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    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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Heresy! The Empire cannot be destroyed!
Are you disagreeing with the servant of the Throne? That's extra heretical! The Emperor (blessed be his name) will have your eyes!
 

gooy

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this is just epic. the only thing one could consider as winning is surviving.
i never played with the aztec invasion but i might wanna try it now, cause i'm playing the makedons from the old gods starting date and after awhile it gets too easy.
in your situation i don't know if even restoring the roman empire would make any difference at all.
 

CzokletMuss

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Old Aztek has a strange icon...
Iesus Kristos... he's right! This explains everything - invasion from Far West was caused by papist schemes! Curse you, bishop of Rome!
this is just epic. the only thing one could consider as winning is surviving.
i never played with the aztec invasion but i might wanna try it now, cause i'm playing the makedons from the old gods starting date and after awhile it gets too easy.
in your situation i don't know if even restoring the roman empire would make any difference at all.
Exactly this. For most of the time instead of planning next conquest (as usual in CK2 when you have a decent blobby realm) I spend most of the time desperately defending the borders and doing everything I can to keep it all together. And (game-wise, not story-wise) I find surviving yet another invasion/civil war/assasination attempt extremely rewarding (also thanks to Ironman).
And yes - I doubt it is going to make a difference. Maybe only in history books of the future generations. If there will be something more in Europe than illiterate slaves, that is.
 

alphaomega66

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I think the only thing that can save you is if the Last Patriarch of Constantinople (A wonderful name would be Gabriel Angelos) warps back in time from the year 2005 (all the scientists fled the Aztec and Mongol invasions into Constantinople) with a bunch of gene-modded troops and guns and tanks in order to save Christendom. You know, the stuff you see in XCOM: Enemy Within.
The only reason Constantinople survived till 2005 was that the Aztecs and the Mongols were too busy beating the crap out of each other to deal with some city in some backwater continent as well as progressing in science and technology. Meanwhile Constantinople gets a time machine working and warps the whole damn city back to Medieval Greece.
 
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CzokletMuss

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CHAPTER 13
1330-1335
SAVED THROUGH FAITH

Blessed basilissa Martha Angelos the Apostle was dead, stabbed 23 times by the Shia assassins in the gardens of Great Palace on 24th July 1330. With all members of her closest family dead from sword, disease or dagger, the Imperial Throne was now empty. But not for long.


While he finally arrived in the City for the funeral with his wife and son, king Luis Angelos of Aragon for the first time in his life saw the Empress, his father's second wife. Being a direct descendant of Saint Markos – blessed be his name – king Luis was a head of the Aragonese branch of the House Angelos. His grandfather, porphyrogennetos Diogenes was the oldest son and heir to the Throne, alas he was slained by the heretics from the cursed Order of Calatrava on 25th June 1283 while defending the kingdom of his wife, queen Varela de Vidaure, the Lioness of Aragon. His father, king Markos was her son, a husband to the Empress and her faithful ally. With all these great men and women dead, thanks to the glory of his House, the power of his realm and the blood of Saint Markos in his veins king Luis was promptly declared the Emperor of Basileia Romaion. The High Council and the Senate didn't have any other choice, for the Enemy was at the gates.


In his first act as God's Regent on Earth, basileus Luis decided to marry princess Beatrix von Zähringen, sister of the brave king Theoderich of Bavaria. Although he was already married, the Patriarch under pressure from the High Council decided that it was God's will to do so, for the Empire was on the brink of destruction and one of the few things which could help in its survival was alliance with powerful Christian realm. And so on 30th July princess Beatrix became his wife. There was a great faith in Aragonese army, which together with Bavarians was expected to greatly help the Imperial Army. The Army was in a disastrous condition - with almost half of themata destroyed it was unable to protect the countryside from the barbarians. Instead the remnants of the army reinforced by mercenaries, forces of the Brotherhood and tagmata, which was constantly moved from one theater of the war to another, were trying to hold their ground against the barbarians. The Romanoi were victorious in most of the battles but the power of the Horde lies not in quality of their troops but in their virtually infinite numbers.

But tens of thousands of Mongol locust wasn't the only challenge basileus had to face immediately.


House Doukas has waited for a long time for an occasion like this. With beloved Empress Martha dead and Aragonese member of House Angelos on the Throne, the Doukoi were slowly gathering support. After ruling the Empire for more than a hundred years their hunger for power was still as great as it was before the blessed rule of Saint Markos. Basileus knew this. He also realized that it won't take much to persuade most of the aristoi that Alexios Doukas, who was said to be the Doukoi pretendent to the Throne, was better fit to rule the Romanoi than a foreigner like him. On the night of 21th November Alexios Doukas was waken up by the Varangians sent from the City and quickly and in secret transported in chains to the dungeons of the Great Palace. Such act against one of the mightiest Houses in the Empire would not be forgotten, but with the provinces of Armenia, Syria and Bulgaria in flames even Doukoi didn't dare to start rebellion.

In the meantime, the death toll of the Great War was still rising. Bodies of tens of thousands slaughtered barbarians and imperial soldiers were a feast to the crows. And they were the only creatures which feasted during these days – a great famine combined with outbreaks of measles and small pox were killing even more than the gigantic battles in the mountains of Syria. Although still resisting the invaders, Basileia Romaion could not gather enough forces to protect its citizens in Aegyptus and Palestine from the Shia fanatics, hunting down Christians without opposition. Aristoi wealthy enough to afford it were fleeing to Italy, holy icons from Antiochia and Hierusalem were transported to Rome to protect them from the worshippers of the Sky-Father. Even in the City the poor were dying on the streets from riots and disease while the aristoi were partying, thinking that the end is nigh.

The situation was dire but thankfully the Emperor despite his young age knew the art of war. With fresh troops from Aragon and Bavaria together with tagmata forcing the Horde out of the plundered Bulgaria there was still a beacon of hope for the Empire. And it was then, in the early December of the year 1330, when basileus Luis gave his troops an order unprecedented in the history of warfare with the barbarians – he commanded his men to abandon their strongholds and attack. It was obviously a desperate move but Basileia Romaion couldn't afford to keep fighting in this war of attrition. Already Imperial Army with themata suffering great losses reaching almost one third of the whole units, some of them annihilated completely. Young men from all over the Empire who heard these orders were probably terrified – but they submitted to the will of the Throne. And so the whole Army marched into tens of battles, against all odds determined to carry the orders of their Emperor and to defend Basileia Romaion and Christendom or die trying.


Casualties were terrifying – by the end of the month whole thema were butchered by the blood-hungry Mongols. Overall, the Aragonese Offensive as the Emperor's order was called was a victory – but a pyrrhic one. Before the civil war of 1326-1328 there were almost 100,000 troops serving Basileia Romaion in the Imperial Army and after years of war this number has fallen to just 20,000 after the Aragonese Offensive. It was only because of the allied Bavarians, fresh armies from Aragon and mercenaries that the Empire was still able to defend itself, although barely. The attack on all fronts saw tens of thousands dead in just several weeks. But a bleeding Basileia Romaion was still standing – the barbarians now realized that if they wanted to tear away the province of Bulgaria from the scarred body of the Empire they would have to pay for it dearly.

And thanks to the grace of our Lord Iesus Kristos, Mongols found this price prohibitively high.


On 20th December 1330 High Priest Chilagun decided to call off the Great War. To this day the reasons of such decision are not completely understood. Some like to emphasize that by the end of the war a powerful rebellions broke out in what was once Russia and Persia, forcing khagan to call off his armies. The others think that it was because of the conflict between the highest priest of the Cult of Tengri and khagan himself. But the truth is obvious – it was only thanks to our Lord's grace and His Regent on Earth that the Empire survived these two years full of death and horror.


When the triumph was held at the Hippodrome, the soldiers of the Imperial Army were exhausted, their banners dirty and their equipment still stained in blood of the barbarians. But they were relieved – the Great War was, miraculously, won. There weren't many spoils of war nor captives; most of the captured Mongols were executed or sold as slaves to the imperial mines in Asia Minor. The war consumed, as it is estimated today, almost 500,000 lives both among the citizens of Basileia Romaion and barbarians. The invasion was over but it was not the end – the main goal of the triumph was to show the City that the Empire is still standing, that their hopes were not in vain. But still there were disease, hunger and bands of robbers common in the whole realm. There was much to be done before the peace was to finally arrive in the exhausted Empire.

But first of all, there was one more Enemy that had to be dealt with.


By concentrating all the surviving themata, tagmata, mercenaries and monk-knights of the Brotherhood in Palestine, the Imperial Army was able to defeat the forces of the Caliphate swiftly. Hardened in struggle against the Mongols, imperial regiments showed Shia scum no mercy. On 11th July 1331 Caliph was forced to surrender – but it wasn't enough for the Emperor. The new war, born out of revenge, was declared on the same day and by the 4th September all lands of the thema of Galilee were in the hands of the Romanoi – the Holy Land was reclaimed from the infidels. To celebrate this and to show the citizens of the City the might of the Empire, basileus Louis on 4th September 1331 declared himself the king of Hierusalem becoming the first Christian in more than a hundred years to own this glorious title.


Out of this great victory and celebration a young porphyrogenneta Martha was born to this world on 29th June 1332. By this time Basileia Romaion was slowly rebuilding and replenishing its strength, although it was going to take years before the Imperial Army was again as powerful as it was before the civil war of 1326-1328. But as it turned out, God himself gave his Empire an occasion too good to be ignored.


Few days after porphyrogenneta Martha was born in the Purple Chamber of the Great Palace, the long and disastrous for Pisans war was over – savages from the Far West were triumphant. They managed to eradicate all Pisan trade posts in their entire realm, thus greatly weakening the Republic of Pisa. Being a skilled tactician, basileus Luis decided that it was the best occasion to strike. Although still suffering from the Great War, Basileia Romaion was able to sent small forces composed of tagmata and mercenaries to Italy to do the same what Aztecs did – destroy the fundaments of Pisan wealth. Still having in memory infamous battle of Calcinaia which took place in year 1276, it didn't take much to convince the High Council and aristoi to support this war. If defeated, the downfall of the Republic was going to open new possibilities for the merchant republics of the Empire. It was another Aragonese venture which although risky could bring immense profits – and Basileia Romaion always needs gold. The embargo war was declared on 24th July 1332.

And only a month later a tragedy happened.


Princess Beatrix of the House Zähringen after weeks of suffering from terrible consumption plague and coughing up blood passed away on 22nd August 1332. It was a terrible blow for basileus Luis – although not married for long, their love to each other was genuine and pure, strong as the Walls of the City. Deeply in grief, the Emperor was spending whole days in the chamber with her remains before she was put to the grave. The enemies of the House Angelos were spreading lies that the mourning basileus was seeking consolation for his pain in the arms of dancers and harlots, which obviously was nothing more but a vicious rumor spread by the Doukoi and other Great Houses out of their hate and envy of „the Aragonese” as they called the Emperor.

While generals of the forces sent to Italy had to wait for days for the response from the Imperial Palace, the Pisans were moving through the imperial provinces unopposed. It was then when they committed one of the greatest atrocities made by one Christian to another.


The Pisan Sack of Rome started on 13th September and ended months later on 6th January 1333. The Eternal City, just like decades ago in 1084 during the Norman sack, caused terrible devastation. Tens of building were burned down by pillaging bands, mercenaries killing and raping everyone who had the misfortune to be in Roma during these days. Even temples weren't spared and monuments of old were destroyed alike, just like the palace erected during the times of Saint Markos.Pisans were hoping to break the spirit of the Empire by committing this terrible act, there was no doubt about this.

But, what they didn't anticipate, this disgusting plan backfired horribly for the Republic.


When the news reached Konstantinoupolis, the whole City demanded Pisan blood for this heinous act. Soon new forces reinforced with fresh themata from provinces of Croatia landed in Italy and together with tagmata with righteous anger in they hearts they soon destroyed Pisan traitors. Doge didn't have a choice but to surrender and so he did on 10th April 1333. The Republic paid dearly for this terrible crime against the Empire, loosing almost half of its merchant dominion. But with Roma in ruin this was not enough to easy the pain of the Romanoi. The Emperor sweared to avenge the Sack of Rome and show the Pisans the terrible wrath of Basileia Romaion.


And so on 10th April the war ended. Finally basileus Luis could do what he planned to do immediately after the Great War with the Horde – to make pilgrimage to the Holy City of Hierusalem to thank God for saving the Empire from the barbarians. Before he left the City he ordered the long awaited bride-show to be held – an ancient custom was supposed to increase his popularity among the more traditionalistic aristoi. After several days among the most beautiful women from all corners of the Empire basileus chose Eirene Epiphanis, who was not only of great beauty but also possessed sharp intellect. After splendid marriage in Hagia Sophia the Emperor and his wife were ready – the glorious pilgrimage to Hierusalem commenced.

On his way to the Holy Land the Emperor could see for himself how terrible destruction was laid upon the eastern lands of Basileia Romaion, making donations for the poor and founding new churches. Finally, on 26th June basileus arrived in the Holy City.


But even Hierusalem couldn't be compared to Konstantinoupolis. Although the city was intact during the war by both Mongol invaders and Shia raiders, it was bloated with diseased and desperate. Beggars and cripples were filling the streets, hoping to find salvation in the place of Our Lord's sacrifice.


Despite this, the Emperor with his court spend several days in the Holy City, adoring Iesus Kristos, praying in Church of the Holy Sepulchre and giving alms to the poor. Always thinking about his subjects, he wanted to stay as long as he could to help the local population and adjudicating quarrels of the people brought to his authority, but alas matters of state forced him to return to the City on 11th July 1333.

But before leaving Hierusalem, the Emperor gave his armies a new order.


Seeing how much devastation was caused by the Shia, the Imperial Army was ordered to launch a campaign against the infidels to repay them for their crimes and liberate the thema of Gondar, where Miaphysites lived under the oppressive rule of the Caliphate. The fate of this conflict was decided early, for on 27th January 1334 battle of Arsuf was fought in which main army of the infidels sent from the depths of Abyssinia was destroyed.


Several months after basileus arrival in the City House Angelos received another blessing from God – porphyrogennetaMaria was born on 17th March 1334. As always, disgusting lies were spread by the enemies of the Throne. The Emperor was supposed to had an affair with one of the servants in the Great Palace and even worse, he allegedly fathered a bastard. Such ridiculous claims are not even worthy to question them for they are obviously nothing more but lies.


Soon the war against Caliphate was over – Shia were defeated what they acknowledged on 27th June 1334. And although some questioned this war, pointing out that previous Emperors didn't conquer this barren land for a reason and that it was only stretching the imperial borders, it was without a doubt a great victory and a symbol of the might of Basileia Romaion. New citizens of the Empire welcomed Christian rule enthusiastically, happy to once again serve the True Faith and it's Protector.


Triumphant in the South, basileus Luis was however concerned about the Christendom in Europe. In August Aztecs launched another invasion against remnants of the kingdom of Sweden and it seemed they they were once again unstoppable. This was the direct cause of reforms enacted by the Emperor, who raised taxes and revoked old privileges of aristoi from Aragon, hoping that it would strengthen the realm. Of course now when there was no immediate danger, the powerful Houses of the Empire were much less willing to support his policy.

The Empire was about to once again be bathed in the blood of Romanoi.

 
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mike the knight

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Yenzen

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Any possibility of switching culture to Greek by descision or event? It's been a while since I played the game, but I seem to recall at least an event calling for it.

Were you able to keep your cultural retinue?
 

gooy

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the civil wars are probably worse than fighting the aztecs head on
 

alphaomega66

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You aren't as doomed as you once were! As opposed to 100% Chance of Hell fire and Brimstone doom, there is no more brimstone! But hey! Once you win, you can revoke all the rebel titles and give them to more loyal Spaniards!
 

Nikephoros II

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Look at the bright side. Your heir won't use the Mediterranean Face Pack for her portrait.
 

GreatUberGeek

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A wonderful update! The Romans seem okay for now, but there really is no chance of stability. :(
 

CzokletMuss

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I think the only thing that can save you is if the Last Patriarch of Constantinople (A wonderful name would be Gabriel Angelos) warps back in time from the year 2005 (all the scientists fled the Aztec and Mongol invasions into Constantinople) with a bunch of gene-modded troops and guns and tanks in order to save Christendom. You know, the stuff you see in XCOM: Enemy Within.
The only reason Constantinople survived till 2005 was that the Aztecs and the Mongols were too busy beating the crap out of each other to deal with some city in some backwater continent as well as progressing in science and technology. Meanwhile Constantinople gets a time machine working and warps the whole damn city back to Medieval Greece.
Wow. Now THAT would be an unexpected twist!
A fascinating and bloody story. Christendom is looking doomed, but I'm not entirely sure that's a bad thing - the Byzantine emperors are as brutal as the Aztecs and Mongols!
I am gripped, amazed, and hoping I keep up with this one.
How dare you even think about comparing the glorious Basileia Romaion to this locust of soulless barbarians! Besides hey, these are tough times...
Thank you! :)
Not again.....Annihilate them all! Let them suffer at the dungeons!
Actually having non-Byzantine culture I can't even punish them properly :(
Any possibility of switching culture to Greek by descision or event? It's been a while since I played the game, but I seem to recall at least an event calling for it.
Were you able to keep your cultural retinue?
From what I know no, there is no such option unless you are a vassal and you want to change your culture to that of your overlord - and for obvious reasons this decision can't help me.

And yes, I lost kataphraktoi when I needed them the most :(

the civil wars are probably worse than fighting the aztecs head on
It depends on how much troops do the rebels have - besides, war on two fronts would be deadly (Aztecs and Mongols attacking at the same time). Luckily, so far I didn't come to this.
You aren't as doomed as you once were! As opposed to 100% Chance of Hell fire and Brimstone doom, there is no more brimstone! But hey! Once you win, you can revoke all the rebel titles and give them to more loyal Spaniards!
Yeah, it can't get much worse than that - it's kinda comforting in its own weird way. Unless of course it can get worse - and probably it can (imagine AI in charge of the Empire...).
Look at the bright side. Your heir won't use the Mediterranean Face Pack for her portrait.
Lol, that's actually a good point - or would be if Castillans and Italians weren't using this facepack too. But hey, it isn't that bad!
A wonderful update! The Romans seem okay for now, but there really is no chance of stability. :(
There is no peace amongst Men, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of heathen gods.

Thanks for reading, I'm glad you are enjoying the story :) Next chapter is on its way (no ETA though). And by the way - please tell me if there are any grammar mistakes or other errors in the story, I'm always willing to improve my English :)
 

Nikolai

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It's a wonder Romaion hasn't been killed off by her neighbours a long time ago, with all this bloodshed.:(
 

CzokletMuss

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It's a wonder Romaion hasn't been killed off by her neighbours a long time ago, with all this bloodshed.:(
IRL they survived until 1453 (although in a quite pathethic condition), I hope I'll manage to beat this (by continuing in EU4); but yeah, it's constant warfare and death to thousands all the time. The Empire doesn't get any break.
 

Haldan

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IRL they survived until 1453 (although in a quite pathethic condition), I hope I'll manage to beat this (by continuing in EU4); but yeah, it's constant warfare and death to thousands all the time. The Empire doesn't get any break.
And the Angeloses have decided to keep the Tagmata and Themes in a good shape this time, it seems!
Thumbs up for a great AAR; I really like your writing style and knowledge of the Eastern Roman Empire!
 

Exovian

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Loving this. It looks like you have hope, which I was not expecting.
 

Nikephoros II

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Lol, that's actually a good point - or would be if Castillans and Italians weren't using this facepack too. But hey, it isn't that bad!
Martha has a normal child portrait, not the Mediterranean one. As for it not being that bad, I'm Greek and last I looked at my mirror, my skin wasn't orange :laugh:

Also, have you lost the Kataphraktoi? Wouldn't some retinues remain?
 

CzokletMuss

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Martha has a normal child portrait, not the Mediterranean one. As for it not being that bad, I'm Greek and last I looked at my mirror, my skin wasn't orange :laugh:
Also, have you lost the Kataphraktoi? Wouldn't some retinues remain?
You are Greek? That's great, I may have later few questions to you concerning Greek grammar properly when using Byzantine terminology, if you would be so kind to help me with it :)

And yes, I lost them all - I was forced to switch to standard cavalry retinues. As you can easily guess, it didn't help me financially or in terms of military power...

And the Angeloses have decided to keep the Tagmata and Themes in a good shape this time, it seems!
Thumbs up for a great AAR; I really like your writing style and knowledge of the Eastern Roman Empire!
Good shape? I dunno if 80% losses during defensive war is a good condition ;) Thank you very much!
Loving this. It looks like you have hope, which I was not expecting.
Hope dies last, although concerning the sheer amount of destruction in Europe it may not take long before death takes it too.