An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

He addressed the Justinian Code a few months ago here, at least for the rest of Europe.

The Sideroi Reorganization may have made some changes to Rhoman law but no way would it do away with the fundamental basis. Rhomania has to use Roman Law after all. :p
Awesome, thanks for the link!
 

Arrix85

Donor
Lost it to Prussia, actually.

Ingria is still in the hands of the EAN IIRC, but I better check the map.

EDIT : No, just passed into Novgorodian hands.
I'm confused. In the map, the area around Tallinn is light blue light, like the EAN. Is it wrong? Southern Estonia is Prussian.
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
Is the Assyrian population large enough so that it would be feasible for them to have their own state ttl?
Maybe, there seems to be about 3-5 million Assyrians today, which is pretty amazing when you think about it, with 1-2 million in the northern portions of Syria and Iraq along with small populations in Turkey and Iran. More likely however is they and the Kurds end up being the backbone of Rhoman Mesopotamia/ Kurdistan/Ninevah.
 
The Lands Below the Winds: Sumatra
Estonia: I had to check on what I posted earlier. The interior was conquered by the joint Russian-Prussian forces during the war. In the peace treaty imposed by the Lotharingians Pernau went to Prussia and Narva to Novgorod. The Scandinavians kept Reval and St Petersburg (TTL foundation but OTL location), but just the cities, nothing outside the walls.

Assyrians: Probably not. An independent Assyrian state would almost certainly be considered problematic by Roman officials overlooking the eastern frontier. The Romans would react to nationalist Assyrians and Kurds similar to the Turks IOTL; they wouldn’t want bites being taken out of the eastern border. The better situation (for Constantinople) would be to make sure they never become nationalistic in the first place.

And now for the regular update.

The Lands Below the Winds: Sumatra

Islam in Sumatra likely began at the port city of Pasai in the north of the island, along the northern stretch of the Strait of Malacca, in the late 1200s. The faith of the Prophet had spread eastward via Arab traders, who were interested in the gold, forest products, and pepper of the region. Pasai was on the outskirts of the Majapahit thassalocracy, but even so the Majapahit cared little for the faith of their commercial partners, only the quality and cost of their wares.

Despite this lack of concern about religious makeups on the fringes of their maritime empire, the prestige of the Hindu Majapahit realm meant that Islam made little progress save for the area of the Strait of Malacca, northern Borneo, and some parts of the Herakleian Islands. These were all areas that were on the outskirts of the thalassocracy. The rest of Indonesia followed older Hindu-Buddhist traditions.

The Majapahit started to decline in the late 1400s, although they were still quite formidable and impressive when Andreas Angelos arrived in the region. However the arrival of Roman vessels and later other western traders undermined Majapahit commercial hegemony, with the state gradually shriveling to be destroyed finally in the mid-1500s.

The fall of the Majaphit allowed for the first serious entry of Islam into central Indonesia with the establishment of the Semarang Sultanate, which came to rule the north coast of central and east Java starting in the mid-1500s. It was Semarang that finally finished off the rump Majapahit state. However Semarang was never able to expand beyond that coastal strip, soon faced by a Javan interior united under the banner of Hindu Mataram. The Mataram-Semarang wars, although they were roughly a stalemate until the Roman-Mataram alliance radically altered the power dynamics, ensured that Islam never penetrated into the Javan interior, heavily populated by Indonesian standards.

Islam might have had more success in Sumatra, where no Hindu kingdom could muster the power of Mataram. Islam did expand in northern Sumatra, with one noticeable addition to the Dar al-Islam being the new city of Banda Aceh. The Sultans of Aceh were fervent patrons of Islamic learning, with several justly famous mosques and madrasas dating from the late 1500s and early 1600s, the height of Acehnese power.

The Acehnese came to prominence when there was no great Indonesian power, and moreover in an area that was peripheral to the areas where prominent local realms dominated, the mainland and Java. The ambitious Sultans were eager to fill this power vacuum and create their own empire. These ambitions were given religious legitimacy by the claims of the Acehnese Sultans to wish to protect and expand the Dar al-Islam, claims given more substance by the Portuguese attacks on Malacca which finally succeeded in taking the great port in 1565, destroying an Acehnese fleet for good measure.

The Acehnese battled heavily with the Portuguese/Spanish and also the Romans, as all three had a common interest in dominating the important thoroughfare of the Straits of Malacca. However the expansionist Acehnese also fought frequently with their native neighbors, most of whom were the older Muslim cities of the area. Pasai was brutally sacked in 1603 and never recovered.

These campaigns were mostly successful, but they also gave the Acehnese a reputation for cruelty. Some of the tales were certainly exaggerations written up by their many enemies, including the other Muslim cities of northern Sumatra, and others are the typical excesses of an aggressive militaristic polity. However some of the cruelties were due, in the minds of contemporaries to the south in Sumatra, to the Islam as practiced by the Acehnese.

The ‘port Islam’ of Pasai and the other old Muslim cities had been spread by merchants converting their business partners. It was Islam, but it was a relaxed variety willing to compromise with and incorporate local beliefs. However the Acehnese received Islam from an exodus of Muslim officials and scholars fleeing the destruction of Mameluke Egypt at the hands of Andreas Niketas and Brihan of Merawi. They argued that the disasters of the Dar al-Islam were due to the corruption of the Muslim faith and insisted on the need for a faith purified of any heathen elements. Impressed by the learning and expertise of these scholars, the Acehnese Sultans had taken up their creed with all the enthusiasm of the neophyte. One oft-cited example of Acehnese brutality in Sumatra is the cutting off of hands as punishment for stealing, an Islamic custom that had not been known before in Indonesia. [1]

With this reputation, some modern historians have called the Acehnese “the Assyrians of Island Asia”. Ironically, for all their claims of wishing to safeguard and expand Islam, the actions of Acehnese ghazis did much to discredit Islam in the eyes of would-be converts in the rest of Sumatra. The Muslim traders who’d spread Islam before Aceh’s conversion were devastated by Acehnese attacks, who wished to place all commerce under their control. Acehnese merchants plied the trade routes even outside the Acehnese realm, but they were feared as the thin end of the wedge and no one wished to get too close and friendly with them.

Furthermore, converting to Islam was no way to protect oneself from Acehnese aggression. A frequently-used casus belli of the Sultans when facing a Muslim opponent was to argue their Islam was not proper, which also justified, in Acehnese eyes, their enslavement. In the lightly populated lands of Indonesia, control of people was more important than control of land, and enslaving defeated populations was a way for war leaders to boost their power and income. Muslims were not supposed to enslave fellow Muslims, but if they were not ‘true’ Muslims, then that rule did not apply, so the Acehnese argued, and did, repeatedly. Hindu rulers to the south of Aceh certainly saw no profit in converting to Islam. Those who at Pasai were not killed or enslaved by the Acehnese and managed to flee to Pegu or Palembang, in their despair, soon converted to Buddhism or Hinduism.

Inside the Acehnese realm, the Sultans encouraged the spread of Islamic learning and culture and the enslaved Muslim opponents of the Acehnese helped to distribute Islam out of the port cities and into the countryside. If given more time and a broader area, Islam might have made substantial inroads despite the bad taste Acehnese actions had given the faith. However the Acehnese never managed to spread beyond the northern third of Sumatra and parts of the west coast. The Hindu states of central and southern Sumatra might not have been able to stand against Acehnese might in full flower, but the constant fighting with the Spanish and Romans over the Strait sucked away much Acehnese strength. The ruthlessness and cruelty of the Acehnese meant that absolutely no one shed a tear at the crushing Acehnese defeat at the hands of the Romans at the Lingga Islands. And those tearless one soon began sharpening their own knives as they realized the extent of Aceh’s sudden weakness.

The first to take advantage are the Minangkabau people who live in the highlands of western Sumatra. They are a politically fragmented people, with the largest polities being a few villages at most. Despite this, due to the rugged terrain and relative remoteness, they were never formally inducted into the Acehnese realm. However with the Acehnese fleet dominating the west coast of Sumatra, where Minangkabau would carry their goods to trade with outsiders, the Acehnese were able to force the Minangkabau to trade only through Aceh. For their trouble, the Acehnese took a substantial cut of the pepper and gold the Minangkabau exported, while simultaneously using their monopoly to inflate the prices for desired Minangkabau imports. Some village lords converted to Islam in the hopes of earning better trading terms, but those hopes proved futile, fatally undermining the spread of Islam amongst the Minangkabau.

After the battle of the Lingaa Islands though the Acehnese navy lacked the ability to force the Minangkabau to trade on their terms. Some of the villages reached out to some of the more enterprising Roman Ship Lords, who’d already done some trade with them as smugglers. The Ship Lords were most eager to expand their operations, trading Vijayanagara textiles and metal goods for Minangkabau pepper and gold. This trade marked the first substantial Roman involvement in Sumatran affairs.

Other parts of northern Sumatra that were formally part of the Acehnese realm were more hesitant to act. They were far more exposed to an Acehnese counter-attack, and while Aceh may be weaker, no one wished to be the first to stick their neck and find out that Acehnese steel was still sharp. So they looked for foreign steel to parry any blows.

It was fortunate for the Acehnese that at this very moment, the western powers that would make for the best allies were all facing each other down. Triune and Lotharingian ships waged naval war on each other all across the globe, from the fishing grounds of Newfoundland to the shadows of the volcanoes of Indonesia. Rhomania and Spain were not yet at that intensity of battle, but everyone knew that would change as soon as the rumored Spanish fleet arrived. The Arletians and Scandinavians weren’t numerous enough to appear as worthwhile allies.

Native powers weren’t any better. Pegu and Vijayanagar had the military might to be good allies for the would-be rebels, but the issue was that if they came, they might never leave. There were a few Tamils in Venkata Raya’s court who seemed overly fond of reprising the Chola.

The next two largest powers in Sumatra were Siak in central Sumatra and Palembang in the south, both of which were Hindu kingdoms centered on riverine cities. The capital of each marked the point on the river where sea-going vessels met river craft. Each exercises a loose hegemony on the smaller polities in their vicinity, but neither compared in power and scope to the Acehnese realm. Furthermore, neither possessed much in the way of an ocean-going fleet.

Finally, both Siak and Palembang were facing foreign problems of their own. Both had aligned with the Lotharingians, at that point the weakest of the major western powers in eastern waters. The alliance had ensured pepper exports, cloth imports, and helped to keep the likes of the Romans and Spanish at bay. However with the Lotharingian-Triune war, these Sumatran Rajas were finding themselves under threat due to King’s Harbor’s desire for the lands of the Rhine. They were far from the only Indonesian polities to find their affairs intertwining with concerns and rivalries from lands far beyond their horizons.

[1] OTL inspiration came from Ibn Battuta, who served as a judge in the Maldives. He said that the first time he ordered a thief’s hand cut off, people fainted in the courtroom.
 
Oh I just want to say It's a good thing that the Hindu and Buddhist powers in SE Asia are thriving and pushing back Islam. They've always been a de-stabalizing element in the region. With this update I'm sure there won't be alot of social problems that plagues the SE Asia in the future.
 
The ‘port Islam’ of Pasai and the other old Muslim cities had been spread by merchants converting their business partners. It was Islam, but it was a relaxed variety willing to compromise with and incorporate local beliefs.
Does Port Orthodoxy or Port Catholicism exist ITTL to fill the religion power vacuum?

One oft-cited example of Acehnese brutality in Sumatra is the cutting off of hands as punishment for stealing, an Islamic custom that had not been known before in Indonesia.
A custom which still exists in the autonomous Aceh, Southern Thailand and the whole of Brunei.

western powers that would make for the best allies were all facing each other down
I wonder how many nations have founded East India Companies of their own.
 
I know you aren't fond of maps but do you think we could get a quick scribble showing how far the greater constantinople area goes out? Does it spill out of the new walls? No worries if not i know you're busy guy
 
I keep forgetting, but is that GoldenHorde-Siberia up north?
It's actually Khazaria-Siberia or for short just Khazaria, a russian state ruled by a branch of the Laskarids that until recently also controlled large swathes of Central Asia. I'm curious now do they have any connection to the Turkic Khazars or is their shared name a coincidence?
 

Arrix85

Donor
It's actually Khazaria-Siberia or for short just Khazaria, a russian state ruled by a branch of the Laskarids that until recently also controlled large swathes of Central Asia. I'm curious now do they have any connection to the Turkic Khazars or is their shared name a coincidence?
I think it's because the Russian state originated from the area once controlled by them.
 
This seems like a good audience to ask given the knowledge of a ton of posters here in this thread...can anyone recommend books on either the Ottoman rule in Greece and/or the Greek War of Independence? Don't know nearly enough about those topics.
 
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