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\ˈbi-zən-ˌtēn, ˈbī-, -ˌtīn; bə-ˈzan-ˌ, bī-ˈ\
Definition of BYZANTINE

  1. : of, relating to, or characteristic of the ancient city of Byzantium
  2. often not capitalized a : of, relating to, or characterized by a devious and usually surreptitious manner of operation <a Byzantine power struggle> b : intricately involved : labyrinthine <rules of Byzantine complexity>

There are other definitions for the term Byzantine, but these are the two that apply to this game. Byzantium, later Constantinople, was a city on a scale unlike that of any other in antiquity in a number of ways. It's walls were impregnable until the Turks brought cannon to rain down on them in 1453 (and even then, had the city had the resources it once had in eras before, it likely still would have prevailed). Historians debate the percentage of world wealth that was ensconced in the city throughout its history, and the figures are astounding for any one place in any period, even the conservative figures. It was the undisputed center of the world for centuries, lying at the crossroads of trade routs from east to west, and north to south.

And one would suppose that any city of such size, especially one along such trade routs in contact with so many cultures, would have a complex society. But such a supposition would likely be and understatement of the truth. This was a city founded by Greek Colonists, which centuries later was made the capitol of the Roman Empire by Constantine, founder of the Christian Church across the empire. After the fall of the western Roman civilization, the city continued as the capitol of the Byzantine Empire for another millennium. During this time, the Byzantines saw the rise of Arabic Islam, followed by Turkish invaders from Central Asia, followed by the Mongols, who left the Turks in power again in their wake. The city also saw the European Crusades come through on their way to conquer or re-conquer the Mideast. Vikings coming down the Novgorod river-road ended up being an important part of their military, as did mercenaries from all over Europe.

Culture wasn't just traded through Constantinople, it came to stay and live there. Yes, the Byzantines could be very insular at times, as were all cultures in antiquity. But given century over century of gradual change, the populace of the city eventually came to be quite a myriad of beliefs and organizations. The population was by turns superstitious, but yet also ruled by powerful secular regimes. Extreme conservativism in the elite classes meant that as new beliefs managed to work their way into the culture, old ones were maintained. This despite there even being periods of innovative movements.

Given it's external position of importance, and it's internal complexity, the politics of the Byzantines were phenomenally complex. This game is meant to emulate these complexities, and perhaps even crank them up a notch. The Great City of the game is on yet another level of complexity, not only from the historical capital of the Byzantines, but even up another level from the megalopolises of our 21st century. Nobody who lives in the city can be sure of the number of people who live in it, but the usual estimate is that there is somewhat over one hundred times a million people in the city. Impossible for the Byzantines to have accomplished for technical reasons, the denizens of the Great City have a culture of powerful magic upon which they rely to make it possible. If complex politics would come to be known as Byzantine in our world, they are perhaps Ultra-Byzantine in the Great City of this game.

Welcome through the gates of the Great City, traveler from afar. Herein you will find yourself lost, until the city finds you.

Annals of the Parts
byzantine.txt · Last modified: 2012/02/07 23:34 by Mike Holmes