Hadrian's Consolidation - reboot

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Hecatee, May 16, 2016.

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  1. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Belgium
    Dear AH'ers

    In order to celebrate the new version of AH.com and because I've long been wanting to improve it, I'm going to reboot a previous TL of mine that I started in October 2013 and shamefully abandoned about one year later despite having had numerous interesting comments by the community.

    We're going back to Rome at the time of the Emperor Trajan's death, in 117 CE. Hadrian's just come upon the throne of the Caesars and has a number of difficult decisions to make...

    [​IMG]

    For those who read the original text, there will be at first rather few changes to the text, most being cosmetic (better language, spelling, ...), as well as more maps to help the reader locate the events.
    Changes will appear progressively, with new chapters included among the older ones and then brand new chapters pushing the story further on.

    I hope you'll enjoy and will give as many comments as possible to help improve this story.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2016
  2. Threadmarks: Syria, autumn 117 CE

    Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Syria, autumn 117 CE

    As tired as Publius Aelius Hadrianus Buccellanus might be, he knows his day is far from over. He has just finished a tense meeting with his concilium, during which the fate of Lusius Quietus, the untrustworthy legate of Judea, has been sealed. With the orders sent earlier to Publius Acilius Attianus, the præfectus prætorio, Hadrianus is confident that his rule will not be challenged in the immediate future. This only leaves the question of what to do for the long term destiny of the imperium.

    For now peace has been restored in the East. The Parthian have been severely beaten, their armies shattered, numerous cities taken and plundered, some like Edessa having been razed to their foundations. The Jewish revolts in Judea and in various other cities of the empire have also been crushed, with many of those blasphemous deniers of the gods killed by the legions or the regional authorities. Quietus, before his fall, raised a statue of Hadrianus on the ruins of the Jews’ temple of Hierosolyma.

    But peace is always fragile. The conquest of Dacia is still fresh, and the land is dangerously exposed to the barbarian threat. And there are so many other areas at risk from a barbarian invasion... Britannia, of course, is still partly free. Germania, as always, is a threat. Plenty of parts of the Danubian border are wide open to raids or even outright invasion, as he well knows since he did recently survey them in the name of the late imperator Trajanus.

    Augustus, be he blessed in his eternal glory, had said that the Empire’s borders were to be secured, conquest was to be shunned. Well, that had not been the vision of Trajanus, conqueror of Dacia and of Parthia… But would it be his policy ? He had already ordered a withdrawal from many part of the newly conquered territories, too insecure with their rear in full revolt. This has bought him time but also the enmity of many in the army. But should he do more ? Fortify what fronts he can, abandon what land he cannot hold ?

    A cup of wine in his hand, the emperor loose himself in his thoughts before finally falling asleep from the wine and the exhaustion, but not without taking some decisions first…

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. luis3007 History amateur

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    Good, hope to see more soon!!
     
  4. vandevere vonhooligan

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    Replying so this will be in my "Watched Threads"...

    Looking forward to this...
     
  5. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

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    Very well, I will follow this with pleasure!

    I don't honestly remember if I read the V.1 or not, well I will follow this one with more attention!

    I wonder what Hadrian would cede and what would try to get TTL for Rome...
     
  6. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    @luis3007 : While I'll post a second update today, my goal is to set a cruise speed of one or two update a week, with some 30 updates of one or two pages already written.
    @vandevere : I hope it'll please you !
    @RyuDrago : If you did then you were silent or changed your pseudo since :) The philosophy here is that Hadrian is ready to go for forward defense instead of just defending what he already has, but he won't hesitate to retreat when needed. I've tried to have him behave in a way that is rational according to his OTL actions, but with changes too :)
     
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  7. Xenophonte Quod natura non dat, Salmantica non præstat.

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    It's really nice watch this TL back.
     
  8. SlyDessertFox Warren/Buttigieg 2020

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    New Jersey, USA
    Yes, yes, yes! It's back! So glad to see this return. Looking good, the writing is much improved as well. :biggrin:
     
  9. Kurt_Steiner That's a years supply!

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    Barcelona, Catalunya
    Popcorn ready.
     
  10. Threadmarks: Oescus, Danubian border, autumn 117 CE

    Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    @Xenophonte : thanks :) I'll do my best not to disappoint this time
    @SlyDessertFox : I could not let you have the only currently updated nice ancient timeline, could I ? :) More seriously I've reread everything I wrote at the time, but as a non native english speaker I'm sure there is still a lot of things to improve...
    @Kurt_Steiner : not very Roman, but I appreciate the feeling :)

    And now, another chapter :

    Oescus, Danubian border, autumn 117 CE

    The praetorium is a huge wooden building first constructed to hosts the headquarter of Hadrian’s predecessor, Trajanus, during his second dacian war. All around it the bustle of the camp made for a lot of noise, but not in the building, its double walls insulating those inside from any outside interference. Here Publius Aelius Hadrianus had been a general amongst many, but he is now the absolute ruler of the Empire. He sits enthroned in all the imperial glory, the commanders of the Danubian armies seated around him. Many roads lay in front of him, and only he will make the decision on which one to take.

    In front of the assembled generals, a large map of the empire stands up, small flags and colours showing the extent of the empire and its various forces with an estimation of their respective strengths. A huge concentration of force was still present in the east, leaving the Rhine dangerously under protected. In some places the borders were on river lines, as on the Rhine, but much too often they were not. Dacia was exposed to the Roxolani and to the Iazyges, even if they pretended to submit to the Emperor’s will, and there was a huge gap between the Rhine and Danube garrisons where barbarian pressure could splinter the imperial defenses.

    He has already taken decisions to somewhat allege the challenge facing the Empire by abandoning most of the Eastern conquests of his predecessor, but it is not enough. He must find a way to shorten the frontiers, to concentrate the forces he has instead of forever moving them around to reinforce the units at the next crisis point. Because despite all the roman might their is always a crisis point, only the Gods’ benevolence preventing the Empire from facing multiple large ones at the same time. What if the Parthians attacked at a time when there was a huge barbarian push in the Danube or Rhine region, or a major rebellion in Britannia ? He needs to find a more permanent solution to his dilemma.

    Rising from his throne, Hadrianus feels all eyes looking at him. Walking slowly, he approaches the huge map, his purple mantle falling on his shoulders being the only noise to be heard. For the next hour he will them the future. Two large scale offensives, both in the Danubian area, using forces freed by the end of the campaign in the east. Four enemies they knew well, two of them who had been diminished by the recent wars of Trajanus.

    The Roxolani and the Daci would be attacked from across the Danube , from the east, and pushed toward the north and the tribe of the Carpi, where they would be all pushed to the other side of the river Porata. The Legio I Italica and XI Claudia would spearhead the attack with some detachments from the XV Apollinaris and the XII Fulminata brought from Cappadocia. The legio V Macedonica would serve as anchor for this movement while the XIII Gemina would protect the eastern side of the lands taken by Trajanus.

    At the same time, on the other side of Dacia, XIV Gemina from Carnuntum, the II Adiutrix from Aquincum and the IV Flavia Felix would attack across the Danube from the west and the south, the VII Claudia protecting Dacia on the western side, the forces crushing the Iazyges to push them toward the mountains held by the Osi and the Cotini. The Quadi and the Marcomanni had been quiet enough those last few years to so diminish the forces protecting Noricum and Pannonia. It was a gambit, but a reasonable enough one.

    Hadrianus himself would lead the Iazyge offensive, knowing the land well from a previous mission in the area. Those two operations would significantly diminish the total length of the border, with mountains and rivers to shore up the future defenses. Two or three years of campaigning would probably see the border put on the Porata or even the Tyras, giving numerous lines of defense against future raids from the steppe peoples.

    His generals agreed. It was a sound plan, and would bring good agricultural land in the hands of the Empire, lands which would provide them with nice new estates as well as places where to settle many veterans. And in three or four years they would be able to turn their sight back toward the east and Parthia with seasoned soldiers at their back, where further riches would be plundered. Yes, they liked the plan they were seeing.


    [​IMG]

    Red : the main axes of advance of the Imperial forces
    Blue : the expected retreat of the barbarians

    [​IMG]
    The expected new borders at the end of the operations
     
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  11. thekingsguard Founder of Korsgaardianism

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    I remember this TL, where Hadrian secures more natural, defensible borders in Europe. Good to see it rebooted!
     
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  12. Threadmarks: Apulum, Dacia, Spring 118 CE

    Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    @thekingsguard : Thanks for the encouragement, I hope it'll be worth it for the readers coming back to this story !

    And now, whithout further ado, the next installment :

    Apulum, Dacia, Spring 118 CE

    Caius Cassius Voltinius looked at the agitation in front of the door of his praetorium tent. His legion, the XIII Gemina, had been cut into two unequal units : one group, the smallest, had been left in the base of Apulum, along with an unit of auxiliaries, while he, two third of his forces and two cohorts of auxiliaries had moved south toward Romula Malva where they had set a temporary camp. Their task was simple, as they were to guard a river against any barbarian that would be pushed in front of them by the men of the I Italica coming across the Danube at Novae.

    They would then go north toward the mountains where they would prevent enemy incursions, pushing them toward the forces of the reinforced XI Claudia and of the V Macedonica which would try to trap them as the cork on an amphora or the anvil where the hammer would be the combined forces of the I Italica and the XI Claudia. Simple and efficient, if the Roxolani cavalry was prevented to unite and destroy a legion in the plains…

    Yet Voltinius was confident. The memory of their crushing defeat at the hands of Trajanus left the barbarian fearful of the power of the legions, and many would flee rather than suffer their deadly wrath. Grain had been brought from Egypt and Africa to the granaries of the bases at Novae, Durostorum and Troesmis through the ports of Odessus, Tomis and Istrus, ensuring a good provisioning of the forces of the eastern offensive.

    On the other hand the plan to simultaneously attack on the western side of the province to beat the Iazyges seemed a bit risky to the veteran legion commander. Of course large forces were brought to bear against the enemy, and the land was rather suitable for the kind of operations planned by the emperor, but was it not tempting the Gods than to ask for two victorious major campaigns at the same time in such a small area ?

    He was sure that wheat and oat had been brought in large quantities to the fortress of Viminacium, Singidunum and Aquincum, and that logistics would not be an issue, but would the forces deployed to defend Sarmizegetusa, Napoca and Porolissum be enough to serve as anvil for the western hammer ? He hoped he would not have to turn his forces in a hurry toward this area…

    As a centurion led his men toward the parade ground for some exercises, Voltinius shrugged and turned his attention to the state of his forces. This century was not full strength, he would have to check on the day’s sick list…

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. Alcsentre Calanice Our Equivalent of Click Bait

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    How will the divine Hadrianus Imperator solve the internal problems of the Empire? The succession crises? The economic problems of the late 2nd century? The Germanic threat growing on the Rhine?
     
  14. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    At this point in time he does not have to face them : he's in the early 2nd century, thus the economic issues are not yet present, the Germanic border is globally quiet and the main issue is the one of succession. What he knows he faces is overextension of the borders, unrully tribes in Britania, Mauretania and Syria, and indeed the succession issue which, during his reign, was not that much of an issue (although he had to kill some persons in order for Antonine to rule).
    You'll see that I intend to play with the Germanic tribes which should have interesting effects down the line, and the economy might fare somewhat better thanks to this and some other decisions although no one sees the issues and the lack of a proper economic theory at the time may mean its impossible to find a true fix to that issue...
     
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  15. Threadmarks: A Iazyge village, near the Tisia river, spring 118 CE

    Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Today's chapter is a newly written one, the first full lenght novel content in this reboot. Enjoy !

    A Iazyge village, near the Tisia river, spring 118 CE


    The wooden farm was on the periphery of the small village which housed a Iazyge extended family. A dozen houses close together with large fields all around and a wooded area providing firewood and some small game to improve the ordinary meals made of chicken and cereals. Children played around the houses while the women prepared the evening meals and the men came back from the field or trained with their weapons in the area dedicated to such exercise while there was still enough light for it.

    Hilda was cooking the evening’s meal when they arrived. She was adding chicken to the heavy iron pot set to boil over the house’s heart when the first cries came through the open door of the building. Soon the noise grew as more people started panicking at the sight of the enemy cavalry bearing down on the village.

    None of the village’s warriors had spotted them, giving the Romans a total element of surprise. Around a hundred men, they came from the wood and fell upon the village like a flight of deadly crows coming to steal grain in a freshly cut field.

    The men on the training field had gathered, weapons in hands, but they’d been swiftly dealt with by the horsemen. None had had the time to mount a horse and most had been training with their swords and not their spear, and they had been unable to do more than some small cuts to horses or men.

    They, on the other hand, had come wielding long spears or long swords, decapitating or amputating those they met, whatever their gender or age, not caring whether they held weapons or had empty hands. Soon a second group of horsemen approached from the other side of the village, cutting the way off for those who might have attempted to flee.

    Soon some of the enemy warriors dismounted and started to look for survivors hiding in the houses and goods to loot. They were organized, with a man or two staying in front of the house while two of their comrades went inside, weapons drawn. They ransacked the places, murdering most of those they met, saving some of the girls for a worse fate, taking any piece of gold they could get their hands, cutting fingers of their still living victims to take their rings or ripping their collars and ear rings by sheer strength.

    Hilda was among the unlucky ones : she was not wearing any jewelry and looked rather pretty, being less than sixteen summers and having only been married for less than six months. A soldier cut through her clothing with his knife, cutting her flesh, exposing her pale skin. Grabbing her by the hairs, he pushed her in front of his mates who cheered while fondling her with their bloody hands.

    All over the village similar scenes were happening, and the cries of the victims rose to the sky while none came to their rescue. Soon men from the commissariat would arrive to plunder all the foodstuff they could find, and then they would torch the place. The Roman war machine had conquered a new village and would leave but ashes and corpses behind it...

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2016
  16. Alcsentre Calanice Our Equivalent of Click Bait

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    I hope there will be a conterpart to Hadrian's OTL love story - maybe with subsequent divinization.
     
  17. Mrstrategy "Why You Numbskull!" Banned

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    Less murder and more political action
     
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  18. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    @G.Washington_Fuckyeah : I must confess that the initial text had no mention of Antinoos, which will in any case be butterflied, but it could become part of the new content :)
    @Mrstrategy : Don't fret there will be political action aplenty too, even if we have to begin with wars before we get there !
     
  19. Threadmarks: Somewhere between Aquincum and Porolissum, near the Tisia river, late spring 118 CE

    Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Somewhere between Aquincum and Porolissum, near the Tisia river, late spring 118 CE

    The campaign was going well and the emperor was pleased. Hadrianus was on his warhorse, relishing the good feeling that riding a powerful animal in company of a troop of mounted veterans always gave him. The season had started in late march by the building of a large bridge across the Danuvius, actually two bridges to and from a small island in the middle of the river which allowed for much less efforts than initially planned for this step of the expedition. He was followed by about twenty thousand men, mostly forces from legio XIV Gemina from Carnuntum and II Adiutrix from Aquincum itself and a large amount of auxiliaries coming from as far as Gaul and Britannia, recalled during the winter.

    A force of about ten thousand more infantrymen was coming from the south, having started their march near the pannonian capital of Sirmium and the bases at Singidunum, dividing itself in two columns which were now ravaging the lands between the Danuvius and the Tisia, funneling the barbarians toward his force. They were being supported by the Danubian fleet, which prevented the enemy from crossing the river. Barbarian villages burned, women and children were killed or sold into slavery, and nowhere the men of fighting age were given the opportunity to regroup.

    Still, the Iazyges made up a powerful tribe, and he could not underestimate them. He suspected that many of their warriors would be able to retreat behind the Tisia, on the Dacian side of the river, and might try to launch an attack against Porolissum or another of the recently founded cities of the province…

    A dispatch bearer appeared and went for one of his aide. Probably something about a village destroyed, or a site found for the night’s camp… The area was far less densely wooded than the northern Germania, a good thing too if his plan was to succeed and if he were not to succumb to the kind of trap that had killed le legatus Varus in the time of the divine Augustus.

    Hadrianus idly wondered for the umpteenth time whether he had made a good decision to attack across the Danuvius instead of launching his forces from Dacia toward the anvil that the river would have been. It had been a hotly debated question in the previous autumn, when the plans had been drawn, and he knew many officers were still uneasy about it.

    Yet Hadrianus found it the best way to proceed, Dacia not being strong enough yet to support so many legions at once. Besides, the new province being ravaged would not really be a major loss, and the area, settled as it was with recently retired veterans and guarded by two legions and various auxiliaries, would prove to be a hard nut to crack for the Barbarians…

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Donald Reaver Still alive Donor

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    Good to see this one back, always wanted to see some of these ideas worked out.
     
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