An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

GdwnsnHo: Both Constantinople and Tanta are very interested in boosting the Despotate’s population, which is currently in the 600,000!!! Level. More Nile Germans are the first choice, since Germany’s population is massive after nearly a hundred years of general peace, but other potential sources are Russia, Castile, and Hungary, plus Vlachia although that is a smaller pool. One unintentional side effect of the 38 Points is that the Imperial Bank-Alexandria branch is an easy way to solve Egypt’s capital problems…
DracoLazarus: If the Triunes are pushed back to England, Arles will no longer exist. It will become France.
Colonel Levnekov: I was having some issues with formatting. Pictures were too big to fit on my laptop monitor so I had to scroll back and forth to read every line which got old very fast. So I re-posted them. There’s no new information in the second version, just resized pictures, so just skip them.
Derekc2: The Ottomans have typically been the villains save for when they were fighting Shah Rukh, so I think it is good that at least some of them have a better claim on being good guys than the Romans.
Arrix85: Iskandar has been hammering the Georgians. If the Romans weren’t in the fight Tbilisi would have sued for peace after he blitzed Tabriz. In terms of fighting between the Ottomans and Romans directly both sides have been phoning it in. The 20,000-25,000 armies the two empires were fielding for the al-Hasakah campaign were respectable, but far smaller than what either side could commit if they were fully serious and focused.
If you want to go ahead and post your version. This is a tweaked version of the last map with a few edited borders. I forgot Roussillon. :eek: Cyrenaica got transferred to Roman control because the Copts aren’t capable of projecting any power outside the Delta+Cairo area. I forgot to mention that though so I’ll make sure I put in a line in a following update. That whole stretch of African vassal coast is very loosely under Roman control, and only within artillery range of a Roman warship anchored off the coast. Outside of Tripoli and a few of the other towns and coastal outposts the region is independent in all but name.
Frustrated Progressive: The Romans half-seriously offered the Kaaba to the Omani when the Romans first stole it. The Omani though are wary of taking it direct from Roman hands. The Romans are infidel desecrators of Islam’s holiest site and the Omani don’t want guilt by association.
A vassal Hedjaz would have absolutely no legitimacy whatsoever and would depend entirely on Roman support to last more than two minutes. Might as well control the territory directly and cut out the middleman.
14 got left out by accident and I only noticed after I uploaded the image. Making a bad joke was quicker than fixing it so I went with that.
Calsidon: Yes. The Romans took the Kaaba as a ‘Islam, seriously, stop attacking us and our friends, you’ve been pulling this crap for a thousand years, so SOD OFF!!!” The Romans expect Islam to pay through the nose to get it back. One Roman price they have in mind is that Iskandar withdraws from all his conquests and the Romans will return the Kaaba to Mecca.
HIM Dogson: Thanks. Good luck. :)
Luis sparks: Venetia is still Roman controlled, but it is just the lagoon so it is too small to show up on a map covering that wide of an area.
On Scythia: The Byzantines had an often annoying habit of using classical names to describe contemporary peoples (they often called the Hungarians Turks!). The habit rubbed off on the Russians. Plus the etymology of ‘Ukraine’ didn’t fit so well into the alternate history.
Here's a map. I'll respond to the other posts later when I get a chance.

Map Legend:​
1) Kingdom of Lotharingia​
2) Kingdom of Aragon​
3) Kingdom of Arles​
4) Counties of Saluzzo and Nice​
5) Republic of Genoa​
6) Kingdom of Lombardy​
7) Duchy of Florence and Commune of Pisa (pink in corner)​
8) Commune of Siena​
9) Papal States​
10) Duchy of the Marche​
11) Duchies of Ragusa and Split (Roman vassals)​
12) Despotate of Sicily​
13) Despotate of Carthage​
14) Taking a vacation in Bermuda​
15) Territories ceded to the Megas Kyr Anizzah at the Treaty of Van​
16) Kingdom of Prussia​
17) Kingdom of Poland​
18) Kingdom of Vlachia​
19) Kingdom of Majorca-Sardinia (Kingdom of the Isles)​
20) Despotate of Egypt​
21) Georgian territories currently occupied by Ottomans​

what happened to Rus?
what happened to Rus?
It became a federation of provinces with a rudimentary constitution.
The pieces you see are the provinces that have their own regional governments.
The Megas Rigas reigns from the city of Vladimir, where he deals with things like foreign policy, federal army, etc.
Most important thing to take note is that the Megas Rigas has complete control over the income from the Trans-Volga territories.
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I thought the Papal states are gone?Didn't Andreas conquer the place and that it was subsequently handed over to one of the despotates?
I thought the Papal states are gone?Didn't Andreas conquer the place and that it was subsequently handed over to one of the despotates?

You missed a lot of updates it looks like.
I don't think the Story Only thread is up to date. You should read through the last thread.
So what happened?I don't think I've missed anything.

A massive war between the Kingdom of Lombard and the Dantean League, a collection of statelets between Lombardy and Sicily.
People in central Italy were fed up with Lombard arrogance and ham-fisted-ness, and banded together to break Lombard hegemony in the northern half of Italy. It led to a vicious war that bled the northern Italians badly, until the Lombards called on the Holy Roman Emperor for help.
The Germans came down and crushed the Dantean League, but was quite lenient on them to prevent the Lombards from getting too strong again.
The Papal State is one of the ways the Germans consolidated their own power, since it put the Papacy back in Italy to intrigue away while removing a potential challenger to the supremacy of Imperial Authority in Germany.
General Response: Malta is Roman; that’s a map error on my part.
Castile is significantly more powerful than Al-Andalus now but is both getting more involved in overseas due to the union with Portugal and in the rest of Europe. I used the term ‘Spanish Road’ in the update I’m writing now. Also despite a huge size disparity Granada was able to put up a huge fight against Ferdinand and Isabella, thanks to excellent defensive terrain. The Guadalquivir, the backbone of Al-Andalus, isn’t as good of defensive terrain as Granada, which the Andalusi still own, but the resource disparity with Castile isn’t as bad as the OTL Granadines’ one.
You can check my signature for how far the story-only thread is. Right now it is updated till 1578.

1600: Egypt and Ethiopia have been the center stage for a time but neither Syria, Armenia, nor Azerbaijan have been silent. In southern Georgia there have been no great battles but numerous skirmishes and sieges as Iskandar slowly grinds down the various Georgian fortresses. Konstantin Safavid has been reluctant to commit the full field army of Georgia, somewhat intimidated by Iskandar’s victories. But so long as it remains a force-in-being Iskandar is forced to move slowly and cautiously, keeping his forces concentrated. Persian supply difficulties are enhanced by raiding parties of Alan and Kalmyk cavalry plus Cossack attacks on Mazandaran.

Konstantin is further encouraged in his delaying tactics by the news in Syria. Open warfare between the Persian and Roman Empires has led to a mass influx of ghazis from all over the Muslim world to Iskandar’s standards eager to fight the desecrators of Mecca. Some of them the Shah incorporates into his army but most stubbornly refuse to submit to Iskandar’s discipline. Interestingly it is almost a direct copy of Andreas Niketas’ rule for his soldiers, which combines good and fair treatment with merciless punishment when its precepts are transgressed.

Iskandar has no use for men who will not follow orders in field engagements. Throwing them at Georgian walls has its attractions but the ghazis are not so inclined. Their aspirations tend towards the raiding and pillaging. Unable to control them, Iskandar lets them loose on Roman Syria where their depredations arouse the full fury of the Roman populace. Buried memories of the Time of Troubles come to the surface and the war is fought on both sides with no mercy.

That said, the Roman forces, both regulars and the better militias, often differentiate between Ottoman soldiers and the irregular ghazis, although this is largely based on the theater and if in doubt the decision usually errs on “kill them all”. Near Edessa and Amida it is mostly Ottoman regulars, further west the ghazis. The former when captured have a good chance of being imprisoned but are decently treated (by the standards of the day) and are subject to prisoner exchanges. The ghazis, viewed as brigands, are slaughtered on sight. Overall the regular Ottoman soldiery are not dismayed by this. Like the Shah, they have nothing for contempt for the ghazis who are zealous in attacking women and children but run screaming in terror when the first column of Roman soldiers pitches into their lines.

The ghazis have made three attempts to stand up to the tagmata in open battle, encouraging themselves with tales of the centuries of raids their ancestors had launched upon Anatolia in the days of the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates. But those times are past and light cavalry has no business charging ranks of gun infantry and cannon batteries; they are slaughtered. The high death tolls however lull the Romans into thinking that the Ottomans have shot their bolt, much to the annoyance of the Georgians. Thinking the Syrian front is secure the Romans have put their efforts into quelling the revolt.

Ottoman supplies, advisors, and a few troops have made their way to support the rebels but with troops heavily engaged in Azerbaijan and Transoxiana the Shah cannot spare too many. Without that expected aid the rebels have been ground down since Roman troops arrived in the area. Bedouin raids in the early stages were key to keeping the rebels isolated and uncoordinated, allowing the regulars to deal with each pocket piecemeal.

By this time the process is complete except for a few insignificant backwaters. However the countryside, while conquered, is hardly pacified. With close to two hundred and fifty thousand dead or enslaved there are still over eleven hundred thousand Sunni Arabs in the Syrian provinces whose silence can only be secured by direct military force.

The Roman government is unsure how to resolve the situation. The Arabs are far more resistant to Romanization than any of the other peoples of the Empire. Unlike the Bulgarians or Albanians they have not had centuries of exposure to Roman culture and a common faith. The Anatolian Turks developed their societies under the shadow of the Empire even as they were raiding it. The Arabs however developed their culture and faith under no such shadow and it is strong and vibrant. Though Damascus and Jerusalem are barred to them, mosques and madrasas in Shaizar and Homs still are frequently endowed and attended, never mind the continuing influx from beyond the Imperial frontiers.

The seemingly obvious solution would be toleration on the part of the Romans, the stance taken towards the Anatolian Muslims. However the Romans do not see the situations as comparable. The Anatolian Muslims are largely Romanized, although in eastern Anatolia it is more of a mix, and thus letting them follow their customs is not so jarring to the concept of a unitary empire.

Andreas Niketas after conquering the Mamelukes had aimed to allow the Muslims to follow their own laws amongst themselves. The problem quickly arose that Muslim law also regulates interaction between Muslims and peoples outside Islam. In a court case in Jaffa a Muslim man was accused of raping a Jewish girl of fourteen, the victim’s mother, brother, and a next-door neighbor bearing testimony against him. The Muslim claimed that according to Muslim law a Jew could not bring evidence against a Muslim in court, therefore their accusations were invalid even though all saw at least parts of the assault. The judge’s response was that such a defense was fit ‘merely for wiping my ass for making such a mockery of justice and reason’.

Andreas was in Jerusalem and heard of this. Absolutely enraged he stormed down to Jaffa where the man had been found guilty. Taking the executioner’s place he personally cut the man’s head off and for spite had him buried with the corpse of a pig. The ensuing riot was answered with gunfire.

In the minds of the Roman administration this incident drew more attention than it should because of the active participation of Andreas but it goes a long way to explaining the mindset of Roman bureaucrats. Viewed as troublesome, treacherous, and the sort of people who when given an inch then demand a mile and then treated accordingly, the Muslims of Syria and Palestine have largely become that. In such conditions only the stick is viewed as acceptable.

To provide security, Roman authorities are looking for alternative sources of manpower. The result is some creative solutions. The Syrian/Jacobite Christians, though not in communion with Constantinople, have been largely left alone minus the payment of a few extra taxes and sumptuary restrictions. As a result they have a largely neutral attitude towards the Romans. However the Romans are not trying to kill them unlike ghazis who care nothing for the intricacies of Christian communions.

Helena thus proposes to abandon all the sumptuary restrictions and the taxes save a ten percent surcharge, thus promoting them to a similar level as the Greek Muslims of Caria. In exchange they will provide militia troops to secure the Muslim countryside. Seeing a way to secure their villages and lighten their taxes, they accept.

Encouraged, Helena extends the same offer to the Maronites, Alawites (both concentrated in Lebanon), Druzes, and Ismailis (concentrated in the Jaffa-Ashkelon-Gaza area since the late 1300s after fleeing Timur’s armies-the minorities left behind in the Beqaa and Hauran have been largely slaughtered by the Sunnis in the Time of Troubles and the survivors have suffered immensely in the current revolt as well), all of whom are willing to accept the offer. Manning small garrisons at towns, bridges, and hilltop forts with Christian Bedouins to provide countryside patrol work, the initiative is quite successful at freeing up Roman manpower. It does nothing to soothe Sunni discontent.

In Constantinople though there is considerable concern over these concessions to religious minorities, especially when it is rumored that Helena is considering presenting the proposal to the Jews of the Syrian theme (she is not). Even Demetrios is skeptical of these initiatives, fearing that they will earn God’s enmity.

Helena replies that they are going to burn in hell for eternity anyway, so persecuting them in this life is just pointless cruelty. ‘It has been given to our authority to command and order their bodies, punishing them for crimes of the flesh. However it is solely the prerogative of God to judge and punish their souls. By attacking them for their faith, we are laying charges against them because of the sins of their soul, which is not within our purview. Let us look to our tasks, which are more than enough for our efforts, rather than try to infringe on the works of God.’ She also follows it up by pointing out that if the desire is to gain conversions, following a ‘Latin style’ of torment is unlikely to go over well as the history of the Orthodox Church and Empire can attest.

There are some exceptions to Helena’s rhetoric. Catholics and non-Anatolian/Greek Sunni Muslims should not be allowed to live in the Empire unperturbed by restrictions. There are a great many polities sharing their faiths. As such, their loyalty to the Empire will always be questionable. By treating them well the Romans could be harboring ‘a snake in their bosom with a bite that could fell the Empire’. The ‘bite’ of the minor groups favored by Helena’s recent actions is too small to be considered a threat as it cannot be backed by co-religionist foreign powers.

Such arguments are enough to quiet most of those questioning Helena’s actions. The Metropolitan of Smyrna weighs in on her side, asserting that ‘to consider the sword or the whip to be a tool by which the souls of men can be brought to the light of God is nothing less than one of the foulest heresies of the Latins, the product of a brutish mind, a devilish fallacy created by Satan to bring dishonor and shame upon the Church.’

Demetrios is calmed knowing that his mother has no intention of ‘favoring’ Catholics or Muslims. The ‘petty faiths’ to which she has reached out are small concerns to him, focused on the titans of Catholicism and Islam. However he does ask his mother’s intentions towards the Jews. Helena replies that she sees no reason to alter the current arrangement. Jews have to live in ghettoes and pay some extra taxes (higher than the new rates for the ‘petty faiths’), but unlike in Western Europe are not forced to wear an identifying mark or have occupations officially barred to them. ‘The Jews are industrious artisans and merchants, but their military capabilities are minimal at best. To use them as soldiers would be an inefficient use of them.’
Yay, more religious toleration for the Romans.
The situation for Arab Muslims isn't any better than before, but at least it didn't get worse.
Here's to hoping that they (the minority groups, that is) enter the Roman cultural group.

Also a question: aren't the Alawites, Druzes, and Ismailis all Muslim? Are they being given tolerance since they're hated by the main branch Sunni Muslims?
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Here's to hoping that they enter the Roman cultural group.

Nah, even with Humanist ideas the Arabs don't make up a large enough percentage of Rome's base tax for them to be an accepted culture. It's too expensive to culture convert, though, since the Romans are burning through Trade ideas.
Nah, even with Humanist ideas the Arabs don't make up a large enough percentage of Rome's base tax for them to be an accepted culture. It's too expensive to culture convert, though, since the Romans are burning through Trade ideas.

Oh I miss wrote that comment. Price of editing in newer thoughts I suppose.
I want the minority groups to enter the Roman culture group, not the Arab Muslims. The latter is basically impossible.