Comparing a victorious Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans

The premise of this question: The Komnenoi restoration manages to more or less reestablish the borders of the empire as they were at the end of Basil II's reign by the mid 13th century. Naturally some areas are more secure than others, and this does not mean that the interior of Anatolia isn't Turkified to a strong extent.

So would it likely seek to take and/or control the same areas (more or less) as the Ottomans did OTL? Not necessarily right away, but would that be a goal for an ambitious emperor? Would it be more concerned with the East? (the way the Western European powers were in the 16th century and beyond)? How would the Latin powers of Europe see it (as opposed to how the Ottomans got a very bad name as the Terrible Turks)?

Basically, how would it be like (and unlike) the Ottoman state regarding strengths, weaknesses, enemies and ambitions.

It seems that it would probably be different in more ways than just having the Hagia Sophia as a church, but beyond that...well, hopefully there are resources out there worth reading to get an idea of how this could have looked. Unfortunately, just reading a history of the Byzantines doesn't give a very clear picture of what could have happened had things not gone wrong from 1180 (or earlier) on.
 
Hi, I once read (sorry, can't remember the source!) that the Byzantines were not big on expansion for expansion's sake. In some sense, theology formed their national consciousness. By this I mean that they believed that the Kingdom of God and the Empire of Rome were synonymous. Even in the tragic last decades of Rhomaoi's existence, some people clung to the belief that God would miraculously restore the Empire. Supposedly this restoration was tied to the return of a glorified Constantine, who would parade through the Golden Gate with his retinue. Apparently the Turks took this myth seriously enough after the capture of the City that they walled up the Gate! The poor Greeks are still waiting for their Constantine :D

Sorry, didn't really address your question, did I?! Probably they would aim at securing the borders that had been their historically, nothing more. I doubt they would be too interested in Arabia, as they are all muslims. As to what society would be like, it would probably be similar to the Russians/Greeks.
Perhaps forced conversion to the Faith is "strongly encouraged in some areas, maybe a tax for non - believers. Yeah......hard to say.........
 
No interest?

I was delighted to find that a Ottoman and Byzantine Empires switched had been discussed on the forum. Not so much though it seems since no one ran with it.

This question is dear to me for I am preparing to run a GURPS 4e Castle Falkenstein campaign. So I'm going to ask a focusing question.

Given the uber-ASB ATL setting of canonical Castle Falkenstein (which includes, for example, flying Incan Battle-Pyramids) what would be a "believable" POD that results in the Byzantine Empire COMPLETELY replacing the Ottoman Empire as it existed in 1870?

I'm tempted to go with an overwhelming Byzantine victory at the Battle of Yarmouk followed by a determined long-term effort to conquer the Arabian Penninsula...that succeeds well enough to prevent the Arabs from ever becoming more than troublesome raiders of the Empire. Maybe throw in a Royal Wedding between the Imperial Families of Persia and Byzantium just for good measure.

If I am unintentionally hijacking this thread I apologize.

Hero of Canton
Unreconstructed Sub-Roman Briton
 
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I don't think this is quite possible, primarily because the Ottomans were able to invent a military machine more formidable than any other in the Europe of its time, and were able to retool it after the disaster that happened under Timur to make it even stronger. When they were busy conquering the Balkans, the Middle East, and large parts of North Africa they had an extremely formidable and innovative military machine to do this with.

An ERE that survives will not be able to do anything of the sort, as it will in all likelihood still face multiple formidable Muslim powers to the south and face the perennial problems of controlling the Balkans after it conquers there. The Ottomans developed means to control it for centuries, the ERE periodically lost its Balkans territories altogether in successful raids by nomads.

The ERE also has a different issue in that the Ottomans were able to very rapidly assimilate in artillery and firearms into their armies, there is no guarantee that the entrenched and conservative ERE army would do likewise without a damn good reason to do so. Though if they did do this successfully and *then* went a-conquering they'd like the Ottomans have a free-for-all for quite some time by virtue of being the only people with 1) a real army, and 2) guns for their real army, not feudal levies with swords, pikes, and pitchforks commanded by incompetent second-sons.
 
The premise of this question: The Komnenoi restoration manages to more or less reestablish the borders of the empire as they were at the end of Basil II's reign by the mid 13th century. Naturally some areas are more secure than others, and this does not mean that the interior of Anatolia isn't Turkified to a strong extent.

So would it likely seek to take and/or control the same areas (more or less) as the Ottomans did OTL? Not necessarily right away, but would that be a goal for an ambitious emperor? Would it be more concerned with the East? (the way the Western European powers were in the 16th century and beyond)? How would the Latin powers of Europe see it (as opposed to how the Ottomans got a very bad name as the Terrible Turks)?

Basically, how would it be like (and unlike) the Ottoman state regarding strengths, weaknesses, enemies and ambitions.

It seems that it would probably be different in more ways than just having the Hagia Sophia as a church, but beyond that...well, hopefully there are resources out there worth reading to get an idea of how this could have looked. Unfortunately, just reading a history of the Byzantines doesn't give a very clear picture of what could have happened had things not gone wrong from 1180 (or earlier) on.
Well, there are some thing you need to consider - and let me first start by saying I'm not really up to speed on Byzantium.
-The Crusades did a number on Byzantium in numerous ways.
-The Turkic interruption of the Silk Road hurt trade.
-Mongols and other such (*cough* Turks *cough*) continually eroded the Byzantines.

Now. Let's step back and look at the issue at hand.
You're suggesting that between the Komnenoi Restored (c.1080-1180), the the Byzantines might be able to retake most of Eastern Anatolia, Cyprus, some more of the Balkans, MidEast, and Apulia (S/SE Italy).

Not saying it is impossible, but let's look at the greater political scheme. The Great Schism did a number on the Byzantines. Now they had to deal with more direct Catholic attacks from the West AND the Muslim *(& Pagan) barbarians, Turks, and so forth from the East.

There's really little wonder that within just a couple of decades or so after the Komnenoi fell out of favor (what with civil war and all) the Latin Empire was established by power-hungry crusaders from the west. Not only that, but after a couple centuries of warfare in the Levant, the smaller Muslim states were being eaten by Christians who were in turn eaten by the bigger more centralized Muslims. This is the same net result in Byzantium - the smaller powers become easy prey for the larger powers. And it was the crusading which actually helped to unify the Muslim/East against the Christian/West.

I digress. You are wanting to avoid this internal strife and victimization of Catholic attacks, yes? You want to Byzantines to be able to hold their own at least in the Balkans and Anatolia, yes? Venice will be an issue, and Venice is the traditional ally (and sometimes enemy) of the Papacy within Italy. So there's gonna be trouble regardless. Trade, my friend, it's all about trade.

Keeping some sort of Byzantine/Roman unity is key. I figure the best possible way to achieve this is to reconcile with the Papacy. Then, perhaps the Latin Empire can be avoided. Or at least delayed. This could potentially mean that the Byzantine Emporer acknowledges subserviance to the Pope as Vicar of Christ. Not sure how that will go over with the Orthodox masses...

Anywho, assuming it IS done somehow, we can then move on to answer your question of how it will be perceived by the rest.

Turks = Bad, dang, dirty barbarians/Muslims
vs
Byzantines = annoying, scrappy Roman Christians.

I figure the Byzantines will still want to keep all/most of their lands in the Balkans (which corresponds pretty well with what the Ottomans were able to conquer); they will likely NOT want anything in North Africa, however. Africa by this point is pretty outright against non-Muslims. Iberia was getting its head kicked by a powerful Muslim state, Egypt was a pretty scary enemy of the Crusades, and the in-between is just useless, really.

Jumping back into Italy will only bring about more pains-in-the-ass for any Byzantine emperor. Their presence will spook the Pope, who will incite more anti-Orthodox nonsense, and that whole mess of Italy will kick up a fuss. Nevermind that at this time the Holy Roman Emperor will likely come howling too, at least in part.

The Hungarians might be an issue, though. Within a century, however, the Mongols will come screaming into the scene and change up a whole lot. So long as the Byzantines play their cards right - maybe the "Shield of Christendom" and garner more support. But again, a lot might depend on the Schism.

By 1270-ish, the Mongols are wrecking shit in the Mid-East and Anatolia, as well as the otherwise Orthodox/Pagan bits of Russia-Poland-Romania area. This kind of massive movement is gonna cause ripples across the board and the Byzantine "Shield" will likely not be able to hold it - much like OTL.

Hmm... so I've talked myself back in a circle. I don't see how they can do what you're looking for and survive long enough to become more than a footnote, failling power over the next couple of centuries. A little longer, maybe, a little stronger in spots, but for the most part it will fall under the yolk of some larger power eventually. Just depends on whom.
 
Byzantium is never going to accept reunion with the pope. They did that in the 1400s to gather support and it was overturned by an enraged population.
 
The Empire of the Romans needs no reunion with the Pope to survive, but it could certainly use some cooperation with Catholics to survive and even expand. The Komnenian military establishment was very advanced and the professional army Manuel I fielded was very much a predecessor of the armies of the Ottoman classical age. If Manuel can focus on Anatolia, reconquer the plateau and pass on his empire to a passable heir, I can see Rhomania settling down into its traditional power base (Balkans plus Anatolia) for a very long time. The Romans need to drop their territorial claims to Apulia and thus normalize relations with Sicily to an extent. This will allow the Empire to focus on maintaining its rule in the Balkans but is dependant on the Navy being funded (which Manuel's successors sadly did not do). In the East they need to ally with a resurgent Georgian kingdom, focus on repairing religious relations with the Armenians of Cilicia and prepare for the Mongols! The Mamuluk Sultanate of Egypt would be their biggest rival for a long time...just a few thoughts!
 
Well, there are some thing you need to consider - and let me first start by saying I'm not really up to speed on Byzantium.
-The Crusades did a number on Byzantium in numerous ways.
-The Turkic interruption of the Silk Road hurt trade.
-Mongols and other such (*cough* Turks *cough*) continually eroded the Byzantines.

Now. Let's step back and look at the issue at hand.
You're suggesting that between the Komnenoi Restored (c.1080-1180), the the Byzantines might be able to retake most of Eastern Anatolia, Cyprus, some more of the Balkans, MidEast, and Apulia (S/SE Italy).
Borders as of (using wiki for convenience) here by 1260 or so: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map_Byzantine_Empire_1045.svg

(minus southern Italy and Croatia)

By 1270-ish, the Mongols are wrecking shit in the Mid-East and Anatolia, as well as the otherwise Orthodox/Pagan bits of Russia-Poland-Romania area. This kind of massive movement is gonna cause ripples across the board and the Byzantine "Shield" will likely not be able to hold it - much like OTL.
Why not? The Byzantines are in a much stronger position than OTL - even if not gaining all of eastern Anatolia, they still compare favorably to this: http://rbedrosian.com/Maps/muhamm26.htm

Hmm... so I've talked myself back in a circle. I don't see how they can do what you're looking for and survive long enough to become more than a footnote, failling power over the next couple of centuries. A little longer, maybe, a little stronger in spots, but for the most part it will fall under the yolk of some larger power eventually. Just depends on whom.
Why though? I mean, certainly they'll be merely "a" power compared to their superpower days, but I'm not sure why you're assuming they inevitably fail and fall into insignificance.

And honestly, "what" larger power? Who is in a position to do this?
 
Why would there be "Turkification" in Anatolia if the Komnenoi (ew, not a fan) reconquered up to Basileios II's territory by the thirteenth century?
 
Why would there be "Turkification" in Anatolia if the Komnenoi (ew, not a fan) reconquered up to Basileios II's territory by the thirteenth century?
What's wrong with the Komnenoi? I mean, assuming you're saying this as "not a fan of that dynasty in particular" rather than "ew, Byzantines", which is less understandable. :p

But to answer your question: Because the interior of Anatolia has been Turkified to some extent since Alexius I's reign.

And total expulsion followed by heavy resettlement is a lot of trouble. Not necessarily impossible, but a lot of trouble.
 
What's wrong with the Komnenoi? I mean, assuming you're saying this as "not a fan of that dynasty in particular" rather than "ew, Byzantines", which is less understandable. :p
Yeah, not a fan of appanages, feudal stuff, and staking entirely too much emphasis on preventive defense instead of actually taking the damn buffer territory over. The TL would fix Thing Three, but still. Also, not a fan of Anna Komnene. My username ought to be sufficient indication that I'm not saying "ew, Byzantines" :p
Elfwine said:
But to answer your question: Because the interior of Anatolia has been Turkified to some extent since Alexius I's reign.

And total expulsion followed by heavy resettlement is a lot of trouble. Not necessarily impossible, but a lot of trouble.
Well, I mean, presumably the region didn't see a whole lot of immigration from the east after the Salcuk sultanate was established, because said sultanate is gone. So there's only the initial, quite small, groups of Turkmen scattered around. Why would they have any more reason than their predecessors - Khurramites and whatnot - to not learn Greek and convert? By the thirteenth century, such small numbers would almost certainly have assimilated in any meaningful sense. No expulsion and resettlement necessary - we're a long way from Lausanne.
 
Yeah, not a fan of appanages, feudal stuff, and staking entirely too much emphasis on preventive defense instead of actually taking the damn buffer territory over. The TL would fix Thing Three, but still. Also, not a fan of Anna Komnene. My username ought to be sufficient indication that I'm not saying "ew, Byzantines" :p
The appanages and feudal stuff sound like the Palaelogus more than the Comnenoi (although Alexius's nepotism and policy of gathering other aristocratic families within the broader Komnenoi clan might count for something in that direction). As for the buffer territory: What do you have in mind? John and Manuel did try to impose Byzantine rule over Cilicia and Antioch (and at least John seems to have thought of in terms of owning the place, not just overlordship).

Anna...smart and evil.

It ought to be, but I can't tell.

Well, I mean, presumably the region didn't see a whole lot of immigration from the east after the Salcuk sultanate was established, because said sultanate is gone. So there's only the initial, quite small, groups of Turkmen scattered around. Why would they have any more reason than their predecessors - Khurramites and whatnot - to not learn Greek and convert? By the thirteenth century, such small numbers would almost certainly have assimilated in any meaningful sense. No expulsion and resettlement necessary - we're a long way from Lausanne.
Well, looking at the map as of 1180 (OTL), the interior is pretty much in the hands of some Turkic power or another. Possibly thinly settled, but settled by Turks.

As for a reason to not learn Gerek and convert: How many Muslim groups in areas reconquered by the Empire ever did that?
 
The appanages and feudal stuff sound like the Palaelogus more than the Comnenoi. As for the buffer territory: What do you have in mind? John and Manuel did try to impose Byzantine rule over Cilicia and Antioch (and at least John seems to have thought of in terms of owning the place, not just overlordship).

Anna...smart and evil.
Alexios started the appanages with Trebizond, with more to follow; he basically ran the empire as an extension of the Doukades. It's telling that by the time Andronikos tried to ally with the bureaucracy in amassing more personal power, it wasn't strong enough to contend with the various families - a situation that hadn't happened since before Eirene herself.

Kilikia and Syria weren't where the attacks were coming from, Anatolia itself was, and the most anybody did outside of preemptive raiding there was the fortification of Lopadion, Ioannes' attacks on Gangra, Manouel's foolish alliance, and periodic forays east of Neokastra. Per Birkenmeier, if the Komnenoi had a overarching military policy with respect to the Salcuks, it was to avoid raiding by preemptive strikes (they did this on a larger scale in Apulia under Manouel), a high-risk policy that ended up failing as soon as the empire got rulers who weren't militarily hypercompetent.

Anna was smart and evil (like my beloved Eirene), but I can't stand her actual writing. The whole "let's deliberately not advance literary tropes beyond the goddamn Hellenistic period" thing infuriates me. When Kekaumenos Katakalon of all people can write a manual that's more interesting than the sum total of contemporary Byzantine literati, you know things are in trouble.
Elfwine said:
Well, looking at the map as of 1180 (OTL), the interior is pretty much in the hands of some Turkic power or another. Possibly thinly settled, but settled by Turks.

As for a reason to not learn Gerek and convert: How many Muslim groups in areas reconquered by the Empire ever did that?
So, wait, I'm confused. Are you keeping 1081-1180 intact and altering post-Manouel history in indeterminate ways, or are you changing the earlier Komnenoi so that they actually seize territory instead of taking the wealthy stuff and leaving the interior to the Turks?

On the subject of reconquered territory with Muslims, well, that almost never actually happened historically. The Byzantines didn't get a whole lot of conquered territory back, and when they did, it either converted pretty quickly due to a lack of large numbers of Muslims there in the first place (Crete, the "no-man's-land" in eastern Anatolia, Kilikia) or wasn't under imperial control long enough to say (Syria). Plus, again, you have all the immigrant groups converting. I'd say that it's not unreasonable, provided that Ioannes and Manouel keep up a good pace of reconquest, for Turks as a minority to be irrelevant by the late thirteenth century.
 
Alexios started the appanages with Trebizond, with more to follow; he basically ran the empire as an extension of the Doukades. It's telling that by the time Andronikos tried to ally with the bureaucracy in amassing more personal power, it wasn't strong enough to contend with the various families - a situation that hadn't happened since before Eirene herself.
Who got Trebizond as an appanage? Because I've never read anything on that. Doesn't mean it didn't happen, mind, but...

And Andronicus was the sort of guy who made enemies left right and center, so his failure might indicate that rather than a particularly weak bureaucracy.

Kilikia and Syria weren't where the attacks were coming from, Anatolia itself was, and the most anybody did outside of preemptive raiding there was the fortification of Lopadion, Ioannes' attacks on Gangra, Manouel's foolish alliance, and periodic forays east of Neokastra. Per Birkenmeier, if the Komnenoi had a overarching military policy with respect to the Salcuks, it was to avoid raiding by preemptive strikes (they did this on a larger scale in Apulia under Manouel), a high-risk policy that ended up failing as soon as the empire got rulers who weren't militarily hypercompetent.
And yet the borders of the empire in Anatolia change between 1118 and 1143 for the better. Mostly in western Anatolia, but still.

I haven't read Birkenmeier (I should, I intend to, but I haven't yet), so I'm just basing this on a map and what I've read elsewhere.

Anna was smart and evil (like my beloved Eirene), but I can't stand her actual writing. The whole "let's deliberately not advance literary tropes beyond the goddamn Hellenistic period" thing infuriates me. When Kekaumenos Katakalon of all people can write a manual that's more interesting than the sum total of contemporary Byzantine literati, you know things are in trouble.
I haven't read it, even in English, so I can't speak for whether that's annoying or not.

Not going to argue, just pointing out I don't know this well enough to say whether I agree either.

So, wait, I'm confused. Are you keeping 1081-1180 intact and altering post-Manouel history in indeterminate ways, or are you changing the earlier Komnenoi so that they actually seize territory instead of taking the wealthy stuff and leaving the interior to the Turks?
For purposes of this scenario, the idea is that over the course of something under two centuries (1081-1260 or so), the area is regained. How quickly depends on what's plausible - I'm assuming OTL 1081-1180 represents about what you can expect, other than Manuel having a bad case of ADHD when it came to concentrating on anywhere for reconquest. But that's my assumption - if you think its plausible to do more, then by all means answer based on that.

The 1180 map is referenced as a sign of what happened by that point OTL, something over halfway to the deadline, in regards to Turkification.

Hope this clears it up a bit.

On the subject of reconquered territory with Muslims, well, that almost never actually happened historically. The Byzantines didn't get a whole lot of conquered territory back, and when they did, it either converted pretty quickly due to a lack of large numbers of Muslims there in the first place (Crete, the "no-man's-land" in eastern Anatolia, Kilikia) or wasn't under imperial control long enough to say (Syria). Plus, again, you have all the immigrant groups converting. I'd say that it's not unreasonable, provided that Ioannes and Manouel keep up a good pace of reconquest, for Turks as a minority to be irrelevant by the late thirteenth century.
Fair enough.
 
So would it likely seek to take and/or control the same areas (more or less) as the Ottomans did OTL? Not necessarily right away, but would that be a goal for an ambitious emperor? Would it be more concerned with the East? (the way the Western European powers were in the 16th century and beyond)? How would the Latin powers of Europe see it (as opposed to how the Ottomans got a very bad name as the Terrible Turks)?
The Byzantines never seemed that focused on recapturing Egypt or the Levant, although this might have simply been a lack of opportunity, no? I would expect more of a focus on Italy than on the Middle East.

I wonder if they'd adopt printing.

That said, I don't see why the Byzantines can't fill the role of the "other" that the Ottomans filled in OTL.
 
The Byzantines never seemed that focused on recapturing Egypt or the Levant, although this might have simply been a lack of opportunity, no? I would expect more of a focus on Italy than on the Middle East.

I wonder if they'd adopt printing.

That said, I don't see why the Byzantines can't fill the role of the "other" that the Ottomans filled in OTL.
I'm not sure what it was, but we see Jerusalem for instance within reach of Byzantine armies but apparently beyond where the emperor (first Nicephorus II and then John I) is willing to push at that time. And of course they died before "the right time" happened.

Can't see any reason why not for printing. I'm not sure it would be 'inevitable", but I'm sure we can find reasons that Western Europe would treat it differently than OTL, too.

As for otherness...would the Byzantines seem so "other" to the Renaissance (rediscovering Greek and Latin texts)? Still different, but as much so as the Ottomans?
 
Who got Trebizond as an appanage? Because I've never read anything on that. Doesn't mean it didn't happen, mind, but...

And Andronicus was the sort of guy who made enemies left right and center, so his failure might indicate that rather than a particularly weak bureaucracy.
The Gabrades, Theodoros and Konstantinos, ran Trebizond into the 1140s.

I suppose that's a fair point on Andronikos, although the manner of Isaakios Komnenos' proclamation of imperium say a great deal about the bureaucracy's ability to maintain control of the increasingly feudalized army.
Elfwine said:
And yet the borders of the empire in Anatolia change between 1118 and 1143 for the better. Mostly in western Anatolia, but still.
Sure. They got Karia back, for instance. That was pretty good. Neokastra was enlarged and Lopadion got a bit more chora. But still. Surely Ioannes could've at least kept control of Gangra or profited in some way from the ongoing collapse of the Danishmendids.
Elfwine said:
For purposes of this scenario, the idea is that over the course of something under two centuries (1081-1260 or so), the area is regained. How quickly depends on what's plausible - I'm assuming OTL 1081-1180 represents about what you can expect, other than Manuel having a bad case of ADHD when it came to concentrating on anywhere for reconquest. But that's my assumption - if you think its plausible to do more, then by all means answer based on that.

The 1180 map is referenced as a sign of what happened by that point OTL, something over halfway to the deadline, in regards to Turkification.

Hope this clears it up a bit.
Right. Well, I think that Alexios probably could've done a bit more in Asia, especially in the 1100s (decade) by preventing the reoccupation of the no-man's-land (eminently possible considering Byzantine armies created it in the first place) or capitalizing on the victory at Philomelion more. His gravest error was almost certainly in not recruiting more widely; the Byzantine army was dramatically smaller than it ought to have been, let alone how large it could've been. Treadgold's verdict on Alexios seems appropriate:
Warren Treadgold said:
A completely restored empire would have had larger revenues, but not a much larger surplus, and keeping it would have meant sharing power with more generals and officials, some of whom were hostile to the Comneni. The results would have been better for many Byzantines, especially for those abandoned in Turkish territory, but not necessarily better for Alexius and his relatives. Knowing all this, Alexius put his own and his family's interests ahead of the empire's.
Ioannes got distracted a lot by the Crusaders, but to be perfectly fair, the Crusaders were hard, if not impossible, to ignore. Outside of Gangra and Paphlagonia and general "make bank off the Danishmendids" imperatives, he probably did about as much as he could.

Manouel's easy to fix, and we both know it. :p
 
I'mCan't see any reason why not for printing. I'm not sure it would be 'inevitable", but I'm sure we can find reasons that Western Europe would treat it differently than OTL, too.
Well I don't know enough about the Byzantines, but I find it noteworthy that no Greeks set up a printing press in the Ottoman Empire until... what, the 18th century? And not because they were illiterate.

This suggests to me there was more to the failure to adopt printing in the Ottoman Empire than Arabic calligraphy.

Hrm. This suggests they weren't introduced until the 17th century at the earliest: http://www.turkishculture.org/lifestyles/turkish-culture-portal/the-people/printing-culture-among-960.htm

As for otherness...would the Byzantines seem so "other" to the Renaissance (rediscovering Greek and Latin texts)? Still different, but as much so as the Ottomans?
I'm trying to find a good post from Leo on this very topic. Let me google a bit.
 
The Gabrades, Theodoros and Konstantinos, ran Trebizond into the 1140s.
Does that make it an appandage? I mean, Trebizond wasn't run by state robots in earlier eras.

I suppose that's a fair point on Andronikos, although the manner of Isaakios Komnenos' proclamation of imperium say a great deal about the bureaucracy's ability to maintain control of the increasingly feudalized army.
Isaac of Cyprus, I presume, not Isaac uncle of Alexius of the Alexiad.

Sure. They got Karia back, for instance. That was pretty good. Neokastra was enlarged and Lopadion got a bit more chora. But still. Surely Ioannes could've at least kept control of Gangra or profited in some way from the ongoing collapse of the Danishmendids.
Probably. I think John erred on the side of "definitely" rather than the most that could be done - or to put it another way, a more aggressive emperor might have done more, but John (not without reason) thought of it as "a more aggressive emperor might lose more".

So I think John was good enough.

Right. Well, I think that Alexios probably could've done a bit more in Asia, especially in the 1100s (decade) by preventing the reoccupation of the no-man's-land (eminently possible considering Byzantine armies created it in the first place) or capitalizing on the victory at Philomelion more. His gravest error was almost certainly in not recruiting more widely; the Byzantine army was dramatically smaller than it ought to have been, let alone how large it could've been. Treadgold's verdict on Alexios seems appropriate:
I am uncertain. It is possible - but I am uncertain if he's right on what "could" have happened. And in fairness to Alexius, weakening the Comnenoi at this particular point is also weakening the emperor (that is, the position of the emperor, as well as his personal security). And its very understandable that he'd be leery on that one given events in up to his ascension showing just how problematic squabbling over the throne could be.

Ioannes got distracted a lot by the Crusaders, but to be perfectly fair, the Crusaders were hard, if not impossible, to ignore. Outside of Gangra and Paphlagonia and general "make bank off the Danishmendids" imperatives, he probably did about as much as he could.

Manouel's easy to fix, and we both know it. :p
Agreed on John, as above. Manuel...yeah, seriously. I wouldn't say he was a terrible emperor (an Andronicus II, say), but he managed to leave the state worse off than when he took the throne, despite if not because of those projects of his that did achieve anything in the short term.

And none of the emperors after him in the twenty-four years before the Fourth Crusade was able to make up for that.

Faeelin said:
Well I don't know enough about the Byzantines, but I find it noteworthy that no Greeks set up a printing press in the Ottoman Empire until... what, the 18th century? And not because they were illiterate.

This suggests to me there was more to the failure to adopt printing in the Ottoman Empire than Arabic calligraphy.

Hrm. This suggests they weren't introduced until the 17th century at the earliest: http://www.turkishculture.org/lifest...-among-960.htm
Not sure why that would have happened as it did OTL, so whether the conditions would be different with a Byzantine state I have no idea.

I'm trying to find a good post from Leo on this very topic. Let me google a bit.
No rush.
 
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