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


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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.
Looking back on this, this has inspired me to add two new characters to the Empire upon the major invasions of what would become Russia, and Eastern Europe, by the Mongols. These two characters, and their fellows, will contribute to the Empire in a notable way, although perhaps not in the reign of John III himself.
 
Part 9; 1233
"I often ask myself how the world would look had Romanos 'Perete' [1] not reformed great Rome has he did. Perhaps we might all be under the yoke of the Turk, or that of the Magyar," - Costin Aur, 2nd Ban of Vlachia.

1233 - If John had hoped for a quick end to the struggles of Bulgaria, perhaps a single year campaign, he'd overestimated his army and Empire. With the 'defection' of Manuel Kanatakouzenos and a 100 man retinue that were personally loyal to the new King of Serbia, the army under Prefect Theodore had to adjust, and quickly, pulling back to prepared positions in the lands transferred over to New Rome by Serbia's new King.

The waiting period, roughly 2 months from late January to early March, would see Manuel prove himself a skilled King--at least in the short term--managing to collect together what was left of the non-Ras-based nobility in his favour as well as retooling the army in functionality along the basic lines of the Roman one [2]. Such a thing caused much friction between Theodore and Manuel in letters, where the Prefect accused Manuel of empowering the Serbs against the Romans more than once; each time Manuel would refute him claiming that he had only taken the Kingship for the glory of Constantinople, and would be a loyal leader of a 'supplicant' Serbia [3].

By mid-march Manuel's replacement would arrive; John Vatatzes, the veteran of Anatolia. John was a dower and unflinching man who lacked ambition to raise up the ladder of politics or the military; but he made a skilled commander and had the respect of those who he fought alongside. John's natural skill with countering raids, and thus being able to turn said skill into a replication, would form the centerpiece of the Bulgarian campaign for the next 2 years.

Theodore knew, after looking back on the way New Rome had been forced to handle the Bulgarian's previously, that the key to destroying their power and forcing them to submit was gradual blows over a long period of time that gradually took land and crushed their spirit. In this mind he began to insitute a policy of "Kleidi kai Epidromi", or "Entrench and Raid". The core of this was the gradual construction of Pyrgos, fortified towers [4] that could be quickly built in enemy territory to function as 'barracks' for troops to slot into, and then raid from. These raids would then clear an area of enemies, and allow a new tower to be built further ahead--gradually increasing the zone of Roman control.

Throughout the year the war became an almost casual affair for the Romans, and their Vlachian allies to the north, both persecuting the the Bulgarians in their own way of warfare.

In this casual pace, the Emperor John III found a moment of 'peace' for further efforts in legalities. He wanted to assert the 'Roman' identity over that of the individual cultural groups within the Empire, yet also allow them to still continue to function as a sort of glue to bind them all together. In such a move, within the Chrysosbull of 1233 the Emperor, alongside the linguist Theophilos of Ankyra, would begin the gradual push to legitimize the view of Greek as no longer being the language of the Empire; instead these efforts would push that Romaic [5] was the current language spoken by the Empire; said Romaic being a successor language to Greek and Latin--at least officially. This would be met with some pushback by several groups, notably the clergy, but following amendments would placate the Church (the largest of these unhappy groups) in allowing them to refer to the 'Church' language of the Empire as still Greek, as well as beginning slight variations on the 'Romaic' used by the Empire that would continue well-past John's lifetime.

Results would only be seen in the war in late July, as Theodore would get reports from the scouts of Constin Aur that Ivan Asen had beaten and captured Boril at the Battle of Preslav. What would follow was in the worst interests of the Empire, as Ivan had Boril blinded and then had himself crowned as Ivan II. Such a thing alone would have caused issues for the Romans, as it functionally invalidated the campaigns John had ordered against the Bulgarians to bring 'stability' to the Balkans, but it was made worse by Ivan's almost fanatical attempts to push for a union between the Bulgarian and Roman Catholic Churches [6], endangering the legitimacy of the enterprise further.

Much to everyone's surprise the well-aged Pope, Honorius III, would decline the efforts by mid-August. Officially this was because he was still focused on trying to organize a 5th Crusade, which had become near impossible because several major powers needed for such a thing simply lacked the fervor. However, it is theorized by many that the now 39 year old Frederick II outright threatened Honorius if he dared to go through with it [7].

This action, even if it had failed to go through, had alienated much of the Pro-Roman Clergy, who outright refused to follow a Tsar who'd clearly been 'tainted' by his stay with the Rus' during his exile. This would give the Romans the continued Casus Belli needed, as the Patriarch, the middle-aged Joachim would sent detailed letters to John asking for the Romans to simply put down Ivan. When Ivan found out however he was outraged, and kicked Joachim and much of his fellow Clergymen out of Tarnovo; these men making for Roman controlled Skopje, the city having been taken by Theodore just after Ivan's coronation.

With this in pocket, the Empire simply continued on its efforts throughout the year--pushing deep into Bulgaria in a manner that soon began to threaten Sofia. In September a response would be had; Ivan led an impressive backdoor campaign; shattering and burning down many of the Roman forts and reducing their zone of control downwards once more. He was only stopped from doing more damage by the sudden arrival of King Manuel, leading a force of 2,000 medium cavalry to batter Ivan and his forces backwards into a Roman prong led by John Vatatzes. The following Battle of the Banners (a name given to it due to the extensive use of banners and icons by the Roman Army, and its Roman-inspired Serbian aid) would prove Ivan a true thorn, as the Tsar simply outmaneuvered both armies before causing heavy damage to their rears--only to retreat before he overplayed his hand.

The war would get bogged down further as the Romans had to pull back chunks of their forces to repair and replace damaged forts, although the aid of Serbia provided a notable ease to things. Yet, the worst was to come, as Constin Aur wrote letters to John and Theodore warning them that he'd be unable to provide much of a check to Bulgarian efforts in the north as Cuman raids had begun on his people; thus all he could really do was minor campaigns of harassment by what forces he could spare from the defense of his lands against the Cumans.

John was an inherently understanding man though, at least when he was pushed, notably sending increased supplies at a reduced tariff to the Vlachians through their ports on the Black Sea to aid them. Such actions, as well as his continued endorsement of Manuel as King of Serbia, acted as a catalyst for unity in almost the entire Balkans and gave credence to the notion, at least in the eyes of several minor Bulgarian nobles who could hear about it, that the Empire would act in their best interests even if they lost and were thus annexed by them.

While select skirmishing would continue until winter set-in with the arrival of December, the fact remained that the Romans had taken plenty of Bulgarian territory. Ivan would use the winter to scrounge up more men, notably taking in several Hungarian mercenaries who'd cut-bait from the tense Hungary. The Tsar being forced to strip down many of the built-up wealth that his predecessor Kaloyan had built up through economizing during his darkest days [8].

John's efforts during the Christmas Celebrations however began to show a quirk in his own personage; his need to micromanage every little thing possible. It had already began to affect his relationship with his wife, who feared that it might cause a rift between him and his son Heraclius because the Emperor simply didn't have enough time for the child when he was already barely making enough for her. While John had bouts of sudden exhaustion from his efforts that 'allowed' him to give time to his wife and son, these were rare--although 'often' enough to at least make sure Theodora still felt the love John had for her.

This tendency of micromanaging at the expense of everything else would become a prevalent issue for John, and eventually, be credited with killing him.
---
[1] The nickname given to Romanos V Grypas by the Vlachian's he had a hand in creating a state for. It roughly matches his Romaic nickname; 'Teichos', the 'Wall'.

[2] Within the current frame of 1233 the Empire's military still relies on infantry who field anti-cavalry weaponry as well as archers for much of their victories. The effective 'death' of the Roman cavalry wing is a hyperbolic narrative though, as there was still a refined and well-trained core of heavy cavalry within each Tagma. The issue simply lay in the fact that since Romanos V and his brother John had been forced to use mostly infantry armies during their early reconquests, due to monetary constraints, such a thing would became popular to write about, with their actions and their efforts being centerpieces of each battle history.

[3] Serbia had been supplicated to New Rome during the reign of the Komnenoi, however during the Angeloi's reign they began to accrue more power and prestige through political marriages within the Empire, even to members of the Angeloi. When the Angeloi were destroyed as a family by Romanos V as he took power (with the last known legitimate member of the dynasty dying as a Nun in 1223) the Serbian's simply broke off to handle their own affairs, and Romanos simply shrugged at the time.

[4] The use of such fortified towers would become a functional practice against the Mongols. In fact many of the tactics pioneered by the Romans during the 3 year war with the Bulgarians would see uses against the Mongols.

[5] Romaic was an interchangable term for Greek, and roughly translated as 'Language of the Romans'. The use of it as its own 'term' for a 'new' language was revolutionary however, and the gradual shifts in this Romaic from the standard Koine Greek would become so notable by the time of the Emperor Michael VIII Grypas Laskaris (also simply known as Michael VIII Grypas), who's reign began 84 years after John III's death, that the use of the term Romaic was standard for the general language of the Empire.

[6] Bulgaria had a habit of this following their war of independence against the Angeloi; as they were looking for allies and validation at the time. While historically the Bulgarians would get this, as the Romans had been shattered by the 4th Crusade, in our TL this never happened as Romanos V granted them several concessions such as an autocephalous Patriarch, and recognized their claim to statehood and Imperium. The fact that Ivan II is pushing for a Union with the Papacy is a move of convenience--as he cannot trust the Patriarch, who has sympathies to the Romans, to functionally aid him.

[7] Frederick II, due to his accrued power within Europe, became a major gatekeeper for the efforts of the West--and had kept Honorius III under his thumb since his coronation as Pope following the death of Innocent III. This is put down to Frederick not wanting to upset the status quo while he is focused on the improvement of his domains. This is likely due to the influence of his wife, Sophia Grypaina.

[8] After Kaloyan was stonewalled twice in short order, first against the Vlachs and then again against the Serbians, the Tsar settled into economizing in order to improve the situation of his reduced Empire. This would produce a well-filled treasury, with the suddenness of the Bulgarian Civil War allowing it to stay relatively untouched as the sides skirmished over Tarnovo.
 
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Seems like the ripples of the Mongols Eastern Campaigns have come as the Cumans starts to move westward?
That is correct yes, however that's not all that's happening. Once the Romans have a chance to look around they'll realize several things have changed while they were busy kicking the crap out of the Bulgarians.
 
I might be absent for the next little while. Working on another project for this forum so I can take a bit of a break from writing out Eastern Roman history to something I created myself.

Obviously however, because of how I am, I'll still be producing a select few minor posts that detail aspects of the Empire at this point.
 
I might be absent for the next little while. Working on another project for this forum so I can take a bit of a break from writing out Eastern Roman history to something I created myself.

Obviously however, because of how I am, I'll still be producing a select few minor posts that detail aspects of the Empire at this point.
Damn, hate to hear that you'll be leaving this story for bit, but good luck with your new project!
 
You'll have to excuse the massive wait time. This project is shaping up to be more in-depth than I realized and has needed a lot of work to get it started.

But, I'm going to be posting some banners for it to fill a little of the void;

Andemere.png
Dwethrun.png
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Eldamere.png
 
Semi-Art; Romanos V and Dragases I.
I picked up Crusader Kings 3 recently; mostly for some relaxation between the new project I'm working on in the background and my actual work. Within it's character maker I found a way to at least, if half-assedly, make approximations of the major Grypas Dynastic heads we'll know within the 12th and early 13th centuries. (I personally don't see John III as a major one, because while a good Emperor who makes large changes, he doesn't have reign length of either Romanos or Dragases, and was mostly concerned with consolidation)

A defining trait of the Grypads is that they are descended from, likely, Bulgarian stock. This leaves them slightly more lightly toned than their contemporary Romans--but also results in them retaining the 'striking' blue eyes that I've described in various posts. While genetically this isn't quite possible, as blue eyes are a recessive gene, I felt it a fair flourish to give them a continuous physical trait that runs all the way from Romanos V, the first Emperor of the Dynasty, to Constantine XI, the last Emperor of the Dynasty.

Either way, I hope these are at least viable, and can give you an idea of Romanos' and Dragases' characters.

Romanos V;
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Dragases I;
Dragases I.png
 
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Part 9; 1234 New
"One thing they all shared, regardless of age, gender or skill, is cold determination. You could see it in their eyes," - The historian John Lasenos, A History of Rome 1198-1307

1234 - Upon the advent of the new campaigning season John III was forced to reflect on the fact that, while gains had been made, the war had dragged on longer than necessary. Functionally, the wars between the Romans and Bulgarians had always taken horrifically long, but this was almost always down to the fact that they controlled the Haemus [1], yet now this one dragged on simply because of the sudden arrival of the new Tsar Ivan II, alongside his following skill in evading crushing battle with the Romans.

John had had enough of the farce, and carved up the elite Lakonoi into two sectioned units; with 500 of the 5,000 remaining in Constantinople under the young Roman-Turk Kalanis, while the rest would depart from the City of the World's Desire under the leadership of their now middle-aged Commander, Andronikos Romanos. They had been assigned under Theodore Grypas and John Vatatzes, with the Emperor hoping that their reputation as 'demonic wolves' [2] would pay dividends.

By late February the war was back on at full speed, with Ivan II leading a formation of by-now battle-hardened [3] horsemen and accompanying infantry to batter several Pyrgos towers. The Romans had learnt from last time however, and had begun fortifying these towers as a hardened line of defense against any attempts to roll back the line; forgoing the continued expansion of the forts, as had been standard the previous years of the war, in order for this to function.

The two sides would come to blows firmly for the first time in months in a large-scale campaign surrounding Plovdiv. The city was more famously known, at least to the Romans, as Phlippopolis, and had become highly contested as the war dragged on into east Bulgaria. Constant rains, and the muddy work it made of the fertile Bulgarian black-soil of the area firmly bogged down any potential battles between the two sides into barely meaningful skirmishes over patches of waterlogged dirt. In such a time, Theodore was forced to deploy the whole Lakonoi force, spreading them out between the major towers in the rear to ensure that they weren't lost while the Romans were busy. The further slowness of this campaign was only made worse when Ivan simply vanished for a half-week, leaving control of his army to his loyal lieutenant Simeon, to be there at the birth of his second child, and second daughter, Beloslava.

It would be within the late year, November--after months of sheer fighting, that things would firmly end.

The departure of Ivan led the Romans under John Vatatzes into a false sense of security, as the skirmishes were quickly turning more and more into the Roman's favour over the middling months without Ivan's skilled repositioning tactics to level the playingfield. This would come to a head in mid-November, months in, when the detachment led by John carved into the Bulgarian line deeply during a more committed battle, as the rains ended and the lands dried up, with the Romans overextending. The sudden push by the rest of the Bulgarian army, this section being almost entirely medium cavalry, nearly destroyed the Romans--with only timely arrival of King Manuel and Theodore alongside their armies halting the issue.

The battle, known as the Bleeding of Plovdiv, dragged on for hours as each side pressed against the other; cavalry countering each others efforts, and infantry grinding against each other as arrows were exchanged across each side. It seemed as if it would go to the Romans when Theodore, a tall and powerfully built man in comparison to his more bookish brother, destroyed the head of the lieutenant Simeon with a mace-blow in full-view of the Bulgarian army.

What might have been a Roman victory at such a point quickly turned however, as Ivan II arrived at the head of his heavily armoured retinue and rolled up the Roman west-line like a carpet, the momentum sending King Manuel flying from his horse and into the drying mud--leaving him unable to command his troops and thus defend the Roman flank. As Theodore charged in, reorganizing his army with flourishes of his mace and loud booming voice--even as Manuel was regaining his footing--the Lakonoi appeared.

Andronikos was never one to sit back, impatient to do as John had tasked them to, so he had returned to aid Theodore in crushing the Bulgarians firmly. His arrival though had the opposite effect, as the Bulgarians--fearing the 'Wolves'--surged with a newfound need to crush the Romans quickly and reposition. Thousand of Romans died as they were crushed under boot, stabbed by spear and further on by the ravenous Bulgarians--John Vatatzes himself being impaled while leading his battleline, leaving him near death throughout the rest of the battle.

It seemed as if the Romans would finally lose in such a capacity as to render them unable to even defend their western border, this fate turned around when a loud yell of success was let out into the air of the battlefield. In the grasp of a Lakonoi horseman was the dripping head of Ivan II, his warrior-crown falling from it as the Romanised Turk shook it this way and that.

The Bulgarians broke.

The slaughter that ensued as the Lakonoi rushed in, pushing through the ranks of the beleaguered Romans, was outright horrific. Every remaining Bulgarian officer was killed, whether by clever, rope or worse. However, Lakonoi began to 'dig' in to the regular Bulgarian soldiery Theodore reacted angrily, notably berating the Lakonoi as 'naught but Barbarians in Roman armour', as the and his tired men pushed them back from killing the remains of the Bulgarian army.

Andronikos did not take the insult well, the hotblooded commander beginning a physical fight with the Prefect. Theodore had youth as well as size and strength on his side--but Andronikos was a Lakonoi, and a veteran at that. By the end Theodore had lost an eye [4] to an opening attack from Andronikos' cleaver--only managing to end the fight by shattering the aging Andronikos' right arm at the elbow with his mace.

This fight would end there, as both commanders called it off with a huff to deal with the matters at hand. Each surviving Bulgarian, roughly 1,500 men--verses the Roman's own combined 2,200 or so (this including the Lakonoi reinforcements)--would be imprisoned, alongside the reclamation of thousands of weapons and horses. The Western Army had been destroyed, there was no denying that. Less than even 10% of the army remained, as it had been whittled down over months of bogged down warfare over a single section of territory. It was disastrous; all that remained of the Western Army were exhausted men equipped in equipment that was falling apart on their very backs, in their very hands.

Had Ivan II not been killed in this battle, the Romans would have lost it all in the west. Yet that is not how it panned out. After outmaneuvering attempts by what remained of the Bulgarian nobility to crown the 4 year old Maria, firstborn child of Ivan II, with the aid of the Bulgarian Patriarch Joachim. On the 25th of December, during the Christmas Celebrations, Bulgaria was officially dissolved for a 3rd time [5] as the Patriarch Joachim, officially 'speaking' for the infant Maria would see himself demoted back to Archbishop of Bulgaria--and effectively hand control over the whole Tsardom to the Romans, as well as guardianship of Maria (who would stay at the court at Constantinople [6]) and Beloslava (who would be raised as a Churchwoman by Joachim from his position as Archbishop in Preslav).

What would follow would be the 'crowning' achievement of John III's reign, and would see the Bulgarians and Romans intertwined permanently.
---
[1] Historically the Romans and Bulgarians were almost always at war with each other due to the needs of both of their states. However these wars often dragged on into stalemates because the Romans simply didn't have the capacity to waste troops trying to punch holes through the well-managed defense of the Haemus that the Bulgarian's managed. Such a defense was swept aside when Tsar Kaloyan failed twice in battering the Empire and was forced to give control of it over to the Romans.

[2] Likely in reference to the Turkish 'creation' myth, as the wolf Asena was seen as the 'mother' of all Turks. However the term came to refer to their brutality and pack-like mentality in which they looked to the Emperor as their leader and master, and brutalized anyone who dared get in the way of their duties to said Emperor. The Lakonoi were very much a cold tool for any Emperor to use, and always saw near-paganistic acts done against the enemies they were unleashed against. Although, notably, the Lakonoi spent a full period of 2 days in self-imposed prayer to 'cleanse' themselves following each battle.

[3] The Bulgarians have been battered on all fronts for the past few years, making veterans out of those who survived to fight another day. Such a veterancy would have a great affect on the Roman army following the Roman-Bulgarian war as they no longer had a 'homeland' to fight for per say, and would instead be 'annexed' into the Roman army following major reforms.

[4] Theodore would be nicknamed simply as 'Onéi', or 'One-eye', by the soldiery he led following this. It would become a defining feature, effectively prematurely 'aging' the young General and giving him both an air of superiority early, as well as an air of intimidation to those that stood in his way.

[5] Bulgaria was first dissolved by the Emperor John I Tzimiskes when he defeated the Rus' who had taken over Western Bulgaria, and forced the then-Tsar Boris II to abdicate in front of a crowd at Constantinople. While this technically dissolved the state, the Bulgarians continued to function in their western territories until they pulled together a new Tsar in Boris' last brother. Although, it was the efforts of the Bulgarian general, later Tsar, Samuel that saw the Bulgarian territory reclaimed... only for Basil II to firmly annex Bulgaria and truly dissolve the country by 1018. Functionally, in the minds of the Romans however, this is the 3rd time its occurred.

[6] Maria would later become the childhood friend, and later partner, of Heraclius--a match his father John III would not approve of, as due to the dynastic ties between the House of Grypas and Asen the two were cousins (albeit rather distant, being 4 generations removed). Upon John's early death, his uncle Theodore wouldn't pay much mind to the matter, and Maria would become the second Bulgarian Empress in a succession to her own distant cousin in John III's wife Theodora.
 
Jesus what a blood bath. Honestly the op skills of the Bulgarians and the casualty rate amongst the western armor almost feels over the top. Still a good read but goddamn it feels like too much.

Although at least Bulgaria is under their control again, if they can hold it and integrate it the western army can get some time to be rebuilt.

Also what happened to the members of the Komnenos family? Are they still around?
 
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Jesus what a blood bath. Honestly the op skills of the Bulgarians and the casualty rate amongst the western armor almost feels over the top. Still a good read but goddamn it feels like too much.

Although at least Bulgaria is under their control again, if they can hold it and integrate it the western army can get some time to be rebuilt.

Also what happened to the members of the Komnenos family? Are they still around?
They are still around at their old holdings on paphalagonia
 
Jesus what a blood bath. Honestly the op skills of the Bulgarians and the casualty rate amongst the western armor almost feels over the top. Still a good read but goddamn it feels like too much.

Although at least Bulgaria is under their control again, if they can hold it and integrate it the western army can get some time to be rebuilt.

Also what happened to the members of the Komnenos family? Are they still around?
The thing is that the Western Army was never as good as the Eastern Army; it lacked the continued combat experience offered by consecutive Seljuk raids and, the hardened recruits of the hot and mountainous Anatolia. What made it worse in this case is that the army was bogged down for a near-year in terrible weather, with minimal chance for major resupply. So when the Romans and Bulgarians faced off the exhausted soldiers, wearing damaged equipment, died.

Bulgaria itself has been rolled over a barrel, it’s had consecutive failures through the reigns of its last last two Tsars, such events being based on historical events that occurred for Bulgaria in our own TL. It doesn’t have the strength to fight the integration, and Rome now has more reason than ever to ensure that it sticks.

As for the Komnenoi, currently there are 2 known members—the crippled and well-aged Alexios Komnenos (OTL the 1st Emperor of Trebizond) and his son John Komnenos. John is a notoriously eccentric general who serves the by how very old Prefect Theodore Laskaris. Alexios, as a cripple, hasn’t left Kastra Komnenon in decades.

*Edit: Forgot to mention the Empress Dowager; Maria Komnene, the sister of Alexios, widow of Romanos and mother of Theodore, John and Sophia.
 
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The thing is that the Western Army was never as good as the Eastern Army; it lacked the continued combat experience offered by consecutive Seljuk raids and, the hardened recruits of the hot and mountainous Anatolia. What made it worse in this case is that the army was bogged down for a near-year in terrible weather, with minimal chance for major resupply. So when the Romans and Bulgarians faced off the exhausted soldiers, wearing damaged equipment, died.

Bulgaria itself has been rolled over a barrel, it’s had consecutive failures through the reigns of its last last two Tsars, such events being based on historical events that occurred for Bulgaria in our own TL. It doesn’t have the strength to fight the integration, and Rome now has more reason than ever to ensure that it sticks.

As for the Komnenoi, currently there are 2 known members—the crippled and well-aged Alexios Komnenos (OTL the 1st Emperor of Trebizond) and his son John Komnenos. John is a notoriously eccentric general who serves the by how very old Prefect Theodore Laskaris. Alexios, as a cripple, hasn’t left Kastra Komnenon in decades.
I get why the casualty rate was high but 90% sounds utterly catastrophic. Something that commanders would rather retreat from that suffer such a blow. I can imagine that it would take decades to recover from such a battle.

They better make it stick. They can’t afford to lose it now. They need at least one secure frontier and a new place to recruit from.

Got yah. I could’ve sworn one of them died but I guess I’m mixing them up.
 
I get why the casualty rate was high but 90% sounds utterly catastrophic. Something that commanders would rather retreat from that suffer such a blow. I can imagine that it would take decades to recover from such a battle.

They better make it stick. They can’t afford to lose it now. They need at least one secure frontier and a new place to recruit from.

Got yah. I could’ve sworn one of them died but I guess I’m mixing them up.
There's a point in battles where if you retreat you've already taken such high casualties that the enemy army could just destroy you, even if they also had taken large casualties. Considering the fact that the battle also saw considerable reinforcements as it was happening, it isn't unlikely that casualties would be that high.
 
There's a point in battles where if you retreat you've already taken such high casualties that the enemy army could just destroy you, even if they also had taken large casualties. Considering the fact that the battle also saw considerable reinforcements as it was happening, it isn't unlikely that casualties would be that high.
Yes but from the sound of it this whole campaign was a nightmare for the Romans. Pulling out, waiting for better weather, and building up their forces would’ve been better. Afterall they’ve not effectively lost a large portion of their military. And have left their European lands rather vulnerable.

Of course pulling back might have allowed the Bulgarians to do the same and render this point moot.

Luckily things look rather secure in Europe. So they should be able to integrate these lands and rebuild their western army.
 
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