The Amalingian Empire: The Story of the Gothic-Roman Empire

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by DanMcCollum, May 30, 2011.

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  1. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    They always seem to be in most TLs dealing with this time period :) I don't see my TL as a Goth-wank, because they are going to go through some very rough times as well, but I've promised myself they will survive as a people, and there will be speakers of a Gothic language in the *present. But, the Gothic state ... well, that may be another matter (or not)
     
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  2. Petike Sky Pirate Extraordinaire

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  3. Threadmarks: Chapter 9: Why You Can’t Go Back to Constantinople

    DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Chapter 9: Why You Can’t Go Back to Constantinople

    Constantinople, Romania
    February 23, 533

    “My Emperor, we have to get to the boats,” Gregory called out, while scanning the horizon. Much of the city was in flames, and the fires cast an eerie glow over the street. This irritated Gregory, who would have greatly preferred to be moving under the complete cover of darkness.

    Gregory grasped the Emperor by the shoulder, and gave him a strong tug by the tunic, “we need to get to the docks, now,” he cried out. Under normal circumstances, such an act of touching the Emperor would have been unthinkable, but these were hardly the usual times. Two thirds of city had risen up, and were seeking the head of the man whom he was dedicated to protect. They had only narrowly escaped their last encounter with the mob of Constantinople, and … well, it was best not to dwell on that too much.

    “We have to go back for her,” the Emperor suddenly declared, “we have to go back! The mob will tear her a part, we have to go back for my wife!”
    Gregory’s hand struck out on its own accord, and struck His Grace on the cheek, who recoiled back as if he had taken the bolt of a crossbow. “She’s dead,” he snapped, “She’s dead. And so are we, if you don’t start moving. We need to get to the docks, now!”

    Much to Gregory’s own shock, the slap seemed to have shook the Emperor from his daze. Tears welled up in his eyes, likely at the thought of his dear Theodora, but he pressed his lips together and gave on vigorous nod of his head. “We get to the docks, and sale for Thrace. And, when I get back, I am going to tear these rebels apart for what they did to my Queen,” his voice caught in his throat for a second, and Gregory suddenly found himself terrified that he was going to bear witness to the great Justinian crying like a small child. But, no, the Emperor regained his composure a second time, and began to move forward.

    As the two began to move through the streets of Constantinople towards the docks, Gregory found himself wondering if he would be better suited fleeing to the rebels. He had, of course, just struck the Emperor’s own person; even, if for a good cause, there were some men who would never let such a slight go unpunished. He sent a silent prayer to God that the Emperor was as good of a man as Gregory had always believed him to be.

    And with that silent prayer in mind, Gregory plunged ahead with the Emperor on his right, as they made their way to the docks and possible freedom.

    [​IMG]
    Map of the Imperial Palace and Hippodrome

    The Empire of the East: a History of Romania from Constantine I to Justinian IV
    Ewan McGowan
    [Royal University Press: Carrickfergus, Kingdom of Gaeland, 2010] [FN 1]

    The Nika Revolution of 533 must have caught Justinian I greatly by surprise. By all rights, his reign, so far, had been a successful one; coming to the purple in 527, he had begun to enact a grand architectural program within Constantinople, determined to see the seat of the Roman Empire match the glories of Rome during her height; despite the ever going conflict with the Persians, Justinian had been able to secure an “eternal peace” between the Empires of Roman an Iran. Finally, he had begun to plan, what he felt would be the greatest accomplishment of his reign; taking advantage of the internal divisions within the Vandal Kingdom, in order to return North Africa to the Roman Empire. [FN1]

    Unfortunately, such grand schemes were costly, and for months Constantinople and the rest of the Empire had been suffering the financial affects of the Emperor’s grand designs. While Justinian planned with Belisarius and German, his two greatest generals, for the upcoming invasion of Vandalia, the masses in Constantinople fumed under the pressure of the imperial yoke.

    Matters finally come to a head in February of 533, following the conclusion of races at Constantinople’s Hippodrome. What began as simple hooliganism, soon turned political when the rioting Blue and Green factions were met by soldiers who had been sent to restore order. After a short conflict, the soldiers were routed, and the rioters, now convinced of their own power, began to spread out throughout the city, voicing long standing complaints about the rule of Justinian.
    Soon, members of the senate in Constantinople who had long resented Justinian’s rule, moved and took control of the riot. They sent words to the leaders of the rebellion, and soon took control of the situation.



    As the rioters surrounded the Imperial palace, keeping the Emperor and his soldiers at siege, a small contingent broke off and headed to the home of Hypatius, a former Consul of the Senate in Constantinople, and the nephew of former-emperor Anastasius I. When Hypatius initially rebuked the rioters, and professed that he had no wished to be crowned Emperor, the mob overran his house, and carried the Consul and his wife off, initially against their will.
    An hour later, Hypatius had apparently had a change of attitude, and consented to be crowned. As a well-attended, yet impromptu, coronation at the Hippodrome, Emperor Hypatius I was raised to the Purple, flanked by leaders of the rebellion and before the rousing cries of the rioters. Deciding that it was best to take control of the city as quickly as possible, Hypatius then announced that the time had come to storm the Imperial palace.
    As luck would have it, for the sudden-Emperor, his planned attack occurred just as Justinian and his entourage had planned to retreat to the docks. They were quickly noticed, and pursued. According to the historian Procopius, who had in the palace when the revolution occurred and was with Justinian’s party, it was in this sortie than the Empress Theodora was struck in the head by a rock thrown by a rioter, and fell. At this point, pandemonium ruled, and in the ensuing chaos, Justinian was apparently able to slip away, somehow undetected. Procopius, himself, was captured by the rebels who took him to Hypatius. The eventual fate of Theodora is unknown, but it is safe to assume that she died as a result of her injuries. [FN2]



    Justinian arrived in Thessaloniki by ship, and quickly rendezvoused with Belisarius, who was still building and equipping the army for the invasion of North Africa. Declaring that he was still loyal to Justinian, word was also sent to Germanus, and plans were taken to retake Constantinople and to throw down the Usurper.
    Meanwhile, Hypatius may have been coming to regret his forced promotion to the seat of Emperor. He found himself the proud owner of a city which had been largely burned to the ground by his own supposed supporters, and completely indebt to the power brokers of the Senate. Working in his favor, however, was that those rebel Senators who had raised him up, were amongst the most powerful and wealthiest aristocrats in the Eastern Roman Empire, and knew full well that their heads would be forfeit if Hypatius was to fall from his throne. They also knew that Justinian had been preparing an army of his own for the North African adventure, and would be able to respond to the revolution in due order; therefore, it was in their best interests to fund an army to defeat him.



    No sooner had Justinian pulled an army together, than he marched upon Constantinople directly. The army was not at full strength; Germanus’s forces were still being levied, when Justinian made ordered the march, and it was likely expected that he would arrived to reinforce the besieging army. This decision would prove to be a tactical error, and must have sprung from Justinian himself, as nothing in the life of Belisarius indicates that he would have proposed such an effort himself.



    Hypatius’ allies were quick to raise their own forces and march upon the capital in the defense of their new Emperor. Unfortunately for them, they were stuck on the wrong side of the Bosporus, with their Emperor trapped within the ruins of the city. And, so, a stalemate of sorts began; Justinian held the ground in Thrace, surrounding the city and denying any landing of Hypatius’ men. However, Hypatius’ men held the east side of the straight, thereby denying Justinian the chance to entirely encircle Constantinople and cast down the usurper.

    In September, the stalemate was finally broken after five months of siege. Apparently growing impatient, and desiring justice for the murder of his dear wife, Justinian ordered an attack across the Bosporus. Bringing up what naval forces had remained loyal to him, Justinian ordered the crossing of the straight, feeling himself to be in a stronger position now that his cousin, Germanus’, forces had finally arrived to lend him further support.

    The move apparently caught Hypatius’ forces by surprise, and they were slow to respond to the attack. This gave Justinian an initial advantage in the battle, which would go on to be called the Battle of Nicea, and his forces plunged ahead, hoping to exploit their advantage. However, in the chaos of the battle, the Emperor and his personal guard became separated from the main of his own army, and they were set upon by his foes, and Justinian was cut down. With word of Justinian’s demise, the moral of his army broke, and they quickly surrendered or fled.

    ...

    Hypatius I, was quick to show forgiveness upon his enemies. Acting against the advice of his own advisors, according to Procopius, Hypatius offered to pardon both Belisarius and Germanus if they would put down their arms and offer their allegiance. This was quickly done, and Hypatius made a great scene, in the Hippodrome, of course, of publically pardoning his foes.

    This would, eventually, prove to be a grave error. [FN3]



    [FN1] Hey look, foreshadowing of a sort!

    [FN1] I figure than an event such as the Nika riots would bound to happen during the early reign of Justinian, considering his early policies, and the forces against him. Up to this point, Justinian had very little support amongst the traditional nobility of the Byzantine state; after the riots in OTL, he was able to take a strong stand, execute Hypatius, and exile the rebel Senators, which allowed him to solidify his rule. In the ATL, this does not occur.

    [FN2] Theodora was, at least according to tradition, the only person that kept Justinian from fleeing into exile. In the ATL, she meets an unfortunate demise, and Justinian chooses not to make a stand. Also, in the ATL, since the riots occur a year later, Belisarius is not in the capital to help in suppressing the revolt but, rather, assembling his army for the campaign against the Vandals.

    On a side note, perhaps in this ATL, the term “Vandalized” might come to mean catching a very lucky break. Such as “I’ve been Vandalized, thank god! I was about to lose my kingdom, until my enemy was overthrown by a revolt in his capital!”

    [FN3] Oh what? You thought this was over? Need I tell you that I’ve just spent the last several months reading “A Song of Ice and Fire”? Oh no; this isn’t over by a long shot. Not yet. Besides, I’m sure some of you have been wondering why Theodemir was able to go on his great campaign against the Franks without worrying about the Romans to the East!

    Since this update occured more less than six months after the previous, I am considering it a nice break from my previous posting speed!

    In all seriousness, I hope this read well. It has been a while since I last read Byzantine history, and I was worried I'd lost my grounding in it. I always knew that they were going to have a large part to play in this ATL, and had been putting back referencing them in any detail until I'd completed the narrative of Theodemir's vengeance against the Franks. How that that has been done, I needed to turn to the East and explain what is going on in the Empire (after all; if the Byzantines were healthy, they likely would have to to the aid of their allies in Gaul. The Byzantines, in this period, had long had a policy of making sure that no single Germanic tribe go too pwoerful in the West.)

    I hope you've enjoyed the most recent chapter! I have about two more to write about the Byzantines, and then the narrative should unite again for the end of Theodmir's reign.
     
  4. DanMcCollum P-WI

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  5. altwere Well-Known Member

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    Well worth waiting for.
     
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  6. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Thanks, man! As I said, its been a while since I delved into Byzantine history, so I hope I got the feel of it right. In any case, the Empire is going to have a fun decade or two.
     
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  7. MNP Dark Souls 3!

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    Gothic miniscule as standard western alphabet for the win!

    Looking forward to the chaos after the new master of the west dies. That said, this is totally a Goth-wank. For now. It happens. OTL was an Ottoman Wank from 1350-1600 or so.
     
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  8. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Point taken! I suppose this is a bit of a Goth-wank for the time being, at least. Of course, history from the 500s-through the 700 was a bit of a Frank-wank as well. When a power vaccum is present, someone is going to fill it, eventually.
     
  9. TaylorS Well-Known Member

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    HOLY CRAP! That was an unexpected butterfly!!! :eek:

    Poor Justinian. :(
     
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  10. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    I agree; I have not personal against Justinian, and find him to be a particularly facinating person. However, this sort of thing came very close to happening to him in OTL; Constantinople, during the early reign of Justinian, was a very volitile place. Justinian did not have a large powerbase in the capital, due to his coming from outside the traditional nobility, and his taxation greatly upset people all the more.

    From a narrative stand-point; I needed a reason to explain why the Byzantines did not meddle into Gothic affairs in the ATL. During this period in OTL they were allies of the Franks, and likely would have intervened to maintain a balance of power in the West (especially under Justinian who was looking for any excuse he could find to expand Constantinople's influence in the region).

    Since Justinian suffering a hard fall was realistic, I decided to go down that road. It not only explained the Byzantine's lack of intervention in the West, but was also good for dramatic purposes.
     
  11. Threadmarks: Chapter 10: The Coming Storm

    DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Chapter 10:
    The Coming Storm

    The Empire of the East: a History of Rhomania from Constantine I to Justinian IV [FN1]
    Ewan McGowan
    [Royal University Press: Carrickfergus, Kingdom of Gaelia, 2010]

    Shortly after the defeated of Justinian I, Hypatius must have come to realize just how difficult ruling the Rhomanians would prove to be. Mere months after the defeat, and death, of his rival, Emperor Hypatius I was faced with a number of difficulties; his capital city had been half burnt in the riots which had lead to his rise to power, that same city was garrisoned with soldiers who’s loyalty rested solely upon his own ability to pay their wages, and his purse strings were held firmly in the hands of those Senators who had joined forces with the mob to lift him to power.

    Hypatius held several cards in his own favor however. First, the City had bled enough over the past year, and whatever tensions which had exploded during the Nika Riots had largely subsided, as the poor citizens of Constantinople returned to their primary concern of survival. Secondly, the Emperor’s pardoning of Germanus and Belisarius had won over the loyalty of many in the City, who felt that it was a compassionate gesture; both Germanus and Belisarius were quickly developing a cult following of sorts; both generals were being romanticized as true patriots, who had only rebelled to show their loyalty to their Emperor, but who had come to see the errors of their ways and beg forgiveness from the One True Emperor. Finally, as meager as it might seem, was the good luck that the Persians had chosen to honor their peace treaty, and had not used the momentary chaos in Rhomania to push their own claims in Armenia.



    Of those problems facing Hypatius’ rule, his primary concern remained the rebuilding of Constantinople. Although the great sea and land walls had not been damaged in the riots or the fighting, great swaths of the city had been burned during the Riot, and had yet to be rebuilt. Securing funds to rebuild the capitol, however, was no easy task. The Senators who had pushed the mob to declare for Hypatius had done so for the sole reason that they had felt themselves oppressed by the high taxes which Justinian had leveled against them.

    Although most of these Senators could accept, in theory, that it was for the good of everyone to rebuild Constantinople, none wished to hinder themselves with the necessity of turning over gold to the Imperial coffers to help said construction. Hypatius was left with few options; he could turn to the peasantry to secure his funds, and did, in fact, increase the tax burden upon small farmers in 534, but leaning upon them too greatly was likely to cause dissatisfaction with his own reign. The Emperor could also turn to the Church; but the Patriarch Epiphanius had grown old and weak, and was expected to soon pass from the mortal coil, and there was already a jockeying between rival bishops to replace the current ruler of the Eastern Church; a jockeying which was filled with rhetoric against an Emperor who wished to push his authority too far.

    As a result of these difficulties, Constantinople continued to languish in a state of half-ruined desolation. In 535, Hypatius was able to secure some funds from the Church to help rebuild the Hagia Sophia, which had been all but destroyed during the rioting of two years prior. However, construction is the rest of the city regained stagnant.

    During this period, another crisis quickly enveloped the Empire, when the ailing Patriarch Epiphanius passed away in his sleep. The church fathers gathered to choose Anthimus I as Patriarch; a move which was seen as an attack by the Church against Hypatius, as Anthimus was a Myaphite, and was believed by many to be a secret Monophysite; a doctrine which was held by the late Emperor Justinian.



    Although Hypatius had pardoned both Belisarius and Germanus, he never grew to truly trust the two generals. The growing cult status of the two, in the eyes of the poor citizenry of Constantinople, had further convinced the Emperor that the two former rebels must be gotten rid off. “Lacking the heart,” according to Procopius, “to kill the two outright, and thereby deprive himself of two expert military men, and also risk the ire of the citizens of Constantinople, the Emperor chose to exile them to the corners of the Empire, and away from The City.” As such, he chose to give Germanus control of the armies of Egypt, and placed Belisarius in command of those forces in Armenia. He obviously held the hope that he would still be able to count upon the loyalty of both Generals, but wished to remove them from whatever political intrigue might exist within the capitol.



    According to the historian Procopius, Hypatius “never slept easy, once he came to the Purple, so consumed was he, by fears of plots and rebellions.” Although this strikes the modern ear as slightly melodramatic, it is safe to say the Hypatius never felt secure upon his own throne. As Emperor, he never proved able to build his own powerbase, separate from those Senators who first rose him to power, and this caused him to turn inward, and become hesitant in his deals with other nations. Hypatius sent envoys, ladened with what small tribute he was able to produce, to Gothland, Vandalia, and Persia, pledging his continued interest in peace between the Empire, and its neighbors. Whereas, once, an Emperor had dared to dream of a reconquest of North Africa and, possibly, Italy, now a new Emperor took such a conservative stance in dealing with his neighbors, that many began to grossly underestimate the power of the Empire.



    The fragile peace which had existed within Rhomania for the past four years began to disintegrate in 538. Perhaps, fittingly, the crisis which was to lead to rebellion against Hypatius stemmed from both religious and financial matters.

    Relations between Hypatius and the Patriarch Anthimus had never been cordial. Although the Emperor saw the election of the Patriarch as a snub against his own person, he had previously never felt comfortable in making a move against the Church, less me arouse another perceived enemy. However, by 538, the Emperor had had enough. Months earlier he had requested a raise in taxes throughout the Empire, hoping to finally secure the funds to bring Constantinople back to the place it had been prior to the Nika Riots, as well as expand the Army in response to raids across the Danube the Gepids, as well as the ever present danger of Persia.

    Although the Senators had agreed to minimal tax increase, it was no where what the Emperor felt was needed. Needing to make a point of his power, but not wishing to break with his Senate allies, Hypatius chose to turn to the Church. In a strongly worded letter, Hypatius asked that the Church donate funds to the Empire, for the good of Christianity, and suggested that a refusal could indicate the Christ’s Church was not loyal to Christ’s Regent on Earth.

    Initially, the move appeared to be good politics. Anthimus was not popular among the general citizenry of Constantinople; many of whom felt that he was a heretic. However, the Emperor did not foresee the strong reaction of the Church. The patriarch responded, in an equally harsh letter, that the Church had undertaken to protect the followers of Christ, and that the Empire no longer seemed able to do so. Any attempt to strip funds from the Church would adversely affect the Church’s efforts to support its flock, and to tend to the poor. The letter stopped short, just short, of openly condemning the Emperor. Although excommunication was not suggested, it was obvious that the Church refused to give any further funds to the government.

    Hypatius had foreseen this move, and quickly declared that the Patriarch was a heretic, and ordered his soldiers to arrest the head of the Church. Hours later, Imperial soldiers arrived at the residence of the Patriarch, and demanded is immediate surrender.

    No one can be sure what happened next; did the Patriarch refuse to comply, or did the soldiers over-react? In an case, a scuffle broke out, and, by the time it was over, Patriarch Anthimus was dead at the hands of the Emperor’s soldiers. Immediately, riots began to break out throughout the capitol; although the citizens might hold reservations as to the orthodoxy of the Patriarch, they were horrified by the overreach of the Emperor’s power. These riots quickly, and brutally, put down by Hypatius’s soldiers, which did little to endure him to the people of Constantinople.



    Word of the Patriarch’s death and the riots reached Alexandria within weeks. Although the Egyptian people possessed a tense relationship with the See of Constantinople, they were moved by stories of the Patriarch’s martyrdom, and rumors about his adherence to monophysite doctrine. Within days, several prominent nobles had met with Germanus, and suggested that now was the time to seek revenge for the slaying of his cousin, Justinian, and that they would support his efforts to bring down the tyrant Hypatius.

    [FN1] From the tone of this piece, you might summise that Dr. Mcgowan's work is a bit more of a popular history. Such assumptions would prove founded.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    And there we have the second episode in, what I'm planning on being, a four part segment dealing with the Byzantine Empire, before it remerges with the general narrative of the Gothic state. As I've stated before, I am somewhat rusty on my study of the Byzantines and, so, I hope that this entry strikes a true chord.

    In the next episode we will look at the effects of Germanus' rebellion against Hypatius. Not that it will remain the easy, of course; what fun would that be?

    As always, all comments and suggestions are welcome, and encouraged!
     
  12. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Nada? Uffda!
     
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  13. altwere Well-Known Member

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    Never think that you are posting into a vacum.
     
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  14. Zioneer Relief Society Bene Gesserit

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    Yeeessss, Byzantine intrigue and civil war never gets old. Here's hoping that Hypatius can manage to crush these pathetic, heretic-supporting rebels! :mad::p

    No, seriously, excellent posts; I've only hestiated in commenting because all my comments would be along these lines.
     
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  15. Emote Control Plenty of genius, not enough sense.

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    A quibble: you say "the Emperor did not foresee the strong reaction of the Church" and in the very next paragraph say "Hypatius had foreseen this move". It has to be one or the other.

    Also, "did little to endure him" should be "did little to endear him".
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2012
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  16. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Fair enough :) I'll look the post over and fix the issue, and will fix the typo.
     
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  17. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    I hope to have a new post up in the next day or so. The Byzantine interlude should last two posts or so, before merging back into the main narrative with the Goths.
     
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  18. altwere Well-Known Member

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    I'll be looking forward to it
     
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  19. FleetMac Patriotic Scalawag

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    BUMP, awaiting the next update :)
     
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  20. altwere Well-Known Member

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    Not dead yet? Good
     
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