A History of the Oungrikos Dynasty of Roman Emperors: The Six Emperors – 1180 to 1330

Timeline
This is an Althist I've been mulling over for a few days in some serious detail. I had a burst of passion for exploring the history surrounding this era. The timeline isn't complete yet but I have some ideas of the kind of events a Roman Empire under Hungarian kings after Bela inherits from Manuel Komnenos would facilitate. I've decide to start from the top, as with any good Althist and will navigate through the formative years of the dynasty, the Third and Fourth Crusades (the latter being in a different time and place to OTL), the Mongol invasions and see how it's diplomacy and geopolitics would be shaped and how in turn this ERE would shape the state of the world.

The characters and chronologies, including the lifespans of certain historical figures are inspired by actual historical events though of course licence has been taken where allowed. Some characters might not have been in a certain time or place when they were supposed to die in OTL and if it's not something like frailty or cancer then it could be avoidable somehow. After Bela-Alexios each of the Emperors would've had different lives and formative experiences and besides their decent from Bela would have likely had different maternal lineages to OTL analogues. The further down the generations you go the more different these characters will be. By the time we get to Marios I the Arpad dynasty of Hungary is supposed to have died out in OTL but here it still rules, not only Hungary but resurgent and formidable Roman Empire also.

Here we go:

Reigns

Bela-Alexios (Alexios II) – r.1180-1196
Emerikos-Alexios (Alexios III) – r.1196-1205
Andros-Alexios (Alexios IV) – r.1205-1235
Bela-Alexios II (Alexios V "the Great") – r.1235-1270
Stephanos I – r.1270-1290
Marios I – r.1290-1330


Timeline

The Rise of the Oungrikoi

1163 –
Following a peace treaty between Stephen III of Hungary and Manuel I Komnenos of the Roman Empire, Stephen's brother Bela, a prince of the Arpad dynasty of Hungarian royalty moves to Constantinople, is betrothed to Manuel's daughter, the Princess Maria. He is given the high imperial title Despotes and given the name Greek name Alexios.

1165 – Bela is designated by Manuel I as his heir. He is now first in line to inherit the Roman Empire. During conflicts between Manuel and Stephen III, Bela had served alongside the Romans in military campaigns in Bosnia and Dalmatia. He is noted to have appealed for mercy to be shown towards Hungarian prisoners of war.

1167- Another war with Hungary breaks out amid accusations that Bela-Alexios 'claimed the kingdom of his brother'. A Hungarian invasion force is crushed by the Romans at Sirmium. Many Hungarians are known to has defected to Bela's side, proclaiming him the true king.

1169- POD – Manuel's wife, Maria of Antioch gives birth to a daughter named Anna. Bela-Alexios remains the heir of Manuel.

1172 – Stephen III dies without sons, Bela-Alexios succeeds him as Bela III, King of Hungary.

1176 – POD – Bela joins Manuel I on his Anatolian campaign against the Seljuk of Rum. They deliver a crushing victory at Halys River. The result of this is the seizure of most of the Seljuk northern territories, including the city of Ancyra to the Romans. Romania was now in a much more powerful position in Central Antolia. Hungarian horse archers were decisive.

1180 – Manuel I dies and is succeeded by Bela-Alexios who is crowned Alexios II of the Romans. He is the first of a line of an Arpatian-Komnenoi rulers who would hold personal union over both Hungary and Romania and become most widely known as the Oungrikoi Emperors (The Hungarian Emperors).

Reign of Bela-Alexios

1185 –
Bela leads a second final campaign against to Seljuk of Rum to retake the southern half of the Anatolian Basin for the Empire. The Seljuk capital, the city of Iconium falls to the Romans. The last Seljuk Sultan of Rum, Kilij Arslan II dies in battle. Central Anatolia is reconquered and an eastern frontier from Trabzon to Cicilia is subsequently consolidated.

1187 – The Ayyubid Sultanate under Saladin invades the Kingdom of Jerusalem and retake the Holy City itself. The events leading up to the Third Crusade are set in motion.

1189 – Crusaders from the West , mostly from France and England, join forces with Romanians in Cyprus. A large crusading army from Germany takes the land route through Hungary, Thrace and Anatolia. Bela allows his brother Geza to accompany the German army under Fredrick Barbarrosa. When Fredrick drowns in Syria, the Hungarians take the initiative and with the help of German troops march south to support the forces of Richard the Lionheart. Collectively they succeed in taking and holding Jerusalem, delivering key victories against the Ayyubids.

1191 – Bela arranges for his brother Geza to marry Queen Tamar of Georgia, cementing an alliance in the East and helping the Georgians conquer surrounding regions from Muslim rulers including several Armenian principalities.

1190s – In the Holy Land, once many of the Western Crusaders have left for home, the Kingdom of Jerusalem is increasingly reliant on Roman assistance for security. The Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, a Roman alligned military order is formed at this time. Most of it's members are Orthodox or Eastern Christians.

1196- Bela dies and is succeed as Emperor of the Romans and King of Hungary by his son Emerikos-Alexios (Alexios III of the Romans, Emeric I of Hungary).

Summary of Events upto 1241

1196-1204-
Tensions between the two brothers Emerikos and Andros led to concessions being made to Andros including the Duchies of Croatia and Bosnia. In Bosnia, Bologomists who were considered heretics by both the Holy See in Rome and the Church in Constantinople are subjugated. Emerikos pursues a Unionite ecclesiastical policy with regards to the schism between the Catholic West and Orthodox East. He however does so with discretion and does not coerce Byzantine Christians into changing their rites. He accepts the Latin and Byzantine rites under his leadership of the Eastern Church.

1204- Venice attempts to assert control over the port of Zara on the Adratic Coast. Andros Duke of Croatia and Bosnia is made an offer by the Venetians that they will support his claim to the Hungarian throne if he supports their leasing of ports in Dalmatia.

1204-05- The Brother's War. Andros marches his army supported by Italian mercenaries into Hungary and with the support of Hungarian nobles is crowned King in defiance of his brother, Emerikos. The Emperor sends an army north however no major engagement occurs besides skirmishes due to the war being cut short by Emerikos' death due to illness. His only son, Emerikos the Younger died the same year. Andros hence inherits the Roman Empire and the personal union of Hungary and Romania is restored.

1205-1220- During the reign of Andros the frontiers of the Empire remain relatively stable. His administrative reforms were extensive across his domain and he proved a shrewd dispanser of wealth and privilages to those parties that supported him.

He sought a more favourable policy toward Venetian merchants over the more established Genoans and as well as granting leases to ports along the Adriatic Sea he allowed Venice to set up emporiums in major port cities along the Aegean and Black Sea coasts including in Constantinople itself. Andros was a tolerant emperor and hired many Jews and Muslims to Imperial offices which he recieved some criticism for but considered a nessecity within such a diverse Empire.

Territorially, the frontier of his dominion was extended into the Lower Danube regions east of Hungary an along the far side of the Carpathian Mountains into the Principalities of Halych and Lodomeria which he added to his Hungarian domains.

1220-1235- In the 1220s the Empire was flourishing economically in part due to the overall peace of Andros' reign and his willingness to invest huge amounts of his wealth into creating a new class of economically active nobles through his 'New Institutions' policy. He also made sure to effectively redistribute existing resources towards newly consolidated territories in the Cumania and Anatolia.

On the flip-side this period did see the rise of factional rivalries and violence between the many new groups of nobles and burghers competing over access to the new wealth that was being generated in a rapidly changing economy. In response to this Andros developed a new reformed militia system across his realm, developing a more standardised and mobile type of law enforcement unit to counter lawlessness in settlements and along travel routes.

Throughout his reign he is believed to have been a Latin Rite Christian presiding over a predominantly Orthodox clergy across most of his Roman domains and nonetheless continued to uphold the permissive policies of his predecessor Emerikos and even went further, advocating for the reconciliation of Miaphysite Christians. Though ostensibly Unionite he tacitly affirmed the primacy of the Emperor over the Church within the Empire, an idea known retrospectively as Caesaropapism.

1235-1241- Andros Alexios dies in 1235 and is succeeded by his son Bela-Alexios II (Alexios V of the Romans, Bela IV of Hungary).

The early part of Bela's reign is the continuation of the stability of his fathers reign, his main achievement being the Christianisation of Cumans living in the Lower Danubian provinces, some lords of whom had acknowledged him as the 'King of Cumania' as early as 1233. Beginning in 1241 however would be a new and sudden threat that would define the next chapter of the Oungrikos story.

Forward unto the Mongol Invasions, the chaos they unleashed and the Fourth Crusade of 1248!

TBC



 
Nice timeline! The style reminds me of the older timelines that used to be on this site over ten years ago.
Ay its a style I prefer. I decided to take on this task to clear up my head canon so I've something clearer to build off for later history. I envisage this Romania as evolving into a modern entity but need to uncover all the butterflies I can to make sense of the world that nation will inhabit.
 
Ay its a style I prefer. I decided to take on this task to clear up my head canon so I've something clearer to build off for later history. I envisage this Romania as evolving into a modern entity but need to uncover all the butterflies I can to make sense of the world that nation will inhabit.
Very interesting. It's always a pleasure to see different TLs that explore a surviving Romania.
 
is there an map of the current state of the empire and will it be fully restored to its known borders like in the OTL
 
2 queries:
1) would the Hungarian Emperors be giving separate names for their sons? I can understand adopting a new name if one wasn't in imperial succession before but it seems odd that the son of an emperor would automatically have separate ones to be used.
2) would not the emperors seek to include Hungary as part of the Empire rather than outside?
 
This is my jam. The history of Byzantium podcast is getting to this point (though at the rate it’s going it will probably take a year or more to get to Manuel) and I’ve been reading the Alexiad so this is very cool.
 
You might want to see this as well, since it's having the same POD

 
You might want to see this as well, since it's having the same POD

It’s a shame that it’s dead. The author moved over to another (or did the author create the site?) and did update it once or twice but due to the predictably small audience hasn’t done much with the story.
 
2 queries:
1) would the Hungarian Emperors be giving separate names for their sons? I can understand adopting a new name if one wasn't in imperial succession before but it seems odd that the son of an emperor would automatically have separate ones to be used.
2) would not the emperors seek to include Hungary as part of the Empire rather than outside?
1) Yes, just to appeal to their Hungarian heritage and its nobility. The Oungrikos Emperors regard themselves as dual monarchs. They have two names if Christened with a culturally specific one.

2) The dynasty as it's presented up to Stephanos I is effectively a personal union and Bela-Alexios II actually intended his Younger son Bela inherit Hungary to better keep both realms in the dynasty. That Bela died before he could inherit though, so Stephanos inherited it anyway and under his and his son Marios, Hungary begins to be integrated further into the Empire. During this period the Hungarian nobility were seeking their own autonomy and greater independence from central authority so I'd expect some rebellions. The first one you've already seen with Andros rebelling against Emerikos.
 
You might want to see this as well, since it's having the same POD

Thank you for the link. I seek inspiration.
 
https://www.reddit.com/r/imaginarymaps/comments/adhmfq
While you wait around for the next update, I'll be dropping this link of a map posted on Reddit showing this same POD as imagined by u/Fehervari who actually inspired my use of the name 'Oungrikos' for the Hungarian Dynasty. It's been posted here before on the Turul thread but it's now here too for reference.

During 1250 in my scenario Bela Alexios II is in power and the Empire is helping Hungary recover from the Golden Horde invasion of 1241. Meanwhile the Forth Crusade of ATL (like the Seventh Crusade of OTL for the most part) is raging in Egypt and the Holy Land. Romania is soon going to grab a lot of clay...

Also the whole of Anatolia is now taken and Georgia and the Armenian Principalities are allies of the Empire.
 
I'm being waylaid by personal matters so I've not got back to this as quick as I wanted but I should drop the next update in the next few days.
 
Timeline
Here we are again, the next instalment...

The Reign of Bela-Alexios II from the year 1241 to 1256

1241- The arrival of the Mongols on the frontiers of Bela's realm was marked by a migration into Hungary and Roman Bulgaria of fleeing Cuman refugees. The Mongols had already overan the Rus Principalities and invaded and ransacked Poland. Following this in March of 1241, the Mongol armies commenced taking positions to prepare a major invasion of Hungary consisting of hosts of tens of thousands of horsemen from four different directions.

The Romans were already aware of encroaching nomadic armies after their trade posts on the Northern Black Sea were sacked. When the Southern wing of the Mongol invasion force swept by Roman lands along the lower Danube, Bela-Alexios at court in Constantinople was forced into action, raising a large host from Anatolia and Thrace to move towards Sirmium to forward a defence of his Hungarian lands and possibly meet the Southern armies led by Mongol commander Bochek. Hungary itself once the invasion had begun in earnest was effectively helpless and the noble levies raised at the early stage of the invasion were mostly smashed.

The Army Bela brought up north however grew into a large cohesive fighting force with a cavalry heavy focus made up of Cataphracts, Light Hussars and Horse Archers along spear and pike infantry recruits from the Balkans. Meanwhile as 1241 dragged on the Mongols were increasingly bogged down in siege warfare, the Hungarians choosing to hole themselves up behind their castle walls picking off Mongols below. The Mongols suffered strained supply lines and heavy losses to both siege warfare and disease.


1242- The Roman force begins to restore order to Hungary after months of Mongol looting and pillaging, relieving besieged castles from now tired Mongol besiegers who begin to withdraw from the Kingdom. What Bela finds when his force patrols the reconsolidated territory is devastation. Estates and settlements were burnt out and in ruins and much of the Hungarian countryside was depopulated, many thousands being either killed or abducted by the Mongol raiders. While the Mongols had failed to occupy Hungary successfully, the Empire was left with the massive task of trying to rebuild this ravaged land, the land of the imperial dynasty's forefathers.

It is understood a major factor in the retreat of the Mongols from Hungary was a major rebellion of Cumans supported by the Empire that sought to recover lands in Southern Ukraine and reestablish a buffer between the Golden Horde and Romanian possessions in Crimea and the Northern Black Sea Region. Ultimately this has mixed success however some land is reaqquired for the Cumans to resettle in the Lower Danube.


1242-48- Major rebuilding of Hungary commences while an increased military presence protects the realm from further Mongol raids. New fortifacations are constructed to protect entry points into the Pannonian Basin through mountain passes along the Carpathians down to the Danubian Gates where communities of Armenians from Cilicia are encouraged to settle and provide garrisons. Significant settlement from other parts of the Oungrikos Realm occurs across Hungary to repopulate hard hot parts of the Kingdom. Other settlers are encouraged to come from outside realms like Poland and Germany.

Bela-Alexios II is later lauded as a 'rebuilder' of the nation of Hungary for investing so much in these rebuilding efforts. These efforts though kickstart a process of cultural change in Hungary leading to its further intergration into the Roman Empire, including a proggressively greater Orthodox Christian presence.


1244- After being driven from their lands in Iran and Central Asia by the Mongols hordes, the Muslim Khwarezmians arrive in the Middle East and on their way to seek the assistance of the Ayyubid Sultinate in Egypt successfully besiege and take Jerusalem from the Kingdom of Jerusalem, a Roman vassal, to provide as a gift for the Ayyubids.

Bela is at this time distracted by events in Hungary and around the Black Sea so his formidable military resources were still greatly overstretched, therefore he couldn't occesrate a quick response to the recapture of Jerusalem. However both the Emperor and the Pope in Rome did choose to begin co-operation for an ambitious military operation to be planned methodically over several years while the Empire recovered. The ultimate objective was to not simply reaqquire Jerusalem for Christendom but to further secure the position of the Holy Land through occupying the whole of Egypt and toppling the Ayyubid Sultanate itself.


1247- The preperations for a Fourth Crusade are complete though the Papacy is forced to concede the venture will greatly depend on Roman support due to a lack of co-operation between the Kingdoms of the Latin West. King Louis IX of France is the only King in Western Europe to pledge full support albeit enthusiastically, providing a great number of ships and men. Other minor hosts are raised from as far afield as Norway, Frisia and England. All these Latin forces plan on making the journey East by sea initially to the island of Cyprus.


1248- The execution of the Fourth Crusade begins after the French led host arrives in Cyprus and meets with Bela's Roman naval forces while another Roman army supplimented by Hungarian and Cuman veterans has been gathered in Syria to push back Ayyubid incursions northwards.

Louis insists that the seizure of Egypt is imperative to cripple the Ayyubid war machine and engage the enemy in a two front war and nominates the port city of Damietta his main target to be taken and a good maritime vantage for operation in the Holy Land. Bela, with advice from his advisors prefers to opt for a conquest of Alexandria, the major trading hub of Egypt as a springboard for greater control of Egypt itself. With signifacant contributions from Venetian and Genoese mercenaries, Bela is able to assemble a second force for this task alongside the one to assist Louis.


Early 1249- At Roman insistance and with full support of Bela's assisting force, Louis is encouraged to commence his attack on Egypt in January of the year 1249 taking into account the timetable of the Nile flood cycle which began from around June by which time the Crusaders had hoped to have a large consolidated beachead and deny the Ayyubids an effective counter attack that year while the Romans make gains in the Levant.

Once Louis initiated his landing and took Damietta with some heavy resistance the Ayyubids planned to countersiege the Crusaders and moved their forces over towards the Northeast Delta leaving Alexandria less well defended. In March, the second Roman led attack force landed while the navy of Italian galleys and Roman dromon armed with Greek fires engaged in a bitter naval battles both in the harbour of Alexandria and behind it's peninsula. Using diversion tactics and stretching the defences thin the Romans managed to occupy the city. This was for the first time in approximately six centures that a Greek Army had occupied Egyptian lands and would be a major source of prestige for Bela who had up to now a rather turbulant reign.


Late 1249- The invasion of Egypt by the combined Roman and French led Crusader forces is a success in achieving its objectives by August to effectively occupy or otherwise deny Ayyubid access to the Northern Nile Delta before the floods arrive allow the Crusaders to restock and fortify while conducting occassional reconassence and raiding in Sinai and Suez against Ayyubid forces seeking to stay connected across Egypt and the Levent.

During Autumn the situation for the Ayyubid Sultanate is increasingly desperate and while their forces are increasingly embroiled in a defence of Egypt the attacking forces in Syria are pushed further back down south towards Jerusalem. All the while the Sultan as-Salih Ayyub dies in November throwing the Sultanate into a timultuous power struggle between the Ayyub Dynasty and the Mamluks, a military class serving under them who had been growing in power.


1250- The Crusader offensive resumes as the flood waters subside strengthened by a second influx of recruits mostly from Italy and Romania who landed over the winter. The Crusaders push on to the gates of Fustat, the seat of the Ayyubids in March of 1250. The Ayyubids are faced with a need to defend their capital and effectively abandon their offensive in the Holy Land. Jerusalem is back in Christain hands by the start of May and the Kingdom of Jerusalem is restored under the vassalage of Bela. Also in this month due to massive disatisfaction over his rule and the disastrous events of the past few months the only recently accended Sultan Turanshah is assassinated by Mamluks. Reportedly his heart is cut out an offered to Louis and Bela as a sue for peace, one that is soundly rejected. Soon thus the city of Fustat falls and with the Ayyubid Sultanate effectively dissolved and the rest of Egypt in disarray, the Crusader forces continue sending parties down the Nile Valley, joining up with Coptic and Nubian communities asserting their freedom from Muslim control until contact is established with the Kingdom of Makuria in North Sudan.


1250-56- Louis IX of France remains in Egypt, administering his occupied lands from Damietta to Mansurah, while Bela Alexios II established an Exarchate over Egypt to rule from Alexandria over the rest of Egypt with the help of the Copts and co-operative Muslim communities including Mamluks among them.

After Louis return to France in 1254 he grants his lands in Egypt over to the King of Jerusalem as was pledged at the very start of the crusade. Nonetheless over the later part of the century Jerusalem would grow increasingly under tighter Roman influence as the Empire continues it's dramatic rise in power during Bela's reign.

Another great turning point is around the corner as the Mongols burst back onto the scene in the mid 1250s, this time in the Middle East. The relationship with these Mongols under one Helagu Khan would however prove to be of a wholly different character to Bela's first encounter a decade and a half earlier.

Next Up: The Siege of Baghdad, its consequences and Oungrikoi-Ilkhanate relations.
 
I think given time the Romans will grow used to the concept of an monarchy type government system such as those in the west
 
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