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 XIII: The world around Rome 484-486

    Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    Chapter XIII

    The following years saw limited battles between the romans and the various barbarian tribes, usually small raids and skirmishes. Meanwhile the emperor continued to bring back order and to restore local Limitanei units under the command of officers detached from the main imperial army. Given the situation of Raetia, with many cities now in ruins, Nepos tried to recover the fleeing population in the campaigns, returning it to the remaining fortified cities like Curia or Augusta or occasionally providing with the reconstruction of cities of strategic importance. To relieve the local populations, Nepos granted them (and later also to the population of Noricum) a partial tax exemption, given the amount of damages they had suffered. For the time being, the only thing they were supposed to pay for was the maintenance of local units tasked with their defense. For this reason the emperor wrote to the Vicarius for Annonaria Idatius, giving him instructions concerning the reconquered territory and the offical attitude he was supposed to have with the locals: to alleviate to sufferings of the Raetians, to recognize them the right to recover from devastation before being subjected again to the full amount of their duties and to support them, economically, with the reconstruction. He also asked him to gradually implement in the region all roman decrees that were previously enacted by Nepos (and his immediate predecessors) in Italy and Dalmatia, in particular the one concerning the new Census and the recovery of abandoned land, and where a rightful heir was missing, to arrange a new distribution following the some procedures followed for the “Beneficiarii” in Italy. Later he also wrote a similar letter to the Vicarius of Illyria Severus Saturninus, asking him the same attitude towards the two provinces of Noricum subjected to his authority. Militarily the provinces of Noricum (and theoretically also the province of Pannonia I) were subjected to the Dux Pannonia I and Norici Ripenses under the command of Magister Militum Per Illyricum Gaudentius. Given that Vindobona was still outside roman control, the newly appointed Dux along with most of his units would take seat in the city of Lauriacum, one of the few surviving roman cities on the Danube, recently liberated from the Rugian threat thanks to the victory of Ecdicius and later Constantianus. Likewise the Dux Raetia I et II would reside in the city Augusta Vindelicorum, chosen due to its strategic position that made the city suitable to face north-western threats coming from Gaul.

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    Meanwhile the world around the emperor was constantly evolving. In addition to the death of King Euricus another king had died in 484: King Huneric of the Vandals. Succeeded by king Guntamund (Genseric’s grandson), the new rulers ended the open persecutions of Nicene Christians, as a means to strengthen his rule in Africa. The Vandalic kingdoms, after Genseric’s death, was facing increasingly problems both internally and externally, and Guntamund resorted to seek the support of the native roman population in order to recover the lost territory and to resume Genseric’s expansion. But for the time being the new king accepted to renovate king Huneric’s treaty with the roman emperor, albeit after failing to obtain an increase of the tribute paid by the romans for the control of Sicily.

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    In the East, the roman emperor Zeno was now involved in a new war against the Isaurian general Illus, forcing the eastern court to reach a deal with the leaders of the Goths: Theodoricus Strabo and Theodoricus Amalus would support with their Foederati Zeno in his war against Illus, meanwhile Zeno would return all properties and titles confiscated to the Gothic leaders. At the end of the war, he promised to discuss the problem of new lands for the Goths in the Balkans. But even more interesting was the fact that Marcianus, emperor Marcianus’ grandson and Nepos’ brother in law, the usurper against Zeno in 479 and now again in 484, escaped the control of general Illus (the real leader of the uprising) and fled west to the court of emperor Nepos. Illus continued his revolt against Zeno by appointing a new nominal emperor: Leontius. Meanwhile Marcianus was welcomed by Nepos and his family, his sister Alypia and the two surviving brothers Romulus and Procopius. Here Marcianus was awarded by his brother in law with the title of Patricius and Magister Officiorum despite some protest from the Eastern court while his predecessor Rufius Festus was awarded with a new consulate. This one along with many prominent western senators were sent by Nepos to the Eastern court to discuss about the Henotikon, an eastern document issued in 482 by emperor Zeno that recognized the Council of Chalcedon but prohibited further discussions about the nature of Christ. Nepos recognized the need of his colleague to bring back religious unit in the East, however under the pressure of Pope Felix III, and in order to gain back popularity among the clergy, he sent a delegation led by Rufius Festus to Constantinople to officially discuss about the document that risked to separate the two halves of the empire, something that Nepos had no intention to allow for political reasons. After the failure of the negotiation between East and West the churches of the two empire were now separated by a schism provoked by the unwillingness of Pope Felix III and Patriarch Acacius to compromise. Given the failure of the negotiations, emperor Nepos opted for a neutral and cautious stance: he once again recognized the validity of Chalcedon pleasing both Pope Felix and emperor Zeno but he avoided any further open condemnation of Monophysitism, Henotikon and the eastern Patriarch Acacius for the time being, leaving the Pope on his own in his struggle against the East. Attacking the Eastern positions would undermine the relations with emperor Zeno while open Christological declaration by a secular authority like Nepos would provoke the anger of the Roman Church. For this reasons Nepos resorted to neutrality, despite the accusation of indolence coming from his opposers: a strict neutrality until he understood which side would benefit more the western roman empire, would be his best choice in what seemed to be the first of many incoming religious troubles.

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    Last edited: Jul 4, 2018
  2. SeaCambrian Well-Known Member

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    Nice update!

    Appointing two-time usurper Marcian as magister militum does seem a bit daring for Nepos. Combined with the schism, the relationship between Eastern and Western Empires may be rocky for a few years.

    That would be much appreciated!

    Might Justinian still become Emperor in the East in the next century? That could either be a blessing or a curse for the WRE.
     
  3. darthfanta Offline

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    Magister Officiorum,not magister militum.Still pretty insane though.Not withstanding the fact that Marcian is a pretty ambitious guy,there’s the fact that his own father was WRE.

    I do wonder if Nepos’ trying to set Marcian up as an interim heir. It’s highly doubtful that he’s going to live till his son’s fully grown up.

    If I’m Nepos,I would have had my brother in law locked up in a nice villa somewhere and give him a comfortable retirement. That should have satisfied Zenos.
     
  4. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    The problem here is that Nepos doesn't know for how long he will live. He could die within 2 years or within 20 years, but in the first case his heir would be too young to effectively rule.
    That is the reason that prompted Nepos to appoint members of Alypia's family to important positions like magister officiorum in the case of Marcianus and Comes Domesticorum Peditum for Procopius. Later they could serve Nepos' heir as regent should anything happen to the emperor. Another reason could be the fact that Nepos want to use Marcian as a diplomatic weapon in future negotiations with the east, considering that the presence of such claimant to the empire would strengthen Nepos diplomatic value. Finally there is also a propagandist reason: Nepos is trying to claim the legacy of previous emperor like Anthemius and Majorian, whose fall was caused by Ricimer and Gundobad, so the emperor is trying to politically approach what is left of the imperial family.
    He is going to become emperor,that is almost sure, considering that at the moment I don't want to radically change the events in the East. However his reign in this timeline will be really different and interesting, something that will mark the begin of a different history in the East
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2018
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  5. darthfanta Offline

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    Wouldn’t it be more reliable to appoint family members of his own?I think it’s alright if you invent a male relative from Nepos’ own family considering just how obscure the information we have of Nepos.
     
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  6. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

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    The Christologic debate would be surely funny TTL, with an Emperor in the West dealing with a single Patriarch and an Emperor in the East dealing with four... I can't wait to see when they would arrive over the Filioque.

    Or when the Western Emperors will start to allow theologians in the court and giving ear to them, to find arguments towards the Papacy in the future. And build a proper Imperial school of Theology on the Palatine...

    I have the impression we will see for a very long time failing plotters, dethroned emperors and similar refuging from one side to another... This is not a good path for both the Empires if this would become a cemented tradition... But we'll see.
     
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  7. machine3589 Fabricator-General

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    Er... Wasn't the Pentarchy a result of Justinian's rule?
     
  8. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    The fact is that I prefer to use historical characters rather than fictional ones (obviously when possible), and I really like the figure of emperor Procopius Anthemius so I would like to give to his family a brighter future than OTL. Maybe it's an error to appoint Marcianus as Magister Officiorum, but roman emperors were not exempt from errors and this timeline will show you how things all of a sudden can turn very bad for the empire thanks to mistakes.
    Who said we will always have two emperor and four patriarch?:openedeyewink:

    It will take a lot of updates before reaching that point of history. Besides with a different course of history for the west ( including the Franks and the Visigoths), the problem could just be totally avoided.
    The use of the title of Patriarch as an honorific title for the 5 most prominent bishops in the empire was already well established during the V century
     
  9. machine3589 Fabricator-General

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    Informally maybe. The actual division into five equal patriarchates is a later development, and was never really accepted by the Pope.
     
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  10. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    True, but thanks to internal conflict and later the arab invasion, in never really worked as the emperors had imagined and remained just a vague division. Later the church was left under the control of a diarchy, while the Pentarchy remained a theoretical idea that reminded the romans of the good old days when the entire mediterranean world was christian and under their control.
     
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  11. Threadmarks: Chapter XIV: The man coming from Gaul

    Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    Chapter XIV

    By the end of 486 AD military operations in the northern provinces could be officially considered over: the previous year the new king of the Alemanni, Gundmar, had finally asked the roman emperor for peace, while minor tribes were pushed out of the roman territory (or integrated in the roman army). Minor battles and skirmishes still occured in recently recovered territories but now the personal presence of the emperor was no longer required: confident in the ability of the commanders he appointed for the local defense, Nepos left in the provinces part of the army that followed him during these years, until the people of Raetia and Noricum would finally be able to defend their homes. In September the emperor was once again in the city of Mediolanum, finally able to join his family. Here Nepos spent only few days, supervising the operate of the local Vicarius Idatius and informing him in detail of the situation of Raetia. Before departing again from the city he also ordered the renovation of the Circus as he promised 3 years ago to the inhabitants, financially helped by the local Curiales, grateful to the emperor for the relief of part of their economic burden. Later the emperor, along with his family, moved to the city of Aquileia Nepotiana, intentioned to supervise the repopulation of the city and the military reorganization of Venetia. Lacking a proper imperial palace, the emperor temporarily resided in the home of a local wealthy man, Livianus, who moved there from Altinus but whose family was native of the city of Iulia Concordia before its destruction by Attila. The province of Venetia et Histria heavily suffered the devastation brought 30 years ago by Attila, more than any other inhabitant of Italy. Under imperial patronage, several families were helped to return to their original homes, while ruined cities were once again brought back to life: cities like Altinum, Concordia, Ateste.

    Viae_Flaminia_Aemilia_Postumia.jpg
    The province of Venetia et Histria: in blue the Via Postumia, in red the Via Aemilia.
    Here Nepos also received the Magister Militum Constantianus, who brought more precise informations about the situation of Noricum and the local reorganization he arranged following imperial instructions. Minor operations still took place there but the war was finally over and hopefully, over time, Noricum would once again flourish under roman rule. However the emperor quickly decreed that the production of steel in Noricum would be put under the supervision of the Comes Sacrarum Largitionum Flavius Attalus and directed to the production of weapons for the Imperial army. He also wrote to the four Praesides of Raetia and Noricum, asking them to ransom and recover as many as possible roman prisoners captured by the barbarians and resettle them in the pacified provinces and to present to Flavius Attalus an account of all expenditures they had to sustain for this reason so that the imperial treasury could help them. During his permanence in the city of Aquileia, Nepos also had to face news coming from outside the empire: a delegation coming from king Chilpericus II brought news of the assassination of his brother Godomar and the incoming civil war between the remaining brothers (Chilpericus II, Godegisel and Gundobad) for the control of his territory. But even more interesting was the news coming from Roman Gaul. King Clovis, one of the many frankish kings, after gathering a sizeable force of Franks assaulted the territory controlled by the Magister Militum per Gallias Syagrius. The battle that took place near the border between the two domains, saw the victory of the frankish king over the Roman general, who was forced to retreat. Unable to organize a resistance and chased by the forces of Clovis, Syagrius along with his family and his collaborators, crossed the Loira river and moved toward the Visigothic court of Tolosa. After being welcomed by king Alaric II, Syagrius sensing the king’s intention to betray him to the frankish king, quickly escaped east to the burgundian court of king Chilpericus II were he joined the delegation sent by this one to the emperor. In this way he was able to reach the imperial court alive, reporting to the emperor of the situation in Gaul.

    13323679_1341687139180736_8246862900778941778_o.jpg Syagrius in front of the emperor
    Despite de fact that the emperor was ready to the idea of the imminent loss of Gaul, the recent defeat risked to undermine his prestige and recent successes in the North. During the new year the emperor received a frankish delegation sent by Clovis himself asking for the return of Syagrius. Nepos had no intention to surrender one of his general and ordered Clovis to return to Rome the territory he illegally occupied. As expected none of the rulers accepted the request of other and quickly the discussion came to the end. However in the summer of the year 487, during the travel from the city of Medioanum to the imperial court, now residing in Ravenna, the Magister Militum Constantianus was assassinated outside the city of Mutina. The death of this loyal servant of Rome would require a careful examination from the emperor himself.
     
  12. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

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    The fact Clovis asked Nepos to give him Syagrius is interesting to see how TTL early Frank-Roman interaction would develop. Nepos wisely saw Gallia a lost cause, and naturally he couldn't give a Roman citizen and patrician as sacrifical hostage. But I can see Clovis's request on a particular optic - he doesn't recognize the Roman Imperial authority, or at least not the Roman authority in Gallia. And this is already a chasm in itself not only TTL in general but also towards from the formation path of three main kingdoms of the West - Visigoths, Vandals, and Burgundians. In all the three mentioned cases, while going progressively fully indipendent, it was an indipendence sanctioned by the Western Empire under foederatio agreement. Clovis so far occupied Western Roman territory but he didn't pass yet under a similar treaty. OTL he wasn't obliged - the Empire felt already by 10 years. But in this case, Clovis will be entangled in legitimacy territorial issues which in comparison the struggles of Pepin to be acknowledged King are a cakewalk. The Frank presence in Gaul is not starting well and may turn worse - especially if Vouille would turn differently or Clovis would not convert to Christianity...

    From what is implied, is possible that Clovis could have staged negotiations with Nepos, him being available to this possibility and likely going towards a Foederatio treaty on the losing side. But for pride and I may concede necessity (Syagrius was his enemy and needed to be elimated to consolidate his claims in front of his people) Clovis stumbled on the extradition, forcing Nepos to stall over the loss of Northern Gallia. And now we have a stall between Franks and Romans which is not in favour of Clovis. Also because the Visigoths are the wild card in this situation... And so their king Alaric II. Name which may not be well viewed in Rome due to ancestral demerits... And the Burgundians suddenly being between three fires.
     
  13. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    You explained the situation perfectly, the loss of Gaul in not something unexpected, but pride and prestige prevented both rulers from reaching an agreement. However this Clovis is the same as OTL, an ambitious guy who will soon realize that he need the support of the Gallo-Roman population, something that he can gain through legitimation from Rome.
    I'll probably write a small update about the situation of the Franks and Gaul in the future, probably at the beginning of the new century. About the visigoths, they can really be considered the dominant force in the west at the moment, but their leadership is weak and lots of people both from inside and outside the Gothic kingdom could take advantage of the situation.
    This is something I will deal with later. Now the focus of the emperor ( and of this timeline) will go to a completely different region of the empire.
     
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  14. Threadmarks: Chapter XV: The Imperial Consistorium

    Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    Chapter XV

    The recent events forced Nepos to once again summon the Consistorium. After the assassination of Constantianus voices quickly spread about the possible responsibles. Among them there were:

    · Syagrius, the former Magister Militum per Gaul, who probably wanted the fall of Constantianus and his position as commander of the army of Italy;

    · King Clovis, who may have ordered the assassination of the roman general, so that Syagrius would take the blame or alternatively the assassination of Constantianus was an error as the intended target was Syagrius himself;

    · A third possibility was Eparchius Avitus, Ecdicius’ son, eager to gain his father's position.

    At Ravenna the Imperial Consistorium, led by the Quaestor Sacri Palatii Macrobius and Magister Officiorum Marcianus, was now called to judge these men. Immediately Eparchius, when news reached him about this special tribunal that was called to judge him, resigned from his position of Comes Domesticorum, waiting for the imperial sentence in his home outside Ravenna. Meanwhile Syagrius vehemently accused king Clovis as the real responsible of the assassination of Constantianus, and the fact that he din’t bother to send a delegation to defend his position in front of the imperial court was the most important evidence, in his opinion. Nepos however was becoming more and more paranoid, all he saw was attempts to kill or overthrow him. Many senators were put under strict control, Praefectus Praetorio Caecina Mavortius spontaneously resigned from his office while many minor officers inside the army of Italy were temporarily arrested and put under surveillance. Not even the emperor’s brother in law Marcianus was safe from the emperor’s suspects. Nepos decreed that from now on the 5 tribunes of the Scholae Palatinae would reply directly to him instead of responding to the Magister Officiorum. During the first session of the Consistorium nothing was achieved, and Nepos feeling no more safe in the city decided to move to the imperial residence at Antium while leaving the Praepositus Sacri Cubiculi Seleucus (a sort of chamberlain, usually an eunuch of eastern origin) to represent him in front of the Consistorium and to inform him about the evolution of the events.

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    During the following session it was verified the innocence of Eparchius and Syagrius while the suspects were now directed toward king Clovis. This until one day the assassin was discovered, drunk, outside a tavern in city of Faventia. He was talking too much when his words reached the ears of the wrong person, an agentes in rebus named Paulus. Paulus was investigating about the loyalty of the local Curiales to the emperor and their possible involvement in the murder when he luckily found this drunkard. At first annoyed by the drunk man, however he quickly realized, while listening to his boasting, that he was the man he was searching for. The poor drunkard didn’t know he was talking directly to the ears of of the emperor and soon was imprisoned and brought in front of the imperial Consistorium in Ravenna. Here after being “carefully” treated by the emperor’s most skilled torturers he revealed the reasons of the assassination: he was simply a man who was hired for the job by a wealthy senator who paid him generously to the task. His name was Iustus Celius Secondinus. This young senator was famous throughout Rome not only for his skill as orator but also for his wife, Iuliana Saturnina, a real beauty in the capital and the empire. Unfortunately Saturnina was also known as a promiscuous woman with many lovers, Constantianus among them. Tired of this situation Secondinus decided to take his own vengeance at the expense of Constantianus thus hiring an obscure man to do the job and paying him generously. Too generously, considering that the man revealed is involvement while celebrating and spending his reward. Realizing that he had nothing to fear, Nepos returned Rome with his family while reinstating everyone to their previous office.​

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    The Consistotium had accomplished its duty and now the only thing left to do was to decide the fate of Secondinus. While ordering the decapitation of the assassin he decided to leave the decision of the fate of Secondinus to the Senate, considering that he was no threat to the emperor, given his motivation for which the emperor was sympathetic. The senators led by the Praefectus Urbis Symmachus decided to expel their colleague from the Senate, to confiscate half of his properties and to exile to Reggium while Saturnina was forced to join a convent where she would have enough time to think about her sins. Finally Syagrius was appointed as successor of Constantianus to the role of Magister Militum Praesentalis.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

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    Is good to see, with the return of order and of a functional administration, justice can do the proper job in the Empire. And also that not always in those days an assassination had to be necessarily political. It may be a small episode, but is very important - Roman civilization and civism are returning in Italy; and this is an important assessment towards internal stability.
     
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  16. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    At first I wanted to describe a wider conspiracy behind this assassination, however the events that soon will follow this update forced me to end this quickly. In the future I will try to describe bigger political intrigues and usurpations.
    Nepos understood, like probably Majorian before him, that one of the first things Rome needs is internal stability and an efficient administration. That's why we didn't see any major military campaign during this reign. I know people are eager to see a quick recovery of what was once roman, however not only this is impossible at the moment but it's also better for the timeline to reach our goal slowly. After reaching that point of history we will have plenty of time to see how the Romans will defend what they've conquered or how they will lose once again everything.
     
  17. Ultima Ratio The Last Baron

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    Rome is currently in a fine place, if Nepos can solidify his rule, his successor will have ample of opportunity to grab some land once all these barbarian kingdoms start to unravel.
     
  18. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    Definitely eight years of Nepos' rule improved the general situation of Italy. And the early VI century has lots of opportunities that the Romans can exploit for a comeback
     
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  19. Ultima Ratio The Last Baron

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    Knowing how things played out OTL, there's a strong possibility to take back Gaul, Iberia and North Africa in the coming century, the only main obstacles are the Franks and the Arabs.
     
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  20. Flavius Iulius Nepos Emperor with the support of the East

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    The Arabs represent a serious threat more for the eastern roman empire than for the WRE, at least initially. However despite this timeline started with a focus for western events it will soon become a story about both empires.
     
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