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WI: Epirus revives the Byzantine Empire

Circle of Willis

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After the Fourth Crusade, one of the successor states which emerged from the Byzantines' husk was the Despotate of Epirus in what's now Albania & western Greece, founded by the Komnenodoukai - bastard cousins of Isaac II Angelos. The second Despot, Theodore, got quite far: he conquered Thessalonica from the Latins in 1224 and threatened Constantinople for a while, but eventually attempted to double-cross his Bulgarian allies, failed and was decisively defeated at the Battle of Klokotnitsa in 1230 after getting too careless, with the would-be emperor himself captured (along with his family) and later blinded by Ivan Asen of Bulgaria. Epirus never recovered from this defeat and the Komnenodoukai limped along for a few more decades in increasing weakness until their last Despot was murdered and the Despotate usurped by Italians.

But what if Theodore Komnenos Doukas succeeded in retaking Constantinople and becoming Byzantine Emperor ~30 years ahead of date? Could a Balkan-focused Byzantine Empire, shorn of its Anatolian provinces (the presence of the Frankokratia's remaining statelets in Greece will provide the Komnenodoukai with enough targets that they won't have to immediately cross the Hellespont) and closely tied to Slavic and Latin royalty, last longer than the historical Nicene-restored empire did? And conversely, without having to worry so much about their western frontier, could the Nicaeans become sufficiently focused on Anatolia (like the Trapezuntines, but operating from a position of greater strength) to constrain the rise of the Turks?
 

PsihoKekec

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A reasonably strong and stable Byzantine Empire could hold off Ottomans from crossing straits of Bosphorus for a long time, greatly curtailing their expansion. A dynastice tie with Bulgars would give them a much needed strategic depth in that direction but the problem would be their internal dynamics, with traditional byzantine plots probably weakening them and there would surely be wars with Serbs, Hungarians and Venetians.
 

Buba

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The historical crossing of the Dardaneles was a fluke (like many, many historical events now seen as invevitable/results of materialist dialectic).
And the Ottomans could had easily (?) been kicked out of Europe during the civil war following their disaster at Ankara. Nothing set in stone :)
 
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stevep

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After the Fourth Crusade, one of the successor states which emerged from the Byzantines' husk was the Despotate of Epirus in what's now Albania & western Greece, founded by the Komnenodoukai - bastard cousins of Isaac II Angelos. The second Despot, Theodore, got quite far: he conquered Thessalonica from the Latins in 1224 and threatened Constantinople for a while, but eventually attempted to double-cross his Bulgarian allies, failed and was decisively defeated at the Battle of Klokotnitsa in 1230 after getting too careless, with the would-be emperor himself captured (along with his family) and later blinded by Ivan Asen of Bulgaria. Epirus never recovered from this defeat and the Komnenodoukai limped along for a few more decades in increasing weakness until their last Despot was murdered and the Despotate usurped by Italians.

But what if Theodore Komnenos Doukas succeeded in retaking Constantinople and becoming Byzantine Emperor ~30 years ahead of date? Could a Balkan-focused Byzantine Empire, shorn of its Anatolian provinces (the presence of the Frankokratia's remaining statelets in Greece will provide the Komnenodoukai with enough targets that they won't have to immediately cross the Hellespont) and closely tied to Slavic and Latin royalty, last longer than the historical Nicene-restored empire did? And conversely, without having to worry so much about their western frontier, could the Nicaeans become sufficiently focused on Anatolia (like the Trapezuntines, but operating from a position of greater strength) to constrain the rise of the Turks?
Its definitely a possibility. There would always be tension between the Despotate and Bulgaria due to their history and especially if the former looks likely to 'restoring' the empire. However avoiding that betrayal and securing more land in the European part of Greece could have given a markedly better foundation for the state. Doing a quick check on the links it says in the wiki for the Despotate_of_Epirus-Conflict_with_Nicaea_and_Bulgaria that
In 1230 Theodore broke the truce with Bulgaria, hoping to remove Ivan Asen II, who had held him back from attacking Constantinople
This could be why Theodore decided to betray his ally so there are three options:
a) That Ivan doesn't oppose Theodore taking Constantinople - although that is potentially dangerous for the future of Bulgaria.
b) That he does but that Theodore doesn't go to war with him but possibly concentrates on other parts of European Greece. This might leave option the option that if/when the Nicaean empire captures the city then Bulgaria would support Theodore in taking it then.
c) That Theodore still betrays the Bulgar's but isn't such an overconfident idiot and actually succeeds. This could however mean a fairly lengthy and bloody campaign as well as a markedly different Theodore.

I think either empire could have revived a unified Byzantine state, including at least western Anatolia with better leadership and a bit of luck. Which would make a huge difference to history there and around the world.
 

ATP

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The historical crossing of the Dardaneles was a fluke (like many, many historical events now seen as invevitable/based in materialist dialectic).
And the Ottomans could had easily (?) been kicked out of Europe during the civil war following their disaster at Ankara. Nothing set in stone :)
Yes.Ottomans become Empire only becouse they prey on weal Byzantines,get strenght there,and could fight other states like mongol successors.Without weak Byzantine to prey on,they would never become strong.
Which probably mean Crusader states surviving longer.Maybe to our times ?
 

Buba

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The Crusader States were destroyed by Egypt/Syria/Iraq based polities, not the Ottomans.
 

WolfBear

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After the Fourth Crusade, one of the successor states which emerged from the Byzantines' husk was the Despotate of Epirus in what's now Albania & western Greece, founded by the Komnenodoukai - bastard cousins of Isaac II Angelos. The second Despot, Theodore, got quite far: he conquered Thessalonica from the Latins in 1224 and threatened Constantinople for a while, but eventually attempted to double-cross his Bulgarian allies, failed and was decisively defeated at the Battle of Klokotnitsa in 1230 after getting too careless, with the would-be emperor himself captured (along with his family) and later blinded by Ivan Asen of Bulgaria. Epirus never recovered from this defeat and the Komnenodoukai limped along for a few more decades in increasing weakness until their last Despot was murdered and the Despotate usurped by Italians.

But what if Theodore Komnenos Doukas succeeded in retaking Constantinople and becoming Byzantine Emperor ~30 years ahead of date? Could a Balkan-focused Byzantine Empire, shorn of its Anatolian provinces (the presence of the Frankokratia's remaining statelets in Greece will provide the Komnenodoukai with enough targets that they won't have to immediately cross the Hellespont) and closely tied to Slavic and Latin royalty, last longer than the historical Nicene-restored empire did? And conversely, without having to worry so much about their western frontier, could the Nicaeans become sufficiently focused on Anatolia (like the Trapezuntines, but operating from a position of greater strength) to constrain the rise of the Turks?
Could we eventually see an Epirus-Nicaea Federation in this TL?
 

Circle of Willis

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Could we eventually see an Epirus-Nicaea Federation in this TL?
No more likely than a Nicaea/restored Byzantine Empire-Trebizond one was IRL, IMO, unless their ruling dynasties unite by marriage or something. Since the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the transfer of its regalia to Constantinople there can only be one Emperor, after all.
 

WolfBear

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No more likely than a Nicaea/restored Byzantine Empire-Trebizond one was IRL, IMO, unless their ruling dynasties unite by marriage or something. Since the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the transfer of its regalia to Constantinople there can only be one Emperor, after all.
You could have a system similar to the German Empire, where there is a dominant monarch/emperor and then sub-national monarchs below them!
 

Circle of Willis

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You could have a system similar to the German Empire, where there is a dominant monarch/emperor and then sub-national monarchs below them!
Not when the Nicaeans are claiming the purple as well. Considering Trebizond's emperors never bent the knee when they had a much weaker position and more reason to come crawling to the Palaiologoi IRL (at least until the latter started flying into a death spiral of civil wars), I suspect that's gonna be a very hard sell for any Nicaean imperial claimants regardless of dynasty.
 

WolfBear

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Not when the Nicaeans are claiming the purple as well. Considering Trebizond's emperors never bent the knee when they had a much weaker position and more reason to come crawling to the Palaiologoi IRL (at least until the latter started flying into a death spiral of civil wars), I suspect that's gonna be a very hard sell for any Nicaean imperial claimants regardless of dynasty.
Makes sense; I trust your analysis here.
 
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