Byzantium 1758

A New Byzantium Emerges 

Note - this project has been replaced by the 1848 Trans Syldavia project (owing to available opponents), but the background is useful to understand 1848

Following their defeat at the gates of Vienna in 1688, the Ottoman Empire went into a long decline and Russia and Austria nipped away at its European lands. Many of its subject provinces started to agitate for more independence as Ottoman power waned, and in quite a few there was open revolt, though the typical outcome was the Ottoman Empire massacred the bleeders came to terms with them, albeit usually leaving them far more independent. This is the story of one of those states, the (alternative) history of New Byzantium.

In 1716, Prince Eugene of Savoy defeated the Turks at Petrovaradin. The Banat and its capital Timişoara was conquered in October 1716. The following year, after the Austrians captured Belgrade, the Turks wanted peace and in 1718 the Treaty of Passarowitz was signed. The Austrians maintained control over Belgrade, leaving the Turks with control over the south bank of the Danube river.  By the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish war in 1735, Russia had managed to secure a favorable international situation by signing a few treaties with Persia in 1732–1735 (which was at war with Turkey in 1730–1736). Austria had been Russia's ally since 1726.

Emboldened by this, many of the remaining territories of what is now New Byzantium felt it was time to remove the Turkish yoke and rose in revolt. In the absence of their Sanjak (Governor) the population of Salanik (now the capital, Byzantion) overthrew the remaining Ottoman garrison and established New Byzantium. The Turkish army, busy fighting Russia and Austria, was not in a position to put down the revolts and the revolutionaries. Russia and Austria could see the benefit of such a revolt in the Turkish rear, and so fed the revolutionaries with money and surreptitious military assistance. At the end of the war, the Turks attempted to restore order but were too weak and the revolutionaries, with the help of Russian forces landed from the Black Sea and Austrian Grenz troops, forced Turkey (through gritted teeth) to give them semi-independence at the Treaty of Edirne

Under Russian influence, a new king, or Basileios, with vague connections to the last Byzantine emperors was found and installed as Constantine X, and the Greek Orthodox church was quick to move an autocephalous Patriarch to the new capital of Thassaloniki. During the 1740 - 1748 War of Austrian Succession, New Byzantium happily took Prussian and French money to attack Austria, but spent most of this loot in building up its own army, and its attacks on Austria were slow and largely ineffective. When the French and Prussians pressed this point, Constantine X responded that he needed more materiel and training to build a "proper" army - which France duly gave, and is reflected in the French flavour of the army even today.

By 1751, Turkey felt Austria and Russia were sufficiently weakened to try and overturn the treaty of Edirne and attacked New Byzantium, and at this point it became clear that Constantine's policy in the War of Austrian Succession had been to build his own forces up while expending as little energy as possible in actually fighting Austria, and the French trained Byzantine army, supplemented with its European mercenary soldiers demobbed  from the recent wars (and urgently recruited as mercenaries) gave the still largely feudal Turkish army a bloody enough nose in a series of engagements that made the Turks rethink their policy towards this irritating but relatively small new demistate. The Treaty was re-ratified, but no-one was under any illusion that this was a stable situation.  

Roll forward to 1756 and the start of the Seven Years War. New Byzantium (as was becoming usual) is carrying out a delicate balancing act of trying to get money out of warring European states while collaborating just enough with Turkey to extract trade revenue while carefully watching them as well. Austria and Russia were busy with France against Prussia and England, and the new Basileos, Alexius VI  is busy negotiating with the British for payments to attack Austria and Russia, and letting them use his main port as a naval base in return. The newly resurrected emblem of the Byzantine Eagle is truly watching both ways (or is truly two-faced, as its opponents claim)


Sadly, in all the confusion of Independence, a lot of the Ottoman records were burned or lost so formal overview maps of the area of New Byzantium were lost. There were no maps of "New Byzantium" per se as it lay over a number of Ottoman administrative areas. There have been some attempts to define the region but in the confusion of starting the new kingdom most maps are simple and specifically for one purpose or another.

The current knowledge of the surrounding area is thus sketchy (literally - all there are, are mostly sketches). West and Northwest lies Habsburg land and other small states, to our East lies the Sublime Porte, to the Northeast lie unknown lands and mountains and eventually the Black Sea, to the South is the sea and (further on) Greece, still (in 1756) under the Ottoman boot.

In fact it is getting a bit embarrassing, as the physical geography of the region is fairly unclear still (never mind the political lie of the land), and while it sounds very romantic to say that Byzantion is six days hard ride from Strelsau, it is not helpful in planning the movement of the entire 1st Corps. (In fact, even the Gianitzaroi got lost on their way to Trnova, as "over yonder hill" is not entirely helpful, so Don Dharko got away - for now!).

This spring, His Excellency will despatch a second mapping team, this time with a guard detachment, as the last one disappeared somewhere in the Trans-Syldavian mountains

A New Byzantium

The army started off as not much more than a collection of disaffected Ottoman regular commanders, with the local nobility serving as Spahi heavy cavalry, some Janissary trainees and lots of revolting peasants, many of whom would be the irregular militia of an ottoman armyu. The inclusion of European mercenaries and some Russian and austrian regulars helped it in those first hard years.

In the late 1730's and 1740's the foundations of the army of New Byzantium was structured:

- Firstly, it carried on an ancient tradition of using mercenaries to rapidly bulk up its forces as it rebuilt.

- Secondly, it recreated some of the great regiments of yore - the Scholae and Varangian Guard, the Gianitzaroi (the Medieval Byzantine "Jannissaries" - very useful as a unit to put the Janissaries New Byzantium inherited). The Western heavy cavalry were again called the Latinikon. Light cavalry in the Balkan and Turkish tradition both existed in New Byzantium;'s population, so two great ancient regiments were re-created - the Balkan "Skythikon" and Turkic "Turcopoloi". Les Biscotins, a unit of "Bukellarii" are the current Basileos' personal guard

- Thirdly, it benefited from the advice of Marshal de Saxe, who laid its foundations (and who got his ideas on light horse from it). It was due to his teaching that the Scholae were created as heavy lancers. 

The structure of the army today is shown in the table below:

The Army and Navy in 1756

The Army

Following on from my analysis of army size vs population, I calculated that New Byzantium (pop c 800,000) can field an army of about 8,000 men without any major economic problems, probably going up to c 16,000 in war-time without a general call-up.

In order to structure the force, I used a historical models of Wurttemburg, about 50% bigger in population, and assumed that New Byzantiun - which is semi at war and also has a rich trading capital - could exist in these troubled times on a force of c 1.5% of its population. Assuming that about 1/3rd of the force is the "tail", a population of c 800,000 at 1.5% yields 12,000 souls, of which about 8,000 are effectives.The force is made up of:

- 6 Line Regiments, each of 1 battalion - (c 3,600 effectives) - increasing from 4 mercenary regiments
- The Latinikon - 2 Heavy Horse squadrons ( c 600 effectives )
- The Sipahoi - 2 Medium Horse Squadrons (c 600 effectives)

- 2 Light Horse Regiments (Skythicon, Turcopoloi) each of c 400 light horse  (800 total)
- 2 Light Infantry Battalions of 400 men (800 total)

This brings the total to a round 6,400. The "other" 1/3rd in the tail is assumed to be the depot, senior officers, backup services (such as they are) etc etc. In addition to this, there is the small matter of the Guard. This comprises of:

- The Scolae heavy cavalry (300 lances)
- Two Grenadier Half-Battalions, the Varangian Guard and Les Biscotins (600 men)
- The Trapezitae (400 Light Cavalry lances)
- One Light Battalion - The Gianitzaroi - (400 men)

Giving a total Guard of  2,100 for a total of 8,500. I assumed most of the heavy artillery is in the tail (horses, ammo waggons etc) - the battalion guns are with the battalions of course.

One caveat - quite a bit of this force is of mercenaries - the Varangian Guard and Biscotin, nearly all of the Latinikon, and at least half the Line battalions are currently mercenaries - about 3,000 men. Byzantion's wealth is paying in silver rather than in population. The aim is to replace the mercenary Line infantry over time, but there is no real equivalent of heavy horse in the Ottoman/Rumelian tradition.  The Basileos rather likes having a mercenary Guard regiment, as their allegiance is to him personally

Now, you may also be aware that the Basileos has given permission for a unit of Marines (400 men) to be formed, add to that there is a Navy of some 1,000 sailing effectives - so New Byzantium is clearly moving substantially to a war footing as we enter this year of 1757..... 

The TO&E of the army is shown below:

Unit NameTypeUniformOriginsPicture (to come)

Guard Units

Varangian GuardGuard GrenadiersBlue coat, red collars , cuffs and turnbacks.

Colours are the red raven banner of the Varangian guard
Any mercenaries who have been Guard Grenadiers are taken into the Varangian Guard.

ScholaeGuard Cuirassier Lancers, many of the sons of the local nobility serve in it. Founded under the influence of Marshal de Saxe's theories of heavy cavalry.

Dress is a mix of Turkish and European heavy cavalry equipment with a certain harking back to Classical times
Many of the sons of the local nobility serve in it, and while trained as a Western heavy cavalry unit retains the Eastern lance. Treat as Cuirassiers with higher initial impact but less staying power in melee 
Les BiscotinsGuard InfantryBrown coat, red trousers and cuffs.

Western European mercenaries - the Emperor's personal retinue from the early days. To prevent arguments as to which country's colour coat it should wear, the Emperor selected Brown as no major nation used it. 
The original "Foreign Legion" were a mix of mercenaries, demobbed troops, idealists and ne'er do wells who fought in the Revolts. They wore anything they could find, and a red sash.

GianitzaroiGuard Rifle Light InfantryRed coat, dark red janissary style fez, medium blue zouve style trousers.

The longer Turkish musket is more akin to a Western Rifle than a musket. 
Formed from locals who served in the Janissary school in Salonek, it also draws steadly from deserting Turks. "Gianitzaroi" is "Janissary" in Greek.
TrapezitaeGuard light cavalry lancersDark Green coat and trousers, helmet, red facings Turkic style (Interestingly enough. this picture is of de Saxe's Uhlans from the  French army of the period - he was clearly influenced by the Byzantine Trapezitae :)The best light horsemen of the army, takes the pick of the other light horse regiments' troopsTrapezitae

Regular Horse

LatinikonHeavy cavalry, recruited from European cavalrymen.
Western Europen cavalry warfare is not natural to Byzantine locals
Grouped by nationality as far as possible - there are currently four squadrons of 2 companies each, coloured Grey (French), Blue (Austrian, Prussian and German), Dark Green (Russian) and Red (British/Irish)Originally one regiment recruited from any experienced European cavalrymen New Byzantium could get, as it has expanded they have seperated the regiments into similar language groups. 
Kavallarioi/ SipahoiSipahi style cavalry with lance, light armourEach Lowland Theme (Province) is expected to raise a squadron of 2 companies. There are 4 currently being raised  Locals land-owners who were once Turkish Sipahis were grouped into four squadrons initially, the force is now being regularised. In a game count the same as Polish etc Lancers.
SkythikonLight Cavalry of the Balkan Hussar styleFour squadrons formed of Balkan light horsemen  Primarily recruited from Byzantine subjects who fight in the balkan Husar style light cavalry naturally
TurkopoloiLight Cavalry of the Turkish Deli StyleFour squadrons formed of Turkish mercenaries and Byzantine Turks, dressed in the Turkish Deli stylePrimarily recruited from Turks and mixed parentage locals, who fight in the Deli style naturally (functionally similar to Husars)
VardariotsGendarme/ Light CavalryMany small local companies, the Hussar dress style is commonestVardariots function as police, but do have a scouting military capability

Regular Foot


European Style Line Infantry, still based mainly on the French  model Off-White coats, facings vary by regimental nationality. There are currently 6 regiments, cuffs are - GreyWhite (French), White (Austrian), Dark Blue (German), Green (Russian), Red (British), Darker Red (Swiss).Originally two battalions - the "Foreign Legion" - was formed from any experienced European troops that New Byzantium could get, but as the force has expanded they have seperated this force into separate Legions (Regiments) of similar language groups, and the second battalion of each Legio is now being formed of Byzantine locals and the aim is to further integrate them.Two initial mercenary battalions were formed in the revolt from a ragtag of demobbed soldiers, there was no uniform. They were equipped in old grey/white French uniforms by the French. During the War of Austrian Succcession the army captured a large cache of Austrian white uniforms and so the growing army was clearly meant to be dressed in white, and so it has remained. In high summer it wears straw hats instead of Tricornes
Mourtatoi/ Evzones Light InfantryBalkan light infantry in the Panduk/ Pandour style, semi-regulars.

Two regiments of Evzones exist drwan from the Forest and Highland themes

Most of the local troops in the revolt were irregulars of this sort of troop type. They are currently mainly recruited by local nobles lords (many no better than local bandits) but must have regular uniforms to draw state subsidy, resulting in a variety of weird and wonderful styles. Moves are afoot to raise thematic more light infantry but it is not a priority compared to training the extra line infantry. 
"Uniform" would be a good idea - Instructors are mainly French still, so quite a lot of Blue is wornArtillery is a mix of French and Russian donated equipment plus some captured Austrian guns, and some Ottoman light pieces

Irregular Troops

HorseIrregular Light Horse typical of the regionNo uniformHave the same role in the Byzantine army as Cossacks in the Russian
FootIrregular Light Infantry typical of the regionNo uniformIrregular skirmishing troops, typically using long muskets, akin to American colonial riflemen

The Navy in 1756

Naval Gazing.....this is the debate - what will be the new Dromon, the Byzantine navy workhorse, and what colour will the new Marine Battalion's uniforms be?.....

Currently undergoing sea trials - a Polacca Xebec with mixed lateen and square rig:

Here is a picture of a Tartane, beloved of the "Coastal Traders" of Byzantion - a small, vey fast, agile Meditteranean ship not unlike the design of small sloop raiders ships used by most Caribbean Pirates and used by Byzantion as its light picket, packet and many other "it" tasks. They typically pack 4 - 6 guns of 4-6 lb calibre. Commander Villaineuse is very keen on recruiting a few more into the Navy as he feels that mounted with a a smaller number of bigger guns it can be quite dangerous:

The current workhorses of the Navy are its Xebecs, fast but light ships beloved of the Barbary Corsairs but also popular in all Navies of the Meditteranean.In a pinch they can still use oars. This is one of the smaller ones, with 10 x 6" guns

This is a slightly larger Xebec, packing 12 x 6 pounders and 2 x 9 pounders

....and one of the biggest in the fleet, a 24 x 9 pounder ship, fast, light but with a punch.

And here is the first (and only) Navy Felucca, a larger, still fast boat of the Meditteranean with sails and oars - beloved of the Barbary corsairs for larger raids. She is mainly used as a Ship of State

Commodore Villaineuse wants to use heavier European ships that are heftier and can take more damage in firefights, but are slower - although Villaineuse's own Jamaican Cutter is no slouch.  It does not have the Meditteranean Lateen rig, but does have a large sloop rig plus some square sales for running with the wind.

"Somezing like zat, only a beet beeger, is what we need" says Villaineuse. Maybe, somezing like ze Brigantine...

Periplos is more traditional and wants to use the same boats that their Pirate opponents use, feeling that speed and superior traning is what is required.  But both are agreed that the pure square rig is useless as it cannot point very high into the wind.

To the Purple born

The Basilieos Constantine X had 2 (legitimate) sons and a daughter that have survived to adulthood, these are Alexios, Anna, and John.

Alexios is now Basileos as Constantine has retitred to "tend his garden" on the advice of his friend, Mr Voltaire..

Alexios scandalously married the English heiress Phannae (Greek spelling) De Bath (nee Hill) , who like Justinian's wife Theodora before was rumoured to have had an "interesting" youth. 


The General Staff of Harrumphing Generals.


Admiral of the Fleet: Periplos

Chief Advisor: Commander Pierre Villaineuse
Our Hero - Captain Costas Bravos, commander of the sloop Ionnas B.


Chief of City Policing, Colonel Klulos

Court Officials:

Professor Kosmo Kalkulos, Chief Imperial Engineer
Doctor Leonardo Pipette, Chief Imperial Alcemist
Kostas Ekonomikos, Vizier

Advisors without Portfolio

Marshall de Saxe
Baron Munchausen
Francois de Tott

More, later as they say......