The Empire Strikes Back 61 – The Reign in Spain

Ioannes VII became Emperor as 1565 drew to a close. He was not a skilled leader. In fact, fighting was all that he was good at. He had some awareness of his lack of ability, but his pride made him insist he was just as good as his father. So he wasted little time in starting wars with non-orthdox nations.
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And of course, he led the legions himself.
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While the strength of the Legions was enough to win the wars, Ioannes did not show the restraint his father did in victory. Instead of just converting the rulers of a heretic nation, he would also seize as much territory as he could from within the old Imperial borders.
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While many of these wars were minor…
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…others dragged in many allies, even what had just been Imperial allies.
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During the midst of this war, dissidents began circulating broadsheets denouncing Ioannes. He did not respond well to this, and the bodies of the guilty parties (or those thought to be the guilty parties) were displayed as a warning.
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Later, Theodoros, who was ruling as Ioannes regent, died of a disease.
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Ioannes was too distracted to appoint a new heir. Or even a new regent.
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Finally, Boules declared an infant cousin to be the heir.
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This proved to be wise, as Ioannes died on campaign in 1574. Most of his nine year reign had been spent at war. The regency period for Konstantinos was expected to be a peaceful period.
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Local nobles were able to take advantage of the Boules-dominated regency to increase their own power.
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And not much happened for many years. Infrastructure was built, technology advanced, colonies were founded, traders opened new markets. And then in 1585, Khiva asked for help in a war against Sibir. Muscowy had occupied nearly all of Sibir, so Boules agreed to help in a war they knew the legions would not have to fight.
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When Muscowy asked for help in a war, they were more worried, but could not refuse.
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In the midst of the war, Konstantinos XVIII came into his own.
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He wasted no time in siring a son.
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He waited until the Golden Horde had been quite devastated before making a peace with them.
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But he was rather more kind to Smolensk.
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After the war, he looked to the low countries, which Friesland had united. He sent them his blessing to proclaim themselves the kingdom of the Netherlands. They likely would have done so on their own, but the Emperors loved to insist it was their right to create kingdoms.

Konstantinos then looked to Iberia, where the goal of reclaiming Portugal had long been neglected. Castelo Branco stood no chance against the Empire, but their friends’ assistance was an annoyance to Konstantinos.
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When Castelo Branco fell, the dream of regaining Iberia was complete.
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The Empire Strikes Back 60 – The Holy

Before launching the war for Portugal, Konstantios took advantage of his steadily improving government to convince people to found new colonies.
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Despite having a great many powerful allies, León faced the Empire alone. Before the end of the year, they had been completely defeated. They were forced to give up their eastern provinces in exchange for peace.
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During the war, Konstantios’ third son Markos got into a fight with his father. Konstantios wished Marcos to help govern one of the colonies, but Markos wished to work as an artist. Konstantios threatened to disown him, and Markos left Constantinople during the night. Konstantios mourned the loss, and was distressed that the fight had been so disruptive to relationships in the Empire.
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Months later, Konstantios had word of Markos in Île-de-France. He traveled there himself to reconcile himself to his son. When he arrived at the art academy, he found Markos had created a magnificent statue, the likes of which had not been created for over a thousand years. Father and son were reconciled, and Konstantios’ praise inspired others to excel where they might.
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Konstantios had not changed too much, though. He declared war on the Golden Horde, ostensibly to help his allies, but really to continue punishing them for claiming to be an Empire. While their armies were no match for the Legions, their large wooded territory took a long time to occupy. But they were defeated, and forced to release most of their lands, and give up nearly all of their claims to far away lands they once owned.
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With this defeat, the Golden Horde’s cultural hegemony over much of Europe and Asia was broken. Where once many had striven to emphasize the parts of their culture most similar to the Golden Horde, now they strove to emphasize the parts that were different. Even in the lands they still held, the people distinguished themselves from their leaders.
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After this war, Konstantios sought to make founding colonies even more promising: the first thousand people to found a new city would be granted titles of nobility to go with the lands they claimed in the area.
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Before Konstantios could resume efforts in Portugal, Norway again asked for assistance. This time in a war of aggression against Denmark. Konstantios was pleased to see Denmark taken down yet further, so he agreed to help.
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The Legions did the bulk of the fighting, but there was nothing to negotiate for that the Empire wanted. One by one Denmark’s allies were removed from the war. Finally, Norway forced them to surrender. Most impressive was how Norway forced Denmark to release Holstein, as Norway had conquered Holstein in the war. The small nation moved south as a result of the war, to Norway’s benefit and Denmark’s loss.
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While that war was being fought, Konstantios began another war against Castelo Branco. Castelo Branco had pounced upon the weakened León and completely conquered them. This opportunism might have served them well, if they had not been in lands the Empire sought to recover.
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They fell within a year, and while they were yet too strong to completely absorb, they were left destitute.
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Now, the Empire was governed by administrators assigned by the Emperor. But during the middle ages, local nobles had gained much power, until the Empire could be compared to the feudal kingdoms of the rest of Europe. These nobles would often petition the Emperor when they had a specific desire, and it was a reality that the ones nearer to Constantinople had the ability to petition the Emperor more. Konstantios felt overwhelmed and distracted by these requests, so he streamlined the process. He would assign a regional Kyvernítis (governor) to handle local needs. For petitions that could not be addressed by the Kyvernítis, the nobles could pick a representative who would meet at a regular Oloméleia tis Boules (Session of Parliament) in Constantinople. Konstatios promised to call a Oloméleia at least once every three years, and if he did not, he would sacrifice the tax income owed to Constantinople. 1562 was truly a monumental year for the Empire.
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Three years later, Konstantios XI died in bed. He would be known as ‘The Holy’ for his efforts in protecting the faith. On 17 December 1565, Ioannes VII took the throne.
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Theodoros, his much more skilled younger brother, was declared Heir the same day.
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The Empire Strikes Back 59 – 1550 Update

Between 1500 and 1550, the borders of the Empire did not change greatly.

More of England had been conquered.
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The Persian plan was being applied to north central Asia.
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And there were some colonies in the Americas.
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Despite the stable borders of the Empire, its influence was greatly felt in Scandinavia, where Norway had regained most of its traditional borders and Norrland had made strides towards uniting Sweden.
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The Empire’s influence was also felt in the Germanies, which had become a very dynamic and chaotic region in the aftermath of the Peace of Westphalia.
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Orthodox Christianity dominated the Old World, though a few newly-formed nations insisted on heresy.
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The Empire itself was becoming much more homogeneous, but still had a strong variety of cultures represented in the west.
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The Empire maintained friendly relationships with many nations.
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This was the known world in 1550.
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This was the portion controlled by the Empire.
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The Empire Strikes Back 58 – A Minor War or Three

Konstantios continued the quest to regain Essex by declaring war on Scotland. This would be a tougher war than the one with England, as Scotland was larger and had powerful allies. Bavaria, Gondar, and Adal joined the war in defense of Scotland.
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XIV and XX Legio fought in Abyssinia alongside the Ethiopian forces.
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IV, V, VI, XVII, and XXI Legio fought against Bavaria (who was also at war with Saxony).

VIII and X Legio fought in Britannia, striking at the Scottish homeland.
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And II Legio moved to seize Scottish colonial holdings.
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As the war was won, Adal was convinced to agree to peace for a small amount of money.
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After Ethiopia signed a separate peace with Scotland, there was nothing to be gained from war with Gondar, so political concession were demanded for peace.
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Bavaria was the strongest enemy in the war, and the biggest loser. They were forced to release Hungary as a sovereign nation.
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For the peace with Scotland, Konstantios showed restraint. They only lost the province of Essex and their treasury.
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The region of Essex had been recovered.

Konstantios had made several reforms to civil society during the negotiations after the 15 Year War. Now, he sought to promote the religious education of the citizens of the Empire.
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When Norway asked for help against Denmark, Konstantios could not resist. After all, Denmark had done a poor job of turning people to the true faith. The mere threat of the Empire’s involvement was enough to convince Denmark to sign a peace with Norway.
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The experiences of long sieges in the war for Essex, and the evidence that they would not have a long rest from fighting convinced the Legions to begin recruiting artillery centuries.

The Empire’s assistance to Norway against Denmark, such as it was, convinced them to ask for the Empire’s help the moment they declared war against Trøndelag. The Legions again held back, as it seemed the war would go easily for Norway.
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When Muscowy joined in the war on the opposite side, Konstantios was distressed. But he was soon able to convince Muscowy to sever their other diplomatic arrangements. They would soon be fast friends again.
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Meanwhile, the Legions incorporated firearms into their cavalry tactics.
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As 1549 drew to a close, Konstantios paid heed to the nobles who wanted the last of Iberia reclaimed.
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