From Exile to Triumph: a Western Roman Timeline

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Flavius Iulius Nepos, Jun 7, 2018.

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  1. Threadmarks: Chapter I: Introduction

    Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    Hi everybody, and welcome to my new timeline “From exile to triumph”, a story based on the roman emperor Julius Nepos and how he was able to reverte the destiny of his empire. Feel free to post any comment, suggestion or idea and please forgive me for any error you will find in the story or in the grammar.

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    Chapter I

    In the year 480 the emperor of the West, Flavius Julius Nepos, was preparing an expedition to take back his rightful position as sole ruler of Italy and the empire. This wasn’t the first time the Dalmatian army crossed the sea in order to restore the imperial authority in Italy. Six years ago that army was sent to Italy to depose the puppet emperor Glycerius and impose the rule of Nepos, elevated to the purple by his colleague in the East Leo, and that same army threatened many time in the past various usurpers in Italy, while serving under Marcellinus, Nepos’ uncle. It was now his duty to once again save the roman people from tyranny and abuses. During his previous reign in Italy, Nepos committed one fatal error: to trust and appoint as Magister Militum Flavius Orestes, who quickly overthrew the emperor before being killed by a germanic commander serving under the roman army, Odoacer. Despite officially recognizing Nepos as emperor in Italy, Odoacer still refused to let him return to Rome. This situation could no longer be tollerated. During the previous year Nepos made all the preparations necessary for the incoming war, this included the summoning of his army and that of the few allies he could count on. These included 3000 men and money from the Eastern emperor Zeno, who couldn’t provide more soldier due to the recent civil war against Flavius Marcianus (Procopius Anthemius' son) and to the actual war against Theodoricus Strabo. Most of these men were ostrogoths themselves, renowned cavalrymen willing to fight for anyone able to pay them, in this case emperor Zeno. In addition to this men, Nepos also contacted his previous Magister Militum Ecdicius Avitus, Emperor Avitus’ son, a wealthy man and hero of Augustonemetum, and entrusted him with the task to gather reinforces and negotiate with local Barbarian chieftains and Kings. By the beginning of the spring of the next year the emperor was able to muster an army of almost 15000 soldier (including the troops sent by Zeno), among which there were 4000 men able to fight on horse. Most of these men were either Illyrians or barbarian foedereti of Hunnic origin. Meanwhile Ecdicius was able to negotiate deals with some of the most important Kings that were ruling at the time in Gaul: king Euricus of the Visigoths and King Chilpericus II of the Burgundians. It was not the first time Nepos resorted to negotiate with Euricus, the first time in 475 when he negotiated the return of Arelate in exchange for Augustonemetum and the Alvernian region. After the deposition of Nepos, Euricus considered the treaty void and occupied the Gallic city, however thanks to the mediation of the gallic bishop Sidonius Apollinaris, Ecdicius’ brother in law, Euricus showed interested in restoring his ties with Nepos. He didn’t like Odoacer and he feared such an enterpresing king ruling over Italy, so he decided to support militarily Ecdicius, in exchange for recognition of his rule over Arelate and the official end of the "foederati" status for him and his people, a move that would gain him much prestige. Meanwhile Chilpericus II king, along with his three brothers, of the Burgundans, proved willing to help Ecdicius thanks to the fact that in the past he helped the Burgundians during a famine. He was also eager to emerge over his three brothers, and an alliance with the empire seemed the perfect occasion for him to do so. Even the roman general Syagrius, despite the distance, tried to help the emperor with a few hundred men. The reason for this small help was that both Nepos’ uncle and Syagrius’ father served as fellow commanders under emperor Majorian, thus Nepos was able to win the support of the Magister Militum Per Gallias. The last attempt to restore the rule of Rome in the west was about to begin.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2018
  2. Threadmarks: Chapter II: Back to Italy

    Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    Chapter II

    By the end of April the roman army was finally ready to cross the Adriatic sea, when it met the first obstacle: a conspiracy. Many officers inside the army opposed a new expedition against the barbarian King, among them there were two Comes, Viator and Ovida. Under torture the two Comes were forced to reveal the names of eveyone involved in the plot and unsurprisingly one of them was the bishop of Salona, the deposed emperor Glycerius. In addition to personal reasons, Glycerius was forced to admit the involvement of the king of Italy in the attempted assassination, as he knew about the incoming war and promised Glycerius the restoration of his rule in exchange for the death of Nepos. Fortunately for this one, the plotters were not able to keep the secret for long and were finally discovered by one of Nepos’ officer: Constantianus. The punishment was harsh, most of the traitos were execute while Glycerius, a man of the church, was exiled to the small island of Augusta (modern day Lastovo). Constantianus was promoted, for his services, as the new commander of the Dalmatian army. Finally on the first day of May, the emperor was able to cross the sea towards Italy. It took almost 3 Days for the fleet to reach the Italian shore and the city of Ancona before coasting the entire Picene region, moving north to Ravenna. They reached the city the next day where the Army was finally able to land, while the small urban garrison, after a generous remuneration, delivered the city back to the Empire. Here Nepos was once again, as 6 years ago, greeted as Augustus by the local population. Meanwhile news reached him about the location of Odoacer, who was gathering the army that elected him King, in Mediolanum. After his attempt to avoid the war through assassination failed, he was now forced to resort to war. Yet there was no sign of Ecdicius and his forces crossing the Alps and moving to reach the main army, causing lot of concerns in Nepos. After almost one week of waiting it was decided to march with the army outside Ravenna, in order to meet the reinforces and face together the usurper. They were able to reach Placentia after 8 days of march before meeting the barbarian army but still there was no sign of Ecdicius. The roman army under Nepos amounted to 15000 men while the army under Odoacer amounted to 18000, with more soldiers expected to join him as time passed. The vanguards of the two armies clashed the first time outside Placentia and despite being a minor confrontation, without many consequences, the first victory went to Odoacer. Thus Nepos decided it was better to avoid any further confrontations and await the reinforces inside the fortified city. While the nearby river Padus could be used as a way to supply the city and its army, it was just a matter of time before the romans would have to surrender to the besieging barbarians. Now only the arrival of his allies could save the Nepos and the empire from Odoacer’s desire of his head.

    Rappresentazioni estratte dal modello digitale della Placentia Romana ©Renato Passerini.jpg

    Roman Placentia
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2018
  3. Threadmarks: Chapter III: The siege of Placentia and the battle of Dertona

    Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    Chapter III

    The days passed as the roman army and his emperor were under siege. Nepos knew that sooner or later his army would abandon him unless he was able to break the siege. His only option was a pitched battle outside the city of Placentia, the same city were the usurper Flavius Orestes lost his life. As the days passed, the emperor was more and more resoluted to face Odoacer’s army, before the end of the supplies and the subsequent starvation could start to weaken his men,as Constantianus warned him. Then finally Nepos was able to receive news about Ecdicius and his allies. The newly appointed Magister Militum finally crossed the Alps with the intention of reaching his emperor. With him there were 3000 visigoths and almost 2000 Burgundians to which he could add a contingent of 1000 romans, mostly Bucellari (a personal army usually recruited by wealthy landowners to protect them and their lands from the bandits, barbarians and sometimes even the state) awhile the others, some hundreds regular soldiers, were provided by his colleague in the north Syagrius. The reinforces first reached the city of Segusio, then Augusta Taurinium before taking by surprise a small contingent of 3000 Scirii, who were marching to the east to join with the main army. This battle, that resulted in the capture and rout of the entire contingent, was the first victory for the romans, since the war started. After leaving behind one hundred men in the city, guarding the prisoners, Ecdicius, finally knowing through the interrogation of the prisoners the exact position of Odoacer and the critical situation of his emperor, decided to quickly move to Placentia. The news of the battle of Taurinium reached Nepos some days later, who finally decided to avoid any sortie and await for the incoming reinforces. That same day Odoacer received the news about the defeat of the Scirian reinforces and the threat coming from the west. The only way now for him to avoid that the romans could join their forces was to quickly destroy either Nepos or Ecdicius before it was too late. Therefore he order his army to assault the wall of the city, just to be repulsed by the defenders who could count on strong walls and the protection of the Padus on one side. A second assault the next day was equally driven back by the romans with heavy casualties on both sides. Without the possibility to capture Placentia before the arrival of Ecdicius, Odoacer decided it was better to focus on the smaller contigent, thus ordering his army to leave the siege and preparing for the march. Nepos knew he couldn’t stay idle while Odoacer was moving against Ecdicius, so he decided to leave the fortified city, in order to join his forces with those led by his Magister Militum. Carefully following Odoacer’s army while avoiding any possible clash, the three forces met each other three days later at Iulia Dertona, the city where the roman emperor Majorian was deposed and executed. Odoacer had failed in his attempt to quickly meet the enemy reinforces and destroy them before the arrival of Nepos. Now the romans, in addition to their recent, success could also count on a numerical superiority, albeit not abysmal. The ensuing battle showed the deep determination of both sides to win that day and the entire war, knowing the fate that would attend the defeated, given that the winner would not probably be so merciful. The battle was decided when Tufa, leader of the left flank mostly composed by the heavy infantry of the Heruli, while trying to reach the emperor who was leading his right flank, was killed by an ostrogothic knight, provoking the rout of the Heruli, and leaving the other tribes fighting alone against the imperial army. What was left of the barbarian army, quickly tried to escape the capture or even worse the massacre that would follow after the battle, while Odoacer himself, after trying to reorganize his army, decided flee from Nepos with as many men he could find ready to follow him. Victory belonged to Nepos, who now had to deal with what was left of the enemy, before stabilizing his rule over Italy.
     
  4. ar-pharazon Banned

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    I was just reading about Julian Nepos on Wikipedia-interesting coincidence.

    Now I see a timeline on arguably the past western emperor.

    I'm interested to see where this timeline goes.
     
  5. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    Well don't expect him to reconquer the entire empire in a single generation (maybe you shouldn't expect a complete restoration of the entire west at all).
    Anyway do you have any comments or suggestions for this timeline?
     
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  6. ar-pharazon Banned

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    I'm not expecting a full reconquest-I am curious where you take it though.
     
  7. alcibiades Well-Known Member

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    Subbed, eager to see where you go from here. It reminds me of Justinian II, I hope Nepos behaves better....
     
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  8. Atamolos Pontifex, princeps, and augustus

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    Excellent TL! Hopefully Nepos can reclaim Italy and Africa. With that, the WRE might just last another few centuries

    EDIT: The biggest threat to a WRE in Italy in the long-term is probably the Lombards, as they were the last major group to migrate during this period, and they gave the Byzantines a headache when they reconquered Italy from Justinian's reclamation
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2018
  9. ar-pharazon Banned

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    That would be an interesting direction-not a full or even mostly restored WRE-just Italy and maybe North Africa. Maybe Sardinia and Corsica too in the next generation.

    A rump west holding on for another few hundred years.
     
  10. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    I'm glad you're following this. The WRE can't affort a "Justinian II", not now, but maybe in the future the west will be able to afford the luxury of having someone as mad and paranoid as him.
    Thanks! Hope to not disappoint your expectations, but don't expect miracles from him, after all he is only a men and he will have a long way ahead.
    I don't know for how long I will continue with this timeline,but I already have some ideas about the direction it will follow. I hope to be realistic but most of all that people like it.
     
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  11. Threadmarks: Chapter IV: First moves of the emperor

    Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    Chapter IV

    With the rout of the Foederati, now Nepos was finally ready to march on Rome. Before departing he ordered Ecdicius to send back the Visigoths and the Burgundians, before they could cause any damage to the local population, while the rest of the army was tasked with the chasing of the small groups of barbarian who were trying to escape outside the imperial reach. Odoacer had to be captured alive and punished for his crime. He also ordered the realization of a monument in the city of Dertona, celebrating his recent victory, while at the same time presenting himself as Majorian’s heir and continuator of his project of restoration. While marching south with a small force, that would be used for his Adventus in the capital (the Triumphal entry usually reserved for the emperor), Nepos decided to send ahead a small force of cavalry in order to quell any possible disorder while moving quickly to take control of Sicily, before the Vandals could react to the recent events. The island, lost to the Vandals, had been recovered by Odoacer thanks to diplomacy, shortly before the death of King Genseric. Since then Sicily (with the exception of the city of Lilybaeum) had been part of Italy and Nepos had no intention to lose again the island, the same island where his uncle Marcellinus died while fighting king Genseric. During the march on the “Via Aurelia” the emperor was reached by the news that his wife died at Salona, shortly after the departure of the army. This shocking news meant thal all the ties he had with his previous colleague Leo I, and the actual emperor Zeno, were now no more. Sooner or later Nepos knew that he would have to address the problem of his legitimation in front of the eastern court and in front of the italic aristocracy. This and the problem of his succession. But now all his thoughts were focused on his moment of glory, because he succeeded where few before him had succeeded: conquering the throne for a second time. And his prize was Rome, the cradle of the empire. It was not the first time the emperor saw the city, yet as the first time he visited it, he was both amazed and sad to see its conditions. The glorious capital, that centuries of history contributed to enrich, still showed the wounds of the two sacks and the devastating battle that happened 8 years ago between Ricimer and Anthemius. Nevertheless the city was still the most populated settlement in the west, and Nepos promised to himself that he would equally restore both the glory of the empire and the glory of the city of Rome. His first step would be the establishment of his official residence and the imperial court in the city, without obviously excluding the necessity to occasionaly move his court in other cities of the peninsula. Upon entering the capital, the emperor was greeted by the crowd before reaching the political heart of the capital, the Curia Iulia. Here in front of the senators and the Praefectus Urbis he delivered a speech about his intentions to cooperate fruitfully with this prestigious and venerable institution while avoiding the use of delations as a weapon against it. He also confirmed Quintus Aurelius Memmius Symmachus as Praefectus Urbis and Caecina Decius Maximus Basilius as consul before announcing his consulate for the following year. Soon he would also provide the names of the men called to serve in the imperial court and administration. Finally at the end of speech, he proclaimed 4 days of games in the Circus Maximus and banquets to celebrate his recent victory. In the following days, while reorganizing the empire, he announced the name of the woman that was called to serve as the new empress of the West…
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2018
  12. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

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    In such this situation, it makes sense moving the capital to Rome - aside from legitimacy and prestige, is in a better position to control an Italian based WRE.

    But it would suffice to hold both the Vandals and the Lombards in the middle term?
     
  13. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    Well the lombards won't be a problem for now, however in the future we will have to deal with them in a way or another ( but that is something very far in the future considering we are still in the first year of the timeline) and I think I already know how. The vandals are still dangerous, but Genseric is now dead. This should give Nepos time to reorganize considering that the vandal kings were not as good as the first one, most of the time they were prone to obey to a major power like the ostrogoths OTL. Expect a small mention of them in the next chapter.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
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  14. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

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    Hopefully the Empire would be ready by then. I guess Nepos as opening diplomatic move towards Constantinople would be the restitution of the Western Roman Imperial insigna previously sent by Odoacer. We'll see how the West-East interaction will proceed now.

    But right now I am wondering what would be the relation of Nepos with the Patriarchate of Rome hence with Pope Simplicius. Considering Nepos made Glycerius bishop of Salona, I am guessing he could eventually interfere in the matters of the Patriarchate - which also incidentally has autority all over the former Western Roman Imperial territories. I mean I wonder how the relation of strenght and balance between Papacy and Empire could develop ITTL, considering also the Tiber didn't even separate them or at least not yet!

    Simplicius had some advantages - the legacy of Leo I from Chalcedonia to Attila was still strong, and he was himself rather capable OTL in dealing with Zeno and restoring orthodoxy in the East and balance between the patriarchates. But Zeno had also to deal with four patriarchs and Nepos only with one but pratically on par with him, as whatever territory the WRE will recover from now it would fall automatically under the jurisdiction of Rome on a religious matter.

    Still Rome being both Imperial and Religious center could accelerate her recovery but also increase again the threats on her.
     
  15. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    Totally forgot about it. However, fortunately for Nepos, he is recognized by his counterpart in the east, so it shouldn't be hard to see the restitution of the insigna. Maybe I will mention this episode in the next chapter.
    Unfortunately the religious aspect won't be the strength of this timeline, however I recognize the importance of Christianity and the fight between Chalcedonians and the various Christological doctrines in this period.For this reason I'm open to any suggestion. My intention is to develop the relation between the Patriarch and the Emperor of the West in a similar way to what happened in the East, especially after the loss of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, with a less hierarchical church and more autonomous bishops. Slowly we will see how the timeline can develop.



    It will be my duty to avoid the total decline of the capital and to preserve her Imperial aspect.

    Anyway I would like to ask if everything is ok with my timeline? Especially the length of the updates? Because I know I'm proceeding really slowly.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
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  16. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    I wonder if Syagrius' realm would last longer ITTL.
     
  17. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    Don't worry, Syagrius will not disappear from history without a mention. I have some projects for him.
     
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  18. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

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    Starting from the last point, for now is all fine, don't worry! About the length and the timing don't worry, just take your time.

    If else, I was wondering what would or could happen to Romolus Augustus. In theory he should be captive in Campania...

    While I understand the main focus of the TL is not religious, at least the fundamentals should be kept. The West minus Italy is now ruled by Arian lead barbarian kingdoms, while in the East Monophysism is starting to be an issue which Zenon will attempt to deal (badly causing frictions with Rome). At least in very early Middle Ages those two would be the main religious shifts to keep in account.

    The point is, as Rome staunchly OTL stood on Chalcedonian positions (which Constantinople swinged and so successive EREmperors), does future WREmperors support the Patriarchs of Rome? I think so because in the West the debate would be between Arians and Western Chalcedonians and because the former is the belief of the barbarians, the Emperors would have the right to be the defenders of the rightful Church.

    However, this would mean the risk of tensions with Constantinople against pro-monophysist Emperors, because Rome would chastise them and the WREmperors likely will do the same to not antagonize the Patriarchate.
     
  19. Threadmarks: Chapter V: Last days of a King

    Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    Chapter V

    Julius Nepos was still celebrating his recent victory over the usurper, when he finally announced the choice of his second wife: Alypia. This noble and young girl (at the time she was only 20 years old, while Nepos was almost 50 years old) not only was Ricimer’s wife (until the death of the Magister Militum), but also Anthemius’ daughter and Marcianus’ granddaughter. In addition she could claim to be related with the last members of the Theodosian-Valentinianid dynasty, that ruled over the empire until the reign of Valentinianus III and Theodosius II, through her adoptive grandmother Pulcheria. Surely such a noble and beatiful wife represented a powerful tool for Nepos, now more than ever in need of legitimation. But while Nepos was busy with the preparatives for the wedding, another occasion for celebrations that would have been really welcome by the people of Rome, news constantly reached him about the world around him. In the north Ecdicius was able to capture a considerable number of fugitives and the first reports indicated that the prisoner amounted to 5000 men (almost one third of the original army) while the casualties amounted to 8000 men. Some groups of fugitives were lucky enough to disappear before they could be punished. At the same time the romans and their alllies suffered fewer loss: almost 4000 men of the original army of 20000 men. Both sides suffered the heaviest casualties at Dertona. Maybe the prize was worth this bloodbath. Last but not least among the prisoners there was Odoacer himself: the so called “Rex Italiae” was finally caught alive, while we was trying to enter the city of Mediolanum. The city refused to open the gate, leaving him at the mercy of the men tasked with his capture. With his reign now over, Odoacer would soon reach Nepos at Rome, where he was expected to be exposed to the people of Rome before being strangled. This was not the last act of vengeance by Nepos. In order to avenge his father in law and his wife’s family (most of whom were now in Italy with the exception of Marcianus junior, who was a prisoner of the Isaurian Ilius) the emperor ordered the revocation of all the titles held by the assassin: King Gundobad of the burgundians. A simbolical act accompanied by the elevation of his brother Chilpericus II to the rank of patricius, further enhancing his position among his roman subjects while also appearing somewhat superior to his three brothers: Gundobad, Gundomar and Godegisel. Along with king Euricus he also received a small gift by the emperor in the form of some hundreds of prisoners of the battle of Taurinium. In the meantime southern Italy was also a source of really interesting events: while moving south with his cavalry, Constantianus discovered a small force of barbarians led by the Comes Domesticorum Pierius, that were trying to start a new rebellion in the south, with the help of local romans, by liberating the deposed emperor Romulus. Unfortunately for them, Constantianus had no intention to prolong a war that was already over and defeated the small contingent before resuming his march to Sicily. After hearing this, Julius Nepos ordered the death of Pierius while allowing Romulus to continue his life in exile. He also allowed the young boy to receive visits from his mother and his friends, something that could alleviate the pain of his exile, while showing everyone the mercy of the emperor toward an innocent boy. Nevertheless he also ordered to reinforce the guard around Castellum Lucullanum as he could not afford a new civil war. Nepos had no intention to be deposed a second time and the experience accumulated during his first reign would help him very well.
     
  20. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    just replied to you. One minor spoiler: this won't be his last mention.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
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