The Eternal Empire: Emperor Maurice dies before being overthrown

Just wondering but is Tzykion comparable to Lacrosse?
Its polo. The OTL Byzantine name for polo was tzykanion, which by the author's time has been shortened to tzykion.

You would be surprised how similar Nero actually was when compared to Leo here.
I wouldn't. Leo V is basically a version of Nero who doesn't care as much about popular opinion (so his spending to keep said opinion high doesn't happen), and he never gets murderously paranoid. The author though despises Nero for his persecutions of Christians. Note how earlier in the narrative he labeled Diocletian as one of the worst Emperors, and it was for similar reasons.
 
I wouldn't. Leo V is basically a version of Nero who doesn't care as much about popular opinion (so his spending to keep said opinion high doesn't happen), and he never gets murderously paranoid. The author though despises Nero for his persecutions of Christians. Note how earlier in the narrative he labeled Diocletian as one of the worst Emperors, and it was for similar reasons.
I can believe that, although I am curious as to why we haven't the author(s) name brought up for each article, like in other timelines.
 
I can believe that, although I am curious as to why we haven't the author(s) name brought up for each article, like in other timelines.
Like I said at the beginning, I’m trying to mimic the podcast style of The History of Byzantium and the Hustory of Rome. So the author’s name doesn’t really come up.

Also, I am really, REALLY bad at coming up with names.
 
Like I said at the beginning, I’m trying to mimic the podcast style of The History of Byzantium and the Hustory of Rome. So the author’s name doesn’t really come up.

Also, I am really, REALLY bad at coming up with names.
But we know their names, I mean Robin says his name quite a few times for a few analogies in the podcast, and not just in the intros.
 
But we know their names, I mean Robin says his name quite a few times for a few analogies in the podcast, and not just in the intros.
Not often though. Also, note the last part.

The author is Greco-Italian, is writing in his modern version of Latin. He lives on Sicily, and is of the equivalent of Senatorial rank. He’s a member of the Universal Orthodox Church (is Catholic Orthodox), and has a dim view of non-Christians. For a name it would be Ioan (John) Castomini, the family originating in Paphlagonia around the 1000s.
 
As the practice remains across all of Rhomania, Europi, and the Atlanti today I doubt much explanation is needed, but for those who aren’t aware the foros was an annual tax paid to the state by those who did not follow the official religion.
Most of those unaware would probably be from the Sinosphere or something along those lines, I assume?
 
Like I said at the beginning, I’m trying to mimic the podcast style of The History of Byzantium and the Hustory of Rome. So the author’s name doesn’t really come up.

Also, I am really, REALLY bad at coming up with names.
I never listen to podcast so I don't understand.

On a different note, has or will a Greco-Latin creole language arisen in the this Roman Empire?
 
Most of those unaware would probably be from the Sinosphere or something along those lines, I assume?
Pretty much. Also large parts of Africa and OTL South America. Persia of his time doesn’t have it either.


On a different note, has or will a Greco-Latin creole language arisen in the this Roman Empire?
Yes. I already talked about how the Latin word for East replaces the Greek word due to the former’s use in official naming. Various Latin commands used in the army are also supplanting Greek equivalents.
 
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Part 34: From the Fury
Part XXXIV: From the Fury​

As noted last time, Leo departed Constantinople with his wife, son, the Excubitores, three thousand of the Tagmata, and hundreds of court officials in early 857. His first destination as the city of Thessalonika, where he stayed for a few days before traveling on to Athens, where he played the part of tourist rather than ruler. Gleefully taking part in every delight the city had to offer Leo spent two weeks in the city before taking a ship across the Aegean to Ephesus. For the next six months the Imperial party crisscrossed Anatolia, stopping anywhere the Emperor fancied.

Baths and hot springs were visited with relish, and any city with an active tzykion team were encouraged to let the Emperor watch the teams play. Local officials fell over themselves in these matters, as the Emperor generously funded public works in cities that particularly pleased him. This usually meant new churches and sport fields. These latter were particularly prized, as the resulting complexes also often included new baths, which had begun to be a rarity due to the hardships the Empire had faced since the five hundreds.

As 858 began Leo crossed the Cilician Gates into Syria, and the process repeated across the Eastern themes of the Empire. From Syria Leo went north to Armenia, and his officials officially turned the old kingdoms of Caucuses into the themes of Lazika, Iberia, and Albania. The restrictions placed on them by Andronikos were lifted, and defensive armies were organized.

From there Leo did something no Emperor had done before, he toured the Tigris and Euphrates region. Other Emperors had been this way before of course, most notably Trajan in his short-lived conquest, but Leo now went in peace. In mid-858 he boarded ships at Charax and sailed south, around the Arabian Peninsula. The Emperor briefly stopped at the port of Jeddah, where he was hosted by the king of the Hejaz, and renewed the treaty of friendship between Rome and Medina. The fleet continued north, and it is here sadly that the Empress Maria died. The most commonly reported story is that she ate some bad food while at sea, and died of food poisoning as squadron sailed toward Egypt.

However she died, it was a blow to her husband who, while never particularly faithful, had still loved his wife dearly and took the blow hard. When we examine the rest of his trip its clear that Leo’s heart had gone out of the expedition. After the fleet crossed back into Roman territory and sailed into the Pharos Canal the Emperor arranged for his wife to be buried in Alexandria, and for his own burial site to be there as well.

The Alexandrians tried to put a happy face on the Emperor’s visit, but everyone knew it was for naught. Still, Leo did approve some new construction in Egypt as well, but as I said his heart had gone out of the trip by this point.

The party sailed for Carthage at the beginning of 859, and it was here that Maria’s death really seems to have had an impact. Because while there was some new construction approved, the Emperor refused requests to make repairs and improvements to the African irrigations systems, which had begun to deteriorate over the centuries. This unfortunate decision is one of the biggest criticisms that can be leveled at Leo. Imperial neglect in the coming years under Leo’s successors would exacerbate the process, until it was very nearly too late. When the court in Constantinople did realize just how bad the problem was it would cost an incredible amount of treasure to restore Africa’s irrigation. If Leo had agreed to the project when it was suggested here the cost would have been a fraction of the final effort’s cost, and likely would have resulted in greater results.

For now though, Africa would continue its slow decline as one of the major revenue generators of the Empire. The Emperor continued on into Italy next, meeting with the pope in mid-859. The pontiff’s rights in Campania were once again confirmed by the Emperor, and the two parted amicably. Though, the pope’s attempt to get more funding for construction in Rome to restore the city to its former magnificence were firmly refused. Rome was old news, and while it held huge symbolic value, the real centers of Italy now were the trading cities. Ravenna, Syracuse, Neapolis, and the Venice, greatest of them all.

It would be a long time before Rome was once again one of the preeminent cities on the peninsula.

The Emperor lingered in Italy however, and did authorize the normal public works in major cities, as well as purchasing some land near Syracuse which he seemingly had some intention to build a summer vacation home for himself when life in Constantinople grew too dreary. He would not live to act on those dreams however. The purchase is important though, because it will eventually become the home of the Caesarii branch of the Thalassan family, and they will be quite key to our narrative in four hundred years.

After wintering in Capua the Emperor boarded a ship in Tarentum and crossed the Adriatic to Epirus, where he turned north and toured Dacia and Moesia before winding south again, and arriving in Constantinople near mid-860. He found a city in shock. Six days before the Emperor’s return a host of warriors had sailed out of the Black Sea and attacked the suburbs of the capital, stealing treasure and destroying much of the area. They had eventually been driven off by the Tagmata and Constaninople garrison, but most had gotten away.

These of course were the Notos Varangians, or as we will be calling them, the Rus. We aren’t certain of the origins of the groups we call the Rus, but it is thought that they originated near Sviani, and began excursions out from their homes much like the Danes and the Normans, but going East instead of West. In the early 800s these Varangians conquered the northern Slavic city of Novgorod and formed an early Rus state. Over the coming decades most of the Slavic tribes north of the Khazars were reduced to tributaries of the Rus.

That said, this small group of Varangians were assimilated quickly, and by 850 there was little difference between them and the Slavs they ruled. The developing group were both raiders and traders, and they first turned on their southern neighbor, the Khazars.

By now the Khazars were in their terminal decline, and were unable to hold against ongoing attacks by the Pechenegs, the Magyars, and now the Rus. Over the course of the 840s and 850s the Khazars were completely driven out of the area north of the Black Sea, with the Magyars taking the Western regions, the Pechenegs the East, and the Rus the north. By 855 the Khazars had been driven south of the Tamais and Bolga Rivers.

The new divisions of Khazar territory were not peaceful by any means, and we will deal with the resulting wars between the three replacement groups at a later date. For now however our primary point of concern is the result of all of this in the Roman Empire. Which was significant alarm by Roman officials. Multiple courtiers, including the Domestic of the Scholae pressed for an intervention, hoping to deploy Roman soldiers along the Tamais River to resecure it for the Khazars as a means of protecting Roman trade.

But Leo refused. He had no interest in abandoning his pampered life for a military command in the distant north. That’s what the histories tell us directly anyway. In reality, looking at the Emperor’s largely responsible fiscal policies even as he indulged himself a different idea emerges. Frankly, a campaign north of the Caucuses would have been long, expensive, and hard. Really long, expensive, and hard. Just fighting the Bulgars in Moesia and Dacia had taken decades and cost tens of millions of nomismata. Deploying an army further north would bankrupt the Empire.

In this Leo was correct. He then however reversed this policy by also embargoing trade with the three victorious groups and still favoring the declining Khazars. Now the Pechenegs and Magyars didn’t care, but the Rus certainly did. The Rus were part of the extended trade network that stretched away north, which once had been monopolized by the Khazars. And now the Rus wanted those trade ties left intact. In 860 then they gathered a large armada of boats and thousands of men and sailed south.

This voyage was not easy. At many points along the river it became impassable to the Rus’s boats, and they were forced to haul the ships overland before continuing, fighting off attacks from both the Magyars and the Pechenegs as they went. But they persisted, and in June arrived at the Black Sea. From there the ships moved across the Sea, and attacked Constantinople. The attack was a complete and utter shock. No threat had ever come from beyond the Black Sea, and the city was woefully underprepared. Where they locals could they retreated behind the safety of the Theodosian Walls, but many didn’t make it. The suburbs of the city were looted and burned, with hundreds of captives taken.

The depleted tagmata and Imperial fleet were completely unprepared, and both were defeated in a short battle. Word was sent across the Hellespont to Asian tagmata, which raced to the capital, but was delayed as the beaten Imperial fleet was unable to organize their transfer. After an entire day of delay however the five thousand men from Asia crossed with their horses, and now joined by two thousand Pontic troops who had arrived as well. Joining with the city garrison, and with what coordination existed with the European tagmata, now besieged in their own camp, there was a sally and the Rus were beaten soundly. Taking their plunder with them the Rus got onto their boats and returned from whence they had come, leaving a battered city behind them.

The impact of the 860 raid on Constantinople is hard to grapple with. The last time Constantinople itself had truly been attacked was four hundred years ago, and that had been under the seemingly unstoppable Atilla. Some now wondered what the Emperors had done to so offend God that he would allow pagans to threaten the queen of cities. These rumours would die out however as no significant further raids on the capital would come. The message was clear, and Leo’s son would open trade with the Rus fully.

For now however, the uppity barbarians needed to be taught a lesson. Leo’s court arranged for gold to be sent north to the Pechenegs to attack the Rus, and make the Basileus’s displeasure abundantly clear. The Pechenegs, more than happy to attack the Rus anyway, took the gold and did follow through, enthusiastically.

Leo himself however would not live to see much of this. In 861 his life of hard drinking, gluttony, and other vices caught up to him. He died of heart failure in March.

He was 46 years old, and had been Emperor for 21 years.

Leo was…not a bad Emperor exactly, but its hard to really call him good either. He accomplished little in his life, and doesn’t seem to have aspired to much at all. He is one of the most forgotten Emperor’s in Roman history certainly, People who know the history of the Empire will know he exists certainly, but that is only because there was a Leo VI who followed the great Manuel.

His building projects were often completed under the reign of his son, who gets the credit even though his father initiated them. His spreading of sports is equally lost by many today, who again credit his successors. He was a mediocre man who had the good fortune of living in times that were forgiving of mediocre men. At the very least, he did nothing in his reign that damns him, and that is something considering some of his Imperial brethren.

His reign will however mark the real beginning of Thalassan, and this Roman, decline, which will last until John III grows tired of his cousin’s incompetence and overthrows him, beginning the Thalassan Restoration which will culminate in John’s son, but alas for the Romans of the coming century, for they would never see it.
 
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The party sailed for Carthage at the beginning of 859, and it was here that Maria’s death really seems to have had an impact. Because while there was some new construction approved, the Emperor refused requests to make repairs and improvements to the African irrigations systems, which had begun to deteriorate over the centuries. This unfortunate decision is one of the biggest criticisms that can be leveled at Leo. Imperial neglect in the coming years under Leo’s successors would exacerbate the process, until it was very nearly too late. When the court in Constantinople did realize just how bad the problem was it would cost an incredible amount of treasure to restore Africa’s irrigation. If Leo had agreed to the project when it was suggested here the cost would have been a fraction of the final effort’s cost, and likely would have resulted in greater results.

For now though, Africa would continue its slow decline as one of the major revenue generators of the Empire. The Emperor continued on into Italy next, meeting with the pope in mid-859. The pontiff’s rights in Campania were once again confirmed by the Emperor, and the two parted amicably. Though, the pope’s attempt to get more funding for construction in Rome to restore the city to its former magnificence were firmly refused. Rome was old news, and while it held huge symbolic value, the real centers of Italy now were the trading cities. Ravenna, Syracuse, Neapolis, and the Venice, greatest of them all.
Well thank goodness there is no wanking in this story now.

The Rus were part of the extended trade network that stretched away north, which once had been monopolized by the Khazars. And now the Rus wanted those trade ties left intact. In 860 then they gathered a large armada of boats and thousands of men and sailed south.

This voyage was not easy. At many points along the river it became impassable to the Rus’s boats, and they were forced to haul the ships overland before continuing, fighting off attacks from both the Magyars and the Pechenegs as they went. But they persisted, and in June arrived at the Black Sea. From there the ships moved across the Sea, and attacked Constantinople. The attack was a complete and utter shock. No threat had ever come from beyond the Black Sea, and the city was woefully underprepared. Where they locals could they retreated behind the safety of the Theodosian Walls, but many didn’t make it. The suburbs of the city were looted and burned, with hundreds of captives taken.

The depleted tagmata and Imperial fleet were completely unprepared, and both were defeated in a short battle. Word was sent across the Hellespont to Asian tagmata, which raced to the capital, but was delayed as the beaten Imperial fleet was unable to organize their transfer. After an entire day of delay however the five thousand men from Asia crossed with their horses, and now joined by two thousand Pontic troops who had arrived as well. Joining with the city garrison, and with what coordination existed with the European tagmata, now besieged in their own camp, there was a sally and the Rus were beaten soundly. Taking their plunder with them the Rus got onto their boats and returned from whence they had come, leaving a battered city behind them.

The impact of the 860 raid on Constantinople is hard to grapple with. The last time Constantinople itself had truly been attacked was four hundred years ago, and that had been under the seemingly unstoppable Atilla. Some now wondered what the Emperors had done to so offend God that he would allow pagans to threaten the queen of cities. These rumours would die out however as no significant further raids on the capital would come. The message was clear, and Leo’s son would open trade with the Rus fully.
So will this raid be romanticized by the future Eastern Slavs in the future as proof of Rome's decline or demonized for raids by heretics?
 
Part 35: The Magnates and the Apores
Part XXXV: The Magnates and the Apores​

Constantine VI was crowned Augustos Basileus on March 22, 861. We know little about Constantine’s early life, as no original sources survived to our own day. Our normal source for events of this time period, the great history of the Romans Manuel wrote during his own time on the throne is missing the chapters covering this period, these are thought to have been destroyed in the 1248 Siege. Our best source therefore is that of Alexios Romaios who was not writing until the fifteen hundreds. He makes references to older material, but those too are lost.

Alexios portrays Constantine VI as a weak and frail boy, spoiled by his father and mother, and normally kept in the palace under close supervision. He did not even leave Constantinople until his father’s Imperial tour, by which time the boy was already in his twenties. The trip was something that apparently bored young Constantine however, as he showed no further interest in leaving the capital during his reign. For that reason we aren’t going to be covering much of Constantine’s actual reign. I can however sum it up fairly succinctly: nothing much was done.

Constantine VI was the very model of a do-nothing administrator. He maintained his father’s policies, he never left the capital for any reason. He held no religious councils, he barely even did his job. Fundamentally he was his father on a larger scale.

Two decisions can be properly laid at Constantine VI’s feet however. The first, in negotiations with the Rus at Cherson it was agreed that Roman markets would be opened to Rus merchants. As mentioned previously, the Rus attack had been precipitated by Constantinople’s refusal to trade with them, and the policy made Rus raids far less likely in the future. They still happened of course, but the attacks were made less often, and with less ferocity than the initial attacks had been. Most importantly however, the policy meant that when prisoners were taken they were then ransomed back to the Romans rather than carried off into slavery in the north, usually at least.

Second, Constantine gave his Domestic permission to split off portions of the Pontic Diocese into two new themes. The first of these was the Theme of Paphlagonia going from the edge of Imperial Anatolia, which was technically part of Thrace legally, all the way to Amisos. The theme was primarily naval region, with a local fleet and marine force that acted to counter further Rus raids that might be launched again northern Anatolia. The second was the theme of Chaldia, which went from Amisos to the Caucus Themes with headquarters at Trapezous. This was also a primarily naval theme, but with more focus on land forces that were expected to be able to move into Eastern Paphlagonia to reinforce the region should the Rus attack. The fleets were initially moved from the Aegean, where the ships had been doing little. This was a cost saving measure as well, to prevent the ships simply sitting idle.

But we now turn our attention where events were really happening. To the provinces.

I have talked before about the Roman golden age that was occurring even as the Constantinople government ceased to exercise its authority. Epikroi visited less and less often, until years would pass before the officials once tasked with ensuring Imperial taxes were collected went for years without being seen. And when they did visit the bureaucrats were easily bribed to look the other way and let new revenue go uncollected.

Key to this development were the great magnates who began to rise in the provinces. Consisting first of the various strategoi and their associates in Mesopotamia and Syria. Among these were the Kommenoi, the Doukoi of Babylon, the Umayyoi of Syria, and the Abbassoi of Assyria. It will be noted that both the Umayyoi and the Abassoi were old Arabic elites, left in place after Leo’s conquest. By now both families had converted to Chalcedonian Christiantiy though their ties with Muslim locals remained strong.

The Kommenoi were the family placed by Leo IV in charge of Antiocha when it was taken from the Arabs. In 860 the strategos was an older man named Michael, who will be the focus of much of today’s article. Headquartered at Charax the theme of Antiocha was one of the main centers of trade from India. The flow of goods from the East left the strategos an extremely wealthy man, and the ongoing Arab raids on other parts of his Theme left land underworked and underpopulated. But by 860 the soldiers in Antiocha were easily an overmatch for the Arabs who still tried to undertake the annual raids into Roman territory.

When the Arabs were united and strong these raids were of course an annual occurrence, but with the Romans now triumphant fewer and fewer men wanted to risk the reprisals for the lesser gains. Many who did weren’t even really raiding. At least one tribe simply moved their flocks onto lands around the Euphrates, grazed for a few weeks, then returned home, calling the…attack, as a triumphant raid. It was simply a tradition, and one that wasn’t worth it anymore.

But into this vacuum of power the strategos, like his fellows we will soon discuss, saw an opportunity. The land was still underpopulated, and so he began to use the fortune gathered at Charax to buy up farmland along the Tigris River north of the city. In the process he reduced the former owners of the land into mere tenants, requiring that they turn over large amounts of produce to the Theme treasury. You might wonder, but what about the theme soldiers? Well, the reality is that most of them were perfectly happy to sell out to the strategos. Michael was their commander, he led them on counterraids into Arabia, capturing captives to be ransomed back, as well as flocks of sheep and camels who were then split among his soldiers, and taken by the strategos for his own pastures. In 865 Michael is reported to have personally owned one hundred-fifty horses, two hundred camels, and two thousand sheep. An large figure, but Michael was lowly among the magnates.

The new tenant farmers became what we now know as the Apores, the destitute lower classes who are the close cousin of the serfs of the Franks of this time. As noted, the Apores were required to pay rents to their new landlord in the form of between twenty-five and fifty percent of their annual harvest over to the strategoi, in addition to working his lands on specified days of the week, normally Monday through Wednesday. In exchange the Apores gained a fair number of protections.

First, and most importantly the strategos would provide food for their families if crops failed. This happened sometimes, and farmers would see themselves left destitute if independent. But with their farms now guaranteed by the new owner they would not starve if the Tiber flooded at the wrong time and their holdings were wiped out.

Second, shelter from the tax collectors. As an extremely wealthy man Michael Kommenos had the cash to bribe tax officials away from looking too closely at his holdings and determining if maybe his bill should increased. Furthermore, as Arab raids decreased in both intensity and frequency the land values being assessed were going up, which should have meant that tax bills went up as well. But with the inspectors easily bribed this did not happen. I mentioned a number of articles ago that Imperial revenues had increased to eight million by 850. While sounds impressive, remember that before Justinian I’s reconquests the Empire had received five million nomismata per year. That was before the addition of Africa, Italy, and Mesopotamia to the Empire. Those three territories were at this point very wealty, Italy especially due to being completely insulated from attack and the nexus of Mediterranean trade. And yet, the increase was actually less than it rightfully should have been.

Why?

Because the land tax wasn’t being collected the way it should have been. Michael Kommenos and men like him kept prices recorded in the Imperial records at Constantinople lower than they actually were in the region. Recent scholarship by John Ankoi has determined that between 800 and 875 land values in Mesopotamia tripled. The Imperial court recorded an increase of only ten percent. Thus the tax being assessed was virtually identical to what it had been the previous century, even as the wealthy of the strategos increased immensely.

Third, it got the Apores out of the soldier business. The life of a theme soldier was often both dangerous and hard. Men were expected to turn up for drills often, cutting into valuable work time, and their pay while fine wasn’t really spectacular, especially when they weren’t actively campaigning. Those salaries I mentioned only got paid in full if the soldiers actually did their jobs, which by the 860s they weren’t being called on to do anymore. While on paper the pay was still good compared to a lot of jobs, it was often actually being paid about half the time. And an unpaid army is one that isn’t particularly keen to follow through on the whole soldier business. It was fundamentally a better move to be a tenant farmer than to be a soldier. Sure, they wouldn’t make more money that way, but they also didn’t have to go marching in the hot sun in hot armor carrying around a lot of gear. And floggings were far less common as a tenant farmer than as a soldier. It was simply easier, safer, and more comfortable to let someone else do the fighting. We will return to that point next time when we discuss the changing face of the theme armies.

Fourth, the prices were pretty good. It isn’t like the strategos was cheating the people he was buying. His men came around with an offer, presented it, and if you refused they usually made a better offer. And yes maybe sometimes there was some coercion, but it wasn’t too strenuous, and you would get (a reduced) amount of gold anyway. So most farmers when presented with a good enough offer just took the money. They could use it to buy clothes, shoes, new animals, or whatever else a poor farmer might need to buy and hadn’t been able to before.

Altogether then, the deal was a good one for the farmer.

If it was so good for the farmer you might be wondering, then how was it so good for the strategos?

Well to put it simply, more land was always good naturally. But it went beyond that. Expanding his holdings meant the strategos was hedging his bets on that year’s harvests. Sure he might have to pay a bit back to farmers whose harvests had been wiped out, but that was fine. Most of his holdings would do well, and he could take small losses without being ruined.

And even if all of his holdings were ruined in one year, then he had other financial oppurtunities to make up enough money to survive. The first of these was of course his actual job as the head of the theme. That meant a salary, about thirty gold coins per year sent from Constantinople (or more usually that he was expected to pick up from the nearest mint after receiving a pay order from the Emperor. For Michael that meant Seleukia in the Babylonian theme, which was the unofficial headquarters of the region. As the strategos went to Babylon annually anyway to meet with the Strategos there, as well as the strategoi of Assyria and Mesopotamia so the four could plot the details of their annual defensive strategies this trip was no bother. The four simply gathered when the pay orders arrived, and returned with both their own gold and the gold paid to their soldiers. This will also be discussed in more detail next time.

A similar process was played out across the East. Land was consolidated in the hands of local elites, and the days of the independent farmer were effectively over, and would be until the magnates were violently put down, or their lands were lost. The Abbassoi, would eventually split into two branches, one of which would move to Italy after family squabbles and produce the great general Romanos Abbasios, no not THAT Romanos. The Kommenoi would fall on hard times and flee back to their original homes in Thrace, where of course a daughter named Maria would revive the name’s prestige as the Empress of Manuel II.
 
Well thank goodness there is no wanking in this story now.
Just remember, OTL was a Roman wank for a long time, right up until it wasn't anymore. :p

So will this raid be romanticized by the future Eastern Slavs in the future as proof of Rome's decline or demonized for raids by heretics?
Not really. The Rus don't consider it nearly as earth-shattering as the Romans did. For them it was just a bigger than normal raid, back before they "civilized" (read converted).

Oh dear.....well at least with the changes TTL Venice is far less likely to slip out of the Imperial grip.
Yep. Venice isn't particularly inclined to independence here. The stronger Roman military is plenty capable of defending Venice itself should someone decide to attack, and also the Imperial fleet could stomp the Venetians flat if they wanted to. Better to get rich inside the Empire than try something like rebellion.

For now at least...
 
I doubt succession has been legally changed.

Contrary to it's portrayal in Crusader Kings 2, succession in Roman Empire in the East was primarily father-to-son thing. When it wasn't, it was either because there was a coup that deposed reigning emperor, or because he had no viable son. But the longer dynasty is in place, the more unthinkable it becomes to overthrow them. And even if someone tries to do something that looks a lot like coup, they will be under tremendous pressure to tie themselves to legitimacy of previous dynasty, preferably through marriage.

IIRC, Thessalians will last for seven hundred years, which is only slightly shorter than Capets in France.

Going back to issue of legal change, Capets never really formally introduced primogeniture. They just kept elect sons of current king as co-kings, until at some point they stopped even bothering, and it didn't occur to anyone to even question the succession. What was once important privilege of nobility, right to elect their king, became an afterthough of technicallity. I assume same will happen ITTL with Roman Senate electing emperor.
 
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Contrary to it's portrayal in Crusader Kings 2, succession in Roman Empire in the East was primarily father-to-son thing. When it wasn't, it was either because there was a coup that deposed reigning emperor, or because he had no viable son. But the longer dynasty is in place, the more unthinkable it becomes to overthrow them. And even if someone tries to do something that looks a lot like coup, they will be under tremendous pressure to tie themselves to legitimacy of previous dynasty, preferably through marriage.
Yep. Part of the problem for the OTL Romans was that they kept losing legitimacy from defeats abroad, which then led to coups at home. And those coups would often cause bloody civil wars that saw valuable resources wasted on infighting even as enemies were at their gates. See the aftermath of Manzikert, when the Empire basically collapsed because everyone absolutely refused to see the bigger picture and work together for five goddamn minutes. That's why the cities of Anatolia were lost to the Turks, not from Turkish siegecraft.

And whoever came out on top of the civil war had no actual legitimacy, since they were inevitably a usurper. New legitimacy had to be created by victory in the field, which meant even more campaigning, which often wasn't particularly successful.

IIRC, Thessalians will last for seven hundred years, which is only slightly shorter than Capets in France.
About six hundred years.

650s to 1240s.
 
Part of the problem for the OTL Romans was that they kept losing legitimacy from defeats abroad, which then led to coups at home.
Then the Roman Emperors ITTL should completely go for a Fabian strategy backed by fortifications. Avoiding field battles means less chance of massive defeats, which translates to stronger legitimacy.

A battle to relieve a Roman castle (hammer and anvil) will give the Romans a great chance of winning than an open-field battle.
 
Then the Roman Emperors ITTL should completely go for a Fabian strategy backed by fortifications. Avoiding field battles means less chance of massive defeats, which translates to stronger legitimacy.

A battle to relieve a Roman castle (hammer and anvil) will give the Romans a great chance of winning than an open-field battle.
That was actually OTL policy, the avoiding pitched battles I mean. Emperor Maurice's Strategikon explicitly advises a focus on skirmish, maneuver, and ambushes against the armies of your foes rather seeking decisive battles. Battles risk a lot, and are heavily debilitating to both sides that fight them. See Yarmouk, Disaster at. And of course, Manzikert.

And it was a key Roman strategy that he affirmed that Rome not annihilate its enemies, because they stood as a bulwark against other foes. You can clearly see this OTL with the Balkans, where the Avars were replaced by the more powerful Bulgars, who were then replaced by the Pechenegs, and etc. In the East the Persians were replaced by the far stronger Arabs, who in turn were replaced by the stronger Turks.

ITTL a similar pattern is happening. The Bulgar War has weakened the Khan's power, and the result are the Magyars settling on the north side of the Dneister River, while in the north Khazar decline has led to the Rus, the Pechenegs, and again the Magyars taking their place. In the East the Persians are being kept on their feet by Roman aid to stop Khorasan from overrunning the entire Persian Plateau, and possibly then advancing into Roman Mesopotamia.
 
See Yarmouk, Disaster at. And of course, Manzikert
I mean, Yarmouk could have been avoided. They would have better off letting the Arabs overextending themselves and wearing themselves out facing city walls and fortifications.

And Byzantine apparently never had the same fortification density of Medieval Western Europe. We can notice that the Norman quickly took control over Greece after beating the Romans in Dyrrhachium. OTOH, during the Hundred Years' War, the English after beating the French in the field still had to engage in gruelling sieges, and vice versa.
 
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