Araldyana - Rome in the West

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

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  1. Threadmarks: I.III. Eutropius and Gaudentius

    Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Location:
    Sweden/Germany
    Sorry for the long hiatus. Its difficult being a college student and dad. :D

    Quick Recap:

    The year is 397 AD. The Roman Empire is divided since the death of emperor Theodosius, who left the western half to his young son Honorius - a mere boy -, and the eastern half to his firstborn son Arcadius. The brothers were weak rulers and were controlled by powerfull regents.

    The Western regent was Stilicho, a general (magister militum) of Vandal-origin, who was married to Theodosius' niece Serena and had aspirations to extent his rule to the East as well.

    The East in the meantime was first governed by a man named Rufinus and after his violent death by the chamberlain and eunuch Eutropius.

    Faced with slow demographic and economic decline, civil wars and outer threats, the imperial army relied increasingly on Germanic foederati. Despite their important role in the military, these foederati did not enjoy the right of citizenship. Instead they were bound to Rome by a foedus, a treaty.

    After the death of Theodosius the Gothic foederati-leader Alaric rebelled against the Eastern emperor Arcadius, because he was denied a high-ranking military position. Alaric and his men pillaged the Greek cities and the Macedonian provinces.

    Macedonia was part of the East but the Western regent Stilicho nevertheless planned to intervene in the conflict. His goals were not completly clear but might have involved forcing Alaric into an alliance or enrolling the Goths into his own army.

    POD: Stilicho died of an infected wound before the planned departure of his army. Instead Varanes was hastily appointed magister militum and departed to Macedonia a few weeks later. His pursuit of the Goths ended in disaster because Alaric was well prepared and Varanes was not.

    Varanes was overthrown by his own officers and his army dissintegrated with many units joining the forces of Alaric.


    I.III. Eutropius and Gaudentius

    [​IMG]
    Dalmatian landscape © User: Boris Papes / Wikimedia Commons /CC-BY-SA-3.0

    The court at Constantinopolis had watched Varanes’ campaign with suspicion. His predecessor Stilicho had claimed that the East should be subject to his authority, by claiming that the late emperor Theodosius had made him warden over both Honorius and Arcadius. Stilicho had showed that he meant what he claimed when he orchestrated the murder of the Eastern regent Rufinus. Despite this initial success Stilicho was unable to exert real power over the Eastern court. The Gothic commander Gainas, who had been sent to Constantinopolis by Stilicho, was instrumental in Rufinus’ downfall but had neither the manpower nor the will to enforce Stilicho’s rule in the East. The imperial grand chamberlain Eutropius became the de-facto regent of the East after the death of his rival Rufinus. Eutropius had been born into slavery and been castrated as a child but rose high in the hierarchy of the Eastern court. In defiance of the unremovable stains of eunuchary and former slavery, he was able to accumulate and wield such immense power that he was considered the true ruler of the East. Despite his humble origin and his advantaged age Eutropius was able to dominate the young and inexperienced emperor Arcadius. When Alaric marched pillaging through Macedonia, the Eastern court did not interfere, despite having plenty of capable commanders in its service. Eutropius had come to the same conclusion as Stilicho: a flat out war would only be bloody and wasteful. Most of the Eastern army was stationed far to the east near the border to Persia and those parts of the field army who were free to fight Alaric did not fully enjoy Eutropius’ trust. Many high-ranking commanders were of Gothic origin, like Tribigild or the aforementioned Gainas, who was involved in Rufinus’ downfall and murder and could pose a similar threat to Eutropius’ rule. Some Gothic commanders, but certainly not Gainas and Tribigild, were known for their devotion to the imperial cause. The foremost example of these dutiful servants of the emperor was the magister militum of the Orient [1] Fravitta. He commanded the easternmost forces of the empire, right along the important Roman-Persian border. Gainas and Tribigild were stationed closer to the marauding troops of Alaric and could have been sent to fight the rex of the Goths but Eutropius feared that they would join him instead. Instead he choose to stand by and wait for an opportunity to arise that would minimize the costs and risks for the East.

    Eutropius became more invested in the Gothic issue after it became apparent that Varanes’ would execute the campaign Stilicho had planned. What was planned as a quick campaign turned eventually into disastrous pursue of the Gothic rex. Alaric and Varanes led their armies through most of southern Macedonia. The Western advance deep into Eastern territory made Eutropius fear that Varanes’ anti-Gothic campaign was only a pretext to seize power in the East. He became increasingly concerned that the magister militum would try to fulfill the late Stilicho’s claim to guardianship over both emperors. Eutropius feared that Varanes might negotiate with Alaric, maybe offering him a lucrative military position, subsequently enrol the rex’ forces into his own army and eventually march against the Eastern capital. He misjudged the Western magister militum’s motivation and objective. Varanes’ goal was not to conquer the East by force but to establish hegemony over the Western army by winning a fast and decisive victory, proving that he indeed was the able and successful magister militum the West needed. A military confrontation with the East would have been extremely risky. Varanes could have been able to score early victories on the battlefield, maybe even taking the Eastern capital and ousting or killing Eutropius but the might of Fravitta’s army would shatter the Western expeditionary force sooner or later and open the door to usurpation in both parts of the empire.

    Witnessing the Western advance through Macedonia and misjudging Varanes’ motivation, Eutropius began sending gifts to Alaric in an attempt to convince him to prolong his military struggle against the Western army and eventually bring him back into the fold of the East. He established a regular correspondence with the Gothic rex during the campaign and promised him favourable terms should he be victorious in the conflict against Varanes, but was reluctant to make any concrete proposals. While arguably successful in stopping Alaric from swearing allegiance to the West, he failed to foresee Varanes’ incompetence and contributed to the strengthening of the renegade Gothic rex. Opposition against Varanes’ grew for every day the campaign continued. Many at the Western court disliked the concentration of power in Varanes’ hands and wanted to abolish the office of magister militum (also called magister equitum et peditum) and instead reestablish the two separate offices of magister equitum and magister peditum. The campaign also seemed increasingly wasteful: even a victory against Alaric would have little apparent worth for the West, while the absence of the magister militum allowed for strife and quarrel to grow at the court. It became clear that Varanes’ campaign would be futile and only lead to deteriorating relationships with the East - a situation Gildo, the commander of Africa, knew how to exploit. An increasing number of officials lobbied for the speedy return of Varanes expeditionary force but in the end his own officers overthrew him putting an end to his campaign. More shocking than the fall of Varanes was the behaviour of the conspirators who overthrew him. Alaric swiftly established correspondence with them and instead of awaiting a orders from mediolanum or elevating one of their own to the rank of magister militum they joined forces with Gothic rex.

    Despite the existence of an anti-Gothic party in both Western and Eastern politics and military, it would be wrong to belief that Varanes’ army disintegrated into Barbarians in favour of Alaric and Romans opposing him. Those who met with Alaric and those who did not want to have anything to do with him were both heterogenous groups, consisting of Romans as well as non-Romans. The men who did not want to negotiate with Alaric were not necessary more sympathetic towards Varanes than those who overthrew him, they simply despised the rex of the Goths more than they opposed the misguidedness of their own magister militum. Nearly half of Varanes’ former army went northwards after the general was overthrown. They did not want to associate with Alaric and instead tried to win Eastern support, but they did not receive any help from the court at Constantinopolis. Realising that no Eastern assistance was forthcoming and that Alaric was blocking their way back to the Macedonian shore, they pillaged the villages and towns to the south of the Haemus Mountains [2] afterwards they went northwards, to roam the plains of Moesia. The great host of dissatisfied Western soldiers descended upon the villages of the Danubian plain with the same furor the Goths had showed in the south. Leadership disputes soon drove some units away from the greater renegade host. Some of them found employment with the provincial troops, others turned towards banditry, still others sought conciliation with Alaric, but most tried to return to Western service. Weeks later, after Alaric had turned his attention away from them, the remaining Western renegades returned to the provinces of Macedonia and were able to send for a Western fleet, to take them back to the realm of child-emperor Honorius.

    Before he started his campaign of devastation through the East’s westernmost provinces, Alaric had hoped to receive the military command over the Illyrian prefecture, which consisted of the lands between the river Ister [3] in the north and Sparta in the south, but was denied such an important position. Now it seemed that his campaign of plunder had come to an end and that he would receive an official position corresponding to his actual power, but Eutropius was still not willing to award Alaric with an extensive command over areas in such close proximity to Constantinopolis. He realized that he had to offer the Gothic rex something if he wanted to keep Alaric from turning against him. The rex commanded more men than ever and did not need to worry Western opposition in Macedonia anymore. He finally reached a position where the Eastern court could either grant him a high-ranking military position, which he had desired ever since the war he and his men had fought for emperor Theodosius, or they could go to war with him. As news reached Constantinople that Varanes’ campaign had failed and that his troops had either defected to Alaric or left without a fight, tensions arose in the city. Many inhabitants believed that Alaric would soon turn against the capital of the East. Eutropius acted fast fearing urban riots as much as the strengthened army of Alaric. The presence of Alaric had become a threat to Eutropius who had nothing to win by a military confrontation, Roman troops were of more use securing the border regions of the empire than fighting for a pyrrhic victory in Macedonia, so he finally made a concrete offer. Envoys from Constantinople reached Alaric as he went north eastwards along the coast of the Ionian Sea near Thessalonica. The envoys, sent by Eutropius, offered the Goths a new foedus. They offered arable land deep in the Western part of the empire, the region around Vesontio in Gallia near the western edge of the Alps. In exchange the Goths were to reinforce and defend the border along the Rhenus [4] and install a Western regent handpicked by Eutropius.

    The East had no control over the land, which Eutropius was offering to Alaric, but the Eastern regent desired guardianship over the young Honorius and the Goths were to make sure that his will was to be fulfilled. Eutropius justified his actions by referring to the seniority of emperor Arcadius and the chaotic situation in the West. Stilicho, the Western guardian, was dead and just as the senior emperor had the prerogative to appoint junior emperors, he had to right to designate their guardians, should they be minors. The Western court was paralyzed by Varanes’ failure. Those who had remained supporters of Varanes throughout his campaign soon fell from grace and two factions began to take form: one who argued that Eutropius claims were outrageous, and another willing to accept his proposal. The anti-Eutropian faction, led by the military officer Gaudentius, enjoyed the support of Serena, the widow of Stilicho and older cousin of emperor Honorius. Despite her husband's unexpected death Serena remained in a position of power, due to her blood ties with the emperor she quickly established herself as a political player in her own right and in absence of Varanes became the real regent and guardian of her young cousin. Gaudentius was of barbarian extraction but married to an Italian noblewoman with whom he had a young son [5]. He had remained at the court in Mediolanum when Varanes left for Macedonia and lobbied early on for a return of the magister militum. Now he was tossed into the front row of the political struggles of Mediolanum. His adversaries were those who feared war with Eutropius and were willing to accept his supremacy. They found themselves an influential supporter in bishop Simplicianus of Mediolanum. Simplicianus argued against further bloodshed but his pleas did not affect the young emperor who appointed Gaudentius magister militum. At Serena’s instigation bishop Chromatius of Aquileia, one of the empire’s most respected theologians, drafted letters to Honorius and the senate in which he condemned Eutropius for making common cause with “the murderous Alaric, a man of bad character and follower of heresy”, further aiding Serena and discrediting Simplicianus.

    Eutropius knew that his actions were leading the empire on the path of civil war but he was also aware that the West was weak. The moment seemed auspicious and Eutropius wanted to reverse Stilicho’s ambition and expand Eastern dominance to the West. The fortifications at the rivers Rhenus and Danubius were understaffed, Picts raided the north of Britannia and the field army had been greatly reduced in numbers by the civil war of Theodosius and the betrayal of Varanes’ officers. The grain supply of the city of Rome depended on the provinces of Africa which were firmly controlled by comes et magister militum Gildo, who was of noble Berber origin and ruled in Rome’s name with an iron fist. He had wealth and ambition and came from a long lineage of military commanders and tribal royalty. His friendly relations with Eutropius and his control over Rome’s food supply made him an even greater threat to the stability of the Western Empire, than the Goths of Alaric. Gildo already had a privileged position in the hierarchy of the empire. He withstood the attempts of Stilicho to centralise the Western military and kept the right to appoint his subordinates without interference from the court at Mediolanum. Despite Gildo’s reign being hated, it remained largely unchallenged, one of those who dared to oppose him was his own brother, Masceldelus, who had to flee Africa and whose sons were executed. Faced with the crisis of the West, Gildo saw a golden opportunity to both expand his power further and eliminate his brother, who had found refuge with the court at Mediolanum. As soon as news arrived that Gaudentius was made magister militum, Gildo demanded that the newly appointed general should come to Carthago, to renegotiate the price of African grain and the tax burden. Additionally Gaudentius was to return Masceldelus to Carthago. Gildo’s demands were obvious provocations, aimed at slowing down the Western war preparations. Such civil arrangements were neither the official business of Gildo nor of Gaudentius, who both were military officers. Gaudentius could either try to appease Gildo or meet him in battlefield. With the West’s military situation already precarious, he was inclined to postpone the conflict with Gildo by yielding to some of his demands. A letter signed by Honorius was sent to Carthago promising Gildo a senatorial delegation to negotiate about prices and taxes. Honorius promised furthermore to investigate the allegations which were brought forth against Masceldelus but also reminded Gildo of his duties as imperial subject and his ties with the emperor - Gildo’s daughter was married to Honorius’ and Arcadius’ cousin. Unimpressed by the letter Gildo threatened to cut Rome’s grain supply should Gaudentius not appear in person and deliver Masceldelus into his hands. It soon became apparent that all attempts to negotiate with Gildo would be futile, when without waiting for an answer Gildo sent an additional letter demanding Gaudentius abdication. The African comes acted in anticipatory obedience towards Eutropius, knowing full well that the Eastern court would soon declare Gaudentius enemy of the state. Summer was coming to an end, Alaric’s troops were leaving Macedonia westwards and grain ceased to reach the empire’s ancestral city.

    On the urging of Eutropius Gaudentius was declared enemy of the state by Arcadius in September of 397. Gaudentius had to both organise the defence of Italia and the offensive against Gildo. The grain supply to Rome was vital to the stability of Italia but the war against Gildo was stretching the capacity of the Western navy. Besides fighting the African navy of Gildo, Gaudentius also had to maintain a strong Western presence in the Adriatic Sea. There were two ways into Italia: by sea or by land. Alaric and his troops had crossed the mountains of Epirus and were close to the strait that connected the Adriatic with the Ionian Sea, and separated them from Italia. Eutropius did not dedicate a fleet to Alaric’s campaign, preferring to let Gildo bear the burden of naval warfare and spare his own navy. In the face of regional western naval supremacy and lacking support from the Eastern navy, Alaric had soon to abandon all hope of crossing the Adriatic by boat. He instead choose the overland route through Dalmatia. Despite being a Western province he could expect to march through it mostly unhindered. With the looming threat of the grand army of Alaric it needed little incentive from Eutropius for the governor of Dalmatia, a civil official in the rank of a praeses, to switch sides. The praeses ensured that Alaric’s march would not be met with organized resistance. The Pannonian provinces north of Dalmatia were home to a sizeable portion of the West’s border troops. In a desperate attempt to boost the numbers of his troops Gaudentius ordered most of these units to join him in Italia. His order amounted to a de-facto abandonment of the Pannonian provinces. The three duces (sing.: dux), who were in charge of the different parts of the Pannonian limes, were surprised by Gaudentius order. The two duces stationed in the eastern and southern parts of Pannonia (Pannonia Valeria; respectively Pannonia Secunda and Savia) did ignore their magister militum, whereas their college to the west, who also was in charge of the Norican border, did reluctantly obey Gaudentius and began preparations to lead most of his soldiers to the Italia.

    Another force loyal to Gaudentius were the remaining Western expeditionary forces in Macedonia, which had not joined Alaric. After Varanes’ fall they were in a state of anarchy and rampaged Moesia before returning south. Here at the coast of the Aegean Sea they hoped for a Western fleet to take them back west, but found themselves soon in a similar position to their adversary Alaric: without naval assistance. The West did control the Adriatic Sea but the Aegean was firmly in Eastern hands, making an operation to retrieve these troops risky. After having lost hope that a Western fleet would arrive in the near future, they marched into southern Epirus - Alaric was at the same time leaving the province for Dalmatia - and pillaged the city of Nicopolis, close to site of the ancient sea battle of Actium, before continuing to the central parts of Epirus, where they set up a winter camp. They were now close to the Adriatic but Gaudentius’ navy was busy preparing an invasion of Africa to re-establish the grain supply to the city of Rome. If the coming winter would be harsh and the grain supply would not be restored, riots would break out in the city. Gaudentius regime would collapse. The Western military could not afford a large scale invasion; Gaudentius hoped instead to end the rule of Gildo with a smaller operation aimed directly at Carthago. The troops dedicated to this operation were led by Gildo’s brother Masceldelus. With Masceldelus in control of Africa’s chief-city Gaudentius believed that Gildo’s troops and his allies would desert him. The plan was ambitious but not impossible: Gildo ruled by fear and his troops were not known to be the most disciplined. After helping to capture Carthago the fleet was to transport the Western forces in Epirus to Italia where they would await Alaric’s army. Gaudentius main line of defence were to be the eastern Alpine passes, which separated Italia and Dalmatia.

    The Goths in the meantime spent the autumn months in the valleys of Dalmatia, steadily advancing north-westwards. Alaric was determined to invade Italia before the first winter snow. During the winter months his army could impossibly cross the Alps. An invasion in autumn would hit Gaudentius in his preparation phase, whereas an invasion in the following spring of 398 would give him more time to organize the Western defence. Winter would also either bring a success or failure of the African expedition. A failure would seal Gaudentius fate but also make Gildo the clear winner of the conflict, overshadowing Alaric’s own campaign. The ambitious Goth had no intent to let someone else win his war for him. His campaign through Dalmatia was hurried and harsh on both his own people and especially the local population. The people of Dalmatia were starving so that Alaric could feet his horses. The army resorted to extortion and pillaging to support itself during the campaign. They lived from the land and took the local grain supplies, which affected especially undefended villages and towns. Many of the inhabitants fled to nearby cities or hid in the forests, which covered the hills and mountains of Dalmatia. In the following winter thousands died of starvation.

    In the midst of a two-day long storm an Eastern delegation reached Alaric. The rex had been notified about the delegation by Eutropius in advance, so that he could arrange for an appropriate reception of the high ranking official who led it. The man was named Leo, a friend of Eutropius, and had been chosen to become the new magister militum of the West. The future regent was followed by his rather large entourage of civil officials which nearly outnumbered the retinue he had brought with him as well. Alaric accepted Leo as his future superior, but the reception was rather underwhelming. According to later writings of the contemporary church historian Philostorgius, who is greatly biased in favour of Alaric, Leo expected constantinopolitan lavishness when he arrived in the midst of the rainy Dalmatian autumn scenery. Philostorgius wrote: “His attitude seemed bewildering to many of the soldiers, who knew the harsh life of war but not the sweet luxuries of the East. Together with his companions he indulged in worldly amenities, whereas Alaric lived off same ration as a common soldier.” Leo, as future regent, demanded control over Alaric’s troops, to which the rex paid lip service without actually relinquishing his command. Alaric treated Leo’s orders as pieces of advice. The Eastern retinue alone could not match the size of Alaric’s troops and Leo could not count on support from Alaric’s subordinate officers, who ridiculed Leo for his corpulence and lack of experience. Philostorgius claimed that Leo stayed passive because Alaric knew how to flatter and appease his de jure superior. He described him as an incompetent tool of Eutropius, who could be easily swayed by others but remained . Other authors have attributed Leo’s subordinate role to the fact that Alaric controlled the bulk of the army and the food supply. Because he had no base of support, any attempt to seize power from the rex would have led to Leo’s immediate downfall. Once they were in Italia and Gaudentius would be defeated, Leo’s would be in a more comfortable position. As a friend of Eutropius he was sure to enjoy Gildo’s support, which meant that he could prevent Alaric from seizing power for himself by threatening to cut of Rome’s grain supply.

    On the initiative of Leo a delegation to the Vandals of Godigisel. Leo hoped to gain further allies in the West, enabling him to act more independently from Alaric but also from Gildo and Eutropius. He concealed his towards towards Alaric by arguing that the Vandals would help to fill the gap in the border defence left by the dux of Pannonia Prima and Noricum, who had moved most of his forces to Italia. Alaric figured that Leo had ulterior motives when he proposed a treaty with Godigisel and that he sooner or later would try to free himself from the influence of the rex, but he also knew that the Vandals could pose a threat to the planned invasion of Italia. If instead Gaudentius and Godigisel were to reach an agreement, the Vandals could attack Alaric’s army from the rear and together with the Western troops deal a fatal blow to both Leo’s and Alaric’s ambitions. When the sky was coloured in a cold shade of blue, a small group of Eastern Roman and Gothic officials crossed the mountains of Dalmatia seeking contact with the Vandals near the Danubius. Leo and Alaric sent them to Godigisel and his Hasdingi Vandals, to offer a foedus in the provinces of Pannonia should the Goths be successful in installing Leo as magister militum in the West. They were guaranteed an annual share of the revenue of Pannonia in form of gold and silver and an annual ration of grain; in exchange they were to guard the Pannonian limes and accept Leo’s suzerainty.

    A latent rivalry had tainted the relationship between the Vandals and the Goths which was the near-natural result of the want for dominance over the lands beyond the borders of the Roman world. In the face of the Hunnic rise to power and Alaric’s campaign inside the Roman Empire the relationship between the Goths and Vandals had to adapt. Alaric aspired to be a part of the empire, which his forefathers had once fought, and true to this ambition he put the interests of the empire before the antiquated rivalries of the steppe. The Vandals were to be of strategic importance not only in winning the war against Gaudentius, but also in securing the border of the Western empire once the war was won. As a result of destructive civil wars and a stagnating population grow the Roman limes of Pannonia, Germania and the alpine provinces along Rhenus and Danubius was understaffed. That Alaric sent Gothic nobles as part of the delegation across the hills of Dalmatia and the plains of Pannonia to meet with the men of Godigisel was a symbol of a new era of cooperation, but it also revealed the poor state of the Western army, when Leo, the future regent of the West, and the ambitious Alaric had to ask the Vandals to guard the Pannonian limes. Both Alaric and Leo knew that if the West was to survive on its own it had to seek the help of the tribes that were beyond the Danubius river, they were to play an important role in regaining the strength the West had lost.

    At the Western court reports differed about the exact route Alaric and Leo were taking and about how far they had advanced. The reports coming from Dalmatia were not only inaccurate, imprecise and contradictory, some were even and fabricated by the province’s praeses. It was not known to Gaudentius, Serena, Honorius or anyone at the Western court that the praeses of Dalmatia was serving Eutropius in secret. The reports differed so widely that Gaudentius soon understood that some had to be wrong. The uncertainty obstructed his preparations further and lead him to believe that Alaric had not come as far as he had in reality. Due to the praeses’ reports he believed that the rex had decided to spend the winter in Dalmatia. In fact Alaric was further to the north near the upper reaches of the Savus river [6] and headed straight for the Alpine passes. Believing Leo and Alaric would rest for the winter Gaudentius prepared to meet them in battlefield the following spring and concentrated instead on the African campaign. Masceldelus had successfully taken Carthago by surprise and Gildo’s coalition showed first cracks, but his brothers reign continued despite the loss of the city. Some of the Berber tribes joined forces with Masceldelus but it became apparent that the two brothers had to meet in battlefield to decide the fate of Africa. Gaudentius prepared to commit further troops to Masceldelus’ campaign, hoping to restore the grain supply before the end of the upcoming winter.

    In late autumn of 397, one week before the first snowfall, the army of Alaric and Leo crossed the mountain pass of Frigidus which separated Dalmatia and Italia. Alaric knew this area well; less than four years ago the Goths fought together with Theodosius against the troops of the usurper Eugenius and won him the civil war. The battle of the Frigidus in 394 was one of the bloodiest battles in the history of the Roman Empire but it gave Alaric the possibility to study the weaknesses of the Alpine defence line that now separated him and his troops from the centre of the Western Empire. The garrisons guarding the passes surrendered without a fight. Gaudentius was shocked when news reached him that, in the words of bishop Chromatius of Aquileia: “The Goths treated Venetia like a wolf treats his prey.”

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

    [1] magister militum of the Orient (literally “of the east”)
    The military leader for the Asian part of the empire and Egypt

    [2] Haemus
    OTL Balkan Mountains

    [3] Ister
    The name for the lower parts of the Danube River.

    [4] Rhenus
    The River Rhine.

    [5] The son of Gaudentius
    IOTL Gaudentius’ son, Aëtius, would later become a successful general who defeated Attila in the Battle of the Catalaunian Plain.

    [6] Savus
    The River Save in OTL Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
  2. Sceonn Peace at a Bargain Price

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2014
    A summary was deeply necessary after such a long hiatus. One would need to reread the entire story otherwise.
     
  3. Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Location:
    Sweden/Germany
    I didn't feel that was neccessary because the earlier chapters were quite short (and the prologue was OTL). Most events that occured in the earlier two chapters are also referenced in this chapter.

    I will try to edit the chapter if I've got time for it. :)
     
    Steve Bigpockets and miner249er like this.
  4. Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Location:
    Sweden/Germany
    Alright!
    I edited the post higher up to include a short recap. :D

    I hope you guys enjoy the timeline so far. Sorry for the slow progress. :)
     
  5. Threadmarks: I.IV. The War for Italia

    Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Location:
    Sweden/Germany
    I.IV. The War for Italia
    [​IMG]
    L'Arno presso Bellariva © Giovanni Fattori, Public Domain

    The army of Alaric and Leo entered Italia in late 397. The crossing of the Alps was notably accomplished without bloodshed but the march had nevertheless been harsh and full of deprivations. Two weeks after their arrival the route, which they had taken through the Alps, became impassable due to the first snowfall of the beginning winter. The soldiers, their wives, their children and their horses were exhausted from the long march from Macedonia through Dalmatia to Italia. It had been a strenuous journey. They had moved fast, leaving nothing but destruction in their path. The army had supported itself by means of pillage, taking livestock, victuals and anything of worth from the local population. They had caused starvation in parts of Dalmatia but the harsh journey and the cold weather did not allow for the build up of stocks. Without enough food for the winter, they once again pillaged and plundered; this time in the Roman heartland of Italia. They looted villages and towns but winter was soon to descend upon the Venetian lowlands. The troops of Alaric and Leo behaved more like a horde than an organized army. Indeed it was difficult at times for Alaric and even more so for Leo to assert authority over them, but faced with falling temperatures and insufficient revenue from looting, the soldiery was soon again inclined to follow the commands of Alaric, who had set his eyes on a more stable source of supply: the city of Aquileia.

    Aquileia was one of the greatest cities of the Roman world, situated in the north-east of Italia and a center of trade and culture. Alaric had sent an vanguard to the city after crossing the Alps, led by the Eastern official Joannes, to negotiate the terms of the city’s surrender. At first the magistrate of the Aquileia was reluctant to make any concessions. Chromatius, the bishop of the city who considered Alaric’s Arianism a heresy, argued that it would be treason to open the gates to Leo and Alaric. The young emperor Honorius had, on the urging of his cousin Serena, declared Alaric and Leo public enemies, which meant that opening the gates would indeed be treason. Nevertheless Chromatius found himself soon faced with serious internal opposition in the city. Aquileia could not defend itself on its own and Gaudentius, the Western magister militum, was not ready for battle yet, awaiting further reinforcement and hoping for a swift end of the still ongoing African campaign.

    Despite not having lost a single battle Gaudentius strategy seemed to fail. He was at Ravenna when news reached him that Alaric and Leo had crossed the Alps without difficulty. Gaudentius realized that he was gravely wrong to assume that they would not reach the Alps before the onset of winter. There had been no sufficient forces in the north-east of the peninsula to come to the Alpine garrisons’ defense. The Western field army was instead scattered all around the Mediterranean, either fighting for Gaudentius, waiting for Gaudentius or disobeying Gaudentius. The West was nervously awaiting the end of Gildo’s African rebellion, but an end was not in sight. Instead the situation worsened. Grain was still not reaching Rome because Gildo’s reign did not collapse, despite military misfortunes. In addition to the African war, Alaric’s and Leo’s incursion from the north-east opened a dreaded second front. The opposition at the court at Mediolanum openly demanded Gaudentius dismissal, but the magister militum did not care about his opponents’ demands. Gaudentius knew that even if he surrendered to Leo he would be executed. A military confrontation became inevitable but Gaudentius could only hope to win if he could unite the troops which still were loyal to him. He had demanded further units from the Germanic border but the commanding duces ignored his demands, just as their Pannonian peers had done earlier. A request for reinforcement from the Hispanian provinces was outright denied. The effective mutiny of large parts of the provincial military left Gaudentius with only three loyal but disconnected armies: his own Italian army, the African army of Masceldelus, who was fighting his brother Gildo, and the loyalist forces which once followed Varanes but were now stranded in Epirus. Gaudentius still remained in control of most of the Western navy. He organised for a hasty return of both the forces of Masceldelus and the forces in Epirus - effectively abandoning the war in Africa. Troop transports by sea were more dangerous in the winter months but Gaudentius could not afford to lose any time. Winter also meant that larger military campaigns had to come to a halt - despite the relative mild Italian winters a campaign in this season would be costly. Gaudentius could thus transport the armies to Italia but they would not see combat before spring.

    The legate Joannes in the meantime successfully negotiated the surrender of Aquileia on behalf of Alaric and Leo. The terms were rather favourable for the city. Aquileia had to provide for the army during the winter and bishop Chromatius was forced into exile. The army did restrain from plunder. The city’s magistrate had gone to considerable length to avoid the “wrath of the Goths”, as Chromatius would later put it, and tried to appease the rex. They always addressed both Leo and Alaric together, despite Alaric being Leo’s de-jure subordinate. Leo was always named first but it was an obvious acknowledgement of Alaric’s power and standing. Bishop Chromatius on the contrary vigorously condemned the Goths of Alaric and was unwilling or unable to hide his loathing, even when the combined Gothic and Eastern troops of Alaric and Leo were at the gates of Aquileia. Due to his high esteem as bishop and theologian he was spared from execution but had to set sail for the lands of Paelestina.

    The winter made it impossible to wage war especially in the north of the peninsula, which meant that the troops of Alaric and Leo stayed near Aquileia. To minimize the strenuous effects of the season and still be able to organize his troops Gaudentius chose to retreat southwards. Leaving the city of Ravenna to a few loyal units, he marched along the Adriatic coast. The African troops were successfully transported to southern Italia due to favorable weather, where they awaited the arrival of Gaudentius. The forces from Epirus arrived soon thereafter, completing the unification of the Gaudentius’ field army. The Western loyalist troops were assembled, but the prize was heavy: Africa had been abandoned and with it all hope to revive the Roman grain supply. Not only did the failed African expedition cause serious problems in the city of Rome, Gaudentius troop movements worsened the situation even further. The soldiers relied on additional provisions but those were taken from the northern Italian supplies destined for the city of Rome. Instead of grain, Gaudentius sent soldiers and legates to the city, who were to pressure the senatorial aristocracy into compensating the urban populace out of their own pockets. The legates promised repayment after the war but the presence of soldiers made it abundantly clear that, should the senatorial aristocrats deny Gaudentius’ offer, he would exact bloody vengeance.

    The concentration of military power in the south of the Italian peninsula had strategic benefits but it also left Mediolanum, the seat of the Western court, without effective defence. As soon as weather permitted it Alaric and Leo could march on Mediolanum and capture the city as well as emperor Honorius. The young emperor, who was now thirteen years old, showed little interest in politics and remained a passive monarch, obedient to whomever was in power. Not even in times of war, such as these, he showed any particular concern for the affairs of the state. Honorius’ de-facto guardian, his cousin Serena, had supported Gaudentius but if Leo and Alaric would conquer Mediolanum they would certainly replace her. Eutropius, the power behind the Eastern throne, claimed guardianship over Honorius, with the nominal backing of the disempowered emperor Arcadius, but Eutropius was in Constantinopolis far away from the West. In his stead Leo would probably act as the boy’s guardian. Honorius falling into Eastern hands would robb Gaudentius of all imperial legitimacy. To avoid such a scenario Gaudentius had to get the emperor to southern Italia.

    In late February of 398 Gaudentius accompanied by his guard rode to Mediolanum, whereas the main army remained in the south. At the imperial court he “recommended” the relocation of the emperor and the most essential parts of the court to Neapolis. This recommendation was tantamount to an order and Gaudentius hinted at using violence should the court not comply. The court officials, even those hitherto loyal to him, were appalled by Gaudentius’ demeanour and demands. He lost one of his last allies at the court when Serena spoke out against his plans and condemned his behaviour. Gaudentius tried to hold on to the the last remnants of courtly goodwill and therefore proposed to move the army back to the north to defend Mediolanum. It soon grew apparent that this would not be enough - many had already accepted that the war could not be won - instead they demanded a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Seemingly disheartened Gaudentius agreed to reconsider his positions, hinting at the prospect of negotiations with Leo and Alaric. Some of those present hailed him as wise man, who put the welfare of the Roman commonwealth over petty personal interests, others were more sceptical of this sudden change of heart.

    Those who did not believe, that Gaudentius’ was to genuinely reconsider his war plans, soon found themselves to be in the right. His change of heart was a farce and he remained steadfastly opposed to any kind of negotiation, be it with Leo and Alaric or the court, but despite hinting at it earlier he could not resort to brute force to achieve his goals: the guard he had taken with him to Mediolanum would not be enough to violently annihilate the courtly opposition. Gaudentius resorted instead to a more cunning strategy, which rendered the court’s opposition effectively meaningless: at dawn he and his guard entered Honorius’ chambers and warned him that a coup was imminent. They urged him to flee. The young emperor was at first reluctant to leave the city but Gaudentius convinced him that he had to depart as soon as possible. The magister militum gave Honorius the impression that his courtly officials conspired against him. According to the the sixth century writer Aelius Papias (ca. 480-551), Gaudentius told the emperor that the conspirators would dethrone him and deliver him to the West’s enemies. The magister militum made Honorius belief that he not only would become a captive of the savage Alaric but even lose his life, because the power hungry Eutropius wanted the emperorship for himself and planned to annihilate the Theodosian dynasty. Honorius foolishly trusted his magister militum and left Mediolanum in great haste, leaving the court, his advisers and his regent Serena behind.

    Gaudentius and Honorius traveled to the Ligurian coast and set sail for Neapolis, effectively abandoning the northern Italian provinces. Later writers tell the story of how on their way to the coast they stayed in a small village for one night, where they enjoyed the hospitality of a local farmer and his family. According to the most well known version, by the aforementioned Aelius Papias, the emperor paid little attention to his host family, instead he was absorbed in his own thoughts. Honorius spent the night walking through the vast fields and visiting the stables, contemplating on the simple life of the farmer, wishing to rather raise poultry than rule an empire. At dawn he and his entourage left again for the shores of Liguria; still absorbed in thoughts. According to Aelius Papias he paid such little attention to his host, that while the guards set fire to the farm and massacred the villagers, he emperor sorrowfully exclaimed: “Heu, beatitudo agricolae!” (“Oh, blessedness of the farmer!”).

    Aelius Papias was no contemporary and his accounts of Gaudentius and Honorius are heavily biased. Honorius is presented as the naive tool of Gaudentius, who is portrayed in the darkest colours possible, as a bloodthirsty and cruel tyrant. Other authors like the late Stilicho’s favorite poet Claudianus, who was a contemporary, are more lenient towards Honorius, but usually still depict Gaudentius as a cruel and manipulative warlord. While the magister militum’s cruelty might be exaggerated, he was beyond question a harsh and stubborn leader of the remaining loyalist forces, but Gaudentius knew that his situation was precarious and that he was past the point of return - there were only two options: victory or death. One of Gaudentius remaining supporters was the influential senatorial aristocrat Nicomachus Flavianus who awaited him and Honorius in Neapolis. Serena in the meantime fled the hostile and chaotic Mediolanian court and went together with her children and her ward, Galla Placidia the late Theodosius youngest child and only daughter, to Aquilleia. There she repented of ever having supported Gaudentius and soughed refuge. It was obvious that she only came to the city because she feared that her life might be in danger at the court and not because she really regretted her past actions. Aquileia’s current masters, Leo and Alaric, were divided on the matter. Leo did not care for having her around and was inclined to send the children to Eutropius and banish her to some small island but Alaric was entertained by the notion of having a whole branch of the imperial family under hi thumb. As usually Alaric had the upper hand and his decision was final. They would stay; officially as guests, in reality as captives.

    Neapolis in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius was one of the largest and most renowned cities in the south of the Italian peninsula. Flavianus, as was tradition in his family, acted as the city’s patron and welcomed Honorius with appropriate grandeur. His family was rich and influential and not even the backing of the usurper Eutropius during the civil war of 394, had caused the Nicomachi to fall from grace - even if Flavianus’ eponymous father was forced to commit suicide. Like other aristocratic families the Nicomachi owned vast country estates and employed large private militias. As a demonstration of support Flavianus pledged a part of his troops to the cause of the magister militum and ensured that he would enjoy senatorial backing in the coming war. Flavianus could of course not speak for the whole of the rather extensive network of senatorial aristocrats, but his words were respected and his family renowned. He listed a dozen well known aristocrats, who would were willing to supply Gaudentius with units.

    Winter was coming to an end and Gaudentius returned to his troops together with the emperor who increasingly felt more like a captive than a monarch. The boy was Gaudentius’ lifeline and far too valuable to not be kept on a short leash. At first he wanted Honorius to stay at Neapolis, but changed his mind and forced him to stay at the army camp under close supervision. In the meantime Alaric and Leo prepared to resume their campaign. Joannes, who had been so useful in the negotiations with Aquileia, was sent to westwards to arrange for the surrender of Mediolanum. Once again he did not disappoint; the city and the court immediately vowed to support the campaign against Gaudentius. This came to no surprise, as the magister militum had disempowered the court and left them without emperor. The city’s bishop Simplicianus, a staunch opponent of Gaudentius and for that matter Serena ever since the beginning of the war, sent his regards to Alaric and Leo and prayed for the safe return of Honorius. The Padanian lowlands, except for some cities like Ravenna, had now fallen under the control of Alaric without even a single battle having taken place, but to the south of the Appenine mountains waited the troops of Gaudentius whose vigour was reignited by the arrival of Honorius and the additional senatorial forces.

    During April of 398 the two armies campaigned in central Italia. They wreaked havoc on the countryside but were reluctant to actually engage in combat. Not only the hamlets and villages were affected by the war but even the larger cities. African grain was still not coming to the peninsula and it was months before the harvest could begin in the north of Italia. Especially the situation in the city of Rome was precarious. Instead of grain the African commander Gildo sent warships to Italia. He had spent the last months destroying the remaining resistance in Africa and was now out to exact revenge on both Gaudentius and his brother Masceldelus, who had tried to overthrow him. The African troops landed on Sicilia, while the navy began to block ports who were in support of Gaudentius. Finally riots broke out in the city of Rome. The Roman aristocrats fled to their countryside villas to avoid the urban chaos.

    Masceldelus convinced Gaudentius to engage Alaric and Leo in battle and that a further outdrawn campaign would only hurt them. Gaudentius, Masceldelus and Alaric had all seen combat and were according to contemporary writers experienced commanders. The same was not true for Leo. Even his own troops rumoured that he had gained his position due to the fact that he was a friend of Eutropius and not because of his military merits. As the nominal superior officer Leo was nevertheless eager to prove his military worth and insisted on commanding the whole army but Alaric did not permit for Leo to lead any troops besides his own Eastern retinue. Alaric convinced him that it would be in his best interest to lead only a part of the army and that this would be enough to rectify his reputation. Leo accepted Alaric’s proposal, understanding that he had no other choice, but remained determined to win laurels of his own in the forthcoming battle. The armies met near the city of Pisa, who was loyal to Gaudentius but whose harbour was blocked by Gildo. Situated near the coast on the river Arnus [Arno] the city was easy to defend, but this war could not be decided by a siege, instead Gaudentius carefully chose a battlefield some miles to the east near the a river bend of the Arnus. His troops were positioned on a hill and were able to overview the whole area. The battlefield seemed in Gaudentius favour and his planning payed off when the battle begun. The cavalry of Masceldelus engaged the troops of Leo, who was rightfully identified as the weakest link in Alaric’s army. Masceldelus separated Leo’s forces from the main army and forced them to retreat towards the river, from where they could not escape. In front of the Easterners was the seemingly unstoppable cavalry of Masceldelus and behind them was the river. Their formation collapsed and many drowned while trying to reach the other side of the river. Only a small core around Leo was still holding out, but it was only a matter of time before even the most hardened soldiers would succumb to the constant pressure of Masceldelus’ men. Alaric in the meantime had more luck and avoided the collapse of the army’s second wing but was nevertheless hard pressed by the Western troops. Gaudentius commanded his troops from the centre and believed that victory would be his, but moments later his horse was hit by an arrow, fell to the side and he was crushed under the animal. A cascade of arrows descended upon Gaudentius and his guard. The battle was lost. The war was over. It were not the men of Alaric who had suddenly turned the tide. Instead the decicive blow came from the troops of Flavinanus who were placed behind Gaudentius.

    Masceldelus fled as soon as it became apparent that the senatorial forces had betrayed Gaudentius. Leo escaped with his life but his retinue was shattered and his reputation suffered even more. Alaric witnessed the disorderly flight of Gaudentius’ troops, relieved by the outcome of the battle but confused why the magister militum was betrayed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  6. Xenophonte Quod natura non dat, Salmantica non præstat.

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    Feb 13, 2014
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    South America
    Nice to see this back on tracks.

    Thus, after this, some unexpected battle end, that Africa (also Sicily?) its loss of fact and will remain independent What will happen to the puppet Emperor? I guess that could be replaced by Flavinanus' own puppet?
     
  7. Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Location:
    Sweden/Germany
    Gildo's rule in Africa is for now unchallenged. He has good connections to Eutropius and the Eastern court (his daughter is married to a cousin of Honorius and Arcadius) which means that he does not have to fear Eastern intervention, at least as long as recognizes the de-jure supremacy of the Roman Empire.

    Flavianus knows pretty well that the West is a chaotic mess right now: Leo and Alaric control the north of Italy but not much more. The border troops act quite idenpendently. The court is powerless and divided. There are riots in Rome. Gaudentius' troops will try to fight on or find new employment. Gildo might try to expand is power even further.
    Flavianus next move will have to do with his background, his motivation and his objectives. Feel free to speculate on his motives ... you don't conspire to kill a general for no good reason. ;)
     
    Xenophonte likes this.
  8. Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
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    Sweden/Germany
    Next update will be up this weekend (hopefully) :):biggrin:
     
  9. Threadmarks: I.V. The Masters of Rome

    Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Location:
    Sweden/Germany
    I.V. The Masters of Rome
    [​IMG]
    Achilles in the court of King Lycomedes, Louvre

    According to the poet Claudius Claudianus it was a single arrow, that dealt the decisive blow. As if guided by Apollo it pierced the eye of Gaudentius’ horse. The mighty animal fell on its side and crushed its master’s hip and legs, but Gaudentius did not die right away. Neither did the horse. It raised itself again and like a shield it endured the rain of the arrows which was supposed to kill its master. Confused, frightened and suffering immense pain the proud animal did not dare to move, instead it remained where it was. But eventually the horse collapsed. The dying Gaudentius was still alive when the animal succumbed to the rain of arrows. With his last breath Gaudentius whispered “Wise was Caligula, who put more trust into a horse than into a senator”.


    The forces of Nicomachus Flavianus had turned the tide of the battle but Flavianus himself had not attended it. He had prefered to remain in Neapolis and went northwards when news reached him that Gaudentius was dead. The magister militum’s troops deserted the battlefield and scattered over central Italia, looting and plundering the countryside. Emperor Honorius was handed over to Alaric. The frightened boy was brought to his cousin Serena, who calmed him down and reassured him that nothing bad would happen to him. Honorius had feared a fate similar to that of Valentinianus II, who died under suspicious circumstances in 392, but soon realized that there was no imminent danger.


    Aware that the war was lost the city of Pisa surrender to the African naval forces, which blocked its harbour. Riots were still ongoing in the city of Rome but were soon put down by the urban prefect Florentinus. The prospect of a restored grain supply, now that the war was over, eased the tension in the city. On the urging of Flavianus Florentinus arranged for a gathering of the war’s victors to decide the future of the West. Leo, Alaric and Honorius made a triumphal entrance and their victory in the war against Gaudentius was celebrated with circus games, but despite their efforts to win popular support the Roman population remained reserved. They certainly enjoyed the games and the free pork and wine that were distributed by the victorious army, but the absence of free bread was noted and bemoaned. Wine and pork alone, at least not in the available quantities, could not feed the enormous city. The blockade of the Roman port had been lifted but African grain was still absent and the city remained on the brink of starvation. The urban Romans were well aware that their misery was caused - at least in part - by the ruthless ambition of Alaric and Leo. But also Flavianus and Florentinus were not hold in high esteem among the people of Rome. The senatorial aristocracy had done little to ease the suffering of the urban poor during the war and Flavianus and Florentinus were blamed for it. In this situation Gildo, the master of Africa, knew how to present himself as the surprising hero of the Roman plebs. Simultaneously with his arrival to the ancient city grain began to flow again and was distributed among the people. The immensely rich Gildo played the role of the generous benefactor and donated a part of his wealth to the restoration of buildings, which were damaged in the riots, and to the poor masses. In contrast to Alaric he remained humble in victory and put charity over splendour. He portrayed himself as a righteous man and the victim of unfortunate circumstances, which forced him to fight the forces of selfishness and rapacity. Gildo’s side of the story came to prevail among the plebs and the food shortage was soon wholly blamed on Eastern aggression and senatorial greed. Especially the old Florentinus found himself the target of numerous baseless and some justified accusations. Tired of the office he asked to resign and was subsequently dismissed by Honorius. Florentinus went to live on his estates in Gallia. While unpopular with the commoners he remained in imperial favour and due to his good service his son Minervius was appointed as the next urban prefect. To distinguish Minervius from his paternal uncle of the same name, a high-ranking court official, he was in later sources often referred to as Minervius the Younger, Minervius Urbanus or Minervius Romanus.


    Minervius the Younger, his father Florentinus and his uncle Minervius the Elder were among those who had conspired against Gaudentius together with Nicomachus Flavianus. At the start of the war they had been cautiously positive towards Gaudentius’ cause. Many aristocrats feared on the one hand the perils of war but on the other hand also resented the growing influence of the Eastern chamberlain Eutropius. As a political newcomer, a homo novus, Eutropius had no easy standing with the old cultural and political elite of the empire. Furthermore he could be sure that some would openly despise him, due to him being a eunuch; neither man nor woman in the eyes of many Romans. Flavianus and his senatorial allies feared that a victory of Alaric and Leo, and in extension Eutropius, would shift the balance of power even further in favor of the small clique of influential advisers in Constantinopolis and away from the old heartland of the empire. The venerable Western senatorial aristocracy had lost much of its former power due to the separation of civil and military power and the growing influence of “barbarians” and “semi-barbarians” in the army. Men such as Alaric, born on a river isle on the frontier between the empire and the Scythian wilderness, were not merely a threat to the political power of the old elites, but, even more important, posed a challenge to the very concept of Romanitas [Romanness] itself. Just like his perceived master Eutropius, Alaric was neither fish nor fowl in the eyes of the senators. He might have been a victorious general who had served since the days of Theodosius, but he was also a foreigner who could never fully be seen as a Roman.


    When Gaudentius persuaded Honorius to leave Mediolanum, he had unknowingly destroyed his alliance with Flavianus and the other senators. Minervius the Elder was among the court officials who had been deceived by Gaudentius. He and his peers might have looked upon Eutropius and Alaric with contempt, but they now had come to fear Gaudentius. They had tolerated the general’s heavy handedness in the hope that victory would entail a return to order, but the de-facto coup d'état at Mediolanum showed that the old balance between the military and the aristocracy had vanished. Gaudentius had disempowered and humiliated the imperial court, a basic institution of the Roman world. The court was the real center of civil power, in stark contrast to the mostly symbolic character of the senate, and the courtly hierarchy was important for those senatorial aristocrats, like the Minervii and Nicomachi, who actually wanted to exert influence over the empire. The aristocracy had already witnessed how their sway on the military gradually vanished and were not willing to aid the further undermining of their influence, by letting Gaudentius disempower the court. Flavianus and his allies preferred to endure the humiliating, yet distant, rule of the emasculated homo novus Eutropius and his henchmen, over Gaudentius’ blatant disregard of the established order.


    While the mightiest men of the Roman West met in Rome, the remaining forces of Gaudentius pillaged the countryside and caused great damage to the rural population. Alaric sent his brother-in-law Ataulf to supervise the reintegration of those forces into the imperial army. Ataulf was quite capable and won over many of those who had once fought for Gaudentius. There was no war left to fight and they were eager to return to imperial service. Some troops remained sceptical, they had campaigned against Alaric in Macedonia and in Italia and were unwilling to serve the rex of the Goths of all men. They prefered to submit to Gildo and went further to the south, where some African troops had recently arrived. Of course none of those units had the prerogative to choose which general to serve; they were all theoretically subordinate to the emperor, but in actuality Honorius did not care for military affairs and prefered to not take part in the negotiations between Alaric, Leo, Gildo and Gaudentius. He did not want to bother with the command structure of the army or the administrative division of the West. The generals also would not have allowed for the boy-emperor to actually exert authority over them. In effect most troops were free to throw in their lot with the general of their liking. There remained a small group of officers, who had served Gaudentius, and loathed both Gildo and Alaric. They soon found themselves headed by Masceldelus, who was wary of his brother Gildo’s revenge. Those last renegades fled to the city of Ravenna, an impressive fortress at the Adriatic coast and headquarter of the Adriatic fleet. From there they wanted to sail to Histria and travel further to the Vandals of Pannonia, who would hopefully grant them refuge. But Ravenna and its harbour-town of Classe were soon encircled by troops loyal to Leo and Alaric, while Gildo’s African navy blocked the harbour. Masceldelus was trapped and knew that his situation was hopeless. He despised the thought of falling into the hands of his brother and instead he choose to commit suicide. With the death of Gaudentius’ African commander the last pocket of resistance had been destroyed. When the gates of Ravenna and Classe were opened to the besieging forces, the victors pillaged the city and massacred the population. To the delight of Gildo many of the ships anchored in the harbour, mostly military ships which had given the Africans a hard time, catched fire and were destroyed. The damage done to the harbour-town of Classe was so excessive, that even Aelius Papias, writing over a hundred years later, remarked that “coal-black walls from the reign of Honorius are still visible here and there.”


    After two months of negotiations Minervius the Younger was able to mediate an agreement between the generals. The office of magister utriusque militiae praesentalis (Master of both forces in the presence [of the emperor]), which had been held by Stilicho, Varanes and Gaudentius, was abolished. Instead the two original offices for the cavalry (magister equitum) and for the infantry (magister peditum) were reestablished. This dismantling of the office of magister militum did not happen because Alaric, Leo and Gildo believed in the virtue of sharing the boon and bane of governance, but rather because each of them feared that one of the others would become too powerful.


    The offices of the magistri continued to be limited to the extent of a praetorian prefecture - the highest civil administrative division of the empire - as they always had been. In the West there were two of these prefectures: Italia, which included Africa, and Gallia, including Britannia and Hispania. This meant that there were four offices to fill. Leo was appointed magister equitum for Italia. As commander of the cavalry units his office was more prestigious than Gildo’s, who was made his colleague as magister peditum for Italia. Leo had received the more prestigious office not because of his meager war contributions or his rather poor performance in battle but because he had been the candidate of Eutropius, who was now the mightiest man in all of the Roman world. Although Gildo had “merely” been appointed master of the infantry, he easily outranked Leo in actual power. His rule in Africa remained undisputed and he still controlled the Roman grain supply. The war and the sack of Ravenna strengthened the African navy compared to the other Western despite losses on both sides. He actively cultivated a positive image of himself among the church, the poor and the soldiery. Leo on the contrary had few supporters in the West and his reputation was generally unfavourable. He could draw on his connections to Eutropius, but so could Gildo, whose dedication to the Eastern course had been apparent from the very start of the war. Gildo could also influence the Eastern court through his daughter who lived in Constantinopolis and was married to a maternal cousin of the emperors.


    Alaric was appointed magister equitum per Gallias. Three years earlier he had begun his campaign of destruction because he craved what he saw as a righteous compensation for him and his people, who had loyally served Theodosius. As promised the Goths of Alaric received a foedus in eastern Gallia around the city of Vesontio, there they were free to settle and were guaranteed an annual payment. In exchange they would guard the border at Rhenus and Danubius. Alaric was satisfied with the arrangement for the time being, but his ambitions had grown since the start of the war. In the long run merely sharing power would not be enough, master of the cavalry would not be enough and Gallia would not be enough.


    Alaric had to accept the dux Jacobus as his Gallian colleague. Before his imperial appointment to the office of magister peditum Jacobus had served in the Western army. When Varanes was overthrown and Gaudentius prepared for war, Jacobus was stationed north of the Alps. He realized that Gaudentius’ plan would weaken the Roman border even further and defied the general’s orders together with most of his colleagues. It was a gambit that would later pay off when the general died on the battlefield. Jacobus’ troops swiftly moved into Noricum when many of the units stationed there joined Gaudentius in Italia. They occupied the province and ousted its dux who had remained loyal to the magister militum. Jacobus’ prestige and popularity among the soldiery grew immensely as the war progressed. Seen as an energetic but prudent leader he soon found himself surrounded by men who urged him to take the purple, but Jacobus resisted any temptations of imperial grandeur despite the support of his troops. He preferred to increase his influence gradually and for the time being he rather used the pen than the sword. During the war he upheld and established correspondence with his fellow commanders and many Gallian aristocrats. Jacobus’ diplomatic approach greatly contributed to the stability of the region despite ongoing war. Smaller border raids from the Barbaricum were commonplace but the dreaded collapse of the frontier was avoided.


    Jacobus was also a devout Christian, whose excessive belief in the powers of saints earned him the mockery of Alaric and the silent antipathy of Flavianus. Flavianus did not deem open antipathy prudent and was cautious to avoid the mistakes of the past. The usurpation of the religiously tolerant Eugenius between 392 and 394 had been supported by the pagan Nicomachi. Its ultimate failure led to the suicide of Flavianus’ father and the victory of the staunchly trinitarian Theodosius. Despite having been instrumental in Gaudentius’ downfall Flavianus had little hope for a pagan revival and preferred to keep a low profile in religious issues. Overt hostility towards Jacobus’ obsessions with the bones of martyrs was not convenient. Flavianus had no illusions regarding Christianity’s dominance but he knew that pagans like him could still make a career in imperial service despite the ever growing influence of the Nazarene. And in fact he was appointed praetorian prefect of Italia because of his decisive role in the war. In spite of their prominence it would not be the Nicomachi family who would come to dominate the court at the turn of the century. Instead the relatives of Florentinus, particularly Minervius the Younger and Elder, were to rise to the forefront of Western politics.


    After more than a year in Italia the Goths of Alaric finally left for the Gallian province of Maxima Sequanorum in the spring of 399. They went across the Alpine passes and crossed the Helvetian plateau before they finally entered the valley of the river Dubris [Doubs]. During Alaric’s stay in Italia the poet Claudianus had come into his service. Claudianus’ talent had been in little demand since the death of his patron Stilicho. Poets were rather useless in times of badly prepared war. When the dust had settled he found himself once again popular with the powerful and rich. Claudianus’ language was sharp and refined. He was without doubt among the best Latin poets of his age, in spite of being from the Greek east. Claudianus was perfectly suited for a man such as Alaric, who was ambitious but lacked Romanitas. The magister equitum craved the recognition of the cultural elites; he sought to establish himself among the great men of history and was not satisfied by power alone. Alaric felt that he was destined to become more than just a footnote of Roman history. He wanted fame or if needed infamy. The magister abhorred the thought that history would deem him mediocre; deem him forgettable. Alaric envied those who had attained immortal glory and was determined to join them, be it as the next Scipio or the next Hannibal, as Hector or as Achilles, as Judas or as Christ.

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

    [​IMG]

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


    THANK YOU! This was Part I: Masters of Soldiers


    I hope you enjoyed the story so far. Next we will have a short interlude that will take us 600 years into the future of the timeline, closer to the lands of Araldyana. Those of you who have followed the original map series will already know where this timeline will hopefully end up one day. Those of you who read about Araldyana for the first time will maybe be confused, amused or amazed … I just hope you won’t be bored.

    P.S. comments are always appreciated! :)

    P.P.S. You get a cookie if you find the carefully hidden not-OTL character in this post :D
     
  10. Threadmarks: Interlude I: The 53rd Spring of Gvenedot

    Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Location:
    Sweden/Germany
    The first Interlude takes us seven centuries into the future of the timeline. Hope you enjoy! :)

    Interlude I: The 53rd Spring of Gvenedot

    [​IMG]



    When spring finally arrived the ice covering the dark blue waters of the Blavic [“Blue Bay”] disappeared. The sheepherders of Vicsalur left their winter shelters for the green pastures of the Danalag and the Companies, preparing for the Summer Passage, sent ships to the east, the south and the west.

    Like in prior years hundreds had flocked to the ports of Danaland and Britannia to make the westwards journey to the lands of Araldyana. The journey was strenuous and dangerous but the prospect of starting a new life across the Outer Sea appealed to many in those dark days. Most of Britannia had fallen to the Saxons, who now engaged in the murder of Roman priests and the burning of churches. Only Dincatin in the far north of the island remained as an imperial foothold. Those who came to the city hoped to get a spot on one of the Company ships, which traveled to the lands of Araldyana. They first sailed northwards to the city Vicsalur on the island of Vesturland and then continued westwards past Feoharland and across the Whale Sea to the new lands of the west.

    Emperor Gvenedot had long planned on taking part in the Summer Passage to Araldyana, but he passed away at Vicsalur mere days before the first ships set sail for the west. He died peacefully in his sleep, 53 years of age. Gvenedot had ruled as Roman emperor for seven years. Despite having lost most of Roman Britannia and the last imperial footholds in Danaland to Saxon and Geatish infidels, he was popular and would be venerated as a great champion of the faith. In accordance with imperial tradition bishop Ignatius of Vicsalur prepared the funeral and summoned the nobles, companions and commoners of the Romalag to the Great Hall of Vicsalur. His Latin chants cut through the bland air and his bells were heard by the fishermen and shepherds, by the artisans and merchants, by the sailors and lords. Emperor Gvenedot funeral bier was placed on the large wooden table in the middle of the hall and covered with long colourful cloth, which reached all the way to the Great Hall’s wooden floor, and on his chest the Holy Crown, made of gold, ivory and wood from the cross of Christ, was placed.

    The imperial funeral was to be the greatest spectacle Vesturland had seen since the island was first settled. When the sun had passed midday the bonfire in front of the Great Hall was prepared, the people of Vicsalur walked through the town, singing the songs of their forefathers and mourning the death of the beloved emperor. Coming closer to the Great Hall their songs turned into prayer-like hymns. They praised the Lord and cursed the Lost Land. They sweared and screamed and cried. Some Britannians repeatedly shouted the name of the Son and threw themselves on the cold ground. Rolling in the dirt they chanted the name of the Lord until their backs and arms were sore. The singing crowd passed these mud- and blood-stained mourners and continued towards the hall. At the gates the commoners stopped and were blessed by Ignatius. They waited outside, whereas the companions and nobles were allowed entry.

    The aristocrats who entered the impressive timber building surrounded the funeral bier. Facing the cloth-covered corpse of Gvenedot, they sung prayers and hymns in Romanic and Danian. The gates of the hall separated the commoners and the aristocrats but they continued singing in unison, because the walls of the Great Hall were thick but not thick enough to stop sound from entering or escaping. Bishop Ignatius began to sing “Romani Regnibunt” with his deep forceful voice. The meaning of the Latin words eluded many aristocrats and all commoners but they nevertheless joined Ignatius and sung with great passion and dedication in the mysterious language of their forefathers. The songs continued until only the great bonfire provided light in the darkness of night. Even the most dedicated mourners arose now from their cold and muddy pits. They joined in the hymns and dragged themselves towards the Great Hall. Priests gave bread to the all those who waited outside. Every single man, woman and child was blessed by them and they were allowed to drink from the fine true wine of the south. Bishop Ignatius praised the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and his highborn servant the divine Gvenedot.

    When the gates of the Great Hall opened the waiting commoners cleared the way for the young noblemen who had the honour of carrying Gvenedot’s funeral bier. The whole consecration fell to their knees and sung of kingdom come, when the emperor's body was taken outside the hall and carried to the imperial quarters further uphill. Despite the dim lighting provided by the bonfire and by torches, which made it impossible to see any details, the consecration was awed by the sight of the divine Gvenedot, who had now joined the Father in heavenly Jerusalem. Just as God had become man, man was to become God.

    The last to step outside the Great Hall was a man of 30 years, dressed in silken robes embroidered with gold and silver. His face was veiled, his fingers bore precious rings and on his head rested the Holy Crown. Seeing their new emperor the commoners exclaimed “Levilin! Levilin! Levilin!”
     
  11. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2015
    Awesome!
     
  12. My Username is Inigo Montoya Virile Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2010
    Location:
    Brussels, Belgium
    The Roman Empire seems more Germanic and less Celtic, even in the Romalag (great name, by the way), than I had imagined...
     
  13. fluttersky ~ᴍeʀmᴀiᴅ iɴ a seᴀ oғ aɴoᴍiᴇ~

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2014
    Location:
    Earth
    Very nice update.

    One strange thing about this timeline is the huge 800-year gap between its sections. Is this done with the intention of letting the reader fill in the gaps? It kind of works, but I've never seen timelines like that before.

    Finally, one slightly surprising thing about the latest map is the complete absence of Latin-esque placenames. Has the number of Latin speakers in the Roman Empire really dropped so drastically? Or did the Romano-Britons assimilate into a dominant Germanic culture (similar to what happened with the Eastern Roman Empire and Greek)?

    (Note: I haven't read any earlier versions of this timeline. Just found this version in the map thread.)
     
    Pischinovski likes this.
  14. Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Location:
    Sweden/Germany
    Thank you!
    The update and the map reflect use mostly *Norse words. That's because of the dominant standing *Norse has among the military (right now mostly navy) and the traders (especially the walrus-ivory trade is important). Romanic (a Celtic language) is the predominant every day language of the court, the church and most of the settlers from Britannia. The map does not really reflect that. Latin is important is a ceremonial language (Britannian Latin differs sligthly from continental Latin) and mandatory for everyone in the higher ranks of church and administration. Romanic and *Norse have also begun to replace Latin as the language of literatture. There exist still some *Romance speaking groups on the British Isles but few made the trip to west. They are a small minority in Britannia and even smaller in Araldyana.

    I explained some of it in my answer above this quote. :) *Norse placenames are dominant because the map uses the predominant language of the navy and the merchants. They were also among the first settlers of these places despite most newcomers being Romano-Britons who speak a Celtic language (Romanic). There exist both Latin and Romanic versions of most placenames (like Dania instead of Danaland).

    The gap will be slowly filled (the next chapter will be about Alaric's British War) but I felt that I should adress the central theme of the timeline in an interlude. I feel that it makes the timeline more interesting. After every few chapters there will be such an interlude that will take the reader to different future events or detail other issues which weren't adressed in the regular updates.
     
  15. Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Location:
    Sweden/Germany
    For those of you wobdering when the next update will be ready ...

    Like always it takes more time then I intially thought, mostly due to rewrites. Compared with my first draft Leo's and Gildo's roles in previous updates have been more extensive. While the focus of the following chapters is supposed to be on Alaric, I feel I have to also explain the other political players' ambitions and how they influence eachother.

    The good news is that it's soon summer break, which means less university stuff and more time for AH.com :D
     
  16. Threadmarks: II.I. Origo

    Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Location:
    Sweden/Germany
    A short update, mostly meant as an introduction to the next part of the timeline. This part will chronicle the Wars of Alaric but also some court politics and events in the east. Right now I believe that I will post around seven updates before a second interlude, which will include a jump in time to show off some events which will unfold ITTL's future. :)


    Part II. The Wars of Alaric

    All of Europe north of Macedon and east of the Adriatic Sea had been the domain of the Getae, the foremost of the Dacians.Under their rule strife between the peoples of Scythia was unheard of and the reign of the Getic kings was regarded as just and wise by all, from the noblest man to the lowest slave a like. [---] Separated by the raging waters of the river, they could not rejoin their kinsmen. Thus they remained in the south and were left without king and their children's children forgot the Getic tongue but their vigour and their steadfastness [constantia] endured the centuries. Those qualities of ancient origin still define the people of those lands up to the present time.
    - Claudius Claudianus
    (“Bello Britannica”, ~404)
    II.I. Origo
    [​IMG]

    The Jura Mountains separating the Dubus [Doubs] valley - the new homeland of Alaric's Goths - and the Helvetian plateau.

    Claudius Claudianus, like some other writers, equated the Goths of his age with the bygone Getae of centuries past. This quite dubious equation would only become more popular in the following centuries. Future poets and historians used parts of Claudianus’ works in their own writings. Many of those writers, intentionally or unintentionally, contributed to the construction of the notion that the conflict, between Goths/Getae on one side and Greeks/Romans on the other, was a strife that had gone on since the dawn of time. But the trope of Roman-Gothic antagonism, a motif so incredibly popular among future generations, was still absent from the works of Claudianus. Because this trope is such a fundamental part of the worldview of many people today [TTL early 21st century] it might come as a surprise that the alleged eternal conflict between Goths and Romans only became an almost ubiquitous motif of Western culture shortly before the collapse of Roman rule in Britannia and the subsequent transfer of imperial power across the ocean in the 12th century. Indeed Claudianus influential books were intended to reconcile the homo novus Alaric with the Roman establishment. The senatorial aristocracy of Gallia viewed the Goths as barbarians and intruders, whose lowly history had nothing in common with the glorious past of the Roman state, but they did not believe that those barbarians were inherently the antithesis of Romanitas.

    Claudianus begun the second book of his magnus opus - six volumes on the wars of Alaric (commonly called “Bella Alarici”) - with a prologue concerning the history of the Goths to rectify the image of Alaric and his forefathers. In the first book (“De Bello Gaudentii”) he had justified and chronicled Alaric’s invasion of Italia. The book was well received by the upper strata of the Roman world, thanks to Claudianus talent as a writer and his carefully crafted narrative. In the second book (“De Bello Britannica”) he expanded on earlier themes, like martial virtue versus courtly intrigue, but also explored the mythical past of Alaric’s kin. The well known fact, that Alaric’s veins did not contain any Roman blood, could not be hidden by Claudianus, but the poet did his best to create the picture of the Gothic gens as an ancient and vital part of the glorious Romano-Hellenic civilisation. He made them a people of ancient glory by taking bits and pieces from genuine Gothic folk tales and Roman historiography to create a poetic narrative of steadfast Roman allies since the age of Augustus. Even the imperial defeat in the battle of Adrianopolis at the hands of the Goths was masterfully reinterpreted as a tragedy caused by unfortunate circumstances, ignorance and the cunning of egomaniac advisers. Claudius even alluded vaguely to a Trojan origin of Alaric’s people and implied that the Constantinian dynasty was partly of Gothic descent.

    Many later readers found this prologue to be of greater interest than the rest of Claudianus’ second book on the wars of Alaric, which aggrandized the Goths’ journey from Italia to Gallia and Alaric’s subsequent efforts to secure the Western border in Germania and Britannia. That Alaric would be campaigning in Britannia was not certain when Claudianus began writing the book, which happened around the same time Alaric left Italia. The magister and his soldiers and their wives and children crossed the mountains and passed through the forests of the bygone Helvetians in 399. When they finally entered the Gallian province of Maxima Sequana, where they were to settle, Alaric had no long term plans beyond cementing his position as one of the most important leaders in the West. That did not hinder Claudianus from piecing together a grand campaign in retrospect leading from the plains of Moesia through all of the empire culminating on the island at the western edge of the known world. He created a heroic narrative for his patron, which depicted Alaric as a true hero of the Roman commonwealth and defender of the empire, who secured the border and served the emperor and fought depraved and craven enemies both domestic and foreign. Alaric’s defeated adversaries, Varanes and Gaudentius, were the obvious victims of Claudianus’ bitter satire but they were not the only targets of his derision and mockery. Some parts of the book can be read as thinly veiled personal insults directed at Eutropius, who had reached the apex of his power in the wake of the war against Gaudentius but gradually lost authority in the West. When Alaric returned from the island of Britannia, the chamberlain’s power had waned. Or as Claudianus put it: “hideous women in men’s clothes do not hold sway over Gallia”.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2017
  17. Blind Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2014
    What would the world look like in 2017?
     
  18. B_Munro Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2004
    Location:
    Albuquerque
    Here's P's latest take on 1907. Not sure if he plans to eventually take the TL any further than that.

    World1907Revised.png
     
  19. Blind Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2014
    Meanwhile, I forgot about this thread.... :eek::eek::eek:
     
  20. Pischinovski Old Pauperized Polish Nobility

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Location:
    Sweden/Germany
    Nice to see that map again!

    I hope to take the TL atleast to the first one or two centuries of the Roman Empire in Araldyana. Ideally I might be able to take it all the way to the present day, but my progress is painfully slow because I am loosing myself in detail and am preoccupied with my real life. I had a lot more time for this timeline and mapmaking when I joined AH.com as a 16 year old highschooler, who neglected his homework. Now as a university student with actual goals in life and and a family that is the center of my attention, I am having a hard time to find the time neccessary to research and write a TL, which I want to be as good as possible.

    Without revealing too much about my plans for the far away future of the timeline, I can say that the above map would be less euro-centric. What we know as the Colonial Age and the Age of Imperialism will be greatly altered. Underlying causes, like trade networks, spread of diseases and demographics, will all shape the world and make it unrecognizable in the long run. *Lusitain (or whatever the the brown country in OTL Iberia will be end up called) will not only be a stand in for Portugal/Spain but an entity with a unique but believable culture and its own history that shaped its inhabitants and view on the past, the present and the future. I want the same to be true for every single country in this TL and for every single person. Everything should be believable and detailed. I find myself trapped in constant rewrites of chapters that I long intended to publish because I always believe I can improve on something by making a motivation clearer or by researching more details, that are unimportant to the story but important for me as the author. Its not like I don't like this process - historical research gives me great joy - but it takes its sweet time.
    And I forgot to answer you! Sorry about tjat :(
    I hope the map @B_Munro posted is of interesst for you. There is no current map of how I want the world to look in the 20th/21st century. I wont do one until the TL approaches those years, as I am more focused on the immediate effects of the POD and Interludes which take place in what in OTL would be the Middle Ages.
     
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