The long and glorious reign of Chrysogone Ironsides finally came to an end. So what’s next?
The new Despot, Tiberios, is pretty crap as far as stats go. He’s brave, trusting, and kind, and has four sons, though one is already dead. But he’s got plenty of money and a united realm behind him, so it’s time to start working on the next step!
The next step, in this case, means reaching for the Byzantine throne itself. It may take a while, though.
Or not? Everyone is willing to chip in! Having a fat purse definitely helps with the plotting.
That was … easier than I thought. And the claim is hereditary, so if Tiberios dies we don’t lose it. No time pressure yet.
Which is good, because it turns out that Tiberios, before becoming despot, had declared war on the entire Tengri world. I don’t actually need the territory he’s fighting for, but I’d really rather not pay the huge indemnity for losing. So I round up some troops and head over to see if I can fight them to a draw.
“Men, we’re going to dig deep, work hard, and fight the enemy to a bloody draw!”
The new empress is a little girl, and she’s getting rid of her troublesome vassals by giving them to me. I’m not complaining!
She also makes me Chancellor, which I accept for the moment. I’ll have to resign before I make my move for the throne, but I don’t know if that will be in Tiberios’ lifetime.
Unfortunately, the Tengri world is not playing for a draw, and they assemble to give me a smackdown.
At least we killed this guy! Eh? Eh?
Nobody cares. With a sigh I concede the war and hand over a huge bag of gold.
That leaves me extremely in debt, although my income is quite high. Being in negative treasury produces all kinds of bad effects, though. Soooooo…
“How’s my favorite heavily persecuted ethno-religious minority?”
“We have so many sorrows.”
“Great, great. Listen, I need, you know, just some cash until payday…”
With the help of the Chosen People I’m back in a slightly better position. My son and heir is continuing the family tradition of poorly thought out wars against steppe nomads. I really hope he finishes it up before I die.
Thanks to Chrysogone’s efforts, though, Anatolia is looking good! My strength is getting to the point where I can contemplate rebellion, but first I’m going to need to save up a reasonable war chest so I can hire mercenaries to tip the balance.
If Tiberios dies before we get strong enough, Ioannes the Lecher is going to have to carry on. He has definitely been … leching, I guess? Alarmingly, while he has at least five sons, his only legitimate one is dead. Fortunately I can always legitimize the bastards.
Tiberios, always honest, pays back his Jewish buddies.
I’m amused that my subjects address me as “my despot”. Also, I’m saving up for war here, the peasants can wait!
The empress is current six years old, and ideally I’d launch my coup before she’s grown.
As long as the peasants feel safe, we can set old women on fire I guess.
Having resigned the chancellorship, I start a faction for myself, consisting entirely of me. We’re building a movement!
Tiberios may be old, but he’s still kicking!
Also having sex with his wife.
I sympathize with this dilemma. You know Ioannes is only going to end up in a back room with everyone else’s wives. He’s irresistible!
I’m not alone anymore! My new best friend is Strategos Pankratios the Repulsive.
Honestly I think plotting to take over the empire is a little more stressful than the pursuit of wealth.
Fortunately, of the “medieval stress relief” trio of dogs, fucking, and heads of your enemies, Tiberios still has access to the second one.
Okay, several non-repulsive people have joined the movement, and I’ve got 1,100 gold in the bank. Let’s do this.
That’s right, nine-year-old girl. I’m calling you out.
Once more armies erupt all over the empire. I’m a bit outnumbered, but I call in some mercenaries to make up the odds, and get the drop on a nearby portion of the Imperial forces.
A hard battle near Constantinople leaves me laying siege to the capital. As always with mercenary armies, though, the question is whether I can end the war before the treasury runs dry.
Perfect. This is exactly the time for that.
Dueling sieges, as the Imperial army works its way through rebel territory while I continue to take the capital holdings one by one. The Ecumenical Patriarch joins the fray and promptly gets crushed when the Imperial army fails to support him. Stick to praying, Father.
Meanwhile, a fierce battle rages between rebels and loyalists on Mallorca, for some reason.
I must have more gold to pay the heavily armed psychopaths who fight my wars for me!
The treasury is running low, but it’s time to roll the dice. I hire a second big mercenary company and set out to try conclusions with the main Imperial army.
For the sake of future historians, any chance of having the climactic battle at a place whose name I can pronounce?
Now the war tips rapidly in my favor as I liberate the castles taken by the Imperials. I chase down the fleeing remnants of their army and force another battle.
Victory! The Empire is mine!
No, wait, I can’t declare victory while my castles are held by the god-damned Iconoclasts. And the treasury is now almost empty.
Jews! Buddies! You know I’m good for it!
I race over to put down the rebellion before the money runs out or the Imperials get their shit together.
Yes, thank you, please rot in jail, so sorry must go.
Mwahahahahaha! The throne is mine!
Now they call me “the Usurper”, which honestly is fair. I usurp! It’s what I do.
As Emperor, I automatically get Constantinople, as is right and proper.
As you might imagine, things are a bit of a mess. I owe money to the Jews, and lots of my vassals old and new are pretty pissed off at me. So I set to work reorganizing the Empire and preparing for the inevitable counter-revolution.
Hey, apparently we’ve got Antioch! Go team! That reminds me, though, to take a look at my goals.
I can mend the Great Schism, the split between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. This requires very high moral authority and piety, and control of Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Rome. That’s a tall order, but we’re going to try!
Restoring the Roman Empire is even tougher, requiring control of most of Italy and the Balkans. That’s going to take some doing. But we’ve got a good five hundred years to try.
In addition to his extramarital excitements, Ioannes apparently wants to marry my granddaughter to my grandson. Son, let me explain some things to you.
I take some proactive measures against rebellion, arresting and fighting the vassals who hate me the most.
Fortunately, my marshal thwarts the first attempts on my life.
Now that I’ve got the throne and don’t have to worry about the Emperor switching sides, I settle in to being Orthodox and suppressing Iconoclasm.
But this is going to keep happening, isn’t it? Oi.
A revolt finally happens, but it’s only a small one, and easily crushed. Perfect. Various vassals go to jail and the realm is more secure.
They’re plotting against me, but they don’t have the power to actually do anything about it.
Seriously, son. Is this like your fetish? You need help.
Do we even have rabies in Anatolia?
I didn’t need that blood anyway. It was holding me back.
With the realm reasonably secure, I cautiously work on expansion, starting with this unsightly outpost of Bulgaria.
I mean, it’s better than rabies.
My oldest supporter! All these years and I never told him about that thing on his face.
The death of one of my dukes forces me to start the Bulgarian war over, this time paying more attention and pressing my own claim rather than a subordinates. Being Emperor is hard, guys.
Wonderful! I love Leontia and her band of heavily armed psychos, and I hear — is wonderful this time of year!
I arrange a marriage for Ioannes’ stupid daughter so he’ll quit it with the incest fantasies.
Apparently his fetish was all that kept him clinging to this world, because he dies immediately.
Because Ioannes managed not to have any surviving legitimate male offspring, the new heir is the son of my next-eldest son, Michael.
Bogomilist heretics, now? Is that some sort of clown-based religion? (It is not.)
Nice guy vassal just wants Constantinople, baby. Come on!
The Bulgarian war finally ends in my favor, and I race around mopping up all the minor rebellions that popped up while I was busy.
To simplify my life, I start endowing viceroyal kings with big swathes of territory to govern. This means the land comes back to me when they die, so I can grant it to someone else. It keeps them grateful and less powerful. Plus they get the awesome title of “exarch”.
At 76, Tiberios tries to fit in one last war with the tiny kingdom of Serbia.
Sadly, it’s not to be, so his grandson will have to finish it for him. Though Tiberios’ actual reign was pretty short, due to his mother’s longevity, he built on her work and finally reached the ultimate prize of the Imperial throne itself. Now let’s see if the next generation can manage to keep it!
Michael, I choose you! (Okay, that one doesn’t quite work.)
Current Year: 898 AD.
Current Status: Always Be Usurpin’.