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

    Joined:
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    Not to nerd out, but I have a signature now as @Rdffigueira suggested! Not sure how to turn the title of the TL into a hyperlink. But it's a start!

    Also, I've started to work on thread marking. I may also work on a table of contents eventually.
     
    XFE, Emote Control, Shador and 2 others like this.
  2. Threadmarks: Chapter 79 We Guide Our Ships, to New Lands

    DanMcCollum P-WI

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Location:
    Wauwatosa, WI
    Chapter 79

    We Guide Our Ships, to New Lands


    [​IMG]

    Saint Mael Duin and his currach, before arriving at Tir na Dóiteáin. Note the presence of the fish eating its own tale. This image is thought to have been inspired by a later myth relating to St. Mael Duin encountering Jörmungandr; a figure from the Theutish faith


    741 AD,

    Bhá na Deataigh, Tir na Dóiteáin [OTL: Reykjavík, Iceland]



    The steam from the hotsprings had first been seen from the opening of the bay.

    Mael Duin, already called An Naomh by some of his most zealous followers – though not within ear shop of him – felt his breath catch in his throat. Slowly, every so slowly, he exhaled the cool northern air, and drew in another deep breath. He felt light-headed and forced himself to remember his breathing and meditation exercises. But a great excitement had taken hold of his breast and refused to let go; his mind was aflutter with a volatile swirl of emotions and images.

    But what kind of man would he be not to get excited? Yes, the trip had taken them but five days, but they were now looking upon a site where only the holiest of men had ever set foot. Most Christians, if they had ever heard of this land at all, still thought it to be but a myth and legend; but Mael Duin had always suspected that the old legends and traveler’s tales held some truth to them, and he had just proven himself right. This Bay of Smoke must have been the very same where St. Brendan and his cohorts had wintered during his voyages of discovery. [FN1]

    Mael Duin made the sign of the cross – it would be unseemly for the leader of this expedition to become so excited that he tried to mimic Christ and walk upon the water -, exhaled, and turned towards the ships’ pilot. Pointing to the rising plume of steam, he he cried out to his fellow monk Fintan, who was acting as the pilot of this currach. “Aim for the shore! I think we’ve found out new home.”

    Fintan, usually as stout and stalwart a man as any could ask to be, had gone pale. “By Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit,” he said crossing himself, “you were right! The tales were true after all. They were all true.”

    “Of course they were,” Mael Duin said, keeping the frustration from his voice as best he could. For well over a year he had had to preach his vision throughout all of Dal Riada; his position as a member of the Cenél Naoisi and his connections to King Conan gotten him many an audience, but he had had to defend his vision from the skeptics time and time again. He had heard the whispers: that he had been driven mad by his injuries at Magh Rath, that he was a believer in children’s tales, and that he was doomed to a watery grave by his ambitions. As a man who aspired to Sainthood, he had taken these slings and arrows and done his best to hold no grudges. But, no matter how desperately he wished to live like Christ, he was still but a man, and could anyone blame him should he slip and allow dark thoughts to pollute his soul from time to time?

    “My apologize, Father,” Fintan said, “I meant no disrespect. I was simply caught in the wonder of the moment.” From any other man, those words might have held the slight edge of sniveling; but Fintan always spoke in a direct and honest manner. He might be a difficult man to live with, but no one could ever doubt his sincerity or believe him capable of even the most basic forms of subterfuge.

    Mael Duin laughed and clapped the pilot on the back. The laugh carried genuine warmth to it, and upon hearing it, the other monk’s eyes lit aflame and he began to laugh too. “We did it,” Mael Dun cried. “We did it! Now, quickly, let us get to shore. We shall make camp for the night and then our work will truly begin.”

    Fintan gave the orders to the other sailors began to shout and wave, signaling the other ships in the small flotilla. Then, Mael Duin and Fintan’s ship began to peel away and head for the shores of the bay, turning directly towards the light cloud of steam and smoke which rose in the distance before dissipating towards the East. One another another, the crews of the other currachs broke out into excited shouts and cries of joy and then followed the flagship’s lead.

    Mael Duin reached down and lightly stroked the head of Cailín Óg, one of the two calf’s which they had brought along upon the voyage. Reaching into his satchel, he brought out a small treat of oats mixed with salt, and laughed as the calf ate up the treat and licked her tongue across the palm of his hand, trying to get the last of the salt. “We made it, Baby Girl,” he said, rugging her head more vigorously, “we made it. Welcome to your new home.”

    Story of the Settlers: A New Sexish Translation of The Sgeulachd an Luchd-Tuineachaidh
    By: Anonymous
    Trans: Sithric Smithson
    [University of Bormingham Press, Sexland, 1999];

    Introduction


    The two most complete sources which tell of the early years of the Gaelic settlement of Tir na Dóiteáin are the Sgeulachd an Luchd-Tuineachaidh – which roughly translates as “The Story of the Settlers” – as well as the Admháil ar Naomh Mael Duin, or the Confessions of St. Mael Duin. Certainly other sources exist; Tir na Dóiteáin during the 9th and 10th centuries became one of the beacons of Gaelic literature, and even conquest of the island by the Theut in the late 9th century could not extinguish that flame. These subsequent sources include numerous Hagiographies featuring the lives of Mael Guin, Fintan and other early church leaders and saints, as well as countless Ráitis – those unique prose works of the isle which record not only the settling of that northern land, but also the exploits of Gaelic chieftains, reevers, mercenaries and heroes.


    And yet, it is the Sgeulachd an Luchd-Tuineachaidh and the Admháil ar Naomh Mael Duin which remain our primary sources for the Era of Settlement. The question stands as to why? First, because the anonymous author of the Sgeulachd wrote in the style of earlier Roman and Church histories and diligently worked to remove many of the more fantastical elements from the stories of the founding of Tir na Dóiteáin, or else wrote at a time in the early 9th century before many of those elements had first entered into the popular narrative. Meanwhile the Confessions of Mael Duin, despite having their authenticity doubted for many centuries, are now thought to record the thoughts and events of Tir na Dóiteáin’s founder in the last years of his life.


    These sources are not without their problems, of course. The Confession, for instance, was written with a contemporary Medievel audience in mind and does not always include those details which we modern scholars would most like to know. To give a simple example, the legends of the Gaelic peoples (be they Gaelic, Manx, Dóiteáinian, Dal Caoimhian, or of the colonies of any of these nations) tell us that Mael Duin was the son of King Fergus the Squinter and the eldest brother of Caoimhe the Beardless. We know from the basic chronology of the settle of Tir na Dóiteáin that this can not possibly be true, as Mael Duin’s Monastery of St. Brendan is founded in 741, well within the reign of King Conan the Conqueror. However, Mael Duin remains reticent about his relationship to the ruling dynasty f Dal Raida during the 8th century, stating only that he was a Prince of the Cenél Naoisi and that he was wounded during a “great battle.”


    To the modern ear, this is maddening. Prince is a translation of the Gaelic word “Oighre,” which means heir. However, in the Old Gaelic dialect of Dal Raida during the 8th century, this term was meant to indicate anyone who was close enough in kinship to the ruling monarch that they had the opportunity to inherit the title; this could go as far as to indicate the second cousin of the current King and the term also did not include any indication of legitimacy (albeit, legitimacy was a concept which was less important to the Gaels of that time, and those who we would now labled as bastards still possessed the chance to inherit; indeed Conan the Conqueror’s successor Gobhan was the son of Conan’s concubine). Furthermore, Mael Duin does not even name the battle at which he was wounded, an event which would send him down the path of dedicating himself to a life of holiness and eventual sainthood. Based on the dates, it can be assumed, that this battle was Magh Rath – the battle which saw Conan the Conqueror destroy the independence of the Northern Ui’ Neil and establish himself as High King of all Gaeland, but the author makes no effort to establish this with any certainty.

    Indeed, the identity of the battle and its cause is of no importance to the author, who starts his narrative with the line “And as I lay lingering, upon the boundary of the land of death, I repented of the sins which had led me to my sorrowful state.” In the manuscript that follows, Mael Duin describes how, though he had once been seen as a great warrior, his wound – which is ever described in detail, leading a myriad of explanations including such mundane injuries as losing fingers upon his fighting hand, to the extreme theory that he was wounded in the groin and made important – made made him useless to society. Although modern ears read these lines with horror and assume the worst, its important to remember that the Gaelic Brehen law of the time stated that any King of Prince was received a wound that left him physically disabled in any way would be enough in invalidate them from the Kingship. This is seen in the mythic figure of Nuada of the Silver-Hand who is stripped of his kingship after having his hand lopped off, and only regains it upon the magical creation of a silver hand which acts as well as one of flesh and blood. [FN2]

    Faced with an injury of some kind, Mael Duin took to reading the lives of different Gaelic Saints. The stories of their piety, and the lengths of suffering they would go to to reach atunement with the almighty, stirred the young prince. Those energies which had once been directed in the outward pursuit of glory and honor for himself and his house, now turned inward as he declared his intention of becoming a Saint. As he describes it, those around him first felt that he had surely gone insane; an opinion that was likely refuted when, following his healing, he stripped himself naked and went to live on an isolated rock in the Irish Straights for a year, allowing his hair and nails to grow long and subsisting only on the fish he caught or food supplied by sympathetic peasants. [FN3]

    Eventually, he tells us, he is inspired by the tales of St. Brendan the Navigator to find “Land of Fire” of the Saint had described upon his journey. In later retellings, which only grew more important and prolific during the Theutish Occupation of Tir na Dóiteáin, this inspiration grew into a full-on visit of the aspiring Saint by the Archangel Michael or even the Virgin Mary who tell him he would find his salvation in the “Land of Fire and Ice.” The Confession, however, does not contain such lofty claims; Mael Duin simply stating that: “I felt in my breast a compulsion to find that Land of Fire which the holy St. Brendan spoke about. Here, I was sure, I could found a community which would glorify the Lord.”

    Mael Duin would not be the first man to set foot upon this island. In addition to the works describing the journeys of St. Brendan, stories circulated throughout the time of Mael Duin and before that Gaelic hermits had fled to the island to escape the temptations of society. One of these, St. Lomman was even said to have returned after an exile of twenty years to found a church in the, then, Pictish lands surrounding the mouth of the River Donn and helped convert the local trival leaders. These hermits were called the Athraichean Reòta, or the “Frozen Fathers” – an attempt to link and compare them to the Desert Fathers of Early Eastern Christianity – and they must have been well known at the time.

    Despite this, Mael Duin himself states that his initial efforts to win potential monks over for the voyage were met with derision and slander. To his mind, many Gaels believed the stories of a large island far to the North were only legends and that many of the Frozen Fathers had either met the fate of the sea while searching for it, or else settled on islands such as the Eileanan Arcaibh [OTL: Orkneys] or the Eileanan Chaorach [OTL: Faroe Islands]. Indeed, the 6th through the 8th century saw these island chains settled by Pictish and Gaelic settlers, many of whom were likely monks, as the ruins of Rauthering Era monasteries have been found along side bronze age and early iron age buildings.

    Undeterred, Mael Duin shorn his hair in the style of a Gaelic Monk and reached out to the King of Dal Riada for sponsorship. Although the Saint refers to the King as “Father” during this point in the manuscript – and, maddeningly, does not give us a proper name – is can be discerned from contextual clues that this is an honorific title and that the King is not Mael Duin’s actual Father. The King, who must have been King Conan the Conqueror, agrees to give Mael Duin a small fleet for his voyage, under the condition that a crew can be found and that whatever Monastery would be founded would trade exclusively with the Dal Riadan crown for the next twenty years.


    With some semblance of royal patronage, Mael Duin was able to secure a crew for five ships. Tradition dictates that this crew was made up of twelve holy monks, including Saint Fintan who would become Mael Duin’s second closest companion. This is highly unlikely, and stems from an effort to draw comparisons not only to Christ’s Twelve Apostles, but also the number of monks who took part in Saint Brendan’s voyage. Even if we accept the total of twelve, this could only amount for the male leaders of the expedition, since Mael Duin tells us that at least some of the monks were married and took their wives and children on the voyage, and that there was also a number of non-religious lay settlers who also came with – a fact which shouldn’t be surprising when we remember that the Rauthering Age saw waves of population displacement throughout the twin Gaelic lands of Eire and Scotland. [DN4]

    Studying the tales of St. Brendan the Navigator as well as those of other Frozen Fathers, including St. Lomman, Maul Duin charted a course which would lead the small flotilla of ships north from Dal Riada’s growing port town of Carrick Fergus, past Eileanan Arcaibh and Eileanan Chaorach before following the currents to the north east, with the hopes to reaching the fabled land of Tir na Dóiteáin.

    It now behooves us to examine the account of St. Brendan himself and his discovery of Tir na Dóiteáin. The voyage itself was never recorded by St. Brendan’s own hand, and the earliest manuscript we have detailing the adventure comes from a Tir na Dóiteáin copy done in the 10th century; though linguistic analysis indicates it was a copy of an earlier work from the 7th century. The account tells us that St. Brendan set out with 13 fellow monks – twelve of his own choosing, and another who lept upon the ships as they were leaving port against the wishes of the saint. Although containing many mythic elements – including St. Brendan saying Easter Mass upon a moving island which later reveals itself to be a ‘great fish’ (likely a whale) – scholars have been able to carefully reconstruct the journey. It seems that after several weeks of travel; having stopped at every island along the way to meet with fellow Monks, the voyagers came to an Island “lit by fire and smoke.” As winter was nearing, they decided to find a safe harbor and to winter there until the seasons turned once again. The harbor they found was in a “Bay of Smoke” which is now thought to refer to the steam rising from the hot springs of Bhá na Deataigh. Here St. Brendan and his followers celebrate the Christmas Mass and survive upon the bounty of fish which God provides for them.

    The island in question is referred to as a “Land of Fire” where the sun does not rise during the long winter months, but where the land is still illuminated during these dark times by the belching volcanoes. Indeed, one tale tells us that St. Brendan himself prevented an eruption of Beul Ifrinn [OTL: Hekla] by ascending the firey mountain and blessing it in the name of God and Jesus, thereby saving the members of the voyage. However, the 13th member known as Iùdah did not trust in the powers of St. Brendan and fell into the mouth of the volcano before the blessing was completed, losing his life in the process. [FN5]

    Mael Duin, upon reaching Bhá na Deataigh, seems to have immediately recognized it from the accounts of St. Brendan voyages and, ecstatic, ordered that his ships go to shore. Here they settled near the hot springs, which would provie valuable heat come the long and cold northern winter. The monks had arrived during the Summer, but far too late to begining the planting of crops. Because of these, while they busied themselves with constructing shelters, they also took a page from St. Brendan’s voyage and began fishing; these fish were dried and would sustain them during their first winter in the new land.

    Now, it behooves us to talk about St. Mael Duin’s closest companion and the second most popular member of the expedition. Knowing that any successful settlemen would require animals as well as people, Mael Duin brought with him at least two young calfs on the journey. Calfs, must have been considered safest as they were small and could easily fit within the boats without crowding out the other sailors and, should fertile pastures be found, they could be set loose to graze. The two that we know about are a female calf known as Cailín Linbh – or “Baby Girl” – and Buachaill Láidir – or “Strong Boy”.

    Of these, Cailín Linbh became Mael Duin’s constant companion and pet. She is mentioned numerous times throughout the work of his Confessions, and a formal lament has come down to us which was purported to have been written by Mael Duin upon her death at the age of 16. The image of the Saint and his faithful bovine companion would become so popular during the Theutish Era and after that numerous tales sprang up surrounding the two; one of the most popular is that Mael Duin traveled out into the wilderness one Christmas in order to acquire wood for a great bonfire. A winter storm blows up, and the Saint is saved only because Cailín Linbh shelters him during the blizzard with her body and keeps him warm.

    During the Late Theutish Era, this tradition grew so strong that Cailín Linbh came to be viewed as a Saint herself, and popular shrines to her were erected throughout the island; each of them purporting to signify the location where a certain miracle was performed by the faithful heffer. Eventually, the Celtic Church reacted against this tradition, claiming it to be the work of Satan who was attempting to pervert the legacy of true saints. However, they were never fully successful, and to this day a number of shrines still draw regular attendees and a spring festival dedicated to “Saint” Cailín Linbh is celebrated every May 1st (the reported day of Cailín Linbh’s death). Naturally, this had led scholars and churchmen both over the years to attempt to refute these tales and the importance which this pet had for Mael Duin. But in 1832, while conducting escavations near the old Monastery of St. Brendan which had been founded by Mael Duin, a burial was uncovered which contained the bones of an adult, female, heffer and which was adorned with numerous grave goods, including a golden cross. This was immediately declared, with good reason, to be the grave of Saint Cailín Linbh and many of her bones disappeared over the course of the next week before archeologists were able to arrange a security team, to be used as relics. The dedication that the people of Tir na Dóiteáin show to their second favorite Saint should not surprise anyone, for the very flag of the current Republic, consists of a Golden St. Mael Duin Cross on a Green background, with the head of a black cow at its center – meant, of course, to represent, Cailín Linbh. [FN6]



    Although the first winter in Tir na Dóiteáin was trying for the new settlers, they survived due to the abundance of fish as the wise rule of their new Abbot. Under Mael Duin’s direction, trees were felled and a Church was built and dedicated to his patron, St. Brendan. In addition to the Church, a series of homes were built for the monks, and single homes for those lay brethren who had traveled along with the monks. By the time Spring had arrived, a great celebration was held to honor God, for not a single member of the new community had passed away. Then, a few hardy monks where sent back to Dal Riada upon ships laden with dried fish and some hurs which had been caught during the course of the Winter. This small success was enough to inspire more settlers – both religious and non – to return with the Monks from Gaeland some months later.

    It is doubtful that any European people could have settled Tir na Dóiteáin as quickly or successfully as the Gaels – with the exception of the early Theut who were then too disunited and inward looking to stage such an expedition. The Gaelic crop package of oats and barley were well suited to the new land, and the long growing season, and the plenty of sun light which reached the land during the Summer months, meant that the crops grew well and the pasture grass was well suited to the stock animals which soon came to populate the settlement. Indeed, the long-haired Bò Ghàidhealach cattle came to thrive in their new home due to the long grazing season and the fact that the short voyage time made it easy to transport the creatures while they were young. [FN7]

    As news reached Gaeland of the rich new lands to the North, and the successes of Mael Duin, other monastic groups vowed to take up the journey. Tir na Dóiteáin offered religious orders the opportunity to find and claim new lands away from the political ties and entanglements of the continent, and for the displaced Gaelic people, the land offered them the chance to sustain themselves without taking the Rauthering Road and risking life and limb for the chance of wealth and fame.

    The Settlement of Tir na Dóiteáin occurred in a relatively short span of time, lasting just over a century; the last wave of migrants being the refugees who fled Gaeland in the face of Eire and Scotland’s conquest by the three Theutish Mac Amlaíb brothers (The Sons of Olaf or Olav). However, despite the number of lay settlers who came to the land, the political and cultural heart of the island, until it too fell under the Theutish dominion, was the Church. The general rule of settlement was that new land would be carved out by a monastic community with lay settlers either working along side their monkish brethren or arriving only later. These lay settlers were often either newly arrived settlers or the descendants of those who had come with the Monks but not taken holy vows. However, these population was augmented by the children of Monks who did not follow their Fathers into the Church.

    Occasionally, non-religious political organizations would strive to break themselves away from the monasteries, such as the establishment of a Tuatha by the Ui Brennan clan around the modern community of Cuan Fuar [OTL: Husavik] of emigration of a sept of the Northern Ui Neil to Bá Fhinnian [OTL: Reyðarfjörður]. This could occasionally cause conflict, and the Ráitis are full of stories of independent landholders attempting to gain vengeance on one another, or law communities struggling to retain their independence from the Churh. However, throughout most of the island, the political structure which developed saw the Abbot becoming the predominant political figure within the hinterlands of the monastery. To this day, the provinces of Tir na Dóiteáin are still referred to by the title of Paróiste, meaning ‘parish.’

    Meanwhile, the economy evolved to be centered around a core of monastic agriculture, with the bulk of the non-religious population operating as semi-independent tenants. These tenants, were not the same as the growing peasant class in Gaeland proper, as they possessed far more rights to their own harests and paid a smaller tax to the monastery for the right to till the land. A smaller class of independent farmers and herdsmen existed on the outskirts of the monastic settlements, and often supplemented their income by fishing of trapping fur bearing animals for trade with Gaeland communities. These independent farmers operated without the same social security net which the tenant farmers were entitled too, and still paid a tax to ship their produce on Monastic ships but were otherwise fairly treated. Unlike in Gaeland, slavery did not exist; Mael Duin forbidding the practice within the lands held by the St. Brendan Monastery and this being folloed by all subsequent monastic settlements, be their sister communities of St. Brendan or newly arrived orders.

    Although many of the communities followed the practices established by Mael Duin and St. Brendan’s, the speed of settlement meant that many of the communities – monastic or lay – were operating as largely independent states upon the island. This proved troublesome as coflicts grew over fishing and trading rights, and sometimes these conflicts would come to bloodshed; there was also a fear of foreign iinvasion and domination, especially from the ascendant Gaelic kingdoms, such as Dal Raida of Leinster. As a result, in 802 a conclave of the different monasteries was convened in Bhá na Deataigh and it was agreed to form the rudimentary structure of a government to rule over the entire island. Twice a year, representatives of each community would convene in Bhá na Deataigh and agree on laws and a united foreign and domestic policy. Although each of the communities would remain largely independent, this would mark the beginning of a united Tir na Dóiteáin identity and government; the Abbot of the Monastery of St. Brendan, as they had religious primacy, would act as the First Amongst Equals during the course of these counsels.

    This government would remain in place until the conquest of Tir na Dóiteáin by the Theut during the 9th century.


    [FN1] This is the same St. Brendan as in OTL. He was born around 485, making his birth about a decade before our POD of the Birth of Theodimir the Great. Since events on the continent were unlikely to spread major butterflies to Ireland by this point – at least not enough to change the general trajectory of his life – I see no reason that our good Navigator wouldn’t go on his voyages in the ATL as well as OTL. Of course, butterflies are funny things, and chance plays a role in every journey and adventure, so his journeys are slightly different than in OTL. To what extent? We may well see; or not. But its safe to assume that he did go on a voyage of discovery as in OTL to the north and the west and returned to tell the tales; not that everyone believes him, of course.

    On a side note, the trip from Dublin to Iceland by Longboat took roughly three days according to the sources I have, due to favorable winds and currents. I figure that the Gaelic Currach in this ATL is a good ship, but not as advanced as a longship, and so the trip (which began from Carrick Fergus) would take a few days longer. If anyone has viable sources that can contradict this, please let me know and I will edit the chapter accordingly.


    [FN2] This type of law was not entirely uncommon in Europe at the time, and seems to have very primal origins. Indeed, Byzantine law in OTL carried similar restrictions. This is why Emperor – and usurping Emperors – could geel confident that simply maiming their opponents would be enough to deny them any claim to the Purple. In OTL this began to fall apart after Justinian II the Slit-Nose, had his nose removed following a coup and was exiled to Cherson, only to return with a Bulgar Army and reclaim the throne. There is some iconographic evidence that Justinian II may have had primitive reconstructive surgery done to repair his nose; though I have no idea how strong this evidence is. Whatever the case, the maiming of political opponents seems to have no longer been viewed as an effective way to deal with political rivals.

    [FN3] The story of Mael Duin is loosely inspired by the real life conversion of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Order. Don’t believe me? Look him up! Kinda fascinating figure to say the least. And I figure a similar conversion story would have played out similarly during the Anglo-Irish Mission (or, in this ATL, the Cumbrian-Gaelic Mission) minus the part about trying to get the distant Pope to recognize the order ot mission.

    [FN4] The factors leading to the population displacement – as well as the population growth – within ATL Gaeland were covered in the previous chapter. As for the case f married monks; this was not entirely uncommon in the Medieval Irish Church in OTL. Since Mael Duin is seeking to establish a religious settlement in the new land and now live as a hermit, it seemed plausible that at least some of the Monks might have families and that there might also be non-religious settlers seeking to come along on the journey.

    [FN5] OTL’s Journey of St. Brendan also includes an unwanted 13th member who dies at some point in the voyage. In the ATL the 13th member is explicitly named Iùdah (i.e. Judas); because medieval story tellers were not always the most subtle of folk.


    [FN6] Does an animal seen as a saint in the popular imagination seem unreasonable? I would suggest that readers investigate the story of Saint Guinefort – a loyal Hound who, legend says, protected the newborn child of a Lord from a venomous serpent, only to be killed by its Master by accident (the greyhound was covered in the blood of the snake, but its Master thought it had mauled his child). Shrines still exist to this canine Saint, despite the best efforts of the Catholic Church to disrupt the veneration with claims that it is unchristian and even satanic!

    [FN7] Oh yes, I did research into the Early Medieval crop package of Ireland and Scotland to make sure that it would transfer over to Iceland relatively easily. I was actually shocked by just how well suited it seems to have been. Meanwhile, the long haired Highland Coo (beef) and the Kerry Cow (Dairy) look as if they would translate to the new environment very well.

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

    Okay, and there you have the long hinted settlement of Iceland by the Gaels! I think I gave a reasonable explanation of how and why this colonization occurred and how society was structured as a result of the settlement. You may have noticed some pretty blatant forshadowing within which answers, at least partially, some of the longer standing mysteries of the timeline.

    I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it; and I look forward to reading and aswering all of your comments and questions :D

    On a final note, I'd like to dedicate this entry to Milwaukee's Irish Fest 2019 where I still be spending my weekend working (the world's biggest Celtic Music and Cultural celebrationg :D )
     
  3. DanMcCollum P-WI

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Location:
    Wauwatosa, WI
    Okay guys! I'm hoping that i will be working on the next chapter this coming week.

    I want to turn our attention back to the Empire and look at some social history. But I need to finish reading a few sources first.

    Is there anything in particular anyone would like to see? Can't promise it will fit into the narritive; but i can try :)
     
  4. Basileus_Komnenos Imperator Romanorum Βασιλεύς των Ρωμαιων Αὔγουστος

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2018
    Can we have a map showing current world and the state of the Empire?
     
  5. DanMcCollum P-WI

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Location:
    Wauwatosa, WI
    Okay, so a map was done some time ago (which can be found in the Threadmarks) by B_Munro which is set in the year 630. I would like to have a new map done, but I want to hold off until we get through the Ruination in the latter 7th and early 8th century. The reason for this is that the political boundaries have actually been pretty static throughout that time - save for the Gepids getting granted some Gothic lands in OTL Austria and the Bavarians pushing a bit further south into the Alps - despite all of the chaos of the past century or so. Although there have been some changes in the British Isles in the last few chapters, you will note that we actually got quite a bit ahead of ourselves (into the early 8th century) when compared to the main narrative of the Goths.

    That being said, if someone wanted to work on a new map or two (hey @B_Munro !) It would be interesting to see some more detailed maps looking at the British Isles or the Middle East (which HAS seen some major changes, including the fall of the Sassanian Dynasty, and the conquest of Mesopotamia by the Manichaen Arabs)

    Okay, so one last bit of good news:

    THREADMARKS ARE UPDATED! :) I ent through and threadmarked every chapter and interlude and even made references to interesting bits of discussion we've had over the years (mainly linguistic topics, maps, and @Umbric Man 's amazing work of Gothic city names!)
     
    fionnex, Madhav Deval and Umbric Man like this.
  6. Basileus_Komnenos Imperator Romanorum Βασιλεύς των Ρωμαιων Αὔγουστος

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2018
    Is Latin the Lingua Franca of the new Empire? Because for the Visigoths after they united Iberia in otl by the time of the 7th century, the old Gothic language died out in favor of Latin. Plus the local Roman population outnumbered the Gothic minority by a large amount. Even during Charlemagne’s day there was still a Gallo-Roman identity in Aquitaine. Even when the Lombards invaded after Italy was in ruins due to the Gothic War, the Germanic group became Romanized as well. Some of their Kings took Roman names like Desiderius. This happened to the Franks with the French. Though the other regional Romance languages diverged from Latin thanks to there being no continuous Empire. The geographic isolation spawned new Romance languages based on the Regional dialects. So does the Gothic elite speak a dialect of Gothic Latin basically? Is their conquest of the West similar to the Manchu style conquest of China with a ruling class of Romano-Goths over the Romans? How do the Romans view their Gothic overlords? And have the Goths remained Arian or have they converted to the majority Chalcedonian Christianity.
     
  7. Umbric Man Umbric Manned

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2008
    Location:
    Southern Hella-ware
    Oh man, while I've been silently keeping up with all the stuff you've been writing for Caoihme and loving her life story, you reminded me of my research and it's still one of the proudest contributions I've ever given for a timeine. :D I'm honored.
     
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  8. DanMcCollum P-WI

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Location:
    Wauwatosa, WI
    This has been gone over in a few different posts, but to give the long and short of it:

    The Gothic-Roman Empire would be officially considered duo-lingual. Within OTL northern Italy and Southern France, Gothic is the official ruling language. In Southern and Central Italy, Latin is the ruling language.

    The reasons for this is that Theodemir the Great concentrated Gothic settlements into these regions. Between the supremacy of the Arian Church, the imposition of Gothic law in these territories, as well as a number of legal and social factors, Goths have become the dominant Noble class in these territories as well as Gothic becoming the prestige tongue of faith and government (namely, there was a failed revolt of Valahs - i.e. native Romans - in this territory early in his reign which ended in Theodemir's victory. He used the victory to buy out the local nobility and redistribute the land to his Gothic supporters. Furthermore, Goths do not pay taxes, and the continuation of the tax and profession rules of the late Dominate have pushed much of the Roman population into serfdom.)

    The situation is different in central and Southern Italy - the area which historians have named Senatorial Italy. In order to maintain the loyalty of the Roman nobility (note that even in the areas set aside for Goths, the Roman nobles had their lands purchased and were given lands elsewhere), Theodemir and his successors continued the policies of Theodoric of recognizing the Roman Senate and expanded upon them. These lands are administered by the Senate with the Gothic Emperor as their defacto overseer (though in practice the Senate gets a LOT of autonomy as long as they collect taxes and supply armies as needed)

    Gaul and Hispania were initially administered by a number of local governors - many, but not all, being Gothic - but during the reign of Queen Adela a position was (re)created above those Governors so that the regions could oversee their own defense and administration. This position is appointed by the Emperor, but in Hispania it seems to have become defacto hereditary under the Sisebutling dynasty.

    As to the question of what its like to be a Latin in the Empire, the answer is: it depends on where you are from. The Roman nobility of Senatorial Italy and the Gothic nobility generally recognize one another as equals (albeit heretics, and the Romans can be a bit snobbish about it all).

    In Gaul and Hispania, the nobles have varying levels of respect for central authority - the central government in Spain is much stronger than in Gaul for instance, and in the latter example many of the nobles has taken to acting as almost independent administrators due to the weakness of central authority there (see the chapters featuring our greek friend Romanos and his travels).

    Now, to be a Latin (or Vallahs) in the Gothland? Its not so great. They are largely banned from carrying arms unless needed in times of war, for instance. They also have to carry the tax burden, since Goths do not need to pay taxes (the state has ways around THAT rule, but we'll get to that in the next chapter). As a result, many yeoman have, for generations now, been fleeing to the protection of local Gothic nobility and become serfs.

    Then there is the religious differences. Although the Empire officially recognizes both Arian and Orthodox Christianity as protected Faiths, the laws actually favor the Arians - for instance, converting an Arian Christian to Orthodoxy is punishable by death, but the opposite is not the case. Also, unless you are in the lands overseen by the Senate, you to be pretty much need to be Arian to serve in a government post. So, the existence of Latin Orthodox citizens in Gothland is pretty bad - not that some havent made a go of it and been successful, but it's not all that comfortable.

    The important thing to remember about the Empire during the 7th century is that it's highly decentralized and more akin to the union of four crowns (Italy, Gothland, Gaul and Hispania) each with their own governments, laws and customs, which the Emperor in Ravenna has varying levels of control and influence over based on his skills and the politics of the day. Then you add into that the different Federates such as the Suebi, Lombards and Bretons.

    What ties it together? The prestige of the Amaling line, the memory of Empire, the power of the Emperor and the Arian and - to a lesser extent - Orthodox Church. At the best of times, it works fairly well. At the worst of times? Well, those lead to fun little conflicts like the Kunis Wars and the upcoming Ruination.

    I hope that answers your questions! Thanks for your comments and I look forward to seeing you along for the ride :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
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  9. DanMcCollum P-WI

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Location:
    Wauwatosa, WI
    You did really good work, and i couldn't NOT give credit where credit is due! I always want to give shoutouts to those contributors who have helped me out :)
     
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  10. Threadmarks: Chapter 80: Sweet Home Gothia

    DanMcCollum P-WI

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Location:
    Wauwatosa, WI
    Chapter 80

    Sweet Home Gothia



    “Show me,” the Prophet said, “a family which is poor in gold, but rich in the spirit of the All-Father. They shall find their rest together in Heittheimili when their time on Midgard has come to an end” - Proverb ascribed to the Fritjolf Odinson



    [​IMG]

    The Mausoleum of Theodoric the Founder, visited by Romanos Periplanomenos when he stayed in Ravenna



    My Travels Amongst the Goths
    By: Romanos Periplanómenos
    Trans: Dr. Milos Katechis
    London, Kingdom of Sexland: Royal Press, 2010


    Uncle, I am writing you today to explain a small adventure which I had the other day while traveling West from Ravenna. As we are well aware, you left me with a number of tasks related to your business interests to attend to upon my arrival in the West, and I can assure you that I have carrie them out just as you requested. I have already sent you a number of epistles stating that I have secured those shipments which you desired from Senators Claudius and Antonius as well as making mention of the lavish treatment I received from our esteemed comrades in the Western Empire. [FN1]

    From there, I naturally traveled north east to Ravenna where the Gothic Emperor holds his court for much of the year. It was there that my letter writing sadly became much less frequent. I know that I have previously told you about the first new weeks in the capitol before going silent, and I must apologize profusely for the oversight on my part. I fear that I became quite enamored with the daughter of our host and my mind, and heart, were pulled away from the page by this distraction. Sadly, I must report that no matter how much I poured out my heart to that fair Gothic maid, I was unable to melt the ice in her heart. Gothic women are strange creature indeed and bear little resemblance to the women from our own country. They are striking in appearance, tall and beautiful, but their demeanor carries with it traces of the northern home of their ancestors, for they are cold beings and the disapproving glare of one causes ice to form within one’s stomach. Luckily, my wounds – mental, physical and spiritual – have healed, but I do believe it is in my best interests to find a wife elsewhere!

    But I regret nothing, for, as a wise man once said, “It is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.” And if no wise man has actually spoken those words, then I shall coin them myself. And my time in Ravenna, doing only as your instructed of course, did offer me the opportunity to view the newly crowned Western Emperor himself, Thorismund. Sadly my exposure was not social; though he apparently enjoys frequenting the parties hosted by the great Gothic nobles of the land, he did not find his way to any that I was attending (not that I attended a great number, Uncle! I beg you to not believe that I have been acting as a common sot or fool upon my travels. I have acted only with the greatest propriety as should be expected as I was executing your business). However, one fine day I was walking the Street of Theodoric where one can view the mausoleums of Theodoric the Founder and his heirs Theodemir the Great and Amalaric. Although the architecture of these tombs are not the match for those in Constantinople, I can attest that there is a certain primal beauty to the stark structures that left me moved.

    In any case, as I was sightseeing, there was a great commotion and the crowds parted and there came Thorismund himself, riding at the front of a procession. I will tell you, Uncle, that I was taken by the great power which exuded forth from this man. He is bear-like and well over six feet tall in heigh, with a mop of hair the color of dried straw. His complexion was ruddy and his cheeks and nose blushed and seemed to be stained the color of a fine wine. I had no doubt that this man could best almost anyone – just the sort of Emperor which one would believe to be favored by barbarian folk, even civilized ones! Though I must admit, though it might well have been my imagination, that his eyes appeared somewhat reddened and he winced at the noise of the crowd, giving me the impression that he may have been suffering the aftereffects of a late night excursion. [FN2]

    Anyway, I am sure you can piece together much of my time in Ravenna from my previous letters and those details which I have not shared, you can rest assured will be mentioned in later epistles. Truly, it was a fine city, though much smaller than I had been expecting, due to its status as the capitol of our brother-Empire in the West. Unlike Rome, which despite the activities of the Senate in maintaining and beautifying the sacred city, still gives off an impression of faded glory, Ravenna is bustling and new! It seems as if the Emperors of the West, knowing that both they themselves and their city have not the history to rival that of Rome, have poured forth great fountains of wealth in an effort to build a legacy for themselves. This is not surprising, but what I came to appreciate is how fine of a job that have done in this endeavor. Though Constantinople is grander, and Rome itself more august, Ravenna possess a veritable charm which is hard to put into words; even by a man who loves his own words as much as I do.

    But I am prattling on and on, and missing the point of this letter, for I had initially written you to tell you of a quaint but telling adventure which I had the past few days. You see, though I understand that your instructions were to pass directly from Ravenna to Spania, the weather has turned for the season and so I decided to make by make by land, rather than by sea. Surely you remember that my travels from Constantinople to Rome had been less than pleasant, and how I gained the unfortunate nickname of Vesuvius from the sailors (fine folks thought they were) due to the impact of the rough seas upon my constitution. I know this decision has drawn out my travels, and I want to thank you for the understanding that I am sure you have for your faithful nephew.

    In any case, my decision was fortunate, for it allowed me to see the countryside of the Gothic lands and take in their beauty. As I made my way down the old roads, I was taken with the history of this country, for it seems to excude from the land itself. I was most notably struck by the realization of how many peoples have made it their home: Etruscans, Celts, Latins and now Goths. Perhaps it was my imagination, but there were times when I felt I could see the impression that all of these different people have had upon the land and its current inhabitants, like footprints left in wet sand. It was truly a magical experience and I only regret that, for the second time in the same letter, I find that my words – those close companions which have brought me more pleasures than I can count – have failed me yet again.

    As we left Ravenna, we traveled northwest, hugging the Appenine Mountains as we did so. In the process, we passed through the cities of Bononia – which the local Goths seem to refer to as ‘Boonen’ – and then cutting east and south before reaching Mediolanum. My goal is to reach Genua before heading due west along the seashore, and it is from that city that I will likely dispatch this letter from my hand to your reading desk.

    The lands which I have traveled through have been stark. Although we in the East, I think, like to view the Western lands – save for the major trading cities – has being desolate and given over to wilderness and savagery, this could not be further from the case. Yes, the lands are not as populated as many parts of the East – though I would argue that they are better settled than many of the lands which the Sclavs and Avars have flooded into in our own eastern realm – and there are certainly stretches of true wilderness, it would be mistake to believe that the Goths brought with them the desert which they then imposed upon the lands of the Latins.

    Indeed, those lands which are under cultivation are well tended and organized. Most people in these parts live in small villages and travel from them every morning to tend their crops or flocks. Perhaps the most striking feature of the landscape is the numerous monasteries which dot the land. I was told that many landowners often grant unused land to these monkish communities, who then bring civilization to it by cultivating it and making it fruitful. In these parts, many of the Monks belong to the Gothic Church and, as such, are heretics; but they still believe in the civilized laws of hospitality and I found myself staying with with many a night on my travels. Most are good people, and the brothers often seem overjoyed to have a guest; especially one from the Eastern Empire. Indeed, more than once Uncle, I noticed them plying me, unwilling of course, with some of the best wine I had ever tasted in an effort to loosen my tongue and tell them of life in Constantine’s City. Now, rest assured, being around such holy men, I always did my best to be the very platonic ideal of circumspect and respectful, and any tales you may have heard to the contrary are outright fabrications and slanderous lies!

    But a Monastery does not fit into my current tale, I fear, though I would happily had stayed warm and dry in one had only one been available. You see, I was traveling alone on the road South of Mediolanum heading towards Genua. Although I always try to travel with others for sake of safety, my last companion had continued on West while I headed South and so we were forced to part ways. A charming fellow, I can assure you that I missed his wit as I noticed storm clouds brewing in the West. Not, Uncle, I know that your heart surely fluttered with fear for my safety as you read those last words. Please let me put your concern to rest when I state to you that the Gothic Emperors vigilantly protect the roads in their realm and that traveling, though always carrying some risk, is no more unsafe in the land of the Goths than it is in the environment around Constantinople! I know that your head is filled with tales of desperate maurauders who would be only to happy to rob and kill a naïve young Roman traveling alone, just as mine was prior to undertaking this journey. And indeed, I was told, that this was truly the case just a generation before during the time of Queen Adela and her lacky Emperors. But times have changed and now good government once again reigns in Gothic lands. Although danger certainly still exists in these parts, it is muted; though I do hear tell that Jaille is overturn by brigands and I was warned many times to never travel alone should I step foot in that benighted land.

    In any case, I was alone when I noticed the growing black clouds to my right. I was traveling on a donkey at the time, not able to afford a horse after a particular incident involving an Abbot and too much wine, where I once again lived up to my nickname of Vesuvius. He was a loyal beast, sturdy and with the peasant-like determination to see his task through to the bitter end. But he was not swift! And to make matters worse, I had then found myself passing through one of those rare areas of desert which I had spoken to you about, the road had become very lonely indeed and the land itself was choked on all sides with poplars and other trees. Although I do not consider myself a superstitious man, my mind began to fill with the tales of ghosts an specters you used to delight in telling me as a youngster, and the thought of hunkering down in that wood to outlast the storm did not fill me with joy! And so I ordered my poor ass onwards, and he complied with the dull yet begrudging enthusiasm was befits one of his station and profession. There was no doubt that he felt his master to be an idiot but complied anyway.

    Now, before I go any further in this tale, I must explain to you that there are two separate peoples who make their homes in Gothia. One, of course, are the Goths who dominate the region and migrate into it nearly two centuries ago. The second group, however, are the Valahs and they are largely the descendants of the native Latin speaking people of the region. Whereas the Goths belong to the Gothic Church, speak Gothic and are largely independent land holders (though, as with all people, there is great variation between them in wealth. A Goth may be a rich noble and own thousands of acres of land, or he may struggle to make a living on only five), the Valahs belong to the True Faith, speak Latin of a sort and are tied to the land they plow. They are not slaves, but neither are they fully free, and most seem to exist in some liminal space of being half-free.

    During my time in Ravenna, I had often heard Goths, both common and noble, stick their nose into the air when discussing the Valahs and it became eminently clear that even the poorest Gothic street urchin felt himself to be superior to the most well off Valahs. This confused me, as I was a Rome and an Orthodox who was being treated with the greatest deal of respect by my hosts and all that I met, and I everyday say merchants and travelers from Rome and Italia who were treated as I was. I asked by host’s daughter about this and, though she likely wished to blacken my eye – again – as she always seemed cross with me, she explained is like this: I was a Greek, and all knew that Greeks were fellow Romans from the East. Likewise, those who came from Italia and Rome were Romans, just like the Goths themselves. But the Valahs, though they spoke Latin (of a sort. I cannot stress theis enough) were not true Romans. They had initially rebelled against the Goths at some distant point in the past, and this meant that they did not respect the Roman Crown. Furthermore, though being surrounded by members of the Gothic Church – or True Faith as she called it. The poor woman was greatly addled in her perspectives of faith, though I did not hold it again it – they refused to accept the truth. Finally, and most damningly, many were unable or unwilling to pay their taxes and so they fled to the Goths to protect them. They were lazy, shifty, born criminals, and a number of other inventive infinitives which I have since forgotten. Truthfully, I left the conversation more confused than ever, but certainly happy that in his mercy, God had not seen to allow me to be born a Valah!

    This is important because, as my donkey and myself slowly trodded down that deserted road in search of succor, the clouds opened up with all of their fury and I suddenly found myself understanding exactly how Noah must have felt! If I had had access to an Ark, I would have happily jumped inside for shelter. But no large boat offered itself, unfortunately, and so my stubborn friend and I were forced to continue forward – even as the rains came down hard and cold, and we had difficulties following the road. Just when it seemed all was lost, and I have determined that risking the specters of the wood was far preferable than suffering through this deluge any longer, I noticed a light in the distance. For a split second, I feared that I was witnessing a daemon or other spirit, but I wiped the rain from my eyes and as I did so my good sense returned and I realized I was seeing a light in a window.

    There are no words that can express the excitement and joy I felt in that moment. In my ecstasy I urged my stubborn friend on quickly, with a heel to his side and was rewared by the grumpy jackass nearly bucking me off and pitching me face first into the mud. “What’s the matter with you,” I cried out, “don’t you want to dry off and warm up?” He responded with a grunt which communicated his complete disdain for my presence on his back as well as my predicament. Such is the way of life; sometimes in the road you meet lifelong friends, other times you get chastised by a haughty donkey with a greatly inflated view of its place in life.

    In either case, fifteen minutes later or so, I found myself knocking on the door of a rundown, but dry, home with the gusto of a man who feels the devil is following close behind (and, indeed, my surly donkey was standing near to me. Though I would be demiss if I said I truly believed him to be an incarnation of the Evil One). The door was soon opened by a middle aged man with a black and grey speckled beard. He was agruff man, and peered at me with no small amount of suspicion. I tried to explain myself, but either my Latin was bad or his was, before he stared at me quizzically so that for a moment I feared that he would not grant me access to his home and the shelter it represented to me.

    Luckily, that is when his wife walked to the door. For some reason I understood her better than I did he, for I plainly heard her say “Who is it, Honey?” She then took one look at my sodden and forlorn form, pushed her husband out of the way and was ushering me inside and towards a small table and chair. She then turned back towards her husband and said something I didn’t quite catch, but it seemed to have an impact on her husband for he sheepishly grabbed his cloak and went outside and ushered my donkey to the stable. Then, smiling, she turned to me and offered me a cup of hot broth which I greedily drank down.

    By the time her husband had returned, she and I had begun to communicate in a rudimentary manner; the Valahs in that part of the country speak a different form of Latin than what is spoken in Rome, and both are different from the Classic language which you paid tutors to teach me in my youth; just as the Greek spoken on the streets of Constantinople is different than that first uttered by the masterful Homer. But, it wasn’t so different that we couldn’t pick up on one another’s meanings with a bit of effort – I blame my earlier inability to communicate clearly on the pouring rain and my own urge to get inside as quick as possible. I learned that her name was Julia and her husband’s name was Amalric. At this I perked up, but she confirmed that neither of them were Goths, but Valahs; though sometimes Valahs are given Gothic names in their childhood due to the prestige those names carry.

    Soon I found myself warming myself before the fire in their quaint cottage. Once Amalric returned, he joined us and the three began to tell out tales. They were very impressed to be hosting a traveler from Constantinople and seemed honored by my presence; poor Julia often cursed her luck that they didn’t have better food as someone befitting my station. I assured them that I didn’t mean to be able trouble (and that was the god’s honest truth! They may have been poor, but that family was rich in love, and that is far more valuable to my mind.) and that the porridge of grains and smoked meat they gave me was some of the best I had ever tasted. Julia did insist on breaking out their own wine and though I protested, I did not do so too strongly! The wine, just like the porridge, was delicious and that night I could think of nothing I rather be injesting and imbibing.

    As we broke into the second bottle, tongues began to loosen, and we shared our stories. As I said, they were taken with mine but, truthfuly, one of the joys of travel is hearing and learning from others and I insisted that I could not possibly dominate the conversation for I wanted to hear of their lives. And, right now Uncle, I am sure that your eyes rolled so hard that they may well have broken free from your face and began to roll across the floor, but I insist that I meant it. Though we both know how much I love to talk, I can, and do, listen as well, and my travels so far have brought this side of me out more so than maybe it ever has been before.

    Well, with a little prodding, Amalric began to open up. I felt bad for my first impression of him as a brooding and threatening man. Once he was comfortable, he was as giften an orator as Cicero and had a flair all of his own. I think he may have initially been intimidated by me, due to my background, but after a few cups of wine, this passed and he loosened up very nicely. In any case, it turns out that Amalaric was half free, but that hadn’t always been the case. His Father, Claudius – very few of the Valahs seem to use family names and are just known as so-and-so Son of that-man – had once been a yeoman who owned his own land. Unfortunately, that had been during the times of the Fourth Punic War and though Valahs are not often allowed to carry weapons and fight, they are still seen as having their part to play in war. This part is, of course, the payment of taxes.

    Amalaric told me that though the crops has been good, there was no way that his father Claudius could keep up with the tax burden being leveled upon him. Although Goths do not usually pay taxes, Emperor Theodebert had actually tried to impose taxes on the Goths, though backed off in the face of threats of revolt. This meant than even more of the burden had to fall upon the Valahs. Claudius, eventually, was forced to give up his freedom and enter into the half-free status which has long been the norm for Valahs. He went to a local lord named Amalaric (from wence my friend received his own name) and offered to give up his freedom. In exchange for the Gothic noble taking on Caludius’ tax debt, Claudius offered him part of every crop and also pledged to work his new master’s fields for roughly 40 days out of the year. When Claudius died, Amalaric inherited his land, but also his status and responsibilities to the Lord and the Lord’s descendents.

    It was a sad story but, I’m told, not an uncommon one. I asked Amalaric if he was bitter about this, but he said no. It was simply the way things were and, furthermore, there were benefits. In addition to the Lord agreeing to pay Claudius, and now, Amalaric’s taxes, he also vowed to protect them. During the time of Queen Adela, bandits had been a very real concern; that is until the Lord organized a small militia and rooted the brigands out of the local woods. At one point, Amalaric said, his father’s fields had been burned for not paying the protection money the bandits had requested. Had he been independent and free, no one would have come to his rescue; but the Lord not only lead the militia, he also sheltered Claudius and his family and took care of them until they could recover.

    I asked if they ever resented the Gothic attitue towards the Valahs, but again he answered in the negative. He said that some Gothic travelers, especially those who came from the larger cities – which he called Mailand, Boonen and Jenua in the Gothic fashion, could be disparaging but most of the local Goths were neighbors and friends. In fact, their only daughter had married a local Gothic man and was happy; the couple had four kids and both Amalaric and Julia loved nothing more than to see their grandchildren. They grumbled somewhat that they daughter had had to convert to the Gothic Church, but were still happy for her. I asked if that was common, and I was told that it wasn’t as common as it used to be – the Orthodox Church frowned on such marriages since the wife and children had to leave the fold – but it wasn’t uncommon. Though Gothic law forbade a Valahs man from marrying a Gothic woman, it allowed Gothic men to marry Valahs women, and the relationships that formed between families of the two communities could be vital.

    I asked if they had any other children, and after an awkward moment, I was told that they did. They had two more sons – Claudius (named for his grandfather) and Adrian. Claudius had taken up residence on some land nearby in the service of the local lord and had a small family of his own. Adrian, however, had been of a wilder character; he had accepted conversion into the Gothic Church and sought an education. He was now a priest and called himself Amalamir and was passing as a Goth; apparently he was married with children, but was embarrassed of his Valah heritage and refused to come home and associate with his family. This latter fact caused both Amalric and Julia a great deal of pain and I learned that Amalric felt guilty as he had become angry with his younger son when he converted and believes this was why the priest would not longer see his family. [FN3]

    “Why,” I said, “would anyone want to give up their own identity? After all, everyone in the Empire who wasn’t a slave as a Roman citizen.” At this my hosts gave me a pitying look, and I was immediately ashamed, because I felt as if they saw me as a niave child.

    Julia smiled at me and said “Bless your heart,” as she patted me on the shoulder. She then told me that there was no such thing as a half-free Goth, at least as far as she knew. She and her husband may not be literate (though there were literate Valahs in the village, she and her husband were not among them) but they knew bits of the law. And the laws definitely favored the Goths; Goths never paid taxes, unless they willingly took on the tax burden of those who wished to become their colonii, and the laws also protected Gothic freemen from ever having to enter into servitude. In fact, since Goths were supposed to be able to serve in the army, it was believed that they had to be wealthy enough to be able to afford armor and weapons and other implements of war. Therefore, the Emperor and his government did everything in their power to make sure that the Gothic freemen remained stable and secure enough to be able to fulfill their duties.

    For whatever reason, their story filled me with sadness and compassion. I don’t know why exactly; here was a couple that was secure, had friends and family near by, and were genuinely filled with warmth and Christian brotherhood to everyone they met. They didn’t feel as if their lives were sad. And yet, the fact that people I had met, who I had liked, would look down upon this couple who had given shelter, food, wine and companionship to a total stranger, filled me with an anger which still has not passed.

    That night they gave me a place in front of the fire to sleep, a bed of straw and blankets of furs which Amalaric had gained while hunting as a young man. The next morning they asked me if I coul stay another day, but I demurred and stated that I had business to attend to you for you, Uncle. I offered to pay them for their hospitality, but they would hear nothing of it, “sharing a roof with a nice young man from the East is payment enough,” Amalaric said. Julia smiled and said she only regretted that her daughter was already married for she felt I would make a good son-in-law; and I would swear before God that had they a second daughter I would have happily accepted the offer. To have in-laws of such righteousness and kindness would be a blessing which all the riches of the world could never equal.

    And so I made my way onward, and told them I would stop back on my return journey if I could. And one day I would love to do just that, with all my heart. I can say that there is only one wish of there’s that I could never honor and that was when they said that they would accept no payment. Before leaving, I told them that I needed to return inside to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything from my pack – a likely excuse as most of my cloths and belongings had spent the night drying by the fire. Once inside I placed four gold pieces inside the fur blankets I had slept in. I figured they would find them after I was long gone and so they wouldn’t be able to return them to me. And, Uncle, if I say ask you one favor: when you go to mass next, can you say a prayer for Amalaric and Julia for me, and ask our priest to do the same. They have everything in life they need save one, and I hope that their son returns to them and recognizes them as family. If you could, it would mean the world to me.

    [FN1] This excerpt actually comes from before our first introduction to Romanos in Jaille, closer to the beginning of his journey. I had originally intended for it to follow after his travels through Spania but, as had been established, it was there that he received word that his Uncle was ill, and he sped back to Constantinople, so I felt there wouldn’t be much time for him to write.

    [FN2] Romanos is taking some subtle – or not so subtle – jabs at Emperor Thorismund I here, if you haven’t been able to tell.

    [FN3] This is an important story because it shows that there are aveues of social mobility available to Valahs. However, those pathways usually involve embracing Gothic identity – faith and language being the biggest aspects of it. In a previous chapter, we heard the tale of a Jaille peasant who moved to Ravenna and tried to pass himself off as a Goth. Here we see someone who did is more officially; they converted, gained an education, became a priest in the new faith and even changed their name. The likelihood is good that, within a two generations, his descendants would have no idea that they were descended from Valahs.

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

    Okay, I have a confession to make. I had initially imagined this chapter as beginning with a short introduction by our good friend Romanos telling the tale of his taking shelter with a kindly Valahs family. Then the chapter would segway into an academic discussion of the social history of Gothland during the 7th century, focusing on the growth of the Gothic Church, the status of Goths and Valahs within the realm and all that fun stuff, as well as touching on the reign of Thorismund I. However, Romanos, as I continually have forced to rediscover, is a wordy bastard. A snarky, wordy man who is quite taken with his own clever use of language, but also one who is a good observer and who is actually much more wholesome, I think, than he sees himself as. Which means, his account kept growing and took over the entire chapter.

    So, the NEXT chapter will be a nice, detailed, exploration of the social history of Gothland during the 7th century and the reign of Thorismund I (or, at least, part of it. There is one rather unique event which will be a separate chapter). But, this chapter still acts, I think, as a good introduction to all of those topics. And, really, I enjoy spending time with Romanos. I'm not sure how much of him we'll see going forward; though I might turn to him when we get back to the Eastern Empire and Persia as he writes about his travels there, albeit later in life.

    Having said all of this, I have a pretty big personal announcement to make!

    So a few years ago, I finished my first Masters degree and decided to take some time off from school. I was burnt out, as happens, and was really trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. After a few years I realized that I really did want to go for my PhD after all; largely as a result of how much fun I had working on an independent research project on Prohibition and Crime in Fargo, ND during the 1920s and 1930s. So I applied ... and got turned down by every school I applied at.

    So, not to be dissuaded, I applied again - figuring I had learned a few things from last time, and also figuring that I now have teaching experience at the college level. And got turned down! Again. At this point, I was beginning to feel like the King from Monty Python who built his castle in a swamp. Well, so be it, if that was gonna be me, than that would be me. At least I might get a nice fur lined cloak out of it (and a castle, in a bloody swamp!). So I applied to a Master's program in Library science and spent two years doing that. I continued to adjunct when I could, and gain new skills.

    This past May I applied for a third time and ... I got accepted!!! Like two weeks ago. So come January, I will be moving to Aberdeen, Scotland to do my PhD in History, studying Irish and Polish priests in the Upper Midwest and their efforts to preserve traditional cultures and identities amongst their parishioners (because I'm the exact type of guy who would apply overseas to study the history of his home region. Because: Adventure!). I am totally drunk on excitement right now and wanted all of my readers to know :D
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
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  11. Alexander Helios Pre-Columbian Satan

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    Interesting to see the cultural clash between the Goths and the Valahs (by the way, where does that word come from?). Also, congratulations!
     
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  12. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Glad you ask!

    A reader, The Professor, who knows more about linguistics than I do, gave that as his best estimate for the Gothic cognate for Welsh. If you check the Index I tagged the post!
     
  13. Baron Steakpuncher Probably stupid

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    Minor error as I think you meant to say Gothic men can marry Valahs women.
     
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  14. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Lol! Yes, the Goths aren't quite that progressive. :) I just fixed it!
     
  15. The Professor Pontifex Collegii Vexillographiariorum

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    Ooh I've been indexed. Twice too! :cool::firstimekiss:
    I suspect the term will later be adopted by the Valahs themselves: m. el Val f. la Vala pl. i Val; if we assume h-dropping and a Milanese type language that is. Or perhaps adopted from a latinate description of their lands Valania/Valagna giving el Valan, la Valana, i Valan.


    Edit: I've been trying to work out what Heittheimili means and it's proving annoying.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
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  16. altwere Well-Known Member

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    I greatly enjoyed the chapter. Good luck on your adventure.
     
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  17. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Okay, I feel like that's no reason not to admit it. Heittheimili was (according to my good, somewhat befuddled friend, Google Translate) Icelandic for "Warm Home" if I remember my notes correctly. I may end up changing that!
     
  18. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Thank you! On both counts!!!
     
  19. The Professor Pontifex Collegii Vexillographiariorum

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    Ah. It seems closer to "Hot Home" than "Warm" if I understand usage of heitur correctly. Perhaps something more like Arinn hearth would fit?
     
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  20. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    I like that!!!! Arinnheim?
     
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