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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    More or less yeah :) The name would be rather archaic by this point, but it is a rural and conservative family, even if nobody understands the Etruscan language anymore the old names are kept in this family
     
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  2. Derek Pullem Butterfly Killer

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    Not just iron if I understand - the area was rich in copper, tin and silver too. He may want to check that "iron" very carefully as he may be missing some lucrative by-products.
     
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  3. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    I don't know, while there I only read about how Mussolini got iron from the slag (which is when the necropolis was found back)
     
  4. Derek Pullem Butterfly Killer

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  5. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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  6. Threadmarks: Buccula, Marcomania Superior, November 245

    Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Buccula, Marcomania Superior, November 245


    Marcus Iulius Philippus Augustus was cold. He disliked Germania, so far from his natal Arabia Felix. Yet the campaign to reduce the cimbrian peninsula had required his personal attention for all of the good season and he’d decided to make Buccula his winter capital.

    The city was not yet a hundred years old. Built on orders of the divine Marcus Aurelius, it was equipped with everything that could be expected from a provincial capital : baths, a library, a large forum with a basilica and a temple to the capitoline trinity, and a governor’s palace of proper size that had been appropriated by the emperor.

    Contrary to many other cities, the governor’s palace was in its own fortified area inside the perimeter of the city walls, a concession made at the time against the threat of a germanic assault on the city. A large public garden in front of those defenses guaranteed no houses were built near it, and the defenses of the palace had nothing to be ashamed of : they were on top of a large hill which had been made larger still with strong retaining walls supporting a platform on which the palace and a temple to the imperial family had been erected.

    A large ramp let to the platform through a double door and was the only access to the upper area beside a hidden staircase that had been built inside the structure of the platform and walled off to hide its existence. The sides of the ramp had been decorated with reliefs of roman soldiers smithing barbarians, putting their villages to the torch or capturing them, as clear a depiction of the power of Rome as had ever been built in the provinces.

    There was room enough in the area of the platform to have a full auxiliary cohort live in the service buildings of the palace and train on the large esplanade in front of the palace, with food enough to hold for six months and a well and cisterns to provide water.

    The palace itself was rather classic, but had the latest innovations in art and comfort : underfloor heating in the whole building, splendid stained glasses to keep the cold outside, frescoed walls and a number of sculptures to ornate the rooms, running water, its own library, quarters for the administration and for the slaves, …

    Underneath the city was laid in the plain following a regular orthogonal plan, the primary decumanus leading from the ramp of the palace on its northern side the the access to the legionary base set on another hill on the south-western side of the city, a second decumanus leading from the northern gate to another on the southern side of the city. Between the two decumani and the main cardo, at the foot of the palace, was the large forum and the usual buildings, including the local curia.

    The position of the city on an affluent of the Albis meant that the it had become rather prosperous, to the point it was in truth the true real capital of all of Germania : the older rhenane cities were more in the orbit of Gallia, and the very good communication roads with the south and the north meant the city was a favourite of the emperors. The palace was accordingly grand, luxurious even, and equipped with all the necessary amenities.

    Yet the underfloor heating system could not bring the large basilica to a temperature comfortable for the emperor, and thus the cold. At least no bad news contributed to the ambiance, which was a change.

    The week before a report had come telling of the difficulties of the spanish gold mines, which seemed to be exhausted. Then it had been a report, only two weeks old, on renewed tension on the mesopotamian border. Thanks to the telegraph system such news arrived fast to the attention of the emperor, but sometime he wished it did not. An engagement of only one or two centuries wasn’t worth his attention.

    Sometime he envied the emperors of the past, but he also knew this made his life much easier. He’d had reports on suspected treachery or alleged plotting well before they became dangerous, allowing him and his immediate predecessors to cut the heads of a number of conspiracies before the traitors could coordinate their actions.

    This had been the case at the death of the previous emperor, Gaius Aelius Paetus, a distant relative of the divine Hadrian, when a british legion had proclaimed its legate emperor and had murdered the senatorial praefectus of the west, who happened to be visiting the troops at the time.

    A frumentarius from the praefectus’ entourage had been able to order the sending of a message to the praefectus annonae, who had contacted the new emperor which sent in turn a message promising promotions for the officers and cash for the men to the commanders of the other legions present on the island, who had then quickly mobilized and marched against the rebellious unit. The speed of the reaction had made the soldiers desert their champion, who’d been sent to Rome in chains alongside all of his officers and most of the senior centurions, there to wait for Philip’s decision.

    The rapid resolution of the crisis had been an eye opener for many who had not completely grasped the usefulness and the power of the faster communications. The resilience of the administration had also been noted for one could have expected the murder of one of the four senatorial praefectus to throw the region into chaos.

    Of course the rebel legion had been decimated and a new senatorial praefect designated by the Senate upon recommendation from the emperor, and the senate had ordered the death of all the officers except two young tribunes who were shown to have taken no part in the plot but still saw their careers stopped before they could come into the senate… The properties of the condemned had also been confiscated and added to the imperial domain…

    Still the information overload at the head of the empire meant that things had to be organized. Not only must the imperial secretariats be reinforced, but new positions had to be created and a formal permanent army concilium with its own staff established. Its task would be to filter information before it reached the emperor, and formulate plans as well as organize the logistics of the whole army.

    The call of the ushed got the emperor’s attention. It was time to focus again on the day’s audiences : there was work to be done for the good of the empire.
     
  7. Praetor98 #TeamBlue

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    The Roman General Staff! The first of its kind in the world!
     
  8. Basileus_Komnenos Well-Known Member

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    Hi I just started reading this timeline again. But this succession system makes no sense to me. Rome was a de facto hereditary monarchy at this point. Thanks to the efforts of emperors like the Flavians and Trajans, the Senate had no real powers left. They were mostly a rubber stamp. Plus the army preferred hereditary succession. This is why Marcus Aurelius appointed his son as his successor. There would have been another Civil War if he hadn't. When there was a lack of a legitimate successor there was a civil war with the legions getting the Final Say. The Senate could nominate a successor, but that would only be upheld if the Legions wished it so. The Senate nominated Nerva as their puppet which pissed off the soldiery, the common people, and the Praetorians who all loved Domitian. The Praetorians staged a mutiny and forced Nerva to name Trajan as his heir. Trajan was a popular military commander who served with distinction under Domitian. The so called "adoptive-succession" trope peddled about the five good emperors was largely a myth. Most of the adopted emperors simply adopted their closest male relatives as their heirs. Hadrian was Trajan's maternal cousin and was thus adopted into the imperial household. Hadrian was gay and thus he had no children and adopted Antonius Pius who adopted Marcus Aurelius. Aurelius made his son his heir as that was what the army preferred. Adoption was only used by Roman elites in the rare case that they lacked heirs. This was so that their family name would continue. The nature of the flow power in a monarchy is natural for it to be hereditary.

    I recommend checking this video out:

    Commodus if he felt snubbed could have easily fled to provinces and raised an army upon whomever assumed the imperial title. Commodus would have also have had much of his father's supporters flock to him as well as we was the legal son of Commodus. Augustus also set the precedent for hereditary succession by grooming his grandsons and later stepsons to take the throne after him. While this succession might work for a couple generations when the emperor has no sons I see it failing much like Diocletian's tetrarchy. Constantine and the other tetrarchs sons were pretty pissed about Diocletian excluding them from the Imperial Line of succession. The legions also naturally acclaimed Constantine as Emperor since he was the son of Constantius. So if another emperor has sons they would be very angry if the Senate or their father chose someone else rather than them. They would always find support within ambitious generals and commanders as well as well as bureaucrats looking for positions. This will guarantee a civil war as the new emperor would need to kill the previous emperor's close relatives or sons as they would be a threat to his legitimacy. Other adopted emperors might also look to shore up their legitimacy by marrying into the previous imperial household to tie the two houses together. This way it reduces the chance other members of the previous ruling family from being able to conspire to usurp the new emperor. Justinian had to get rid of Hypatius as he proved to be a figure his political enemies in the Senate rallied behind. In the era of bigger army diplomacy, the one with the largest army wins. So whatever accords the powerless Senate decrees the legions could ignore it. Also dynastic rule doesn't always mean that the emperor is unfit. The empire had managed a peaceful succession system with the Theodosians in the East that was beginning to become defacto up until Phokas ruined it by killing Maurice.
     
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  9. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    First : thanks for the comment and the re-read, I hope you'll enjoy it !

    About the succession system now... It is indeed one of the most discuted change in this TL.
    The system is based on adoption, and adoption by the adoptee in order to try to get stabble succession in case of issues while preventing any bloodshed. Given that there is a merit component in the succession the other noble families get the possibility to share into the power but the imperial family is a kind of "neutral" family, not part of the usual senatorial games, and the biological sons of the man ruling are excluded to in fact preserve their family's place in the game.
    This also means that Commodus has no special training, no special place in the government of the empire, and is not the spoiled brat he became, nor has he any following because the other players don't see him as a player for to see him like one would lower the chances of their own family. But also note that any potential Commodus question only appears after 2 peacefull transitions (Antonine the Pious and Marcus Aurelius) so there is precedent showing that the system works and gives good results.

    The segmentation of power in the provinces that appear under Marcus Aurelius also helps in this regard, as it makes any uprising much more difficult too.

    So to take your video's terminology, the players are playing a game which has the advantages of family (through adoption and not blood) and protect the keys to power while allowing for renewal of the elites and prevention of a new Nero or Caligula by introducing a meritocratic element in the play. You can't be just ambitious, you got to be good at the game too.

    I know it's not perfect an explaination, but it gives you my take on things :)
     
  10. EmperorOfTheNorthSea Cnut? You haven't seen a REAL North Sea Empire

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    I wonder if the Romans will ever get into land reclamation, because northern Germany at the time is hella swampy and I believe only possible to hold with some serious drainage and landfill projects.

    Also now that the Romans are campaigning in Jutland do you think there are any trading/exploration vessels in the Baltic? I know they would probably look for the source of all that Amber around Königsberg/Kaliningrad so they have a reason to be in the area. Given the relative calmness of the Baltic to the Atlantic I think even with the pre-POD level of Roman Naval tech the Baltic could be navigated.
     
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  11. Basileus_Komnenos Well-Known Member

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    But who determines merit? What’s there to stop an emperor or general from marching on Rome and making himself emperor. This is what Augustus and other army commanders did after all. The Emperors even in the Byzantine Era were theoretically chosen by the Senate and people. This could simply be interpreted as an army acclaiming their commander as Augustus. When Rome has a stable dynasty like the Flavian, Theodosians, Heraclians, Macedonians, etc. the chance for civil war is reduced as there is a clear chain line of succession.

    Wait what? I’m sure this would be the case on paper but not in practice as the empire evolves. The closest person to the emperor’s was while likely be that of his wife and son. They would naturally be sought out by ambitious courtiers, bureaucrats, and generals to help influence the emperor. With enough of these people the Imperial family could easily lead a coup and reinstate dynastic succession. This is how the Hapsburgs rigged up the HRE elective succession system based on “merit” to get their family into power. They also married their sons and daughters to other powerful vassals to ensure their support. To use as an example in the modern US where dynasties are frowned upon families like the Roosevelts, Kennedys, Clintons,Rockefellers, Bushes still emerged to exert influence on the political scene. Some were successful in getting their relatives into office while others were not. This was also a thing in the early US with the Adams family. Had someone like Washington had children it’s likely that he would become a contender in future politics. This is because the transfer of power is naturally hereditary and thus father’s would want to bequeath their lands and titles to their sons or other relatives to continue their line and legacy. Even Republican Rome had this with the Scipio family thanks to Scipio Africanus. There was a myth that only a Scipio could win in Africa. Scipio was a legendary commanders whose own soldiers even offered him a Crown. Both Pompey and Caesar used the name Scipio for propaganda purposes and to boost their own legitimacy. They tried to get various members of the Scipio family on their side.

    While it’s easy for most of the Antonines who did not have their own children, other Emperors who do have children would likely want to pass the throne to their sons. They would likely secretly train them into getting power like Augustus did with his grandsons and stepsons.


    I think you’re misunderstanding what the Roman adoptive succession system was. When a Roman patrician Noble family lacked eligible male heirs they would adopt other outside there social class or within their own class to find a suitable male heir to continue their family. This would work to form alliances as it creates a client patron relationship between the “father” and “son.” They would work to support each other in politics or business. The elder would reward his new heir by transferring his title and connections over to him. This was how manh ancient Roman families continued their line and remained oligarchical. The vast wealthy estates of the patrician elite families would also remain intact as well. This was how they dominated the Senate for centuries. The Emperors who adopted their heirs simply lacked male relatives or sons. Trajan adopted his maternal cousins Hadrian. Hadrian and Antonius Pius had no children so they were able to adopt their own successors. Marcus Aurelius HAD to choose his son since he was his legal heir. To simply snub him when he hadn’t done anything wrong would be against nearly 1,000 years of Roman practice. It would be alien to the Romans. If you had Augustus try to implement this change then maybe this could work as he built the system, and now you are over a century removed from his time.

    Another analogy is with the Carolingian Empire and Germanic gavelkind succession. Gavelkind is where the lands and titles are divided between the rulers sons. This is ultimately what caused the Carolingians to collapse as each ruler’s sons kept fighting each other to gain power. With the fragmentation of their domains the Frankish Kings eventually became figureheads. The only one who could have prevented himself was the man who built the whole system up from nothing (The Western Romans Imperial title had been defunct for 300 years). Even then he would have had a slim chance of getting this to work as this would go against centuries of Germanic inheritance law that was instituted by the First Frankish Kinf Clovis the Great.

    But he is still the son of the previous Emperor. The Senate has no real power by this point. It seems to ASB to have the son excluded from power. Especially since he would be closest to he emperor. It’s also asb for the other players to NOT see him as a rival for the throne. Even in Republican Rome sons were expected to succeed and take the places of their father. This the whole idea behind Augustus taking power since he was the closet male relative and adopted and therefore legal son of the Emperor. For Marcus Aurelius to simply “adopt” a new son and ignore the inheritance rights of his actual biological son would be seen as madness. This would go against nearly a millenia of established ancient Roman traditions and law. Other ambitious courtiers and generals who dissented with the previous regime or lost favor with would naturally flock around him to use him as a figurehead to implement their policies. Disgruntled soldiers would then hail him as Emperor and thus there would be another civil war.

    Also it would be natural for Commodus to be pissed about the new political arrangements. His father would be ignoring him the legal successor of his father by all rights and traditions for this random dude his father adopted. Commodus and any sane man would view this as a slight. He would likely make plans to succeed his father via a coup or kill him secretly like in gladiator and press his claim to the army who would no doubt support the Emperor’s son. This similar to what happened in the film gladiator with Marcus wanting to reinstate the Republic for no reason.

    The real Marcus Aurelius knew what his son was and still gave him power for this reason. This spared Rome a civil war. While Commodus was inattentive to his duties as ruler in real life, he still delegated those functions to competent men. Many of the economic woes in the empire have to do with the Antonine plague that killed a huge chunk of the empire’s population. This wasn’t his fault.

    Let’s say Commodus died and Lucius Verus and his son Marcus’s grandson had lived, this would have meant that Verus or his son would have been the next emperor after Augustus.

    For the succession system you laid out Marcus would have to kill his own son to make room for this to work. Any sons that exist would be angry that their inheritance would be stripped from them. This way his handpicked successor would have had a smooth path to power. It would also necessitate that you stop the next emperor from having children. This isn’t really realistic or a practical solution either. Augustus was suspected of killing off his developmentally disabled grandson by Agrippa to have Tiberius take the reigns without issue.

    Historians are beginning to reevaluate Caligula and Nero. Neither of these emperors were the monsters they were made out to be. They were victims of the Senate’s slander as they took away power from the Senate. The Senate was basically a social club for Rome’s elites at this point. Up until Diocletian it’s membership was mostly restricted to native Italians, not even fully Romanized Provincials. Hadrian in his time was not a very popular emperor especially with his abandonment of Mesopotamia. Only later historians view him favorably for his consolidation of Rome’s borders. Nero and Caligula were smeared by the Senatorial aristocracy who wrote the history. For example Nero is accused of burning Rome and acting as a madman. Nero was away in Antium and rushed back to Rome as soon as news reached him. He also opened up his palace to the refugees. He also made a huge attempt at repairing the city. This was very expensive and his mistake was building his new opulent palace at the same time. He was slandered for stripping Roman temples of its valuables. This was a very prudent move to pay for rebuilding the capital. Alexios Komnenos did the same thing as well but he is viewed as one of Rome’s greatest Emperors. In his case the empire was bankrupt and facing off a three way invasion by the Normans, Pechenegs, and Turks. He managed to defeat them all. Had Nero won it’s likely that he would not have been smeared so much. He was also accused of killing his pregnant wife by kicking her to death. It’s much more likely that she died of complications related to the pregnancy or illnesses as was common in the ancient era. His antics in the theater made him popular with the lower classes. Had Nero simply not lost his nerve he could have easily rallied provincial legions like the Danubian or Rhine legions he could have easily crushed the revolt against him.

    Caligula did things like threaten to make his Horse as Consul to show the Senate how irrelevant they were. This was done to shame them. Caligula also ordering his men to attack Neptune and collect seashells wasn’t an act of madness. It was a deliberate measure to punish his legions for their cowardice. Caligula wanted to lead an army into Britannia and conquer it. This was something Julius Caesar had failed to do. But the Ancient Romans the ever superstitious people feared the land for it being unknown and mysterious. Thus his soldiers mutineed and refused to cross. Enraged Caligula ordered them to collect seashells and march in Rome in triumph. This would shame them for their cowardice. Normally legions would march in triumph with enemy leaders dragged in chains and slaves and gold from conquered lands in tow, but unlike their ancestors they bring back seashells for their cowardice. Claudius also based his plans off those devised under his nephew’s reign.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2019
  12. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Romans have always been in land reclamation, they did it for a number of lakes in Italy and, ITTL, also in the Pontine marshes. So land reclamation is certainly something they'll do but they currently don't have the incentive for those regions.

    About the Baltic, yes Roman ships are starting to ply those waters, using small coastal merchant ships or military rowing boats of the large riverine type (no full size liburna or trireme, but still large crafts), using the river system to get in and out of imperial territory.

    Merit is determined by the emperor and validated by the Senate, inside the rules defined by the law which excludes blood relatives of the emperor. In practice the Senate is mainly ruberstamping, but it keeps the illusion. It is in time of eventual crisis (death of the emperor and the 2 planned successors) that this approbations takes importance again, but it has not yet been put to the test, the closest was the early death of the imperial heir during the later part of the rule of Marcus Aurelius, which saw the youth selected for grooming take the spot early on, but that was the mecanism working as designed, with the senate doing its role.

    In fact the main threat to the system would be the imperial wives (and remember Hadrian had stormy relations with Sabina so he knows it !) but here the system is built to limit the influence of the sons, to create a system of check and balance while preserving the appearance of a republican aspect despite making the imperator stronger. All the usual games of power will of course be played with the heir, but given he is chosen as an adult he's already a mind of his own and won't go into foolish conspiracies like Julia's under Augustus, to give but an example. Also the system eliminates the risk of brothers vying for power because the heir is adopted, thus preventing a Domitian liquidating Titus type of scenario, or a Nero/Agrippina getting rid of Britannicus)

    The system is built by an Antonine, and Marcus Aurelius decided not to change the system because he was raised in it and sees, as a philosopher, its merits. The fact that it works when his heir dies in the plains of the north east only reinforces in him the idea its a good thing to maintain. By that point in time the law is already some 60 years old, few people have known any other.
    No further challenge in the next few successions means it becomes tradition. Also don't forget that the army command is very different, command is much more split and beside the emperor only 4 men have the power to give order to more than one legion. And those units are also somewhat further apart and certainly further from Rome. Finally the military success under the rule of Hadrian, either his or Voltinius', have allowed him a security in power that could lead him to take such a drastic decision without fear of the army.

    I understand quite well how it worked, but I also remember how the romans could twist the system to fit their political aims : there is of course the famous case of Claudius/Clodius, but other exemples show how adoption could be done for political reasons not directly dynastic. Here I twist the system, very hard, but remains in the general logic of it even if the fact this excludes a blood heir from the power succession is indeed a stretch.

    Here Hadrian makes the imperial throne above succession, a political function but not a private property. In this he indeed break with the Augustean tradition of making the imperial position a private possession, but that is not anti-roman, in fact it could be seen as a return to something closer to the mos maiorum.

    Sons were expected to struggle to the same honors as those their fathers had, not inherit them : the fact your father was consul helped become consul, but it was in no way automatic. Here the throne is set back into that line of thought. And while the Senate has little power and rubber stamps a lot of things, the fact it has to do something allows for a mechanism in situation of crisis, a time when the Senate did take power back (whether it could maintain it or no is something else... look at the Senate support for the Gordians

    Yes Commodus might be pissed of being barred from the imperial throne, but he can't really do much about it (especially if his nature is in any way similar to OTL, which I would not guarantee given he does not have the pressure of being the heir). As for the army it may back some successful general, especially if a designated heir/just promoted emperor has had a number of defeats in his past, but under Marcus Aurelius it is no longer the same kind of organization as before, and by the current rule it has evolved a lot : formal schools training at least centurion level NCO in a number of places in the Empire, formal central school in Rome training all higher ranks and testing them in wargames, now a general staff... This changes the relationship of the army to the state, and no one is pulling a Caracalla here : there is no general extension of citizenship so we're in the mid-3rd century with a still working incentive for non-citizens to enlist and enough land and offensive operations to make legion service interesting to citizen legionaries

    True, but Marcus Aurelius was not in the same situation than the one here (and has not had to get rid of Verus either, thanks to this system). And yes many issues faced by the empire came from that plague, but Commodus did plenty of wrongs too :)

    Yes but with many plots and tensions around the throne, here we have stability because everyone is well designated by law, which never was the system in ancient Rome for imperial succession. What Hadrian introduces ITTL is rule of law over imperial succession, a true constitution, helped by great jurists such as Publius Salvius Iulianus (who was close to Hadrian). More than military conquests, this is the POD of this timelien

    Marcus Aurelius do no need to do that because the law is in place and he's the second emperor elected following this method, moreover he's the first educated in this way of thinking so he also raised his son telling him he would not be emperor.0

    True enough, but historical truth has little weight here as we are talking perception of their reign in the senatorial circles, and there we see the black legend as transmitted by our sources. this does not change the argument on the change of the succession mechanism

    All this being said, thank you for your deep engagement with the story :)
     
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  13. Joriz Castillo Well-Known Member

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    Has the empire extended its borders? If so, please tell us.
     
  14. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    Yes, currently the borders are largely expended : in Britannia the border is on the Antonine wall but with lesser threat north than OTL (since the time of Hadrian), in Germania all the lands west of the Vistula are under roman formal or nominal control (partly expended during the reign of Hadrian but mostly under Marcus Aurelius, with some area getting "gifted" to the empire by their rulers between the rule of Marcus Aurelius and that of Philip) with the exception of Jutland peninsula, currently under conquest by Philip, Hungary was conquered (under Hadrian) Tchequia and Slovakia are under roman control (reign of Marcus Aurelius), as are all the regions of modern day Romania since Hadrian (with large influence over Moldavia), in the East Irak west of the Tigris river is fully under Roman control since Marcus Aurelius, the Arabic peninsula is under larger roman influence but not direct control.
     
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  15. Joriz Castillo Well-Known Member

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    I might need a map to comprehend all of that...
     
  16. Shogun Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it is definitely time for an updated map, somewhat like Hecatee's earlier one (the one that looks the most professional) but this time including all of Mesopotamia to the Persian Gulf.
     
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  17. EmperorOfTheNorthSea Cnut? You haven't seen a REAL North Sea Empire

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    huh besides the pontine marshes I never read or heard of anything about that besides building harbors. Got any sources for that? I'm pretty curious about the subject.
     
  18. Krishna123 Well-Known Member

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    I don't remember the source but I recall reading about roman drainage works in East Anglia Uk that were discovered when the 17th century works to drain the fens etc happened
     
  19. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

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    There is a system to control water level of Alban lake (sending it to the Nemi lake) near Rome to increase cultivated area next to the Alban lake, there is a lake in central italy (not far from alba fucens if i recall) drained for new lands,...
     
  20. Guaro Well-Known Member

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    Question: the gold mines in Spain were abandoned because the became exhausted like in this time line or they were abandoned because all the civil war of the third century?
     
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