• 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

CzokletMuss

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I didn't expect anything better. Oh and don't worry - it gets worse. Much worse.
 

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Blasted Xena! The Empire faces barbarians strong as never before, and she and the nobles scheme...*shame*
 

CzokletMuss

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Oh my god! It is better than a house of cards episode!
So betrayal, everywhere betrayal... The soaked-in-blood emperor will turn his eyes to the crumbling empire ?
A question. How comes that danish were orthodox ?
Well, Saint Markos did mend the Schism, you know :) And thank you, I don't watch "House of Cards" but I've heard it's good.
Blasted Xena! The Empire faces barbarians strong as never before, and she and the nobles scheme...*shame*
Porphyrogenneta Xene is 14 years old, so it's not really her fault. Everything will be explained in the next chapter :)
 

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The Netherlands is getting crowded with kingdom-remnants :happy:
 

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CHAPTER 12
1326-1330
HOUSE DIVIDED



Doux Nikephoros Angelos, son of doux Theophylaktos Angelos known as Skylos, declared what was to become known as the War of Angels on 7th December 1326. His father was a loyal servant of the Empire, hero of the Second Mongol Invasion and a skillful commander, always carrying orders of blessed basilissa Martha without hesitation. Unlike him, doux Nikephoros – cursed be his name – was a vile and petty man, who above all wanted to prove his worthy of his father and to avenge him, for in his eyes his father's castration was a crime against his family. Blasphemously using young porhpyrogenneta Xene, daughter of the Empress and dead king of Aragon, he managed to gather sufficient support among the aristoi to raise a hand against Basileia Romaion. Too make things worse, the powerful House Doukas joined the rebellion too, hoping to use young Xene as a puppet, marrying her to one of Doukoi lords and thus regaining the Imperial Throne.


Although at first too few in number to pose a direct threat, the forces of treacherous rebels soon increased greatly. By the time first major battles of the civil war took place, the rebel scum was in control of more than 70% of the Empire. Why the rebellion was so popular? There were various reasons for this. Some of the aristoi, especially those in charge of imperial merchants, wanted lower taxes and thought that by joining the traitors they may achieved exactly this. Some wanted to gain independence, some desired more titles and gold, some seized the opportunity to destroy their enemies – and some were without a doubt paid by the Enemies of the Empire to do so. Many were corrupted by Aztec gold and the leader of the invaders form the Far West was more than pleased to distract the mighty Basileia Romaion while he was busy destroying what was left of Christian Sweden in the North.


But even with majority of the aristoi in open rebellion against the Throne, basilissa still had the two powerful tools needed in every war – sword and coin. Thousands of mercenaries together with elite tagmata were gathered near the City to protect it, for the arrogance of the traitors was so great that in their blindness they decided to attack the invincible Walls of Konstantinopoulis. With nearby countryside in flames, the brave soldiers of the Imperial Army slaughtered the rebels in what was known as battle of Deuteron on 20th June 1327. And although some tried to surrender, the Empress showed no mercy to her enemies. With the City and imperial domain safe, the troops soon was send to Asia Minor, were more rebel armies were gathering and triumphed once again on 30th November 1326.


The elite tagmata was unstoppable but with the blade of the Imperial Army aimed not against barbarians but against citizens of the Empire, with every victorious battle thousands of good Christians were killed. To make things worse, even such powerful force as tagmata couldn't be everywhere – to transport and deploy it took time. Meanwhile, the rebels were in complete control of the more than a half of the realm and were sieging cities and castles loyal to the Throne. War has again cut a swath through the land and with tens of hundreds of peasants killed or fighting in the rebel armies, crop failure, poor harvest and finally food shortages became common. What followed was disease, taking lives of the traitors and loyal servants of the Throne alike. Even worse, the raids of the Enemies intensified – Aztec slavers in Tunisia, Shia fanatics in Aegyptus, Mongol bandits in Syria and Armenia. Road bandits were everywhere, murdering and stealing. Pirates sponsored by Pisans were disrupting the trade, capturing the ships with grain from Aegyptus. Even the City was suffering, with constant violent riots and hundreds of refugees seeking protection within its Walls.


But the worst was yet to come. By the end of December many of the aristoi in charge of provinces near the borders were in war with subjects of khagan – Mongol war-chiefs decided to seize the occasion and invade the unprotected borders, thus beginning regular war. The Empire was in flames, unable to protect itself or its citizens. And although tagmata was victorious in every battle, there were simply too many cities and castles to protect, too many rebel armies to defeat. It was obvious that sooner or later the Horde or Caliphate will decide to invade weakened Basileia Romaion, sealing its fate forever.

And then, in this truly dark hour, a tragedy fell upon the Empress.


On 4th January 1328 porphyrogenneta Xene was found dead in her chamber, probably suffocated with a pillow. Without a doubt it was a scheme arranged by the House Doukas against Angeloi. A quick investigation lead by trusted eunuchs of the Imperial Place found more than 37 officials involved in this horrific plot. The Empress, shocked to her core by such gruesome deed, ordered them to be tortured and executed, thus eliminating all the agents of the House Doukas.

Now some were saying that in fact there was no scheme, especially not led by Doukoi since they could not possibly benefit from murdering the one person in whom name the banner of rebellion was raised. Some even dared to accuse our beloved Empress of committing this terrible sin of filicide. It has to be said that there are no proof for such insane theories, nor any of the witnesses ever confirmed them. Repeating this disgusting lie is considered treason against the Throne and is treated accordingly.


The excruciating pain caused by a loss of her beloved daughter was eased a little for the Empress on 6th January, when porphyrogennetos and heir to the Imperial Throne Markos Angelos reached adulthood. Although the City was still mourning after this terrible crime against the laws of God and men, young Markos was a symbol of hope. Ambitious and pious, he was a good diplomat and rhetor and he was only 16 years old. The horrors of war were somewhat easier to endure when one knew that the future basileus shows so much promise. As it was arranged years ago, porphyrogennetos married princess Beatrix von Zähringen, sister of king Theoderich of Bavaria, thus securing alliance with one of the strongest independent Christian kingdoms.

This new alliance and unexpected death of porphyrogenneta Xene the rebels lost spirit. With no valid casus belli and their lands exposed to raids of the Mongols, Aztecs and Shia fanatics, they decided to surrender. To make sure that the mourning Empress was going to accept their offer, they betrayed their leader doux Nikephoros – cursed be his name – and sent him in chains to the City.


But unlike many charged of the high treason and swiftly executed with their lands and titles taken from them, the Traitor was about to experience the true wrath of a mother of a murdered child. The Empress didn't give him the mercy of death – he was long tortured by the most skilled executioners of the City, all of his children excommunicated and blinded, his lands taken from him. He disappeared in the dungeons of Imperial Palace, never to see the light of day again. Some even said that he was kept alive for years, exposed to terrible tortures every day of his pathetic life, for not only his rebellion greatly weakened the Empire and caused a death of porphyrogenneta, but also was directly responsible for another disastrous blow which was about to fall on the Basileia Romaion.


On 17th August 1328, a little more than a six months after the end of the civil war, High Priest Chilagun declared Second Great War for Bulgaria. With entire cities in ruin and countless thousands of soldiers and commoners dead, the still bleeding Empire was about to face another invasion of the barbarians. But this time they were not fighting for their khagan – they were fighting for their Dark God, Sky-Father Tengri. Years ago soldiers of the Imperial Army successfully stopped the hordes of pagan fanatics, for the demon they worship is nothing compared to the might of Iesus Kristos. But this time weakened Basileia Romaion was about to face not only volunteering Mongol chiefs hungry for blood of Christians – this time khagan himself joined the Great War.


Once again Horde was gathering all of its innumerable armies to destroy the Empire. From the frozen forests of Siberia to the deserts of Arabia, tens of thousands of barbarians were preparing for war. Soon these vast forces were about to march against the Christians. Like a dark river breaking a dam, they soon flooded the imperial borders, bringing death and misery. The Empress, understanding the gravity of the situation and seeing how sword may not suffice to defend the Empire, decided to use a dagger.


Assassination attempt was alas unsuccessful – although wounded, old khagan survived and with all the sleeping imperial agents revealed and soon sacrificed to the Sky-Father, the fate of the war was to be decided on the battlefield. Soon the barbarians were at the gates.


In the East the Mongol locust was pillaging and raping for months before the themata of the Imperial Army was gathered. Sons, uncles or brothers of the executed traitors were now leading the imperial forces to defend the borders of the same Empire they were rebelling against. Soon the whole Syria was in flames and citizens of Basileia Romaion were dying by a thousands.


In the West, due to the proximity to the City, tagmata and mercenaries were deployed to protect Konstantinopoulis. Gigantic armies of barbarians crossed the borders and were preparing to cross Danube, carrying death to countless Christians. Crucifixions and rape were common and whole villages were burnt to the ground.


Although the Imperial Army was victorious in the first battles, these titanic struggles which could easily determine the fate of the war among lesser powers for the Horde were nothing more than a skirmishes. In the year 1329 during the battle of Zaazouaa alone 60,000 men were butchered - and the battle took place during the summer where vast majority of the Mongol warriors weren't even close to the imperial borders. By the end of the year Imperial Army was crumbling – even every victorious battle meant losses measured in thousands. And while the soldiers were dying for their Empire, the forces of the Enemy seemed to be infinite, with every slaughtered army substituted by another. It was a war of attrition, a war which - even if won – would further weakened Basileia Romaion exposing it to its other enemies. And they were many.

But the most disastrous news came not from the battlefield but from the chambers of the Imperial Palace.


Porphyrogennetos Markos Angelos died on 8th February 1330 after a common cold. This completely unexpected death of her only living child and heir was for the basilissa more devastating than anything else. They said that even if Hagia Sophia was to be burnt or tagmata decimated it could not affect her more. Empress of a convulsing realm and mother of a murdered children, basilissa Martha was said to died inside on this tragic day. No news from the battlefield, no matter how bad or good, were able to move her. She succumbed to despair almost completely – she knew that even triumphant she would be only waiting for death to reunite her with her lost children. What was left in the shell of a human being she became was only fire - fire of revenge.

Empress ordered every captive barbarian to be tortured to death. Every slave or eunuch who was a descendant of Mongols was to be put to the sword. Imperial agents in the lands of the Horde were to poison the wells and set on fire crops and temples of the Sky-Father. More over, basilissa Martha ordered to eliminate all the most important leaders of the enemy forces. From Crimea to Syria, Mongol generals were dying from poison, arrow or dagger.

But in her furious and righteous anger basilissa didn't anticipate one of this orders to backfire so horribly.


Among the victims of imperial assassins was the Mad Caliph, leader of cursed Shia and one of the greatest enemies of Basileia Romaion. With his death on 24th April 1330 the Caliphate was expected to be consumed by civil war among the pretenders to his title, at least delaying the threat of invasion on Aegyptus for years. Unfortunately, the scheme was revealed when the agent of Bureau of Barbarians was caught and under torture admitted that he was executing orders from the City.


There was no war amongst the Shia – instead, the new Caliph decided to avenge their leader and on 11th June 1330 decided to attack the Empire, opening a new front in Nubia. Soon muslim bands were hunting down defenseless Christians, while the main army of the Caliphate together with elite forces of Mamluks, mercenaries and various orders of Shia fanatics was preparing for the invasion. But basilissa had to fear more than just another armies gathering to strike against the Empire.


On 26th June 1330 during bath the Empress was suddenly attacked by one of her servants. Although the eunuch was quickly dismembered by the axes of her Varangian guards, he managed to stab basilissa in the back. The wound, although painful, wasn't life threatening – what was much worse than loss of blood was the knowledge that Caliphate had agents in the Imperial Palace. Dozens of people were arrested and interrogated in the days after the assassination attempt but Bureau of Barbarians didn't manage to find accomplices of the attacker.

To the surprise of her doctors, basilissa Martha denied any treatment - she finally succumbed to depression. With everyone she ever loved dead and her Empire fighting for survival with a desperation of a mad dog, she thought it would be pointless to delay the inevitable. The Empress ceded almost all of her duties on the High Council and spent most of her days slowly walking in the garden near the Imperial Palace or just sitting in her chambers and looking out of the window on the waters of Bosphorus glittering in the light, while her servants were changing bandages on her wound. She stopped showing emotions whatsoever, listening to the reports brought from the burning corners of the Empire in complete silence, her face unfazed.


They said that when on 24th July 1330 her guards suddenly disappeared while she was walking in the garden, she just smiled sadly. Before they were executed, the assassins testified that when they were approaching her with light dancing on their curved daggers, the Empress opened her arms, as if she was waiting for them.

 
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CzokletMuss

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Or is it? ;)

EDIT: Before the next chapter take a look at what the new Emperor is going to deal with:

 
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Nikolai

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That Ilkhanate.:eek:
 

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One good thing: you finally get Aragon, didn't you ? :laugh:
Good luck with that, it's going to be difficult times for the Empire !
 

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This may be madness, but entertaining madness to be sure!
The Empire is going down but it's will do its best to take everyone with it.
What a sad end for this cruel wicked glorious empress...
Blasphemy! The Empress was without a sin as a God's regent of this world. Bureau of Barbarians will take care of you, heretic scum!
That Ilkhanate.:eek:
That's the worst thing brought with new revolt mechanics. If you have gigantic blob, you WILL have tens of religious revolts, uprising and liberations - and all of them give your vassals +75 (defending against infidel). Which means the Horde and Aztec being in permanent state of war have this sweet +75 almost constantly, thus making this giant blobs virtually indestructible. I understand Paradox intentions but it doesn't work - they are simply to big to fall.
One good thing: you finally get Aragon, didn't you ? :laugh:
Good luck with that, it's going to be difficult times for the Empire !
Yes, another doomed province to send its sons to slaughter in a desparate fight against barbarians :) And thanks - I still don't know whether I will survive until the end of campaign. All it takes is one successful revolt and without me leading the Empire it'll surely fall apart...

As a bonus, religions of the world in 1330 (because I know you want to see this craziness):
 

GreatUberGeek

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After seeing the strange screenshots thread post, I just had to subscribe...this is one crazy world...
 

CzokletMuss

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I'm glad you like it :) BTW the map of Europe on the first page is obviously outdated by now but it still can give you a good understanding of (hopeless) situation for Christians. I'll make a new map in the future, either in 1364 (100 years after the first one) or 1344 or 1353 - that is, if I survive :p
 

Stuyvesant

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My god, that was a monstrous update! And not just in the events that unfolded, but also the sheer size of the update. Took me a fair bit of my work day to read it all... ;)

What a tragic life for Empress Martha. Death and destruction all around her, a civil war, death of her family, and in the end, she welcomed the same death that she had visited upon so many others (I was reading about the civil war and was just thinking: "I wonder if he has considered killing Xene?" when lo and behold, little Xene choked to death on her own blood. Gruesome. But nice. And blaming the Doukoi for it was a particularly nice flourish).

Luis, the Castillian Emperor (so much for the Greeks...) has his work cut out for him. Do you get a penalty for the fact that his culture is not Greek? Probably the last thing you need right now: more upset nobles, while the vultures are circling.
 

CzokletMuss

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Hi there, I hope you'll enjoy the story :)
My god, that was a monstrous update! And not just in the events that unfolded, but also the sheer size of the update. Took me a fair bit of my work day to read it all... ;)

What a tragic life for Empress Martha. Death and destruction all around her, a civil war, death of her family, and in the end, she welcomed the same death that she had visited upon so many others (I was reading about the civil war and was just thinking: "I wonder if he has considered killing Xene?" when lo and behold, little Xene choked to death on her own blood. Gruesome. But nice. And blaming the Doukoi for it was a particularly nice flourish).

Luis, the Castillian Emperor (so much for the Greeks...) has his work cut out for him. Do you get a penalty for the fact that his culture is not Greek? Probably the last thing you need right now: more upset nobles, while the vultures are circling.
Thanks - I hope I didn't affect your productivity at work too much ;)

Yes, these are dark times for House Angelos. I have to admit that when my heir Markos died when he was 18 years old (damn you RNG!) I was this close to ragequit. It's like everything is falling apart at the same time. Mongols, traitors, assassins, disease...

[video=youtube_share;t6qQSll7InQ]http://youtu.be/t6qQSll7InQ[/video]

And to answer for your question yes, this is -20 opinion malus for different culture group with all my vassals :(