Hey there AH.com. I've been a member here for a few years now, and a huge fan of the Eastern Roman Empire and its history. Despite my decently good knowledge of the state, I've always been wary of attempting to do a timeline on the subject matter as I haven't felt confident in my abilities to create a good timeline that would stand out. I wanted to be unique in my efforts and craft a timeline that deals with a late Eastern Roman revival through an (to my knowledge) entirely underutilized and seldom discussed period: The Second Palaiologoi Civil War during the first half of the 1300s. Arguably one of the most critical periods of Byzantine history, its is perhaps best known as the war that really destroyed Byzantine Power, leaving it a bankrupt, tiny, rump state at the mercy of its neighbors with enemies at all sides. Here, I plan to turn the revive the Eastern Roman Empire into a power by means of transforming it into something... unique. A cross between a gunpowder empire and a merchant state, if you will, rather than having simple military victories and territorial expansion following a period of good luck and excellent leadership as is the norm here. If any of you are familiar with the Zealots of Thessalonica and their ilk, we may also see some elements reminiscent of socialism in the state apparatus. Now, some of you on the site may find this to be a time where its too late to return the Eastern Roman Empire to its former glories; and there is quite a lot of merit to that school of thought, though it is one I don't particularly agree with. Hopefully this timeline will attempt to tackles these issues and plot out a path to success. In any case, after a year of intensive research, the help of various members here and questionable amounts of that liquid courage known as alcohol, I humbly present Renovation (or rather the prologue). Any comments and criticisms are welcome. -------- Renovation “One of the most curious quirks of history is what the late Medieval Roman Empire refers to as ‘The Renovation’; this period of massive social, political and economic change that starts a new chapter in the empire. A fresh start if you will, where the slow, humiliating decline of the past 140 or so years is halted and the slate is wiped clean! This newer, stronger, healthier empire emerges from this period of restructuring better than it has been in ages. Its like a house getting refurbished -hence the name- and, like that refurbished house, it weathers the storms and the earthquakes and all other problems much better than it otherwise would have, so that the people residing in that house can live in peace.” The 14th century was not kind a kind one to the Roman Empire. Following the aftermath of the infamous Fourth Crusade, the remnants of Rome become a shadow of their once glorious self. They are fractured, stagnant and handicapped by a myriad of issues that impede renewal. Despite numerous attempts on setting the empire on the road to recovery, to keep the empire afloat, it all appears in vain. This new era is one of a slow, painful and seemingly irreversible decline. On all sides, the empire is under siege. To the east, Turkish incursions renew their offense clawing apart at Byzantium’s important Asian provinces, the first in a century since the mighty Komnenoi emperors have pushed them back. Multitudes of tribes have poured in and begun carving out their own small fiefdoms. Most worrying are the nascent Ottoman Beylik, under the rule of the ambitious and frighteningly competent Orhan. In the North, the rising power of Serbia and the Second Bulgarian Empire threaten the European holdings. And to the west are the Latin states. They exploit rather than aid. They fracture instead of unify. They harm when they should heal. Caught between all sides and weakened by generations of war, Rome is in a precarious place. But the worst comes from within the empire. Following the ascension of the Palaiologoi dynasty the balance of power has drastically swung in favor of the aristocracy. While this is not a new thing; (the aristocratic favoritism is something deeply Roman, going back to the days of the ancient republic), since the Komnenoi era this trend has dramatically accelerated. The meritocracy of the previous Macedonian dynasty has been eroded with time, as has their care for the lower classes; the smallholders and the urban mob. This trend further continues with the new dynasty, perhaps continuing to its logical extreme. It is this favoritism that has in part hastened the decay of the empire, as the aristocracy has been given freer rein to expand their power. The aristocracy, rich and bloated at the expense of the state and the poor, further bleed the empire dry. The government, struggling to reform is unable to fix the underlying problems of the state nor alleviate the problems faced by the peasants. Impoverishment and misrule have become depressingly common. In reaction, there is anger and resentment. Justifiably so. The people toil and yet there is no respite. No end to the staggering amount of problems that plague their homeland. It is fertile ground for those who wish to gain support for change… or for those seeking power. Some wish for reform, and others revolution. Either one has their merits in the people’s eyes. As the years pass and the situation grows ever more bleak, the more sway these advocates for change have… and the more the people wish to fight. To strike back at their tormentors. In 1341, the straw that breaks the camel’s back came with the death of emperor Andronikos, third of that name. In the ensuing power struggle there emerged two power blocs gunning for control: The camp of John Kantakouzenos, who fought to continue the Ancien Regime of aristocratic rule and traditionalism that the state has come to known, and the camp of Alexios Apokaukos, led by those who had wished for change to come to Rhomania. And so bloody civil war had broken out, further sapping what little resources remain. Currently, the year is 1341. The empire stands broken, battered and bloody. But it is far from beaten.