Alternative History

"...Following Monomach tradition, Vsevolod held land in a frontier state – Trebizond – ever since he left childhood, under the tutelage of prominent general Theodore Ariminicos (of Goth Crimean descent, and a friend of his father’s). Natural talent and early experience made him into one of the most formidable warriors that ever held the Byzantine throne; he was nominal general in the famously successful campaigns against the Latins since before he was 20 years of age, and sole general not long after. The army became his chief source of support, and he added two tagmata to the royal guard – the same two that formed the bulk of the army that let him take the throne, formed largely from Turks and Caucasians. His difficult experience with the church and opposition to his rule by (largely) Greek and Bulgarian nobility left him wary of palace politics, so he preferred to govern from the warcamp – almost a return to the ideal of a Druzhina prince. This was perhaps more necessity than choice - the Kaisar’s personal preferences were a badly-kept secret even in his youth, his blatant favoritism to intimates didn’t help, and worse, he was the son of his somewhat unpopular father. If his enemies were unable to overthrow him, it wasn’t for lack of trying. He faced opposition to his coronation – only a loyal army, a friendly Philanthropenos bureaucracy, and an alliance with the naval principality of Krete allowed him to be crowned. The so-called Bishops’ Revolt was a stab in the back during a very difficult war with the Seljuks – the many ecclesiastical principalities that were created by the previous Monomachioi refused to send troops to Syria, and worse, sent them to a pretender to the throne that set out towards Constantinople even as the Emperor was fighting under Baalbek. Only quick and ruthless action prevented the overthrow of the dynasty and allowed the war to proceed successfully. He also was unable to maintain Philanthropenos control over the bureaucracy – several accusations and processes by the church resulted in the departure of most of them to a Philanthropenos-ruled Lithuania, thus losing the clan that did the most to keep the Monomachs secure in Constantinople. Despite the tremendous losses the Byzantine armies sustained in the many campaigns, most historians are in agreement that the conquest of the formerly Muslim Jerusalem and Syria proved a great boon to the Monomachs as a clan and to the Empire in general. Massive population transfers – mostly Arab – of smiths, weavers and other skilled tradesmen – resulted in flourishing of industries in Bulgaria, Rus' and Crimea, while the lands themselves passed largely to Monomachs or their supporters. While his military prowess cannot be denied – he beat the Latins, the Fatimids and the Seljuks, conquered Syria and Jerusalem, expanded his Caucasian domains, and strengthened his position along the Danube, his domestic policies can be described as a series of fits and starts that he could never really push through the opposition. Attempts to create more Imperial Cities, limit the power of the church, allow for greater religious tolerance, and restrict serfdom and slavery in his Greek domains were all resisted, and the Emperor’s later decisions, done under pressure, resulted in exactly the reverse: greater Princely power, serfdom more institutionalized, and the conversion attempts in the lands of his conquests were very aggressive and often violent. His greatest fault, of course, is the problem of complicating the succession. He had a severe falling out with his son, Rostislav, who publicly accused him of being unfit to rule. The Emperor had him imprisoned and, when pardoned later, made him Tsar in Jerusalem. The rule of the Empire instead passed to his staunchly supportive half-brother Nikephoros. After his death, the church that he fought most of his life chose to acknowledge him as a saint – for restoring Orthodox sovereignty over the Holy Land and for the massive conversions that took place during his rule..."

Predecessor: Alexander I Monomach-Rurikovich (Barbarian Empire) Successor:
Basil IV Alexander I

Basileus of Eastern Roman Empire

Nikephoros V
" Vsevolod III

Prince of Trebizond

Nikephoros I