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Chapter 766 A Treaty of Humiliation
Currently, a meeting was taking place in the Novgorod Republic. The Byzantine Emperor and the Pope were sitting across from one another with stern expressions on their faces. Neither of the two men wanted to end the war so soon, especially when they both had not completed their full objectives.
On the Crusader's side, they desired to expand into Anatolia and Egypt. They now had the means to push back the Byzantines and seize most of their territory, however recent events caused them to halt these plans, and turn their sights on the true enemy of the Church which sat in the center of Europe.
Whereas the Byzantine Emperor desired to regain all the ground that was lost. However, he lacked the means to do so now that the crusaders were equipped with weapons that were equal to, if not superior, to his own. Ultimately, he was forced to the negotiating table by the doves in his court.
The Timurid Empire was absent from these negotiations, as the Catholic Church would never negotiate with the Muslims regarding a peaceful solution to the Holy Land. If that could have been accomplished, it would have been done by now. Of course, Berengar had indeed achieved this for a limited time, but ultimately the peace he created resulted in the Crusade that had ravaged the Holy Land. Julius was the first to clear the air and speak about his position.
"First and Foremost, the Byzantine Empire will recognize all the ground that the Crusaders have gained in this contest as a new Catholic Kingdom of Jerusalem! This is non-negotiable!"
Vetranis gritted his teeth as he heard this demand. Everything north of the Sinai Peninsula, and South of Anatolia, was now in the hands of the Catholic Church. This was a substantial chunk of his Empire that would be handed over to the Catholics who proved themselves hostile in this crusade. However, he had already resolved himself to this concession when he agreed to meet with the Pope. After all, his plan was to take back the land in a few years when he had re bolstered his army.
The reason he couldn't rely on his German allies in this war was because of the treaty signed with the Timurid Empire that ensured Germany would remain neutral should the Catholics invade the Holy Land. This was Salan's attempt to ensure that Germany did not backstab him at the first given opportunity. In the end, this neutrality clause only resulted in him and his Byzantine allies losing the Holy Land to the Catholic Crusaders.
However, with the Holy Land entering the control of the Catholic Church, this clause would be null and void, and thus when Vetranis declared war on the Kingdom of Jerusalem in a few years when his armies were ready, and the alotted peace period expired, he could count on their support. He was hoping to negotiate with Julius for five years, but he would be willing to accept up to ten. Thus, he ultimately agreed to this demand that the Papacy had made.
"Very well... I will concede on this point...."
Julius wore a sinister smile as he heard the Byzantine Emperor so easily accept his demands, thus he decided to push them a bit further as he made another outrageous demand.
"You will also give us your territories in North Africa. Including that newly constructed ca.n.a.l which is currently in the hands of Berengar the Accursed."
It shocked Vetranis when he heard this demand. Such a thing was simply unacceptable. If he agreed to this, he would be losing three-fourths of his Empire, and he immediately protested.
"Absolutely not! Egypt belongs to the Byzantine Empire. We have fought too hard, and too long to give it up to you b.a.s.t.a.r.ds only after a few years of having regained control over the region!"
Despite Vetranis' protests, Julius merely sneered in disdain as he rebuked the man and his words.
"Okay, fine, then we will take Egypt by force and drive your soldiers from its lands. I'd like to see how you are willing to negotiate your surrender in a few months when all you have left is control over Anatolia and the Balkans. You and I both know one way or another, I will get my hands on Egypt. So just agree to its surrender now, and save us all a bunch of time, money, and lives."
Vetranis clenched his fist when he heard this. He wanted to strike Julius across the face more than anything. However, his son Quintus grabbed hold of his arm and silently shook his head. The doves were a powerful faction, and they were backing Quintus and his efforts for peace. Thus, he could only take a deep breath to calm himself before agreeing to this request, but with one caveat.
"I will concede Egypt, but I cannot give up the Ca.n.a.l. That fief belongs to Kaiser Berengar von Kufstein, and it is not my place to give it away."
In response to this, Julius scoffed before lecturing the Emperor on Feudal law. New novel chapters are published on Freeᴡebnovel.cᴏm.
"I know your Empire is not a feudalistic state, but you have granted that land to Berengar as a feudal property. Though it may belong to him, it is a part of your empire, meaning you have the legal ability to seize the territory from him. I know he won't withdraw his forces, but at the very least, his legal claim to the land will be gone.
Thus, I will be able to dispatch my armies and drive the mere four thousand men he keeps stationed there from the Ca.n.a.l, and seize it for the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Give me Egypt, all of it, and I will end the conflict, and leave you with some dignity."
Though every fiber of Vetranis' being wanted to deny this condition, he was in no position to do so, the bulk of his armies were defeated, and if he moved his forces from the Balkans, then Hungary would break through its defenses and reach Constantinople.
Currently, Palladius and his men were holding the Hungarian Army at bay in the Dinaric Alps. When compared to the War in the Holy Land, it was a rather tame conflict with occasional raids, but no significant loss of land. That would change if he were to withdraw his forces from the region to support the war in Syria-Palestine. Thus, out of concern for keeping control of the balkans, and Anatolia, which was the heart of his Empire Vetranis could only sigh in defeat before agreeing to these commands.
"Very well, I will do what you ask..."
The Pope knew the extent of what he could take from the Byzantine Empire, and he was not done with it yet. Thus, he made one final demand as he milked this negotiation for everything he could.
"One final stipulation is all that I ask for. In order to establish a ten years peace, you will pay the Papacy for damages caused during this war. For the next decade, you will pay five thousand pounds of silver and thirty thousand pounds of gold every year until the treaty has expired."
This stipulation was outrageous, and even Quintus' eyes bulged out of their sockets when he heard this. The Church might as well demand that they limit their army to a fraction of its size, because by demanding so much money, the Byzantine Empire would never be able to rebuild its military prowess in the next ten years. Vetranis was quick to refuse this point.
"Absolutely not! Why don't you just ask for my t.e.s.t.i.c.l.es here and now! I will not concede to such an outrageous demand, no matter what!"
However, in the next moment Julius broke out into a fit of a laughter as he spoke of an ancient tale.
"Vetranis, as an educated Roman, surely you should know your ancestors' history. Nearly four centuries before the birth of christ, the Gauls sacked Rome, leaving the Roman populace completely at their mercy. The chieftain of the Gauls at the time, a man named Brennus demanded that a ransom be paid for the city, in the form of one thousand pounds of gold. The ancient Romans agreed to this and used a balancing scale to measure the payment.
The Romans felt as if the scale was rigged in the Gaul's favor, and so they complained to Brennus. You know what he did? He pulled out his sword and tossed it on the scale, forcing the Romans to pay more gold in order to balance its weight, leaving behind the words.
Or in other words, woe to the vanquished. You are completely at my mercy and you know it. It might take a few years, but I can still break through your forces in the Alps and march onto Constantinople itself. With my drake cannons, even the mighty Theodosian Walls will not stand in defiance. So the choice is yours: surrender to my conditions now, or lose everything in a few years. Which will it be?"
Vetranis sighed. There was a rage in his heart that could not be stamped out, but he did not dare defy Julius, for everything he said was true. Thus, he signed away his name on the treaty that would not only humiliate the Byzantine Empire, but bankrupt it as well.
With this treaty signed, Julius could pool his forces into Hungary and a.s.sault Germany's Eastern Defenses. The time to get revenge on Berengar von Kufstein and the German Reformation had finally come. After many years of waiting patiently, Julius believed he could soon taste the Kaiser's blood.