List of monarchs III

POD: Alexios Branas successfully overthrows Isaac II

Emperors, Empresses, and Autocrats of the Romans
1185-1187: Isaac II (Angelos)
1187-1208: Alexios III (Branas) [1]
1208-1227: Theodoros I (Branas) [2]
1227-1273: Alexios IV (Branas) [3]
1273-1277: Romanos V (Branas) [4]
1277-1313: Michael VIII "the Patient" "the Avenger" (Branas) [5]
1313-1342: Andrónikos II (Branas) [6]
1342-1350: Zoe
II (Branas) [7]
1350-1357: Succession War [8]
1357-1391: Michael IX (Branas-Lascaris) [9]
1391-1403: Romanos VI (Branas-Lascaris) [10]
1403-1445: Michael X "Τhe Great" (Branas-Lascaris) [11]
1445-1464: Alexios V "the Bloody" (Branas-Lascaris) [12]
1464-1501: Ioannes III "the Resolute" (Axouchos) [13]
1501-1555: Elizabeth I (Axouchos) [14]
1555-1573: Károlos I (Apsvoúrgo) [15]


[1] The "Second Alexiad", as future historians would call it, would begin in 1187 when Alexios Branas, who had been sent to crush the Bulgarians, who had risen up under the Asen brothers, would instead rise up against Isaac II in the city of Adrianople, his home city. After seizing Adrianople, Alexios III would besiege and take Constantinople, defeating Conrad of Montferrat by striking him with a lance with the defeat leading to the defenders of Constantinople killing Isaac and his brother and son before surrendering the city. As Emperor, Alexios III's reign would be marked by the defeat of the Vlach-Bulgarian Revolt and the Sultanate of Rum with the Sultanate of Rum being effectively broken at the Battle of Ancyra in 1200, which effectively reduced it to a rump client state of Rhomania. Alexios III would die in 1208 a happy man, having seen Rhomania crush the Bulgars and Turks and his policies having promoted a new golden age for the Empire as a continuation of the Komnenian Renaissance. He would be succeeded by Theodoros.

[2] Alexios III Branas's son Theodoros married the twice-widowed Empress Anna, formerly Agnes of France, soon after his father became Emperor. He inherited a thriving and pacified empire from his father. The only shadow in his life was the deaths of several of his children by Anna. In 1209, he married his eldest surviving daughter Theodora to his distant cousin Manuel Doukas, a cousin of the Angeloi emperors, but this union was short-lived, as Manuel died of a fever three years later.
The Fourth Crusade having failed after the infamous sack of Zara, Pope Innocent III called for another Crusade in 1212. On Anna's advice, Theodoros agreed to send soldiers to the Holy Land to help the Crusader army. Part of the army marched on Egypt, while the other went through the Eastern Empire to the Holy Land. The year 1217 saw the creation of the Principality of Damascus, ruled by the Queen of Jerusalem's younger half-sister Philippa, who became one of the most sought-after matches in the Christian Levant. Theodoros himself offered her one of his sons as husband.
The same year, the Sultan of Egypt, Al-Adil I, and his son Al-Kamil were killed in battle, leading to a succession war between his sons. The Sultanate was eventually divided into three Emirates ruled by Al-Adil's surviving sons: the Emirate of Egypt was ruled by Al-Ashraf, the Emirate of Hamat by Al-Mu'azzam and the Emirate of Jezira by Al-Muzaffar.
Theodoros returned to Constantinople in 1219 and spent the last years of his life and reign strengthening the commercial ties between his Empire, the West and the Levant.
After his wife Anna died in April 1227, Theodoros slowly lost his taste for life and followed her into the grave two months later. He was succeeded by Alexios.

[3] Alexios IV was born in 1209 as the firstborn child of Emperor Theodoros I’s son, Andronikos. He was named after his great grandfather, Alexios III. Alexios would become Emperor at the age of 18 in 1227 after the death of his grandfather due to his father having died of typhoid a few years prior. Alexios would be know mostly as a conqueror by future historians having led campaigns into Asia Minor, Syria, and even southwestern Georgia taking significant amounts of land for his own Empire and the Principality of Damascus.

Alexios would see internal problems during his reign due to large amounts of Muslims living in his Empire after his many conquests with many resentful against their Byzantine overlords with these tensions escalating in 1261 after a well known mosque was burned down by a legion of Tagmata leading to a large scale Muslim revolt across the Empire. The revolt would be crushed over the following year but it would leave a long lasting effect for many years to come with many historians estimating that the Muslim population was cut nearly in half after the revolt.

Though Alexios had a lot to deal with during his reign he would have time for his personal life as well having married Sophie of Bavaria, the second daughter of Otto II, Duke of Bavaria in 1258 and would have a few children with her. There were a few allegations against Alexios stating that he had secretly had a child with a Muslim servant but there was no evidence to support these claims.

Alexios would die of natural causes in 1273 being succeeded by his son Romanos IV.

[4] Romanos IV was born in 1259 as the first son of Sophie of Bavaria and Alexios IV, becoming Emperor at the age of 14. Having grown up under the shadow of his father, Romanos IV would be someone who would attempt to win military glory for himself, especially as he would grow up to be a strong young man along with a highly brave one. In this, he would try to launch an invasion of the Il-Khanate, despite many of his advisors counseling against it owing to how the Il-Khanate was the successor to the Mongols who had swept all before them, something that would end in the Battle of Mosul where he, along with most of the army, was massacred by the Il-Khanate's army with historical reports disputing whether he was killed in battle or captured alive and then trampled to death by horses owing to the Mongol tradition of not spilling royal blood. When news of the catastrophe reached Constantinople, his brother Michael was acclaimed as the new Emperor owing to Romanos not leaving behind any children.

[5] Michael was the second living son of Alexios and Sophie, born in 1263. Like his brother, he was merely fourteen when he became emperor. He decided that in order to avenge his brother, he needed allies. Therefore, he made a pact with Hungary and Poland to support each other should Mongols ever attack and he spent most of his days strengthening the boarders. Some people accused him of a being a coward, but Michael quickly showed that caution was not cowardice when he lead his troops to quell a rebellion that sprung up in 1281, showing how ruthless he could be when the situation called for it.

In his personal life, Michael would marry Elizabeth of Sicily in 1281, after the death of her first husband Ladislaus of Hungary. The couple would have a most loving relationship, with Elizabeth often acting as the go between between Michael and the Italian rulers, gaining more allies for Michael eventual strike against the Mongol empire. Despite their loving marriage the couple would only have four surviving children. Elizabeth's death in 1303 would be the worst day of Michael's life and he refused to marry again and his health became increasingly worse.

With much diplomacy, offering dynastic matches, trading agreements, and outright bribery, in 1300, Michael had finally convinced the Pope to declare a crusade against the Mongols. His main objective was attacking the Il-Khanate. He could not have picked a better time as it had fallen into civil war. The battle was not easy but using ambush and guerrilla tactics to keep his foes off balance as he obliterated the horde. It is said that he refused to allow any of the men live, professing that his brother's soul would never be at peace, unless every man, whether or not they had been responsible for Ramanos's death, were dead.

He returned home, just in time time to witness his wife's death from a fever. He would mourn her for the rest of his life, and refused to marry again despite his councilors pleading. His health began to decline slowly, until the last few years where he was bedridden. When he died, Andrónikos II would rise to the throne.

[6] Andrónikos II was born in 1286 as the only son of Michael VIII and Elizabeth of Sicily to survive to adulthood. Andrónikos was very close to his mother being only 14 years old at the time of her death having cared for her while she was ill and was deeply heartbroken just like his father by it. Andrónikos would blame his father for her death by not being their for them instead off on his campaign against the Mongols and a rift would form between them. Andrónikos would eventually ascend to the throne at the age of 27 after the death of his father in 1313.

Andrónikos’ reign would be mostly peaceful with small revolts popping up here or there but he would try to keep the peace for the rest of his life. Despite being asked various times to marry but Andrónikos would hear none of it wishing not to be saddened any more than he had been by his mother’s death. Andrónikos would die in 1342 with no children of natural causes.

[7] Zoe was the daughter of Elisabet the eldest daughter of Michael VIII. Her mother had married her distant cousin, descendant from Alexios III's second son. Unfortunately, Alexois died in 1301 in the battle with the II-Khanate, with Zoe being born two months later. Her mother would die of childbed fever leaving her an orphan. She would be adopted by her uncle and when he became emperor, he would groom her to be his heir.

At age eighteen, Zoe would marry Peter II of Sicily in 1323. However, the marriage would turn bitter as Zoe felt that as the heir to an empire, she was not subservient to a king and she resisted his constant pushing for her to become Catholic. In 1325, they would receive an annulment and Zoe returned to Constantinople. Over the years, Zoe would have many suitors seeking her hand, but she rejected them all, preferring to be in the company of her bodyguard, David Lascaris. There were plenty of rumors surrounding the pair. Especially when Zoe fell ill in 1328 and spent a whole year in the country, away from the eyes of the court.

In 1342, her uncle died and Zoe became empress. Now a woman in her forties, her councilors doubted that she would have an heir even if they could convince her to marry. Sadly Zoe's rule would be short as black death swept the nation, killing many including the empress. This left the empire scrambling to find a new ruler.

[8] The troubled weeks that followed Zoe’s death saw the beginning of a succession war. Although Zoe was much loved by her people for her steadfastness and commitment to her empire, her refusal to marry would have lasting consequences.

Only days before the Empress died, her cousin and closest male relative Alexios Branas Doukas, the son of her aunt Eudoxia and a distant cousin descended from Emperor Theodoros, succumbed to the plague, leaving a young son, Andrónikos. However, many distrusted the child’s mother, Urraca of Navarre, whose views had always been too pro-Latin for their liking.

As a result, two more pretenders soon appeared: the first was another of Zoe’s cousins, Irene Branaina Kantakouzena. Irene’s mother Anna was Michael VIII’s third daughter and the second of his children to survive him. Like her cousin, Irene was a strong-willed woman, determined to get the Empire despite young Andrónikos’s claim.

The third pretender was Michael Branas Lascaris, a young man who claimed to be Zoe’s son, born of a secret marriage she had supposedly contracted with her bodyguard David. Michael had been brought up by David’s elderly parents in a small village near Nicaea and the local population and nobility supported him, especially as he did look a little like his supposed late great-uncle Emperor Andrónikos II. However he offered no proof of his parents’ marriage, which made him a bastard at best in his rivals’ eyes.

As none of the three pretenders would relinquish their claims, the war raged for seven years until Michael eventually emerged victorious.

[9] The man who would become Michael the Ninth was a figure shrouded in mystery. While modern DNA tests confirms that he was Empress Zoe's son, born during her year long seclusion, it is still up to debate whether his parents were married or not. Regardless of his origins, he was seen as the dark horse candidate of the succession war. Not many seemed to think he would win.

However, Michael was a skilled commander and a charming individual. Not to mention, he had a schooling similar to a prince (some suspect if Zoe had not died so suddenly, she would have declared him her heir). He managed to win a decisive battle against the forces of Irene Kantakouzena, capturing several of her important supporters. Including her husband, Ramonos Kantakouzena. He refused to ransom Ramonos unless he married the eldest daughter of Irene, Antonia. Unfortunately, Irene's death in 1355, made matters moot. Her eldest son, named Theodoros choose not to continue the fighting and instead met with Michael under a banner of peace. The two young men agreed to join forces with Michael being declared emperor and marrying Anonia Kantakouzena.

In 1356, fifteen-year-old Andrónikos would convert to Catholicism, offending many of his conservative vassals. This would lead to his undoing as several of his supporters would now throw their lot in with Michael. Then in 1357, Andrónikos would collapse after a meal with many suspecting poison (it has been confirmed by historians that he died as a result of arsenic). It is unknown if Michael gave the order or not, but regardless of the less than stellar circumstances, he still marched into Constantinople and was crowned emperor. He would launch an investigation into his rival's poisoning, finding the culprit months later who was revealed to be have been a long time adversary of Andrónikos. It was wrapped neatly, a little too neatly according to those who still saw Michael up-jumped bastard.

Michael would have to deal with two rebellions in his tenor as emperor. The first being was in 1363 as those who believed that Michael was a) a bastard and b) a murderer, teamed up to overthrow him. Theodoros would die on the battlefield, just twenty-three years old. Despite the devastating loss, the emperor managed to prevail, striking down the leader of the rebellion himself.

The next rebellion was in 1379. After Theodoros and then his father's death, all their lands and titles would fall on the second brother, named Michael in a surprise twist. He would declare himself the rightful emperor, taking up his mother's claim. He marched on Constantinople with the goal of sieging it. Unfortunately, the emperor was waiting for him, ambushing him with his own forces. It would be a short, but a bloody battle. The pretender was only saved by his sister, Antonia, who pregnant, got down on her knees in front of her husband and begged for his life. Michael Kantakouzena was exiled and threatened never to re turn.

These two rebellions would cement Michael's status as emperor, making it clear to the of Europe that he was not going anywhere. As the King of France had been a cousin of the late Andrónikos, things were tense between the two countries. Michael choose to reach out to England, the Holy Roman Emperor, and Castile in hopes of gaining allies to help him, should France back the siblings of Andrónikos who had fled with their mother to the native Navarre. He became the first emperor to visit the British isles, meeting Richard II, and agreeing to a betrothal between the English king and the emperor's daughter, Anna.

In 1391, Michael would die in a hunting accident where his horse sent him tumbling down a hill. His son Michael would succeed him.

[10] Romanos VI was born in 1360 as the oldest son of Emperor Michael IX and, unlike his father who grew up to be a soldier, would be someone who would be of a more scholarly air with this being something that would lead to Romanos VI being someone who would be more notable as an intellectual than a soldier. As such, when he became Emperor of the Romans in 1391 after his death, his reign would be marked by how he would be a peaceful and capable administrator, more interested in consolidating Rhomania's empire than expanding the realm with his reign being marked by an era of peace and prosperity which marked Rhomania during the 1390s. In this, Romanos VI would marry Olga, daughter of the Grand Prince of Muscovy, with the two having four children.

However, his reign would be interrupted when Tamerlane, having carved a swath of destruction from Delhi in the east to Baghdad in the west and forging a large empire, decided to burnish his claim as the "Sword of Islam" by defeating Rhomania and reclaiming Anatolia, which had been conquered by the Seljuks, for Islam. In this, Romanos VI would clash with Timur at Iconium with the Battle of Iconium seeing the army that Romanos had assembled be no match for what the war machine that Timur had assembled with Romanos VI being killed in battle and his head displayed at the Timurid camp. When news of Romanos' death reached Constantinople, Michael X was acclaimed as the Emperor of an Empire which was facing its biggest crisis in centuries with how much of Anatolia was being ravaged by Timur's armies, the Emperor was dead, and the army basically non-existent after the massacre at Iconium.

[11] Michael X was born in 1390 as the eldest child of Romanos VI. He ascended to the throne at the age of 13 in 1403 when the empire was in a time of great strife. His first action secured the peace of Rhomania. He would achieve this by promising the Timurids a yearly tribute and a peace alliance. To seal the deal, he married the Sultan's daughter Saray Malik Agha. After the humiliating peace treaty, he came back to the empire and privately vowed that neither he nor his successors would suffer such a situation ever again.

After the peace treaty and with vengeance in mind, Michael spent years building a spy network, carefully picking orphans who could be molded into perfect agents and manipulating the younglings so that they were absolutely loyal to him and none. His spy network was so efficient its doctrines and structure are used as the model for modern-day secret agencies.

His first use of his new spies was assassinating his siblings and relatives closest to the line of succession. The reason why he wasn’t suspected of the murders was because of another carefully planned assassination.

In 1420, after years of plotting he successfully had his spies assassinate as many important noblemen of the Timurid empire with a focus on the competent ones. The Sultan was obviously a target as well with his death along with his children Michael orchestrated a succession crisis that predictably led to war.

During the war, Michael made sure that the Timurids tired themselves out while fighting themselves. So when there was a winner of the war Michael and his armies immediately invaded the empire with only one objective, to bring absolute destruction.

Historians from other kingdoms are the only way we can get information about what happened. Michael had ordered his men to kill and burn anything and everything; whether it be a man, woman, child, animal, house, temple, mosque, building, farm or even a tree. Under his orders, the Romanian army had killed off at least 83% of the population while the rest eventually died out due to the burning having made the land inhabitable. Many compare this action to be even worse than what the Romans had done to Carthage.

Michael eventually had to leave but he was nowhere near satisfied, so he left the most fanatic Timurid haters he could find and ordered them to scout and kill any survivors that they happened to have missed, a task which they did very happily.

So Michael returned to the empire after making sure the Timurid empire was dead, cremated and its ashes scattered in the ocean. He was showered with praise by almost everyone he met for returning the humiliation that Timurids had done to them.

Michael was happy as well not just because of destroying the Timurid empire but because of another reason. By extensive use of his spy network, he engineered some “accidents” for his more powerful nobles, a lucky arrow here or there, a soldier killing someone before being killed off by another soldier etc. Their deaths allowed him to take more power for himself. Some would suspect foul play but they would mysteriously die off days later.

After Michael X had all the power he could currently have, he broke Roman tradition by being a very competent monarch. He reformed the army by promotions based on merit, ensured the soldiers had the best armour, food and pay they could find, made a law that any widow or family left by soldiers be entitled to compensation, encouraged trade by improving roads and bridges, patronized arts and literature and gave funding for civic and military research.

However, his family life was very different to his outside persona; to his wife, he was cold, distant and emotionally abusive. He despised her because of her relation to the Timurids. After she bore him enough heirs he had his spies assassinate her. Now he had free reign on how to raise his children as he saw fit.

He saw his children as his legacy, thus he made sure that they were raised the way he believed an imperial heir should be. That involved teaching them that compassion was for the weak by torturing prisoners, empathy was useless by giving them pet rabbits and then making them beat the rabbits with their own hands, how strength is everything by making them violate widows and then beating them himself to show that there is always someone stronger than them. This was followed by manipulating them by saying how it was to make them the best heirs they could be.

Nearing the end of his reign, he made sure his children got practical experience in the military and administration so that they became competent. When he was approaching his death Michael’s final actions were using his spy network to quash rebellions before they did anything, kill traitors before they were a threat and assassinate everyone with the closest claim to the throne in order to ensure a stable succession for his heir. The final deaths were every single one of his children except for the one he considered the most competent and worthy to rule.

Michael X was a megalomaniac, a control freak, a murderer and a manipulative abuser. So it is perhaps unsurprising that even in death he was a master of intrigue as he died peacefully in his sleep the empire was mourning the loss of a great ruler. During his final moments, he was surrounded by his only living child; the one that he believed would be the best successor. His final act was giving explicit orders to his nobles on who his preferred heir was.

He was succeeded by his son Alexios.

[12] Alexios was born in 1420, the second son, but third child of Michael. He idolized his father, believing he could do no wrong. He tried to emulate his father in any way possible. It is said he beat his rabbit almost immediately with a sadistic grin on his face. However, while Michael was methodical and secretive about his abuse and murder, Alexios was openly violent.

When he became emperor, he enacted a law that forbid anyone from practicing another religion, sentencing those who did not renounce their false faiths to a fiery death. He also decided to reclaim Italy for the Roman Empire, invading Scily and Naples. In 1457, he marched on Rome, sacking the holy city, even going as far to burn the pope for his heresy. This would of course cause all of the Catholic kingdoms to declare a crusade against the Rhomania empire.

It is said that when he learned of the crusade, Alexios laughed and said that the Celtics could not hope to defeat Caesar. He continued his attack on Italy, carving a bloody path up the boot and into the lands of the French. However, much like Caesar, he failed to notice the discontent brewing behind his back. In 1464, he would be betrayed by supporters of Ioannes who would capture him and bringing him back to Constantinople in chains.

[13] The youngest and only surviving son of Michael the X's favourite sister, Ioannes was spared as a babe by his uncle due to the pleas of his mother, whom had already lost four sons to the paranoia of her brother. Prostatinf herself before the Emperor, Eva of Constantinople would manage to awaken the only remnant of human compassion left in Emperor Michael, and he would, accordingly, spare her young babe.

A very intelligent child, John spent most of his young years keeping out of sight and out of the mind of his uncle, the only historical records of the man appearing during the reign of Emperor Alexios, to whom Ioannes managed to ingratiate himself too, receiving from his cousin the post of governor of Cappadocia and Cilicia, from where Ioannes would surely amass more and more influence as time went on.

The death of his cousin following the Italian campaign created a brief interregnum that threatened to shatter the Empire, as many parts of the nobility wanted every trace of the House of Branas gone, alongside a man who would grant the Empire some years of peace instead of near constant warfare. Despite the near constant primogeniture that had lended great stability to the Empire, many were ready to revive old traditions and elect an Emperor from amidst the nobility and the soldiery. Thankfully for Ioannes (and the soon to be Axouchos Dinasty), the intervention of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the military assured the continuity of male-preference primogeniture, as both the church and the military had been filled with loyalists to the throne and preferred continued stability. Thus, Ioannes started a new dinasty and came to bear the purple shroud of Caesars in Nova Roma.

The new Cesar's reign started with a mission to find peace with the Christians of the west. Fiercest of Ioannes rivals was Charles the VII of France, of the Evreux Branch of the Capetians, whom had held the thrones of France and Navarre for nigh on 100 years following the fall of the House of Valois. The Evreux's ruled a state that stretched from Brittany and Aquitaine in the East to Provence, Artois and the French-Compte in the west, the single most powerful state in western Europe of the time whom had recently expelled the English from the continent permanently. With the pope exiled at Charles's Court, it was with him that Ioannes secured the end to one of Christianity most bloodiest inter-sect wars.

Ioannes promised to retreat from Italy, restoring the many Italian prince's to their lands and titles. To avoid having to pay military reparations, Ioannes had the last Aragonese claimants to the thrones of Naples and Sicily quietly executed in the cells of Adrianople, restoring the "Capetian" Angevins to Palermo and Naples (Charles would receive from his "grateful" cousins the Duchies of Lorraine, Bar, Anjou and Picardy, states which they had ruled until then). Of the Italian conquest Ioannes would retain for himself only Malta, which would become the westernmost base of the Roman navy in fighting off Islamic piracy.

With peace in the west negotiated, Ioannes purposefully left the status of the Duchies of Milan and Romagna open, correctly guessing the Wittelsbach King of Bohemia and Duke of Bavaria, Rudolf I, would challenge the French on the right to should rule these regions. The Aragonese themselves would intervene too, starting the Italian wars.

Finally able to turn inwards after the early years of war and then the long negotiations, Ioannes would marry the Hungarian princess Elizabeth of Luxembourg to secure his northern flank to assure Hungarian neutrality in the submission of the last Serbian and Bulgarian despotates.

With the Balkans secured, Ioannes turned East to finally secure the lands conquered by Michael the great in the east. Using his vast army and spy network, Ioannes would devise a great plan meant to repopulate Greater Armenia, Kurdistan and Northern Mesopotamia and Syria. First pushing his Armenians subjects in Eastern Anatolia and Cilicia to move eastwards towards old Armenia and Kurdistan, he would afterwards propagate a great movement into Cilicia, Eastern Anatolia and Northern Syria of Greeks, primarily Ionians, Thracians, Pontics and Cappadocians, with many Balkan minorities such as Bulgars and Vlachs filling the vaccum in many regions. He would give the lands in Byzantine Mesopotamia to the many landless Assyrian tribes of the region, gaining their loyalty despite their religious disputes. Northern Mesopotamia became afterwards known as the province of Assyria.

With this great matter settled, Ioannes dedicated himself to the great things he actually liked - books, laws and procreation. He and his first wife, Elizabeth of Hungary would have 7 children, and after her death from tuberculosis he would marry Anna of Imereti, with whom he would have another 4 children. Ioannes would dedicate himself to restoring and renovating the laws of the Empire, cementing primogeniture as law, and he would go on a great investment spree once his coffers had recovered, building and rebuilding many monuments all over his Empire. A great patron of the military, Ioannes would turn the army into a true early medieval army, dependent not on chivalry but on gunpowder and the Arquebus.

Ioannes would once more find conflict during the latter part of his reign, subjugsting the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldávia, alongside helping the various Rus principalities shake off the Tatar yoke, expelling the raiders from the Crimea peninsula and the Roman port of Tanais and the mouth of the Don in the Azov sea.

Wirh a long and most prosperous reign, the Emperor would have a rather unworthy death. On a visit to the Great Arsenal of Galata in Constantinople, one of his pet projects, the aged John would trip on a bucket and smash his head against a crane in the docks. Despite the efforts of his physicians, Ioannes would die from trauma in the skull just after the turn of the century. He was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth.

[14] The only child of Ioannes III who outlived him due to a tragic fire that killed all her siblings (she herself escaped as she was confined elsewhere for an illness), Elizabeth was born in 1481 as the last child of Ioannes and his first wife. She was educated and formally trained for a significant marriage that, as a royal family alliance, would extend the kingdom's power and security as well as its influence and peaceful relations with other ruling powers. Due to nobody expecting her to inherit, she was not trained to rule, which would be used against her later on. She was married to Francis of Austria, the younger son of Maximilian II and Mary of Burgundy, with whom she was passionately in love, but he was a sadist towards her despite genuine initial affection - he eventually held her in a vicious cycle of affection, abuse, and intimidation from which she was constitutionally unable to escape. His education, which was influenced by Franco-Burgundian traditions, contributed to a model of rulership "exclusively male", thus he never saw Elizabeth as his political equal and could not accept that she tried to forge her own political identity. He would grow to resent her and his role as her consort, and eventually returned to the Low Countries, but before that the couple would have six surviving children together. Despite wearing black for the rest of her life afterwards as a sign of mourning, she would not express any other emotion for her estranged husband. As for Elizabeth herself, she would set out to rule by good consent, depending heavily on a group of female advisers, an unprecedented move. During her reign, the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia were annexed into her empire and she would also successfully reclaim Sicily, but not Naples, in another war against Italy. With a record-breakingly long reign, she would end up dying peacefully in her sleep.

[15] Károlos (previously know as Charles of Austria) was born in 1504 as the youngest child of Francis of Austria and Empress Elizabeth I. Károlos was initially raised in the Byzantine royal court but he would end up in the court of the Holy Roman Empire after his father would return to the Low Countries. Károlos had a very close relationship with his mother and would be deeply saddened when he would be forced to leave with his father. Károlos would have a difficult relationship with his father often having heated arguments with him and by the age of 14 he would have enough and would run away slowly making his way back to Constantinople to be with his mother. Once back to Constantinople Károlos would again make himself comfortable in his old home once again able to be with his mother who he loved so dearly helping to manage the large Empire. Károlos would help with running the Empire so much he would end up being designed regent after his mother would have an emotional breakdown due to her great grief. Eventually Elizabeth I would die in 1555 only after designating Károlos as her successor ahead of his older siblings.

Károlos would become Emperor at the age of 41 considerably older for his time but it would not deter him with him choosing the Greek spelling of Habsburg being Apsvoúrgo. Károlos would be a modest ruler for the Empire manly focusing on regional development but would also be intrigued by the prospect of the New World issuing the construction of a fleet of ships to eventually send on a expedition to the New World in hopes of great prospects. Károlos would only face one major issue during his reign and that would be with his older brother Francis of Austria who was until Károlos was designated heir to the Empire was he considered next in line even with him having spent the greater majority of his life living in the Holy Roman Empire and not even knowing how to speak Greek. Francis would make several attempts to his claim to the Byzantine throne with none proving successful.

Károlos had no trouble in providing heirs to the throne having married Clara of Saxe-Lauenburg in 1537 and would have a total of 9 children with her. Eventually Károlos would see his plan to explore the new world fulfilled when his fleet of ships would set out in early 1561 from the port of Constantinople eventually landing in the New World a few weeks later making way for further expeditions in 1563, 1564, and onwards. Károlos would push the prospect of the New World even further when he would fund the establishment of the colony of Elysium in 1571 on the East Coast of North America. Károlos would eventually die in 1573 after a short illness leaving __________ to take the throne.
 
POD: Alexios Branas successfully overthrows Isaac II

Emperors, Empresses, and Autocrats of the Romans
1185-1187: Isaac II (Angelos)
1187-1208: Alexios III (Branas) [1]
1208-1227: Theodoros I (Branas) [2]
1227-1273: Alexios IV (Branas) [3]
1273-1277: Romanos V (Branas) [4]
1277-1313: Michael VIII "the Patient" "the Avenger" (Branas) [5]
1313-1342: Andrónikos II (Branas) [6]
1342-1350: Zoe
II (Branas) [7]
1350-1357: Succession War [8]
1357-1391: Michael IX (Branas-Lascaris) [9]
1391-1403: Romanos VI (Branas-Lascaris) [10]
1403-1445: Michael X "Τhe Great" (Branas-Lascaris) [11]
1445-1464: Alexios V "the Bloody" (Branas-Lascaris) [12]
1464-1501: Ioannes III "the Resolute" (Axouchos) [13]
1501-1555: Elizabeth I (Axouchos) [14]
1555-1573: Károlos I (Apsvoúrgo) [15]
1573-1580: Elizabeth II (Apsvoúrgo) [16]


[1] The "Second Alexiad", as future historians would call it, would begin in 1187 when Alexios Branas, who had been sent to crush the Bulgarians, who had risen up under the Asen brothers, would instead rise up against Isaac II in the city of Adrianople, his home city. After seizing Adrianople, Alexios III would besiege and take Constantinople, defeating Conrad of Montferrat by striking him with a lance with the defeat leading to the defenders of Constantinople killing Isaac and his brother and son before surrendering the city. As Emperor, Alexios III's reign would be marked by the defeat of the Vlach-Bulgarian Revolt and the Sultanate of Rum with the Sultanate of Rum being effectively broken at the Battle of Ancyra in 1200, which effectively reduced it to a rump client state of Rhomania. Alexios III would die in 1208 a happy man, having seen Rhomania crush the Bulgars and Turks and his policies having promoted a new golden age for the Empire as a continuation of the Komnenian Renaissance. He would be succeeded by Theodoros.

[2] Alexios III Branas's son Theodoros married the twice-widowed Empress Anna, formerly Agnes of France, soon after his father became Emperor. He inherited a thriving and pacified empire from his father. The only shadow in his life was the deaths of several of his children by Anna. In 1209, he married his eldest surviving daughter Theodora to his distant cousin Manuel Doukas, a cousin of the Angeloi emperors, but this union was short-lived, as Manuel died of a fever three years later.
The Fourth Crusade having failed after the infamous sack of Zara, Pope Innocent III called for another Crusade in 1212. On Anna's advice, Theodoros agreed to send soldiers to the Holy Land to help the Crusader army. Part of the army marched on Egypt, while the other went through the Eastern Empire to the Holy Land. The year 1217 saw the creation of the Principality of Damascus, ruled by the Queen of Jerusalem's younger half-sister Philippa, who became one of the most sought-after matches in the Christian Levant. Theodoros himself offered her one of his sons as husband.
The same year, the Sultan of Egypt, Al-Adil I, and his son Al-Kamil were killed in battle, leading to a succession war between his sons. The Sultanate was eventually divided into three Emirates ruled by Al-Adil's surviving sons: the Emirate of Egypt was ruled by Al-Ashraf, the Emirate of Hamat by Al-Mu'azzam and the Emirate of Jezira by Al-Muzaffar.
Theodoros returned to Constantinople in 1219 and spent the last years of his life and reign strengthening the commercial ties between his Empire, the West and the Levant.
After his wife Anna died in April 1227, Theodoros slowly lost his taste for life and followed her into the grave two months later. He was succeeded by Alexios.

[3] Alexios IV was born in 1209 as the firstborn child of Emperor Theodoros I’s son, Andronikos. He was named after his great grandfather, Alexios III. Alexios would become Emperor at the age of 18 in 1227 after the death of his grandfather due to his father having died of typhoid a few years prior. Alexios would be know mostly as a conqueror by future historians having led campaigns into Asia Minor, Syria, and even southwestern Georgia taking significant amounts of land for his own Empire and the Principality of Damascus.

Alexios would see internal problems during his reign due to large amounts of Muslims living in his Empire after his many conquests with many resentful against their Byzantine overlords with these tensions escalating in 1261 after a well known mosque was burned down by a legion of Tagmata leading to a large scale Muslim revolt across the Empire. The revolt would be crushed over the following year but it would leave a long lasting effect for many years to come with many historians estimating that the Muslim population was cut nearly in half after the revolt.

Though Alexios had a lot to deal with during his reign he would have time for his personal life as well having married Sophie of Bavaria, the second daughter of Otto II, Duke of Bavaria in 1258 and would have a few children with her. There were a few allegations against Alexios stating that he had secretly had a child with a Muslim servant but there was no evidence to support these claims.

Alexios would die of natural causes in 1273 being succeeded by his son Romanos IV.

[4] Romanos IV was born in 1259 as the first son of Sophie of Bavaria and Alexios IV, becoming Emperor at the age of 14. Having grown up under the shadow of his father, Romanos IV would be someone who would attempt to win military glory for himself, especially as he would grow up to be a strong young man along with a highly brave one. In this, he would try to launch an invasion of the Il-Khanate, despite many of his advisors counseling against it owing to how the Il-Khanate was the successor to the Mongols who had swept all before them, something that would end in the Battle of Mosul where he, along with most of the army, was massacred by the Il-Khanate's army with historical reports disputing whether he was killed in battle or captured alive and then trampled to death by horses owing to the Mongol tradition of not spilling royal blood. When news of the catastrophe reached Constantinople, his brother Michael was acclaimed as the new Emperor owing to Romanos not leaving behind any children.

[5] Michael was the second living son of Alexios and Sophie, born in 1263. Like his brother, he was merely fourteen when he became emperor. He decided that in order to avenge his brother, he needed allies. Therefore, he made a pact with Hungary and Poland to support each other should Mongols ever attack and he spent most of his days strengthening the boarders. Some people accused him of a being a coward, but Michael quickly showed that caution was not cowardice when he lead his troops to quell a rebellion that sprung up in 1281, showing how ruthless he could be when the situation called for it.

In his personal life, Michael would marry Elizabeth of Sicily in 1281, after the death of her first husband Ladislaus of Hungary. The couple would have a most loving relationship, with Elizabeth often acting as the go between between Michael and the Italian rulers, gaining more allies for Michael eventual strike against the Mongol empire. Despite their loving marriage the couple would only have four surviving children. Elizabeth's death in 1303 would be the worst day of Michael's life and he refused to marry again and his health became increasingly worse.

With much diplomacy, offering dynastic matches, trading agreements, and outright bribery, in 1300, Michael had finally convinced the Pope to declare a crusade against the Mongols. His main objective was attacking the Il-Khanate. He could not have picked a better time as it had fallen into civil war. The battle was not easy but using ambush and guerrilla tactics to keep his foes off balance as he obliterated the horde. It is said that he refused to allow any of the men live, professing that his brother's soul would never be at peace, unless every man, whether or not they had been responsible for Ramanos's death, were dead.

He returned home, just in time time to witness his wife's death from a fever. He would mourn her for the rest of his life, and refused to marry again despite his councilors pleading. His health began to decline slowly, until the last few years where he was bedridden. When he died, Andrónikos II would rise to the throne.

[6] Andrónikos II was born in 1286 as the only son of Michael VIII and Elizabeth of Sicily to survive to adulthood. Andrónikos was very close to his mother being only 14 years old at the time of her death having cared for her while she was ill and was deeply heartbroken just like his father by it. Andrónikos would blame his father for her death by not being their for them instead off on his campaign against the Mongols and a rift would form between them. Andrónikos would eventually ascend to the throne at the age of 27 after the death of his father in 1313.

Andrónikos’ reign would be mostly peaceful with small revolts popping up here or there but he would try to keep the peace for the rest of his life. Despite being asked various times to marry but Andrónikos would hear none of it wishing not to be saddened any more than he had been by his mother’s death. Andrónikos would die in 1342 with no children of natural causes.

[7] Zoe was the daughter of Elisabet the eldest daughter of Michael VIII. Her mother had married her distant cousin, descendant from Alexios III's second son. Unfortunately, Alexois died in 1301 in the battle with the II-Khanate, with Zoe being born two months later. Her mother would die of childbed fever leaving her an orphan. She would be adopted by her uncle and when he became emperor, he would groom her to be his heir.

At age eighteen, Zoe would marry Peter II of Sicily in 1323. However, the marriage would turn bitter as Zoe felt that as the heir to an empire, she was not subservient to a king and she resisted his constant pushing for her to become Catholic. In 1325, they would receive an annulment and Zoe returned to Constantinople. Over the years, Zoe would have many suitors seeking her hand, but she rejected them all, preferring to be in the company of her bodyguard, David Lascaris. There were plenty of rumors surrounding the pair. Especially when Zoe fell ill in 1328 and spent a whole year in the country, away from the eyes of the court.

In 1342, her uncle died and Zoe became empress. Now a woman in her forties, her councilors doubted that she would have an heir even if they could convince her to marry. Sadly Zoe's rule would be short as black death swept the nation, killing many including the empress. This left the empire scrambling to find a new ruler.

[8] The troubled weeks that followed Zoe’s death saw the beginning of a succession war. Although Zoe was much loved by her people for her steadfastness and commitment to her empire, her refusal to marry would have lasting consequences.

Only days before the Empress died, her cousin and closest male relative Alexios Branas Doukas, the son of her aunt Eudoxia and a distant cousin descended from Emperor Theodoros, succumbed to the plague, leaving a young son, Andrónikos. However, many distrusted the child’s mother, Urraca of Navarre, whose views had always been too pro-Latin for their liking.

As a result, two more pretenders soon appeared: the first was another of Zoe’s cousins, Irene Branaina Kantakouzena. Irene’s mother Anna was Michael VIII’s third daughter and the second of his children to survive him. Like her cousin, Irene was a strong-willed woman, determined to get the Empire despite young Andrónikos’s claim.

The third pretender was Michael Branas Lascaris, a young man who claimed to be Zoe’s son, born of a secret marriage she had supposedly contracted with her bodyguard David. Michael had been brought up by David’s elderly parents in a small village near Nicaea and the local population and nobility supported him, especially as he did look a little like his supposed late great-uncle Emperor Andrónikos II. However he offered no proof of his parents’ marriage, which made him a bastard at best in his rivals’ eyes.

As none of the three pretenders would relinquish their claims, the war raged for seven years until Michael eventually emerged victorious.

[9] The man who would become Michael the Ninth was a figure shrouded in mystery. While modern DNA tests confirms that he was Empress Zoe's son, born during her year long seclusion, it is still up to debate whether his parents were married or not. Regardless of his origins, he was seen as the dark horse candidate of the succession war. Not many seemed to think he would win.

However, Michael was a skilled commander and a charming individual. Not to mention, he had a schooling similar to a prince (some suspect if Zoe had not died so suddenly, she would have declared him her heir). He managed to win a decisive battle against the forces of Irene Kantakouzena, capturing several of her important supporters. Including her husband, Ramonos Kantakouzena. He refused to ransom Ramonos unless he married the eldest daughter of Irene, Antonia. Unfortunately, Irene's death in 1355, made matters moot. Her eldest son, named Theodoros choose not to continue the fighting and instead met with Michael under a banner of peace. The two young men agreed to join forces with Michael being declared emperor and marrying Anonia Kantakouzena.

In 1356, fifteen-year-old Andrónikos would convert to Catholicism, offending many of his conservative vassals. This would lead to his undoing as several of his supporters would now throw their lot in with Michael. Then in 1357, Andrónikos would collapse after a meal with many suspecting poison (it has been confirmed by historians that he died as a result of arsenic). It is unknown if Michael gave the order or not, but regardless of the less than stellar circumstances, he still marched into Constantinople and was crowned emperor. He would launch an investigation into his rival's poisoning, finding the culprit months later who was revealed to be have been a long time adversary of Andrónikos. It was wrapped neatly, a little too neatly according to those who still saw Michael up-jumped bastard.

Michael would have to deal with two rebellions in his tenor as emperor. The first being was in 1363 as those who believed that Michael was a) a bastard and b) a murderer, teamed up to overthrow him. Theodoros would die on the battlefield, just twenty-three years old. Despite the devastating loss, the emperor managed to prevail, striking down the leader of the rebellion himself.

The next rebellion was in 1379. After Theodoros and then his father's death, all their lands and titles would fall on the second brother, named Michael in a surprise twist. He would declare himself the rightful emperor, taking up his mother's claim. He marched on Constantinople with the goal of sieging it. Unfortunately, the emperor was waiting for him, ambushing him with his own forces. It would be a short, but a bloody battle. The pretender was only saved by his sister, Antonia, who pregnant, got down on her knees in front of her husband and begged for his life. Michael Kantakouzena was exiled and threatened never to re turn.

These two rebellions would cement Michael's status as emperor, making it clear to the of Europe that he was not going anywhere. As the King of France had been a cousin of the late Andrónikos, things were tense between the two countries. Michael choose to reach out to England, the Holy Roman Emperor, and Castile in hopes of gaining allies to help him, should France back the siblings of Andrónikos who had fled with their mother to the native Navarre. He became the first emperor to visit the British isles, meeting Richard II, and agreeing to a betrothal between the English king and the emperor's daughter, Anna.

In 1391, Michael would die in a hunting accident where his horse sent him tumbling down a hill. His son Michael would succeed him.

[10] Romanos VI was born in 1360 as the oldest son of Emperor Michael IX and, unlike his father who grew up to be a soldier, would be someone who would be of a more scholarly air with this being something that would lead to Romanos VI being someone who would be more notable as an intellectual than a soldier. As such, when he became Emperor of the Romans in 1391 after his death, his reign would be marked by how he would be a peaceful and capable administrator, more interested in consolidating Rhomania's empire than expanding the realm with his reign being marked by an era of peace and prosperity which marked Rhomania during the 1390s. In this, Romanos VI would marry Olga, daughter of the Grand Prince of Muscovy, with the two having four children.

However, his reign would be interrupted when Tamerlane, having carved a swath of destruction from Delhi in the east to Baghdad in the west and forging a large empire, decided to burnish his claim as the "Sword of Islam" by defeating Rhomania and reclaiming Anatolia, which had been conquered by the Seljuks, for Islam. In this, Romanos VI would clash with Timur at Iconium with the Battle of Iconium seeing the army that Romanos had assembled be no match for what the war machine that Timur had assembled with Romanos VI being killed in battle and his head displayed at the Timurid camp. When news of Romanos' death reached Constantinople, Michael X was acclaimed as the Emperor of an Empire which was facing its biggest crisis in centuries with how much of Anatolia was being ravaged by Timur's armies, the Emperor was dead, and the army basically non-existent after the massacre at Iconium.

[11] Michael X was born in 1390 as the eldest child of Romanos VI. He ascended to the throne at the age of 13 in 1403 when the empire was in a time of great strife. His first action secured the peace of Rhomania. He would achieve this by promising the Timurids a yearly tribute and a peace alliance. To seal the deal, he married the Sultan's daughter Saray Malik Agha. After the humiliating peace treaty, he came back to the empire and privately vowed that neither he nor his successors would suffer such a situation ever again.

After the peace treaty and with vengeance in mind, Michael spent years building a spy network, carefully picking orphans who could be molded into perfect agents and manipulating the younglings so that they were absolutely loyal to him and none. His spy network was so efficient its doctrines and structure are used as the model for modern-day secret agencies.

His first use of his new spies was assassinating his siblings and relatives closest to the line of succession. The reason why he wasn’t suspected of the murders was because of another carefully planned assassination.

In 1420, after years of plotting he successfully had his spies assassinate as many important noblemen of the Timurid empire with a focus on the competent ones. The Sultan was obviously a target as well with his death along with his children Michael orchestrated a succession crisis that predictably led to war.

During the war, Michael made sure that the Timurids tired themselves out while fighting themselves. So when there was a winner of the war Michael and his armies immediately invaded the empire with only one objective, to bring absolute destruction.

Historians from other kingdoms are the only way we can get information about what happened. Michael had ordered his men to kill and burn anything and everything; whether it be a man, woman, child, animal, house, temple, mosque, building, farm or even a tree. Under his orders, the Romanian army had killed off at least 83% of the population while the rest eventually died out due to the burning having made the land inhabitable. Many compare this action to be even worse than what the Romans had done to Carthage.

Michael eventually had to leave but he was nowhere near satisfied, so he left the most fanatic Timurid haters he could find and ordered them to scout and kill any survivors that they happened to have missed, a task which they did very happily.

So Michael returned to the empire after making sure the Timurid empire was dead, cremated and its ashes scattered in the ocean. He was showered with praise by almost everyone he met for returning the humiliation that Timurids had done to them.

Michael was happy as well not just because of destroying the Timurid empire but because of another reason. By extensive use of his spy network, he engineered some “accidents” for his more powerful nobles, a lucky arrow here or there, a soldier killing someone before being killed off by another soldier etc. Their deaths allowed him to take more power for himself. Some would suspect foul play but they would mysteriously die off days later.

After Michael X had all the power he could currently have, he broke Roman tradition by being a very competent monarch. He reformed the army by promotions based on merit, ensured the soldiers had the best armour, food and pay they could find, made a law that any widow or family left by soldiers be entitled to compensation, encouraged trade by improving roads and bridges, patronized arts and literature and gave funding for civic and military research.

However, his family life was very different to his outside persona; to his wife, he was cold, distant and emotionally abusive. He despised her because of her relation to the Timurids. After she bore him enough heirs he had his spies assassinate her. Now he had free reign on how to raise his children as he saw fit.

He saw his children as his legacy, thus he made sure that they were raised the way he believed an imperial heir should be. That involved teaching them that compassion was for the weak by torturing prisoners, empathy was useless by giving them pet rabbits and then making them beat the rabbits with their own hands, how strength is everything by making them violate widows and then beating them himself to show that there is always someone stronger than them. This was followed by manipulating them by saying how it was to make them the best heirs they could be.

Nearing the end of his reign, he made sure his children got practical experience in the military and administration so that they became competent. When he was approaching his death Michael’s final actions were using his spy network to quash rebellions before they did anything, kill traitors before they were a threat and assassinate everyone with the closest claim to the throne in order to ensure a stable succession for his heir. The final deaths were every single one of his children except for the one he considered the most competent and worthy to rule.

Michael X was a megalomaniac, a control freak, a murderer and a manipulative abuser. So it is perhaps unsurprising that even in death he was a master of intrigue as he died peacefully in his sleep the empire was mourning the loss of a great ruler. During his final moments, he was surrounded by his only living child; the one that he believed would be the best successor. His final act was giving explicit orders to his nobles on who his preferred heir was.

He was succeeded by his son Alexios.

[12] Alexios was born in 1420, the second son, but third child of Michael. He idolized his father, believing he could do no wrong. He tried to emulate his father in any way possible. It is said he beat his rabbit almost immediately with a sadistic grin on his face. However, while Michael was methodical and secretive about his abuse and murder, Alexios was openly violent.

When he became emperor, he enacted a law that forbid anyone from practicing another religion, sentencing those who did not renounce their false faiths to a fiery death. He also decided to reclaim Italy for the Roman Empire, invading Scily and Naples. In 1457, he marched on Rome, sacking the holy city, even going as far to burn the pope for his heresy. This would of course cause all of the Catholic kingdoms to declare a crusade against the Rhomania empire.

It is said that when he learned of the crusade, Alexios laughed and said that the Celtics could not hope to defeat Caesar. He continued his attack on Italy, carving a bloody path up the boot and into the lands of the French. However, much like Caesar, he failed to notice the discontent brewing behind his back. In 1464, he would be betrayed by supporters of Ioannes who would capture him and bringing him back to Constantinople in chains.

[13] The youngest and only surviving son of Michael the X's favourite sister, Ioannes was spared as a babe by his uncle due to the pleas of his mother, whom had already lost four sons to the paranoia of her brother. Prostatinf herself before the Emperor, Eva of Constantinople would manage to awaken the only remnant of human compassion left in Emperor Michael, and he would, accordingly, spare her young babe.

A very intelligent child, John spent most of his young years keeping out of sight and out of the mind of his uncle, the only historical records of the man appearing during the reign of Emperor Alexios, to whom Ioannes managed to ingratiate himself too, receiving from his cousin the post of governor of Cappadocia and Cilicia, from where Ioannes would surely amass more and more influence as time went on.

The death of his cousin following the Italian campaign created a brief interregnum that threatened to shatter the Empire, as many parts of the nobility wanted every trace of the House of Branas gone, alongside a man who would grant the Empire some years of peace instead of near constant warfare. Despite the near constant primogeniture that had lended great stability to the Empire, many were ready to revive old traditions and elect an Emperor from amidst the nobility and the soldiery. Thankfully for Ioannes (and the soon to be Axouchos Dinasty), the intervention of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the military assured the continuity of male-preference primogeniture, as both the church and the military had been filled with loyalists to the throne and preferred continued stability. Thus, Ioannes started a new dinasty and came to bear the purple shroud of Caesars in Nova Roma.

The new Cesar's reign started with a mission to find peace with the Christians of the west. Fiercest of Ioannes rivals was Charles the VII of France, of the Evreux Branch of the Capetians, whom had held the thrones of France and Navarre for nigh on 100 years following the fall of the House of Valois. The Evreux's ruled a state that stretched from Brittany and Aquitaine in the East to Provence, Artois and the French-Compte in the west, the single most powerful state in western Europe of the time whom had recently expelled the English from the continent permanently. With the pope exiled at Charles's Court, it was with him that Ioannes secured the end to one of Christianity most bloodiest inter-sect wars.

Ioannes promised to retreat from Italy, restoring the many Italian prince's to their lands and titles. To avoid having to pay military reparations, Ioannes had the last Aragonese claimants to the thrones of Naples and Sicily quietly executed in the cells of Adrianople, restoring the "Capetian" Angevins to Palermo and Naples (Charles would receive from his "grateful" cousins the Duchies of Lorraine, Bar, Anjou and Picardy, states which they had ruled until then). Of the Italian conquest Ioannes would retain for himself only Malta, which would become the westernmost base of the Roman navy in fighting off Islamic piracy.

With peace in the west negotiated, Ioannes purposefully left the status of the Duchies of Milan and Romagna open, correctly guessing the Wittelsbach King of Bohemia and Duke of Bavaria, Rudolf I, would challenge the French on the right to should rule these regions. The Aragonese themselves would intervene too, starting the Italian wars.

Finally able to turn inwards after the early years of war and then the long negotiations, Ioannes would marry the Hungarian princess Elizabeth of Luxembourg to secure his northern flank to assure Hungarian neutrality in the submission of the last Serbian and Bulgarian despotates.

With the Balkans secured, Ioannes turned East to finally secure the lands conquered by Michael the great in the east. Using his vast army and spy network, Ioannes would devise a great plan meant to repopulate Greater Armenia, Kurdistan and Northern Mesopotamia and Syria. First pushing his Armenians subjects in Eastern Anatolia and Cilicia to move eastwards towards old Armenia and Kurdistan, he would afterwards propagate a great movement into Cilicia, Eastern Anatolia and Northern Syria of Greeks, primarily Ionians, Thracians, Pontics and Cappadocians, with many Balkan minorities such as Bulgars and Vlachs filling the vaccum in many regions. He would give the lands in Byzantine Mesopotamia to the many landless Assyrian tribes of the region, gaining their loyalty despite their religious disputes. Northern Mesopotamia became afterwards known as the province of Assyria.

With this great matter settled, Ioannes dedicated himself to the great things he actually liked - books, laws and procreation. He and his first wife, Elizabeth of Hungary would have 7 children, and after her death from tuberculosis he would marry Anna of Imereti, with whom he would have another 4 children. Ioannes would dedicate himself to restoring and renovating the laws of the Empire, cementing primogeniture as law, and he would go on a great investment spree once his coffers had recovered, building and rebuilding many monuments all over his Empire. A great patron of the military, Ioannes would turn the army into a true early medieval army, dependent not on chivalry but on gunpowder and the Arquebus.

Ioannes would once more find conflict during the latter part of his reign, subjugsting the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldávia, alongside helping the various Rus principalities shake off the Tatar yoke, expelling the raiders from the Crimea peninsula and the Roman port of Tanais and the mouth of the Don in the Azov sea.

Wirh a long and most prosperous reign, the Emperor would have a rather unworthy death. On a visit to the Great Arsenal of Galata in Constantinople, one of his pet projects, the aged John would trip on a bucket and smash his head against a crane in the docks. Despite the efforts of his physicians, Ioannes would die from trauma in the skull just after the turn of the century. He was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth.

[14] The only child of Ioannes III who outlived him due to a tragic fire that killed all her siblings (she herself escaped as she was confined elsewhere for an illness), Elizabeth was born in 1481 as the last child of Ioannes and his first wife. She was educated and formally trained for a significant marriage that, as a royal family alliance, would extend the kingdom's power and security as well as its influence and peaceful relations with other ruling powers. Due to nobody expecting her to inherit, she was not trained to rule, which would be used against her later on. She was married to Francis of Austria, the younger son of Maximilian II and Mary of Burgundy, with whom she was passionately in love, but he was a sadist towards her despite genuine initial affection - he eventually held her in a vicious cycle of affection, abuse, and intimidation from which she was constitutionally unable to escape. His education, which was influenced by Franco-Burgundian traditions, contributed to a model of rulership "exclusively male", thus he never saw Elizabeth as his political equal and could not accept that she tried to forge her own political identity. He would grow to resent her and his role as her consort, and eventually returned to the Low Countries, but before that the couple would have six surviving children together. Despite wearing black for the rest of her life afterwards as a sign of mourning, she would not express any other emotion for her estranged husband. As for Elizabeth herself, she would set out to rule by good consent, depending heavily on a group of female advisers, an unprecedented move. During her reign, the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia were annexed into her empire and she would also successfully reclaim Sicily, but not Naples, in another war against Italy. With a record-breakingly long reign, she would end up dying peacefully in her sleep.

[15] Károlos (previously know as Charles of Austria) was born in 1504 as the youngest child of Francis of Austria and Empress Elizabeth I. Károlos was initially raised in the Byzantine royal court but he would end up in the court of the Holy Roman Empire after his father would return to the Low Countries. Károlos had a very close relationship with his mother and would be deeply saddened when he would be forced to leave with his father. Károlos would have a difficult relationship with his father often having heated arguments with him and by the age of 14 he would have enough and would run away slowly making his way back to Constantinople to be with his mother. Once back to Constantinople Károlos would again make himself comfortable in his old home once again able to be with his mother who he loved so dearly helping to manage the large Empire. Károlos would help with running the Empire so much he would end up being designed regent after his mother would have an emotional breakdown due to her great grief. Eventually Elizabeth I would die in 1555 only after designating Károlos as her successor ahead of his older siblings.

Károlos would become Emperor at the age of 41 considerably older for his time but it would not deter him with him choosing the Greek spelling of Habsburg being Apsvoúrgo. Károlos would be a modest ruler for the Empire manly focusing on regional development but would also be intrigued by the prospect of the New World issuing the construction of a fleet of ships to eventually send on a expedition to the New World in hopes of great prospects. Károlos would only face one major issue during his reign and that would be with his older brother Francis of Austria who was until Károlos was designated heir to the Empire was he considered next in line even with him having spent the greater majority of his life living in the Holy Roman Empire and not even knowing how to speak Greek. Francis would make several attempts to his claim to the Byzantine throne with none proving successful.

Károlos had no trouble in providing heirs to the throne having married Clara of Saxe-Lauenburg in 1537 and would have a total of 9 children with her. Eventually Károlos would see his plan to explore the new world fulfilled when his fleet of ships would set out in early 1561 from the port of Constantinople eventually landing in the New World a few weeks later making way for further expeditions in 1563, 1564, and onwards. Károlos would push the prospect of the New World even further when he would fund the establishment of the colony of Elysium in 1571 on the East Coast of North America. Károlos would eventually die in 1573 after a short illness leaving his daughter, Elizabeth to take the throne.

[16] Elizabeth was the oldest daughter of Károlos and Clara, born in 1544. Her only surviving brother, Charles was very sickly and he would die in his adolescence due to cancer, leaving her the heiress of her father. By then she was already married to Francis II of France, who was equally sickly and died at sixteen - but he had managed to impregnate her with a son who would be born posthumously, seven months after his death. She stayed in France and acted as his regent until her father's death when she was forced to leave him behind. She never saw him again, but corresponded and had portraits sent. She was a great patroness of the arts and sciences and was considered to be deeply pious and charitable, but her court was cold and austere despite having lived at the lavish courts run by Catherine de Medici. During her lifetime, her empire remained economically healthy and she took a very active role in policy-making, often imposing her will over her governing councils. The only thing that really ruined her reputation was her surprising remarriage to an attractive son of one of her ladies-in-waiting, a decade younger than her. She would end up dying in childbirth at age 36, leaving ___ as her heir.
 
POD: Alexios Branas successfully overthrows Isaac II

Emperors, Empresses, and Autocrats of the Romans
1185-1187: Isaac II (Angelos)
1187-1208: Alexios III (Branas) [1]
1208-1227: Theodoros I (Branas) [2]
1227-1273: Alexios IV (Branas) [3]
1273-1277: Romanos V (Branas) [4]
1277-1313: Michael VIII "the Patient" "the Avenger" (Branas) [5]
1313-1342: Andrónikos II (Branas) [6]
1342-1350: Zoe
II (Branas) [7]
1350-1357: Succession War [8]
1357-1391: Michael IX (Branas-Lascaris) [9]
1391-1403: Romanos VI (Branas-Lascaris) [10]
1403-1445: Michael X "Τhe Great" (Branas-Lascaris) [11]
1445-1464: Alexios V "the Bloody" (Branas-Lascaris) [12]
1464-1501: Ioannes III "the Resolute" (Axouchos) [13]
1501-1555: Elizabeth I (Axouchos) [14]
1555-1573: Károlos I (Apsvoúrgo) [15]
1573-1580: Elizabeth II (Apsvoúrgo) [16]
1580-1608: Sophia I and Romanos VII (Apsvoúrgo-Kantakuzenos) [17]


[1] The "Second Alexiad", as future historians would call it, would begin in 1187 when Alexios Branas, who had been sent to crush the Bulgarians, who had risen up under the Asen brothers, would instead rise up against Isaac II in the city of Adrianople, his home city. After seizing Adrianople, Alexios III would besiege and take Constantinople, defeating Conrad of Montferrat by striking him with a lance with the defeat leading to the defenders of Constantinople killing Isaac and his brother and son before surrendering the city. As Emperor, Alexios III's reign would be marked by the defeat of the Vlach-Bulgarian Revolt and the Sultanate of Rum with the Sultanate of Rum being effectively broken at the Battle of Ancyra in 1200, which effectively reduced it to a rump client state of Rhomania. Alexios III would die in 1208 a happy man, having seen Rhomania crush the Bulgars and Turks and his policies having promoted a new golden age for the Empire as a continuation of the Komnenian Renaissance. He would be succeeded by Theodoros.

[2] Alexios III Branas's son Theodoros married the twice-widowed Empress Anna, formerly Agnes of France, soon after his father became Emperor. He inherited a thriving and pacified empire from his father. The only shadow in his life was the deaths of several of his children by Anna. In 1209, he married his eldest surviving daughter Theodora to his distant cousin Manuel Doukas, a cousin of the Angeloi emperors, but this union was short-lived, as Manuel died of a fever three years later.
The Fourth Crusade having failed after the infamous sack of Zara, Pope Innocent III called for another Crusade in 1212. On Anna's advice, Theodoros agreed to send soldiers to the Holy Land to help the Crusader army. Part of the army marched on Egypt, while the other went through the Eastern Empire to the Holy Land. The year 1217 saw the creation of the Principality of Damascus, ruled by the Queen of Jerusalem's younger half-sister Philippa, who became one of the most sought-after matches in the Christian Levant. Theodoros himself offered her one of his sons as husband.
The same year, the Sultan of Egypt, Al-Adil I, and his son Al-Kamil were killed in battle, leading to a succession war between his sons. The Sultanate was eventually divided into three Emirates ruled by Al-Adil's surviving sons: the Emirate of Egypt was ruled by Al-Ashraf, the Emirate of Hamat by Al-Mu'azzam and the Emirate of Jezira by Al-Muzaffar.
Theodoros returned to Constantinople in 1219 and spent the last years of his life and reign strengthening the commercial ties between his Empire, the West and the Levant.
After his wife Anna died in April 1227, Theodoros slowly lost his taste for life and followed her into the grave two months later. He was succeeded by Alexios.

[3] Alexios IV was born in 1209 as the firstborn child of Emperor Theodoros I’s son, Andronikos. He was named after his great grandfather, Alexios III. Alexios would become Emperor at the age of 18 in 1227 after the death of his grandfather due to his father having died of typhoid a few years prior. Alexios would be know mostly as a conqueror by future historians having led campaigns into Asia Minor, Syria, and even southwestern Georgia taking significant amounts of land for his own Empire and the Principality of Damascus.

Alexios would see internal problems during his reign due to large amounts of Muslims living in his Empire after his many conquests with many resentful against their Byzantine overlords with these tensions escalating in 1261 after a well known mosque was burned down by a legion of Tagmata leading to a large scale Muslim revolt across the Empire. The revolt would be crushed over the following year but it would leave a long lasting effect for many years to come with many historians estimating that the Muslim population was cut nearly in half after the revolt.

Though Alexios had a lot to deal with during his reign he would have time for his personal life as well having married Sophie of Bavaria, the second daughter of Otto II, Duke of Bavaria in 1258 and would have a few children with her. There were a few allegations against Alexios stating that he had secretly had a child with a Muslim servant but there was no evidence to support these claims.

Alexios would die of natural causes in 1273 being succeeded by his son Romanos IV.

[4] Romanos IV was born in 1259 as the first son of Sophie of Bavaria and Alexios IV, becoming Emperor at the age of 14. Having grown up under the shadow of his father, Romanos IV would be someone who would attempt to win military glory for himself, especially as he would grow up to be a strong young man along with a highly brave one. In this, he would try to launch an invasion of the Il-Khanate, despite many of his advisors counseling against it owing to how the Il-Khanate was the successor to the Mongols who had swept all before them, something that would end in the Battle of Mosul where he, along with most of the army, was massacred by the Il-Khanate's army with historical reports disputing whether he was killed in battle or captured alive and then trampled to death by horses owing to the Mongol tradition of not spilling royal blood. When news of the catastrophe reached Constantinople, his brother Michael was acclaimed as the new Emperor owing to Romanos not leaving behind any children.

[5] Michael was the second living son of Alexios and Sophie, born in 1263. Like his brother, he was merely fourteen when he became emperor. He decided that in order to avenge his brother, he needed allies. Therefore, he made a pact with Hungary and Poland to support each other should Mongols ever attack and he spent most of his days strengthening the boarders. Some people accused him of a being a coward, but Michael quickly showed that caution was not cowardice when he lead his troops to quell a rebellion that sprung up in 1281, showing how ruthless he could be when the situation called for it.

In his personal life, Michael would marry Elizabeth of Sicily in 1281, after the death of her first husband Ladislaus of Hungary. The couple would have a most loving relationship, with Elizabeth often acting as the go between between Michael and the Italian rulers, gaining more allies for Michael eventual strike against the Mongol empire. Despite their loving marriage the couple would only have four surviving children. Elizabeth's death in 1303 would be the worst day of Michael's life and he refused to marry again and his health became increasingly worse.

With much diplomacy, offering dynastic matches, trading agreements, and outright bribery, in 1300, Michael had finally convinced the Pope to declare a crusade against the Mongols. His main objective was attacking the Il-Khanate. He could not have picked a better time as it had fallen into civil war. The battle was not easy but using ambush and guerrilla tactics to keep his foes off balance as he obliterated the horde. It is said that he refused to allow any of the men live, professing that his brother's soul would never be at peace, unless every man, whether or not they had been responsible for Ramanos's death, were dead.

He returned home, just in time time to witness his wife's death from a fever. He would mourn her for the rest of his life, and refused to marry again despite his councilors pleading. His health began to decline slowly, until the last few years where he was bedridden. When he died, Andrónikos II would rise to the throne.

[6] Andrónikos II was born in 1286 as the only son of Michael VIII and Elizabeth of Sicily to survive to adulthood. Andrónikos was very close to his mother being only 14 years old at the time of her death having cared for her while she was ill and was deeply heartbroken just like his father by it. Andrónikos would blame his father for her death by not being their for them instead off on his campaign against the Mongols and a rift would form between them. Andrónikos would eventually ascend to the throne at the age of 27 after the death of his father in 1313.

Andrónikos’ reign would be mostly peaceful with small revolts popping up here or there but he would try to keep the peace for the rest of his life. Despite being asked various times to marry but Andrónikos would hear none of it wishing not to be saddened any more than he had been by his mother’s death. Andrónikos would die in 1342 with no children of natural causes.

[7] Zoe was the daughter of Elisabet the eldest daughter of Michael VIII. Her mother had married her distant cousin, descendant from Alexios III's second son. Unfortunately, Alexois died in 1301 in the battle with the II-Khanate, with Zoe being born two months later. Her mother would die of childbed fever leaving her an orphan. She would be adopted by her uncle and when he became emperor, he would groom her to be his heir.

At age eighteen, Zoe would marry Peter II of Sicily in 1323. However, the marriage would turn bitter as Zoe felt that as the heir to an empire, she was not subservient to a king and she resisted his constant pushing for her to become Catholic. In 1325, they would receive an annulment and Zoe returned to Constantinople. Over the years, Zoe would have many suitors seeking her hand, but she rejected them all, preferring to be in the company of her bodyguard, David Lascaris. There were plenty of rumors surrounding the pair. Especially when Zoe fell ill in 1328 and spent a whole year in the country, away from the eyes of the court.

In 1342, her uncle died and Zoe became empress. Now a woman in her forties, her councilors doubted that she would have an heir even if they could convince her to marry. Sadly Zoe's rule would be short as black death swept the nation, killing many including the empress. This left the empire scrambling to find a new ruler.

[8] The troubled weeks that followed Zoe’s death saw the beginning of a succession war. Although Zoe was much loved by her people for her steadfastness and commitment to her empire, her refusal to marry would have lasting consequences.

Only days before the Empress died, her cousin and closest male relative Alexios Branas Doukas, the son of her aunt Eudoxia and a distant cousin descended from Emperor Theodoros, succumbed to the plague, leaving a young son, Andrónikos. However, many distrusted the child’s mother, Urraca of Navarre, whose views had always been too pro-Latin for their liking.

As a result, two more pretenders soon appeared: the first was another of Zoe’s cousins, Irene Branaina Kantakouzena. Irene’s mother Anna was Michael VIII’s third daughter and the second of his children to survive him. Like her cousin, Irene was a strong-willed woman, determined to get the Empire despite young Andrónikos’s claim.

The third pretender was Michael Branas Lascaris, a young man who claimed to be Zoe’s son, born of a secret marriage she had supposedly contracted with her bodyguard David. Michael had been brought up by David’s elderly parents in a small village near Nicaea and the local population and nobility supported him, especially as he did look a little like his supposed late great-uncle Emperor Andrónikos II. However he offered no proof of his parents’ marriage, which made him a bastard at best in his rivals’ eyes.

As none of the three pretenders would relinquish their claims, the war raged for seven years until Michael eventually emerged victorious.

[9] The man who would become Michael the Ninth was a figure shrouded in mystery. While modern DNA tests confirms that he was Empress Zoe's son, born during her year long seclusion, it is still up to debate whether his parents were married or not. Regardless of his origins, he was seen as the dark horse candidate of the succession war. Not many seemed to think he would win.

However, Michael was a skilled commander and a charming individual. Not to mention, he had a schooling similar to a prince (some suspect if Zoe had not died so suddenly, she would have declared him her heir). He managed to win a decisive battle against the forces of Irene Kantakouzena, capturing several of her important supporters. Including her husband, Ramonos Kantakouzena. He refused to ransom Ramonos unless he married the eldest daughter of Irene, Antonia. Unfortunately, Irene's death in 1355, made matters moot. Her eldest son, named Theodoros choose not to continue the fighting and instead met with Michael under a banner of peace. The two young men agreed to join forces with Michael being declared emperor and marrying Anonia Kantakouzena.

In 1356, fifteen-year-old Andrónikos would convert to Catholicism, offending many of his conservative vassals. This would lead to his undoing as several of his supporters would now throw their lot in with Michael. Then in 1357, Andrónikos would collapse after a meal with many suspecting poison (it has been confirmed by historians that he died as a result of arsenic). It is unknown if Michael gave the order or not, but regardless of the less than stellar circumstances, he still marched into Constantinople and was crowned emperor. He would launch an investigation into his rival's poisoning, finding the culprit months later who was revealed to be have been a long time adversary of Andrónikos. It was wrapped neatly, a little too neatly according to those who still saw Michael up-jumped bastard.

Michael would have to deal with two rebellions in his tenor as emperor. The first being was in 1363 as those who believed that Michael was a) a bastard and b) a murderer, teamed up to overthrow him. Theodoros would die on the battlefield, just twenty-three years old. Despite the devastating loss, the emperor managed to prevail, striking down the leader of the rebellion himself.

The next rebellion was in 1379. After Theodoros and then his father's death, all their lands and titles would fall on the second brother, named Michael in a surprise twist. He would declare himself the rightful emperor, taking up his mother's claim. He marched on Constantinople with the goal of sieging it. Unfortunately, the emperor was waiting for him, ambushing him with his own forces. It would be a short, but a bloody battle. The pretender was only saved by his sister, Antonia, who pregnant, got down on her knees in front of her husband and begged for his life. Michael Kantakouzena was exiled and threatened never to re turn.

These two rebellions would cement Michael's status as emperor, making it clear to the of Europe that he was not going anywhere. As the King of France had been a cousin of the late Andrónikos, things were tense between the two countries. Michael choose to reach out to England, the Holy Roman Emperor, and Castile in hopes of gaining allies to help him, should France back the siblings of Andrónikos who had fled with their mother to the native Navarre. He became the first emperor to visit the British isles, meeting Richard II, and agreeing to a betrothal between the English king and the emperor's daughter, Anna.

In 1391, Michael would die in a hunting accident where his horse sent him tumbling down a hill. His son Michael would succeed him.

[10] Romanos VI was born in 1360 as the oldest son of Emperor Michael IX and, unlike his father who grew up to be a soldier, would be someone who would be of a more scholarly air with this being something that would lead to Romanos VI being someone who would be more notable as an intellectual than a soldier. As such, when he became Emperor of the Romans in 1391 after his death, his reign would be marked by how he would be a peaceful and capable administrator, more interested in consolidating Rhomania's empire than expanding the realm with his reign being marked by an era of peace and prosperity which marked Rhomania during the 1390s. In this, Romanos VI would marry Olga, daughter of the Grand Prince of Muscovy, with the two having four children.

However, his reign would be interrupted when Tamerlane, having carved a swath of destruction from Delhi in the east to Baghdad in the west and forging a large empire, decided to burnish his claim as the "Sword of Islam" by defeating Rhomania and reclaiming Anatolia, which had been conquered by the Seljuks, for Islam. In this, Romanos VI would clash with Timur at Iconium with the Battle of Iconium seeing the army that Romanos had assembled be no match for what the war machine that Timur had assembled with Romanos VI being killed in battle and his head displayed at the Timurid camp. When news of Romanos' death reached Constantinople, Michael X was acclaimed as the Emperor of an Empire which was facing its biggest crisis in centuries with how much of Anatolia was being ravaged by Timur's armies, the Emperor was dead, and the army basically non-existent after the massacre at Iconium.

[11] Michael X was born in 1390 as the eldest child of Romanos VI. He ascended to the throne at the age of 13 in 1403 when the empire was in a time of great strife. His first action secured the peace of Rhomania. He would achieve this by promising the Timurids a yearly tribute and a peace alliance. To seal the deal, he married the Sultan's daughter Saray Malik Agha. After the humiliating peace treaty, he came back to the empire and privately vowed that neither he nor his successors would suffer such a situation ever again.

After the peace treaty and with vengeance in mind, Michael spent years building a spy network, carefully picking orphans who could be molded into perfect agents and manipulating the younglings so that they were absolutely loyal to him and none. His spy network was so efficient its doctrines and structure are used as the model for modern-day secret agencies.

His first use of his new spies was assassinating his siblings and relatives closest to the line of succession. The reason why he wasn’t suspected of the murders was because of another carefully planned assassination.

In 1420, after years of plotting he successfully had his spies assassinate as many important noblemen of the Timurid empire with a focus on the competent ones. The Sultan was obviously a target as well with his death along with his children Michael orchestrated a succession crisis that predictably led to war.

During the war, Michael made sure that the Timurids tired themselves out while fighting themselves. So when there was a winner of the war Michael and his armies immediately invaded the empire with only one objective, to bring absolute destruction.

Historians from other kingdoms are the only way we can get information about what happened. Michael had ordered his men to kill and burn anything and everything; whether it be a man, woman, child, animal, house, temple, mosque, building, farm or even a tree. Under his orders, the Romanian army had killed off at least 83% of the population while the rest eventually died out due to the burning having made the land inhabitable. Many compare this action to be even worse than what the Romans had done to Carthage.

Michael eventually had to leave but he was nowhere near satisfied, so he left the most fanatic Timurid haters he could find and ordered them to scout and kill any survivors that they happened to have missed, a task which they did very happily.

So Michael returned to the empire after making sure the Timurid empire was dead, cremated and its ashes scattered in the ocean. He was showered with praise by almost everyone he met for returning the humiliation that Timurids had done to them.

Michael was happy as well not just because of destroying the Timurid empire but because of another reason. By extensive use of his spy network, he engineered some “accidents” for his more powerful nobles, a lucky arrow here or there, a soldier killing someone before being killed off by another soldier etc. Their deaths allowed him to take more power for himself. Some would suspect foul play but they would mysteriously die off days later.

After Michael X had all the power he could currently have, he broke Roman tradition by being a very competent monarch. He reformed the army by promotions based on merit, ensured the soldiers had the best armour, food and pay they could find, made a law that any widow or family left by soldiers be entitled to compensation, encouraged trade by improving roads and bridges, patronized arts and literature and gave funding for civic and military research.

However, his family life was very different to his outside persona; to his wife, he was cold, distant and emotionally abusive. He despised her because of her relation to the Timurids. After she bore him enough heirs he had his spies assassinate her. Now he had free reign on how to raise his children as he saw fit.

He saw his children as his legacy, thus he made sure that they were raised the way he believed an imperial heir should be. That involved teaching them that compassion was for the weak by torturing prisoners, empathy was useless by giving them pet rabbits and then making them beat the rabbits with their own hands, how strength is everything by making them violate widows and then beating them himself to show that there is always someone stronger than them. This was followed by manipulating them by saying how it was to make them the best heirs they could be.

Nearing the end of his reign, he made sure his children got practical experience in the military and administration so that they became competent. When he was approaching his death Michael’s final actions were using his spy network to quash rebellions before they did anything, kill traitors before they were a threat and assassinate everyone with the closest claim to the throne in order to ensure a stable succession for his heir. The final deaths were every single one of his children except for the one he considered the most competent and worthy to rule.

Michael X was a megalomaniac, a control freak, a murderer and a manipulative abuser. So it is perhaps unsurprising that even in death he was a master of intrigue as he died peacefully in his sleep the empire was mourning the loss of a great ruler. During his final moments, he was surrounded by his only living child; the one that he believed would be the best successor. His final act was giving explicit orders to his nobles on who his preferred heir was.

He was succeeded by his son Alexios.

[12] Alexios was born in 1420, the second son, but third child of Michael. He idolized his father, believing he could do no wrong. He tried to emulate his father in any way possible. It is said he beat his rabbit almost immediately with a sadistic grin on his face. However, while Michael was methodical and secretive about his abuse and murder, Alexios was openly violent.

When he became emperor, he enacted a law that forbid anyone from practicing another religion, sentencing those who did not renounce their false faiths to a fiery death. He also decided to reclaim Italy for the Roman Empire, invading Scily and Naples. In 1457, he marched on Rome, sacking the holy city, even going as far to burn the pope for his heresy. This would of course cause all of the Catholic kingdoms to declare a crusade against the Rhomania empire.

It is said that when he learned of the crusade, Alexios laughed and said that the Celtics could not hope to defeat Caesar. He continued his attack on Italy, carving a bloody path up the boot and into the lands of the French. However, much like Caesar, he failed to notice the discontent brewing behind his back. In 1464, he would be betrayed by supporters of Ioannes who would capture him and bringing him back to Constantinople in chains.

[13] The youngest and only surviving son of Michael the X's favourite sister, Ioannes was spared as a babe by his uncle due to the pleas of his mother, whom had already lost four sons to the paranoia of her brother. Prostatinf herself before the Emperor, Eva of Constantinople would manage to awaken the only remnant of human compassion left in Emperor Michael, and he would, accordingly, spare her young babe.

A very intelligent child, John spent most of his young years keeping out of sight and out of the mind of his uncle, the only historical records of the man appearing during the reign of Emperor Alexios, to whom Ioannes managed to ingratiate himself too, receiving from his cousin the post of governor of Cappadocia and Cilicia, from where Ioannes would surely amass more and more influence as time went on.

The death of his cousin following the Italian campaign created a brief interregnum that threatened to shatter the Empire, as many parts of the nobility wanted every trace of the House of Branas gone, alongside a man who would grant the Empire some years of peace instead of near constant warfare. Despite the near constant primogeniture that had lended great stability to the Empire, many were ready to revive old traditions and elect an Emperor from amidst the nobility and the soldiery. Thankfully for Ioannes (and the soon to be Axouchos Dinasty), the intervention of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the military assured the continuity of male-preference primogeniture, as both the church and the military had been filled with loyalists to the throne and preferred continued stability. Thus, Ioannes started a new dinasty and came to bear the purple shroud of Caesars in Nova Roma.

The new Cesar's reign started with a mission to find peace with the Christians of the west. Fiercest of Ioannes rivals was Charles the VII of France, of the Evreux Branch of the Capetians, whom had held the thrones of France and Navarre for nigh on 100 years following the fall of the House of Valois. The Evreux's ruled a state that stretched from Brittany and Aquitaine in the East to Provence, Artois and the French-Compte in the west, the single most powerful state in western Europe of the time whom had recently expelled the English from the continent permanently. With the pope exiled at Charles's Court, it was with him that Ioannes secured the end to one of Christianity most bloodiest inter-sect wars.

Ioannes promised to retreat from Italy, restoring the many Italian prince's to their lands and titles. To avoid having to pay military reparations, Ioannes had the last Aragonese claimants to the thrones of Naples and Sicily quietly executed in the cells of Adrianople, restoring the "Capetian" Angevins to Palermo and Naples (Charles would receive from his "grateful" cousins the Duchies of Lorraine, Bar, Anjou and Picardy, states which they had ruled until then). Of the Italian conquest Ioannes would retain for himself only Malta, which would become the westernmost base of the Roman navy in fighting off Islamic piracy.

With peace in the west negotiated, Ioannes purposefully left the status of the Duchies of Milan and Romagna open, correctly guessing the Wittelsbach King of Bohemia and Duke of Bavaria, Rudolf I, would challenge the French on the right to should rule these regions. The Aragonese themselves would intervene too, starting the Italian wars.

Finally able to turn inwards after the early years of war and then the long negotiations, Ioannes would marry the Hungarian princess Elizabeth of Luxembourg to secure his northern flank to assure Hungarian neutrality in the submission of the last Serbian and Bulgarian despotates.

With the Balkans secured, Ioannes turned East to finally secure the lands conquered by Michael the great in the east. Using his vast army and spy network, Ioannes would devise a great plan meant to repopulate Greater Armenia, Kurdistan and Northern Mesopotamia and Syria. First pushing his Armenians subjects in Eastern Anatolia and Cilicia to move eastwards towards old Armenia and Kurdistan, he would afterwards propagate a great movement into Cilicia, Eastern Anatolia and Northern Syria of Greeks, primarily Ionians, Thracians, Pontics and Cappadocians, with many Balkan minorities such as Bulgars and Vlachs filling the vaccum in many regions. He would give the lands in Byzantine Mesopotamia to the many landless Assyrian tribes of the region, gaining their loyalty despite their religious disputes. Northern Mesopotamia became afterwards known as the province of Assyria.

With this great matter settled, Ioannes dedicated himself to the great things he actually liked - books, laws and procreation. He and his first wife, Elizabeth of Hungary would have 7 children, and after her death from tuberculosis he would marry Anna of Imereti, with whom he would have another 4 children. Ioannes would dedicate himself to restoring and renovating the laws of the Empire, cementing primogeniture as law, and he would go on a great investment spree once his coffers had recovered, building and rebuilding many monuments all over his Empire. A great patron of the military, Ioannes would turn the army into a true early medieval army, dependent not on chivalry but on gunpowder and the Arquebus.

Ioannes would once more find conflict during the latter part of his reign, subjugsting the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldávia, alongside helping the various Rus principalities shake off the Tatar yoke, expelling the raiders from the Crimea peninsula and the Roman port of Tanais and the mouth of the Don in the Azov sea.

Wirh a long and most prosperous reign, the Emperor would have a rather unworthy death. On a visit to the Great Arsenal of Galata in Constantinople, one of his pet projects, the aged John would trip on a bucket and smash his head against a crane in the docks. Despite the efforts of his physicians, Ioannes would die from trauma in the skull just after the turn of the century. He was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth.

[14] The only child of Ioannes III who outlived him due to a tragic fire that killed all her siblings (she herself escaped as she was confined elsewhere for an illness), Elizabeth was born in 1481 as the last child of Ioannes and his first wife. She was educated and formally trained for a significant marriage that, as a royal family alliance, would extend the kingdom's power and security as well as its influence and peaceful relations with other ruling powers. Due to nobody expecting her to inherit, she was not trained to rule, which would be used against her later on. She was married to Francis of Austria, the younger son of Maximilian II and Mary of Burgundy, with whom she was passionately in love, but he was a sadist towards her despite genuine initial affection - he eventually held her in a vicious cycle of affection, abuse, and intimidation from which she was constitutionally unable to escape. His education, which was influenced by Franco-Burgundian traditions, contributed to a model of rulership "exclusively male", thus he never saw Elizabeth as his political equal and could not accept that she tried to forge her own political identity. He would grow to resent her and his role as her consort, and eventually returned to the Low Countries, but before that the couple would have six surviving children together. Despite wearing black for the rest of her life afterwards as a sign of mourning, she would not express any other emotion for her estranged husband. As for Elizabeth herself, she would set out to rule by good consent, depending heavily on a group of female advisers, an unprecedented move. During her reign, the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia were annexed into her empire and she would also successfully reclaim Sicily, but not Naples, in another war against Italy. With a record-breakingly long reign, she would end up dying peacefully in her sleep.

[15] Károlos (previously know as Charles of Austria) was born in 1504 as the youngest child of Francis of Austria and Empress Elizabeth I. Károlos was initially raised in the Byzantine royal court but he would end up in the court of the Holy Roman Empire after his father would return to the Low Countries. Károlos had a very close relationship with his mother and would be deeply saddened when he would be forced to leave with his father. Károlos would have a difficult relationship with his father often having heated arguments with him and by the age of 14 he would have enough and would run away slowly making his way back to Constantinople to be with his mother. Once back to Constantinople Károlos would again make himself comfortable in his old home once again able to be with his mother who he loved so dearly helping to manage the large Empire. Károlos would help with running the Empire so much he would end up being designed regent after his mother would have an emotional breakdown due to her great grief. Eventually Elizabeth I would die in 1555 only after designating Károlos as her successor ahead of his older siblings.

Károlos would become Emperor at the age of 41 considerably older for his time but it would not deter him with him choosing the Greek spelling of Habsburg being Apsvoúrgo. Károlos would be a modest ruler for the Empire manly focusing on regional development but would also be intrigued by the prospect of the New World issuing the construction of a fleet of ships to eventually send on a expedition to the New World in hopes of great prospects. Károlos would only face one major issue during his reign and that would be with his older brother Francis of Austria who was until Károlos was designated heir to the Empire was he considered next in line even with him having spent the greater majority of his life living in the Holy Roman Empire and not even knowing how to speak Greek. Francis would make several attempts to his claim to the Byzantine throne with none proving successful.

Károlos had no trouble in providing heirs to the throne having married Clara of Saxe-Lauenburg in 1537 and would have a total of 9 children with her. Eventually Károlos would see his plan to explore the new world fulfilled when his fleet of ships would set out in early 1561 from the port of Constantinople eventually landing in the New World a few weeks later making way for further expeditions in 1563, 1564, and onwards. Károlos would push the prospect of the New World even further when he would fund the establishment of the colony of Elysium in 1571 on the East Coast of North America. Károlos would eventually die in 1573 after a short illness leaving his daughter, Elizabeth to take the throne.

[16] Elizabeth was the oldest daughter of Károlos and Clara, born in 1544. Her only surviving brother, Charles was very sickly and he would die in his adolescence due to cancer, leaving her the heiress of her father. By then she was already married to Francis II of France, who was equally sickly and died at sixteen - but he had managed to impregnate her with a son who would be born posthumously, seven months after his death. She stayed in France and acted as his regent until her father's death when she was forced to leave him behind. She never saw him again, but corresponded and had portraits sent. She was a great patroness of the arts and sciences and was considered to be deeply pious and charitable, but her court was cold and austere despite having lived at the lavish courts run by Catherine de Medici. During her lifetime, her empire remained economically healthy and she took a very active role in policy-making, often imposing her will over her governing councils. The only thing that really ruined her reputation was her surprising remarriage to an attractive son of one of her ladies-in-waiting, a decade younger than her. She would end up dying in childbirth at age 36, leaving ___ as her heir.

800px-Elisabeth_of_Austria_Queen_of_France_by_Jooris_van_der_Straaten_-_1570s_.jpg


[17] In the aftermath of Empress Elizabeth's death in childbirth, the army in Constantinople, backed by the prominent dynatoi, would acclaim Sophia, Empress Elizabeth's younger sister, as the new Empress and Autocrat of the Romans, unwilling to see either the King of France, someone who never stepped foot in Constantinople, or a newborn child, take the throne with the spectre of the Safavids, who had forged a sizable empire from Mesopotamia to Afghanistan, and a new and energetic dynasty in the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. Desiring capable leadership, they would enthrone the 32-year old Sophia as Empress with her husband (and co-Emperor) being Romanos Kantakuzenos, the scion to one of Rhomania's major royal families.

Despite the inauspicious start to their reign owing to having taken power via a palace coup, Sophia and Romanos would prove to be competent and effective co-rulers of the Empire, leading it to major defeats against the Safavids and Mamluks with most of the Levant and half of Mesopotamia being taken from the Mamluks and Safavids respectively by the end of their reign. Domestically, their reign would be marked by an era of relative stability and prosperity, especially with the expansion of Rhomania's colonial empire, centered around the colony in Elysium, during this period. In addition, Sophia would be a strong patron of the arts and culture during this period.

Sophia and Romanos would have six children between 1571 and 1593, four of which would survive to adulthood. Romanos and Sophia would both succumb to an outbreak of smallpox in 1608, leaving _______________ the new Emperor of Rhomania.
 
POD: Alexios Branas successfully overthrows Isaac II

Emperors, Empresses, and Autocrats of the Romans
1185-1187: Isaac II (Angelos)
1187-1208: Alexios III (Branas) [1]
1208-1227: Theodoros I (Branas) [2]
1227-1273: Alexios IV (Branas) [3]
1273-1277: Romanos V (Branas) [4]
1277-1313: Michael VIII "the Patient" "the Avenger" (Branas) [5]
1313-1342: Andrónikos II (Branas) [6]
1342-1350: Zoe
II (Branas) [7]
1350-1357: Succession War [8]
1357-1391: Michael IX (Branas-Lascaris) [9]
1391-1403: Romanos VI (Branas-Lascaris) [10]
1403-1445: Michael X "Τhe Great" (Branas-Lascaris) [11]
1445-1464: Alexios V "the Bloody" (Branas-Lascaris) [12]
1464-1501: Ioannes III "the Resolute" (Axouchos) [13]
1501-1555: Elizabeth I (Axouchos) [14]
1555-1573: Károlos I (Apsvoúrgo) [15]
1573-1580: Elizabeth II (Apsvoúrgo) [16]
1580-1608: Sophia I and Romanos VII (Apsvoúrgo-Kantakuzenos) [17]
1608-1650: Eva I (Apsvoúrgo-Kantakuzenos) [18]


[1] The "Second Alexiad", as future historians would call it, would begin in 1187 when Alexios Branas, who had been sent to crush the Bulgarians, who had risen up under the Asen brothers, would instead rise up against Isaac II in the city of Adrianople, his home city. After seizing Adrianople, Alexios III would besiege and take Constantinople, defeating Conrad of Montferrat by striking him with a lance with the defeat leading to the defenders of Constantinople killing Isaac and his brother and son before surrendering the city. As Emperor, Alexios III's reign would be marked by the defeat of the Vlach-Bulgarian Revolt and the Sultanate of Rum with the Sultanate of Rum being effectively broken at the Battle of Ancyra in 1200, which effectively reduced it to a rump client state of Rhomania. Alexios III would die in 1208 a happy man, having seen Rhomania crush the Bulgars and Turks and his policies having promoted a new golden age for the Empire as a continuation of the Komnenian Renaissance. He would be succeeded by Theodoros.

[2] Alexios III Branas's son Theodoros married the twice-widowed Empress Anna, formerly Agnes of France, soon after his father became Emperor. He inherited a thriving and pacified empire from his father. The only shadow in his life was the deaths of several of his children by Anna. In 1209, he married his eldest surviving daughter Theodora to his distant cousin Manuel Doukas, a cousin of the Angeloi emperors, but this union was short-lived, as Manuel died of a fever three years later.
The Fourth Crusade having failed after the infamous sack of Zara, Pope Innocent III called for another Crusade in 1212. On Anna's advice, Theodoros agreed to send soldiers to the Holy Land to help the Crusader army. Part of the army marched on Egypt, while the other went through the Eastern Empire to the Holy Land. The year 1217 saw the creation of the Principality of Damascus, ruled by the Queen of Jerusalem's younger half-sister Philippa, who became one of the most sought-after matches in the Christian Levant. Theodoros himself offered her one of his sons as husband.
The same year, the Sultan of Egypt, Al-Adil I, and his son Al-Kamil were killed in battle, leading to a succession war between his sons. The Sultanate was eventually divided into three Emirates ruled by Al-Adil's surviving sons: the Emirate of Egypt was ruled by Al-Ashraf, the Emirate of Hamat by Al-Mu'azzam and the Emirate of Jezira by Al-Muzaffar.
Theodoros returned to Constantinople in 1219 and spent the last years of his life and reign strengthening the commercial ties between his Empire, the West and the Levant.
After his wife Anna died in April 1227, Theodoros slowly lost his taste for life and followed her into the grave two months later. He was succeeded by Alexios.

[3] Alexios IV was born in 1209 as the firstborn child of Emperor Theodoros I’s son, Andronikos. He was named after his great grandfather, Alexios III. Alexios would become Emperor at the age of 18 in 1227 after the death of his grandfather due to his father having died of typhoid a few years prior. Alexios would be know mostly as a conqueror by future historians having led campaigns into Asia Minor, Syria, and even southwestern Georgia taking significant amounts of land for his own Empire and the Principality of Damascus.

Alexios would see internal problems during his reign due to large amounts of Muslims living in his Empire after his many conquests with many resentful against their Byzantine overlords with these tensions escalating in 1261 after a well known mosque was burned down by a legion of Tagmata leading to a large scale Muslim revolt across the Empire. The revolt would be crushed over the following year but it would leave a long lasting effect for many years to come with many historians estimating that the Muslim population was cut nearly in half after the revolt.

Though Alexios had a lot to deal with during his reign he would have time for his personal life as well having married Sophie of Bavaria, the second daughter of Otto II, Duke of Bavaria in 1258 and would have a few children with her. There were a few allegations against Alexios stating that he had secretly had a child with a Muslim servant but there was no evidence to support these claims.

Alexios would die of natural causes in 1273 being succeeded by his son Romanos IV.

[4] Romanos IV was born in 1259 as the first son of Sophie of Bavaria and Alexios IV, becoming Emperor at the age of 14. Having grown up under the shadow of his father, Romanos IV would be someone who would attempt to win military glory for himself, especially as he would grow up to be a strong young man along with a highly brave one. In this, he would try to launch an invasion of the Il-Khanate, despite many of his advisors counseling against it owing to how the Il-Khanate was the successor to the Mongols who had swept all before them, something that would end in the Battle of Mosul where he, along with most of the army, was massacred by the Il-Khanate's army with historical reports disputing whether he was killed in battle or captured alive and then trampled to death by horses owing to the Mongol tradition of not spilling royal blood. When news of the catastrophe reached Constantinople, his brother Michael was acclaimed as the new Emperor owing to Romanos not leaving behind any children.

[5] Michael was the second living son of Alexios and Sophie, born in 1263. Like his brother, he was merely fourteen when he became emperor. He decided that in order to avenge his brother, he needed allies. Therefore, he made a pact with Hungary and Poland to support each other should Mongols ever attack and he spent most of his days strengthening the boarders. Some people accused him of a being a coward, but Michael quickly showed that caution was not cowardice when he lead his troops to quell a rebellion that sprung up in 1281, showing how ruthless he could be when the situation called for it.

In his personal life, Michael would marry Elizabeth of Sicily in 1281, after the death of her first husband Ladislaus of Hungary. The couple would have a most loving relationship, with Elizabeth often acting as the go between between Michael and the Italian rulers, gaining more allies for Michael eventual strike against the Mongol empire. Despite their loving marriage the couple would only have four surviving children. Elizabeth's death in 1303 would be the worst day of Michael's life and he refused to marry again and his health became increasingly worse.

With much diplomacy, offering dynastic matches, trading agreements, and outright bribery, in 1300, Michael had finally convinced the Pope to declare a crusade against the Mongols. His main objective was attacking the Il-Khanate. He could not have picked a better time as it had fallen into civil war. The battle was not easy but using ambush and guerrilla tactics to keep his foes off balance as he obliterated the horde. It is said that he refused to allow any of the men live, professing that his brother's soul would never be at peace, unless every man, whether or not they had been responsible for Ramanos's death, were dead.

He returned home, just in time time to witness his wife's death from a fever. He would mourn her for the rest of his life, and refused to marry again despite his councilors pleading. His health began to decline slowly, until the last few years where he was bedridden. When he died, Andrónikos II would rise to the throne.

[6] Andrónikos II was born in 1286 as the only son of Michael VIII and Elizabeth of Sicily to survive to adulthood. Andrónikos was very close to his mother being only 14 years old at the time of her death having cared for her while she was ill and was deeply heartbroken just like his father by it. Andrónikos would blame his father for her death by not being their for them instead off on his campaign against the Mongols and a rift would form between them. Andrónikos would eventually ascend to the throne at the age of 27 after the death of his father in 1313.

Andrónikos’ reign would be mostly peaceful with small revolts popping up here or there but he would try to keep the peace for the rest of his life. Despite being asked various times to marry but Andrónikos would hear none of it wishing not to be saddened any more than he had been by his mother’s death. Andrónikos would die in 1342 with no children of natural causes.

[7] Zoe was the daughter of Elisabet the eldest daughter of Michael VIII. Her mother had married her distant cousin, descendant from Alexios III's second son. Unfortunately, Alexois died in 1301 in the battle with the II-Khanate, with Zoe being born two months later. Her mother would die of childbed fever leaving her an orphan. She would be adopted by her uncle and when he became emperor, he would groom her to be his heir.

At age eighteen, Zoe would marry Peter II of Sicily in 1323. However, the marriage would turn bitter as Zoe felt that as the heir to an empire, she was not subservient to a king and she resisted his constant pushing for her to become Catholic. In 1325, they would receive an annulment and Zoe returned to Constantinople. Over the years, Zoe would have many suitors seeking her hand, but she rejected them all, preferring to be in the company of her bodyguard, David Lascaris. There were plenty of rumors surrounding the pair. Especially when Zoe fell ill in 1328 and spent a whole year in the country, away from the eyes of the court.

In 1342, her uncle died and Zoe became empress. Now a woman in her forties, her councilors doubted that she would have an heir even if they could convince her to marry. Sadly Zoe's rule would be short as black death swept the nation, killing many including the empress. This left the empire scrambling to find a new ruler.

[8] The troubled weeks that followed Zoe’s death saw the beginning of a succession war. Although Zoe was much loved by her people for her steadfastness and commitment to her empire, her refusal to marry would have lasting consequences.

Only days before the Empress died, her cousin and closest male relative Alexios Branas Doukas, the son of her aunt Eudoxia and a distant cousin descended from Emperor Theodoros, succumbed to the plague, leaving a young son, Andrónikos. However, many distrusted the child’s mother, Urraca of Navarre, whose views had always been too pro-Latin for their liking.

As a result, two more pretenders soon appeared: the first was another of Zoe’s cousins, Irene Branaina Kantakouzena. Irene’s mother Anna was Michael VIII’s third daughter and the second of his children to survive him. Like her cousin, Irene was a strong-willed woman, determined to get the Empire despite young Andrónikos’s claim.

The third pretender was Michael Branas Lascaris, a young man who claimed to be Zoe’s son, born of a secret marriage she had supposedly contracted with her bodyguard David. Michael had been brought up by David’s elderly parents in a small village near Nicaea and the local population and nobility supported him, especially as he did look a little like his supposed late great-uncle Emperor Andrónikos II. However he offered no proof of his parents’ marriage, which made him a bastard at best in his rivals’ eyes.

As none of the three pretenders would relinquish their claims, the war raged for seven years until Michael eventually emerged victorious.

[9] The man who would become Michael the Ninth was a figure shrouded in mystery. While modern DNA tests confirms that he was Empress Zoe's son, born during her year long seclusion, it is still up to debate whether his parents were married or not. Regardless of his origins, he was seen as the dark horse candidate of the succession war. Not many seemed to think he would win.

However, Michael was a skilled commander and a charming individual. Not to mention, he had a schooling similar to a prince (some suspect if Zoe had not died so suddenly, she would have declared him her heir). He managed to win a decisive battle against the forces of Irene Kantakouzena, capturing several of her important supporters. Including her husband, Ramonos Kantakouzena. He refused to ransom Ramonos unless he married the eldest daughter of Irene, Antonia. Unfortunately, Irene's death in 1355, made matters moot. Her eldest son, named Theodoros choose not to continue the fighting and instead met with Michael under a banner of peace. The two young men agreed to join forces with Michael being declared emperor and marrying Anonia Kantakouzena.

In 1356, fifteen-year-old Andrónikos would convert to Catholicism, offending many of his conservative vassals. This would lead to his undoing as several of his supporters would now throw their lot in with Michael. Then in 1357, Andrónikos would collapse after a meal with many suspecting poison (it has been confirmed by historians that he died as a result of arsenic). It is unknown if Michael gave the order or not, but regardless of the less than stellar circumstances, he still marched into Constantinople and was crowned emperor. He would launch an investigation into his rival's poisoning, finding the culprit months later who was revealed to be have been a long time adversary of Andrónikos. It was wrapped neatly, a little too neatly according to those who still saw Michael up-jumped bastard.

Michael would have to deal with two rebellions in his tenor as emperor. The first being was in 1363 as those who believed that Michael was a) a bastard and b) a murderer, teamed up to overthrow him. Theodoros would die on the battlefield, just twenty-three years old. Despite the devastating loss, the emperor managed to prevail, striking down the leader of the rebellion himself.

The next rebellion was in 1379. After Theodoros and then his father's death, all their lands and titles would fall on the second brother, named Michael in a surprise twist. He would declare himself the rightful emperor, taking up his mother's claim. He marched on Constantinople with the goal of sieging it. Unfortunately, the emperor was waiting for him, ambushing him with his own forces. It would be a short, but a bloody battle. The pretender was only saved by his sister, Antonia, who pregnant, got down on her knees in front of her husband and begged for his life. Michael Kantakouzena was exiled and threatened never to re turn.

These two rebellions would cement Michael's status as emperor, making it clear to the of Europe that he was not going anywhere. As the King of France had been a cousin of the late Andrónikos, things were tense between the two countries. Michael choose to reach out to England, the Holy Roman Emperor, and Castile in hopes of gaining allies to help him, should France back the siblings of Andrónikos who had fled with their mother to the native Navarre. He became the first emperor to visit the British isles, meeting Richard II, and agreeing to a betrothal between the English king and the emperor's daughter, Anna.

In 1391, Michael would die in a hunting accident where his horse sent him tumbling down a hill. His son Michael would succeed him.

[10] Romanos VI was born in 1360 as the oldest son of Emperor Michael IX and, unlike his father who grew up to be a soldier, would be someone who would be of a more scholarly air with this being something that would lead to Romanos VI being someone who would be more notable as an intellectual than a soldier. As such, when he became Emperor of the Romans in 1391 after his death, his reign would be marked by how he would be a peaceful and capable administrator, more interested in consolidating Rhomania's empire than expanding the realm with his reign being marked by an era of peace and prosperity which marked Rhomania during the 1390s. In this, Romanos VI would marry Olga, daughter of the Grand Prince of Muscovy, with the two having four children.

However, his reign would be interrupted when Tamerlane, having carved a swath of destruction from Delhi in the east to Baghdad in the west and forging a large empire, decided to burnish his claim as the "Sword of Islam" by defeating Rhomania and reclaiming Anatolia, which had been conquered by the Seljuks, for Islam. In this, Romanos VI would clash with Timur at Iconium with the Battle of Iconium seeing the army that Romanos had assembled be no match for what the war machine that Timur had assembled with Romanos VI being killed in battle and his head displayed at the Timurid camp. When news of Romanos' death reached Constantinople, Michael X was acclaimed as the Emperor of an Empire which was facing its biggest crisis in centuries with how much of Anatolia was being ravaged by Timur's armies, the Emperor was dead, and the army basically non-existent after the massacre at Iconium.

[11] Michael X was born in 1390 as the eldest child of Romanos VI. He ascended to the throne at the age of 13 in 1403 when the empire was in a time of great strife. His first action secured the peace of Rhomania. He would achieve this by promising the Timurids a yearly tribute and a peace alliance. To seal the deal, he married the Sultan's daughter Saray Malik Agha. After the humiliating peace treaty, he came back to the empire and privately vowed that neither he nor his successors would suffer such a situation ever again.

After the peace treaty and with vengeance in mind, Michael spent years building a spy network, carefully picking orphans who could be molded into perfect agents and manipulating the younglings so that they were absolutely loyal to him and none. His spy network was so efficient its doctrines and structure are used as the model for modern-day secret agencies.

His first use of his new spies was assassinating his siblings and relatives closest to the line of succession. The reason why he wasn’t suspected of the murders was because of another carefully planned assassination.

In 1420, after years of plotting he successfully had his spies assassinate as many important noblemen of the Timurid empire with a focus on the competent ones. The Sultan was obviously a target as well with his death along with his children Michael orchestrated a succession crisis that predictably led to war.

During the war, Michael made sure that the Timurids tired themselves out while fighting themselves. So when there was a winner of the war Michael and his armies immediately invaded the empire with only one objective, to bring absolute destruction.

Historians from other kingdoms are the only way we can get information about what happened. Michael had ordered his men to kill and burn anything and everything; whether it be a man, woman, child, animal, house, temple, mosque, building, farm or even a tree. Under his orders, the Romanian army had killed off at least 83% of the population while the rest eventually died out due to the burning having made the land inhabitable. Many compare this action to be even worse than what the Romans had done to Carthage.

Michael eventually had to leave but he was nowhere near satisfied, so he left the most fanatic Timurid haters he could find and ordered them to scout and kill any survivors that they happened to have missed, a task which they did very happily.

So Michael returned to the empire after making sure the Timurid empire was dead, cremated and its ashes scattered in the ocean. He was showered with praise by almost everyone he met for returning the humiliation that Timurids had done to them.

Michael was happy as well not just because of destroying the Timurid empire but because of another reason. By extensive use of his spy network, he engineered some “accidents” for his more powerful nobles, a lucky arrow here or there, a soldier killing someone before being killed off by another soldier etc. Their deaths allowed him to take more power for himself. Some would suspect foul play but they would mysteriously die off days later.

After Michael X had all the power he could currently have, he broke Roman tradition by being a very competent monarch. He reformed the army by promotions based on merit, ensured the soldiers had the best armour, food and pay they could find, made a law that any widow or family left by soldiers be entitled to compensation, encouraged trade by improving roads and bridges, patronized arts and literature and gave funding for civic and military research.

However, his family life was very different to his outside persona; to his wife, he was cold, distant and emotionally abusive. He despised her because of her relation to the Timurids. After she bore him enough heirs he had his spies assassinate her. Now he had free reign on how to raise his children as he saw fit.

He saw his children as his legacy, thus he made sure that they were raised the way he believed an imperial heir should be. That involved teaching them that compassion was for the weak by torturing prisoners, empathy was useless by giving them pet rabbits and then making them beat the rabbits with their own hands, how strength is everything by making them violate widows and then beating them himself to show that there is always someone stronger than them. This was followed by manipulating them by saying how it was to make them the best heirs they could be.

Nearing the end of his reign, he made sure his children got practical experience in the military and administration so that they became competent. When he was approaching his death Michael’s final actions were using his spy network to quash rebellions before they did anything, kill traitors before they were a threat and assassinate everyone with the closest claim to the throne in order to ensure a stable succession for his heir. The final deaths were every single one of his children except for the one he considered the most competent and worthy to rule.

Michael X was a megalomaniac, a control freak, a murderer and a manipulative abuser. So it is perhaps unsurprising that even in death he was a master of intrigue as he died peacefully in his sleep the empire was mourning the loss of a great ruler. During his final moments, he was surrounded by his only living child; the one that he believed would be the best successor. His final act was giving explicit orders to his nobles on who his preferred heir was.

He was succeeded by his son Alexios.

[12] Alexios was born in 1420, the second son, but third child of Michael. He idolized his father, believing he could do no wrong. He tried to emulate his father in any way possible. It is said he beat his rabbit almost immediately with a sadistic grin on his face. However, while Michael was methodical and secretive about his abuse and murder, Alexios was openly violent.

When he became emperor, he enacted a law that forbid anyone from practicing another religion, sentencing those who did not renounce their false faiths to a fiery death. He also decided to reclaim Italy for the Roman Empire, invading Scily and Naples. In 1457, he marched on Rome, sacking the holy city, even going as far to burn the pope for his heresy. This would of course cause all of the Catholic kingdoms to declare a crusade against the Rhomania empire.

It is said that when he learned of the crusade, Alexios laughed and said that the Celtics could not hope to defeat Caesar. He continued his attack on Italy, carving a bloody path up the boot and into the lands of the French. However, much like Caesar, he failed to notice the discontent brewing behind his back. In 1464, he would be betrayed by supporters of Ioannes who would capture him and bringing him back to Constantinople in chains.

[13] The youngest and only surviving son of Michael the X's favourite sister, Ioannes was spared as a babe by his uncle due to the pleas of his mother, whom had already lost four sons to the paranoia of her brother. Prostatinf herself before the Emperor, Eva of Constantinople would manage to awaken the only remnant of human compassion left in Emperor Michael, and he would, accordingly, spare her young babe.

A very intelligent child, John spent most of his young years keeping out of sight and out of the mind of his uncle, the only historical records of the man appearing during the reign of Emperor Alexios, to whom Ioannes managed to ingratiate himself too, receiving from his cousin the post of governor of Cappadocia and Cilicia, from where Ioannes would surely amass more and more influence as time went on.

The death of his cousin following the Italian campaign created a brief interregnum that threatened to shatter the Empire, as many parts of the nobility wanted every trace of the House of Branas gone, alongside a man who would grant the Empire some years of peace instead of near constant warfare. Despite the near constant primogeniture that had lended great stability to the Empire, many were ready to revive old traditions and elect an Emperor from amidst the nobility and the soldiery. Thankfully for Ioannes (and the soon to be Axouchos Dinasty), the intervention of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the military assured the continuity of male-preference primogeniture, as both the church and the military had been filled with loyalists to the throne and preferred continued stability. Thus, Ioannes started a new dinasty and came to bear the purple shroud of Caesars in Nova Roma.

The new Cesar's reign started with a mission to find peace with the Christians of the west. Fiercest of Ioannes rivals was Charles the VII of France, of the Evreux Branch of the Capetians, whom had held the thrones of France and Navarre for nigh on 100 years following the fall of the House of Valois. The Evreux's ruled a state that stretched from Brittany and Aquitaine in the East to Provence, Artois and the French-Compte in the west, the single most powerful state in western Europe of the time whom had recently expelled the English from the continent permanently. With the pope exiled at Charles's Court, it was with him that Ioannes secured the end to one of Christianity most bloodiest inter-sect wars.

Ioannes promised to retreat from Italy, restoring the many Italian prince's to their lands and titles. To avoid having to pay military reparations, Ioannes had the last Aragonese claimants to the thrones of Naples and Sicily quietly executed in the cells of Adrianople, restoring the "Capetian" Angevins to Palermo and Naples (Charles would receive from his "grateful" cousins the Duchies of Lorraine, Bar, Anjou and Picardy, states which they had ruled until then). Of the Italian conquest Ioannes would retain for himself only Malta, which would become the westernmost base of the Roman navy in fighting off Islamic piracy.

With peace in the west negotiated, Ioannes purposefully left the status of the Duchies of Milan and Romagna open, correctly guessing the Wittelsbach King of Bohemia and Duke of Bavaria, Rudolf I, would challenge the French on the right to should rule these regions. The Aragonese themselves would intervene too, starting the Italian wars.

Finally able to turn inwards after the early years of war and then the long negotiations, Ioannes would marry the Hungarian princess Elizabeth of Luxembourg to secure his northern flank to assure Hungarian neutrality in the submission of the last Serbian and Bulgarian despotates.

With the Balkans secured, Ioannes turned East to finally secure the lands conquered by Michael the great in the east. Using his vast army and spy network, Ioannes would devise a great plan meant to repopulate Greater Armenia, Kurdistan and Northern Mesopotamia and Syria. First pushing his Armenians subjects in Eastern Anatolia and Cilicia to move eastwards towards old Armenia and Kurdistan, he would afterwards propagate a great movement into Cilicia, Eastern Anatolia and Northern Syria of Greeks, primarily Ionians, Thracians, Pontics and Cappadocians, with many Balkan minorities such as Bulgars and Vlachs filling the vaccum in many regions. He would give the lands in Byzantine Mesopotamia to the many landless Assyrian tribes of the region, gaining their loyalty despite their religious disputes. Northern Mesopotamia became afterwards known as the province of Assyria.

With this great matter settled, Ioannes dedicated himself to the great things he actually liked - books, laws and procreation. He and his first wife, Elizabeth of Hungary would have 7 children, and after her death from tuberculosis he would marry Anna of Imereti, with whom he would have another 4 children. Ioannes would dedicate himself to restoring and renovating the laws of the Empire, cementing primogeniture as law, and he would go on a great investment spree once his coffers had recovered, building and rebuilding many monuments all over his Empire. A great patron of the military, Ioannes would turn the army into a true early medieval army, dependent not on chivalry but on gunpowder and the Arquebus.

Ioannes would once more find conflict during the latter part of his reign, subjugsting the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldávia, alongside helping the various Rus principalities shake off the Tatar yoke, expelling the raiders from the Crimea peninsula and the Roman port of Tanais and the mouth of the Don in the Azov sea.

Wirh a long and most prosperous reign, the Emperor would have a rather unworthy death. On a visit to the Great Arsenal of Galata in Constantinople, one of his pet projects, the aged John would trip on a bucket and smash his head against a crane in the docks. Despite the efforts of his physicians, Ioannes would die from trauma in the skull just after the turn of the century. He was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth.

[14] The only child of Ioannes III who outlived him due to a tragic fire that killed all her siblings (she herself escaped as she was confined elsewhere for an illness), Elizabeth was born in 1481 as the last child of Ioannes and his first wife. She was educated and formally trained for a significant marriage that, as a royal family alliance, would extend the kingdom's power and security as well as its influence and peaceful relations with other ruling powers. Due to nobody expecting her to inherit, she was not trained to rule, which would be used against her later on. She was married to Francis of Austria, the younger son of Maximilian II and Mary of Burgundy, with whom she was passionately in love, but he was a sadist towards her despite genuine initial affection - he eventually held her in a vicious cycle of affection, abuse, and intimidation from which she was constitutionally unable to escape. His education, which was influenced by Franco-Burgundian traditions, contributed to a model of rulership "exclusively male", thus he never saw Elizabeth as his political equal and could not accept that she tried to forge her own political identity. He would grow to resent her and his role as her consort, and eventually returned to the Low Countries, but before that the couple would have six surviving children together. Despite wearing black for the rest of her life afterwards as a sign of mourning, she would not express any other emotion for her estranged husband. As for Elizabeth herself, she would set out to rule by good consent, depending heavily on a group of female advisers, an unprecedented move. During her reign, the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia were annexed into her empire and she would also successfully reclaim Sicily, but not Naples, in another war against Italy. With a record-breakingly long reign, she would end up dying peacefully in her sleep.

[15] Károlos (previously know as Charles of Austria) was born in 1504 as the youngest child of Francis of Austria and Empress Elizabeth I. Károlos was initially raised in the Byzantine royal court but he would end up in the court of the Holy Roman Empire after his father would return to the Low Countries. Károlos had a very close relationship with his mother and would be deeply saddened when he would be forced to leave with his father. Károlos would have a difficult relationship with his father often having heated arguments with him and by the age of 14 he would have enough and would run away slowly making his way back to Constantinople to be with his mother. Once back to Constantinople Károlos would again make himself comfortable in his old home once again able to be with his mother who he loved so dearly helping to manage the large Empire. Károlos would help with running the Empire so much he would end up being designed regent after his mother would have an emotional breakdown due to her great grief. Eventually Elizabeth I would die in 1555 only after designating Károlos as her successor ahead of his older siblings.

Károlos would become Emperor at the age of 41 considerably older for his time but it would not deter him with him choosing the Greek spelling of Habsburg being Apsvoúrgo. Károlos would be a modest ruler for the Empire manly focusing on regional development but would also be intrigued by the prospect of the New World issuing the construction of a fleet of ships to eventually send on a expedition to the New World in hopes of great prospects. Károlos would only face one major issue during his reign and that would be with his older brother Francis of Austria who was until Károlos was designated heir to the Empire was he considered next in line even with him having spent the greater majority of his life living in the Holy Roman Empire and not even knowing how to speak Greek. Francis would make several attempts to his claim to the Byzantine throne with none proving successful.

Károlos had no trouble in providing heirs to the throne having married Clara of Saxe-Lauenburg in 1537 and would have a total of 9 children with her. Eventually Károlos would see his plan to explore the new world fulfilled when his fleet of ships would set out in early 1561 from the port of Constantinople eventually landing in the New World a few weeks later making way for further expeditions in 1563, 1564, and onwards. Károlos would push the prospect of the New World even further when he would fund the establishment of the colony of Elysium in 1571 on the East Coast of North America. Károlos would eventually die in 1573 after a short illness leaving his daughter, Elizabeth to take the throne.

[16] Elizabeth was the oldest daughter of Károlos and Clara, born in 1544. Her only surviving brother, Charles was very sickly and he would die in his adolescence due to cancer, leaving her the heiress of her father. By then she was already married to Francis II of France, who was equally sickly and died at sixteen - but he had managed to impregnate her with a son who would be born posthumously, seven months after his death. She stayed in France and acted as his regent until her father's death when she was forced to leave him behind. She never saw him again, but corresponded and had portraits sent. She was a great patroness of the arts and sciences and was considered to be deeply pious and charitable, but her court was cold and austere despite having lived at the lavish courts run by Catherine de Medici. During her lifetime, her empire remained economically healthy and she took a very active role in policy-making, often imposing her will over her governing councils. The only thing that really ruined her reputation was her surprising remarriage to an attractive son of one of her ladies-in-waiting, a decade younger than her. She would end up dying in childbirth at age 36, leaving ___ as her heir.

800px-Elisabeth_of_Austria_Queen_of_France_by_Jooris_van_der_Straaten_-_1570s_.jpg



[17] In the aftermath of Empress Elizabeth's death in childbirth, the army in Constantinople, backed by the prominent dynatoi, would acclaim Sophia, Empress Elizabeth's younger sister, as the new Empress and Autocrat of the Romans, unwilling to see either the King of France, someone who never stepped foot in Constantinople, or a newborn child, take the throne with the spectre of the Safavids, who had forged a sizable empire from Mesopotamia to Afghanistan, and a new and energetic dynasty in the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. Desiring capable leadership, they would enthrone the 32-year old Sophia as Empress with her husband (and co-Emperor) being Romanos Kantakuzenos, the scion to one of Rhomania's major royal families.

Despite the inauspicious start to their reign owing to having taken power via a palace coup, Sophia and Romanos would prove to be competent and effective co-rulers of the Empire, leading it to major defeats against the Safavids and Mamluks with most of the Levant and half of Mesopotamia being taken from the Mamluks and Safavids respectively by the end of their reign. Domestically, their reign would be marked by an era of relative stability and prosperity, especially with the expansion of Rhomania's colonial empire, centered around the colony in Elysium, during this period. In addition, Sophia would be a strong patron of the arts and culture during this period.

Sophia and Romanos would have six children between 1571 and 1593, four of which would survive to adulthood. Romanos and Sophia would both succumb to an outbreak of smallpox in 1608, leaving her daughter, Eva, the new Empress of Rhomania.


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[18]

Eva, born in 1572, was the oldest of Sophia and Romanos' four surviving daughters. Named after Eva of Constantinople, she proved to be nothing like her. A frivolous and fun-loving girl who cared little for her studies she nevertheless was very kind-hearted and compassionate which earned her many friends and admirers. As an adult she was joyous and carefree and she wore new clothes bedecked with precious jewels on a daily basis. She saw the best in everyone and was blindly loyal to her family and friends, which were not good traits for a monarch to have. Though she was extraordinarily personable and her judgments were always merciful, she would find herself outfoxed by her cousin Francis IV of France, the grandson of Francis II and Elizabeth II, when he waged war against her to consolidate his own claim to her throne. She ended up marrying him in order to achieve peace, and made the best of her situation, even though she resented being forced to share her power. However there was a silver lining - he had to rule France, so he was away for long periods of time. Despite struggles with fertility she would eventually bear him three children who lived to adulthood. During her reign she seized the remaining half of Mesopotamia that her parents had failed to take and continued to send expeditions to the new world. She also collected vast amounts of jewels and dresses which would be divided among her ladies in waiting after her death. She would die in her sleep and be succeeded by ___.
 
Can we stop with the constant changing of dynasties and the female ruler spamming in periods where it is simply unecessary? There's been enough discussions in other TL's about this, the most recent I think is Sarthaka's Swedish TL. It does not allow for stabilization of the story due to constant dynastical changes and succesion wars and keeps us stuck constantly in the same process.
 
Can we stop with the constant changing of dynasties and the female ruler spamming in periods where it is simply unecessary? There's been enough discussions in other TL's about this, the most recent I think is Sarthaka's Swedish TL. It does not allow for stabilization of the story due to constant dynastical changes and succesion wars and keeps us stuck constantly in the same process.
Yeah, we kinda need more peace and stability.
 
Can we stop with the constant changing of dynasties and the female ruler spamming in periods where it is simply unecessary? There's been enough discussions in other TL's about this, the most recent I think is Sarthaka's Swedish TL. It does not allow for stabilization of the story due to constant dynastical changes and succesion wars and keeps us stuck constantly in the same process.
It doesn't help that the woman is almost always married to a foreign ruler, no matter how unlikly.
 
Can we stop with the constant changing of dynasties and the female ruler spamming in periods where it is simply unecessary? There's been enough discussions in other TL's about this, the most recent I think is Sarthaka's Swedish TL. It does not allow for stabilization of the story due to constant dynastical changes and succesion wars and keeps us stuck constantly in the same process.
Seconding this. While female rulers did happen from time to time, they were rare. Let's try and make the list reflect that.
 
POD: Alexios Branas successfully overthrows Isaac II

Emperors, Empresses, and Autocrats of the Romans
1185-1187: Isaac II (Angelos)
1187-1208: Alexios III (Branas) [1]
1208-1227: Theodoros I (Branas) [2]
1227-1273: Alexios IV (Branas) [3]
1273-1277: Romanos V (Branas) [4]
1277-1313: Michael VIII "the Patient" "the Avenger" (Branas) [5]
1313-1342: Andrónikos II (Branas) [6]
1342-1350: Zoe
II (Branas) [7]
1350-1357: Succession War [8]
1357-1391: Michael IX (Branas-Lascaris) [9]
1391-1403: Romanos VI (Branas-Lascaris) [10]
1403-1445: Michael X "Τhe Great" (Branas-Lascaris) [11]
1445-1464: Alexios V "the Bloody" (Branas-Lascaris) [12]
1464-1501: Ioannes III "the Resolute" (Axouchos) [13]
1501-1555: Elizabeth I (Axouchos) [14]
1555-1573: Károlos I (Apsvoúrgo) [15]
1573-1580: Elizabeth II (Apsvoúrgo) [16]
1580-1608: Sophia I and Romanos VII (Apsvoúrgo-Kantakuzenos) [17]
1608-1650: Eva I (Apsvoúrgo-Kantakuzenos) [18]
1650-1684: Constantine XI (Galatikós) [19}


[1] The "Second Alexiad", as future historians would call it, would begin in 1187 when Alexios Branas, who had been sent to crush the Bulgarians, who had risen up under the Asen brothers, would instead rise up against Isaac II in the city of Adrianople, his home city. After seizing Adrianople, Alexios III would besiege and take Constantinople, defeating Conrad of Montferrat by striking him with a lance with the defeat leading to the defenders of Constantinople killing Isaac and his brother and son before surrendering the city. As Emperor, Alexios III's reign would be marked by the defeat of the Vlach-Bulgarian Revolt and the Sultanate of Rum with the Sultanate of Rum being effectively broken at the Battle of Ancyra in 1200, which effectively reduced it to a rump client state of Rhomania. Alexios III would die in 1208 a happy man, having seen Rhomania crush the Bulgars and Turks and his policies having promoted a new golden age for the Empire as a continuation of the Komnenian Renaissance. He would be succeeded by Theodoros.

[2] Alexios III Branas's son Theodoros married the twice-widowed Empress Anna, formerly Agnes of France, soon after his father became Emperor. He inherited a thriving and pacified empire from his father. The only shadow in his life was the deaths of several of his children by Anna. In 1209, he married his eldest surviving daughter Theodora to his distant cousin Manuel Doukas, a cousin of the Angeloi emperors, but this union was short-lived, as Manuel died of a fever three years later.
The Fourth Crusade having failed after the infamous sack of Zara, Pope Innocent III called for another Crusade in 1212. On Anna's advice, Theodoros agreed to send soldiers to the Holy Land to help the Crusader army. Part of the army marched on Egypt, while the other went through the Eastern Empire to the Holy Land. The year 1217 saw the creation of the Principality of Damascus, ruled by the Queen of Jerusalem's younger half-sister Philippa, who became one of the most sought-after matches in the Christian Levant. Theodoros himself offered her one of his sons as husband.
The same year, the Sultan of Egypt, Al-Adil I, and his son Al-Kamil were killed in battle, leading to a succession war between his sons. The Sultanate was eventually divided into three Emirates ruled by Al-Adil's surviving sons: the Emirate of Egypt was ruled by Al-Ashraf, the Emirate of Hamat by Al-Mu'azzam and the Emirate of Jezira by Al-Muzaffar.
Theodoros returned to Constantinople in 1219 and spent the last years of his life and reign strengthening the commercial ties between his Empire, the West and the Levant.
After his wife Anna died in April 1227, Theodoros slowly lost his taste for life and followed her into the grave two months later. He was succeeded by Alexios.

[3] Alexios IV was born in 1209 as the firstborn child of Emperor Theodoros I’s son, Andronikos. He was named after his great grandfather, Alexios III. Alexios would become Emperor at the age of 18 in 1227 after the death of his grandfather due to his father having died of typhoid a few years prior. Alexios would be know mostly as a conqueror by future historians having led campaigns into Asia Minor, Syria, and even southwestern Georgia taking significant amounts of land for his own Empire and the Principality of Damascus.

Alexios would see internal problems during his reign due to large amounts of Muslims living in his Empire after his many conquests with many resentful against their Byzantine overlords with these tensions escalating in 1261 after a well known mosque was burned down by a legion of Tagmata leading to a large scale Muslim revolt across the Empire. The revolt would be crushed over the following year but it would leave a long lasting effect for many years to come with many historians estimating that the Muslim population was cut nearly in half after the revolt.

Though Alexios had a lot to deal with during his reign he would have time for his personal life as well having married Sophie of Bavaria, the second daughter of Otto II, Duke of Bavaria in 1258 and would have a few children with her. There were a few allegations against Alexios stating that he had secretly had a child with a Muslim servant but there was no evidence to support these claims.

Alexios would die of natural causes in 1273 being succeeded by his son Romanos IV.

[4] Romanos IV was born in 1259 as the first son of Sophie of Bavaria and Alexios IV, becoming Emperor at the age of 14. Having grown up under the shadow of his father, Romanos IV would be someone who would attempt to win military glory for himself, especially as he would grow up to be a strong young man along with a highly brave one. In this, he would try to launch an invasion of the Il-Khanate, despite many of his advisors counseling against it owing to how the Il-Khanate was the successor to the Mongols who had swept all before them, something that would end in the Battle of Mosul where he, along with most of the army, was massacred by the Il-Khanate's army with historical reports disputing whether he was killed in battle or captured alive and then trampled to death by horses owing to the Mongol tradition of not spilling royal blood. When news of the catastrophe reached Constantinople, his brother Michael was acclaimed as the new Emperor owing to Romanos not leaving behind any children.

[5] Michael was the second living son of Alexios and Sophie, born in 1263. Like his brother, he was merely fourteen when he became emperor. He decided that in order to avenge his brother, he needed allies. Therefore, he made a pact with Hungary and Poland to support each other should Mongols ever attack and he spent most of his days strengthening the boarders. Some people accused him of a being a coward, but Michael quickly showed that caution was not cowardice when he lead his troops to quell a rebellion that sprung up in 1281, showing how ruthless he could be when the situation called for it.

In his personal life, Michael would marry Elizabeth of Sicily in 1281, after the death of her first husband Ladislaus of Hungary. The couple would have a most loving relationship, with Elizabeth often acting as the go between between Michael and the Italian rulers, gaining more allies for Michael eventual strike against the Mongol empire. Despite their loving marriage the couple would only have four surviving children. Elizabeth's death in 1303 would be the worst day of Michael's life and he refused to marry again and his health became increasingly worse.

With much diplomacy, offering dynastic matches, trading agreements, and outright bribery, in 1300, Michael had finally convinced the Pope to declare a crusade against the Mongols. His main objective was attacking the Il-Khanate. He could not have picked a better time as it had fallen into civil war. The battle was not easy but using ambush and guerrilla tactics to keep his foes off balance as he obliterated the horde. It is said that he refused to allow any of the men live, professing that his brother's soul would never be at peace, unless every man, whether or not they had been responsible for Ramanos's death, were dead.

He returned home, just in time time to witness his wife's death from a fever. He would mourn her for the rest of his life, and refused to marry again despite his councilors pleading. His health began to decline slowly, until the last few years where he was bedridden. When he died, Andrónikos II would rise to the throne.

[6] Andrónikos II was born in 1286 as the only son of Michael VIII and Elizabeth of Sicily to survive to adulthood. Andrónikos was very close to his mother being only 14 years old at the time of her death having cared for her while she was ill and was deeply heartbroken just like his father by it. Andrónikos would blame his father for her death by not being their for them instead off on his campaign against the Mongols and a rift would form between them. Andrónikos would eventually ascend to the throne at the age of 27 after the death of his father in 1313.

Andrónikos’ reign would be mostly peaceful with small revolts popping up here or there but he would try to keep the peace for the rest of his life. Despite being asked various times to marry but Andrónikos would hear none of it wishing not to be saddened any more than he had been by his mother’s death. Andrónikos would die in 1342 with no children of natural causes.

[7] Zoe was the daughter of Elisabet the eldest daughter of Michael VIII. Her mother had married her distant cousin, descendant from Alexios III's second son. Unfortunately, Alexois died in 1301 in the battle with the II-Khanate, with Zoe being born two months later. Her mother would die of childbed fever leaving her an orphan. She would be adopted by her uncle and when he became emperor, he would groom her to be his heir.

At age eighteen, Zoe would marry Peter II of Sicily in 1323. However, the marriage would turn bitter as Zoe felt that as the heir to an empire, she was not subservient to a king and she resisted his constant pushing for her to become Catholic. In 1325, they would receive an annulment and Zoe returned to Constantinople. Over the years, Zoe would have many suitors seeking her hand, but she rejected them all, preferring to be in the company of her bodyguard, David Lascaris. There were plenty of rumors surrounding the pair. Especially when Zoe fell ill in 1328 and spent a whole year in the country, away from the eyes of the court.

In 1342, her uncle died and Zoe became empress. Now a woman in her forties, her councilors doubted that she would have an heir even if they could convince her to marry. Sadly Zoe's rule would be short as black death swept the nation, killing many including the empress. This left the empire scrambling to find a new ruler.

[8] The troubled weeks that followed Zoe’s death saw the beginning of a succession war. Although Zoe was much loved by her people for her steadfastness and commitment to her empire, her refusal to marry would have lasting consequences.

Only days before the Empress died, her cousin and closest male relative Alexios Branas Doukas, the son of her aunt Eudoxia and a distant cousin descended from Emperor Theodoros, succumbed to the plague, leaving a young son, Andrónikos. However, many distrusted the child’s mother, Urraca of Navarre, whose views had always been too pro-Latin for their liking.

As a result, two more pretenders soon appeared: the first was another of Zoe’s cousins, Irene Branaina Kantakouzena. Irene’s mother Anna was Michael VIII’s third daughter and the second of his children to survive him. Like her cousin, Irene was a strong-willed woman, determined to get the Empire despite young Andrónikos’s claim.

The third pretender was Michael Branas Lascaris, a young man who claimed to be Zoe’s son, born of a secret marriage she had supposedly contracted with her bodyguard David. Michael had been brought up by David’s elderly parents in a small village near Nicaea and the local population and nobility supported him, especially as he did look a little like his supposed late great-uncle Emperor Andrónikos II. However he offered no proof of his parents’ marriage, which made him a bastard at best in his rivals’ eyes.

As none of the three pretenders would relinquish their claims, the war raged for seven years until Michael eventually emerged victorious.

[9] The man who would become Michael the Ninth was a figure shrouded in mystery. While modern DNA tests confirms that he was Empress Zoe's son, born during her year long seclusion, it is still up to debate whether his parents were married or not. Regardless of his origins, he was seen as the dark horse candidate of the succession war. Not many seemed to think he would win.

However, Michael was a skilled commander and a charming individual. Not to mention, he had a schooling similar to a prince (some suspect if Zoe had not died so suddenly, she would have declared him her heir). He managed to win a decisive battle against the forces of Irene Kantakouzena, capturing several of her important supporters. Including her husband, Ramonos Kantakouzena. He refused to ransom Ramonos unless he married the eldest daughter of Irene, Antonia. Unfortunately, Irene's death in 1355, made matters moot. Her eldest son, named Theodoros choose not to continue the fighting and instead met with Michael under a banner of peace. The two young men agreed to join forces with Michael being declared emperor and marrying Anonia Kantakouzena.

In 1356, fifteen-year-old Andrónikos would convert to Catholicism, offending many of his conservative vassals. This would lead to his undoing as several of his supporters would now throw their lot in with Michael. Then in 1357, Andrónikos would collapse after a meal with many suspecting poison (it has been confirmed by historians that he died as a result of arsenic). It is unknown if Michael gave the order or not, but regardless of the less than stellar circumstances, he still marched into Constantinople and was crowned emperor. He would launch an investigation into his rival's poisoning, finding the culprit months later who was revealed to be have been a long time adversary of Andrónikos. It was wrapped neatly, a little too neatly according to those who still saw Michael up-jumped bastard.

Michael would have to deal with two rebellions in his tenor as emperor. The first being was in 1363 as those who believed that Michael was a) a bastard and b) a murderer, teamed up to overthrow him. Theodoros would die on the battlefield, just twenty-three years old. Despite the devastating loss, the emperor managed to prevail, striking down the leader of the rebellion himself.

The next rebellion was in 1379. After Theodoros and then his father's death, all their lands and titles would fall on the second brother, named Michael in a surprise twist. He would declare himself the rightful emperor, taking up his mother's claim. He marched on Constantinople with the goal of sieging it. Unfortunately, the emperor was waiting for him, ambushing him with his own forces. It would be a short, but a bloody battle. The pretender was only saved by his sister, Antonia, who pregnant, got down on her knees in front of her husband and begged for his life. Michael Kantakouzena was exiled and threatened never to re turn.

These two rebellions would cement Michael's status as emperor, making it clear to the of Europe that he was not going anywhere. As the King of France had been a cousin of the late Andrónikos, things were tense between the two countries. Michael choose to reach out to England, the Holy Roman Emperor, and Castile in hopes of gaining allies to help him, should France back the siblings of Andrónikos who had fled with their mother to the native Navarre. He became the first emperor to visit the British isles, meeting Richard II, and agreeing to a betrothal between the English king and the emperor's daughter, Anna.

In 1391, Michael would die in a hunting accident where his horse sent him tumbling down a hill. His son Michael would succeed him.

[10] Romanos VI was born in 1360 as the oldest son of Emperor Michael IX and, unlike his father who grew up to be a soldier, would be someone who would be of a more scholarly air with this being something that would lead to Romanos VI being someone who would be more notable as an intellectual than a soldier. As such, when he became Emperor of the Romans in 1391 after his death, his reign would be marked by how he would be a peaceful and capable administrator, more interested in consolidating Rhomania's empire than expanding the realm with his reign being marked by an era of peace and prosperity which marked Rhomania during the 1390s. In this, Romanos VI would marry Olga, daughter of the Grand Prince of Muscovy, with the two having four children.

However, his reign would be interrupted when Tamerlane, having carved a swath of destruction from Delhi in the east to Baghdad in the west and forging a large empire, decided to burnish his claim as the "Sword of Islam" by defeating Rhomania and reclaiming Anatolia, which had been conquered by the Seljuks, for Islam. In this, Romanos VI would clash with Timur at Iconium with the Battle of Iconium seeing the army that Romanos had assembled be no match for what the war machine that Timur had assembled with Romanos VI being killed in battle and his head displayed at the Timurid camp. When news of Romanos' death reached Constantinople, Michael X was acclaimed as the Emperor of an Empire which was facing its biggest crisis in centuries with how much of Anatolia was being ravaged by Timur's armies, the Emperor was dead, and the army basically non-existent after the massacre at Iconium.

[11] Michael X was born in 1390 as the eldest child of Romanos VI. He ascended to the throne at the age of 13 in 1403 when the empire was in a time of great strife. His first action secured the peace of Rhomania. He would achieve this by promising the Timurids a yearly tribute and a peace alliance. To seal the deal, he married the Sultan's daughter Saray Malik Agha. After the humiliating peace treaty, he came back to the empire and privately vowed that neither he nor his successors would suffer such a situation ever again.

After the peace treaty and with vengeance in mind, Michael spent years building a spy network, carefully picking orphans who could be molded into perfect agents and manipulating the younglings so that they were absolutely loyal to him and none. His spy network was so efficient its doctrines and structure are used as the model for modern-day secret agencies.

His first use of his new spies was assassinating his siblings and relatives closest to the line of succession. The reason why he wasn’t suspected of the murders was because of another carefully planned assassination.

In 1420, after years of plotting he successfully had his spies assassinate as many important noblemen of the Timurid empire with a focus on the competent ones. The Sultan was obviously a target as well with his death along with his children Michael orchestrated a succession crisis that predictably led to war.

During the war, Michael made sure that the Timurids tired themselves out while fighting themselves. So when there was a winner of the war Michael and his armies immediately invaded the empire with only one objective, to bring absolute destruction.

Historians from other kingdoms are the only way we can get information about what happened. Michael had ordered his men to kill and burn anything and everything; whether it be a man, woman, child, animal, house, temple, mosque, building, farm or even a tree. Under his orders, the Romanian army had killed off at least 83% of the population while the rest eventually died out due to the burning having made the land inhabitable. Many compare this action to be even worse than what the Romans had done to Carthage.

Michael eventually had to leave but he was nowhere near satisfied, so he left the most fanatic Timurid haters he could find and ordered them to scout and kill any survivors that they happened to have missed, a task which they did very happily.

So Michael returned to the empire after making sure the Timurid empire was dead, cremated and its ashes scattered in the ocean. He was showered with praise by almost everyone he met for returning the humiliation that Timurids had done to them.

Michael was happy as well not just because of destroying the Timurid empire but because of another reason. By extensive use of his spy network, he engineered some “accidents” for his more powerful nobles, a lucky arrow here or there, a soldier killing someone before being killed off by another soldier etc. Their deaths allowed him to take more power for himself. Some would suspect foul play but they would mysteriously die off days later.

After Michael X had all the power he could currently have, he broke Roman tradition by being a very competent monarch. He reformed the army by promotions based on merit, ensured the soldiers had the best armour, food and pay they could find, made a law that any widow or family left by soldiers be entitled to compensation, encouraged trade by improving roads and bridges, patronized arts and literature and gave funding for civic and military research.

However, his family life was very different to his outside persona; to his wife, he was cold, distant and emotionally abusive. He despised her because of her relation to the Timurids. After she bore him enough heirs he had his spies assassinate her. Now he had free reign on how to raise his children as he saw fit.

He saw his children as his legacy, thus he made sure that they were raised the way he believed an imperial heir should be. That involved teaching them that compassion was for the weak by torturing prisoners, empathy was useless by giving them pet rabbits and then making them beat the rabbits with their own hands, how strength is everything by making them violate widows and then beating them himself to show that there is always someone stronger than them. This was followed by manipulating them by saying how it was to make them the best heirs they could be.

Nearing the end of his reign, he made sure his children got practical experience in the military and administration so that they became competent. When he was approaching his death Michael’s final actions were using his spy network to quash rebellions before they did anything, kill traitors before they were a threat and assassinate everyone with the closest claim to the throne in order to ensure a stable succession for his heir. The final deaths were every single one of his children except for the one he considered the most competent and worthy to rule.

Michael X was a megalomaniac, a control freak, a murderer and a manipulative abuser. So it is perhaps unsurprising that even in death he was a master of intrigue as he died peacefully in his sleep the empire was mourning the loss of a great ruler. During his final moments, he was surrounded by his only living child; the one that he believed would be the best successor. His final act was giving explicit orders to his nobles on who his preferred heir was.

He was succeeded by his son Alexios.

[12] Alexios was born in 1420, the second son, but third child of Michael. He idolized his father, believing he could do no wrong. He tried to emulate his father in any way possible. It is said he beat his rabbit almost immediately with a sadistic grin on his face. However, while Michael was methodical and secretive about his abuse and murder, Alexios was openly violent.

When he became emperor, he enacted a law that forbid anyone from practicing another religion, sentencing those who did not renounce their false faiths to a fiery death. He also decided to reclaim Italy for the Roman Empire, invading Scily and Naples. In 1457, he marched on Rome, sacking the holy city, even going as far to burn the pope for his heresy. This would of course cause all of the Catholic kingdoms to declare a crusade against the Rhomania empire.

It is said that when he learned of the crusade, Alexios laughed and said that the Celtics could not hope to defeat Caesar. He continued his attack on Italy, carving a bloody path up the boot and into the lands of the French. However, much like Caesar, he failed to notice the discontent brewing behind his back. In 1464, he would be betrayed by supporters of Ioannes who would capture him and bringing him back to Constantinople in chains.

[13] The youngest and only surviving son of Michael the X's favourite sister, Ioannes was spared as a babe by his uncle due to the pleas of his mother, whom had already lost four sons to the paranoia of her brother. Prostatinf herself before the Emperor, Eva of Constantinople would manage to awaken the only remnant of human compassion left in Emperor Michael, and he would, accordingly, spare her young babe.

A very intelligent child, John spent most of his young years keeping out of sight and out of the mind of his uncle, the only historical records of the man appearing during the reign of Emperor Alexios, to whom Ioannes managed to ingratiate himself too, receiving from his cousin the post of governor of Cappadocia and Cilicia, from where Ioannes would surely amass more and more influence as time went on.

The death of his cousin following the Italian campaign created a brief interregnum that threatened to shatter the Empire, as many parts of the nobility wanted every trace of the House of Branas gone, alongside a man who would grant the Empire some years of peace instead of near constant warfare. Despite the near constant primogeniture that had lended great stability to the Empire, many were ready to revive old traditions and elect an Emperor from amidst the nobility and the soldiery. Thankfully for Ioannes (and the soon to be Axouchos Dinasty), the intervention of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the military assured the continuity of male-preference primogeniture, as both the church and the military had been filled with loyalists to the throne and preferred continued stability. Thus, Ioannes started a new dinasty and came to bear the purple shroud of Caesars in Nova Roma.

The new Cesar's reign started with a mission to find peace with the Christians of the west. Fiercest of Ioannes rivals was Charles the VII of France, of the Evreux Branch of the Capetians, whom had held the thrones of France and Navarre for nigh on 100 years following the fall of the House of Valois. The Evreux's ruled a state that stretched from Brittany and Aquitaine in the East to Provence, Artois and the French-Compte in the west, the single most powerful state in western Europe of the time whom had recently expelled the English from the continent permanently. With the pope exiled at Charles's Court, it was with him that Ioannes secured the end to one of Christianity most bloodiest inter-sect wars.

Ioannes promised to retreat from Italy, restoring the many Italian prince's to their lands and titles. To avoid having to pay military reparations, Ioannes had the last Aragonese claimants to the thrones of Naples and Sicily quietly executed in the cells of Adrianople, restoring the "Capetian" Angevins to Palermo and Naples (Charles would receive from his "grateful" cousins the Duchies of Lorraine, Bar, Anjou and Picardy, states which they had ruled until then). Of the Italian conquest Ioannes would retain for himself only Malta, which would become the westernmost base of the Roman navy in fighting off Islamic piracy.

With peace in the west negotiated, Ioannes purposefully left the status of the Duchies of Milan and Romagna open, correctly guessing the Wittelsbach King of Bohemia and Duke of Bavaria, Rudolf I, would challenge the French on the right to should rule these regions. The Aragonese themselves would intervene too, starting the Italian wars.

Finally able to turn inwards after the early years of war and then the long negotiations, Ioannes would marry the Hungarian princess Elizabeth of Luxembourg to secure his northern flank to assure Hungarian neutrality in the submission of the last Serbian and Bulgarian despotates.

With the Balkans secured, Ioannes turned East to finally secure the lands conquered by Michael the great in the east. Using his vast army and spy network, Ioannes would devise a great plan meant to repopulate Greater Armenia, Kurdistan and Northern Mesopotamia and Syria. First pushing his Armenians subjects in Eastern Anatolia and Cilicia to move eastwards towards old Armenia and Kurdistan, he would afterwards propagate a great movement into Cilicia, Eastern Anatolia and Northern Syria of Greeks, primarily Ionians, Thracians, Pontics and Cappadocians, with many Balkan minorities such as Bulgars and Vlachs filling the vaccum in many regions. He would give the lands in Byzantine Mesopotamia to the many landless Assyrian tribes of the region, gaining their loyalty despite their religious disputes. Northern Mesopotamia became afterwards known as the province of Assyria.

With this great matter settled, Ioannes dedicated himself to the great things he actually liked - books, laws and procreation. He and his first wife, Elizabeth of Hungary would have 7 children, and after her death from tuberculosis he would marry Anna of Imereti, with whom he would have another 4 children. Ioannes would dedicate himself to restoring and renovating the laws of the Empire, cementing primogeniture as law, and he would go on a great investment spree once his coffers had recovered, building and rebuilding many monuments all over his Empire. A great patron of the military, Ioannes would turn the army into a true early medieval army, dependent not on chivalry but on gunpowder and the Arquebus.

Ioannes would once more find conflict during the latter part of his reign, subjugsting the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldávia, alongside helping the various Rus principalities shake off the Tatar yoke, expelling the raiders from the Crimea peninsula and the Roman port of Tanais and the mouth of the Don in the Azov sea.

Wirh a long and most prosperous reign, the Emperor would have a rather unworthy death. On a visit to the Great Arsenal of Galata in Constantinople, one of his pet projects, the aged John would trip on a bucket and smash his head against a crane in the docks. Despite the efforts of his physicians, Ioannes would die from trauma in the skull just after the turn of the century. He was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth.

[14] The only child of Ioannes III who outlived him due to a tragic fire that killed all her siblings (she herself escaped as she was confined elsewhere for an illness), Elizabeth was born in 1481 as the last child of Ioannes and his first wife. She was educated and formally trained for a significant marriage that, as a royal family alliance, would extend the kingdom's power and security as well as its influence and peaceful relations with other ruling powers. Due to nobody expecting her to inherit, she was not trained to rule, which would be used against her later on. She was married to Francis of Austria, the younger son of Maximilian II and Mary of Burgundy, with whom she was passionately in love, but he was a sadist towards her despite genuine initial affection - he eventually held her in a vicious cycle of affection, abuse, and intimidation from which she was constitutionally unable to escape. His education, which was influenced by Franco-Burgundian traditions, contributed to a model of rulership "exclusively male", thus he never saw Elizabeth as his political equal and could not accept that she tried to forge her own political identity. He would grow to resent her and his role as her consort, and eventually returned to the Low Countries, but before that the couple would have six surviving children together. Despite wearing black for the rest of her life afterwards as a sign of mourning, she would not express any other emotion for her estranged husband. As for Elizabeth herself, she would set out to rule by good consent, depending heavily on a group of female advisers, an unprecedented move. During her reign, the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia were annexed into her empire and she would also successfully reclaim Sicily, but not Naples, in another war against Italy. With a record-breakingly long reign, she would end up dying peacefully in her sleep.

[15] Károlos (previously know as Charles of Austria) was born in 1504 as the youngest child of Francis of Austria and Empress Elizabeth I. Károlos was initially raised in the Byzantine royal court but he would end up in the court of the Holy Roman Empire after his father would return to the Low Countries. Károlos had a very close relationship with his mother and would be deeply saddened when he would be forced to leave with his father. Károlos would have a difficult relationship with his father often having heated arguments with him and by the age of 14 he would have enough and would run away slowly making his way back to Constantinople to be with his mother. Once back to Constantinople Károlos would again make himself comfortable in his old home once again able to be with his mother who he loved so dearly helping to manage the large Empire. Károlos would help with running the Empire so much he would end up being designed regent after his mother would have an emotional breakdown due to her great grief. Eventually Elizabeth I would die in 1555 only after designating Károlos as her successor ahead of his older siblings.

Károlos would become Emperor at the age of 41 considerably older for his time but it would not deter him with him choosing the Greek spelling of Habsburg being Apsvoúrgo. Károlos would be a modest ruler for the Empire manly focusing on regional development but would also be intrigued by the prospect of the New World issuing the construction of a fleet of ships to eventually send on a expedition to the New World in hopes of great prospects. Károlos would only face one major issue during his reign and that would be with his older brother Francis of Austria who was until Károlos was designated heir to the Empire was he considered next in line even with him having spent the greater majority of his life living in the Holy Roman Empire and not even knowing how to speak Greek. Francis would make several attempts to his claim to the Byzantine throne with none proving successful.

Károlos had no trouble in providing heirs to the throne having married Clara of Saxe-Lauenburg in 1537 and would have a total of 9 children with her. Eventually Károlos would see his plan to explore the new world fulfilled when his fleet of ships would set out in early 1561 from the port of Constantinople eventually landing in the New World a few weeks later making way for further expeditions in 1563, 1564, and onwards. Károlos would push the prospect of the New World even further when he would fund the establishment of the colony of Elysium in 1571 on the East Coast of North America. Károlos would eventually die in 1573 after a short illness leaving his daughter, Elizabeth to take the throne.

[16] Elizabeth was the oldest daughter of Károlos and Clara, born in 1544. Her only surviving brother, Charles was very sickly and he would die in his adolescence due to cancer, leaving her the heiress of her father. By then she was already married to Francis II of France, who was equally sickly and died at sixteen - but he had managed to impregnate her with a son who would be born posthumously, seven months after his death. She stayed in France and acted as his regent until her father's death when she was forced to leave him behind. She never saw him again, but corresponded and had portraits sent. She was a great patroness of the arts and sciences and was considered to be deeply pious and charitable, but her court was cold and austere despite having lived at the lavish courts run by Catherine de Medici. During her lifetime, her empire remained economically healthy and she took a very active role in policy-making, often imposing her will over her governing councils. The only thing that really ruined her reputation was her surprising remarriage to an attractive son of one of her ladies-in-waiting, a decade younger than her. She would end up dying in childbirth at age 36, leaving ___ as her heir.

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[17] In the aftermath of Empress Elizabeth's death in childbirth, the army in Constantinople, backed by the prominent dynatoi, would acclaim Sophia, Empress Elizabeth's younger sister, as the new Empress and Autocrat of the Romans, unwilling to see either the King of France, someone who never stepped foot in Constantinople, or a newborn child, take the throne with the spectre of the Safavids, who had forged a sizable empire from Mesopotamia to Afghanistan, and a new and energetic dynasty in the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. Desiring capable leadership, they would enthrone the 32-year old Sophia as Empress with her husband (and co-Emperor) being Romanos Kantakuzenos, the scion to one of Rhomania's major royal families.

Despite the inauspicious start to their reign owing to having taken power via a palace coup, Sophia and Romanos would prove to be competent and effective co-rulers of the Empire, leading it to major defeats against the Safavids and Mamluks with most of the Levant and half of Mesopotamia being taken from the Mamluks and Safavids respectively by the end of their reign. Domestically, their reign would be marked by an era of relative stability and prosperity, especially with the expansion of Rhomania's colonial empire, centered around the colony in Elysium, during this period. In addition, Sophia would be a strong patron of the arts and culture during this period.

Sophia and Romanos would have six children between 1571 and 1593, four of which would survive to adulthood. Romanos and Sophia would both succumb to an outbreak of smallpox in 1608, leaving her daughter, Eva, the new Empress of Rhomania.


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[18]

Eva, born in 1572, was the oldest of Sophia and Romanos' four surviving daughters. Named after Eva of Constantinople, she proved to be nothing like her. A frivolous and fun-loving girl who cared little for her studies she nevertheless was very kind-hearted and compassionate which earned her many friends and admirers. As an adult she was joyous and carefree and she wore new clothes bedecked with precious jewels on a daily basis. She saw the best in everyone and was blindly loyal to her family and friends, which were not good traits for a monarch to have. Though she was extraordinarily personable and her judgments were always merciful, she would find herself outfoxed by her cousin Francis IV of France, the grandson of Francis II and Elizabeth II, when he waged war against her to consolidate his own claim to her throne. She ended up marrying him in order to achieve peace, and made the best of her situation, even though she resented being forced to share her power. However there was a silver lining - he had to rule France, so he was away for long periods of time. Despite struggles with fertility she would eventually bear him three children who lived to adulthood. During her reign she seized the remaining half of Mesopotamia that her parents had failed to take and continued to send expeditions to the new world. She also collected vast amounts of jewels and dresses which would be divided among her ladies in waiting after her death. She would die in her sleep and be succeeded by her second son, Constantine.

[19} Born of the shared marriage of Roman Empress Eva and that of King Francis the IV of France, Constantine was from birth chosen by his shrewd father as his heir to the throne of Rome far in the east, for King Francis recognized early that to govern the two states would an enormous, taxing predicament, even if the dream of a restored Rome seemed nearer than ever. Despite keeping custody of his three children by Eva, Charles, Elizabeth and Constantine, a prerogrative he had assured during the war which had made him Emperor-Consort of Rome, he would send his young son Constantine to the Roman court, where he would thereafter be raised by his mother.

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Grown with the famous robustness and height of those belonging to the dynasty of Evreux, Constantine's thick blonde hair and beard made him a rare sight in a city as southern as Constantinople, and the wrinkles around his eyes gave him a somber appearance which left many of those supposed to aproach them. His mixed Cappadocian-French accent, derived from his military tutours and the guardians his father sent with him gave him a oft mysterious appearance. Nonetheless, Constantine did not allow his teenage reputation to bother him, as he soon carved more and more power from his mother and by her last years ruled the Empire in his own right.

Risen to the purple in 1650, Constantine adopted for himself the dynastic name of Galaktikos, in reference to his french origin but also to the Roman Throne's "Universality" of rule as head of both Christendom and as the permanent Empire of Rome. An enthusiastic ruler, if a silent and reserved man, Constantine would formally recognize Portuguese independence, marrying John of Coimbra's sister Adelaide in a luxurious ceremony in the Sicilian city of Palermo. The brief war with Spain fought afterwards would see Portugal cede Ceuta and the rest of Spanish Northern Morocco to Rome, which allowed easy access into the Atlantic. Thus, Elysium prospered immenselly, growing to border British Florida in the South and French Acadia in the North.

Growing his family, Constantine was both a grand imperialist and a firm investor in his own backyard. Under him, the artisans and industries of Antioch, Trebizond, Constantinople, Smyrna, Patras and Sofia prospered greatly and the land was tilled at levels never seen before. As his reign became secure with his wive's successive succesful pregnancies, Constantine invaded the Sultanate of Egypt and conquered Egypt, Cyrenaica, Sudan and the Hejaz into his Empire. Such a massive increase of land(and the death of many, primarily muslim civilians) during the conquest created a massive settler movement towards the south, and the Copts of Egypt and the Maronites of Syria and Lebanon were given opportunities in this new Empire. This period post-conquest started a rejuvenation of Coptic and Aramaic, and many amongst these peoples still see Constantine as their patron emperor.

Constantine would eventually die off in 1684, suffering from a heart attack. He was succeeded by __________.
 
Emperors, Empresses, and Autocrats of the Romans
1185-1187: Isaac II (Angelos)
1187-1208: Alexios III (Branas) [1]
1208-1227: Theodoros I (Branas) [2]
1227-1273: Alexios IV (Branas) [3]
1273-1277: Romanos V (Branas) [4]
1277-1313: Michael VIII "the Patient" "the Avenger" (Branas) [5]
1313-1342: Andrónikos II (Branas) [6]
1342-1350: Zoe
II (Branas) [7]
1350-1357: Succession War [8]
1357-1391: Michael IX (Branas-Lascaris) [9]
1391-1403: Romanos VI (Branas-Lascaris) [10]
1403-1445: Michael X "Τhe Great" (Branas-Lascaris) [11]
1445-1464: Alexios V "the Bloody" (Branas-Lascaris) [12]
1464-1501: Ioannes III "the Resolute" (Axouchos) [13]
1501-1555: Elizabeth I (Axouchos) [14]
1555-1573: Károlos I (Apsvoúrgo) [15]
1573-1580: Elizabeth II (Apsvoúrgo) [16]
1580-1608: Sophia I and Romanos VII (Apsvoúrgo-Kantakuzenos) [17]
1608-1650: Eva I (Apsvoúrgo-Kantakuzenos) [18]
1650-1684: Constantine XI (Galatikós) [19]
1684-1717: Romanos VIII (Galatikós) [20]


[1] The "Second Alexiad", as future historians would call it, would begin in 1187 when Alexios Branas, who had been sent to crush the Bulgarians, who had risen under the Asen brothers, would instead rise against Isaac II in the city of Adrianople, his home city. After seizing Adrianople, Alexios III would besiege and take Constantinople, defeating Conrad of Montferrat by striking him with a lance with the defeat led to the defenders of Constantinople killing Isaac and his brother and son before surrendering the city. As Emperor, Alexios III's reign would be marked by the defeat of the Vlach-Bulgarian Revolt and the Sultanate of Rum with the Sultanate of Rum being effectively broken at the Battle of Ancyra in 1200, which effectively reduced it to a rump client state of Rhomania. Alexios III would die in 1208 a happy man, having seen Rhomania crush the Bulgars and Turks and his policies having promoted a new golden age for the Empire as a continuation of the Komnenian Renaissance. He would be succeeded by Theodoros.

[2] Alexios III Branas's son Theodoros married the twice-widowed Empress Anna, formerly Agnes of France, soon after his father became Emperor. He inherited a thriving and pacified empire from his father. The only shadow in his life was the deaths of several of his children by Anna. In 1209, he married his eldest surviving daughter Theodora to his distant cousin Manuel Doukas, a cousin of the Angeloi emperors, but this union was short-lived, as Manuel died of a fever three years later.
The Fourth Crusade having failed after the infamous sack of Zara, Pope Innocent III called for another Crusade in 1212. On Anna's advice, Theodoros agreed to send soldiers to the Holy Land to help the Crusader army. Part of the army marched on Egypt, while the other went through the Eastern Empire to the Holy Land. The year 1217 saw the creation of the Principality of Damascus, ruled by the Queen of Jerusalem's younger half-sister Philippa, who became one of the most sought-after matches in the Christian Levant. Theodoros himself offered her one of his sons as a husband.
The same year, the Sultan of Egypt, Al-Adil I, and his son Al-Kamil were killed in battle, leading to a succession war between his sons. The Sultanate was eventually divided into three Emirates ruled by Al-Adil's surviving sons: the Emirate of Egypt was ruled by Al-Ashraf, the Emirate of Hamat by Al-Mu'azzam and the Emirate of Jezira by Al-Muzaffar.
Theodoros returned to Constantinople in 1219 and spent the last years of his life and reign strengthening the commercial ties between his Empire, the West and the Levant.
After his wife Anna died in April 1227, Theodoros slowly lost his taste for life and followed her into the grave two months later. He was succeeded by Alexios.

[3] Alexios IV was born in 1209 as the firstborn child of Emperor Theodoros I’s son, Andronikos. He was named after his great grandfather, Alexios III. Alexios would become Emperor at the age of 18 in 1227 after the death of his grandfather due to his father having died of typhoid a few years prior. Alexios would be known mostly as a conqueror by future historians having led campaigns into Asia Minor, Syria, and even southwestern Georgia taking significant amounts of land for his Empire and the Principality of Damascus.

Alexios would see internal problems during his reign due to the large amounts of Muslims living in his Empire after his many conquests with many resentful against their Byzantine overlords these tensions escalated in 1261 after a well-known mosque was burned down by a legion of Tagmata leading to a large scale Muslim revolt across the Empire. The revolt would be crushed over the following year but it would leave a long-lasting effect for many years to come with many historians estimating that the Muslim population was cut nearly in half after the revolt.

Though Alexios had a lot to deal with during his reign he would have time for his personal life as well having married Sophie of Bavaria, the second daughter of Otto II, Duke of Bavaria in 1258 and would have a few children with her. There were a few allegations against Alexios stating that he had secretly had a child with a Muslim servant but there was no evidence to support these claims.

Alexios would die of natural causes in 1273 being succeeded by his son Romanos IV.

[4] Romanos IV was born in 1259 as the first son of Sophie of Bavaria and Alexios IV, becoming Emperor at the age of 14. Having grown up under the shadow of his father, Romanos IV would be someone who would attempt to win military glory for himself, especially as he would grow up to be a strong young man along with a highly brave one. In this, he would try to launch an invasion of the Il-Khanate, despite many of his advisor's counselling against it owing to how the Il-Khanate was the successor to the Mongols who had swept all before them, something that would end in the Battle of Mosul where he, along with most of the army, was massacred by the Il-Khanate's army with historical reports disputing whether he was killed in battle or captured alive and then trampled to death by horses owing to the Mongol tradition of not spilling royal blood. When news of the catastrophe reached Constantinople, his brother Michael was acclaimed as the new Emperor owing to Romanos not leaving behind any children.

[5] Michael was the second living son of Alexios and Sophie, born in 1263. Like his brother, he was merely fourteen when he became emperor. He decided that to avenge his brother, he needed allies. Therefore, he made a pact with Hungary and Poland to support each other should Mongols ever attack and he spent most of his days strengthening the borders. Some people accused him of being a coward, but Michael quickly showed that caution was not cowardice when he lead his troops to quell a rebellion that sprung up in 1281, showing how ruthless he could be when the situation called for it.

In his personal life, Michael would marry Elizabeth of Sicily in 1281, after the death of her first husband Ladislaus of Hungary. The couple would have a most loving relationship, with Elizabeth often acting as the go-between between Michael and the Italian rulers, gaining more allies for Michael's eventual strike against the Mongol empire. Despite their loving marriage, the couple would only have four surviving children. Elizabeth's death in 1303 would be the worst day of Michael's life and he refused to marry again and his health became increasingly worse.

With much diplomacy, offering dynastic matches, trading agreements, and outright bribery, in 1300, Michael had finally convinced the Pope to declare a crusade against the Mongols. His main objective was to attack the Il-Khanate. He could not have picked a better time as it had fallen into civil war. The battle was not easy but using ambush and guerrilla tactics to keep his foes off balance as he obliterated the horde. It is said that he refused to allow any of the men to live, professing that his brother's soul would never be at peace, unless every man, whether or not they had been responsible for Ramanos's death, were dead.

He returned home, just in time to witness his wife's death from a fever. He would mourn her for the rest of his life, and refused to marry again despite his councillor's pleading. His health began to decline slowly, until the last few years when he was bedridden. When he died, Andrónikos II would rise to the throne.

[6] Andrónikos II was born in 1286 as the only son of Michael VIII and Elizabeth of Sicily to survive to adulthood. Andrónikos was very close to his mother being only 14 years old at the time of her death having cared for her while she was ill and was deeply heartbroken just like his father by it. Andrónikos would blame his father for her death by not being there for them and instead off on his campaign against the Mongols and a rift would form between them. Andrónikos would eventually ascend to the throne at the age of 27 after the death of his father in 1313.

Andrónikos’ reign would be mostly peaceful with small revolts popping up here or there but he would try to keep the peace for the rest of his life. Despite being asked various times to marry but Andrónikos would hear none of it wishing not to be saddened any more than he had been by his mother’s death. Andrónikos would die in 1342 with no children of natural causes.

[7] Zoe was the daughter of Elisabet the eldest daughter of Michael VIII. Her mother had married her distant cousin, a descendant of Alexios III's second son. Unfortunately, Alexis died in 1301 in the battle with the II-Khanate, with Zoe being born two months later. Her mother would die of childbed fever leaving her an orphan. She would be adopted by her uncle and when he became emperor, he would groom her to be his heir.

At age eighteen, Zoe would marry Peter II of Sicily in 1323. However, the marriage would turn bitter as Zoe felt that as the heir to an empire, she was not subservient to a king and she resisted his constant pushing for her to become Catholic. In 1325, they would receive an annulment and Zoe returned to Constantinople. Over the years, Zoe would have many suitors seeking her hand, but she rejected them all, preferring to be in the company of her bodyguard, David Lascaris. There were plenty of rumours surrounding the pair. Especially when Zoe fell ill in 1328 and spent a whole year in the country, away from the eyes of the court.

In 1342, her uncle died and Zoe became empress. Now a woman in her forties, her councillors doubted that she would have an heir even if they could convince her to marry. Sadly Zoe's rule would be short as black death swept the nation, killing many including the empress. This left the empire scrambling to find a new ruler.

[8] The troubled weeks that followed Zoe’s death saw the beginning of a succession war. Although Zoe was much loved by her people for her steadfastness and commitment to her empire, her refusal to marry would have lasting consequences.

Only days before the Empress died, her cousin and closest male relative Alexios Branas Doukas, the son of her aunt Eudoxia and a distant cousin descended from Emperor Theodoros, succumbed to the plague, leaving a young son, Andrónikos. However, many distrusted the child’s mother, Urraca of Navarre, whose views had always been too pro-Latin for their liking.

As a result, two more pretenders soon appeared: the first was another of Zoe’s cousins, Irene Branaina Kantakouzena. Irene’s mother Anna was Michael VIII’s third daughter and the second of his children to survive him. Like her cousin, Irene was a strong-willed woman, determined to get the Empire despite young Andrónikos’s claim.

The third pretender was Michael Branas Lascaris, a young man who claimed to be Zoe’s son, born of a secret marriage she had supposedly contracted with her bodyguard David. Michael had been brought up by David’s elderly parents in a small village near Nicaea and the local population and nobility supported him, especially as he did look a little like his supposed late great-uncle Emperor Andrónikos II. However, he offered no proof of his parent's marriage, which made him a bastard at best in his rivals’ eyes.

As none of the three pretenders would relinquish their claims, the war raged for seven years until Michael eventually emerged victorious.

[9] The man who would become Michael the Ninth was a figure shrouded in mystery. While modern DNA tests confirm that he was Empress Zoe's son, born during her year-long seclusion, it is still up to debate whether his parents were married or not. Regardless of his origins, he was seen as the dark horse candidate of the succession war. Not many seemed to think he would win.

However, Michael was a skilled commander and a charming individual. Not to mention, he had schooling similar to a prince (some suspect if Zoe had not died so suddenly, she would have declared him her heir). He managed to win a decisive battle against the forces of Irene Kantakouzena, capturing several of her important supporters. Including her husband, Ramonos Kantakouzena. He refused to ransom Ramonos unless he married the eldest daughter of Irene, Antonia. Unfortunately, Irene's death in 1355, made matters moot. Her eldest son, named Theodoros choose not to continue the fighting and instead met with Michael under a banner of peace. The two young men agreed to join forces with Michael being declared emperor and marrying Antonia Kantakouzena.

In 1356, fifteen-year-old Andrónikos would convert to Catholicism, offending many of his conservative vassals. This would lead to his undoing as several of his supporters would now throw their lot in with Michael. Then in 1357, Andrónikos would collapse after a meal with much suspecting poisons (it has been confirmed by historians that he died as a result of arsenic). It is unknown if Michael gave the order or not, but regardless of the less-than-stellar circumstances, he still marched into Constantinople and was crowned emperor. He would launch an investigation into his rival's poisoning, finding the culprit months later who was revealed to have been a long-time adversary of Andrónikos. It was wrapped neatly, a little too neatly according to those who still saw Michael up-jumped bastard.

Michael would have to deal with two rebellions in his tenor as emperor. The first being was in 1363 as those who believed that Michael was a) a bastard and b) a murderer, teamed up to overthrow him. Theodoros would die on the battlefield, just twenty-three years old. Despite the devastating loss, the emperor managed to prevail, striking down the leader of the rebellion himself.

The next rebellion was in 1379. After Theodoros and then his father's death, all their lands and titles would fall on the second brother, named Michael in a surprise twist. He would declare himself the rightful emperor, taking up his mother's claim. He marched on Constantinople to siege it. Unfortunately, the emperor was waiting for him, ambushing him with his forces. It would be a short, but bloody battle. The pretender was only saved by his sister, Antonia, who was pregnant, got down on her knees in front of her husband and begged for his life. Michael Kantakouzena was exiled and threatened never to turn.

These two rebellions would cement Michael's status as emperor, making it clear to Europe that he was not going anywhere. As the King of France had been a cousin of the late Andrónikos, things were tense between the two countries. Michael choose to reach out to England, the Holy Roman Emperor, and Castile in hopes of gaining allies to help him, should France back the siblings of Andrónikos who had fled with their mother to the native Navarre. He became the first emperor to visit the British isles, meeting Richard II, and agreeing to a betrothal between the English king and the emperor's daughter, Anna.

In 1391, Michael would die in a hunting accident where his horse sent him tumbling down a hill. His son Michael would succeed him.


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[10] Romanos VI was born in 1360 as the oldest son of Emperor Michael IX and, unlike his father who grew up to be a soldier, would be someone who would be of a more scholarly air with this being something that would lead to Romanos VI being someone who would be more notable as an intellectual than a soldier. As such, when he became Emperor of the Romans in 1391 after his death, his reign would be marked by how he would be a peaceful and capable administrator, more interested in consolidating Rhomania's empire than expanding the realm with his reign being marked by an era of peace and prosperity which marked Rhomania during the 1390s. In this, Romanos VI would marry Olga, daughter of the Grand Prince of Muscovy, with the two having four children.

However, his reign would be interrupted when Tamerlane, having carved a swath of destruction from Delhi in the east to Baghdad in the west and forging a large empire, decided to burnish his claim as the "Sword of Islam" by defeating Rhomania and reclaiming Anatolia, which had been conquered by the Seljuks, for Islam. In this, Romanos VI would clash with Timur at Iconium in the Battle of Iconium seeing the army that Romanos had assembled be no match for what the war machine that Timur had assembled with Romanos VI being killed in battle and his head displayed at the Timurid camp. When news of Romanos' death reached Constantinople, Michael X was acclaimed as the Emperor of an Empire which was facing its biggest crisis in centuries with how much of Anatolia was being ravaged by Timur's armies, the Emperor was dead, and the army basically non-existent after the massacre at Iconium.


[11] Michael X was born in 1390 as the eldest child of Romanos VI. He ascended to the throne at the age of 13 in 1403 when the empire was in a time of great strife. His first action secured the peace of Rhomania. He would achieve this by promising the Timurids a yearly tribute and a peace alliance. To seal the deal, he married the Sultan's daughter Saray Malik Agha. After the humiliating peace treaty, he came back to the empire and privately vowed that neither he nor his successors would suffer such a situation ever again.

After the peace treaty and with vengeance in mind, Michael spent years building a spy network, carefully picking orphans who could be moulded into perfect agents and manipulating the younglings so that they were loyal to him and none. His spy network was so efficient its doctrines and structure are used as the model for modern-day secret agencies.

His first use of his new spies was assassinating his siblings and relatives closest to the line of succession. The reason why he wasn’t suspected of the murders was because of another carefully planned assassination.

In 1420, after years of plotting he successfully had his spies assassinate as many important noblemen of the Timurid empire with a focus on the competent ones. The Sultan was a target as well with his death along with his children Michael orchestrated a succession crisis that predictably led to war.

During the war, Michael made sure that the Timurids tired themselves out while fighting themselves. So when there was a winner of the war Michael and his armies immediately invaded the empire with only one objective, to bring absolute destruction.

Historians from other kingdoms are the only way we can get information about what happened. Michael had ordered his men to kill and burn anything and everything; whether it be a man, woman, child, animal, house, temple, mosque, building, farm or even a tree. Under his orders, the Romanian army had killed off at least 83% of the population while the rest eventually died out due to the burning having made the land inhabitable. Many compare this action to be even worse than what the Romans had done to Carthage.

Michael eventually had to leave but he was nowhere near satisfied, so he left the most fanatic Timurid haters he could find and ordered them to scout and kill any survivors that they happened to have missed, a task which they did very happily.

So Michael returned to the empire after making sure the Timurid empire was dead, cremated and its ashes scattered in the ocean. He was showered with praise by almost everyone he met for returning the humiliation that Timurids had done to them.

Michael was happy as well not just because of destroying the Timurid empire but because of another reason. By extensive use of his spy network, he engineered some “accidents” for his more powerful nobles, a lucky arrow here or there, a soldier killing someone before being killed off by another soldier etc. Their deaths allowed him to take more power for himself. Some would suspect foul play but they would mysteriously die off days later.

After Michael X had all the power he could currently have, he broke Roman tradition by being a very competent monarch. He reformed the army by promotions based on merit, ensured the soldiers had the best armour, food and pay they could find, made a law that any widow or family left by soldiers be entitled to compensation, and encouraged trade by improving roads and bridges, patronized arts and literature and gave funding for civic and military research.

However, his family life was very different to his outside persona; to his wife, he was cold, distant and emotionally abusive. He despised her because of her relation to the Timurids. After she bore him enough heirs he had his spies assassinate her. Now he had free reign on how to raise his children as he saw fit.

He saw his children as his legacy, thus he made sure that they were raised the way he believed an imperial heir should be. That involved teaching them that compassion was for the weak by torturing prisoners, empathy was useless by giving them pet rabbits and then making them beat the rabbits with their own hands, how strength is everything by making them violate widows and then beating them himself to show that there is always someone stronger than them. This was followed by manipulating them by saying how it was to make them the best heirs they could be.

Nearing the end of his reign, he made sure his children got practical experience in the military and administration so that they became competent. When he was approaching his death Michael’s final actions were using his spy network to quash rebellions before they did anything, kill traitors before they were a threat and assassinate everyone with the closest claim to the throne to ensure a stable succession for his heir. The final deaths were every single one of his children except for the one he considered the most competent and worthy to rule.

Michael X was a megalomaniac, a control freak, a murderer and a manipulative abuser. So it is perhaps unsurprising that even in death he was a master of intrigue as he died peacefully in his sleep the empire was mourning the loss of a great ruler. During his final moments, he was surrounded by his only living child; the one that he believed would be the best successor. His final act was giving explicit orders to his nobles on who his preferred heir was.

He was succeeded by his son Alexios.

[12] Alexios was born in 1420, the second son, but a third child of Michael. He idolized his father, believing he could do no wrong. He tried to emulate his father in any way possible. It is said he beat his rabbit almost immediately with a sadistic grin on his face. However, while Michael was methodical and secretive about his abuse and murder, Alexios was openly violent.

When he became emperor, he enacted a law that forbids anyone from practising another religion, sentencing those who did not renounce their false faiths to a fiery death. He also decided to reclaim Italy for the Roman Empire, invading Sicily and Naples. In 1457, he marched on Rome, sacking the holy city, even going as far as to burn the pope for his heresy. This would of course cause all of the Catholic kingdoms to declare a crusade against the Rhomania empire.

It is said that when he learned of the crusade, Alexios laughed and said that the Celtics could not hope to defeat Caesar. He continued his attack on Italy, carving a bloody path up the boot and into the lands of the French. However, much like Caesar, he failed to notice the discontent brewing behind his back. In 1464, he would be betrayed by supporters of Ioannes who would capture him and bring him back to Constantinople in chains.

[13] The youngest and only surviving son of Michael the X's favourite sister, Ioannes was spared as a babe by his uncle due to the pleas of his mother, who had already lost four sons to the paranoia of her brother. Prostatinf herself before the Emperor, Eva of Constantinople would manage to awaken the only remnant of human compassion left in Emperor Michael, and he would, accordingly, spare her young babe.

A very intelligent child, John spent most of his young years keeping out of sight and out of the mind of his uncle, the only historical records of the man appearing during the reign of Emperor Alexios, to whom Ioannes managed to ingratiate himself too, receiving from his cousin the post of governor of Cappadocia and Cilicia, from where Ioannes would surely amass more and more influence as time went on.

The death of his cousin following the Italian campaign created a brief interregnum that threatened to shatter the Empire, as many parts of the nobility wanted every trace of the House of Branas gone, alongside a man who would grant the Empire some years of peace instead of near-constant warfare. Despite the near-constant primogeniture that had lent great stability to the Empire, many were ready to revive old traditions and elect an Emperor from amidst the nobility and the soldiery. Thankfully for Ioannes (and the soon-to-be Axouchos Dynasty), the intervention of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the military assured the continuity of male-preference primogeniture, as both the church and the military had been filled with loyalists to the throne and preferred continued stability. Thus, Ioannes started a new dynasty and came to bear the purple shroud of Caesars in Nova Roma.

The new Cesar's reign started with a mission to find peace with the Christians of the west. Fiercest of Ioannes rivals was Charles the VII of France, of the Evreux Branch of the Capetians, who had held the thrones of France and Navarre for nigh on 100 years following the fall of the House of Valois. The Evreux's ruled a state that stretched from Brittany and Aquitaine in the East to Provence, Artois and the French-Compte in the west, the single most powerful state in western Europe of the time that had recently expelled the English from the continent permanently. With the pope exiled at Charles's Court, it was with him that Ioannes secured the end to one of Christianity's bloodiest inter-sect wars.

Ioannes promised to retreat from Italy, restoring the many Italian princes to their lands and titles. To avoid having to pay military reparations, Ioannes had the last Aragonese claimants to the thrones of Naples and Sicily quietly executed in the cells of Adrianople, restoring the "Capetian" Angevins to Palermo and Naples (Charles would receive from his "grateful" cousins the Duchies of Lorraine, Bar, Anjou and Picardy, states which they had ruled until then). Of the Italian conquest, Ioannes would retain for himself only Malta, which would become the westernmost base of the Roman navy in fighting off Islamic piracy.

With peace in the west negotiated, Ioannes purposefully left the status of the Duchies of Milan and Romagna open, correctly guessing the Wittelsbach King of Bohemia and Duke of Bavaria, Rudolf I, would challenge the French on the right to should rule these regions. The Aragonese themselves would intervene too, starting the Italian Wars.

Finally able to turn inwards after the early years of war and then the long negotiations, Ioannes would marry the Hungarian princess Elizabeth of Luxembourg to secure his northern flank to assure Hungarian neutrality in the submission of the last Serbian and Bulgarian despotates.

With the Balkans secured, Ioannes turned East to finally secure the lands conquered by Michael the great in the east. Using his vast army and spy network, Ioannes would devise a great plan meant to repopulate Greater Armenia, Kurdistan and Northern Mesopotamia and Syria. First pushing his Armenians subjects in Eastern Anatolia and Cilicia to move eastwards towards old Armenia and Kurdistan, he would afterwards propagate a great movement into Cilicia, Eastern Anatolia and Northern Syria of Greeks, primarily Ionians, Thracians, Pontiacs and Cappadocians, with many Balkan minorities such as Bulgars and Vlachs filling the vacuum in many regions. He would give the lands in Byzantine Mesopotamia to the many landless Assyrian tribes of the region, gaining their loyalty despite their religious disputes. Northern Mesopotamia became afterwards known as the province of Assyria.

With this great matter settled, Ioannes dedicated himself to the great things he liked - books, laws and procreation. He and his first wife, Elizabeth of Hungary would have 7 children, and after her death from tuberculosis, he would marry Anna of Imereti, with whom he would have another 4 children. Ioannes would dedicate himself to restoring and renovating the laws of the Empire, cementing primogeniture as law, and he would go on a great investment spree once his coffers had recovered, building and rebuilding many monuments all over his Empire. A great patron of the military, Ioannes would turn the army into a true early medieval army, dependent not on chivalry but gunpowder and the Arquebus.

Ioannes would once more find conflict during the latter part of his reign, subjugating the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldávia, alongside helping the various Rus principalities shake off the Tatar yoke, expelling the raiders from the Crimea peninsula and the Roman port of Tanais and the mouth of the Don in the Azov sea.

With a long and most prosperous reign, the Emperor would have a rather unworthy death. On a visit to the Great Arsenal of Galata in Constantinople, one of his pet projects, the aged John would trip on a bucket and smash his head against a crane on the docks. Despite the efforts of his physicians, Ioannes would die from trauma in the skull just after the turn of the century. He was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth.

[14] The only child of Ioannes III who outlived him due to a tragic fire that killed all her siblings (she escaped as she was confined elsewhere for an illness), Elizabeth was born in 1481 as the last child of Ioannes and his first wife. She was educated and formally trained for a significant marriage that, as a royal family alliance, would extend the kingdom's power and security as well as its influence and peaceful relations with other ruling powers. Due to nobody expecting her to inherit, she was not trained to rule, which would be used against her later on. She was married to Francis of Austria, the younger son of Maximilian II and Mary of Burgundy, with whom she was passionately in love, but he was a sadist towards her despite genuine initial affection - he eventually held her in a vicious cycle of affection, abuse, and intimidation from which she was constitutionally unable to escape. His education, which was influenced by Franco-Burgundian traditions, contributed to a model of rulership "exclusively male", thus he never saw Elizabeth as his political equal and could not accept that she tried to forge her own political identity. He would grow to resent her and his role as her consort, and eventually returned to the Low Countries, but before that the couple would have six surviving children together. Despite wearing black for the rest of her life afterwards as a sign of mourning, she would not express any other emotion toward her estranged husband. As for Elizabeth herself, she would set out to rule by good consent, depending heavily on a group of female advisers, an unprecedented move. During her reign, the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia were annexed into her empire and she would also successfully reclaim Sicily, but not Naples, in another war against Italy. With a record-breakingly long reign, she would end up dying peacefully in her sleep.

[15] Károlos (previously known as Charles of Austria) was born in 1504 as the youngest child of Francis of Austria and Empress Elizabeth I. Károlos was initially raised in the Byzantine royal court but he would end up in the court of the Holy Roman Empire after his father would return to the Low Countries. Károlos had a very close relationship with his mother and would be deeply saddened when he would be forced to leave with his father. Károlos would have a difficult relationship with his father often having heated arguments with him and by the age of 14, he would have enough and would run away slowly making his way back to Constantinople to be with his mother. Once back in Constantinople Károlos would again make himself comfortable in his old home oncee again with his mother who he loved so dearly helping to manage the large Empire. Károlos would help with running the Empire so much that he would end up being designed regent after his mother would have an emotional breakdown due to her great grief. Eventually Elizabeth I would die in 1555 only after designating Károlos as her successor ahead of his older siblings.

Károlos would become Emperor at the age of 41 considerably older for his time but it would not deter him from him choosing the Greek spelling of Habsburg being Apsvoúrgo. Károlos would be a modest ruler for the Empire mainly focusing on regional development but would also be intrigued by the prospect of the New World issuing the construction of a fleet of ships to eventually send on an expedition to the New World in hopes of great prospects. Károlos would only face one major issue during his reign and that would be with his older brother Francis of Austria who was until Károlos was designated heir to the Empire was considered next in line even with him having spent the greater majority of his life living in the Holy Roman Empire and not even knowing how to speak Greek. Francis would make several attempts to his claim to the Byzantine throne with none proving successful.

Károlos had no trouble in providing heirs to the throne having married Clara of Saxe-Lauenburg in 1537 and would have a total of 9 children with her. Eventually, Károlos would see his plan to explore the new world fulfilled when his fleet of ships would set out in early 1561 from the port of Constantinople eventually landing in the New World a few weeks later making way for further expeditions in 1563, 1564, and onwards. Károlos would push the prospect of the New World even further when he would fund the establishment of the colony of Elysium in 1571 on the East Coast of North America. Károlos would eventually die in 1573 after a short illness leaving his daughter, Elizabeth to take the throne.

[16] Elizabeth was the oldest daughter of Károlos and Clara, born in 1544. Her only surviving brother, Charles was very sickly and he would die in his adolescence due to cancer, leaving her the heiress of her father. By then she was already married to Francis II of France, who was equally sickly and died at sixteen - but he had managed to impregnate her with a son who would be born posthumously, seven months after his death. She stayed in France and acted as his regent until her father's death when she was forced to leave him behind. She never saw him again, but corresponded and had portraits sent. She was a great patroness of the arts and sciences and was considered to be deeply pious and charitable, but her court was cold and austere despite having lived at the lavish courts run by Catherine de Medici. During her lifetime, her empire remained economically healthy and she took a very active role in policy-making, often imposing her will over her governing councils. The only thing that ruined her reputation was her surprising remarriage to an attractive son of one of her ladies-in-waiting, a decade younger than her. She would end up dying in childbirth at age 36, leaving ___ as her heir.

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[17] In the aftermath of Empress Elizabeth's death in childbirth, the army in Constantinople, backed by the prominent dynatoi, would acclaim Sophia, Empress Elizabeth's younger sister, as the new Empress and Autocrat of the Romans, unwilling to see either the King of France, someone who never stepped foot in Constantinople, or a newborn child, take the throne with the spectre of the Safavids, who had forged a sizable empire from Mesopotamia to Afghanistan, and a new and energetic dynasty in the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. Desiring capable leadership, they would enthrone the 32-year-old Sophia as Empress with her husband (and co-Emperor) being Romanos Kantakuzenos, the scion of one of Romania's major royal families.

Despite the inauspicious start to their reign owing to having taken power via a palace coup, Sophia and Romanos would prove to be competent and effective co-rulers of the Empire, leading it to major defeats against the Safavids and Mamluks with most of the Levant and half of Mesopotamia being taken from the Mamluks and Safavids respectively by the end of their reign. Domestically, their reign would be marked by an era of relative stability and prosperity, especially with the expansion of Romania's colonial empire, centred around the colony in Elysium, during this period. In addition, Sophia would be a strong patron of the arts and culture during this period.

Sophia and Romanos would have six children between 1571 and 1593, four of which would survive to adulthood. Romanos and Sophia would both succumb to an outbreak of smallpox in 1608, leaving her daughter, Eva, the new Empress of Rhomania.


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[18]

Eva, born in 1572, was the oldest of Sophia and Romanos' four surviving daughters. Named after Eva of Constantinople, she proved to be nothing like her. A frivolous and fun-loving girl who cared little for her studies she nevertheless was very kind-hearted and compassionate which earned her many friends and admirers. As an adult, she was joyous and carefree and she wore new clothes bedecked with precious jewels daily. She saw the best in everyone and was blindly loyal to her family and friends, which were not good traits for a monarch to have. Though she was extraordinarily personable and her judgments were always merciful, she would find herself outfoxed by her cousin Francis IV of France, the grandson of Francis II and Elizabeth II, when he waged war against her to consolidate his claim to her throne. She ended up marrying him to achieve peace, and made the best of her situation, even though she resented being forced to share her power. However there was a silver lining - he had to rule France, so he was away for long periods. Despite struggles with fertility she would eventually bear him three children who lived to adulthood. During her reign, she seized the remaining half of Mesopotamia that her parents had failed to take and continued to send expeditions to the new world. She also collected vast amounts of jewels and dresses which would be divided among her ladies in waiting after her death. She would die in her sleep and be succeeded by her second son, Constantine.

[19] Born of the shared marriage of Roman Empress Eva and that of King Francis the IV of France, Constantine was from birth chosen by his shrewd father as his heir to the throne of Rome far in the east, for King Francis recognized early that to govern the two states would an enormous, taxing predicament, even if the dream of a restored Rome seemed nearer than ever. Despite keeping custody of his three children by Eva, Charles, Elizabeth and Constantine, a prerogative he had assured during the war which had made him Emperor-Consort of Rome, he would send his young son Constantine to the Roman court, where he would thereafter be raised by his mother.

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Grown with the famous robustness and height of those belonging to the dynasty of Evreux, Constantine's thick blonde hair and beard made him a rare sight in a city as southern as Constantinople, and the wrinkles around his eyes gave him a sombre appearance which left many of those supposed to approach them. His mixed Cappadocian-French accent, derived from his military tutors and the guardians his father sent with him gave him an oft mysterious appearance. Nonetheless, Constantine did not allow his teenage reputation to bother him, as he soon carved more and more power from his mother and by her last years ruled the Empire in his own right.

Risen to the purple in 1650, Constantine adopted for himself the dynastic name of Galaktikos, about his french origin but also to the Roman Throne's "Universality" of rule as head of both Christendom and as the permanent Empire of Rome. An enthusiastic ruler, if a silent and reserved man, Constantine would formally recognize Portuguese independence, marrying John of Coimbra's sister Adelaide in a luxurious ceremony in the Sicilian city of Palermo. The brief war with Spain fought afterwards would see Portugal cede Ceuta and the rest of Spanish Northern Morocco to Rome, which allowed easy access into the Atlantic. Thus, Elysium prospered immensely, growing to border British Florida in the South and French Acadia in the North.

Growing his family, Constantine was both a grand imperialist and a firm investor in his backyard. Under him, the artisans and industries of Antioch, Trebizond, Constantinople, Smyrna, Patras and Sofia prospered greatly and the land was tilled at levels never seen before. As his reign became secure with his wife's successive successful pregnancies, Constantine invaded the Sultanate of Egypt and conquered Egypt, Cyrenaica, Sudan and the Hejaz into his Empire. Such a massive increase of land(and the death of many, primarily Muslim civilians) during the conquest created a massive settler movement towards the south, and the Copts of Egypt and the Maronites of Syria and Lebanon were given opportunities in this new Empire. This period post-conquest started a rejuvenation of Coptic and Aramaic, and many amongst these peoples still see Constantine as their patron emperor.

Constantine would eventually die off in 1684, suffering from a heart attack. He was succeeded by his son Romanos VIII.

[20]
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Romanos VIII was characterized early on by the belief that he was superior to others. For his entire life, he was arrogant and full of himself.

However, he had a cunning mind that he regularly used to his advantage, a fact that others would learn unfortunately too late. So, when he received news that his father was dead, the 23-year-old already had schemes brewing in his mind.

His reign would be rather reminiscent of his predecessor Michael X. This was ironic because, in his diaries, Romanos ranted about how he despised Michael. He ranted about the constant dynastic changes because he thought a sadistic man-child would be the most ideal heir.

These rants usually ended with how Romanos VIII promised he would be the best emperor that Rome ever had. He did this by first codifying the laws of succession, In this law, he decreed that should an emperor be the successor of his mother the empress, he would follow the house of his mother, not his father. This was then solidified with Romanos VIII signing a treaty with his cousin Louis XIII of France that none of their descendants would have a claim to the opposite King's thrones.

After getting rid of what he believed were the most troubling matters, Romanos VIII's reign started with a bang. His first actions were making his spies note every noble whose agenda might be against him. Once he had the list, he invited those nobles to his palace for a feast and then promptly like the doors and burned the palace's own. To make sure that others didn't accuse him of murder, he intentionally burnt his left hand to his elbow. In time his burns would fade but the scars would remain.

The remainder of his reign was a quiet one. Quiet for the people who had 5 dynastic changes in 200 years. He spent a great amount of money on renovating the empire with a particularly ambitious project of fortifying every border he had with walls. This was likened to the great wall of china but much larger in scale. Another thing he made sure of was that his soldiers were being effective in peace and using his spy network to prune disloyal elements. One controversial law was a decree that made anyone treat people of different ethnicities equally provided they were followers of the orthodox faith.

The remained of his reign would be making sure that his children were competent and not stupid. He did every possible thing he could think of to ensure that his successor wouldn't be another Alexios V. Romanos VIII died with an astounding 33-years-old reign knowing that he would be remebered as a good king, but not a great one as he had claimed in his youth.

He would be succeed by...
 
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Emperors, Empresses, and Autocrats of the Romans
1185-1187: Isaac II (Angelos)
1187-1208: Alexios III (Branas) [1]
1208-1227: Theodoros I (Branas) [2]
1227-1273: Alexios IV (Branas) [3]
1273-1277: Romanos V (Branas) [4]
1277-1313: Michael VIII "the Patient" "the Avenger" (Branas) [5]
1313-1342: Andrónikos II (Branas) [6]
1342-1350: Zoe
II (Branas) [7]
1350-1357: Succession War [8]
1357-1391: Michael IX (Branas-Lascaris) [9]
1391-1403: Romanos VI (Branas-Lascaris) [10]
1403-1445: Michael X "Τhe Great" (Branas-Lascaris) [11]
1445-1464: Alexios V "the Bloody" (Branas-Lascaris) [12]
1464-1501: Ioannes III "the Resolute" (Axouchos) [13]
1501-1555: Elizabeth I (Axouchos) [14]
1555-1573: Károlos I (Apsvoúrgo) [15]
1573-1580: Elizabeth II (Apsvoúrgo) [16]
1580-1608: Sophia I and Romanos VII (Apsvoúrgo-Kantakuzenos) [17]
1608-1650: Eva I (Apsvoúrgo-Kantakuzenos) [18]
1650-1684: Constantine XI (Galatikós) [19]
1684-1717: Romanos VIII (Galatikós) [20]
1717-1736: Romanos IX (Galatikós) [21]


[1] The "Second Alexiad", as future historians would call it, would begin in 1187 when Alexios Branas, who had been sent to crush the Bulgarians, who had risen under the Asen brothers, would instead rise against Isaac II in the city of Adrianople, his home city. After seizing Adrianople, Alexios III would besiege and take Constantinople, defeating Conrad of Montferrat by striking him with a lance with the defeat led to the defenders of Constantinople killing Isaac and his brother and son before surrendering the city. As Emperor, Alexios III's reign would be marked by the defeat of the Vlach-Bulgarian Revolt and the Sultanate of Rum with the Sultanate of Rum being effectively broken at the Battle of Ancyra in 1200, which effectively reduced it to a rump client state of Rhomania. Alexios III would die in 1208 a happy man, having seen Rhomania crush the Bulgars and Turks and his policies having promoted a new golden age for the Empire as a continuation of the Komnenian Renaissance. He would be succeeded by Theodoros.

[2] Alexios III Branas's son Theodoros married the twice-widowed Empress Anna, formerly Agnes of France, soon after his father became Emperor. He inherited a thriving and pacified empire from his father. The only shadow in his life was the deaths of several of his children by Anna. In 1209, he married his eldest surviving daughter Theodora to his distant cousin Manuel Doukas, a cousin of the Angeloi emperors, but this union was short-lived, as Manuel died of a fever three years later.
The Fourth Crusade having failed after the infamous sack of Zara, Pope Innocent III called for another Crusade in 1212. On Anna's advice, Theodoros agreed to send soldiers to the Holy Land to help the Crusader army. Part of the army marched on Egypt, while the other went through the Eastern Empire to the Holy Land. The year 1217 saw the creation of the Principality of Damascus, ruled by the Queen of Jerusalem's younger half-sister Philippa, who became one of the most sought-after matches in the Christian Levant. Theodoros himself offered her one of his sons as a husband.
The same year, the Sultan of Egypt, Al-Adil I, and his son Al-Kamil were killed in battle, leading to a succession war between his sons. The Sultanate was eventually divided into three Emirates ruled by Al-Adil's surviving sons: the Emirate of Egypt was ruled by Al-Ashraf, the Emirate of Hamat by Al-Mu'azzam and the Emirate of Jezira by Al-Muzaffar.
Theodoros returned to Constantinople in 1219 and spent the last years of his life and reign strengthening the commercial ties between his Empire, the West and the Levant.
After his wife Anna died in April 1227, Theodoros slowly lost his taste for life and followed her into the grave two months later. He was succeeded by Alexios.

[3] Alexios IV was born in 1209 as the firstborn child of Emperor Theodoros I’s son, Andronikos. He was named after his great grandfather, Alexios III. Alexios would become Emperor at the age of 18 in 1227 after the death of his grandfather due to his father having died of typhoid a few years prior. Alexios would be known mostly as a conqueror by future historians having led campaigns into Asia Minor, Syria, and even southwestern Georgia taking significant amounts of land for his Empire and the Principality of Damascus.

Alexios would see internal problems during his reign due to the large amounts of Muslims living in his Empire after his many conquests with many resentful against their Byzantine overlords these tensions escalated in 1261 after a well-known mosque was burned down by a legion of Tagmata leading to a large scale Muslim revolt across the Empire. The revolt would be crushed over the following year but it would leave a long-lasting effect for many years to come with many historians estimating that the Muslim population was cut nearly in half after the revolt.

Though Alexios had a lot to deal with during his reign he would have time for his personal life as well having married Sophie of Bavaria, the second daughter of Otto II, Duke of Bavaria in 1258 and would have a few children with her. There were a few allegations against Alexios stating that he had secretly had a child with a Muslim servant but there was no evidence to support these claims.

Alexios would die of natural causes in 1273 being succeeded by his son Romanos IV.

[4] Romanos IV was born in 1259 as the first son of Sophie of Bavaria and Alexios IV, becoming Emperor at the age of 14. Having grown up under the shadow of his father, Romanos IV would be someone who would attempt to win military glory for himself, especially as he would grow up to be a strong young man along with a highly brave one. In this, he would try to launch an invasion of the Il-Khanate, despite many of his advisor's counselling against it owing to how the Il-Khanate was the successor to the Mongols who had swept all before them, something that would end in the Battle of Mosul where he, along with most of the army, was massacred by the Il-Khanate's army with historical reports disputing whether he was killed in battle or captured alive and then trampled to death by horses owing to the Mongol tradition of not spilling royal blood. When news of the catastrophe reached Constantinople, his brother Michael was acclaimed as the new Emperor owing to Romanos not leaving behind any children.

[5] Michael was the second living son of Alexios and Sophie, born in 1263. Like his brother, he was merely fourteen when he became emperor. He decided that to avenge his brother, he needed allies. Therefore, he made a pact with Hungary and Poland to support each other should Mongols ever attack and he spent most of his days strengthening the borders. Some people accused him of being a coward, but Michael quickly showed that caution was not cowardice when he lead his troops to quell a rebellion that sprung up in 1281, showing how ruthless he could be when the situation called for it.

In his personal life, Michael would marry Elizabeth of Sicily in 1281, after the death of her first husband Ladislaus of Hungary. The couple would have a most loving relationship, with Elizabeth often acting as the go-between between Michael and the Italian rulers, gaining more allies for Michael's eventual strike against the Mongol empire. Despite their loving marriage, the couple would only have four surviving children. Elizabeth's death in 1303 would be the worst day of Michael's life and he refused to marry again and his health became increasingly worse.

With much diplomacy, offering dynastic matches, trading agreements, and outright bribery, in 1300, Michael had finally convinced the Pope to declare a crusade against the Mongols. His main objective was to attack the Il-Khanate. He could not have picked a better time as it had fallen into civil war. The battle was not easy but using ambush and guerrilla tactics to keep his foes off balance as he obliterated the horde. It is said that he refused to allow any of the men to live, professing that his brother's soul would never be at peace, unless every man, whether or not they had been responsible for Ramanos's death, were dead.

He returned home, just in time to witness his wife's death from a fever. He would mourn her for the rest of his life, and refused to marry again despite his councillor's pleading. His health began to decline slowly, until the last few years when he was bedridden. When he died, Andrónikos II would rise to the throne.

[6] Andrónikos II was born in 1286 as the only son of Michael VIII and Elizabeth of Sicily to survive to adulthood. Andrónikos was very close to his mother being only 14 years old at the time of her death having cared for her while she was ill and was deeply heartbroken just like his father by it. Andrónikos would blame his father for her death by not being there for them and instead off on his campaign against the Mongols and a rift would form between them. Andrónikos would eventually ascend to the throne at the age of 27 after the death of his father in 1313.

Andrónikos’ reign would be mostly peaceful with small revolts popping up here or there but he would try to keep the peace for the rest of his life. Despite being asked various times to marry but Andrónikos would hear none of it wishing not to be saddened any more than he had been by his mother’s death. Andrónikos would die in 1342 with no children of natural causes.

[7] Zoe was the daughter of Elisabet the eldest daughter of Michael VIII. Her mother had married her distant cousin, a descendant of Alexios III's second son. Unfortunately, Alexis died in 1301 in the battle with the II-Khanate, with Zoe being born two months later. Her mother would die of childbed fever leaving her an orphan. She would be adopted by her uncle and when he became emperor, he would groom her to be his heir.

At age eighteen, Zoe would marry Peter II of Sicily in 1323. However, the marriage would turn bitter as Zoe felt that as the heir to an empire, she was not subservient to a king and she resisted his constant pushing for her to become Catholic. In 1325, they would receive an annulment and Zoe returned to Constantinople. Over the years, Zoe would have many suitors seeking her hand, but she rejected them all, preferring to be in the company of her bodyguard, David Lascaris. There were plenty of rumours surrounding the pair. Especially when Zoe fell ill in 1328 and spent a whole year in the country, away from the eyes of the court.

In 1342, her uncle died and Zoe became empress. Now a woman in her forties, her councillors doubted that she would have an heir even if they could convince her to marry. Sadly Zoe's rule would be short as black death swept the nation, killing many including the empress. This left the empire scrambling to find a new ruler.

[8] The troubled weeks that followed Zoe’s death saw the beginning of a succession war. Although Zoe was much loved by her people for her steadfastness and commitment to her empire, her refusal to marry would have lasting consequences.

Only days before the Empress died, her cousin and closest male relative Alexios Branas Doukas, the son of her aunt Eudoxia and a distant cousin descended from Emperor Theodoros, succumbed to the plague, leaving a young son, Andrónikos. However, many distrusted the child’s mother, Urraca of Navarre, whose views had always been too pro-Latin for their liking.

As a result, two more pretenders soon appeared: the first was another of Zoe’s cousins, Irene Branaina Kantakouzena. Irene’s mother Anna was Michael VIII’s third daughter and the second of his children to survive him. Like her cousin, Irene was a strong-willed woman, determined to get the Empire despite young Andrónikos’s claim.

The third pretender was Michael Branas Lascaris, a young man who claimed to be Zoe’s son, born of a secret marriage she had supposedly contracted with her bodyguard David. Michael had been brought up by David’s elderly parents in a small village near Nicaea and the local population and nobility supported him, especially as he did look a little like his supposed late great-uncle Emperor Andrónikos II. However, he offered no proof of his parent's marriage, which made him a bastard at best in his rivals’ eyes.

As none of the three pretenders would relinquish their claims, the war raged for seven years until Michael eventually emerged victorious.

[9] The man who would become Michael the Ninth was a figure shrouded in mystery. While modern DNA tests confirm that he was Empress Zoe's son, born during her year-long seclusion, it is still up to debate whether his parents were married or not. Regardless of his origins, he was seen as the dark horse candidate of the succession war. Not many seemed to think he would win.

However, Michael was a skilled commander and a charming individual. Not to mention, he had schooling similar to a prince (some suspect if Zoe had not died so suddenly, she would have declared him her heir). He managed to win a decisive battle against the forces of Irene Kantakouzena, capturing several of her important supporters. Including her husband, Ramonos Kantakouzena. He refused to ransom Ramonos unless he married the eldest daughter of Irene, Antonia. Unfortunately, Irene's death in 1355, made matters moot. Her eldest son, named Theodoros choose not to continue the fighting and instead met with Michael under a banner of peace. The two young men agreed to join forces with Michael being declared emperor and marrying Antonia Kantakouzena.

In 1356, fifteen-year-old Andrónikos would convert to Catholicism, offending many of his conservative vassals. This would lead to his undoing as several of his supporters would now throw their lot in with Michael. Then in 1357, Andrónikos would collapse after a meal with much suspecting poisons (it has been confirmed by historians that he died as a result of arsenic). It is unknown if Michael gave the order or not, but regardless of the less-than-stellar circumstances, he still marched into Constantinople and was crowned emperor. He would launch an investigation into his rival's poisoning, finding the culprit months later who was revealed to have been a long-time adversary of Andrónikos. It was wrapped neatly, a little too neatly according to those who still saw Michael up-jumped bastard.

Michael would have to deal with two rebellions in his tenor as emperor. The first being was in 1363 as those who believed that Michael was a) a bastard and b) a murderer, teamed up to overthrow him. Theodoros would die on the battlefield, just twenty-three years old. Despite the devastating loss, the emperor managed to prevail, striking down the leader of the rebellion himself.

The next rebellion was in 1379. After Theodoros and then his father's death, all their lands and titles would fall on the second brother, named Michael in a surprise twist. He would declare himself the rightful emperor, taking up his mother's claim. He marched on Constantinople to siege it. Unfortunately, the emperor was waiting for him, ambushing him with his forces. It would be a short, but bloody battle. The pretender was only saved by his sister, Antonia, who was pregnant, got down on her knees in front of her husband and begged for his life. Michael Kantakouzena was exiled and threatened never to turn.

These two rebellions would cement Michael's status as emperor, making it clear to Europe that he was not going anywhere. As the King of France had been a cousin of the late Andrónikos, things were tense between the two countries. Michael choose to reach out to England, the Holy Roman Emperor, and Castile in hopes of gaining allies to help him, should France back the siblings of Andrónikos who had fled with their mother to the native Navarre. He became the first emperor to visit the British isles, meeting Richard II, and agreeing to a betrothal between the English king and the emperor's daughter, Anna.

In 1391, Michael would die in a hunting accident where his horse sent him tumbling down a hill. His son Michael would succeed him.


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[10] Romanos VI was born in 1360 as the oldest son of Emperor Michael IX and, unlike his father who grew up to be a soldier, would be someone who would be of a more scholarly air with this being something that would lead to Romanos VI being someone who would be more notable as an intellectual than a soldier. As such, when he became Emperor of the Romans in 1391 after his death, his reign would be marked by how he would be a peaceful and capable administrator, more interested in consolidating Rhomania's empire than expanding the realm with his reign being marked by an era of peace and prosperity which marked Rhomania during the 1390s. In this, Romanos VI would marry Olga, daughter of the Grand Prince of Muscovy, with the two having four children.

However, his reign would be interrupted when Tamerlane, having carved a swath of destruction from Delhi in the east to Baghdad in the west and forging a large empire, decided to burnish his claim as the "Sword of Islam" by defeating Rhomania and reclaiming Anatolia, which had been conquered by the Seljuks, for Islam. In this, Romanos VI would clash with Timur at Iconium in the Battle of Iconium seeing the army that Romanos had assembled be no match for what the war machine that Timur had assembled with Romanos VI being killed in battle and his head displayed at the Timurid camp. When news of Romanos' death reached Constantinople, Michael X was acclaimed as the Emperor of an Empire which was facing its biggest crisis in centuries with how much of Anatolia was being ravaged by Timur's armies, the Emperor was dead, and the army basically non-existent after the massacre at Iconium.


[11] Michael X was born in 1390 as the eldest child of Romanos VI. He ascended to the throne at the age of 13 in 1403 when the empire was in a time of great strife. His first action secured the peace of Rhomania. He would achieve this by promising the Timurids a yearly tribute and a peace alliance. To seal the deal, he married the Sultan's daughter Saray Malik Agha. After the humiliating peace treaty, he came back to the empire and privately vowed that neither he nor his successors would suffer such a situation ever again.

After the peace treaty and with vengeance in mind, Michael spent years building a spy network, carefully picking orphans who could be moulded into perfect agents and manipulating the younglings so that they were loyal to him and none. His spy network was so efficient its doctrines and structure are used as the model for modern-day secret agencies.

His first use of his new spies was assassinating his siblings and relatives closest to the line of succession. The reason why he wasn’t suspected of the murders was because of another carefully planned assassination.

In 1420, after years of plotting he successfully had his spies assassinate as many important noblemen of the Timurid empire with a focus on the competent ones. The Sultan was a target as well with his death along with his children Michael orchestrated a succession crisis that predictably led to war.

During the war, Michael made sure that the Timurids tired themselves out while fighting themselves. So when there was a winner of the war Michael and his armies immediately invaded the empire with only one objective, to bring absolute destruction.

Historians from other kingdoms are the only way we can get information about what happened. Michael had ordered his men to kill and burn anything and everything; whether it be a man, woman, child, animal, house, temple, mosque, building, farm or even a tree. Under his orders, the Romanian army had killed off at least 83% of the population while the rest eventually died out due to the burning having made the land inhabitable. Many compare this action to be even worse than what the Romans had done to Carthage.

Michael eventually had to leave but he was nowhere near satisfied, so he left the most fanatic Timurid haters he could find and ordered them to scout and kill any survivors that they happened to have missed, a task which they did very happily.

So Michael returned to the empire after making sure the Timurid empire was dead, cremated and its ashes scattered in the ocean. He was showered with praise by almost everyone he met for returning the humiliation that Timurids had done to them.

Michael was happy as well not just because of destroying the Timurid empire but because of another reason. By extensive use of his spy network, he engineered some “accidents” for his more powerful nobles, a lucky arrow here or there, a soldier killing someone before being killed off by another soldier etc. Their deaths allowed him to take more power for himself. Some would suspect foul play but they would mysteriously die off days later.

After Michael X had all the power he could currently have, he broke Roman tradition by being a very competent monarch. He reformed the army by promotions based on merit, ensured the soldiers had the best armour, food and pay they could find, made a law that any widow or family left by soldiers be entitled to compensation, and encouraged trade by improving roads and bridges, patronized arts and literature and gave funding for civic and military research.

However, his family life was very different to his outside persona; to his wife, he was cold, distant and emotionally abusive. He despised her because of her relation to the Timurids. After she bore him enough heirs he had his spies assassinate her. Now he had free reign on how to raise his children as he saw fit.

He saw his children as his legacy, thus he made sure that they were raised the way he believed an imperial heir should be. That involved teaching them that compassion was for the weak by torturing prisoners, empathy was useless by giving them pet rabbits and then making them beat the rabbits with their own hands, how strength is everything by making them violate widows and then beating them himself to show that there is always someone stronger than them. This was followed by manipulating them by saying how it was to make them the best heirs they could be.

Nearing the end of his reign, he made sure his children got practical experience in the military and administration so that they became competent. When he was approaching his death Michael’s final actions were using his spy network to quash rebellions before they did anything, kill traitors before they were a threat and assassinate everyone with the closest claim to the throne to ensure a stable succession for his heir. The final deaths were every single one of his children except for the one he considered the most competent and worthy to rule.

Michael X was a megalomaniac, a control freak, a murderer and a manipulative abuser. So it is perhaps unsurprising that even in death he was a master of intrigue as he died peacefully in his sleep the empire was mourning the loss of a great ruler. During his final moments, he was surrounded by his only living child; the one that he believed would be the best successor. His final act was giving explicit orders to his nobles on who his preferred heir was.

He was succeeded by his son Alexios.

[12] Alexios was born in 1420, the second son, but a third child of Michael. He idolized his father, believing he could do no wrong. He tried to emulate his father in any way possible. It is said he beat his rabbit almost immediately with a sadistic grin on his face. However, while Michael was methodical and secretive about his abuse and murder, Alexios was openly violent.

When he became emperor, he enacted a law that forbids anyone from practising another religion, sentencing those who did not renounce their false faiths to a fiery death. He also decided to reclaim Italy for the Roman Empire, invading Sicily and Naples. In 1457, he marched on Rome, sacking the holy city, even going as far as to burn the pope for his heresy. This would of course cause all of the Catholic kingdoms to declare a crusade against the Rhomania empire.

It is said that when he learned of the crusade, Alexios laughed and said that the Celtics could not hope to defeat Caesar. He continued his attack on Italy, carving a bloody path up the boot and into the lands of the French. However, much like Caesar, he failed to notice the discontent brewing behind his back. In 1464, he would be betrayed by supporters of Ioannes who would capture him and bring him back to Constantinople in chains.

[13] The youngest and only surviving son of Michael the X's favourite sister, Ioannes was spared as a babe by his uncle due to the pleas of his mother, who had already lost four sons to the paranoia of her brother. Prostatinf herself before the Emperor, Eva of Constantinople would manage to awaken the only remnant of human compassion left in Emperor Michael, and he would, accordingly, spare her young babe.

A very intelligent child, John spent most of his young years keeping out of sight and out of the mind of his uncle, the only historical records of the man appearing during the reign of Emperor Alexios, to whom Ioannes managed to ingratiate himself too, receiving from his cousin the post of governor of Cappadocia and Cilicia, from where Ioannes would surely amass more and more influence as time went on.

The death of his cousin following the Italian campaign created a brief interregnum that threatened to shatter the Empire, as many parts of the nobility wanted every trace of the House of Branas gone, alongside a man who would grant the Empire some years of peace instead of near-constant warfare. Despite the near-constant primogeniture that had lent great stability to the Empire, many were ready to revive old traditions and elect an Emperor from amidst the nobility and the soldiery. Thankfully for Ioannes (and the soon-to-be Axouchos Dynasty), the intervention of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the military assured the continuity of male-preference primogeniture, as both the church and the military had been filled with loyalists to the throne and preferred continued stability. Thus, Ioannes started a new dynasty and came to bear the purple shroud of Caesars in Nova Roma.

The new Cesar's reign started with a mission to find peace with the Christians of the west. Fiercest of Ioannes rivals was Charles the VII of France, of the Evreux Branch of the Capetians, who had held the thrones of France and Navarre for nigh on 100 years following the fall of the House of Valois. The Evreux's ruled a state that stretched from Brittany and Aquitaine in the East to Provence, Artois and the French-Compte in the west, the single most powerful state in western Europe of the time that had recently expelled the English from the continent permanently. With the pope exiled at Charles's Court, it was with him that Ioannes secured the end to one of Christianity's bloodiest inter-sect wars.

Ioannes promised to retreat from Italy, restoring the many Italian princes to their lands and titles. To avoid having to pay military reparations, Ioannes had the last Aragonese claimants to the thrones of Naples and Sicily quietly executed in the cells of Adrianople, restoring the "Capetian" Angevins to Palermo and Naples (Charles would receive from his "grateful" cousins the Duchies of Lorraine, Bar, Anjou and Picardy, states which they had ruled until then). Of the Italian conquest, Ioannes would retain for himself only Malta, which would become the westernmost base of the Roman navy in fighting off Islamic piracy.

With peace in the west negotiated, Ioannes purposefully left the status of the Duchies of Milan and Romagna open, correctly guessing the Wittelsbach King of Bohemia and Duke of Bavaria, Rudolf I, would challenge the French on the right to should rule these regions. The Aragonese themselves would intervene too, starting the Italian Wars.

Finally able to turn inwards after the early years of war and then the long negotiations, Ioannes would marry the Hungarian princess Elizabeth of Luxembourg to secure his northern flank to assure Hungarian neutrality in the submission of the last Serbian and Bulgarian despotates.

With the Balkans secured, Ioannes turned East to finally secure the lands conquered by Michael the great in the east. Using his vast army and spy network, Ioannes would devise a great plan meant to repopulate Greater Armenia, Kurdistan and Northern Mesopotamia and Syria. First pushing his Armenians subjects in Eastern Anatolia and Cilicia to move eastwards towards old Armenia and Kurdistan, he would afterwards propagate a great movement into Cilicia, Eastern Anatolia and Northern Syria of Greeks, primarily Ionians, Thracians, Pontiacs and Cappadocians, with many Balkan minorities such as Bulgars and Vlachs filling the vacuum in many regions. He would give the lands in Byzantine Mesopotamia to the many landless Assyrian tribes of the region, gaining their loyalty despite their religious disputes. Northern Mesopotamia became afterwards known as the province of Assyria.

With this great matter settled, Ioannes dedicated himself to the great things he liked - books, laws and procreation. He and his first wife, Elizabeth of Hungary would have 7 children, and after her death from tuberculosis, he would marry Anna of Imereti, with whom he would have another 4 children. Ioannes would dedicate himself to restoring and renovating the laws of the Empire, cementing primogeniture as law, and he would go on a great investment spree once his coffers had recovered, building and rebuilding many monuments all over his Empire. A great patron of the military, Ioannes would turn the army into a true early medieval army, dependent not on chivalry but gunpowder and the Arquebus.

Ioannes would once more find conflict during the latter part of his reign, subjugating the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldávia, alongside helping the various Rus principalities shake off the Tatar yoke, expelling the raiders from the Crimea peninsula and the Roman port of Tanais and the mouth of the Don in the Azov sea.

With a long and most prosperous reign, the Emperor would have a rather unworthy death. On a visit to the Great Arsenal of Galata in Constantinople, one of his pet projects, the aged John would trip on a bucket and smash his head against a crane on the docks. Despite the efforts of his physicians, Ioannes would die from trauma in the skull just after the turn of the century. He was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth.

[14] The only child of Ioannes III who outlived him due to a tragic fire that killed all her siblings (she escaped as she was confined elsewhere for an illness), Elizabeth was born in 1481 as the last child of Ioannes and his first wife. She was educated and formally trained for a significant marriage that, as a royal family alliance, would extend the kingdom's power and security as well as its influence and peaceful relations with other ruling powers. Due to nobody expecting her to inherit, she was not trained to rule, which would be used against her later on. She was married to Francis of Austria, the younger son of Maximilian II and Mary of Burgundy, with whom she was passionately in love, but he was a sadist towards her despite genuine initial affection - he eventually held her in a vicious cycle of affection, abuse, and intimidation from which she was constitutionally unable to escape. His education, which was influenced by Franco-Burgundian traditions, contributed to a model of rulership "exclusively male", thus he never saw Elizabeth as his political equal and could not accept that she tried to forge her own political identity. He would grow to resent her and his role as her consort, and eventually returned to the Low Countries, but before that the couple would have six surviving children together. Despite wearing black for the rest of her life afterwards as a sign of mourning, she would not express any other emotion toward her estranged husband. As for Elizabeth herself, she would set out to rule by good consent, depending heavily on a group of female advisers, an unprecedented move. During her reign, the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia were annexed into her empire and she would also successfully reclaim Sicily, but not Naples, in another war against Italy. With a record-breaking long reign, she would end up dying peacefully in her sleep.

[15] Károlos (previously known as Charles of Austria) was born in 1504 as the youngest child of Francis of Austria and Empress Elizabeth I. Károlos was initially raised in the Byzantine royal court but he would end up in the court of the Holy Roman Empire after his father would return to the Low Countries. Károlos had a very close relationship with his mother and would be deeply saddened when he would be forced to leave with his father. Károlos would have a difficult relationship with his father often having heated arguments with him and by the age of 14, he would have enough and would run away slowly making his way back to Constantinople to be with his mother. Once back in Constantinople Károlos would again make himself comfortable in his old home once again with his mother who he loved so dearly helping to manage the large Empire. Károlos would help with running the Empire so much that he would end up being designed regent after his mother would have an emotional breakdown due to her great grief. Eventually Elizabeth I would die in 1555 only after designating Károlos as her successor ahead of his older siblings.

Károlos would become Emperor at the age of 41 considerably older for his time but it would not deter him from him choosing the Greek spelling of Habsburg being Apsvoúrgo. Károlos would be a modest ruler for the Empire mainly focusing on regional development but would also be intrigued by the prospect of the New World issuing the construction of a fleet of ships to eventually send on an expedition to the New World in hopes of great prospects. Károlos would only face one major issue during his reign and that would be with his older brother Francis of Austria who was until Károlos was designated heir to the Empire was considered next in line even with him having spent the greater majority of his life living in the Holy Roman Empire and not even knowing how to speak Greek. Francis would make several attempts to his claim to the Byzantine throne with none proving successful.

Károlos had no trouble in providing heirs to the throne having married Clara of Saxe-Lauenburg in 1537 and would have a total of 9 children with her. Eventually, Károlos would see his plan to explore the new world fulfilled when his fleet of ships would set out in early 1561 from the port of Constantinople eventually landing in the New World a few weeks later making way for further expeditions in 1563, 1564, and onwards. Károlos would push the prospect of the New World even further when he would fund the establishment of the colony of Elysium in 1571 on the East Coast of North America. Károlos would eventually die in 1573 after a short illness leaving his daughter, Elizabeth to take the throne.

[16] Elizabeth was the oldest daughter of Károlos and Clara, born in 1544. Her only surviving brother, Charles was very sickly and he would die in his adolescence due to cancer, leaving her the heiress of her father. By then she was already married to Francis II of France, who was equally sickly and died at sixteen - but he had managed to impregnate her with a son who would be born posthumously, seven months after his death. She stayed in France and acted as his regent until her father's death when she was forced to leave him behind. She never saw him again, but corresponded and had portraits sent. She was a great patroness of the arts and sciences and was considered to be deeply pious and charitable, but her court was cold and austere despite having lived at the lavish courts run by Catherine de Medici. During her lifetime, her empire remained economically healthy and she took a very active role in policy-making, often imposing her will over her governing councils. The only thing that ruined her reputation was her surprising remarriage to an attractive son of one of her ladies-in-waiting, a decade younger than her. She would end up dying in childbirth at age 36, leaving her sister, Sophie and her husband Romanos as her heir.

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[17] In the aftermath of Empress Elizabeth's death in childbirth, the army in Constantinople, backed by the prominent dynatoi, would acclaim Sophia, Empress Elizabeth's younger sister, as the new Empress and Autocrat of the Romans, unwilling to see either the King of France, someone who never stepped foot in Constantinople, or a newborn child, take the throne with the specter of the Safavids, who had forged a sizable empire from Mesopotamia to Afghanistan, and a new and energetic dynasty in the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. Desiring capable leadership, they would enthrone the 32-year-old Sophia as Empress with her husband (and co-Emperor) being Romanos Kantakuzenos, the scion of one of Romania's major royal families.

Despite the inauspicious start to their reign owing to having taken power via a palace coup, Sophia and Romanos would prove to be competent and effective co-rulers of the Empire, leading it to major defeats against the Safavids and Mamluks with most of the Levant and half of Mesopotamia being taken from the Mamluks and Safavids respectively by the end of their reign. Domestically, their reign would be marked by an era of relative stability and prosperity, especially with the expansion of Romania's colonial empire, centered around the colony in Elysium, during this period. In addition, Sophia would be a strong patron of the arts and culture during this period.

Sophia and Romanos would have six children between 1571 and 1593, four of which would survive to adulthood. Romanos and Sophia would both succumb to an outbreak of smallpox in 1608, leaving her daughter, Eva, the new Empress of Rhomania.


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[18] Eva, born in 1572, was the oldest of Sophia and Romanos' four surviving daughters. Named after Eva of Constantinople, she proved to be nothing like her. A frivolous and fun-loving girl who cared little for her studies she nevertheless was very kind-hearted and compassionate which earned her many friends and admirers. As an adult, she was joyous and carefree and she wore new clothes bedecked with precious jewels daily. She saw the best in everyone and was blindly loyal to her family and friends, which were not good traits for a monarch to have. Though she was extraordinarily personable and her judgments were always merciful, she would find herself outfoxed by her cousin Francis IV of France, the grandson of Francis II and Elizabeth II, when he waged war against her to consolidate his claim to her throne. She ended up marrying him to achieve peace, and made the best of her situation, even though she resented being forced to share her power. However there was a silver lining - he had to rule France, so he was away for long periods. Despite struggles with fertility she would eventually bear him three children who lived to adulthood. During her reign, she seized the remaining half of Mesopotamia that her parents had failed to take and continued to send expeditions to the new world. She also collected vast amounts of jewels and dresses which would be divided among her ladies in waiting after her death. She would die in her sleep and be succeeded by her second son, Constantine.

[19] Born of the shared marriage of Roman Empress Eva and that of King Francis the IV of France, Constantine was from birth chosen by his shrewd father as his heir to the throne of Rome far in the east, for King Francis recognized early that to govern the two states would an enormous, taxing predicament, even if the dream of a restored Rome seemed nearer than ever. Despite keeping custody of his three children by Eva, Charles, Elizabeth and Constantine, a prerogative he had assured during the war which had made him Emperor-Consort of Rome, he would send his young son Constantine to the Roman court, where he would thereafter be raised by his mother.

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Grown with the famous robustness and height of those belonging to the dynasty of Evreux, Constantine's thick blonde hair and beard made him a rare sight in a city as southern as Constantinople, and the wrinkles around his eyes gave him a sombre appearance which left many of those supposed to approach them. His mixed Cappadocian-French accent, derived from his military tutors and the guardians his father sent with him gave him an oft mysterious appearance. Nonetheless, Constantine did not allow his teenage reputation to bother him, as he soon carved more and more power from his mother and by her last years ruled the Empire in his own right.

Risen to the purple in 1650, Constantine adopted for himself the dynastic name of Galaktikos, about his french origin but also to the Roman Throne's "Universality" of rule as head of both Christendom and as the permanent Empire of Rome. An enthusiastic ruler, if a silent and reserved man, Constantine would formally recognize Portuguese independence, marrying John of Coimbra's sister Adelaide in a luxurious ceremony in the Sicilian city of Palermo. The brief war with Spain fought afterwards would see Portugal cede Ceuta and the rest of Spanish Northern Morocco to Rome, which allowed easy access into the Atlantic. Thus, Elysium prospered immensely, growing to border British Florida in the South and French Acadia in the North.

Growing his family, Constantine was both a grand imperialist and a firm investor in his backyard. Under him, the artisans and industries of Antioch, Trebizond, Constantinople, Smyrna, Patras and Sofia prospered greatly and the land was tilled at levels never seen before. As his reign became secure with his wife's successive successful pregnancies, Constantine invaded the Sultanate of Egypt and conquered Egypt, Cyrenaica, Sudan and the Hejaz into his Empire. Such a massive increase of land(and the death of many, primarily Muslim civilians) during the conquest created a massive settler movement towards the south, and the Copts of Egypt and the Maronites of Syria and Lebanon were given opportunities in this new Empire. This period post-conquest started a rejuvenation of Coptic and Aramaic, and many amongst these peoples still see Constantine as their patron emperor.

Constantine would eventually die off in 1684, suffering from a heart attack. He was succeeded by his son Romanos VIII.


[20]
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Romanos VIII was characterized early on by the belief that he was superior to others. For his entire life, he was arrogant and full of himself.

However, he had a cunning mind that he regularly used to his advantage, a fact that others would learn unfortunately too late. So, when he received news that his father was dead, the 23-year-old already had schemes brewing in his mind.

His reign would be rather reminiscent of his predecessor Michael X. This was ironic because, in his diaries, Romanos ranted about how he despised Michael. He ranted about the constant dynastic changes because he thought a sadistic man-child would be the most ideal heir.

These rants usually ended with how Romanos VIII promised he would be the best emperor that Rome ever had. He did this by first codifying the laws of succession, In this law, he decreed that should an emperor be the successor of his mother the empress, he would follow the house of his mother, not his father. This was then solidified with Romanos VIII signing a treaty with his cousin Louis XIII of France that none of their descendants would have a claim to the opposite King's thrones.

After getting rid of what he believed were the most troubling matters, Romanos VIII's reign started with a bang. His first actions were making his spies note every noble whose agenda might be against him. Once he had the list, he invited those nobles to his palace for a feast and then promptly like the doors and burned the palace's own. To make sure that others didn't accuse him of murder, he intentionally burnt his left hand to his elbow. In time his burns would fade but the scars would remain.

The remainder of his reign was a quiet one. Quiet for the people who had 5 dynastic changes in 200 years. He spent a great amount of money on renovating the empire with a particularly ambitious project of fortifying every border he had with walls. This was likened to the great wall of China but much larger in scale. Another thing he made sure of was that his soldiers were being effective in peace and using his spy network to prune disloyal elements. One controversial law was a decree that made anyone treat people of different ethnicities equally provided they were followers of the orthodox faith.

The remained of his reign would be making sure that his children were competent and not stupid. He did every possible thing he could think of to ensure that his successor wouldn't be another Alexios V. Romanos VIII died with an astounding 56-years-old reign knowing that he would be remembered as a good king, but not a great one as he had claimed in his youth.

He would be succeed by his son, Romanos.

[21] Romanos the Ninth was the only living child of Romanos and his first wife, Maria Antonia of Austria. His mother would die just a few months after his birth. His father would remarry two years later to a Greek noblewoman named Theodora. The younger Romanos was close to his stepmother as she was with him. Growing up, Romanos was pushed hard by his father, something that did no favors to his already sickly health.

However, while Romanos had a weak body, he had a strong mind something his father commented on. He was a budding inventor, often, creating designs for contraptions that he heard rumors of. When he came of age, he ordered a commission of a grand university of Constantinople.

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When his father died, Romanos had his diary preserved so future generations could study it. He followed his father's wishes to have a grand funeral for him. He continued his father's tolerant polices, noting that their empire was made up of so many cultures, and religion, it would tear itself apart if they began to fight.

In his personal life he married, Francisca Josefa of Portugal. Their marriage was loving, but ultimately childless. However Francisca proved herself to be an able ruler, often filling in as regent whenever her husband was too sick to rule.
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Eventually, Ramanos's frail health caught up with him and he became terminally ill. His last request for______was to take care of his beloved Josefa, not knowing she would die of grief just a few months later. Although, he did not accomplish much in his nineteen-year-reign, he was fondly remembered for donating money to several inventors which would pay handsomely for his successors.
 
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Emperors, Empresses, and Autocrats of the Romans
1185-1187: Isaac II (Angelos)
1187-1208: Alexios III (Branas) [1]
1208-1227: Theodoros I (Branas) [2]
1227-1273: Alexios IV (Branas) [3]
1273-1277: Romanos V (Branas) [4]
1277-1313: Michael VIII "the Patient" "the Avenger" (Branas) [5]
1313-1342: Andrónikos II (Branas) [6]
1342-1350: Zoe
II (Branas) [7]
1350-1357: Succession War [8]
1357-1391: Michael IX (Branas-Lascaris) [9]
1391-1403: Romanos VI (Branas-Lascaris) [10]
1403-1445: Michael X "Τhe Great" (Branas-Lascaris) [11]
1445-1464: Alexios V "the Bloody" (Branas-Lascaris) [12]
1464-1501: Ioannes III "the Resolute" (Axouchos) [13]
1501-1555: Elizabeth I (Axouchos) [14]
1555-1573: Károlos I (Apsvoúrgo) [15]
1573-1580: Elizabeth II (Apsvoúrgo) [16]
1580-1608: Sophia I and Romanos VII (Apsvoúrgo-Kantakuzenos) [17]
1608-1650: Eva I (Apsvoúrgo-Kantakuzenos) [18]
1650-1684: Constantine XI (Galatikós) [19]
1684-1717: Romanos VIII (Galatikós) [20]
1717-1736: Romanos IX (Galatikós) [21]
1736-1760: Zoe III (Galatikós) [22]


[1] The "Second Alexiad", as future historians would call it, would begin in 1187 when Alexios Branas, who had been sent to crush the Bulgarians, who had risen under the Asen brothers, would instead rise against Isaac II in the city of Adrianople, his home city. After seizing Adrianople, Alexios III would besiege and take Constantinople, defeating Conrad of Montferrat by striking him with a lance with the defeat led to the defenders of Constantinople killing Isaac and his brother and son before surrendering the city. As Emperor, Alexios III's reign would be marked by the defeat of the Vlach-Bulgarian Revolt and the Sultanate of Rum with the Sultanate of Rum being effectively broken at the Battle of Ancyra in 1200, which effectively reduced it to a rump client state of Rhomania. Alexios III would die in 1208 a happy man, having seen Rhomania crush the Bulgars and Turks and his policies having promoted a new golden age for the Empire as a continuation of the Komnenian Renaissance. He would be succeeded by Theodoros.

[2] Alexios III Branas's son Theodoros married the twice-widowed Empress Anna, formerly Agnes of France, soon after his father became Emperor. He inherited a thriving and pacified empire from his father. The only shadow in his life was the deaths of several of his children by Anna. In 1209, he married his eldest surviving daughter Theodora to his distant cousin Manuel Doukas, a cousin of the Angeloi emperors, but this union was short-lived, as Manuel died of a fever three years later.
The Fourth Crusade having failed after the infamous sack of Zara, Pope Innocent III called for another Crusade in 1212. On Anna's advice, Theodoros agreed to send soldiers to the Holy Land to help the Crusader army. Part of the army marched on Egypt, while the other went through the Eastern Empire to the Holy Land. The year 1217 saw the creation of the Principality of Damascus, ruled by the Queen of Jerusalem's younger half-sister Philippa, who became one of the most sought-after matches in the Christian Levant. Theodoros himself offered her one of his sons as a husband.
The same year, the Sultan of Egypt, Al-Adil I, and his son Al-Kamil were killed in battle, leading to a succession war between his sons. The Sultanate was eventually divided into three Emirates ruled by Al-Adil's surviving sons: the Emirate of Egypt was ruled by Al-Ashraf, the Emirate of Hamat by Al-Mu'azzam and the Emirate of Jezira by Al-Muzaffar.
Theodoros returned to Constantinople in 1219 and spent the last years of his life and reign strengthening the commercial ties between his Empire, the West and the Levant.
After his wife Anna died in April 1227, Theodoros slowly lost his taste for life and followed her into the grave two months later. He was succeeded by Alexios.

[3] Alexios IV was born in 1209 as the firstborn child of Emperor Theodoros I’s son, Andronikos. He was named after his great grandfather, Alexios III. Alexios would become Emperor at the age of 18 in 1227 after the death of his grandfather due to his father having died of typhoid a few years prior. Alexios would be known mostly as a conqueror by future historians having led campaigns into Asia Minor, Syria, and even southwestern Georgia taking significant amounts of land for his Empire and the Principality of Damascus.

Alexios would see internal problems during his reign due to the large amounts of Muslims living in his Empire after his many conquests with many resentful against their Byzantine overlords these tensions escalated in 1261 after a well-known mosque was burned down by a legion of Tagmata leading to a large scale Muslim revolt across the Empire. The revolt would be crushed over the following year but it would leave a long-lasting effect for many years to come with many historians estimating that the Muslim population was cut nearly in half after the revolt.

Though Alexios had a lot to deal with during his reign he would have time for his personal life as well having married Sophie of Bavaria, the second daughter of Otto II, Duke of Bavaria in 1258 and would have a few children with her. There were a few allegations against Alexios stating that he had secretly had a child with a Muslim servant but there was no evidence to support these claims.

Alexios would die of natural causes in 1273 being succeeded by his son Romanos IV.

[4] Romanos IV was born in 1259 as the first son of Sophie of Bavaria and Alexios IV, becoming Emperor at the age of 14. Having grown up under the shadow of his father, Romanos IV would be someone who would attempt to win military glory for himself, especially as he would grow up to be a strong young man along with a highly brave one. In this, he would try to launch an invasion of the Il-Khanate, despite many of his advisor's counselling against it owing to how the Il-Khanate was the successor to the Mongols who had swept all before them, something that would end in the Battle of Mosul where he, along with most of the army, was massacred by the Il-Khanate's army with historical reports disputing whether he was killed in battle or captured alive and then trampled to death by horses owing to the Mongol tradition of not spilling royal blood. When news of the catastrophe reached Constantinople, his brother Michael was acclaimed as the new Emperor owing to Romanos not leaving behind any children.

[5] Michael was the second living son of Alexios and Sophie, born in 1263. Like his brother, he was merely fourteen when he became emperor. He decided that to avenge his brother, he needed allies. Therefore, he made a pact with Hungary and Poland to support each other should Mongols ever attack and he spent most of his days strengthening the borders. Some people accused him of being a coward, but Michael quickly showed that caution was not cowardice when he lead his troops to quell a rebellion that sprung up in 1281, showing how ruthless he could be when the situation called for it.

In his personal life, Michael would marry Elizabeth of Sicily in 1281, after the death of her first husband Ladislaus of Hungary. The couple would have a most loving relationship, with Elizabeth often acting as the go-between between Michael and the Italian rulers, gaining more allies for Michael's eventual strike against the Mongol empire. Despite their loving marriage, the couple would only have four surviving children. Elizabeth's death in 1303 would be the worst day of Michael's life and he refused to marry again and his health became increasingly worse.

With much diplomacy, offering dynastic matches, trading agreements, and outright bribery, in 1300, Michael had finally convinced the Pope to declare a crusade against the Mongols. His main objective was to attack the Il-Khanate. He could not have picked a better time as it had fallen into civil war. The battle was not easy but using ambush and guerrilla tactics to keep his foes off balance as he obliterated the horde. It is said that he refused to allow any of the men to live, professing that his brother's soul would never be at peace, unless every man, whether or not they had been responsible for Ramanos's death, were dead.

He returned home, just in time to witness his wife's death from a fever. He would mourn her for the rest of his life, and refused to marry again despite his councillor's pleading. His health began to decline slowly, until the last few years when he was bedridden. When he died, Andrónikos II would rise to the throne.

[6] Andrónikos II was born in 1286 as the only son of Michael VIII and Elizabeth of Sicily to survive to adulthood. Andrónikos was very close to his mother being only 14 years old at the time of her death having cared for her while she was ill and was deeply heartbroken just like his father by it. Andrónikos would blame his father for her death by not being there for them and instead off on his campaign against the Mongols and a rift would form between them. Andrónikos would eventually ascend to the throne at the age of 27 after the death of his father in 1313.

Andrónikos’ reign would be mostly peaceful with small revolts popping up here or there but he would try to keep the peace for the rest of his life. Despite being asked various times to marry but Andrónikos would hear none of it wishing not to be saddened any more than he had been by his mother’s death. Andrónikos would die in 1342 with no children of natural causes.

[7] Zoe was the daughter of Elisabet the eldest daughter of Michael VIII. Her mother had married her distant cousin, a descendant of Alexios III's second son. Unfortunately, Alexis died in 1301 in the battle with the II-Khanate, with Zoe being born two months later. Her mother would die of childbed fever leaving her an orphan. She would be adopted by her uncle and when he became emperor, he would groom her to be his heir.

At age eighteen, Zoe would marry Peter II of Sicily in 1323. However, the marriage would turn bitter as Zoe felt that as the heir to an empire, she was not subservient to a king and she resisted his constant pushing for her to become Catholic. In 1325, they would receive an annulment and Zoe returned to Constantinople. Over the years, Zoe would have many suitors seeking her hand, but she rejected them all, preferring to be in the company of her bodyguard, David Lascaris. There were plenty of rumours surrounding the pair. Especially when Zoe fell ill in 1328 and spent a whole year in the country, away from the eyes of the court.

In 1342, her uncle died and Zoe became empress. Now a woman in her forties, her councillors doubted that she would have an heir even if they could convince her to marry. Sadly Zoe's rule would be short as black death swept the nation, killing many including the empress. This left the empire scrambling to find a new ruler.

[8] The troubled weeks that followed Zoe’s death saw the beginning of a succession war. Although Zoe was much loved by her people for her steadfastness and commitment to her empire, her refusal to marry would have lasting consequences.

Only days before the Empress died, her cousin and closest male relative Alexios Branas Doukas, the son of her aunt Eudoxia and a distant cousin descended from Emperor Theodoros, succumbed to the plague, leaving a young son, Andrónikos. However, many distrusted the child’s mother, Urraca of Navarre, whose views had always been too pro-Latin for their liking.

As a result, two more pretenders soon appeared: the first was another of Zoe’s cousins, Irene Branaina Kantakouzena. Irene’s mother Anna was Michael VIII’s third daughter and the second of his children to survive him. Like her cousin, Irene was a strong-willed woman, determined to get the Empire despite young Andrónikos’s claim.

The third pretender was Michael Branas Lascaris, a young man who claimed to be Zoe’s son, born of a secret marriage she had supposedly contracted with her bodyguard David. Michael had been brought up by David’s elderly parents in a small village near Nicaea and the local population and nobility supported him, especially as he did look a little like his supposed late great-uncle Emperor Andrónikos II. However, he offered no proof of his parent's marriage, which made him a bastard at best in his rivals’ eyes.

As none of the three pretenders would relinquish their claims, the war raged for seven years until Michael eventually emerged victorious.

[9] The man who would become Michael the Ninth was a figure shrouded in mystery. While modern DNA tests confirm that he was Empress Zoe's son, born during her year-long seclusion, it is still up to debate whether his parents were married or not. Regardless of his origins, he was seen as the dark horse candidate of the succession war. Not many seemed to think he would win.

However, Michael was a skilled commander and a charming individual. Not to mention, he had schooling similar to a prince (some suspect if Zoe had not died so suddenly, she would have declared him her heir). He managed to win a decisive battle against the forces of Irene Kantakouzena, capturing several of her important supporters. Including her husband, Ramonos Kantakouzena. He refused to ransom Ramonos unless he married the eldest daughter of Irene, Antonia. Unfortunately, Irene's death in 1355, made matters moot. Her eldest son, named Theodoros choose not to continue the fighting and instead met with Michael under a banner of peace. The two young men agreed to join forces with Michael being declared emperor and marrying Antonia Kantakouzena.

In 1356, fifteen-year-old Andrónikos would convert to Catholicism, offending many of his conservative vassals. This would lead to his undoing as several of his supporters would now throw their lot in with Michael. Then in 1357, Andrónikos would collapse after a meal with much suspecting poisons (it has been confirmed by historians that he died as a result of arsenic). It is unknown if Michael gave the order or not, but regardless of the less-than-stellar circumstances, he still marched into Constantinople and was crowned emperor. He would launch an investigation into his rival's poisoning, finding the culprit months later who was revealed to have been a long-time adversary of Andrónikos. It was wrapped neatly, a little too neatly according to those who still saw Michael up-jumped bastard.

Michael would have to deal with two rebellions in his tenor as emperor. The first being was in 1363 as those who believed that Michael was a) a bastard and b) a murderer, teamed up to overthrow him. Theodoros would die on the battlefield, just twenty-three years old. Despite the devastating loss, the emperor managed to prevail, striking down the leader of the rebellion himself.

The next rebellion was in 1379. After Theodoros and then his father's death, all their lands and titles would fall on the second brother, named Michael in a surprise twist. He would declare himself the rightful emperor, taking up his mother's claim. He marched on Constantinople to siege it. Unfortunately, the emperor was waiting for him, ambushing him with his forces. It would be a short, but bloody battle. The pretender was only saved by his sister, Antonia, who was pregnant, got down on her knees in front of her husband and begged for his life. Michael Kantakouzena was exiled and threatened never to turn.

These two rebellions would cement Michael's status as emperor, making it clear to Europe that he was not going anywhere. As the King of France had been a cousin of the late Andrónikos, things were tense between the two countries. Michael choose to reach out to England, the Holy Roman Emperor, and Castile in hopes of gaining allies to help him, should France back the siblings of Andrónikos who had fled with their mother to the native Navarre. He became the first emperor to visit the British isles, meeting Richard II, and agreeing to a betrothal between the English king and the emperor's daughter, Anna.

In 1391, Michael would die in a hunting accident where his horse sent him tumbling down a hill. His son Michael would succeed him.


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[10] Romanos VI was born in 1360 as the oldest son of Emperor Michael IX and, unlike his father who grew up to be a soldier, would be someone who would be of a more scholarly air with this being something that would lead to Romanos VI being someone who would be more notable as an intellectual than a soldier. As such, when he became Emperor of the Romans in 1391 after his death, his reign would be marked by how he would be a peaceful and capable administrator, more interested in consolidating Rhomania's empire than expanding the realm with his reign being marked by an era of peace and prosperity which marked Rhomania during the 1390s. In this, Romanos VI would marry Olga, daughter of the Grand Prince of Muscovy, with the two having four children.

However, his reign would be interrupted when Tamerlane, having carved a swath of destruction from Delhi in the east to Baghdad in the west and forging a large empire, decided to burnish his claim as the "Sword of Islam" by defeating Rhomania and reclaiming Anatolia, which had been conquered by the Seljuks, for Islam. In this, Romanos VI would clash with Timur at Iconium in the Battle of Iconium seeing the army that Romanos had assembled be no match for what the war machine that Timur had assembled with Romanos VI being killed in battle and his head displayed at the Timurid camp. When news of Romanos' death reached Constantinople, Michael X was acclaimed as the Emperor of an Empire which was facing its biggest crisis in centuries with how much of Anatolia was being ravaged by Timur's armies, the Emperor was dead, and the army basically non-existent after the massacre at Iconium.


[11] Michael X was born in 1390 as the eldest child of Romanos VI. He ascended to the throne at the age of 13 in 1403 when the empire was in a time of great strife. His first action secured the peace of Rhomania. He would achieve this by promising the Timurids a yearly tribute and a peace alliance. To seal the deal, he married the Sultan's daughter Saray Malik Agha. After the humiliating peace treaty, he came back to the empire and privately vowed that neither he nor his successors would suffer such a situation ever again.

After the peace treaty and with vengeance in mind, Michael spent years building a spy network, carefully picking orphans who could be moulded into perfect agents and manipulating the younglings so that they were loyal to him and none. His spy network was so efficient its doctrines and structure are used as the model for modern-day secret agencies.

His first use of his new spies was assassinating his siblings and relatives closest to the line of succession. The reason why he wasn’t suspected of the murders was because of another carefully planned assassination.

In 1420, after years of plotting he successfully had his spies assassinate as many important noblemen of the Timurid empire with a focus on the competent ones. The Sultan was a target as well with his death along with his children Michael orchestrated a succession crisis that predictably led to war.

During the war, Michael made sure that the Timurids tired themselves out while fighting themselves. So when there was a winner of the war Michael and his armies immediately invaded the empire with only one objective, to bring absolute destruction.

Historians from other kingdoms are the only way we can get information about what happened. Michael had ordered his men to kill and burn anything and everything; whether it be a man, woman, child, animal, house, temple, mosque, building, farm or even a tree. Under his orders, the Romanian army had killed off at least 83% of the population while the rest eventually died out due to the burning having made the land inhabitable. Many compare this action to be even worse than what the Romans had done to Carthage.

Michael eventually had to leave but he was nowhere near satisfied, so he left the most fanatic Timurid haters he could find and ordered them to scout and kill any survivors that they happened to have missed, a task which they did very happily.

So Michael returned to the empire after making sure the Timurid empire was dead, cremated and its ashes scattered in the ocean. He was showered with praise by almost everyone he met for returning the humiliation that Timurids had done to them.

Michael was happy as well not just because of destroying the Timurid empire but because of another reason. By extensive use of his spy network, he engineered some “accidents” for his more powerful nobles, a lucky arrow here or there, a soldier killing someone before being killed off by another soldier etc. Their deaths allowed him to take more power for himself. Some would suspect foul play but they would mysteriously die off days later.

After Michael X had all the power he could currently have, he broke Roman tradition by being a very competent monarch. He reformed the army by promotions based on merit, ensured the soldiers had the best armour, food and pay they could find, made a law that any widow or family left by soldiers be entitled to compensation, and encouraged trade by improving roads and bridges, patronized arts and literature and gave funding for civic and military research.

However, his family life was very different to his outside persona; to his wife, he was cold, distant and emotionally abusive. He despised her because of her relation to the Timurids. After she bore him enough heirs he had his spies assassinate her. Now he had free reign on how to raise his children as he saw fit.

He saw his children as his legacy, thus he made sure that they were raised the way he believed an imperial heir should be. That involved teaching them that compassion was for the weak by torturing prisoners, empathy was useless by giving them pet rabbits and then making them beat the rabbits with their own hands, how strength is everything by making them violate widows and then beating them himself to show that there is always someone stronger than them. This was followed by manipulating them by saying how it was to make them the best heirs they could be.

Nearing the end of his reign, he made sure his children got practical experience in the military and administration so that they became competent. When he was approaching his death Michael’s final actions were using his spy network to quash rebellions before they did anything, kill traitors before they were a threat and assassinate everyone with the closest claim to the throne to ensure a stable succession for his heir. The final deaths were every single one of his children except for the one he considered the most competent and worthy to rule.

Michael X was a megalomaniac, a control freak, a murderer and a manipulative abuser. So it is perhaps unsurprising that even in death he was a master of intrigue as he died peacefully in his sleep the empire was mourning the loss of a great ruler. During his final moments, he was surrounded by his only living child; the one that he believed would be the best successor. His final act was giving explicit orders to his nobles on who his preferred heir was.

He was succeeded by his son Alexios.

[12] Alexios was born in 1420, the second son, but a third child of Michael. He idolized his father, believing he could do no wrong. He tried to emulate his father in any way possible. It is said he beat his rabbit almost immediately with a sadistic grin on his face. However, while Michael was methodical and secretive about his abuse and murder, Alexios was openly violent.

When he became emperor, he enacted a law that forbids anyone from practising another religion, sentencing those who did not renounce their false faiths to a fiery death. He also decided to reclaim Italy for the Roman Empire, invading Sicily and Naples. In 1457, he marched on Rome, sacking the holy city, even going as far as to burn the pope for his heresy. This would of course cause all of the Catholic kingdoms to declare a crusade against the Rhomania empire.

It is said that when he learned of the crusade, Alexios laughed and said that the Celtics could not hope to defeat Caesar. He continued his attack on Italy, carving a bloody path up the boot and into the lands of the French. However, much like Caesar, he failed to notice the discontent brewing behind his back. In 1464, he would be betrayed by supporters of Ioannes who would capture him and bring him back to Constantinople in chains.

[13] The youngest and only surviving son of Michael the X's favourite sister, Ioannes was spared as a babe by his uncle due to the pleas of his mother, who had already lost four sons to the paranoia of her brother. Prostatinf herself before the Emperor, Eva of Constantinople would manage to awaken the only remnant of human compassion left in Emperor Michael, and he would, accordingly, spare her young babe.

A very intelligent child, John spent most of his young years keeping out of sight and out of the mind of his uncle, the only historical records of the man appearing during the reign of Emperor Alexios, to whom Ioannes managed to ingratiate himself too, receiving from his cousin the post of governor of Cappadocia and Cilicia, from where Ioannes would surely amass more and more influence as time went on.

The death of his cousin following the Italian campaign created a brief interregnum that threatened to shatter the Empire, as many parts of the nobility wanted every trace of the House of Branas gone, alongside a man who would grant the Empire some years of peace instead of near-constant warfare. Despite the near-constant primogeniture that had lent great stability to the Empire, many were ready to revive old traditions and elect an Emperor from amidst the nobility and the soldiery. Thankfully for Ioannes (and the soon-to-be Axouchos Dynasty), the intervention of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the military assured the continuity of male-preference primogeniture, as both the church and the military had been filled with loyalists to the throne and preferred continued stability. Thus, Ioannes started a new dynasty and came to bear the purple shroud of Caesars in Nova Roma.

The new Cesar's reign started with a mission to find peace with the Christians of the west. Fiercest of Ioannes rivals was Charles the VII of France, of the Evreux Branch of the Capetians, who had held the thrones of France and Navarre for nigh on 100 years following the fall of the House of Valois. The Evreux's ruled a state that stretched from Brittany and Aquitaine in the East to Provence, Artois and the French-Compte in the west, the single most powerful state in western Europe of the time that had recently expelled the English from the continent permanently. With the pope exiled at Charles's Court, it was with him that Ioannes secured the end to one of Christianity's bloodiest inter-sect wars.

Ioannes promised to retreat from Italy, restoring the many Italian princes to their lands and titles. To avoid having to pay military reparations, Ioannes had the last Aragonese claimants to the thrones of Naples and Sicily quietly executed in the cells of Adrianople, restoring the "Capetian" Angevins to Palermo and Naples (Charles would receive from his "grateful" cousins the Duchies of Lorraine, Bar, Anjou and Picardy, states which they had ruled until then). Of the Italian conquest, Ioannes would retain for himself only Malta, which would become the westernmost base of the Roman navy in fighting off Islamic piracy.

With peace in the west negotiated, Ioannes purposefully left the status of the Duchies of Milan and Romagna open, correctly guessing the Wittelsbach King of Bohemia and Duke of Bavaria, Rudolf I, would challenge the French on the right to should rule these regions. The Aragonese themselves would intervene too, starting the Italian Wars.

Finally able to turn inwards after the early years of war and then the long negotiations, Ioannes would marry the Hungarian princess Elizabeth of Luxembourg to secure his northern flank to assure Hungarian neutrality in the submission of the last Serbian and Bulgarian despotates.

With the Balkans secured, Ioannes turned East to finally secure the lands conquered by Michael the great in the east. Using his vast army and spy network, Ioannes would devise a great plan meant to repopulate Greater Armenia, Kurdistan and Northern Mesopotamia and Syria. First pushing his Armenians subjects in Eastern Anatolia and Cilicia to move eastwards towards old Armenia and Kurdistan, he would afterwards propagate a great movement into Cilicia, Eastern Anatolia and Northern Syria of Greeks, primarily Ionians, Thracians, Pontiacs and Cappadocians, with many Balkan minorities such as Bulgars and Vlachs filling the vacuum in many regions. He would give the lands in Byzantine Mesopotamia to the many landless Assyrian tribes of the region, gaining their loyalty despite their religious disputes. Northern Mesopotamia became afterwards known as the province of Assyria.

With this great matter settled, Ioannes dedicated himself to the great things he liked - books, laws and procreation. He and his first wife, Elizabeth of Hungary would have 7 children, and after her death from tuberculosis, he would marry Anna of Imereti, with whom he would have another 4 children. Ioannes would dedicate himself to restoring and renovating the laws of the Empire, cementing primogeniture as law, and he would go on a great investment spree once his coffers had recovered, building and rebuilding many monuments all over his Empire. A great patron of the military, Ioannes would turn the army into a true early medieval army, dependent not on chivalry but gunpowder and the Arquebus.

Ioannes would once more find conflict during the latter part of his reign, subjugating the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldávia, alongside helping the various Rus principalities shake off the Tatar yoke, expelling the raiders from the Crimea peninsula and the Roman port of Tanais and the mouth of the Don in the Azov sea.

With a long and most prosperous reign, the Emperor would have a rather unworthy death. On a visit to the Great Arsenal of Galata in Constantinople, one of his pet projects, the aged John would trip on a bucket and smash his head against a crane on the docks. Despite the efforts of his physicians, Ioannes would die from trauma in the skull just after the turn of the century. He was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth.

[14] The only child of Ioannes III who outlived him due to a tragic fire that killed all her siblings (she escaped as she was confined elsewhere for an illness), Elizabeth was born in 1481 as the last child of Ioannes and his first wife. She was educated and formally trained for a significant marriage that, as a royal family alliance, would extend the kingdom's power and security as well as its influence and peaceful relations with other ruling powers. Due to nobody expecting her to inherit, she was not trained to rule, which would be used against her later on. She was married to Francis of Austria, the younger son of Maximilian II and Mary of Burgundy, with whom she was passionately in love, but he was a sadist towards her despite genuine initial affection - he eventually held her in a vicious cycle of affection, abuse, and intimidation from which she was constitutionally unable to escape. His education, which was influenced by Franco-Burgundian traditions, contributed to a model of rulership "exclusively male", thus he never saw Elizabeth as his political equal and could not accept that she tried to forge her own political identity. He would grow to resent her and his role as her consort, and eventually returned to the Low Countries, but before that the couple would have six surviving children together. Despite wearing black for the rest of her life afterwards as a sign of mourning, she would not express any other emotion toward her estranged husband. As for Elizabeth herself, she would set out to rule by good consent, depending heavily on a group of female advisers, an unprecedented move. During her reign, the Dacian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia were annexed into her empire and she would also successfully reclaim Sicily, but not Naples, in another war against Italy. With a record-breaking long reign, she would end up dying peacefully in her sleep.

[15] Károlos (previously known as Charles of Austria) was born in 1504 as the youngest child of Francis of Austria and Empress Elizabeth I. Károlos was initially raised in the Byzantine royal court but he would end up in the court of the Holy Roman Empire after his father would return to the Low Countries. Károlos had a very close relationship with his mother and would be deeply saddened when he would be forced to leave with his father. Károlos would have a difficult relationship with his father often having heated arguments with him and by the age of 14, he would have enough and would run away slowly making his way back to Constantinople to be with his mother. Once back in Constantinople Károlos would again make himself comfortable in his old home once again with his mother who he loved so dearly helping to manage the large Empire. Károlos would help with running the Empire so much that he would end up being designed regent after his mother would have an emotional breakdown due to her great grief. Eventually Elizabeth I would die in 1555 only after designating Károlos as her successor ahead of his older siblings.

Károlos would become Emperor at the age of 41 considerably older for his time but it would not deter him from him choosing the Greek spelling of Habsburg being Apsvoúrgo. Károlos would be a modest ruler for the Empire mainly focusing on regional development but would also be intrigued by the prospect of the New World issuing the construction of a fleet of ships to eventually send on an expedition to the New World in hopes of great prospects. Károlos would only face one major issue during his reign and that would be with his older brother Francis of Austria who was until Károlos was designated heir to the Empire was considered next in line even with him having spent the greater majority of his life living in the Holy Roman Empire and not even knowing how to speak Greek. Francis would make several attempts to his claim to the Byzantine throne with none proving successful.

Károlos had no trouble in providing heirs to the throne having married Clara of Saxe-Lauenburg in 1537 and would have a total of 9 children with her. Eventually, Károlos would see his plan to explore the new world fulfilled when his fleet of ships would set out in early 1561 from the port of Constantinople eventually landing in the New World a few weeks later making way for further expeditions in 1563, 1564, and onwards. Károlos would push the prospect of the New World even further when he would fund the establishment of the colony of Elysium in 1571 on the East Coast of North America. Károlos would eventually die in 1573 after a short illness leaving his daughter, Elizabeth to take the throne.

[16] Elizabeth was the oldest daughter of Károlos and Clara, born in 1544. Her only surviving brother, Charles was very sickly and he would die in his adolescence due to cancer, leaving her the heiress of her father. By then she was already married to Francis II of France, who was equally sickly and died at sixteen - but he had managed to impregnate her with a son who would be born posthumously, seven months after his death. She stayed in France and acted as his regent until her father's death when she was forced to leave him behind. She never saw him again, but corresponded and had portraits sent. She was a great patroness of the arts and sciences and was considered to be deeply pious and charitable, but her court was cold and austere despite having lived at the lavish courts run by Catherine de Medici. During her lifetime, her empire remained economically healthy and she took a very active role in policy-making, often imposing her will over her governing councils. The only thing that ruined her reputation was her surprising remarriage to an attractive son of one of her ladies-in-waiting, a decade younger than her. She would end up dying in childbirth at age 36, leaving her sister, Sophie and her husband Romanos as her heir.

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[17] In the aftermath of Empress Elizabeth's death in childbirth, the army in Constantinople, backed by the prominent dynatoi, would acclaim Sophia, Empress Elizabeth's younger sister, as the new Empress and Autocrat of the Romans, unwilling to see either the King of France, someone who never stepped foot in Constantinople, or a newborn child, take the throne with the specter of the Safavids, who had forged a sizable empire from Mesopotamia to Afghanistan, and a new and energetic dynasty in the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. Desiring capable leadership, they would enthrone the 32-year-old Sophia as Empress with her husband (and co-Emperor) being Romanos Kantakuzenos, the scion of one of Romania's major royal families.

Despite the inauspicious start to their reign owing to having taken power via a palace coup, Sophia and Romanos would prove to be competent and effective co-rulers of the Empire, leading it to major defeats against the Safavids and Mamluks with most of the Levant and half of Mesopotamia being taken from the Mamluks and Safavids respectively by the end of their reign. Domestically, their reign would be marked by an era of relative stability and prosperity, especially with the expansion of Romania's colonial empire, centered around the colony in Elysium, during this period. In addition, Sophia would be a strong patron of the arts and culture during this period.

Sophia and Romanos would have six children between 1571 and 1593, four of which would survive to adulthood. Romanos and Sophia would both succumb to an outbreak of smallpox in 1608, leaving her daughter, Eva, the new Empress of Rhomania.


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[18] Eva, born in 1572, was the oldest of Sophia and Romanos' four surviving daughters. Named after Eva of Constantinople, she proved to be nothing like her. A frivolous and fun-loving girl who cared little for her studies she nevertheless was very kind-hearted and compassionate which earned her many friends and admirers. As an adult, she was joyous and carefree and she wore new clothes bedecked with precious jewels daily. She saw the best in everyone and was blindly loyal to her family and friends, which were not good traits for a monarch to have. Though she was extraordinarily personable and her judgments were always merciful, she would find herself outfoxed by her cousin Francis IV of France, the grandson of Francis II and Elizabeth II, when he waged war against her to consolidate his claim to her throne. She ended up marrying him to achieve peace, and made the best of her situation, even though she resented being forced to share her power. However there was a silver lining - he had to rule France, so he was away for long periods. Despite struggles with fertility she would eventually bear him three children who lived to adulthood. During her reign, she seized the remaining half of Mesopotamia that her parents had failed to take and continued to send expeditions to the new world. She also collected vast amounts of jewels and dresses which would be divided among her ladies in waiting after her death. She would die in her sleep and be succeeded by her second son, Constantine.

[19] Born of the shared marriage of Roman Empress Eva and that of King Francis the IV of France, Constantine was from birth chosen by his shrewd father as his heir to the throne of Rome far in the east, for King Francis recognized early that to govern the two states would an enormous, taxing predicament, even if the dream of a restored Rome seemed nearer than ever. Despite keeping custody of his three children by Eva, Charles, Elizabeth and Constantine, a prerogative he had assured during the war which had made him Emperor-Consort of Rome, he would send his young son Constantine to the Roman court, where he would thereafter be raised by his mother.

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Grown with the famous robustness and height of those belonging to the dynasty of Evreux, Constantine's thick blonde hair and beard made him a rare sight in a city as southern as Constantinople, and the wrinkles around his eyes gave him a sombre appearance which left many of those supposed to approach them. His mixed Cappadocian-French accent, derived from his military tutors and the guardians his father sent with him gave him an oft mysterious appearance. Nonetheless, Constantine did not allow his teenage reputation to bother him, as he soon carved more and more power from his mother and by her last years ruled the Empire in his own right.

Risen to the purple in 1650, Constantine adopted for himself the dynastic name of Galaktikos, about his french origin but also to the Roman Throne's "Universality" of rule as head of both Christendom and as the permanent Empire of Rome. An enthusiastic ruler, if a silent and reserved man, Constantine would formally recognize Portuguese independence, marrying John of Coimbra's sister Adelaide in a luxurious ceremony in the Sicilian city of Palermo. The brief war with Spain fought afterwards would see Portugal cede Ceuta and the rest of Spanish Northern Morocco to Rome, which allowed easy access into the Atlantic. Thus, Elysium prospered immensely, growing to border British Florida in the South and French Acadia in the North.

Growing his family, Constantine was both a grand imperialist and a firm investor in his backyard. Under him, the artisans and industries of Antioch, Trebizond, Constantinople, Smyrna, Patras and Sofia prospered greatly and the land was tilled at levels never seen before. As his reign became secure with his wife's successive successful pregnancies, Constantine invaded the Sultanate of Egypt and conquered Egypt, Cyrenaica, Sudan and the Hejaz into his Empire. Such a massive increase of land(and the death of many, primarily Muslim civilians) during the conquest created a massive settler movement towards the south, and the Copts of Egypt and the Maronites of Syria and Lebanon were given opportunities in this new Empire. This period post-conquest started a rejuvenation of Coptic and Aramaic, and many amongst these peoples still see Constantine as their patron emperor.

Constantine would eventually die off in 1684, suffering from a heart attack. He was succeeded by his son Romanos VIII.


[20]
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Romanos VIII was characterized early on by the belief that he was superior to others. For his entire life, he was arrogant and full of himself.

However, he had a cunning mind that he regularly used to his advantage, a fact that others would learn unfortunately too late. So, when he received news that his father was dead, the 23-year-old already had schemes brewing in his mind.

His reign would be rather reminiscent of his predecessor Michael X. This was ironic because, in his diaries, Romanos ranted about how he despised Michael. He ranted about the constant dynastic changes because he thought a sadistic man-child would be the most ideal heir.

These rants usually ended with how Romanos VIII promised he would be the best emperor that Rome ever had. He did this by first codifying the laws of succession, In this law, he decreed that should an emperor be the successor of his mother the empress, he would follow the house of his mother, not his father. This was then solidified with Romanos VIII signing a treaty with his cousin Louis XIII of France that none of their descendants would have a claim to the opposite King's thrones.

After getting rid of what he believed were the most troubling matters, Romanos VIII's reign started with a bang. His first actions were making his spies note every noble whose agenda might be against him. Once he had the list, he invited those nobles to his palace for a feast and then promptly like the doors and burned the palace's own. To make sure that others didn't accuse him of murder, he intentionally burnt his left hand to his elbow. In time his burns would fade but the scars would remain.

The remainder of his reign was a quiet one. Quiet for the people who had 5 dynastic changes in 200 years. He spent a great amount of money on renovating the empire with a particularly ambitious project of fortifying every border he had with walls. This was likened to the great wall of China but much larger in scale. Another thing he made sure of was that his soldiers were being effective in peace and using his spy network to prune disloyal elements. One controversial law was a decree that made anyone treat people of different ethnicities equally provided they were followers of the orthodox faith.

The remained of his reign would be making sure that his children were competent and not stupid. He did every possible thing he could think of to ensure that his successor wouldn't be another Alexios V. Romanos VIII died with an astounding 56-years-old reign knowing that he would be remembered as a good king, but not a great one as he had claimed in his youth.

He would be succeed by his son, Romanos.

[21] Romanos the Ninth was the only living child of Romanos and his first wife, Maria Antonia of Austria. His mother would die just a few months after his birth. His father would remarry two years later to a Greek noblewoman named Theodora. The younger Romanos was close to his stepmother as she was with him. Growing up, Romanos was pushed hard by his father, something that did no favors to his already sickly health.

However, while Romanos had a weak body, he had a strong mind something his father commented on. He was a budding inventor, often, creating designs for contraptions that he heard rumors of. When he came of age, he ordered a commission of a grand university of Constantinople.

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When his father died, Romanos had his diary preserved so future generations could study it. He followed his father's wishes to have a grand funeral for him. He continued his father's tolerant polices, noting that their empire was made up of so many cultures, and religion, it would tear itself apart if they began to fight.

In his personal life he married, Francisca Josefa of Portugal. Their marriage was loving, but ultimately childless. However Francisca proved herself to be an able ruler, often filling in as regent whenever her husband was too sick to rule.
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Eventually, Ramanos's frail health caught up with him and he became terminally ill. His last request for his half-sister, Zoe, was to take care of his beloved Josefa, not knowing she would die of grief just a few months later. Although, he did not accomplish much in his nineteen-year-reign, he was fondly remembered for donating money to several inventors which would pay handsomely for his successors.

[22]
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Zoe was the half-sister of Romanos IX, being the daughter of Romanos VIII and his second wife Theodora, she was born in 1690. She had never married, despite many suitors and proposals, and would continue to live a celibate life after acceding to the throne. She never expressed romantic or sexual interest in anyone, and would have been very suitable as a nun, if this was an option for her. Deeply pious and influenced heavily by religion, she was a quiet woman who often seemed to fade into the background. Nevertheless she continued her half-brother's policies of tolerance, and funded many ambitious architectural projects characterized by what we would nowadays call stripped neoclassicism. She also paid generously for lavish and decadent court festivals which she herself would not attend, and she patronized many inventors to materialize the designs created by her half-brother. Though robust in health, she eventually succumbed to old age and died peacefully in her sleep. As she was unmarried and childless, she would be succeeded by ______.
 
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@Poke_verse Ramanos VIII only ruled for 33 years not 56.

@1-800-wandsthetic At the very least can you pick another portrait because it is two hundred years behind in dress? Also, I'm just checking, but you do know the religion while Christian was not Catholic? Eastern Orthodox Church did in fact have nuns so it would have been more fitting to just say she would have been a nun.
 
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