An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Basileus444, Apr 30, 2015.

Loading...
  1. JohnSmith Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Seems like the situation is ripe for the Romans to embrace Total War and the levée en masse. There's no other way to combat the 2 huge armies closing in on the Western and Eastern front.

    What do they expect to accomplish? The Allies have at least 30,000 more men. To buy time for them to beat back Shah Ibrahim's smaller army?
     
  2. Evilprodigy Evil Overlord of NWCG Donor

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2010
    Location:
    Toronto
    Levee en Masse is a bit anachronistic. The Regimental Cantons system maybe as a natural evolution of the Theme System as a force of conscription for all able bodied men rather than recruitment and upkeep. But even then that's still a century removed institution and one unique to a nation who by necessity needed a proportionally large army to even survive, alone compete, in the European world of the 18th century. We're in the midst of the 30 years war era of warfare, and that shit ain't pretty or efficient.
     
  3. JSC Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Location:
    Canada
    The Romans used the levee en masse earlier in the story. Only in a limited area, Syria and Antioch I think, and as a strategy it was discarded in the post war period. So the Romans know what it is and have an idea of how to do it they’ve just never had the need until now.
     
  4. HanEmpire Delicious

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2011
    Location:
    The Land of Eh
    The Romans have enough administrative efficiency to pull off a levee en masse already. They've only held off on doing it because of the memory of the Time of Troubles, when they saw that mass levies tended to cause horrific civilian casualties because the enemy can no longer distinguish soldiers from civilians.

    Analogy to Prussia is apt for the Empire, in that it is surrounded by hostile powers on multiple sides and is at a quantitative disadvantage. If the standing Imperial Armies start to falter, I can see Demetrios implementing modern style mass conscription to make up.
     
    Duke of Nova Scotia likes this.
  5. Evilprodigy Evil Overlord of NWCG Donor

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2010
    Location:
    Toronto
    Local implementation is a bit different from a national one. Though it's possible we could see the Balkans bring this sort of mass mobilization once again like it did in Syria.

    I don't quite recall that, this TL has been going on for a while after all, but I could certainly see that being a concern if we were in the era of the Cabinet Wars, but we're not, this is a period when civilians are always going to be targets.

    Just a simple change of having the themes conscript all able-bodied men instead of recruiting them as professionals would be enough. A 3.6% of the population army, like in Prussia, would be utterly unstoppable coming from an Imperial Heartland of "20+ million" as B444 said recently would give 720,000 soldiers. If that could even be financially supported I don't know. Even just 1% would be more than 200,000 men.
     
  6. HanEmpire Delicious

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2011
    Location:
    The Land of Eh
    Link: https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...val-of-rhomanion.217912/page-440#post-7905741

    The Empire already has a mobilization plan drafted up. It just needs to be dusted off a bit.

    That's going to throw a wrench into things. Imagine the shock and terror among the Germans when they see the Romans barrelling down on them with an order of magnitude of soldiers more than they ought to have.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
    Duke of Nova Scotia likes this.
  7. Lascaris Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    They are about to invent the fiscal-military state. Which means oh being able to keep on the field armies comparable to these of Louis XIV. France in the Dutch war in 1672 did mobilize 280,000 and by the time of the Nine years war this had grown to 340,000. The empire probably is already better organized financially than France of 1670, with comparable or higher population. That's more than sufficient to keep the Germans and Triunes at bay while teaching Ibrahim the error of his ways. Of course within the next couple of generations the western powers and possibly the Ottomans will be following suit but that's then not now.
     
  8. ImperatorAlexander Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
    Definitely seems like the only way the Romans will win this war. IIRC B444 made comparisons between this war and the OTL War of the Austrian Succession. Perhaps it could be better compared to Prussia in the Seven Years War? A materially smaller state utilising its discipline and administration to beat off a coalition of bigger enemies? Demetrios definitely has what it takes to be a proto-enlightened despot.
     
  9. Sir Omega Lord of Spectators

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Location:
    Around here somewhere.
    Because he can't feed them otherwhise. It's been already stated that the logistics situation is not that great, so living off the land is the usual method to supliment the food supply.
    Also, a spot of pillage and rape was one of the perks of being a soldier. Denying his men that, especially when they're already having supply issues would invite unrest and mutiny.
     
  10. Basileus444 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Khaine: True, but none of the reasons that turned the Russians and Ottomans into such big rivals are in play ITTL.

    Boa: I’d love it if I made some money from this, even if it’s just a little spending money to feed my history book habit. Obviously I’m writing this because I enjoy it (if I didn’t this would’ve died a long time ago) but even a little cash per update would be a huge encouragement and a very strong incentive to write more and faster.

    Yeah, that was one of the reforms during the Eternal War (don’t remember when though). Peacetime strength for a tagma is 10 tourmai, but during times of war additional recruits can be formed in ‘sleeping’ tourmai based on pre-selected cadres from the regular tourmai. The more populous themes, such as Thrakesia, can support many more tourmai than Anatolikon or Armeniakon.

    Thanks for the praise. :) I really appreciate it. I wanted to try and show what it’s like from the trenches, so to speak. I’m planning on experimenting with journal/letter excerpts in upcoming updates; we’ll see how that goes.

    RogueTraderEnthusiast: If I was getting paid, I’d definitely write more. As it is now, I write when I’m in the mood and that waxes and wanes. I write this for the fun of it, but even a little material benefit would ensure I’m in the mood much more often.

    Babyrage: I’ll go into more detail in a later update, but the logistics for a German siege of Constantinople are totally frelled. And Blucher knows it. Along the Danube he’s good, so long as he has control of the river. Off of it, things get dicey really quickly.

    Evil Prodigy: Thank you for the sources.

    Rocke: The problem though is that any disease that infected the Germans/Persians would also spread to the Roman populace, so it’d wreck everyone equally.

    HanEmpire: These troops in Upper Macedonia are far away from their higher-ups, badly supplied, behind on getting paid, and frankly weren’t the best troops in the Allied army in the first place. Some of the better officers can keep them in check (whoever was commanding at David’s Staff for example) but most can’t or just join in with their men since they’re in not much better shape than their soldiers.

    This was inspired by times in the OTL 30 Years War where troops would go out of control because of lack of supplies or arrears of pay. Their actions backfired on their political masters but their masters were unable to control them. See the Spanish Fury during the Dutch Revolt for another example.

    Theodor might make an example of some of the worst offenders such as the officer at St Andreas (gunning down an Orthodox priest is really bad PR and don’t think for a second Demetrios won’t use it). But his leeway is limited. If he can’t pay or feed the troops without pillaging the countryside, what choice does he have? I will point out though that where Blucher is, the requisitions are of ‘David’s Staff’ style rather than ‘St Andreas’.

    Duke of Nova Scotia: A lot of the area between the Theodosian and Herakleian Walls are underdeveloped so there is plenty of room for reservoirs and gardens for growing. Plus the White Palace Park could be turned into orchards and gardens really easily. In addition Constantinople’s waters are rich in fish and it’s right across the water from the huge Imperial agricultural complex at the Sweet Waters of Asia. So starving Constantinople into submission would be really hard, and next to impossible if one doesn’t have control of the seas.

    Sea walls got extended to cover the extra space, plus the Arsenal has its own walls. Regarding the Theodosian Walls, the plan would be to strengthen them with earthen piles to absorb cannonballs and some of the towers have been strengthened to mount cannons of their own. So even if an invader could smash through the Herakleian Walls, they’d then face a second line of defense in the Theodosian.

    Aristomenes: Thank you. :) Thessaloniki’s fortifications are modern, designed for gunpowder sieges, although not as large as Constantinople’s.

    JohnSmith: Slow the Germans down, bleed them through smaller attacks, raids, and holding actions. By forcing the Allies to keep concentrated, they also increase the strain on their supplies.

    Lascaris: Between the army and navy, the Romans will be fielding a quarter of a million by September 1632.

    ImperatorAlexander: I admit I’m not sure if there’s an OTL parallel to this one anymore. I’ve changed and adjusted my plans for this a lot since I first imagined it.
     
  11. Threadmarks: 1632: The Danube Campaign

    Basileus444 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Bulgaria-political-map.gif

    1632 continued
    : Before Blucher can invade the theme of Bulgaria, he must first reduce the northeast section of Serbia, which has thus far remained free. Disgusted after hearing of Lazar’s capitulation and installation as Despot by Theodor, when he hears word of Durad’s arrival in Ohrid the regional governor immediately recognizes Durad as the King of Serbia as opposed to ‘Lazar, the betrayer of the Serbian people’.

    Domestikos Laskaris knows that he doesn’t have the numbers to take on Blucher, who has at least 25,000+ more men in his main host, head-on. But he aims to fight. The Allies will be engaged daily, at some point or another, wherever they happen to be. His aim, to bleed the army as much as possible. As Blucher advances, Laskaris retires before him, but every day is accompanied by gunfire.

    June 3 sees the start of the Long Battle of the Iron Gates, not a set piece battle but a series of continuous rolling engagements, with at some points over forty thousand soldiers in action. Blucher continues steadily pushing forward but clearing the Iron Gates costs him over nine thousand casualties alone.

    Whilst Vidin is important, Laskaris knows his army is far more crucial than any fortress, so he does not contest Blucher when he sets it under siege. But he remains in the area, constantly harassing Blucher’s ranks as Vauban sets up his siege lines.

    Meanwhile on the Danube the Roman and Allied fleets battle, the Allies fielding a new weapon, called ‘battle-barges’. They are barges with a stern paddlewheel which is powered by pedals, the peddlers cranking to the beat of drums just like rowers on a galley but without the vulnerable banks of oars. The paddlewheel is obviously a weakness but set in the stern it is much harder to hit when approaching an enemy.

    Their sides are raised to protect the crew but still make for a much lower profile in the water, as there isn’t the need for above-water oar ports. This makes them a smaller target.

    They are armed with heavy muskets and some light cannon but their primary weapon is the new blast-ram. On the ship’s bow is fixed an underwater spar, partly hollow, at the front end of which is a box with a reinforced rear end and a spike on the front. The whole apparatus is attached to the barge with chains. The idea is that explosives are placed in the box and then the barge rams the enemy vessel, the spike sticking in the enemy hull below the waterline. Then a fuse is lit on the barge, which races down the hollow part of the spar and then ignites the explosives. With the rear end of the box reinforced, the explosion takes the path of least resistance, forward into the punctured underwater (and therefore weaker) timbers of the enemy ship. The chains are then broken so the spar falls off, letting the barge reverse-paddle out of the battle.

    These come as a nasty surprise, inflicting heavy losses on the already battered Roman river flotilla, but they quickly figure out the paddlewheel weakness. They equip their gunboats with more light (and faster-firing weapons), aiming to shoot up the paddlewheels. Easily damaged, a battle-barge is helpless then.

    The Allies then get a nasty surprise as their gunboats approach Vidin. Vauban himself watches as the flotilla approaches and then suddenly an explosion erupts under the bow of the lead ship, damaging several oars on the port side. The galley slaloms to the side, another pair of explosions bursting under its starboard side, sending clouds of wooden splinters, some as thick and long as a man’s arms, chewing through the crew, whilst a fourth explosion bursts under the stern. The shattered wreck sinks shortly afterwards. No Roman vessels are in sight.

    Before retiring downstream, the Roman river fleet started laying the first known contact mines, a series of two-chambered barrels. One chamber is filled with air to keep them buoyant and the other filled with gunpowder. The whole apparatus is then sealed and anchored to the river bottom, ideally so that it is a couple of feet below the surface, deep enough so that it’s hard to spot but shallow enough that they’ll hit the enemy on the weaker underwater timbers but not on their tougher keels. Inside the barrels beside the gunpowder is a flintlock mechanism. A strong enough impact trips the flintlock, the sparks igniting the priming powder around it, and then the barrel’s whole contents explode. To help direct the explosion sideways, the tops and bottoms of the barrels are reinforced. The disadvantage is that the charges are quite weak because of the need to keep a lot of air in the barrel.

    Despite the setback Vauban presses his siege of Vidin, which has modern fortification but not the size of Belgrade. This time there are no unlucky accidents and the garrison resists stoutly. Vauban’s barrages are met with sulfur stink-bombs and catapults hurling clods of burning belladonna giving off clouds of poisonous smoke, besides the usual weapons of war.

    This early chemical warfare is not enough though and Vidin is eventually forced to capitulate, but not before costing the allies three thousand casualties and a month.

    Blucher pushes on, the campaign continuing in the same vein. Laskaris remains just out of range, snarling and bickering with Allied contingents, gradually working up the casualty lists. Almus (Lom to the Bulgarians) and Kozloduy both fall but each take a fortnight to be reduced. Meanwhile the Vlachs are raiding all across the Danube as Blucher is unable to secure both banks, no raid individually significant but each one another cut to the Allied behemoth.

    Nikopolis proves to be a harder nut to crack, keeping even Vauban out for six weeks. During the siege Laskaris comes up, mauls a large foraging detachment, and when a twenty-thousand strong force stationed to cover the foragers moves up, he mauls that as well before retiring as Blucher comes up with the main body.

    Still Blucher presses on, investing Svishtov, Vauban taking it after a fortnight. By this point winter is now descending in force across Bulgaria, bringing major operations to a halt. The next serious fortress on the Danube is Ruse, where the Danube starts curving north. Ruse is a major port along the Danube, the terminus of a major highway, the other end of which is Varna on the Black Sea coast.

    Whilst Blucher had hoped to secure Ruse before the winter to use as a base against Varna, the planned springboard for the attack on Constantinople, the campaign seems to be quite a success. He has taken five major fortresses, two of which, Vidin and Nikopolis, are first-class, and seized a significant chunk of the Danube river valley, although no point is secure from raids from the northern Vlach bank.

    Said fortresses are repaired and well-garrisoned, meaning that the Romans can’t swing behind him and take them back quickly. They’d be forced into a siege and potentially pinned between the citadel in question and Blucher’s host. And despite the need to garrison those fortresses, Blucher’s field army is still the same size as when he started his advance in the spring. Supplying his huge army is difficult but control of the Danube and forced requisitions from the Bulgarian population (conducted in a much more disciplined manner then in Macedonia) make it possible, although the proportion of cavalry in the army, heretofore a significant advantage he had over the Romans, is dwindling.

    Yet having said all that, things are not all roses. Despite several receiving bloody noses, Vlach raids are incessant, whilst Roman trapezites and local partisans add their own blows to the fray. Between those, Laskaris’ constant drive to rack up kill counts, and the normal wastage of war, Blucher’s host has taken 30,000 casualties, over a third of their number. The flow of reinforcements means he’s able to replace those losses, for now, but he and his entire senior staff are openly concerned about what’ll be left of Germany’s menfolk at this rate. The Romans are taking heavy losses as well; although he was failed to bring above a general engagement Blucher has been energetic about attacking the Romans for his part. But despite those losses, Laskaris’ army has grown by 10 tourmai over the campaign and the Domestikos expresses optimism for more forcefulness in the coming year.

    Although Demetrios III Sideros approves wholeheartedly of the Domestikos’ aim to kill Germans wherever and whenever they are, his success inadvertently undermines the Emperor’s efforts to exploit the fact that the enemy host is composed of various allies. Sheets of propaganda pamphlets are constantly left where Allied soldiers can get their hands on them, which work on existing grievances. Brandenburgers don’t care for Poles; Rhinelanders fear and hate the Triunes.

    During the siege of Nikopolis, a brawl breaks out between the Cologne contingent commanded by the Archbishop ‘Bone-breaker’ and Polish troops, which leaves over two dozen wounded, none too seriously save one Pole who is paralyzed from the waist down. Casimir is utterly furious and sends troops down to arrest the Cologne soldiers responsible. The Cologne troops prominently brandish their weapons in response, the tense confrontation not helped by the Archbishop, who has developed a strong personal antipathy towards the Polish King (he is not alone in that), publicly announcing that king or not, he’ll break Casimir’s nose personally if Polish troopers seize any of his men.

    Blucher is highly irritated by the whole affray. Now dependent almost entirely on Hungarian and Polish cavalry for horsemen, he cannot afford to alienate Casimir. Yet Archbishop Hohenzollern is his most effective point-man and commands the second largest contingent (after that commanded by the Crown Prince of Bohemia) from the Holy Roman Empire not drawn from imperial lands. The other princely contingents look to him for leadership. So he can’t alienate him either. Plus Blucher is irritated that Casimir unilaterally took it upon himself to arrest men from a contingent that was not under his authority.

    Fortunately for Blucher, this is the point where Laskaris comes up to pummel the foragers and then their covering force, so the potential fight breaks up to go pursue the Romans. Given a stark reminder by the six thousand casualties Laskaris inflicts before he withdraws, that here if they don’t cooperate they will die, a compromise is patched up. Casimir will drop any charges in exchange for the Archbishop paying a large annual stipend to the paralyzed Pole and his family for the rest of his life. That settles the matter.

    But on the march to Svishtov Blucher privately has a talk with Hohenzollern, pointing out that his threat of breaking Casimir’s nose was hardly diplomatic. Hohenzollern agrees and promises not to do so again. ‘He’ll break something else instead.’
     
  12. HanEmpire Delicious

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2011
    Location:
    The Land of Eh
    The Allies are hemorrhaging manpower and treasury. At this rate I don't know if Theodor will ever get to see the Black Sea, let alone Constantinople.

    Theodor needs a suitable epiteth for this nonsense.

    Theodor the Befuddled
    Theodor the Compensator
    Theodor the Blind
    Theodor the Loser
    Theodor the Idiot
    Theodor the Dung-named
    Theodor the Lousy
    Theodor the Cabbage
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018
  13. Namayan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    Michael Laskaris is looking like an above average general.

    That looks promising for the Roman side who had below average generals since Eternal war with Iskander.

    The Romans didnt convert the names back to its pre Slavic cities after the destruction of the Bulgarians? or matter of convenience point where Blucher is?
     
  14. Duke of Nova Scotia Didn't go to Alberta to become a Millionaire.

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2014
    Location:
    Alba Nuadh
    And the the seams are starting to pull.

    I feel bad for Theodor, as to have a force composed such as it is to not have already torn itself apart, is a testament to his leadership. Yet he will forever been known as foolhardy and overly ambitious. The best he could do after this, if he survived, is blame the Poles, as the Triunes have held up their end of the bargain and genuinely worked within Theodors structure of command.

    He is also the lynchpin to this whole war. If he dies, the allies have no reason to be there outside of fourth crusade greed. Again as many german speaking Vlach, Serb, nile Germans i could hire to infiltrate the Allied camp to kill the man would be cash well spent. It would also create mistrust and really help with turning the allied army on itself. Imagine if a nile german almost kills Casimir? It would have even more effect than if he was killed. The Poles would look only to themselves, and no german would be trusted. Or perhaps a polish speaking Russian to kill either of them.

    Once again, an awesome chapter B.

    I've had thoughts of dilusional grandure about writing an SI in this TL of a permaculturalist such as myself. A tinkerer, gardener, and amature builder of hempcrete structures.

    Also has baking soda been invented yet? I know we are about 80 years away from its invention but this isnt the same world that had to rediscover concrete and other other technology. There is more developed academic base for some pretty small but hugely important discoveries. I imagine caustic soda is around, which is massive for keeping pests and other vermin out of the house. Lye and its dirivitives are the unsung heros of the premodern chemical industry.

    I'm rambling because ive been up all night at the hospital and this update was a real pick me up.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018
  15. Lascaris Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Isn't Blucher here leaving open a huge flank open to attack? If his main army is before the fortifications of Ruse and he has kept his army during both campaign seasons along the southern bank of the Danube what it there stopping an imperial army erupting north from the passes of the Balkan mountains say along the Philippoupolis (Plovdiv)-Lovech-Plevna (Pleven ) route ending up right at his rear for example? Or doing this even further west moving north from Sofia. Or for that matter going up the Morava valley to try liberating Belgrade? Or Vlach armies coming from the north. The Germans must be hemorrhaging men to cover this line of communications not just in garrisons and occupation troops but at least a two-three small field forces not to be horribly exposed. And even with that as soon as the eastern front is closed or further mobilisation takes place...
     
  16. JohnSmith Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    I'll be keen if you decide to open a Patreon or something.

    Looks like there are a lot of potential noble hostages for when(if) the Allied Army collapses. If they're in Thrace camped outside of Constantinople it'll be almost impossible to extract themselves out. What are the chances of a power vacuum and civil war in Germany after this?

    Seems quite ironic that Germany may suffer the demographic damage, since Theodor is reining in at least some of the atrocities on his end.
     
    Duke of Nova Scotia likes this.
  17. Stark Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2013
    Nice to see Romans bite back. I agree with Lascaris, what is stopping Romans from breaking German lines of supply somewhere along Danube? If Germans are forced into narrow front advance and depend mostly on food and fodder brought from Germany, Fabian strategy combined with attack on Danube could be more than enough to starve them.

    Also, I would be in favour of you opening a Patreon account or something similar. Few things bring me more joy than AoM update.
     
  18. InMediasRes Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2018
    I guess the Romans are wary of the threat to Constantinople. The Allied army left garrisoning troops all the way, so you'd probably need a significant force to fully cut the lines of supply. So that either leaves you with the option of taking most of you forces west, thus opening the way to your capital. Or you split up your already outnumbered force with one swinging around west while the other continues harassing the enemy. However, this way you risk making it much easier for your opponent to pick off the diminished parts of your army one by one.

    I don't think any Roman commander would take this risk lightly, especially if the current tactics already seem to be working and slowly decimate the enemy. It doesn't have to be entirely rational either. The fortifications are strong and there's no way any navy can cut off supplies to the city. On the other hand, Vauban's artillery is pretty intimidating. And exposing your capital and heart of your entire civilization to an army of (in your mind) greedy barbarians must be hard, especially with the memories of the fourth crusade or the Black Day in Smyrna still very much present in people's minds. I think that's a risk a Roman commander wants to avoid if at all possible.
     
    Duke of Nova Scotia likes this.
  19. Lascaris Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    At the moment I'd guess the fact that something in the order of 130-150,000 men are deployed east. Basileus has mentioned 250,000 men for the army and navy on the field by September 1632. Assuming this is not including garrison troops and 20-30,000 of them in the navy (after all the Dutch combined merchant and naval fleets in 1675, then the largest in the world amounted to 50,000 seamen combined) then we are missing the whereabouts of about 120,000 men (70,000 with Lascaris, 30,000 in Georgia, 120,000 not counted for yet) Ibrahim has invaded with 70,000... I'm guessing he'll be in the receiving end of over 100,000 men...
     
  20. HanEmpire Delicious

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2011
    Location:
    The Land of Eh
    @Basileus444 what are the Marinids up to? Are they trying to intervene in Granada at all?
     
    Duke of Nova Scotia likes this.
Loading...