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[Dark Eras fan] Constantinople – Early Medieval Istanbul, Turkey – 700 – 1000 AD

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  • [Dark Eras fan] Constantinople – Early Medieval Istanbul, Turkey – 700 – 1000 AD

    Split mini-setting from my Byzantine Empire fan Dark Era, after Medieval Kiev and Medieval Odessa. I split topic from main Byzantine Empire topic, as local setting, it’s easier to digest than going through six pages of general topic. This setting is centered on first contacts of Byzantium with Vikings, being part of official Wolf & Raven ( from Dark Eras 1 book ) background. Years 700 – 1000 AD are pointed as start of Vikings journeys in Europe and their visitations in Constantinople - till year 988 AD, when Emperor Basil II forms so called Varangian Guard, that becomes elite unit in Byzantine army. But let’s come to short summary for those not knowing Byzantine Era it itself – full information’s are to be read in Byzantine Empire Dark Era topic itself.

    Constantinople & Byzantine Empire

    Constantinople – now known as Istanbul in Turkey – is ancient city that was second capitol of Roman Empire. When ancient Empire on West had very difficult managed it’s huge lands in early 300s AD, Emperor Constantine the Great rebuild older Greek city of Byzantium as new capitol in 324 AD – and renamed it on his name, as Constantinople in year 330 AD. After that, line of successors of Emperors fought if Rome or Constantinople should be real capitol of Roman Empire. Finally, in in 395 AD Theodosius I bequeathed the imperial office jointly to his sons: Arcadius in the East and Honorius in the West, dividing Imperial administration, de facto splitting Roman Empire in to two. When Rome on West fell to barbarians, Constantinopole on East prospered. Citizens of Eastern Empire till it’s fell to Turks in 1453 AD used calling of "Rhōmais" (Greek: Ῥωμαΐς for ‘Romans’ ) for themselves – even then all around called them popularly ‘Greeks’. Name Byzantium was still used for this new capitol city on common terms, even if not Empire itself.

    Eastern Orthodox Church

    On the start of 1st millennium, there was One Church of Christians. There where heresies, but on general, Church was that of from Rome. When on 3rd century onward Rome slowly christened, Byzantine Empire from it’s start was ‘first Christian Empire’, as it was often called. Constantine the Great was great supporter of Christianity – and by this, Catholic Church – making it de facto official religion of Empire in 325 on equal footings with pagan worship, on First Council of Nicaea. From then on, both Rome and Byzantium become great lights from what Christian faith spread on the world – with Constantinople literally being built on it.

    But then Western Roman Empire fell. In the times of this setting – years circa 700 – 1000 AD – there are already big changes in Church of Constantinopole. In 629 AD, Greek became, instead of Latin, official language of Byzantium – also in liturgy. Eastern Church traditions become more and more different from this of Rome – creating the Byzantine Rite. Not without influence on situation were Iconclasm Wars in 8th and 9th century inside Byzantium. All this slowly leads to Eastern Church paying only lip service to Pope in Rome in setting’s times – even if officially, Constantinopole is still part of Roman Church. It all finally ends in 1054 AD, in Great Schism.

    Varangians – Vikings on Middle East

    On the end of 8th century, Vikings – brave pirates and traders from Scandinavia – are invading Europe. They also come to Constantinople. Most came from nowadays Sweden, by route of Kievan Rus, Black Sea – and then to capitol of Empire. ( By so called route from the Varangians to the Greeks ).

    Varangians come both as invaders – but also bodyguards and traders to be for rent. First official documents mention in 839 AD Rus ( Slavic nativeted Vikings in Ukraine ) representatives arrived at the Frankish court as part of a Byzantine diplomatic mission. Archaeological evidence suggests Rus trading activities along the Volga trade route as early as the end of the 8th century, so it’s possible they could be in Constantinople even before that date. From year 988 AD Norse are part of constant, elite formation of Varangian Guard, begin bodyguards to Emperor.
    Last edited by wyrdhamster; 10-31-2019, 07:40 AM.


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  • #2
    Monsters Society – Sworn

    Idea for my fan setting is that in cosmopolitan Byzantium of that time, monster works in Sworn cross-factions, after canonical Plague of Justinian being danger to the both mortals and supernatural beings. There maybe not ‘Parliament of Night’ of original Rome – in form of Senex – but many inhuman factions create lose cliques that rise to prominence with each next comings of Contagion in Byzantium region – and fight against one another in between those. Each group need for at least 1-2 leaders in Constantinopole, good are other members of those. If you have ideas on those – feel free to propose or write yours. We can also do 2E fan updates for canonical characters, like those in Byzantine setting from Fall of Camarilla book.

    Without further ado…

    Sworn of Justinian

    In 6th century after Christ, first Plague hit Byzantium. It started vicious cycle of sickness and death that took tall of almost one third of Eastern Roman Empire, across next three centuries. And it bring Sworn to fight it.

    At the rules of Emperor Justinian I, in one year, from 541 to 542 – pandemic of Plague killed 40% of population of Constantinople. What mortals did not known, was that (later called ) Black Death had also supernatural dimension. Some of those that died from illness, had return to life. And then died again. And return to life. And died again. Being locked in this miserable cycle, they still spread the disease, adding next to damned army of living dead. Numbers were not enough to call the open battlefield – but those of night-dwellers races known they need to respond or the secret of their existence will be broken. They need to eradicate this sickness.

    Lancea Sanctum ruling Constantinople - joined by newly formed Legions of Damned from previous Legio Mortuum regiments - is trying to solve epidemic on it’s own. Sanctified need to do this, because from over century Camarilla de facto is no more – even when few in Kindred society still use it’s name. Finally, sickness pass from Rome of East – was it workings of vampires, God Machine or mages – is to this day hotly debated. Most would agree it was will of God ( or gods ).

    Convention and Splitting

    Sensing that Death can return to Empire, Aelia Scaevola, a Nosferatu researcher with few others children of the night started secret convention of scholars to seek ways to stop the next outbreak. They found under city ancient tomb that foretold great disaster. And those researchers spill over Empire, to look clues for the secret.

    It was Aelia who remembered 25 years later that sigil found in tomb to come from times of Cyrus in Achaemenid Empire, twelve hundred years earlier. Mage from Cyrus times, Vishtapa, found first signs of Contagion in their country. As Scaevola was from Lance and Spear, she was versed in Scriptures – and instantly remembered the prophecy of Jeremiah about the Fall of Babylon. She spread the idea with her colleagues and soon joined by other of monsters believing that Plague of Justinian was God’s Judgment – and only faith, zeal and morality can save night-dwellers and mortals from next outbreak. They quickly infiltrated the Church and lesser cults in Empire – or rather were there from beginning - looking over ways to please the God ( and gods ). Jeremiad Sworn were created.

    But not every researcher from convention of the tomb agreed with Aelia. Some mystics were looking inside their own mind and souls for answers. Mages and beasts that seen discovery and sigil from tomb looked a lot like Omphalos Stone inside Astral Space they visit routinely on their journeys. They focused on understanding it’s meaning and how dreams can help cure the Plague. Both rivalry Orders of Awakened, Panscryptia and Keepers of the World, agreed ( for the first time ) on importance of Sacred Stone. Joined by Despoina, the Mother of Bones, chthonian vampires priestess of Echidna from Athens, adversary of Scaevola, they started their own group. Omphalos Sworn were created.

    Athanatoi

    Those two Sworn groups were unchallenged by few decades, where last remnants of Camarilla were trying to rise up in Night Society, however without success. Curse of Hasdrubal hanged on everything that originated from Rome itself. Ayzebel, sister-in-law to Carthages general that Curse take it’s name – the same women that became creator of those that in modern night we call Cryptocracy – was Embraced and joined Camarilla in Eternal City and strive to end Contagion in Italy with like-minded. She felt with the Senex itself, but her disciple went to Byzantium with Constantine The Great. Chaos in the city did not let them took their roots. Until Senex was no more. Kindred needed new system of ruling – mortals in Empire gave them.

    Themata province system was created in the mid-7th century in the aftermath of the Slavic invasion of the Balkans and Muslim conquests of parts of Byzantine territory. It overturned older Roman system the strict division of civil and military offices. With new ruling system forming on their eyes, disciples of Ayzebel went for power and to control Plague, for the good of Empire. New group stated they want to stable society and give victories with Contagion for the Byzantium. They become nation sensitive leaders monsters. At the dawn of year 700s. they called themselves Athanatoi, Immortals. New Sworn were created in Byzantium.

    10th century, mortals elite military under this conspiracy would call themselves the same.

    Sworn and False of Byzantine Empire
    In brackets are names for modern counterparts of those groups. Historical factions use mechanics the same as their nowdays decendents.

    Sworn of this Era:
    • Jeremiad -
      Religious and morality-centred monsters. Connected to mortal ( future ) Orthodox Church. After 6th century and it’s Plague of Justinian – most influential Sworn faction. Typical members: Lancea et Sanctum, beasts, hunters, mummies and Prometheans. Joins them Integrators, Hunters in Darkness and Lucifuge.
    • Athanatoi (Cryptocracy) –
      Monsters sustaining government and rules in Empire. They are remnants from original Camarilla of Rome – and future part of Invictus. Connected mostly to Themata province system. Typical members: Athanatoi Convenat ( rests of Camarilla, future Invictus ), beasts, demons, mages and vampires. Join to them Adamantine Arrow, Blood Talons, Iron Masters, Storm Lords, Winter, Spring & Summer Courts, Maa-Kep, and Undertakers from Sin-Eaters.
    • Omphalos (Rosetta Society) –
      Researches of sacred and secret, they name comes both title for mythological stone letting to communicate directly with gods – and Astral Space barrier that many mages and beasts find in their journeys. Typical members: mages from Keepers of the Word and Pancryptiates Orders ( in 12th century they merge into modern Mysterium, but in this Dark Eras they compete inside Sworn ), beasts, demons, changelings, hunters and werewolves. Joins too them Bone Shadows, Circle of the Crone, Mekhet vampires, Sesha-Hebsu, Mourners from Sin-Eaters and Tammuz.
    False of this Era:

    ·Horde (Naglfar’s Army) –
    Literal ‘barbarians at the gates’ – and on the inside. Over centuries, Easter Roman Empire had many enemies – Huns, Khazars, Arabs, Vikings, Ottamans and many, many others. Each of this groups was coming with next war that could ‘end the world’. What was joining them was secret support of night-dwellers, wanting to tear down Empire, once and for all. However Horde was not only on the outside – but was infiltrating Night Society in the inside. From the times of Ancient Rome, at least handful of monsters were doing their own ‘Saturnalia’, preparing for the end of world. With enemies on the outside and inside – Byzantine Empire finally was no more. In 900’s Horde dogma mixed with Vikings legends of Ragnarok – and modern Naglfar’s Army was created from there.


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    • #3
      Monsters Society, p. 2 – Members of Sworn

      Here is list of basic NPCs concepts filling Sworn numbers in Constantinople. I will edit later this post with simple sum-ups and links to posts with proper members write-ups. I put design comments in ‘//’ marks.

      Jeremiad

      Iovinus – Archbishop of Constantinople ( called Patriarch )

      Clan: Daeva
      Covenant: Agía Lans ( gr. Lancea Sanctum )

      Iovinus is reformator. After centuries of separate veneration from mortals, Lancea et Sanctum need to start following belief much more like mortals – or the questions will rise too much in daylight society. Even if he is not lifting Third Tradition of Timothy that banned worship with mortals - Iovinus is putting elements of Byzantine Rite to his black masses in Cisterns under Hagia Sophia, in Byzantium city. He is forcing old Roman natured Elders to speak in Greek, like Romanoi around them. He worries that next Plague can hit capitol because vampires stands too much from their kin and God will show his wrath on Constantinopole for breaking Masquerade.

      Uratha Pack - Kunēgóskula tou Theoú ( Hounds of God )

      Pack of Hunters in Darkness werewolves, guarding area around and under Hagia Sophia, with crossing rights granted for Lancea Sanctum vampires, inside Jeremiad Sworn.


      Athanatoi

      Vetranis – Dominus Noctis Imperator

      Clan: Julii
      Covenant: Athanatoi ( future Invictus )

      Jaromir – Slavic Strategos

      Clan: Gangrel
      Covenant: Athanatoi ( future Invictus )
      / Strategos are ‘generals of Emperor in terrain’. Jaromir is previous Slavic commander of military, now in the Byzantine army. /

      Omphalos
      Uratha Pack - Timovítes ton Chaménon Alítheias ( Cenobites of Lost Truths )

      Pack of Bone Shadows werewolves, guarding Imperial Library of Constantinople, with help from various mages of Keepers of the Word Order.

      Trógon ton Nekrón ( Eater of Dead )

      Auspice: Ithaeur
      Covenant: Bone Shadows
      Trogon is blind monk working in Imperial Library. He is also Alpha of Timovites, leading his wolf brothers and sisters in duty of making sure Library has all the books in papyrus and parchment rest in peace.

      Horde

      Hafgrim – Viking General

      Clan: Gangrel
      Covenant: ???
      Hafgrim is one of generals that lead next siege of Constantinople. He is also brutish vampire, surviving in the sun when need to lead his armies. Embraced against his will, he miss the daylight. He seeks Contagion as way for resurrecting himself in to sun light, once and for all.

      / Do not know what Covenants were in Viking vampires society, if any. Maybe Belial Brood? But it’s not sure in 2E VtR, I think? /
      Last edited by wyrdhamster; 11-01-2019, 09:54 AM.


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      • #4
        Monsters Society, p. 3 – Vampires Government – Night Emperor, Patriarch and Prisci Council

        Kindred society of Constantinople is governed like that of mortal – just much more stable. When in living Empire, ruler can be change for complete stranger in one, two decades – undead are much more certain in their choices. Mostly because they are virtually immortal. If he is clever in his politics, new Dominus Noctis Imperator ( Great Night Imperator ) is chosen once in few centuries when previous one is going to Torpor, from Prisci Council – leaders of Clans in city, and by this, in Empire. New Imperator is appointing now Stratoegoi ( sing. Strategos ) – generals in the field, to look over his matters for him in Empire, under sacred Oaths to him. All other them are watched if they making will of God by the Patriarch of the Damned, Vicar of Longinus, Archbishop of Constantinople. Sanctified Patriarch and Imperator rule almost as co-princes, with Imperator taking matters of world and Patriarch those of souls.

        Within city, Kindred are divided into thema, administrative groups (usually divided by lineage) with specific responsibilities to the Kindred government who gained specific rights in return, usually in regard to where they might haven and feed. The Mystikoi, a line of Gangrel monks, serve as scribes and historians, for example, and are given the right to feed from the city’s monastic population.

        Nowadays rules of Imperator and Prisci Council ( 700-1000 AD ) is result of Justinian Plague of 541 ( with it’s repeated resurgences till 750 AD ) – called centuries later Black Death. With as high as 40% mortality rate in Empire, it took many of humans supplies and networks of older Roman Elders – leading to their downfall or even Final Death. With humans dying en masse and normal dead returning to ‘life’ – Kindred needed change of rules. With old Patriarch lost in tumult and Prisci Council finally dead, vampires looked for new leaders. It came with Ventranis – previous barbarians hordes leader from West that became general in Days Emperor armies. He with few others Ancillae helped new appointed Patriarch Ivonius enforced order in Plague stricken Constantinopole. Following traditions of living Eastern Roman Empire, he was anointed Dominus Noctis Imperator by Ivonius – and start it’s rules as King ( or rather, Emperor ) of Night in Reigning City. He appointed his helpers as Prisci that now advise him in ranks of Athanatoi. Researchers in Imperial Library whispers that they found legend about Imperator’s name giver – Ven – being connected to stories of Troy and creation of Julii Clan of old…

        Dominus Noctis Imperator – Ventranis
        Clan: ‘Ven’ ( future Ventrue )
        Covenant: Athanatoi ( future Invictus )
        Embraced: 482 CE ( same as birth of Emperor Justinian )

        Centuries ago, Ventranis was commander of one of next barbarian armies that lead siege on Constantinople. What was not known – he already was vampire of ancient noble and leaders Clan spread inside ‘uncivilised’ lands. Some rumours said he is related to Julii, somehow. His strategic mind and acumen lead him to become Day Emperors Justinian general, helping, in the end, to defend Byzantium. He hid his vampiric condition as ‘foreign customs of his people’ – and led small politics in Empire. Then came the Plague and everything changed. Without Prisci Council and with old Patriarch missing, there was chaos. Ventranis took matters in his own hands, helped new Archbishop Iovinus, collected willing and able to bring order with him in the City. It took half century, but they done it. They become next Prisci Council and in next 50 years, Ventranis is crowned first Dominus Noctis Imperator. ( Circa year 650 AD. )

        Patriarch of the Damned – Iovinus
        Clan: Daeva
        Covenant: Agía Lans ( gr. Lancea Sanctum )
        Embraced: 532 CE ( Start of building Hagia Sophia )

        Iovinus was mesmerizing Roman priest of Greek heritage. He was observed by previous Patriarch, Alexander, from his teenage years. Vicar of Longinus even tried to romance and tempt young cleric – which he succeed. But only after Nike riots in 532 AD Alexander understood that he need a Child to take after him. When the Day Emperor in same year started building of Hagia Sophia, Alexander knew it was sign. On his 33rd birthdays, just like his Sire, Iovinus died to be reborn in Longinus. He only had 9 years of his undead existence when Alexander disappeared with first wave of Plague. Confused and unready to rule, he probably would lose the power – if not help from Ventranis. Together they lead order and stability – and controlled Plague in Constantinopole Kindred society. They’re alliance lead domain to prosper – and let Patriarch to look over the matters of soul – so, Ivonius crowned Ventranis as Dominus Noctis Imperator.

        Prisci Council
        Gangrel Priscus – Vigilius
        Clan: Gangrel
        Covenant: Athanatoi ( future Invictus )
        Embraced: 585 CE ( Slavs invasion of Constantinopole )

        Vigilius was one of defenders of City before Slavs. He died with name of the Christ on his mouth. And later awoken to the night. He was resurrected by one of ‘barbarian demons’. He slew his original pagan Sire and drove to the Legions of Damned knight order. However, seeing as Legion is too much theological fanatics and much less real army – he looked for inspirations. It came when Plague once more hit the Constantinople, and Ventranis gone to organise help and fight with returned dead. Vigilius joined future Imperator and advised to him creating more secular forces of knights to defend Queen of Cities, with Legions being less and less real force. Together, they started what would become Athnatoi, laying Oaths to new appointed Imperator of Night.

        Mekhet Priscus – Eugenia
        Clan: Mekhet
        Covenant: Athanatoi ( future Invictus )
        Embraced: 543 CE ( Justinian Plague )

        Eugenia was daughter of Byzantine noble. She could not go to Church run university, but learned all she could as independent Roman noblewomen. She devoured ancient scrolls and books on medicine and anatomy. If she was not women, she could become doctor. And then Plague came. She tried to fight it on streets. She tried to save her family when father brought sickness from the next military campaign. Finally, she did not save them - and she was dead. She awoke in the mass grave of Plague victims, from what she crawled up. Her Sire has prepared her and pointed her to save human and Kindred from Plague. And so she started to fight it, with all her knowledge and might. When Ventranis called for help, she gladly joined him. For the good of Empire – and it’s people!

        Nosferatu Priscus – Skolikas ( Worm )
        Clan: Nosferatu
        Covenant: Athanatoi ( future Invictus )
        Embraced: 541 CE ( Justinian Plague )

        Man called Skolikas was on of first victims of the Plague. The so called ‘King of Beggars’, he was finest fixer in the low strata of society. Of course, he was one of first to come in contact with sick and leppers. He was dying by days. Then his Mother give him choice of dying in pain – or too live forever with marks of disease. He choose later. He bears his Plague marks with pride – but he really want to end suffering of poor and outcast. He helped Ventranis – and now make sure that people on the low end of social ladder will also have voice. His voice.
        Last edited by wyrdhamster; 11-02-2019, 02:37 AM.


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        • #5
          As I want to make Constantinopole setting for my Contagion plotline, I offered players to make them 3 extra NPCs from other gamelines - to make it truly crossover setting. For now, they agree on Mage, so I prepared Awakened entwined in the Sworn of Byzantium. Will post it here when it's ready. Other two NPCs propositions they discuss for now...


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          • #6
            And here is my NPC mage for Constantinopole, with strong Contagion storyline in it.

            Mage – Asklepios – Omphalos Sworn

            Quote: ‘Snakes are healers – I will heal you and your soul.’

            Background: Awakened known as Asklepios was second ( or even fifth )-tier physician of the Imperial Court in Constantinople. He got there after years of his driver to be ‘best doctore’ in his small community. He was broken – and then Awakened – when next wave of Justinian Plague took his young wife. Asklepios then command the snakes that attacked him in Primal Wild. He then was driven to lore about sickness to Imperial Library, where he joined Keepers of the Word. He want to end the Contagions once and for all.

            Description: Greek man in late 30s, with dark hairs and full beard, in ‘doctore’ tunic. He somehow looks like Byzantine version of Zeus. In women form ( see Storytelling Hints ) she looks like delicate sister he never had.

            Storytelling Hints: Asklepios have secret. As a snake, he likes to shed his skin – and break taboo of Byzantium. Death of wife open him to false duality of humanity. In his free time, Asklepios roams the streets of Constantinople as a woman, using Life magic to change her body to more closely reflect her self-image. Asklepios’ identity is fluid, and the Church would burn them if they found out.


            Real Name: Maurinus Zonaras / Nonna
            Dedicated Magical Tools: Wooden Stuff
            Path: Thyrsus
            Order: Keepers of the Word ( and Omphalos Sworn )

            Mental Attributes: Intelligence 4, Wits 3, Resolve 4
            Physical Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 2, Stamina 3
            Social Attributes: Presence 3, Manipulation 2, Composure 3

            Mental Skills: Academics 2 (R), Enigmas 1, Crafts 1, Investigation ( Sickness Signs ) 3, Medicine ( Plagues ) 4, Occult 2 (R), Science 2
            Physical Skills: Athletics 2, Brawl 1, Ride 1, Archery 1, Stealth 2, Survival 1 (R), Weaponry 2
            Social Skills: Animal Ken 2, Empathy 3, Persuasion ( Calming people ) 2, Socialize 2, Subterfuge 2
            (R) – Order Rote Specialty

            Merits: Allies (Imperial Library) 2, Alternate Identity 1, Astral Adept, Destiny 2, Grimoire 2, High Speech, Library ( 3 + Advanced ) – Contagion, Status ( Keepers ) 2, Shadow Name 2

            Wisdom: 6
            Virtue: Ambitious – They wants to ‘save the world’ from ‘sickens’ ( Contagions )
            Vice: Dangerous – They is not looking at the good of others in achieving their goals
            Aspirations:
            • Short: Healing people
            • Long: Live free as two sexes in Byzantium
            Obsessions:Willpower: 7
            Initiative: 6
            Defense: 4 ( 7 – Life Armor )
            Speed: 9
            Size: 5
            Health: 7

            Gnosis: 3
            Mana/per turn: 12/3
            Nimbus:
            • Long-Term — Minor sickness are cured around Asklepios
            • Imme*diate — Feeling a bit sick, like bitten by low-poisonous snake
            • Signature Nimbus — Small, transparent snake scales on the item or object
            Arcana: Life 4, Death 3, Mind 2, Spirit 1
            Rotes: Life — Animal Minion (••••), Mend (••••), Regeneration (••••), Many Faces (•••), Knit (•••), Bruise Flesh (•••), Purge Illness (••), Mutable Mask (••), Web of Life (•); Death — Ghost Gate (•••), Ghost Summons (•••) Rotting Flesh (•••), Suppress Life (••), Touch of the Grave (••), Without a Trace (••); Mind — Dream Reaching (••), Incognito Presence (••), Mental Shield (••); Spirit — Coaxing the Spirits (•), Exorcist’s Eye (•), Know Spirit (•)

            Armor: 0 (2 – Life Armor ) - Heightens the combat instincts of the mage and prepares her body to shrug off injuries. Life Armor adds half the character’s Life rating (round up) as both general armor and a bonus to Defense. Use the higher of the character’s Wits and Dexterity as Defense, rather than the lower. ( Counted in braces. )
            Last edited by wyrdhamster; 11-08-2019, 06:29 PM.


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            • #7
              Prapering to run my Constantinopole plot line, I compiled information for the Imperial Court of circa 800 AD. Bon Appetit!

              Imperial Court circa 800 AD
              Empress Irene of Athens is ruling alone Roman Empire for almost two decade now. First as widow after her husband Emperor Leo IV and as regent for her son Constantine VI ( years 780 until 790 AD ). Then as co-ruler to her child that was official Emperor by 5 years ( 792 until 797 ), running domestic affairs, when he spent his time on war fronts. Finally, now as de facto sole ruler of Byzantine Empire ( 797 to 802 ). Constantine VI is said to lay in Great Palace, stricken by terrible sickness. There are also rumours that Empress blinded and killed young Emperor – but surely they are false. A mother would not be able to do this to her child.

              Empress do not leave palace complex. This is not so strange. Most of rulers of Constantinople only came out to public on grand church masses and for the competitions at the Hippodrome. Besides that, life in capitol seems as usual - but it’s only superficial impression. On behalf of Irene, country is run by league of ministers, each trying to pass his family member or friend as suitable candidate for her husband – and by this – next Emperor. Two main factions are made around leading man in administrations, de facto competitors to being Prime Minister, Staurakios and Aetios. Both were eunuchs so they are did no play their games of thrones for themselves – only for their friends and families – but both spinning webs of intrigues to not let the other one win this political race. And both balanced by Irene holding the last grasps of power in her own court.

              In year 800 AD, on Christmas Day 25th of December, Charlemagne – Charles the Great, King of Franks on West - is crowned Imperator Romanorum ("Emperor of the Romans") by Pope Leo III in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Few days later, when witness are coming to Empire, It’s a shock to whole Grand Palace in Constantinople. Title that was sole birthright of the Byzantines, not ‘barbarians’. Pontifex augmented that Emperor of Romans can only be man, and so throne in Constantinople is vacant, with Irene ruling Eastern Roman Empire. Charlemagne was even one of previous candidates for the hand of Empress before, but she rejected this marriage offer. And now Pope declared her – by crowning Charles – not the lay ruler of Western Church community.

              In 802 the patricians conspired against Irene, deposing her on 31 October, and placing Nikephoros, previous minister of finance (gr. logothetēs tou genikou), as Emperor on the throne. Irene was exiled to Lesbos and forced to support herself by spinning wool. She died the following year.

              Lay Patriarch and Iconoclasm

              Other canter of power in that time is Tarasios, ‘lay’ Patriarch of Constantinopole. He started his career in the secular administration and had attained the rank of senator, eventually becoming imperial secretary (gr. asekretis) to the Emperor Constantine VI and his mother, the Empress. He was selected as Patriarch of Constantinople by her in 784, even though he was a layman at the time. Nevertheless, like all educated Byzantines, he was well versed in theology, and the election of qualified laymen as bishops was not unheard of in the history of the Church.

              Known to follow commands of Empress, he worked to closer relationship between Rome and Queen of Cities. Before accepting the dignity of Patriarch, Tarasios had demanded and obtained the promise that the veneration of icons would be restored in the church. He persuaded Empress to write to Pope Hadrian I, inviting him to send delegates to Constantinople for a new council, to repudiate Iconoclasm heresy. The Pope agreed to send delegates, although he disapproved of the appointment of a layman to the patriarchate. The council convened in the Church of the Holy Apostles on 17 August 786. Mutinous troops of Iconclasts, loyal to previous Emperor Constantine V, burst into the church and dispersed the delegates. The shaken papal legates at once took ship for Rome. The mutinous troops were removed from the city, and the legates reassembled at Nicaea in September 787. The Patriarch served as acting chairman (Christ was considered the true chairman). The council, known as the Second Council of Nicaea, condemned Iconoclasm and formally approved the veneration of icons. The patriarch assumed a moderate policy towards former Iconoclasts, which incurred the opposition of Theodore the Studite and his partisans.

              After last outbreak of Justinian Plague in 747 AD, Constantinople has around 100 000 citizens in those times.


              Dramatis personæ

              Irene of Athens – Empress of Romans ( East )
              Charlemagne, Charles the Great – Emperor of Franks and Romans ( West )
              Staurakios – Irene’s Prime Minister contender
              Aetios – Irene’s Prime Minister contender
              Tarasios – ‘Lay’ Patriarch of Constantinopole
              Nikephoros – Irene’s Minister of Finance, later her successor
              Last edited by wyrdhamster; 12-28-2019, 06:48 AM.


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