Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Flavius Iulius Nepos, Jun 7, 2018.
Good idea. I might update and improve it in the future.
Amalaric was deeply disappointed by Orestes’ defeat at Verona. A defeat that costed him valuable soldiers and allies. And he had only one reward for failure and defeat: as soon as Orestes had rejoined the main army, he was arrested and executed. The king had no more use for a man like him. Yet his first months of campaign against the empire, both in Italia and Illyricum, proved to be a precious source of informations about the empire’s situation. No sign of Roman units could be found north of the mountains, with the garrison of Sirmium as the only exception, while his scouts reported of how Agricola was hiding behind the wall of Salona unable to directly face the Goths on the field. Likewise the Italian army was seriously lacking the numbers required to pose an immediate threat to his plan. Valens’ death at Verona along with a great number of his soldiers proved to be enough to soothe his anger for his first defeat against Rome.
After the battle of Verona Anthemius Valens and Iovinus received the order to move East with what was left of their army, where they would join Agricola’s army at Salona and fight under his command. During their march they personally witnessed the devastation of the Italian and Illyrian countryside at the hands of Orestes and his army while couriers from the north reported of Rugian and Herulian movements and raids against the people of Noricum. They would also encounter two young siblings fleeing from the Gothic cavalrymen sent after them, Paulus and Serena. Forced to flee after their father Orestes’ execution at the hand of Amalaric, the two siblings’ only hope now was the imperial mercifulness on account of their young age (respectively 18 and 16 years old). Never they had imagined to be running straight toward their father’s nemesis’son. Valens finally had to chance to terminate once and for all the family that had costed so dearly to his own. It was within his power to execute them as few would raise any objection. Yet he didn’t. At first because Serena had offered herself to him in exchange for her brother’ safety, a tempting offer considering the prospect of having to spend the next years of his life at the edge of the civilized world, far from the pleasures usually enjoyed by the members of the Roman aristocracy. She would also make a fine servant, as he was in need of someone who could take care of his armour, his meals and his tent while he was busy fighting the Goths. At first this was the only reason. Later on, especially after having successfully overcome the fact that she was the daughter of the man responsible for his father’s death, he would learn about her kindly and mild nature, different from whose of the many women he had met in Rome and start to appreciate her for this. Even care for her…
Once again the city of Salona was witnessing the beginning of another campaign. Unlike 50 years ago with emperor Iulius Nepos however, this time the people of the city would be forced to directly experience the hardship of war upon their own skin. The man tasked with their defence, Agricola, had already started to make preparations for the next years of conflict: he had already ordered the reparation of the city wall (a task that would befell on the civilians), the stocking of foods and weapons inside the cities of Illyricum, the recalling of the units still scattered throughout the province while sending more couriers to Ravenna asking for additional support. The arrival of Iovinus and Valens’ army would represent the first official reply from the imperial palace to his own requests. Further reinforces would keep coming by sea until the end of the navigable season. Finally Agricola would also resume diplomatic contact with the Gepidi in an attempt to put pressure on Amalaric and his allies.
Two years had passed since the Nika riots and Hypatius was still trying to solve the many problems an empire as big as his own always carried. However the most important one was his apparent reliance on his Gothic supporters. He had risen to the throne out of dissatisfaction of the aristocracy and the people of Constantinople with his predecessor Iustinianus. That same dissatisfaction could one day cost him his throne and his life. Problems could also be found outside the wall of Constantinople: his ally and supporter Athalaric always made sure to remind him who enthroned him at the expense of the previous emperor. Lands, money, titles, these were the main subjects of his many requests which contributed to make the emperor look weak and submissive, especially since his uncle Anastasius had spent so many resources and so much time trying to secure the Danubian limes. The recent outbreak of the Gothic war in the West and news of contact between Amalaric and Athalaric proved to an alarm bell that could no longer be ignored. In an attempt to appease his powerful Magister Militum while buying more time for himself, Hypatius decided to appoint Athalaric Consul of the East, a powerless but prestigious office that would require the Gothic general to spend a huge amount of money on games for the people of the capital. Games that he would personally attend since, for a couple of days, his name would be on the mouth of every single Roman, emperor included. During the games he and the men of his retinue would dress and live according to the fashion of the Roman aristocracy, as if they were fully part of that world so close and yet so distant for men like him. Few elements would betray his Gothic and Alan origin. Both at the imperial palace and during the games Athalaric would be treated as a man of the highest rank, immediately below the Augustus himself. It was during one banquet with the imperial family and the court that Athalaric was assaulted by Ildibadus, a Gothic chieftain at the service of the Romans with the rank of Comes Excubitorum and his own personal rival. Disarmed despite all pledges for his own safety, Athalaric quickly succumbed to his rival. His own death was quickly followed by that of his own followers, victims of the people of the capital deliberately stirred up by imperial agents. Hypatius’ plan to get rid of Athalaric had succeeded. Now it was time to move against his people.
 More info and details about Hypatius’ reign in a future update. For the time being I want to focus on the military aspect of his reign.
Its probably a good call on Hypatius' part, though it can easily blow up in his face. Hopefully he can control how news of Athalaric's death is spread. Ideally he could pit various gothic rivals against each other and then sweep in afterwards 'to restore order'
Particularly liked the scheming twist in the end. In these dire times when even GoT gets disappointing, we sorely need well thought stories.
Yay new update
I am glad that Orestes got what he deserved. A traitor of the Empire dying by being betrayed as well.
But still his scions live... The episode of Valens and Serena may open towards the end of a feud, or deepening further into a web of love and blood through the ages... (ok, I admit, I liked that part very much. I am sure the late Imperial chroniclers would be delighted to add this story and fabricating tales and such about it. Romance and revenge are always the juice of legends and the Western Empire has its own right to have them)
So, the Ostrogoths were both under pressure in the West as in the East. Is probable this may end both in tragedy (extermination) or in glory (indipendent Danubian kingdom) for them, or likely towards the most inevitable outcome (fall of the Royal households, submission to the Empires. No more foederati, but from now Roman subjects in name and right under an Emperor as their Rex Gothae).
That’s the plan, however the gothic reaction to their king’s death can be unpredictable and Hypatius is not the only player here.
Thank you. I don’t know much about Game of thrones but since everyone seems to be unhappy with the way it ended I really hope to not disappoint in the end.
Yep! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to post this one earlier. Hopefully the next one will come on time.
Glad you like it. At first I wasn’t completely sure about this part, but I would really like to shift part of the focus from the history of the empire to the lives of its protagonists. Currently we have a great number of them (both historical and fictitious) with their background and their relations with the other characters of the timeline so I think it would be interesting to “exploit” them more than I’m currently doing. Let me know what you all think about this.
I don’t want to reveal further detail about this war. What I can say is that, despite its importance, this is not going to be the most destructive conflict of the VI century.
Ok soon I’ll probably write an update about an alternate ecumenical council. Since my knowledge of theology is rather limited I want to ask you if you have any idea about the possible result of this council. My idea was to adopt something similar to monothelism and explore its reception among the population of the empire. But i know this is not really original and that’s why I’m asking you for an alternate solution, a plausible one but not necessarely a successfully one (as often the outcome of a council was determined by the emperor’s personal liking rather than by pragmatism). Alternatively I might just discard this whole idea of an ecumenical council if this prove to be unrealistic or simply boring.
Uhm I am not comfortable in discussing alternate derivations of Christianism so I'll pass. I won't mind if it would happen in a TL, of course.
as there is no justinian the bishops will have a better live as he ruined the relations with the syriacs and copts
I believe this would be really interesting. ITTL the papacy is not enjoying so much freedom as OTL, so, if the Empire gets to live long enough, we could see the Pope as really a "First among Equals". Of course, no Justinian means no Pentarchy, but maybe two Emperors could come up with this solution. I could even picture the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople played as bishops (a terrible chess joke) by two rival Emperors when relations between the two Empires get bad. Getting more into the details of the Council, we are pretty much in the era of the monothelistic quarrel. My feeling (not an expert, though) is that the need for this would come as OTL from the East, in an attempt to reconcile with the Monophysites (again, as it was OTL). The real question is, why/how could this Doctrine be incorporated into the Orthodoxy? Given OTL flat out refusal by the Pope, I think we would need a political reason for this. Like, say, the Emperor in the East can face rebellion in the Monophysite parts of the Empire, sees Monotelism as a solution (which was intended) and bribes/convince his Western colleague to comply. Although, as it has been pointed out, no Justinian really reduces this need.
That’s why I’m not sure about this. Hopefully I’ve enought time to think about it.
If I remember correctly it was during Justinian’s reign that the Monophysite started regarding themselves as part of a completely different church opposed to the Roman one. The current emperor is a Monophysite so history could go differently.
Definitely this timeline won’t see the rise of the Pope above the other bishop of the Church.
Well occasionaly the emperors (I’m now thinking about Basil I) played one Patriarch against the other, so why not? A Calcedonian Patriarch could side with a Calcedonian usurper/western emperor against his Monophysite overlord.
From what I’ve read Justinian was close to approaching the Monophysite position (or at least part of their thesis), thanks also to Theodora’s influence, until his wars in the West forced him to reconsider his ideology in an attempt to win over the Italian aristocracy, while his wife continued to carry out her attempts to force the Roman bishop to adopt her position. But here we have a Monophysite emperor ruling over a (probably) majority Monophysite empire. The still pagan population of inner Anatolia could be converted to Christianity by Monophysite (or alt-Monothelite) bishops in order to strengthen the “official” creed. But the situation could get really messy so I want to think more about this.
I mever understood why the church, at least in the east, didn't take a miaphysite position (one compound nature thats both devine and Man)
Oh and just want to say that i find it amusing that alot of these positions tack on "without confusion", as if simply decaring it made it so
Most near to where everything started, is more difficult to stray from Orthodoxy when you are the original keeper of the faith. Tending to be more zealous.
Mostly because the people of Constantinople (and the elite units billeted there) were majority Chalcedonian. That’s why none of Anastasius’ relatives were able to succede him. Conversely Justin, influenced by his nephew Justinian and later on Justinian himself, found more convenient to end the conflict with Rome in order to undermine the Gothic kingdom and ease the reintegration of the Italics. Their successors all came from the Chalcedonian part of the empire and although some of them were tolerant toward the Monophysites, few would embrace it when the risk to alienate the West, Constantinople included, loomed on them.
Well the emperor is the Vicar of Christ on earth so he certainly knows better than us.
Two Emperors, so two Vicars.
In the future we could have even more emperors/vicars. Maybe external forces could try to usurp that title as well.
As it worked well the last time for the Empire...
With the death of Athalaric, emperor Hypatius took the initiative to send to the Goths his own candidate for the throne. Ildibadus quickly rode to the Gothic encampment in Moesia in order to secure the throne for himself. With him were his own men and representatives of the Eastern emperor, sent to the Goths to testify Ildibadus’ elevation to the rank of Magister Militum. They were also supposed to facilitate Ildibadus’s rise to power by distributing gifts and titles to the most prominent chiefs and commanders of the Gothic people. Yet few would believe the story concocted by the Imperials regarding Athalaric’s “accidental” death at the hands of the mob during the games. To their own discouragement the Romans were forces to witness the rise of a new leader, who had all the reasons to turn against the Romans, their promises and their gifts: Athalaric’s son Theodoricus. Shortly after his rise, Ildibadus and his Roman allies were forced to flee to the city of Odessus.
This unexpected set of events prompted Hypatius to resolve to the use of the army instead of subterfuges in order to eradicate once and for all the Gothic threat. The lack of valid commanders on the European side of his empire forced him to rehabilitate the barbarian general Mundus. The new Magister Militum per Thracias would be tasked with the defence of the Diocese of Macedonia and the creation of a new army since the desertion of the Goths had left the Thracian army with few units of Romans and other non-Gothic contingents. His army was further deprived of 1000 men, temporarily assigned to the protection of Anastasius by his father, the Quaestor Sacri Palatii Procopius, on his way back to Constantinople. In the meantime Chilbudius would be dispatched to the city of Hadrianopolis along with 3000 cavalrymen in order to protect the road to Constantinople. Finally further reinforces were expected from the eastern regions of the empire, as the truce with the Persians finally allowed the Romans to focus on the Danubian limes. At the head of these reinforces was Sittas, Theodora’s brother-in-law, now promoted to the rank of Magister Militum Praesentalis and supreme commander of the Gothic war.
Meanwhile in west the situation was far more critical as the Pannonian Goths had already started to march against the heart of Roman Illyricum unopposed. Their march would bring them just outside the wall of Salona were the Romans refused to directly face the Goths. Doubtful of his chance to take the walled city, Amalaric would move on against other defenseless targets. His men would sack the entire coast all the way to the city of Narona. It was only when most of the Goths left the main army that Agricola decided to act against them through guerrila actions. The absolute control of the Adriatic sea routes allowed the Romans to move from one city to another more quickly than any rival units, giving them the opportunity to strike the enemy or leave at they pleased. Yet the Romans could not prevent all the damages inflicted by the Goths upon the population of Illyricum as many cities were sacked by the Ostrogoths and their inhabitants enslaved or massacred. Occasionally these cities would avoid such fate by paying a hefty a ransom, usually gathered by despoiling the churches and the monuments of the past.
It was only in October, when the upcoming winter season forced to the Goths to return to Pannonia, that the Romans decided to act more resolutely, in an attempt to score at least one victory against the barbarians who had sacked their cities for so many months. The Roman army, personally led by Agricola, had tracked a retreating Gothic contingents not far from the city of Delminium, slowed down by the prisoners and the booty. During the following battle the Romans not only enjoyed the numerical superiority over the 6000 Goths but also the aid coming from the prisoners, who had started a riot against their Gothic captors once they had realized the opportunity to free themselves. Unable to face both enemies, the Goths fled the battle leaving behind a third of their men, their share of the booty and of the prisoners of that years. With this success Agricola had partially restore his authority over his subordinates, who had grown restive during the last months over his passive conduct of the war. With the winter season now close the possibilities of a Gothic counterattack to avenge the recent defeat were minimal, thus allowing the Romans to return to Salona and rest for next months while Agricola and his subordinates could plan the offensive for the new year.
The conquest of Africa and the improved economical situation, meant that the empire could devolve more energy than ever before against the Goths. New units were raised as the imperial army could now afford to increase its numbers. Unfortunately for the empire the new year would prove underwhelming on the Illyrian front as diseases would struck Agricola and plague the army, delaying the beginning of the new offensive. An attempt from Ravenna to send reinforces and a new commander would end in a disaster as the new commander Arbitio and his 3000 men would fall into an Herulian ambush near Aemona. It was only in May that the empire could afford to send a new contingent of Burgundian foederati and fresh Roman recruits led by Athalaric, a rival of Amalaric for the Visigothic throne.
Well, all things considered Illyricum went better than expected. But now we are in a stall. The Ostrogoths are clearly unable to go beyond Pannonia. The Romans at the moment are unable to give the last blow to them. Similar situation in the East. Ah I can't wait for the next update...
Not exactly a stall, as the Romans only partially avenged the looting of their territory before being defeated by the Herulians at the beginning of the new year. Keep in mind that Rome is still busy in Africa. Also the two Gothic leaders may decide to join the forces against the empire. Finally let’s not forget about the myriad of barbarian tribes beyond the Danube awaiting their chance to meddle in the conflict. The next update may come at the end of this week as I've a bit of spare time now but I can't make promise. Otherwise it will be online in two weeks.
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