Araldyana - Rome in the West

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Pischinovski, Aug 21, 2016.

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  1. Threadmarks: Prologue: The Roman Empire at the End of the 4th Century

    Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

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    Araldyana

    Araldyana is the promised land for us glorious children of Aeneas. There the Lord will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. The kingdom of Christ will have no end but it will have a beginning. From the far shores of the west it will enlighten this doomed world.
    - Emperor Levelin II
    (Seven centuries after the POD)​


    Prologue: The Roman Empire at the End of the 4th Century

    Emperor Theodosius, son of the comes [1] of the same name, became co-ruler of the Roman Empire in the year 379. At first his rule was confined to the eastern half of the empire but after the death of Emperor Valentinianus II and the defeat of his rival Eugenius he extended his rule to the western part as well. By his death in 395 he had secured his dynasty’s future by placing his two sons Arcadius and Honorius on the thrones of the East and the West.

    The young emperors, Arcadius was 17 and Honorius 10 years of age, faced several problems after their father’s death. On the one hand the pressure on Rome’s borders and on the other the tension inside the empire - both were tightly interwoven.

    The outside pressure the Roman Empire faced from the land of the Barbarians had several reasons. One of them was the prosperity of the Empire. The Barbaricum was by no means barren land but the Empire with its riches was nevertheless appealing to the peoples of northern and eastern Europe. This should not be misunderstood as barbarians trying to conquer the Roman world. Instead they usually attempted to integrate into the already existing system. Barbarians that were allowed into the empire could be a chaotic or stabilizing force, depending on the circumstances.

    Another reason for the pressure on Rome’s borders were the advancing Huns. They either subdued the Iranian and Germanic peoples of Europe or they pressed them west into the empire. The Goths had before the Huns arrival controlled large parts of eastern Europe but have since split and migrated. Some groups became part of the Hunnic domain, others entered the Empire of the Romans. Accepting the Goths into the empire gave Rome soldiers and the Goths arable land. They kept their religion (mostly Arian Christianity but also Germanic Polytheism) and some autonomy. That the empire was in need of soldiers was a result of the plagues, civil wars and conflicts with Persia that bled dry the Roman army. An event that devastated the west of the Empire was the Civil War of Theodosius and Eugenius [2], which decimated the Western army.


    The Goths, as well as other barbarians, were mostly Christian by the end of the 4th century as were the Romans, but the Goths adopted Arianism, a branch of Christianity labeled heresy in the Roman Empire. After crossing the Danubius and slaying emperor Valens the Goths settled and were settled in regions that can be considered of highest importance to the empire, such as Asia Minor and Moesia [3], both in close proximity to Constantinople. Their different culture, heretical religion and military power caused suspicion in the Roman aristocracy and the general population.

    Even other, more peripheral regions, like Britannia in the north-western corner of the Roman world had to deal with barbarian incursions. The Celtic Picts posed a threat to Rome's possessions on the island since emperor Claudius first conquered it but hitherto they always had been repelled. The south of the island in the meantime had to deal with piracy. Some of the Saxon raiders that haunted the shores of Britannia have found employment in the Roman Empire to secure the coast of northern Gallia and Britannia. The prospect of being part of the relatively stable empire has not only an appeal to the peoples of eastern Europe but even to the raiders of the Roman shores. Individuals like the magister militum [4] Bauto, the comes Arbogastes and the regent of the west Stilicho have shown the Roman world that men of barbaric ancestry can rise high in the hierarchy of the empire. Their example has inspired people like Alaric, leader of the Goths of Moesia, to call for a better position for him and his people. The death of Theodosius and the weakness of the empire have now given him the opportunity to rise higher than all his ancestors before him.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    [1] Comes

    A Roman military title. A comes was a commander in charge of a part of the imperial field-army. A dux in contrast was a commander in charge of border troops. In OTL “count” is derived from comes , whereas “duke” is derived from dux.

    [2] Civil War of 393-394

    Theodosius defeated Eugenius and became ruling emperor of the whole empire. Despite being stylized to a war of religion - Christian vs. Pagan - the conflict was deeply rooted in politics. Both emperors were Christian even if Eugenius was more tolerant than Theodosius. After the war Trinitarian Christianity became the empire’s sole state religion.

    [3] Moesia

    A region on the western Balkans. Moesia Inferior and Moesia Superior were two provinces along the lower Danube. I use the term Moesia to refer to the general geographical region rather than the provinces.

    [4] Magister Militum

    A high Roman military title meaning “master of soldiers”. The office of magister militum can be limited in terms of geography (e.g. magister militum per Illyricum) and troop type (foot soldiers or cavalry). In the aforementioned cases their office was all encompassing both in terms of geography and troop type, making them effectively second in tank only to the emperor.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    The Roman Empire 395
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017
  2. Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

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    I am very thankful for feedback. :)
    This is a redux of an earlier TL I have made.

    My plan is to post one chaper every one or two weeks. I have written ten so far.

    Tomorrow I will post the first real chapter, thos was only a prologue.

    P.S. This is my 1000th post on the board :D
     
  3. Gwenc'hlan Well-Known Member

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    Very nice to see this return!
    Good luck for this try!
     
  4. SlyDessertFox Warren/Buttigieg 2020

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    Me gusta.
     
  5. Upvoteanthology Gone and probably forgotten Donor

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    Yes, it's back! :D
     
  6. Practical Lobster scuttling across the floors of silent seas

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    I'm curious where this is going, certainly, having never read the original. So far, so intriguing.

    Edit: did you make the map? I think the proper latin translation would be Regnum Sassanorum. (and even then I'm not sure they'd have used "Sassanid" or anything like it to describe the Empire. But that's a minor nitpick. Great to see more late antiquity early middle ages timelines!
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
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  7. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend Banned

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    Neat!
     
  8. Coffeelatte Well-Known Member

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    I have no clue what's going on but i like it.
     
  9. Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

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    Thank you :)

    Thanks :)
    Yeah finally haha! I will take it slow this time only publishing material when I am 100% satified.

    I'll have an interlude after the first three chapters dealing a bit with events further down the line. I think the TL has a quite unique premise. :)

    Yes I made the map. True, I will try to fix that. I think simply calling it Persia might be best.

    Thanks you!

    Haha I hope you will like continue liking it. :)
     
  10. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

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    Hurray Araldyana is finally here! And I just catched it in time! Subscribed of course!
     
  11. Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

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    Thanks! I hope you enjoy it :)
     
  12. My Username is Inigo Montoya Virile Member

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    Alleluja!
     
  13. Threadmarks: I.I. Stilicho and Alaric

    Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

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    and now follows the Point of Divergence:

    Part I. Masters of Soldiers

    I.I. Stilicho and Alaric


    [​IMG]

    The Haemus Mountains © User: Dido3 / Wikimedia Commons /CC-BY-SA-3.0

    Stilicho had become the regent for the child-emperor Honorius after the death of Theodosius. He was therefore the de-facto ruler of the western half of the Empire. The price for the devastating civil war, that secured Theodosius’ rule over both halves of the Roman world, was mostly paid by the army of the West. A great part of the Western field-army was lost at the Battle of the Frigidus [1] and even Theodosius’ Eastern troops have paid the price of victory with blood. Alaric claimed that it was mostly the spilling of the blood of the Goths that paved the way for Theodosius’ victory.

    After the civil war and the death of Emperor Theodosius the West was now in the hands of Stilicho who ruled on Honorius’ behalf. The field-army was shattered, the East demanded the troops back Theodosius led into Italia and the Rhine border was vulnerable. Stilicho’s foremost ambition was to secure his rule over the West and if possible extend it to the East. He succeeded in getting rid of his Eastern rival Rufinus who ruled on behalf of the young Emperor Arcadius, he employed the Germanic Marcomanni and granted them a foedus [2] in Pannonia and he secured the northern border by putting down a rebellion at the river Rhenus [3]. The success Stilicho enjoyed in the first two years of his rule were soon ruined by sickness [POD: in OTL Stilicho didn’t fall ill].

    The lands between Dalmatia and Constantinople suffered sacking and pillaging in the meantime. Since the death of Theodosius Alaric led his Goths as rex [4] and pillaged the provinces between the river Danubius [5] in the north and Sparta in the south. Trying to take what he thought was a righteous compensation for the high price the Goths had to pay for the empire’s wars he went plundering through the ancient cities west of Constantinople. Athens surrendered and was spared but many of the people of Argos, Corinth and Sparta were sold into slavery. The courts of the East and the West had two possibilities: they could pay with gold and land or they could pay with blood and iron. For important officials like Stilicho in the West and Eutropius in the East it was of highest importance that this price was to be paid by the other side. Stilicho had succeeded in beating Alaric once before in the year of 392 but the leader of the Goths was released by emperor Theodosius. The Gothic men were simply too important for the army; the emperor could not afford the loss of Alaric’s support. This was also the case in the years after Theodosius' death and Stilicho knew that. He could neither afford to lose his own men in a counterproductive war against the Goths nor could he afford to destroy the troops of a potential ally. It was for Alaric only a matter of time before Honorius, emperor in the West, or Arcadius, emperor in the East, would offer him a lucrative position to end the destruction he caused. It was a military necessity for Stilicho to not risk his men’s life in a pyrrhic war, they were simply too valuable to the empire, but it would be foolish to not intervene. The political fallout in Rome would be devastating for Stilicho’s reputation. He had to at least give the impression of campaigning against Alaric to not be seen as too craven or inept to deal with the problems of the empire. Stilicho’s presence in Macedonia could furthermore nudge Alaric into the right direction - for Stilicho that meant towards Constantinople.

    Mere weeks before Stilicho was ready to cross the Adriatic Sea and deal with Alaric he, the regent of the West, died. A fortnight before his death Stilicho stumbled on a banquet. He cut his hand on the shards of his shattered drinking glass as he fell to the ground. Not worried by his minor wounds he proceed as usual but he fell ill with blood poisoning soon thereafter. For nearly two weeks his situation worsened before he ultimately died at Mediolanum [6]. The last week was characterized by agony and decline of his mental health. Claudius Claudianus, his court poet, described Stilicho’s last days and the following turmoil. His account would define the picture future generations would have of Stilicho. Claudianus painted the picture of a formidable general, an honest statesman and loyal Roman who died a premature death.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    [1] Battle of the Frigidus
    The deciding battle of the Civil War of 393-394. Close to the eastern alpine passes leading from Dalmatia to Italia.

    [2] Foedus
    A contract between Rome and foreign peoples; barbaric tribes/troops received a payment most often annually in exchange for military support in some cases the foedus could include land.

    [3] Rhenus
    The river Rhine. I will refer to rivers, regions, cities and people by their native (most often Latin) names. Notable exceptions are the city of Rome and some Germanic names (e.g. Alaric instead of Alaricus or Alareiks)

    [3] Rex
    Refers to the Gothic title “reiks”, meaning ruler, leader or military king. It definitely is close to the classical meaning of rex (king) but it does not imply completely independent kingship, not yet at least. Alaric’s relatilns with the Roman Empire are tainted and dominated of mistrust but they have not reached a point of no-return yet.

    [4] Danubius
    The upper Danube river. The lower course i called Ister. I use these terms to refer either to the lower or upper course. I loose the adjective “danubian” more loosly.

    [5] Mediolanum
    The residence of the emperor and de-facto capital of the West. OTL Milan. The emperors in the west have also resided in Arelate (Arles), Vienna (Vienne) and Treveris (Trier).
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
  14. SlyDessertFox Warren/Buttigieg 2020

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    Sad to see Stilicho die, as he's a personal favorite of mine, but I can see the utility of having him bite the dust. Now there's a serious power vacuum in the west, and without Stilicho there to check him, Alaric is free for the time....
     
  15. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

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    The draw for me to this TL is the ultimate development of Western and northern Europe, particularly this strange Latin-Germanic-Celtic far western empire that apparently winds up west of the Atlantic someday. Starting in the late 4th century, will the TL really have the stamina to get that far? I am watching to find out. I'm pretty at sea regarding late western Imperial politics.

    Will the key be holding on to a strong Roman-identified bastion in Britain? I note from earlier editions you have the Saxons, and possibly others who contributed to "Anglo-Saxon" OTL, scattered all along the European west coast down to Iberia, and I gather there was some controversy about getting some Saxons into Britain without their being able to dominate the whole island or overthrow some Roman successor.

    Can there be a far-West Empire based out of the British Isles? It's partially a question of demography, partially one of judgement about how Roman British society might evolve to be a stronger and more loyalist Imperial base. Certainly if Germanic pagan invaders take over completely the thread to Imperial pretensions is cut. Whereas a consolidated Brittanic/Latin society might perhaps be as strong as Alfred's England some centuries early, and retain an ostensibly Imperial administration, though de facto the basis of society must change to some sort of medieval type arrangement. Can such a society, mainly based on Celtic-Roman culture and institutions (medievalized!) incorporate a Saxon minority, say based in some sub-section of Britain where they partially achieved what they overwhelmingly did OTL?

    Say the Saxons are brought in as foederates, and some combination of Imperial requirement and/or cultural influence Christianizes them early, we could have some analog of OTL Old English. Would they get Brittanized, losing their Germanic language, or remain a distinct Germanic region within the larger Brittanic system, with everyone bowing to a claimed continuous Roman legacy? Does the supreme head of power in the island(s) eventually claim the purple, or do they remain "Dux" of an imaginary true Empire presumed to exist in some shadowy form on the Continent? Do the Dux claim the titles of Imperator and Caesar and SPQR once they get some substantial continental holdings back from other invaders? or what?

    There is the whole economic question, vexed by some severe ignorance we suffer about the detailed demographics and economics of the Dark Ages. Can Britain, still less a portion of the island, sustain a strong and re-ascendent Imperial claimant state, or not? There's so much we don't know, about populations and carrying capacity and the pace of incremental economic and social changes that would underly a successful state in the medieval environment, particularly in the face of invaders such as the Vikings and the Magyars.

    Then there is the whole going to America (excuse me, Araidyana) story line. Which I'd love to see, but we have to remember to make the pace of necessary technical hurdles being jumped plausible.

    There are at least two routes whereby (some time after the 11th millennium, not much earlier!) contact with the west could be made; a southern route might be almost as likely starting from a precocious Britain as northern via Iceland and Greenland. It was an English crew who first discovered the Azores OTL after all--in the 14th century, to be sure, but earlier and better British navigation as might happen if we have a Britannic Alfred-analog a few centuries earlier might push that back to the 10th maybe. From there going farther west is problematic the earlier we try, but fishing boat crews might learn a few arts somewhat earlier. Once a southwest passage to the Caribbean is found, following return currents up the northeast coast of the northern continent can put capable enough ships and crews on the track of the Gulf Stream return route to the British isles. Or they could divert north to the north Atlantic island chain.

    Are we going to be looking then at a very maritime Atlantic Second Rome, or what?

    These kinds of things interest me. Imperial intrigues on a lower scale do not much.
     
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  16. Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

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    :D

    I liked him as well but i figured that teh TL worked better without him. tHe late 4th century is very interessting and opens up for all kinds of different possibilities.

    I really enjoy your thoughts about the TL. This kind of feedback is really wonderful.
    Hopefuly I will be able to find a balance between the grand scope of cultural and technological development and the motivation and mindset of the political actors.

    I will explore different parts of future centuries in the interludes which I have planned after every part (the first after chapter III). I am done with the first interlude and it has a very limited scope. Only one day and its also rather short. Later interludes will deal in greater detail with the development of society.

    Myself I enjoy the notion of changing culture, ideology, religion and so on. Besides being (hopefully) interesting I aim at exploring the limits of identity and how it can be formed and changed depending on the use of history.

    All these points you mention I will touch in the future and hopefully resolve in a satisfying manner. Concerning the TL's stamina ... I really hope I will be able to cover as much as possible and I know it is a project which will need a long time but I hope I will be able to achieve my goal.

    Please continue speculating! :)
     
  17. B_Munro Member

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    Really glad to see this back - looking forward to future installments!
     
  18. The Professor Pontifex Collegii Vexillographiariorum

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    Good to see this back!
    Expect lots of queries and critique re settlement in the British Isles :p
     
  19. Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

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    Me too! :D I hope it will turn out to be interesting.
    Thanks! :)
    I aim at being as realistic as possible. Let's hope I succeed.
     
  20. Threadmarks: I.II. Varanes and Alaric

    Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

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    I.II. Varanes and Alaric

    [​IMG]
    Stilicho's son and wife and he himself.

    As it became clear that Stilicho would not recover the court officials and military officers present at Mediolanum pushed different candidates for the offices he occupied. The courtly factions and the soldiery agreed grudgingly on one candidate after weeks of quarrels. No one wanted to unnecessarily postpone the campaign against Alaric. The person who was appointed by emperor Honorius as successor of Stilicho was Varanes [1]. He had already served under emperor Honorius and his father Theodosius. Varanes had been a commander in the civil war and followed Theodosius and Stilicho to the West, where he remained after the emperor’s death. His very nature made him a compromise candidate - he was neither partly Barbarian nor fully Roman - between the anti-Barbarian faction and the large contingent of Germanic auxiliaries. His father had already be a well-known men and Varanes derived much of his prestige from him. Varanes presented himself rather eloquently and convinced those who despised the Goths with his fervour. He pleased the troops of Stilicho, who was of Vandal extraction, by praising the late general and promising them a quick campaign and generous rewards for their service.

    Two weeks after Varanes became magister militum the family of Stilicho was nearly wiped out but the assassins assigned to it butchered their mission. Instead of murdering Stilicho’s wife Serena, who was the niece of emperor Theodosius, and their three children, the assassins were killed before they could do any harm. The incident was later blamed on Varanes by the poet Claudianus but already shortly after the attempted murder many dismissed such claims. The timing would have been unfortunate for Varanes as Paulinus of Nola, a contemporary writer and bishop, pointed out. Despite the lack of knowledge concerning the issue Varanes was quick to point out suspects. Hoping to put an end to the situation, three low ranking officers were executed a few days later. Claudianus but also Paulinus claim that Varanes wanted to make an example of them and accused the men of being in league with the would-be assassins.

    The death of Stilicho delayed the planned military campaign against Alaric with a about a month. Alaric who heard of the Roman army coming against him went northwards from his position on the Peloponnese and thus avoiding entrapment. Varanes, who believed he could easily trap Alaric, was forced to pursue the Goths through half of Macedonia. The approaching summer showed that Alaric used the time he had won by the death of Stilicho to prepare himself and his men for a lengthy campaign. The Gothic army made its way through the fertile lands between Athens and Thessalonica and left only little for Varanes’ troops. Alaric knew the lands of Macedonia better than Varanes. He had sacked its cities and plundered its riches. Alaric was aware of that he could not escape the Romans forever and he knew that Varanes was eager to show his worth as magister militum. Varanes had, to the displeasure of his rivals, inherited Stilicho’s plenitude of power. The Western magister militum pushed his troops to their limits, continuously promising them greater and greater rewards. His subordinates knew that he had little to back his promises. Varanes’ position was still fragile and he needed a victory to prove his worth but Alaric cautiously avoided him. Pro-Alaric rumours circulated in the Roman camp and Varanes suspected his camp to be infiltrated with the rex’ sympathizers. The weather was unbearable. The Goths had seized or destroyed the supplies of the local towns. They had destroyed bridges and wells, burned down fields and houses, and sent the refugees towards the Roman army. Varanes pushed his men harder. He needed a victory.

    Alaric’s army was only in a slightly better position compared to the troops of Varanes. They did not have to suffer low morale and had enough supplies but the heat was intense and the marches were long and exhausting. Many of barbarian ancestry felt overlooked when Varanes was chosen to succeed Stilicho. They hoped for a high-ranking Germanic to be appointed magister militum, not a man of Persian ancestry like Varanes. Some of the officers had pleaded for talks with Alaric and tried to convince Varanes that a battle, even a victory, would be of no use should it be won by the sacrifice of the large parts of the Western field army. These officers saw themselves soon without command. When the heat was worst rumours began to circulate that Alaric would be more than willing to find a solution should Varanes be deposed.

    Having to suffer the harsh summer weather, being exhausted, feeling treated unjustly and finding nothing but burned earth pursuing the Goths, some of Varanes officers overthrew their general in August of 397. The leaders of several units, regulars and foederati [2], including his own guard took Varanes prisoner near the city of Larissa a few hours before the rise of the merciless Macedonian sun.
    The short lived reign of Varanes as magister militum ended with him in chains.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


    [1] Varanes

    On the name: “Varanes” is a Greek version of the Middle Persian name “Waharān”. The name is also rendered Bahram or Vahram in OTL English and is originally derived from the Iranian god of the same name.

    On the person: Varanes had probably Iranian roots. We do not know when or where he was born but he went to the West together with Theodosius. After Stilicho’s OTL death in 408 he became magister peditum (master of foot soldiers) for a short time. He later became consul in the East. It is said that his father had been famous, implicating that Varanes must have had some kind of prestige by simply being his father’s son.

    [2] Foederati
    Foederati were soldiers without Roman citizenship, bound by contract to Rome and led by one of their own.
     
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