Out of the Ashes: The Byzantine Empire From Basil II To The Present

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So the Egyptians are defeated through a combination of General Winter (Of a minor scale), Moses' plague, and good old fashion Roman martial superiority. Great update!
Does this Alexander Komnenos have any relation to any OTL people?
One could say the Egyptians were defeated by madness: having Al-Hakim in any position of power is unlikely to work out well for the people he is responsible for. Structurally yes. they fell due to actually thinking they could take Anatolia alongside the Armenians, and forgetting that Winter was Coming. If they had stuck in the Levant, they could have actually done something like the 638-640 period when the Empire held Egypt but had lost the Levant. It would have been tremendously difficult to uproot them for there if they had dug in, and at some point of time the Empire would have given up to just be happy with Egypt. Roman military superiority itself was not really the biggest deal-they got bogged down in Egypt, were on the defense in Edessa and Yarmouk was a clash between professional troops on their side against reluctant conscripts. This was probably one time they did not even have a decisive numerical advantage, but the naval supremacy allowed them to put their numbers to the best possible use.
The plague just proved to be an icing in the cake. At best it shortened the complete conquest of Egypt by a year (perhaps even less, as the Romans themselves had slow down in order to help Melkites).

Alexander is a natural son of Manuel Erotikos (thanks for that suggestion!), born during the previous Syrian campaign when Manuel Erotikos was a mid level officer in Basil's army. Not quite an orphan, but is certainly someone daddy dearest felt more comfortable gifting to the Empire than raising as his own kid. Being related to Greek nobility meant that he was always on the fast track for leadership. He is extremely young (born in 979) but so is the rest of the Orphans, and they had been trained for war since birth (plus Basil was even younger at the time of Baghdad). Yarmouk cements his position as a legendary commander, and I'd be a bit worried if I were Isaac.

Does this mean that the demographics of the Muslim middle East are completely destroyed through a combination of war and famine? Guess the region is ripe for a new group to come and... Settle in.
Not quite. The Middle East was still majority Christian at the time, so the blow has been rather uniform. Egypt is a total wreck where only the Melkite population had held steady courtesy the flow of grain from coreligionists. But both Copts and Muslims have been screwed over epically. In the Levant on the other hand there has been a massive anti-melkite genocide in the interior, leaving a lot of the interior very muslim (conversely the coasts are uniformly Christian-all muslim males were killed and the rest driven out to preserve food the moment the Empire realized the depth of their problem). Constantinople would not be a huge fan of that, but they may not have a choice if they want a functional economy. There is a major demographic hole overall in the non-Greek bits of the Empire, but I don't think it can be filled with migration (without damaging the Balkans/Anatolia in the process). Are you thinking of Turks? Because the Turkification of Anatolia was a cultural process than genetic-the DNA of the locals matches up quite nicely with old mummies in the region, and so a migration of that sort will not likely fill the hole.
 
What concessions did Basil get out of the Germans for their 2nd catastrophic defeat? Would have it been rather light in the haste to head east? Or would it be more heavy for punitive damages and the fact they caught him alive.
 
One could say the Egyptians were defeated by madness: having Al-Hakim in any position of power is unlikely to work out well for the people he is responsible for. Structurally yes. they fell due to actually thinking they could take Anatolia alongside the Armenians, and forgetting that Winter was Coming. If they had stuck in the Levant, they could have actually done something like the 638-640 period when the Empire held Egypt but had lost the Levant. It would have been tremendously difficult to uproot them for there if they had dug in, and at some point of time the Empire would have given up to just be happy with Egypt. Roman military superiority itself was not really the biggest deal-they got bogged down in Egypt, were on the defense in Edessa and Yarmouk was a clash between professional troops on their side against reluctant conscripts. This was probably one time they did not even have a decisive numerical advantage, but the naval supremacy allowed them to put their numbers to the best possible use.
The plague just proved to be an icing in the cake. At best it shortened the complete conquest of Egypt by a year (perhaps even less, as the Romans themselves had slow down in order to help Melkites).
So I guess the end result is that the Romans end up with a much more grateful Melkite population and an absolutely decimated potential rebellious population, that's one way to ensure lasting Roman rule. How long will it take for Egypt's breadbasket to recover? The Romans will now have to deal with the swarm now.
 
What concessions did Basil get out of the Germans for their 2nd catastrophic defeat? Would have it been rather light in the haste to head east? Or would it be more heavy for punitive damages and the fact they caught him alive.
What German government is left to get concessions from? Basileus Enrikos is enjoying the sunset in Alexandria as a guest of Megas Basileus Basileos (although he-a most devout Christian-continues to inform his host that he could bring a German host to aid in Egypt, if only a ship could be spared to take him back. Sadly said ships are busier with other issues. ), and his compatriots have gone back to the game of figuring out who the next Basileus will be., something which they had been doing till he rudely stopped the process. In all seriousness, Samuel and the Sicilians will be holding on to Rome and central Italy for a while now, but long term occupation may not occur simply because the Empire can neither afford the money or time. Any concessions beyond that are not going to be demanded, nor will it be forthcoming. Of course, the Germans will also be too distracted to figure out the connection between a rather large contingent of slaves in the North African markets and a considerable sum of money going to Constantinople's coffers.

The major change is that the Counties in southern France are now looking more to the Empire than to the north. Provence in particular had already received Imperial help. The Kings of France find broken Germany easier to mess with than the Eastern giant.

So I guess the end result is that the Romans end up with a much more grateful Melkite population and an absolutely decimated potential rebellious population, that's one way to ensure lasting Roman rule. How long will it take for Egypt's breadbasket to recover? The Romans will now have to deal with the swarm now.
Not absolutely decimated (yet), but the thought of rebellion will be low. At this time the Romans are prepared to literally salt the earth if needs be. Rebellion is extremely difficult in Egypt as the Empire controls the Nile, and banditry is the only option if one is forced into the desert. The big question is what happens in twenty years when the first generation born after the war is all grown up. Basil II himself is not going to last that long, and he is not exactly going to be a saint to muslims and copts for the rest of his life. Egypt may become a major problem in the long run.

It will take something close to a generation if Romans are smart (hint: they really are not-it will be 1060s before it is anywhere close to 970 levels). The swarm will perish reasonably soon, since there is not much left to feed on-lower Egypt does not have the density of empty farms conducive to growth of swarms. Besides, the locals will be eating it like anything.
 
Not quite. The Middle East was still majority Christian at the time, so the blow has been rather uniform. Egypt is a total wreck where only the Melkite population had held steady courtesy the flow of grain from coreligionists. But both Copts and Muslims have been screwed over epically. In the Levant on the other hand there has been a massive anti-melkite genocide in the interior, leaving a lot of the interior very muslim (conversely the coasts are uniformly Christian-all muslim males were killed and the rest driven out to preserve food the moment the Empire realized the depth of their problem). Constantinople would not be a huge fan of that, but they may not have a choice if they want a functional economy. There is a major demographic hole overall in the non-Greek bits of the Empire, but I don't think it can be filled with migration (without damaging the Balkans/Anatolia in the process). Are you thinking of Turks? Because the Turkification of Anatolia was a cultural process than genetic-the DNA of the locals matches up quite nicely with old mummies in the region, and so a migration of that sort will not likely fill the hole.
How does the coastal areas of the Levant compare with the interior? In OTL the Zengids were a force to be reckoned with despite not possessing any of the coastline.
 
How does the coastal areas of the Levant compare with the interior? In OTL the Zengids were a force to be reckoned with despite not possessing any of the coastline.
The Zengids had some of Mesopotatmia, which gave them a decent economic base. That being said, an Islamic polity that can unite all the interior Levant would be extremely strong-strong enough to take over the coasts at the first opportune moment and be able to resist Roman invasion well. It was only a Levantine Christian fifth column (plus relative disunity as vassals, not provinces of the Fatimid Caliphate) that let the Empire conquer it first. The second time Dawd wasted all available manpower in Edessa, and Alexander Komnenos then went to do a thorough purge of the neighborhood. Still, Komnenos would have had issues if Dawd dug his heels in at Damascus instead of trying to make it south back to Egypt/Arabia. After him though, the Empire will be rather invested in preventing a unification of the interior by a hostile power-they have learnt their lesson.
 
I don't think I'll be able to update this week (really hope I am wrong, but we'll see). Here is a current map instead, showing the political boundaries of Romania at 1020.
ERE.png

The purple dot in North Africa is intentional.
 
Manuel Erotikos
I went and googled the guy - I thought it was a nickname or a fictional character, but it turns out the guy's historical and the father of the first Komnenos emperor. However I'm still wondering, would the name have the same connotations for the Byzantines/Greeks as it does for us? ;)
 
Who controls the rest of Crimea?
The Rus: Vladimir is still quite strongly allied to the most Christian cause of his brother in law and is not making moves against Kherson or the remainder of the Greek strip. That being said, borders up there will be quite fluid for a while.
I went and googled the guy - I thought it was a nickname or a fictional character, but it turns out the guy's historical and the father of the first Komnenos emperor. However I'm still wondering, would the name have the same connotations for the Byzantines/Greeks as it does for us? ;)
Haha, my immediate reaction when @ImperatorAlexander mentioned him-I think I was too reliant on old scholarship that presented Isaac as some first/second generation hellenized Vlach and thus knew jack about this guy. As for the connotations of the name in TTL 21st century, can't give too much away-can I? ;) All I can say is that there will be quite a few Komnenoi around, but purple blood is questionable (after all, any rando can pick up that last name once last names become commoner-case in point being the modern Kantakouzenoi).
 
Thanks for the reply, but I was rather thinking of the contemporaries, or rough contemporaries (middle ages, I mean) when I asked about the connotations :D
 
Thanks for the reply, but I was rather thinking of the contemporaries, or rough contemporaries (middle ages, I mean) when I asked about the connotations :D
Lol I was trying to avoid saying that-not going to give a proposed Imperial list to answer the question. The Macedonians in any case have multiple heirs, and so I don't see an immediate opening for the Komnenoi, but who knows?

Alexander however is a bastard, and does not have many ties to the main lot. That may put a damper for any big plans.
 
Alexander however is a bastard, and does not have many ties to the main lot. That may put a damper for any big plans.
That's a shame, but if CK2 has taught me anything there's always the option that Isaac meets an "accident" and legitimisation. Probably not the most realistic option though.
Anyhow, how those Slavs and Steppe Tribes doing up north? If the Rus are in control of the Crimea they must have done pretty well against the Pechenegs.
 
That's a shame, but if CK2 has taught me anything there's always the option that Isaac meets an "accident" and legitimisation. Probably not the most realistic option though.
Anyhow, how those Slavs and Steppe Tribes doing up north? If the Rus are in control of the Crimea they must have done pretty well against the Pechenegs.
I would not bother, if I were Alexander-he has already made it much further than his kid brothers (Isaac and John, I forget if there were any more) could realistically expect to. This is sorta a spoiler, but the next update will talk about this anyways: Alexander will be the next military governor of Egypt. This is a lot more than family estates in Paphlagonia are worth, power wise. His blood is not really the a major obstacle-and there are enough Macedonians to avoid a vacancy at the top scenario at the moment. Should it arise, the commander of an elite guard unit has a better bet than almost anyone else.

I don't think the situation in the north is particularly different from OTL at the moment. I am sure there are butterflies but I am keeping their impact curtailed at the moment, don't want to think too much about it.

Wait, why does he have the family name if he is a bastard?
I don't think the Romans cared too much about this: Basil Lekepenos (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basil_Lekapenos) and Maria Palaiologina (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Palaiologina) were both called by their family name. Of course, I would have to check for certain if this is merely historical convenience (the translation of Psellus I am using for instance just calls Basil Lekepenos Basil the Parakaimomnenos, and treats his bastardy with euphemisms), but I am pretty sure that Alexander was not Alexander Snow (or Sand, taking geography into account).

Worst case cop out scenario-historians call him Komnenos without giving too much of a damn about contemporaries. This is of course helped by the fact that their major primary source is records of the institution which Alexander himself had headed.
 
Vignette: David versus Goliath

Dawd

The messenger was early, but certainly not unexpected. It was almost guaranteed that the Rum would exploit their naval superiority to land on their rear and attempt to smother them from both the north and the south. In fact, he was surprised that it had taken them so long-he had expected Shaitan to abandon Egypt long ago and attempt to face them in the Levant.

Yet Allah had not been as merciful, and Shaitan had not left Egypt at all despite the slowness of the march courtesy the efforts of al-Hakim and his men. He almost felt sorry for the boy-he was doomed as much as the true Caliph in Baghdad had been, once Shaitan got to him. Being burned alive was not quite a pleasant experience, as all the apostates he had executed could attest to. He could still remember their screams, with some of his men looking a bit squeamish about the whole exercise. But he had felt no mercy at all-these were descendants of the proud Arab tribes that had humbled the Rum, and yet knelt before Shaitan for money.

It had felt so good then-all that success without any trace of defeat. Damian Dalassenesos was well aware that he could not face the Faithful in the field and had retreated to Kaisaria to wait for help. He had not even hoped for much in the beginning-maybe just Sinai and Alexandria, or just a less unequal treaty. But the Armenians rebelled and suddenly it seemed like the Rum did not have enough men to hold on to their Empire, with Constantinople dithering over how to find enough men to fight and finally sending a woman to lead green boys. Damascus had fallen easily, too easily-and the road to Anatolia suddenly lay open, tantalizing as ever.

He of course now knew it was a foolish temptation, but it was a hard lesson taught by Edessa. The bloody woman had defeated him, and he could not even feel much joy in the knowledge that she had fallen off her horse and was now bedridden for life. Oh, the cold! He had known nothing like it before in Sicily or Egypt, and had never imagined that winter could be like that. The Armenians had tried to warn him, but had relented when he threatened to not help them in spring. Yet, they were the wise ones and their army would have perished much earlier if the Armenians had not stocked up on fuel earlier. But the Edessans had more, and were able to wear them out. Too many of the Makurian slaves were dying each night, even with everything they could do. Winter had proved too much for all of the children of the summer, and they had been utterly ruined. Perhaps Shaitan himself had taken over his mind to induce such stupidity from him. But that would just be running away from the truth-he had fancied himself Muawiyah when he was not, for he had underestimated winter, unlike the great leader.

“My Lord”, the courtier on his side spoke, “What does the letter say?”

What indeed...

To Dawd, False Lord of Damascus

Your armies are dead and you have been forced to flee Edessa with your tail between your legs. You may imagine that you are safe at Damascus, but it is not the case. My son Michael is gathering men from your north, while my servant Alexander has landed to your south-ready to march to Damascus and put your foul kind to rest. The manner of your end shall depend on your reply: you may choose to stay and be buried under Damascus. Or you may try to flee, and mayhaps even succeed in escaping my generals. Alexander then will march on to Mecca and raze the foul capital of your false creed.

Choose wisely, and pass on my regards to your Caliph in hell.

Basileos

Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans

He crumpled the piece of parchment on his hand before looking at the messenger, who seemed eerily composed for a man who was completely tied up and forced to kneel.

“Were you aware of the contents of this letter?”

“I was not, but I could guess”, replied the Rum in perfect, if accented Arabic.

“Did you imagine that you will not be leaving this place alive?”

The ghastly smile on the man’s face was frightening. “Yes, I did: that was why I volunteered. I am not a good soldier, and this is the best way in which I could serve the Emperor and Lord Alexander.”

“Are you not afraid of death?”

“The Orphans do not flee. Your kind murdered my family in Tyre and raped my sister. I have wanted revenge for a long time, and even though I will not live to see any of it-I shall comfortably go to the night knowing that the the Empire will see us avenged.”

The man kept his word, for there were no pained screams as he was slowly cooked alive-only a constant repetition of that Nazarene prayer. He was not sure he could ever get “Kyrie Iesu Christe/ Yie tou Theou/ Eleison me ton amartolon” out of his head, for he could not deny the chanting of the dying man had scared him. Was this what they were going up against?

The discussion was long and at times he felt ready to strangle some of the people. But he had lost too much political capital after Edessa and so he kept his calm. In the end, the choice was perfectly clear-Damascus was indefensible, and they could not march the full twenty thousand strong army across the desert to Mesopotamia. Egypt had probably fallen by now, and so their best hope was to ram through the Rum in the south and head for Arabia. They had all looked at the numbers, and realized that the Rum could not have fielded more than ten thousand men without compromising their defenses-and if there was one thing the bitten Rum were going to avoid, it would be damaging their already strained defenses. They had enough numbers to blow through Shaitan’s servants and reach Arabia, and so they’d be fools to not do so.

Deep down though, he suspected that it would not be so easy. It never was with Shaitan.

Petros of Kallinikos

They had not been able to enjoy the hospitality of Kaisaria for long, as Alexander had insisted on marching out after less than a day. Damian Dalassenesos had offered to march with them but Alexander had refused. The strategos had been deeply offended at the snub from the bastard, but there was not much he could say to the person who was known to have the ear of the Emperor and had a letter confirming his status as supreme commander in the Levant, over even Kaisar Michael. Dalassenesos was displeased, but not too shocked-everyone knew that the strategos of the Orphans punched well above his weight with the Emperor. The latter had after all known the former all his life, and his wife had played no small part in raising the younger man.

Nonetheless, Petros reflected, Alexander took his independence too far and could one day hang from the long rope he had been granted. He was shocked when the commander had refused to assist Empress Helena with the Armenians and could remember that conversation as if it had ended a minute ago.

“And the Orphans will come from the----”, spoke the Empress.

“No”, declared Alexander Komnenos. “You have no authority over us, and neither does Symbasileus Konstantinos”, noting that the younger co-Emperor was about to interject. “Only Emperor Basil does, and he has not asked us to move out of Constantinople.”

“I am his wife!”

“And you did not inform him of the true nature of the problem! Would you have told him everything if I had not threatened to write myself?”

“He is not Atlas! He cannot hold the hold world up by himself.”

“No, he cannot. That is our job, but we cannot function properly if our head does not know what is going on.”

The two Syrian bastards glared at each other across the table for quite some time before the Empress had turned away to face the others, while Alexander had risen to leave.

“That was an extraordinarily stupid thing to do,” Petros recalled telling his superior.

“Perhaps, but I could not follow her in good conscience after all the times she had stalled with regards to informing the Emperor.”

“Do you think it was out of malice?”

“No, and that is the tragedy. She truly did not want to burden him, and that is troubling. The Basileia is worth more than a few hours of the Basileus’ sleep. Love, after all, is the death of duty.”

He had stopped in his tracks, while Alexander had kept walking.

“But if it was not malicious, why not send at least some of the men with her even if you do not go?”

Only then had Alexander stopped and turned to face him. “Tell me Petros, have you ever wondered why you hold your current rank?”

“By virtue of being old, I suppose?”

The younger man’s face had tightened, “You were deemed to be sufficiently intelligent to not believe all that you were taught. Of course, that only made sure you were a middling officer-going above that requires a few more skills, like noticing what your peers believe.”

A chill had risen up his spine. “You mean to tell me you do not trust the men to fight the Armenians?”

“Oh they will fight in the beginning, but sooner than later they will question why they are being sent to fight fellow Christians instead of the Saracens we have demonized to them for decades, without even a direct order from their savior of an Emperor. It would pose a problematic situation-for we have made an army of too strong fanatics for me to be comfortable about using them against Armenians. Keeping them out is for the best.”

Petros knew had only one card to play, since the thought of letting the Empress-the woman who had shown him and his brother such kindness in Syria-go essentially unguarded did not rest will with him.

“I remember Syria, you know. I remember how the two of you interacted.”

The rage on Alexander’s face was only thinly veiled, but the strategos did not raise his voice. “ I will not deny that she is the closest thing I have for a mother. That is why I always remind you that love is the death of duty. My choice in this is clear, and you are free to to resign if you find it problematic.”

He had not done so of course, and had followed his strategos to Syria. But then, Alexander had always understood the minds of men well-too well at times. That was why he was strategos of course, despite the whispers that his father had pulled strings. He did not believe it for a moment, seeing that the two men barely talked as the elder Komnenos was intimidated by the latter at this point. Nonetheless, he could see why some of the older men would choose to believe that-it was too hard to square the irritating younger child trying to train with them with their strategos. Alexander was never the most exceptional warrior, but was certainly the very best by far when it came to strategy and tactics. Everyone had known that he was destined for greater things, hence a great deal of envy and the mocking nickname of “Lord Komnenos” which Alexander had hated so much growing up. Of course, that had only lasted till his twentieth birthday when Emperor Basil had come in, addressed him as “Lord Komnenos”, and informed him of his new position within the Orphans. Despite a few whispers, he was universally acknowledged to be competent, if a bit elitist-and there was no open grumbling when the nickname ceased to mock and instead became a symbol of rank. Even his greatest detractors did not doubt that Alexander loved the Orphans and viewed them as a class above all. That elitism after all was why he had refused Dalassenos’ men, convinced that they would only slow them down. Accepting the Varangians had already been hard, and Petros was sure it had only happened because it was a direct order from the Emperor. Nonetheless, the barbarians were strong and reasonably intelligent, and thus the strategos had not been complaining too much.

Later their first night camping, they would learn that there was also another reason why the Syrians had been avoided. Alexandros gave explicit commands regarding what was to be done with the local population. Any circumcised males were to be killed-even if they were toddlers. A slight objection regarding the Coptic Christians also being circumcised met stony silence from the strategos, before another officer yelled about how the Judaizers deserved that fate. After shushing him to be quiet, Alexander dropped the second bombshell-all women not claimed by a distinctly Nicene-Chalcedonian man as family were also to be killed, irrespective of whether they were carrying a cross or icons.

“You may have your way with them of course, but wring their necks once you are done. If you cannot bring yourself to do it, bring it to the Orphans,” he said, glaring at the Varangians and the Palace guard, who were looking distinctly squeasy. “No prisoners to be ransomed or sold into slavery. The deficit will be later made up by the Imperial Treasury”.

“Why, strategos?”, asked one of the junior Palace guard. “Surely they pose no threat to us.”

“Their wombs do. The number of young men the Saracens can raise the next time depend on how many women have been left alive. If we win, we must ensure that the Levantine Saracens do not rise in rebellion again in another twenty years. We have learned a hard lesson this time-mercy is weakness we cannot afford this time.”

“But why the Christian women without men as well? Surely they will not lie with---”

“Will they have that choice if we lose?”

There were no further questions, but the Varangians and Palace guard were still looking uneasily, as Alexander sighed.

“Look, I am not ordering you to carry this out yourself. I am merely telling you to not obstruct or oppose. This is in the name of the greater good. Do you want your children to be sent to die in these lands in twenty years? Think of who will be leading us then, for Emperor Basil will not live forever.”

The appeal to their fears had been effective, and there were no further questions as Alexander headed back to his tent. Petros followed after, uneasy about something he had realized.

“You might as well speak your mind, Petros”, sighed Alexander.

“Did you tell the same to Damian?”

“I merely passed on orders from the Emperor. He tried this in Baghdad, and you know how quiet the Mesopotamian front has been since.”

“So if we lose…?”

“We will attempt to evacuate the children and the women first. Those we cannot save in this world would have to be sent to the next one.“

“You will lose Syria forever.”

“That is not the biggest concern seeing the threat posed to Anatolia by the local Saracens.”

“So the solution is to simply kill them all! May I remind you of what many of our family had gone through in the last round of war!”

“This is why they will do it, to prevent another round from occurring. This is a war to end all wars.”

He had not completely believed that, but had not openly protested. Alexander was right in one regard at least, the fear of having to send their children to fight here once again was sufficient to get compliance. It felt disgusting to decapitate the poor, unfortunate villagers simply in the wrong time and place, but he remembered John and Stephen-still blissfully young and enjoying the countryside around Smyrna, and steeled his heart to go through with it as the Imperials continued the slow march north. The Varangians had surprisingly shown remarkable willingness to the exterminate the locals, with a few dragging heads to show to the Alexander. They can’t want his approval so much, can they? But they probably did, trying to prove their worth to the man who could ultimately decide if the Emperor would keep them on permanently or not.

The messenger had not returned, but they were aware it had always been a suicide mission to begin with. Poor George. Alexander will have to fake some heroic end for his children once we are done.

Assuming we survive. The scouts had noticed the incoming army, and if the current rates held, the two sides would crash at Yarmouk. They had learned stories about that infamous field for long, and the thought of fighting there did not raise spirits.

Dawd

Luck was finally with them. There could not have been a better spot to fight than Yarmouk for the men’s morale. Spirits were already high on realizing that the Rum had less men than them.

Alexander

“Our teachers had spent many years discussing the significance of our earlier defeat here. I do not have much to add to that. I merely want you to remember that the Orphans do not fight for ourselves. We fight for the Basileus, Basileia and the Cross. Do not break ranks or answer to challenges for duels, no matter how provocative they get. Your honor matters far less than the victory for the Empire.”

“I cannot promise that all of you will live to see the new day tomorrow, when we finally move past Heraclius’ folly. But that day will come, and your children will grow up in an era for Romans, not Saracens. Above all, remember:
Prosdokó anástasin nekrón.
Kaí zoín toú méllontos aiónos [1]

He would never admit it to his dying day, but he had made every attempt to ensure that the confrontation would happen here. The trauma of the first battle of Yarmouk had to be overcome, and there was no better place for doing it than a second battle in the same place.

Besides, it would goad the Saracens into overconfidence. That strategy was working, the enemy seemed exuberant and were jeering. His own ranks however remained quiet, organizing into neat ranks to face their foes.

The first volley of arrows began firing as the Saracens made their first charge.

Then came their second charge.

Then the third.

Then the fourth.

Then the fifth.

The sixth seemed a little bit more desperate.

On the seventh time the Saracen ranks broke as they retreated in disarray, with many turning east to flee across the desert.

He was tempted to follow them, but it would be far better logically to pause, heal and then take over Damascus.

“Next year in Mecca,” he promised, turning to his men.

Never again will we kneel to the Saracens. Romania is finally triumphant.

Notes:
[1] Lines of the Nicene Constantinopolitan creed:
We look for the Resurrection of the dead,
And the Life of the age to come.
 
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I did a first person vignette to show some perspectives of what was happening on the ground in some places of the previous update. Very dark, FYI.
 
Pragmatic genocide committed by Roman Jon Snow for the good of the Empire. Very dark indeed.
I just re-read the update, and now am like: WTF, I seriously wrote that? I did not realize that so much GoT had seeped in-completely unintentional, I assure you. I just wanted to say "Lord Komnenos", and look where that led to....
Almost like Jon Snow deciding that burning wildlings was the easy way to prevent wights. Damn, I guess I have gone further down the darkness aspect than GRRM, not a totally pleasing thought about where this TL will lead to by TTL 2016.
 
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