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

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Is it logistically feasible to march an army down the Hejaz without a significant red sea naval presence to properly supply them? It'll be pretty anticlimactic if the Romans are forced to turn back due to thrist and hunger.
 
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.
Lord Komnenos reminded me of this guy instead and the Orphans the guys in white armour.
 
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Is it logistically feasible to march an army down the Hejaz without a significant red sea naval presence to properly supply them? It'll be pretty anticlimactic if the Romans are forced to turn back due to thrist and hunger.
It is not at all feasible-sounds like a perfect recipe for "The Last March of the Romans". He's saying "next year" because he hopes to pull back to Egypt as soon as Michael and the Syrians get their act together to hold the Levant, by which time Basil will have the country wrapped as a gift for them. After that, it is simply a matter of using the Fatimid Red Sea machinery to land, and settle the score. The enormous benefit is of course that every single Islamic state will be forced to act against the Romans, and the end of the days will come circa the thousand anniversary of the crucifixion when the Eternal Emperor of the Romans will return to bring the day of judgement.

Yeah, I never said Lord Komnenos understood finance or economics well at all. However he is not exactly the one who is deciding whether to march to Mecca or not, despite the enormous autonomy he had been granted so far. Whether Basil will go ahead or not remains to be seen.

Lord Komnenos reminded me of this guy instead and the Orphans the guys in white armour.
XD
Complete with an Evil Emperor to boot! No one beats Shaitan himself in this game.


@all
If it was not clear, Shaitan is Basil II himself. Clearly some people have a very high opinion of him.
 
It is not at all feasible-sounds like a perfect recipe for "The Last March of the Romans". He's saying "next year" because he hopes to pull back to Egypt as soon as Michael and the Syrians get their act together to hold the Levant, by which time Basil will have the country wrapped as a gift for them. After that, it is simply a matter of using the Fatimid Red Sea machinery to land, and settle the score. The enormous benefit is of course that every single Islamic state will be forced to act against the Romans, and the end of the days will come circa the thousand anniversary of the crucifixion when the Eternal Emperor of the Romans will return to bring the day of judgement.

Yeah, I never said Lord Komnenos understood finance or economics well at all. However he is not exactly the one who is deciding whether to march to Mecca or not, despite the enormous autonomy he had been granted so far. Whether Basil will go ahead or not remains to be seen.


XD
Complete with an Evil Emperor to boot! No one beats Shaitan himself in this game.


@all
If it was not clear, Shaitan is Basil II himself. Clearly some people have a very high opinion of him.
Basil II:Rise my friend.
Lord Komnenos:Mecca will be burned according to schedule.
Basil II:You have done well,Lord Komnenos!And now I sense you wish to continue to kill more Muslims.
Lord Komnenos:Yes,my master.
Basil II: Patience,my friend.In time,the Muslims will seek you out and when that happens,you will slaughter more.
Lord Komnenos:As you wish.
Basil II:Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen,ahahahahahaha!
 
From my point of view, the Jedi are evil!
So from the Muslim perspective Basil is literally the devil?
Lol, no fan of the Jedi here.

Well, depends on their politics in the modern era. For those within the Greek sphere (i.e. the Rumi in the New World) it is taken to mean "adversary" of the old Arab order. For everyone else (including contemporaries like Dawd), Basil was the devil incarnate or a worshiper. The propaganda originated after Baghdad as a rumor about mass human sacrifice spread, leading to people making a few connections that got reinforced as Basil started to win.

I mean, think about it-one man alone sacks Baghdad, finishes two Caliphates and rips Syria, Sicily and Egypt out of the Islamic fold with a large amount of ethnic cleansing and genocide. This would look ASB-in fact people in this forum would be screaming ASB if it was anyone other than Basil II. The Islamic world was the top dog for a long time, remembering how they had driven the Romans into Anatolia and even invaded the plateau. Sure, they had not in the last 150 years, and yeah-John Kourcouas, Nikepheros Phokas and John Tzimiskes had proven how weak they were relative to the Makedonian Empire. Yet the psychological shock of seeing the whole edifice collapse before a single man in essentially two generations is frightening, and easier to handwave by dragging in supernatural help.

Historical perspective is also there-the Shaitan label might have faded away if the conquests were ephemeral. But the losses of the House of Islam are mostly permanent, and they will remember. Basil II will get disproportionate credit/blame for this-few will remember the successes of his predecessors that made it possible, and fewer will care for underlings like Lord Komnenos who did the actual dirty work in the field.

Basil II:Rise my friend.
Lord Komnenos:Mecca will be burned according to schedule.
Basil II:You have done well,Lord Komnenos!And now I sense you wish to continue to kill more Muslims.
Lord Komnenos:Yes,my master.
Basil II: Patience,my friend.In time,the Muslims will seek you out and when that happens,you will slaughter more.
Lord Komnenos:As you wish.
Basil II:Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen,ahahahahahaha!
LOL. I tried to make a Palpatine-Basil hybrid image but couldn't find a sufficiently hi-res Basil. This is certainly an interesting idea though-with the way I have written about the Orphans, I am sure a few extremist officers want exactly this to happen. Seriously though, Lord Komnenos is a politician ,for all his faults. He is playing for long Roman dominance, not just genocide for the sake of genocide (else he'd be leading a mob against Constantinople Jews by now-not stopping his subordinates from going that far). I mean, if there are no muslim countries left for the Roman muslims to get aid/ideas from, and they are paying extra taxes and are productive second class citizens, Lord Komnenos will be happy to forget that they exist.
 
1008:1018 River of Blood

Chapter 7: River of Blood

There was no invasion of Mecca in the year following the Second Battle of Yarmouk, to the great disappointment of Alexander Komnenos and other hardliners in the court. Emperor Basil’s rage against the muslims at this time is well documented, but it had not yet crossed into the realm of the irrational. The last great Islamic power of the Eastern Mediterranean had been destroyed, and their coreligionists were incapable of actively threatening the Empire. Provoking an endless eternal war for minimal gain was thus not something the Emperor wished to do, especially as he was keenly aware that it would be a confrontation the Empire could ill afford.

Conventional historiography however tends to ignore the rather uncomfortable economic aspects behind Basil accepting the first peace treaty proposed by the Meccans fearful of an Imperial intervention. They do crow about about the large number of concessions obtained from the Sharif of Mecca, who was acting as the de-facto leader of Red Sea Arabs. The defeat at Yarmouk had knocked out most of their fighting age population, leading them to offer absurd terms like cessation of the the title of “Defender of the Two Holy Mosques” officially to the “Kaisar of Rome”. This in fact resulted in some controversy, as the thought of the Emperor assuming a heathen title was viewed as extremely problematic by quite a few factions in the court. They proposed elevating a Sicilian muslim as an Ethnarch for muslims in the Empire, and then getting the Meccans to confirm him as Caliph and recognize his inferior position compared to the Emperor. Komnenos and Nikepheros Ouranos on the other hand noted that creating a political position for muslims to rally around could potentially have problematic long term impact, and thus it was preferable for the Emperor himself to assume the mantle. In the end, the latter view won out and Basil declared a protectorate over the Red Sea coast of Arabia (without consent of many of the Southerners), including but not limited to Mecca and Medinah.

This resolve was tested almost immediately by an invading horde from southern Arabia that wanted to continue jihad against the Empire, but a combined Imperial-Meccan force easily crushed them and cemented the new order. It was not a particularly comforting one for remaining Islamic states who angrily protested the de facto elevation of Basil to the Caliphate. The ones in the Eastern world of Persia and Central Asia soon recognized the flimsiness of actual Imperial control and begrudgingly acquiesced. Spain and North Africa however were cut off from their holy pilgrimage via the newly conquered Imperial prefecture of Egypt, and slowly drifted away from the remainder of the Islamic world to develop their own views, which they cultivated till their bitter end.

One inadvertent impact of the peace treaty was that it bound the Empire to look after the muslims within its boundaries. This provision was of course de-facto unenforceable and calls for full on ethnic cleansing came from many quarters only to be stonewalled by the Emperor. Imperial historians from the theocractic era onward had attempted to sell this as a measure of Basil’s benevolence. Their rationale was that all the muslims in Egypt surely did not pray for the doom of the Empire five times a day, and many would likely see the error in their ways to enter full communion with Christ after the change in management. Variants of this belief had been commonly accepted for long, for even the most cynical historian could not completely justify an alternate reason for the Empire not purging a defeated but troublesome minority making up 20% of Egypt, in light of both past and future Imperial policy. After all, any deficit in working age population could have been made from the Melkite majority or Anatolia and so only the kindness of the most ruthless Emperor must have preserved Islam in Egypt for the next few centuries.

The problem with this hypothesis turned out to be the Melkite majority assumed by all the historians. Venetian sources have not survived in sufficient quantities to shed light on Egyptian demographics and most remaining fragments focus on the rather unrepresentative city of Alexandria. The Coptic myths of course have always been ignored under the impression that the Patriarchate was spreading lies inherited from more politically troubled days. Questions were raised only after biologists noted a rather disturbingly large overlap between Egyptian and Anatolian DNA, and the opening of the old archives finally put the matter to rest. Far from the 60% majority claims pressed by later Byzantinist historians, the Melkites barely made up 5% of the Egyptian population on the eve of the Imperial invasion, with all the Greek population having faded into the Coptic manifold post the fall of Egypt to the Rashidun Caliphate (doubts remain regarding whether the Greeks made up a majority pre 602 CE or not, despite the oft repeated Byzantinist claims (1)). Unlike the other demographics, the Melkite numbers held roughly steady during the war, courtesy conversions into the preferred Imperial faith that almost offset deaths caused by the war. They had also avoided the worst of the famine courtesy Scythian grain, but were close to only 8% of Egypt’s population of 4 million (down from a pre-war population 6 million on account of losses from the war and the famine[1]). The vast majority of the land was settled by Copts (close to 50% of the population) and muslims (40%), making full on ethnic cleansing completely impossible without wrecking the Egyptian economy top to bottom. Furthermore, there were alarm bells in Constantinople regarding the the future of an Egpyt without muslims, as the Copts would become 80% of the population afterwards, and probably be able to chuck the Melkites into the sea the moment the Empire’s back was turned. Islam was thus only tolerated for the sake of divide et impera : to play the two major communities against each other by giving both sides some fractional benefits that the other lacked to breed resentment. The initial head-tax of the Copts was only three-fifths of the amount muslims had to pay, but the latter were preferentially recruited into the junior civil service via keeping Arabic as a working language of governance [2].

The charge of enforcing this pragmatic policy was however placed on the shoulders of Nikepheros Xiphias. The Emperor had in fact first offered the position to Alexander Komnenos, who had refused to remain strategos of the Orphans. Xiphias, the former Doux of Alexandria was thus viewed as the natural choice for the position and the court had no reason to believe that he would not be successful. The Emperor at any rate would not be leaving Alexandria for a while since the physicians had suggested a stay in warmer climes for Empress Helena, who was still in considerable pain from the injuries sustained outside Edessa. Surely the Emperor, Empress and their young grandchild of eleven could sort out any shortcomings of Xiphias or his administration!

It proved to be a disaster of epic proportions as Basil withdrew to spend time with his wife, handing only a tax target for Xiphias. The number was highly inflated and calculated to ensure that the Imperial treasury came out ahead after the cost of the war was accounted for, with no one expecting the target to be met in the near future. They had not accounted for the zeal of an administrator who had spent far too much time with melkite clergy preaching against Coptic heretics and infidels and had hired melkites of similar views into the administration. The head tax for muslims and copts was raised to absurd levels (four times as much a melkite would have to pay) and their produce was taxed at a rate three times higher than that of the melkites. Contingents from the Imperial army went to “assist” tax collection, which generally involved seizing anything of value from those incapable of paying or selling their families into slavery. Resistance was silenced by the sword, leading to considerable butchery all along the Nile. The geography made it extremely difficult for the rural population to move away from the land for banditry, but anyone close to the borders of Makuria, Arabia or Zirid Africa left as soon as they could. This in turn left a gaping hole in tax collection, which was ameliorated by selling anyone suspected of abandoning the land into slavery. Arab tribes in the Sinai in particular assisted the Empire greatly in catching those attempting to leave for the Levant, and were in turn rewarded with a number of slaves. The markets in Christendom were soon flooded with Egyptian muslims while the Islamic powers received far more copts than needed, sending prices crashing and voiding this method of revenue extraction. As a countermeasure, the migrants into cities were given a choice between forced labor for minimal nutrition and execution. Emperor Basil was greatly inspired by the old lighthouse at Pharos, and was convinced that a similarly grand monument commemorating his conquest was needed. Cheap labor immensely helped with the execution of his vision, resulting in a happy Emperor and despondent Egypt. Alexander Komnenos (himself no moderate) was panicking at the way things are going, and was marching up and down the country with Thephylact Botaniates and the twelve year old Basil the younger (grandchild of the Emperor) to report back to the Emperor regarding how unstable the situation had gotten. Their reports were consistently ignored by the Emperor, who remained oblivious to Melkite masses chanting “Kyrie Eleison” while torching migrant slums. “Every people have a limit,” wrote Lord Komnenos, “and we do not want to be trapped in a country full of people who have nothing to lose.”

The disaster Komnenos had foreseen however did not come to pass due to a curious set of circumstances. The Nile floods failed in 1011, and the demands of Xiphias could not at all be met even if all of Egypt was sold to slavery. The state flared up into rebellion by killing some tax officers, and Anatolian soldiers had to be called in by the Empire. Yet the rebellion had burned itself out before troops were sent to all its centers. Egypt had reached its limit, but fell through the edge instead of truly fighting back. The country had gone through five years of terror first with al Hakim seizing food, a locust horde, rapacious taxation and finally a failed flood. Many people had lost hope and descended to nihilism, with Imperial soldiers reporting that there was no opposition in many cases, even when facing execution. Disturbing reports of mass suicides[3], infanticide and cannibalism came far too often for even the negligent Emperor to ignore, and Xiphias was summarily fired for the whole episode.

Komnenos this time did not refuse the offer to rule Egypt, and he quickly assembled a team of former Fatimid officials to determine the extent of the problem. The prognosis was quite grim, with Egypt’s population cratering to 2.5 million by the end of the year and was seemingly in free fall. As an emergency measure, the draconian tax rates were eliminated in favor of lower taxes that only charged Copts 150% more than Melkites for produce, and Muslims 170% (with the extra on account of losses from Hajj). The head tax was lowered considerably as well, although Komnenos (himself no bleeding-heart liberal) refused to do away with the idea completely. He instead called for a progressive measure for the Copts and Muslims, raising the rate with number of children in a family, till a point where a family could not afford more than four children. The melkites on the other hand got a regressive measure where rates were slashed for large families, and those with six children or more above the age of five were given a small subsidy. The practice of selling non-compliant population to slavery was also abandoned, although the people were still conscripted as free labor for the state to pay their dues. Finally, tax collection in kind was permitted in order to ensure that inability to get species was not the problem (with the grain being sold to Venetians, Genoese and Provencals).

Komnenos was well aware that these measures only slowed down population decline, and could not completely reverse it. An empty Egypt would not be awfully difficult for the Zirids or Makurians to conquer (both sides having done some saber rattling during the famine), leading him to conclude that Egypt needed new blood faster than the Melkite church could provide (despite mass conversions that led to it becoming 25% of the population by that point). Xiphias had nominally allowed landless urban poor from the Aegean to migrate to Egypt and acquire land but not too many had taken advantage of the scheme. Komnenos aggressively recruited settlers by having all the slums in major Aegean cities be forcibly broken up and the inhabitants transported to Egypt (where they were placed in Upper Egypt, close to the Makurian border). This was not quite enough, and he forced through a controversial decree by which all Aegean islands other than Rhodes were to be emptied of people to drag them all to Egypt. Meanwhile, all the Greek churches under the Constantinople patriarchate received large numbers of tokens to distribute to landless second sons and like, with each token giving free passage to Egypt from the nearest major port along with promise of new land. It was not a difficult promise for Komnenos to meet as considerable sections of Egypt lay completely empty after the last villagers were massacred. All told, something close to one million out of the twelve million people in the core Imperial territories (Aegean and Anatolia) migrated to Egypt from 1011 to 1030, most staying permanently for the land. Most of the transports were paid for with Egyptian revenue that had picked up in Komnenos’ reign, as the governor tried to invest more into the province than his predecessor. This wound up creating a large labor shortage all over the remainder of the Empire which was filled with Slavic and Syrian migrants, who quickly assimilated into mainstream society within a few generations, leaving no apparent major change in the Imperial core. Egypt itself of course was irreversibly changed, in ways we are only getting to understand today.

Ecclesiastical issues also propped up courtesy the demographic issues that Egypt was ill prepared to handle. The darkly nihilistic turn of the populace was countered with large infusions of cash into mosques and the coptic church in order for them to tend to their flock (over the howling protests of the melkite Alexandria Patriarchate). Nonetheless, the migrants were almost universally Nicene-Chalcedonian and thus nominally under Alexandria. However Alexandria did not have the infrastructure to support so large a flock (especially when it came to Greek speaking priests), and Komnenos thus called upon Constantinople to send clergy. The highly educated previous generation produced plenty of willing priests (even from older married men tired of family life), allowing Constantinople to stuff the parishes with loyalists who ensured the migrants remained Greek (and indeed, radically hellenized local melkites). The Alexandria patriarchate would be effectively reduced to a junior partner of Constantinople by 1020, a historical reversal of position. That in any case mirrored the fate of Egypt itself: an old and ancient civilization falling to younger upstarts, and finally being reduced to an extension of the Greek state. The copts and muslims of Egypt would continue to limp on for years, clinging onto their years of dominance while the Empire could afford to look outwards. We know today that a day however did come when the energies of the state were directed inwards, and the minorities paid heavily in the era that followed. We will discuss the final solution against Islam and the coptic wars in their appropriate place, but it is important to realize that those tragedies were merely the second and third acts of a darker tale which made Egypt the most homogenous of modern Imperial prefectures- a story whose beginning lay in the much exalted reconquest of Egypt.

Notes:

[1] Made much worse by the Caliphate diverting food to the Levantine front and needlessly massacring villages that did not fully cooperate. Of course, the Imperial army burning fields and seizing any and all supplies did not help matters.

[2] Temporarily only. Knowledge of Greek was made compulsory by 1030, and support for other languages removed completely by 1060.

[3] We now have reason to believe a large part of it owes its existence to apocalyptic millenialist preachers, which caused many people to leave for the next world which could not be any worse than the one they left behind.

Vasilas’ notes:

(1) In OTL we know this was definitely not true outside the delta, and Egypt was majority miaphysite. Good luck getting the current Imperial government to buy that, and not too many folks have the guts to go against Constantinopolitan doctrine when it comes to history. Cuts to funding and being denied access to archives/archaeological sites is the barest minimum of what can happen.
 
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Romans are really into ethnic cleansing aren't they. Has the migration from the imperial heartland changed the viability of them being able to support themes? Or has the change in the Roman army gotten rid of the need for them?
Where exactly does Alexander Komnenos sit on the political spectrum?
 
Given its current state how much Egypt contribute economically to the Empire? I would imagine that even if a slightly decrepit state its still more valuable than some of the European provinces.
 
Romans are really into ethnic cleansing aren't they. Has the migration from the imperial heartland changed the viability of them being able to support themes? Or has the change in the Roman army gotten rid of the need for them?
Where exactly does Alexander Komnenos sit on the political spectrum?
Well, there was not a full on attempt of ethnic cleansing (from the Empire's perspective) here, just making life very hard for minorities. I'll note that melkites who were not paying taxes got a similarly rough deal unless the church intervened for their specific case. It just so happened that their burden was low enough to avoid major scale persecution. Officials are viewing this more as incentives to convert to orthodoxy and gain money, as opposed to a tool to destroy minority cultures.

Regarding populations, East Anatolia is not sending a lot of people because of this very fear, plus majority of people leaving were landless in the first place. Nonetheless, the border themes are in for a world of pain soon, and recruitment is damaged. The Romans are not completely centralizing/professionalizing just yet, but the tagmata are essential to securing the eastern border. The Aegean itself has enough people, so those numbers are mostly holding steady.

Lord Komnenos is hard to classify using OTL labels:
1. He is clearly a reactionary who wants to return to Constantine's day of united Christian Empire.
2. Committed monarchist, even if dragged to OTL.
3. Left wing in the sense that he wants to break up the power of dynatoi to empower peasants. Also pro welfare for urban poor, orphans and believes in providing land to landless.
4. Ultra-authoritarian, to the point of dictating number of children for families.
5. Willing to run major deficits and debasement for achieving policy objectives.
6. Big on using the army to solve problems.
So I guess authoritarian Imperial Socialist who happens to be a neocon?
A non-misogynistic, not-openly-antipSemetic version of him would be smack in the middle of the main political party in modern day Romania (he'd not be leadership material because of point 5).
Given its current state how much Egypt contribute economically to the Empire? I would imagine that even if a slightly decrepit state its still more valuable than some of the European provinces.
Yeah, that is indeed the case. Komnenos however is running it as revenue neutral to transport more people to Egypt. It would be the single most valuable province by the time population numbers are ramped to 4 million.
Wouldn't emptying of the Aegean Islands mean that there's now plenty of potential hideouts for pirates?
Well, there are not enough poor Greeks left to think piracy is a good idea. Latins on the other hand......
How many of those Egyptians wound up in the Nile?
Quite a few, let's say a million-the crocodiles send their regards. That was not quite the reason for me choosing the name though (hint, the reason in OTL 20th century).
Wouldn't it also give the Italian merchant states (if they exist TTL) ideas about renting or appropriating the islands to increase their trade share?
Oh, they have bigly plans.
 
Lord Komnenos is hard to classify using OTL labels:
1. He is clearly a reactionary who wants to return to Constantine's day of united Christian Empire.
2. Committed monarchist, even if dragged to OTL.
3. Left wing in the sense that he wants to break up the power of dynatoi to empower peasants. Also pro welfare for urban poor, orphans and believes in providing land to landless.
4. Ultra-authoritarian, to the point of dictating number of children for families.
5. Willing to run major deficits and debasement for achieving policy objectives.
6. Big on using the army to solve problems.
So I guess authoritarian Imperial Socialist who happens to be a neocon?
He seems a pure National Socialist (not Nazi), with no major racist undertones.
A non-misogynistic, not-openly-antipSemetic version of him would be smack in the middle of the main political party in modern day Romania (he'd not be leadership material because of point 5).
Could you please elaborate?
 
Sorry everyone, I was stuck in a land with very poor internet and hence was only able to give shitty one-line answers to y'all earlier. Here are the proper ones:
Romans are really into ethnic cleansing aren't they. Has the migration from the imperial heartland changed the viability of them being able to support themes? Or has the change in the Roman army gotten rid of the need for them?
Where exactly does Alexander Komnenos sit on the political spectrum?
1. The Empire did not officially view this persecution as ethnic cleansing (versus earlier expulsions from Syria and Sicily when those areas were being contested). They realize, on some deep level that the "minorities" can't actually kick them out without major external help (that they think is unlikely to arrive) and so exploiting them for economic reasons is profitable. However, they don't particularly like these people (after a long and exhausting war) and are quite willing to punish them (without realizing how far they are taking it) or induce them to hellenize. It is quite telling (I'll say this in the next update as well) that only Egyptian melkites have been given citizenship while muslims and copts are on some weird indeterminate status (however, miaphysites and muslims do have citizenship in Sicily and Levant). This is because the Empire is much less confident about holding Egypt than it is about the other two, and is not willing to throw too many scraps.
2. The Anatolian themes are really fucked. Slavic migrants from Bulgaria is keeping things going for now, and the Empire did not send too many tokens to East Anatolia after being bruised by the Armenians there. The tagmata is good for offensive warfare and so the expansionist Empire is not seeing the problem fully. However, the understaffed themes will be an issue when the Turks come calling.
3. Komnenos-I think the earlier one is good, see also convo with Sir Omega.
Given its current state how much Egypt contribute economically to the Empire? I would imagine that even if a slightly decrepit state its still more valuable than some of the European provinces.
More valuable than Bulgaria, Apulia et Kalabria or Greece before the floods failing, but things went to shit pretty soon after. Komnenos turned things mostly around by 1016 (as in made it revenue positive) but he decided to use the extra money to get more settlers. By 1022 or so however the need for that was less urgent, and thus Egypt became quite valuable-more than anything save the West Anatolian core as we head to 1050s.
Of course, a lot of the European provinces do not require a ginormous military garrison that drain an enormous part of revenue. Egypt will effectively be occupied territory for centuries, for whatever power that occupies it.
Wouldn't emptying of the Aegean Islands mean that there's now plenty of potential hideouts for pirates?
That is indeed the case. The Imperial navy however rules the waves, still has bases on Islands and there are not enough poor locals left (any poor Greek would grab a token and board the next ship to Alexandria) and so there is not an immediate issue with piracy. I think quite a few of the islands were never really settled in OTL as well, and that did not pose too great a problem for Aegean entities. This is just a slightly extreme version of that.
Plus the Romans have total control over the entirety of the East Med, Adriatic (with Venetians) and even Central Med using Sicily and Carthage. It is difficult for pirates from elsewhere to get to those bases. Any potential pirate (i.e. a good seaman) is more likely to be recruited to the enormous Roman navy and then be retired off with some nice land in Egypt/Sicily/Anatolia, and the potential price of crime is low.
How many of those Egyptians wound up in the Nile?
That was the TTL reason for that title (let's say a million? drowning people is easier than stabbing in many cases and corpse disposal is easier-crocodiles send their regards). My actual inspiration however was Enoch Powell's "Rivers of Blood" speech about immigration. Egypt is going to have it's demographics be changed radically by Greek immigration, leading me to think this was a fun title idea.
Wouldn't it also give the Italian merchant states (if they exist TTL) ideas about renting or appropriating the islands to increase their trade share?
They want to "buy" some of the islands from Constantinople. That'll be refused of course (Basil will be jolted by the Doux of Venice making such a claim), but they'll be allowed to use the islands and a lot of their surplus population will wind up there. Latin Aegean was a fun idea I wanted to play with.
He seems a pure National Socialist (not Nazi), with no major racist undertones.

Could you please elaborate?
That description sounds very reasonable (thanks for summing it up). More cultural chauvinism than racial.

So my ideas for 2016 political parties in Romania (either as a Basileia or a Politeia) are quite fluid, and may change. I was thinking of having a major political party ("natural party of government", lets call that Conservative Party for lack of a better word), which will be pro-Empire, anti-aristocratic, pro-meritocratic, for secularism, a tad libertarian (wrt the highly authoritarian center of gravity in Romania), big on defense, committed to keeping at least a bare-bones welfare state intact but is fiscally conservative (lots of taxation). It is also heading towards Greek nationalism ("Byzantinism"). Komnenos does not fit the the last criteria, but meets the rest-and so if he is OK with women or Romaniote Jews in leadership positions, he could fit right in. Perhaps the Socialist party would be a better fit, but I have it turning towards "minority nationalism" and fundamentalism, that would sound dangerously like secessionism for the CP, and so the very Greek Lord Komnenos has not much of choice.

And they'll make the Muslims pay for it!
You think they have not? Depopulating the Aegean happened via Egyptian dough, half of which came from muslims ;)
 
I'm not exactly sure why the empire needs to allow the Latins to use Aegean Islands for trade,especially since the empire has no need for their navies since the naval threat has been eliminated.
 
I'm not exactly sure why the empire needs to allow the Latins to use Aegean Islands for trade,especially since the empire has no need for their navies since the naval threat has been eliminated.
The Empire does not need to do this, but it does not mean it sees a major loss in letting them trade. The current ERE iteration is not particularly mercantile (the leadership is more interested in fighting and land). Thus they don't see a problem in letting the Latins use some Aegean islands for trade, under supervision of the Imperial navy. It's not the like Byzantines always charted out the optimal solution OTL, often doing actively negative things.

It must also be noted that the Empire had loaned money from the Latins to fight the last round of wars (I didn't explicitly say this). Those loans are not too hard to repay, and in fact the Latins have no way to ensuring the Empire pays them back. However, Constantinople does not plan to default just yet, and a rate cut courtesy giving basing rights in Aegean islands is not too unattractive. It will likely be one soon, as the Provencals and Greek merchants enter the picture, hate the unfair competition and appeal to Constantinople.

If you have any alternate ideas/suggestions, I'd be interested to hear about them-this is a detail I have not put too much thought into, and would not mind changing if someone has a cool suggestion. (Temporarily) Latin Aegean sounded fun, but new ideas are welcome. Maybe I'll have them settle Normans there or make them hotbeds for Greek Islam or something...
 
The Empire does not need to do this, but it does not mean it sees a major loss in letting them trade. The current ERE iteration is not particularly mercantile (the leadership is more interested in fighting and land). Thus they don't see a problem in letting the Latins use some Aegean islands for trade, under supervision of the Imperial navy. It's not the like Byzantines always charted out the optimal solution OTL, often doing actively negative things.

It must also be noted that the Empire had loaned money from the Latins to fight the last round of wars (I didn't explicitly say this). Those loans are not too hard to repay, and in fact the Latins have no way to ensuring the Empire pays them back. However, Constantinople does not plan to default just yet, and a rate cut courtesy giving basing rights in Aegean islands is not too unattractive. It will likely be one soon, as the Provencals and Greek merchants enter the picture, hate the unfair competition and appeal to Constantinople.

If you have any alternate ideas/suggestions, I'd be interested to hear about them-this is a detail I have not put too much thought into, and would not mind changing if someone has a cool suggestion. (Temporarily) Latin Aegean sounded fun, but new ideas are welcome. Maybe I'll have them settle Normans there or make them hotbeds for Greek Islam or something...
The question is why does the Latins need to lease some islands to trade.By all means,most countries can trade with each other without necessarily requiring the need to lease land to the other.If anything,it should be a pretty absurd idea.It's usually something that's enforced upon defeated powers.This sort of thing usually entails the foreigners getting extraterritorial rights,the right to get military troops and ships posted and generally has something to do with tax discounts if the goods are traded in the concession ports.
 
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