The Empire Strikes Back 54 – The 15 Year War, Part I

The Empire was at war with nearly all of the Catholic and Protestant world.

Scotland used the opportunity to declare war on the Empire in the attempt to regain some of their lost lands.

Their allies joined them in the foolishness.
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Victories many the Legions won in the wars of religion. Battle after battle went in their favor. Bavaria was left confused. A few lands quickly fell under Imperial control.

But there were losses too. A surprise attack in the Roman Netherlands forced XIII Legio to reverse to Caux to reconsider their campaign. During the maneuvers, the forward detachment that held the standard of the Legion was completely destroyed. The legion was left in complete confusion, and Gallia was left open to the enemies of the Empire.

A daring naval mission was sent to rescue a cohort pinned in Zeeland. When they had rejoined the other survivors, and new forces had been raised to replace the lost ones, they were reorganized as the XVIII Legio (XIII being forever retired as a legionary number). Sadly, later in the year, XVIII Legio was also destroyed.

As 1512 continued, the enemies of the Empire pushed west into Roman Helvetia, besieging the mountain fortresses. But XV Legio, which finished besieging Swabia, returned to push them back.

By the end of 1512, the regions of Lombardia/Austria and Roman Netherlands were being heavily contested, but the advantage of the wars seemed to lean towards the Empire.

Early 1513 saw the Empire advance heavily into eastern Bavaria, the region that had once been Hungary. The Helvetian region was swept of attackers. But Gallia was under attack with no relief. I Legio was busy fending off attacks in Occitania, and XVI Legio was pinned in Valinciennes, recruiting new men for the infantry.
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In May, I Legio finished the enemies in Occitania, and moved to begin fighting in Gallia.
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Meanwhile, the Empire’s foes sent ships to bring armies behind the front lines and attack Mediterranean provinces. The western fleet was sent to drive back these ships, and brought them to battle in the Aegean sea.
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In August, Konstantios gave instructions to his diplomats. Peace could be made with lands outside the Holy Roman Empire, but only if they were willing accept Orthodox authority. Peace was made with the Scottish alliance before the end of the year.
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The end of 1513 saw most of eastern Bavaria occupied, though small forces were seeking to regain many of the provinces. Two legions were advancing into Smolensk, and had barely beat back a counter-attack. Imperial allies were advancing into Lesser Poland. Gallia was freed from the attacking armies, and the the legions were preparing to push into the low countries.
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But ominously, a Danish force had finally appeared outside of their own borders.
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Early 1514 saw a second Danish force in land in Kaffa.
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During the spring, the western fleet drove all enemy ships from the Mediterranean and then blockaded the Straits of Gibraltar. When a legion could be spared to sweep away the few enemies, the heart of Empire would be secure again.

Summer saw the low countries start to stabilize. But new forces assaulted Helvetia, and by the fall, Denmark had recovered Savoie.

The end of 1514 saw the eastern front greatly expanded, and Bavaria’s heartland about to fall. III Legio had made a daring raid against Karelia, but had been driven back. Yet the conquest of Smolensk continued, and Karelia would be close behind. And a French nationalist revolt in Paris was being put down by I Legio.
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The first half of 1515 saw Denmark attacking the Alps in force. But in May, VI and XV Legio drove one of the Danish armies out. This army was pursued to Konstanz, where it was completely destroyed.
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Also in May, the last Bavarian province fell to the Empire.

In July, VI and XV Legio defeated another Danish army in Helvetia. It was pursued to Wallis, then Savoie, where it was destroyed.

And in October, VI Legio defeated the last Danish army in Helvetia.

At the end of the 1515, enemy troops were still flooding into Helvetia, but VI Legio continually fought them off. Lesser Poland and Smolensk were almost completely occupied, and XII and XVII Legio were destroying the Smolensk army.
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The Empire Strikes Back 53 – …ζήτω ο βασιλιάς!

Konstantios was the grandson of Empress Zoe II. He inherited the Empire when he was almost six, just a month away, okay, fine he was five years old. He was a very smart and skilled emperor, everyone said so. And he had a regency council who made sure all his subjects loved him!
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It was great being Emperor. He got to play anywhere he wanted in the Great Palace. And he had tutors who taught him all kinds of interesting things. And his armsmasters were teaching him how to fight now that he was the Emperor. It was the best time, even if he missed Lialia Zoe sometimes.

Dionysos Tornikes, Matthaios Manmakos, and Thomas Rhodocanakis governed the Empire for Konstantios. They did their best to control dissent. In fact, Thomas’ last act of governance before his death was to uphold the fishing rights of Imperial citizens in lake Balaton.
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Iason Phrangopoulos was brought onto the regency council. He spent his time telling tales of the Emperor’s abilities and love for his people. Under his touch, the Empire became comfortable with the idea of a boy-Emperor who had yet to be publicly seen.
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Konstantios was confused. The people in Holland agreed that the Pope was bad. That was good! But they were still bad Christians somehow? He wasn’t at all clear on what the differences in faiths were.

And the people in Cumbria were also bad? But weren’t Imperial missionaries telling them why the Pope was a bad man? Why were they bad when they agreed that the Pope was a bad man?
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The expanding Imperial Bureaucracy needed more and more workers. 70 years previously, the nobles of the Empire had taken advantage of the Emperor’s sickness to pass a law requiring a noble title to study at the more prestigious of the Imperial universities. This limited the number of bureaucrats.

Meanwhile, many noble families had not handled the changes of the past century well. Many had been turned to beggars. Other families had died out entirely. A great many titles were left unheld by anyone. The regency council solved two problems at once by selling these titles to those who could afford them.
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However, the new nobles found that the lack of family connections among the nobility made things difficult. Their wealth could still work wonders, as the older nobles needed them. But it made for a great deal of strife.
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On August 12, 1511, Konstantios XI formally assumed power.
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He immediately named his brother heir.
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Konstantios’ boyhood confusion regarding the protestants had led to intense religious study, a study that turned Konstantios hard. He proclaimed that heretics could expect only war from the Empire.
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He soon put word to practice.
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The Empire was at war with nearly the whole Catholic and Protestant world.

The Empire Strikes Back 52 – βασιλιάς είναι νεκρός…

Empress Zoe II had declared war on several nations to reclaim Imperial provinces. The allies of the attacked nations joined in, creating a very large series of simultaneous wars.
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However, the Empire’s many allies joined in, and most of the opponents were small. The only large foes were Bavaria and Lesser Poland. Minor nations were easily convinced to stop fighting, and then Lesser Poland decided it wasn’t worth fighting.
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The wars had been certain, but now they became, if not trivial, at least easy.

January 1500 saw Upper Burgundy agree to Imperial terms.
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March saw Champagne annexed.
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Luxembourg had attempted to protect them. On failing, they agreed to Imperial terms for peace.
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That left Bavaria.
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Being the Emperor of the Germans, Bavaria was able to bring a great many men to the field of battle. But Zoe’s generals were able to consistently force battle on their terms, and the Bavarians invariably lost. Still, Zoe held out for a strong peace treaty. However, IX. Legio was beaten back from Trent by a large Bavarian army. When most of that army pursued the Legion, Zoe realized she faced the same decision that Konstantios IV had faced. Sacrifice her men for a stronger victory, or accept a weaker victory to save her men? She chose as her predecessor did, and accepted a weaker peace.
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And then on July 18, 1502, Zoe II died at the comfortable age of 62. While not considered the most ideal successor to the Reformer (Konstantios IV), she had strengthened both the Empire and the position of Empress. Ο βασιλιάς είναι νεκρός…
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