Should the Austrian Empire exist, and continue to exist? If so, in what form?


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Part 9; 1231
1231 - Part of what had made the Empire so stable was the recreation of the 'Prefect' title for each half of the Empire. Alone, the title could be deadly, but the complex network of loyalties that each Astithematic army held--as well as the picking of loyal and skilled Generals to hold the position, had allowed the Empire to uphold its eastern and western fronts with minimal issues for most of Romanos' reign.

During most of said reign two Generals, Michael and Nikephoros--the latter having fought alongside Romanos at the Latin Siege of Constantinople--had upheld the Empire's position in the Balkans. Both had been proteges of John Klephos, the skilled General who had protected New Rome from the Bulgarians for a time before being killed on the outset of the Latin invasion of the Empire. Since that time Michael had been serving as Prefect of the West, while Nikephoros had been his second-in-command.

The partnership worked well for 20 years; however Nikephoros' sudden death from a fever a week after his friend, the Emperor Romanos, had put undue strain on Michael--even though he did not admit it. In early February of 1231 though, John III was greeted with the news that the Prefect of the West had nearly died from a stroke and had taken monastic vows in order to remove himself from a position he felt unworthy of now. This would prove to be a problem, as before John himself could react to the news there was further news that there had been recent raids by unaffiliated Bulgarians.

Kaloyan, the Tsar of Bulgaria and legendary 'Romanslayer', was unfit to rule. He had been left a broken man following his failure to properly deal with the breakaway Vlach state (a state that was gradually become more and more prosperous through trade with Rome, Hungary and the Cumans)--this compounded by the following false-start of a planned Serbian invasion. He had been put back together somewhat by the birth of his son Kaliman; however when his wife died of a chill in 1226, and then the 4 year old Kaliman in 1229 (he had drowned by accident in a well), the Tsar was left more broken than anyone had ever thought possible. Throughout the rest of 1229, and the following 2 years, the 58 year old Kaloyan was been unable--and unwilling--to handle his realm; Bulgaria gradually fracturing internally as the nobles began to plot against each other; the neglected peasantry going about various activities that damaged the country such as burning the houses of rival families.

In early February, Boril Asen, nephew to Kaloyan, urged his uncle to assign him as heir and then co-ruler to bring stability to their Empire. Kaloyan however was unmoved, waving off Boril, before going into a full on tirade on how his 'titles' and 'duties' weighed down on him, in front of everyone in the court, the action angering Boril to the point where the Bulgarian Prince smashed the aged Tsar's head into the table--breaking his neck. Boril would then declare himself, loudly, to the shocked court as Tsar and demand fealty. What would follow was a bloodbath, as everyone drew their weapons and the whole thing devolved into an all-out brawl as the various nobles and their retinue fought for the deceased Tsar's crown in the cramped hall.

Boril's retinue, the more elite of the lot, managed to extract him from the hall before he was killed. In the span of a single moment of anger the efforts of peace and stability that had been contributed to by Romanos himself had ended up fracturing Bulgaria into rival claimant nobility who fought over territory left and right. If Romanos had still been alive the Empire might have lost another pillar and chair.

Always on the ball however, John saw a simple solution to the matter; he would elevate his brother to the rank of Prefect of the West as he didn't trust himself to be able to lead troops in battle; he was a bureaucrat, not a warrior. Theodore for his part was eager to get onto the field, leaving Constantinople in late February to take control of the core Western Army, however he needed a second-in-command he could trust to delegate tasks to. Manuel Kanatakouzenos was chosen for this task, as he had grown up in the Balkans--his eastern duties being shifted to the eccentric John Komnenos.

While Theodore and Manuel evaluated their troops in the west, and prepped them for a series of efforts against the Bulgarian raiders, John himself got to work on his own passion project; Romanitas. John himself, as a scholarly body, had quickly found himself in love with the Greco-Roman culture of the Middle-Empire; the time of Justinian and Heraclius--the Emperor endeavoured to begin a cultural renaissance within the Empire, wanting to be the 'equal' of Justinian the Great himself.

It was a gradual effort, as John moved to collect his own 'Justinianic Council'; tapping the noted lawman Hristos Stratas for the most ambitious project in the Empire's recent history; they would reintegrate the Corpus Juris Civilis. The Corpus itself had been cutdown several times throughout the history of the Empire as the times had dictated--but looking through any logs made by the Emperors, such as Leo VI, who had modified and released new lawbooks, the theme was always one of viewing the Corpus as the truest form of Roman law, and that to return to it one day should be the end goal of the Empire's law efforts.

Hristos himself was a well-known cynic; sharp of wit and tongue, and easily made enemies with his blatantly snarky remarks--yet he was the man for the job; quickly organizing a commission of 32 other lawmen (although only after he'd been sufficiently paid by John). The work began in earnest by May of 1231, around the time the Empress Theodora began showing signs of being pregnant.

In concert with the efforts of Hristos, Theodore and Manuel handled the raider issues with firmness--although it began slow at first, as the two had to phase out several of the older members of the army (although many stayed on at reduced salaries as respected camp managers, or become trainers for the next generation of soldiers) and replace them with semi-trained recruits from the Astithematic Levies. Once this had been handled though, the two made their moves--cutting off several minor raids that had broken through the Haemus well-before the Romans knew anything about what was going on; these groups being handled brutally by the Romans on the outset in an attempt to send a message to any further raids that they were not welcome.

This didn't deter the Bulgarians forever however, as by June Bulgaria had deteriorated to the point that large groups of civilians began to raid the Empire in an attempt to secure wealth for themselves and their families. These groups were the hardest to route out and deal with; as they lacked the general movement 'patterns' of trained, or even semi-trained, Bulgarian troops. It would take until late October to firmly crush what seemed to be the last of the raids--with the amount resulting in a large number of prisoners that were gradually transferred across to Anatolia--as was now customary with Bulgarian prisoners. With this over Theodore and Manuel settled in along the Haemus with a watchful peace.

By mid-November the refurbished Corpus Juris Civilis had been completed, and firmly test-read by a plethora of Imperial lawyers and low-level lawmen for quality assurance. The large collection of laws, and functionalities, alongside the accompanying 'Institutes' and other sub-volumes, would seem alien to the modern Romans at first; referencing a bygone age of names and events--although much of the chaff, such as laws referencing long-lost provinces such as Egypt, were minimized accordingly. The mere fact that it existed provided John with must prestige--and the enforced use of the work through the Chrysobull of 1231 would see the beginnings of 'Romanitas' (the idea of being Roman) spread throughout the corners of the Empire; firmly crushing the idea of a 'Hellenic' identity in its tracks--a thing that had been in decline for the past 20 years as different groups were integrated into the Empire; dehomogenizing it and forcing the Roman 'identity' to the forefront as the only way for people to connect with each other.

As if to add to the occasion, on the 30th of November the son of John and Theodora would be born... premature. The infant was born at least 7 weeks early, lacking size and strength. The birth had almost killed the frail Theodora and had left the two parents with a perpetually crying babe who seemed unlikely to survive the week let alone the year. Throughout December the child failed to sleep right, and kept the palace awake with his cries and needs--the event forcing Theodore himself to come back to Constantinople to console his brother and sister-in-law; the wagging tongues going as far as the now 37 year old Frederick II, who wrote rushed letters to his brother-in-law inquiring if he wished his sister to return to Constantinople for family matters.

On the 26th of December, the morning after the 7 day Christmas celebrations, the palace was finally quiet. John was sure his son had perished in the night, walking with a lonesome quietness to the crib of his Purple-born child. What he found was a taciturn, but very-much alive babe--the cold-blue eyes looking up at him saw the Emperor know at once that his son would live. He would be named Heraclius during his baptism the following day.

Although, history would know him by a much different name.
 
Part 9; 1232
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.
 
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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.
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.
 
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.
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.

Added to this, Hungary will be forced to deal with the Mongols in due time--so I don't see it intervening anytime soon.
 
Part 9; Secondary Character Updates
Maria Komnene; Mother to John III, the Prefect Theodore and the Empress Sophia Grypaina--Maria was the beloved wife of Romanos V Grypas, her wit and general mind for numbers and economics seeing her greatly aid her husband in the reform of the Empire during his early reign. She proved to be a major factor in keeping him sharp and able during his time as a homebody in Constantinople. Following the death of the husband she loved so much, the now Empress Dowager isn't seen much--simply residing in a small section of the Great Palace that her son John gave to her. She regularly spends time with her daughter-in-law, the Empress Theodora Asen, with the two speaking on the goings-on of the Palace and Empire.

Sophia Grypaina; Sister to the Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans, John III, and wife to the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, she holds a lot of sway in the courts of both states and is considering a 'Romanising' factor in the court at Ravenna. She has given Frederick, as of 1232. 4 children. The 6 year old Constantine, the 4 year old Maria, the 2 year old Frederick (the III) and and the recently born Conrad.

Boniface Tainos; Currently Dux of Normandia, having sworn off war very publicly following his conversion to Orthodoxy. He has one son with his wife Margaret of Hungary; Demetrios. His eldest son, William of Montferrat, still refuses to speak to him. Boniface, alongside his wife and son, are regulars to the Christmas Celebrations in Constantinople held every year held from the 18th to the 25th of December. Although, Boniface is on his last legs, and is likely to die soon due to his advanced age of 82 years.

Theodore Laskaris; Currently Prefect of the East, Laskaris is the last of the 'Old Generals'; those who had fought alongside Romanos V from the start of his rebellion and throughout his reign as Emperor, and is thus one of the most influential men in the Empire. He regularly writes letters back to Constantinople from his command in the east; two sets addressed to John III and his Godson, Theodore Grypas, respectively. He has two children with his wife Anna Angelina; Irene Laskarina and Manuel Laskaris.

John Vatatzes; Current head of the Vatatzes family following the death of his father, John served on the frontlines of Anatolia most of his adult life--although he never had the ambition of becoming a large-scale officer. This mentality saw him passed over by more veteran, or expressive, military leaders until the 'defection' of Manuel Kanatakouzenos, John was finally tapped to serve as the Second-in-Command of the Western Roman Army.

Bardas Isandos; Currently Shipmaster of the Empire, although in his late mid 70's. Bardas was almost solely responsible for the rebirth of the Roman navy, and is often called its 'founder' in the modern age. His efforts to continue the expansion, and improvement, of the navy endeared him to first Romanos, then to John, with both relying on him extensively for the navies continued health. Recently he has been focused on the management and functionalities of the 4 Roman Arsenals.

Constantine Doukas; An influential aristocrat, Doukas gained most of his prestige by proxy from his father Alexios Doukas; who fought alongside Romanos during the Latin Siege of Constantinople. Doukas gained much of his power by turning his prestige into political capital; becoming the voice and advocate for the various minor to major magnates of the Empire during the latter part of Romanos' reign--a position he still holds today within the court of John III. Many of the lesser courtmen claim that Doukas is simply angling for the throne, something the middle-aged politician fervently denies (having claimed utter loyalty to John), however even still others such as the Patriarch Michael Psenas continue to warn John of how dangerous Constantine is.
 
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Part 9; Major Military Titles, 13th Century
Prefect; A resurrected title with a storied history going as far back as Augustus himself, the Prefect in the current age of the Empire is a different beast to that of the Middle-Empire wherein the current title is based on. Functionally there are two Prefects, one Western (based in the Balkans) and one Eastern (based in Anatolia), these men commanding the core Tagmatic troops of each region (although they have permission to slot in a select few Astithematic Levies). The title itself is closer to that of the way the Empire was divided along the Tetrarchy; with the Prefect having a Domestic as second-in-command who is more often than not going to replace them when they die or retire.

Domestikos; A title that originally stemmed from use by the Imperial Bodguards, Domestic as it stood prior to the reforms of Romanos V Grypas were essentially senior officers in the army that led large formations of troops. In the current age they have been elevated upwards to be two positions that function as the second-in-command of each Prefect of East or West, and are likely to inherit the Prefect position should their superior die or retire. The Domestic, as they function, are an effective way to split armies up in order to cover more battlefields in a campaign; and serve as a way to quickly shift in a new Prefect should the current one die suddenly.

Kapetano; A title once referring to a leader of a unique Theme or province, roughly translating as Captain, the title has devolved to simply apply to the commander of a Tagmatic unit of which there 10 in the Empire; 5 between each Prefecture. A Tagma, by these mathematics, applies to 4,000 man unit.

Strategos; A devolved title, a Strategos was at one point expected to command an entire Theme and its functions, now they only command the levies of each Astithema and are inherently subservient to the Imperial Bureaucrat put in-charge of each non-unique Asithema (an example of a unique Astithema being Komnenon which is ruled by a Dux of the Komnenos family).

Plokyrios; The commander of the entire Imperial Navy, the Shipmaster was a position created for the uniquely gifted Bardas Isandos by Romanos; and effectively replaced the old Megas Dux title. The Shipmaster has a unique power over the construction and management of the navy, however they have extreme limitations put on their abilities legally, although Isandos as been given 'life-time' privileges due to his extended loyalty and skill.

Amirales; A position formerly conforming to the second-in-command of a Megas Dux, it now applies to an Admiral put in-charge of a section of the Imperial Navy; although a Megas Amirales (Great Admiral) is chosen from among the lot to serve as the second-in-command of the Shipmaster.

Empistos; Literally translated as 'Trusted', the commander of the Lakonoi Household Guard, the Romano-Turkish Imperial Bodyguard of the Royal Family, is given this title as a sign of their status. The current holder is the aged Andronikos Romanos, for whom it was created.
 
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.
 
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.
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 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.
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.
 
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 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.

Why go backwards when you've already got a Household Guard that does its job? I'm open to critique on this, but I don't see why the Varangians would be reestablished at this point.
 
Part 9; Major Court Titles; 13th Century
Court Titles;

Parakoimomenos;
Literally, 'one who sleeps nearby', the title of Parakoinomenos (English translation of Chamberlain) originally denoted a trusted Eunuch who quite literally slept beside the Emperor in his chambers, and who thus filled the function of looking after the Royal Families domestic affairs within the Palace. This title functionally fell out of use as the Empire gradually stopped handing importance to Eunuchs, and moved away from the Great Palace to the Blachernae. It would be resurrected under Romanos V Grypas after he and his family returned to the use of the Great Palace and would be given to his childhood servant Filippos, who remains its holder at the age of 58.

Pinkernes; Translated as 'Cupbearer', the title functioned similarly to how one would expect for much of the Empire's history, but it would fall out of use gradually until it became a simple honourific. Following the plots of the nobility against his early rule, Romanos V would resurrect it as a functional office and hand it over to the trusted waiter, Melissinos, who had served his family estates in Bithynia. Like Filippos he still holds the title at the age of 61.

Papias; Effectively translated as 'Concierge', the Papias is one of the oldest titles still in use, as it denoted those who handled the opening and closing of the palace gates day in, and day out. Upon the return to the Great Palace by Romanos V and his family the title of Papias would be expanded to include 10 people total, with the 'Megas Papias' being in-charge of the lot. This increased number was to ensure that the Great Palace was properly looked after, as their duties were expanded to be that of generally maintaining the palace.

Ypirétis; Translated as 'Server', the title of Ypiretis replaced the title of Epi tes trapezes, or 'one in-charge of the table'. The reason for this is that Romanos, and thus the Grypads that would follow him as rulers of the Empire, put stock in a week-long Christmas feast every year from the 18th to the 25th of December; this was because if fostered the idea of Romanos, and thus the Grypads, as pious rulers, and in turn fostered a connection between the major players of the Empire who were invited--such a thing needed a dedicated server/planner, so the title of Ypiretis was created for it.

Eparchos tis Konstantinoupolis; Literally, 'Prefect of Constantinople', the Eparchos as a position rose to prominence within the court following Romanos V's various rebuilding and beautifying efforts in Constantinople. Due to the nature of the city, in that it had earthquakes periodically that destroyed lesser-built sections of the city, the Emperor tasked the skilled architect Michael Domos, one of the major aids in refurbishing Theodosian Walls, with maintaining and gradually improving the city. As of now, Domos has been dead for 5 years, but his replacement Lucian Mephantos has continued his work.

Diafimisi; Translated, quite literally, as 'Bannerman', the Diafimisi is the courtier in-charge of the management of the Imperial, and Royal, Standards of the Palace that are displayed at different intervals. The Imperial Standard is risen when the Imperial Household is not home, as well as during the Christmas Celebrations. The Royal Standard is used whenever the family is home, but is left slack (i.e it doesn't flutter appropriately) upon the death of an Emperor, although this is also accompanied by bells from the Hagia Sophia and Church of the Holy Apostles.
 
Part 9; Iconography of the Roman Empire under the Grypas Dynasty, 13th Century
"Within the realm of Eastern Romans, there is known three universal Icons; that of the Chi Rho and all its Crosses, the Imperial Twin-headed Eagle, and the Warrior-Gryphon of the Grypads," - Archbishop Julian of Ravenna, 1301

Within the Empire of the Romans, a state that had been experiencing a sort of revival for the past 34 years, three icons would become universal--all of them entrenched during the reign of Romanos V Grypas. These would be the Chi Rho, the most easily seen Roman 'icon' on banners and shields, the Imperial Twin-headed Eagle that served to represent the glory of the Empire in mosaics or on garb, and the unique Warrior-Gryphon of the Grypas Dynasty.

While the former two icons had been effective 'policy' for the Empire for centuries, the Empire did not have a genuinely endorsed iconography for such things in contrast to the West. This would change sharply following the rebellion and later elevation of Romanos V to the Imperial Purple; as the Emperor himself had used a makeshift Gryphon banner to identify himself at the time of his rebellion--the practice only escalating from there.

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Upon taking the Purple, the Emperor would retain the black Komnenoi Twin-headed Eagle on a golden field as the Imperial Standard; the general icon of the Empire that would be easily recognizable. This continuity gave artificial, if minimal, legitimacy to Romanos and would become the effective flag of the Empire in the eyes of the Western Monarchies and Republics.



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As the campaigns against the Turks picked up in an effort of reconquest, the Emperor would make use of the Chi Rho as an easily paintable symbol on the shields of his soldiers; using it as an icon of their war against the Turks, with it eventually morphing into the general, God-Given, icon of the whole Roman military. This practice was only enforced by Theodore Laskarid in the East, as he had to contend with regular Turkish raids and used it to strengthen the resolve of his forces.






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The icon of the Grypads however, the Warrior-Gryphon, became relegated to the Royal Standard, seen above the Great Palace--however as a matter of pride the second Emperor of the Grypas Dynasty, John III, had a well-made seal created for use in stamping official documents such as the Chrysosbulls--as well as being usable to mark buildings if needed.






Many, especially Western Historians, would argue that the growing use of iconography of this nature was in part due to what Romanos experienced defending Constantinople against the Latins, as well as influences put forth by his enemy-turned-friend Boniface Trainos.
 
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