Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
(modified from Bitter Crusade, pp. 14-16)
Constantinople is called the Queen of Cities for good reason. Nearly five hundred thousand citizens live here, with perhaps another one hundred and fifty thousand making their homes in her satellite cities, towns and villages. It is certainly the largest and richest city in Europe- perhaps the world. Magnificent churches, palaces, forums and bazaars line its immaculate streets. Walking in the shadow of the Church of Holy Wisdom, Hagia Sophia, it’s easy to believe that New Rome is truly the centre of the universe. No known city can compare to the splendour and majesty of Constantinople, which makes it a destination for mortals and Cainites alike from all over Europe and Asia.
Despite its grandeur, Constantinople is a city in decline. Even the most deluded of patriots would have to concede that the glory of New Rome has become tarnished. Her population is little more than half of what it was at the height of her power just three centuries ago. Entire sections of the city have been left to ruin, and some of her famous ports have silted up almost entirely. In the poorer parts of Constantinople, poverty and neglect assault the eye: flagstones from her formerly magnificent roads are cracked or missing entirely, buildings sag with decrepitude in the shadow of monuments to eras of faded glory. It is even said that entire wings of Constantinople’s Great Palace have been abandoned to entropy.
The Cainite numbers of Constantinople are now split more or less evenly between the elders of the Byzantine Family System and the newcomers of the Latin Quarter. The Trinity families and their Scion underlings appear to be lost in nostalgic glories, paralyzed by melancholic musings of what has been lost, or else crippled by internecine feuding and intrigue. Of their founders, one has been destroyed, another has deserted the Dream, and the last has drifted into torpor and, some whisper, madness. The Quaesitors of the Trinity struggle to galvanise their kin into action, but it would appear that the Cainites loyal to the Dream of Constantinople either can’t, or won’t, rise above the sins of their past.
The Latins have recently fallen under the nominal authority of the Narsene Lasombra Bishop Alfonzo of Venice, who has thrown the Latin Quarter wide to all and sundry among the Cainites of both East and West. The Cainite population of the Latin Quarter has now swelled to bursting point as a result, and it is not at all uncommon for their depredations to spill over into the Greek districts. For his part, Alfonzo seems content to simply enjoy his newfound power but some wonder at what his longer term plans. The Latins continue to dominate trade in and out of the Queen of Cities, and simmering resentment is the order of the day, and the night…
(modified from Wikipedia, Constantinople by Night & Bitter Crusade, pp. 14-16)
The origins of Byzantium are shrouded in legend. The traditional legend has it that Byzar (whom legend holds was the son of Poseidon) from Megara (a town near Athens), founded Byzantium in 657 BC, when he sailed northeast across the Aegean Sea. Byzar had consulted the Oracle at Delphi to ask where to make his new city. The Oracle told him to find it “opposite the blind.” At the time, he did not know what this meant. But when he came upon the Bosporus he understood: on the opposite eastern shore was a Greek city, Chalcedon, whose founders were said to have overlooked the superior location only 3 kilometres away. Byzar founded his city here on the European coast and named it Byzantion after himself. It was mainly a trading city due to its location at the Black Sea’s only entrance. Byzantion later conquered Chalcedon, across the Bosporus on the Asiatic side.
The fortunes of Byzantion rose and fell in the intervening centuries, caught up in the tide of history. At various times the city had to contend with the ambitions of Persians, Greeks, Macedonians and plenty of others that coveted her strategic location and wealth. It is thought that Cainites dwelt in Byzantion from its founding. Certainly by the time that the Romans conquered Byzantion (or Byzantium, as they called it) in AD 196, the Lasombra were present in numbers, led by the elder Ectoris. The Cappadocian Alexia Theusa also dwelt in Byzantium, and is thought to be its oldest Cainite resident. Ectoris and his brood maintained cordial, but purposefully distant, relations with Lady Alexia, whom they speculated to be the childe of Cappadocius himself.
When Constantine the Great founded it as his new capital, he was accompanied by three ancient Cainites of great power, cunning and subtlety. The Triumverate: consisting of Michael the Toreador, Antonius the Ventrue, and Dracon of the Tzimisce had left Rome, condemning the Cainites there for their fractiousness and lack of vision. They had resolved to build new Dream in Byzantium- a place where the Children of Caine could shepherd the Children of Seth to create a literal Heaven on earth. They watched over the emperor from afar, protecting his welfare and guiding him in subtle ways to build their Dream. Michael used his mastery of Auspex to place visions in the emperor’s mind regarding how the city should be set out, the Dracon encouraged his spirituality and Antonius made “suggestions” to Constantine on how the empire could be managed more efficiently.
Constantine the Great was himself a man of great contradictions: deeply spiritual and committed to Christianity, he was also bloodthirsty and paranoid; a masterfully efficient and organised military and civic planner, he was also prone to wild and erratic behaviour. The new capital took 6 years to build. The Triumvirs brought their closest supporters and progeny with them, and in spite of the massive influx of skilled and wealthy citizens of Rome, the Cainite population of Constantinople was too large. The Triumvirs demanded loyalty or exile from all of the original inhabitants. Alexia Theusa gave her support readily, and soon worked her way into a privileged position in Antonius’ retinue. Ectoris chose to challenge the Triumvirs power, and found himself staked and presented to them as a gift by his own childe, Magnus.
The Golden Age
From that point on, Constantinople entered a golden age of cooperation and progress. Even memory of Rome was outdone by the greatness of the new capital.
To be continued…
The Iconoclast Controversy
To be continued…
To be continued…
To be continued..,
Byzantine greatness has faded. Pressure from Normans and Slavs to the West and Arabs and Turks to the east have whittled it away. Italy and much of the Balkans are no longer under Constantinople’s sway, and Egypt and the Holy Land are long gone into Muslim hands. Even much of Asia Minor has fallen to the Turks.
Glimmers of greatness remain, however. In the 11th century, Emperor Alexius I retook much of Asia Minor and restored the empire to a solid footing. However, he also invited the crusaders and Venetians in, which has led to opportunistic Frankish land grabs in the east and a decline in Byzantine mercantile stability.
Alexius, John and Manuel ruled the empire well, but they encouraged personal loyalty in provincial governors, which has evolved into dangerous nepotism in ruling posts. In certain areas, the lower classes are saddled with extreme overtaxing and land confiscation from nobles and officials. Since the early 1190’s, the imperial bureaucracy has challenged this inefficient and corrupt system with reforms and circumvention of outdated laws, but it may well be too little, too late. A number of the provinces enjoy a dangerous autonomy from imperial authority that verges on rebellion.
In AD 1185, the Comnenus dynasty was overthrown in the wake of the Latin Riots. The Angelus dynasty rose to power but it has proven ineffectual in restoring order. Indeed, they are almost certainly part of the problem. Isaac II managed to turn back a renewed Norman invasion, but his oppressive taxes and arrogance led to the loss of the Themes of Paristrion, Bulgaria and much of Macedonia to the resurgent Bulgars. When the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, made his way through Byzantine lands on the Third Crusade, he found constant impediments placed in his way by Isaac II, who was revealed to have sought a truce with Saladin. In retaliation, Barbarossa’s army occupied the city of Philippopolis and defeated a Byzantine army of 3,000 men that attempted to recapture the city. Thus compelled by force of arms, Isaac II was forced to fulfill his engagements in 1190. He was deposed, blinded and imprisoned by his own older brother, Alexis III, in AD 1195. By that time, Isaac II had allowed the once powerful Byzantine navy to decline to only 30 galleys.
In order to solidify his shaky position, Alexios III had to scatter money so lavishly as to empty his treasury, and to allow such licence to the officers of the army as to leave the Empire practically defenceless. He thus consummated the financial ruin of the state. At Christmas 1196, Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI attempted to force Alexios III to pay him a tribute of 5,000 pounds (later negotiated down to 1,600 pounds) of gold or face invasion. Alexios gathered the money by plundering imperial tombs at the church of the Holy Apostles, though Henry’s death in September 1197 meant the gold was never despatched.
Recently, the dynastic strife amongst the Angeloi has taken a new turn. Isaac II’s son, also named Alexius, was imprisoned along with his father in AD 1195. However, in AD 1201 he escaped, and fled to the court of his sister and her husband, Philip of Swabia, in Germany. There he agitates for help in regaining his father’s throne, and is making impressive promises to anyone who will listen.
As a great capital and a city teeming with mortals, Constantinople is a magnet to the Damned. But even so, it is a city that owes some of its greatness and of its fall to the dreams of powerful Cainites. Michael, a Toreador Methuselah who had once been a prominent member of the failed Eternal Senate of Rome, moved to Byzantium in emulation of Constantine the Great. He took with him his two lovers, the enigmatic Tzimisce known as the Dracon, and the kingly Ventrue called Antonius the Gaul. Known as the Triumverate, these ancient va,pires set about creating a new and great empire of the night. While Constantine and Justinian built the New Rome among mortals, the Triumvirs built their Dream among the unliving. They created systems of of vampiric families, refining the system of gentes that had existed in Rome. Their means of doing so divided power along religious lines, creating a system known as the Trinity. The Dream was guided by the Toreador Father, implemented by the Ventrue Son, and inspired by the Tzimisce Holy Spirit.
Michael and his Toreador fostered the Cult of Michael the Archangel and the greatness of imperial architecture and art. The Ventrue Antonius and his childer used the power of the imperial throne to expand order. The Tzimisce became the Obertus monastic order, rejecting the “spiritual void” of traditional Metamorphosist philosophy and creating a new Christian cult of the change based upon the Dracon’s visions of the evolution of spiritual development. Ultimately, however, after centuries of harmony these three tendencies pulled in different directions due to the egos of their patrons. Antonius became a fanatical critic Obertus ways, and he ultimately fell to betrayal by his own childer. The Dracon, disgusted or simply bored by what the Dream had evolved into (or perhaps failed to involve into), quit the city and left the Obertus to his successors. Only Michael remains of the original Triumverate, and the departure of his companions has plunged him into a centuries long malaise of depression, melancholy and torpor. Some say that he has gone mad. In any case, a public appearance from the Archangel has become so rare as to be almost unheard of, and any leadership he formerly provided is gone.
Younger, more dynamic vampires do struggle to keep the city and the Dream going. The Lexor Brujah, the Baron’s Gangrel and Malachite Nosferatu now cooperate openly, if informally. Antonian Ventrue reformers like Anna Comnena and Belisarius (both Byzantines of note in life as well as unlife) struggle to redirect the dynastic mess gripping the empire, but so far with little success. Meanwhile, Bishop Alfonzo of Venice nests in the Latin Quarter, siphoning the wealth of Constantinople for his sire, Prince Narses of Venice and insouciantly erodes the secular aspects of the Dream.
Cainites of the Greek Districts
The Trinity Families have not worked together as they were intended to for a long time. The Quaesitor Tribunal still convenes every month, or more often if special business is raised. Even so, few of the Families continue effectively in the mandates for which they were chartered, and others are hampered by the ascendancy of the Narsene Lasombra in the Latin Quarter. The Michaelites are struggling to regain their feet, the Obertus have become ineffectively insular, and the Antonians are crippled by their own internal struggles. Their Scions Families now operate without oversight, and at least one, the Lexor Brujah, is now in opposition to their erstwhile patrons, the Antonians.
The Michaelite Toreador Trinity Family
- Michael the Archangel (4th gen. Childe of Arikel, e. more than 3000 years ago)
- Petronius the Arbiter, Quaesitor and Muse of the Minor Arts (5th gen. Childe of Michael, e. 65 CE)
- Anthemios of Tralles, Muse of Architecture (5th gen. Childe of Michael, e. mid 6th century CE)
- Pakourianis the Dove, Muse of Paintings (5th gen. Childe of Michael, e. mid 6th century CE)
- Paul Bathalos, Muse of Sculpture (5th gen. Childe of Michael, e. mid 8th century CE)
- Gregorius Dimities, Muse of Performance (6th gen. Malkavian Childe of Demtius, e. early 4th century CE)
- Sariel, Gladius Dei (7th gen. adoptive childe of Petronius, e. unknown)
- Basil, wasted talent (6th gen. childe of Pakourianis, e. late 11th century)
- Galatea, errant childe (6th Gen. Childe of Petronius, e. late 11th century CE)
- Manuel Stephanopolis, a broken scultpor (6th gen. Childe of Paul Bathalos, e. early 11th century CE)
- Several others, as yet undetailed
The Antonian Ventrue Trinity Family
- Caius, Basileus of the Antonians (5th gen. Childe of Antonius[d], e. early 4th century CE)
- Nicepherus, Caeser Magister (6th gen. Childe of Septima Dominica [d], e. early 7th century)
- Anna Comnena, Quaesitor and Chamberlain (7th gen. Childe of Ducas, e. 1153)
- Ducas, Palace Prefect (6th gen. Childe of Septima Dominica [d], e. early 9th century CE)
- Belisarius, Military Prefect (5th gen. Childe of Antonius [d], e. mid 6th century)
- Helena the Armenian, Eastern Praetorian Prefect (6th gen. Childe of Belisarius, e. late 11th century)
- Basil of Thessalonica, Western Praetorian Prefect (8th gen. Childe of Theodora [d], e. early 11th century)
- Irene Stellas, Domestic Prefect (8th gen. Childe of Anna Comnena, e. 1169)
- Alexander Rangabes, Magister Secretarius (7th gen. Childe of Nicepherus, e. early 12th century)
- Theodorus Kolettis, Quaesitor Secretarius (8th gen. Childe of Anastos of Monemvasia, e. mid 12th century)
- Maris Argyros, Doux Chrysopolis (6th gen. Childe of Caius, e. late 8th century)
- Gregory, the Wondermaker (9th gen. Alexandrite Ravnos, Childe of Icarus the Fool, e. early 7th century CE)
The Obertus Tzimisce Trinity Family
- Gesu, Saint of the Divinity Within (5th gen. Childe of the Dracon, e. 701 CE)
- Symeon, Quaesitor (6th gen. Childe of Gesu, e. 703 CE)
- Myca Vykos, Obertus diplomat(7th gen. Childe of Symeon, e. 1002 CE)
- The Keeper of the Faith, Chief librarian (5th gen. Childe of the Dracon, e. unknown)
- The Watcher, Guardian of the library (6th gen. Childe of the Keeper of the Faith, e. mid 11th century CE)
- The Other Watcher, Guardian of the library (6th gen. Childe of the Keeper of the Faith, e. late 11th century CE)
- Harabilus, Prior of St. John Studius (6th gen. Childe of Gesu, e. late 8th century CE)
- Kyprios, Sacrist of St. John Studius (6th gen. Childe of Gesu, e. mid 8th century CE)
- Anastos, Chamberlain of St. John Studius (7th gen. Childe of Kyprios, e. late 9th century CE)
- Solomōn, Doorkeeper of St. John Studius (8th gen Greek Gangrel, Childe on Ennios (d), e. early 9th century CE)
- David, Prior of the Christ Pantokrator (7th gen. Childe of Symeon, e. mid 11th century CE)
- Timaios, Doorkeeper of Christ Pantokrator (8th gen. Childe of David, e. early 12th century CE)
- Gerasimos, Gesudian devotee (7th gen. Childe of Harabilus, e. 1124)
- Methodius, Gesudian devotee (8th gen. Childe of Anastos, e. late 11th century)
- Nestor, Gesudian devotee (8th gen. Childe of David, e. early 12th century)
- It is thought that as many as a score of the Obertus Order take shelter within the Monasteries of St. John Studius and the Church of Christ Pantokrator
The Malachite Nosferatu (scion family to the Michaelite Toreador)
- Malachite, the Rock of Constantinople (7th gen. Childe of Vasilli the Penitent Dog, e. mid 9th century CE)
- Vaclav, the Minstrel (8th gen. Childe of Malachite, e. early 10th century CE)
- Zenobios, the Hidden (8th gen. Childe of Malachite, e. early 11th century CE)
The Magnus Orthodox Lasombra (scion family to the Michaelite Toreador)
- Magnus, Custodian of Orthodoxy (8th gen. Childe of Ectoris [d], e. late 1st century CE)
- Sarah the Chaste, Leader of the Cult of the Archangel (9th gen. Childe of Magnus, e. early 5th century CE)
- Peter the Humble, ecclesiastic bureaucrat (9th gen. Childe of Magnus, e. early 5th century CE)
The Children of Judas (scion family to the Michaelite Toreador)
- Khay’tall, the snake in the Garden of Eden (6th gen. Childe of Nehsi, e. early 2nd century CE).
- Sarrasine, the favoured son (7th gen. Childe of Khay’tall, e. early 6th century CE)
- Sir Jules Talbot, the Latin Serpent (8th gen. Childe of Sarrasine, e. early 12th century CE)
- Galjin, Messenger of the Word (7th gen. Childe of Khay’tall, e. early 10th century CE); travels wherever Khay’tall tells him, and is only occasionally in the city.
- A number of Children of Judas, such as Marzuq, Serpent of Rum (8th gen. Childe of Sarrasine, e. early 11th century CE), Georgios of Smyrna, purveyor of forbidden delights (7th gen. Childe of Khay’tall, e. early 9th century CE) and his piratical childe, Pasqual (8th gen. Childe of Georgios, e. mid 11th century CE); travels the ports of the empire and as far as afield as the Holy Land, North Africa and Marseilles, expanding Khaytall’s corruption and doctrines. Spends about 3 months each year in the city.
The Lexor Brujah (scion family to the Antonian Ventrue)
- Natalya Syvatoslav, Autokrator (7th gen. Childe of Tribonius [d], e. early 11th century CE)
- Theophilus, recalcitrant senator (7th gen. Childe of Tribonius [d], e. early 3rd century CE)
- Dorotheus, recalcitrant senator (7th gen. Childe of Tribonius [d], e. early 3rd century CE)
- Procet, energetic senator and plotter (6th gen. adoptive childe of Tribonius (d), e. 944 CE)
- Bardas Skleros, aristocratic senator (8th gen. Childe of Theophilus, e. late 10th century CE)
- Ian Musurus, streetwise senator (8th gen. Childe of Dorotheus, e. mid 11th century CE)
- Sir Conrad de Monreal, Latinkon senator (7th gen. Childe of Procet, e. 1194 CE)
- Leo Acominatus, talented fledgeling (8th gen. Childe of Natalya, e. 1198 CE)
The Antonian Cappadocian (solitary Cainite granted Scion Status)
- Alexia Theusa, Caius’ advisor and mistress of mysteries (4th? gen. Childe of Cappadocius?, e. more than 1500 years ago)
The Baron’s Gangrel (scion family to the Obertus Tzimisce)
- Baron Thomas Feroux, Knight Commander (7th gen. Childe of Marie Feroux [d], e. late 11th century CE)
- Justinian, Knight Captain (6th gen. Childe of Abaza the Turk, e. mid 11th century CE)
- Urbien, Knight Captain (9th gen Childe of Agatone, e. early 10th century CE)
- Mother Agnes, Knight (8th gen. Childe of Thomas Feroux, e. late 11th century CE)
- Anna Szgorina, Knight (8th gen. Childe of Thomas Feroux, e. early 12th century CE)
- Verpus Sauzezh, Knight (8th gen. Childe of Hectorus [d], e. mid 12th century CE)
- Ioannes, Squire (11th gen. Childe of Voleta [d], e. late 12th century CE)
- Gyorgi, Squire (10th gen Childe of Urbien, e. late 12th century CE)
- At least 6 more squires can be found moving about the Greek districts of the city, and at least a dozen more can be called to the assistance of the Baron from surrounding cities within a few nights time.
Cainites of the Latin Quarter
While the Cainites of the Latin Quarter are hardly monolithic in organisation, it is quite clear that the Narsene Lasombra rule here, and all do them homage. The masters of the Genoese, Pisan and Amalfitan districts have all been assassinated since AD 1197, and an attempt on Alfonzo in AD 1198 failed (if indeed, it was ever meant to succeed). Now all Latins, no matter their origins, recognise Bishop Alfonzo as their master. His authority in the Latin Quarter is absolute, but only tyrannical when he feels that his will has been flouted. All and sundry are welcome in the Latin Quarter, and anything can be bought and sold here- so long as Alfonzo gets his cut.
The Narsene Lasombra (nominal scion family to the Antonian Ventrue)
- Alfonzo di Venezia, Bishop of the Latin Quarter (7th gen. Childe of Narses, e. late 9th century CE)
- Marko d’Este, merchant-lord (8th gen. Childe of Alfonzo, e. early 12th century CE)
- Gregorio, shadow warrior (8th gen. Childe of Alfonzo, e. early 12th century CE)
- Doriano, merchant (8th gen. Childe of Alfonzo, e. mid 12th century CE)
- Faustina, courtier (8th gen. Childe of Alfonzo, e. late 12th century CE)
- Alessio, enforcer and duelist (8th gen. Childe of Alfonzo, e. late 12th century)
- Euginia, courtier (8th gen. Childe of Alfonzo, e. late 12th century)
- Evaldo, Narsene merchant(9th gen. Childe of Marko d’Este, e. late 12th century)
- Ricardo, Narsene soldier (9th gen. Childe of Gregorio, e. late 12th century)
Other Latin Lasombra
- Gabriella, missing mistress of the Genoese District (7th gen. Childe of Isabel, e. mid 10th century); presumed deceased, assassinated in December of AD 1197.
- Katerina of Adrianople, envoy of the Licinian Lasombra (8th gen. Childe of Adrastos Zonitzes, e. late 10th century)
- A number of Lasombra of the Pisan, Amalfitan and Genoese districts have been assassinated since 1198 CE. The remains of several of them have not been found.
- Adolf Marburg, mad merchant (11th gen. Childe of Rolf die Alte, e. early 12th century)
- Brother Ranulph, flagellant scholar(9th gen. Childe of Odo der Zwerg, e. late 11th century)
- Brother Njegoslav, flagellant savant (10th gen. Childe of Baba Slatka, e. mid 12th century)
- Sister Maria, flagellant masochist (12th gen. Childe of Brother Josephus, e. late 12th century)
- Charles, a French sellsword in the service Alfonzo di Venizia (11th gen. Childe of Guillaume the Troubadour, e. mid 12th century)
- Taszgar, a Serbian sellsword in the service of Alfonzo di Venezia (12th gen. Sire unknown, e. early 12th century)
- Gavril, a teen-aged thief and ne’everdowell (13th gen. Sire unknown, e. late 12th century)
- In addition to these three, as many as a dozen of the clanless Carrion are thought to lair throughout the Latin Quarter, many of them in the service of Bishop Alfonzo. It is rumoured that the Chosen of Calomena have also re-infiltrated the Quarter in recent years.
- Nerea of Spain, a morose exile (10th gen. Childe of Gusman Bravo [d], e. mid 12th century)
- Markus Musa Giovanni, merchant provocateur (7th gen. Childe of Guiseppe Giovanni, e. 1115 CE)
- Gradin (8th gen. Unknown sire, e. late 8th century)
- Stephanos, Alfonzo’s spy (10th gen. Childe of Martin the Rat-lord, e. mid 12th century CE)
- Sanser, Alexandrite smuggler (7th gen. Childe of Tibaldo (d), e. mid 8th century CE)
- Irendo, the Gypsy Lord (6th gen. Childe of Esmerelda, e. mid 9th century CE)
- Pasqual, the quiet Phaedymite (8th gen. Childe of Leon, e. mid early 10th century CE)
- Gallasyn, the First Fallen (8th gen. Childe of Enasius [d], e. early 4th century CE)
- Raphael, the rogue (9th gen. Chulde of Durant (d), e. early 12th century CE)
- As many as half-a-dozen Toreador exist in the Latin Quarter; ostensibly to study the artistic wonders that Constantinople boasts. In practice, they exist to gorge themselves on the delights of the Silk Road and Bishop Alfonzo’s blood feasts.
- Abetorius Maior, Regent of Constantinople (5th gen. Childe of Meerlinda, e. early 12th century CE)
- Calleo Abetorius Minor, his assistant (6th gen. Childe of Abertorius Maior, e. mid 12th century CE)
- George Scarvaryan, envoy of the Crusader Ventrue (7th gen. Childe of Lord Valerian, e. early 12th century CE)
The Queen of Cities occupies a long peninsula between the Golden Horn- a huge creeks that serves as a harbour- and the Sea of Marmora. From this post, she controls access to the Black Sea and the link between Greece and Asia Minor. She truly was the crossroads of the classical world, and the crusading movement has placed her on the paths of armies once again in the last century.
The city itself spreads over a series of hills and features broad avenues and stunning architectural wonders. Great walls, built by Emperor Theodosus II protect the peninsula from land attack and mark the limit of the city’s districts. At the tip of the peninsula is the old city of Byzantium, now home to the greatest wonders of New Rome. These include the Great Palace, the Church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia), and the Hippodrome. The Mese, the city’s main boulevard, runs from this area through the great forum of Theodosius before splitting in twain, one branch heading roughly east along the Marmora toward the Golden Gate, the other following the Golden Horn toward the gate of Polyandrion. The Mese is one of the great boulevards in all Christendom, with arches, squares and monuments to astound even the most seasoned travelers. The Golden Horn itself features the many ports of the great city, and it is guarded by a great chain strung along the mouth. The port areas are largely the domain of the Venetians and other latin traders and delegates.
Landmarks of note
- Hagia Sophia: Located north of the Senate Basilica, the Church of Holy Wisdom is Constantinople’s most identifiable landmark, the Church of Holy Wisdom. As the third hub of life in the Queen of Cities- following the Great Palace and the Hippodrome- it is a massive monument to the Orthodox Church and a reminder of the power of the imperial throne. A veritable fortress surmounted by a monumental dome, Hagia Sophia threatens to dwarf the very hill that it stands upon. It was designed by Anthemios of Tralles and Isidore of Miletus, and was completed in AD 537, in the tenth year of the reign of Justinian the Great. Hagia Sophia shames the many imperial villas in beauty in lavish design, and it stands as a testament to the earthly glory of the Dream. It’s capacity to inspire is legend, and the irony of this is not lost on the city’s beleaguered Michaelites. So strongly does it resonate with True Faith that no Cainite would dare step onto its holy ground.