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Alternate fall of the Byzantine Empire
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Topic: Alternate fall of the Byzantine Empire
Posted: 21-Mar-2009 at 02:03
I know most timeline of the Byzantine Empire involve it not falling, but for stories I'm contemplating I need the Empire to fall, but differently to give the Greeks a fighting chance at retaining a real demographic foothold in Anatolia in the 20th century. To that end I remember reading the massive blood shed between Christians and Muslims stopped when Memmel II puppeted the Patriarch and made the Christians willing dhimmis. There was still slaughter to be sure but not as much. So I need the Empire to fall late and in one fell swoop. Here goes:
Michael VIII does everything he can to appease western powers during his rule, while carving up large portions of the Rum Sultanate, which by that time had fallen into complete disarray. While he does not destroy the sultanate itself, he DOES restore the Commenian borders in the East, and subdues Trebizond and establishes trading rights with the Mamluks Through overland routes in Cilicia, greatly improving the Byzantine economy. More importantly, he raises his son in the saddle so that in that world he will become known as:
Andronic the Conqueror
Instead of becoming a masterful theologian, Andronic becomes a powerful warlord, who spends most of his reign fighting Latin interests, destroying Latin bases in Cyprus, Armenia (not really Latin, but often aligned), conquering Bulgaria, and securing all of the Komenian Empire except Crete and Serbia. The Ottomans attack, but are bloodily repulsed. The Ghazis turn on each other, blaming impiety for lack of victory against the Christians, and the Ottomans employ them mercilessly against their rivals, consolidating power in Rum while Byzantium bleeds itself dry and heads into a long period of Civil War and decline.
Good so far?
Kastrophylax kai Tzaousios
Location: United States
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|Post Options Quote Reply Posted: 22-Mar-2009 at 20:06|
A more interesting alternative history would be to have Michael VIII remaining in the Empire of Nicaea and further consolidating it as the Byzantine power base. In essence the new Empire would be one that reconquered Asia Minor, thus securing its traditonal source of manpower and wealth.
Over the many centuries of Roman and Byzantine rule, the Balkans had been lost and retaken, all without much gain except for patriotic symbolism. Realistically, the Balkans were a wasteland that had been ravaged and stripped of resources by the Huns, Slavs, Crusaders, and Turks.
You mentioned that in your scenario Michael VIII established trading rights with the Mamlukes and in Cilicia. But this does not resolve the problems with the Italian trading republics, who had rested control of the Byzantine economy away from natives and were living as parasites on it. They had done the real damage to the Byzantine economy and livelihood.
One of the main criticims of Michael VIII and the Andronikoi is that they neglected Asia Minor in preference to the Balkans and Constantinople, which had symbolic value more than anything. Andronikos III actually made some military reforms and reconstituted a small navy. Perhaps even more could have been done if the seat of the Empire remained at Nicaea.
For more background reading, I would suggest the following. Some of these can be viewed on Googlebooks in part.
Angelov, Dimiter. Imperial Ideology and Political Thought in Byzantium (1204-1330). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Angold, Michael. A Byzantine Government in Exile: Government and Society Under the Laskarids of Nicaea, 1204-1261. London: Oxford University Press, 1975.
Bartusis, Mark C. The Late Byzantine Army: Arms and Society, 1204-1453. Middle Ages series. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992.
Geanakoplos, Deno John. Emperor Michael Palaeologus and the West, 1258-1282; A Study in Byzantine-Latin Relations. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1959.
Nicol, Donald MacGillivray. The Last Centuries of Byzantium, 1261-1453. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Nicol, Donald MacGillivray. The Immortal Emperor: The Life and Legend of Constantine Palaiologos, Last Emperor of the Romans. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Nicol, Donald MacGillivray. The Reluctant Emperor: A Biography of John Cantacuzene, Byzantine Emperor and Monk, C. 1295-1383. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
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