The Empire declared war on Toledo as soon as their truce ended. A few other nations came to their defense. Notably, León did. But it was no enough to save Toledo, which was annexed. The same nobles that gained appointments in newly Imperial Toledo insisted that the region of León be brought under Imperial control.
Many of the families that had not been pushing for new Imperial appointments for their sons began to recognize that by not becoming agents of the Empress, their power had been curtailed, and that this trend was likely to continue. They privately wondered if the more major appointments that many of them held might eventually cease to be hereditary. They began asserting their local powers again, resisting the work of the lesser agents (who answered directly to the Imperial government). But some money flowing through the hands of Zoe’s more covert agents uncovered enough embarrassing secrets that these families were brought in line.
Not surprisingly, Zoe promptly declared war on Badajoz. What was surprising was that León came to their defense. It was not much of a defense, and León was forced to both give up their claims to rule much of Iberia and to release Beja and Castillo Branco as sovereign states.
The nobles of the Empire looked north again, to Northumberland.
But Zoe delayed any action. Her reputation was bad from the Iberian wars, and not getting any better thanks to the Greek nobles’ work to supplant locals in Britannia. However, Bavaria soon made a legal case that since the Empire had not sought to force their claim to rule several provinces, that the Empire had in fact abandoned that claim. It was nonsense, of course, but the kind of nonsense that would make ruling those provinces later troublesome. And in the immediate, Zoe suffered a tremendous loss of prestige. She needed something to restore the people’s faith in her, and only a victorious war could suffice in the near-term.
And then the nobles complained about commoners being giving military commissions. Zoe needed the legions strong, so she refused to forbid the occasional practice of meritorious promotions, and the nobles again worked to resist her rule. Other nobles took to fighting amongst themselves. Fortunately, a gift from the state was able to buy peace between them. The discovery that Imperial agents were taking inordinate bribes didn’t help the stability of the Empire, either.
When Zoe restricted the privileges of the nobles yet further, Bartholomaios Melisurgos, an insane noble who claimed to be the rightful Emperor rebelled in Suakin. His insanity was demonstrated by the fact that he rebelled in a province where XVII. Legio was garrisoned.
With the acquisition of Northumbria, Zoe listened to request from her nobles again. After all, nobles who felt they had a say in the government were not so inclined to revolt. A faction of Iberian nobles claimed a navigator in their employ had proved there was a western route to India. As this would benefit the western Empire if discovered, Zoe agreed to send an explorer at the first opportunity.
The wars for Helvetia had been won, and the Timurid lands were quickly being pacified. Konstantios finally felt he could lay down his crown. He died in his sleep, 103 years old. The succession passed to his nine year old niece, Zoe. While the court scrambled to put together a regency council, a distant cousin in Rouergue proclaimed himself the rightful Emperor. He even raised 4,000 troops for his rebellion, which was swiftly put down.
A female Empress, while not unprecedented, was seen as uncommon. The legitimacy of Zoe’s rule was questioned by many. Manuel Rhagabe was brought on to the council of regents to address this issue. He began marrying less members of the Doukas family to other royal families to ensure their would be another heir. He spread rumors and tales of Zoe’s life. Not all of them were true. Perhaps not even many of them were true. But the result was a steadily growing acceptance of the new Empress.
Meanwhile, Philemon Melissinos took advantage of his greatly increased authority. He had seen that waves of noble horsemen could not forever win on the battlefields of Europe, and so he began the greatest reforms of the military since Gaius Marius.
Thirdly, he began a massive recruitment of infantry to add to the all-cavalry armies.
Once this was complete, he retired from the regency council, dieing shortly thereafter.
In late 1455, Zoe began ruling the Empire herself. She was skillful enough as a ruler, but was not exceptional in her abilities. She continued sending loyal nobles to begin administrating Timurid lands.
And when her cousin Michael was born, she took such a liking to him that she named him heir, even though he was from a distant branch of the family. Her habit of taking him to meetings of various dignitaries would have been normal, advisable even (how else would a future ruler learn? she would always insist), if not for the fact that he was still an infant. Her more trusted advisers were able to convince her to wait until he was older, but not before there had been some diplomatic incidents.
In July of 1467, all of the Timurid lands had been placed under Imperial control. But they were underdeveloped, suffered from near-constant rebellion, and bordered Muslim nations to the East. While the Empire’s view on Islam now seems xenophobic and strange, at the time it was a very real issue. The most successful invasions of the Empire had been by Muslim empires. To blame it on the religion is now properly recognized as foolish, but in the 15th century, religion was one of the main sources of decision making in the Empire. The Persian question was thus very real. So Zoe elevated a priest in the Has Monastery* to rulership over the province of Azerbaijan. While Metropolitan Ibn’La-Ahad was not allowed an independent foreign policy, he was given full control to rule in Azerbaijan. And as rapidly as she could, Zoe began giving him more provinces in the Persian region.
Meanwhile, noble families were frustrated in their efforts to find more Imperial appointments for their sons. Some used trickery and guile to replace every non-Greek official that they could in Britannia.
Others clamored for Zoe to reclaim the Castillian region for the Empire.
And the Toledo decision to attack Leon, while a distraction that sped the war against them, proved to be their saving grace against immediate annexation.
The increasing stability of Persia allowed trade to flow along the old silk road. Imperial citizens developed cravings for spices. The merchants of the Empire pushed for a sea route to India to be discovered.
But her (matrilinear) marriage with King Totse of Kiev eventually produced an heir of her own body, little baby Konstantinos.
* Actually the Hashshashin, but the localization glitched, and I only noticed it later.
By January 1433, Konstantios was ready for a campaign in the Alps. He began by declaring war on Upper Burgundy for Schwyz. The usual assortment joined in defense.
The Empire fought in Wales, in the Netherlands, in Smolensk, and in the Alps. Denmark’s alpine provinces were captured, and Konstantios took advantage of the opportunity to take control of the ones in Helvetia.
As other belligerents fell, the Swiss in Zurich revolted from Austria, forming an independent duchy. Konstantios was pleased to have an easier war ahead.
In March of 1436, the fortress of Schwyz fell after a long and bitter three year siege. Upper Burgundy had long been clamoring for peace, and now it was given them.
With nothing more to fight for in this war, Konstantios made peace with Smolensk, in such a way that the Pope would be further weakened.
By October, he was again prepared for war.
The constant wars had not allowed Konstantios to focus on ruling the Empire. The aristocrats took advantage of the opportunity to ensure that family influence was important for securing a position in the growing Imperial Bureaucracy.
The war was initially fought in northern Italy and in Croatia. But the Themas swept away all attackers. Bavaria inexplicably offered a white peace before they saw much action. Denmark soon followed suit. And while Hungary did not offer a peace, they accepted one.
In August, Konstantios finally held a coming of age party for his son. The party was the talk of Christendom, all other courts emulating the clothing, the dances, the foods in the feast.
During the party, Konstantios declared that he would give Moravia a gentle peace. Surely they did not consider it gentle, but they remained independent. Of course, it was not Konstantios being magnanimous, but him recognizing that his reputation was becoming quite dark. Annexing Moravia was sure to stir up too much trouble.
Schwyz was not so fortunate. It was a vassal of Bavaria, and Konstantios knew it would be a great deal of trouble to start a new war with a better casus belli.
In February 1438, Bern fell to Thema Lombardia, and Nürnburg was annexed.
Konstantios forced a few minor states to convert to orthodox Christianity before he accepted a peace from Greater Poland. The war was finished.
In 1440, there had been enough graduates from Imperial universities that Konstantios could start establishing secular courthouses throughout the Empire. Control of legal matters could be slowly wrested away from the church and local nobles.
While Konstantios prepared for the next war, Prince Konstantios went hunting. Though he was an expert horseman, he was found beside his horse, his neck broken. Again, the heir to the Empire had died before his time.
Konstantios suffered a deep grief at the loss of a third son. When he recovered, he was a much more cynical man, brimming with anger. He took this anger out on Tirol.
When St Gallen fell, Tirol was quick to surrender. But knowing there was a long truce with Moravia, Konstantios purposefully drug out the war, so to force many lesser states to stop worshiping the Pope.
While Konstantios took out his rage on those who would dare defend Tirol, his brother was able to convince the court to name a niece as heir. This was not ideal, but did ensure a Doukas would remain on the throne.
When the truce with Moravia was passed, Konstantios again attacked. Moravia was soon overcome, though the nations that came to its defense fought for much longer.
The brighter of the noble families saw the opportunity in becoming Imperial administrators. They pushed for the institution of Imperial administration in Timurid lands.
Meanwhile Konstantios felt that he had accomplished enough for one life. When he went to sleep, he never woke back up.
The Empire had won its war against Scotland. Lincoln was the only province in Mercia under any others’ control.
There was a peace treaty with England until 1423, so Konstantios focused on the East. The Timurids had attacked again, but were far weaker this time. Nearly all their northern territory was occupied; Sanaa and Qara Koyunlu had declared independence.
And large swathes of land were controlled by rebels seeking independence.
The Themas did their best to leave the rebels be. ‘The enemy of our enemy is our friend’ they would say. So they began to occupy northern Mesopotamia and western Persia. The villages of Qarabagh were soon settled with Imperial citizens, and the Empire began to administrate the province. More settlers sought homes in the hills of Azerbaijan. And once that was settled, in western Persia. Hamadan, Luristan, and Khuzestan soon were Imperial provinces.
A disease sweeping through the court killed the seven year old Konstantios. Again the Empire was bereft of an heir. In Shoa, a temple was built in his honor.
And soon, yet another Konstantios was born.
Qara Koyunlu could not resist attacking the Empire. They were swiftly overrun.
During this time, relationships grew warm between Ethiopia and the Empire. Chief Iyâsû even swore an oath of vassalage to Emperor Konstantios. Konstantios in turn sent advisers to Massawa to teach Iyâsû how better to govern. When Ethiopia had recovered from the changes, a second set of advisers was sent. And then a third. Ethiopia became the most rapidly-advancing nation south of the Sahara.
The time of truce between the Empire and England had long passed. Nearly all Timurid land was under Imperial military control, and the Themas had been moved back into position. Konstanios declared a new war against England. Scotland, Denmark, and a host of others joined the defense of England.
Shortly thereafter, Léon took advantage of the distracted Empire and declared war over Andalucía. Konstantios decided to pursue the war against England and its coalition first. But Léon had built a fleet of large ships, and prevented the Imperial fleets from leaving the Mediterranean. The fleets dropped off the Themas in Occitania, and the Themas marched to war.
By July of 1427, Denmark had realized there was nothing for them to gain from the war. Hungary, having just lost an ally, agreed to peace as well.
While the wars went surprisingly well, an ill-advised attack on Léonese forces led to an Imperial defeat. Thema Ægyptus and Thema Occitania were split from each other. The Léonese army pursued Thema Occitania, and before any help could come, massacred them all at Alicante.
And yet the wars continued. Konstantios used the continuing wars as an excuse to increase the power of his agents throughout the Empire. This led to some amount of confusion and uncertainty, and the agents proved their worth by quickly resolving this uncertainty.
It was not until February 1429 that Crimea surrendered. But that was two more Themas that could join the other wars.
Unfortunately, even the new Imperial fleet could not break past the Léonese ships by force.
Subterfuge, careful sailing at night, and a few naval races did see two more Themas delivered to Britannia.
The war in Iberia had long been won before a peace was signed. Konstantios was determined to punish all those who had attacked the Empire. Léon was forced to release Badajoz and Toledo as buffer states and their treasury was looted.
When the Empire made peace with England, not only was the last Mercian province finally taken from them, they were diplomatically isolated as much as possible.
Scotland was forced to give up much of their overseas territory, abandon any claims in Imperial Brittainia, and to be diplomatically isolated.
The nobles who had urged the conquest of Merica found many of their second sons made part of the Imperial bureaucracy in Mercia. Other nobles noted this, and urged the reconquest of Helvetia.
The Empire had a goal: to reclaim Mercia. The war with England had brought half of it into the imperial fold. Of the remaining three provinces, Scotland held two and England held one.
While the Themas reorganized in the wake of the victory over England, adventurous groups sought to reestablish a hold on the trade routes to central Africa. They left to form a settlement in Tuat.
After the war with the Empire, England was devastated. Its armies had been completely smashed, its fleets sunk, and the garrisons in it’s forts disheartened. Scotland had recognized the opportunity and declared war.
Emperor Konstantios IV, lacking the diplomatic skills to recognize that a Scottish victory that took Lincoln could save the Empire a war (and a full truce) in recovering Mercia, declared war on Scotland when the Themas were back in position in November 1413.
Gondar backed Scotland in the war. Thema Levant moved to punish them for this choice. Meanwhile Themas Ægyptus, Africa and Thrakes struck from imperial Mercia to besiege southern Scotland.
This plan was interrupted by the arrival of a Scottish army in Lancashire and a second Scottish army in Yorkshire.
When the first Scottish army attacked Thema Ægyptus in Marches, Thema Africa moved to support them. Thema Thrakes was forced to hold by themselves in Derby. The Themas won both battles, but were weakened enough that pursuing the retreating Scots would have been foolish.
Indeed, as soon as their retreat was completed, the Scottish armies sought battle again. Again the Themas won.
This time, they pursued the isolated Scottish force to Marches, where it was completely scattered.
When the other Scottish army put Oxfordshire to siege, the Themas went on the attack. There mere march of them convinced the Scottish army to siege London instead. So the Themas again sought to besiege southern Scotland. Themas Aragón, Andalucía, and Croatia joined the assault on south Scotland.
Scotland eventually signed a peace treaty with England so they could focus on the war with the Empire. They combined their forces into a host of 24,000 men and attacked Thema Africa in Marches. The other Themas sent detachments to help. The Themas won, but at incredible loss of life.
After a months of sieges, the Scottish again forced battle. Again the Themas won, again at great cost. This time, however, they pursued the disheartened Scottish forces. And in Oxfordshire, they scattered them beyond hope of recovery.
In the midst of the Scottish war, the Timurids again attacked Roman lands. The Themas that were not yet fighting moved to the Levant. More settlers soon began moving to Qarabagh.
Southern Scotland fully passed to Roman control, but the Scottish were not yet willing to surrender. The Themas began to besiege Ireland.
In due time, Gondar agreed to a harsh peace. Chief Iyâsû Solomonid of Ethiopia had developed a close relationship with the Empire. His brother had even married one of Konstantios’ daughters. Konstantios thought it best that Ethiopians be ruled by Ethiopians, as they had been for recorded history. So when Gondar gave up control of Shoa, Konstantios planned to gave it to Ethiopia.
With no more allies, Scotland was amenable to peace.
Konstantios had been faced with a dilemma: he could accept a Timurid surrender and prevent a certain devastating loss of soldiers, or he could keep fighting and resettle some strategic Timurid provinces, bringing them into the Imperial fold.
Konstantios knew he needed the support of the military to hold the Empire together. As well, a time of peace could be put to use strengthening the Empire, while the Timurids’ multitudinous wars would only cause them to weaken. On June 18, 1410, he accepted the surrender.
Meanwhile, the armies of the Empire were moved about, garrisoning the various regions. The most elite soldiers were sent to Constantinople, to join the more limited Scholai Palatinae. The other armies were renamed for the region they garrisoned.
During this peace, Heraklios Doukas, heir to the throne, decided to go hunting. The day passed and the dogs found no scent. As the sun was sinking in the west, they finally found a boar. In the deepening shadows, Heraklios missed the thrust with his boar spear, and before anyone could react, the boar had dealt him a fatal wound. That they killed the boar shortly thereafter was scant comfort.
Konstantios did not seem to react when he touched his son’s body and felt the chill of death. Whether it was fear of looking weak, the attempt to stay strong for the sake of the Empire, or something else that led him to not show his grief was unknown. The rumors were known: that he was cold, that he was uncaring, that he had preferred one of his other children to be his heir. He was not viewed quite the same thereafter.
Konstantios continued to build the cultural standing of Constantinople, recruiting artists from northern Italy. Their triptych honoring the life of Heraklios mollified the rumors surrounding his death a little.
Soon enough, England had reclaimed London. The three Themas moved to attack the Anglo-Saxon army. The two battles of Kent completely shattered the English Royal Army. Scouts had seen the English Third Army in Oxford, so the three Themas sought it out. It was crushed in the battles of Oxfordshire and Wessex. The three Themas began besieging the whole of England.
The Empire won the resulting battle, but Danish reinforcements prevented the pursuit that would have been preferred. When the Danish armies marched to the west, the Themas again moved to break the siege of Moravia.
In Krain, Austrian nationalists fought the Danish besiegers.
That was swiftly done, and they moved to drive back Danish excursions in Austria and Lombardia.
In addition to all the other changes, Konstantios instituted administrative reforms in the Imperial government. Officials would be appointed by their merits, and would have clearly delineated areas of responsibility. This would allow for better administration with less political infighting.
However, the initial crop of officials were all from territories directly controlled by Konstantios. This was not unnoticed by the other rulers.
Greagorios Monomakos raised 6000 men in revolt in the province of Judea, protesting this centralization of power. At the same time, the Timurids declared a new war.
While the various nobles visited Constantinople to take part in the reforms, Konstantios was able to identify many who had the potential to be masterful advisers. He hired three: Matthaios Iagaris, a skilled artist who would make the various public works more beautiful, thus improving the stability of the Empire; Philemon Melissinos, a military officer who would help spread the best practices all over the Empire; and Thomas Psellos, a former overseer of peasants, who could identify ways of increasing the taxes.
As the new agents of the Empire began their duties throughout the land, they were inclined to use old Greek names for the cities and territories. Over time, these names would become the ones used most frequently by the commoners.
With Konstantios taking a more direct role in trade, he put in place policies that gave advantages to Imperial traders in the Black Sea.
By October, the Scholai Palatinae had sufficiently reorganized from the military reforms. Two armies were dispatched to put down the Judean rebellion, while the rest moved into Timurid territory.
Meanwhile, Konstantios commissioned a tapestry to show the glory of the returned Empire. Many graduates of the University of Van were determined to take part in its creation. There were so many skilled graduates that Konstantios also commissioned an epic telling of the Empire’s past glory and a series of paintings.
By 1409, the rebels had been defeated and nearly the entire Timurid border was besieged. Only then did small Timurid forces begin to appear. The battle of Azerbaijan demonstrated the superiority of Roman Cataphracts to Timurid archers and cavalry swarms.
Throughout the year, there were numerous Roman victories in Azerbaijan and Murgan, and a Timurid army was beaten and pursued from Al Jawf to east of the Persian Gulf. More and more territory fell under Imperial control.
December of 1409 saw a Timurid push towards the center of the war front. Battles raged in Hamadan, Iraq-I-Arab, and Basra.
It was apparent that the Timurids would not easily give up. So Konstantios sent settlers to restore long-abandoned villages in Qarabagh and Shirvan, which had once been part of Imperial Armenia. Settlers were also sent to Alania. While not historically part of the Empire, the Caucasus Mountains made for a defensible border. More settlers were readied to travel to Murgan (the last Armenian province under Timurid control). They would travel as soon as the capital was under Imperial control.
1410 saw the Timurid attack succeed. But they considered it a Pyrrhic victory. Even as the Scholai Palatinae retreated, the Timurid armies withdrew to recover.
Meanwhile, the Empire had stabilized from Konstantios’ reforms. Konstantios had his agents seek out all local advances in military equipment, training, tactics, and logistics. These advances were shared all over.
They were sorely needed. While the armies in the south held, the armies near Armenia and Persia began losing more battles. That the Timurids never pressed the advantage was scant comfort. And then in May, there was a disaster. Imperial armies in Gilan grew confused as they routed, and fled deeper into Timurid territory. By the time they realized their mistake, there was no hope of turning back before they reached Ajam. And one of the withdrawing Timurid armies was likewise marching for Ajam.
Before they could arrive, the Timurids decided that they had had enough, and sent a messenger to concede defeat. Konstantios had to decide: accept the surrender and save his men? Or refuse the surrender and finish resettling the Timurid provinces.
This was Iberia circa 1400. The Mediterranean coast and most of the Pyrennes were controlled by the Empire, but the rest was controlled by Leon. At this time, there was a rebellion by nobles who felt King Bosón Jimena’s rule was too strict.
These were the British Isles. They were mostly ruled by Scotland and England, with a smattering of petty kingdoms ruled by members of the de Normandie family. Though England was ruled by Anglo-Saxons, it mostly ruled over Norwegians, remnants of the second Danelaw. Most of the Anglo-Saxons lived in the South and West, though many in the South-central regions now spoke a mongrel French/Saxon language.
This was the Holy Roman Empire, the last great refuge of Catholicism. Emperor Meinhard II Salian, King of Mazovia and Silesia, had been forced to take great concessions by the members of the HRE more powerful than he, which was nearly every ruler. The Golden Bull of 1408 greatly changed the nature of the HRE. The rulers of the HRE who answered directly to the Emperor would be kings and queens in their own right. The five most prestigious (Tirol, Galich, Karelia, Volhynia, and Korsun) would be permanent electors of future Emperors. Where the Empire’s reforms were a centralization of power in Constantinople, the HRE’s reforms were a decentralization of power to it’s outermost edges.
This was the remnants of the Golden Horde. They had once ruled from the Urals to Iceland, and even briefly to the Horn of Africa. But the Timurid invasion provoked a series of rebellions, and the steppe Empire had fractured. Only time would tell if they could reassemble themselves.
This was Abyssinia. Long an independent kingdom, it had been conquered by Muslim powers, who were themselves conquered by the Il-Khanate. After the Il-Khanate’s inheritance by the Golden Horde, the Timurid invasion isolated the region, which broke into several minor kingdoms. At the turn of the 15th century, Gondar and Adal dominated the region.
These were the Timurids. Unlike the other Mongol hordes, they had yet to convert to Christianity and settle. They had conquered much of the Central Asian region once ruled by the Il-Khanate. The Orthodox Christians of the land groaned under the oppression of their Shiite rulers, and many had converted to Islam in the false hope of relief.
And this was central Africa. Though there had once been trade between them and the north, but the routes had been lost. There were rumors of an Imperial expedition, and of a great Christian nation in Timbuktu, but the deserts were silent.
Thus was the known world in Anno Dominae 1408.
This was Konstantios IV Doukas, Emperor of the Romans.
He would be known to future generations as the reformer. On his ascension to the throne, he summoned the various dukes, counts, barons, and other assorted nobles to Constantinople. He proposed to them a radical restructuring of the Empire. The various rulers under the Emperor would be more akin to the military governors of old. They would still rule their lands, but only the Emperor would reign. All diplomacy with other lands would be done by the Emperor, and only by the Emperor.
The governors would no longer supply levees to the Empire. Instead, they would ensure there were a sufficient number of recruits to the Scholai Palatinae from their territories. The more savvy of the nobles recognized that this was a perfect method of disposing of the more troublesome commoners in their lands.
As well, the governors would no longer pay a percentage of their income as taxes. Their lands and people would be taxed, and the governors would do the collecting, but they would not be directly taxed. Again, the savvy nobles recognized that this could mean greater profits for them.
Finally, agents of the Emperor were to be allowed access throughout the lands. These agents would be in charge of various projects to improve the infrastructure and such. Their initial projects would pacify the peoples and increase the stability of the realm.
The nobles were not entirely happy at these reforms. While their feudal burdens were eased, they did recognize the loss of privilege. While none were inclined to rebel, nearly all maintained the notion that they had the right to reign in their lands. But for now, the benefits of reform were worthwhile.
During the various visits to Constantinople, Konstantios inquired of the various governors what course the Empire should take. Despite the Timurid threat to the east, most of them were eager to see the former French King humiliated further. They suggested that Britain should again be Roman. Or at least Mercia should, for now.
Konstantios also assessed the institutions of the Empire. The church already preached loyalty, constables in the major cities kept crime down (and tax incomes high), the army and navy had armories and docks, and markets had been established everywhere. As well, there were major universities in many cities (Constantinople, Thessaloniki, Varna, Adrianople, Kozani, Sevilla, Córdoba, Amastris, Mus, Dayr Az Zor, Van, Alexandria, and Tripoli). Finally, there were textile manufactories in Nicaea and Cherson. Truly the Empire was wealthy.
The control over the Mediterranean meant an increase in trade. Konstantios began commissioning merchants to trade for the profit of the Empire.
There were various provinces that still swore by the Pope. Konstantios sent missionaries to lead them to the truth.
The ships donated by the different governors were sent to Constantinople to be organized into fleets. It turned out most of the donations were cogs, suitable only for transporting troops.
The Scholai Palatinae were moved about and shuffled into different units to avoid attrition in the east. They were split into provisional units of 11,000 horsemen, each in a different province. The armies in Constantinople were sent to the unwatched borders with the Timurids, except for 1000 men who would watch over the City of Man’s Desire.
Finally, Konstantios considered the ideas that would rule the Empire. He had the opportunity to adjust the nature of the government while all the governors visited.
And with his agents beginning to go throughout the land, there was the idea to instill an idea in the popular imagination.
In case that wasn’t entirely clear, I’m looking for advice on my sliders and first NI.