The Empire of the Romans (Greek: Βασιλεια Ρωμαιον), commonly known as Romania, is a Eurasian country located in southern Europe and western Asia. It is bordered by Bulgaria and Albania to the northwest, Caucasia to the northeast, Kurdistan to the east, and Palestine, Hejaz and Nejd to the south. The Mediterranean Sea is to the south, the Euxine Sea to the north, and the Aegean Sea is completely surrounded by Roman territory. The Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus and the Dardanelles form the boundary between Europe and Asia.
The country's official language is Greek, which is spoken by approximately 72% of the population as a mother tongue. The most numerous ethnic group are the Greeks, who constitute between 65%-70% of the population. The largest ethnic minority are the Syrians, who number around 20% while other minorities are estimated at 10%-15%. The vast majority of the population is Muslim.
The area first became part of the Roman state in the 2nd century BC, during the expansion of the Republic. After the establishment of the Empire in 27 BC Greek culture slowly came to influence the Roman world, leading to the assimilation of the native peoples of the Balkans and Anatolia. In 212 AD Roman citizenship was granted to all adult free men. Following the division of the Empire in 285 AD into a Latin-dominated West and a Greek-dominated East, Christianity was first made legal by Emperor Constantine I, and later made the sole permitted state religion by Theodosius I in 380 AD. From then on the ancient Greco-Roman polytheism went into a rapid decline from which it never recovered.
From the 5th century the Empire was increasingly tested by the mass migrations of many barbarian tribes, including Germanic, Slavic, Hunnic and Turkic peoples - ultimately leading to the collapse of the West. Italy and Africa were later reconquered under Emperor Justinian I, and eventually became independent as a new Western Empire. However, the endless wars took their toll on the strength of the Empire, and in 660s AD the entirety of the Balkans, including the capital city of Constantinople, were conquered by invading Bulgars.
Conversion to Islam
Islam was introduced to Romania in 633 AD, following the conversion of the Emperor Heraclius. The new religion was readily accepted by the peasantry of Syria and Egypt, but was resisted by the conservative Greek elite. After an ecumenical council of the Church found, by a small majority, Islam to the one true doctrine, the Pope in old Rome excommunicated Heraclius and encouraged a brief civil war on the basis of defending religion. Heraclius won, and his religious policies were not seriously challenged again in his lifetime. The new faith was established permanently by Emperor Constantine IV, who began the conversion of the Greeks.
Romania later regained some military strength, and was able to conquer Mesopotamia from Persia while the latter was distracted by its own civil war. However, towards the end of the 8th century the peripheral provinces were increasingly enroached upon by Bulgars and Khazars, while Armenia became effectively independent. The crisis was solved by the intervention of Africa, whose king Theodemar seized the imperial throne by force and then went on to recover most of the lost territories. It is during this time that Islam spread to the province of Africa, and from there to Western Europe.
The Great Crusade
As all this was happening, the Papacy felt increasingly isolated and vulnerable to the growing popularity of Islam. Roman forces had occupied much of the Papal Kingdom, including Rome itself, and Pope-King John XIII had fled to Milan. In 1096 therefore, hoping to unite the remaining Christian countries with religious fervour, he called a Great Crusade against the Roman Empire.
Romania was unprepared for the huge armies that suddenly smashed through its border defences and had to withdraw from Italy. Meanwhile, a second crusader force had marched through the Balkans, sacked Thessalonica and Adrianople, and was setting sail for Palestine. Pressed on all sides, with an enemy in its midst, Romania found itself struggling to survive.
However, at the naval Battle of Paphos on the 2nd March 1099, the entire crusader fleet was sunk and thousands of knights drowned. Romania quickly regathered its strength, preparing to strike back. In 1104 Emperor Alexios I landed in Italy with a hundred thousand soldiers, and quickly reconquered and annexed the Papal Kingdom.
For the next five hundred years the Mediterranean region would be largely at peace - a period known as the Pax Orientalis.
Bulgaria remained an ever present threat over the next few centuries. But in 1180 AD the imperial throne was inherited by King Bela III Alexius of Hungary, and with Hungarian help Romania was finally able to conquer the Bulgars.
Thus began Romania's second golden age. The capital at Antioch became the largest city in the world, with a population exceeding one million at times, and science and culture flourished.
Unfortunately the provinces were much less well off. In the 17th century, increasingly discontent with Roman rule, the peasantry of Croatia, Hungary and Italy coordinated simultaneous rebellions in an attempt to achieve independence. Although Romania initially was able to contain the revolts, it was quickly overwhelmed as more and more border regions broke out into open rebellion. The massive losses of money, manpower and land sent it into a decline from which it would not emerge until the 19th century.
By the 19th century Romania consisted of little more than Anatolia and the Greek peninsula. The new powers in the eastern Mediterranean were the Majmi Empire and the former province of Egypt, which had recently overthrown its Nubian rulers and installed a Greco-Coptic dynasty in their place.
However, the First World War changed Romania's fortunes utterly...
Government and Politics
Romania is a constitutional monarchy headed by the Emperor, currently Constantine XXIV. He is the official head of state and is required to represent the nation abroad and to give the state's approval to decisions of the government. He does not however play an active part in government, this being the business of the two elected hypatoi and of the members of the legislature, or Gerousia.
Romania is organized into six major administrative divisions, called dioceses. They are Hellada, Thraki, Mikra Asia, Pontos kai Kappadokia, Kilikia and Syria, each having its own elected governor and assembly. The diocese of Syria has the additional status of an exarchate, giving it more autonomy including limited military autonomy. Each diocese is further subdivided into a number of eparchys, which are the units on which functions such as the courts, education, healthcare, policing, transport, welfare and others are based. A number of major cities, such as Smyrna, Athens, Constantinople, Antioch and Thessalonica, are not part of any eparchy but are instead designated as metropoleis, giving them more autonomy from their diocese.
Members of the Gerousia are elected using the additional member voting system, with the constituencies corresponding in most cases to individual eparchys. Each citizen casts two votes - one for a single representative for their constituency, and one for a party list standing in the diocese as a whole. The Gerousia itself is unicameral, but individual members are selected to form committees to scrutinize motions in detail, thus taking the place of the upper house in many other countries. The Gerousia as a whole gathers to debate and vote on motions and bills, and it can force the government to resign or call new elections by passing a motion of no confidence.
The last general election to the Gerousia was in 2013. Of the 500 members, 231 are from the Democratic Socialist Party and 98 are from the Liberal Conservative Party. These two political parties together form the government. Of the remaining 171 seats, 1 is held by the Proedros who is supposed to be non-partisan, and the remainder are held by various opposition parties.