Link to discussion thread: An Age of Miracles The Revival of Rhomaion Part 1: 1204-1403 An Age of Miracles “Blessed are we above all men, for we live in an age of miracles,”-John XII Cosmas, Patriarch of Constantinople, August 29, 1300. 1204: Constantinople, the richest and most populous city in Christendom, as well as the capital of the Roman Empire, falls to the forces of the Fourth Crusade. The city is brutally sacked and many of its inhabitants raped and slaughtered by the soldiers of Christ. From the ashes the Latin Empire is formed, although three Greek states arise from the territories unconquered by the Crusaders. They are Trebizond, Epirus, and Nicaea. 1221: Theodoros II Laskaris is born, son of John III Vatatzes, and is a healthy infant, not inheriting the epilepsy of his father. (Point of divergence) 1243: The Seljuk Sultanate of Rum suffers a crushing defeat at the hands of the Mongols at Kose Dag. The Sultanate is forced to pay a substantial tribute. However the main loss is not money, but the power and prestige of the sultan. With the destruction of most of his army, his authority over his outlying territories begin to dwindle, with thoughts of independence arising amidst the emirs. 1254: Theodoros II Laskaris becomes Emperor of Nicaea after the death of his father. By this time the Latin Empire is reduced to just Constantinople and the surrounding territories, although its vassals control the Peloponnesus and Attica. Venice controls Crete and most of the Aegean islands. 1254-1260: A Bulgarian invasion of Nicene Europe is defeated while a marriage alliance is contracted with Epirus. Nicaea is the most powerful state in the southern Balkans, but does not advance on Constantinople which is well guarded by the Venetian fleet. Instead Theodoros and his trusted advisor, George Muzalon, work through a series of major reforms, many of which were started by his father. The main goal is the creation of a native Greek army backed by foreign mercenaries, rather than mercenaries forming the bulk of the army. Many soldiers are given lands, who pay for them by serving in the Nicene army. The majority are Greek but there are also many Cuman immigrants from Europe, who are settled on the eastern frontier. Further aiding this development is the crippling of the Seljuk Sultanate by the Mongols. Not only was Seljuk military might significantly reduced, but also the Seljuks are forced to purchase many of their goods in Nicene territory, providing substantial revenue for the imperial coffers. The money is used to improve the pay and equipment of the army and also to raise the salaries of officials to reduce corruption. To increase loyalty to himself, Theodoros and George appoint low born officials who owe everything to the emperor. 1261: Angered by Theodoros’ policies, many of the Nicene nobles rise up in revolt. Their leader is Michael Palaeologus, a skilled general who had been under suspicion for some time. An attempted assassination of Theodoros fails, so the nobles raise an army. It is composed mainly of the nobles’ retainers and the Latin mercenaries, who are angered by Theodoros’ pro-Greek policies. The new soldiers created by Theodoros, both Greek and Cuman, overwhelmingly side with him. On May 10, the two armies meet outside Cyzicus. The Latin mercenaries charge the Imperial lines despite Michael’s efforts to restrain them. However they charge over broken ground which breaks up the charge. The Cumans dart around the flanks, pouring waves of arrows into them, while the Imperial Greek infantry and cavalry smash into their front. For a short while they fight bravely but soon break under the ferocious assault of the Greeks. Theodoros’ army improvements show in the way his Greek forces are able to best a Latin army in pitched battle, contrary to the experiences of the Fourth Crusade. Viewing the destruction of the Latins, the remaining rebel forces begin to flee. The Cuman attacks soon turn the retreat into the rout. Michael is killed attempting to rally his forces, his head delivered to Theodoros by a Cuman soldier. The soldier is rewarded with an equal weight in gold. With much of its leadership dead, the rebellion collapses. Theodoros confiscates the dead nobles’ land, using it to help pay for heavily armored cavalry, equal to western knights, called kataphraktoi. The nobles that survived are stripped of most their land, some of which Theodoros keeps and the rest is used to further expand the army. As Theodoros cleans up the rebellion, the Seljuks chose this opportunity to invade the Empire. Theodoros’ army swings south, annihilating a Seljuk army near Philadelphia. Another Seljuk force retreats after raiding Bithynia, suffering heavy losses from the local troops. Smaller Seljuk bands do succeed in ravaging the Meander river valley for some time, before Theodoros annihilates a few of them in a pitched battle in August. 1262-1265: Theodoros is outraged by the Seljuk attempt to profit from the noble rebellion. All thoughts on taking Constantinople are forgotten as Nicaea prepares to punish the Turks. The year of 1262 is spent in defensive actions as Seljuk forces attempt to penetrate the frontier. Some succeed to perform minor pillaging, but Turkish losses are high. Meanwhile along the coast the Nicene fleet is expanded to include 120 vessels. In 1263 the counterattack begins. The Nicene fleet divides in two, one force moving along the coast of northern Anatolia, the other along the southern coast. Theodoros himself moves up the Sangarius River, defeating a Turkish army near Dorylaeum. By the end of the year Sinope, Amorium, and Attaleia have all fallen to the Greeks. The next year sees Turkish resistance intensify, mainly in the interior. Paphlagonia is almost entirely cleared of Turks by winter, while the southern Anatolian coast is taken as far east as the mouth of the Lamis. Theodoros attempts to march on Iconium, and although he wins two battles with the Turks, his heavy casualties force him to delay his plans. At the same time the Constantinople Latins attempt to raid Nicene Thrace but are ambushed by the local Cumans and largely wiped out. On April 27 Theodoros crushes an army led by the Sultan himself, allowing him to invest Iconium, which falls three weeks later. During the siege Trebizond attempts to take Sinope by surprise but fails. A week after the fall of Iconium the Empire and the Sultanate make peace. The new border goes from the mouth of the Lamis river northwest to the Lake of 40 Martyrs, then north to the beginning of the Sangarius. It then follows the Sangarius until the point where it is closest to the Halys. The border then goes east to the Halys, where it follows the river to the Black Sea. Ancyra is just south of the line between the Sangarius and Halys and remains Turkish. Nicene territory in Anatolia is almost doubled. 1266: A combined land-sea force attacks the Empire of Trebizond. The city itself falls in July and the entire state is annexed by Nicaea. The Emperor of Trebizond is somewhat compensated by a new estate near Nicaea. In Italy Charles of Anjou attempts to invade the Kingdom of Sicily, ruled by Manfred Hohenstaufen. Charles is defeated at the Battle of Benevento and forced to retreat from Italy. However it is well known that he will try again. 1267-1268: In France Charles of Anjou licks his wounds and rebuilds his army. Theodoros works to repopulate Anatolia, settling Cumans and Greeks on the frontier. Many Turkish tribesmen, impressed by Nicene victories, convert to Christianity and join the Nicene army. Theodoros settles them in Europe, where it is doubtful they will be forced to fight other Turks. He also continues to enlarge the navy, in preparation for an assault on Constantinople. To help guard against Venice, he asks Epirus to hand over Dyrrachium. They do so grudgingly. 1269: Epirus, Thessaly, Athens, and Achaia, the remaining states in Greece, form an alliance to combat Nicaea. Combined they can assemble a powerful army with a large corps of Latin heavy cavalry, but mistrust and rivalries between the allies hamper cooperation. At Pelagonia the allied army is shattered, partly through the defection of the Thessalian army and the premature withdrawal of the Epirote one. After the battle, Thessaly becomes a Nicene vassal. Epirus is completely overrun, the Despot killed in battle in September. Nicene attempts to invade Attica are hampered by the Venetians of Negroponte, which lead to several inconclusive clashes with the Nicene fleet. At the same time Charles invades Italy again, only to be defeated again at the Battle of Capua. He is forced to flee back to France a second time. 1270-1271: A truce is signed between the various Balkan states. The Nicene border now is at the Sperchius river. Theodoros focuses his attention on Anatolia, where minor Turkish raids have resumed along the frontier. 1272: A Nicene army skirts the edges of Constantinople in an attempt to frighten the Latins, only to learn that the garrison and Venetian fleet is away attacking the Nicene island of Daphnusia. The army sneaks into the city and captures it with almost no bloodshed. When the Venetian fleet returns, the sailors see their homes in flames and their families huddled along the shore. They load their families and flee to Negroponte, many of the refugees dying from lack of provisions along the way. Charles of Anjou invades Italy for the third time and is victorious at the Battle of Naples. Manfred’s mainland dominions are quickly captured although Manfred himself retreats to Sicily to rebuild his strength. 1273-1274: Theodoros, styling himself as the new Constantine, works to rebuild dilapidated Constantinople. He also is crowned as Emperor again, but this time as Emperor of the Romans. Turkish raids continue in Anatolia, but are fiercely contested by the Roman army. War also continues with Venice in a series of naval actions. The Genoese Licario, in Roman employ, overruns many of the smaller Aegean islands. 1275-1276: In early 1275 the Empire launches a massive invasion of Latin Greece. The massively outnumbered Latins are swept aside and by the end of the year, only Venetian Modon and Coron remain out of Roman hands. Licario succeeds in taking Negroponte the next year, and Naxos shortly after that. In Italy, Manfred is killed in an attempt to recapture Taranto. Charles of Anjou is now King of Sicily and his appetite for further conquest leads him to look east. 1277-1282: A mass uprising in Crete against the Venetians allows the Empire to conquer the island. However Modon and Coron, well supplied by the Venetian fleet, continue to hold out. Venice offers an alliance to Charles to assist in his planned attack on Constantinople. However he is distracted by the invasion of Conradin Hohenstaufen. Conradin is defeated at Tagliacozza but retreats back to Germany. Hungary invades Dalmatia in 1278, forcing Venice to fight on two fronts against Hungary and Byzantium. With ships devoted to the Dalmatian theater, the ability of the Venetian fleet to continue provisioning Modon and Coron is in doubt. Reluctantly Venice offers peace terms, although a treaty is not signed until March 1279. Venice is allowed to maintain control of Modon and Coron, as well as the Aegean islands of Kythera, Patmos, and Syra. All other Venetian territories in the Aegean basin are signed over to Constantinople. Venice is allowed to regain its old quarter in Constantinople, but all Venetian merchants are required to pay a five percent import/export duty. While still half of the normal fee paid by others, the Venetians have gotten used to paying none. They are also barred from the Black Sea. Sporadic skirmishes continues on the Anatolian frontier. The military debacles of the thirteenth centuries from both the hands of the Greeks and Mongols mean that the Seljuk sultan has increasingly little control of his subjects. Annoyed by these raids, Theodoros takes Ancyra in May 1279 and installs a garrison. Cumans are dispatched into Seljuk territory in a series of counterraids. However in October his attention is wrenched to Europe. On October 2, 1279, Charles of Anjou annihilates Conradin’s army at the Second Battle of Benevento. Conradin is killed rallying his troops, ending the Hohenstaufen dynasty (he had two children, a boy and a girl, but they both died before they were six months old). Charles of Anjou is now supreme in Italy. His court also harbors many refugees from the Latin states now overrun by Byzantium. Charles makes careful arrangements for his invasion of the Empire. Pisa is forced into an alliance with Charles and Venice joins with the promise of regaining all its lost territories and trading privileges. Charles also is able to induce Hungary to end its failed invasion of Dalmatia. When news of the alliance reaches Constantinople the few inhabitants of the Venetian quarter are arrested and their property confiscated. Modon and Coron are again placed under siege, but remained supplied by the Venetian fleet. He turns to Genoa for support. Genoa is offered Venice’s old quarter and Genoese merchants will only have to pay a token two percent import/export duty. The Byzantine emperor will also encourage the Tatar khan to allow the Genoese to establish a colony in Kaffa. Furthermore in exchange for Genoese naval support in the attacks on Modon and Coron, the two cities will be handed over to Genoa, although the Commune will have to pay an annual rent of 16,000 hyperpyra. Genoa accepts and the combined Byzantine-Genoese fleets are able to starve the two cities out in the summer of 1280. At the same time the Venetian Aegean islands fall to Licario. The next year sees sporadic naval actions in the Adriatic sea. Venice’s fleet mainly focuses on keeping the enemy out of the Adriatic while Charles is reluctant to commit his own vessels until his grand fleet is complete. Thus Greek ships are sometimes able to raid the shores of Italy itself. In September 1281 a squadron of Roman warships raiding Apulia is approached by citizens of Bari, which is still inhabited by large numbers of Greeks. They offer to hand the city over to Theodoros. The squadron commander Thomas Komnenos, who conquered Corfu eight months earlier, accepts, quickly garrisoning the city without bloodshed. He then rushes over to Epirus, stripping many of the garrisons to bolster the force at Bari. Charles is outraged at this and places Bari under a land blockade. He demands more exactions from Sicily, increasing dissent there, in his urge to get his fleet ready. His relations with Venice are also souring, as Venice is impatient to see some gains from the war in which it has lost what little it had been able to keep in the treaty of 1279. On March 30, a French soldier is killed for molesting a Sicilian woman in Palermo just after Vespers. The incident sparks a mass revolt called the Sicilian Vespers. Nearly all of Charles’ armada is burned at Messina three days later. The king of Aragon Peter I, who has claims on the island through his Hohenstaufen wife, is invited to take control in May. Charles flies into a rage, going to Bari to order an immediate assault. It almost succeeds, but is thrown back with massive casualties. Charles offers peace in exchange for getting back Bari and Corfu. Theodoros demands Bari and Corfu in return for peace, although he offers a payment of 90,000 hyperpyra. With Aragonese squadrons raiding Italy, Charles is forced to accept. For the first time in two hundred years, Byzantium has a foothold in Italy. But Theodoros does not get to enjoy his triumph for long. On November 19, 1282, he dies at the age of sixty one. He is buried with full honors and eventually revered as a saint. He is succeeded by his son John IV Laskaris, who is thirty three years old. 1283-1285: Europe is fully embroiled in the War of the Sicilian Vespers. John spends the first two years of his reign putting down a revolt in Epirus, then invading Serbia after it attempts to support the rebels. After the sacking of some border fortresses, peace is restored on a return to the status quo. Venice breaks with Charles of Anjou, requesting peace with Byzantium. John is in no mood to be generous. Venice must accept all its territorial losses, including its old quarter. They are given a new quarter, half the size of the new Genoese one. Venetian merchants must also pay a six percent import/export duty, triple of what the Genoese must pay. The only thing Venice gains is permission to trade in the Black Sea. John feels that the commercial competition between the two cities will help keep them honest. 1286-1290: The War of the Sicilian Vespers continues, although Charles of Anjou dies in 1286. Despite being faced by France, the Papacy, and Naples, Aragon-Sicily is winning, mainly through its extremely formidable navy. Also Aragon-Sicily receives a small subsidy from Byzantium, although talks of a marriage alliance between Constantinople and Barcelona eventually fall through. Instead John has his eldest son Manuel marry a Georgian princess. With the Latins busy killing each other, he desires to finish the great task left uncompleted by his father, the retaking of Anatolia. However for now he continues the hellenization of Anatolia, as well as improving the empire’s economics. In 1287 he begins minting a new hyperpyron with 20.5 karats of gold, more than it had held for over a century. This does annoy Genoa as it now has to pay its rent for Coron-Modon in the more expensive coins, although the Genoese are somewhat mollified when the Byzantines convince the Tartars to allow the Genoese to open a second colony at Tana in the Sea of Azov. John also works to reduce corruption and improve the efficiency of the imperial estates. In a gesture mirroring that of his grandfather, his wedding gift to his Georgian daughter-in-law is a coronet purchased with the profits from his poultry farms. Economic recovery is aided by the fact that Trebizond is becoming a major terminus for the central Asian trade routes as the Mamelukes tighten the noose on Acre. However his good mood at his successes is diluted as Turkish tribesmen, increasingly less controlled by the Seljuk sultan, continually raid the frontier. Honors are evenly matched although in 1289 a small force raids the suburbs of Chonae. 1291-1295: In 1291, the city of Acre falls to the Mamelukes. All that remains of the once mighty Crusader States are the Kingdom of Cyprus and the Principality of Antioch; the latter is essentially a city-state. They survive mainly because the Mamelukes fear any attack on those states will draw in the Roman Empire and/or the Il-Khanate. In 1292, Oljeitu, Khan of the Il-Khanate, is assassinated. The Mongol state soon begins to break up under a series of weak and short lived khans as local rulers attempt to assert their independence. The same year Teutonic Knights raiding Lithuania massacre four thousand Russian orthodox subjects of Lithuania. Two years later delegates from Cilicia arrive in Constantinople. Afraid that the Mamelukes might march north as the Il-Khanate increasingly becomes less of a threat, the Armenians are desperate for a protector. Originally they looked to the Papacy and Catholic Europe, but the Massacre of the Faithful (what the 1292 Lithuanian slaughter is termed) changed their minds. As a result, their only other option is Byzantium. They offer to submit to Roman authority, in exchange for Constantinople acknowledging all their local rights and protecting them against the Mamelukes. John accepts. A Turkish raiding party in 1295 is joined by Christian Turks who defect to join their ethnic brethren. Together they raid the Meander river valley but are eventually annihilated near Ephesus. There are a handful of other Turkish raids that year as well, but none penetrate very far as Roman army units flood the frontier. 1296-1300: Since the Armenian delegation arrived, there was a massive buildup along the Anatolian frontier. In 1296 the attack commences led by John himself, imitating his father. The Seljuk sultanate has been imitating the Il-Khanate, local emirs asserting their independence of Konya. As a result Roman forces face no united Turkish resistance but a multitude of minor Turkish statelets, most of which are more concerned with fighting each other than combating the Romans. Iconium (Konya) falls late in 1296. Slowly but steadily the Romans advance across Anatolia, facing constant but poorly organized Turkish resistance. In 1298 Roman forces begin facing more serious opposition as several of the displaced Turkish tribes begin answering to a new leader named Osman. The campaign turns into a bloody stalemate, both sides suffering heavy casualties. After a year and a half, Osman decides that prospects in the collapsing Il-Khanate are better. Many medieval historians often wonder what would’ve happened if he had decided to remain in Anatolia instead. Without Osman’s support, the remaining Turks are gradually pushed back, many of them choosing to join Osman in Mesopotamia. In April 1300 Theodosiopolis falls; two months later a Turkish force is practically annihilated at Manzikert. John stages a massive triumph in Constantinople, giving pride of place to the Georgian soldiers loaned to him by his son’s father-in-law. Historians explain the Laskarid success as compared to the Komnenid failure to retake Anatolia with three reasons, the lack of a western menace (the War of the Sicilian Vespers is still ongoing), the significant decrease in Seljuk capabilities after the Mongol invasion, and the conditions in the Il-Khanate which convince Osman to abandon Anatolia in favor of Mesopotamia. The image is somewhat spoiled by the fact that a month later, Turkish rebellions break out in Cappadocia and Coloneia. Also several of the European border districts had been ravaged by the Serbians and Bulgarians while most of the army was in Anatolia. Since he had already begun dipping into his personal fortune to help pay the troops, John is forced to be content with a show of force along the European border without actually punishing either of the Slavic states. 1301-1305: The War of the Sicilian Vespers comes to an end in 1302. The Angevins retain control of southern Italy but Aragon and Sicily are united under Frederick II, third son of Peter I. In Mesopotamia, the current Khan of the Il-Khanate attempts to use Osman and his army of refugee Turks to put down a major rebellion centered in southern Mesopotamia. However Osman kills the rebel leader at a parley in 1303, co-opts the rebellion and proclaims the birth of a Turkish sultanate to replace the one lost in Anatolia. In 1305 he takes Baghdad and establishes it as his capital; this is considered by most historians to be the official birth of the Ottoman Empire. Also in 1305 a Roman army debouches from the Cilician Gates and marches into Syria. In the previous year it had broken the two Turkish rebellions of 1300. Greek settlers are brought in, attracted by tax exemptions, as well as a sizeable number of Vlachs. While this does settle Anatolia down some, the treasury suffers. Mameluke detachments shadow the force but do not engage as it quickly becomes clear its target is Antioch. Manuel II Laskaris is in command. Antioch refuses to surrender and is besieged. After twelve days the gates are opened by local Orthodox citizens, causing the city to fall. There is some looting before Manuel can restrain his troops, but overall little damage is done to Antioch or its inhabitants. Religious toleration is promised to all Antiochenes, although an Orthodox patriarch is installed. The pope is outraged and has the clergy proclaim a Crusade against Constantinople. The response is apathetic; all the major states of Europe have other concerns and without their support, it is obvious any crusade would fail miserably. All this episode does is confirm the Romans in their hatred of Catholicism and that the Fourth Crusade was not a fluke. However in order to help forestall any threat, Manuel makes a special arrangement with Philip, King of Naples. Bari is becoming a major port where eastern goods enter Italy. In order to prevent the Angevins from attacking it, Manuel passes laws whereby Neapolitan citizens have to pay only a three percent value tax on luxury goods purchased in Bari. This ensures that Neapolitan merchants and nobles won’t support an attack on Bari, since direct Angevin control would likely raise the price. Also a Neapolitan tax collector is installed in Bari, to make it easier for Philip to levy duties on any goods passing from Naples to Bari and vice versa. The arrangement secures Philip much income, with little of the expense of defending or maintaining Bari. During this period (and later) John faces a number of noble uprisings. He has inherited his father’s distaste of the aristocracy and usually appoints commoners to administrative and military commands. Also the conquered lands of Anatolia are divvied out to small landowners in an effort to revitalize the class. While the central Anatolian plateau is more favorable to pastoralism, he imposes limits on the amount of property any one individual or family can hold in a single theme. Obviously all this annoys the aristocracy but also hampers their ability to strike back. The fact that the Nobles’ Rebellion of 1261 resulted in the crippling or destruction of several of the major noble families only make things more difficult for the aristocracy. 1306-1310: The Il-Khanate is shattered. The main victors are the Ottomans, which rule a state stretching from Lake Van to Basra, and the Jalayirids, who rule most of the Iranian plateau with their capital at Fars. Increasing trade rivalries in the Black Sea market cause war to break out between Venice and Genoa. John decides to remain neutral, but he has to use the Imperial fleet several times to enforce peace in Imperial waters. Fifteen ships are sunk in a squall after one such demonstration. However he does tell the Venetians that if they take Coron or Modon, he expects to start receiving rent payments. With the Imperial fleet active, John decides to use it and seizes Cyprus in 1309. The papacy is distracted by the Templar trial and does not respond. 1311-1313: Tensions increase between Byzantium and Genoa when a Genoese squadron attacks several Venetian vessels in the harbor at Smyrna. The fighting gets out of hand and several dozen Greeks are killed and four Roman vessels burned. John demands reparations to be paid to both the Venetians and Greeks who suffered in the attack, but Genoa refuses. Three days before the Imperial demand reaches Genoa, the commune received news of a great victory at Ragusa; fifty one Venetian ships sunk or captured. With Venice itself under blockade, Genoa is in no mood to listen to Roman demands. John’s response is fairly mild. He triples the Genoese duties to match the fees the Venetians pay, but only arrests those Genoese merchants who refuse to pay. Neither Modon or Coron is attacked, although he does send a messenger to Sarai to encourage the Khan of the Blue Horde to attack Kaffa or Tana. At the same time, the Barbary Corsairs as they are now called, make their appearance. In 1312 a general truce is signed at Oran, bringing an end to the first stage of the Marinid attempt to control North Africa. Numerous soldiers and sailors, now without wars to fight, take to the sea and begin raiding Christian ships and shores. This mostly impinges on Aragonese and Genoese shipping. 1314-1315: Genoese resistance is crippled by a double blow in May 1314. First, the blockade of Venice is shattered at the Battle of Chioggia, the tide having turned in the Venetian favor by the arrival of a Venetian fleet from the east. Second, the Blue Horde launches attacks on both Kaffa and Tana. Both Venetian and Genoese merchants are expelled and John uses this to bar the Italians from the Black Sea. Crippled Genoa and exhausted Venice are in no position to argue, but relations distinctively cool. 1316: John IV Laskaris dies and is succeeded by Manuel II Laskaris, who is thirty two. Almost immediately afterward a revolt breaks out in Anatolia amongst the Turkish population still settled there. An Ottoman army invades Cilicia in support, bypassing well defended Antioch. At Tarsus, Manuel II Laskaris fights an inconclusive battle, but it stops the Ottoman advance and encourages the Mamelukes and Jalayirids to both invade the Ottoman Empire. Manuel II, who has spent much time amongst the Turks of central and eastern Anatolia and fought beside many of them, is much more liked by the Turks than John IV. While during the 1296-1300 campaign several of the minor emirs joined with the Romans since then relations had soured because of attempts to convert them and relocate them to Thrace and Macedonia. Manuel promises to stop any relocation attempts, provided that the Turks serve the Empire faithfully. He also promises religious toleration to those who still follow Islam (the data is vague but historians estimate at least two thirds are still Muslim, although the upper leadership is more likely evenly split), with the stipulations of no proselytizing and that mosques cannot be taller than the tallest church in any town. Instead Manuel makes sure that the Turks are surrounded by other Christian settlers (Central and eastern Anatolia is a cultural smorgasbord, with Greeks, Armenians, Turks, the occasional Bulgarian, and Vlachs fleeing from Hungarian incursions) and serve alongside Christian troops. He hopes that this soft-sell approach will work, and it does, although it takes at least two generations. He is criticized by the patriarch for this long-term approach; according to two separate accounts, Manuel called the patriarch a ‘Latin cleric’. The continued papal refusal to acknowledge Roman claims on Cyprus or Antioch is extremely grating to Manuel who harbors a special hatred for Urban V, who personally called him a ‘servant of Satan’ for his role in the fall of Antioch. 1317-1319: The rebels are quickly cowed without the promised Ottoman support and by Manuel’s concessions, but both Bulgaria and Serbia both take the opportunity to raid across the European borders. Manuel ignores the weaker Serbia and marches on Trnovo, flattening a much smaller Bulgarian army that attempts to stop him. The main Bulgarian army attempts to divert him by attacking Adrianople but Manuel ignores the threat, investing Trnovo. Another Bulgarian siege at Mesembria also fails to divert him. Adrianople falls after a siege of only eleven days through treachery. When Trnovo falls three weeks later Manuel’s revenge is terrible. The city is razed to the ground with many of its citizens slaughtered. The remainder are transplanted to Anatolia. The outnumbered Bulgarian army is unable to intervene in pitched battle but does skirmish, freeing some 1,000 captives in one raid. Mesembria manages to avoid capture, but George Sphrantzes wrote “at most three cats were left alive in the city.” Peace is made on fairly generous terms. Bulgaria does not have to pay any tribute and is allowed to keep all the spoils from Adrianople. All Roman prisoners and non-Trnovo Bulgarians are returned to their respective countries. Serbia makes peace shortly afterward, paying a small annual tribute of 2,500 hyperpyra. All of Christendom is scandalized on May 19, 1319, when a Barbary squadron skirts Rome itself. A few dozen Moorish soldiers land and raid the countryside for a few hours, acquiring little of value before being forced to withdraw. However the psychological blow is immense. Six months later the Ottomans defeat the combined Mameluke-Jalayirid army at the gates of Baghdad itself. The Battle of the Gates ensures that the Ottoman Empire will survive, despite being surrounded by three states all larger than it. 1320-1323: Delegates from both Genoa and Barcelona approach the pope in early 1320. Shaken by the raid on Rome, he agrees to their request. A general crusade is declared against the Barbary Pirates. Portugal, Aragon, Pisa and Genoa all participate; they had suffered the most from the pirates. However the commercial rivalries between the participants hamper cooperation. The crusade resembles four state-sponsored expeditions rather than any international effort. The only reason historians even list this as a crusade is the use of church money in the provisioning of the Christian fleets. Tunis falls to a Genoese flotilla in 1321 while a Portuguese fleet takes Ceuta, although it is expelled the next year. Oran falls to an Aragonese armada, but that is the last success of the crusade. The crusade also has the effect of pushing the various Muslim emirs to favor the Marinids as a protector against Christendom. 1324-1330: In 1324, Manuel dies at only forty and is succeeded by his only living heir, his twenty year old daughter Anna. Anna I Laskaris, Empress of Rhomanion, is not taken seriously by the Bulgarians. When they raid across the border, a Byzantine army sacks Trnovo again, destroying what repair work had been done, and deports the inhabitants. Mameluke forces also begin raiding Roman Syria (Antioch and a very small strip of coast to the south). Anna’s initial response is to marry Andronikos Komnenos, son of the duke of Trebizond. He gains great prestige and is crowned emperor, but due to his lack of Laskarid blood, only Anna gets to wear the purple slippers. When the Roman army marches in 1325, public opinion is shocked by Anna’s decision to accompany the army while her husband remains in Constantinople. While she is fairly unpopular amongst the army officers, since as a woman she cannot lead an army (the army is commanded by Manuel Kantakuzenos, a major landowner in Cappadocia), she uses this opportunity to circulate amongst the common soldiers, who quickly grow to love her. According to a letter written by the bishop of Chonae, her presence reminded the soldiers that Nike, victory, was a goddess. The increase in classical Greek references in Byzantine literature of the time corresponds with a form of proto-nationalism centered around Orthodoxy and Greek culture, although it is often more anti-Latin in nature amongst the less educated populace. The term Hellenes loses its derogatory term at some point, usually identified as Anna’s reign. Also the epic of Digenes Akritas is altered at this time to make the hero half Greek and half Turk, as opposed to half Greek and half Arab. Roman morale is extremely high when the army debouches from the Cilician Gates, smashing aside the Mameluke raiding parties in Cilicia and breaking up a siege of Antioch. Two weeks later it invests Aleppo. Two weeks after that, a Mameluke army arrives to break the siege. Despite being slightly outnumbered (44,000 vs. 38,000) the Mameluke commander decides to attack, calling the Roman soldiers “a bunch of mewling kittens, content to be commanded by a woman. Even with 200,000 kittens, I will not be bested by any woman.” He is. Because of his disdain for his opponent, he launches an unsubtle frontal attack on the Roman lines. The battle in the center is intense as the crack Roman troops, locally outnumbered, fight desperately to stem the ferocious Mameluke onslaught. The battle lines sway back and forth as sheets of arrows snarl out from the Roman archers in the rear. Anna herself is directly behind the engagement, her pavilion clear for both sides to see, although she does stay out of arrow range. The Roman numerical advantage is decisive. Four thousand Cumans and Turks lash volley after volley into the Mameluke flanks as Manuel throws the reserves behind the reinforced wings, ordering them to swing inward. Barely five thousand Mamelukes escape. Some historians refer to it as a “second Cannae”. The Mameluke commander is captured and “made into a woman” (castrated). The next month see two more Roman victories over Mameluke armies. The first, over a force of 12,000, takes place just five days after the Battle of Aleppo. The second, three weeks later, is over a contingent 11,000 strong. With their armies in the north effectively destroyed, the Mamelukes are unable to prevent Aleppo, Edessa, and all of the Syrian coast as far south as Laodicea from falling. By September 1327 the Roman army is besieging Tripoli and Homs. Peace is eventually made with the Mamelukes ceding everything north of the Laodicea-Aleppo-Edessa line. Anna returns to Constantinople; nine months later she has a son named Nikephoros. With the Mamelukes and Bulgarians cowed, she prefers to spend her time creating orphanages, hospitals, and schools. In 1330, she massively expands the University of Constantinople, which had not yet recovered from the Latin conquest. She portrays it as a second founding. For the rest of her reign, she avoids warfare to the best of her ability. While she recognizes the need to have the army’s support, she doubts that further conquests would be ultimately beneficial. When Bulgarian raiders cross the border in 1330, she limits reprisals to a show of force along the frontier and then gives the Bulgarian king two court titles which together earn him an annual stipend of 3,500 hyperpyra. The raids stop. The Ottomans do not invade the Mamelukes during the Roman war, mainly because their energies are diverted by an attempt to break into the Iranian Plateau. For four years (1326-1330) the Ottomans and Jalayirids spill much blood but the border remains unchanged. 1331-1335: Teutonic raids into Lithuania continue regularly, with mixed success. However one expedition in 1333 is ambushed by a Novgorodian army on the Lithuanian border (Its previous mission had been to enforce Pskov’s obedience to Novgorod). The Novgorodians win a crushing victory and return the Lithuanian captives to their homes. While the Teutonic Knights gain a steady stream of crusaders to bolster their ranks, Lithuania gains some support from Russians (mainly from Novgorod) who, since the Massacre of the Faithful, offer their support to the Lithuanians against the Knights. As the Lithuanian people decide whether or not to convert to Christianity, it is not surprising that nearly all of them favor Orthodoxy. Western Europe is quiet until 1335, when the Ninety Years War begins between England and France. The French fleet sacks the Isle of Wight, but is caught in a storm and severely damaged. The next day the English fleet wipes it out. 1336-1340: In 1339 England wins a crushing victory over the French army at Calais, her longbowmen scything down waves of French chivalry. Calais capitulates two days later. The English army also conducts a series of ruthless chevauchees across northern France, although the primary theater shifts to Aquitaine after the Battle of Calais. By 1338, the Marinids ruling from the city of Marrakesh have gained control of all of North Africa from Tripoli to the Atlantic with the exception of Oran and Tunis. When Castilian cavalry raid the borders of the Emirate of Granada in June 1339, the Marinids use this as an excuse to invade Iberia. Granada is quickly cowed into submission as Marinid troops land and march north. The next year the main Marinid army shatters a Castilian-Portuguese force at the Battle of Rio Salado. After a series of Serbian raids and a Roman show of force in 1338, the Serbian king is also given court titles which earn him an annual stipend of 3,000 hyperpyra. Anna ignores the protests of the European army commanders, leaving to review troops stationed in eastern Anatolia. 1341-1346: England and France continue skirmishing but their struggles are drowned out as disaster after disaster comes from Iberia. Cordoba and Murcia fall in 1342 and a year later another Castilian army is wiped out attempting to retake Cordoba. Encouraged by their successes, the Marinids invade Aragon, seizing Valencia in 1345. The only Christian victories are in early 1346, when a Marinid fleet is destroyed by the Aragonese off Mallorca and a small Marinid army repulsed from Oran. At the same time the Ottomans invade the Jalayirids again. This time the war goes much better for them. Gilan and Hormuz are both captured and are ceded in the peace treaty of 1346. Georgia seizes the opportunity to raid Azerbaijan, sacking Tabriz in 1345, but makes no attempt to hold any territories due to fierce opposition from the Qara Koyunlu. 1347-1352: The Black Death strikes Europe, killing over thirty million people. Historians believe it originated in the Far East and spread to Europe via trading ships operating out of Trebizond. The Roman Empire is the earliest struck in Christendom, but none of the surrounding states are able to take advantage before they are afflicted as well. The Black Death does slow the fighting in Iberia and France but does not stop it. The Empire suffers especially due to its more urbanized nature. Constantinople loses at least forty five percent of its population, Thessalonica and Nicaea at least thirty five percent, and Antioch at least thirty percent. Perversely, Trebizond is the least heavily hit of all the major Roman cities. Of Byzantium’s neighbors, the Serbs and Bulgarians suffer the least, although even they are not immune. 1353-1361: At the Battle of Toulouse in 1358 English forces succeed in capturing the French King. The next year France signs the humiliating treaty of Toulouse, whereby England is confirmed in possession of Aquitaine as it belonged to Eleanor of Aquitaine although the issue of the King of England being a vassal of the King of France in his Gascon possessions is not resolved, the main reason the peace does not last. France also loses Calais, some of Normandy, and a small portion of Maine. The Marinid army is finally defeated when it is repulsed from Toledo in 1357. Still the situation is desperate and the pope needs little convincing to declare a crusade. The Black Prince marches south in 1360. Basing out of Toledo, he inflicts serious damage on Marinid detachments scattered across the countryside, but he is heavily outnumbered. When some French and German crusaders join him in 1361, he decides to march south. At Segovia on April 2 he meets the main Marinid force and defeats it. While the news is celebrated as far away as Copenhagen, the victory ultimately has little effect; the Marinids have become too well entrenched. In 1358, Theodoros II Laskaris is officially canonized as a saint of the Orthodox church, almost immediately becoming the patron saint of Roman soldiers. Also at this time he is officially commemorated as Theodoros the Great. 1362-1366: Peace is finally made in Iberia as neither the Marinids nor the Black Prince can break the post-Segovia stalemate. The river Tagus becomes the dividing line between Islam and Christendom. Toledo, captured from the Muslims in 1085, is once again on the front lines. In reprisal for Russian men serving with the Lithuanian armies, the Teutonic Knights pillage several villages under the protection of Novgorod. In 1366 Andronikos Laskaris is crowned as a co-emperor. His fellow rulers are his father Nikephoros Laskaris and his grandmother Anna Laskaris, his grandfather Andronikos Komnenos having died two years earlier. He is eighteen years old. 1367-1370: In 1368 Andronikos Laskaris is engaged in his usual antics, sleeping with a disreputable woman known for her many lovers. One day when he is visiting, his guards kill a man they mistook as a rival lover. It was Alexios, Andronikos’ younger brother, who was seventeen. His father Nikephoros, whose health had been poor, is grief-stricken and dies a month later. Enraged, Anna strips Andronikos of his titles and removes him from the succession. She proclaims Konstantinos Laskaris, her grandson from her second child John (He died of the plague in 1360), as her heir. He is twelve. In 1369, there is a large revolt of Christians in Marinid Spain. The Christian Iberian states all invade the Marinid territories, but due to the lack of cooperation between them the Marinids are able to defeat them in detail, which causes the revolt to collapse. To avoid any repeat, the Marinids promise religious toleration to Catholics in their European provinces, a privilege that is contingent on their good behavior. 1371-1372: Andronikos is outraged over the loss of his rights because of an unfortunate accident. Starting sometime in 1371 he gradually makes contact with discontented elements of the army and bureaucracy. Those elements have their power bases in Europe and are supported by the aristocracy, who also are based mainly in Europe. Anna Laskaris has always shown much more favor to Anatolia and that is where her support lies. Her preferential treatment of Anatolians in her hiring practices, many of which are often transplanted Vlachs, Armenians, and Christian Turks, over Europeans, who are usually full-blood Greeks, has led to increasing anger, which Andronikos works to exploit. 1373-1375: In March 1373 Andronikos launches his coup. Anna is unable to stop him but gains enough advance warning to flee to Nicaea along with Konstantinos. In Anatolia she is welcomed and fully supported while Europe backs Andronikos II Laskaris as he is crowned. While Anna does have a much larger army and treasury, Andronikos has Constantinople and the backing of the Imperial fleet. That backing allows him to seize Rhodes and Cyprus by the end of the year. The next year is a stalemate as neither side can hurt each other. Andronikos II does not have enough troops to invade Anatolia and defend the northern borders (he cut the subsidies to the Slavs, which was one of the main grievances of the European army commanders) while Anna I has enough troops but not enough ships to invade Europe. The only event of consequence is the fall of Lesbos to Andronikos II in September, securing his control of the Aegean. In a rare joint venture, Genoese and Venetian diplomats reach Nicaea in early 1375 and offer a deal. In exchange for their naval support in the civil war, Anna must reduce their duties to a mere two percent, allow both parties access to the Black Sea, and Venice must receive Crete, although she will pay an annual rent of 16,000 hyperpyra, equal to that paid by Genoa for Coron-Modon. Genoa backs Venice’s bid for Crete in exchange for Venice agreeing to bar its merchants from the Sea of Azov as long as Crete is in Venetian hands, and also baring its merchants from entering Kaffa for three years after the end of the civil war. Anna’s advisors urge her to reject the Italian offer and make peace with Andronikos by disowning Konstantinos and reinstating Andronikos into the succession. However her hatred of her grandson, who she blames for killing her firstborn and favorite son, convinces her to accept the Italian offer. 1376: A great Italian armada, a hundred and sixty ships, enters the Aegean basin in late April. On May 1, it is challenged by the Imperial fleet, one hundred and twelve vessels strong, off of Melos. Despite the usual Genoese-Venetian bickering, the eight hour long battle ends in a crushing Italian victory. In exchange for the loss of fifteen ships and 3,100 men (9 Genoese ships, 1,900 men, 6 Venetian ships, 1,200 men) fifty nine Roman vessels are sunk or captured and 14,000 men captured or killed. The two city-states are able to field such a large fleet despite their losses in the Aegean and Black Seas because of their substantial commercial networks. Venice dominates trade in the Adriatic and the two cities make up nearly all the trade with the Mamelukes and Antioch (Venice’s share is the largest). Genoa also controls Corsica and Tunis, making it a major trader in the western Mediterranean although this is fiercely contested by Catalan merchants from Barcelona and Sicilian merchants from Palermo. The victorious fleet docks at Smyrna where Anna’s troops are loaded. They are disembarked in Gallipoli, seized as a staging area against Constantinople, which is invested on July 1 by the Anatolian army while the Italians blockade the port. Two attempts by Andronikos II’s forces to break the siege fail. Finally on November 29, Andronikos is deposed in a coup engineered by several of his courtiers and Constantinople is surrendered to Anna. Konstantinos himself is the one to behead Andronikos. According to legend, Konstantinos said “So this is how you have ruled the Empire, cousin, by bringing to it nothing but civil war and ruin.” Andronikos replied, “Will you, cousin, rule it any better?” Historians are skeptical of this event, given the obvious parallels to the accession of Heraclius. 1377-1380: Venice takes possession of Crete, much to the outrage of the local inhabitants. Much to Anna’s embarrassment, she has to provide troops to the Venetians (part of the treaty obligations) to help put down the almost instantaneous Greek revolt. Both Genoa and Venice begin entering the Black Sea in force, crowding out local Greek merchants that had cornered the market since the Italian expulsion. Anna also reinstates the subsidies to Serbia and Bulgaria, increasing them by 1,000 hyperpyra each. This is done so that the Slavic states won’t invade the Empire while she conducts a thorough purge of the European officer corps. To enhance her battered prestige, she purchases the Crown of Thrones from France (it had been transferred to Venice as collateral for loans by the Latin Empire, where it had been sold to France), paying 150,000 hyperpyra for it. It returns to Constantinople in a lavish celebration in 1378. The Ninety Years’ War resumes in France, with French forces avoiding major pitched battles and concentrating on seizing English strongholds. The strategy proves very successful. By 1380, a third of English Aquitaine is in French hands. The resumption of the war and the subsequent need for funds is the reason the French are willing to sell the Crown of Thorns. Tensions in the eastern Baltic increase daily as an undeclared war is in effect between the Teutonic Knights and Novgorod, along with the usual Lithuanian operations. The battles are mostly minor skirmishes with a few dozen combatants at most, but one Novgorodian commander, Mikhail Shuisky, gains a fearsome reputation as he wins one skirmish after another. Much farther east, another war leader gains renown, as the Jalayirids begin to suffer numerous raids by a warlord based in Samarkand. His name is Timur. 1381-1385: On January 11, 1381, Anna I dies just three weeks shy of her seventy-seventh birthday. She had ruled for nearly fifty seven years and was predeceased by all of her children (besides her two sons she had a daughter named Zoe who died of the plague in 1347). She is succeeded by Konstantinos XI Laskaris. However the real power is his cousin George Komnenos (he is the grandson of Thomas Komnenos, younger brother of Andronikos Komnenos, husband of Anna I). The Bulgarians and Serbs chose to invade the Empire when George convinces Konstantinos to revoke Anna’s reinstated subsidies. The battered European armies, still not recovered from the civil war, are unable to put up serious opposition. Ochrid falls to the Serbs in July and Mesembria to the Bulgarians in September. George Komnenos, in command of the European armies, focuses more on pillaging than fighting. He acquires a great many spoils, but loses most of it as well as a decent percentage of his army at the Battle of Trajan’s Gate. Still Konstantinos refuses to remove him but pulls troops from Anatolia to bolster his European armies. The Ottomans seize the opportunity and pounce in 1382. A Roman army outnumbered two to one is shattered at Manzikert and the Roman frontier rolled all the back to Theodosiopolis which is placed under siege. Ottoman troops raid as far west as Sebastea. In 1383 George returns to the fight and chastened by Trajan’s Gate, has learned a valuable lesson; it is easier to rob corpses. He first feints toward Ochrid, which leads the Serbs to cancel a planned attack on Dyrrachium. The Bulgarians, spotting an opportunity, march south, sacking Philliopolis, Serres, and Christopolis in quick succession, then swinging east to ravage the suburbs of Adrianople. The repeated Bulgarian successes at taking the cities of Thrace is due to the fact that George had removed the bulk of their garrisons to supplement his army, which he proceeded to then lose at Trajan’s Gate. Also the Anatolian reinforcements do not go to replace the garrisons, but to supplement George’s field army. The Bulgarians are in high spirits but complacent and heavily laden with spoils and captives when they return to Trajan’s Gate. George had spent the campaigning season behind the Bulgarians, sacking Sofia and ravaging the countryside. As soon as word reached him that the Bulgarians were marching north, he raced back to Trajan’s Gate. This time it is the Bulgarians who are ambushed. They suffer heavy casualties and lose all of their spoils and captives. Peace is made shortly afterwards, Mesembria being ceded back to the Empire in exchange for 85,000 hyperpyra and all Bulgarian prisoners. Serbia makes peace after Ochrid is retaken, restoring the status quo. In Asia, the Ottoman invasion ends in 1384 without ever taking Theodosiopolis. News that Timur’s attacks are becoming increasingly common prompt the Turks to attack the occupied Jalayirids. Still the Roman frontier remains where it had been at the peak of the Ottoman advance; virtually all of Armenia is lost. 1386-1390: War continues in France, mostly in favor of the French. However the Duchy of Burgundy is beginning to show dangerous signs of independence. George Komnenos has become very fond of war; the Bulgarian war allowed him to amass a large fortune. In order to make more money, he decides that he needs another war. In 1386 he convinces Konstantinos to revoke the Neapolitan privileges in Bari and the next year a Roman army lands in Apulia, commanded by George. His army is supported by a battery of six bombards, the first known use of Roman gunpowder. The battle in southern Italy goes back and forth. The use of cannons allows George to seize Taranto but the advance stalls by the end of 1387. The Roman fleet has also not fully recovered from the civil war. While the Roman fleet is able to keep the Albania-Apulia supply lines open, that is all it can do. Neapolitan squadrons raid the Morea and southern Epirus. By 1388 they expand their operations eastward (raiding the Aegean involved the risk of provoking the Genoese and/or the Venetians. The latter actually favor the Neapolitan cause but are unwilling to break with the Empire, since that would leave the field entirely in the hands of Genoa.) Attaleia and Cyprus are ravaged in 1389, although an attack on Antioch is beaten off. The coast of southern Anatolia soon becomes the preferred target for Neapolitan squadrons. In 1387, the Order of the Hospitallers is granted the isle of Malta by the king of Aragon-Sicily in exchange for the token tribute of two hunting falcons every year, an action taken in order to improve his relations with the Pope. In the late 1300s crusading fervor undergoes a revival, with the theme of ‘Christendom besieged’ becoming common in sermons throughout Europe. After the successes of the early 1200s, Catholicism has been steadily losing ground in the eastern and western ends of the Mediterranean. In order to combat this trend, Pope Clement V decides to revitalize the Knights Hospitallers as a fighting force. Since the destruction of the Templar Order in 1310, the Hospitallers have focused on maintaining and expanding their hospital complex on the outskirts of Rome. A French noble contemptuously called them “better nurses than fighters” to which the Grandmaster replied that “the first duty of our Order is to our lords the sick.” Also the Order is undergoing a series of accusations by nobles jealous of its wealth, claiming that its medical successes are due to following heathen Muslim and heretical Greek practices. They are even accused of dissecting fresh corpses to learn how the human body works, although modern historians can find no evidence of this. The Knights’ medical success is much more likely caused by their emphasis on exercise, lots of fresh air and sunshine, the separation of patients into different wards based on their ailments so that a man with a broken leg doesn’t catch the plague, and the use of silver plates and bowls as opposed to bacteria infested wood ones. However Clement V wants fighters, not nurses, and convinces Jaime IV to transfer Malta to the Knights. While the Knights still maintain their hospital, it is downsized with many of the personnel being transferred to Malta. With loans from bankers in Florence and Siena, as well as church donations and an international recruitment drive undertaken by the clergy, the Hospitallers are able to field fifteen galleys by late 1390, which they begin using against Muslim shipping along the north African coast. 1391-1393: George finally gains a much needed victory at the Battle of Troia, although he suffers nearly 12,000 casualties (out of a force of 50,000). Determined to finally get some booty he marches on Salerno, investing the city. His cannons quickly smash three breaches in the walls, but before he can take the city orders arrive from Constantinople for him to desist. A general truce has started; Konstantinos is starting to show some independence. In 1392 Naples cedes a ruined Apulia, the heel of Italy, to the Empire. It is a wreck, ravaged repeatedly by both Romans and Neapolitans. At least half of the population is either dead or emigrated. Taranto, a major port and the main prize of the war, has a population of less than a thousand. George is highly annoyed at the peace; it cost him the spoils of Salerno. In May 1393, Pope Clement VI attempts to move the papacy to Avignon just two weeks after being proclaimed pope. However the Italian Cardinals object to this and as soon as Clement VI arrives in Avignon, the Italian Cardinals declare his election invalid and elect Martin V as rightful pope. France, the Iberian states, Norway, Denmark, and Hungary back Clement. The rest of Catholicism backs Martin. The Teutonic stance on the Great Schism is unknown for a time as the Knights launch a massive invasion of Novgorod. Their siege of Pskov is fiercely contested as the citizens and a garrison outnumbered twenty to one fight heroically for their city and their God. Mikhail Shuisky gathers the Novgorodian army, skirmishing with Teutonic foragers as he does so. Seven thousand Lithuanian soldiers join them. According to the Chronicle of Mikhail Shuisky, the Lithuanian commander’s answer to the question “Why?” is “Why would we not fight for our brothers?” On August 9, the Novgorod-Lithuanian army launches its attack on the Teutonic force. The battle rages for five hours; Mikhail is everywhere, pulling back hard pressed units, throwing in reserves at the crucial moment, rallying his men whenever they waver. After three hours the garrison and people of Pskov sally, slamming into the Teutonic rearguard. One contingent captures a battery of Teutonic catapults and turns them against their former masters. Finally at around 2:30 PM the Teutonic army breaks, fleeing desperately into the woods only to be cut down by Lithuanian cavalry. Mikhail’s popularity skyrockets and he is hailed as Alexander Nevsky reborn. Using his newfound popularity he stages a military coup in November, being crowned King of Novgorod on November 15. His government, when fully formed, combines elements of the new monarchy and the old republican traditions of the city. While he is a king, his rule is not absolute. 1394-1397: George Komnenos returns to Constantinople and is promptly made civilian governor of Optimates (Bithynia), a wealthy, prosperous theme far away from any potential war zone, and is shunted off to Nicaea. Very little is known about his conduct as governor, but it is known that when his sister dies in 1394, he takes full responsibility for the upbringing of his fourteen year old nephew Demetrios Komnenos (his father had died in 1383, after which George helped his sister with a small stipend. Demetrios also takes the last name of his mother, as it is more prestigious than his father’s claim as a descendant of the Emir of Kayseri.) George makes sure he receives the finest military training possible. In 1396 Hungary and the Empire sign the historic treaty of Dyrrachium, regarding respective spheres of influences in the Balkans. Bulgaria and Serbia are to be buffer states to preserve peace between the two powerhouses of the Balkans and neither is to annex any part of those two states without the other’s permission. The Empire also promises not to contest Hungarian attacks on Vlachia, provided that the Vlachs are allowed freedom of worship with their own churches and clergy, and are allowed to emigrate freely to the Empire if they wish to do so. Also the Empire drops its own claims and recognizes Hungarian claims to Dalmatia from Istria to Cattaro (Venice controls the territory in question). In exchange it is written in the treaty that “If, by the grace of God, the most illustrious Emperor of the Romans should conquer the city of Venice, that city, along with all associated Italian territories west of Gorz, along with all Venetian possessions unbounded by the Adriatic Sea, will be considered the rightful property of the Roman Empire, and of the Roman Empire alone.” The Ottomans, in the course of their invasion of the Iranian Plateau, finally make contact with the mysterious warlord known as Timur. Born in 1338 in Samarkand as a member of the Suldus tribe, he spent most of his life establishing himself as leader of the Chagatai Khanate. Then in order to consolidate his rule and distract discontented elements, he embarked on a campaign of conquest. After first humbling the rulers of Moghulistan, he crippled the Blue Horde by sacking its capital of Sarai in 1388, just as the star of Novgorod is beginning its ascent. He then turns his attention south, overwhelming the minor states of Persia that have managed thus far to avoid being annexed by the Jalayirids because of their preoccupation with the Ottomans. Once those were conquered he turned his attentions to the Jalayirids themselves. In the summer of 1395, an Ottoman army is besieging Mazandaran when Timur’s main force arrives. He will not tolerate a rival in Persia and peremptorily demands that the Turks withdraw. When the Ottomans refuse, he annihilates their army and take Mazandaran. The next year he seizes Gilan and orders raids to commence on Ottoman possessions in Persia. 1398-1400: A crusade is launched against the Marinids, made possible by a truce in the Ninety Years War. Contingents from England, France, Germany, Italy, and even 300 men from Denmark join with the Castilian army at Toledo in 1398. Both Portugal and Aragon launch supporting offensives. The Crusade marches south, annihilating a couple of minor Marinid detachments and rejoices at the news of 4,000 Marinids killed in a failed attack on Aragonese Oran. At Merida, the French knights in the crusading vanguard spot another small force of Marinids and immediately attack. They finish cutting the Muslims to pieces just in time to see the main Marinid army engulf them and wipe most of the French contingent out. The Marinids then attack the demoralized crusaders and score a crushing victory, moving on to besiege Toledo. Marinid success however ends there. While the Portuguese offensive is rolled back to the Tagus, the Aragonese fleet, backed by Pisan and Papal galleys, succeeds in capturing Valencia in a surprise attack. And then there is Toledo. From its towers newly installed bombards roar down hellfire on the Marinid besiegers; wave after wave of Moorish soldiers hurl themselves futilely at the walls, clambering over the corpses of their fallen comrades. Roger de Flor, a participant and chronicler of the siege, optimistically called the Rock of Toledo “the graveyard of the Moorish people.” Mining is of no use either. A vicious subterranean battle is fought between the Castilians and Marinids, in which the Castilians decidedly have the better of the exchange. On September 2, 1399, the Castilians detonate the first known gunpowder mine in history, wiping out five Marinid trebuchets and three hundred men. Two weeks later the siege is lifted. In 1398 Timur takes Fars, the Jalayirid capital. Almost immediately he begins making preparations for the invasion of Mesopotamia. Cavalry raids are conducted almost daily while a Timurid army captures Hormuz. Sultan Mehmed I, called the Conqueror for his conquests in Armenia and eastern Arabia, conducts counter-raids but keeps his main force in Mesopotamia; he wishes to fight Timur on ground of his own choosing. In 1399 Timur obliges him, invading Mesopotamia with over eighty thousand men. At Kirkuk Mehmed is defeated but retires in good order with minor casualties, although the city is lost. He gathers reinforcements, eventually commanding an army sixty five thousand strong; by that point Timur is almost at Baghdad. In order to compensate for his numerical inferiority Mehmed decides to boost his men’s morale by fighting, as close as possible, on the same ground Bayezid I fought on during the Battle of the Gates. Thus Turkish morale is exceedingly high on November 3, when battle is joined. It is not enough. The ferocious onslaught of the Timurid regiments break the Ottoman center as wave after wave of Mongol and Tartar horsemen hurl volleys into the Turkish flanks, overwhelming the flank guards by sheer weight of number. Mehmed throws in the reserves, halting the Timurid advance. Rallying his men with his presence, the Turks begin pushing the Timurids back, until a stray arrow knocks Mehmed from his horse. He is not dead, only unconscious, but the rumor of his death spreads wildly through the army. Panic begins to set in and Timur senses it, throwing in his own reserves. The Ottoman army shatters; Baghdad capitulates the next day. Mehmed wakes up on November 5. Gathering together what he can of his army, he falls back to Basra. Timur, thinking he is no longer a threat, concentrates on capturing northern Mesopotamia; Mosul falls in February 1400. He wants the region secure as reports of Mameluke military buildups in northern Syria have him concerned. When he is at Mosul, he is met by a delegation from Constantinople. After congratulating him on his victory over Mehmed, a treaty is made. Rhomanion will pay Timur 120,000 hyperpyra a year in exchange for not attacking the Empire. Konstantinos does this for two reasons. While George was stuck fighting in Italy, Konstantinos was freed of his influence. Since then he has made sure to remain so. Realizing that the two wars of his reign were ultimately counterproductive, he wants no more. Also he realizes that the money he gives to Timur will likely be spent on killing Mamelukes. However the view of many that Konstantinos is a weak old man is confirmed by these events. After the treaty is signed, Timur moves with lightning speed into Mameluke Syria. He captures Homs in May, defeats a Mameluke army meant to relieve the city, and seizes Damascus in August. The main army then swings toward the coast, where most of the towns surrender immediately. Tyre foolishly tries to resist and is sacked in October. On the other end of the Mediterranean, the Marinids fail to retake Valencia despite a four month siege due to their inability to implement an effective naval blockade. While the Marinid fleet is powerful enough to secure the Pillars and keep the Morocco-Granada line open, otherwise it is outmatched by Christian sea power. 1401-1402: The Timurid advance is temporarily halted by the defeat of a Timurid force not commanded by Timur at Nazareth. In response, Timur marches on Jerusalem, flattening a Mameluke force 30,000 strong at Arsuf. Terrified at the prospect of Timur gaining access to Egypt, the Mamelukes offer Timur a generous deal. In exchange for withdrawing from all his conquests south of Damascus, the Mamelukes will cede Damascus and territories north of it and pay him a lump sum equivalent to 2 million hyperpyra and an annual tribute thereafter of 240,000 hyperpyra. Such an offer places the Mamelukes in danger of bankruptcy but it buys them time. Considering that Timur turned sixty three a week after the treaty was signed, they might not have to pay tribute for long. Timur welcomes the deal. Ottoman Armenia has been cut off from Mehmed in Basra since the fall of Mosul, and he wants to annex it before the Romans do. The rest of 1401 is spent doing so. On August 9, 1401, Konstantinos XI Laskaris dies. George Komnenos returns to Constantinople after an absence of seven years for the funeral where he quickly earns the trust and respect of the new emperor, Theodoros III Laskaris, who is twenty three. In January 1402 twenty two year old Demetrios Komnenos, George’s nephew, is married to Theodoros’ eighteen year old sister Zoe. Theodoros is one of those who thought his father was old and weak and is particularly disgusted by the treaty with Timur. George, who at age fifty eight still desires an opportunity for war and further riches, has to do very little to convince the emperor to repudiate the treaty. Enraged, Timur immediately invades eastern Anatolia, seizing Theodosiopolis in September. Roman army units skirmish with his forces with Demetrios Komnenos participating in the fight. George and Theodoros’ strategy is to draw Timur into Anatolia, whittling his strength down with skirmishes and supply deprivation and then annihilate him somewhere in the Anatolian interior where he can’t possibly escape. In preparation for the campaign, George convinces Theodoros to appoint Demetrios strategos (general) of the Thracesian tagma, ten thousand strong. 1403: Timur’s army marches for the Halys river valley. In May he takes Sebastea after a twenty six day siege, slaughtering the inhabitants; he cannot afford to be slowed down by a large train of prisoners. Marching west, his foragers are repeatedly harassed by Roman cavalry, mostly Turkish and Cuman horse archers. Demetrios Komnenos is very successful at this, using his light cavalry to draw enemy squadrons into ambushes and then hammering them with his kataphraktoi. Still Timur is merely slowed by this, but that is what Theodoros and George want as it gives them time to assemble the largest army Rhomanion has seen in four hundred years, if not more. East of Cappadocian Caesarea the forward scouts of both armies meet in early July. The Roman host numbers seventy two thousand strong, Timur’s eighty five thousand.