The House of Komnenos, Like a Phoenix From the Ashes: An Eastern Roman Timeline

Prologue
Hi everyone, this is my first attempt at a historical timeline. I've always been a history buff with a passion for Classical Roman and later Eastern Roman history. I've always wanted to explore the possibilities of a more successful restoration of the Byzantine Empire after 1204 under the House of Komnenos. In otl Alexios VI was a very prudent and successful military commander who in rapid succession took over most of the Northern Anatolia. His forces were poised to overrun the Niceans up until he was captured by the Turks in a hunting trip where he was forced to cede all his gains. This timeline is basically chronicles how the Komnenoi embark upon a Second Restoration, and navigate through challenges of the coming centuries. Please feel free to leave any comments, suggestions, or feedback, and please excuse any gramatical errors that may be present in the timeline.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The House of Komnenos, Like a Phoenix From the Ashes: An Eastern Roman Timeline


Prologue: A Shattered Empire
I. The Last of the Komnenoi


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PROLOGUE: A SHATTERED EMPIRE



The events of the year 1204 was a catastrophe of epic proportions for the Romans. It is a moment which lives in infamy in the hearts and minds of every Roman even to this day. The damage it wrought upon the Empire brought to a low point not seen since the days of the Heraclians when the Caliphate’s armies besieged Constantinople in the 8th century. But unlike the Caliphate, the armies of the Accursed Fourth Crusade managed to breach the city's sea walls capturing the Imperial City. Never before had the city fallen to a foreign army before. And like what happened to its Western Couterpart eight centuries earlier, the city was looted and pillaged, its inhabitants brutalized and viciously slaughtere, and its lands were carved up by greedy aristocrats and foreign conquerors. To the Romans it seemed as though the light of Roman civilization was forever extinguished.

Of course to us Modern readers, this notion seems ridiculous as Rhomania still endures carrying the torch passed from Augustus millenia ago, but to the Romans living at the time, it seemed as though Armageddon had finally arrived. With the deposition of the Komnenoi, the Accursed Angeloi dynasty came to power. Through own ineptitude and avarice, they fostered corruption within the civil administration, gutted the army of funds, and levied extortionate taxes to fund their extravagance and hedonism. To make matters worse the hard fought gains made by the Great Ioannes II Manuel I Komenos were reversed withing the span of a few decades with continued military defeats at the hands of the Turks.

The foundations of the Empire were crumbling without a strong Basileus to maintain order and lead the army to victory. The onslaught of the Fourth Crusade came in like a wrecking ball to the beleaguered and sickly empire shattering it as though it were glass. The heretical Latins in their so called "Holy War" had sacked a city of their fellow Christians. They then carved up the Empire into their personal fiefdoms and instead of the aristocrats uniting to drive out the barbarians from the city of Constantine, they instead formed their own splinter states proclaiming themselves as Emperor dividing the Romans in the face of the Latins from the West and the Turks from the East.

Indeed it seemed as though the Empire of the Romans was doomed to fall into the ashtray of history with its people scattered and ruled over by foreign overlords, and its history and culture wiped away from living memory. This likely would have been the case had it not been for sudden and unexpected rise of the Glorious Basileus Alexios VI of Trebizond, the grandson of the deposed Andronikos I Komnenos. Without him forcibly uniting the disparate fragments of Rhomania and his Reconstitution of the Empire in the Second Komnenian Restoration, its very likely that the Empire would never have made it past the 13th century with powerful enemies surrounding on all sides.
 
Last edited:
Interesting premise. Will be interesting to see how the Komnenoi tackle the problems plaguing the Empire, will they restore Rhomania without correcting the endemic issues with overpowerful nobles or will they reform and make the Empire stronger?
 
Finally a Trebizondian timeline. I’ve always wanted to see a timeline with the Komnenoi more involve in the struggle for the restoration of the empire. I’ll follow this.
 
Palaiologi for Strategoi/Governor of the newly reformed province of Asia:



After all, the Palaiologi have a long time of service to the Komnenoi stretching back to Georgios being one of the chief supporters of Alexios I.
 
I would like to put forward Nikephoros Tarchaneiotes as Strategos of Asia. He and all of his descendants were skilled generals, and his appointment to the role would bring the support of at least one of the Cuman clans that will soon arrive in the Empire.
 
Admittedly in my case I'm biased because my bf can trace his descent from Georgios Palaiologos, though obviously not from the line of Michael VIII.

So wanting the Palaiologos to do well is not just me liking the Palaiologi as a whole (which I do).
 
Consider me interested, always wanted to see TL about the Megas Kommenoi!
Yeah they've always fascinated me as a dynasty. They had the potential to essentially become a Second Macedonian Dynasty with all their military success. They also had a line of pretty competent rulers since they managed to outlast the Empire proper by about 8 years.

ill be interesting to see how the Komnenoi tackle the problems plaguing the Empire, will they restore Rhomania without correcting the endemic issues with overpowerful nobles or will they reform and make the Empire stronger?
I'll go more into the details about the Komnenoi brothers and their policies. Without spoiling anything, think of Alexios as the Byzantine Stannis Baratheon. The issues of the Pronoia system and the frontiers will be explored in the upcoming chapters.

Finally a Trebizondian timeline. I’ve always wanted to see a timeline with the Komnenoi more involve in the struggle for the restoration of the empire. I’ll follow this.
@Flavius Iulius Nepos I drew inspiration for this timeline from your own timeline about Julius Nepos saving the Western Empire. The situation here does parallel the the one the Western Empire faced after the Sack of Rome. Its just in otl, the East had competent enough leadership to lumber on 200 years while the West saw Majorian assassinated and its subsequent Incompetent leaders accelerating the Empire's collapse.

Admittedly in my case I'm biased because my bf can trace his descent from Georgios Palaiologos, though obviously not from the line of Michael VIII.
This is very cool!

Palaiologi for Strategoi/Governor of the newly reformed province of Asia:



After all, the Palaiologi have a long time of service to the Komnenoi stretching back to Georgios being one of the chief supporters of Alexios I.
@Lady Visenya
This seems like a pretty huge stretch of land to make a single province. The Empire's core is now in Anatolia and the East. Whoever controls the armies of such a large reason would be powerful enough to oppose the Emperor himself. That's why the old Roman Diocletianic provinces were abolished/amended by the Heraclians and Isaurians to create the thematic provinces. These new administrative division split up the empire into more manageable subdivisions. Its kind of like how France is subdivided into regions, departments, and further smaller subdivisions.

Let's see the eagle spread its wings, watched.
The city may have fallen, but Rhomania and the Romaoi endures, waiting to demonstrate their might to the world.
 
This seems like a pretty huge stretch of land to make a single province. The Empire's core is now in Anatolia and the East. Whoever controls the armies of such a large reason would be powerful enough to oppose the Emperor himself. That's why the old Roman Diocletianic provinces were abolished/amended by the Heraclians and Isaurians to create the thematic provinces. These new administrative division split up the empire into more manageable subdivisions. Its kind of like how France is subdivided into regions, departments, and further smaller subdivisions.
I was more thinking down the line if the Empire has managed to reclaim 1025 borders.:lol: It's a pipe dream at this point, but still.

Also, the theme system was instituted partly as a massive bureaucratic/administrative reform to help ensure the Roman ability to field sizable armies in the wake of massive loss of revenues and lands. It's actually a fairly brilliant work IMO.



You do make a good point, however. It is a bit excessive, I suppose Opsikion would work better?

Anyway, currently working on a work which has the WRE saved.:p It's mostly for fun, but I think it'll be fairly good and dramatic.

Though I was inspired by a different TL.
 
Last edited:
@Flavius Iulius Nepos I drew inspiration for this timeline from your own timeline about Julius Nepos saving the Western Empire. The situation here does parallel the the one the Western Empire faced after the Sack of Rome. Its just in otl, the East had competent enough leadership to lumber on 200 years while the West saw Majorian assassinated and its subsequent Incompetent leaders accelerating the Empire's collapse.
Glad to see I could provide some inspiration. With such dark premises and a great dynasty thrown into the chaos, I’m sure we are going to see some really interesting stuff soon. Anyway good luck to the Komnenoi and to you.
 
I. The Last of the Komnenoi
I. THE LAST OF THE KOMNENOI
In order to understand the complicated characters that were Emperor Alexios the Great, and his brother David the Sebastokrator, we must look to their origins that shaped them into one of the prime movers of the 13th Century: The Downfall of Andronikos I.


An image of Basileus Andronikos I Komnenos I depicted him the Classical Style of the Roman Emperors of Antiquity.
As we all know Emperor Andronikos I is see as a controversial figure in Roman history. In some circles he is viewed as a vicious and cruel tyrant, while others depict him as a shrewd and virtuous ruler. Though it should be noted that most of the chronicles authored under the reign of Angeloi tend to portray Andronikos unfavorably in order to justify their own usurpation of the throne. Though this characterization of Andronikos was challenged by works produced during the later 13th century like the Komneniad which does much to improve Andronikos's reputation where he is depicted as a popular and shrewd administrator. Indeed even among the works of his enemies, Andronikos is portrayed as a someone who had good intentions, but was corrupted by the power of the Imperial Throne. Thought the truth is much more nuance than this. Andronikos I came to power in a time of uncertainty and unrest within the Roman world. The Empire had suffered a massive loss during the reign of Emperor Manuel I where he was defeated by Killij Arslan II at the Battle of Myrokephalon. The impact of this battle could not be understated as the army had suffered a significant amount of casualties, and most importantly, the empire had lost its momentum in its reconquest of its ancient Anatolian lands. In fact had this Battle not taken place, or if the Romans had instead repulsed the Turks, it is speculated that Emperor Manuel could have taken Iconium throwing open the gateway to Central Anatolia.


An image depicting Emperor Manuel I solemnly reflecting on his defeat at Myrokephalon.
When Manuel had finally died, the Empire was left in a weaker position than Manuel's predecessor Emperor Ioannes II had left it. The Romans needed a strong and capable soldier emperor at the helm to avenge that loss and continue the Reconquest of Anatolia. However Manuel's successor was the 14 year old Alexios II who had yet to reach his age of maturity and was unfit to command. To make matters worse his regent the Empress Dowager Maria of Antioch, had shown immense favoritism to the Latins which angered the native Romaoi (Romans) [1]. This was where Andronikos I came in. Though he was in his early 60's Andronikos was a competent and distinguished battlefield commander who appeared as a godsend to the Romans. And though his actions regarding the swift deposition and execution of his rivals were brutal, they did secure that his rule would be without any rival claimants to start a Civil War.

With his position secure, Emperor Andronikos began a swift crackdown against corruption in the government and abuses of power by the aristocracy. Though his methods were brutal, they were necessary to restore the authority of the central government and to reverse the Western style "feudalization" of the Empire with power handed over to the local aristocracy. Indeed one would not be incorrect to note the parallels between the policies of Emperor Andronikos I and that of his grandson Alexios VI. Alexios VI like his grandfather, had developed a personal animosity towards the dynatoi who had murdered his family and usurped his throne. He resonated with his grandfather's hard line policies and drew inspiration from them. Like Andronikos, Alexios was ruthless with the old aristocracy whom he viewed as corrupt, incompetent. He worked vigorously to curb corruption and to restore control of he Central Government over the provinces and the Empire's other dependent states. However unlike his grandfather, Alexios VI managed to operate and effective spy network to snuff out any plots and conspiracies against him. This allowed him to rule without any significant opposition toward his government leaving him free to reshape the empire as he wished in his many wars of restoration.

After Emperor Andronikos I was deposed and brutally executed by the aristocracy, Isaac II Angelos took the throne. While he deserves credit for decisively defeating the Norman Invasion of the Empire, his rule was an overall net negative for the Empire. His misrule and corruption rotted away the foundations supporting the First Komenian Restoration that Basileus Alexios I and Ioannes II had so painstakingly worked to build after the Empire's disastrous defeat at Manzikert in 1071. As a result, some of the old Komnenian loyalists within the army and bureaucracy plotted a coup which was discovered by the Angeloi who summarily purged them from the government. Alexios's mother Rusudan fled to Trebizond where she sought refuge and later fled to the court of her sister Queen Tamar Great of Georgia. There Alexios VI and David the Sebastokrator lingered in exile until they began their first campaing of 1204 beginning the first of the many wars of Restoration.


A 13th Century Mural from a Monastery depicting Queen Tamar the Great. Her reign saw the Kingdom of Georgia reach its zenith during its Medieval Golden Age.​

While our sources are lacking on information about the lives of the two brothers, it can be assumed that the last of the Komnenoi were given an education, and military training in the Georgian Court befitting their status as princes of the ancient and most noble Empire of the Romans. This can be inferred as both Komnenoi showed considerable military skill on the battlefield and in managing the affairs of state.

[1] The term Romaoi is the Greek version of the word Roman. Though the Byzantine Empire was called "Byzantine," its people identified themselves as Romans. Though they spoke Greek, they still continued the politics and institutions of the Roman Empire going back to Augustus first establishing the Empire in 27 BC. Greek had also been the Language of communication of commerce in the East ever since Alexander the Great, and was adopted by the Latin speaking Romans as a second state language. But because in the 7th Century, the Empire lost its Latin speaking Provinces, the empire was left with a primarily Greek speaking core, and thus changed its language to Greek. Though Latin was still in use in official Eastern Roman documents and coinage up until the 11th century. Latin also gave Greek many loan words as well.

Author's Note: Sorry for not updating this earlier, but I had accidentally deleted my original draft and had to rewrite this. I'll also be posting new updates to my other fics sometime tomorrow or on Wednesday. Thanks for reading and so patiently waiting for an update. Please feel free to comment on this. Any form of feedback or constructive criticism is welcome.
 
Top