians. The Tagmata had been painstakingly rebuilt and the themes were ready to be called upon. Empress Agne decided that in 1234 the Romans would go on the offensive and attack the Ilkhanate...




[1] Prince Eugenios is a Legitamised Bastard - given Agne has the 'Kind' trait (and picked up 'Just' too) it seemed out of character for her not to recognise him.

[2] The Levantine Ports (Tripoli, Tortosa, Ascalon and Jaffa) are part of my personal demense, largely for narrative reasons (though they are rich too.)

[3] Hulegu has adopted Persian culture, no doubt from his Persian wife, though he remains Tengri in faith.
 
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RossN

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Only one reply? :(

Agne is a fun and interesting character to play. She's ambitious and, yes, a seductress but she's brave and kind too.
 
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DKM

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Only one reply? :(

Agne is a fun and interesting character to play. She's ambitious and, yes, a seductress but she's brave and kind too.
Well, I just finished reading it so you can't expect much of me.

Interesting thing about the Mongols being naturalized. What culture is their heir? And yes, Agnes seems like someone who would be blacklisted from the history books until the late 1800's with the rise of Women's Rights movements and Civil Rights movements.
 

Specialist290

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Only one reply? :(

I for one blame real life. Been having some serious connectivity problems ever since I relocated to a different state for the summer.

Agne looks like another good candidate for the Rejected Princesses list. If I had to describe her in one word, that word would likely be "audacious." Let's hope that that audacious nature doesn't end up getting her into hot water, especially by biting off more than she can chew with the Ilkhanate!
 

Stuyvesant

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The juxtaposition between the screenshot of Agne engaging in some spirited tumbling and the dry caption 'The Empress enjoyed a close relationship with her Ecumenical Patriarch' is delicious. :)

I don't know about the Empress' spirituality, but looking at her list of lovers, it's clear that she tightly bound to (by?) the clergy. Having read Robert Rankin since I was young, I was instantly reminded of his euphemism of 'Taking tea with the parson'. :p

I like Agne. Whether or not she'll make a great ruler is yet to be seen, but she seems sensible and decisive. The war over Egypt was a good tonic to restore some Roman confidence, now let's see whether the Empress is getting over-confident in taking on the Mongols.
 

Nikolai

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Oooh, much have happened here since I last visited.:) The Mongols will be a hard nut to crack. And now you have the new ruler penalty too...
 

Tob.Ristlin

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Gonna start reading now! keep it up!