The Empire Strikes Back 18 – Losses

Makarios had just lost what should have been an easy war against Venice when the Cataphracts were met by a vastly larger HRE force and completely scattered.

While he started to rebuild a retinue, a faction demanded independence. Crushed in confidence, Makarios agreed. [I must have mis-clicked just before I saved for the night. Still, some adversity is good].

Bards and minstrels in the lands were soon singing songs of the danger of the Muslims to the East. When Makarios offered the dukes vassaldom, they readily agreed, not knowing that he was the source of these songs. But the King of Egypt did not agree to become a vassal again. Worse still, several counties outside of Egypt proper belonged to either he or his vassals.

Worse again, while Makarios rebuilt his forces, the overlooked duchy of Pisa was attached by the Germans and overrun. The duke’s holdings were reduced to the county of Siena, yet he still refused to again become a vassal.

Makarios foresaw that the Italian peninsula would become an eventual battleground between the Germans and the Empire. He realized he could not wait for his forces to be rebuilt before he claimed more of it.

But depression at his setbacks took their toll: Makarios died at the age of 43.

The Empire Strikes Back 17 – Ah, Venice!

Makarios I had fought off a major rebellion, punished the leaders, and fought two minor wars to finish the work of properly distributing the lands taken from the rebels. When all this was finished, he tried to rest, but found himself restless. Apparently he had learned to not be so slothful. So he sent the Cataphracts north, to actually assist allies in their wars.

For a few years, Makarios funded the replenishment of the Cataphracts from the spoils taken in his allies’ wars. But with his help, they were all won. Seeing that Croatia was fighting a civil war, he moved the Catapracts into position for an old Imperial pastime: taking lands from Catholics.

Sicily and Venice aided Makarios’ enemies in that first war, and so Venice was attacked next.

The so-called Holy Roman Empire rallied to the defense of the Catholics in Venice, surely to no avail.

However, in the midst of this war, the Duke of Jerusalem tried to fabricate a claim on the county of Hebron. When he was discovered, he fled arrest and started a war to resist.

The local dukes were called to put him down, and they did so handily.

However, the HRE was able to land a surprisingly large army on the island of Venice, utterly crushing the Cataphracts. Makarios saw no choice but to sign a white peace. [I am an idiot who doesn’t know when to retreat. Ugh!]

Makarios began building a new Imperial Army…

The Empire Strikes Back 16 – Castrato

Makarios I had defeated a major rebellion. Now he faced the question of what to do with the rebel leaders.

Makarios was not a forgiving man. No, he was prone to anger instead. He revoked over fifty titles from the rebels. The prisoners themselves were left to live out the rest of their days in the dungeons. Those who objected were thrown in the oubliette. As for the titles, in most cases, he distributed the lands to more loyal vassals. But much of the coast of Greece he kept for himself.

And in the east, there was a terrible choice: return control of Mesopotamia and Armenia to rebels, or give control to Armenians. He took a third option, conquering more of the de jure territory in the duchies, granting it to new rulers, and placing them in charge of the duchy.

Between campaigns, Makarios ordered the Duke of Pisa, leader of the rebellion, castrated. A few months later, he would die from these wounds.

The second campaign, for the remainder of the Duchy of Armenia, was sure to be much larger, as it was against the Aydin Sultanate, rulers of Persia.

But it was swiftly won, and again, the lands given to a new ruler, who was then set in charge of the duchy.

Being slothful, Makarios did nothing of note until 1183, when he began to feel restless enough to overcome his slothful nature.

The Empire Strikes Back 15 – The Great Rebellion

This was Makarios I of the Empire. He took the throne on 17 May 1177.

Slothful, proud, cruel, prone to outbursts of anger, and lacking the ability to steward his large demesne, he was not well-loved. He quickly distributed holding to his vassals, gave a Baltic province to the King of Sweden [via edit], and ended Konstantinos XII’s last war.

Before long, Komitas I of Pisa (previously King of Egypt, the same king that had sought independence from Konstantinos XII) declared that he should be Emperor. Makarios sent an angry reply to the contrary. Komitas I was again at war with the rest of the Empire. A great many vassals joined him.

Makarios raised the levies of the entire Empire. As they organized into armies, more and more vassals joined against him. Soon, most of the Empire was with the pretender to the throne.

The loyal forces eventually organized into three armies: the Grecian army, the Levantine army, and the Wallachian army. They sieged all nearby territories, seeking to weaken the opposition wherever they could.

The Greecian army found itself frequently beating back attempted sieges of Constantinople. Fortunately, the defenses had been greatly improved since the last time it was sieged, and this was an easy task.

However, a massive army soon marched in that direction. Markarios sent the greater part of the Grecian army (all that could fit on the available boats) on an attack towards the heart of the rebellion: Pisa.

The remaining imperial armies tried to retreat, but Were caught by the approaching armies and defeated.

The Grecian armies succeeded in conquering the duke’s lands, but his armies in turn conquered parts of Markarios’ holdings. The greater part of the Grecian Army sailed back (they had gained some recruits, and would no longer all fit on the boats that had brought them over).

They swiftly reclaimed Markarios’ lost holdings, and Komitas surrendered in 1179. The opposing rulers were all placed in Markarios’ dungeon, and he considered what he would do with them.

The Empire Strikes Back 14 – The Childless

This was Konstantinos XII of the Empire. He ascended to the throne in 1163.

His reign was known mostly for the attempted breakaway of the Kingdom of Egypt. He won that war handily.

He also fought a few minor wars in Croatia, reclaiming land from Catholics.

He died of depression in 1177 after the death of his beloved wife. He was succeeded by his half-brother Makarios I.

The Empire Strikes Back 13 – Childless and Bereft

Konstantios XII pondered the succession in the Empire. Both his children had died, and his wife was past childbearing years. Some of his advisers recommended that for the good of the Empire, he should divorce his wife and marry a younger woman. A few suggested darker methods. But he was kind and honest, and in love with his wife. He refused all such options. Other advisers recommended changing the succession laws of the Empire. At the very least, they urged, bring the Egyptian succession laws in line with the Imperial ones. But Konstantinos had ruled neither Egypt nor the Empire long enough for any such reforms to be made. For now, he would have to wait and see what to do.

Konstantinos spent the intervening years fighting beside his allies in several wars. By the time these wars were finished, he had gained sufficient control of the Egyptian court. First, he held a grand tournament to celebrate his reign.

Tragically, his beloved wife died as the tournament began. His advisors worked swiftly to find a suitable bride.

Before the end of the tournament, Konstantinos has slipped into a deep depression, and neglected to make the political changes he had planned. He agreed to a marriage so that his advisors would leave him be, but he did not consummate it.

Instead, he avoided the court, warring against heretic neighbors.

But the fighting was not enough to distract his mind, and on 17 May 1177, he died of depression.

The Empire Strikes Back 12 – The Egyptian Rebellion

This was Konstantinos XII of the Empire. He ascended to the throne in 1163.

Greedy and zealous, he was eager to expand his holdings, especially at the expense of heretics and heathens. He began his reign by raising taxes on cities.

A swift war against Croatia followed. The county of Hum was quickly seized.

And then, while the Cataphracts were in transport to the Italian peninsula, Komitas I, the Despot of Egypt, demanded independence. Konstantios refused such an absurd claim, and soon the despot declared war. The dukes of Antioch and Latium joined him.

The forces and lands of the duke of Antioch were swiftly overrun. Half of Sinai was conquered, and an Egyptian army forced back, then pursued deep into Egyptian territory.

Now, during the reign of Konstantios XI, the Kings of Egypt had conquered several northern Italian lands. While a third imperial army was besieging the lands of the Duke of Laitum, Komitas raised an army large enough to smash the imperial one in Italy, plus a second that besieged Constantinople. The imperial army redeployed via sea and moved to defend Constantinople. Soon, tens of thousands of men were fighting before the City of Man’s Desire. The Egyptian army was driven back, pursued, completely scattered.

But news came of a large fleet sailing up the Aegean sea. The imperial army moved across the sea of Marmara to Kyzikos, where they waited for reports of the force they would soon face. Soon enough they heard. The new Egyptian army was half again their size. The larger of the armies in Antioch sailed back. The combined imperial armies smashed the Egyptian army, fifty thousand men fighting before the Golden Gate. Again the Egyptian army was driven back. One imperial army pursued them, the other set sail for Italy, to see what could be done.

The army in Italy saw that the Egyptian army was towards the south, and somewhat larger. So they began sieging holdings in the north. Meanwhile, the army in Greece pursued and completely defeated the Egyptian army there. They noted the passing of a third (much smaller) fleet in the Aegean, and began beating back a third attack on Constantinople. The third attack, merely 500 men, was beaten back. The army set sail for Egypt.

The army in Italy received word that the Egyptian army had begun marching in their direction. They continued sieging holdings, while preparing to use their fleet to maneuver around the approaching army. They now had the numerical edge, but thought to take advantage of the opportunity to reclaim lost holdings.

A slow dance of sieges and reseiges ensued in Italy, while the armies in Egypt swiftly conquered any holding weak enough to fall to assault. Eventually, the war was won by anyone’s standard. The King of Egypt agreed to a peace where he was imprisoned. His kingdom was stripped from him, leaving him only the duchy of Pisa.

While the levies were sent home and the cataphracts sailed back to Constantinople, Konstantinos considered the future of the Empire and the Kingdom of Egypt. His children had perished before he took the throne, victims of a vicious sibling rivalry. And his wife was well beyond childbearing years, though he adored her still. He had no heirs, and his titles would fall to unsuitable bloodlines within his family upon his death if nothing changed.

The Empire Strikes Back Interlude: Religion Map

I promised a religion map. This is what Europe looks like 50 years after the Great Schism has ended.

I think it’s portentous of things to come, though I’m not entirely sure how it’ll all shake out. Also, I think it’s clear why I’m not too upset at the way 1.08 nerfed the Imperial Reconquest CB. Holy wars work just as well on the whole.

The Empire Strikes Back 11 – The Reign of Peace

This was Konstantinos XI of the Empire. He ascended to the throne in 1112.

Kind, charitable, and craven, he spent his reign internally strengthening the Empire. His kindness led him to two immediate acts:
Many people that had languished in his father’s dungeons for years were released.

He sought a series of reforms within the Empire that would send disputes to his courts. His vassals would no longer settle issues on the battlefield.

Primarily, his reign was known for the universities he founded throughout his holdings, the influx of population to baronies and church lands, the loosening of taxes on cities, and the massive increase in the size of the Cataphracts.

Finally, on 9 September 1163, he died and was succeeded by Konstantinos XII, his third son.

The Empire Strikes Back 10 – The Saint

This was Emperor Konstantios III. He was born in 1060 and began ruling the Empire in 1085.

He was well known for two accomplishments:
The XRW – a campaign of wars that reclaimed the Levant and Egypt for Christiandom and drove the Fatimids into Arabia,

and the end of the Great Schism, after he had restored the five Patriarchs.

On June 2, 1112, he died and was succeded by his second son, Konstantinos XI.

Not long after his death, he was cannonized as a saint.

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