The Philanthropenos Restoration; A Late Byzantine Recovery

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Basil Makedon, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. Basil Makedon Argead Dynasty = House of the Rising Sun

    Jan 28, 2019
    The Philanthropenos Restoration;
    POD 1293.
    Hopefully not ASB
  2. Basil Makedon Argead Dynasty = House of the Rising Sun

    Jan 28, 2019
    Autumn 1295
    Heiron, Byzantine Empire

    The column of Roman soldiers advanced slowly across the rocky Thracesian terrain. As far as Mengü could tell, it was composed almost entirely of cavalry, roughly 4,000, and with a small group of infantry at its head. He ducked behind a boulder and scribbled the numbers down on his report. A cold gust of wind whistled through the outcropping, and he pulled a scarf up over his head.

    Kaisar Alexios Philanthropenos walked around the rock and shot him in the head.

    “See, Maximos, I told you there would be a scout up here.”

    Maximos Planoudes waddled out from behind the boulder. Alexios grabbed the report out of the dead Turk’s hand and passed it to the monk. Planoudes glanced at it, then slipped it into a pocket.

    “They’re getting more accurate, this one was only off by a thousand.”

    He glared at Alexios.

    “You’re going to have to learn Tourkikos eventually.”

    A curlicue of anger swelled in him, the corpse of every man he’d lost clawing back Roman land from the enemy flashing in his mind’s eye. He sucked in air, and after a few seconds he was , at least outwardly, calm, but the images were still fixed in his memory.

    “I’ll learn Turkikos on Judgement Day.”

    He surveyed the horizon, trying to push the pictures out of his head. The Agaio Sea glimmered on the horizon, the coastal plain sloping up into the hills that his army was picking its way across. A thin column of smoke rose from a small cluster of buildings by the sea. The Bey of Aydın had decided that it would be a good idea to lift the siege of his capital by raiding into Roman territory.

    It had not worked. Before he killed him, Alexios was going to execute one prisoner for every Roman dead.

    The sound of hooves on rock echoed up from below. They both whirled around, Alexios going for his arquebus. He dropped to the ground, gun in hand, and lit the fuse, waiting. A Roman cavalryman crested the ridge, and he snuffed out the fuse.

    "Kaisar.” The rider sat up in his saddle.

    Alexios stood up. “At ease, allagator.”

    “Scouts have reported a 5,000 man Aydınese army approaching, sir.”

    Alexios nodded, waving at Planoudes to follow him. He started off at a run, then stopped.

    “Allagator! Go get Allagator Raoul and tell him to meet me at the head of the army!”

    The man spurred his horse and charged forward, easily overtaking the two men. He had already vanished into the ranks by the time they returned to the main force.

    Alexios Raoul met them, at the front of the column. He was half-Latin, and his sandy hair and pale complexion was the polar opposite of Alexios Philanthropenos. He was holding Philanthropenos’ horses’ halter.



    He grabbed the reigns and swung up into the saddle. The horse started, startling him as well. He jerked the reigns down and the horse settled down.

    “Allagator, take the andrepyritias up to that rise and set up. Fire as soon as the Tourkikos are against our lines.

    The commander nodded and rode off. Alexios turned and rode into the lines.
  3. Batman16 Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2016
    Cool! More please.
  4. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

    Nov 30, 2010
    Made a short research about the guy, guessing the POD is him winning the civil war against Andronikos II, which fate met the dethroned emperor?
  5. BBadolato Fifth Picturewraith

    Jul 5, 2012
    Not usually a fan of Byzantine TL's but I like the different premise.
  6. Basil Makedon Argead Dynasty = House of the Rising Sun

    Jan 28, 2019
    Slight correction- I meant to put Menteşe, rather than Aydın.

    The next part should be out on Wednesday, I’m busy till then.
  7. Duke of Nova Scotia Didn't go to Alberta to become a Millionaire.

    Jul 2, 2014
    Alba Nuadh
    Consider me subb'd, always a fan of a late ERE what if.
    Batman16 likes this.
  8. trajen777 Member

    Apr 14, 2006
    Great departure point, he is well reviewed in treadgolds, books. Had forgotten about him. So interesting to see if you have him remain loyal, have the offer of casar be real, or win the revolt. I have to assume one of the first 2, in that by autum of 95 I can't see him winning a victory over the emperor.

    Nice start
    Duke of Nova Scotia likes this.
  9. trajen777 Member

    Apr 14, 2006
    Also the emperor decommissioned the byz navy of 80 ships. Can't remember the date, but if does overthrow the emperor keeping the navy whole is a necessity
  10. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

    May 30, 2018
    Interesting choice of POD. I'll follow this.
    trajen777 likes this.
  11. Basil Makedon Argead Dynasty = House of the Rising Sun

    Jan 28, 2019
    In 1296. But in 1295, An unknown Philanthropenos (most likely named Nikephoros) was the grand admiral.
    trajen777 likes this.
  12. trajen777 Member

    Apr 14, 2006
    Great so you have a solid (needs more training etc) but a basic 80 ship navy. So look forward to the focus -- you have Serbs and Hungarians in the west -- and the broken up Turks in the east -- trad deficits -- and currency issues. You need a Superman. Alexios was an excellent general, and in the later days when he was in Lesbos fought well in naval issues.

    This is a "close" map but i think you have a better situation in 1295 (maybe not) -- Anyway you need to have some type of peace to the north and the west == then focus on the east then go back west -- anyway great TL

  13. Dominic Well-Known Member

    Aug 6, 2008
    Roman Anatolia was considerably reduced by the 1290's from where it was in 1265. Turks had permeated the region for years at that point. A late-1290's Roman resurgence is not impossible, but very difficult. The Empire is beset from every direction, and unlike pre-1204 "every direction" is quite literal, given the presence of the Italians/remaining Crusaders in and around the Aegean. A successful soldier-emperor that restores stability to the Anatolian frontier (no mean feat) has a long way to go before being able to claim that he has restored stability to the Empire as a whole. Finishing off the Latins and securing peace in the northern Balkans would be the absolute minimum. Peace in particular is an absolute must; anything more than the inevitable border skirmishes will leave the Empire in a state of ongoing vulnerability.
  14. Basil Makedon Argead Dynasty = House of the Rising Sun

    Jan 28, 2019
    The gunpowder weapons referred to are either small cannons or matchlock Almohad pistols. Almohad pistols have fuses that can be changed to affect the time of fire.
    Please remember this as you read. It clarifys a lot.

    He picked his way across the rocky ground, his horse’s hooves teetering on gravelly ground. The cavalrymen parted as his insignia came within view, and soon he was in the middle of his ranks, atop a small knoll. Raoul and the roughly five hundred andrepyritias had scrambled up a rise at the mouth of the valley, but their presence could be clearly seen, at least from this end. Their hand cannon barrels glinted like jewels in the sun. Hopefully, they weren’t visible from the outside.
    Focus, Alexios, focus.
    “Line!” he screamed. There were nine other allagator in the valley, and that many men was hard to hear over any day, and the density of their numbers made it even harder.

    “Line! Line! Line!” He yelled until his voice was hoarse, but with a clamor of metal and hooves the army had turned to face the opening of the valley, packed densely together.

    The Tourkikos should have come into the gorge by now. Odd...

    He waited in silence, tense. His horsemen were quiet as well, but even that felt loud. A bird circled high above. The gravel on the hills was still....

    He pulled a water canister from a saddlebag and took a swig. He started to screw the cap back on, but his hand was slick with water and it slipped, plunging to the ground.

    “Damn it.”

    Alexios swung down out of the saddle, snatching the cap out of the dust before remounting. He reached down to grab the bottle, but-

    Why was the water- Crap. Five thousand my ass, I’m going to kill that scout.

    He spurred his horse forward, shouting commands.

    “Allagator! Take yours, Kourkouas’, Pegonites’, and Niketas’ Allagia back down the valley. When the Tourkikos are all the way into the valley, flank and charge! If they intercept you, raise a blue flag! Nikephoros! Dismount, tell Konstantinos to square!”

    He dropped off his horse, coaxing him to a sit before running into the line. Most of his men had dismounted, and pushed together into a shield-wall, while his riders galloped back down the valley.

    The ground began to shake, gently at first, but building up to a thundering earthquake of thousands of Tourkikos hooves. He kept going running down the line and checking for gaps, as the sound grew louder. He heard a yell from one of the andrepyritias, barely audible above the thunderous din.

    “Here they come!”

    A brown current of horses and men swept over the gravelly hills, there armor glinting brightly in the Anatolian sun. A storm of arrows swarmed out of their line and slammed into shields and armor, only a few hitting home. A few feet away from him, a man dropped, a shaft jutting out of his neck.

    Alexios leapt forward, raising his shield and drawing his sword. His sandals slid in the gravel, still slick with the soldier’s blood.

    The initial wave parted and rolled back, opening a core of Sipahi as they bore down. These new men rode much heavier horses than the archers, and a sheet of dust whipped off the ground and blew into the Roman’s faces, huiding them.

    God, if you let me win this battle, I’ll march all the way to Jerusalem.

    The Sipahi slammed into the Roman lines like a wave into the hull of a small boat. The great black horses surged forward, trampling Romans underfoot, pressing screaming men under the broken remains of shields and spears.

    Alexios charged forward, waving his sword. A Sipahi was nearby, turned away from him. Alexios swung up. The blade caught the man hard on his sword arm, sending him crashing the ground. A blast of hot breath hit Alexios’ neck and he whirled, a Tourkikos spear slicing through the air just next to his head with a deep woosh. The thrust had thrown the rider off balance, and Alexios caught him in the neck and sent him too, to the ground. The Tourkik wriggled around on the ground like a flipped, mirrored turtle, and he plunged his sword into the man’s throat, shielding his eyes from the glare.

    The Tourkikos receded, leaving their own scattered across the field. A cheer rose from the men, breaking the solemn silence that had enveloped the Roman lines since the Tourkikos had first entered the valley. Alexios too, cheered, then froze.

    A pale blue rag was fluttering above the hill.

    What can I do? What can I do? I have to stop the battle, and now. What can I do?


    I can challenge them all to a duel, or I and my men die.

    I or my sons.

    He stepped forward, throwing off his helmet.

    “I am Alexios, son of Mikhael!” He screamed, slamming his sword butt into his shield. “I am the Doux of Samos, Pinkeres of the Roman Empire!”

    He swiveled, staring down the Tourkikos. Please, don’t see how scared I really am. His voice lowered to a hoarse, menacing hiss.

    “I challenge any of the infidels among you to a duel. The dead man’s host leaves the field. Do you understand me?”

    There was silence from the Tourkikos ranks.


    A pale, bearded Toukikos in dull, green leather armor stepped forward.

    “I am Osman, bey of Söğüt. I will accept you challenge.”

    Another man, pale bearded and old, also came forward. His eyes were wide and a huge turban sprouted from his head. He sounded insane.

    “I am Balışeyh, and I shall destroy you for your blasphemy, kafir!”

    He rushed forward, screeching and slashing his blade in a windmill arc. Osman waited, watching.

    Balışeyh covered the ground between them quickly, and he slammed into Alexios, toppling them both over. Strong for an old man.

    His knife had fallen just beyond Alexios’ reach and he went for it, only to feel a knife in his chest. A bolt of pain tore threw him.

    Just lovely. B plan it was, then.

    Alexios reached under his armor and pulled out a weathered tinderbox, groping with his other hand for his pistol.

    Balışeyh snatched at his neck, ragged fingernails digging into his flesh and sending rivulets of blood coursing down his neck.

    He hissed, but his hand closed around the pistol butt. He pulled it out, then Balışeyh’s grip released. He glanced up, his hand still on the tinderbox and gun. The Tourkikos’ silhouette towered above him, his blade held high.

    The tinderbox struck, and a tiny spark caught on the edge of the fuse.
    Alexios whirled around, snatching the fuse forward and triggering it. A mighty roar split the air, and Balışeyh toppled backwards in a cloud of red and grey. Alexios staggered to his feet.


    The Tourkikos warlord stood in place, appraising him.

    “You don’t look very well. Perhaps we should do this sometime later?”

    Alexios nodded. “Yes.”

    Osman turned and faded back into the Tourkikos lines.

    Alexios faltered back to his lines. The men were chanting his name, “Alexios! Alexios!” That was... nice. He held up his hand, quieting them. “Wait...”

    The Tourkikos were leaving. He couldn’t tell how long... He hurt. Badly. A shard of pain struck his mouth. He put his mouth to his lips and drew it back, blood-stained.

    “Alexios!” Maximos was pushing through the clumps of men and horses, followed by a pair of medics. He should move. It wasn’t safe.

    He stared back out as the Tourkikos moved. They were like fishes in a sea, a swelling mass of men and horse. His eyes grew tired, and the figures blurred together.

    Then he saw it.

    There an opening.


    He tried to swing up into his saddle, but the weariness overpowered him and he fell backward, collapsing into Maximos’ arms.
  15. BBadolato Fifth Picturewraith

    Jul 5, 2012
    Interesting with what you are doing what Osman. Would it be possible to get a location and a date?
  16. Basil Makedon Argead Dynasty = House of the Rising Sun

    Jan 28, 2019
    Same as last time.
  17. Basil Makedon Argead Dynasty = House of the Rising Sun

    Jan 28, 2019
    trajen777 likes this.
  18. darthfanta Offline

    Feb 15, 2015
    They should consider hiring Italians to command the navy rather than letter natives do it. Results were much better when they let Italians captain their ships rather than use natives,because the native officers didn’t have much experience commanding the fleet.Keep the crew native though, and slowly promote them to commanding positions.
  19. Basil Makedon Argead Dynasty = House of the Rising Sun

    Jan 28, 2019
    It’s easier for me to post on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, so that’s the new schedule.
    But here’s Wednesday’s, as promised.

    Late Autumn, 1295

    Smyrna, Byzantine Empire

    Alexios was woken by the press of a cool rag against his forehead. He blinked awake, but his first feeling was pain. Pain, burning pain in every part of his body, washing over him in twisting, crushing agony.

    He tried to speak, but all he could choke out was a weak moan.

    He was in a small, damp, dark chamber. Stone, with a dark wood door, and a window at the side of the room.

    A piercing squeal of metal penetrated the door and it slid open, letting a small monk walk in.

    He was carrying a tray, which he set on the foot of the bed. The monk uncapped a small bottle and put it to his lips.

    “Laudanum.” he said in a hushed, raspy voice. “Drink.”

    Alexios opened his mouth as far as he could, barely any. He let the liquid flow down the throat, cooling the burning pain, at least somewhat.

    His head fuzzied and he closed his eyes. He heard the monk leave, but only as the faintest of sounds, seconds before sleep took him.

    His eyes were blurry with sleep when he woke. He sat up slowly, nervously testing his limbs. He looked around the room, but it was all the same as when he had last been awake.

    Except for the man by the window. He had not been there.

    “Who are you?”

    The man turned slowly around. He was pale, black hair and brown eyes, and a large nose. He was wearing an old imperial diadem and a broad purple cloak.

    “Hello, Alexios.”

    “Who are you?”

    Where was the knife he always had on him? If he died because someone had moved it, he would haunt them from beyond the grave.

    “I am Flavius Petrus Sabbatius. Latine loqui tibi?”


    Petrus’ brow wrinkled.

    “You just did.”

    “No I didn’t.”

    “Fine, what are you speaking, then?”

    “I’ve been-“ Holy Crap. He’d slipped back into it. Fifteen years...

    “Rrãmãneshti.” He barely remembered ever spoken it. He’d been forced to learn Greek from seven, and he hadn’t spoken Rrãmãneshti since. It felt good to speak it again, debased and peasantly as it is.

    “You’re speaking Latin.”

    “No I’m not.”

    “Yes you are.”


    “Shut up, kid.” He facepalmed. “Look, I’m just here to evaluate you.” He circles around Alexios, muttering to himself. Finally, he stopped.

    “Seventieth Percentile.”

    “Who are you? Seriously.”

    The man walked to the door and swung it open, then paused and turned to face him. He spoke in a low tone, like the whisper of a slow breeze through grass.

    “Caesar I was, once.”

    He walked out.

    Alexios sat, staring at the doorway as Petrus’ footsteps receded down the hall. When they were gone, he rolled over and went to sleep
    Donald Reaver, Varo12345 and steno19 like this.
  20. Basil Makedon Argead Dynasty = House of the Rising Sun

    Jan 28, 2019
    Au contraire.

    When he goes into revolt, the Alexios has five thousand men, in addition to Isiktan Onal’s two thousand Christian Turks, and his brother has control of the navy, a total of-
    •Five hundred arquebusiers
    •Four thousand lancers
    •Two thousand horse archers
    •Twenty transport ships
    •Fifteen hundred marines
    •And the “thousands of volunteers” that joined him (Pachymeres),
    Or at least 8,000 men, most likely 10-1200.

    Meanwhile, Andronikos has no commanders that could match Alexios, and only ten thousand men, max.
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