WA Delegate: The Patrimonium of Saint Olav (elected )
Founder: The Naked Nomads of Nemonicus
Last WA Update:
Embassies: Queens Coming Into Our Own, The Bar on the corner of every region, Zhaucauozian Friendship, Novapax, The Doxford, Wintreath, The United Caribbean Island Alliance, Customs of Agora, 21st Century Rome, West Side of Agora, Agoran Imperial Army Headquarters, The Embassy, Underworld, Order of the Southern North, Research And Development, Worldly Debate Region, and 18 others.The Sands, The Peaceful Coffee Shop In Chicago, Avadam Inn, The Bates Motel, The NewsStand, Gypsy Lands, Hollow Point, Bus Stop, Yarnia, United Nations of Earthlings, Portugal, Nordur, The Dank Meme Alliance, Novo Brasil, Coristno, Vanet, The House at Pooh Corner, and SECFanatics.
Regional Power: Moderate
Today's World Census Report
The Most Devout in Agora
World Census Inquisitors conducted rigorous one-on-one interviews probing the depth of citizens' beliefs in order to determine which nations were the most devout.
As a region, Agora is ranked 5,448th in the world for Most Devout.
|1.||The Socialist Democracy of Magloire||Left-wing Utopia||“Infinite diversity, one union”|
|2.||The Completely Ridiculous Nation of Estranged Confusion||New York Times Democracy||“Wait, what?”|
|3.||The Colony of Nomadic Pooh Corner||Civil Rights Lovefest||“Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires”|
|4.||The Overpopulated Dynasty of Scottian Commonwealth||Inoffensive Centrist Democracy||“Where Dreams Come To Die!”|
|5.||The Cheesecake Enthusiasts 🍰🍰🍰 of New Dukaine||Civil Rights Lovefest||“We shall stay at the top, even if threatened below!”|
|6.||The Soul-Rockin' Beat of AWOL Christian Soldiers||Iron Fist Consumerists||“I want to put on my my my my my boogie shoes”|
|7.||The Dominion of Mechkab||Anarchy||“The future is upon us!”|
|8.||The Cumbersome Redundancy of Agora Protergatis||Scandinavian Liberal Paradise||“Στο πνεύμα της Καλοσύνης”|
|9.||The Little Spanish Dinosaurs of Saurisa||Inoffensive Centrist Democracy||“Nope, not in my garden!”|
|10.||The On-The-Scene Reporter of Birch Mecklenburger||Inoffensive Centrist Democracy||“Am I on?”|
- : The Naked Nomads of Nemonicus updated the World Factbook entry.
- : The Naked Nomads of Nemonicus updated the World Factbook entry.
- : The Naked Nomads of Nemonicus updated the World Factbook entry.
- : The Naked Nomads of Nemonicus updated the World Factbook entry.
- : The Naked Nomads of Nemonicus updated the World Factbook entry.
- : Embassy established between SECFanatics and Agora.
- : The Soul-Rockin' Beat of AWOL Christian Soldiers arrived from The House at Pooh Corner.
- : The Naked Nomads of Nemonicus updated the World Factbook entry.
- : The Naked Nomads of Nemonicus updated the World Factbook entry.
- : The Naked Nomads of Nemonicus added a dispatch.
Agora Regional Message Board
Have you decided in which district of Agora you're going to live?
There are a lot of vacant properties waiting to be adopted. A lot of this was here already when we discovered the region. There are so many empty buildings and so few people, sometimes it's like living in a ghost town. I'm glad a lot of the services are automated.
The train, for example, just continues to circulate around the region, making its rounds of the rail system all by its self.
The people who built this place sure knew what they were doing.
Nemo rides through the plaza on a unicycle, smoking a cigar
It's Poseidonas 23rd, two days after Nasias d’Inopo, the Birth of Autumn.
Good-bye Summer and look out Winter, here we come. Though I do love the changing of the colors of the leaves and the first whiffs of wood-smoke in the air - the fireplace kind, not the forest fire kind.
The Chronicles of Corsinia is the historical record of the land known as Corsinia from her earliest antecedents to the modern day. It is, with varying levels of detail, the narrative of the great men and women of our history and their stunning achievements, but also of the common folk who truly make the wheels of history turn.
-Dr. Cephas D. Iones, Prof. of Corsinian Studies, The University of Corsin
-Dr. Theodora Ogladotte, Prof. of Culture and Linguistics, Royal Gustavia Institute
-Dr. Thombert De Tari, Prof. of Corsinian History, Salona State University
Pre-History, Rise and Fall
The heart of Corsinia, peninsular Greece, was first inhabited by humans at least 10,000 years ago, around 8,000 BCE. However, the first permanent settlements date to only 3,500 BCE. Some scholars, however, contend that older settlements did exist, but had been swallowed up by rising sea levels. Regardless, settlements developed quietly and autonomously in the many valleys that dot the mountainous landscape.
The leading city-state of this period was Bogon, on the island of Lofos in the Aegean Sea. The Bogon people were renowned sailors and navigators, engendering a long and storied naval tradition that continues to this day. Bogon produced a massive corpus of literature in a unique script known as Linear G, as well as many mosaics and much pottery. The greatest work of the Bogon people was the record of Demeces' travels all around the Mediterranean Sea and past the Pillars of Hercules along the Atlantic coast of Europe. Controversially, his text supposedly made reference to a mysterious land known as Poteba. Modern scholars have hypothesized that Poteba might correspond to the modern areas of Great Britain (Scottian Commonwealth), Norway (St. Olav), or even Iceland (St. Olav). However, the good times could not last forever, as the city of Bogon, along with the rest of the eastern Mediterranean, was thrown into chaos starting in 1200 BCE with the Late Bronze Age Collapse. Bogon itself was razed in 1149 BCE, and the majority of its written works, including The Travels of Demeces of Bogon, were burned. The greatest work of the Bogon Bronze Age now exists only in secondary sources, or as a reference in contemporary sources.
The Eastern Mediterranean rapidly regressed technologically, culturally, and socially. The ensuing Long Dark Age lasted from 1200 BCE to 800 BCE. Very little is known of this period, other than the fact that the majority of the classical Corsinian mythological canon is set in this era. After about 850 BCE, the first poleis, which would characterize peninsular Greece for centuries, began to take shape.
Of Poleis and Persians
The polis of Korcyn, which would develop into the most prominent polis of the Polesian Era, was founded on April 16, 753 on the eastern coast of the Thermaic Gulf. This is also the era in which Macedonia began to be regarded as the Corsinian homeland. Korcyn would eventually form a confederation of poleis in the north of Greece known as the Halaic League. The Halaic League was countered by the Krathine League in southern Greece, led by the powerful city-state of Corinth. The Halaic and Krathine Leagues kept each other's power in check, fighting countless minor wars from their inconclusive first encounter on the field of Kytephon in 706 BCE until a decisive naval action in 555 BCE, the Battle of the Thermaic Gulf. The Corinthians carried the day with their radical new ship design: the trireme. They were able to outmaneuver the slower Halaic fleet, ultimately carrying the day in a costly victory. After the battle, the Krathine League forced Korcyn to disband the Halaic League. They had no choice but to comply, disbanding the League in 554 BCE. This led Korcyn to look elsewhere for allies, and who better than the newly formed Achaemenid Empire and their venerable ruler Cyrus the Great?
In 541 BCE Cyrus, fresh off his conquest of Lydia, received a message from the polis of Korcyn requesting an exchange of embassies and a military alliance. Cyrus was enthusiastic to agree and, by 538 BCE, Korcyn was made the capitol of the new Satrapy of Macedonia. The Macedonians were allowed to continue practicing their religion, keep their culture, and have a local noble rule as Satrap. This arrangement was very much acceptable to the Macedonians and former Halaic poleis. Corinth and the Krathine League were outraged every time a polis would defect from them to the Achaemenids, but there was little they could do against the might of Persia.
This status quo held up for almost half a century until 492 BCE, when Corinth and the diminished Krathine League decided that they had had enough. Persian King Darius was preoccupied campaigning in the east, so he ordered the Satrap of Macedonia, Euphilo, to muster an army to defeat the invading Krathines. Euphilo spent the next two years gathering the men, ships, and provisions to conduct a full invasion of Greece. Out of a force of 30,000 men, 5,000 were to make a diversionary attack through the narrow mountain pass at Thermopylae, while the remaining 25,000 men were to land in Attica near Marathon to lay siege to the Krathine League while their armies were away.
In 490 BCE, the diversionary force under General Panander set off from Macedonia down the eastern coast of Greece. They were met, as expected, by the arrayed armies of the Krathine League. Contemporary sources put their numbers at 60,000 men, while modern scholars estimate they had about 15,000 soldiers and countless of camp followers. In either case, the greatly outnumbered force under Panander was able to exploit the Krathines' weakness. While they were much more heavily armored, they were also slower and less maneuverable than their Achaemenid foes. The Persian archers kept the Krathine force under a steady hail of arrows for several days to erode their cohesion while local Macedonian scouts found a secret path to flank the Krathine force. In early May of 490 BCE, the overheated, dehydrated Krathine hoplites were startled to find hundreds of Macedonian and Persian cavalrymen at their back, bearing down at them at full speed. Trapped between two bodies of Achaemenid troops, the mountains, and the sea, untold thousands of Krathine hoplites died where they stood. The Krathine hoplites in full panoply were unable to maneuver in the densely packed mountain pass, and were thus unable to turn around to defend their rear. Contemporary accounts also attest that, their cohesion broken, dozens of Krathine men jumped into the sea to escape, only to drown in their heavy bronze armor. The slaughter of those who could not flee lasted for a full day, with the only meaningful resistance being provided by the Sacred Band of Thebes, 150 pairs of homosexual lovers and warriors. Contemporary sources do not suggest that any prisoners were taken. The Battle of Thermopylae was a total, unequivocal victory for the Achaemenids.
Panander's resounding sucess at Thermopylae, however, was something of a double-edged sword. While the northern Krathine force was obliterated, the remaining 30,000 men under Krathine command in the south were diverted from the road to Thermopylae, which was lost, to the defense of Attica. This conflicted with Euphilo's invasion plans, as he was not expecting resistance on the beaches. Nonetheless, Euphilo pressed forward with the invasion of Attica. In late June of 490 BCE he landed unopposed near the town of Marathon, though the Krathine force was already beginning to rally in the city's acropolis. The Achaemenid force had fully landed and made camp by the beginning of July, and the Krathines met them on the field of Marathon. The Corinthians themselves held the Krathine center, with Argives holding the right, and Athenians on the left. The Achaemenid center was held by the Macedonians, with Persians on the right, Ionian Greeks on the left, and the Persian Immortals held in reserve.
The battle commenced when the Macedonian hoplites met their Corinthian counterparts. They skirmished inconclusively for the better part of an hour before breaking off the engagement. Next, the flanks of either army met, with the hoplites from Argos facing their opposites from Ionia, and the Athenian hoplites facing off against the light Persian infantry. The Argives rapidly won the push of pikes with the Ionian hoplites, leaving the Achaemenid left vulnerable. However, in their haste to exploit this advantage, the Argives broke their formation to charge the Achaemenid flank. Without the cohesion of their phalanx, the Argives took devastating casualties from the Persian archers, who routed them from the field. The Immortals, held in reserve, were positioned on the Achaemenid left, forcing the Corinthians to stretch their line to compensate. This left the Krathine center weak, and the Macedonian hoplites assaulted the center, piercing through and wheeling to pin the Athenian hoplites. This allowed the Persian light infantry, who had been steadily giving ground to the Athenians, to regroup and move to the center, where they encircled and decimated the exhausted Corinthian hoplites. Now, only the Athenians were left standing. Dusk was rapidly approaching, and both armies were beyond exhausted. So, Euphilo made the Athenians an offer: surrender now and your city will be spared. The Athenians quickly agreed, and a messenger called Phodepodes ran the 26 miles to Athens in one shot to proclaim the city's salvation. This is the origin of the modern marathon race.
In 489 BCE, after the successful conclusion of the Krathine War, southern Greece was incorporated into the Achaemenid Empire as the Satrapy of Cratina. It was also around this time that the polis of Korcyn began to be called Corsin, evidence of a dialect shift influenced by exposure to more cultures in the broader Achaemenid sphere of influence. With all of Greece unified under Achaemenid rule and with exposure to an increasingly diverse world around them, the arts and sciences underwent an unprecedented explosion. Almost overnight, the former backwater was put onto the map, with philosophers, artists, and scientists coming from all corners of the Achaemenid Empire to exchange their culture and knowledge. It wasn't long before the Greeks were producing their own great thinkers, men who traveled and learned from the Nile to the Indus.
The two Satrapies were unified as the Satrapy of Corsin and Cratina in 416 BCE, and their populations expanded by leaps and bounds. The so-called Classical Age of Corsinia saw many of the old oral traditions and histories written down for the first time, as well as countless new works of drama, poetry, philosophy, and politics. This period also saw the widespread adoption of Zoroastrianism in many parts of Corsin and Cratina, though the people by and large kept their household gods and local spirits. Around the same time, the first population of Jews migrated into the cities, becoming a small but vibrant minority. The Classical Age saw a remarkable age of peace in the land, and many great architectural monuments were erected. During this period, Corsinian colonies began to dot the Mediterranean from Cyrecusa in Sicily to Tanayis at the mouth of the Don. Tragically, all good things must come to an end, and the Corsinian Classical Age was no exception.
In 359 BCE, the ambitious and talented Philip of Macedon became the Satrap of Corsin and Cratina. The next year, King Artaxerxes II and all of his sons were killed in a disastrous invasion of Egypt. This left the Achaemenid Empire without a suitable male heir, as all worthy candidates were either dead or underage. In the ensuing chaos, Satrap Philip declared the independence of the Kingdom of Corsinia and Cratina, with himself as King. The weakened Achaemenid Empire was unable to stop him from asserting his independence and, in 356 BCE, was unable to stop him from crossing the Hellespont.
Conquest and Consolidation, part I: The Hand That Feeds You
By 356 BCE, the Achaemenid Empire was a husk of its former glory. Expensive wars had drained the treasury, along with lavish palaces and lax taxation. The new Achaemenid King, Xerxon, was only able to raise 40,000 light infantry and 5,000 horse archers to match Philip's 30,000 hoplites and 2,500 cavalrymen. However, Philip had the strategic advantage. He was very well versed in the Persian method of warfare, and King Xerxon was only 18 years old, with no military experience. The two great armies met on the banks of the river Granicus. The hoplites, each brandishing a 5-meter (16 foot) sarissa spear, kept the Persian footmen at bay, while the elite Companion Cavalry swept the unruly horse archers from the field, then hammered into the rear of the pinned Persian infantry. While the Persian army remained mostly intact, it had taken irreparable losses and could not hope to face the Macedonians again in open combat. Xerxon sued for peace in 355 BCE, and allowed Philip to annex Anatolia, Syria, Phoenicia, and Judea.
The Persian people were outraged that Xerxon had given up so much land when the Achaemenids had only fought a single battle. Xerxon was murdered the same year, and his younger brother Derios was put on the throne. However, as Derios was only 9 years old, a regent was appointed to rule in his stead. That man was the Han Chinese eunuch Huanguan Keyi. Regent Keyi moved swiftly against Philip and, in 354 BCE, sent an army of 28,000 light infantry and 4,500 horse archers, along with 2,500 Han crossbowmen, over the border and began to occupy strategic points all across the Levant. Philip responded in the spring of 353 BCE, routing the disorganized Achaemenid troops at a number of small engagements. By the end of the campaign season in late autumn of 353 BCE, Philip had bottled up 10,000 of the Achaemenid forces in the island city of Tyre. He laid siege to them all through the winter of 353-352 BCE, and finally received their surrender in April of 352 BCE. The much depleted Achaemenid forces withdrew back over the border towards Mesopotamia. Philip caught Regent Keyi's 25,000 men at Arbela in northern Mesopotamia. Philip, reinforced by his expansive new holdings, commanded a force of no less than 45,000 infantry and 3,500 cavalry.
Regent Keyi's 25,000 men occupied an old mudbrick citadel bound on three sides by a deep river. Keyi's men burnt all but one bridge into the fortress, somewhat negating Philip's numerical advantage. Philip's engineers attempted to construct a pontoon bridge across the river, but were forced to abandon their work after constant harassment from the Han crossbowmen. Attempts to assault the sole remaining gate head-on were also repulsed, and Philip settled in for a long siege beginning in early October 352 BCE. The siege would continue for months, with much attrition on either side. Unexpectedly, a mass outbreak of cholera affected the fortress' water supply in early December 352 BCE. By the middle of the month, the Achaemenid situation was dire, leaving Keyi no choice but to meet Philip on the field of battle. Philip now had 35,000 men in fighting condition, along with 2,000 cavalry. Regent Keyi had 16,000 men, but only 12,000 were in any semblance of fighting condition.
Early the next morning, under a hail of bolts provided by the Han crossbowmen, Keyi sent his 3,000 remaining horse archers out to wreak havoc on Philip's men and supplies. They were devastatingly effective, as Philip's men were unprepared for such an attack. By noon it looked as if the Achaemenids might carry the day, as Philip was reduced to only 20,000 infantry in fighting condition, as the cavalry and 7,000 men had been sent out into the countryside to forage for supplies. While he still outnumbered Keyi greatly, Philip's situation was tenuous. He arrayed his men in three 5,000-man phalanges with another held in reserve. Keyi's 9,000 men were arranged in one great concave line with horse archers on either flank, and the Han crossbowmen in a loose skirmish formation in front of the Persian infantry. Philip, underestimating Keyi's tactical prowess, advanced his whole line forward. The horse archers on both flanks slowed down the advances of those phalanges, leaving Philip's center exposed. They withstood a withering barrage from the Han crossbowmen, who retreated behind their lines, and then made contact with the Achaemenid center. Philip's phalangites were initially met with success, pushing the Persian footmen back to the bridge, but their line of retreat was cut off when the horse archers broke the engagement with Philip's flanks and wheeled into the central Phalanx's exposed rear and sides. The densely packed phalangites were unable to maneuver quickly enough to resist the oncoming storm of arrows, and those that could not flee were slain where they stood. With his center routed and his flanks greatly weakened, Philip and Keyi's forces were now of roughly equal size. Philip ordered his reserves to the center, but the faster Persian infantry arrived before he could, dealing further damage to the flanks of Philip's phalanges. With his reserves dispersing to reinforce his unsteady flanks, a full encirclement looked imminent. Philip's two remaining phalanges, reinforced by his reserves, were now completely isolated from each other, with Philip's left being completely enveloped against the river. But then, in Philip's darkest hour, a low rumble came from over the horizon. Achaemenid and Macedonian alike turned to see the great cloud of dust drawing ever nearer to them. Then, all at once, the armies heard a cacophony of yips and cries as the Companion Cavalry forded the shallow part of the river and slammed into the Achaemenid center! At the vanguard of this troop was Philip's dashing young son, Alexander. The Companion Cavalry cut through the Achaemenid troops like a hot knife through butter, though they did suffer many casualties at the hands of the Han crossbowmen. Now it was the Achaemenids who were broken, with thousands of men streaming off the field, only to be cut down by the dozen at the hands of the fresh Companion Cavalry. Regent Keyi himself was captured several days later but, as Philip was so impressed by his martial prowess, his life was spared and he was made the Satrap of Mesopotamia.
After the decisive Battle of Arbela, the young Derios was compelled to abdicate his crown in favor of Philip in early 351 BCE. The ambitious King Philip had, in less than eight years since ascending to the throne, conquered the entirety of the vast Achaemenid Empire. Now, his sights turned to the ancient kingdom of Egypt. But first, he had to assert his control over the unruly eastern Satrapies and replenish his armies' manpower.
Conquest and Consolidation, part II: A New Kingdom In An Ancient Land
Philip spent the next five years solidifying his rule over his expansive new domain, which stretched from Greece to the Indus River. His adopted son Alexander, who was only 15 at the Battle of Arbela, was sent on frequent excursions east to quell rebellion, but also to learn how to lead and how to rule. By spring of 345 BCE, Philip was ready to commence his campaign against Egypt. But, by this point in his life, Philip had had his fill of war and conquest, turning his talents towards administration and education, reforming the tax system, building new roads, and founding countless libraries across the empire.
Nonetheless, Philip mustered a considerable force of more than 100,000 infantrymen, with some 15,000 cavalry. This unprecedented force crossed the Egyptian border from Judea in early April of 345 BCE under the command of Philip's trusted generals Ptolemy and Seleucus, with Philip's adoptive son Alexander was in personal command of the Companion Cavalry. The army was split into two columns, with Seleucus' column moving along the coast to secure the Nile Delta and Ptolemy moving inland and down the Nile. Seleucus had 60,000 infantry, a mix of Macedonian phalangites and Persian Sparabara shield-bearers and some Takabara skirmishers, plus 10,000 cavalry, including Alexander's 2,5000-strong Companion Cavalry, thousands of horse archers, and several hundred Cataphracts, a new type of heavily-armored shock cavalry, and ten elephants. Ptolemy's force had a similar composition, though numbering just 40,000 infantrymen and 5,000 cavalry, most of whom were horse archers.
Seleucus' army marched across the northern coast of the Sinai peninsula without encountering the enemy. They easily defeated local garrisons all across the north of Egypt, securing vital cities such as Damietta, Tanis, and Heracleion. They were finally met by Pharaoh Nectanebo II on the banks of Lake Mareotis in late May, who had with him some 50,000 spearmen and swordsmen, and 20,000 cavalry. Nectanebo's cavalry was comprised of 8,000 horse and camel archers, and 12,000 charioteers, as well as four elephants who were not present at the battle. The charioteers also bore bows and had their chariots fitted with long, sharp spikes on their wheels to cut down their foe.
The engagement began with a cavalry skirmish, with either side's horse archers harrying each other with volleys of arrows. After this proved inconclusive, Nectanebo ordered his charioteers to assault the Macedonian center. They were met with a hail of javelins from the Takabara skirmishers, almost causing them to rout. However, their charge was bolstered by their horse archers, who fired heavily upon the Philippic skirmishers, causing them to withdraw behind their frontline. The Macedonian center was held by the Persian Sparabara troops, spearmen who carried a large shield. However, they were much more lightly equipped and armored than their Macedonian compatriots, and their spears were a fraction of the size of a sarissa. As such, when the Egyptian charioteers made contact with the Sparabara, the shock of the charge was too much to resist, and the Sparabara were driven off the field, pursued by the Egyptian mounted archers. The Egyptian charioteers completely pierced the Macedonian center and, while some joined the pursuit of the fleeing Sparabara spearmen, most continued straight on to the Macedonian camp.
However, in this moment of chaos, Seleucus saw his chance. For the moment, the Egyptian cavalry was nowhere to be found, preoccupied seeking glory away from the field of battle. Now, Seleucus ordered the eager Cataphracts and Alexander's Companion Cavalry, who had been held in reserve until this moment, to flank the Egyptian army on either side and assault it from the rear while the Macedonian phalangites pinned them from the front. The plan worked exceedingly well, almost perfectly. Seleucus' maneuver at Mareotis would have been hailed as perhaps the greatest victory in Macedonian history if a single, fateful arrow had not struck the young Alexander in the neck, killing him instantly. The Egyptians were swept from the field, being pursued and slaughtered wholesale to avenge the death of the talented and beloved Alexander.
When news of his adopted son's death reached Philip's court in Corsin, he was inconsolable for many days. When he finally left his private chambers a full week later, he declared that a new city was to be founded on the banks of Lake Mareotis, a center of learning, culture, and trade never before conceived of in this world: Alexandria.
Philip drafted plans to immediately set sail for Egypt to assume direct command over both armies, as the war was now a personal matter, but disaster struck in early July of 345 BCE, when Ptolemy's army was caught in a devastating snare laid by Nectanebo's Vizier, a Hebrew called Aaron.
In the first days of July, 345 BCE, Ptolemy was leading his army of 45,000 men and horses down the river Nile, laden with treasure from Giza, Cairo, and Memphis. They were encamped by the oasis of Faiyum when, in the midst of a great sandstorm, a thunder of hooves rapidly approached the unprepared Macedonians. They were mostly lying about camp or performing labor, so the phalanges were not bedecked in their panoply. When the alarm bell had been rung, each rushed to grab his sarissa, having no time to don their armor or bear their shield. They formed their phalanx, breathlessly awaiting the moment their enemy would fall upon them. For several tense, dust-choked minutes they struggled to see their foes through the dense sandstorm. Then, one arrow flew out from the storm. Then another, then more, and more until the hail of arrows was almost as thick as the dust around them. Untold thousands of men were struck, as they had no defense against their seemingly invisible foe. The Persian Sparabara had managed to don their lighter kit, but were still suffering considerable losses from this guerrilla attack.
After more than two hours of this irresistible slaughter, the storm cleared momentarily. In the fleeting clear, the Macedonians were shocked to find that their own horse archers, Sarmatians from modern-day Ukraine, were fighting alongside the Egyptians! It would later be revealed that Aaron bribed the leader of the Sarmatians, called Artorion, with a generous sum to switch sides at the critical moment.
After a short respite in which some of the remaining phalangites were able to don at least some of their panoply, the sands returned and so too did the onslaught. While the casualties were not as heavily as the first wave, the phalangites could not defend in every direction, and took many losses. By this point, their unit cohesion had eroded entirely, with entire phalanges on the verge of routing. The trouble was, there was no where to retreat to, as every direction was nothing but sand and death. At the next break in the storm some 6 hours later, the remaining 16,000 men left standing raised a flag of truce. This entire Macedonian army, numbering some 30,000 men including the wounded, was sold into slavery to roaming Berber tribes. General Ptolemy was found dead in his tent, having fell upon his own sword to avoid the shame of capture. The Massacre at Faiyum is known to be the most embarrassing defeat in Corsinian history.
Conquest and Consolidation, part III: Rise of the Diadochi
Philip arrived with 50,000 reinforcements in Alexandria in January of 344 BCE, and immediately set to work planning a campaign against the remainder of Egypt. Combined with Seleucus' army, Philip now had about 100,000 men under his command. The Egyptians simply could not match those numbers, especially after their losses at Lake Mareotis. As such, Aaron, who had all but assumed control of the Kingdom from the ailing Nectanebo, avoided fighting pitched battles, instead engaging in a number of delaying and rearguard actions. But, Aaron could only run so far. After wintering mere kilometers from each other, Philip and Aaron's armies met on the plains outside Abydos in early May of 343 BCE.
Philip arrayed his men in an oblique formation, using his superior numbers to his advantage by greatly strengthening his right flank. Aaron, however, had not been idle over the winter. His 40,000 men had dug rows of trenches and other earthworks around their position, laying hundreds of caltrops as well. This forced Philip to abandon his usual cavalry-centric tactics and rely on his infantry instead. He had his mounted archers, whose loyalty he had spent much gold to secure, dismount and join his Persian skirmishers on foot. They inundated the Egyptian lines with javelins and arrows to cover the advance of Philip's phalangites. The phalangites were arrayed not in their typical phalanx, but in a new defensive formation. Contemporary sources do not describe it in particularly detailed terms, but modern scholars have suggested that it may have born resemblance to the later testudo formation. The phalangites had also left their sarissa spears at camp, instead bearing a variety of swords, axes, maces, and other hand weapons, including many Egyptian khopesh swords. They advanced slowly and steadily under the cover of friendly arrows, maintaining their cohesion even over the rough terrain. The Macedonian skirmishers ceased their fire when the phalangites drew near to the Egyptian lines, and the phalangites broke their testudo and formed into wedge formations. They slammed into the Egyptian lines, quickly penetrating them by virtue of their formation. The Egyptian spearmen were no match for their Macedonian foes, as they could not maneuver their spears in the confines of their trenches. After taking heavy losses, the spearmen beat a hasty retreat off the field of battle. The Egyptian swordsmen fared better than their comrades, but were also compelled to withdraw with the rest of the infantry to avoid encirclement. The Egyptian cavalry had been kept off the field by their own defensive works, so they were not present at the Battle of Abydos. The Companion Cavalry, donning black cloaks to mourn Alexander, and the newly expanded Cataphracts rode down thousands of fleeing Egyptians, putting them to the sword by the hundreds.
Aaron was captured after the Battle of Abydos, and was extended an offer to become the Satrap of Judea and Phoenicia, which he accepted eagerly. The entirety of the Egyptian Kingdom was annexed by Philip, and he was declared the first Pharaoh of the 31st Dynasty. Having established his rule over all of Egypt, Philip turned once more to internal affairs. He decided, in the fall of 342 BCE, to make a pilgrimage to the venerated Oracle at Siwa, deep in the Western Desert.
In September of 342 BCE, Philip set off with a grand procession, bringing 1,000 of his Companion Cavalry and dozens of wagons full of gifts for the Oracle. On his journey through the vast desert, in the Qattara Depression, great billowing clouds of sand obscured the roads, and the men were hopelessly lost without any landmarks to guide their way. They ambled around aimlessly for many days but, on the seventh day, a pair of eagles, one a resplendent gold, the other a pure white, appeared over the horizon and led Philip's way to the Oracle. Philip perceived this as a sign of divinity from Zeus, the long-since abandoned patriarch of the Old Gods. When Philip finally arrived on the outskirts of Siwa on the last day of October, a day that would become known as Oracle's Eve, Philip made the first sacrifice to Zeus in generations.
At dawn the next morning, Philip entered the Oracle's cave alone. No one knows what questions he asked, or what the Oracle replied, but it is documented that Philip bounded out of the cave many hours later, full of vim and vigor, and declared that the Greeks should all embrace the Old Gods as their own. He did not, however, mandate that non-Greeks adopt the Old Gods, but allowed them to keep their own. Regardless, many non-Greeks also converted. Philip now proudly espoused the belief that each people-group experiences Divinity in their own way, and that one nation ought not force their religious views upon a foreign one. This is the beginning of the cherished Corsinian tradition of religious freedom.
Philip would rule until his death of old age in 311 BCE, reigning for a total of 48 consecutive years. This period saw the widespread Hellenization of the eastern Mediterranean, as the Macedonians were now the dominant culture in the region. Greek arts, culture and language permeated all corners of the expansive Philippic Empire. After his Egyptian campaign, he poured his effort and devotion into making Alexandria the finest city known to Man. Broad, palm tree-lined boulevards with white marble colonnades down the center met at perpendicular angles, nestling dozens of libraries, baths, gymnasiums, and temples. The Grand Market sprawled out beyond the city walls, a dense and lively bazaar with goods and wares from every corner of the known world, and then some beyond. The docks stretched along the coast, their warehouses and granaries always stuffed with goods, with hundreds of vessels of every type coming in and out of the port on a daily basis. But the true gem of the city, to which nothing else could hope to compare, was the wonders on Pharos Island, consisting of the Great Library of Alexandria and its infinite knowledge, and Alexander's Lighthouse, a tall, spiral structure whose brazier remained continuously lit for centuries in memory of Philip's beloved son.
Philip's will had very clearly lined out the division of his empire, as he knew no other man was up to the monumental task of ruling it in its entirety. The core lands of Macedonia, namely Greece, Thrace, Asia (province), Lycia, Bythnia, and Pontus were to be ruled by Lysimachus. The rest of Anatolia, Syria, and Egypt would be ruled by Seleucus. Phoenicia, Judea, Mesopotamia, and Persia would be ruled by Keyi, with Aaron serving as his deputy in the Levant. Thus, Philip's empire was trisected and peace was guaranteed throughout the land. That is, until the aging Keyi suffered a heart attack and died without an heir on January 1, 300 BCE. Thus began the War of the Diadochi.
Diadochi: The Next Generation
The War of the Diadochi was waged in 300 BCE between Aaron and Seleucus over control of the coastal provinces of Phoenicia and Judea. Seleucus wished to connect his northern and southern domains by land, while Aaron wished to establish himself as the independent ruler of a greater Hebrew state, expanding into Seleucus' realm in both Syria and the Sinai. Lysimachus did not intervene in this war because he was preoccupied campaigning against the Thracians to push his northern border to the Danube River. The remainder of the late Keyi's Eastern Empire was unable to intervene or prevent Aaron's secession, as they were embroiled in the bloody War of the Eastern Succession, a civil war exacerbated by increased raids from steppe nomads in the eastern border regions.
Aaron was, like most of the original Diadochi, an old man. This prevented the hardened general, much to his chagrin, from commanding his men in the field. In his stead, he appointed the brash, portly general Shadrach Maccabeus to command the Hebrew forces. Likewise, Seleucus was too old and frail to lead at the front. Remaining in his capitol of Alexandria, he sent his great nephew, the young general Antiochus Seleucidion to command his forces in the south, while his trusted friend Euander would command the small garrisons in the north, as well as the sizable fleet at sea.
Aaron knew that Seleucus outnumbered him greatly, but he also knew that he had the initiative. It would take months for Seleucus to rally his troops from across his disjointed domains. So, in late January of 300 BCE Aaron ordered general Maccabeus to cross the border into Syria, leaving a token force to defend in the south. With the main body of his troops in Egypt, Seleucus didn't have many options at his disposal to deal with the unopposed Hebrew army. His garrisons in the north only numbered a few thousand part-time militiamen, with his professional soldiers in the region only numbering a handful of hundreds. What Seleucus did have, however, was an obscene amount of wealth from the Alexandrian trade network, and the smarts to put it in the right pockets. Seleucus diverted Aaron's attention from the north by paying the nomadic Arab tribes to start raiding the Judean interior. He further scrambled their attention by hiring the bored Macedonian phalangites on his border with Lysimachus as mercenaries, acquiring some 10,000 professional soldiers overnight.
It was now late March, and Aaron knew he had to act now, or his cause would be lost. Seleucus had assembled some 15,000 men on the Syrian border, 35,000 men and 5,000 cavalry on the Egyptian border, as well as hundreds of triremes blockading Aaron's ports. Aaron had a similar order of battle, with 8,000 men guarding the Sinai border and 30,000 men on the Syrian frontier. The Hebrew forces were in a tenuous position not only because they were outnumbered, but because they had recruited a dangerously high percentage of their population into their army. This meant that if they didn't conclude the campaign by harvest time, the nation would starve. But perhaps more importantly, if they were to suffer a decisive loss, then the Hebrew population could be stunted permanently. Aaron knew that the Seleucid forces in Syria were largely unprofessional, composed of part-time farmers and Greek mercenaries, neither of which were particularly motivated to go fight and die in Judea. Knowing this, Aaron left 7,000 men to guard the Syrian border and transferred the remaining 23,000 to the Sinai frontier, bringing his troop total there to 31,000. Seleucus was unpleasantly surprised to find that his numerical advantage had been countered so quickly and with so little exertion. At the end of April 300 BCE, the Seleucid and Hebrew armies finally met on the field outside Arish, sparking the eponymous battle.
The historical record that once documented the Battle of Arish in commendable detail has been lost to history but, centuries later, the Maltese historiographer Mounis noted that the battle was the perfect example of the imbalance found in the Hebrews' command. This is indicative of the gap in skill between Aaron, who was a certifiable strategic genius, and Shadrach, who was a lackluster tactical commander. What is known for certain, however, is that the Seleucids carried the day. While the Hebrew army managed to escape mostly intact, the battle was one of grinding attrition, and the Seleucids simply had more bodies to throw into the meat grinder. Shadrach retreated with 19,000 men to mount the defense of Jerusalem itself, pursued closely by Antiochus' 32,000 men and horses.
Not willing to risk a pitched battle, the Hebrews retreated within the walls of Jerusalem. Here, Aaron resumed personal command of the battered Hebrew forces, as he did not have to subject his frail body to field conditions during the siege. The impulsive Shadrach was sent north with orders to hold the line, while Aaron reinforced the city and shored up her defenses. Including the local garrison, Aaron had 21,000 men, but no cavalry. Aaron had been preparing the city to survive a siege for the last four decades. They had provisions stockpiled to last at least two winters, and the walls were tall and strong. Hoardings were added to the walls to improve Jerusalem's defensive capabilities, and deep trenches and spikes were placed to impede the besieging army's movement. Antiochus reached the walls of Jerusalem in early June 300 BCE, and immediately laid siege to the city.
Antiochus' cavalry was sent out to ravage the countryside and prevent Jerusalem from being resupplied. The besieging infantry made camp atop a hill outside the walls and immediately set to work building battering rams, tall ladders, and other siege engines. Antiochus had with him an innovative artillery officer, Peltastis, who grouped the Seleucid's 10 catapults together into a battery to concentrate their firepower. The two sides were evenly matched, and the siege dragged on for months. In late September of the year 300 BCE, Aaron received a report from his army in Syria that required his immediate attention. The headstrong and impulsive Shadrach had engaged the northern Seleucid army in the field!
Shadrach had lost patience waiting for marching orders from the besieged Aaron, so he took the initiative and attempted to seize glory for himself by assaulting the Seleucid army in the north. Shadrach, in command of only 7,000 men, was pitted against Euander's 15,000 men. However, Shadrach greatly overestimated his own capabilities and believed that he could easily defeat this larger force. Atypical of battles of this period, there was no cavalry present in either army, being an entirely infantry engagement. Euander and Shadrach met at a valley in the low hills near Emesa in Syria in September of 300 BCE. Euander, who held the high ground, arrayed his men into three 5,000 men phalanges in the typical Macedonian fashion. Undeterred by his foe's massive tactical advantages, Shadrach arranged his 7,000 men into one great convex line, in a sort of stretched out wedge formation. With the sun high in the sky, Shadrach ordered his men forward, up the rocky hill. Their advance was slowed by the uneven terrain, and their line rapidly lost cohesion. When the first disorganized men crested the hill, they were slaughtered to the man by the more numerous Seleucid phalangites. Shadrach, seeing his men begin to stream back down the hill in a mass rout, mounted a camel and personally charged up the hill, brandishing his curved sword and hollering at his men to join his gallant assault. Few did and, by late afternoon, Shadrach and 5,000 Hebrews laid dead on the Hill of Sorrow, as it would soon be called.
Aaron was enraged by the idiotic actions of Shadrach, as now the Hebrew countryside was sure to be ravaged by Euander's largely untouched army. This was compounded by the fact that a large portion of Israel's farmers lay dead. Knowing that Jerusalem could hold out, but that the rest of his nation would starve, pained Aaron greatly, and he entered the Second Temple in late September to pray. The very next day, Antiochus' army finally broke through the Hebrew defenses and poured into the city. They brought with them great woe and slaughter, killing men, women, children, and livestock. They were stopped temporarily at the base of the Temple Mount by Aaron's 4,000 remaining men, but after a few days of intense battle they too were defeated and Antiochus led the march up the sacred slope. As twilight approached on October 3rd, 300 BCE, Antiochus himself lit and cast the first torch towards the Second Temple, soon followed by dozens more from his men, setting ablaze the holy site. For seven days and seven nights, the temple crackled and burned until it was little but ash and cinders. But on the dawn of the seventh day, October 10, a figure emerged from the thick, smoky haze. It didn't take long for the Seleucid sentries to realize that the soot-soaked man was the venerable Aaron himself! Aaron was taken to Seleucus' tent and made to kneel in front of his people's new ruler. It is recorded that Aaron later died of old age and smoke inhalation on New Years Eve, 300 BCE. Aaron's seven days in the Temple Inferno are the origins of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
The Hellenic Golden Age
After Seleucus and Antiochus successfully concluded the War of the Diadochi in 300 BCE, the Hellenic world would see an unparalleled era of peace, prosperity, growth, and learning. Hellenic culture was universally embraced in all the Diadochi realms, and spread far beyond her borders, from the western Mediterranean to the south and east of India, and from Crimea to Abyssinia. Alexandria reached a population of 300,000 that same year, and that figure would double by the year 200 BCE. With Hellenic culture dominant, Koine Greek became the Lingua Franca of a vast swathe of the world.
The Hellenic Golden Age saw thousands of plays, treatises, poems, and other written works produced, with Alexandria being the focal point of the entire age. Dozens of grand painted temples were erected in marble, filled with hundreds of colorful marble statues. It is a historical misconception that the temples and statues of antiquity were bare white marble, as they were actually painted in bright, vibrant colors. Atop the ashes of the Temple Mount was constructed the Great Pantheon of Jerusalem, a house of worship for people of all religions.
The post-Philippic world was, contrary to right-wing propaganda, not one of Hellenic ethnic superiority. While Greek people did form a plurality in the Diadochi realms, they often intermarried with local populations. The most important thing in the Hellenic Golden Age was not the ethnicity, religion, or place of origin of a person. What was paramount to the Hellenes was the person's culture, whether it was natural to them or adopted. Thus, people as diverse as Berbers, Nubians, Celts, Dravidians, Scythians, and everything in between were deemed to be just as Hellenic as Philip himself the moment they adopted Greek ways.
Trade and exploration blossomed in ways never before thought possible. The latent Corsinian naval tradition was resurrected and readopted enthusiastically and with open arms. Traders and explorers from Alexandria retraced Demeces of Bogon's famous voyage along Europe's Atlantic coast, though they did not find the fabled land of Poteba. Other voyagers from the same city sought to explore the entirety of the coast of Africa. They sailed for many months, accidentally discovering Brazil on the way, before they were greeted by the welcome sight of the Sinai peninsula, their ship laden with countless foreign treasures, including people. But the most important trade link to be forged was a sea route to China, as much of the Central Asian "Silk Road" was embroiled in a constant state of statelessness and conflict. In 218 BCE, the same year that the second major conflict between the young Roman Republic and Carthage kicked off, an Alexandrian flotilla led by the talented admiral Kivos Naftisios sailed up the Yangtze River to the city of Nanjing in the newly unified Qin Empire. He traded for famous Chinese silks, jade jewelry, and more luxury goods, returning with a cargo worth millions of drachmas. This trade link, as well as the trade routes with India, would become a vital artery not just economically, but also for culture, religion, and learning.
The widespread prosperity of the Hellenic Golden Age was coupled with massive population growth. While the fertile fields of Egypt could support their burgeoning population, the mountainous valleys of Corsinia could not. So, they began to look outwards for new places to settle and expand. People poured into the colonies that had dotted the Mediterranean for centuries, with most migrating to every corner of the Hellenistic world, but many thousands found their way to Cyrecusa in Sicily and the cities of Magna Corsinia in southern Italy. This put the Corsinian people in ever increasing contact with the ascendant Roman Republic, a relationship that would continue for centuries to come.
Lupa et Equus
During the Second Punic War, from 218-201 BCE, the Macedonian Empire embarked on an ambitious campaign of westward expansion while the Roman Republic was busy dealing with Carthage. By the end of the war in 201 BCE Rome, fresh off their hard fought victory over their nemesis, Macedonia stretched from Asia Minor to modern day Croatia. However, they had annexed many Roman citystate allies. In response, the Roman Republic issued an ultimatum to the Macedonian king, Philopharos. Philopharos was to immediately revoke his claim upon all new lands he had annexed from Roman allies, and accept Roman hegemony not only in the region at large, but also over Macedonia as a whole. Philopharos, perhaps thinking of his ancestors who accepted a very similar deal from the Persians all those years prior, happily acquiesced to the offer, a move that shocked both Rome and Macedonia. The Romans were more than happy to offer the governorship of Macedonia to Philopharos. Thus Macedonia was integrated as a Roman province for the next half of a millennium.
During the Roman Civil War, Corsinia was the site of the decisive Battle of Pharsalus between Caesar and Pompey the Great, though no significant number of Corsinians were in the ranks of either force. The province remained neutral during Caesar's Civil War, sparing it much devastation outside of the Battle of Pharsalus. Later, Corsinia supported the Second Triumvirate, and was placed under the rule of Mark Antony. However, much of the Corsinian nobility sympathized with Octavian's cause and, in September of 31 BC, formed the bulk of his victorious fleet at the Battle of Actium. Corsinia established itself as a loyal subject of the newly reorganized Roman Empire, and provided many of the troops and most of the fleet that helped Rome conquer Egypt, Anatolia, Syria, and the Levant. For the next three centuries Corsinia, along with the rest of the Eastern Mediterranean, remained quiet, peaceful, and prosperous, and exported even more culture than it did olives.
The nearby province of Judea saw a supposedly messianic figure, Josh, flourish in the beginning of the 1st century CE. The prophet Josh's reformist branch of Judaism called "Christianity" caught on quickly in Judea, but struggle to make a splash in the crowded pantheon of Corsinia. The notable exception to this would be the famous 20 Monasteries of Mount Athos in central Macedonia, an important center for Christian Monasticism. Unlike the rest of the Empire, Corsinia tolerated its Christian minority, and did not subject them to criminal status, torture, or death. As such, many Christians fled to Corsinia, but they struggled to find many converts there.
The Corsinians were not especially militarily active in the Roman Period, with the notable exception of Trajan's Dacian Wars in the early 2nd century CE. Both the First and Second Dacian Wars were led by a Corsinian general, Achrysos of Vinopolis, and many of the legions involved had a Corsinian plurality. Achrysos' successful campaigns pushed Rome's border past the Danube, and acquired for the Empire large gold reserves. Besides the two campaigns into Dacia, Corsinians in the Empire generally served in Rome's navy, transporting legions all across Mare Nostrum, Our Sea.
Sadly, good times cannot last forever, and Corsinia bore witness to that in the painful years that would follow the Crisis of the Third Century.
Like a Baby Giraffe on a Unicycle in a Hurricane (On Instability)
In 235 CE, the Roman world was in a state of crisis. Roman Emperor Severus Alexander had been assassinated by his own men, and the Empire fell into chaos for the next 50 years. By 271 CE the Empire had split into four seperate states- the Gallic, Palmyrene, Corsinian, and Roman Empires. The Corsianian Empire controlled the provinces of Corsin, Thrace, Dacia, Moesia, Pannonia, Dalmatia, and Asia. While the venerable Emperor Aurelian restored Roman control over the Gallic and Palmyrene Empires, the latter being led by the famous queen Zenobia, he was tragically murdered by his Praetorian Guard before he could reassert control over the Corsinian Empire. The following emperors were unable or unwilling to conquer back the Corsinian Empire, though they did eventually reassert control over Moesia and Pannonia. Instead, they were satiated with regular payments of tribute, allowing the Corsinian Empire to function as its own independent entity in everything but name.* The Corsinian Empire flourished for the next century, until the Barbarian Invasions kicked off in 370s CE.
* If the phrasing is unclear here, it is meant to convey that Corsinia was a Tributary State under Roman influence, like the Bosporan Kingdom or Armenia in OTL
In 376 CE, a Gothic tribe called the Gettii had been allowed to migrate over the Danube into Corsinian territory, settling primarily in Thrace. The Gettii are thought to have originated from Skåne in southern Sweden. Roman Emperor Valens had promised the Gettii land in exchange for service as foederati. When they got there, however, the Gettii were immediately subjected to harsh taxation and treated as second class citizens by the cruel provincial governors Lucas and Max. Things came to a head in 378 when the Gettii assembled a heavy cavalry force to protect themselves from further exploitation. They were met by the army of Emperor Valens on the field outside of Adrianople in early August, and battle soon commenced.
The Gettii, led by Berenic Swifthorse, had some 14,000 men, centered around 9,000 heavy cavalry. The Roman-Corsinian force under Emperor Valens himself comprised of 20,000 men, with only 2,000 of them being heavy cataphract cavalry. The Roman-Corsinian force relied on heavy infantry to carry the day, with the army's core being made of Roman Legionaries. The Corsinians had adopted Roman military tactics centuries ago and, in place of their traditional phalanx spearmen, they deployed heavy infantry in the model of their Roman counterparts. The battle began with a short cavalry skirmish, in which the Gettii cavalry easily swept their Roman counterparts from the field. Meanwhile, the Roman-Corsinian infantry engaged their lighter and outnumbered Gettii opposites. They were met with much success but, in their haste to exploit it, they overextended their line and lost their unit cohesion, which made them easy pickings for the returning Gettii cavalry. The Roman-Corsinian force rapidly retreated, and many thousands were cut down in the cavalry's pursuit of the broken army. Emperor Valens himself was killed in the battle and, shortly afterwards, the Gettii asserted control over Corsinia and Thrace.
A New Sheriff in Town
The Kingdom of Gettenfeld was declared in 380 CE under the leadership of King Grobert Cloudeye. King Grobert was a respected octogenarian elder of the Gettii who was also blind in both eyes. However, Grobert was no friend to the native Corsinians, and even less so to the Latin administrators and others that had moved to Corsinia during the long centuries of Roman rule. After taking a few years to consolidate his rule over his new realm, Grobert took swift, vengeful action against the Latins in Corsinia in 383 CE. The Massacre of the Latins, as it would come to be known, consisted of the mass killings of tens of thousands of Latins, and the forced expulsion of thousands more. The Latin language was banned from public use, and Roman gods were banned from being worshiped in the Temples. While possibly apocryphal, there is also mention of the enforced wearing of trousers, though this was not found in sources from before the 6th century CE. Both the Latins and the Corsinians viewed trousers as barbarian clothing, and were both outraged at the trouser mandate. This, coupled with the fact that most of the Roman gods were based on the Greek gods, led to many instances of Getten authorities cracking down on Corsinians and Corsinian culture in place of their Latin counterparts, especially after the Massacre of the Latins. This pogrom continued until Grobert Cloudeye's death in 389 CE, when the Getten elders elected the young Corsinophile King Alenic Bareleg.
The peoples of Corsin, namely the Corsinians and the few remaining Latins, experienced a brief respite from oppression during Alenic's decade long rule but, when he died in a hunting accident on New Years Day of 400 CE, that reprieve would come to a swift end. Alenic Bareleg was quickly succeeded by Dagomer Auldway, a traditionalist Getten warrior who despised Corsinians. He claimed his odium was based on an irreconcilable cultural divide, which the Corsinians were obviously on the wrong side of. However, in whispered tales around flickering candlelight, a different tale is told. It is said that Dagomer Auldway, as a young man, was secretly married to a beautiful Corsinian noblewoman against the wishes of her father. When their elopement was discovered by her father, he was furious and imprisoned Dagomer in his dungeon. However, the young noblewoman was already pregnant with their child. After many months in prison, Dagomer was told by a friendly guard that his wife had gone into labor. Dagomer was distraught that he could not be present at his child's birth, but was even more so when the guard returned the next day with terrible news. His beloved wife had died in childbirth, and his baby was stillborn. Dagomer was inconsolable for many weeks, first turning his rage inward at himself, but soon, he focused his hatred and pain at his Corsinian captors, and their people as a whole for robbing him of his beloved.
By the time Dagomer Auldway ascended to the throne in early 400 CE, he was an embittered middle-aged man, with his finest days as a warrior long behind him. However, his mind was still plenty sharp, and his thirst for revenge had not lessened one bit. After rapidly consolidating power, he turned his attention to a policy of cultural replacement. Hundreds of Corsinian academies and libraries were shut down or burnt, and many priceless artifacts were lost in the ashes. Thousands of Corsinian women were stolen away from their villages and towns and given to Getten men in an effort to reduce the Corsinian population. This practice, coupled with war, massacres, poor harvests, plagues, and general instability, took a major toll on Corsinia's population, which dropped by more than half in the course of two decades. Corsinia would not recover its pre-invasion population until the Renaissance.
Dagomer Auldway also expanded on Grobert's program of cultural replacement, except he focused on the Corsinians themselves, not the decimated Latin minority. Dagomer, a devout Arian Christian, imposed the Gothic interpretation of Christianity as the state religion, an act that flew entirely in the face of centuries of Corsinian tradition of religious toleration. By 412 CE, Dagomer Auldway had all but completed the cultural destruction of the Corsinians. The only thing that lay in his way of total, utter vengeance was the very heart of the Corsinian world: Alexandria.
A New Fire Burns In Alexandria
Dagomer Auldway spent the next eight years planning and making provisions for his invasion of Egypt. The province was ruled by the Roman Emperor in the East, and was heavily fortified and garrisoned. The Romans were not going to let go of the breadbasket of their empire easily, and Dagomer knew this. So, in 419 CE, Dagomer sent an emissary to the court of the Sassanian Empire in Ctesiphon to propose a joint strike on the Eastern Roman Empire the next spring. The Shahanshah enthusiastically agreed after he was promised vast swathes of land in Armenia and the Levant in return for his support.
Dagomer sailed with his force of 25,000 men to Egypt in the early spring of 420 CE. In order to prevent the Romans from opposing the Getten invasion, the Persian Shahanshah sent his force of 60,000 men to raid Syria, forcing the Romans to split their 100,000 men between two fronts. 70,000 men were sent to counter the Persians in Syria, while the remaining 30,000 would face the Gettens rapidly marching on Alexandria. The Romans had made a strategic error, however, as they'd fail to learn from their mistakes at Adrianople, where a Getten force annihilated a Roman one of comprable size.
In late April of 420 CE, the 30,000 Romans made contact with their 25,000 Getten opponents outside the walls of Alexandria. In an almost beat-for-beat repetition of the Battle of Adrianople, the Getten heavy cavalry swept their Roman opposites from the field and smashed the Roman infantry, slaughtering a great many as they attempted to flee the field. The Battle of the Seleucid Walls, along with the Battle of Adrianople, firmly secured heavy, armored cavalry as the star of the battlefield for the next millennium. War-weary inhabitants of Alexandria opened the gates for Dagomer's conquering army, a decision they would soon regret. Dagomer's men set about pillaging and burning the great city, cutting a wide swathe of destruction all across the ancient metropolis. They murdered tens of thousands of Alexandrians, and raped almost as many women. But, the most catastrophic ill to fall upon the old city came when Dagomer finally set his eyes upon the revered Library of Alexandria. It is said that Dagomer himself cast the first torch at the venerable house of learning. As its massive, priceless collection went up in flames, those near him could hear Dagomer whisper, his voice crackling like the blaze in front of him, his old flame's name- Alexandria.
As the inferno crackled, the popping and snapping of the wooden beams the held up the ceiling intermingled with the screams of the hundreds of scholars who were trapped inside the Great Library. In a rare show of an emotion that wasn't pure rage, Dagomer removed his crown and cast it into the dirt. He wiped a single tear from his face, whispered his beloved's name one last time, and then strode right into the inferno to join his Alexandria in death. Those sympathetic to his tale would later call him Dagomer the Immolate.
Those less inclined to sympathize with the tragedy of Dagomer Auldway would take the first part of his name, Dago, and turn it into a byword for all manner of the nastiest things a person could be. Dago, as a pejorative term, survives to this day.
The Darkest Hour
The Corsinian spirit was shattered after the destruction of Alexandria. The population had been devastated by decades of war, famine, and pestilence. The nation had lost not only their political and cultural home, but also their dignity. Pessimistic contemporaries lamented that the Corsinian Nation had been destroyed along with the State. While the Roman Emperor in the East, based out of Antioch, soon reconquered Egypt and Alexandria, the city was a husk of its former self. Shell-shocked and battered citizens, those that managed to survive the horror, wandered the smoldering ruins of their beloved city for months after the sack, and many simply fell where they stood and died, be it from starvation, wounds, or pestilence.
Over the course of the 5th and 6th centuries, Corsinians had their rights and freedoms gradually stripped from them. By 500 CE, a Corsinian could not legally own land. By 600 CE, a form of feudalism was implemented, where Corsinians were bound to the land they worked, could not leave the lands of their Lord without his stamp and signature, and were legally considered the personal property of their feudal Lord.
Corsinians living east of the Dardanelles didn't have it better than their cousins in Gettenfeld for long. Three attempted Getten invasions were bloodily repulsed, with Corsinians taking the brunt of the casualties on both sides. All three Getten invasions resulted in a status quo ante bellum. The Corsinians living in the East would soon shift their attention, along with the rest of the Roman Empire in the East, to a brutal generation-long slog against the Sassanian Empire, a grinding war of attrition from 602-628 CE. Neither side truly gained from the war, and both sides' reserves of treasure and men were severely depleted, hampering their resistance to the ascendant new force charging out of the Arabian Peninsula: Islam.
The Green Banner Unfurls
The first murmurs of the final prophet, Mohammad, reached Eastern Corsinia while it was still locked in its appalling war with the Sassanian Empire in the early 620's CE. The Corsinians' first taste of the potent Islamic Caliphate's might came in 634 CE, when Khalid ibn al-Walid smashed a combined Sassanian-Corsinian force at the Battle of Sallasil. After Sallasil, the Caliphate rapidly conquered all of Persia. After taking only a single winter to consolidate their forces, the Caliphate, under ibn al-Walid, steamrolled the local forces in Egypt, Syria, and the Levant in 638 CE. Muslim armies would conquer all of North Africa, from Libya to Morocco, in a few short decades. But what was more concerning to the Eastern Corsinians was the Islamic thrust into Anatolia beginning in 654 CE. The first skirmishes in the passes of the Tarsus Mountains were an easy victory for the Caliphate, whose main army entered the Anatolian peninsula in spring 656 CE.
The great army of the Caliphate numbered up to 100,000 men, an unparalleled force at the time. Opposing them was only 30,000 Corsinian and Roman soldiers, led by the mercenary Romano-Getten general Motar Plucus and his 6,000 Getten heavy cavalry. The battle began with a cavalry skirmish, in which Motar Plucus drove off three attacks by the vastly more numerous Muslim light horsemen. However, the tide of the battle would soon turn. While the powerful Getten heavy cavalry was away from camp, the Caliphate's infantry led a surprise assault on the encampment just before sunrise on the first of June, 656 CE. Opposing the veteran Muslim infantry was only ill-trained and equipped militiamen, most of whom were not in their armor when the attack came. Many hundreds of Romano-Corsinians were slaughtered in their tents, with thousands more deserting camp. Those that could not escape the Caliphate's pursuit were sold into slavery or killed. When Motar Plucus' largely intact heavy cavalry crested the ridge that overlooked his camp, all he saw was fire, smoke, and ruin. Deciding that his paycheck wasn't worth dying for, Motar Plucus entered into negotiations with the Islamic commander, who successfully purchased his allegiance. After the Battle of Camp Valley, no force remained in Anatolia that could oppose the triumphant Islamic armies.
The armies of the Caliphate reached the Dardanelles in December of 656 CE. Along the way, they had annexed countless major cities, including Smyrna and Ephesus. When they reached the gates of a city, a herald would proclaim that the city had two choices: surrender peacefully, and you will not be harmed; or resist, and face annihilation. Smyrna and Ephesus surrendered peacefully, as did many other cities. The only city to resist was a polity on the Black Sea coast. So thorough was it's destruction that the name of the city is lost to time. After they opened their gates to the Caliphate, the citizens of Anatolia, most especially in Smyrna and Ephesus, were pleasantly surprised to find the Muslims to be fair and benevolent rulers, as well as enthusiastic and learned scholars. Countless thousands of classical works were transcribed and preserved in Arabic in the great houses of learning in Damascus and Baghdad.
Immediately after the conquest, hundreds of thousands of Eastern Corsinians began to voluntarily convert to Islam, becoming the religious preference of the majority of Eastern Corsinians. However, vibrant and distinct religious minorities such as Pagans, Zoroastrians, and even a few Buddhists continued to thrive in harmony with their Islamic neighbors. Thus began the Islamic Golden Age, which would last all the way to the middle of the 13th century. During the Islamic Golden Age, massive libraries were compiled that effectively saved Corsinian culture from extinction, and great strides were made in terms of medicine, mathematics, and architecture. The population of the Eastern Corsinians boomed, and Smyrna and Ephesus gained new life as world-class centers of art, science, and learning. The splendor of the Islamic Golden Age in Eastern Corsinia was made all the more radiant when compared to the dire contemporary situation of their Western brothers.
Stagnation and Splintering in Western Corsinia
Concurrent to the Muslim conquests in the East, the Western part of Corsinia was wracked with political instability. The situation was further compounded after King Rejahn Vacillatat died in 642 CE without clarifying which of his three sons he intended to succeed him. Tradition held that the eldest son, Amperjel Goodscribe, should take the crown. However, supporters of Bunhjem Ruddyface, the middle son, claim that King Rejahn told Bunhjem he would inherit the throne. Finally, the youngest son, Cespart Brokenlance, who had served many years as a mercenary, intended to claim the throne by force, even though he had no true claim to it. The first to marshal their forces was Cespart Brokenlance, who commanded a mercenary company of his own, numbering some 1,500 footmen and 600 cavalry. Amperjel Goodscribe held the support of most of the nobility, and rallied a force of some 2,000 footmen and 500 cavalry to counter his brother. By the time his brothers had raised their armies, Bunhjem Ruddyface only had a force of 500 footmen and 100 cavalry. Bunhjem knew he couldn't win the war with this paltry force, so he sent an embassy to the fearsome nomadic tribe that lay north of the Danube, the Chefdar, to request their aid against his brothers. Around the same time, the forces of Amperjel Goodscribe met those of Cespart Brokenlance on the outskirts of the village of Dandubard.
Although Amperjel commanded a larger force, he had less cavalry than Cespart, and more importantly, less experience. Amperjel had never fought a single field battle before, and his troops were all green. Facing them was Cespart, a seasoned commander with hardened veterans. The conduct of the battle was not especially tactically brilliant. Amperjel ordered his cavalry to assault Cespart's infantry head-on. Cespart's veterans formed a shield wall and, thanks to their unit cohesion and battle experience, were able to repulse Amperjel's disorganized rookie cavalry. Once their charge was defeated, Amperjel's cavalry began to retreat back to their lines, but were cut off by Cespart's horsemen. Pinned between Cespart's cavalry and infantry, many of Amperjel's cavalrymen were slain or taken hostage. Once Amperjel's cavalry was defeated, Cespart ordered his infantry line forward to engage Amperjel's footmen. Once the two shield walls were engaged in combat, Cespart send his cavalry around the flanks of Amperjel's line and had them smash into their undefended rear. Amperjel's infantry broke and quickly routed. The Battle of Dandubard was Cespart's victory- Amperjel, his brother, was captured and blinded, effectively neutralizing him as a political threat. But Cespart could not rest on his laurels for long, as Bunhjem Ruddyface, his other brother, was seen crossing the Danube at the head of a horde of Chefdar warriors, accompanied by their fearsome chief, Gansur.
Cespart Brokenlance rapidly marched his exhausted men north, numbering some 1,200 footmen and 550 cavalry after the losses at Dandubard, to intercept Bunhjem and Gansur's 100 heavy cavalry, 3,000 horse archers, and 500 footmen. The two armies clashed in the plains of Aomenon. Altough Cespart Brokenlance was a plenty competent general, his men were exhausted after the arduous march and recent battle, as well as terribly outnumbered. Cespart arrayed his footmen in the traditional shield wall formation, and sent his cavalry out to skirmish with the enemy. Cespart's heavy cavalry, although exhausted, swept their opposites from the field with ease. They were met with some success in repelling the swarms of horse archers, but eventually their insurmountable numbers and unmatched speed proved too much for Cespart's cavalry to overcome. The depleted horsemen were forced to return to camp to rest their horses, who were nearly ridden to death, as well as themselves. Cespart's 1,200 footmen were now without cavalry support. Even for seasoned veterans, this was a terrifying situation to be in. For the next several hours, the Chefdar horse archers rode a caracole in front of Cespart's lines, not inflicting many casualties, but denying the footmen the chance to rest for even one moment. Finally, dusk fell, and Cespart and his army packed up their camp and marched away from Bunhjem and Gansur as silently as they could in the dead of night. The Battle of Aomenon was a total victory for Bunhjem and Gansur. With Amperjel sidelined indefinitely, and Cespart unwilling to engage him in open battle, Gansur decided that the utility of his partnership with Bunhjem had come to an end. One cold winter's night in early 644 CE, Gansur's agents slaughtered the royal bodyguards protecting Bunhjem's tent. They entered the tent, and cut the throat of Bunhjem Ruddyface.
Cespart Brokenlance holed up in the fortress of Tristeheim, as Gansur and the Chefdar mercilessly raided, ravaged, and pillaged their way, unopposed, across all of Corsinia for the better part of twenty years, until Gansur finally died of old age in 665 CE. Cespart was forced to pay the new chief of the Chefdar, Fucadel, a hefty ransom in gold and silver, and to pay a sizable yearly tribute in order to persuade the Chefdar to leave Corsinia. Cespart was crowned king of Gettenfeld in 667 CE, and was able to pay the tribute payments for the first few years. However, the royal coffers had been all but depleted by 672 CE. Cespart died that same year, and his successor- his nephew Ugen Tightpurse- ascended to the throne. Ugen Tightpurse, as his name implies, was an extremely frugal man, and a vain one too. He decided that he didn't need to pay tribute to the Chefdar anymore, as that was a deal his uncle had negotiated and agreed to, not himself. The emissary he dispatched to Fucadel's court returned only days before the chief himself arrived- at the head of a horde of Chefdar horsemen. Ugen made a vain attempt to repel the invaders, but his tiny army was crushed, and Ugen himself was taken captive. Ugen was brought before Fucadel himself, and was made to kiss Fucadel's boots. Once this humiliation was complete, Fucadel himself took up a large axe and decapitated Ugen. Ugen's severed head was affixed to a pike and was paraded at the front of Fucadel's army as it ravaged the countryside once more.
Chefdar attempts at unified governance were met without much success so, in 679 CE, Fucadel left Corsinia and returned to his home north of the Danube. The Gettens could not find a suitable new dynasty to rule the kingdom and so, beginning in the 680's CE, a decentralized feudal form of government was cemented in Gettenfeld. Local lords would pledge vassalage to their liege, and their knights would pledge fealty to them. The Kingdom of Gettenfeld was no more.
Development of the Medieval Identity
As Western Corsinia fragmented into countless small duchies and fiefdoms, and as the Islamic Caliphate's rule was cemented in Eastern Corsinia, the colonists on the fringe of the Islamic world were left without a home base to rely on. Colonies along the North African coast were swallowed up by the Caliphate, and the city-state colonies on the Mediterranean coasts of Spain, France, and Italy were subsumed into local polities, as were the colonies in Crimea. The only remaining independent Corsinian colony by 700 CE was Sicily, though this arrangement would not last long. In 715 CE, only a few years after the Islamic conquest of Spain began, a Muslim invasion force of some 15,000 men made landfall in the harbor of Marsala, Sicily.
The invaders quickly seized the town and launched raids into the surrounding countryside. The Muslims had gained control of the entire western third of Sicily, with the exception of the city of Palermo, by the end of campaign season in 715 CE. After spending winter recouping their forces, the Muslim army launched a successful assault on Palermo in spring 716 CE, and spent the rest of the campaign season mopping up resistance in the central part of the island. When the third year of their campaign rolled around in spring 717 CE, the Islamic forces made a bold assault through the center of the Sicilian defenders, cutting them off into two isolated groups defending Syracuse and Messina, respectively. Turning first to the south, the Muslims laid siege to the vital city of Syracuse, the largest in Sicily. Syracuse was protected by thick and tall walls, and had plenty of access to provisions due to their seas access and naval superiority. However, after a grueling three year siege, the city finally fell in August of 720 CE. The Muslims had a tremendous amount of momentum in their Sicilian campaign, and had yet to fight an engagement that didn't go their way. However, after five long years of grinding attrition warfare, the army was depleted and homesick. So, in the spring of 721 CE, the Muslims pulled their field army out of Sicily, leaving only a few garrisons to defend their new acquisition.
In midsummer 728 CE, after taking time to rally what little forces he could, the Sicilian general, Giotes, led 700 militiamen and 75 knights to free his island from the Islamic conquerors. Giotes was quite successful in defeating the small, isolated, and under-supplied garrisons, and by winter of 729 had liberated the entire eastern half of Sicily, except for the city of Syracuse and her formidable walls. However, word of this reconquest, which the Muslims called a rebellion, reached the Caliph and a relief force was sent in fall, 730 CE. After spending the winter planning their offensive, the 4,000 Muslim troops steamrolled the vastly inferior Sicilian force, and reconquered all of the territory that had been ceded. By late autumn of 731 CE the Caliphate had even conquered Messina. The only outpost of Sicilian resistance left was the hilltop fortress of Taormina. As the subjugation of Sicily was all but complete, the capture of Taormina and her small garrison was not seen as a priority, as the Muslims took some fifteen years to capture the citadel, which finally capitulated in early 746 CE.
Back in Western Corsinia, the frequency of major wars had decreased significantly, but the realm was still addled with near constant petty squabbles, feudal feuding, and battles fought for the honour of their Lords and Ladies. This, coupled with poor harvests and perennial raids from across the Danube kept the Corsinian people in a state of constant misery. The Getten nobles, however, were having a much better time than their Corsinian peasants, as ideas such as courtly love and chivalry were spread from Eastern Corsinia. These notions would have a profound effect on the development of the idea of the "Middle Ages" in the public mind. As Eastern Corsinia was far from the borders of the Caliphate, it was a stable and peaceful region, which led to a high number of cultural and scientific advancements, but a low amount of notable events outside of the flourishing intellectual scene discussed in the previous chapter. The status quo in the Eastern Mediterranean would hold steady for the next 250 years, even in the face of limited Norse raids, as the East was stable and unified, and the West was too divided to be a threat to anything but itself. The first signs of trouble for the prevailing order would come in the early days of the 11th century CE, when the first Norman armies made landfall outside of Palermo in Sicily.
The High Middle Ages
The year was 1010 CE, and the first Norman knights had landed on the shores of Sicily. They overran the startled defenders of Palermo, and cut a swath right down the center of the island, separating the Muslim forces in Syracuse and Messina from those in Marsala. Messina fell quickly, and even Syracuse fell after only one month under siege. Finally, the Norman knights, numbering no more than 5,000 footmen and 3,000 riders, met 6,000 Muslim second-line troops outside of Marsala at the decisive Battle of Petrosino. After the Normans carried the day, they were the undisputed masters of Sicily. In 1012 CE, only two years after they first set foot in Sicily, the Norman army set sail for Italy itself, landing in southern Calabria with minimal resistance. They marched north and then east, asserting control over the toe and heel of the Italian boot. They were stopped, however, at the walls of Naples when the Pope offered them plenty of titles, including the rulership of Sicily and the Mezzogiorno, if they would halt their expansion. The Normans happily agreed, and settled heavily in the regions of Sicily, Calabria, and Apulia, becoming the new aristocracy of the region.
Through a series of strategic marriages over the next couple generations, the Normans began to quietly amass a sizable holding on the southern Adriatic coast of Corsinia, around modern day northern Albania. Tensions grew between the Normans and their Getten neighbors, and war became inevitable. Hostilities were finally declared in 1091 CE, and the Norman Duke of Montblanck, Ronbert, levied 350 knights and 1,400 footmen from his vassals, while the surrounding Getten lords entered into a coalition that fielded 300 knights and 1,500 footmen. However, a pitched battle did not seem especially likely. Neither force held an advantage over the other in terms of numbers or composition, and grand field battles had fallen out of vogue in Western Corsinia over the past several centuries. Neither army engaged the other for most of the campaign season of 1091 CE, save for a few inconclusive cavalry skirmishes. Finally, in the wintry days of early 1092 CE, the Normans came across the castle of the leading Getten noble in the coalition, Pemgar, Earl of Bogglesworth. Pemgar had but a small retinue inside his keep, and the Normans under Ronbert had many great siege engines and sappers. The walls were breached in early March, but Pemgar and his men bravely held the breach until the ninth day of April in 1092 CE, when the exhausted defenders raised a white banner and surrendered. Pemgar was taken captive by Ronbert but, due to his noble birth and Ronbert's personal respect for him as a warrior, he was treated exceptionally kindly. With their leader out of action, the coalition quickly disbanded and peace talks began. A treaty was signed in autumn of 1092 CE, cementing Norman control of the entire Adriatic and Ionian seaboards from modern day Montenegro to Epirus in Greece.
Less than a decade after their victory over Pemgar's Coalition, the Normans had established themselves as the most powerful house in Gettenfeld. Their de jure domain stretched from Sicily to Albania and, though a series of strategic marriages, their de facto realm included the entirety of Dalmatia, Istria, and the rest of the Adriatic coast. In 1100 CE Athard, Count Palatine of Albania, declared himself as King in Corsinia, making clear his ambition to conquer the entire realm. His claim was supported by the rest of the Norman nobility, and received the blessing of the Pope in the form of a Papal Bull, generating widespread enthusiasm among the devoutly Catholic Normans. The Papal Bull, issued by Pope Andremus, called for a crusade against both the heathen Corsinians and the heretical Gettens. The promise of adventure and of eternal salvation drew thousands of volunteers from all across Catholic Europe, and by 1106 CE the First Corsinian Crusade was ready to begin.
Volunteers- hailing from modern day Iescech, Scottian Commonwealth, St. Olav, and everywhere in between- began to amass in Albania. In the spring of 1106 CE, the 14,000 men and knights under King Athard I crossed the Norman-Getten frontier and, without a coherent enemy force to stop them, marched unopposed for the entire campaign season, fighting only minor skirmishes. By Christmas 1106 the Crusaders' banner flew above the entirety of the Western Balkans, from the Adriatic to the Danube. The Crusaders were first welcomed with open arms by the common folk, but that quickly changed when the Crusaders began conducting mass forced conversions in the cities and towns of the Western Balkans, torturing or killing those that resisted. Life became intolerable for the non-Catholic peoples of Western Gettenfeld, so much so that the townsfolk of Lutorpolis incited a rebellion in January 1107 CE. The uprising was swiftly crushed, and all 30,000 residents- men, women, children, slaves,and livestock- were put to the sword, their town pillaged and razed. Dozens more populist and anti-clerical Lutorite uprisings would flare up in the following years, but none were met with much sucess.
By the summer of 1107 CE the Crusaders had deemed that the Lutorite threat had been sufficiently quelled and, once more, set off campaigning. However, emboldened by the lack of resistance the last year, the Crusaders split up their force into four columns of less than 4,000 men each. One army stayed back to stabilize Crusader control over previously conquered lands, while two columns marched east along the Danube. The final army turned south and marched down into Corsinia itself. Corsinia was a husk of it's former self and, her people so long oppressed, were unwilling to fight and die for their Getten overlords. As a result, the whole of Greece came under Norman rule. With the southern column mopping up what little resistance was left in Corsinia, the two remaining columns marched east to complete the conquest of Gettenfeld. However, they were unable to achieve their goals because, during a night of drunken revelry, the commanders of the Iennic and Scottian contingents had an major falling out. In the aftermath of this, both the Iennic and Scottian knights abandoned the Crusade and returned home. The Olavian volunteers, seeing that the Crusade was petering out, returned home for the fall harvest. In the first days of 1108 CE, the Pope called the First Corsinian Crusade to a close. Despite the abrupt and disappointing end of the Crusade, it was still a resounding victory for the Catholic Church.
A second Crusade would be called in 1120 CE. The Second Corsinian Crusade attracted much fewer foreign volunteers, and only achieved marginal gains. After the Second Crusade, many Crusaders came to see the Crusades as nothing more than a vehicle for the Church and Atharid Norman Dynasty to advance their political goals. The next crusade would not be called until 1188 CE, in response to the landing of a large Muslim army under the command of Bylibos of Smyrna in Argos. In the time it took for the knights of Christendom to assemble in Albania, Bylibos had already conquered the Peloponnese, Attica, and Thessaly. Bylibos, drawing from the much more populous lands of Eastern Corsinia, had assembled a force of some 40,000 men. His counterparts, under Retcharles the Lion, had managed to amass some 35,000 men, young adventurers and second sons who did not remember the disenchantment of their fathers. The Third Corsinian Crusade had begun.
Third Time's The Charm
The two great armies under Bylibos and Retcharles met on the field outside Larissa in the early days of August 1188 CE. It was very uncommon in this time period to see massive field battles in Gettenfeld, especially ones with forces as large as these, making the Battle of Larissa especially distinct. The engagement itself was very different from most of its contemporaries. Instead of a rapid combat lasting but a few hours, the Battle of Larissa dragged on in an attritional slog for two whole weeks.
Historians have attributed this phenomenon to an unusually high amount of heavy crossbows and longbows found in both armies, as well as the extremely effective use of field fortifications and earthworks by either side. At the end of the hellish two weeks, neither side had dislodged the other from their positions. Both forces suffered immense casualties, though Bylibos did maintain his slight edge in numbers. Retcharles withdrew his forces shortly after the fighting came to an end. While this technically left Bylibos in control of the field, it came at a terrible cost. Neither army had the strength to launch an offensive operation, so they set up their winter camps several months early, and mere kilometers from each other.
Foraging parties would skirmish here and there throughout the early winter, but that was the extent of the action as thousands of fresh troops poured into either army. However, on the night of 21 December, 1188 CE, Bylibos ordered a daring raid on his opposite's camp. A dozen cloaked figures infiltrated the Crusader encampment, and made their way into Retcharles' tent. After silencing his body guards, the would-be assassins threw off their cloaks, unsheathed their daggers, and stabbed Retcharles 23 times. However, it seems that their aim left much to be desired, as Retcharles sprung up from his bed, brandished his lucky lion's tooth he kept around his neck, and proceeded to slay all twelve men. Unfortunately for the Crusaders, Retcharles succumbed to his wounds only a week later.
The Eastern Corsinian forces couldn't rest on their laurels for long, as on the 5th day of February, 1189 CE, a letter arrived for Bylibos. His father had died, and his older brother had joined a monastery. Because of this, Bylibos was now the head of his family, and was recalled at once to tend to the affairs of his estate. With him came some 15,000 men who were under his command, or that of his vassals. This, along with the mass casualties at Larissa, brought the Eastern force down to only 12,000 men, including the new reinforcements.
Both commanders were soon replaced, but neither were of the caliber of Bylibos and Retcharles. The Eastern force was commanded by Velias, a vain aristocrat; the Crusaders by Retcharles' young nephew Mandrew. Neither was experienced in battle, but, nonetheless, they met once more on the plains of Larissa. Second Larissa was not an attritional slog like First Larissa, as most of the experienced engineers had gone home with Bylibos or died. Mandrew's 20,000 men were inspired by the martyrdom of Retcharles, and that fighting spirit carried the day over Velias' unorganized lines.
Fearing capture and death, Velias ordered a hasty and disorganized retreat, all the bay back to southern Attica. This left the Peloponnese completely undefended, a weakness that Mandrew quickly exploited, recapturing the peninsula rapidly. Growing bored of war, and not wanting to risk his life again, Velias secretly boarded a ship bound for Eastern Corsinia but, once the sailors on board heard how many lives his cowardice at Second Larissa had cost, they threw him overboard. He drowned.
Morale was at a critical low for the Eastern Corsinians and, when an offer for an armistice was offered by Mandrew in November 1189, the leaderless Eastern force quickly accepted. For all of its bluster and excitement, the 3rd Crusade had only resulted in a status quo ante bellum.
Four on the Floor
An ambitious new Pope named Rumi ascended in 1200 with a thirst for vengeance. Rumi was an Arab, and felt a burning jealousy at the prosperity his Muslim kinsmen enjoyed. Contriving a sketchy Casus Belli, Pope Rumi declared the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Mandrew and the Normans, still lionized by the Martyrdom of Retcharles, rallied 12,000 men and horses. They were joined by 3,000 foreign volunteers. The Crusaders negotiated passage through what remained of the Getten Duchies, centered on the Dardanelles. The Crusader army settled in for the winter just outside the city of Constantinople. However, the winter would not be a quiet one. On a mission to purchase food for the encamped army in the city's Grand Bazaar in early October, a group of rowdy Norman soldiers beat to death a merchant they believed was scamming them. They were immediately imprisoned for this crime, with one culprit perishing in Constantinopolitan custody. The Norman commanders demanded that damages be paid to them for the unnatural death of one of their men, and that the rest of the imprisoned soldiers be set free. The Duke of Constantinople dismissed this request out of hand. It was the Normans, after all, who had spilled blood first.
The Duke of Constantinople, Ores, agreed to a meeting with the King in Corsinia, Mandrew, to defuse the high tensions that gripped the city and threatened to spill over into the streets. A condition of their meeting was that neither side could bring weapons. Mandrew and his retinue entered the city in billowing black cloaks that flapped shapelessly in the wind as they joined the procession to the Duke's palace. Arrayed face to face with the Duke and his advisers, Mandrew gave a subtle nod. That was his men's signal to throw off their cloaks, revealing the swords, axes, and daggers they had smuggled into the city. The unarmed Duke and his viziers were caught totally off guard, and were easily cut down. One of Mandrew's men sped up the staircase to the roof of the Duke's palace, where he lit a signal flare. Seeing the smoke rise, a bribed guard in the main guard tower cranked the chain to raise the portcullis and swung open the gates. Through this surged thousands of rapacious Norman soldiers, bearing swords and torches. They rapidly seized the barracks, treasury, granary, and other vital buildings. They next went door to door arresting nobles and clergymen, only to burn their houses and execute them in turn. These fires spread rapidly throughout the city, engulfing whole districts. Amid the flames, Norman soldiers pillaged, burned, and looted every building they could find. Even churches were not exempt from the soldiers' avarice. Hundreds of priests, monks, and nuns were killed, along with thousands of their parishioners.
By the time the flames died down several weeks later, Constantinople was a city forever changed. The majority of the city was a smoldering ruin. Only the docks, and the houses of the small-time merchants who lived there, had remained relatively unscathed. This, coupled with the complete eradication of the traditional aristocracy, provided the unique material conditions that would give rise to the world's first bourgeois. The shell-shocked survivors of the worst sack since Dagomer had ravaged Alexandria shuffled tentatively out of their meager temporary lodgings to parley with their Norman conquerors. In exchange for a generous yearly tribute, Mandrew would permit the newly renamed Istanbul to exist as an independent city-state and merchant republic. Thus, from the ashes of Constantinople, the Serene Republic of Istanbul arose like a phoenix.
New chapter is out! Enjoy the treachery, intrigue, and triumph of the Fourth Crusade!