June 13th, 2006, 01:40 PM
They fought off Caesar, or at least his reconnaissance in force. Let's say they hand Claudius' general his head (literally) with Barrow Down's loss of 4 legions becoming worse than the Teutoborg Forest. Augustus' policy of nonexpansion is reinforced yet again and the Channel joins the Danube and the Rhine as permanent borders for the Empire.
What is the effect on subsequent history of England and of Europe?
June 13th, 2006, 02:22 PM
In OTL, the 1st century AD saw the same trends that took place in Pre-Roman Gaul; incipient urbanization, coinage, increased trade, etc.
So, let's say that by 125 AD, you see literate states with a Latin Alphabet in Britannia. The kings are Roman vassals, with pretenders often fleeing to Gaul for help. The, oh, Catuvellauni unite England.
Then, during the 3rd century AD, in the time of troubles, they cross the Channel...
June 13th, 2006, 05:52 PM
One possible course of events would be a greater Roman impact on Germany and their traders reaching Scandinavia.......
After the Arminius Revolt, Rome decided to not abandon Germany. Instead Augustus ordered troops to be poured in to push the frontier eastwards and create a new province Germania Magna. For a while, Britannia was still talked about as a potential province of the Empire. However, Augustus’s successors elected to
1. station a legion along with auxiliaries on the north Gaul coast to deter raids
2. recruit clients amongst the stronger of British tribes
3. make the occasional sortie across the English Channel and North Sea with marines if their allies were threatened.
The Julian strategy (named after Julian Caesar who first “adopted” it) was highly successful for the Romans. In war, British allies were used to crack the heads of any tribe likely to sally across the channel without any cost to the Empire. In peace, they got the benefits of trading the Celts without the costs of full occupation.
Because of their trade with the continent, their principal allies (at first the Iceni and the Atrebati but later also the Dobuni) became substantially richer than their enemies the Belgic Confederation in the south and the Briganti and other tribes in the north. They also became highly Romanised. They copied Roman architecture, brought in Roman advisers to train troops and dig mines and adopted Roman agricultural techniques. To quote Tacitus who visited Britannia in AD44 “There is little difference between the Gallic nobles who have been under our dominion for a hundred years and the Iceni who live beyond our borders. They live in villas, drink fine wine and wear dyed linen. Nowhere within their domains is there any sign of the malignancy of Druidism.”
The Belgic tribes followed the Iceni and the Atrebati in taking up Roman civilisation, but more out of a need to compete than seeing it as a way forward. The conservative elements who were in the heartlands and thus less exposed than their neighbours on the frontier did their best to maintain the “Old Ways”.
Eventually, goaded by the High Druid in Mona, the Confederation went to war with the Romanised tribes in AD 68. In its favour were its large numbers and a centralised leadership. On the other hand, it has the disadvantage of fighting a better-equipped enemy as well as some of its allies being geographically isolated from it. Even then it might have won except for the intervention by the Roman general Vespasian who not only landed a large force of legionaries and auxiliaries borrowed from Germany on the south coast, but also sent three cohorts to reinforce the Iceni. Even then, the honours were even. Historians have since speculated that but for the Jewish Revolt and the Civil War, this could have the advance party of a full-scale invasion.
In any event, a peace treaty was negotiated and the Roman troops withdrawn. The fighting did not end there though. Over the next fifty years, more wars were fought between the pro- and anti-Roman British in which neither gained a significant advantage.
These wars eventually consolidated the several factions into a number of multi-tribal confederacies. The Belgic Confederation held the south west spur of Britannia plus a strip of former Dobunni land in the Severn valley linking it to its western Silure and Demetae allies in what is now called Wales. Holding the south and east were the pro-Roman Four Nations of the Iceni, Dobunni, Atrebati and Cantii led by the Warlord of Britannia. In the centre was the Briganti Kingdom whilst at the far north a confederacy was starting to form around the Votadini. Smaller tribes either attempted to maintain their independence or were absorbed into the larger conglomerates.
In 148AD the then Warlord of the Nations organised a full-scale assault to retake the Severn valley. In reply the Confederation launched a counter strike into Atrebati territory sacking the port of Noviomagnus. The cries of Roman traders whose warehouses were burnt led to the Roman Emperor Antonious Pius sending a large contingent of troops to support the Nations. Rather than face a possible full scale invasion from the continent, the Belgic Confederation agreed to a end of hostilities.
To the east, Roman strategy had an unforeseen on another island, or what Roman geography believed to be another island. For the first few decades after the Arminius Revolt, the eastern border of Germania Magna stopped on the Elbe. Traders though pushed beyond the frontier up into modern day Denmark and the shores of the Baltic Sea.
At first ships sailed from North Sea ports to brave the rough seas on their way into the Baltic. They then traded with the tribes along the coast. However, AD 41 the Emperor Gemellus led to small campaign to expand the Empire across the base of the Jutland peninsula and a new port Caesera Germinicus (named after his father) was founded. This became the hub of first the Baltic and later Scandinavian trades.
The first ships to land in what the Romans were later to call Skarnia were blown over there by storms. Once the island was known about, others followed trading pig iron and barley for furs, seal skins and beeswax.
At first the trade was controlled by the Romans as the Skarnian boats lacked sails. However once they had acquired this technology, their more robust craft began to dominate the waters. The Romans were had to relinquish it to them; there was more profit par se in trading with Britannia and the costs of any cargo lost to storms was borne by the Skarnians.
The trade gradually expanded as sail technology worked its way northwards. However, it made no impact on the political geography beyond the southern tip. The reason for this was the terrain was too rugged for the creation of medium size tribes; individual fjords had little trouble maintaining their independence from their neighbours
The southern tip was different in that firstly there was a slightly larger percentage of usual arable land and secondly it was close enough to the Roman Empire that it was economically viable to import large quantities of barley.
Thus here a small dominion centred on a paramount chief was formed. Its foundations were shaky and its stability on par with the Northern League in Britannia (the conglomerate that the Votadani now headed)
No Julian strategy against Skarnia was ever contemplated. Any military and political gains would be lost by the disruption of what had become highly profitable commerce.
The impartially of the British Druids depended on that of the High Druid in his sanctum of Mona, the island now recognised by the inhabitants of Britannia as his personal fiefdom. Some holders of post encouraged the Belgic Confederation and the Briganti Kingdom to attack the Four Nations, usually to the detriment of the attacker because neither invader co-ordinated with the other and the Warlord was able to call upon the Romans for assistance. Others practised a policy cooling events down in order to give the “Evil Empire” no cause to concern itself with Britannia.
By the early the third century, the balance of power had shifted in favour of the Four Nations (are now known as the Five Nations after the conquest of the Parsisii). To recompense itself for the loss of territory of that tribe, the Briganti occupied a swath of territory further north at the expense of the North League. The very far north had still yet to coalesce into a larger state, the tribes still bickering amongst themselves.
There had been some Christians in Britannia since the early second century; they had followed the trade routes north. However, they were a very small minority. Constantine the Great changed all that. When the Roman Empire embraced the new religion, the Five Nations immediately imitated them. They then proceeded to launch a holy war against the Druids in general and Mona in particular. Not withstanding that their way was barred by Confederation territory, the Nations’ army drove to Mona, leaving a trial of destruction behind them. On arrival, they slaughtered the Druids and looted their temples.
Although it was partially Christianised, the Confederation took umbrage at this invasion and declared war on the Nations as did the almost totally pagan Briganti Kingdom. For the first time in decades, the Nations had to face both of their enemies at the same time, In addition, due to a revolt in Germania Magna, there were no Roman troops available to aid it. In fact, Rome was forced to reduce the garrison on the northern Gallic coast to reinforce its eastern frontier.
What saved the Nations was that a substantial number of Christians in the Confederation refused to follow up its retreating army. Defending their homeland was one thing, invading that of their brothers in Christ in the name of Druidism was another. The action triggered a civil war with pagans attempting to drive out the Christians whilst the latter did their level best to hold onto their lands.
As the Confederation degenerated into chaos, the Nations’ turned on the Kingdom and forced it at sword point to also become Christian. Furthermore, rather than face the sword the Druids fled to the far north or across the sea to Ireland. However, missionaries were now starting to penetrate that island as well as gain influence in the Northern Leagur. There would be still pagans for hundreds of years, but their numbers would gradually decline over that time. Eventually, all of the British would become Christian.
For its part with its fewer links to the Roman Empire, Skarnia remained pagan. The few missionaries that crossed into it were sold as slaves and anyway the majority preferred to proselytise in more hospitable regions such as Ireland, north Britannia and non-Roman Germany
From the end of the second century the Roman Empire became engulfed by civil wars. This chaos opened opportunities for British warriors to sojourn on the continent in one of various armies and return home with a belt loaded with gold. The Five Nations was still nominally pro-Roman. However successive Warlords fought it more profitable to prey on their ally than attack their British neighbours. Hostilities between them had not ceased though; there were still border raids and minor clashes.
Some British were recruited directly into regular units of the Roman army. Others served in mercenary warbands whose chieftains were paid (or not if gold and silver were in short supply) and who then distributed some of it to their men. As these troops were to the man infantry, they were little use against mounted invaders such as the Visigoths and Vandals so were mainly deployed against tribes such as the Franks.
They were often joined by Skarnians. Improved ploughs had increased the population there and put pressure on the limited arable land. Whilst some used their boats to raid the shores to the east (a harbinger for what was to occur in the west), far more flooded south to fight in the Roman army against the increasingly stronger German invaders trying to force their way into Empire.
In response, the Romans fortified ports along their English Channel and North Sea coast and formed their own fleet, the Classis Britannica. Serving in its ranks were many Skarnians who showed themselves to be more than a match at naval warfare for their western neighbours and more than willing to fight their brothers.
In the mid third century, Gaul and Germania came under control of a warlord named Postumus. Whilst the newly created Gallic Empire was more competently run than the Empire, it was continuously under siege from the barbarian invaders from the north and east and probes from the Empire in the south. Thus it did not ever gain a breathing space in which it could stabilise. Twenty years later it was reconquered by the Emperor Aurelian who with deeper pockets could afford to recruit more British mercenaries.
Faced too by the Skarnian menace as their Roman neighbours, the British also formed their own navies. These were based about ships similar in design to those built by the Venetii. However, they soon joined them in also raiding along the coast from the Pyrenees to the Rhine. Being less adept sailors and with less capable craft, they did not launch counter raids on Skarnia. They did though act as a conduit between those Skarnian who still traded and the Roman province of Hispania.
Another group who joined the ranks of the sea raiders were the Irish. However their attempts to harvest wealth from Britannia as well as muscle in on the continental harvest were met with mixed success. Being the one to take the brunt of this activity, the western provinces of Belgic Confederation took to capturing any Irish ship seen at sea as well as raiding their homeports. In about 300AD, they took this a step further by seizing territory on the east coast at Dun Laoghaire.
The fear of further occupation of Ireland by the British caused the Dalriadians of north-east Ireland to desert their homes and invade the far north west. After some resistance, they settled on the flat lands south of the Highlands. Then, by a mixture of diplomacy and tenacity, they began to carve out a mini empire. The Northern League tried to respond by also expanding their territory. However, a constitutional crisis plus a religious war with the Briganti Kingdom (the League were still largely pagan) cost them dear. Dalriadia (the colonists named their conquest after their homeland) and the Briganti dismembered it, the former occupying the Clyde valley, the latter the southern mountains
In his reversion of the government of the Roman Empire and his construction of an eastern capital, The Emperor Constantine ordered a retreat from Germania Magna. The vacuum was immediately filled by a mix of eastern invaders and groups of descendants from colonists who had intermarried with the original inhabitants in a series of Romano-German states had little impact on the frequency of Skarnian raids on the area. That the region was now less prosperous was more than offset by the lack of indigneous warships and the general lower military qualities of the German tribes leading to easier pickings. In reply natives such as the Franks and Suevans fortified their settlements and retained a stronger armed presence at home.
As well as raiding, Skarnians began to settle along the arable land was richer than their homeland. When the Romans had been in occupation of the Baltic coasts, attempts to colonise the region had easily been rebuffed.
However, the more fragmented Germans were less of an obstacle and so many farmers took the opportunity to cross the Baltic Sea to a more hospitable land.
Eventually, rather than face continuous conflict with their northern rival, some invaders abandoned Germany and headed for the Balkans. Here they came into conflict with first the Slavs and later the Huns. In both cases the new arrivals submitted and became clients to their new overlords. The net result of Germany turning into a free for all melee was a reduction in the pressure on the frontier of the western provinces of Roman Empire. This was fortunate as a series of famines (check) and general instability caused the Army to shrink. A few emperors considered abandoning the rest of Germany, but the Romano-German natives refused to leave the Empire and formed militias that replaced some regular garrisons on the Rhine.
Germany was not the only region that the Skarnians were now colonising. Some from the fiords of modern day Norway subjucated the Celtic and pre-Celtic inhabitants of the Orkneys and Hebrides. From these islands they moved on to become the first people to settle the Shetland and Faroe Islands. Part of this move north and to Ireland was in response to the increasingly more powerful British fleets, which in home waters showed themselves to be more than worthy foes.
The Belgic Confederation was the main beneficiary of the Skarnian retirement, With the Roman Empire still on the defensive and its territory being further away there had been fewer raids anyway. With a fleet lying in harbour it was only a matter of time that it was used for a foreign adventure akin to the attack on Dun Laoghaire a hundred years earlier. This time though the target was Britanny, a peninsula of Gaul that was less Romanised than the rest of the province.
The Romans had known that the Confederation was planning some invasion. However, they had assumed that Ireland was the target again. Thus with the Classis Britannica in its normal ports at the other end of the Channel,
there was no resistance to the Belgic marines when they stepped onto the beaches in the summer of 395. Aided by deserters from the Roman army who were skilled in building siege engines, they quickly took two ports then braced themselves for a Roman counterattack.
The Western Roman Emperor in the West was too hard pressed holding the Rhine to deal with the Belgic incursion himself. He therefore put forces under a reliable subordinate with orders to drive the British back across the Channel. Whilst at the time it seemed a good idea, it turned out to be a disaster.
Firstly, by detaching so many troops, he weakened the frontier that invading hordes broken though in a number of places. Secondly the force was insufficiently strong enough to repel the British who were reinforced by Bretons who had decided that a Celtic overlord who stand off raiders was better than one who could not. Finally, before the army could even encounter the British, its commander was deposed and the new leader used to troops to organise a rebellion in central Gaul.
Given the choice of giving up what was left of Germania or losing all of Gaul, the Emperor decided to risk the former. He marched his field army westward, leaving the hard-pressed garrisons to slow down any tribes crossing the Rhine. On the banks of the Seine, he met the usurper in battle and was decisively defeated, the latter having been reinforced by the British.
The new Emperor paid his allies off by agreeing to a Breton client state for his allies then took the remaining Roman armies eastwards to drive the German invaders out of the Empire. However, many of the troops were
disgruntled by his actions and deserted and so he was defeated by the invaders. In disgust his bodyguard killed him.
The invading hordes, mainly Goths and Vandals but also a few Franks seized much of northern and central Gaul for their own. The Confederation also took advantage to expand its Breton holding. The only territory left in Roman hands was the Mediterranean coast and Hispania behind its mountain shield. To protect the diminished province, the third Emperor commenced construction of a series of fortresses to block any along the more obvious routes into their territory.
This took time, but fortunately they had a breathing space. Just as the Skarnians had invaded former Roman territory in Germania Magna, so there was general British attack on the Gallic coast along the Channel. Being first across, the Belgic Confederation had the largest holding. However, the Five Nations also carved out a “Sixth Nation” at the shortest crossing point between Britain and the continent. The Briganti Kingdom was too far north to consider a continental bridgehead, but its fleets did head south to raid both the Germans and its fellow British.
That action turned out to be a mistake. In retaliation Five Nations turned north and conquered much of the south of it whilst the Dalriadians took advantage to conquer the rest.
When a resemblance of peace fell over Gaul, Germania and Britain, the Romans began to convert their former enemies into trading partners. In effect the state of affairs that had existed before Julius Caesar had invaded Gaul had returned.
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