Literature: An Age of Miracles
A modern rendition of The Dragon and his Knights by Gottfried Liss, painted in 1499.
“Blessed are we above all men, for we live in an age of miracles.”An Age of Miracles: The Revival of Rhomaion
—John XII Cosmas, Patriarch of Constantinople, August 29, 1300.
is an Alternate History
series being published at AlternateHistory.com
. The main point of divergence is the birth of a healthy young Theodoros II Laskaris
, who does not inherit epilepsy from his father; as a result, he is able to quickly reunite the successor states to the Byzantine Empire
in the aftermath of the chaos caused by the Fourth Crusade
. There is at least one other known point of divergence, in the form of difficulties encountered by Charles of Anjou in the conquest of Italy.
The thread where the series is written and discussed can be found here
. Edited and finalized sections of the narrative are published here
This work provides examples of:
- Arc Words: The "Age of Miracles" quote functions as this. A somewhat bastardized version that replaces the word "miracles" with "dragons" ends up rising to prominence after the Emperor's Battle as a reference to the achievements of Dragos cel Mare, Vlad Dracul, Dragos Musat, and Vlad Drakos.
- Awesome but Impractical: The huge bombards constructed by Thomas Laskaris during the War of the Five Emperors. The crowning example is the bombard "George," which throws five hundred pound cannonballs and isn't even the largest gun constructed.
- Badass Grandpa: Most of the named characters are members of the royalty or the nobility and thus have access to top-notch medical care (for the time). Alexios Palaiologos is noted for his longevity, having played a role in the War of the Five Emperors, the succession crisis following Theodoros IV's death, and pretty much everything in between (although Andreas comes very close).
- Big Bad: The Timurid Empire is the distaff counterpart of the Byzantine Empire, and has on multiple occasions attempted an invasion. Venice can also lay claim to this position as a result of its actions during the Fourth Crusade, the War of the Five Emperors, and the Black Day.
- Big Badass Battle Sequence: Cappadocian Caesarea. Manzikert. The Emperor's Battle. Any time the Romans call out multiple tagma, it's a safe bet that one of these is in the works.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Subverted by Kristina and her spy network/secret police. Suspects are suspended from the ceiling of a room and left alone while horrendous screams echo through the dungeons. They invariably confess. Obviously, the screams were from actors paid to do so, allowing confessions to be obtained through minimal bloodshed.
- The Crusades: The Byzantine Empire is ravaged by the Fourth Crusade, but recovers faster than OTL because of the point of divergence.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The battle of Ain Sijni, to the point where it is upheld as the pinnacle of military science ITTL.
- Dragos cel Mare's Italian campaigns were this as well. And his campaigns in support of Arles. Really, the man was such an increadible Bad Ass, most of his battles can be classified as these except for his last.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Andreas harbored a grudge against the city of Venice as a result of the Black Day. He draws up plans for the complete extermination of the Venetian population, with the exception of the Jews, Croats, and Mamelukes in the city. He and Zoe are rather disappointed when they realize that killing that many is impractical, and end up allowing some of the children to be spared.
- Averted once Andreas comes to his senses in the middle of the battle, and orders a stop to the fighting. Many Venetians are killed nonetheless, and the surviving population is deported, allowing Andreas to just barely avoid crossing the Moral Event Horizon.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Andreas does not put faith in this trope.
- Emperor Incognito: Andreas, after Leo's exile, to determine his sons' (and one grandson's) competence.
- End of an Age: The death of Alexios Palaeologus, the last of the great generals who fought at Manzikert and during the War of the Five Emperors.
- The Fourth Crusade, which begins the narrative, also serves as a more violent example of this trope, shattering the concept of Byzantine invulnerability.
- The Black Day and the sack of Smyrna.
- Faking the Dead: Andreas does this not only to reveal Rhomania's enemies (i.e., Hungary), but also to begin the Time of Troubles.
- False Flag Operation: How Andreas arranges a war with Aragon-Sicily.
- Flashback Cut / Flashback Echo: Half the scenes involving Andreas. He has a certain tendency towards hallucination.
- Golden Age: Under Demetrios Megas, the Byzantine Empire is restored to levels of power not seen since Justinian.
- Mêlée à Trois: The War of the Five Emperors eventually boils down to this: Thomas Laskaris, Demetrios Komnenos, and Manuel Doukas. Manuel and Demetrios come to an agreement by which the two are appointed co-emperors, Demetrios as the senior emperor, in order to quickly take out Thomas and respond to the threat of a returning Timurid invasion.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Kristina kills Maria.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Andreas revels in this trope. Combined with PTSD from The Black Day, the resulting demons torment him for most of his life.
- Name's the Same: Several characters in the timeline share names with historical figures but are either not the same person or are significantly changed by far-reaching butterflies.
- Timur, born later and who lived ten years longer than the figure known today by that name (and who gained his lameness much later in life from a war injury).
- Shah Rukh, the grandson rather than the son of Timur.
- According to Word of God, Catherine The Great will end up being Swedish.
- Lots of people get named after Emperors, which aids Andreas when he decides to go King Incognito for awhile. He doesn't bother to change his name, and gets away with it.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Theodoros Komnenos is assumed to be a fool by most, even his own father Andreas.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Averted with Andreas/Maria. Threats of violence, attempted murder, and ultimately the best it gets is a shallow sex-based relationship. Although they stop threatening to kill each other.
- Rape as Drama: What happened to Princess Zoe, and the reason why she and Andreas have frequent flashbacks.
- Leo also does this to his brother's wife. He gets exiled to Arles.
- Red Baron: Andreas Niketas, known variously as the "Little Megas," "the Vanquisher of all Rhomania’s Foes”, “the Scourge of the Latins”, “the Undefeated”, or “the Shatterer of Armies.”
- Redemption Equals Death: Leo dies heroically in battle attempting to redeem himself and his many sins.
- Running Gag: Andreas Komnenos and his amazing virility.
- Scarpia Ultimatum: Vlad making Andreas marry his daughter to gain his support against Anastasia.
- Shocking Defeat Legacy: Cappadocian Caesarea. Also, the sack of Smyrna.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Andreas manages to become one of these all on his own.
- That Old Time Prescription: The medicinal use of willow bark is pioneered by George Doukas, who discovers that it's effective at treating headaches.
- Vestigial Empire: Not anymore.
- Wham Line: "I will be a Timur to the state of Venice."
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Andreas after his ascension to the throne. Having your mother raped and murdered in front of you can really mess you up.
- Young Conqueror: Andreas, the "Little Megas."