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. Tarabas Well-Known Member

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    Well, bucellarii were already a thing at the time of the POD, so there should be still plenty of them. Maybe ITTL to a lesser extent than OTL due to Nepos' and Marcianus' successes. By the way, Wikipedia reports that in OTL Gothic wars Belisarius' personal retinue amounted to 7000, so he is can be a potential threat ITTL should anything bad happen.
     
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  2. Vuu Resident Serb expert Banned

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    Maybe the tribute paid to the Berbers eventually transforms into a salary kind of thing, the Berbers becoming a paid standing army
     
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  3. Basileus_Komnenos Well-Known Member

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    It wasn’t feudalization. It’s more like a household guard. Many wealthy nobles had their own sort of private guard since there wasn’t really a sort of modern police force like ours. During the reign of Justinian Belisarius had his own set of 7000 soldiers called the Bucellari. They were basically very elite soldiers that accompanied a generals on campaign. They were very well armed and equipped. Even Heraclius used these units as well.
    Here’s how they looked like
    upload_2019-1-12_9-3-39.jpeg
     
  4. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

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    Fine, but it won't lead to encastellation of rural properties as well?
     
  5. Droman الفينيقي

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    A lot of the empire's interiors (Italy, coastal Africa, Greece) was highly urbanized in contrast to the exteriors (Levant, Britannia, etc...), and feudalism didn't really take hold in the same way. Cities were the nexuses of power and wealth, and the countryside a place to levy troops and raise taxes. I don't think at this point still in the migration period that the New Romans has to worry about that. Historically the Byzantines didn't really adopt a feudal style structure until the late 1000s, early 1100s and even then it still incorporated state-controlled regular regiments and foreign mercenaries to a significant degree. After that the Palaiologan era was heavily mercenary-reliant. But yeah, between the 700s and 1200s the Byzantines still had the most effective military system, constantly operating on all borders against different enemies and terrains.
     
  6. darthfanta Offline

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    Features of feudalism were already there though.Diocletian or Constantine promulgated a new law that prohibited certain classes of people(mostly farmers) from leaving their area.
     
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  7. Vuu Resident Serb expert Banned

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    I see that here Western-style feudalism with it's insane complexity will probably never even develop, instead it will linearly grow into a simpler, more centralized system like Byzantine-influenced pieces of Europe did
     
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  8. Basileus_Komnenos Well-Known Member

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    Now why would it do that? Rome has all its traditional economic centers recovered. In antiquity Italy was one of the most urbanized and prosperous places in the Mediterranean world. It was also supplied by the granaries of North Africa whose supply became disrupted after the end of the Gothic Wars during the Sassanid and Muslim invasions. Roman institutions and centralized government are still intact. The Eastern Empire had only decentralized and setup the thematic system to save its army and pay for it after it lost 2/3 of its revenue and manpower to the Arabs and Slavs (Balkans) in a few decades. Here the East has uninterrupted control over Egypt since the days of Augustus. The East would keep the same system unless some Earth shattering crisis befell it. The Germanic Kings in Africa and Hispania maintained Roman institutions which were highly centralized and bureaucratic. The Visigoths in Iberia were Latinized over time and were assimilated by the local Ibero-Roman population. Nepos’ recovery will allow the Romans to retake Iberia and Gaul when the Franks fracture. If he can arrange for a dynastic union with Justinian the Empire could be reunited again. The East has the monetary base while the West has access to huge manpower pools like Gaul and Illyria. Even under Frankish rule in Aquitaine many of the Occitanians were still Gallo-Roman and spoke Latin. After the 800’s these regions diverged. Feudalism only emerged with the various petty kings and warlords offering protection to peasants in exchange for services. But here the West intact and recovering which lessens the necessity of these kind of arrangements. Unlike in otl the central government collapse and provincial elites had to look elsewhere for survival. Here the emperor through sheer force of will completely brought the Roman state back into order and rebuilt the central institutions that held the state together. Most likely the Dominate system would be rolled back into service. This is after all what Justinian and Maurice relied upon. This only changed during the reign of Constans II where the theme system emerged.
     
  9. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    There is a map on the previous page, however as soon as further more relevant changes take place on the mediterranean world, I’ll post a new one.
    Unfortunately I dint’t have much time here, but as soon as I go back to Africa and the incoming war, I’ll further explain the situation of Vandals in the new Diocese and the fate of the former king.
    That’s what I’m aiming for. It’s going to be a slow and gradual process but in the end both West and East are going to adopt a similar system. Hopefully I can read more about the subject before bringing it to the story as I want this process to be both realist but also slightly different from the OTL one: I would like to retain some differences between the border army (the new “Thematic” army) and the palatine units (the alternate “Tagmata”) of Italy and Thrace. I would gladly accept idea and suggestion…
    It’s going to happen before the end of the century (or maybe during the first decade of the new one, as I’m continously trying to change and improve the story).
    The current Eastern Roman emperor is Hypatius, Anastasius’s nephew. However I didn’t forget about the East and its relation with the West. Expect an update soon about the two dynasties, the two imperial capitals, culture and religion during the age of the plague.
    Finally we can see what Belisarius can really achieve with little imperial meddling, but I can tell you it’s not going to be an easy conflict for him. About the Goths, I’ll just say that I can’t wait to reach that point of the timeline since there is going to be a great and big conflict, the first one I’m going to describe in great detail, althought the greatest conflict of the entire story is going to happen in the next century and if you pay attention you can already spot the ancestor of the future protagonists.
    True, a general was not only supposed to command the army but sometimes also to personally provide the men for the conflict. In a way or another every great roman commander of the V-VI century had their own personal retinue like Belisarius, Bonifacius (who probably invited the Vandals in order to recruit them in his own personal ranks) and Aetius.
    It can’t unless the emperors can found the resources necessary to pay these troops. Well there are some exception: after the brief and failed campaign against Cosroe, Belisarius was deprived of his own personal retinue. Anyway with a restored Western empire the Bucellari would return to reprent only a minimal fraction of the empire total military strength.
    The wealth and the military power of these landowners prevent the emperors from acting without restraints. Even with a stronger West it would be better to rely of the senatorial families rather than outright oppose them.
    Not really feudalization but only the principle of it as roman landowners don’t enjoy the level of power and authority over a certain territory their medieval colleagues would exert later on. We still have a proper central authority, a competent administration that obey to the emperor in Rome, but most importantly we avoided the chaos and total collapse of roman institutions in Italy, a consequences of no Gothic war and Lombard invasion. However I would leave this discussion about the feudalization of the territories of the former WRE to someone more knowledgeable than me about Medieval history.
    OTL Belisarius historically had a bigger retinue until the persian war, but here he is only at the “beginning” of his career and had to share the glory and the spoils of war with the emperor and Valens. Historically he lost the the imperial favour due to an inopportune comment about Iustinianus’s illness and was recalled to Constantinople. Here he was accused of appropriation of a great portion of the Vandal treasure, a common practice back then, but it’s possible that Belisarius went beyond the limit of what was considered acceptable. Thus why he lost almost everything and also why in this timeline his wealth and power is somewhat smaller, albeit compensated by an imperial marriage.

    It’s a strategy I intend to use in Africa but we can’t expect to reconquer the entire Diocese through bribery and diplomacy. This however is material for a future update.

    As long as we avoid an alternate version of Mantzikert and the following civil war, the western roman empire is going to look like the latin version of the OTL medieval roman empire. A great power superior to most of its neighbours except the eastern ones. We just need to preserve the core of the empire from devastation and invasion and we should be able to keep the empire going mostly unchanged.
    As you said certain feature were already there since the time of Diocletian, but not the entire whole package: it took an apocalyptic level of collapse of the roman world (and probably some more conditions) to see the development of what we know as medieval feudalism. It things for the empire improves we should be able to maintain the status quo…
    … like the Eastern Romans did.
     
  10. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

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    Want to say I don't see East and West reuniting - the cultural (not religious yet, despite the obvious inconguences and I am not talking of theologic ones: just remember of a Patriarch supreme in the West against four in the East) drift of both sides at this point may be inconciliable. Not that Greek and Latin worlds didn't coexist before, of course. But the split was since the start a sociocultural before a geographic one. After all Byzantium was a Christian, but still a reborn Hellenic empire. Why the Greek world should accept to submitt to Rome again, now that is free again and by some centuries and on par with them?
     
  11. Basileus_Komnenos Well-Known Member

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    In what ways could Justinian mostly retake the throne and cement his rule as an iron wiled and undisputed Dominus of the East? Justinian and Belisarius were good friends until after their relationship soured after he pretended to accept the Gothic Crown in Ravenna. Not to mention his wife was friends with Theodora. Could a surprise move by Belisarius after he gets respect by the army put him back on the throne? Belisarius actually loved Antonine his wife and was very devoted to her and might secretly have feelings of revenge of Hypatius. And then they form a dual government in the East. Justinian was actually very important in regards to the Byzantine military as well. After his first Persian war he began a dramatic reform of the army that made it much more effective. Do you mind if I write an omake scenario detailing a hypothetical Justinian restoration and reign as emperor? Won’t there be a significant undercurrent of people outside the empire dissaproving of Hypatius because he came to power through the aid of barbarians and had to make concessions to them. Zeno the Isaurian faced a similar revolt with Basisiliscus and Basiliscus lost because he was crazy and incompetent. Justinian is none of these things plus Theodora is alive and might be getting support from place like Alexandria or Antioch the wealthiest city in the Levant or maybe from the new Western Emperor. Hypatius broke the precedent of peaceful succession as well since Arcadius and was put by a mob which may not be seen as legitimate by other provincial forces.
     
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  12. Basileus_Komnenos Well-Known Member

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    The East only became fully Greek during the time of Heraclius. Italy was devastated and Rome was a ghost town: late-antiquity’s Detroit. The Latin speaking parts of Thrace and Illyria were lost as well to Slavic invaders during the reign of Heraclius. The army was originally recruited from these regions and the commands and thus the soldiery mostly spoke or understood Latin. With the Sassanid invasion they took half of Anatolia, all of Syria and Egypt. They were so close to re-establishing the Acheamanid Borders.

    The Romans had only a few coastal enclave in the Balkans and had lost most of Greece when the Muslims invaded. Heraclius had to recruit a new army from Anatolia which was hellenized. This army spoke Greek so all the commands had to be changed. Heraclius led it to victory but by his death the empire was left with its core Greek areas The Lombards took most of Italy as well. This change was by no means inevitable. It would most likely be a bilingual state especially with an intact Italy and Latin speaking Africa.

    Think of it like Austria. They had Hungary and other Minorities within them. If the Ottomans decisively beat the Austrians and a lot of their German lands were lost they would over time become more influenced by Hungarian culture. You could also think of it as the Visigoths in otl. When they were more Germanic their heartland was Southern Gaul. As they lost to the Franks some moved south to Iberia and becaus od this shift they became influenced by Latin and were assimilated by the Ibero-Roman population. They spoke Latin and after Italy became Balkanized and th Western provinces were cut off from each other each each dialect evolved into different languages. Iberia became Spanish and Portuguese (Suebi) while Gaul became French after Frankish and Gallo-Roman cultural exchange.
     
  13. darthfanta Offline

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    Justinian will need another foreign army,just like the other Justinian(II).

    As for Belisarius' relationship with Justinian,Justinian barely trusted Belisarius even before the whole Ravenna episode,hence the small amount of troops available to Belisarius(much of which was actually Belisarius' own private forces). As for Antonina,I suspect that Belisarius did want to kill her later on,it's just that doing so would not only lose the protection of Theodora through his wife,but actually incur the wrath of the latter.

    There's basically no chance that Belisarius will help Justinian in TTL,given that he just married the Western Roman Emperor's daughter. There's also no chance that the Western Roman Empire would support Justinian,given that the move to depose Justinian was spearheaded by the pro-WRE faction led by the Western Roman Prince.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019
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  14. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    The greeks wouldn’t submit to Rome since they are Rome. The separation between West and East is just a division of sphere of influence between two (occasionally more) emperors but the empire is still perceived by the population as one single entity. And anyway in case of reunification, there are good chances that Constantinople would end up as the capital of the reunified empire instead of Rome.
    Seems like the Anastasian are not really popular in this forum. Since Justinian is effectively held prisoner inside Constantinople you would need an uprising of the population of the capital otherwise he would be executed before the fall of the city to a foreign army.
    I’m not denying his importance, but his deposition offer the great opportunity to witness the numerous and important consequences of a scenario where Justinian failed before having the chance to effectively rule and this is something I want to explore in this timeline.
    Sure you can: a scenario where Justinian lost the power once before coming back would certainly be interesting since this would chance many of his choices (especially concerning the West).
    This is something I’m going to deal in the next updates.
    With the important difference that Justinian II was outside the imperial reach and almost free to go wherever he wanted to go.
    Even during the Italian campaign one of his own subordinate (Constantine maybe) suggested Belisarius to kill Antonina. This happened years before the time Belisarius effectively imprisoned Antonina, before being forced by the empress to forgive her. We don’t know why the general didn’t kill his wife when he was in Africa and Italy (far from Theodora) and why the empress meddled so much in the problems of the couple, however this shows as relations between the two were not exactly great and maybe Belisarius wont miss Antonina in this timeline (even though she died before the whole affair with Theodosius).
    Marcianus is happy with the current situation in the east (you also have to consider that he married a member of the Theodosian family while in the East a member of the Anastasian family also married a Theodosian, so the two families are loosely related) and Belisarius is busy trying to build his own reputation and prestige in the West. Maybe we should pay attention to Mundus and Sittas but even them do not pose much problem to Hypatius. However we will better explore this in the future.
     
  15. George_Apley Active Member

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    Just wanted to voice my amazement at this great timeline! I'm not a scholar of Roman history with any depth, but I've always loved learning about the Romans. Your work is helping me to learn more about the era. I find your AH fascinating. Keep up the great work!
     
  16. HerodotosofBerlin Member

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    Whats happening in Persia ? :D
     
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  17. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    I’m glad to hear that you like the timeline. Just keep in mind that this is just a story with lots of errors and inaccurate things, so don’t take everything you find here as correct.
    So far not much as changed from OTL persian history. Cosroe is the current ruler of Persia and at the end of Chapter XXXV he signed peace with Hypatius. The moment the Romans and Persians come to conflict again or drastic changes take place in Persia I’ll write an update focusing on them (and the most relevant kingdoms immediately beyond the Limes).
     
  18. George_Apley Active Member

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    Oh absolutely. I mean that your timeline is inspiring me to do more research on my own on OTL history.
     
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  19. Threadmarks: Chapter XLI: Italia and Illyricum

    Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    Chapter XLI

    With the death of Theodoricus in 532 the Pannonian Goths were deprived of a great king. His death without a male heir caused conflicts and disputes among the Goths. Many would claim the kingship in the name of their ( real or supposed) relation to the royal dynasty, however only three of them would come close to the throne: Anastasius, Amalaric and Theodatus.

    A son of Iulius Procopius and Amalasuntha, Anastasius was the youngest among the contenders but also the preferred heir of his grandfather Theodoricus. His Roman origin and education represented the main obstacle to his ascension to the throne. Nonetheless his imperial blood earned him the support of the Romans both inside and outside the Pannonian kingdom and the support of the Pro-Roman Goths, willing to politically integrate with the Romans.

    The second contender was Theodatus, Theodoricus’ nephew, a man who distinguished himself while fighting against the occasional raids of the Gepids and the Heruli. His power however resides on his large estates that made him one of the wealthiest man of the kingdom. He could also count of the support of those Goths seeking to carry on Theodoricus’ project of political and religious coexistence between Goths and Romans while keeping them separated.

    Like in Hispania however, a powerful “nationalist” faction acquired prominence among the Goths, rallying behind the third contender, Amalaric. A member of both the Ostrogothic and Visigothic royal lineage, Amalaric had come to embrace the cause of the anti-roman faction during the last years of reign of his grandfather. Behind this choice there were both political and personal reasons: his new allies not only promised him the best opportunity to conquer the absolute power but also the chance to get his revenge on the Western Roman Emperor Marcianus, the man who twice betrayed his cause and his right to the throne in favour of his half-brother Gesalec and later Agila. Among the three he was also the most ambitious, since he not only claimed his grandfather’s domain but also the kingdom that once belonged to his father. His goal was the creation of a great empire spanning from the Danube to the Ocean.

    When Theodoricus died in 532, Amalaric quickly seized control over the western half of the Pannonian kingdom while Theodatus secured the eastern half. The civil war quickly evolved into a wider conflict involving neighbouring tribes and kingdoms as both the Heruli and the Lombards took part in the war, respectively supporting Amalaric and Theodatus. Meanwhile the third contender and his mother were gathering support among the Romans and the Goths in the city of Sirmium. Behind him was his powerful uncle and his influential father: Marcianus would appoint Anastasius Magister Militum per Pannonia, thus recognising him as the rightful ruler of the Goths, and send order to Magister Militum per Illyricum Flavius Agricola ( Eparchius’ son), to provide soldiers for the campaign while Procopius would arrange an alliance with the Gepids. Unfortunately for Anastasius the men that Agricola could provide were not enough, given the ongoing conflict in Africa, therefore forcing him to stay idle for the time being, while his cousin and Theodatus were battling for the control of Pannonia. Amalaric quickly proved to be strongest of the three, defeating Theodatus and his Lombards allies near Mursa in 533, forcing him to flee beyond the Danube with his supporters. With Theodatus defeated and Anastasius unable to challenge him, Amalaric had achieved complete control over the Goths, allowing him to deal with minor usurpers and rebel cities that still opposed his authority. All of them would be subdued before the end of the year

    After the defeat of the Vandals in Africa, Marcianus decided to celebrate his most important victory in the city that represented the greatest prize of that war. During the second and last week of celebration, Marcianus received worrying news about Amalaric’s victory near Mursa and his hostile attitude toward the empire. The looming threat from the north required direct imperial intervention and so the emperor was compelled to leave Africa in March, with the intention of coming back one day, once peace was restored throughout the empire. He would never see that day.

    Back in Ostia Marcianus would discover that the heart of his empire was under attack: the enemies were invading from the north. The earliest reports from the military authorities of Italia Annonaria, indicated that a considerable force had already crossed the Alps and was moving against Verona. The size of this army ranged from 5000 to 10000 men, mostly Heruli and other barbarians recruited by Amalaric, and once again like 14 years ago, the army was led by Orestes, with the difference that now the Goths were fully committed to his cause. Meanwhile an analogue report from Agricola brought news of hostile action from the Goths, personally led by Amalaric. Against this mortal threat to his rule, Iulius Marcianus dispatched his cousin Valens along with 3000 soldiers, that had returned with him from Africa, while new orders were sent to Belisarius to speed up the return of the soldiers back to Italia. However the emperor wouldn’t immediately join his cousin in this new conflict. Rome was waiting for him and a triumph had to be celebrated.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
  20. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

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    So Pannonia pratically seceded and the Goths are invading Italy... and that slimy Orestes took advantage of it. Glad this is back with a loud bang!
     
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