The Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Byzantium, is a large autocratic state occupying the Southern Balkan peninsula and Asia Minor. Its sole European border is with Hungary, mostly along the Danube river, while on the Asiatic side it borders The Caliphate and various small Transcaucus states. The capital is Constantinople and the population is around 81 million.
The current head of state is Emperor Ivan XIV.
The currency is the Byzantine Aspra (BZA).
The official languages are Greek and Bulgarian which are used in administrative purposes. However, Vlach, Serbian and Albanian are also widely spoken in the Balkan Hora whilst Turkish is spoken in the Easternmost Asiatic ones. Moves to promote these as official languages are regular but are intertwined in the difficult issue of Hora reform.
The Roman Empire is usually referred to as 'Byzantium, or Byzantine Empire' in Western Europe and Leifia, mainly to differentiate it from the Holy Roman Empire. In the Rus' successor states, the Caliphate and the Empire itself, it is simply 'the Roman Empire'. Often when someone wishes to insult an imperial subject they will call it the Bulgarian Empire referring to the origins of the ruling dynasty.
Becoming the seat of the Roman Empire in 330 AD the city of Constantinople (previously named Byzantium) became the sole successor to the empire as Rome itself became subject to Barbarian incursions. As the Western regions were lost to barbarians the empire shifted to a more Greek culture rather than a Latin one.
Over the centuries the empire slowly came to terms with its new neighbours although the Great Schism in the church and the establishment of a rival Roman Empire in Germany tested relations. Indeed, it would eventually come to see the barbarian west as its best hope as a new threat in the form of militant Islam arose in the East during the 7th century. As Byzantium moved its troops eastwards it allowed Slavic tribes and Bulgars into the Balkans. While the territory the empire controlled would shrink noticeably it was balanced by an improvement in the organisation and economy of the empire. This allowed a great expansion directed against the Arabs, Serbs and Bulgars during the 10th century.
The arrival of the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century threatened all the gains. At Manzikert in 1071 the Byzantine army was routed and as a result lost most of Asia Minor. After pleas from Emperor Alexios I the Roman pontiff replied with the First Crusade. The huge western army helped put the Turks on the back foot as well as setup various crusader states in the Holy Land. These would provide yet another irritant for the Byzantines, already hard-pressed by Norman activity in Sicily and Greece. But in general the empire prospered. This was all put under threat at the end of the 12th century by coup d'etats, Serbian and Bulgarian revolts and gross corruption. When the Fourth Crusade was redirected to take Constantinople for the claimant Alexios IV the empire was already falling apart. After another round of coup d'etats the crusaders stormed the city. A brief Latin rule was setup in the ruins of the Byzantine Empire.
Under Bulgarian Rule
While the crusaders divided up the spoils of conquest, the Bulgars had freed themselves and had formed their Second Empire, largely taking existing Byzantine administrative structures wholesale. Under Kaloyan they had expanded to subjugate most of the Balkans and would decisively defeat the Latin Empire in 1205. In 1235 Constantinople itself was taken. With the other Byzantine successor states momentarily cowed by the Bulgar's military successes Ivan Asen II had himself crowned Roman Emperor. The Bulgarian patriarch removed the Latin one destroying the union of the church once more. Despite losses to various parties, particularly Italian nobles clinging on to the Greek coasts the new empire consolidated itself, proving more durable and less prone to infighting than the Greek dynasties it replaced. Despite regular raids by Tatars and Mongols the empire remained unbowed and would eventually take to reconquering the remaining Byzantine territories in Asia Minor. In 1352 it could generate enough manpower and support to defeat the Mongols in the shadow of the walls of Constantinople itself.
Huge efforts to curb the power of the Mongol Ilkhanate led to an agreement with the Mamluks attempting to re-establish a united Caliphate to the South. Both powers agreed a general settlement granting freedom of worship to those in the Holy Land and proceeded to campaign together against the Mongols and the Turks, who still caused many problems for both in the centre.
The long Turkish Wars or Ανακατάληψη ('Reconquest') were a cycle of bursts of activity followed by shoring up of defenses before the next wave of attack, akin to the reconquista of the Iberian peninsula. It represented a severe drain to the Empire's resources, though this was offset by using the troublesome Italians as mercenaries for much of the initial wave. The Sultanate of Rum had been shattered by the initial intrusion of the Mongols and Byzantium could pick off the surviving Beylik states one by one beginning with the monumental clash with the Ottoman Emirate in 1299. Some Beys would accept conversion to Christianity or vassalisation, marrying Byzantine princesses, in an attempt to hold on to their lands. By 1496 only Turkiye would remain.
In the long run, with the Turks subjugated and the East calmer, excluding the regular Caliphate civil wars and occasional Turkish incursions, the Empire prospered. By the 16th century most of its energies were fed into dominating the Black Sea and holding the Balkans. It would regularly be at war with Luxembourgoise Hungary, Venice, over designs on its Greek coasts, rebellions in Serbia and the Rus' Successor states in the North. By 1600 the borders of its territory were mostly stable, its economy booming and the Bulgar, or Kaloyanoi, Dynasty unchallenged. While its vessels were plying the route from Mexica to Constantinople it was eagerly channeling funds to the those Caucus states willing to hold out against the advancing Rus'. It sat out the Fifty Years War, refusing to be drawn into the mire, and pursued its own wars against the Caliphate instead, aimed at securing a route to the Indian Ocean. Though this desire never came to pass it would spend an inordinate amount of money on various sides in the never-ending Caliphate internecine war, ensuring it could keep it from posing a coherent threat.
Wars against Tver, Vladimir and Hungary slowly lost it influence north of the Danube while renewed conflict with the Caliphate and Vladimir over the Transcaucus region has restricted it to a line running from Antioch to Lake Van. A minor role during the Iberian revolution garnered it support from the major Western powers but otherwise it is generally ignored, being outside the mainstream of European political life. In 1924 after a century of minor wars it finally came to an agreement with Hungary over the division of Bosnia, it taking the Serb areas while Hungary took the Croatian areas. While this has solved one problem it has created another as the Serbian population is increasing its calls for autonomy and independence. Alongside this the Caliphate has passed through almost a century without major revolt. This has strengthened the hand of the rulers to a level not seen since the medieval period and has been making Byzantium, along with others, uncomfortable.
The renewed violence in Serbia has exposed the regime to ever greater scrutiny from Europe and many reformers hope it will force the government into long-overdue reform.
South EuboeaSeveral treaties with the Caliphate obliged Byzantium to renounce any claims on land to the south and east of Caliphate lands. In this respect Byzantium abandoned the Admiralty Islands near Madagascar in 1640, that it originally occupied in the 1620s hoping they would spur trade with the Far East. However when the continent of Australische was fully mapped in the 1850s it judged the lands to be far enough from the Caliphate to not breach the general terms of the agreement.
Using the standoff between Luxembourg and the Kalmar Union it claimed the island of South Euboea, fortifying several outposts. In the Australische Treaty of 1868 the claim was confirmed.
The island's first use was as a penal colony and disease spread by the new arrivals after the arduous ocean crossing unfortunately wiped out the original native islanders. However the first governor, Duke Michael was a reformer at heart and was determined not to repeat the 'mistakes' of the Empire's administrative legacy. In this respect he arranged for the government to be half elected - half appointed in a dual chamber system he copied freely from Western European government and essentially left it free from the tyranny of an over-powerful duke. Attempts by future dukes to reign in the liberal and democratic tendencies would regularly fail as the colony's population often appealed to the neighbouring Kalmar colonies for assistance.
Therefore South Euboea remains the Byzantine Empire's most liberal and democratic Hora and its example of good governance and quiet prosperity is often given as a reason for reform in the older regions of the Empire. The capital is Alexandropolis and the population is around 430,000. It is well noted for its ship-building industry.
Byzantium is an autocracy and all governmental decisions ultimately stem from the Emperor (or Empress). The empire is divided into 37 Hora which are governed in a mix of styles, either appointed, elected or somewhere in between. While the Hora do have considerable autonomy in law making and taxation their governors or dukes are directly appointed and often overrule the semi-elected governments. A severe crackdown on the independently minded and hereditary Dukes was completed in the mid-1800s. Since then small scale reform of the governmental system is occasionally attempted but widespread reform is usually beyond even the most able and popular rulers. Town and city senates are commonplace but are also deemed hotbeds of dissent and their terms are often disrupted by Imperial ordinance.
The current Emperor is Ivan XIV. His Proedros is Aristotle Korais.