The Empire Strikes Back 67 – The War of Three Emperors

Demetrios I was the son of and successor to Konstantinos the Zealous. He was excellent at war, skilled at diplomacy, and good at administration. His son Ioannes, who promised to be even more skilled, was appointed heir.
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Demetrios garnered good will among the nobles when he reestablished parliament. He insisted on appointing the members, but the nobles took this as a sign that they would again have some form of power. They did not see it for the trap it was. However, Demetrios had inherited three wars along with the Empire. His plans to neuter the nobles would have to wait. And wait they did. For he died on March 7th of 1639, Emperor for less than two years.

Ioannes took his place. He was skilled at military matters, a genius at administration and diplomacy, but young and inexperienced. He announced his younger brother Demetrios as heir, and focused on the wars.
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The war in the north had slowly wound in favor of Muscowy. With the Legions’ help, they were able to capture the main cities of the different nations opposing them and force them to surrender, typically with harsh terms. By the time Ioannes came to rule, the war was half over or more.
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The war against Mali worked more slowly. There were rumors of an army yet unkilled by the Legions, so they did not dare to spread out to besiege the land, and so little territory was just captured. But the Empire was sure to win eventually.
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In February of 1640, a routine correspondence with England mentioned that Maranea had been captured by Mali. It was clear that the missing Malinese army was in that region, so XII Legio moved to hunt them down.
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By the end of the year, all in the north but Hlynov had surrendered, and even that country was fully occupied. Ioannes made peace with them and left them to Muscowy’s mercies.
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While the Mali war still raged, Ioannes implemented reforms of the Imperial mint. The silver stavraton coin was to be replaced by the gold líras. A sample of the minted líras would be stored every year. If the currency was questioned, it could be compared to a standard measure stored by the Emperor. And if the líras at question disagreed with the measure the master of the mint would be punished most severely: castrated, half-hung, and quartered. Thus, the currency could be trusted to not be debased.
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And finally in early 1642, Mali was fully defeated. They were forced to give up their coast, their overseas trade now handled by Imperial merchants. Sufficient garrisons were created to keep trade flowing. As well, their central land was returned to a descendant of the Songhai ruling class.
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The war, while lasting only five years, was later called the war of three Emperors. While this could have and should have been a satirical reference to the quick succession at this point in time, it became propaganda of the danger and strength of Muslims.

The Empire Strikes Back 66 – The Zealous

In the aftermath of the civil war, the Empire was feeling the pain of the war. Konstantinos had instructed his agents throughout the land to try to bring peace and order, and had authorized them to spend money to make it happen. Some gifts, some feasts, and a whole lot of quelling the hotheads would be needed to restore stability. As well, the legions needed some time to recover, and to be placed where they might be helpful. But during the war, Holstein had declared support for the Reformed heresy. So in January of 1631, Konstantinos declared yet another war.
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Holstein fell quickly and reaffirmed the true faith. Poland, once again showing the temerity to get involved in a war with the Empire, was once again cut to size.
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Konstantinos had additionally had his agents reporting on what might help pacify the nobles who were not under arrest in Constantinople. The agents told of greed for the rich mines of Austria.
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So when the legions were in position, Konstantinos declared wars on all the nations holding Austrian land. The many nations that jumped to their defense made the war stretch (and caused the loss of III. Legio), but soon enough all of Austria but Graz belonged to the Empire again.

The truce with Hungary would not end until 1641, so Konstantinos looked in a direction not ever undertaken by previous Emperors: south. Mali had learned much from the long-ago Imperial expedition[1] across the Sahara. But they had not learned to follow the true faith. Instead, they followed the teaching of Mohammed and were directly ruled by the Imams who lead the Zikri variant of their faith. And Muslims had been a bane to the Empire ever since they had exploded out of Arabia. A strong Muslim nation bordering the Empire (much less one that had formerly gone toe-to-toe with other Christian nations and won) was unbearable. Konstantinos would put this to rights. The Dutch, who had clashed with Mali several times in Africa, were only too happy at the idea of Mali being weakened and allowed II Legio and XVI Legio to use their African holdings as a staging area. And so in March of 1637, the Empire struck at Mali.
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At the same time, Mucowy began to reclaim more of their territory from the Golden Horde. Konstantinos sent I Legio and IV Legio to help.
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Various groups of old nobles near Calais thought that with the Empire engaged on two fronts, they could threaten to revolt to force lowered taxes. An earlier Konstantinos might have negotiated a settlement. But after the civil war (and with men who had lost everything in that war flooding to join the Legions), he was more interested in stamping out the idea of revolt entirely. He called their bluff, then sent in XXIII Legio.
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But sadly, in the midst of these wars, Emperor Konstantinos was found dead in his rooms. He was remembered as ‘Konstantinos the Zealous’ for his efforts to bring all into the fold of the true faith.

[1] A vassal back in the CK2 era went on an independent conquest spree down into western Africa. But by now it’s remembered as an official expedition. The nature of the expedition is the stuff of legend and story. It was a bitter blow years later when no Prester John was to be found on the other side of the Sahara.

The Empire Strikes Back 65 – The Particularist Revolt

The Imperial colonies had grown greatly in just a few years. This was largely due to the locals. Where the peoples of the Empire expected to “bring civilization to the natives”, the natives proved to be more canny and clever than the incoming settlers. They took advantage of the Imperial technology, adopted Greek as a trade language, and reorganized their localities on their terms. The connection to trans-Atlantic trade was a major boon for them. As was the political organization from the Empire. Those settlers who had dreams of rulership were mostly disappointed. A few rose to prominence, but there was little aristocracy in the colonies. Or at least, the aristocracy was not so formally defined.

The English colonies were different. The Anglo-Saxons had spent centuries caught between the anvil of Scotland and the hammer of the Empire. When they had the opportunity to leave and form new homes, they remembered their ancestors of a millennia before and took to the sea. The natives in the lands that they occupied swiftly became a lower class. And the English were ravenous for new land.

The political boundaries between the Roman colonies and the English colonies was ill-defined, and the English took advantage of this to keep spreading. Konstantinos sympathized with their desire for a homeland, and so he gave them an offer. Accept the locals as equals, and the entire Brazilian region would go to England.

The English were well pleased with this offer. They might not be able to simply expel the Brazilians from a given area of land, but there was so much land that there would not be a need. They agreed.
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For the aristocracy of the Empire, this was too much to bear. They had suffered under the Emperors’ slow centralization of power, they had been taxed, they had seen merchants be given more and more rights, their requests to the Emperor had been ignored for decades, and now territory was just given away? This was intolerable! It would not stand!

The revolt was sudden and severe. The revolutionaries raised the Empire’s flag over their one million troops[1] as a sign of opposition, the Emperor’s flag being much more well known for centuries. The most significant cities were immediately under their control, the only exceptions being ones hosting various legions.
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Konstantinos’ reply was just as strong. He declared himself the absolute ruler of the whole Empire. Justice would be by his agents, taxation by his agents, all administrative work by his agents. Nobles would not be allowed to field their own armies. Nobles would no longer be much more than significant landholders. Of course, this would be a legal fiction of sorts, just as the nobles’ former rights of justice, taxation, and administration in their lands had been a fiction. Imperial agents had long been assigned to the different provinces and directed the power of Constantinople into local affairs. Once the revolt was ended, local powers would soon be at work directing the local powers to their own ends. But the legal framework had now been set.

Gallia was defended by II Legio, XIX Legio, XXI Legio, and XXI Legio as a result of the religious wars in the Germanies. The rebels there did not last long.
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Lombardia was defended by VII Legio, XIV Legio, XVI Legio, XVIII Legio, and XX Legio, also placed due to the wars of religion.
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Britannia was defended by IV Legio and XVII Legio, long resting after the wars with Scotland and England.
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Iberia, Egypt, Syria, and the Imperial heartland were undefended as the revolt began.

The Lombardian campaign slowly pushed their opponents south, towards the morass of revolutionaries along the peninsula.

The Gallian campaign defeated the rebel armies, but found that an army of Norman patriots had traveled to try to carve out an independent nation.
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In Syria, I Legio and IX Legio made their move.
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In Egypt III Legio, X Legio, and XV Legio did the same.
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The Britannian campaign subsided to a siege of Oxford by XVII Legio, while IV Legio shipped off for Iberia.

The opening move of the Syrian campaign was a resounding defeat.

Meanwhile, three legions made a bold stroke into central Italy while two sought to bring Liguria and Mantua back under control.

As the Egyptian and Syrian campaigns diminished to sieges, III Legio and IX Legio were transported to Anatolia to attempt to bring matters under control there.
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In turn, IV Legio, XXI Legio, and XXII Legio began their work in Iberia.
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When the rebels on the Italian peninsula inexplicably began to move south, the Legion took advantage of the opportunity to push the boundaries of the war.
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The war continued everywhere, but slowly tightening for the rebels. In Iberia, XXI Legio got too eager for battle, racing ahead of their IV Legio and XXII Legio. Their eagerness saw them all captured at Lisboa. The complete capture of the celebrating rebels in Lisboa two days later was scarce comfort, as too few soldiers could be found to reform the lost legion.
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The rebels in Dacia were more clever than most. When four legions moved to attack them, the rebels quickly moved to attack one first, before the others could change their course. Thanks to Pavlos Diasorenos’ clever tactics, III Legio was able to withstand a force twice their number. The legions all moved to intercept the rebels in Transylvania.
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By 1629, only the Sicilian and Greek regions had rebel troops remaining. The legions continued to press forward.
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VIII Legio was lost as the Sicilian campaign moved to the island of Sicily. And then III Legio was lost in the Greek campaign.

But the legions continued to press the rebel armies, and finally in June of 1630 no rebel armies remained. Only the city of Palermo resisted the Konstantinos’ will, and VII Legio had brought them to desperation by siege. They held out until September.
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The revolt had lasted four and a half years. A short time from a historical perspective. But a long time to live through. And for the estimated one million Imperial soldiers lost in battle or the uncounted numbers of the rebel forces, it was far too short a time to live and to die.[2] But now the peoples of the Empire could begin to rebuild what had been lost.


[1] I count 1103 units total, as opposed to the Empire’s 489.
[2] I have 463K manpower out of a max of 848K. On average I gained 6K per month during the war, so it adds up to a really bug number of losses. Also, while not literally true, for all practical situations, the Empire has bottomless reserves.

The Empire Strikes Back 64 – The Fall of the Papacy

Konstantinos began the 17th century by continuing the wars of religion. On the 20th of February, 1600, he declared war on Styria. Their allies joined them, of course, though converting them to Orthodoxy before the war would have been a better defense.
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In the midst of this war, a colony was founded in Banten, on the island of Java. Konstantinos commissioned the Imperial East India company to transport and sell the spices that would surely be flowing from this colony.
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Styria agreed to a peace after IV. Legio stormed and captured Kärnten. Their other allies took a little longer to agree to a white peace.

Despite the near-constant wars, so many artists, philosophers, and poets were in Thrace that it was becoming hard to find new patrons. Konstantinos gave the more adventurous ones the funds to start a new university in Algarve. In the coming years, many more groups would request funds to start new universities. Konstantinos funded the ones that picked more practical locations.
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While XIX. Legio marched east to help Khiva in a war against Tibet, Konstantinos declared war on the largest Protestant nation in existence: Norway.
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Displaying a lack of sensibility to the Emperor’s desires, the members of Vouli took the time during the war to request that Konstantinos provide an opposition to the English colonies in North America with a new Imperial colony. He remained focused on the war. Despite being outnumbered, XI. Legio attacked the Norwegian army.
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Meanwhile, XIX. Legio explored the Tibetan lands, hoping they did not run into any Manchu armies (Manchu having joined the war in the east in Tibet’s defense).
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When the Delaware colony failed, accusations flew. Many claimed that Konstantinos let it fail on purpose. As evidence, they pointed out his lack of effort to colonize North America at all. Before matters got too out of hand, Konstantinos was able to produce the ministers whose ineptitude had allowed the colony to fail. That he had bribed them to confess remained a secret for now.
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Vouli decided a North American colony was not worth the effort, and instead asked Konstantinos to recover an Imperial province in Hungary. Again, Konstantinos ignored the request.
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Meanwhile, by the end of 1602, Norway had agreed to become Orthodox again.
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The following war against an inconsequential Baltic power drew in Adal. It took time for three legions to march to eastern Africa, but in March of 1605 XII, XIV, and XX Legio forced Adal to give territory to Ethiopia.
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At the beginning of 1606, the Empire again went to war, this time against Meckelemburg, a Catholic nation. Most of the northern German nations rose to its defense and Lesser Poland eagerly joined the war.
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Before 1607, all but Lesser Poland had been forced to the negotiating table. For Lesser Poland’s efforts, they were stripped of their outer territories in September of 1608. As recompense, Konstantinos would later declare them the Kingdom of Poland, no longer the Lesser.
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While the nations freed were initially exuberant, they grew worried when the Empire broke all treaties with them. They may have been relieved when there was no immediate attack. Unbeknownst to them, this was because Konstantinos had received word of the powerful effect of artillery in war, and was taking the time to ensure the legions were equipped with plenty.

Meanwhile, the Empire had developed closer ties with the Cherokee. They were suffering from a terrible plague. When they requested aid, Konstantinos sent healers, led by the most compassionate priests he could find. It was little wonder when the Cherokee leaders turned to the true faith, again demonstrating that a pagan was merely waiting to hear of Christ (a belief dating to the Il-Khanate’s and Golden Horde’s wholesale conversions centuries before).
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After just a year of peace had passed, the Empire began wars against the newly freed nations, also forcing them to Orthodox practice. They would have fallen easily, but for their allies. Those allies were punished: broken up, humiliated, or even absorbed. The absorbed ones were given in pieces to friendly states, unlikely to arise again.

As this war finished, the Inca sent word, asking for healers and missionaries to be sent to them. There had apparently been good word from the Cherokee.
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It was 1615 before the Imperial diplomats had specified all the border changes from the last war. Once that was done, Konstantinos declared a war on the last nation supporting the Reformed church. Many allies defended them, as always, and many allies fell, as always.
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Shortly thereafter, Reformed zealots — believing they had nothing to lose — attacked Michael Doukas while he was hunting. They killed him, mutilating his body, and leaving it prominently displayed. The shock of their actions reverberated throughout the Empire. Konstantinos was even more convinced he must remove all heresy.
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Just before 1620, the last political support for Protestantism was removed, though Protestant communities remained in Köblenz and Slesvig.

Early the next year he began one of the last wars against the Papists.

The Inca had been most impressed by the Imperial customs mentioned by the priests that had traveled to help. An exchange of diplomats a nobles began between them and the Empire.

The next Papist war brought a resurgent Golden Horde to the fight against the Empire. The Golden Horde was broken apart again and forced to concede again that they were no longer a significant power in the world.
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The penultimate war against the Papists was a minor thing.
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During the war, the Cherokee recovered enough from their religious confusion to take a hint from the Inca and request closer Imperial ties.

Finally, in December of 1625, Emperor Konstantinos began the final war against the Papacy. No-one came to the Pope’s defense, and he himself was trapped be rebels who controlled his small territory. XXI. Legio found an army from the Netherlands at the gate and helped them gain entry. The Pope was forced to surrender his lands to the Dutch, and would after that point wander between the few Catholic enclaves not yet stamped out by their rulers.
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Konstantinos commissioned a monument to mark this final victory. And then he made a decision whose ramifications were unprecedented since the time of Diocletian.