An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

That's not how a personal union works. It's a union of crowns, that involves a marriage. They'd be at least part Castilian. And even if they were wholely one or the other it functionally does not matter.

The royal family lives and rules in Portugal, an intrinsic part of Spain, and have done so for at least a century. Even if they were Habsburgs they'd long since be Spanish, not German and not Portuguese or Castilian. It is one country, joined in constitutional (not just personal) union. The monarch is raised in their culture. To draw a distinction between Portugal and Castile ITTL would be like comparing South and North France IOTL. Portuguese and Castilian (along with Galician and Leonese for that matter) are just regional varieties of Spanish culture and dialects of their language. They don't fundamentally matter from the perspective of the question 'what culture is the ruling family?' It'd be like saying English kings were Sussexian (Sussexer? Sussaxon? Sussexite?) or French kings were Parisian, technically correct but functionally a pointless descriptor to the people of the period.
That makes alot of sense thank ya!
 
Whats up with the nights hospitaller? I hope they stay relivant somehow. Perhaps malta can become a center for medical technology ittl
 
Whats up with the nights hospitaller? I hope they stay relivant somehow. Perhaps malta can become a center for medical technology ittl
A brief search brought this info up:
The Knights rule Minorca much as they did Malta ITTL, specifically to fight against the Barbary corsairs. They still have some activity in the Holy Land, but Minorca, since it’s their home turf, gets most of the attention. So think something like 75% of OTL’s naval focus is present ITTL. Although pound-for-pound they may be as powerful at sea as the Order IOTL, since the Romans will frequently subsidize their anti-corsair activities. Hospitalier ships regularly provision at Roman Malta and Tabarka.
 
The Lands Below the Winds: Borneo and the Herakleians
Do the Ottomans have a Caspian Sea Navy? I assume the Georgians are still the premier naval power in the Sea to protect their capital. Aside from Mazandaran, Georgia could take the rest of non-allied Caspian Coast as a gateway to rich Transoxiana.
They have a small one, as do the Georgians, but both are pitiful by Mediterranean/Indian Ocean standards.

The Lands Below the Winds: Borneo, the Herakleians, and Rhomania-in-the-East

The island of Borneo may be the largest in Island Asia, but the polities here are not of the same scale as can be seen elsewhere. In the south the Hindu Kingdom of Negara Daha is the largest, but it is still a minnow that seems big only in comparison to the even smaller fry around it. Until recently it was under the sway of the Semarang Sultanate, its current independence due not to its own efforts but to the pressure of Mataram on the Sultanate’s resources.

In the north the city of Brunei is a prosperous trading port, with merchant junks sailing to Pyrgos and Vijaya, the Cham capital. Through trade has come Islam, the ‘port Islam’ of Pasai, and it is in this region of Indonesia where Islam has been most successful. Spreading through merchants and mystics, much of coastal north Borneo and some outlying regions have converted. The rugged interior, in contrast, remains untouched by Islamic expansion and completely independent from any control by the coastal states.

After the decline of Semarang writ in southern Borneo, there is relatively little in the way of outside imperialism in Borneo. Brunei sees many foreign traders, including those from the Greater West, but none have a significant presence. Most Bruneian business conducted with Christians is done in Pyrgos.

The exception to that is the Sultanate of Sulu. Centered on the Sulu archipelago in the Herakleian Islands, the Sultans have established their own mini-thassalocracy that encompasses much of coastal Sabah, Bulungan, and Kutai, although their authority does not extend much inland. Western Mindanao is also part of the Sulu realm.

The Sulu ‘Empire’ is not a commercial network dominated by Sulu merchants or a regular territorial empire, but is rather commonly described as a giant protection racket. The Sulu ‘empire’ was built and is maintained by piracy, with slaves being one of the prime booties. The regions of the empire pay protection money to avoid being raided, with piratical attacks re-commencing should a territory fall behind in its dues.

Sulu piracy resembles that of the Barbary corsairs, in that very little of it is managed by the state but rather private individuals and sometimes consortiums. Nobles will finance pirate voyages directly while less affluent individuals will pool resources to fund an expedition. In the latter case the operation looks much like a merchant venture, with investment shares being traded in the Sulu markets sometimes. The Sultan provides official legitimacy to these ventures and takes a cut of the spoils while enforcing a few rules, mainly to not raid Sulu tributaries.

Despite that restriction, there are still many targets for Sulu raiders. To the south is Makassar, whose free trade policies draw in many opposed to Roman and Spanish mercantile domination. Relatively few Sulu raiders head that way though as many Sulu pirates prefer to sell their goods in Makassar where the market is better. More are active to the west, poaching on traffic between Brunei and her mainland trading partners. However the greatest draw, although also the greatest danger, lies to the north.

Pyrgos was founded much later than New Constantinople or Pahang (although promoted to a Katepanate prior to Pahang), but it is certainly the most dynamic of the three at this point in time. New Constantinople has spice wealth but limited demographics. Pahang is much better endowed than New Constantinople with manpower and practical resources such as tin, lumber, and foodstuffs, but it is cramped by Spanish Malacca, Aceh, and Nakhon Sri Thammarat.

Katepano Alexandros Papagos, the Katepano from 1615 to his death in 1629, earns most of the credit for that. At the start of his tenure, Roman authority extended roughly over 30% of Luzon proper. At the end, it stretches across all of the Luzon island group except for Palawan, as well as dominating most of the Visayas. Roman administration is somewhat of a patchwork, as about 60% of the Roman domain is controlled by local rulers who are tributaries of the Katepano, the remainder ruled directly by Roman officials. Said officials are a mix of Roman heartlanders, Digenoi, and Romanized locals from the Pyrgos area.

An important factor in Papagos’ success, and a pillar of the new Roman order, is the new Japanese colonies. Papagos recruited many ronin who saw no place for themselves in the new Shimazu Japan (with the support of the Shimazu who were keen to see political opponents leave), finding them to be most effective soldiers. Those ronin who had families brought theirs to Pyrgos and they were settled in key areas to provide protection against raiders and brigands and to enforce Roman authority against any local rulers who might try to escape their tributary status.

Another important pillar in the new Roman order is the Orthodox Church. Behind Papagos’ armies come priests who quickly set to work trying to convert the locals. One advantage Orthodox priests have over Catholic missionaries in all of Island Asia is that they are allowed to marry and have families, which the locals find far more reasonable than the Catholic position. Orthodox priests are encouraged to learn the local languages and marry locally as a way to build roots in the communities.

Another factor driving conversions is that it is clearly a way to gain favor with the Romans. Local rulers convert while their sons get Roman educations in Pyrgos or elsewhere, which typically brings their subjects into the Orthodox Church as well. Furthermore, many ambitious men see the possibilities open to the Romanized inhabitants of the Pyrgos region and want in on the action. This is true for both the civil service as well as the military. As Papagos extended Roman control, he also set up new tourmatic districts to support soldiers, and while regular troopers do not have to be Orthodox to join, the army serves as a vehicle for conversion.

Even before Papagos took up his office, Pyrgos was a prominent port facilitating trade between China and Island Asia. Supplying the Chinese demand for pepper doesn’t yield the per-kilo profit that shipping them to Europe does, but it is far easier, quicker, and safer to transport to China and the market is immense. Indonesians desire Chinese silks, teas, and porcelains. The Japanese, with their long history of wokou, have difficulty trading directly in China, but sail down to Pyrgos to conduct commerce.

The sailings of the Mexican Pyrgos galleons has drastically accelerated this trend. Although the sailings are less than twenty years old at this point, already 3-4 galleons arrive every year loaded down with Zacatecas and now Potosi silver. The Chinese are most eager to get their hands on that silver while the notables of the Mexican Empire want their own silks and porcelains. Chinese trade with Pyrgos has doubled in the past 15 years, with the regular traders producing silks and porcelains deliberately crafted to suit Mexican tastes. All the while Pyrgos benefits as being the site of exchange.

Pyrgos in 1635 has grown much larger than it was back in the days of the Tieh siege, reaching 30000. Aside from the mix of Roman heartlanders, a growing number of Digenoi, and the natives, there is a Japanese merchant community (not to be confused with the Japanese colonies that are settled ronin and families) as well as both Zeng and Wu communities. The Zeng make up over a third of the city, dwarfing the Roman heartlander numbers and dominating many facets of city life, such as the laundries and bathhouses which are almost all Zeng owned and operated. (There is little cultural difference between the Zeng and Wu but the Romans throughout the East sharply delineate between the two, viewing the Wu as much more reliable.)

The fringes of the Katepanate of Pyrgos are the preferred target of many of the Sulu pirates. There are wealthy merchant vessels to seize while slave raids bring in valuable human cargo. By 1635 Luzon is mostly safe from such attacks but Palawan and the Visayas are contested territories. While the Sulu use larger vessels to attack merchant ships inbound and outbound from Pyrgos, the ‘slave-snatching’ is typically conducted with proas, native outrigger vessels. These ships stand little chance in battle against a Roman warship, but are so fast that it is extremely difficult for even the fleetest Roman fregata to force an action.

On several occasions the Katepanate has sent large battle fleets south into the heart of Sulu territory. The Sulu lack the might to contest these incursions, but while the fleet may be blasting a Sulu settlement from offshore, pirates from other ports have a field day against the lightly-guarded Roman territories. To truly stop the raids would require a sustained campaign of conquest and it is far from clear that Pyrgos has the resources to maintain such an operation.

Of the western powers in Island Asia, it is clear that the top two are the Romans and the Spanish. They are the only ones with territorial holdings in the region. The Triunes have Bengal but nothing farther east. They, along with the Lotharingians, Arletians, Scandinavians, and Hansa, have many trading posts and arrangements with local rulers, but nothing that can compare to the Viceroyalty of Malacca or the Roman Katepanates.

The Romans are ahead of the Spanish; there are three Katepanates to one Viceroyalty. However there are certain issues in the Roman position that must be considered. Firstly, their widespread nature means the Romans have many concerns with which to deal: supporting Mataram and Champa; opposing the Acehnese and Sulu; curtailing Makassar. The Spanish face similar issues but not to the same extent. While smashing the Acehnese at the Lingga Islands was a boon to the Romans, it was an even greater boon to the Spanish who were more exposed to Acehnese attacks.

Another important aspect is the divided nature of Roman administration. Each Katepano in their territory is the supreme civil and military authority, with each one mainly operating in their own sphere. Pyrgos has to deal with the Sulu pirates; for Pahang the Sulu are a complete irrelevance. They can cooperate with each other on issues of joint concern, such as supporting the Cham for Pahang and Pyrgos, but there is no official coordinating authority. Their boss is in Constantinople.

The Katepano of New Constantinople originally had charge of both Pahang and Pyrgos but lost that when both were promoted to Katepanates of their own. New Constantinople might have some moral authority due to being the most senior, but that is counterbalanced by its lack of manpower and strategic materials compared to the other two. The Katepano of Taprobane has seniority and material superiority over all three eastern Katepanates, but even Taprobane is too far away to be a reliable coordinator and Taprobane’s concerns, bound up with the Indian subcontinent, are vastly different anyway.

Each Katepano has his own army and fleet units. There is no combined Roman fleet in the east, but rather the squadrons under the command of the various Katepanates. The Romans have seven fourth-raters and twelve fifth-rates in the east in 1635 but no more than seven of these in total can be found in one place, Singapore. Each Katepano moreover is inclined to favor his own theater. Pyrgos looks north to its trade with China and Japan and east to the Mexican galleons, but aside from battling the Sulu is less interested in matters south. New Constantinople is deeply invested in the Mataram alliance; Pahang doesn’t care. Because of the presence of Spanish Malacca, Pahang is deeply opposed to the Spanish. [1] Meanwhile the Katepano of Taprobane is often inclined to view the Spanish as allies against the Triune Viceroyalty of Sutanuti.

The strongest links between the various Katepanates are the many Ship Lords whose numerous vessels ply the waves between Island Asia. There are several Ship Lords who have vessels registered in Pahang or New Constantinople but who do much of their business in Taprobane or Pyrgos. However since in the east armed merchantmen are still a substantial component of war fleets, Ship Lords are disproportionately powerful vis-à-vis the Katepanoi compared to the heartland, so there is a limit in which Roman officials can push Ship Lords to undertake activities against their interests.

In the east, armed merchantmen are used all the time in military operations. The Roman government pays a ‘rental’ for the ships, although it imposes the price, as well as specified compensation for any damage or loss. However the fees the ship owners get does not compensate for the missed opportunities, the cargoes of cloves or silks that could’ve been shipped in the meantime. Ship Lords may volunteer their ships for an operation that will directly benefit them; the Katepano of New Constantinople had no difficulty in finding helpful Ship Lords for the Banda Islands expedition who saw opportunity in seizing such valuable real estate. But a Ship Lord who trades mainly in Malaysia and Sumatra will not volunteer his vessels against the Semarang. This is one reason for Pyrgos’ lack of resources in combating the Sulu. Ship Lords see more profit in continuing trade with convoys and escorts while eating the occasional loss rather than tying up their ships in extended campaigning.

[1] Although also willing to cooperate with the Spanish against their common Acehnese foe. But then, Romans are under no obligation to be more consistent than other humans.
 
Nice to read an update while I'm at home stuck on a dull conference call, glad to see you are back in the saddle.

Each Katepano has his own army and fleet units. There is no combined Roman fleet in the east, but rather the squadrons under the command of the various Katepanates. The Romans have seven fourth-raters and twelve fifth-rates in the east in 1635 but no more than seven of these in total can be found in one place, Singapore. Each Katepano moreover is inclined to favor his own theater.
This decentralized nature of the fleets could be bad news once this Spanish Armada arrives. It could feasibly defeat all those ships in detail rather than fight one massive pitched battle. Then again, there's a better chance half the crew dies of various illnesses before even hitting Taprobane and the Armada goes out with a whimper. I guess we'll wait and see.
 
This means that the Spanish Armada will force Constantinople and the Katepanates to consolidate themselves to create a unified command in the east. We might see the rise of a new governmental rank to deal with local issues without having to communicate with the heartland: Dominions. Dominion of Island Asia to unify the Spice Islands, Malay Peninsula, and the Herakleian Islands into one authority.

I'm sure the Latins will copy this structure for their American colonies as well.
 
Fantastic update!
When you refer to the Wu do you mean the Australian Wu or another group of Wu exiles?
Also here's the map with Borneo and the Phillipenes changed according to the update. Lemme know if there's anything I should change :)
 

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I foresee an Exarch of the East to be appointed after the Spanish Armada burns itself out. 1 person with the authority to command all the fleet and ship lords in times of crisis. You would have to make it either a VERY trusted member of the state or some way to sharply limit its powers; perhaps saying that authority can only be exercised when Exarch declares an emergency and than must return to Constantinople at the conclusion to both justify why it was called and also to get him out of the area before power can be consolidated.

So I was looking at OTL and expeditions that could be comparable to this Spanish Armada and I genuinely could not find anything comparable. It makes me wonder how this will go. I mean there has to be a reason that it was never done in OTL. Perhaps Spain and its merchant class leverage themselves to the hilt to outfit and send it only for it to fall apart as soon as it arrives. A couple of the larger ships have disease outbreak that wipe out their crews, another couple go pirate after seeing how lucrative it could be, the rest get to the Spanish viceroyalty and realize that the capability to support these ships doesn’t exist. Or maybe with disease breaking out the Spanish admiral does something stupid like trying to force a Vijiyanagar port open to provision and incurs the wrath of the Vijiyanagar fleet.
 
Glad that you got home safe among all this chaos and craziness B444!

Just caught up on the past few weeks and it's definitely good to get an overview of the colonies, but I'm much more excited to get stuck into the Middle Kingdom! Will we see Napoleon make an appearance?
 
This is one reason for Pyrgos’ lack of resources in combating the Sulu. Ship Lords see more profit in continuing trade with convoys and escorts while eating the occasional loss rather than tying up their ships in extended campaigning.
Seems like Rhomania should send out a Grand Armada of their own once they can.

I wonder whether Vijaynagar has a ranking system of preferred foreigners (mayhaps ones they are open to joining an alliance with), aside from the Triunes who have firmly aligned themselves against the Vijaynagari.

Made an alliance map for anybody interested in visualizing the complex web of diplomacy (albeit simplified and most definitely incomplete)
1585224009721.png
 
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Fantastic update!
When you refer to the Wu do you mean the Australian Wu or another group of Wu exiles?
Also here's the map with Borneo and the Phillipenes changed according to the update. Lemme know if there's anything I should change :)
IIRC, most Wu went to Australia and then went back to SEA after the collapse. Just noticed this, but Kabul is independent now and separates Ottoman India from Persia
 
Seems like Rhomania should send out a Grand Armada of their own once they can.

I wonder whether Vijaynagar has a ranking system of preferred foreigners (mayhaps ones they are open to joining an alliance with), aside from the Triunes who have firmly aligned themselves against the Vijaynagari.

Made an alliance map for anybody interested in visualizing the complex web of diplomacy (albeit simplified and most definitely incomplete)
View attachment 533410
That graph is great, and really illustrates how big a win it would be for either pact to bring Vijaynagar on side.

It'll be very interesting to see Mexico and Vijaynagar establish themselves as the centres of their own blocs. Even if Mexico has many reasons to lean with the Rhomans now, that isn't a guarantee (though I'm hard pressed to see where a conflict would come from at the moment).

What is also highlights though is the three soft-Empires the Rhomans have.
1) Eastern Europe - This one has been discussed to death
2) NW Indian Ocean - This really is the natural opposition to a Vijaynagar that was focused on naval expansion. Their current stance is great, but highlights quite how easily an Ottoman-Vijaynagar pact could be a disaster for the Rhoman Empire. Alternatively, Vijaynagar being pro-Rhoman traps the Ottomans economically.
3) SE Asia & Japan - This is the one that has the most immediate potential, and will either sink or swim based on the Spanish Armada I expect. If the Rhomans win and have significant resources in the area, they can really tear apart their opponents in the area. Dai Viet would be exposed, Zeng would be very much alarmed, which could sour Ottoman Relations, or solidify them. It's really knife-edge between Soft Super-Indonesia, and potential disaster. It also has the potential to rival Zeng and Vijaynagar, which would be insane as only PART of the Rhoman world.

*excited noises*
 
I sincerely hope Rome wins out in east Asia. Not "paint the map purple" win, but remain strongest/competive with others. We have OTL to read about failed Byzantium.
 
A small nitpick: an Orthodox priest cannot *get* married. A priest must remain in the same state, barring being widowed, that he enters the priesthood as. So if Orthodox clergy were to "marry local" they'd need to do so as a Deacon and then be ordained as a Priest after they are married.
 
This means that the Spanish Armada will force Constantinople and the Katepanates to consolidate themselves to create a unified command in the east. We might see the rise of a new governmental rank to deal with local issues without having to communicate with the heartland: Dominions. Dominion of Island Asia to unify the Spice Islands, Malay Peninsula, and the Herakleian Islands into one authority.

I'm sure the Latins will copy this structure for their American colonies as well.
Well an exarch could fill this role
 
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