Filii Victoriae: A Roman TL

Chapter 1: Valerian
By 1006 AUC, the Military Anarchy was in full swing. Trebonianus Gallus and his son Volusianus had been co-emperors for two years. Their reign had not been an easy one. Not only were Goths attacking along the Danube and Asia Minor, but the Persians had also invaded in the east, capturing Antioch and the Syrian provinces. Their invasion was being beaten back, but the leader of that army - Uranius - had proclaimed himself emperor.

Aemilian led the legions against the Goths, which had moved into Moesia. He was the governor of Moesia Superior and Pannonia. After an important victory against the Goths, and with Trebonianus Gallus losing the confidence of the army, they proclaimed Aemilian emperor in June. He marched toward Italy, hoping to press his claim. Trebonianus Gallus sent for Publius Licinius Valerianus, or Valerian, a loyal dux, to defend him. Valerian marched to attack Aemilian’s legions, but he was too late. The legions had killed both Trebonianus Gallus and his son at the Battle of Interamna Nahars.

The news of Trebonianus Gallus’s death soon reached Valerian. On hearing of it, Valerian proclaimed himself emperor. His legions supported him, and they continued marching to Rome. When he arrived, Aemilian’s legions defected to him, killing their own leader. Valerian, popular with both the Senate and the armies, was soon universally the recognized Emperor.

Valerian’s son Gallienus became co-emperor very shortly after Valerian himself. Gallienus fought along the Rhine and Danube frontiers against various barbarian groups, while Valerian was dispatched to deal with the Sassanid invasion. Gallienus was quite successful, first protecting Gaul from Germanic invasions, then winning a campaign in Dacia. Even his rivals grudgingly admitted his victories were impressive - but they couldn’t compare to those of his father.

Between 1007 and 1011, Valerian had been leading the Roman armies in the east. He first reclaimed Antioch with impressive ease, continuing east in a remarkable series of victories against both the Persians and the usurper Uranius. This was interrupted in 1011 by a Gothic invasion of Asia Minor, which forced him to leave the front and fight off the barbarians. Unsurprisingly, Valerian fended off the invasion, but it did set him back a bit. His armies would return to the Persian border shortly afterward, and by 1013 they were in Edessa. Though plague threatened on the edge of the city, Valerian’s armies were hit with only a glancing blow, and the Sassanids were decisively defeated at the Battle of Nineve the next year.

Gallienus had three sons of his own, the eldest of which, Valerian II, was appointed Caesar along with his younger brother Saloninus by Valerian in 1009. Valerian II was stationed in Sirmium to act as ambassador to potentially rebellious Illyria while Gallienus moved northwest to Gaul. In 1011, however, he died under suspicious circumstances, and shortly afterward a local commander and noble, Ingenuus, proclaimed himself emperor. Gallienus reacted quickly, rushing to put down Ingenuus’s revolt. He left his second son, Saloninus, to oversee the Rhine front at Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium. Gallienus moved into Sirmium and quickly captured the city at the center of Ingenuus’s revolt. The usurper committed suicide shortly afterward.

By moving so many troops away from Gaul, though, Gallienus left the frontier unprotected. A large group of Germanic tribes broke through the Limes Germanicus and rushed south, crossing the Alps. Barbarians were in Italia for the first time since Hannibal. Remarkably, the Senate was able to assemble an untrained army from the civilians of Rome and some of the Praetorian Guard, and repel the barbarians outside Rome. Gallienus’s army, which had come back northwest from Illyria, intercepted them at the Battle of Mediolanum, winning a decisive victory late in 1012.

While Gallienus was defeating the barbarians at Mediolanum, another usurper named Regalianus claimed the imperial dignity in Illyria. However, Regalianus soon became bogged down fighting Sarmatians, and when the Roxolani took the city of Sirmium he was killed. Gallienus then went to clean up this new Roxolani invasion, routing them at Verona in 1013.

There were many usurpers who attempted to overthrow Emperor Gallienus, known collectively as the “twenty tyrants”. Many of these were probably never actually usurpers against Gallienus, though. Some were merely relatives of a usurper; some were contemporaneous with Trajan Decius or Trebonianus Gallus or some other emperor, not Gallienus; some even appear to be completely fictional. It cannot be denied, though, that Gallienus did defeat many revolters, and in doing so earned himself and his dynasty much legitimacy in the eyes of the military. Gallienus’s domestic campaigns were one of the major factors which pulled Rome out of the Military Anarchy, which should certainly not be understated.

While his son was dealing with revolters, Valerian himself enjoyed a great reputation among the Roman aristocracy for his success in driving the Persians out of Mesopotamia. He lived out his remaining few years in Rome keeping the Senate on his side and overseeing the construction of a new wall around Rome. Emperor Valerian died peacefully after 65 years of life in 1017 AUC.




I'm posting a timeline, yay
In case it wasn't clear: The main POD is that Valerian's armies are not severely weakened by plague at Edessa and Valerian himself is not captured by the Sassanids. A large part of this chapter is real events to provide context. I'm using AUC dates here, if that causes any confusion. For reference, 1 AD = 754 AUC. I'm not 100% sure what will happen with Christianity yet, so AUC it is for the time being. I'm using the term "Military Anarchy", not "Crisis of the Third Century", for the same reason. Any thoughts are welcome!
 
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Chapter 2: Saloninus
First priority after Emperor Valerian’s death was to appoint the new Caesar. Emperor Saloninus’s younger brother, Marinianus, was chosen for this role. Marinianus was more of a diplomat than his father and brother, so he managed that side of things while his family asserted their power on the battlefield.

Emperor Saloninus’s inheritance was disputed by Postumus, a leader of the Rhine armies. Postumus failed to account for the fact that Saloninus had spent his whole Caesarship winning the hearts of the Rhine armies, and Valerian’s success had hardly dampened that. Several of Postumus’s officers assassinated him shortly

After Postumus’s revolt, Saloninus went east to fight the Persians. They were launching an attack on Mesopotamia, bitter after their loss of most of the province - including their capital, Ctesiphon - in 1014. The campaign had begun late in Valerian’s reign under Odaenathus, Governor of Syria Phoenice. Saloninus took control of the army in mid-1018. An initial defeat at Seleucia had pushed the Romans north to Ashur, where a second defeat saw the Roman armies returned to Nineve, where the Romans had won a major battle in the previous war under Valerian. Luck was not on their side this time, however, and the Persians were victorious. Saloninus took control here and led his army to Nisibis, where they gathered their forces and drove back the Persians.

Saloninus began a counterattack to the southeast, where the Persians lost another battle at Hatra. Saloninus then began to chase the Persians further downstream, but a more pressing matter intervened.

Odaenathus attempted to assassinate Saloninus and raise himself to the imperial dignity shortly after their victory at Hatra in 1018. Some of the legions defected to him. A battle was fought at Ashur soon after winter set on, and Saloninus was able to push Odaenathus southeast toward the Persians. Now, Odaenathus was sandwiched between two enemies - or so Saloninus thought.

Odaenathus believed that Shahanshah Shapur I might be more forgiving than Saloninus, or at least let him live, because he would serve as an asset to help destabilize the Roman Empire. His situation otherwise more or less helpless, Odaenathus beseeched the Persian emperor to let their armies join forces and fight Saloninus together.

Though previous usurpers had been known to take shelter in Persian territory, Odaenathus was as hated as Saloninus among Persians. He had been leading the Roman armies against them for over a year before Saloninus took over. No, Odaenathus would find no hospitality with the Persians.

The Shahanshah’s response arrived less than a week before the utter destruction of Odaenathus’s army at a field near Virta. Odaenathus himself, however, managed to escape back north - right into Saloninus’s army. He was taken prisoner just after midwinter 1018.

By the beginning of January, Saloninus’s army and that of Shapur I met just north of where Odaenathus’s defeat had taken place. This Battle of Virta was a close contest, as the Persian armies had been significantly weakened by those of Odaenathus. Ultimately, after three long days of fighting, the Romans captured the fortress. Saloninus decided to be satisfied with these gains and not risk them by pushing to retake Ctesiphon.

Saloninus was also abandoning the war with Persia due to a new threat. Odaenathus’s wife, Zenobia, had inherited his claim and had now captured much of Syria and was even managing to threaten Egypt. This was, needless to say, a pressing concern. Saloninus marched back east to Anatha on the Euphrates by the end of spring, taking it with little resistance, and then marched northeast to Dura-Europus. Zenobia’s armies were waiting for him outside Dura-Europus, and a great battle ensued. Through innovative cavalry tactics which would later become a very helpful technique against the Germanic tribes, Saloninus won this battle, and the subsequent one at Zenobia’s capital of Palmyra. Her son Vaballathus, only eight years old, was supported by a few of the nobles, but Saloninus did not deem him enough of a threat to justify imprisonment yet. His assassination was orchestrated in 1021.

Vaballathus is the last of the historical “Twenty Tyrants.” The remainder of the rule of Gallienus and Saloninus was more or less peaceful internally, but there was no shortage of external conflict.

Over the next few years, Persia destabilized quite a bit. When Shapur I died in 1023, however, the empire lost much of its organization. Shapur’s son Hormizd I died after just a year of reign, being succeeded by his elder brother Bahram I (though his son disputed this and revolted); Bahram I died in 1027, and his two sons fought over the succession. The elder son, Bahram II, maintained control of the western Sassanid empire, while his brother, Hormizd I Kushanshah, claimed his throne and controlled much of the east.

With all of this chaos in Persia, Saloninus was able to march into Ctesiphon in spring 1028, sacking the city with surprising ease. Most of Bahram II’s armies were busy on the eastern front, fighting Hormizd. It was an ambition of Saloninus to restore the control that Trajan had once held over Mesopotamia, with a coast on the Persian Gulf. He would therefore not give up yet.

Bahram II’s court retreated to Susa, thinking it far enough from Saloninus to avoid capture. Saloninus was not eager to prove them right, however; he pushed along the Tigris, taking the city of Kashkar in mid-May after a hard-fought battle. A subsequent chase led to two further victories, and he arrived at the gates of Susa on 9 June, beginning a siege. A force was recalled from the east to attempt to break the siege, but they didn’t arrive until 24 June. A battle was fought that day in which Saloninus was able to succeed, largely because news arrived halfway through that Hormizd’s armies had captured Aspadana. The city was breached a week later, and by 3 July Bahram II and his family had been captured by Saloninus. Over the next few weeks Saloninus solidified control of Susiana, claiming the Persian Gulf coast.

By the end of August 1028, Saloninus had left Susiana to support Tiridates of Armenia, the rightful heir to the Armenian throne who had been banished to Rome as an infant with the Persian invasion in 1006. He was now staging an invasion of Armenia. Saloninus went with a few of his armies to support this invasion. It was already mostly complete by his arrival, though. He oversaw, but was not a deciding factor in, Tiridates’s capture of Tauracisa, and led a force south along Lake Matiene to sack Gazaca, the capital of Adurbadagan. Overall, the conquest of Armenia was largely not because of any contribution on the part of Saloninus.

Tiridates III was an independent king, and though he aligned himself with Rome against Persia, he was not a subject of the Roman emperor. Saloninus tolerated this, however, as a Roman-aligned Armenia was better than a Persian Armenia.

A few years after Tiridates III’s success, having defended his conquests in Susiana from a Persian attempt to retake them, Saloninus returned to Italia to deal with a new problem. In February 1033, Emperor Gallienus had died of uncertain, apparently natural causes. The Caesar, Saloninus’s younger brother Marinianus, had taken the throne, but his inheritance was disputed.

Claudius Gothicus, a general who had defeated the Goths (hence the style), claimed to be the son of former emperor Gordian II. Based on this, he claimed the imperial dignity on Gallienus’s death. Saloninus returned from the east to put down this revolt.

Claudius Gothicus had taken control of Augusta Taurinorum, and Saloninus’s armies surrounded the city and began to lay siege. After around six weeks of siege, Saloninus was unexpectedly murdered by his officers outside the city gates. His armies, with whom the emperor had been quite popular, rallied around his death and breached the city the next day. Claudius Gothicus was killed, but the damage had been done.




And only two whole weeks later, here's chapter 2!
I had hoped to get this posted quite a while ago, but other stuff intervened. If there's any confusion, I can make an index of OTL vs. TTL toponyms. As always, any thoughts are welcome!
 
This is well written and well researched. I do have one quibble though-I doubt Valerian would have ever attempted (or been able) to hold Ctesiphon at all-sacking it was enough, and Roman power projection and supply lines were probably not capable of maintaining a permanent presence in southern mesopotamia at this time, particularly given everything else going on.

Otherwise, I enjoyed the first two updates and am looking forward to where you're going with this.
 
I doubt Valerian would have ever attempted (or been able) to hold Ctesiphon at all-sacking it was enough, and Roman power projection and supply lines were probably not capable of maintaining a permanent presence in southern mesopotamia at this time, particularly given everything else going on.
Rome is certainly very overextended. Without a competent, popular, well-proven leader in the east, and with Persia having now organized itself and quite angry about the loss of such an integral part of their empire, I think the Roman presence in southern Mesopotamia is anything but permanent. Thank you for your thoughts!
 
Chapter 3: Aurelian, Part 1
The question of Saloninus’s successor was still an open one. The Senate supported Claudius Gothicus’s younger brother Quintillus, but the armies balked at this suggestion, still bitter for Claudius’s assassination of Saloninus. Instead, they chose their own commander Aurelian, who had a long list of victories under Gallienus against the Goths, the Alamanni, and more, even if he was beginning to grow old. Aurelian also claimed to have been privately favored by Saloninus as the heir.

Aurelian marched south from Augusta Taurinorum where he had gotten his armies’ support toward Rome in October 1033. No major armies stood between him and Rome, and the road system was extremely helpful. Capturing first Genua, then Portus Pisanus, then Rusellae, and many more smaller cities along the way, Aurelian came to the walls of Rome - or what was left of them. Over the past several decades, the walls had slowly grown less and less maintained, and they now provided hardly any defense against Aurelian's army.

Aurelian’s soldiers penetrated the city with ease within hours of their arrival. Aurelian had given his soldiers orders to bring him Quintillus alive, but this was in vain; Quintillus was found dead in his bed the following morning. By mid-November, the Senate had recognized Aurelian as emperor.

Aurelian’s first notable act as undisputed emperor was to upgrade the walls’ security system. The gaps had certainly been helpful to him in winning the imperial dignity from the claimant within Rome’s walls, and he foresaw that any future lapse in security could condemn him to the same fate to which he himself had condemned Quintillus. Thus, security on the walls was tightened.

By March of 1034, Shahanshah Hormizd II of Persia had reorganized the Persian army, and with the Roman emperors all the way in Italia, he was able to launch an assault on Susa. Roman supply lines had been very strained, and the only reason it hadn’t fallen already was that, until shortly before his death in the previous year, Emperor Saloninus had been personally leading the armies and had managed to repel two previous offensives in the area. Needless to say, without Saloninus, Roman rule in Susiana had crumbled. Hormizd’s armies were nearly unopposed.

In Syria, the city of Palmyra had risen to prominence a decade earlier under the family of Odaenathus. Since then, though the family associated with it had fallen from prominence, Palmyra had remained the political center of the region. It was, then, mainly the Palmyrene nobles and armies tasked with the defense of Ctesiphon.

Though Aurelian did not share his predecessor’s ambition in Persia, he would not let Ctesiphon fall without a fight; to lose such an area would certainly not go well in the eyes of the Senate, nigh impossible though it would be to keep it at all. Aurelian went off to fight in the east as soon as the news arrived that Persia had invaded.

While the emperor traveled, though, Ctesiphon was retaken by Hormizd II’s armies. They pushed north from there, too, capturing Sumere, despite the best efforts of local leadership. They had begun to lay siege to Virta by the time Aurelian arrived in mid-April.

Very much unlike his predecessor, Aurelian believed that the cost in terms of time, money, and lives to administrate Virta would far outweigh any benefits of controlling it. The siege was thus abandoned relatively quickly, with the Roman armies instead choosing to consolidate and organize a defense around Nineve, now a fairly solid Roman stronghold much further upstream.

Unlike Virta, Nineve was an important location for the administration of Rome. It served as a bridge between Syria and the Roman-aligned Kingdom of Armenia, being roughly midway between Palmyra and Tauracisa. If the Persians were to capture it, they could begin to cut connections between the two. Armenia might even go its own way without as much support being available from Rome. It was also the first line of defense in Upper Mesopotamia, an area Aurelian would not willingly lose. No, Aurelian would fight to keep Nineve.

As a place that had for a very long time been of great importance, there were already quite powerful fortifications in place at Nineve. Aurelian made himself very familiar with these, as well as building new hidden ones at any gaps that he found. In this way, over the course of less than a week, Nineve was turned into one of Rome’s most notable military outposts.

The armies of Hormizd II arrived six days before the Princeps of May. They soon settled in for a long siege when it became evident that Aurelian planned to hide out within his fortress. Over the first week, the Persian armies gradually lost the excitement of the early siege as Aurelian made great use out of his fortifications, inflicting major casualties on the Persian armies. However, the Persians were also being very diligent in their encirclement of Nineve, and Aurelian’s armies could not break out any more than those of Hormizd II could break in.

Over the next two weeks, both armies continued losing morale as the siege stagnated. Supplies inside the walls were nearly beginning to run out, but at the same time the Romans inflicted heavy attrition on their enemies outside the walls. Needless to say, stagnation posed the greatest threat to the defenders, as all hope of victory would be gone if their armies starved. Recognizing the danger, Aurelian planned that on the Ides of May, the Roman armies would gather and attempt to break the Persian lines.

Tiridates III of Armenia, aware of Aurelian’s efforts in Nineve, and none too eager to see them turn out in vain, had sent a small force to attempt to help him defeat Hormizd II’s armies. This force was marching towards Nineve when Aurelian started his attempt to break out.

Having spent the past several days analyzing the Persian lines to determine the weakest point, Aurelian’s armies were attacking on the north side of Nineve, right on the eastern bank of the Tigris. The remainder of the fortress had been left significantly understaffed in order to have enough soldiers for the assault. The Persians therefore made major successes in the south even as Aurelian began the assault.

Hormizd II’s armies had been spread too thin around Nineve, so it was not too much of a surprise that Aurelian's armies were able to break through at the weak point he had chosen. The dam of the Persian armies truly breached in the afternoon, when the entire northern half of the army was overrun by Aurelian’s legions over barely an hour. However, in the south, the Persians had moved into the vacant fortress, leaving Aurelian now on the receiving end of all the fortifications that had been so useful to him.

Around sunset, by which time the Persians had well and truly captured Nineve, Aurelian’s plan went into effect. Fires were set in four strategic predetermined locations around the city, cutting off the biggest roads out. Then, volley after flaming volley was sent into the city, lighting up the night. The Persian armies burned that night, and with them the city. What remained died in a short battle the next morning. Hormizd II was never heard from again.

The force that Tiridates III had sent arrived at Nineve - or the place that had been Nineve, for Nineve was no more - and, seeing that their help was no longer needed, turned around and marched back to Tauracisa.

The great city of Nineve was nothing but ashes.




Here's chapter 3. As always, any thoughts are welcome!
 
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The Crisis of the Third Century is a sorely underwritten topic on AH.com, so this timeline is one I'll be following with great interest.

In terms of thoughts over the latest update, it is fun seeing the logistical issues and fraying situation in Mesopotamia with Roman attempts to contest them at least in part. The idea of Aurelian letting the Persians into Nineve to burn it down does seem a bit fantastical, however, the general gist of the Romans holding Persia at Nineve seems broadly plausible.

Looking forward to more!
 
I have some quips about plausibility (I still don't think the Romans would have attempted to have any permanent in presence in southern mesopotamia all the way to Susiana.), and agree with Komnenos002,s points. I also wonder where the impetus for Valerian to fix the walls of Rome came from-it seems to me the need for that wouldn't become apparent until Aurelian marched on the city, and then he'd probably fix the walls after seeing how easy an invading army can penetrate them.

That said, it's well written and there's a dearth of Third Century Crisis timelines, so I'm very much enjoying it. Northern mesopotamia seems like a perfectly fine place to solidify the border-that's where the Roman/Sassanian clashes often occurred anyway.

That update was fun to read, I'm looking forward to where you take this.
 
Sorry I haven't been able to respond to this feedback for so long.
The idea of Aurelian letting the Persians into Nineve to burn it down does seem a bit fantastical
Yes, it can certainly be called that.
I also wonder where the impetus for Valerian to fix the walls of Rome came from-it seems to me the need for that wouldn't become apparent until Aurelian marched on the city, and then he'd probably fix the walls after seeing how easy an invading army can penetrate them.
That's a great point, and I think I might actually edit that bit. It doesn't seem to make much sense as it is.
 
Chapter 4: Aurelian, Part 2
The Persians were left with a bit of a succession crisis. Hormizd II had been killed in the Burning of Nineveh, and he left behind no children. His elder brother Bahram II had been captured by the Romans under Saloninus along with his own son Bahram. This left Hormizd II’s uncle Narseh and his cousin Hormizd of Sakastan as the claimants to the throne.

Hormizd of Sakastan had, in fact, already started a revolt before his cousin’s death, and had successfully taken control of his own province and a few to the south. Narseh, meanwhile, was a popular candidate in the eastern empire and with much of the Sasanian court. This conflict had paralleled the one between Aurelian and Hormizd II, and it would parallel any continued fighting between the same emperor and Narseh.

Such continued fighting would not last long, however. Aurelian’s bold, desperate maneuver had resulted in extremely high casualties for the Persian army, and any soldiers left had no leadership and no morale.

Aurelian chose to march south, seeing no possibility of a significant threat organizing in the short distance to Ctesiphon. He was correct in this assessment, and the Roman army sacked Ctesiphon shortly after the beginning of June of 1034. They did not, however, attempt to take control of the city; Aurelian held strong in his belief that it would be more trouble than it was worth to try to hold the area, and he felt confident that the eastern conflict would keep Narseh occupied. Besides, other problems were brewing at home.

Aurelian was already not especially popular with the Senate, first for the harshness of his assault on Rome and second for his unwillingness to defend southern Mesopotamia from Persian conquest. When he went on to burn down a Roman outpost, it did nothing for his reputation, and his sacking of Ctesiphon was only a partial redemption for this.

Aurelian knew that, by burning down Nineve, he had left Upper Mesopotamia mostly unguarded. Seeking to remedy this, he sent scouts to determine the best position for a new fortress. They settled on a major island in the Tigris, 1 mile in diameter and around 4 miles south of the confluence of the Tigris and the Bumodus. It was around a day and a half’s march southeast of where Nineve had been.

The Roman armies built a fortress here over the summer and autumn of 1034, named Insula Fluviorum. When it was complete, Aurelian began a journey back to the west to attempt to fully win back the favor of the Senate. His plan was to subjugate as many Germanic tribes as feasible and, if possible, eliminate the threat the barbarians posed to Italia.

Said barbarian threat to Rome had recently become abnormally dangerous, as around a week after the Ides of October, an Alamanni army had broken through the Danubian Limes east of Castra Regina and begun to push south toward the Alps. This Alamanni invasion was also one reason why Aurelian wished to see the barbarian threat eliminated.

When Aurelian arrived at Rome shortly afterward, he learned of this invasion, and quickly took charge of the nearest major army. This army, however, was all the way in Salona, Dalmatia; the Alamanni had already defeated all the others in their way. The day before the Nones of November, Aurelian’s army arrived in Aquileia, and the Alamanni were already in Tridentum, having taken advantage of the road system and the fact that there were no armies in their way.

Aurelian was able to intercept the Alamanni on 11 November, fighting a major battle north of Bononia. This battle was a success for Aurelian, and a subsequent one at Mantua would have been sufficient to keep the Alamanni at bay for quite a while. Aurelian, however, wanted more than just to drive back that invasion - he would lead a counterattack.

The Roman armies reached Augusta Vindelicum shortly before the beginning of December. Over the next month, Aurelian led them in reasserting control over the Agri Decumates, which had been captured by the Alamanni around twenty years earlier. With the help of a force dispatched from Mogonaticum, the Romans were victorious and soundly defeated the Alamanni.

Aurelian chose to continue his conquests, rather than stop at just the Alamanni. Continuing northeast, he defeated the Vispi and the Vargiones in January 1035. The Adrabaecampi near Castra Regina were defeated shortly after the Ides of February. After spending a few days at Castra Regina, Aurelian once again set out to defeat the Naristi. They were soon pushed east, but Aurelian found it impossible to move into Boiohaemum where the Naristi had found shelter. The Gabreta wood was very well defended by the Marcomanni who inhabited Boiohaemum.


Ultimately, Aurelian contented himself with the success east of the Gabreta wood, and moved north to the Chaetuori after three weeks. These were defeated on the Ides of March, but they too retreated into Boiohaemum. Aurelian once again encountered the impenetrability of the Gabreta wood, and after attempting to push through for another week decided it was not worth it.

After a further success against the Curiones, Aurelian decided that these conquests were plenty to redeem himself, and that it would certainly not impress the Senate if he were to lose them by continuing his conquests recklessly. He was also growing old, which he recognized, and he knew that it would not be wise for him to attempt too many more conquests. For these reasons, then, Aurelian contented himself with these conquests. The area conquered would become known as “Alamannia”, after its dominant inhabitants.

Aurelian organized the government of the area and put down an Adrabaecampi rebellion over the next few months. Having left his mark on history, Aurelian then elected to retire from the emperorship at the age of 68, shortly after his birthday in 1035. His successor was Probus, a commander who had been very useful in the conquest of Alamannia. Aurelian lived out the remaining years of his life comfortably outside his home of Serdica.




The focus was less on Persia, and will likely remain that way at least until Persia decides to invade again. I did decide to retcon a part of the last chapter as well; I've now edited that. As always, any thoughts are welcome!
 
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Germanic tribes are going to be stuck between the Empire and the Huns at this rate, that ought to be interesting. Where would the Franks be around this time period OTL and TTL?
 
Where would the Franks be around this time period OTL and TTL?
Probably around the same spot in both; between the lower Rhine and the Ems, north of around Confluentes (i.e. Koblenz). The southern border of Frankish territory would be a little north of the northern border of "Alamannia".
 
Chapter 5: Probus
Probus had been a favorite commander under Aurelian, and it was not a great surprise that Aurelian had picked him for his successor. He was relatively well-liked, especially among the Rhine legions which he had led for quite a long time. The new emperor stood mostly unopposed for the imperial dignity at the beginning of his reign in September 1035.

Alamannia, which had been mostly organized into the province of Rhaetia after its conquest, was still facing problems. There had been an Adrabaecampi revolt not six months after the conquest already under Aurelian, and Probus would face many more revolts of unrestful Alamanni peoples including Suebi Nicrenses, Raetovari, and Lentienses to name a few. Probus was thus fighting for more than a year against various different groups.. By January of 1037 the Germanic rebellions had been subdued for the time being.

Having dealt with the population within the area, Probus then began a major project of fortifying the borders of Alamannia through a new system that he named the Limes Alamannicus. They started at the northeastern corner of the Agri Decumates. From here, they followed a series of mountains north of the Moënus river all the way east to the Gabreta wood on the border with Boiohaemum. This it followed southeast for some distance before turning south and meeting the Norican Limes at Batava.

The highest-priority area of the Limes Alamannicus to be built was the eastern border, along the Gabreta wood. This were intended to guard the Romans from Boiohaemum, which remained a very large thorn in their side.

With forests and mountains guarding the area on every side, the valley was already difficult to push into. A local population more than willing to support any tribe that would stand against the Romans, and provide a safe haven for those forced to flee, only made things worse for the Romans. The Marcomanni had found shelter there after their defeat a century earlier, and now the Naristi, the Chaetuori, and significant populations of Adrabaecampi and Curiones had all fled across the Gabreta wood and found refuge with them.

For these reasons, Probus first focused his efforts on the Gabreta wood. The Limes Alamannicus would be located just west of it, in flat terrain, as Roman armies were always better at combat in open terrain. Though the Romans did their best to repurpose any useful fortifications already there, such fortifications were few and far between.

The Naristi, a tribe Aurelian had for the most part exiled to Boiohaemum, launched many raids to attempt to halt the construction process of the fortifications and return to their homeland in the plain west of the Limes, so progress was slow. Even with nearly all the legions of Rhaetia working to fortify the border, the section along the Gabreta wood was less than halfway complete by the beginning of 1038, after nearly a year of work.

While the armies were bogged down on the eastern frontier, the Alamanni and Hermunduri tribes grew more restless. It had been nearly three years since the conquest of Alamannia, and one and a half since a major wave of revolts. They had not recovered from either of these, and never would fully, but there were whispers. For three months, the status quo continued. The southern third of the Limes along the Gabreta wood were complete, and construction of the rest was accelerating.

The Armalausi, a Hermunduri tribe in Alamannia, launched a rebellion near the beginning of April of 1038. They pushed eastward, hoping to flank the Roman armies with the help of the tribes in Boiohaemum. When word of the revolt reached Boiohaemum, an army of Chaetuori went west to help. The Roman armies in the area consisted of only a few legions, as these were the northernmost reaches of the Gabreta wood.

The Hermunduri tribes won a major success in an initial battle, and all the fortifications (admittedly not very many this far north) in the area were destroyed. Probus went north from where he had been working, and was leading the army in three days. Reinforcements from Castra Regina arrived two days after that. Probus decided to move southwest. If the tribes were going to Castra Regina, he could intercept them. If they were continuing along the Limes, they would soon reach more complete and more well-manned areas where they would be outmatched.

As it turned out, the Hermunduri coalition had chosen to continue southeast along the Limes. However, these areas of the Limes were less complete than Probus had anticipated, and soon his armies were returning east to attempt to intercept the tribes before they destroyed too many fortifications. Finally, Probus’s army and that of the tribes met in battle with a week left in April. Though this battle was by no means a decisive Roman victory, it did at least halt the Hermunduri advance. They had successfully removed the fortifications along nearly half of the Gabreta wood, amounting to nearly a third of the work that the Romans had done.

The Hermunduri tribes were chased back north, but they soon escaped east into Boiohaemum. Certain that another attack was coming, Probus kept his army together, rather than spreading them back out across the incomplete fortifications. Stretching too thin had been what allowed the Hermunduri to win as many victories as they did.

Though the armies did not spread out, they certainly continued work on the fortifications. Over the next two months, the armies slowly inched northward, constructing the Limes as they went. Finally, the attack that Probus had been waiting for came, at the beginning of July. The same army that had retreated into Boiohaemum beyond reach of the Romans in the previous month had gone north, through the gap which had not yet fully been repaired, and struck the fortifications just south of the Roman army. Probus chased them down quickly, but not quickly enough. Through a gap which they were able to hold in the fortifications, another army of Naristi and even some Marcomanni poured west. The Roman army was well outnumbered.

Wishing not to repeat the mistakes of Aurelian in Mesopotamia which, though they had led to his ultimate success, had done so at what Probus considered far too high a cost, Probus did not attempt to hold his ground. Instead, he fled east, across the Gabreta wood. The normally impregnable forest had been largely cleared of its garrison in order to manage this assault, and, though the terrain was unfamiliar to the Romans, they were able to make it through the forest in three days.

Probus did not wish to stay in Boiohaemum any longer than necessary. Though typically he would have welcomed a chance to breach the Gabreta wood and enter the Marcomanni kingdom, there were currently more pressing matters to attend to. The Germanic army, more familiar with the routes through the forest, had taken less than two days to get through the forest, and they were pursuing the Romans southeast, just over a day behind now. Probus wanted to cross the forest back west at a point where the fortifications were safe, then use them to drive back his enemy.

After another four days of flight southeast, Probus found an area which looked promising as a pass through the mountains. He was correct in this assumption, and it took only a day to go south through the pass. On the other side, he found a completed section of his Limes Alamannicus, and took his army through to the other side before nightfall.

The Germanic tribes spent that night still in Boiohaemum. The next morning, they continued south through the pass. Arriving a few hours after midday, they spent the next night just within the forest. The next morning - that of the 14th of July - they launched a major assault on the Roman army. Throughout the morning, the high ground of the forest helped the Germanic coalition, and they stood poised to defeat the Roman armies at noon. Probus ordered an organized retreat onto flatter terrain, however, and the tide began to turn

By nightfall, the Germanic tribes had been pushed back into Boiohaemum. With the army still mostly intact, though, and the Gabreta wood being so easily defensible, there was no telling when they might return. Probus temporarily ceased construction of the Limes, as he no longer had any legions to spare.

Two more Alamanni revolts and one of Hermunduri took place over the remainder of 1038. Probus defeated all of these, being careful not to let any escape into Boiohaemum, but his army was suffering from it. They were running out of supplies, performing frequent forced marches, and too often fighting narrow battles with heavy casualties. In February of 1039, angry because of this overworking, Probus’s armies assassinated him.




As always, any thoughts are welcome!
 
The Romans deforested Gallia so why aren't they doing it here? Burning down sections of the forest as it suits them should have being a no brainer.
 
The Romans deforested Gallia so why aren't they doing it here? Burning down sections of the forest as it suits them should have being a no brainer.
There is definitely some deforesting going on, but it doesn't help the Romans all that much, because the Gabreta wood (OTL Šumava) is quite mountainous. The mountains are the main thing standing in the way of a Roman invasion of Boiohaemum, not the trees. You're right, though; especially around the fortresses, large areas of forest will be burnt.
 
Chapter 6: Diocletian, Part 1
After the sudden assassination of Probus, there was only one real candidate to replace him. Diocletian, leader of the Praetorian Guard, twice consul, and one of the most important figures in orchestrating his predecessor’s murder, assumed the imperial dignity without any real opposition from the troops of Alamannia. The armies further east along the Danube, too, supported the new emperor, as Diocletian had served in Moesia for quite some time.

First order of business was of course to do his best to rein in Alamannia. Though many believed too many resources had been wasted on this in vain already, Diocletian was certain that the benefits of removing such an area from the list of threats to Rome would outweigh the costs of the rebellious local population and raids from Boiohaemum. Already the Germanic threat in Alamannia was very much decreased, as many of the tribes had moved north into regions free from the Roman yoke.

At the beginning of March 1039, a large army of Juthungi revolted northwest of Castra Regina. Diocletian’s armies were in Castra Regina, and having reorganized them and given them time to recuperate over the previous month, morale was high. The Juthungi were routed shortly after they rose up, and the Roman armies cut off any escape to the east, ensuring that none could flee into Boiohaemum.

This was the last major revolt in Alamannia for quite some time in the area, which meant Diocletian could focus back on the construction of a first line of defense against Boiohaemum. He scaled back the plans for the limes, though, keeping the very tight system planned by Probus only along the Gabreta wood. The northern border of Alamannia would be less secure, only consisting of a road and castles located roughly a day’s march apart. Since there had not yet been any major attacks by the Catti, Danduti, or any other groups north of Alamannia, Diocletian concluded that less security was needed there.

Though there were countless Naristi raids on the Romans, there was no major invasion organized from Boiohaemum over the remainder of 1039. The Roman armies were able to nearly complete the Limes Alammanicus in this time, moving very fast as they knew the peace would not last long, and by the end of spring 1040 Diocletian called the project done. A patchwork of milecastles, roads, vast swaths of newly barren hillside, and several stretches of solid wall guarding the most vulnerable areas now stretched for hundreds of miles on the border with Boiohaemum.

Though Diocletian’s accession had gone unchallenged among the armies, the Senate was not content. Diocletian was now the third emperor in a row to have taken power without any real input from the aristocracy in Rome, and the Senate - with the support of Marinianus, the other emperor and brother of Saloninus - wished to install their own puppet in Diocletian’s place.

Carus, the father of Carinus, had been a distinguished member of Marinianus’s faction in the Senate, even holding the position of Praetorian Prefect under emperor Probus. Carus, however, had been struck by lightning and replaced with Diocletian shortly before the death of Probus. His son, Carinus, was therefore the preferred candidate of the Senate and Marinianus.

Diocletian believed that to march on Rome immediately like Aurelian had done would be costly and that it would alienate what supporters he did have within the walls. Instead, he planned to glorify himself in war and then turn around and take Rome, hopefully with more support than otherwise,

Because of this, Diocletian took his army north, to a point along the northern frontier of Alamannia where there was a small gap in the hills which guarded the region. It was from here that he would begin his incursion into the north. They went through this valley on 7 June 1040, and followed the river which flowed through it (the Visurgis) downstream, crossing the threshold into enemy territory.

After four days, the Romans encountered an army of Catti. This force was thoroughly unprepared for the immense numbers which Diocletian had brought and was turned back with ease. Two days later, Diocletian came to Castellum Cattorum, a major establishment of the Catti and one of the biggest of the Germanic tribes overall. The fortress was located on the eastern bank of the Adrana river, opposite the Roman armies. Capturing it would give the Roman armies quite the strategic advantage.

Diocletian had his armies cross the river around 10 miles north at the nearest convenient location, from which point they rushed back south under cover of night and set up camp a short march away from the enemy fortress. That morning (that of the Ides of June), Diocletian had his armies lead an assault on the fortress. Though it was not easy, the Roman armies had taken Castellum Cattorum by nightfall and avoided too high of a casualty count. Over the next two weeks, Diocletian would let his armies rest at this fortress, and convert it for potential future use.

In that time, messengers reached Maximian, a distinguished soldier who Diocletian had promoted to a high-ranking position and who was now leading an army stationed at Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium. The two armies coordinated an attack, with Diocletian pushing west and Maximian pushing east into the territory of a confederation of Germanic tribes known as the Franks. They fought a series of battles, ultimately culminating in a major stand on the part of the Franks on the Nones of July, north of the Teutoburg Forest where the Roman armies had been repelled from Germania nearly three centuries before. This battle was a Roman victory, and the hope of Roman domination in Germania that had died with the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest was rekindled.

After another week of dealing with the remnants of the Frankish army, Diocletian turned half of his armies north, leaving the other half with Maximian in Frankish territory. Early in August, Diocletian had reached the Rhine delta. He made short work of the Batavi and Marsacii, and then, turning northeast, fought the Frisii on a tidal island in Flevo Lake. A series of victories saw the Romans all the way to the mouth of the Amisius river by mid-September.

Maximian, meanwhile, had mostly stayed in Frankish territory. By the Ides of August, he had turned his armies northward and defeated the Bructeri before the end of the month. Maximian’s armies and those of Diocletian rendezvoused on the banks of the Amisius river on the Ides of September of 1040.

Diocletian did not dare to go any further into Germania than he had gone, and he certainly did not expect to keep very much of the territory which his armies had marched over. This campaign had begun and ended as a show of strength, and though it was undeniably an impressive one, it was not more. Though he did hope that Rome might one day be able to subjugate everywhere west of the Albis, Diocletian understood that that day had not yet come.

One place which Diocletian did hope to maintain control of was Castellum Cattorum. It would be very useful to have such an outpost, and, though it was nearly a week’s march from Alamannia, Diocletian believed that it could be worth it to keep control of the area.

Now, having finished his wars in Germania for the time being, Diocletian was simply left to march south and hope that his successes would at least partially placate the Senate - and, if they had not, that his armies would be strong enough to take Rome.




When I say "miles" here, I'm talking about Roman miles, to be clear. Castellum Cattorum is modern Kassel, in case anyone was wondering. I'll make another offer to make a full index of toponyms. I might make a map or something soon, too. There will also probably be more on Marinianus, given his importance to ongoing events. As always, any thoughts are welcome!
 
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