I would like to see a map of the Empire right now that would be great......
In terms of Imperial competence, and power yeah he's the apogee. The Empire is definitely at its height compared to its neighbors. Like Augustus and other great Emperors though Manuel's great advantage lay in an ability to pick out people who were both good at their jobs and loyal. He's a people person and a really good one at his core, while not being incompetent in other areas. Had he not had Maria, Abbasios, Gregorios, and now his children, he never would have accomplished much. Even now if his kids were, say Constantius II and his family things would probably go south even now as Manuel enters his long withdrawal. But (largely thanks to Maria), his kids aren't sociopathic assholes who hate one another. They're on good terms, friendly, and willing to work together. The late Thalassans will more or less be continuing on from this trend. Right up until their not and the whole thing falls apart.Manual II is as big a focus here as Justinian is in the OTL Byzantine history podcast.
...Does he get an entire update for his impact IU? (And he also seems similiar in being a figure of extreme competence and being the sort of apogee of the empire of the period like Basil II).
Eh, I'm not really sure the distinction really exists at this point to draw a hard line between them.Are most "Armenians" ITTL what we'd call Georgians or are most Armenians ITTL still what we'd call Armenians?
I don't have a specific location picked out yet. Somewhere along the coastline, since quick Black Sea communication to the West is super important to the organization of the Exarchs.What is its closest OTL equivalent location-wise?
Not really. While the money and knowhow would be there what's lacking is a reason. There's no naval threat that would require such defenses, and never really has been. Constantinople has only been threatened twice since the Avars fell, by the Rus and the Pechenegs. Of those the Rus are...friendly isn't the right word, but certainly not actively hostile. The Pechenegs meanwhile don't use ships.I have another question actually, since the Rhomania ITTL never went through the same decline that it did IOTL, are the sea walls closer in quality of defenses as Theodoros Walls compared to OTL? I'm not asking exactly equal since Theodoros Walls are amongst the greatest defenses for a city ever but perhaps closer compared to OTL due to the general higher quality of material, finances and knowledge base that Rhomania ITTL has due to it keeping the entirety of the easter half outside of a century or so of the lost provinces of Syria and Palestine and regaining the Italian peninsula.
I mean that they never stopped being used. A lot of the public baths are kind of run down at this point because basically nothing has been spent on keeping them up them for fifty years (especially in the capital), but that's because everyone was busy dealing with stuff elsewhere, and then catching up on more important projects that needed funding badly. But they are still operational.never went away or just forgotten due to all the wars or disrepair....
So, how much was the decision to make field armies defensive and easy for tagmatas to defeat done for political reasons?
Quite a bit. Manuel is confident that the Roman army can thrash any external force that comes against it. Horse archer armies will be picked apart by crossbows, while heavy cavalry based armies can't deal with the phalanx. And infantry based armies can be pinned by the phalanx and then annihilated by cavalry. Overaggression should be avoided since the Romans can outlast their opponents, so long as they don't suffer catastrophic defeats like Dara or OTL Manzikert. For that reason, battles should be fought defensively, and when sufficient Roman numbers are present to be (he hopes overwhelmng). The weakness of course is a heavy cavalry based army that is both almost invulnerable to crossbows (including the horses), and has reliable enough infantry to send against the phalanx without worrying about failure on that front. Hence, the tagmata.So, how much was the decision to make field armies defensive and easy for tagmatas to defeat done for political reasons?