Return of the Romans: Epilogue

That went terribly. On the forums, I had been ahead on my playing and writing, and was doling out posts (ah, the days when I had a buffer of posts). So I was able to promptly start a new series. The same shall happen here.

Again, during the CK2 era, I will be roleplaying the rulers. The overarching goal is to restore the Empire (including pushing it to its largest historical borders), but specific progress will be bound by the ruler’s personality. Mending the great schism will also depend on the personalities of any emperors with opportunity to do so. There will be favoritism towards greek rulers. That one’s mostly some long-term meta-gaming, though it seems reasonable enough to me that an emperor would deal better with subordinates who shared a primary language.

Recommendations on my play style or my writing style are welcome.

Return of the Romans 9

This was Duchess Elaiodora of Thrace. She had inherited the duchy from her sister, who had been executed after a failed attempt to work her way back up to the Imperial title via murder.

Being craven and just, Elaiodora was unlikely to pursue rulership of the Empire. Instead, she built up her holdings, birthed children, sent the cataphracts to assist with several minor wars, and in general had a boring reign.

Sure, the nobles continued to scheme (Elaiodora’s aunt Zoe successfully claiming the imperial title), but none of it affected Elaiodora personally.

Until October of 1110, when the Fatimids invaded Greece. Their forces were overwhelming, and in May of 1113, Elaidora found herself reduced to being a Countess under the ruler of a heathen.

The heart had been cut from the Empire. And the heir to the empire was a Dane.

The Romans had failed to return.

Return of the Romans 8

Duchess Athanasia had had her empire stolen from her. She had spent half of her life in her uncle’s dungeon. And she was scheming to come back on top. She considered her resources. She had money, but her uncle refused to ransom her.

She was young and available. The ‘living in the dungeon’ was a turn-off, though.

She had a younger sister of the dynasty who could take over if need be. A homosexual dwarf of a sister.

What she wouldn’t have given for a holocaust cloak. Her four holdings and 2500 cataphracts would have to suffice.

She continued improving her holdings. The Crusade for Jerusalem failed. When Princess Eliadora, Athanasia’s sister, came of age, she was married to the son of a duke. Heirs and allies came before her preferences.

Athanasia’s regent was murdered as an innocent victims of other plots, and when she appointed a replacement spymaster, as idea occured to her. She began to save. Not long after, a league of Emirs declared independence from the Seljuks. Emperor Andronikos immediately declared war. Athanasia, loyal vassal, sent the cataphracts to join in.

Apparently, while ‘living in the dungeon’ means a woman is unsuitable to marry, other kinds of visits are acceptable.

The war was won, with no advantage for Athanasia. But another was against Slavonia was quickly declared. She sent the cataphracts west.

Soon, she had saved plenty, and sent her spymaster to ensure the death of Emperor Andronikos eldest daughter. The men sent failed, and the plot was revealed.

And in her 20th year Athanasia was executed, not having seen the outdoors since the age of eight.

Return of the Romans 7

This was Athanasia I of the East Roman Empire. Her father died in 1080, when she was one, leaving her in charge of the Empire. Well, sort of.

This was Mayor Chrysanthos of Verissa, her regent. He was not of a noble house, but rose to his position via diplomacy and intrigue. And perhaps other means, as suggested by his syphilis.

It was a blissfully unexciting time in the Empire. The Empress’ retinue was grown to 2500 cataphracts. Many peoples were converted from heresy to Orthodoxy. Nobles schemed. The regent began a series of projects to improve the Empress’ holdings. And sent himself the occasional ‘gift’ from the treasury. To make Verissa a city most useful to the Empress, of course. And in his kindness, many prisoners were finally ransomed or released.

Until 1084, when a group of Nobles insisted that Andronikos Doukas, Athanasia’s uncle, should be the rightful emperor, and demanded that Athanasia step down. Chrysanthos could not allow this to be done to his Empress. After all, she was apparently a lover of the cities. Just look at her willingness to pay Chrysanthos to improve Verissa. No, this would not stand. He refused their demands on her behalf.

Unsurprisingly, this led to yet another civil war. It started mild, or as mild as civil wars get. But noble after noble agreed to join with the rebels, and soon the situation was dire. Even the Varangian guard turned.

On 16 December 1086, Empress Athanasia was forced to give up the crown, and was thereafter only the Duchess of Thrace.

Regent Chrysanthos resumed the improvements to the Empress’ holdings. And his own. The cataphracts returned to Constantinople. On occasion nobles schemed against Duchess Athanasia. The pope called for a crusade against Jerusalem. A faction seeking to install Athanasia’s other uncle as Emperor revolted. Finally, on Novemember 1, 1094, Athanasios reached the age of majority.

But she was still locked in her uncle’s dungeon. She couldn’t do much of anything from there. Not even get married. But she was a noble. She began to scheme.

Return of the Romans 6

During the Fatimid war, Konstanios III had been gathering people around an idea: his taking the county of Kaliopolis for himself. The war complete, he enacted his plan.

Count Theodoros did not like the idea of surrendering his title, so yet another war began. The army was still gathered, so they were loaded on ships and sent to Kaliopolis. The county was conquered easily, and the armies moved on to finally help with the was against the Pechenegs.

With Roman assistance, Galich quickly forced a white peace. The army was sent north to help with the Polish war.

In less than a year, the Poles had agreed to a peace.

With the Empire now at peace, Konstantios had leave to consider what needs were most pressing. Two stood out: his weakened authority, and his lack of military might. Though his regent had been the one to bring about the lack of authority, it had happened during his rule, and nothing could be done to change the situation. He contented himself with his father’s project: raising taxes on the cities.

And he began recruiting a personal retinue of soldiers.

But before he could do much to improve the Empire, he died of an illness, leaving his daughter Athanasia, all of one year old, to take the reins of the Empire.

Return of the Romans 5

On January 1, 1076, Konstantios III of the East Roman Empire reached the age of majority.

The regency had been disastrous. The regent embezzled money, and there were two large rebellions. One succeeded, leaving the position of Emperor much weakened. The other was put down at the last moment. And while these rebellions raged, the Fatimids had invaded. Several of their coastal holdings were captured, and much of the territory they had conquered was reclaimed. But then a terrible battle saw the Roman army smashed. The regent had disbanded what remained of the army to allow the levies a chance to recover.

At several points throughout the war, a fair assessment would have said the Romans were ahead, but the Fatimids had not been ready for peace. It was clear to Konstantios: there could be no peace while their army remained. Fortunately, Konstantios was patient. He would let the armies recover and then strike to destroy the Fatimid armies. Lost land could be recovered later.

So this was Emperor Konstantios III. Gregarious, patient, temperate, and a master of money like Midas himself. Though he was also deceitful and slothful. Would he be able to stabilize the Empire?

While he waited for the armies to recover, he found a suitable wife and quickly married. Yevpraxia was the daughter of the Grand Duke of Galich. The match was politically wise, and there was hope her diplomatic abilites would cover for Konstanios’ weaknesses.

Her father was at war with both Poland and the Pechenegs. In exchange for Konstantios declaring war on them, he declared war on the Fatimids. The match seemed ordained by God, the couple swiftly falling in love. In June, the armies were raised again.

The armies gathered in Trapezous, and the best commanders in the Empire were placed in charge.

The Fatimid army was again ill-equipped for the mountains, so the Roman army waited for it to weaken through the winter. It used the opportunity to reclaim the county of Karin, and its mere preparations to march were enough to convince the Fatimids to not move into any new territory. By the following June, a somewhat-recovered Varangian guard had rejoined the army, and the attack was ordered. After a month-long battle at Mayafaraqin, the Fatamids were forced into a retreat.

They were caught again at Haykaberd and again defeated.

At the second battle of Mayafaraqin, the Fatimid forces were completed destroyed. The army began reclaiming lost territory. The Fatimids were soon prepared to surrender. On the 19th of April, 1078, the Fatimids surrendered, paying reparations to the Emperor.

Return of the Romans 4

Konstantios had surrendered to a civil war, weakening his powers as emperor. But he still faced a rebellion from two eastern dukes who sought independence, and the Fatimids had declared an invasion of Armenia.

Kyrillios, the regent for 12-year-old Konstantios, decided on a risky strategy. He sent the armies home, then waited while the various holding replenished their levies. In March, one aspect of his plan succeeded, as a Mameluk army attacked and defeated one of the rebel armies. And then in June, when the rebellion had all but succeeded, he reraised the armies.

Several smaller warbands that had been wandering about the empire were promptly defeated. The levies were loaded onto ships and sent to Teluch.

The armies easily reclaimed the province, but as they did so, scouts warned of an approaching Fatimid army. Pinned between two armies, the Roman forces again boarded their ships, then landed in Antioch, the center of the rebellion.

While the heart of the rebellion was captured, the Fatimid forces combined to defeat another of the rebel forces. Their combined numbers were more than the land could support, and the armies weakened with time. The eastern rebellion was quickly convinced to a peace; the leader, Duke Isaakios of Armenia, being jailed.

The armies were sent to the western edge of the Fatimid territory, where they might quickly seize territory without fear of opposing armies. The armies of the former rebels were sent to reclaim territory conquered by the Fatimids, a risky job to do near the invading army.

One of Konstantios’ sisters had married the Kind of England. The King asked Konstantios for his support in a war against the Duke of Flanders. Kyrillios agreed, not planning to send any troops, but hoping he might shame the King into supporting the Roman defense. Unfortunately, the King of England was not so easily swayed. The army sent to recapture land was forced to flee to their ships, but the main army was succeeding in it’s goal of capturing poorly-defended Fatimid holdings. By December of 1074, any such holdings along the cast had been captured. The armies were combined, and Kyrillios hired the Varangian Guard to bolster their ranks. The combined armies freed several captured counties, and then attacked a second Fatimid army in the mountains. Records are unclear as to what happened. The Roman army was clearly larger than the Fatimid one, there are no records of a commander of the Fatimid army, and the Roman army was led by several greatly skilled commanders. And yet the Roman army was completely defeated, three quarters of the men killed, injured, or scattered. It seemed an irrecoverable disaster.

Return of the Romans 3

Regent Kyrillos had taken advantage of the peace to begin building projects in the city of Heiron, his personal holding. Projects funded by Konstantios’ treasury.

Konstantios was aware of the embezzling, but was not able to do anything about it.

In the meanwhile, a faction had formed in the empire, seeking to diminish the power of the Emperor. Kyrilios was convinced this was a scheme to weaken his position, and so refused their demands, leading to a civil war.

The rebel armies were too large to be faced directly, so fleets were used to rapidly strike at underdefended rebel holdings, while the main rebel army marched around trying to force a battle.

Meanwhile, Kyrillos used his talents to try and strike at the head of the rebellion. Unfortunately, this took much money and several attempts. And though the leader of the rebellion was killed, it continued in his young son’s name.

In the midst of the war, the Dukes of Antioch and Armenia demanded independence. Their demand was denied, sparking a second civil war.

Anna, the eldest sister of Konstantios, was married off to the King of France. Sadly, the king was not willing to assist in the wars. While the armies focused on the first civil war, the dukes in the east slowly seized more and more territory for themselves. And when it looked like things could become no worse, the Fatimids mounted an invasion of Armenia.

When the leaders of the first rebellion demanded Konstantios’ surrender, he overruled his steward and took the opportunity for peace, even though it greatly weakened his authority.

Return of the Romans 2

This was Konstantios III.

Konstantios was the third son of Konstantinos X, but the first born after his father’s ascension. He was thus considered “born in the purple” (having been born within the Purple Chamber of the palace), and the court preferred him to his older brothers. Konstantios was but seven when he ascended.

Mayor Kyrillos of Hieron (a town near Constantiople), Konstantinos X’s spymaster, was set as regent. His first act was to send Konstantios back to his former guardian, Countess Anastasia of the county of Arta.

Regent Kyrillos was also not a great model of a man. Greedy, gluttonous, deceitful, paranoid, maimed, and weak, his celibacy was no doubt easy to maintain. But for all that, he was quite skilled in the arts of intrigue.

The loss of the former Emperor was enough to rally the army, and they again bested the Seljuk forces.

Kyrillos sent the army to reclaim territories captured by the Seljuks.

By the time this had been achieved, the Seljuk army had again crossed over the borders. The Roman army was sent to repel it again. If anything, this battle was more devastating to the Seljuks than any before. And yet they still were not willing to end the war.

The army chased the fleeing forces, and after routing them again, began to besiege Seljuk lands.

Conquering some of their holdings was enough to bring them to the negotiating table. But a greater victory might be had if they could be hurt more. More territory was seized, but the Seljuks were doing the same. And this time, their armies were not easily dislodged.

So the Romans accepted a white peace where they had once hoped for a greater victory.

Return of the Romans 1

This was Konstantinos X of the East Roman Empire.

He was not what you might consider a skilled ruler. Clubfooted, arbitrary, gluttonous, and lustful, his only redeeming trait was his bravery. By 1066, he had succeeded in both crippling the military and losing southern Italy to Norman invaders. Then in late 1066, Arp Aslan of the Seljuks invaded. Things were at a crisis.

Konstantinos set his ministers to work: researching improved military and economic techniques in the capital, converting heretics back to orthodoxy, defending against plots among the nobles, and attempting to stir up dissent within the Seljuk Empire. Recognizing his personal and positional weakness, he set himself a goal of simply saving money, while gathering a conspiracy to place the county of Kaliopolis under his direct control. He set to reform the taxation laws for cities so that he might pay for an army. And then he raised what levies he could and marched to war.

He raised 16,000 men, barely more than the Seljuk army just over the border. The men mustered at Tzimisca, across the border from the city of Manzikert. While the armies gathered, some of the nobles began to speak of gaining independence from the emperor, though the idea was not popular. During this time, the Seljuks besieged and overran a few territories, then sought to attack the still-mustering Roman army. Slowed and weakened by their sieges and by the onset of winter, they arrived just a little too late.

The Seljuk armies were roundly defeated.

The Seljuk army was followed, not to be allowed to recover. But the Seljuks had gathered another force. On the third of July, Anno Domini 1067, Konstantinos X fell in battle against the combined Seljuk armies.

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