Ah Thomas, what a crazy fox he truly is...
Two great updates mate. And it's amazing how now Nikophoros is one off my fav characters, you've killed all the others!
Dare I ask where you go get the pics from?
Ah Thomas, what a crazy fox he truly is...
Two great updates mate. And it's amazing how now Nikophoros is one off my fav characters, you've killed all the others!
Dare I ask where you go get the pics from?
Great updates! I have a feeling that the person behind the assassinations is someone far closer to home than anyone expects...
Palace of Blachernae, 1122 AD
"I do not think the same man wanted Taticius and Mikhail dead." Isaakios was growing a weak goatee and he stroked it in a most annoying fashion as he leaned into Andronikos' ear "Both may have been councillors, sure, but one was a general and the other a spymaster. They played to very much different crowds."
Shrugging, Andronikos indicated his reaction "Whatever, brother, the result remains the same. The fashion for the nobles is now to go everywhere with a brutish guard," his own guard, a Constantinople gutter giant "will continue and everyone knows that the protection of the Emperor is not quite as strong as it ought to be. What confidence do people have? Truthfully, it matters not whether both or only one was felled by the same waved hand. The people say the Turks sent them. Perhaps. Who cares?"
"Apathy ill suits you, brother. Our father cares and so should you."
"Save me your sanctimonious witterings, Isaak. You have a keen mind but do not expect me to over indulge you."
"You make a grave mistake to underestimate our enemies. It could be any one of us next." Isaakios was following Andronikos as he walked across the perfumed garden, nearly tripping on his heels "Any of us!"
Without turning, Andronikos barbed his words "I go to see the Emperor. Make yourself scarce and think some more."
The two Varangians at the door bowed and parted as he entered the bath room, where he knew Alexios would be sat alone, inhaling the fumes. Behind him, he heard Isaakios move off after a few seconds, the doors swinging shut. Removing his boots, he stepped in to the pool "Father?" no reply, not too unusual though, it was a fairly large room, "Father?" a few seconds, still nothing, "Father!" Andronikos had said any of us... surely not, no... "Father!" no reply, he waded frantically deeper and then hauled himself out, to the steps where Alexios liked to sit "Father!" and collided with a mass of flesh, knocking himself off balance and also the figure, who keeled over before jerking back up
"Taticius? Irene?" Alexios' eyes were glazed with a red rheum as they blinked open, his skin gummy with the humidity of the bathroom
"No, father, your son."
"John?" hands reached blindly out and touch his wrist. It scared Andronikos to see his father so week, always he had been the epitome of strength, the strongest most admirable man in the world. Still he maintained that veneer in public, but alone he was terrifying, just an old man
It was with reluctance and fear that Andros corrected him "No, Andros."
"Ah, the other son," he could not tell whether Alexios was disappointed or relieved "I have been meaning to tell you something. Some days I forget, for some days I am a different man and think only of John, but other days I see clearly and see you as the stronger one. He would ruin our Empire, he is soft in the head, like Taticius always said. He dreams of Rome. Rome! Rome is the 'Eternal City' because she does not change, does not evolve as beautiful Constantinople changes. Should he gain power he would attempt to move power to Rome. When we spoke he was all apology, but thanks to me has learnt some poor form of political nous, you can tell there is no real contrition beneath him. Andronikos, although I may never tell you so officially- seize the purple robes once I am dead." his eyes had a momentary hint of fear, staring as they were into the abyss. Andronikos' stomach coiled as the old man's putrid breath washed over him "And I know who killed Taticius. Thomas Doukas. Use him. He is power hungry, learn how to play on that. Trust no-one. The Phillipus will pray for stability, Gabras for war, Zigopoulos for war. Dalasennos for growth and money, Vyrennios for the east and whatever designs on the throne he has. God himself can only guess what Ioannis wants, deep inside himself. I pray his journey to discovery does not consume the Empire..." Alexios trailed off, his voice echoing with sadness in the chamber
Andronikos filled the silence "Thank you, father. You mean to make me your heir?"
"That would not be politic. You must make yourself my heir, it is the Roman way. Go. Tell no-one of this. Remember I am not always myself. Wait on my death, gain allies and gain a plan. I bless you, Andronikos, future Emperor of the Romans."
Alan Sorrell's famous reconstruction of medieval Constantinople, with aqueduct and hippodrome
The killers is a pretty tale...
Omg this is so intesnse. Its not historical though...
Because Ioannis was one of the greatest emperors of Constantinople ever.
Although it is a bit ahistorical (is it?) I like it! Creates for a more interesting death...
Although:Is that meant to be 'wasn't terrifying'?but alone he was terrifying, just an old man
I think he meant andronikos was scared for his health.
Constantinople, 1122 AD
Strong sunlight beat the people down outside, Ioannis knew, the rays aggressive, seeming to pulse and turn in the frazzling heat. Workers had died this month in some of the less humane yards, even as laws were passed by Quaestor Philip to combat this worrying trend. The people were relying ever more on the aqueducts and the council felt they had done as much as they could for the situation, with any chance of a riot quelled and in any case the weather too hot for the peasants to do much more than glower at their betters. As it was, council itself was a sullen affair, Alexios insisting they remain in the old chamber at Blachernae, which was stifled and stuffy. Iakovos Phillipus in particular looked uncomfortably under his grey beard, still flecked with russet.
Himself, Ioannis had devoted himself to raising his children and trying to win over the Patriarch, who insisted that there could be no peace brokered between Rome and Constantinople. There would be a different Patriarch when Alexios died. Silence beat a heavy tune as minutes crawled by like dying men. They were waiting for Thomas Doukas to arrive before they left and Ioannis suspected none of them would have any news from him. Those who knew, would know and the chances he knew anyway, were low. The door opened, a Varangian barrelled his way in, red-faced with steam almost visible from his hairy blonde face "Doukas here, Emperor."
"Let him in." Alexios' voice was slurred, as it often was these dog days. Thomas wore only a Turk style tunic and trousers, white for what little breeze Constantinople offered, his face was closed apart from the glower of heat on it a he bowed before the Basileus. "Stand and speak, tell us what you have found."
"Everyone suspects Mesud of the assassinations, but no-one has any proof and indeed many will not even dare say it."
Michael Phillipus sneered cruelly "As we suspected."
His brother too adopted a mocking tone "Who... would... not dare to... say... murder..."
"But," carrying on regardless, Doukas kept looking at the Emperor "I have heard the worst rumours, begging forgiveness, your imperial majesty, but many in Athens believe that Nikophoros plans to raise armies. Either to challenge your sovereignty now or to bring the matter of your succession to a point."
"Truly?" Alexios sounded impossibly old, his voice quavering
Nodding, Doukas kept his eyes low "I trust those sources more than any others. There are many high men who have fears and servants hear these things. My family at Korinthos and Mystra are naturally fearful for their safety in the event of war being made."
"He would challenge my authority?" Alexios voice grew a little stronger, the obstinate character of the elderly echoed through him "Yet we have no proof."
"He would challenge the legitimacy of you and your sons to rule and place Anna first as your firstborn and himself as her ruler, as her husband."
"Let it be known." Alexios' voice shook a little, but grew stronger "Let it be known, in every town in this Empire, from Palermo to Sis, that Ioannis Komnenos shall become Emperor John II Komnenos, he is the one true heir to the Roman Empire and he has been chosen by God to be the next leader of our people. Should any man, high or low born, attempt to subvert the will of God, the full wrath of God and of his Emperor shall be unleashed, not just on that man but on his town, his family, everyman who colludes with him or does not support the Imperial Peace. Let it be known that the man who opposes the Komnenos name, is the man who dies. Let it be known. Everywhere, every church, every market, every dockyard and army camp. Each of you here today shall spread that word. Send messages to the Holy Roman Emperor, Kyiv and to Novgorod, proclaiming my Ioannis as my true heir in God's name and any man who opposes him a traitor, bound for hell." the fire within him dead, Alexios slumped back into his chair and gazed around the room with sunken eyes, lingering for a second, a sad second, on Ioannis "Do it."
Will Ioannis become Basileus?
It's ahistorical, but so is the whole AAR and Ioannis could become a great Emperor... (and I did mean Alexios was so ill that it was terrifying)
Ah my bad, I got slightly confused.
Great update, although Alexios is changing his heirs like the wind. I did always suspect Nikophoros.
This must be a mistake :Dimitra? Really? Shouldn't it be Anna..."He would challenge the legitimacy of you and your sons to rule and place Dimitra first as your firstborn and himself as her ruler, as her husband."
Also, how's the family doc. going?
Yeah, I said to myself " wait, there's TWO dmitria's? What have I missed?"
Naples, 1123 AD
Let it be known, that Ioannis Komnenos shall become Emperor John II Komnenos, for he is the one true heir to the Roman Empire and he has been chosen by God to be the next leader of our people. Should any man, high or low born, attempt to subvert the will of God, the full wrath of God and of his Emperor shall be unleashed, not just on that man but on his town, his family, everyman who colludes with him or does not support the Imperial Peace. Let it be known that the man who opposes the Komnenos name, is the man who dies.
Roman finished reading and pursed his lips, looking out over the bay from the high window of his tower. Alexios grew ever weaker and here he was in Italy, effectively merely a steward of Ioannis. If there was a war of succession, he would have little choice but to leap to the aid of the Komnenos, so little was his own strength and so unsavoury Vyrennios. In any case, being of aid to Ioannis would hopefully lead to a more exalted position that effective Exarch of Italy, Sicily and Bulgaria, three war-torn regions that were proving remarkably easy to quell.
Aided by Julius the Arab, de facto governor of Sicily as advisor to Roman's eldest son Flavius, he had full control of Italy south of Rome, Sicily and the seas as far south as Malta and east in the Tyrrhenian, the Norman fleets defeated and the native Arab population ever closer to the Romans. Julius whispered words that suggested an invasion of Africa and Sardinia could be possible if only they had the men. But when they were garrisoning most towns in the new lands with what they had and the rest had returned to their homes, he would be waiting on an Emperor.
Whoever the Emperor was. Why had Alexios chosen now to do so if there was not dissent in Constantinople. He heard from many that the deaths of Taticius and Szekeres had rocked the City, especially as wild rumours circulated and no culprits were found. Apparently Thomas Doukas now bore the mantle of spymaster, a sly fish and doubtless adept at his job, but could Alexios trust this man as much? Roman hoped Maurice was making himself useful, his caustic wit being used rather than his taste in negotiable affection. The hope was for the ex-minstrel to be a realist on that table of bearded old men like the Phillipus and young ambitious men like Doukas. Even if he was not respected, let Alexios hear his words.
Let the wolves not scent weakness from the Komnenos, at least not until Dalasennos was stronger.
Thanks for the spot guys! Short update but come Sunday/Monday should be a meatier one for you, transitional phase for the AAR but summer is coming so free time beckons... thanks for all of you that have been reading and commenting
May 28th 1123
The sky is heavy, stunted clouds sluggishly traverse the azure plains above us, the vista cut by the towering monuments of Constantinople. Birds flit above, as trade continues in City of Cities, Jewel of the World, New Rome and capital of the Empire. In the Pisan Quarters, merchants haggle endlessly as cargoes of wool, silk and luxuries are endlessly transferred in a dance too complex for many men to see. At the hippodrome, the Red team celebrate the success of another season's victory. Men whisper, fight and laugh, as noblemen loll in the heat and wait for the teasing breezes to come again. At the Palace of Blachernae, one man lies sweating on linen sheets, his skin ashen and his eyes darkened. He is alone in the room, convulsing slightly as the sun moves and shadow comes across his face.
"Irene..." a hacking cough, foamy blood spurts out of the aged man's mouth "Taticius... John... Andros... God... Oh, God..." more coughing, more blood and the man's eyes shut. The sun dips ever lower until shadows cover all of the man. A physician comes in and examines the man, but leaves swiftly, a priest coming in, then also leaving quickly.
The sun sets completely and with one last exhalation, the man shudders and ceases to move.
END OF CHAPTER ONE
How successful was the reign of Alexios I Komnenos in returning stability to the Byzantine Empire?
The Roman Empire as it was at Alexios' ascension, 1081
The reign of Alexios Komnenos, 1081-1123 is often considered the most successful turn as Emperor since Justinian, the boundaries of the Empire recovering to greater than they had been since before Manzikert, even if most of Anatolia remained in Turk hands. Four decades of energetic campaigning lead to great territorial expansion, but many argue that Alexios was too much of a general and not enough of a wise politician, the later years of his reign marked by physical weakness and incapacitation, leaving a political minefield for his successors to navigate.
Certainly, Alexios came to power due to his own strengths, defeating the emperor Nikophoros Botaneiates on the field of battle and seizing the crown for his own, determined to reverse the decline of Rome that was like a disease since Manzikert. In the early years he fought off the Normans at the Battle of Dyrrhachium, showing the Byzantine predilection for gold over steel as he bribed the German emperor Henry IV to attack the Normans in Italy rather than raising more of his own men. The death of Robert Guiscard in 1085 left the Normans headless and the threat was ended, with no Norman possessions on the Greek mainland and Corfu back in Roman hands.
At his back, there had been treachery, religious dissenters entering an alliance with the Pecheneqs, who raided and harried the northern borders of the Empire with impunity. As soon as he had dealt with the Normans, he left them behind and attempted to crush these dissenters. However, he suffered several defeats and ended up paying protection money to the barbarians- it is very clear that young Alexios was too rash, failing in his siege of a Pecheneq town and fleeing with his tail between his legs. Once again, gold bought him time, however and in 1091 at the Battle of Leuvonion he crushed the enemy- but only with the aid of 40,000 Cumans who he had bought as new allies.
By 1094, the western portion of the Byzantine Empire was more of less pacified- in only thirteen years Alexios had quelled the disparate mass of rebellion that his inept predecessors had left him. However, his next task was more arduous, more challenging and more dangerous- Anatolia. Imperial reserves harried the Turks and secured land on the coasts, but it was not enough. His ambassadors were sent to the west for aid from Christian brothers, ensuing the Council of Clermont, the Crusades and four hundred years of ceaseless war in the east. By 1096, the Crusaders arrived. The wealth of Constantinople left them in awe, as Alexios made each leader swear to return any land conquered to the Roman Empire.
Nicaea and Dorylaeum fell, reasserting Roman influence on western Asia Minor, so far, so good. But at Antioch, the plan went awry, as Alexios' favourite and general, the Turk Taticius, famed for his golden nose and gruff demeanour, refused to aid the Franks at the siege of Antioch. The angered Crusaders, emboldened by success and distance from Constantinople, declared their vows to Alexios void and set up the Crusader States of Antioch, Edessa, Tripoli and Jerusalem. This political faux pas ruined an otherwise perfect gambit from Alexios, who had recovered successfully half of the Empire's former territories in Anatolia and weakened the enemy Turks. However, Latin feels of betrayal and typical 'Byzantine politics' did no good in the long term.
However, when considering Alexios Komnenos, the Crusades of 1099 are perhaps not the greatest event of that year, rather the death of his mother, interfering Anna, and of his wife, Irene Doukaina, both of whom succumbed to a plague within months of each other. From that moment, Alexios devoted himself more to court and preferred to deploy Taticius and his co-Emperor son Ioannis when military might was required, which was not as often as before, with a treaty brokered between Constantinople and the Seljuks. In 1101, he sent Ioannis to deal with a rebel at Arta, but expected too much obedience from his adolescent son. In 1102, Ioannis had invaded Norman Italy and seized the castle of Bari, inflaming wounds between the two states which were still raw, the only preventative of war that Bari had rebelled from the Normans two years earlier.
Northern areas of the Empire had always been harder to quell and Cuman advances in the mid 1100s were of growing concern, as eventually Serbian and Bulgarian Tsars declared independence and dared Rome to come and fight them. In 1106, Alexios did, taking to field for the first time since the deaths of his mother and wife and crushing the pretenders mercilessly, returning the Balkans safe into the Roman fold. However, he snubbed Ioannis in public, not allowing him into the fray and favoured Nikophoros Vyrennios, wife of Anna Komnene and favoured successor of his mother, who had begged Alexios to make him co-emperor before her untimely death. Always an ambitious man, Alexios' pandering to him augured no good, allowing Vyrennios to invade Cilica too much free rein for a man with desires to the purple.
The bloody conquest of Cilicia seemed to quench the Imperial thirst for warfare, as apart from a revolt in Cilicia in 1116, the next decade was peaceful and concentrated on administrative reforms, Alexios strengthening the aristocracy and focusing on a smaller ruling class, creating large landowners across the Empire who held all the power. This divide and rule theory was dangerous, for it made the possibility of a revolt much stronger, should half the aristocracy grow tired of his rule, they could depose him as he had deposed Botaneiates. However, he was clearly confident in his own abilities and the 1110s were good years to be Roman.
Until 1117, when the final aggressive act of campaigning began. Ioannis took Sicily, while Alexios marched on Ragusa, the Romans aggrieved after discovering a series of Italian diplomatic plots and sensing weaknesses from the Venetians in Dalmatia and the Normans, who were embroiled in a war of attrition in Africa. Simultaneously, a Crusade was called, lead by Henry V of Germany and Istvan, a Magyar noble. Long tradition of enmity between Hungarians and Romans came to a front as Istvan was denied passage, while Henry was. Andronikos Komnenos, second son of Alexios, won a great victory at the Dardanelles in 1119 which surely saved Asia Minor from being overrun by Hungarians and Seljuks, who would have abandoned peace with such an opportunity. A stroke of luck for Alexios, who was injured at the siege of Ragusa and returned slowly to Constantinople while Ioannis pressed on.
Ioannis conquered Palermo and Andronikos reached Sicily too, subduing the south of the island with help from an Arab known as Julius, but the impetus was gone from the Romans, Alexios' age finally seeming to hit him. His legacy up to 1120 was one of perhaps the best Emperor in modern times, having recovered much land and entered a new era of admirable stability. It is a shame, therefore, that senility and poor decisions became his new watchword, his steel control collapsing with the death of courtier Mikhail Szekeres and his general- and some more fanciful sources say lover- Taticius. In those last years, court rearranged itself around him, he attempted to arrest Vyrennios but was humiliated and by 1122 ended up issuing an imperial letter to every corner of the Empire declaring Ioannis his heir by God's will. Death was coming. Andronikos Komnenos' would later claim Alexios was losing his mind and had told him he was heir. If this is true, much that is to follow could be blamed on those last few years- if only he had died at Ragusa, perhaps.
To conclude, Alexios I Komnenos oversaw the beginning of the famous 'Komnenian Restoration', seizing southern Italy and Sicily back, half of Anatolia and ushering in an age of prosperity and political stability. His military accomplishments were arguably mainly thanks to his wealth and diplomatic ability rather than skill in the field, but nevertheless he was successful. Those first forty years were crucial in the turnaround of Rome's fate, but equally it would be shown that the final two would as well, the succession crisis the focal point of Rome's following history. To my eyes, Alexios was a great Emperor, but his reign went on just a little too long.
The Roman Empire as Alexios I Komnenos left it in 1123
Thank you to all of my readers...
Is there more ?! It's been great so far!!
O and i nom nom nom on rep so yea...click the button...im waitingPromoter of:Spoiler Alert, click show to read:
Congratulations my friend, a fantastic end to a fantastic beginning.
The article was great, did you write that?
Although:Who'd of though Taticius would swing that way.and his general- and some more fanciful sources say lover- Taticius
Here's to the next stage. May there be even more plots to contend with.
A great ending to the first part! Can't wait to see what u will return with!
Tragedy of the Komnenoi
Constantinople, Early Summer of 1123 AD
______________________________________________________________________________________________________All of the Empire bows and swears their fealty to Emperor John Komnenos. That is, all of the Empire which does not bow and swear fealty to Emperor John Komnenos.
In the regions, discontent foments.
In Italy, a man ponders on the new Emperor's Roman obsession.
In the City itself, many bow heads which sweat with not only the heat of the Hagia Sophia but also the sheen of deceit.
Behind voluminous beards, whispers have passed. Across expensive wine from particular vines, treason is plotted.
Brothers have temptation placed under their noses and loyalty questioned with the heady stench of power.
Blond-haired men wonder what might have been and what still may be.
Across water and over hills, Turkmen and Northmen watch the heady summer lie stagnant across the sprawling Empire.
In Constantinople, three pigs fight over swill and the piglets squeal them on.
These are the remnants of Rome. This is the most powerful Empire in the world. This man, this sweating man, is the most powerful man in the world.
To be continued. The Tragedy will be slightly different to Chapter I, but I hope my readers shall return and maintain interest...
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