KestrelGirl

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@Mr. Phorcys ...what is air? (fangirl term for "I'm laughing so hard I can barely breathe")
@RossN Wow! Agne has done quite well so far! But of course, the biggest Horde yet is incoming...
Also, I noticed that you don't have that little strip between Italy and the Roman-controlled Balkans that belongs to Bavaria and is required to reform the true Roman Empire. Once you've beaten back the Mongols, this should be easy to conquer, along with that piece of North Africa you also need in order to reform.
Once again, no pressure. :p
 

Specialist290

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The Golden Horde cometh. The Ilkhanate was a challenge enough when the Empire was at the fullest measure of its strength; I'm not expecting things to go well given the present circumstances, though hopefully the losses won't be too great.

At least all good citizens can take comfort in the fact that Agne is devoting so much time and effort to personally attending to the ministrations of her ministers as they comfort their flocks. I'm sure many are turning to the Church for reassurance in these troubled times.
 

DKM

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Stuyvesant

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At least all good citizens can take comfort in the fact that Agne is devoting so much time and effort to personally attending to the ministrations of her ministers as they comfort their flocks. I'm sure many are turning to the Church for reassurance in these troubled times.

Indeed. The Empress leads by example, riding, as if she were a virtuous knight, with her bishops together into the glorious climax that this fervent expression of faith surely will bring. For the Empire.

<Ahem>

Good to see the Mongols checked relatively easily. Well, at least until the Golden Horde showed up. The Romans have certainly done far better so far than Eastern and Central Europe historically did.

It was interesting to see the complex interactions between the Shia Caliphate and the Romans. More than simply war/peace, the relationship has some complexity to it.
 

DKM

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Indeed. The Empress leads by example, riding, as if she were a virtuous knight, with her bishops together into the glorious climax that this fervent expression of faith surely will bring. For the Empire.
I so wish there was a I could put this into my signature and it still be funny! Unfortunately, it wouldn't be as funny out of context.
 

RossN

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Navy%20persian%20gulf.jpg

Roman warships in the Persian Gulf, 1251 AD, from a Thirteenth Century source.

Part Four - Sunset

Empress Agne had always been a woman of imposing character but as she entered her sixties she began to visibly decline. Even to her late fifties her only sign of aging had been her hair turning iron grey but by late 1250 she had grown so infirm she needed a stick to walk, despite the efforts of doctors from Aquitaine to Sind. Always vain she all but retired from public life and her once constant appearances at the Hippodrome dwindled away, her seat occupied by others in the Imperial Family. Events in December of that year gave the ailing Agne a shock from which she never truly recovered. The soldier Nikodemos, her long-time lover and believed the father of her youngest and favourite son Eugenios disappeared from the palace grounds on the 16th December. In the early hours of the following morning a basket containing his severed head was deposited on the steps of the palace. The mark of the Hashshashin had been carved into his forehead.

The Hashshashins had been a curse for decades, their murders the stuff of horrified whispers in the Forum. Yet now they had gone too far. The Empress ordered the destruction of the order. All across the great expanse of Roman Asia suspected cultists were dragged from their homes, put on trial and executed. On 5th February 1251 a Roman army stormed the fortress-monastery of Alamut, destroying the power of the fanatics for ever. Agne, generally kind and just to her prisoners showed no mercy to those who had driven the knife so close to her heart.


Destruction%20of%20Assassains.png

The Roman vengance against the Hashshashins was harsh - and final.

Even as the Romans lay siege to Alamut a new war beckoned. On 17th January 1251 Caliph Abdul-Gafur declared a Jihad for Mesopotamia.

Once the military attentions of the Sunni Caliph would have sent a shiver down Roman spines but the great days of the Abbasids and Muradids were long gone. The Caliphate was now in the hands of the Khamisis dynasty, an obscure house based in the shores of the Persian Gulf. Of territory they controlled little. In the Arabian Peninsula the great temporal power were Jaleelids who also ruled in Abyssinia and had they joined the war the Romans would, perhaps not worry but at least take pause. Unfortunately for Abdul-Gafur, the Jaleelids, the mightiest Sunni state were busy with stamping out a rebellion and in any event the Sultan, a wiser man than his spiritual lord had judged Roman strength better. The Muslims of Nubia meanwhile were Shia and had their own Caliph, whose embassy was welcomed into the Empress' presence.

The war, if such it can be called for no great battles took place, saw the first true foray of the Roman Navy into the Persian Gulf. Two hundred and sixty ships flying the standard of Rome sailed down the glittering waters of the Gulf, the fast dromons pulling ahead of the lumbering transports. Over 21,000 Roman soldiers sailed from Basra in July. The Muslim sailors wisely stayed in port and the army led by Exarch Hypotios of Mesopotamia landed at Dhu Zabi unopposed. As Abdul-Gafur and his men trembled behind city walls the Romans methodically captured the fortresses of his country. By 8th October, with his favourite wife and his son in Roman hands he sued for peace.


Abdul-Gafur was left with his throne, but not for long. Within a year Mizra the Fat, the Jaleelid sultan had conquered Dhu Zabi and abolished the Caliphate. After almost six centuries the historic office was consigned to history and millions of Sunni Muslims, no few of them Roman citizens, where left with a spiritual leader [1].

Meanwhile, Hypotios sailed home in triumph, not so much for victory over a feeble and foolish foe but because he had displayed Roman might even over the distant seas of the world. Let the Jaleelids and the pagans of India take note!


Khamisis.png

The Arabian Peninsula in 1251 AD. The Sunni Caliphate, ruled by the Khamisis dynasty, is outlined in red.

Sadly Empress Agne did not attend Hypotios' triumph. She could not. In September Agne's mental state had rapidly deteriorated to the point that her husband Alexios, who was also the Exarch of Sind, Prostrator [Marshal] and the Caesar was appointed regent. Alexios was already seventy three, a decade older than his wife, but while his arm had never healed from a training accident his health and mind were as fine as ever. He would prove a capable ruler, though his acquisition of the county of Sestos in Thrace from the demesne of his ailing wife caused much anger in the Imperial family [2].

The one mercy was that Agne was not aware of the death of her second son Prince Kallinikos in November 1252. The prince was thirty two years old and though atypically scrawny for a Makedon his illness had been a brief one. In character he had perhaps been the most like Agne of all her children combining her traits of bravery, kindness and a strong sense of justice. To the displeasure of his widow Queen Anastasia of Anatolia he would be known as Kallinikos the Unchaste.

Agne did long survive her son. On 27th November 1252 she breathed her last in her bed in the Grand Palace. She was sixty three and had ruled the Roman Empire for twenty three years. She had inherited a state living under the shadow of defeat and restored Roman pride. She had ensured a smooth succession and left a rich and powerful state. There had been mistakes and failures too. Some historians contend the victory over the Mongols was won at too high price in treasure and Roman lives and the true victor in the struggle between Agne and the Ilkhanate was the Golden Horde. Others, with a sentimental attachment to the fossilized traditions of the Republic decry her neutering of the Senate, and the hypocrisy of depriving them of the power of electing the emperor when that was how her husband had gained the purple. Above all were the stories of her personal life which would outrage moralists for centuries. Those same stories would inspire reappraisal of her life as one of passion and individualism, winning her as many admirers as critics amongst her biographers.

As the Empress lay in state a ship had been dispatched to Egypt where Agne’s eldest son and heir Gerasimos had long been Exarch. The new Emperor had been so long absent from Constantinople few could recall his character or ability, though Egypt had prospered under his rule. Would the Empire do likewise?


Roman%20Empire%201252.png

The Roman Empire in 1252 AD.


[1] The Sunni Caliphate is no more. Amazing to think when I began this game the Abbasids where the most powerful faction by far!

[2] God, I hate it when regents do this, but as it happened I inherited Smyrna almost straight after so Agne's demense size stayed the same.
 
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RossN

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guillec87: Hope the problems are fixed. Glad you like it! :)

Mr. Phorcys: A question that perhaps thankfully has yet to be answered - though I like the way you phrase it!

GulMacet: I like that optimism!

alhoward: eep, I genuinely didn't mean it in that way!

MiasmicMoose: True, but there are other lakes. :)

KestrelGirl: I thought I made myself clear on the Roman question. ;) Also I'm actually related via marriage to the monarch of Bavaria so I wouldn't war against my ally.

Specialist290: Heh. :D In fairness to her Agne does have the Kind and Just traits. Her fondness for men of the cloth aside I think the ordinary people probably do love her and with good reason.

DKM: Exactly!

Stuyvesant:
;) Seriously though I do try and take in account what relations would be like between rulers. Hussayn has many qualities that the Romans would like, especially his Sympathy for Christians. And of course he is a counterweight to the Jaleelids.
 

Stuyvesant

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The end of an era. I'll miss that lady. And so will a sizable portion of the Roman clergy. :p

At the beginning of her reign I wondered how it would turn out. Turns out things were very good indeed. True, the victories over the Mongols were extremely bloody, but compared to the utter collapse that was suffered by various states historically, the butcher's bill was far preferable. The Empire still stands, it has not lost any ground, and it is in a better shape to resist the Golden Horde than if it had lost the East.
 

guillec87

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that's the Empire of Alexander!
 

Specialist290

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Did anyone else notice the two pockets of Ilkhanate separated by a sucessfully sieged Golden Horde revolt?

Indeed. The Mongols eat their own young, it appears. Metaphorically speaking.

Fare thee well, Agnes; you'll surely be missed by churchman and layman (hehe) alike. Let us hope Gerasimos proves competent enough to deal with the Empire's threats, both outside and within its borders.
 

DKM

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you'll surely be missed by churchman and layman (hehe) alike
But what if they're the same people? ;)

I say you should knock the tribes of Pannonia down a notch.
 

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I finally caught up. Good work blunting the Mongols (for now at least).
 

Asantahene

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God rest her! What a reign. All the more impressive given she is a woman in a man's world. Just out of interest: why the move to primo?
 

Nikolai

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Because primo is awesome and much more secure than eletive, I guess?
 

RossN

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Volume XVI - Gerasimos

Emperor%20Gerasimos.png

The Emperor Gerasimos, 1252 AD.

Part One - Promise Cut Short

The Emperor Gerasimos was thirty six years old when he donned the purple. A tall man, well-proportioned and full bearded, his skin darkened by many years service as the Exarch of Egypt, Gerasimos was a skilled swordsman and horseman. He had been a wise ruler of Egypt and the limited correspondence of his that has survived suggests a man of considerable intellect and ability, if willing to be flexible with the truth if the need was there. Yet for all his impressive qualities some sensed there was a melancholy streak to the Emperor. His first wife had died of a sudden illness not long after their marriage and for a time it had seemed that the prince would succumb to depression. Empress Agne, alarmed at her heir's decline had considered recalling him from the foreign climes of Egypt, purely for the sake of his health. Gerasimos recovered and remarried but the ambassador of the Caliph[1] wrote of a 'lingering sadness and loneliness to the man... the lines of stress and weariness engraved on his brow.'

Though married for most of his life Gerasimos had yet to have a child and the assumption was that either his youngest brother Eugenios or his nephew Damianos (Prince Kallinikos' son) would succeed him. However the Empress Garyphallia finally bore a son on 12th June 1255. The infant Prince Prokopios emerged to a world where the succession was a very important matter, for his uncle Prince Eugenios was dead and Emperor Gerasimos seemed destined to follow him soon.

Though his health was never good the Emperor had embarked on a war in the east in April 1254. The collapse of the Ghaznavid Shahdom had left a rump Muslim state in north eastern India and the Hindu Kingdom of Pratihara established across the northern course of the River Indus. Though perhaps established is too strong a word as the Maharaja had only just fought a civil war and the Indians had been left in an exhausted state. The Romans found little direct opposition, the length of fighting only due to the thickness of the walls of the besieged cities. By the following year the whole north of the Indus would be Roman and peace would follow in early 1256. The true threat to Gerasimos would lie elsewhere.

Adventurism had been a plague to the Roman world for centuries. Once it had actually seen a sitting Emperor toppled. At the start of Gerasimos' reign Renaud Karling, an obscure French nobleman descended from the great dynasty and related via marriage to the Makedons aimed at something a little lower, carving a kingdom of out Persia. Based in Aquitaine the canny and ambitious Renaud won many followers to his standard, drawn by stories of the fabulous wealth of the Roman East. While the Romans were distracted by events in the eastern borders Renaud invaded Provence, crossing the border in July 1255. The Italian themes were raised and under the command of Prince Eugenios the Romans met the invaders at the Battle of Monaco on the 17th October 1255. It was a hard fight, the invaders having superior numbers, including crucially cavalry. At the climax of the battle as dusk was beginning to fall on the inconclusive fighting Prince Eugenios was felled by an enemy arrow. So enraged were the Romans that they at once launched a ferocious counter-charge at Renaud's left flank, catching the foe unexpectedly as he had been preparing his own breakthrough. Roman vengeance trumped the gold and silver Renaud had paid his mercenaries and as his cavalry was hurled back the adventurer’s army melted away.


Battle%20of%20Monaco.png

The Battle of Monaco, 17th October 1255 AD.

Renaud did not remain at liberty long. Defeated again he was finally captured at Arles on 3rd February 1256. The Emperor was not a man given to cruelties but for the killer of his brother there could no mercy. Renaud survived after a fashion but his direct line would end with him.

The news of Arles was greeted with muted cheer in Constantinople for the Emperor was now clearly beyond mortal hands. The frail health that had cursed him for years had now developed into a severe case of pneumonia. At the start of Spring on the advice of his doctors the ailing Gerasimos was brought to the Imperial retreat of Kallipolis[2]. The airs and stresses of the capital were too much for him. For months more the Emperor lingered but hopes for his recovery, briefly raised in late summer soon faded as Gerasimos was confined to his bedchambers. There, on 10th September 1256 he breathed his last. He was forty years old.

Even before the Emperor’s final illness there had been whispers in the Forum and even in the Church and Senate House that the Imperial Family laboured under a curse. Of Empress Agne’s three sons none lived to see their middle years. Kallinikos had died a young man after a short illness, Eugenios had died in a battle he had won and as for Gerasimos… well, though he wore the purple and expanded the reach of Rome his life was a vale of tears. A widower in his teens, laboured by stress and depression even the brief happy period of his life was soon undone. The birth of Prince Prokopios after literally decades of childlessness did nothing to restore Gerasimos’ health, and as he declined further he could hardly forget he was leaving the Roman Empire to an infant. Eugenios, that martial and gallant brother might have served as a strong regent but even that comfort had been stripped from Gerasimos at Monaco.

After the death of Gerasimos it did not take long for the critics of Empress Agne to emerge from the woodwork, blaming her wanton nature and arrogance for the illstarred fortunes of her children. The tarnishing of her reputation would last for centuries.



1256%20Map.png

The Roman Empire & neighbours in September 1256 AD.

[1] The Caliph of Nubia, the Shia Caliph. The Sunni Caliphate has been abolished in universe.

[2] Gallipoli.
 
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RossN

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Sorry for the delay guys. I was feeling creatively drained for a while there.

Stuyvesant:
Yes, I was very fond of her too, though I do wish she had had a happier end.

Mr. Phorcys: Actually they were Ghaznavids, who have since collapsed completely - the Mashadid Emirate is a Ghaznavid successor state.

Specialist290: He was capable, just not lucky... or happy. :(

DKM: But they are fellow Christians! Besides the borders would look ugly. ;)

Idhrendur: Thanks! I was quite lucky considering.

Asantahene & Nikolai: Largely it was narrative driven. The Emperor Kallinikos didn't want his impious son to succeed him. Agne on the other hand wanted to hand her son the purple and had reduced the powers of the Senate (in game terms she introduced Absolute Authority.) It felt in character to restore primo. Of course the flaws with that descision have already become apparent...