The Empire Strikes Back 72 – Expansion Resumes

Konstantinos inherited the Empire while little more than an infant. In fact, the same regency council that had governed in his father’s childhood reigned during his.
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The continuation of building a glorious court continued during the regency. The daily positions by which a noble could gain glory by being near the Emperor and assisting him with daily tasks were quite frankly ridiculous. Never before nor after have otherwise pompous adults been positively eager to change diapers.

During the regency, there were advances in all areas of technology. Improvements in light ships required the classification of Heavy Frigates as opposed to Frigates (the regency worked to replace the existing pirate patrols with these most advanced ships). The Legions began to use mortars during engagements.
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And the regency was able to establish itself as a permanent cabinet of close advisers, even closer (and far more politically protected) than the itinerant advisers used for six hundred years[1].
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When the Inca reorganized their government and announced themselves as the Republic of Peru, the regency eagerly approved relations, and even established a betrothal between Konstantinos and a daughter of one of the noble families ruling the new republic.
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Finally, on April 24, 1681, Konstantinos XIX came into his own.
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His first act was to declare war on both Brabant and the Netherlands in order to recover the last of the Roman Netherlands. Many nations came to Brabant’s defense (a lost cause if ever there was one), but strangely no-one wanted to assist the Netherlands.
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This proved to be the most difficult war in a generation, even to the point of XIV Legio being destroyed by Scottish forces in Britannia. Still, the tide of the war was with the Empire. Konstantinos’ betrothed was even safely brought to Constantinople during the war.

Nevertheless, Brabant was soon forced to give up their last European land, their rulers fleeing to their one small colony in the New World.
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The Netherlands soon followed, giving up Luik, releasing Norrland, and giving up their claims to Vlaanderen.
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Parliament soon requested the conquest of Occitania. So while the other war was still raging, XVI Legio and XXII Legio were sent to annex Dauphine.
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Eventually, the Huron were forced to give their territories south of lake Ontario to the Cherokee. The Iroquois locals felt closer kinship to the Cherokee, so this was fortunate.
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Scotland was also forced to give lands to the Cherokee, as well as surrender all claims to some lands they had lost previously.
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England only lost their claims on Florida.

Adal would be punished far further, however. They had grown too powerful in Africa, and must be broken apart. As the war continued, the legions adopted new line infantry tactics.
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Finally, in February of 1686, Adal released Mutapa and gave up the last of their Arabian holdings in return for peace.
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And finally, Dauphine was fully annexed. Of course, parliament was not satisfied, and insisted that the last bit of Roman Britannia be brought under Imperial sway. But there was still a truce with Scotland. So during the peace, the Emperor’s cabinet administrated the Empire, and Konstantinos sired a son.
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During this time the Aztecs reformed their government and proclaimed themselves the republic of Mexico.
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Finally, restless from a lack of war, Konstantinos declared war against Polotsk for ‘the good of the Empire’. Only the minor nation of Manych came to their defense.
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Polotsk was soon conquered and their lands split between Ukraine and Livonia.

The day the truce with Scotland was ended (in May on 1693), Konstantinos declared war. Bavaria joined Scotland, but this was offset by all of the Empire’s allies joining as well. Bavaria soon agreed to a white peace. Then in July of 1696, Scotland agreed to not only give up the last of Wales, but to give up many of their North American holdings. Much of this was later turned over to the Huron.
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Parliament’s new request was that the rest of Lombardia be recovered.
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However, Konstantinos first reformed the legions, adding yet more infantry and artillery to each legion[2]. In late 1699, the reforms were complete and Konstantinos declared war on Lorraine for Savoie. Of course, many German states rose to their defense, despite the inevitability of the war’s outcome
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[1]Infamy -1.00 per year.
[2]12 Int/6 Cav/12 Art

The Empire Strikes Back 71 – The Sun Emperor

Theodoros became Emperor at age eight. A regency council ruled for him, but was of marginal competence. Being a more distant cousin, Theodoros was also not considered completely legitimate as ruler. The regency council hired Nestor Boumbalis to counter this perception.
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Meanwhile, Theodoros was sent to be raised at an estate just outside of Constantinople. The estate was little more than a hunting lodge, so it was refurbished to be a suitable palace for the young Emperor.
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In the meanwhile, the regency council expanded the core of the Imperial Bureaucracy, creating several new administrative offices that improved the efficiency of the management of the Empire.
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Finally, in April of 1665, Theodoros became Emperor in his own right.
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He began his reign by standardizing the weights and measures used throughout the Empire. No longer would traders have to learn multitudinous local measures, instead they could simply use the Imperial System. Failure to use the Imperial System with any trader would lead to a stiff fine and the potential loss of trade rights in the given town or city.
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He soon resumed the conquests that the nobles of Empire so desired. A chain of alliances came to the defense of little Luxembourg, to no avail.
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Baden was forced to sever a few alliances. Luxembourg was annexed. Livonia was forced to swear vassalage. Poland was forced to give up what few lands they had outside the region later known as the Polish Corridor, and to give up any claims to lands outside that region that they already had given up (these lands were shortly thereafter given to more appropriate powers to rule).
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During the war, Theodoros sired a son, who was named heir upon his birth.
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Also during the war, Theodoros began an interesting habit. He invited nobles in different provinces to join him at his new court at the Royal Palace where he had been raised. There he began holding elaborate court ceremonies, focused on his glory. Those nobles who most flattered him found themselves assigned to important positions or even assigned to Parliament. Those who did not found themselves marginalized. This may be thought the actions of a narcissist or megalomaniac, but in fact it was a scheme long planned by successive Emperors and passed down in secret until it could be achieved. To achieve more than a local power, a noble would have to attend court. But if a noble did so, they could not focus on their own lands. The Imperial Bureaucracy would then be able to ensure that legally and practically, the only allegiance in said lands was to the Empire. The nobles may yet have held their legal rights, but in practice, they were held tightly to Theodoros’ sway. Best of all, they were so focused on drawing near to his glory that they did not even notice the loss of their power.[1]
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Although they did not greatly like that a sufficient donation from a rich merchant would see his family invited to court, Theodoros was just deft enough to play these events in a way that left everyone feeling pleased: the nobles at their court experience, and the former merchants (now ‘unlanded nobles’) pleased to be at court. The unlanded nobles found further advancement easy, marrying children to the children of landed nobles in need of money to maintain the fashions Theodoros kept establishing and changing. It was an expensive endeavor being at court.
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Shortly after this this time, Theodoros received word that Kexholm had given refuge and homage to the Pope. He was surprised that there was still a Pope, but he still took the ways of his ancestors and made war on the heretics.
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In the end, all of the wooing of the nobles did little to preserve Theodoros’ life. If anything, the growing formal court only brought more of the typical danger his way. He died in 1669, only nineteen years old. Though short-lived, he was remembered for his glory and later for how he brought the political life of the Empire into orbit around himself. Thus his epitaph: the Sun King.

[1] I added a province-level decision. For the cost of a diplomat and 10 prestige, all accepted-culture cores (of non-existent nations) in the province are removed and I get 10 cultural tradition. To fire it, I have to be at peace, have at least two diplomats, and at least 50 prestige.

The Empire Strikes Back 70 – The War for Huron

Demetrios II was now the Emperor.
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As Demetrios began his reign, the Empire was involved in two wars: one to bring Smolensk back to the true faith, and one supporting Muscowy in their takeover of Yaroslavl.
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Focused on the war, he proclaimed a newly born cousin to be his heir.
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The war with Smolensk was over quickly. As this region had proven to be difficult for the faith, it was placed under direct Imperial control for the immediate future.
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Murom had descended into complete chaos, so the Legions imposed peace and settlers arrived to establish order. And then word came that England had declared war on the Huron people. The Empire was not in contact with the Huron, but this non-peaceful interaction with a native American power was not acceptable. There was war with England, and with their allies.
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While the Cherokee armies fell immediately, the English forces out of Florida were much stronger (especially against a Legion that had been split apart to defend against rebels).
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But the Huron were able to seize the advantage of England’s distraction and seize the colony in Lenape. The Empire immediately made a formal declaration that the Huron were within their sphere of influence. Given the war, it was a gesture without much practical meaning, but it was a strong diplomatic opening.
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When VI Legio had a chance to form up, they were able to beat back a new English attack.
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The Cherokee soon saw reason and made a gesture for peace. Demetrios took it and started restoring the damaged relations between the two nations.
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Lorraine was forced to negotiate next, their carefully constructed kingdom further ripped apart.
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Dauphine was diplomatically isolated.
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And England was eventually forced to give up their alliance with the Cherokee and several colonies that had achieved self-sufficiency (the rest of their colonies having already been seized).
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Demetrios took time to sort out the ownership of the various seized colonies (the Empire did not need such far-flung lands). In the meanwhile, he sent missionaries to the Huron.
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In 1658, during this time of relative peace, Demetrios died, leaving his eight year old cousin Theodoros as heir. The resulting regency forced a change of relationship between Ukraine and the Empire. Ukraine’s parliament agreed the nation would be subservient to the Empire, but they brought forth a local as their ruling Duke. The regency council for the Empire agreed, not least because much Imperial effort had been spent expanding Ukraine’s borders instead of defending Imperial interests.

The Empire Strikes Back 69 – 1650 Update

From 1600 to 1650, the Empire had again not expanded much. Instead it had put it’s efforts towards enforcing religious unity.

Christianity was no less diverse for these efforts. Many times a nation’s conversion allowed the ruler to appoint to new archbishop residing over his territory. This archbishop would be technically equal with all others (though in practice the Archbishops of Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Rome were first among equals). Just as frequently, the ruler was able to exert control over the local Archbishop and thus tighten his power over his nation.

As well, local practices could not possibly have been stamped out, even if this was desired. Many of the particulars of the liturgy varied locally. There were even differences in theology between different regions.

Still, the Church was united. The most important theological disagreements could be resolved through synods and councils, and heresy could be countered via internal pressures. Likewise, the decentralized organization of the Church served as an effective brake on corruption, unlike the hierarchical nature of the Papist church had been.
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In the Americas, firm diplomatic contact had been made with three different organized powers. All took the opportunity to learn all they could from the Empire. In turn, the Empire hoped to use them to block the expansionism of other European states.
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The leadership of all three American nations had eagerly converted to Christianity. Most of the Cherokee people had likewise converted.
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The Inca leaders seemed disinterested in instructing any of their own people.[1]
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And the Aztecs had not had much time to figure out how to instruct many of their people.
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The African coast was proving valuable to trade – either to extract goods or to supply ships rounding the Cape of Africa. This would surely be an area of much fighting in the future.
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Deccan had tightened their control of Hindustan, but the Spice Islands had shattered into chaos.
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And Imperial explorers were discovering new lands to the East of Asia.
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In Eastern Europe, Muscowy was growing ever stronger.
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And borders continued to shift within Central Europe.
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Within the Empire, the Imperial Bureaucracy had left power firmly in the Emperor’s hands. The Legion’s practice of drill had led to great defensive strength, though the navy was neglected. The long-ago declaration on Unam Sanctum had led to the Legions making war all throughout Christendom. There was a strong desire to explore and to settle new lands, though frequently the settlement was just enough to bring those lands under the Empire’s political sway. The locals would remain the dominant local powers. The patronage of arts among the aristocracy had led to a renaissance of arts and natural philosophy. As well, there was a growing class of merchant nobles. They had little protection from the state in their trade, but they rarely needed it. Among the lower classes, many were still tenant farmers, though they had a great many rights and protections from church and from Constantinople.
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This was the known world in 1650.
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[1]I’ve checked. They’ve got missionaries, they’ve got money, but they seem to have no interest in placing them.[2]

[2]Playing further, they seem to have gotten over their indecisiveness. Finally.

The Empire Strikes Back 68 – Minor Wars

In the wake of the Mailnese war, there was little war to be had, so Ioannes focused on administrating the Empire while his various truces expired. He also focused on administrating Kiev, often overlooked by the Emperors. With its great expansion, the feudal organization was insufficient to govern it well. So Ioannes reformed the government, centralizing the power and renaming it the Kingdom of Ukraine.
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He also convinced the Duchy of Atbar to surrender the last of their independence, and then transferred their lands (Dar Ja’al) to Ethiopia’s control.
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And of course when Muscowy requested help in their conquest of Ryazan, Ioannes was glad to send the Legions to help.

Around this time, the artistic renaissance clearly demonstrated its effects on other area of life as a group of natural philosophers began to make great discoveries about the natural world. Ioannes provided them support, organizing them as the Imperial Society of Constantinople for Improving Natural Knowledge (generally known as the Imperial Society). His most significant requirement was that their results must be published in a regular journal.
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Later that year, Scotland incorporated Ethiopia into their realm when their mutual King died. It had been bad enough that a nation in the Empire’s sway was ruled by a Scot, but this was intolerable. War was given for the sake of the Ethiopian people.

In 1646, Scotland agreed to the loss of nearly all their colonies and protectorates not in North America. They had lost a North American colony to the Aztecs, but on the whole their colonies there were safe for now.
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Just before the end of 1646, the truce with Hungary expired. I Legio, IX Legio, and XIX Legio moved to the attack. And when Lorraine announced their defense of Hungary, XVI Legio and XXIII Legio moved on them.
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Lorraine had often been a thorn in the side of the Empire, and Ioannes suspected many nobles would desire their lands soon. So the greater part of their Kingdom was given independence.
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Hungary was forced to give up the last of the Austrian lands the Empire desired, as well as finally give up their claims to several other promises.
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Roman Austria had been recovered. And the nobles soon hungered for the Roman Netherlands. Hainut was the first to fall, friendless and alone.
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The rest of the independent nations there would soon follow. But Ioannes had received notice that Smolensk now supported the Reformed faith. This, like the former religious disputes, would be solved with violence.
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Before I Legio and IV Legio could get in position, Muscowy declared war on Yaroslavl and asked the Empire for help. Ioannes agreed.
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Though this did not preclude a war with Smolensk at the same time. Sadly, Ioannes died of natural causes[1] before he could see his wars through. Demetrios was at war as soon as he ascended to the throne.
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[1]A surprising number of things count as natural causes when one is the Emperor.