Romania Ascendant, Chapter 1: Emperor Baldwin I "the Holy"

Author: inocomprendo
Published: 2018-06-08, edited: 2018-07-04
A Latin/Romanian/Roman Empire AAR I plan on taking at least through EU4. As of writing, I'm halfway through the CK2 timeframe and am catching up with writing the AAR.

Part 1 covers the rise of Romania under Emperor Baldwin I, through the tumultuous Early Period of conquest and rebellion. There's hardly any peace as Latin rule is established.

(Upload Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons / Baldwin during his coronation)

Part of the campaign:

Romania Ascendant

On the 16th of May, 1204, Count Baldwin IX of Flanders was coronated as Emperor Baldwin of the Empire of Romania. In the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade, the Empire of Romania had replaced the Byzantine state in the Balkan Peninsula as the holders of Constantinople, and thusly, in their eyes at least, the heirs of the Roman Empire.

(Photo Credit to Wikipedia Commons)
Following the establishment of his new empire in the east, Emperor Baldwin had most notably established the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople. While most of the subjects he ruled over followed Greek rites, Emperor Baldwin brought with him French culture and Latin rites of Christianity, following the Catholic tradition.
The first order of business is to secure the Nicean holdings of the Nicaean Empire. As the Greeks had proven themselves unable to keep the flames of Rome alive, Emperor Baldwin would have to continue the Fourth Crusade on his own, beginning with Asia Minor. A campaign is hastily called, and troops are rallied in conquest.
Pope Innocentius III calls a Fifth Crusade against the Ayyubid Dynasty to expand the crusader state of Jerusalem, held by the de Lusignan dynasty. Emperor Baldwin sends a modest donation and his sincerest prayers to Rome, but does not pledge his military support, due to his own concerns.
Shortly after the Christian declaration, the Sunni Caliph Al-Nasir calls for a great holy war for Nicaea. Sensing the weakness of the Greeks, the Caliphate decided to come down upon them once and for all. Although initially pleased to hear that his enemies would be fighting a war on two fronts, Emperor Baldwin harbors concern over the future of his new Empire.
News from the cold north tells of the Swedes ceding land to the Teutonic Order. Time will tell if these knights will be able to defend Christendom against the pagan hordes.
Although bloody, the campaign is a swift success. Having begrudgingly accepting peace following the siege of Prusa castle, the Nicaeans recognize Emperor Baldwin as the controller of most of their holdings. The Treaty of Prusa was unceremonious and swift. The Emperor had little desire for fanfare, largely due to being the new target of the Mohammedan jihad. The troops are not sent home, as was promised, but routed against the Muslim conquerors.
Facing the Nicaeans and the Muslims for years of warfare had taken its toll on the Emperor. Years of defensively fighting and looking out for invaders led to declaring a return to the status quo antebellum with the caliph. The fledgling empire gave a collective sigh of relief as the Abbasid caliph called an end to hostilities.

In securing the land from the invaders, his people took it to be a sign of divine intercession. In repelling the pretender empire of Nicaea and the "whole Muslim world" (how many Islamic states actually participated is debatable), his people took to referring to Emperor Baldwin as "the Holy".

The peace, however, was not meant to last.
Civil war was declared by King Bonifacio of Thessalonica in June of 1207, not a month after peace had been established. It had been revealed by a loyal duke that King Bonifacio had conspired to claim the imperial throne for himself and was attempting to incite rebellion.

Empress Marie is discovered to be with child in July, hoping to bring a suitable heir. Prince Jean (later named Giovani) is born in February of 1208, and the king of Thessalonica is imprisoned in April of 1209.

Peace comes to the empire once more.
Peace, again, was short. The Greek population that Emperor Baldwin now ruled over was concerned with bring ruled by what they saw as foreign invaders, with a different way of life and different religious rites. Smaller demonstrations and revolts weren't uncommon, but they were handled by the local lords.

In July, the largest came from Adrianopolis, under a disgruntled peasant. Demanding a return to Greek rule, they took arms and formed a mob. Emperor Baldwin was required to take decisive action with imperial forces. Although initially repelled by the peasants, the rebellion was crushed in April of 1210.
Peace finally reigned in the Latin Empire, as it was called by the emperor in Nicaea. The people enjoyed a period of relative peace and stability, interrupted only by an outbreak of measles.

Further east, the Jerusalemites celebrated victory over the Ayyubids in 1211, ending the 5th Crusade. A month of celebration is called by the Pope in all of Christendom, and Jerusalem survives.

There are rumors coming from even further east of a great Mongol horde, one that desires conquest as far west as Constantinople itself. Although those surely are just rumors...
As the years have passed, the French and the Greeks have found themselves in a new equilibrium. In their need to communicate, they have started to evolve into a new dialect, one that is neither fully one or the other. While Greeks would be mostly Greek for a longer time, what had once been French would soon become more and more unrecognizable to native French speakers.

Although this shift in language, and eventually culture, would not be fully realized quite yet, it was slowly beginning.
Declaring himself King of Greece in 1213, Emperor Baldwin found the need to assert his rule over the French duke of Achaia. After refusing the ultimatum to become his vassal outright, war was declared in June.

The war itself was uneventful and relatively free of bloodshed, however the Emperor became bedridden with a case of the flu in July. Under the "wisdom" of the court physician, Baldwin's hand needed to be cleansed of the vile humours that were present. Although his case of the flu was miraculously cured, he would be without a right hand for the rest of his life and was never quite the same.

The war was concluded in 1215 as Achaia swore fealty to the Latin Emperor.
What followed was a period of more lasting peace. Although some vassals had warred to secure their own holdings, the empire at large was able to tend to their own affairs. Most notably, the Kingdom of Epirus is claimed by Duke Alexios, a vassal of the Thessalonikan king, in 1216.

In the west, a Swabian duke is placed on the throne of England, swearing fealty to the Holy Roman Emperor in 1217. And in Constantinople, Emperor Baldwin found his once healthy body becoming increasingly infirm through his old age. Still an angry old man, he found himself lashing out at those who criticized him over his sickly disposition.
At the age of 49, and after over half a decade of peace, the now gray emperor declares war on the Seljuk sultan of Rum. The rationale has since been debated from asserting his own health to taking advantage of multiple wars against the Seljuks to simply warring for Christianity, war is declared and troops were mobilized after being blessed by Emperor Baldwin in Constantinople.
Scarcely a year after declaring holy war, Emperor Baldwin succumbs to old age and infirmity, bedridden in the imperial palace. Although increasingly erratic in his old age, he was widely appreciated throughout western Christendom as a strong emperor.

Surrounded only by his most loyal retainers and his family, he passed peacefully in his sleep. It is said in Romanian tradition that God himself rained on the capitol for three days and nights out of sorrow from losing a champion of the cross. He is be beatified in the coming week by the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Emperor Baldwin is dead!
Long live Emperor Giovani!

Next chapter:

Game: Crusader Kings II

Romania Ascendant, Chapter 2: Emperor Baldwin II, Part 1

Images: 11, author: inocomprendo, published: 2018-07-04

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