Victory Sassanid at the Siege of Constantinople in 626

What if the Sassanid Empire, along with the Avars, seized Constantinople in 626?
Will the entire Byzantine Empire fall to the Persians?
 

Deleted member 67076

This can't really happened as the Sassanids don't have a navy. The Byzantine fleet resupplied the capital from Africa, allowing attrition to work it's magic.

The Avars tried to build a fleet but they had nothing but canoes, which are pitiful.
 
Not possible.

But if we handwave a Sassanid victory in the siege, they have still involved themselves in a huge and destructive war. They will still suffer the civil war and instability they did IOTL, and the Arabs will be able to destroy them even more easily, as the Sassanids are even more overstretched than OTL.
 
What if the Sassanid Empire, along with the Avars, seized Constantinople in 626?
As others said, a Sassanid victory that would be based on the capture of Constantinople would be hard to achieve, mostly due to Roman naval supremacy. That said, enforcing a victory by pressing hard enough on Roman supply lines, while not leading to taking over the capital, would be reachable.

Will the entire Byzantine Empire fall to the Persians?
Probably not.
With such scenario, you'd likely see the ERE relocating its core areas to Africa or even Italy (it was actually attempted and planned more than twice IOTL but met with opposition. ITTL there would be room for such happening) , meaning that if something, the imperial reality would be closer to Romano-Barbarian entities.*
Sassanids would likely conquer most of eastern provinces, turning the geopolitical situation more or less comparable to the Arabo-Islamic conquests for what matters the Empire, except that the ERE could more easily relocate its cores center in Africa or even Italy, especially if Anatolia is lost, ITTL VIIth century.

ITTL Romania wouldn't be broken and still able to recover, while clearly weakened, probably keeping control over Balkanic coasts up to Thrace** (that would be still under Avar raids threats) in no small part thanks to its large naval projection capacities and still, if much reduced, prosperous provinces (more in western basin than in Balkans actually, another possibility onto the East/West shift)

*Interestingly, it could make the post-classical continuum being more tightly maintained IITL in western and central mediteranean basin, while a Romania centered in Africa or Italy would prevent the theological/political widening gap of IOTL.

**It wouldn't be unthinkable to see Roman usurpers attempting to take control of Thrace and Balkans ITTL, possibly supported by Sassanians that would attempt to turn it into a tributary client-state.
 
As others said, a Sassanid victory that would be based on the capture of Constantinople would be hard to achieve, mostly due to Roman naval supremacy. That said, enforcing a victory by pressing hard enough on Roman supply lines, while not leading to taking over the capital, would be reachable.


Probably not.
With such scenario, you'd likely see the ERE relocating its core areas to Africa or even Italy (it was actually attempted and planned more than twice IOTL but met with opposition. ITTL there would be room for such happening) , meaning that if something, the imperial reality would be closer to Romano-Barbarian entities.*
Sassanids would likely conquer most of eastern provinces, turning the geopolitical situation more or less comparable to the Arabo-Islamic conquests for what matters the Empire, except that the ERE could more easily relocate its cores center in Africa or even Italy, especially if Anatolia is lost, ITTL VIIth century.

ITTL Romania wouldn't be broken and still able to recover, while clearly weakened, probably keeping control over Balkanic coasts up to Thrace** (that would be still under Avar raids threats) in no small part thanks to its large naval projection capacities and still, if much reduced, prosperous provinces (more in western basin than in Balkans actually, another possibility onto the East/West shift)

*Interestingly, it could make the post-classical continuum being more tightly maintained IITL in western and central mediteranean basin, while a Romania centered in Africa or Italy would prevent the theological/political widening gap of IOTL.

**It wouldn't be unthinkable to see Roman usurpers attempting to take control of Thrace and Balkans ITTL, possibly supported by Sassanians that would attempt to turn it into a tributary client-state.

Any thoughts on a particular PoD? Perhaps Heraclius dying in 623 in the Avar trap? His army would be headless in Anatolia...

Also, how do you think this victorious Sassanian Empire will deal with Mohammed? Will they try to make him a vassal or see him as a threat and go to war? Would we see hired Arab raiders in Roman North Africa?
 

Deleted member 97083

This can't really happened as the Sassanids don't have a navy. The Byzantine fleet resupplied the capital from Africa, allowing attrition to work it's magic.

The Avars tried to build a fleet but they had nothing but canoes, which are pitiful.
The Sassanids did have a navy which was able to conquer Rhodes. Additional investment could have easily led to a larger navy approaching the Romans in numbers. Although that probably couldn't make up for a lack of experienced captains.
 
Any thoughts on a particular PoD?
No, I was rather thinking at a more general (and vague) build-up from Sassanids.

Perhaps Heraclius dying in 623 in the Avar trap?
It could work, altough I'd think a PoD directly influing on Sassanid managment of the war would be more decisive, but that's a personal preference.

Also, how do you think this victorious Sassanian Empire will deal with Mohammed?
More or less butterfly it? After all, this Sassanid Empire will secure its clientelisation/provincialisation not only on eastern and southern Arabia ITTL, but possibly on Hejaz as well...

Would we see hired Arab raiders in Roman North Africa?
Well, you probably had Arab raids in Red Sea (south of Egypt) at some point before Muhammad. I don't think it would be much more significant short-term-wise ITTL, tough. Especially if Sassanids secure Egypt (and frankly, they will if they secure Anatolia). You'd have much more chances of Berber raids over Africa, and giving the period (you had a retractation of Berber entities in the VIIth), that's not even a given.
 

Deleted member 67076

The Sassanids did have a navy which was able to conquer Rhodes. Additional investment could have easily led to a larger navy approaching the Romans in numbers. Although that probably couldn't make up for a lack of experienced captains.
Well this is like saying the French Navy could beat the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars if they had more ships. It takes more than just the amount of ships to turn the tide.
 

Deleted member 97083

Well this is like saying the French Navy could beat the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars if they had more ships. It takes more than just the amount of ships to turn the tide.
Yeah, it also takes experienced captains, as I said. But naval officers were far less important in the age of oars than the age of sail and cannons.

Before cannons, but especially in the ancient era, naval battles were just infantry battles on boats. The ancient Greeks supplemented boarding actions and melee combat with formations and ship-to-ship ramming. But by Late Antiquity, this tactic had fallen out of favor. Many classic era contraptions and ship-capable siege engines were also forgotten or fell out of use. There's also not much room on boats for formations and order of battle.

Additionally in the age of oars, ships were manned mostly by galley slaves who died frequently, rather than free sailors who might survive years at sea and participate in multiple actions, so there was limited meritocracy.

Ancient naval combat was mostly a numbers game. Not entirely, but mostly.
 
But naval officers were far less important in the age of oars than the age of sail and cannons.
Dromons were usually not mostly oar-propelled, but rather served as floating castles of sort, from where the ennemy was attacked by archers or javelineers, rather than infantry battles : when oars where used, it was a bit more for tactical placement, as the lanteen sail allowed a more efficient naval trailing.

Don't get me wrong : you had infantry battle, would it be only because rearing ships was no longer a thing in the VIth century. But it was more a case of boarding prepared by earlier actions, which itself requires different tactics and equipment.

So, it did required skilled and tactically decisive capitains (the Battle of the Mastes was basically lost to an absence of fighting formation from the Roman side), but it's not as relevant that it might be : the standard naval strategy in the early Middle-Ages was to avoid as much as possible large naval battles, and to use navies for moving or raiding unless you were forced to (stretegically or tactically) or you had a significant tactical advantage.

Roman fleet, being well funded, well trained, well build (semi-manufactured ship building) and outnumbering everyone in sight would still have the upper hand on Mediterranean, except for a long and lucky Sassanid naval development, meaning Sassanid navy ITTL stuck with raiding and short-range transnaval campaigns for a while.
 
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No, I was rather thinking at a more general (and vague) build-up from Sassanids.


It could work, altough I'd think a PoD directly influing on Sassanid managment of the war would be more decisive, but that's a personal preference.


More or less butterfly it? After all, this Sassanid Empire will secure its clientelisation/provincialisation not only on eastern and southern Arabia ITTL, but possibly on Hejaz as well...


Well, you probably had Arab raids in Red Sea (south of Egypt) at some point before Muhammad. I don't think it would be much more significant short-term-wise ITTL, tough. Especially if Sassanids secure Egypt (and frankly, they will if they secure Anatolia). You'd have much more chances of Berber raids over Africa, and giving the period (you had a retractation of Berber entities in the VIIth), that's not even a given.

I'm not sure how to make Khosrau II more effective without crippling the Romans. He was experiencing unprecedented success until the Roman counterattack...what could he plausibly do better?

Hmm...I wonder why the Sassanids didn't fully conquer Anatolia. After all, it took Heraclius time and resources to train up a whole new army. Why leave Heraclius enough room to counterattack?

I suppose it depends on the PoD but if we assume say, 623, then Muhammad has experienced his revelations and is trying to spread "Islam". How does Sassanian hegemony over Arabia effect him?

I was thinking that the Sassanids would be hiring the Arabs and allowing them passage through Egypt. After all, it would be difficult for an already unwieldy land-based empire like the Sassanian to hit Roman North Africa with their regular army no?. There are already a bunch of Arab raiders hungry for loot and plunder throughout Arabia. Why not give them something to do? The realignment of traditional trade routes after the Sassanian conquests must have caused a lot of dislocation among Arabian communities...

Have you read Decline and Fall of the Sassanian Empire? I've thought about this PoD before and found it a great help.
 
I'm not sure how to make Khosrau II more effective without crippling the Romans. He was experiencing unprecedented success until the Roman counterattack...what could he plausibly do better?
I don't really know, to be honest.

Hmm...I wonder why the Sassanids didn't fully conquer Anatolia. After all, it took Heraclius time and resources to train up a whole new army. Why leave Heraclius enough room to counterattack?
The parts of Anatolia that Sassanids didn't managed to secure were regions more accessible to byzantine navy, tough : Black Sea shores, Aegean shores and southern Anatolia (roughly the same areas held by Constantinople between the XIth and the XIIIth. It was probably doable, but maybe less easy or interesting.

I suppose it depends on the PoD but if we assume say, 623, then Muhammad has experienced his revelations and is trying to spread "Islam". How does Sassanian hegemony over Arabia effect him?
More resources given away to clientelized tribes would mean a safer hold on the region, to not say that a powerful Persia would be more watchful of the situation and more prone to intervene directly.

After all, it would be difficult for an already unwieldy land-based empire like the Sassanian to hit Roman North Africa with their regular army no?
Think of much harder it would be for Arab raiders to really be able to take on Egypt. Not to mention how easily funding raiders can backfire when part of Persia revenues came importantly from taxation on trade and local production. It would do more than its job to provoke some secondary effects clearly nuisible to Sassanids, and more importantly they will know that (hence why they didn't that hesitated dealing harshly with Lakhmids)

There are already a bunch of Arab raiders hungry for loot and plunder throughout Arabia. Why not give them something to do?
Wouldn't they rather be integrated within the Sassanid army? The lack of manpower that concerned Romania touched as well Persia, and it led to a certain "barbarisation" of persian armies IOTL. Especially with a political/military principle that wanted that the King would distribue wealth to soldiers rather than pay them : independent raiders would be really a mark of non-subservience to the shah on that matter.

The realignment of traditional trade routes after the Sassanian conquests must have caused a lot of dislocation among Arabian communities...
Actually, Sassanids were pretty much about keeping the traditional trade routes that they were sitting on, because it greatly increased their geopolitical power. I doubt a Sassanian victory would be that disruptive for what matter Near-East (OTOH, it will be disruptive in western Mediterranean basin, but probably not worse than IOTL)
And a Sassanid Empire that was always more focused on Arabia that Romania was, would have a stronger stabilizing effect, IMO.

Have you read Decline and Fall of the Sassanian Empire? I've thought about this PoD before and found it a great help.
Read and own. It's quite a good source, I agree (even if how it's written is sometimes confusing).
I also quite like Sasanian Persia : Rise and Fall of an empire by Turaj Daryaee, even if he doesn't fully integrates Pourshariati thesis.
 
I don't really know, to be honest.


The parts of Anatolia that Sassanids didn't managed to secure were regions more accessible to byzantine navy, tough : Black Sea shores, Aegean shores and southern Anatolia (roughly the same areas held by Constantinople between the XIth and the XIIIth. It was probably doable, but maybe less easy or interesting.


More resources given away to clientelized tribes would mean a safer hold on the region, to not say that a powerful Persia would be more watchful of the situation and more prone to intervene directly.


Think of much harder it would be for Arab raiders to really be able to take on Egypt. Not to mention how easily funding raiders can backfire when part of Persia revenues came importantly from taxation on trade and local production. It would do more than its job to provoke some secondary effects clearly nuisible to Sassanids, and more importantly they will know that (hence why they didn't that hesitated dealing harshly with Lakhmids)


Wouldn't they rather be integrated within the Sassanid army? The lack of manpower that concerned Romania touched as well Persia, and it led to a certain "barbarisation" of persian armies IOTL. Especially with a political/military principle that wanted that the King would distribue wealth to soldiers rather than pay them : independent raiders would be really a mark of non-subservience to the shah on that matter.

Yes, what you're saying makes sense. Would the "barbarisation" of Persian armies come to be as big a problem for the Persians as it was for the WRE or was the Persian system for integration safer?

Actually, Sassanids were pretty much about keeping the traditional trade routes that they were sitting on, because it greatly increased their geopolitical power. I doubt a Sassanian victory would be that disruptive for what matter Near-East (OTOH, it will be disruptive in western Mediterranean basin, but probably not worse than IOTL)
And a Sassanid Empire that was always more focused on Arabia that Romania was, would have a stronger stabilizing effect, IMO.

But was the war itself not disruptive? I would think that the turmoil caused by such a long war would have stopped merchants from trading:

Accustomed to open trade with Roman Syria (perhaps as leather merchants) and easy access to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean trade, the Arabs of the Ḥijāz were now bound by a Sasanian hegemony that stifled their ability to act.2 The Sasanians even controlled Najrān, close to the border between Ḥimyarite Yemen and the Ḥijāz, which was the main point of contact for the people of Mecca and Yathrib (later Medina) with the resources of Ḥimyarite Yemen. With the Kingdom of Ḥimyar gone and the Syrian trade interrupted by the Sasanian-Byzantine wars, the sources of the relative prosperity of the Bedouin and their trade city of Mecca vanished. The Sasanians, following their control of Jidda and interruption of Byzantine-Axumite contacts, even tried to impose a ruler on Mecca, although this was unsuccessful.3 It is no surprise that the first foreign relations overture of the new community of Muslims as it sought allies was with the Axumite king, the Negus (Ar. Najjāshī).
http://www.mizanproject.org/the-arab-conquests-and-sasanian-iran-part-2/#_ftn2


Read and own. It's quite a good source, I agree (even if how it's written is sometimes confusing).
I also quite like Sasanian Persia : Rise and Fall of an empire by Turaj Daryaee, even if he doesn't fully integrates Pourshariati thesis.

Thank you for that book recommendation! It's quite good :D. I've read most of it now and one part reminded me of a question I had:

By the late sixth century the issue of the conversion of Sasanian nobility to Christianity and the amount of hagiographies and martyrologies suggest that the Christians had penetrated the core of Zoroastrian society. More importantly the evidence that Yazdgerd III and his son Piruz commissioned the building of Christian Churches in China suggests the tide of conversion among the royal family.8

As I recall, Khusrow II had a Christian wife and chief minister and made overtures to the Christians in his empire. Do you think that Christianity would eventually replace Zoroastrianism as the official religion? Or would their be some kind of reform in order to make Zoroastrianism more competitive?

I've read that the idea of a strictly orthodox and powerful priestly hierarchy in Sassanid Iran is not completely correct. This is taken to explain why Christianity was allowed to penetrate so far into the Sassanian noble families. Thoughts?
 
Yes, what you're saying makes sense. Would the "barbarisation" of Persian armies come to be as big a problem for the Persians as it was for the WRE or was the Persian system for integration safer?
I think you might be better placed, to be frank, to answer this : you seems to know at least as much as I do on Sassanian Persia, probably more.

But, there's my two cents : I think that middle and long term, it's going to be an issue for what matter Arabs, less trough immediate disorders (altough it's pretty much an option, especially in Syria IMO) then because you risk seeing Arab autonomous entities like Lakhmids were (which didn't please the shahs) and ready to have their own interests and policies would an important crisis arise in Persia.

And Turks are still going to be an issue eventually : here's hoping Persia could avoid its IOTL fate and looks more like China's if not avoiding it as well.
But was the war itself not disruptive? I would think that the turmoil caused by such a long war would have stopped merchants from trading:
It was disruptive, but it could turn back to some sort of "normality" eventually critically when the entierty of the trade road falls into a same continuum. I think that a Sassanian victory in itself wouldn't be that disruptive that it would break Arabian trade roads instead of reviving them along a new geopolitical background : not at the point weakened tribes under closer scrutiny could act entierly their own IMO

As I recall, Khusrow II had a Christian wife and chief minister and made overtures to the Christians in his empire. Do you think that Christianity would eventually replace Zoroastrianism as the official religion? Or would their be some kind of reform in order to make Zoroastrianism more competitive?
It depends a lot of what inner policies are implemented. From one hand, the conquest of almost entierly Christianized territories (Syria, Egypt, possibly Anatolia) is bound to limit anti-Christian policies and to turn Sassanian Persia even more open to Christiendom : apart from Jews, there's no much other big religious minority to deal in the region that could help divide and rule.
On the other hand, it could be seen as an institutional threat from Zoroastrian institutions...

I could see some sort of syncretic attempt being attempted by Sassanians eventually (with no guarantee about its efficience, tough), but a complete religious change? I could rather see this from a dynastical change, but as long Sassanians are involved I'm not too sure.

I've read that the idea of a strictly orthodox and powerful priestly hierarchy in Sassanid Iran is not completely correct. This is taken to explain why Christianity was allowed to penetrate so far into the Sassanian noble families. Thoughts?
I think it's due as well to the quasi-vassalic system of Persian dynasties : the religious background is bound, at some point, to reflect the political background. One could do a cautious comparison with how Christianity managed to "infiltrate" Japanese nobility in the XVIth with the caveat Persians had to deal with various Christian churches.
 
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