• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

ThetrueColt

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It is a pleasure to see so many volunteers for sparring with a new generation of athanatoi.
 
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coragamy

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Peasant's war?
 

Ponce_The_Great

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Depending on how successful these widespread revolts are I feel like we could have in role play the tragic deaths of countless senators at the hands of rebels
 
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GaiusC

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I smell heresy. Intensified heresy...
 

CzokletMuss

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Another extra screenshot:



In other news today is a public holiday in Poland (because of Corpus Christi) and I'm going to dedicate a good chunk of it to "Imperium Sine Fine" :)
 
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TurtleShroom

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I smell heresy. Intensified heresy...
Even Bubba would agree that a heresy that rises up against Rome should be crushed like Xenoi. The fact that they are heresies is not Bubba's objection, but rather, that they dared revolt against their Roman protectors who, remember, recently passed laws protecting all Christians from slavery and welcoming anyone, even Catholic laymen, to come under her holy banners.

Why would they revolt when they are no longer persecuted? Personally, I blame the Bishop of Rome...
 

CzokletMuss

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The last (?) screenshot before the release:

 
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McGrey

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The last (?) screenshot before the release:

I wonder... do Poland and Lithuania have the decision to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth? This would be awesome. Think of it! Pro Fide, Lege et Rege: This Is Madness Edition!
 
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coragamy

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Probably not seeing as Lithuania is a different color.
 

GaiusC

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Wait, this means Xenoi and Horde are fighting each other - each with their own puppet in Poland and Lithuania?

As for the rebels, and the dubious results, is it because the garrison-armies were on low maintenance and weren't yet at full morale when they fought? Even the victory as a casualty ratio that's very bad for the Imperium.
 

Zqrfmb

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I wonder... do Poland and Lithuania have the decision to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth? This would be awesome. Think of it! Pro Fide, Lege et Rege: This Is Madness Edition!
With lessons on poland's alternate history of bromance and mercenary contracts with imperium romanum.
 

Attalus

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All I see but I could be wrong is that Lithuania attacked the horde and pushed its borders east. Quite impressive but well the Horde had it rough :p
 

TurtleShroom

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When going to vassalize Poland and make them a March? I've been waiting for that forever...
 

CzokletMuss

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Check out "Imperium Sine Fine" on TV Tropes!

CHAPTER 5
1520-1540
CRUMBLING EUROPE

„I am the LORD , and there is none else, there is no God beside me. I girded thee, though thou hast not known me. That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”
- Isaiah 45: 5-7


War against the Mad King

And so brave Roman soldiers marched against the mad king Czcibor Golovin to save the good Kristianoi from the terrible fate which awaits all those who challenge the might of the xenoi without imperial protection. In his madness the „Kaiser of the Romans” was going to doom his people, just like Cathar kaiser Eudes IV de Blois and king Theoderich von Zähringen of Bavaria did before him. His Imperial Majesty was determined to not allow even more Kristianoi be led to perdition – the Aquitaine had to be saved by all means necessary.

Tens of thousands died in the first months of the war.

On the fields of München, Memmingen, Augsburg and countless others brother drew sword against brother as Kristian armies clashed with each other again and again. Knights from Aquitaine, levies from Oberbayern and Pisan sell-swords were fighting fiercely but they could not match the power of the tagmata. The bloodshed was terrible and in the end armies of the armies of the Mad King and his Reich were shattered and either destroyed or forced to retreat. By the end of year 1520 all forces loyal to the false kaiser were hiding behind the walls, besieged by Romaioi – days of the kaiser were numbered. In his mercy the blessed Autokrator ordered the Imperial Army to protect the common folk from harm and all atrocities commited by Roman soldiers on good Kristianoi were to be severely punished. Hundreds were executed but in the end the population was largely spared the horrors of war, a feat which would not be accomplished if His Imperial Majesty decided to hire Pisan mercenaries, for their hearts are hardened and their eyes blind to everything but gold.

While the once proud Christian Kingdom was besieged by the Roman soldiers, on 11 October 1520 the envoys from Barcelona signed the treaty in which in the name of king Joan d'Arago the Kingdom of Aragon officially asked for imperial protection. His Imperial Majesty granted it on the same day and few weeks later, when Joan d'Arago himself arrived in the Queen of Cities to bend the knee before God's Regent on Earth during ceremonial mass in Hagia Sophia, the blessed Autokrator swore before the Golden Throne – the most sacred reliquary of Saint Markos – to reclaim the Aragonese lands in the name of Iesus Kristos. Kingdom of Aragon, one of the pillars of the might of the Great House Angelos and the land which gave the Imperium two Angelid Emperors, was to be liberated from the xenoi yoke.

But when one by one castles of Aquitaine were seized by the Imperial Army and Konstantinoupolis was celebrating the miraculous reborn of Aragon, the Great Steppe was still being ravaged by the flames of war.


Desolation of the Horde

The Mongol barbarians could not hope for mercy showed to good Kristianoi. Countless villages were burnt down and whole tribes taken captive to work in imperial mines or to be sold as slaves on Polish or Pisan markets. As per orders of His Imperial Majesty, mercenary companies were unleashed on the enemy on the occupied lands, raping and pillaging unrestricted by the imperial strategoi. But even among them tagma ton Moldavon stood out in ruthlessness and brutality, impaling hundreds of their steppe brethren, man and woman alike. Shattered armies of the horse-lords dissolved into bands of marauders, harassing imperial tagmata and looting the countryside. On 25 March 1521 brave Roman soldiers took Suzdal, capital of the Great Khan and burned it to the ground. It seemed that nothing could take the victory from the hands of the Romaioi

But the Imperial Army was not the only enemy of the Horde.

Having unexpectedly declared war against the Great Khan in 1518 and despite facing the innumerable armies of the steppe alone, the Khanate of Lithuania was slowly gaining an upper hand over Mongol barbarians. No doubt thanks to the close ties with its protectors from the Far West, the Lithuanian forces pushed deep into the lands of the Horde. After conquering once prosperous city of Novgorod, the armies of the Russian Khan marched east. But as the Holy Bible teaches us, pride comes before a fall – the Lithuanians overreached and their main army was surrounded on the fields of Lipetsk by twice as numerous forces of the horse-lords. When the agentes in rebus brought these news to domestikos Manuel Skleros who was occupying the old city of Kiev, he ordered all nearby tagmata to immediately march to Lipetsk and himself left the city leading few thousands men.

It was there, on 13 July 1522, when domestikos of the Imperial Army and Lithuanian boyar shook hands and agreed to face the common enemy together.


Battle of Lipetsk (1522)

With support of 8,000 strong imperial tagmata, the combined forces of Lithuanians and Romaioi managed to deal a devastating blow to the enemy. The battle was won despite heavy losses and the Mongol barbarians were sent back to the depths of Asia – a decisive victory for Khanate of Lithuania. After the battle forces of domestikos and army of the Khanate went their separate ways which caused many to question loyalty of Manuel Skleros – although he stopped the Mongol advance it was unheard of for Roman commander to spare worshippers of false god Tengri.

This temporary alliance was made without knowledge of His Imperial Majesty and to the great disapproval of queen Judyta of Spis, for whom armies of the Khanate were a constant threat and Lithuanian raiders a constant annoyance. Upon hearing of what transpired, the sacred Emperor commanded domestikos to arrive in Konstantinoupolis within a month. Then, to the surprise of many, His Imperial Majesty not only decided not to punish the domestikos but commended him for his decision and honored him with title of protospatharios – a distinction which traditionally was given only to members of the House Komnenos. When queen Judyta of Spis heard of it, she decided to call off Polish forces from the East without any consultation with the Throne, fearing that Kingdom of Poland may soon be facing the very Khanate which grip on Mongol lands was now firmer than ever thanks to domestikos Skleros.

However before this incident could grow any larger or be blown out of proportion, news from the Far West reached the City on 5 October 1522 – news which had the potential to change the fate of Christendom.


Xenoi against xenoi

According to reports of imperial agentes in rebus who operated in Pisa and Caledonia, the innumerable armies of the Archenemy were rumored to be fighting against each other beyond the Great Sea. Whole fleets were said to clash against each other on the coasts of Heretic Isles with terrible force, lighting massive warships on fire with dark magic. The Xenoi Xolal, as the scholars of Great Pandidakterion call dominion of the Westerners, was still suffering from Tlacotli Yaoyotl – the Slaves' War – which desolated innumerable territories of the xenoi in Europe. Now it seemed that the whole unholy realm was plunged into chaos, as countless armies were said to be facing each other in titanic battles. There was not a man knew for sure what was really happening in the Far West, for nobody who was taken there by the Westerners ever returned. But when movements of the xenoi fleets were reported in every corner of Europe and the tlacateccatlani – Cutters of Men, commanders of the Western armies – were openly fighting with each others, it was clear even for the most cautious that the very foundations of xenoi might were shaking.

It was a sign from Our Lord.

Hope filled the hearts of men as the prospect of decisive victory over xenoi suddenly appeared to be real. Upon hearing of invaders from the Far West carving out hearts from each other with the same fury they unleashed on Europe centuries ago, the first act of His Imperial Majesty was to pray to Saint Markos for guidance. With almost all tagmata engaged in Aquitaine and in the East it was clear that it would be foolhardy to attack the Westerners. On the other hand however, this could the moment in which Romaioi could – with blessing of Iesus Kristos – decisively push away the xenoi back to the sea. In the end the sacred Emperor decided to wait, as he was advised by the Imperial Council: with fate of whole Europe at stake the campaign had to be planned and executed perfectly. His Imperial Majesty ordered megas droungarios to double his efforts in preparing the Imperial Navy for the inevitable war with the Westerners. Meanwhile megas domestikos was commanded to end the conflict in the West and East as soon as possible, as well as organize new tagmata counting at least 25,000 men.

As it soon turned out, the joy which filled the corridors of the Sacred Palace was short-lived.


Xenoi against xenoi

Porphyrogennetos Claudius Angelos, heir to the Throne, died on 25 April 1523, mortally wounded by a great boar while he was hunting with his younger brother Konstantinos in forest nearby Nikea. Although a talented hunter, even his renowned skills proved to be insufficient when facing the beast – truly no man knows either the day or the hour when the Angel of Death comes to claim one's soul, as the Holy Bible teaches us. The beast, slain by the brother of porphyrogennetos, was burned together with two Varangians who failed to protect their prince, but nothing could bring Claudius Angelos back to life. It is said that mourning Autokrator cried when he saw the body of his beloved son displayed on a catafalque in Porphyry Chamber and after the funeral porhpyrogennetos Konstantinos Angelos was named heir to the Throne.

But Angel of Death always has a plentiful harvest.

Few weeks later news of death of queen Judyta of Spis reached Konstantinoupolis, still mourning after the loss of porhpyrogennetos Claudius, thus putting an end to the controversy concerning battle of Lipetsk. Wszemila of Spis, sister of the deceased, became the new queen of Poland – the alliance between the Imperium and Kingdom of Poland was no longer strengthened by marriage ties between Great House Angelos and House Spis. The Imperial Council again and again counseled His Imperial Majesty to once again bind both realms with blood but the sacred Emperor had other plans. Unexpected death of his son proved to him how fragile are plans made by men. Citizen or barbarian, slave or God's Regent on Earth, all are equally at the mercy of Divine Providence – truly God works in mysterious ways. His Imperial Majesty sent envoys to Kingdom of Aquitaine and the the Great Steppe in desire to end the war immediately.

And so it ended.


Victory of the faithful

Kingdom of Aquitaine was under complete control of the Imperial Army, it castles seized and armies shattered. Kaiser and Kingdom of Oberbayern – the last pathetic remnant of the German Reich – were at the mercy of the Romaioi. Terms of the peace treaty signed on 3 November 1523 were harsh for the Mad King's pride but merciful for his people, now taken under imperial protection. Weakened, humiliated and with its territory split in half so that the Romaioi could gain access to the Great Sea, the Kingdom of Aquitaine was a shadow of its former glory, it power broken forever. In his great mercy the blessed Autokrator decided to give the Mad King chance for redemption in the eyes of God and men under the condition that Czcibor Golovin will renounce all claims to the title of „Kaiser of the Romans”. And so he did – but even in his darkest hour the king was still affected by the curse of Charlemagne, curse of ambition and pride, which soon revealed how powerful is its grip on man's heart.


No mercy was given to the horse-lords and none was asked for when on 12 December 1523 the envoys of the Sacred Palace presented emissaries of the Great Khan with ultimatum he simply could not refuse. The Horde was pushed back to the East and huge swathes of land were now under Kristian control. In his generosity, the sacred Emperor decided to cede all the lands surrounding old city of Kiev to Kingdom of Poland, thus securing its position as the warden of the East and ending the strife which arose from Lipetsk incident.

Truly great is the magnanimity of His Imperial Majesty, for it was in Kiev where centuries ago grand prince Vladimir Sviatoslavich of the House Rurik hacked into pieces wooden statues of the pagan gods and baptized all residents of the city. Married to porphyrogenita Anna, daughter of basileus Romanos II and basilissa Theophano, prince Vladimir – called „the Great” by his subjects – as a supreme ruler of Kievan Rus saved thousands of souls from perdition and extended the influence of the Throne to the farthest corners of his realm. Alas, no trace of the great deed of prince Vladimir survives in the tormented land after centuries under Mongol yoke and the sons of Rus are all but extinct. Long gone are the Russian principalities and only in dusted libraries of the Great Pandidakterion the memory of their former glory is preserved.


The Imperium gained territories surrounding the Euxine Sea – called sometimes the Black Sea - thus cutting off the barbarians from access to it. The whole Tauric Peninsula was now under imperial control, including the city of Azov, the only gate through which the Horde could trade with the greedy merchants of Pisa. Taurica was reorganized into several themata and new archontes were appointed to govern them in the name of His Imperial Majesty. The Euxine Sea became a Roman lake like the Mediterranean did centuries ago – a visible sign of God's blessing. With the threat of Mongol pirates eliminated once and for all, the trade between themata adjacent to the sea was expected to flourish like never before.

With fall of the Mad King and decisive victory in the East it was clear that God was with the Romans - alas, the great victories of the faithful came at a price.


Revolts of 1524-1526

The Imperial Army was victorious but the financial burden of the war and extensive reform of the Imperial Navy was immense. Special taxes had to be raised several times in some provinces to allow the Aerarium – Imperial Treasury – to repay loans which with every passing year weighted more and more on the finances of the Imperium. Increasing taxation caused unrest among the aristoi and Roman merchants alike, but the common citizens were suffering the most under this heavy burden. Eparchos of Aegyptus, one of the wealthiest provinces of the Imperium , was ordered to collect the taxes twice, as well as eparchos of Abyssinia which although not rich was the largest imperial province. The economic situation was deteriorating and soon the blessed Autokrator, heeding the advice of the Imperial Council, ordered to mint new hyperpyrron, now made of gold in seven parts out of ten and of copper in three parts out of ten. Unlike the hyperpyrron introduced by basileus Markos III Angelos which was made of gold in nine parts out of ten, the new coinage improved the situation only temporarily. Draught in Abyssinia and pestilence in Syria only worsened the situation and soon, despite best efforts of the Imperial Council to improve the situation, the commoners rose against the Throne.


Negroes in Abyssinia, Bedouins in Africa, Romaioi in Syria – in all eastern and southern provinces of the Imperium revolts erupted one by one. Soon the peasants were joined by Mongol bands calling themselves „patriots” in Armenia and Taurica. The provincial themata forces were unable to put the rebels down and so His Imperial Majesty had no other choice but to send tagmata to deal with the uprisings. But the most numerous were the rebel forces and Abyssinia, which easily dealt with local themata, looting churches and whole villages. Such dire was the situation that the blessed Autokrator ordered merciless Pisan mercenaries to be hired and unleashed on the revolters to quench the rebellion before it spills over to Aegyptus. It's not easy to wage war in the mountains of Abyssinia however and it took months before order could be restored.

But wrong were those who thought that the flames of uprising were limited to distant provinces.


A horrible disease swept through the Queen of Cities in spring 1525, killing tens of thousands of residents. Under assumption that the plague was caused by grain from Aegyptus, where pestilence from Syria spread taking many lives, the flour was disposed off. This lead to the bread shortages which caused further unrest, leading directly to the Hippodrome riots on 29 March 1525 – the greatest riots in decades if not centuries. The City Guard could not contain this outbreak of violence and soon Roman blood flew on the streets of the sacred City and numerous monasteries and churches were looted. Whole district of Konstantinoupolis was burned down by enraged mob before His Imperial Majesty allowed megas domestikos to use kataphraktoi against the revolters to a devastating effect. Thousands were slaughtered by heavily armed soldiers before the order was finally restored on 2 April.

But the worse was yet about to come.


Mamluk uprising (1525-26)

Mongol slaves, many of whom were working on the fertile fields of Nile delta, rose against the Throne. Unlike other revolters, they were numerous, well-armed and trained – they not only quickly defeated the local themata forces but also managed to conquer Cairo and laid siege to Alexandria herself. It was unthinkable for rebelling slaves to achieve so much so quickly and it was obvious they were not acting without support – it was surely a Timurid conspiracy. His Imperial Majesty ordered logothetes of Scrinium Barbarorum who was in charge of agentes in rebus in the East to be executed and quickly ordered megas domestikos to dispatch tagmata to Aegyptus to deal with the rebels. Forces of the Mamlukes, as the barbarian slaves called themselves, were more than 50,000 men strong and posed a significant threat to the whole province.

Reinforcements arrived in Aegyptus just in time to save Alexandria from fate of looted Cairo – the besiegers were repelled but almost 17,000 Romaioi died in the battle on 12 July 1526. Roman forces led by domestikos Gerasimos Hippolytos then tried to retake the conquered city from Mamlukes in battle of Cairo but were defeated. In the end the slaves were finally surrounded and destroyed in battle of Damietta, but for a high price in lives – almost 40,000 Roman soldiers died before order was restored, more than the total sum of casualties in war with the Mad King. More than a 150,000 souls perished in the Mamluk uprising, a truly staggering number. The remaining slaves paid dearly for the Mamluk uprising – in every mine and latifundium one out of every ten Mongols was burned alive as a warning to their brethren. Two tagmata of the Athanatoi were permanently dispatched to Aegyptus to root out any trace of unrest and corruption among the imperial officials.

At the end of summer Anno Domini 1526, the last revolt was quenched and peace was finally restored to the Imperium. For blessed Autokrator Basileios III Angelos the unfortunate events of the last three years were a clear evidence that despite victories on the battlefields the Imperium was still vulnerable and internal turmoil could be as dangerous as enemies outside the imperial limites. Despite the new taxes coffers of the Aerarium were empty and huge amounts of money were wasted due to corruption. His Imperial Majesty decided that the situation demanded drastic actions.


Render unto Caesar

Despite heavy taxation of land, the majority of income of the Aerarium was coming from taxes on production and trade. This was cause mainly due to the ancient privileges issued by emperors of old thanks to which most of the latifundia of old dynatoi Houses were exempt from taxation. In consequence some of the wealthiest landowners in the Imperium didn't pay taxes at all, while most of the aristoi and common citizens were burdened with supporting the expenses of the Throne. It was not the dynatoi however but the Holy Church which hold the largest and often most fertile lands in the Imperium. In case of the dynatoi the lands hold by noble Houses were frequently divided or sold during inheritance. Meanwhile the possessions of the Holy Church could only grow with every generation, enriched by numerous donations and foundations of new churches and monasteries which always came with land to support them. Whole villages and cities were property of Sancta Ecclesia, income from which went directly to coffers of episkopoi and very little of it ended in Imperial Treasury.

His Imperial Majesty decided to change this.

A new decree was issued by the Throne according to which some of the lands owned by the Holy Church in Syria and Anatolia were to be given to the provincial administration and later sold. Additionally a new tax was introduced paid in amount of one hyperpyrra for every hundred slaves owned by the Church in these provinces. Despite protests from the archbishops and metropolitan bishops from the East, the new decree brought huge amounts of gold to the Imperial Treasury. The land reform didn't end in a complete success due to the Sancta Ecclesia buying back the lands which she had to give to the state, for the first time in years coffers of the Aerarium were filled and some of the loans were repaid. To further alleviate the Imperial Treasury, the blessed Autokrator ordered the lands occupied by Funj tribes to be directly integrated into Abyssinia as a new kephanate, thus bringing more taxes to the state.

The greatest source of unrest among the episkopoi was not related to taxation however but to the matters of the Faith.


His Imperial Majesty not only sent another diplomatic mission led by megas droungarios Javier Espinosa to distant Ceylon but, despite protests of some of the hierarchs, decided to invite the Kritianoi from Hindustan to the Queen of Cities. Long lost disciples of Saint Thomas the Apostle, the brothers and sisters in Kristos from Ceylon were claimed by many to be heretics and some of the monks in the City dared to called the invitation to the holy Konstantinoupolis blasphemy before they were apprehended by Athanatoi. Such great was his mercy, such great his compassion that in his magnanimity the blessed Autokrator not only decided not to punish the monks for their blasphemies but also donated several holy icons to their monastery in a gesture of forgiveness. And there were no one else who would oppose the will of His Imperial Majesty, for who could oppose reunion between the Holy Church and her long lost children? Basileus Markos III Angelos decided to bless the Mongols from Moldau with gift of baptism and who could deny that the true Kristianoi from Hindustan deserved to join their brothers and sisters infinitely more than barbarians from the steppe? Truly the Thomas' disciples were like the prodigal son and it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad of their return for they, brothers and sister sin Kristos, were dead, and are alive again – they were lost and are found.

And so came the day in which His Imperial Majesty decided to fill the hearts of men with hope.


The Angeloi protect for 300 years

On 7 May 1527 a great feast was celebrated in every corner of the Imperium for on this day three centuries have passed since Saint Markos Isapostolos of the Great House Angelos ascended to the Throne and saved the Imperium from the fate of so many Latin realms during the Sunset Invasion. His Imperial Majesty issued a decree according to which the celebration was to last for whole seven days and numerous chariot races and spectacles were organized in hippodromes of every major city. Bread and wine were distributed for free for the whole week in every but the most remote settlements of the Imperium. Even the slaves were prohibited from working during celebration of this great anniversary, with the exception of soulless xenoi.

It seemed during those few happy days that the Imperium is stronger than ever before and that the dawn of a new age is near. Descendants of Saint Markos carried his legacy for 300 years bringing peace and prosperity to troubled lands and protecting good Kristianoi from savages from the East and invaders from the West alike. Pax Angelica, a wondrous vision of Saint Markos in which all Christendom is united by God's Regent on Earth, appeared to be within reach. Decades have passed since the sons of Timur tried to attack the good Romaioi, the Westerners were fighting each other and the Horde was weaker than ever before, as evidenced by the decisive victory of the Khanate of Lithuania, which annexed lands east to the Novgorod together with the city itself. Hope returned to desolated Europe, hope which lifted the hearts of men.

Alas, not all Kristianoi were subjects of the Throne yet.


Pisan invasion of Aquitaine

On 16 March 1528 the Republic of Pisa declared war against the Mad King. As soon as the Imperial Army and Bavarian auxilia left his lands, he proclaimed himself „Kaiser of the Latins”, thus humiliating the blessed Autokrator. His treason was to be punished now however, for despite numerous pleas for help he received none. He died out of misery and hate with half of his realm under Pisan occupation, leaving the Aquitainese throne to his underage son Sedziej Golovin, who was promptly crowned as kaiser by the regency council. The nobles of Aquitaine then sent envoys to Pisa asking for peace in return for some concessions but it was too little and too late – the fate of Aquitaine was sealed.

His Imperial Majesty had no desire to see vile Pisans ruling over lands of Aquitaine. However, being humiliated by the Mad King he could not sacrifice Roman blood in defense of those who rejected his authority numerous times despite being offered chance to repent their sins. To the surprise of many in the Sacred Palace, the Imperial Army was ordered to be dispatched in the West by the end of the year, together with supplies and dromonoi of the Imperial Navy. Rumors of war began to circulate in the City but soon it became obvious that pushing back Pisan aggression was not a goal of His Imperial Majesty.


Great Aragonese War

On 1 May 1529 the war began and tens of thousands of soldiers poured over the borders with dominion of the xenoi. The Imperial Army, the Polish and Bavarian auxilia, the tagma ton Moldavon, sailors from Aragon and Ceylon – almost all Kristian world united under the imperial Aquila was marching to war with the Soulless. His Imperial Majesty wanted to hit the Westerners as hard as possible while they were consumed by infighting, to deliver them a blow from which they could not recover. The horrible civil war which began years ago was still ravaging their dominion and almost every month new revolt against Aztec masters was erupting in every corner of Europe. With the Westerners weaker than ever before and the Imperium seemingly at the peak of its power the time has come to push the invaders back to the sea.

And so the Great Aragonese War started, called so because of the main goal of the war being the liberation of old Aragonese lands from xenoi yoke. The tagmata were divided into three main armies, one attacking African possessions of the Westerners, one leading the assault from Aquitaine into Iberian peninsula and the third army attacking from northern Italia with the support of Polish and Bavarian auxilia. Together with the support of the Imperial Navy ready to quickly transport soldiers to reinforce every army if needed – the mistakes of the last war with the Westerners were corrected and this time the Romaioi marched to victory. But not even megas domestikos expected such great advancements. In mere months huge swathes of land in Bohemia, Africa and Iberia were conquered and apart from smaller skirmishes the tagmata still haven't encountered main armies of the Enemy. As it soon turned out, the greatest concern for imperial domestikoi were forces of the revolters, who were attacking xenoi and Kristianoi alike.

Although slower than ever before, by the end of the year the Soulless finally launched a counter-attack.


Innumerable Romans and Westerners perished in huge battles across the continent, but this time the dark magic of the xenoi didn't secure the victory for them. On battlefields across Europe fire-breathing hellish monsters casted in metal were bringing death to thousands of Kristianoi but despite heavy losses they continued their advance. Cultists of Huitzilopochtli with light and thunder were reaping blood harvest from hundreds of paces but this time the Romaioi didn't flee. Despite such horrible displays of daemonic power, despite clouds of toxic smoke covering the battlefield, despite having to face forces able to torn out ground from beneath their feet, the Romaioi marched and God was with them.

Weeks turned into months, months turned into years and slowly but relentlessly the armies of Christendom were pushing the Westerners back.


In February 1532, three years after the war began, joyous news from the Heretic Isles reached Konstantinoupolis – like Aragon before it, Kingdom of England declared independence from the Westerners. Although nothing more was known about this realm at the time, the successful revolt, however small, was another crack in the xenoi dominion in Europe. The Westerners were still consumed by a civil war and, if the rumors were to be believed, other struggles in the Far West as well. Warring tlacateccatlani were supported by imperial agentes in rebus – His Imperial Majesty didn't hesitate to turn the hated invaders against each other and soon many of the xenoi hearts were sacrificed to the Dark Powers by their cursed kind. The sacred Emperor knew that despite great victories over the Enemy the Imperium would not be able to hold on to all the lands controlled by the Romaioi without overstraining the administration. Therefore the Imperial Army was ordered not to take any captives and every xenos and every half-Western abomination was to be put to a sword. No man living saw such destruction which was unleashed by the armies of Christendom upon the Soulless.

Then, in Anno Domini 1532, eclipsed by the titanic struggle the Pisan invasion of Aquitaine came to an end.


Fall of the Latin Reich

On 18 June 1532 the last castle of the kaiser Sedziej Golovin was taken by Pisan army. Captured and taken to the capital of the Republic he was then executed with all his family and high lords of Aquitaine. The House Golovin was no more. Founded in 11th century by the Pecheneg invaders of Pannonia, who then converted to Catholic heresy and in the following decades conquered Kingdom of Poland, it was one of the oldest surviving dynasties in Europe. During crusades for France called by false bishop of Rome against Cathar kaisers, House Golovin managed to conquer Aquitaine, thus uniting three crowns and becoming one of the major powers of Christendom. Having lost Kingdom of Hungary to the Horde and Kingdom of Poland to revolting Orthodox szlachta, the Golovins survived against all odds as rulers of Aquitaine, only to find their end from the hands of Pisan merchants.

With them ended the dream of the Reich, a twisted idea which caused the downfall of the Latins. Founded by Charles the Usurper - chieftain of Frankish barbarians – as a ragtag federation of tribes it was from its conception a blasphemy in the eyes of God. Blessed by the false bishop of Rome on 25 December Anno Domini 800 as a mockery of the true Imperium, it caused unimaginable misery and centuries of war between German Cathars and loyalists of the so-called pope. Now the Reich was no more, at last destroyed forever, never to tempt the hearts of the ambitious by a false promise of power and authority. Upon hearing of this, the sacred Emperor demanded from the Republic to return Kristian relics which were in possession of German kaisers for centuries to Konstantinoupolis. Among them were Reichskrone, the crown of the Reich, and Heilige Lanze, the Spear of Destiny which pierced the side of Our Lord Iesus Kristos after His death on a Holy Cross. Doge of Pisa in sent envoys to the City who presented His Imperial Majesty with the severed head of the last kaiser in a reckless and derogatory gesture of disrespect – another blasphemy which Pisans will one day answer for.

Reich died with a whimper like an abomination it was but in the meantime the war with the Westerners continued.


Battle of Finisterre Bay (1535)

As the years went on, the reserves of the Imperial Army were slowly but steadily drained. With almost the whole West in flames and innumerable fields abandoned, hunger and disease were reaping a terrible harvest in lives while the tagmata continued to fight the xenoi armies. The bloodshed was immense and soon the Aerarium was spending hundreds of basilikoi on mercenary companies dispatched to siege castles and occupy conquered lands. The Imperium was forced to take more and more loans in order to cover quickly growing expenses but in the eyes of His Imperial Majesty no sacrifice was too great if it could lead to the collapse of the Westerner rule in Europe.

More and more tlacateccatlani were rebelling against Huetlatoani – the Lord of the Far West – and by the end of year 1534 it seemed that majority of xenoi lands were occupied either by Kristianoi or by the rebels. A turning point of the imperial campaign in Iberian peninsula came when slaves of the Soulless rose against their masters in a rebellion led by the Cutters of Men and declared independence of Castile. But this realm had nothing in common with an old Kristian kingdom which once existed in these lands. Led by half-Western abominations who saw themselves as the new masters of enslaved population, the Atlepetl of Castile was corrupted by the Dark Power to its core, a horrible mockery of the true reborn Iberian kingdom. Castilian lords hoped to avoid further bloodshed but to no avail – His Imperial Majesty ordered tagmata to seize their lands and to treat them as xenoi themselves.

A moment of judgment for the Imperial Navy which reforms cost the Imperium so much in the past decade came in January 1535 when a great fleet of the Westerners was spotted from the shores of Poitou. Fearing another defeat, megas droungarios Javier Espinosa decided to send almost all of of the imperial ships to intercept the xenoi beyond the Pillars of Hercules. Under the command of droungarios Hippolytos Symeon, on 9 March 1935 the Imperial Navy sunk all of the massive warships from the Far West with minimal losses. Costly reforms of megas droungarios born their first fruit – for the first time the Imperial Navy clashed with forces of the enemy and won decisively on an open sea.

But one shall never underestimate the malice of Diabolos, the Great Serpent whom all the Westerners serve.


Daggers in the dark

On 19 April the same year an assassination attempt of His Imperial Majesty Basileios III Angelos took place while the blessed Autokrator was resting in the gardens of the Sacred Palace. Our Lord Iesus Kristos' blessing was with His Regent on Earth and despite suffering minor injury the sacred Emperor survived the attempt on his life but many of his servants did not, among them protospatharios Manuel Skleros. Details of what happened on this day remain unknown, as the Varangians disposed of the bodies of the assassins as per the order of His Imperial Majesty. Many denizens of the City believed the party involved was either xenoi themselves or inspired by the accursed Western beasts, while some suspected that the motives could be entirely different and much more sinister. In his wisdom the sacred Emperor decided not to breath any more life in some of the disgusting rumors circulating the City on these days. To protect heir to the Throne he ordered his son porphyrogennetos Konstantinos to be taken to Princes' Islands, so that guarded by Varangians and Athanatoi in old palace of the House Doukas he would be safe from obsidian blades of the Enemy.

Several months later the Queen of Cities turned her attention away from this horrible crime against God, for on 6 September 1535 Theodoros Angelos, son of the blessed Autokrator, was born in the Porphyry Chamber. Despite difficult labour, newborn was strong and healthy – a clear sign of Divine Providence watching over the Great House Angelos. Due to concern for safety of the whole Imperial Family, young Theodoros was not presented to the people during his baptism, which took place not in Hagia Sophia but in Chapel of the Virgin of the Pharos. The investigation led by the Athanatoi didn't bring expected results despite finding many guilty of various crimes and vices not allowed in the Sacred Palace, who were punished swiftly and justly. And so His Imperial Majesty in search for a safe heaven for his youngest son away from Konstantinoupolis turned his attention toward Chios.


It was there where doux Manuel Angelos, the first of the Angeloi and – according to The Chronicle of the House Angelos by basilissa Martha – the true founder of the House resided. There he built Angelokastron, the seat and the oldest castle of the House Angelos. The fortress fell into disarray after the seat was moved to Smyrna and later to Konstantinoupolis by Saint Markos himself. After decades of negligence it was not a suitable place for a porphyrogennetos but if renovated and manned it would become a formidable fortress surrounded by sea, far away from schemes and plots of the City. And so the old Angelokastron was rebuilt and as his age allowed it, young porphyrogennetos together with his mother was transported to Chios.

And the war continued.


Angeloi protect the Kingdom of Poland

On 8 May 1536 sad news reached the City – queen Wszemila II of Spis died in her sleep. But the sadness quickly turned into joy as the Polish dynatoi – or magnaci as they were called by they fellow countrymen – elected member of the Great House Angelos as their new ruler. In queen Eufrozyna Angelos ties between the Imperium and Kingdom of Poland once again became strong, as they used to be. As a distant cousin of His Imperial Majesty raised on a Polish court, queen Eufrozyna could not hope to inherit the Throne. However, as a descendant of Saint Markos she was enjoying the same blessing Almighty God gave to her House. It was a joyous day for all – the Imperium could count on an assistance of its strongest ally, the people of Poland could enjoy the divine protection of the Great House Angelos and queen Eufrozyna was confident that her cousin would answer her call to arms if it comes to this.

Not all news brought to Konstantinoupolis were good however. Agentes in rebus from the East reported of a new war between the Horde and sons of Timur, war in which the Imperium with all its forces engaged in the West could not intervene. Blessed Autokrator could only hope for an outcome favorable for Kristianoi, for decisive loss of either of the imperial enemies would only strengthen the other. Motivated by this unwelcome turn of events, His Imperial Majesty ordered his tagmata to assault the remaining xenoi fortifications in an effort to put an end to the devastating war. Majority of the former Latin lands in Iberia, France and Germany were now under imperial control and the Westerners exhausted by a long struggle and an ongoing civil war could no longer resist – they had to agree for concessions.


Crumbling Europe

After eight long years the impossible was achieved – the xenoi were decisively beaten, on land as well as on the sea. How many soulless beasts were sent to Hell during the war, nobody knows. It was obvious however that this war was a turning point for them, for it was proved without a doubt that the Westerners, with all their dark magic and seemingly endless numbers, can be defeated. His Imperial Majesty sent megas logothetes to Corsica to negotiate the terms of peace with the xenoi in his name. As before, the accursed Pisans without hesitation assumed the role of mediators in the peace talks, gladly serving interests of both sides as they always did. The negotiations were long and not without incidents due to the Roman emissaries reluctant to spend more time than absolutely necessary in the vile presence of daemonic mockeries of human form.

In the end however a consensus was reached and the peace treaty was signed on 9 February 1537.


The Great Aragonese War ended in victory of the Kristianoi, with the Imperium and other belligerent realms liberating as much land from xenoi yoke as possible. Forced to cede the Balearic Islands as well as Canary Islands, the Westerners ability to resupply warships and send them deep into the Mediterranean was greatly reduced. Likewise, with Gibraltar garrisoned by the Imperial Army the Pillars of Hercules were now firmly under Roman control.

But without a doubt the greatest achievement of this war was restoration of Aragon.


The unholy Atleptl of Castile was all but destroyed. As a result of the war, the oldest ally of the Imperium grew in size and strength tenfold and Barcelona ruled now over all the territories which were once in possession of the Kingdom. But the corruptive influence of the xenoi left their mark on this land. Almost all of old castles and churches were leveled long ago, blasphemous pyramids were towering over ruins of the once populous cities and barren landscape was filled with strange plants and animals from the Far West. Save for denizens of Barcelona herself there no Kristianoi in Iberian Peninsula, all of them killed, sacrificed or corrupted decades ago. Decimated population of slaves consisting of Aragonese and half-Western abominations was worshipping the same Dark Powers as the invaders who put them in chains. It would take decades, perhaps centuries before all traces of xenoi beasts are removed and Kingdom of Aragon once again becomes a bastion of Christianity as it was for so many years.

The war was over and with it – as it seemed - the period of uncontested dominance of Westerners in Europe. The path to Pax Angelica envisioned by Saint Markos almost three centuries ago for the first time appeared to be within the reach. The Imperium was safe within its limites and strong with the power of Kristos, ready to led the Christendom into a new era.

Whatever horrors were hidden beyond the seas in the distant Far West, the faithful were now ready to face them, for God was with them.

Night, 6 November 1539
Chamber of the Imperial Council, Sacred Palace, Konstantinoupolis


Three men are standing beside the heavy ebony table standing in the middle of the chamber. No servants or eunuchs accompany them, nobody is pouring water or wine to the empty golden chalices put on a nearby tripod table. Darkness of the night is kept away from the chamber by candles in silver candelabra, which cast casting long shadows on the floor and walls. On the table lies a small map which is devoid of any decoration and appears to be very old. Despite that the attention of men standing beside the table seem to be attracted to the map with a great force, such is the intensity in their gaze.

One of them, a short man with grim expression on his smooth face rises his eyes from the map and turns his head to the left. Candlelight dances on golden embroider on his white silk robes.

DAVID GABRAS: Is this accurate?

Balding man holds his turban in his left arm, blue like the paludamentum he's wearing. With his right hand he's scraping golden brooch of Megas Droungarios encrusted with sapphires.

JAVIER ESPINOSA: I searched in every church, monastery and library on Ceylon for anything which would disprove this map. I didn't find it.

The third man straightens up his imposing posture looking at Espinosa above the map with his muscular arms folded across his chest. He wears no armor under his red chlamys. The ring of Megas Domestikos shines in the dark when the man strokes his beard.

DOMENICO MARTELLI: We should have known the moment the statue was discovered.

Megas Droungarios shows his teeth.

JAVIER ESPINOSA: There is a fine line between knowledge and heresy. Our actions can't be based on legends or myths.

He points with his turban at the map.

JAVIER ESPINOSA: The evidence however...

Gabras, now looking at the map, asks another question.

DAVID GABRAS: Have you told the Emperor?

Espinosa shakes his head.

JAVIER ESPINOSA: I've just received it from my servants. It would be unwise-

Martelli turns toward Megas Logothetes.

DOMENICO MARTELLI: What do we do?

David Gabras looks at both of his companions and starts to roll up the map.

DAVID GABRAS: I will tell him. I need both of you in the Palace for the foreseeable future, make the necessary preparations.

With map in his right hand he turns to Espinosa.

DAVID GABRAS: Notify the Senators. I want all of them to arrive in the City by the end of the year.

Espinosa smiles.

JAVIER ESPINOSA: With pleasure. May I ask why? The Senate session was not yet called by His Imperial Majesty.

Megas Logothetes looks at the map in his hand before answering.

DAVID GABRAS: He will.
 
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CzokletMuss

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IMPORTANT
Please wait with submitting your applications to the Senate until next Diarium Senatorum is released (tomorrow). Thank you!
 

Enlil

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Okay then, I almost sent my new character today. I'll do it tomorrow then.

Also, incredible chapter, these victories against Aquitaine really helped Pisa reestablish itself.
 

luciusmalfoy012

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My Reactions:

Wow, horde got rekt
Wow, rebels got rekt
Wow, Aztecs got rekt
Wait, what? A Demon child? Can we please have an evil Emperor?
Wow, Aquitaine got rekt
Then:

hmm, wait a minute, the Imperium is actually doing well. Czoklet won't stand for this..

scrolls down

OHSHIT.JPG

CHINA IS COLONIZING SIBERIA

EVACUATE THE PLANET

THERE WILL BE NO SURVIVORS



I've been waiting for this chapter to come out before writing my new character: I'll have it written by Sunday.

I have a question: Can I have my Senator be from Ceylon? It's not technically a province of the Imperium, but considering the topics we will be covering in the next few sessions I thought a local's POV would be nice.
 
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