Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Basileus444, Apr 30, 2015.
After 10,000 years I finished binge reading this!
Congratulations and welcome to the modern world. What was it like back in the ancient times of 2011?
It was wonderful, no GCSE's or Jake Paul.
A simpler time, of simpler pleasures.
It's time to conquer Earth!
Way before 2016 and Harambe.
Boa: No, Antioch was by far the biggest city in Roman Syria. Damascus may have been number 2. Aside from those two, Aleppo, Acre, and Tyre are the big Syrian cities.
ImperatorAlexander: There’s a precedent. The 39 Articles were imposed on Egypt after it got pummeled in the Great Uprising. A weakened Egypt can’t argue as much.
Emperor Joe: Very well, we will spare you as long as you do us good service. But remember, we have many eyeball knives…
RogueTraderEnthusiast: Another item I forgot to mention is that New World foodstuffs are finally arriving in the Empire in force. Given that much of Anatolia and Greece is mountainous, potatoes are a huge boon.
Bergioyn: It’s around 1300-1400 pages in total (I think I’ve just proven that I’m insane).
ThatRomanFanatic: Welcome! Now you get to wait for the next update…
Floppy_seal99: Jahzara-well, first we start with our daughter…
1632 continued: Alexei, proclaimed King of Georgia, moves quickly to secure his position. With the tagmata of Guria and Tashiri supporting his own tagma of Imeretia, he is able to attack the theme of Kakheti which includes the capital of Tbilisi from two fronts. After defeating the outnumbered royal army in two battles, Tbilisi capitulates to him after a token siege (it surrendered six hours after his artillery took up position).
The infant Konstantin IV and his mother/regent Anna Drakina are hustled to Baku by their loyalists where they set up a government-in-exile but the odds are against them. Much of the Kakheti tagma shifts loyalty to Alexei after he takes Tbilisi and he also has good contacts with the Alans and the tribes that inhabit Georgian Trans-Caucasia. They provide him with skilled light cavalry and secure valuable grain imports from the Kuban.
Anna can count on the loyalty of much of Shirvan as well as Abkhazia, but Alexei controls all of Georgia in between, making it nearly impossible to coordinate efforts. She dispatches letter after letter to Constantinople, pleading to her cousin for assistance.
Assistance comes in the form of an army commanded by Konstantinos Mauromanikos, Strategos of the Armeniakon, comprising his tagma (13 tourmai strong), the Chaldeans (reinforced up to 7 tourmai by now), the Akoimetoi (consolidated into 2 over-strength tourmai), the Abkhazians (8 tourmai), and 2 tourmai from the Anatolikon. All told, it is about 30000 strong, comparable in size to all of Alexei’s forces. (Georgian tagmata are generally smaller than Roman ones, and also have varying peace-time strengths.)
Mauromanikos has a Georgian mother and speaks the language fluently. The same can be said for many of the soldiers under his command. Georgian immigrants are everywhere in the eastern reaches of the Empire and the links between them and the homeland are strong. It is noted that a Georgian who learns Greek almost invariably has a Trebizond accent.
He is thus not very enthusiastic about this assignment. Crossing the frontier, he slowly approaches the town of Artaani, giving the garrison plenty of time to evacuate. The only casualty taken in the capture of the town is a new recruit who falls off his horse and breaks an arm. There Mauromanikos encamps, fortifies his position, and sends out reconnaissance patrols to ‘assess the situation’, but makes no move to do anything more substantial.
There are some skirmishes between the patrols and Alexei’s outriders but nothing major, neither side willing to press the matter. The war here causes very little damage, as all supplies are paid for in either Roman currency (which doesn’t bother the locals one bit, well used to it) or Imperial bank certificates (slightly more annoying, but there’s a coach service to Trebizond every Tuesday and Saturday). There are invariably a few incidents, many caused by the independent-minded Abkhazians who are always somewhat prickly towards their eastern neighbors.
In fact, the inhabitants of Artaani start to welcome the Roman presence after they get used to it. So many new customers. The tavern keepers and brothel owners are positively delighted. Meanwhile farmers bring their produce to market to the hungry Romans, and reportedly some of Alexei’s own estate managers arrange sales of grain and mutton to Mauromanikos’s quartermasters, possibly with Alexei’s knowledge.
Whether or not that is so, the mere presence of this army gives Alexei cause for concern. It’s quiescent now, but he can’t guarantee it will remain so. Someone might light a fire under Mauromanikos or he might be replaced. So the small force he sends into Shirvan gets beaten back, the front lines settling at Tsnori rather than the breakthrough to Baku he would’ve been practically guaranteed without the Roman intervention.
Mauromanikos meanwhile sends back reports of ‘stubborn opposition and difficult terrain’ to justify his lack of movement. Megas Domestikos Mouzalon sees right through them but doesn’t challenge his strategos; he has similar feelings. His wife’s uncle is a tourmarch under Alexei.
The prime supporter of this war in the capital is Logothete of the Drome Andronikos Sarantenos, responsible for all foreign affairs. He has been a fervent supporter of the Safavids and played a significant role in getting their ‘hijacking’ of the throne after the collapse of the royal Bagrationi line approved by Constantinople. It has essentially been his ‘pet project’ for much of his career and he is reluctant to abandon it. The long-term stipend he’s been receiving from the Safavids also is a strong motivation.
For the moment he is supported by the Empress Jahzara, not because she cares much about the Safavids or her husband’s Drakoi cousins, but because Sarantenos has been her main political ally for years. He was a key player in the Night of the Tocsins, preparing much of the bureaucratic underlay for Demetrios’ accession.
Both Laskarid Domestikoi are loudly demanding reinforcements and Mauromanikos’s army is an obvious choice, especially since it contains a goodly number of peacetime regular troops and not fresh conscripts. So when Damascus falls the Emperor forces the Logothete to start negotiations with Alexei. But Sarantenos plays ball with bad grace. Per the Emperor’s orders, he agrees to recognize Alexei as King of Georgia, but demands that Konstantin IV be sent to Constantinople. Alexei wants the young Konstantin within strangling distance, not at a foreign court where he could be turned into another ‘Iskandar the Younger’. Furthermore he demands that Alexei pay 2.5 million hyperpyra  in coin in one lump sum up front to Anna as compensation. In all of Christendom, only the Roman and Triune governments could possibly fulfill such a demand and he knows it. Alexei angrily rejects such terms.
But Sarantenos reports to Demetrios that Alexei rejected a demand for a 700,000 hyperpyra payment to Anna, 200,000 up front and the rest in yearly installments for the next 5 years. Demetrios is irritated when he hears the news, as that seems like a responsible price for the Georgian throne. As for Konstantin IV, right now he really doesn’t care. The Empress is unaware of the deception the Logothete is playing on her husband.
Sarantenos’s goal is to make Demetrios turn against Alexei, so that the Emperor will either get Mouzalon to light a fire under Mauromanikos, or arrange a new commander, perhaps even sending more reinforcements to Georgia to finish the matter. If more is invested in Georgia it will be harder to back out. Now if Georgia were the only concern, Demetrios would soon discover the cover-up. But right now he has a lot more on his plate.
One of the items distracting the Emperor is the most likely source for Mauromanikos’s reinforcement if he were to receive any, the Army of Mesopotamia. Commanded by Strategos of the Anatolikon Thomas Amirales, it comprises the remainder of the Anatolikon tagma (12 tourmai), 2 Opsikian tourmai, and the Varangians (5 tourmai). Included on the rolls of the Varangians is Kaisar Odysseus Sideros even though much of the tagma, continuing the tradition of its pre-1204 incarnation, is comprised of Russians, Finns, and Scots.
Now nineteen, the prince is eager to see action notwithstanding the fears of his parents. Despite the risk to the succession Demetrios acceded to his son’s entreaties during the fall of 1631, also aware of the PR value of having a Sideros fighting in the army. This is particularly important when the obvious dynastic alternative, Alexandros Drakos, is renowned as the ‘Lion of Nineveh’ and ‘the Bravest of the Brave’. During the Danube campaign he collects 12 Winged Hussar helmets whose previous owners he killed in battle. Odysseus is jealous of the accolades going to his brother-in-law and keen to surpass him.
The idea is that Odysseus will serve on the Strategos’s staff but the prince is disinclined to take a job dealing with paperwork in the headquarters tent. With his artistic skill and good eye he makes an excellent scout, creating quick yet accurate sketches for the Strategos. Considering the type of warfare the Army of Mesopotamia is conducting, he is far too valuable to not be out front with the trapezites, much to Odysseus’s liking.
Basing out of Amida, Strategos Amirales quickly seizes the border town of Cizre with a surprise escalade, the citadel surrendering a week later. Reinforced by 7 tourmai worth of troops drawn from the various Van Kephalates, the highly militarized border districts that had such prominence during the Eternal War, he drives on to Duhok. (The new tourmai are part of the Armeniakon tagma.)
Duhok has modern if simplistic defenses, putting up a stout defense with the promise of support from a relief army comprised of new local Turkish levies and reinforced by Ortas (regiments, comparable to a Roman tourma although more various in size) of Azabs elsewhere in Mesopotamia that were held back from the initial invasion because of the inability to supply a larger field army in Syria. These include 3 Ortas from the Basra Azabs which date back to the early years of the Ottoman Empire, one of the Ortas including the pivotal 1319 Battle of the Gates among its battle honors. All three are at least 1600 strong.
Thus the relief army of 25000 that approaches Duhok on July 8 (while both Theodoros and Ibrahim are racing for Aabdeh), whilst comprised of largely second-class Ottoman material, still has teeth. The Turkish horse try to flank the Romans but run into a refused flank guard made up mostly of the new Armeniakon tourmai. The Kurdish infantry pour a hail of bullets into them, eagerly wading in with axe and hammer on those cavalry that close to melee range. The assault is beaten back.
Then the Roman infantry plow forward, snapping out musket volleys every fifteen paces, light cannons rolling out to add their breath to the cauldron of death. To their credit the line of Azab infantry fights hard, the Samarra and particularly Basra Ortas distinguishing themselves, but after 90 minutes of punishment they break. At that point Amirales unleashes his completely fresh cavalry which pursue the fleeing enemy, some so far that only a sally from the Mosul garrison stops them.
Although comparatively small, Duhok is still an impressive victory. For two thousand casualties, Amirales inflicted sixty four hundred, half of them prisoners, and Duhok surrenders two days later.
Now Amirales would prefer to head south but the next fortress on the highway is Mosul, massive and state-of-the-art. He couldn’t even properly invest it with the troops under his command. So he swings west, laying siege to the much smaller Mardin and taking it after a three-week siege, the town surrendering just as Theodoros and Ibrahim are sparring around Masyaf.
The main highway supplying Ibrahim’s army in Syria is the Mosul-Raqqa route via Al Hasakah (site of one of Iskandar the Great’s early victories in the Eternal War). Both Mosul and Raqqa are far too large for Amirales to even think of besieging. Al Hasakah is still formidable but more manageable in size, but despite receiving 1 new tourma from the Anatolikon, 2 more Opsikian, and one more from the Van Kephalates, he doesn’t have enough men to besiege Al-Hasakah, secure his supply lines, and adequately garrison Cizre, Duhok, and Mardin.
What he can do though is make life as hard as possible for Ottoman caravans between the fortresses. This is a war of raids and ambuscades, sudden assaults on caravans and swirling cavalry maneuvers. Odysseus is in his element here, providing reliable and quick intelligence to Amirales who is busy converting as much as his infantry as possible into mounted infantry to support the cavalry patrols. He also organizes two horse artillery batteries, each comprising six six-pounder field pieces pulled by four horses, to add firepower to the raiding columns.
The greatest coup comes on October 1 when Roman forces attack an Ottoman caravan of 800 wagons plus camel and mule trains. Using the horse artillery to blast through the escort, the Romans run wild, destroying or capturing at least 550 of the wagons before the Al-Hasakah garrison and a Basra Orta come to the rescue.
Odysseus is in the thick of it. At one point a timariot with at least three kyzikoi fires one at him and misses. The second shot hits him and the third misfires, at which point Odysseus runs the Turk through with his lance. The shot that struck him punctured his plate cuirass, which slowed the bullet, which then buried itself in the copy of Arrian’s Anabasis of Alexander Odysseus carried in his breast pocket. The Kaisar suffers no more than some nasty bruising although he expresses annoyance at having to buy a new copy of Arrian.
Odysseus’s great uncle Negusa Nagast Tewodros I isn’t as physically active as his great-nephew but he is busy as well. Much of the original Ethiopian expedition was destroyed at Aabdeh but he pledges another ten thousand troops to fight in Palestine for his ally, on condition that Egypt put at least another twenty thousand men in the field beside them. Considering that much of Egypt’s army was also wrecked at Aabdeh, including a good portion of their officer corps, it may take a while.
But Ethiopia is not inactive. Also in early July, a combined Ethiopian-Egyptian-Roman fleet bears down on Aden, landing eighteen thousand Ethiopian troops to attack the port. Considering that the last attack on the city in 1594 ended in humiliating failure and Aden’s defenses have only gotten better since then, it is a bold effort. For four weeks the Ethiopians hammer at the land walls, beating off Yemeni attacks from the interior, whilst the fleet blockades and bombards the city. On August 4 an Ottoman fleet, supported by four Triune warships, appears on the horizon and offers battle.
In the three-hour battle that follows, the combined fleet gives the Ottomans a drubbing, sinking or capturing seven ships, including one of the Triunes, for two ships pounded into wrecks and another pair badly damaged. But during the fray, the Ottomans manage to sneak transports into Aden carrying 300000 rations, fifteen cannons, three thousand muskets, and fifteen hundred Qizilbash infantry.
The Ethiopians settle back into the siege, grimly mining and battering the walls. Finally after five more weeks they open two storm-able breaches in the wall at which point the garrison surrenders. It was a costly siege; the Ethiopians losing four thousand of the eighteen that originally landed to various causes, never mind the naval losses. But it is a tremendous victory. With Aden under Ethiopian control, the Ottomans cannot seriously threaten the Red Sea or Ethiopian coast although they have a dozen fregatai and more privateers out commerce raiding.
With Aden eliminated as a threat, the combined fleet reinforces the Omani who have been hard-pressed by the Ottoman navy. The Omani give as well as they get, but that’s not enough when one is outnumbered three-to-one. Now though the Ottoman fleet is bottled in the Persian Gulf save for raiders, although out of four serious raids the combined fleet unleashes on the Persian coast two get badly mauled by a combination of naval action and quick response from local militias.
Further east the main threat is the Triune navy. There are skirmishes from the mouth of the Indus to the mouth of the Pearl (the Zeng Chinese authorities are not amused by the latter), although most are of little consequence with honors just about even. Many of these are just merchants taking an opportunity to blow competitors out of the water, as one does.
More substantial and directed by the Katepano of New Constantinople on the Roman end is involvement in Java. The Sultanate of Semarang, which has long dominated the northern coast of Java, is now facing a threat from the interior. Mataram is an old city in the Javan interior, rich in history but poor in power for the last several centuries.
Until a new king is crowned there who is named Sanjaya, after the ruler who founded the Medang Empire (r. 732-760) that dominated much of central and east Java for a quarter-millennia. A militant Hindu who styles himself after the great Vijayanagari Emperors, since his accession in 1599 he has used his own military skill and the army paid for and fed by the huge rice fields of the region to gradually subdue most of the interior of central and eastern Java.
By now his only rival in the region is the Semarang Sultanate which controls the northern coast of central and eastern Java. Although Sanjaya can put into the field armies that dwarf that of Sultan Agung, the Sultan has far better and more numerous gunpowder weapons. Furthermore Sanjaya lacks a navy, meaning that the port cities that are the backbone of the Sultanate are effectively invulnerable given that and Mataram’s lack of cannon.
Enter the Romans. Semarang has long harassed Roman traders passing by and the near complete lack of Roman interaction with Java is entirely due to Semarang. Semarang also subsidized the Brunei attacks that destroyed most of the Roman trading posts in Sulawesi in the 1590s. They can provide the naval might to complement Sanjaya’s land forces.
In contrast the Triunes are heavily involved in the Javanese markets and have quarters in Semarang itself plus Demak and Surabaya, the three main cities of the Sultanate. Semarang has a navy that can give a good account of itself against Roman armed merchantmen and fregatai but the Katepano of New Constantinople is beginning to field 50-gunner battle-line ships purchased from the Colombo shipyards. These are another matter.
The Triunes provide the naval muscle to counter the increased Roman threat and things would’ve come to a head sooner rather than later but the war in Europe adds an increased urgency and tension.
Even with Roman support Sanjaya doesn’t wish to challenge the big three Semarang cities just yet; he’s tried that before on his own and regretted it. Instead his army advances and lays siege to the medium-sized towns of Gresik and Tuban which lie west of Surabaya. A smaller Semarang army but one with a 7-to-1 advantage in firearms and cannons advances to do battle but is hammered by ambushes and cavalry charges whilst the Roman fleet pummels them from offshore.
Once the sieges are established the Semarang navy reinforced by Triune vessels tries to break the Roman blockade. They are persistent and the Romans take heavy losses but all efforts to pierce the cordon fail, both towns surrendering to Sanjaya after sieges of 6-8 weeks.
Although the towns themselves are not great prizes compared to the big three, it is a major victory nonetheless for Mataram. Sanjaya has ripped a hole through the Semarang monopoly of the coast and through the ports he starts receiving a steady supply of cannons and firearms from the Romans. The guns are matchlocks, obsolete junk to the flintlock-using Romans, but at a stroke Semarang’s key advantage over Mataram in land battles is eliminated.
In exchange for their efforts Sanjaya gives the Romans generous trading quarters in both towns, with the promise that they’ll be exchanged for better ones in the big three once those are seized. Furthermore he also provides a rice subsidy, very useful to the Katepano. The area covered by his Katepanate is mostly small islands used for growing cash crops, providing much money but little food, a significant weakness compared to his better endowed peers in the Katepanates of Taprobane/Colombo, Pyrgos, and Pahang.
But the forces involved in Java pale in comparison to those active in India. The main Roman territory in the east, Taprobane, is here, as is the main Triune territory, the Viceroyalty of Sutanuti (Bengal).
The elephant in the room of course is the Vijayanagar Empire, still ruled by the Emperor Venkata Raya, the Emperor who drubbed Ibrahim out of India at the beginning of the Shah’s reign less than a decade ago. In theory all of Venkata Raya’s conquests in northern India still answer to him, but it’s ‘on paper only’ submission and he knows it. Even as dynamic a ruler as Venkata Raya has a hard enough time riding herd on all his vassals south of the Narmada River.
The northwest of India is a brawling free-for-all between petty states seeking to fill the power vacuum left by first the Ottoman and Vijayanagari invasions. Venkata Raya has the clear ability to project power in the region but to maintain and police the area is prohibitively expensive. The minor states are aware of that so they do pay lip service to Vijayanagar and offer token tributes, whilst doing their own thing, mainly killing each other. Venkata Raya is fine with the situation; he gets some tribute without having to do anything.
Regarding battles between more formidable potentates, Venkata Raya cares not for either side. He dislikes the Triunes for their alliance with the Ottomans (the petty states know to avoid Ottoman connections as that may convince Venkata Raya to send an expedition northward regardless of the cost). He dislikes the Romans for more complex reasons. By far the most troublesome region of the empire is the Deccan Plateau which has a sizeable Muslim population from the days of the Deccan Sultanates. Deccan rebels frequently try to enlist the support of the Kephale of Surat. Although the Kephale rebuffs each effort, the repeated attempts can’t help but smell fishy in Vijayanagar. Given the difficulty of maintaining control along his northern frontier the Kephale, as a representative of a great power, adds a potentially dangerous variable and Venkata Raya wants it gone. At the same time he doesn’t want a war with Rhomania as that might create the very disturbance he fears. So Vijayanagar will remain neutral. Let the Triunes and Romans kill each other and be done with it.
It is in the Ganges River valley that things get interesting. In the delta is the Viceroyalty of Sutanuti, a collection of petty Indian states providing tribute and military contingents to the Viceroy, originally Portuguese and now Triune.
One factor that helps keep the vassal states of the Viceroyalty in line is the meteoric rise to prominence of its neighbor to the west the Kingdom of Oudh, ruled by its monarch Kishan Das, who succeeded to the throne in 1610 and has styled himself as Maharaja since 1629. At this point his domain covers the Ganges valley from Agra in the west to Patna in the east, a power that has even Venkata Raya concerned.
In 1615 Iskandar the Great advanced as far as the Kingdom’s capital at Lucknow, but his advance caused relatively little damage to the at-that-time minor power. The great powers of the region were all shattered by the Shahanshah’s victories though. Combined with Iskandar’s inability to reliably assert his authority east of Delhi this created a power vacuum that Kishan Das has steadily managed to fill.
His eye is set on the Viceroyalty so he needs very little prompting from the Romans to go on the attack although he happily takes the 100 artillerymen and two six-gun batteries the Katepano of Taprobane is able to send him. He launches his attack with 70,000 men, twenty thousand of which are cavalry.
The Viceroy, Bertrand de la Faye, marches out against him with 35000 troops from the vassal princes, 1200 Triune infantry, 6000 sepoy infantry, 5000 infantry from the Raja of Bihar (a rump state sharply reduced by Oudh and now a client state in all but name of the Viceroyalty), and 12000 soldiers from his ally the Raja of Jharkhand.
In three battles Kishan Das drives de la Faye back but never quite manages a killing blow. Unable to beat the Oriental ruler in open battle, the Occidental official tries a subtler approach which succeeds brilliantly. Learning that his brother Karan Singh has led a palace coup back in Lucknow (greased by Triune coin), Kishan Das abandons the invasion to race back to his capital.
Halfway to Lucknow he learns that de la Faye’s diplomacy has also incited the brand-new Sikh state based in Delhi (which has been in their possession only since 1630) against him and Sikh troops are raiding his western provinces. One of the officers in the Sikh raiders is a young man named Ranjit Singh.
 For comparison, it costs 600,000 hyperpyra per year to maintain a Roman tagma at full peacetime strength, and even then that sum is still distributed across the whole year.
Qeshm, Hormuz and Bahrain would make excellent FOBs to drive a dagger into the back of the Ottomans
Hmm, I thought a Sikh state would be more antagonistic to the Ottomans and their allies, especially with their independence still shaky. Have the Persians been pushed back completely across the Indus?
PS. Would love to see some Gurkha space marine action too
Insane like a fox!
Are there any other major ports for the Ethiopians to attack that will hurt there naval advantage at sea
Poets are not often strong swimmers. I don't know why the Ethiopians should attack them.
autocorrect meant ports
How does sugar from the new world affect the roman sugar industry?
2) I'm just saying - Roman Poutine.
Why is the Empire constantly plagued by these self-serving asshats? The state is fighting an existential war on 2 fronts, and the guy is trying his hardest to get the Empire's closest allies to start shooting at the Empire.
after the war it purge and reform time
Ive been turned to feta cheese with my poutine and have never looked back. It's almost as good as when it is on a Halifax donair.
That goes without saying. The top jobs obviously need more checks and balances to stop these rogues.
Yeah the Ottomans got kicked out of the subcontinent entirely, so the Sikhs are rising up to fill the empty hegemon spot.
This is exciting tbh. A 3 way division in India between Hindu Vijayanagar, Sikh Delhi, and Muslim Bengal would make for a very interesting power dynamic. The religion-based divide will do horrible things to the inter-religious relations in India, but it will also give the Princes more reason to band together into proper nation states. Actually centralized Vijayanagar will be great.
Separate names with a comma.