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. Threadmarks: Interlude #3: List of Emperors

    DanMcCollum P-WI

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    So, guys, my current goal is to have another chapter out this weekend and it will, as promised, cover some social history of Gothland. Until then, I was goign over my notes and I found my compilation of the monarchs of the Amaling Dynasty of the Gothic-Roman Empire.

    Hopefully this will help some of the newer readers catch up and the older readers re-familiarize themselves.

    Amalingian Rulers of the Ostrogoths, Visigoths and Western Roman Empire

    Theodoric I the Founder 493 - 526 (not actually Emperor)
    Theodemir I the Great 526 - 559
    Amalaric I 559 - 596
    Theodebert I 596 - 611 (First husband of Adela)
    Amalamir I 611 - 624 (Theodebert's brother. Son of Amalaric)
    Amalaric II 624 - 632 (Amalamir I's eldest son. Died in a hunting accident. Second husband of Adela)
    Theodemir II the Chaste 632 - 638 (Theodebert I and Adela's son. Castrated by his mother)
    Theodebert II 638 - 651 (Amalamir's son)
    Thorismund I 651 - ?
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  2. Baron Steakpuncher Probably stupid

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    Poor Theodomir II
     
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  3. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Yeah, Theodomir had a tough life. Luckily, after being overthrown, he was allowed to retire to a monastery and lived a long and fullfilling life as a monk. He may eventually become a saint - haven't decided on that yet :)
     
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  4. Umbric Man Umbric Manned

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    Come on, he earned it.
     
  5. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    I guess I might be able to mention him as a saint in the next update when I mention the Gothic Church :D
     
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  6. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Hey guys! So I started the new chapter tonight and am hoping to get it done by this weekend. I apologize for the wait; I've been busy pulling all of my document and things together for my starting school in Scotland in January. Things are mostly done in that regard, I'm hoping to be able to churn out a few chapters on a pretty regular basis.
     
  7. altwere Well-Known Member

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    I'm glad that everything is going well.
     
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  8. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Thanks! It looks like my last step is the visa application - got everything else taken care of.

    Gonna be living on campus my first semester until I can get the lay of the land. So, this 30-sonething is moving back to the dorms. I'm both horrified and oddly tickled pink at the notion ;)
     
  9. altwere Well-Known Member

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    Well, that will be interesting.
     
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  10. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    That's one word for it ;) I suspect I'm gonna have some interest stories by the end of the Summer, to say the least.

    Luckily, for the sake of this timeline, the University library is very well stocked and I should have access to a lot of great sources. I'm gonna be living and breathing texts relating to Church and immigration history, so it will be nice to have an unrelated project to distract me on occasion!
     
  11. B_Munro Member

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    OK, Gaelic is Ireland, Doiteainian is Iceland, but what are the other two? Manx presumably is larger than just the island: did Big Brittany break from the Gothic Empire?

    Give me details, and I'll take a crack at it...

    Congrats and best wishes on your new ventures within the ivied walls of academe!
     
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  12. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Dal Caoimhian would be the eventual state established of Caoimhe in southern Spania. Manx will be, well, the Isle of Man. Brittany hasn't broken free yet, if it will - at this point it's not United yet: the different Breton chiefs are all subject of the Gothic Empirs, and compete with one another for influence. It's been established in continuity that the Bretons will become United in a single kingdom ... just in time to be conquered by an outside power.

    I'll tell you what - I'll send you some details after the next update, for a map from around the turn of the 8th century. That will be about the time of the reign of Theodoric II which is when the map is about to change dramatically, several times over, for a few decades :)

    And thanks!!!! I'm an odd mix of excited, confused (is this really happening!?), and terrified :)
     
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  13. Threadmarks: Chapter 81 The Good, the Holy and the Fat

    DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Chapter 81
    The Good, the Holy and the Fat

    [​IMG]

    Later depiction of Emperor Thorismund I, popularly known as Thorismund the Good or, in later centuries, Good King Thorismund


    “Good king Thorismund comes gladly through the wood/
    Carrying a stag upon his steed/
    His cheeks are rosy red and his belly bursts his seams/
    And he’s come to feast with you and me.”

    - Good King Thorismund. Traditional Gothic folk song.


    “The Purple and the White: Emperor Thorimund I and the Gothic Church” Journal Restoration Era Studies. Volume XXXXIV Issue 3 (2001)
    By: Roderick Dag

    The period from the end of the Kunis Wars to the coronation of Theodoric II as Emperor of the Gothic-Roman Empire have often been remembered as the Era of the Do-Nothing Emperors. This term derived from the Era of Yearning and reflected the common conception of the day that those Emperors who ruled from the fall of Queen Adela to the rise of Theodoric II were largely ineffectual, constrained in their ability to possess full agency by the diminishing of the royal demense as well as the weakening of central authority in Ravenna. Numerous factors colluded to establish this as the defining view of the 7th century, including various political concerns which were then peculating within the Western world’s Southern and Northern camps. However, the dominant one appears to be that the mid-to-late 7th century provided historians with fewer sources upon which to base their accounts. Of those sources which did exist, the most comprehensive was of course that of Sigisbairht and his History of the Goths, and it is here where Yearningist historians and poets began to reflect the biases of their sources, for the chief concern of Sigisbaihrt was to understand how the Gothic Empire fell from its Golden Age prior to the Fourth Punic War into the chaos of the Ruination a mere century later. And for Sigisbaihrt, much of the blame fell upon those Emperors who ruled from 631 onward.

    Although efforts have been made in the past several decades to rehabilitate the Do Nothing Emperor’s reputations, with scholars now preferring the neutral term “The Middle Empire” to describe much of the 7th century, much damage had been done by the scholarship of over a century, a great deal of work still remains to be done. Perhaps the figure who suffered the most grievously at the hands of the Yearningists was that of Emperor Thorismund I, known initially after his death as “The Good.” Thorismund, though a process which is little understood, entered into the popular culture of the day and would be transformed during the Theutish Era into the jolly Good King Thorismund; a rotund figure of mirth and unofficial Patron Saint of Feasts and Parties. In later centuries, his birthday would come to be celebrated on December 13th in place of the ancient festival of Cerelia and would be marked by great harvest feasts throughout the lands of the former Gothic Empire, even stretching as far as Jaille. Thorismund’s Feast was seen as a leadup to the coming Christmas holiday. These festivals were viewed with suspicion by the clergy of the Gothic Church in the lands where it still held sway, who felt that it was either a secret pagan feast, or a festival which had infiltrated from the Theutish lands. In doing so, the clergy, knowingly or not, were joined with their ancestors in their antipathy towards the figure of Thorismund, as well shall see.

    Thorismund the Good ruled the Gothic Empire for 22 years from his ascension in 651 until his death in 673. Save for the disaster of the Battle of Burgburg in his latter years, the reign of Thorismund was one largely of peace and stability. Although the Rautherings continued to raid the coastal regions, of Spania and Jaille, they did not penetrate into Gothia proper during this time, after suffering a brutal defeat at Brigantium at the hands of the combined forces of the Suibi and their Gothic overlords. This battle would become the inspiration for the Gaelic poem Cath Óglaigh Mhac Aonghais – or the Tragedy of the Sons of Angus, as it is often recorded in Gothic and other languages – and was also mentioned in several Gothic sources. [FN1]

    How then, did this king who ruled over a period of relative tranquility and who also established a place for himself within the folklore of the Goths and others as a semi-demigod of mirth and feast become so badly besmirched by historians of the Age of Yearning and later? The answer, to be blunt, is because of the influence of the Church. Thorismund is one of the best recorded of the Do-Nothing Emperors, to use the archaic term, and was the subject of a surviving biography by Hunuil of Nizza [OTL: Nice] and priest and scholar who then resided in that city. Hunuil states in his introduction that his biography was written with the consent of Bishop Leovigild of Sacerdos College in Toulouz and was written so that all posterity would be aware of the “rightness of the Church” and the “Errors of our Emperor.” Calling such a work biased is almost an exercise in understatement, as it oft times resembles little more the a polemic against the Gothic Emperor. However, it was also hugely influential, and was relied upon heavily by Sigisbaihrt when compiling his own History, although he seems to have had access to other sources which he used to compliment Hunuil’s work. Perhaps the greatest misfortune which befell Thorismund is the fact that Hunuil is such an engaging, colorful and finely crafted work and is exceptionally enjoyable and readable. Even in translations into modern Gothic, the biography has lost little of its vitality and punch. As a result, it was hugely influential to the Yearningist scholars who painted Thorismund as the quintessential Do-Nothing Emperor and laid much of the blame for the coming Ruination upon his and his ilk’s shoulders.

    In recent decades, a number of influential works have sought to rehabilitate the image and memory of Emperor Thorismund I, striving to divorce his image from the slander of Hunuil as well as the mythic elements of Good King Thorismund, to establish him as a fully human actor operating within the Empire’s Middle Period. Much of these efforts have been inspired by the collapse of the Sigisthuida government during the 1960s in an effort to repudiate their historiography of Gothic history. Amongst the most influential was The Middle Empire: An Exploration of the Pre-Ruination Gothic Empire by Dr. Euric Staghinthan in 1969. Dr. Staghinthan had been released from a political prisoner camp just six years prior, and considered his work to be a rousing condemnation of Sigisthuida historiography. In this work he denounced the view of ideological historians which had painted the Gothic and Latin elements of the Empire as being inherently in conflict with one another; the Conflict of Civilizations having been a key tenant in Sigisthuinda historiography. He also works to show that the Ruination and the fundamental weakening of the Empire was not the result of the Do-Nothing Emperors weakly allowing the Roman Senate to grow in strength. In the decades hence, many other scholars have turned their attention to this era of Gothic History, most notably Valamir Fralet in his borad collection Emaneric’s Heirs and the more specific Through the Mirror Darkly: A Social History of the Middle Empire, which works to confirm many of the findings of Dr. Staghinthan. [FN2]

    My work does not seek to contradict these eminent scholars who I hold in high esteem, but simply to compliment their work. It is a sad truth that many of these works underplay the importance of the Gothic Church in the history of the Gothic Empire – an understandable prejudice when one considers the influence of the Church in the Sigisthuida government and their conception of Gothicness, but unfortunate all the same. And perhaps no other Emperor’s reign stands as a better lence to examine the complimentary, yet fraught, relationship between Church and State during the era of the Gothic Empire than that of Thorismund due to the conflict between the two.

    Although the Gothic peoples had accepted Christianity from at least the fourth century – traditionally marked by the arrival of St. Wulfila as Bishop of the Goths in 341, though non-Arian Gothic bishops such as Theophilus Gothiae who attended the Council of Nicea are attested prior to Wulfila’s ministry – the institutional Gothic Church as it exists today is not seen as having been founded until the arrival of Theodoric the Founder into Italy in 493. In subsequent years it’s growth and prestige would expand dramatically as it eventually subsumed the church of the Visigoths and Burgundians, came to take the place as the prestige faith of the restored Western Empire’s ruling class, and eventually established itself as the predominant Arian Church in the West. [FN3]

    However the clear-cut dates given above can be misleading as they suggest that the Church of the Goths came into being, cut from whole cloth, at any specific time. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth, and the Church has it existed during the reign of Theodemir the the Great was an organic development from what had come before, just as the Church today has grown and evolved from the fertile soil of its past. Because of this, the Church as it existed in the Middle Empire, and even today, possesses many elements which it inherited from its own past. Nowhere is this more evident, possibly, than it its structure which differentiates it greatly from its Roman Orthodox counterpart in the West.

    The Church of the Goths grew from its origins as an ethnic Church of a highly mobile and migratory gens. During the first centuries of Christianity, two distinct practices existed in relationship to the appointment of bishops for newly converted peoples. For those period who the Romans viewed as civilized and who possessed a tradition of urban living – such as the Armenians or Persians – bishops would be appointed to urban centers, in an effort to replicate Roman civic administration within the Church. However, for those peoples who did not possess a strong urban tradition and, as a result, were viewed as barbarians, the practice was to appoint a single bishop for an entire people.

    The Gothic Church grew out of the latter tradition, unsurprisingly, with a single Bishop or Patriarch being selected to tend to the needs of the faithful. The Goths were, during this period, fractured and on the move, with the Visigoths eventually moving into the region of Southern Gaul around the modern city of Toulouz, and Ostrogoths remaining to the East and eventually establishing their own homeland in northern Italy. During the migratory period, this structure served the Goths well; a single bishop would lead the people spiritually, move with them during their wanders, and follow the King into battle to minister to his warriors during times of war and conflict. Meanwhile, priests – or presbyters – were given a great deal more freedom to operate independently than their Orthodox brethren.

    Once the Gothic peoples began to settle into their new homes however, rather than adopting the structure of their Orthodox neighbors, the Gothic Church retained its inherent structure. Although the number of bishops increased in both the Kingdom of the West and East Goths, their role was not altered greatly. Rather than be appointed to urban centers, the bishops instead formed Sacerdos Colleges around the person of the king, with the most eminent of their numbers being elected as Patriarch of the gens or people. As during the migratory eras, they mostly focused on tending to the spiritual needs of the King, his nobles and army, leaving the tending of the flocks to individual priests. In fact, priests in the Gothic tradition were granted greater spiritual powers than their Orthodox counterpoints – for example, within the Gothic Church a priest was allowed to lay his hands and raise another man to the priesthood; a power that was strictly reserved for bishops in the Orthodox tradition.

    The restoration of the Western Empire and the consolidation of the Eastern and Western Goths, led to greater cooperation between the Burgundian, Eastern and Western Sacredos Colleges, but did not lead to the two colleges merging. Indeed, although the Gothic crowns were officially linked during the reign of Emperor Amalaric I, the Sacredos Colleges would remain separate until the collapse of the Empire itself during the 9th century. Despite this, the position of the Gothic Church as the predominant faith amongst the Goths and, as a result, the prestige faith in the Empire, necessitated greater centralization and cooperation. It should come as no surprise then that the Patriarch of the Eastern Goths, who soon became intimately tied with the city of Ravenna and the primary Imperial Court, soon came to be seen as having primacy of place within the Gothic Church – even gaining the nickname ‘Atta’, likely influenced by the similar nickname ‘Pope’ for the Patriarch of Rome. [FN4]

    The raising of the Amaling line to the Purple offered many opportunities to the Gothic Church, but it also represented a number of challenges. As an ethnic Church, the Gothic Church had largely been left to its own devices; occasionally persecuted due to its Arian theology, and sometimes brought into conflict with an ambitious political leader, but generally left to meet the needs of the Gothic peoples as its leaders saw fit. However, with the restoration of the Empire, the Church was suddenly thrust into a position of high prestige, but which also linked its fate intrinsically with the victories and defeats of the Amaling dynasty; a fact that was lost on neither the Atta, the Sacerdos Colleges, nor the Emperors themselves.

    Already, during the reign of Theodemir the Great, the soon-to-be Emperor began to involve himself in the affairs of the Chuch of the Goths. This involvement was often in the form of supplying needed funds for a growing Church. As part of Theodemir’s great reforms, he instituted a require tithe of 10 percent throughout the newly demarcated Gothic lands within the Empire, with those funds being handed to the Church for its expansion and upkeep. He also made it legal for landowners to donate or grant land to the Church, albeit only in small parsels – though the allowed amount would be increased under his successors. Helping efforts, the Emperor had a close relationship with the Atta of the time, a Roman by the name of John – one of the last ungothized Romans to hold the title and position in the Church – and the two developed a complimentary working relationship. However, the Emperor’s involvement could turn to meddling when he felt the Church was not living up to its standards, such as his anemic response to the Plague of Belisarius. [FN5]

    During the reigns of Theodemir’s successors, the infrastructure of the Church expanded greatly. Monestaries were built, both on the Orthodox and, later, Gaelic model, in order to provide for the spiritual wellbeing of the people and to help reclaim lands which had gone wild during the previous centuries. New churches were built throughout the realm and missionaries were sent out to faroff lands such as Britain, Frankland, and into Germania. With the support of the state behind them, the Gothic Church soon became the predominant Arian Church in the West, and the Churches of the Vandals, Bavarians, Allemani, Avars, and Gepids came to acknowledge its primacy of place over them. Furthermore, although the Edict of Tolerance officially barred discrimination against the Roman Orthodox population, it effectively worked to strengthen and support the position of the Gothic Church, as it included such provisions as the death penalty for anyone who converted an Arian to Orthodoxy and put restrictions on the establishment of Orthodox monasteries within the lands set aside for the Goths. The result was that by the conclusion of the Fourth Punic War, the Church of the Goths was as well entrenched in Gothic society as the Roman Orthodox Church was in the Latin speaking regions of the Empire; despite the fact that it continued to operate in much more decentralized state than its competitor.

    However, this prominence acted to stress the relationship between Church and State. Although the two continued to operate in a symbiotic relationship throughout the Restoration Era, the growing strength of the Church would lead to friction. On the part of the Church, the Atta and other church officials, began to insert themselves more prominently into the political concerns of the Empire and voraciously defended their rights, such as during the Fourth Punic War when Atta Batwin refused to turn over Church property to help fund the war effort. At the same time, the Gothic Emperors were influenced by the relationship between their brother-emperor in the East and the Patriarch of Constantinople. During the initial years of the Kunis Wars, Queen Adela came close to trying to force sitting Atta, Sabbas II, to renounce their title due to his vocal criticism of her marriage to the young Emperor Amalaric II. She only relented, we are told, after several of her advisors protested that such an action against the popular Atta would surely lead to riots in the streets and potential rebellion. In the end, the point was moot as Sabas II passed away from ill health a few months later, and his replacement, Wulfila I, was more supportive of her position in the imperial court.

    These conflicting trends are best exemplified by the reign of Thorismund the Good. The birth year for Thorismund the Good, along with those of all of Theodebert II’s children, are a mystery. Sigisbaihrt makes no reference to their births and even Hunuil makes no reference to it. We do know that Thorismund was the third son of Theodebert II and judging from the fact that his taking of the purple was not followed by a period of regency – a prospect which would have frightened many of the Gothic Reiks in the years following the reign and overthrow of Queen Adela – he must have been a young man in his hate teens at the very youngest. This would put his birth sometime during Amalaric II’s exile amongst the Lombards during the 630s.

    All sources agree that Thorismund was never meant to take the Gothic throne; that was to be reserved for Theodebert II’s first son, Amalamir. As the third son, Thorismund could be assured a title and lands, following in the tradition first established by his Grandfather and continued by his Father following the latter’s victory over Queen Adela. However, Thorismund seems to have felt the call of the faith and entered into religious studies. Gothic priests and bishops could marry and have children, but their religious titles could not be inherited. As a result, Thorismund’s education would have likely diminished his status amongst the rest of Amalaric’s children and heirs and should have precluded his opportunity of claiming the Gothic throne.

    If it had not been for unforeseen circumstances, Thorismund would have likely entered into the priesthood and possible gained a place in the Sacerdos Colleges of the Empire, becoming a close advisor to his brother and te Atta. Instead, fate intervened, for the illness which cut short the life of Emperor Theodebert II spread through the imperial household and also claimed the life of Amalamir, the heir apparent. Unfortunately, Theodebert II’s second son, called Amalaric, seems to have been judged unfit for office by the Reiks of the realm. Unwilling to expand their search for potential heirs outside of the immediate household of the now deceased Emperor for fear of further political chaos so soon after the fall of Adela, the Reiks saw no choice but to elect Thorismund as Emperor [FN6]

    Thorismund must have been a popular choice. Despite his education in the Church, he proved to be a capable warrior, as he worked with the Suebi King to crush a series of Rauthering raid and put down a minor Vallach rebellion in Aquitaine. From this point forward, save for the defeat of the Goths at Burgburg later in his reign, the core lands of the Empire were at peace; although Jaille contained to be raided and suffer civil disturbances. Although history has remembered him as a drunkard, Thorismund from an early age proved himself to be a just ruler, which won him the respect and love of the Empire’s commoners and much of the nobility. Hunuil, hardly a sympathetic source, grudgingly admits “Thorismund was often filled with sympathy upon hearing of the plight of the common folks of the realm – both Goth and Vallach. He did not suffer fools willingly, and taught humility to the proud when they sinned against the freeman and the slave”

    Despite this complementary works, Thorismund would quickly come into conflict with the Church. Partially this likely stemmed from his own lifestyle. As previously mentioned, Thorismund was renowned as a man given to the vices of drink and gluttony; even Romanos Periplanómenos, who as a Greek was unlikely to take an active stance in the internal politics of the Western Empire, uses language which would be commonplace in later years; mentioning his red cheeks and nose as well as his size. However, where it only this, the Church would have likely turned a blind eye to the Emperor’s habits; he would not be the last Gothic Emperor given to the drink and other behaviors deemed sinful by some members of the clergy.

    So, the question remains, why did the Church develop such a negative relationship with the Emperor? The answer appears to stem from the one quality which most would assume would have given him their good graces; his education as a churchman. By all accounts, Thorismund was not a stupid man; even Hunuil admits that “the Emperor enjoyed nothing more than engaging a courtier or guest in debate. Sometimes he would argue this side of an issue, other times that, seeming to enjoy the debate itself with little consideration for the side he took on this day or that.” This intelligence and quick, jostling, wit seems to have ingratiated him with the realm; a small number of poems have even come down to us from this era which have been attributed to Thorismund, and all show a verbal dexterity and playfulness which cause them to standout from much of the literature of their day.

    However, these same traits which endeared the Emperor to the nobles and common folk of the Empire, had the opposite effect upon the clergy of the Gothic Church. This is because, like his predecessors, he often found excuses to intervene within the inner workings of the Church and even delved into theological matters. Thorismund, it seems, knew his intelligence and also wished to emulate his Eastern brother-emperor, and interfered which Church affairs consistently. When the aged Atta Wulfila I passed away during the first years of his reign, Thorismund openly pushed the candidacy of a friend of his, one Theodeoric of Massila. His efforts were rebuffed by te Gothic clergy who instead nominated Atta Nicetas I – a man who had previously been a prominent member of the Ravenna sacraos college, who whom Thorismund shared a personal dislike for.


    This failure to influence the nomination of an Atta did little to deter the Gothic Empire and may have only made him more determined to dictate Church policy. He attempted to resurrect theological arguments which were considered to have been long since settled. Most prominent of these was his determination to state that God could not rightfully be called “The Father” prior to the creation of Jesus; a debate which had caused concentration amongst the Arian clergy of Constantinople during the 4th century. He also pushed for the calling of a church council to settle upon the true status of Christ as a created divine being, pointing to the Letters of Paul to argue that the Apostles had viewed Jesus as an Angel that had taken human form. Making matters worse, Thorismund’s church education meant that he was well versed in Gothic theology as well as the Greek philosophical classics, all of which meant that he could craft arguments which were both engaging and convincing.

    This caused a flurry of activity within the Church, as the greatest writers of the clergy were called forth to engage wit the Emperor personally and convince him of his error. Although these efforts usually resulted in the Emperor backing down, often with what Hunuil described as “a jolly laugh and smile. One was left with the impression that he dabbled in error, not to much as out of personal conviction as out of a desire to test the faithful and our love of God and the Truth.” Only once did Thorismund not back down and, in doing so, he brought the full weight of his mental abilities to bear on the Church, and in that one instance, he committed the most grievous of sins: he won.

    The Goths, like many of the other Germanic tribes in the West, practices polygamy. This practice had long cultural roots that stretched back to their pre-Christian faith and continued into the 7th century amongst the Goths and others. Although several of the Gothic Emperors had been monogamous, this seems to have stemmed largely from circumstance and not conviction. By the time Emperor Theodebert II, Thorismund’s father, took the throne, he had three wives; after a long stretch of Emperors having only a single. Due to his role in the defeat of Adela as well as his strength in arms, the Church did not raise an eyebrow at this development. In fact, many noblemen continued to practice polygamy and there seemed to be widespread support for the practice.

    Despite this, there was a growing movement in the Gothic Church, influenced by their Roman Orthodox neighbors, define a marriage as one between a single man and a woman. This position has deep roots in the cultural practices of the Latin people throughout the centuries. Meanwhile, those who support polygamy pointed not only to their own history and traditions, but also to the example set by the patriarchs of the Old Testament. The pro-monogamy forces constituted a vocal and energetic minority within the Gothic Church, while the pro-polygamy faction was concerned that accepting monogamy was not only a refutation of the example of the Bible, but also a bowing to the cultural force of the Roman population of the Empire.

    Both factions existed in an uneasy stalemate during the reign of Amalaric II and the early reign of Thorismund. The election of Atta Nicetas I seemed to indicate that the pro-Monogamy forces were strongest as he was an outspoken member of their faction. However, he initially seems to have been hesitant in pushing for his position, especially while the Emperor peppered him with questions and theological ‘suggestions.’ But the matter came to a head in 656 when Thorismund announced a grand marriage where he planned to marry five brides in a single day. Each of his brides wer princesses of important Germanic peoples; either federates of the Empire, allies, or foreign powers. This act was too much, and the fury of the pro-monogamy faction bust out in the open. Letters were written, speeches made, and riots were fomented.

    Thorismund put down the minor revolts where they emerged and then turned his attention to the intellectual side of the attack. Although his letters come down to us only in fragments, often quoted in biographies and histories, those which come down to us show a unique grasp of the Gothic language and the art of rhetoric. At first Atta Nicetas refused to officiate at the wedding, but was forced to do so when Thorismund threatened to offer the people of the Empire a year exemption of the annual tithe. This forced the Atta against a wall and he blessed the wedding, but it did little to smother the flames of acrimony that had begun to emerge between Church and State.

    For the next several years, the fires of these passions simmered. The pro-monogamy forces and the Atta continued to release tracts supporting their position, while the supporters of Polygamy and the Emperor responded in kind. The latter faction painted their opponents as pro-Roman, anti-Gothic, and insinuated that the Atta and his supporters wished to abandon Arianism entirely and accept the Roman creed. Finally, pointing to the precedent set by Emperor Constantine I, Thorismund called a grand synod of the Gothic Church to meet in Ravenna to decide several matters of theological importance as well as address concerns about the structure and efficiency of the Church. The Atta opposed the calling of the synod, but wa eventually forced to bow to Imperial pressure.

    In the resulting council, known as First Ravenna, the Emperor’s position on polygamy as officially accepted as Church dogma. Also accepted were a number of minor reforms to the Church which strengthen the position of Monastic orders in relation to the established clergy, further defined the position of Jesus as a created divine being in relation to the Father, and reaffirmed the position of canon law in relation to imperial law. Not all of these positions followed the line preached by the Emperor, but enough did so that on those rare occasion the Imperial party backed down, it was viewed as a sop given to a defeated foe to mollify hard feelings – in such a spirit, Thorismund agreed to back down on his position of God as Father prior to the creation of Jesus. Most importantly, the matter of Polygamy itself was settled when the Emperor himself asked to address the synod and gave such a convincing speech that it left members of the clergy in tears.

    To Atta Nicetas and his supporters, this was the finl straw. They had been out maneuvered one time to many by a cagey Emperor who, they felt, cared for little except the sins of the flesh and increasing his own power. Fore the remainder of the Atta’s life, he would dedicate himself to fighting the Emperor at every stop. Although forced into a disadvantaged position, the anti-Imperial faction would rebound and following the death of Nicetas, they were able to elect their preferred candidate, Atta Doroteus in 668. This was made possible by the dip in imperial prestige following the Battle of Burgburg and Thorismund’s own ill heath and turning away from governing to deal with matters relating to his numerous children. The battles between Church and State during the reign of Thorismund the Good would harden the anti-Imperial faction and though the would never be able to overturn the decisions of First Ravenna, they would work hard during the later reign of Thorismund and his successors to build a power base for the Church that was independent of the Imperial government, and seek to chastise any Emperor which meddled too deeply in the affairs of the Church. In this, they would be only be moderately successful; from the Era of the Do-Nothing Emperors, to the Ruination and the eventual Fall of the Empire, the Gothic Church and the Gothic Empire would remain linked, like two bickering brothers who competed against one another, yet still needed one another to survive.



    NEXT: We Look to the North and the Battle of Burgburg

    [FN1] The confusingly named Battle of Burgburg has confused scholars for centuries. Not only can the exact site of the battle not be determined, but several theories have developed to explain the redundancy of its name. The most popular of these theories among scholars theorizes that the battle was named after a site where a fortified structure existed upon a hill or mountain; that is a Burg upon a Burg. However, numerous other theories exist, such as the one which states that it meant the Burg created by a man or tribe named Burg or some other etymologically similar name. Whatever the case may be, the Battle of Burgburg will be dealt with in our next chapter as we travel into parts of Europe that this timeline has yet to explore!

    [FN2] Bet you never thought we’d see a reference to out good friend Dr. Fralet from Chapter 2 again Oh, I may have been working on this for almost seven years (dear god!!!) but that doen’t mean I’ve forgotten thing Also, you may notice that I’ve definitely been sprinkling some clues throughout this chapter – and the timeline to a lesser extent – about the current state of affairs within the Gothreik. I’m keeping these necessarily vague and I don’t want to write myself in a corner, but I do have some ideas for some of the major recent events of the past few decades.

    [FN3] All dates given here are from OTL as they occurred prior to the POD. Much of the research for this chapter was taken from “Barbarian Bishops and the Churches "in Barbaricis Gentibus" During Late Antiquity” by Ralf W. Mathisen and published in Speculum Vol. 72, No. 3 as well as Early Medieval Italy: Central Power and Local Society 400-1000 by Chris Wickham. Naturally, any factual errors in this chapter are my own and not the work of the original authors!

    [FN4] Atta is the Gothic word which would roughly correspond to Dad or Daddy. Earlier in this timeline I’d given the title Fader for the Bishop of Ravenna, but that seems a little too formal for a nickname. So, I’ve done something I genuinely try not to do: I pulled a retcon!

    [FN5] According to Wickham, under the Lombards and Franks, laws were in place which initially forebade landholders from willing land to the Church or monesteries. The reason for this was so that the Church could not turn predator and reduce the the yeoman class into tenants or gain a monolopy on ariable land – as the military was derived largely from these freemen. This law was eventually overturned with the expected results. The Goths have a similar problem of needing to preserve their yeoman class for much the same reasons. However, the Emperors also need to establish the Church of the Goths so that it can compete with the Roman Orthodox Church. As a result, they allow these grants much earlier than the Lombards would in OTL, but attempt to mitigate the threat to the yeomen by limiting how much land can be granted. Other laws are also in place to preserve the Yeoman class; how successful they are, we will eventually see.

    Meanwhile, the appointment of John was done largely through the pressure of Theodemir who already and developed a friendship with the churchman. John was member of the small Roman Arian community which existed in Italy prior to the arrival of the Goths and his appointment was seen (or hoped to be seen) as representing Theodemir’s desire to work with the Romans in Italy. John eventually would become canonized by the Gothic Church shortly after his death

    [FN6] Amalaric II’s health never fully recovered from the illness he caught while battling against the Bavarians. This meant that when a virulent disease struck Ravenna in 651, his body was unable to fight if off and he passed away. Among the dead were his first born and heir Amalamir who would have actually have been a fairly dynamic ruler. But, you know, things happen As for Amalaric II’s second son (who would have been Amalaric III, had he been chosen), the young man was born with what modern scholars often interpret to be Downs Syndrome or a related disorder. He vanishes from the scholarly record after Thorismund’s ascension, but I feel comfortable in saying that his younger brother loved him deeply and had him sent to a monastery where he lived a long and fulfilling life away from court politics. There is a Gothic saint known as Amalamir the Quiet who some scholars believe to be this prince, but scholars have not confirmed this and there is some debate – though the public has readily accepted it as fact.

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

    Alright, here is the chapter I promised last weekend and I apologize for the wait. This chapter, for whatever reason proved a bit difficult to write, despite the fact that I enjoyed attacking a topic which has been left, up to this point, rather vague. Also it allowed me to make nervous callbacks to earliest chapters of the timeline, and that is always fun :)

    Hopefully the next chapter will be a bit easier to write and, as such, be out quicker.

    On a personal note: My visa application has been submitted and airline ticket bought. I need to get my finger prints and biometrics done and then, assuming I get granted the student visa (and I'm not sure why I wouldn't ... I hope), I will be setting down in Scotland for school on January 8th. Wish me luck, and I am gonna try to get as much done on the timeline before then! :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019 at 1:37 AM
  14. Falecius Well-Known Member

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    Anarres
    Nice stuff.
    I guess that the Sigisthuida (Party of Victory?) are setting up a fairly nasty regime, maybe a vague analog of Fascism - if not worse - in the Gothic lands by mid-twentieth century. And I understand they will not be particularly amicable to Roman Italy.

    EDIT: I found the reference in an early chapter. Hey, those guys were really nasty.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019 at 7:42 AM
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  15. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Wauwatosa, WI
    Yeah, I'm being a bit vague about Sigisthuida (really don't want to write myself into a corner with the 'modern' period since it's a full 1000 years after the timeline proper ends. But I do want to have an idea of the culture and times that our authors are writing in), but the party translates as "People's Victory" which should give you an idea.

    I'm not trying to create one for one an analogies for OTL political ideologies. But on my eye, Sigisthuida would be considered Fascist-lite (though there is certainly more to it than that). They see themselves as the heirs of the old Empire and wish to reestablish it, are strong supporters of the Monarch (albeit more as a figurehead so he or she doesn't impede their power) and are, oddly enough, strongly Democratic -or Mootist in the parlance of this world - in character. They would likely be horrified by the OTL genocides committed by fascists, but do believe in an ethnic heirarchy with the Goths as the 'natural' rulers of Western Europe. And they also want to create strong cultural and political bonds with the other Arian and Germanic peoples of Europe as well as the Rhomans

    At least that's where my mind kinda goes with them at the moment.
     
  16. Falecius Well-Known Member

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    This phrase would sound a lot more sinister IOTL by simply substituting one letter.

    Does (Modern) Gothic have a head-complement structure (as opposed to most modern Germanic IOTL)?
     
  17. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    At the risk of sounding stupid(er than normal :p ) what is head-complement structure? Once I know - I can give you an answer :)
     
  18. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Alright, I'm striking while the iron is hot and just churned out the beginning of the next chapter. Not sure when I'll have the chance to finish it, but this story has been burning a hole in my brain for a while and I want to get it put down on paper and released. So, hopefully, by this weekend? And, for those of you who want to see new areas of the world, this is going to be a story for you, as we turn out eyes to a part of Europe which has barely been mentioned, even in passing, up to this point.
     
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  19. Umbric Man Umbric Manned

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    It's good seeing more Gothic Empire stuff. :) Since others have commented on the present-day timeline bits, I'll content myself with admitting the amusement that a Germanic pope exists. Although doubly amused the Anglo-American in me's closest timeline equivalent is likely following Catholicism if some form of Protestantism takes hold in the West Germanic peoples. Speaking of Germanics, this makes me ponder if the North Germanics will follow Arianism and the Atta, now....hm.
     
  20. DanMcCollum P-WI

    Joined:
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    Oh, I assure you, the religious aspects of this timeline are going to become very important going forward, especially in relation to the Northern Germanic peoples.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post - ive been wanting to deal with the development of the Gothic Church for some time, bit it always got pushed back due to other chapters, as well as my desire to want to do more research. Even now, I'm disaapointed I wasn't able to delve too deeply into theological issues. But the sad fact is that there hasn't been a ton of ink spilled on Arianism, sadly.
     
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