Alternate History

Graecia Eternalis

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Francocratia & the Great Ottoman War of 1299

In 1204 the Fourth Crusade saw the fall of the Byzantine Empire and its division into a number of Byzantine Greek successor states and Crusader states. In 1299 Osman I the founder of the Ottoman Empire took advantage of the weakened status of the various states in Anatolia and the Balkans due to their infighting to attempt to spread his rule there, after having subdued much of the Arab world in the Levant. He unified the Turkic states of Anatolia and sought to carve out an even greater Empire for himself.

Soon, the initial defeats of the Empire of Trebizond, Kingdom of Cyprus and the Empire of Nicaea drove the Crusaders and Byzantines successors to band together, in the face of Ottoman onslaught. Together they assembled an army of 45,000 troops. Following the destruction of several important Christian relics by the Ottomans the unlikely coalition of Christian states managed to convince Pope Boniface VIII to declare a Crusade against the Ottomans. These states met in Nauplia, a major port city in southern Greece where they officialised and sealed the agreement. It would be the first time Crusaders and Byzantine Successors, and later Italians and Aragonese, would sign a treaty of alliance.

However the major rulers of Christian Kingdoms like France and Britain had been alienated from the Papacy and the official leadership of the Catholic Church after it had issued the Unam Sanctam, attempting to assert direct political control over the Christian world. The Holy Roman Empire had just recovered from a civil war between the Habsurg and Nassau claimants to its throne, which ended merely in 1298 with the Battle of Göllheim. The only major Christian States to respond to the call where the Kingdom of Aragon, the Kingdom of Naples and Italian merchant city states like Genoa, Florence and Venice, which sought to protect their interests and their vassals in the area. These added a total of 25,000 men to the cause of the League of Nauplia.

The real strength the Italians and Aragonese added to the armies of the Holy Coalition was that of their massive fleets which numbered 230 ships. Using their fleets the League troops were able to crush any semblance of an Ottoman presence at sea and prevent the invasions of the Aegean Islands and Cyrpus as well as an Ottoman attempt to invade Constantinople. Major battles of the Great Ottoman War include the Battle of Salamis (Cyprus, 1299), the Battle of Attalia (Anatolia, 1299), the Battle of Candia (Crete, 1300), the Battle of Samos (Aegean Sea, 1300), the Battle of Constantinople (Black Sea, 1301) and the Battle of Antioch (Levant, 1302).

The war begun with the Battle of Sebastia (Anatolia, 1299). The Ottomans had begun a large offensive in Anatolia, before the forces of the Italians and Aragonese had arrived to aid the League of Nauplia. Under the leadership of John II of Trebizond the League's troops met the Ottoman Turks at Sebastia, in a surprise attack. Outnumbered and disorganised, having encountered little resistance to this point, the Turks charged at the first contingent of League troops they saw. This was, however, a ruse by John, who had left supplemented by 2000 Anatolian peasants who had joined the cause voluntarily, exposed to draw the Turks. Once the trap was sprung the entire League of Nauplia's army of 45,000 men, charged at the Turks' flanks from elevated ground, massacring their first ranks and causing the rest to flee. Hunted down as they retreated in a disorderly manner and confused the Turks suffered a decisive defeat. It is estimated that they lost up to 12,000 men in wounded, dead and captured. As the wounded were left behind they too were captured or died of their wounds. The entirety of Ottoman prisoners was executed.

In Smyrna, a major coastal city of Anatolia under Nicene control, the Crusader army arrived two weeks later. Swiftly the Crusader army attacked the Turks Bozdogan, a small town they had built in western Anatolia. The Turks had 30,000 troops. Instead of meeting them in open battle the Crusaders pretended to be retreating after an initial skirmish. They then marched to the Turkish camp at night, attacking while the Turks were still sleeping. In the chaos that followed, more than half of the Ottoman army was killed or captured, only to be executed later.

The League armies massacred Turkic populations on Anatolia, pushing them back continuously. The final battle that the Turks fought on Anatolia was the Battle of Side in 1301, when the entirety of their forces was destroyed by the combined armies of the League of Nauplia. The League lost 7600 troops while the Ottomans suffered 23,000 dead and their populations were driven from Anatolia forever. Recognizing the potential of combined efforts with the Christian coalition the Mamluk Caliphate of Egypt allied with them against the Turkic peoples which had been unified under Ottoman rule. The last battle of the war was fought in Antioch in 1302, when the the combined armies and fleets of the League of Nauplia and the Mamluk Caliphate defeated the last major Turkish army and the remnans of the Ottoman fleet. At a loss of 29 ships and 19,000 men they completely annihilated the Turkish army of 40,000 troops and sacked the city, exterminating any Turkic populations in it or in the general area around it. The Turks would never again be a major threat or force in the Middle East or Caucasus, fleeing south of the Caucasus, where they would be dealt their last, killing blow by the Persians a few decades later.

The Grecian Wars & the Medieval Greek Renaissance

Following the end of the Great Ottoman War the Byzantine and Crusader states in Greece and Anatolia returned to their squabbling. Central and Southern Anatolia were repopulated by a variety of people, why many areas of West Anatolia which had not been controlled by the Empire of Nicaea saw the Greeks that had been once evicted from there by the Turks return along with settlers from Greece, who sought stability and a chance for a new life. Anatolia saw a new state emerge: the Kingdom of Lycia. At the same time the Kingdom of Cyprus conquered many areas of Southern Anatolia. In Antioch the Principality of Antioch was re-founded, this time under a Cypriot French dynasty.

Mainland Greece saw a number of events: Epirus conquered most of Macedonia, Thrace and the western half of Central Greece, forming a massive empire, while eradicating the remnants of the Kingdom of Thessalonic and the Latin Empire. The Despotate was renamed Kingdom of Epirus, while Ioannina, its capital grew significantly, as did Thessalonica, Andrianopolis and other major cities in its holdings. The Kingdom of Epirus defeated the 2nd Bulgarian Empire, pushing the Bulgarians north of the Maritsa river. In 1309 it successfully put down a pro-Venitian Albanian revolution, massacring any Albanian populations in Epirus and then Illyria, replacing them with loyal Greek ones. The Byzantine Empire saw Constantinople re-grow as it once again became the largest and richest city in Europe, while the Anatolian cities under its rule also prospered. The Empire of Trebizond conquered parts of the Caucasus and it expanded its hold of Northern and Central Anatolia. In 1367 it was re-organised into the Kingdom of Pontus.

In 1867 the Principality of Achaea conquered the Despotate of the Morea, the last Byzantine stronghold in mainland Greece, as well as the Lordship of Nauplia and Argos, bringing all of the Peloponnese peninsula under its control. The Principality then moved to conquer all of the Ionian Islands except for Corfu, which was a Venetian holding. Achaea prospered greatly, becoming the food basket and vineyard of all of southern Greece, while its major ports begun developing into great cultural, economic and artistic centres, paving the way for the Greek Renaissance.

In 1311 the Catalan conquest of Athens saw the city come under the rule of the Catalan Company. The Company conquered Thessaly and all of Central Greece, except for the Western sections under Epirot rule. While good at conquering lands the Catalans were not nearly as good at ruiling as their French predecessors of the House of de la Roche. In 1388 the Florentine House of Acciaoli conquered Athens and in 1390 it captured Neopatria, the last Catalan stronghold in Greece. The Acciaoli were extremely capable rulers, managing to grow Athens into the largest city of Greece, big enough to rival major Italian city states. Soon enough the Acciaoli took most eastern and southern Aegean Islands. Another important acquisition of theirs was that of the Dodecannese. The Duchy of Athens became a great centre of trade, culture and philosophy, while a great admiration for the ancients spread throughout the Greek states, both Crusader and Byzantine Successor ones.

Soon enough the developments in Greece drew the attention of Venice, which was wary of the states there gaining too much power. The Principality of Antioch and the Duchy of Athens allied with Genoa and Florence, which were engaged in a major rivalry with Venice, defeating its fleet decisively in the Battle of Corfu in 1399. To make matters worse for the Venetians an attempted invasion of Epirus failed miserably, giving the Epirots control over all of southern Illyria. The Epirots proceeded to replace the pro-Venitian locals with pro-Epirot Greeks. Furthermore the Epirots captured and annexed Corfu. Following the humiliating defeat of Venice it was forced to forever abandon involvement in the affairs of Greece. Naples was unable to help Venice due to being engulfed in a power struggle of its own. The rest of the Italian states and Aragon had already been driven out a long time ago. In 1401, after the Treaty of Dyrrachium settled the war in the favour of the Greek states, the Duchy of Athens declared itself to be the Kingdom of Athens, while both it and Antioch were now fully free from foreign influence. With independence, the way for the Greek Renaissance was now open.

The Greek Renaissance

The Greek states soon started drawing inspiration from their ancient heritage into their art, culture and society, creating great works of art as well as using the knowledge of their ancestors to make roads, buildings and academies in a way that had not been seen in centuries This phenomenon was called the Greek Renaissance and would later spread to the rest of Europe through Greek trade with Italy, evolving into the European Renaissance.

Anything from fashion, paintings, music, theatre, cuisine, philosophy, scientific progress and sculpture to military tactics, building techniques, administrative reforms and personal rights was at its zenith in Greece. All states in Greece saw an unprecedented prosperity. At the same time their trade dominance in the eastern Mediterranean and the silk road brought the riches that funded this cultural growth.

In 1451 Antioch's last Sovereign Prince, Demetrius II, having no offspring, married his sister to Antonius IX of Athens. Antonuis united the two realms into the Kingdom of Athens. In 1453 Western Anatolia except for Nicaea and the area around it broke off from the Byzantine Empire, creating the Kingdom of Asia Minor with Athenian aid. Athens exchanged the Dodecannese with Crete and formed alliance with Asia Minor. The Byzantines tried to seek aid from Pontus and Epirus but both had a claim on the title of Roman Emperor, the Byzantines' primary title. Byzantium was reduced to little more than a city state. That being said it still was the largest and richest city in Europe and it focused on trade and kept its diplomatic policy balanced to avoid war, abandoning hope of territorial expansion in Greece and Anatolia. Epirus expanded its domains further north, while it successfully defeated the Habsburg Empire after allying with the Wallachians, Bulgars and Serbs in 1469. In 1472 Bulgaria, Serbia and Wallachia, Moldavia, Dobruja and Transylvaniα became Autonomous Principalities & vassals of the Kingdom of Epirus. The Kingdom Pontus expanded deeper into the Caucasus, while the Kingdom of Antioch expanded into the Levant.

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