Early New Comnenus Era
Emperor John III Comnenus, crowned in 1182, a grandchild of Emperor John II Comnenus, child of Emperor Andronikos I Comnenus (brother of the failed emperor, Manuel I Comnenus), establishes a clearer line of succession, following primogeniture, after a brief lack of emperor due to a poorly defined line. This allows for a clear Heir Apparent and adds much needed, though only temporary, stability to the Empire.
Despite this, John, a revolutionary among the Byzantines, adopts a more western style of nobility which comes under heavy fire and he is thrown into a vicious and damaging Civil War with much of the Empire. Much territory seceded and left Byzantium Weakened. At that time, John died peacefully, though in deep worry and regret, in his bed. His son, John IV Comnenus, is crowned in 1201 and, in fear of his Dynasty and even his Empire's survival, begins treaties with Rome. Pope William II and John IV agreed to reunite the Greek Orthodox and Catholic Churches and declared Byzantium a Catholic Empire.
John IV, now supported by much of Europe, receives loans and troops from thrones as far away as Poland and manages to reconquer much of his empire, forcing them to convert or be executed, winning the Civil War. John IV manages to secure his throne and gains some territory in both the Balkans and Anatolia and is forgiven of many debts and pays most of the remaining off before he died in 1233 of an infection relating to a cut he received during the Civil War.
John IV's son, Alexios II Comnenus, was crowned only days after his father's death. Alexios inherited a throne in an opportunistic condition. He signed a treaty with the Seljuk Sultanate and several other Muslim Kingdoms and turned armies north into the Balkans. He made it as far North as Bucharest and ended his advances to keep troops line from being stretched too thin and to allow him to profit off of these newly conquered lands. Despite initial civil disobedience and minor financial problems, Alexios turned the new lands into loyal, profitable, provinces and the Byzantine Language was taught to many of them. Most of his reign focused on forwarding Byzantium Culture while also merging it with Western Cultures to help the Empire move forward. Alexios also led to the first Byzantine Cardinals being appointed and increasing relations with the Kingdom of Jerusalem. He died in 1262 of natural causes and left his empire to his son, who would be crowned John V days later, who would be the first Emperor to, alongside taking the title of Roman Emperor, would also call himself Emperor of Constantinople, which would hare major ramifications for the Empire in later centuries.
John achieved immense success when he married Isabella of Jerusalem and produced more than 10 children with her, though the number is unsure do to his tenancy to sleep with many women, pretending their children to be of his wife and not them, and at least two known miscarriages of the Empress. John V died after only 19 years as emperor, though he took the throne at an older age and had many STDs at his death. Two weeks later, after an attempted regency to overthrow the then oversees Emperor apparent, Niketas Comnenus (second son of John V, after his older brother died at age 15, heir to the throne) takes the throne with a Latinised name of Nicolas I of Constantinople in 1281. In the same year, due to his mother's ancestry, Nicolas achieved for the first time a second throne and declared a new era to have begun.
High New Comnenus Era
With his father's marriage to Isabella and he being one of their many children, Nicolas was in line for the throne of Jerusalem. He had previously been uninterested in the Kingdom, but when the Last King of the Lusignan Dynasty (to which he was closely related) died leaving him the first choice for King, he was informed that the Royal Court of Jerusalem would allow him to become their King. He was crowned in Jerusalem in the same year he was made Emperor of Byzantium (1281). He only returned two times afterward, one to reform the appointed representative from Regent to Hereditary Viceroy and one on a Pilgrimage. He used his increasing wealth to fortify both the Byzantine Empire and to Supply the soldier starved Kingdom of Jerusalem. He gained control of much of Croatia during his reign and married a daughter of the King of Hungary, a increasingly large and powerful kingdom, which proved to be an excellent choice in the long run for the Empire. He died in 1311, ruling for nearly exactly 30 years.
His first son and then Crown Prince, John VI, then took the throne and began large scale reforms of the empire, including a more Westernised system of nobility and Latinising birth names of his subjects, which proved moderately effective. He also drastically modified the Kingdom of Jerusalem, declaring it no longer a mere personal union, but an actual part of the empire, naming the large province Levant, after the geographical are it was in. In the Levant, for the first time in ages, the Empire held Antioch and Edessa, which were made into the Provinces of Antioch and Edessa respectively. Though the Emperor had drastically increased land in the Holy Lands, he still had an overabundance of troops and hungered for power. He reconquered Crete, which had been under Venetian Control for much time and then invaded southern Italy and Sicily, declaring himself King of Sicily upon his victory. Rome, rather than condemning his action, praised them as being beneficial for Christianity. Despite these victories, John's largest land acquisition was, like Jerusalem has been for his father, an hereditary union of the crowns when he inherited the large Kingdom of Hungary, stretching as far east as Kiev, as far west as Vienna and has far north as southern Bohemia. He knew they would be reluctant to merge entirely with the Empire, though by his death in 1345, Hungary had already ceded land and much of its independence to the Empire. The Emperor's son took the throne as John VII three days later.
His first actions were to transfer his Hungarian Troops into the Byzantine army, a difficult matter due to potential legal issues. Luckily, he succeeded, though less troops were transferred than he wished. But, despite this, only 14 months later, the Nobles of Hungary agreed to one of the Emperor's frequent requests to merge Hungary with the Empire. They were granted higher titles and grants of money, alongside being able to govern their lands as full fledged provinces, answering only to the Emperor. The provinces were tiny usually though do to a combination of inheritances and legal purchases, the provinces were de facto merged, creating 5 main provinces. The Emperor officially merged them and slightly modified their lands to remove enclaves and exclaves to balance power. The Emperor by that point, had more land than the Holy Roman Empire (which, at the time and only briefly, controlled Greater Germany and France. He focused on expansion into Anatolia and married the first Daughter of the Armenian King in 1352 and produced a daughter by the end of the year. Over the next decade, the empire expanded in the Levant and Anatolia, establishing itself as the most powerful nation-state in the Mid-East and Eastern Europe. The Emperor, a vicious conqueror, caught his wife cheating on him and had her and her lover executed. When the Armenian King protested by killing his diplomats, he launched a large scale invasion of Armenia in 1361, and defeated them in early 1363. He declared it a province of the empire and used its position to invade Cyprus. The Cypriots, having revolted many years ago, opposed this with great furry, driving his army from the island, the empires first major defeat since then end of its Civil War. The Emperor was present at the defeat and was taken captive.
His only child, his daughter, refused to pay his ransom and he was executed in Cyprus in 1364. She took the throne as Anna I, the first Empress of Byzantium. As Empress, Anna was initially considered a "weak" Empress and was targeted by neighboring nations seeking Byzantine Land. She proved herself a strong leader in 1371 when, after her armies were battered from the constant warring, she demanded Papal Intervention. The Pope, unwilling to aid her, quickly came to regret his decision and was taken Captive during a brief but brutal raid on Rome. Anna then demanded him to retract his refusal. Upon signing a document threatening to excommunicate all those who warred with Byzantium, he was released for a small sum of gold and a quarter of his swiss guard, who took up a role in the Empress's guard. Her reign brought no expansion or territory loss but she solidified the empire with improved roads, greater trading, cultural furtherance to the newer parts of the Empire. She is also responsible for commissioning and partaking in the creation of an early form of Byzantine Hungarian. But her most famed advancement was the adoption of Gunpowder into the army, a long overdue advancement as the power was first put to use in Cannons and Guns in Europe in 1345. By the time of her death in 1397, the Empire had become solid on the inside and not only on the outside. She died childless and the last Comnenus Emperor, leaving the throne to Alexios Comnenus, a cousin sharing ancestry with her through Nicolas Comnenus. He took the throne as Alexios III and was the first Emperor of the Comnenus-Capetian dynasty. He focused on military reforms and securing control over Southern Italy, one of which was a formal merger of the crowns making the Empire itself even larger. With his reforms and securing of Italian and Sicilian interests, his reign had many downfalls. The most major one of these was the brutal loss of the Levant to the newly restored Fatimid Caliphate. In in 1404, the fourth Crusade was called, which Byzantium took part of, to reclaim Jerusalem. The Crusade Was successful in securing Acre and some of the seaboard but was largely unsuccessful. Byzantium also had nearly no say in the matters of the lands that were once its own. The lands would never be reclaimed by Byzantium. Emperor Alexios did have one other milestone in his reign; the election of a Byzantine Pope. He only held the tiara for six years before dying, but it was nonetheless a great achievement and a recognition of Byzantium's now longtime shift back to a religious affiliation with Rome. Alexios utilized this new connection to strengthen Catholicism in Byzantium and, ultimately, make himself a central religious figure, even after the Pope's death. Despite his new found religious power, he was not immortal and died in 1426 of natural causes, leaving the empire to his son, Constantine, who ruled as Constantine XI of Byzantium.
Late New Comnenus Era
The new Emperor, Constantine XI, was fascinated in tales from Norway and Iceland of a New World which the had rediscovered through semi-historical records in their sagas, even finding descendants of Icelandic and Greenlandic Colonists still living in the are, having become in power of much of what they called Vinland, an island apparently off the coast of an entire new continent. He invested much of the annual taxes into creating better ships, with new ones every year and with his large number of freed slaves and lower class men available, he had the largest navy in the Mediterranean, perhaps the world. Aside from ship building, much of his reign centered on internal development and increasing trade, something which his vast fleets helped to do. He reigned in a stable time in Byzantium, ensuring its power would last for much time. Though he never got ships to land in the New World, he established a legacy that would mean that Byzantium was not far from its goals. He died in 1472 after a long battle with numerous diseases. He was succeeded by his son, Constantine XII, who, like his father, craved to conquer the New World. This would lead to a bright new future for Byzantium.
Age of Colonization
The Old world was at the time abuzz with the news from Norway as it continued to develop. Luckily, aside from the restoration of contact between the Norse colony and its parent states, leading to advances oversees in technology, allowing complete conquering of Vinland and new Colonies on the new continent itself, the New World was largely untouched at that time. With this knowledge, Constantine intended to ensure Byzantium would be one of the first to possess land oversees. He recruited Athenian Native, Nikephoros Choniates, to lead a fleet oversees and, should he find land and survive, return for more settlers and supplies. In 1485 Choniates was successful and found land which he named Constantland (OTL Hispaniola) after his Emperor, planted a flag and returned to receive vast rewards. He returned to the Island, landing not far from the flag site, and oversaw the colonizers as they built a small fishing and farming village. He named the village New Athens, after his home city. He would return to Byzantium many times and depart on many voyages, as well as stopping in his village, before he died when attacked by what became known later on as the Aztecs. Constantine, though proud of his new colony, felt he needed more oversees and over his reign many colonies were formed. He also craved wealth and sent more expeditions to examine what was correctly believed as the mainland. The dying Aztec Empire was encountered early on and war broke out very fast. Many rival natives aided the Byzantines to conquer the Aztecs and by 1493, they were nearly all wiped out. The Byzantine colonists spread like wildfire throughout the Yucatan and what was called Mexico, based of the Mexica tribes, establishing a strong Byzantine presence oversees. Back in the old world, the empire made a comparatively small territorial gain when they conquered Cyprus and restored it as a part of the empire. Only weeks after the dawn of the new century (1500), Constantine died and was succeeded by his son, John VII. John brought about new reforms in Byzantium and Europe. John, a longtime sympathizer with the protestants, broke free from Rome, declaring himself the head of the Greek/Byzantine Church. The Papacy excommunicated him, which he responded with by sacking Rome, killing the pope and making his cousin, the Greek-French leader of the anti Capet Rebels, Leon de Comenus, the Viceroy of Rome, allowing his followers a safe haven. In the New World, additional land in Central and South America was acquired. In the Norse colonies, Byzantium had staked out a small fishing settlement in the north (OTL Baffin island), which they named Justinia, after the great Emperor Justinian. The Norse who had expeditions there were surprised to find a bustling fishing settlements not far from their shores. The King of Vinland, King Magnus III, ended up declaring war on the settlers, unaware of Byzantium's power.
The Vinland Wars, often considered the birth of Byzantine Rule far from home, lasted from 1512 to 1529. The Emperor Commissioned the 506th Legion, known as the American Guard for their role in the New World, who, alongside more minor legions, crushed the Vinlanders and their Markland Territories. Having been defeated, Magnus was dethroned, disgraced and then executed. His son, Knud, was forced to marry Isabella Comenus, who produced a son. using this, Knud was then imprisoned and taken to Constantinople while his wife ruled in Knud and their son's place and the 506th and another legion guarded Vinland and kept it loyal. With Vinland still technically separate from Byzantium, it was mandated to grant all of its mainland territories to the Empire and all of its theoretical claims to additional land to be transferred alongside it. This led to, over many years, massive colonization of Markland, which kept its name, and fuel for more colonies in North America.
Rise of Rome and the Egyptian Crusade
With Rome reconquered and granted a de facto autonomous province was able to grow considerably larger, going as far north as Milan, as far east as Venice and as far west as Provence. This new expansion and the province's relatively independent state allowed for it to build up large armies and a strong economy of its own, leading to further autonomy. This led to a fear of the increasing power of the Province by many in Constantinople, but their concerns were largely ignored. The Roman Province, largely Catholic, further concerned the rest of the Empire by adopting an official tolerance of Catholics and allowing them to hold offices within the province. The papacy, however, remained banned from the Kingdom and was forced to base itself in France, at varying locations. By this point, John had gone insane and his son, Jacen, was Prince Regent and, by 1543, when his father finally died, Emperor. Jacen, or Emperor Jacen I, led a vicious attack on Egypt, intent on creating a new province for his empire and the start of a new, protestant crusade intent on taking Jerusalem. His armies were successful until the reached Cairo, where they were pushed back for months until they only held a small strip of land, which was when Jacen, who had already returned to Constantinople, ordered what was left to withdraw. The Roman governor utilized this weakened state of Byzantium to seize the weakly and only recently garrisoned Islands of Sardinia and Corsica by force, declaring them to be a part of his province, which, due to the circumstances at the time, was tolerated and officially recognized by the Emperor. Around this time, Byzantium also lost control of some of its northern territories in Europe but gained further land and conquest in the New World. By that point, the lands were being divided up to make formal provinces out of them. By 1569, when Jacen Died, the empire had lost ground in Europe but was making a comeback in military power, making what they still had densely guarded and also a massive gain of land in the New World.
Age of Peace
For the first time in centuries, despite the losses in Europe and Egypt, the Empire stood at peace. As the New World was filling out and the colonies were sharing borders with other European settlements and their growth in North America, the Balkans were in peace. Byzantium began an age of prosperity and helping further the development of its colonies. After Jacen's death, his son, John VIII, took power and helped the Empire prosper. In 1607, his son took the throne as Manuel II and built up the navy further, had several islands in the far east colonized and began relations with China and Japan. In the New World, things were getting more developed and the new North American Colonies were grand (taking up much of Eastern and Central OTL USA and Canada) by the time of Manuel's, one of the longest reigning Emperors, death in 1656 and the time of his son's rise, the Empire and its colonies were in a golden age.
Renewed Age of War
After the death of Manuel II his son Manuel III become emperor. In 1609 he launched the first and only Protestant Crusade that was successful in taking the Holy Land. In addition, he also began the colonize India in 1614 with East Constantinople Trading Company. Also he began an invasion of Japan, after a merchant ship that carried a large shipment of gold and spices, was sunk near Edo under mysterious circumstances.