Huh a Roman king didn't see that coming, thought the Hungarians would be intervening. Unless of course their being bothered by the Austrians and Polish.1232 - Time stopped for no man, such a thing made obvious as the Kingdom of Serbia rose up from the ground in the background of everything else going on during the later years of Romanos' reign. The Kingdom was diplomatically isolated due to its position, and not really a viable player in the grand scheme of the Balkans while Bulgaria still retained a semblance of power.
This semblance was firmly broken following the Civil War caused by Boril, and made even worse when the exiled Ivan Asen returned to Bulgaria at the head of a band of Cuman mercenaries to stake his claim. Ivan had made a mistake though; having ridden through Vlachia's southern territories to get into Bulgaria--his Cumans having caused significant damage to the prospering coastal and river cities of Dobruja as they rode through. This prompted the Ban of Vlachia, Costin Aur, son of the first Ban Radu Aur, to send hurried letters to John III asking for John and his Empire to firmly intervene in the crisis happening in in the Balkans.
What sealed the deal was Stefan Radoslav, King of Serbia, suddenly organizing an invasion to expand his domains into Bulgaria. Such an action would have deeply destablised the northern Balkans; something John definitely didn't want. No, the Emperor wanted peace so that he could go about his plans without intervention from enemy powers.
In early March John would declare a 'Stabilisation War'; noting that as the husband of the only surviving legitimate child of Kaloyan that he had the best claim to the territories of the Bulgarian Empire. The claim was backed by his wife, who simply wanted her homeland to be without war again--even if it was under the Roman sphere--and Costin Aur of Vlachia firmly threw his support behind John as the Emperor sent orders to his brother to prepare for an invasion.
The final straw for the Emperor was when John Komnenos' troops captured a Bulgarian rider, all the way out in central Anatolia, attempting to make his way into the territories of the aging Arslan III with a letter that detailed the fact that John was going to be too busy fighting in the west to defend the east. The writer? Boril. In early May the Romans crossed the Haemus, and swung around hard to crush the frontal-forces of Stefan; with the Empire funneling supplies into the coastal cities of Vlachia so that Costin Aur could pressure the fractured Bulgaria from the North.
Throughout the year the Romans were forced to handle Serbia, unable to break off and firmly focus on Bulgaria--although luckily the energetic Costin Aur was as skilled a General as he boasted. Oh yes, Constin had a habit of arrogance, yet he always managed to back it up with action--and no event better showed this than when he utterly outmaneuvered the forces of the Bulgarian noble Vitomir Iiev and destroyed them; apparently causing Vitomir himself to drown in a lake as he and his forces failed to retreat. This action effectively shattered the other major player in the Bulgarian 'Civil War', with only Boril and Ivan having the forces to face each other for the Tsardom.
In the climactic Battle of Ras, which happened in late September, Stefan was killed by a stray dart thrown by a Roman infantryman, alongside his brother Stefan Vladislav being crippled by his falling horse and dying later from his wounds; these events shattering the Nemanjić Dynasty (as Stefan Uros, their youngest brother, had died of an infection the year prior), as well as destroying the core of the Serbian army. The battle was not without issues for the Romans however, as it cost them almost a 1/4th of their forces due to the sudden appearance, in the late battle, of Stefan Vladislav and his forces.
Serbia should have been out of the war following this, but Theodore wanted to leave nothing to chance, sending Manuel Kantakouzenos to go get the surrender of the capital's inhabitants; sending with him 1/3 of the remaining army. The capital of Ras would throw open its gates as soon as Manuel came near--having essentially seen their entire ruling Dynasty, and the core of their army, crushed right outside of their walls.
Theodore would not hear back from Manuel for near half-week, which had nearly forced the Prefect of the West to react. Instead, on the 4th day the Prefect was greeted by the return of the forces given to Manuel--save a core of 100 men--but no Manuel. A letter was all he got, and inside said letter the ambitions of Manuel were finally revealed. The Serbian nobility, at least those left who hadn't died in the battle, had elevated him to King on the condition that they avoid annexation by New Rome. The sheer daring of such a move impressed, as well as angered, Theodore--but the fact that Manuel then offered to move back to the position of accepting New Rome's primacy , as Serbia had done during the reign of the Komnenoi, effectively gave him no choice but to send a letter to John pressing his brother for an answer to the matter.
By December a treaty had been hashed out between the now King Manuel, and the Emperor John;
1 - Serbia would retain its autocephalous Church, and have its leading Churchman risen to Patriarch by decree of New Rome.
2 - Serbia would acknowledge New Rome's primacy, and allow itself to be loosely plugged into the Imperial Bureaucracy similarly to how Cilicia was.
3 - Serbia would hand over all the excess territory it had taken from Bulgaria into Roman hands in-exchange for a one-time payment of 10,000 Hyperpyron; these coins meant to stimulate the internal economy of Serbia following the shift to a wartime mode.
4 - Serbia would rearrange its troops, and send them to be commanded under the Prefect Theodore--if this was not possible then they would garrison the taken lands of New Rome in its name instead.
5 - John III would officially endorse Manuel as King of Serbia, as well as allow a transfer of a unit of soldiers personally loyal to him to his service as his own personal guard.
The Kingdom of Serbia now had a Roman King, but as far as it could be told, he was a capable choice--and had secured Serbia from Roman annexation.
Hungary, currently, is racked by instability due to the conflicts between Andrew II and his son Bela over land grants within the Kingdom. Andrew II has been trying to reform the state's territorial functionalities for a while now, but the nobility and now Bela have both drawn up to cause him issues.Huh a Roman king didn't see that coming, thought the Hungarians would be intervening. Unless of course their being bothered by the Austrians and Polish.
The Varangians were phased out as more and more young Turks were taken and pushed into the Lakonoi. The Varangians had their last hurrahs during the first of Romanos’ conquests in Anatolia; directly contributing to the victory at the Field of Rust.Are the varangians still around? Having two bodyguard retinue will really help you in both securing your throne and a force multiplier in land battles. Especially considering their heavy shock traditions.
But with the coming Mongol invasion of Russia, there is the opportunity to reestablish the Varangians with a bunch of hardened Rus with no home to go back to.The Varangians were phased out as more and more young Turks were taken and pushed into the Lakonoi. The Varangians had their last hurrahs during the first of Romanos’ conquests in Anatolia; directly contributing to the victory at the Field of Rust.
They’ve simply ceased to exist by the current period of the timeline; with the Lakonoi themselves numbering roughly 5-7,000 men.
The question is why John, or any of his descendants, would bother? The Varangians existed as an institution as long as they were viable, with them being replaced over a reign of roughly 31 years with a better trained, more efficient, and easily 'resupplied' bodyguard.But with the coming Mongol invasion of Russia, there is the opportunity to reestablish the Varangians with a bunch of hardened Rus with no home to go back to.