Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Flavius Iulius Nepos, Jun 7, 2018.
How will they divide it up
The noticeable temporal jump, without evident notable events in a decade aside the death of Theodoric is apparently a sign of peace for the West like for the East and of apparent stabilization of the Empires as for the Roman-Barbarian realms, which is fine of course.
The Empire got a great victory, so far, now we will see if and would be consolidated and in which direction - pushing towards Numidia, or focusing over Sardinia and Corsica (both cases may not be so easily as Numidia could fall in the hands of Maurs and Berbers and cause if not overextension some logistic strain at least or endemic border wars, and the islands may become haven of Vandalic resistance and pirate raids), but I wonder now which kind of domino effect the war seem to have started... I have a first guess but we'll see.
Western Rome is becoming more and more the China of Europe TTL; Eastern Rome so far is still going OTL more or less so is more a fate suspended to the future.
They are not going to divide the kingdom, at least not with the Eastern Romans.
Marcianus not only need to deal with the Gelimer and his brother but also with the same enemy that threatened the Vandal kingdom so far. The use of diplomacy could help him stabilize the Diocese but like OTL the first years of the reconquered territory are going to be really difficult. Then we will also have to confront with other problems such as local unrest and revolt, the plague, the invasion of new people and more immediately the reaction of the Romano-barbarian kingdoms to this aggression by Rome against the Vandals. Soon we will be able to talk about an empire under siege. There is also the religious aspect that still need to be addressed especially in the east but we shouldn't forget the relation between the Romans and the conquered Arian population. Just because the Vandals have been defeated on the field doesn't mean that they can't cause anymore problem. There are also some positive aspects about this war: the return of the empire to a position of military and political hegemony and the great treasure of the Vandals now in the hands of the Romans.
As I said before the incoming years are going to be pretty eventful and for this reason I think I should start writing longer update.
got some writer block?
Sorry for the lack of any update. To be honest I already know the exact details on the incoming updates, at least until the end of the VI century. Unfortunately it has been a difficult month with the job, university and two flights, so I didn’t have enough time or energy for the timeline. As soon as possible I’m going to resume it. We still have a war to conclude and an empire to restore.
News of the fall of Carthago quickly spread outside Africa. The reactions to it ranged from the astonishment of the close allies of Rome to the envy and worries of its enemies. More concrete actions would however ensue, as new opportunities were now available for everyone with enough ambitions. The Visigothic kingdom would be the first “victim” of such men. But first we have to go back a couple of years.
Here the regent of the kingdom, Agila, was facing for the first time, since the beginning of his reign, serious threats to his rule. His victories in Hispania won him prestige, power and the friendship of Rome and since then his rule over the Goths was based on these key factors. However almost 20 years had passed since Gesalec’s death and the memory of his victories were now more feeble. Prince Alaric and Theodoric were now ready to rule and their supporters were clamouring for the end of the regency. Loyalists of the previous dynasty, distant relatives of the Balti, personal enemies of Agila and members of the Arian church were all rallying behind the two princes, after having being forced into obscurity for almost two decades. King Agila was still strong enough to preserve his power through the use of strength and his personal riches, however the risk of a looming civil war forced him to seek cooperation and compromises. Thus in 530, the king was forced to associate the two Balti to the throne, even though their power was only nominal. Yet the first breach had now been opened. This was not his only concession as he was forced to get rid of Caesarius, his most trusted advisors but also a man despised by the same men who loathed Agila. His loyal service to Agila however didn't failed in earning him back the help of his liege, who was a man always prone to reward skills and diligence: warned by the king about the risk to his life, Caesarius and his family would secretly leave Toletum along with many other Roman members of the royal court. A ship would bring them to safety in Italy, but from now on these men were effectively banished from their own homes. One year later the death of the queen would further weaken Agila position among the Goths, as his ties with the royal family were now lost and so was the influence he could exert on Alaric and Theodoric through their mother.
Back to Africa the war between the Romans and the Vandals was still going on. A serious blow had been inflicted on the Vandals with the loss of Carthago, yet their kingdom was not lost yet. The area west of Carthago was still controlled by Gelimer. His army still represented a threat and with the return of his brother from Sardinia, he had now seriously possibilities of attempting to take back the capital. The Sardinian rebels led by Godas had been defeated by Tzazo, who had left a small garrison inside the city of Calaris before heading back to Africa. While defeated, survivors of the rebel army still roamed on the northern part of island, as Tzazo lacked the time to deal once and for all with them before the beginning of the new season which would have made the sea unsafe. Meanwhile in Carthago the Romans were preparing to march against Gelimer and end the Vandalic kingdom before the end of the year. Thus in September, the Roman army departed from the city, marching against the city of Hippo Dyarrhytus, where the Vandal army was reported to be located. Before reaching the city small skirmishes between Roman and Vandalic units started harassing the emperor’s march, slowing down the army. The Vandals carefully avoided any major engagement with the Romans in an attempt to wear out their morale and numbers while attacking minor enemy detachments or their supply lines. During one day in October, local inhabitants reported to king Gelimer that they saw the Imperial Labarum leaving the main army with many soldiers behind it: a sign that the main army was no longer leaded by the emperor himself and an opportunity for him to attack the two armies separately. Gelimer decided that the opportunity to recover his kingdom had finally arrived, prompting him to march against the Romans. To his dismay he encountered the entire Roman army ready to face him. True was the fact that the emperor was not with the army but that was due to the fact that he was exploring the surrounding area with a small reconnaissance unit. The civilians who reported to Gelimer about the departure of the emperor, probably were not used to the estimation of the dimension on an army and to distinguish a small detachment from a major formation. Or probably those men had been previously bribed by the Romans. Nevertheless Gelimer cursed himself for being so rash before preparing for the unavoidable battle. Even though the initial enthusiasm of the Vandals for the incoming easy victory had completely disappeared, the two armies numbered an equal amount of soldiers and the chances of a Roman success were the same of a Vandal victory. When informed that a battle between his army and that of the Vandal was taking place, Marcianus quickly attempted to reach his soldiers. He had left them during the moment they needed him the most and now the fate of the African expedition was completely outside his control. When he arrived to the field, the battle was over. He was relieved to see that his soldiers had prevailed over the Vandals, thanks to Marcianus Valens leadership. His cousin once again proved to be a precious resource in the hands of the emperor as he not only was always able to accomplish his duties but even exceeded them: tales about how he distinguished himself in battle, personally leading his soldiers in the midst of the battle and never refraining from taking personal risk, were in the mouth of every single soldier who personally witnessed Valens deeds during that day. Other emperors would have seen such men as a possible threat for themselves but not this emperor: Iulius Marcianus valued skills above everything else and deeply trusted his cousin. What followed after the battle would be a proof of this: the emperor assigned to Marcianus Valens most of the lands that personally belonged to Gelimer ( even though the king was still alive). Finally he appointed Marcianus Valens Caesar of the Western Roman Empire and so his designated successors as Augustus of the empire, as he felt that in case of his sudden death, his young son Theodosius would not be completely ready yet for an empire which was still trying to recover from the disasters of the previous century. And, even though he couldn’t know it, an empire that would soon face other disasters.
The battle of Hippo Dyarrhytus left the Vandals crippled and unable to oppose much resistance. However even before the battle the Vandals couldn’t do much against the vultures waiting for their definitive collapse. With the news of the fall of Carthago reaching Hispania, the Gothic army began their unopposed march against their weakened neighbour. The motivation behind this aggression was the need for Agila to strengthen his power with a new victory while at the same time securing the border of his kingdom.
Back to Africa the Roman army was trying to destroy once and for all Gelimer’s army. The king deprived of his kingdom, was now left wandering in the area between Dyarrhytus and Hippo Regius haunted by the Roman army. As the months passed desertions would start to afflict his army, with many warriors returning to their homes or joining the victors. During one of these episodes, 400 cavalrymen would free the deposed king Hilderic before deserting Gelimer’s cause.
Meanwhile the Roman emperor Marcianus was gradually moving his focus from the annihilation of the Vandals to the reorganisation of the reconquered territory. With many cities conquered and others willing to disown their oath of loyalty to the previous rulers, the only form of control that the Vandals could exert on the territory, now that they couldn’t afford to garrison them any longer, Roman control now extended along the coast of the two Provinces of Byzacena and Africa Proconsularis, with a stronger presence around Carthago which gradually faded when moving toward the interior of Africa. Here the Romans restored much of the previous organisation: a proconsul would be put in charge of Carthago while a consul would be responsible for the region around Hadrumentum/Marcianopolis. At the head of the administration of the entire Diocese of Africa there would be a Praefectus Praetorio instead of a Vicarius, a temporary but necessary measure given the amount of reorganisation required by the new administration and the degree of autonomy and immediacy it would need in order to be effective, something that the distant Praefectus Praetorio of Italia couldn’t effectively provide. Petrus Marcellinus Felix Liberius, a man who already distinguished himself at the service of the imperial administration, would be honoured with an office of such importance. However the new army required for the defence of Africa would have its own leader, a Magister Militum. Emperor Marcianus would entrust this military office to Flavius Belisarius, who would further increase his prestige and influence at the imperial court by marrying the emperor’s daughter Iulia Galla during the following year, thus earning him the rank of Patricius.
During the first months of the new year, the situation for the Vandal army became critical, as starvation would start causing its victims. Unable to save his kingdom, Gelimer would finally surrender to the Romans in February. With his surrender, what was left of his army finally scattered and the men returned to their families. Meanwhile the emperor decided to spare the lives of Gelimer and his family and to send them back to Carthago where they would be carefully watched until the moment the emperor would be ready to decide about their fate. Despite some protest, even Huneric would be subjected to the same treatment, despite the fact that he was an ally of Rome.
Even thought the pacification of Africa was far from being achieved, the Romans would soon find new problems to deal with. News reached them that the Goths were able to successfully occupy the Baleares and the cities of Septem and Tingis which represented the gates of Africa. Despite the friendship between the Romans and Agila, Marcianus couldn’t tolerate these conquest. Way before Gelimer’s surrender, Roman envoys had already been sent to Toletum, demanding the immediate retreat of the Goths. King Agila couldn’t afford to cause hostilities between his kingdom and the empire thus he nominally consented to these demands. However we would also send his young son Athalaric to Carthago in order to further discuss the matter with the emperor: appealing to the long friendship between the two rulers and keeping in mind the difficult internal situation of the king of the Goths, Agila hoped to secure for himself some gains and prestige from the recent conflict. The young prince would only reach the Romans at the end of the conflict, when both the Romans and the Vandal prisoners were returning to Carthago. Here Athalaric would be allowed to bring his petition to the emperor himself, who in turn would be positively impressed by the young boy. Nonetheless the imperial court at Carthago would wait several days before finally taking a decision: Agila would be allowed to retain the islands but would have to surrender his conquest in Africa. With the decision finally taken, the prince was be sent back to Hispania along with a small contingent of Roman soldiers, with the aim of taking direct control of Tingis and Septem. At the head of the small expedition there was Procopius, a man belonging to Belisarius’s personal retinue, for the occasion appointed Dux Mauretania. Upon reaching Septem with a fleet, several weeks later, the Romans were allowed by the local garrison to enter the city and take control of it only to discover what the Goths themselves had discovered a couple of days before: king Agila had been assassinated.
...king Agila had been assassinated.
My same thought.
One has to suspect that Agila sent his son to the emperor hoping to get him out of harms way, not just to negotiate. Also, given the good impression he made, i can see Athalaric getting folded into the imperial administration. I would also do the same for Huneric, at least as to keep up the pretense that they were assisting their ally rather than outright (re)conquering Africa.
Unfortunately no one is in position to avenge Agila, as invading hispania anytime soon would just spread the west way too thin, though i wouldn't be surprised if WRE got the Balearics due to their loyalties lying with Agila and subsequent his son. So over all, Rome still wins and the Mediterranean is almost a roman lake again
Well, skirmishes in Africa and in the Mediterranean are in the way most likely.
Belisarius as usual felt on his feet, and the African Magister is surely a great prize for him after his previous misadventures. Also marrying in the Imperial family... How much before he would aim for more?
Marcianus did a logical choice in declaring Valens Caesar, but it may cause later a rift between him and his son... let's see how it goes for the future. But is surely interesting to see how the adoption (well technically it wasn't, but the move was all but in name an adoption) wasn't totally abandoned as succession method... and would reallow the Western Senate to regain a certain authority on the matter.
But is also true the Empire is regaining lands and a Caesar is starting to be necessary for a coadiuvated effort...
And it’s not over yet, but first we have to go back to other regions of the empire.
Asking for military support would probably have made him look a puppet of Rome. However you can expect Rome to recognize Athalaric as the rightful king of the Goths. Unfortunately as you said, no one is in position to avenge Agila now, especially since the Romans still have to deal with problems in Africa, Sardinia and with a surprise coming in the next updates. Overall I don’t think Rome can consider this a victory as they effectively lost a precious and powerful ally which means they need to change their diplomatic relationship with the western kingdoms bordering with the Goths.
In OTL war in Africa lasted well beyond the official end of the Vandalic war in 534, so you should expect something similar here and in Sardinia (nothing really serious here, but I just want to make things a little more interesting).
Having Belisarius as commander of the African army and seeing him fighting against both the Berbers and the internal resistance against Rome will certainly be interesting. Maybe he could exploit his military success in order to pave the way for one of his son or nephew.
Marcianus Valens was a last minute addition to the story but now I would really like to see him and his branch of the imperial family leave a lasting mark on the empire. The possible conflict between Theodosius and Valens (or one of his son) will be the subject of a future update.
I like to see Valens as the “Constantius III” of the VI century. Let’s see if he can be more successful.
The years that follow the reconquest of Africa represent a period of changes for the entire Mediterranean world. The following chapter represent the first part of an overview of the Roman world and its surrounding area from the Pillars of Hercules to the New Rome on the Bosphorus.
During the last months of the conflict between Rome and the Vandals, tension between opposing factions brought unrest to the Visigothic kingdom. Despite the difficult situation for king Agila, no one would have expected the incoming escalation of events. It was a normal day of routine at the royal palace and king Agila was discussing with Alaric about the administration of the kingdom. The discussion was particularly heated since the two men saw each other as rival, both pursuing different goals. It was not the first time Agila had to deal with his young colleague and his arrogance but on this particular occasion things further degenerated. Alaric openly accused the illegitimacy of Agila’s power and the usurpation he had perpetrated for almost 20 years. Agila didn’t expect such a direct attack but even worse than Alaric’s attack against him was the sudden interruption of the "debate" by a group of royal guards, sent there to arrest him. Sensing his end approaching, king Agila rushed against the mind behind this plot in a desperate attempt to bring his rival down with him. Unfortunately he was killed by the soldiers before having the chance to take his revenge on Alaric.
The Gothic kingdom immediately fell victim of civil war between the supporters of the two opposing families but it was clear to everyone that the Balti had the advantage. During the last years, king Agila had lost many important and trusted supporters like Caesarius and his wife Amalafrida, while his son was far and unable to now lead his loyalist against Alaric III thus weaking his cause. The news that Agila was going to surrender Tingi and Septem also further weakened his position. Quickly and ruthlessly Alaric eliminated those who still opposed him, effectively purging the army. The Gothic soldiers stationed on the Balearic islands, after being generously bought by the new king, promptly eliminated those who still supported Agila while in Africa the Goths remained loyal to his son Athalaric. On the mainland Alaric crushed any threat to his power, denying his brother Theodoric the joint rule of the kingdom and moving with his army against the outpost loyal to his half-brother: Agilapolis and the cities of southern Hispania, which still remembered the sack of Carthago Nova by Alaric’s father, Gesalec. These cities would send a desperate request to Athalaric asking him to come to their help and reconquer the kingdom, but with his limited resources and with his main ally still dealing with the pacification of Africa, there was no hope to successfully invade Hispania. Thus by the end of the year most of the cities of region had been reconquered and punished allowing Alaric to move against the rebels in Agilapolis supported by the Suebi. The overthrow of king Agila, one of the worst political disaster for emperor Marcianus, would represent one of the most important event of the VI century, with unpredictable consequences that would, both directly and indirectly, influence the destiny of great men and the the people of Hispania during the second half of the century.
With the official end of the war in Africa most of the troops mustered from all over the empire could finally return home. Eastern roman soldiers were the first to leave Africa, quickly recalled by emperor Hypatius in order to deal with new problems on the frontier. Of a contingent of 7000 men, only 2000 soldiers would remain with Belisarius in Africa, mostly because these soldiers were directly employed and payed by the general and not by the emperor. Different was the situation of the soldiers who came from Italia and Illyricum. Many would return to their homes during that same year, as new threats emerged from the north, but the military needs of the new Diocese required the attention of its new Magister Militum and the creation of an army from what was left on the region of the Roman expedition and the Vandal population. The threats to the new conquest were serious: all over around the limited coastal territory controlled by the Romans were numerous Berber tribes who had fought against the Vandals and were now ready to fight for or against the empire. Additionally unrest would further trouble the Diocese as the Vandal population was far from being totally annihilate or assimilate by the Romans. Of 11000 western roman soldiers, 6000 would return back to Europe before the end of the year, with an additional amount of 1000 soldiers sent with Procopius to Septem and other 500 to the island of Sardinia. Thus Belisarius was effectively left with 3500 soldiers, including a regiment from the Scholae, and his own personal retinue. Barely enough to protect Carthago and its surrounding.
The situation was critical and required a quick response from both the military and civilian authority: Magister Militum Flavius Belisarius and the Praefectus Praetorio Petrus Marcellinus Felix Liberius would work tirelessly in order to improve the defense and the stability of the Diocese. Thanks to the treasure of Vandals, which had not entirely moved to Rome where it would be exposed to the people of Rome during the celebrations for the emperor’s triumphal procession, the Romans didn’t lack the resources necessary for the creation of a new administration and could even afford to grant temporary tax exemptions to the cities which suffered the most during the war: the population of Hippo Dyarrhytus and Hippo Reggius, whose territory had been devastated by the Vandals, and the city of Utica, which had generously resupplied the Roman army during its march, were among the many beneficiaries of this policy of tax leniency. Everyone else was required to resume their fiscal obligations at the beginning of the first year (535) since the return of peace.
Another important measure concerned the Vandal population and their lands. Here the Romans adopted a policy of compromise between the native Roman population and the Vandals: Vandal landowners would be allowed to retain a third of their lands in exchange for military service in the new African army and an additional third of the land could be retained through the payment of a special tax which amounted to the value of this third of the land and had to be payed within 5 years. Additionally the Vandal landowners would now be officially considered “Beneficiarii”, thus not completely owning their lands as the imperial government reserved the right to interfere with the management of their plots and, under special circumstances, reassign them. They also enjoyed the same privileges and duties of their colleagues in Italia with the exception of the supply for the Military Annona, which was replaced by direct military service, with the soldiers now required to provide for their own sustenance. Slightly different was the situation for vandal women (sisters and widows of fallen Vandal warriors), who were allowed to retain even the last third of their lands if they married Roman citizens, a requirements that the imperial government didn’t need to further encourage as Roman soldiers and veterans already started marrying vandals women before this measure, thus acquiring control over their wealths in exchange for the legal and economic protection the Romans could now offer to their new wives under the new administration. Like the vandal men, the Romans and their families would inherit the same legal condition and the same duties. The lands confiscated and the income from the special tax would be redistributed among the descendants of the Roman landowners who lost all or part of their lands almost a century earlier. A special commission would soon be created by Liberius in order to find the rightful heirs.
On the diplomatic field Flavius Belisarius sought to establish friendly relations with most of the neighbouring tribes: honorary titles were generously granted by the Romans to the Berber leaders who were thus partially integrated, along with their controlled territories, in the administrative network of the Diocese. Some of them even received proper military title in exchange for military service, most of the time as garrisons, thus partially freeing the Roman army for the burden of garrisoning their border cities. Obviously this meant that the Romans had now to pay a tribute to these leaders and their soldiers, but this “humiliating" situation was partially mitigated by the fact that these tributes could be officially represented as normal payment that the central authority provided to its subordinate military officers, even though these “Roman officers” enjoyed a degree of autonomy equaled only by barbarian kings who beared a roman title. By the beginning of 535 AD the military situation of the Romans in Africa had definitely improved and Belisarius, with his reinforced army, was now ready to face the first phase of the new imminent conflict.
Next time: Italia and Illyricum!
Can we get a map of the new Roman world please? I really like your Vandal policy. Even Justinian treated them like a foreign power being subdued instead of going Vadanlia delenda est! He made the Vandal king bow before him in Belisarius’ triumph. Do you see a Western thematic system having the potential to emerge so the empire can pay for its armies? The West has a metal shortage and had to inflate its currency to pay troops. Constans II in the East did this as the empire lost 2/3 of its revenue in the Arab invasions. It allowed the empire to survive and keep its expensive army intact for the next 800 years. Is there any way for the a West and East to be reunited under one ruler? Justinian in otl saw himself as the next Constantine ruling over the whole empire. So how will this affect the relationship between East and West? In otl Justinian never had any children, but in this to if he had a daughter she could be married to the Julius’ son. Justinian gets prestige and loses some of the stigma of his peasant origins and the empire is on a period of unification under a new Theodosius the Great.
So, Roman Africa seems destined to expand soon. Belisarius having a private army is a bit concerning, but is not he may attempt to expand out of Africa... unless being called in Europe soon?
I am curious to see how much time the Vandals will require before being assimilated.
And well, new tensions between Visigothic Hispania, Rome and the Suebs seem coming soon.
Every general had a private army back then,it would be surprising if a general didn’t.A force of 2,000 isn’t a cause for concern,I would however if he had 10,000 directly employed by himself.
Very true. Plus this is Belisarius. Of all Roman generals he is probably the most trustworthy with that kind of power. It would be best though if the Empire found a way to tie the army to the state more firmly rather than the generals.
Granted, is still the first private army since the Imperial restoration. Is not a good precedent no matter the loyalties of Belisarius to Marcianus are.
I don’t think it is.Every aristocrat would have armies at their own disposal,especially in the west where the Imperial government’s weak.It’s a major reason as to why emperors(unlike earlier ones) didn’t just proscribe the aristocrats and take over their wealth despite the government bankruptcy.
Well then this is a point I am curious to discuss further, it intrigues me because it implies feudalization in the WRE.
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