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. Will Kürlich Kerl Banned

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    Just caught up on this TL, and even though I don't know much about this period of history, you've done a great job writing this TL.

    On a side note, are you still going to be updating the Prodigal Sons TL?
     
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  2. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    I haven't updated it recently, for much the same reasons that I took such a long hiatus from this TL (coupled with the fact that, after finishing my thesis, I was a little tired of 20th century American history). I figure I'm going to get back around to it sooner than later. I've still got the election of 1960 to work out, and I was excited by the prospect :)
     
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  3. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    *whistles Dixie* I won't say one way or another. I will say, however, that any Celtic movement such is going to be less effective since it will A) be dealing with a smaller population basis (its would have to be Gaelic based; the Britons are busy fighting for their lives against the Saxons) and B) the Irish are going to have to get better boats; the typical Irish ocean-going vessle is going to be much less effective than the typical longship due to the fact that they can't go as far out on sea, and and they aren't good at navigating rivers either.
     
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  4. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    I'd love it if you'd like to take a stab at it. Let me work on a post which details that situation with the Franks in a bit more detail (for my own sake, as well as the readers) and then I can shoot you a PM and give you the details I've got! Thanks!
     
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  5. Threadmarks: Chapter 15: A Frank Discussion

    DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Chapter 15
    A Frank Discussion

    “It is impossible to overestimate the impact of Theodemir’s victory upon the Franks. Within the span of two years, two of the three branches of the Frankish royal house had been exterminated, the boundaries of the realm shrunk dramatically, and those territories which remained outside of the hands of the Goths were thrown into turmoil. It must have seemed as if all of the work of Clovis had been undone in a single generation.” – Lothair Vanderfrisland “Clovis’ Heirs”

    March, 547
    Outside of Paris, formerly the Kingdom of Paris

    Paris still smoldered. Even now a thick acrid smoke could be seen to waif above the ruins of the city. Whenever the wind blew in from the North, as it did today, the pillars of smoke seemed to teeter in the air, and their peaks collapsed downward, spilling over the denuded plain. The smoke brought with it the sickening sweet smell of death and decay; strong enough to choke a man, unless he had grown accustomed to it, or, perversely, come to enjoy it.

    Theudoric, King of Metz, looked across the table and just such a man. Theodemir, King of the Goths, seemed to revel in the desolation he had caused. Occasionally, he would cast his eyes about at the wreckage of the city to the North, and one could see a hunger in his eyes. When he ran his tongue across his thin, bloodless lips, the King appeared like nothing more than a hungry wolf; especially when he leaned in over the table and smiled that smile-that-wasn’t-a-smile, and more of a baring of fangs. The sight made Theudoric, a hard man himself, shiver and send a prayer up to a God that he had never truly believed in. [FN1]

    “Now, for the signing of the treaty between us,” Theodemir said as he set down a map. “I promised you that your Kingdom would survive intact, and I will keep my word to you, Frank.” The Goth filled that last word with such hatred and enmity, that Theudoric found himself wondering how the man sitting across from him rationalized the Frankish blood that flowed through his own veins.

    “As for your brothers’ kingdoms; I am claiming all of Neustria as my own. It is fair and just; the weregeld to be paid to me for the slaying of my son, Theodebert.”

    “And Soissons,” Theudoric found himself saying? He felt old. Terribly old. Years of war and it had all come down to this; dickering for the remains of the Kingdom his own father had carved out of the decayed husk of the Empire.

    “The border between the Goths and the former Kingdom of Soissons will be on the western bank of the River Somme.”

    For the first time, Theudoric felt real anger welling up inside of him; “So, I am an ally, and yet you wish to strip me of lands which are rightfully mine? With Clothair dead, along with his children, the entire Kingdom of Soissons is rightfully my inheritance.”

    He knew he was treading on dangerous ground; but the loss of Soissons, which had been the site of one of his Father’s greatest battles, as well as the rich lands to the East was too much to bear. He had come to write off Neustria from the beginning, and after seeing the desolation pressed down upon it by the Goths he was almost glad to do so, but this was almost too much to.

    Theodemir began to stand, his short frame almost absurd against the image he was trying to project, his balding head glowing spotty and red with rage. “You dare,” the Gothic King hissed, “after I spared your life. You are lucky I allow you anything in return for your service beyond your own head! Should your own son not have fallen in combat against his Uncles, and feeling remorse for you as a man who as a man who had recently suffered the same ill-fate, I might well have left you nothing except your lands around Metz. But I can be merciful. Merciful!”

    Theudoric winced, thinking of his own son, Theudobert, who had laid down his own life in the storming of Paris. “It was a bad war to be named Theudobert,” he thought to himself, “the death of one started it all, and a second died at its finish.”

    “Father,” another voice said, and Theudoric looked up to see Theodemir’s son Amalaric resting his hand upon the King’s shoulder, “enough blood has been spilled, I think. Do you not agree? Let us leave our ally to settling the affairs of his own family. Much like us, they have suffered much grief these past years. And Theudoric, King, do you not believe it best to leave here as a friend?”

    Did the Prince just smirk at him? Theudoric could have sworn that he had. Not for the first time, he wondered what it was that drove the Goths. They were a strange people indeed, seeming to possess the craftiness of the Greeks, the strength of the Romans and the ferocity of their fellow Germans.

    “Very well,” Theudoric said, keeping his voice as steady as he could. “It would seem that I am dead already, and you have killed me with your kindness. Let’s just finish this.”

    “Excellent,” Theodemir said and motioned to one of his scribes, which brought forth three copies of the same document; two in the Latin script and one more in the characters of the Goths. “Affix your seal, and our business will be done.”

    Theudoric pressed down his seal, and took one of the documents in Latin as his own copy. He was defeated; though he might now live another week, a month, a year, or several, he knew that the end was coming, and he had just pressed his own seal upon the death certificate.

    Clovis’ Heirs
    Lothair Vanderfrisland
    [Northsea Publishing: Dorestad, Frankland, 2003]

    Theudoric I returned to his capital of Metz a defeated man. Although the Franks had known combat between sibling Kings before, the crimes of Theudoric seemed immense. In order to save his own realm, the King had conspired with the Frank’s greatest rivals, the Goths, helped slay his own two brothers, and watched as the Frankish dominion was driven back and much of the work of Clovis undone.

    At this point, the chronicles fall silent. Theudoric is mentioned no more by any contemporary writers until his death, two years later, in 549. Wulfra Stabo, the principal biographer of Theodemir the Great, simply states that “in that year, the last living son of Clovis was killed by treachery.” Later tradition, which grew up around the stories of Theodemir the Great, state that he was personally slain by his own son, Theudoric II, who invited his Father on a hunting trip and then shot him in the back, but there is no hard evidence to say whether this is true or the creation of later poets and story tellers. [FN2]

    What is for certain is that, following his death, Theudoric II came to power in Metz, but would only reign for five years, from 549 through 555. During this time, the Kingdom of the Franks fell into a period of chaos and civil war. We know that the chief instigator of the conflict was Theudoric II’s own brother, Clovis, who had been denied a part of the realm due to his minority, and that the war would wage for three years until the fabled Battle of Cologne where both brothers perished in combat.

    With the passing of Theudoric II and Clovis, the main line of the Merovings became extinct, and the country was left without a single ruler. The lands of the Franks became disunited as each minor Reik declared himself an independent ruler. At the same time, those regions which had previously been vassalized by the Franks began to declare their independence; most notably the Reikdom of the Alemani, whose rulers, although of Frankish descent, quickly moved to secure their own power. By 559, during the last year of the reign of Theodemir, the Gothic Empire had come to recognize Carloman I as Reiks of Alemannia. Carloman would found a Carolingian dynasty which would rule Alemannia, sometimes as independent rulers, sometimes as allies or vassals of the Empire, until the coming of the Theut in the early 9th century. [FN3]

    The chaos within Frankland would not be quelled for a generation. Beginning in 573, Chlothar, the petty King of Antwerp, began to expand his power through a series of alliances. We have very little information relating to Chlothar during the early years of his reign, but it is probable that he was the son of a small Frankish nobleman who had been able to secure his independence following the Battle of Cologne. Later genealogical records suggest a descent from the Merovings, but the names of Merovech of Chlodio do not appear until the 7th century, and may have been fabricated to strengthen the new dynasty’s sense of legitimacy.

    At some point, probably in the year 575 or 576, Clothar defeated a large Danish army, lead by the warlord Herebeald who sent an army to raid into Frisland and northern Frankland. This victory, remembered in the poem “The Battle of Dorestad” marks the first written evidence of the Old Frankish language, and would lead to Clothar being named King of the Franks by the lower Reiks of the Frankish lowlands.

    The next year, Clothar set forth with an army to subjugate the rest of the Frankish territories, moving against the small town of Maastricht, and Aachen, where he wintered for the year. In 578, the King of the Franks defeated his last remaining rival, Chlodoman of Metz and captured the city which was to become his capital.

    Clothar I of the Franks would reign over a united kingdom for the next fifteen years. Not much is known of his activities during these years, although some references in documents of the Gothic Empire indicate that he enjoyed some form of diplomatic recognition during his reign, and, records of the Gothic Church indicate that missionaries were sent to Frankland during the reign of Emperor Amalaric I. However, it would not be until the 592 that the Gothic Church reported that the mass of Frankish nobles had accepted baptism at a ceremony presided over by the future Saint Siggo of Marsalies.

    It was following the conversion, and the expansion of the Gothic Church into Frankland, that we truly begin to see the Franks reenter the historical spotlight. [FN4]



    [FN1] As this is told through the eyes of Theudoric, Theodemir is certainly not going to come off as well as he does in certain other sources. At this point Theudoric is a man who has found himself caught between two untenable options; he could have supported his brothers in their war against the Goths and likely lost his life and his kingdom, or he could have supported Theodemir against his own family. Either way, he knows that he is likely a dead man.

    [FN2] I swear that, once I’m completely finished with the reign of Theodemir, I’m going to turn my attention towards doing a full write up of the myths, folklore and cycles which surround this King. I’ve made some mention of it before, even at length in at least one post, but I’d like to chart out the entire story cycle.

    One of the things which brought me back to this timeline (when I initially decided to rewrite it, after coming back to Grad School) was the thought that I had read a lot more Germanic mythic material, and thought it would be fun to explore how that body of lore could have evolved in a different timeline. I’m a mythology buff at heart, and I’ve noticed that such topics don’t receive much attention in this group. So, if your interested in it, just sit back and I will cover it, and if you’re not … to bad; I am ;)

    One final note, that is somewhat related. You may notice I continue to use the word “Reiks”. In OTL it was a name for Gothic nobles and in the ATL it has come to become roughly equivalent of the word “Duke.”

    [FN3] Carloman is a Frankish nobleman who rose to power in the Duchy of Alemannia due to his close relations of Theudoric I. Following the King’s demise, and the ill-fated civil war between his two sons, Carloman seeks the support of the remaining native nobility in the Duchy and works to declare his independence. This is not overly difficult, due to the fact that the Frankish lands have fallen into utter anarchy. He is able to gain the support of the Goths, who see him as a good buffer against any possible renewed Frankish aggression (assuming, of course, that they are ever able to pull together as a united state again). Despite this, Carloman and his descendants operate at a distance from Ravenna and are never considered to be part of the Kingdom/Empire.

    Carloman is a relatively interesting figure and strong leader. Unfortunately, due to a lack of sources in the ATL, not much is remembered of him as time progresses, and he becomes one of those shadowy figures of late-Antiquity/the early Middle Ages.

    [FN4] I feel I should go into some detail about Christianity amongst the Franks at this point (plan on dealing with the religious landscape in further detail sometime in the near future, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.) In the ATL, Clovis was killed shortly after his conversion to Christianity. As a result, many Frankish nobles come to see Christianity, at least the Orthodox variety of it, as a religion which had lead them to disaster. The fact that Clovis’ children continue to adhere to it (continually hoping for some support from the Roman Empire or Church in their struggles against the Goths) up to the point when they are utterly defeated by Theodemir, does not bolster much faith in the minds of the average Frank. By the point that the Franks are reunited, I believe it isn’t unrealistic that they would need a second conversion. At that point, the Gothic Church is the more likely way to do, in order to secure good relations with the Goths on their Western border, and because Theodemir’s conquests have made it something of a prestige religion amongst Germans (more so than it was before, at least).

    Alright, after a few very good questions concering my intentions with the Franks, I felt that I should turn my attention to them to show the ramifications of Theodemir's conquest of Gaul. I want to thank all of you who asked good questions and made some suggestions (a keen eye might note some small retcons in this point; although, hopefully, not for long, as I'd like to go through and remove any inconsistencies from earlier posts).

    Having dealt with the Franks, I feel that I've now set up the stage for the last years of Theodemir's reign and can progress into it. It's funny; when I first tried my hand at this TL as "For Want of a Son", the reign of the *Theodemir(called Valamir back in those days) consisted of two of three posts. Here we are on Chapter 15, and I'm only now moving into the final act of the first ruler. Either I've gotten better at this as I've gotten older or I've just gotten more long winded ;)

    As always, questions and comments are not requested; I'm requiring them! :D
     
  6. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    I may take the next few days off from this TL (considering the output I've done after a year long hiatus, I don't think its much of a problem!), and will then begin with the last years of the reign of Theodemir the Great.

    I wanted to thank everyone who's commented so far (especially those who pushed me to answer the question of "what happened to the Franks" which resulted in the last post). I hope you've been enjoying the timeline so far; I know I've been enjoying researching and writing it!

    Now, for a request for some audiance participation. Once I finished up the reign of Theodemir (which will likely take two of three chapters in and of itself), I'd like to turn my attention to the rest of Europe for a bit; basically give an update of what's been happening there. Are there any places in particular that people would like to see developed in more detail?
     
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  7. altwere Well-Known Member

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    What is happening in North Africa?
     
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  8. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    North Africa is one of the regions which I plan on covering fairly soon. To give a brief over view, though; the Vandals still hold North Africa, although they are recovering from a brief civil war between the Catholic and Arian factions (the Arians came out on top).

    Previously, the Vandals have always been forced to operate under the very real fear of the Byzantines to the East. However, with the Empire going through a rough period, and the Goths rising to the North, is gives the Vandals more options, and the ability to play one off the other.

    The biggest problem the Vandals are having, currently, is incursions by Berbers, which has driven the Kingdom's borders back; although their heartland of Tunis remains relatively unscatched.
     
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  9. FleetMac Patriotic Scalawag

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    How is Britain and Ireland shaking out? I'd understand if the butterflies haven't flapped hard enough to change things there, but there should be at least minor differences ITTL from how things went for us (perhaps a differently named King here and there pops up), with the potential for greater changes down the road.
     
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  10. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Although I've hinted at certain changes which will be taking place in the British Isles, things havent changed too much at the current time, save for, as you've said, a few different kings showing up. Much as in OTL, the plagues seem to have stirred a renewed warfare between the Saxons and Britons. The invitation by Theodemir to settle Northern Gaul, however is a large divergence, and the first major butterfly to reach Britain. There will, naturally be others, and I plan on covering them at length (mainly, because i have some really fun ideas for the Isles. A sharp eyed reader might find reference to at least one other language present in Britain by the ATL modern era and draw some inferences from it!)
     
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  11. History_Pintobean An Alternate Historian

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    Currently I'm headed off to college, and have been dabbling in AH for awhile now.

    I like your TL thus far, keep it up. :)
     
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  12. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Thanks! I'm glad you've been enjoying the timeline so far, and will be sticking with it. Also, a hearty congratulations on going off to college! Remember; don't study too hard :)
     
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  13. Pururauka Miraculous Chanka Slayer

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    Just read up the whole thing, and I have to say that I find your premise and the overall story pretty darn good. Especially, bursting the Franks’ bubble.

    Yet, there’s something that I hope you eventually address, I’m guessing sometime after Theodemir’s death. The relationship between Chalcedonians and Arians seems to be a little too “good.” Let’s not forget how tense the situation was for both of the Gothic kingdoms, ruling over a larger Roman population that considered them heretics. In this case, I only see the problem compounded, with the additional numbers of Orthodox Catholics in Gaul.

    Though Constantinople is otherwise occupied at the moment, OTL that was the perfect excuse for the Reconquista of the West. But even without imperial intervention, the continuation of separate political and religious identities in both Spain and Italy, threatens the foundations of the Gothic state, once the strong ruler is gone.

    Look forward to you continuing this. ;)
     
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  14. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Glad you brought it up, actually! I have been planning a chapter dealing almost entirely with the Arian Church in the near future, as a matter of fact. And, yes, things have been pretty damned rosy so far. Despite the Forgave proclamation that they will not persecute the Orthodox population (an almost necessity if they have any hope of ruling over the Roman population at this early point yet), the fact that they favor Arians (read: Bother or Gothic sympathizers) will cause problems further on down the road! I will also add that the Arians are doing some heavy recruiting at the moment, and the faith is becomong a bit of a prestige faith amongst the Germans, but it may not be ebough to overcome the Orthodox Church (and may actually incite matters)

    Sadly, my comp caught a bad bug and I won't be able to add a new chapter til its back up and running, hopefully this weekend.

    Glad you liked the story so far.
     
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  15. ingemann Banned

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    The Gothic position here make me think of the Arabic position in areas of the Roman Empire they conquered. The Arian Church always seemed less organised than the Catholic movement. As such we may see a similar development in the long term, if the conversion of the West Germanics follow. With a Arian hinterland the Goths will have a strong recruitment base to continue their dominance of the Catholic population (here they will likely be called Roman Orthodox instead) and beginning to set up a similar tax system up as the Muslims did, de facto making Catholics into second class citizens. As such we may see a slow collapse of the Western Church and both a religious and linguistic conversion of much of west, until Roman Catholism are reduced to a similar position as Oriental Christianity in the Muslim World today.

    Also another element is that we saw a defeat of the Gepids in OTL after the collapse of the Goths with a alliance of Langobards, Avars and East Romans ensuring their destruction, only for the Avars to push the Langobards out of Pannovia afterward and letting the Slavic migrations through to the Balkans.

    Here the Gepids may survive with Gothic support, keeping the Avars from conquering the Hungarian plain, closing the Balkan off from Slavic expansion. Instead we may see the Langobards be pushed into Croatia and Bosnia, while the rest of the Balkans stay a mix of Vlachs (In Wallachia and Moesia), Illyrians/Proto-Albanians (along the West Balkan coast) and Greeks (in Thrace, Macedonia and modern Greece).
     
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  16. altwere Well-Known Member

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    With Gothic as the liturgical language, will some of the Germanic languages which went extinct, survive in this time line?
     
  17. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Yea, that was part of the plan. The East Germanic branch will be represented by at least one living language in the *present, and I will also say that Lombardish will survive as well. Naturally, the languages will continue to evolve and change, but they will have living decendants.
     
  18. dreadnought jenkins lives to serve his cat

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    This timeline is extremely cool.:cool:

    Keep it up.
     
  19. DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Thanks! I'm planning on having a new update up tonight, which will more or less finish up the tale of Theodemir. And then I can turn my attention towards the fun stuff; the Arian Church, the mythology that develops around the Goths, events with the Gepids, Lommvards and Vandals, and turning an eye towards Britain :)
     
  20. Threadmarks: Chapter 16: Everything that’s Dead, Someday Comes Back

    DanMcCollum P-WI

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    Chapter 16
    Everything that’s Dead, Someday Comes Back

    “Belisarius was a great Emperor, but one given to the weaknesses which always plague man. Although brave and sincere, he was corrupted by that most true of all emotions, love. When his wife was proven unfaithful, Belisarius fell into the pits of despair, and he no longer cared about the task of ruling the great Empire. On his death, he passed the rule to his wife’s first son Photius, who was unfit to rule.” – A Children’s History of the Rhoman Empire, by Georgios

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

    The rise of the Emperor Photius shone a light upon the failings of the past three Emperors; Justinian, Hypatius and Belisarius. While Belisarius had, in his own manner, warred against the power of the noble elite of Constantinople, Photius lacked much of his adopted-father’s charm and abilities. As a result, the nobles of the city began to hinder the new Emperor, forcing him to abandon many of the reforms of Belisarius as well as those building projects which were meant to restore Constantinople to the preeminence of Cities in the Western world.

    Photius, in a way which Belisarius, due to his popular appeal, did not experience, began to feel himself at the mercy of the Empire’s elite. Although he was granted all of the dignities which were becoming of an Emperor of Rome, he found himself hindered at every effort to make lasting changes to the structure of the Empire. As a result, due to the nobility’s continued efforts to fight off higher taxation, the Emperor focused more upon the lower classes; financing his building and military projects at their expense. Despite his Orthodox views of faith, this began to make him highly unpopular with the general population of the Empire.



    Chorson, Empire of Rhomania
    March 31, 552

    Germanus felt older. Older than dirt. Although only in his late 40s, he had seen enough to age a normal man. Rising to prominence under his cousin Justinian, he had fought for the ill-fated Emperor after the Nika Riots. Granted a pardon by the pretender Hypatius, Germanus had turned his attention towards strengthening the Empire’s military in Egypt and Syria.

    He had not wished to rebel, initially, although the disgrace of seeing his dynasty pushed from power had offended him. Instead, Germanus had thrown himself into his work, rebuilding the Empire’s Southern reaches; forgetting his cousins’ grand schemes to reconquer the West. For years he had worked at this thankless task, until it was too much to bear.

    The attack upon the Patriarch had been the last stray. Although a devoted Orthodox, Germanus had been disgusted with the treatment of Patriarch Anthimus, and it had been this which finally stirred in him the seeds of revolt. For years Germanus had fought back, not just against Hypatius, but against the Persians who he drove out of Syria and Egypt. But, it had been for naught; the rise of Belisarius had put an end to Germanus’ pretentions to become Emperor; those had ended at the Siege of Antioch when he had been forced to renounce his claims in favor of Belisarius and accept house-arrest for the good of the Empire.

    But, now, Belisarius was dead, and his successor was none too popular with the Rhoman people. Germanus might be old, but he was still convinced of his own right to rule, which had been so unfairly stripped away from him after his many victories against the Empire’s foes. His family, those nephews and cousins who had survived the war, still clung close to him in his exile.

    “The time has come,” his nephew Justin said more than once, “now’s out chance to make a make.”

    The worst thing was that Germanus thought he was right. Although he had no strong desire to be Emperor, the act that the Empire had suffered so greatly over the past decades spurred him on. The problem was that he was under constant watch, and that he had no true allies in his battles.

    “Why not turn to the Goths,” Justin asked once, years ago, “Theodemir is no ally of Constantinople, and might help us in our cause.”

    But, no, spies continued to feed Germanus information, and he knew that the Goths were embroiled in a bitter war against the Franks. To ask their help then, while Belisarius remained so strong, was a fool’s errand. But, then, the plague had struck; the war between the Goths and Franks had wound to a halt, and Belisarius had died from, they said, a broken heart. A fitting end to one who had once been a friend, but proven himself untrue and a traitor.

    As word reached even for Chosan of Photius and his unfortunate reign, Germanus sensed a chance. He had his allies, those few who were left, to stage a riot in the small town, so that he could flee, unopposed. His destination was clear, Ravenna, the capital of the Goths, for only with their help could he ever secure his family’s place back upon the Rhoman throne. [FN1]

    The Glory of Emaneric’s Heirs: the Lectures of Dr. Valamir Fralet
    Trans. Edwin Smith
    Bern [OTL: Verona, Italy]: Skipmann and Sons Publishing, 1997



    The arrival of Germanus sent shock waves through the Gothic court. The Rhoman had spent months, after fleeing Cherson, traveling through Avar, Lombard and Gepid territory in order to reach the capital of the Goths. Theodemir was initially wary of the rebel’s promises, but also deeply impressed by the travails which had beset the Prince.

    “Theodemir did not take his promises lightly, but still chose to dine the rebel from Rhome. When Germanus spoke of his travails, traveling through the lands of Avars, and Germans, Theodemir often stood up and exclaimed with excitement when the descriptions of those lands matched with those from the legends of our own people; for it is well know that, before coming to Italy, the Goths ruled a vast Empire from their capital of Arheimar. [FN2]

    “Soon, Germanus had become a favorite of Theodemir’s Court. After his many adventures, many Goths wished to help him reclaim his throne; especially as he continued to promise peace between their realm and his, should he take the throne. Still, the Gothic King was unsure. ‘What,’ he asked, ‘is in it before my people? Surely, it is great to help a godly man reclaim his inheritance. But, still, I must risk my own realm in favor of yours. Should we lose, the full weight of the East shall crash down upon the West, as the mighty tides of the ocean rise up and drown our shores.”

    “Theodemir, King,” Germanus responded, “should you help me, I promise you the unending favor of the East. We shall honor you as a righteous man who risked all in order to right a wrong done upon my House and the Rhomans. But, I understand your reluctance. If you were to come to me, and I were Emperor, I too would question the wisdom of helping you. And so, I offer you this: the Empire of the West. I shall give you the crown which would strengthen your own rule, and allow the Romans of the West to see the true benevolence of your reign. Furthermore, I would be happy to marry your youngest daughter, to prove my sincerity and the eternal friendship between both of our houses.”

    So Wulfila Strabo describes the visit of Germanus to the court of Ravenna. Having conquered much of the West, it is unlikely that Theodemir had not thought of reclaiming the Roman crown to solidify his own rule. Certainly, the title of Roman Emperor would do much to calm the continued talk of rebellion which had circulated amongst the Roman population for years.

    And yet, it is unlikely that Theodemir, now in his 50s, would have undertaken such a quest, had he not been assured that the Rhoman people had already risen against their own Emperor. The high taxation and lack of support had caused a smattering of revolts to flare up throughout Syria, Egypt and, most telling, Anatolia.

    Either pressured by his court, or else fully aware of the opportunities gained by supporting an Emperor’s claim to the throne, Theodemir cast his support behind Germanus and marshaled the Gothic armies to take Constantinople.



    A History of the Time of Troubles
    By: Procopius
    Trns: Matthias M. Schaible
    [London: University of London Publishing, 2006]

    When word reached Photius that Germanus had escaped from his imprisonment, all knew where he went, and a great excitement spread through the capitol. Surely, it was said, the Goths would soon be coming to restore the House of Justin and cast down the coward and usurper who currently sat upon the Rhoman throne. The only men who showed fear was Photius’ closest advisors and those Senators who continued their support of him. [FN3]

    And yet, Photius proved to be less of a man than his predecessor. Had he acted swiftly against the Goths, perhaps his reign would have been saved; but, instead, he refused to act. In the chambers of his council he expressed worry over the coming of Theodemir and Germanus, but initially did nothing. Some said that his wife, Julia, advised him not to act, because she was secretly conspiring against his her husband and, after his death, had been promised the hand of a Gothic nobleman. In any case, her words were like honey to him, and Photius did nothing, save to ordering the strengthening of the city’s defenses.

    However, with the dawning of the year 554, news arrived from spies in Ravenna that the Goths were considering the plans of Germanus, who had offered their King the Imperial dignities of the West. A group of Senators marched upon the Emperor and demanded that he take action, and if he did not, they would surly find an Emperor who was more willing to defend the Empire from its threats. They did this, not for any great love of the Empire, but because they wished to save their own lives, for all knew that they had supported Photius, and they feared they would meet their end, should Germanus take the City.

    Photius was moved by their counsel, and began to marshal his forces. He planned to move preemptively against the Goths by moving in Dalmatia and Pannonia, and thereby draw them into a fight and prevent them from moving into the Balkans. At the same time rumors were spread of the savagery of the Goths; stories told of Adrianople, and the brutal sacking of Rome. They meant to scare the people of the City, and Rhomans everywhere, and present the Goths as savages who would destroy the Empire. And yet, so oppressed were the Rhomans, that they seemed to prefer the Goths to Photius, for rebellions began to spring up throughout the Empire; first in Egypt, and then later in Syria and Anatolia.



    The damage wrecked by the Rhomans in Pannonia and Dalmatia was grievous; they burnt field and village in an effort to goad the Goths into open combat. So great was the devastation, it is said, that a decade later, the provinces had yet to recover and there were still desolate lands where once people had thrived. And yet, Theodemir, refused to give open battle, and waited for the right moment to strike. [FN4]

    Soon, the reason for his caution became clear. The Avars, who had scourged our land once before, crossed over the border, and began to move towards Thessaloniki. Photius had sent envoys to the Avars before the campaign, offering to cancel the tribute imposed upon them by his foster-father, and fool-like, he had been beguiled by their promises of neutrality. But the Avars held no more love for him than they did for Belisarius, and had allied with Germanus and the Goths.

    Now Photius was forced to retreat to meet the greater threat to Constantinople. It was then that Germanus and Theodemir moved against their foes.



    The Norræna Fræðibók
    Entry: The Battle of Nysos

    The Battle of Nysos was a battle between the forces of Emperor Photius of Rhomania and Germanus along with his Gothic allies during the summer of 554.

    In 552, Germanus, cousin of the Emperor Justianian I, had fled from his exile in Cherson and reached the Gothic capital of Ravenna. After months of entreating Theodemir I, King of the Goths, to support him in his quest to take the throne of the Rhoman Empire, the Goths were swayed. At the same time, Photius, the current Emperor, launched a preemptive attack against the Goths and ravaged the lands of Dalmatia and Pannonia.

    However, Photius was forced to withdraw after hearing word that the Avars had broken the peace and were moving towards Thessaloniki. At this time, Germanus and Theodemir launched their own attack, crossing the Adriatic Sea and quickly pursuing Photius. They caught up with the embattled Emperor near the city of Nysos.

    Although the battle was initially indecisive, as the Rhomans under Photius were able to repel the Gothic assault upon their lines, Photius was killed on the second day of battle, after falling from his horse and being trampled. When news of the Emperor’s demise reached his troops, the army fell into panic and began and unstructured retreat. Taking advantage of the situation, Theodemir ordered his heavy cavalry to chase the fleeing Rhomans who took heavy casualties. In the end, many prominent officers, and two Senators, were captured by the Goths, along with their army’s baggage train.

    Germanus then sent out messengers to round up the survivors, offering them full pardons if they were to join his forces as they marched upon Constantinople. This swelled his own forces, and also ensured that he would move against the capital with a contingent of Rhoman soldiers, rather than an entirely foreign army.



    Despite a vivid description of the battle in the works of both Wulfila Strabo and Procopius, who recorded similar accounts from soldiers who had been there, the current site of the Battle of Nysos has been lost. However, in 1954, locals erected a memorial to the battle situated roughly three miles to the southeast of the town, to commemorate fifteen hundredth anniversary of the battle, the where historians have speculated the conflict could have occurred. [FN4]

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



    With the death of Photius, the Empire was thrown into chaos. Those forces which still remained loyal to the slain Empire, including those Senators and ranking members of high society who had supported him, quickly sought to find a suitable replacement. However, fearing the forces of Germanus, no candidate was willing to take the throne and possibly forfeit their own lives.

    By the time Germanus arrived at Constantinople with his army of Goths, Avars and Rhomans, the capital city of the Empire was embroiled in a near Civil War. A cohort of loyalists has seized power and used draconian measures to ensure that the city would be able to withstand a siege, but their support weakened daily.

    By the end of October of 555, order in Constantinople was at the breaking point. When city dwellers met to protest the price of bread, the acting city government ordered the troops to dispurse the crowd. Instead, the soldiers joined the protestors and quickly gained control of the city, and threw the gates open to Germanus, who marched into the city with his Rhoman soldiers, while the Goths and Avars camped outside the walls. By the end of the day, Patriarch Thomas I has overseen the coronation of Germanus as the Emperor of Rhomania.

    The new Emperor moved quickly to secure his own power; he officially accepted the support of the rump Senate, and proved to be largely forgiving, having only the most stringent supporters of Photius imprisoned or executed. The House of Justin had returned to power in Rhomania after an absence of over two decades.


    Constantinople, Empire of Rhomania
    November 1, 555

    Theodemir stood in the Hagia Maria, and looked around in wonder. At 59 years old, he had thought that he had seen it all, but the wealth present in Constantinople still dazzled him. Nowhere was this wealth more present than in what had become the main church in Constantinople. Already, he knew, Germanus had begun to make plans to renovate and expand the building; in part to show his thanks for the support of the Patriarch, and also to fulfill the vision of his cousin, the late Emperor Justinian. The thought confused him that any building could be made even more luxurious. He made plans to speak to the Fadar of Ravenna and talk about creating an equally spectacular church for the head of the true Christian church.

    Theodemir had not wished to have the ceremony transferring the vestments of the Western Roman Empire to be done in the cathedral; he would have much preferred it being done on the steps of the Imperial palace, and thereby circumnavigate any potentially upsetting religious debates which might occur. But, Germanus had pressed the issue and, eventually the Gothic King had given in. He was a king, after all, and understood fully why the Emperor had made such a push; he wished to wow the Goth with the splendor of his realm.

    So be it. Whatever issues might arise amongst his own people could be easily dealt with, and the thought of being coroneted in an Orthodox church might well work to his advantage in dealing with the Romans of his own land who seemed always ready to rebel, no matter how many favors he threw at them.

    Theodemir made only one demand, and it was one which he refused to back down upon; he would not bow when he took the crown, nor would he allow it to be placed upon his own head. No, this was a transfer of power, not the blessing of a higher lord. He would take the crown from Germanus and place it upon his own head. [FN5]

    The music had started; a deep rich sound which seemed to come at him from every direction due to the effects of the church. Taking a deep breath, Theodemir made his way down the main isle of the church, and watched with bemusement as the Rhoman nobility stared at him. What had they expected; a barbarian dressed in wolf pelts, a great battle ax still strung to his back? No doubt. The thought made him want to laugh; an urge he tried to suppress to not break the solemn mood of the ritual, and, partially failing, found himself breaking into a wide smile instead.

    In front of him stood Germanus, dressed in the finest clothing and full regalia of the Emperor of the East. Staring at the figure he knew that gone was the man with whom he had broken bread, had become friends with on their campaign to retake the throne (and such good friends, at that. Never before had Theodemir met a non-Goth with whom he felt such a bond). In the place of that heart soldier was The Emperor. [FN6]

    “Theodemir, King of the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Burgundians and Romans,” a voice called out in a deep voice. “Step forward.”

    Theodemir began to walk toward the Emperor, his own retinue following closely behind him. He wished Amalaric was here, but he had left his heir in Ravenna to govern in his absence.

    “For your deeds and loyalty to the Empire of Rome, I hereby give back to you that which was taken from the West; the full regalia of the Emperors of the West, and hereby recognize you as Emperor of Rome in the West.”

    Germanus held out the crown, which Theodemir grasped firmly in both hands and placed upon his own head. “And I, Theodemir the First, Emperor of Rome, do hereby recognize you, Germanus, as my eternal brother and partner in the East. May the glory of Rome long shine in this world.”

    At this point the Patriarch Thomas stepped forward and sprinkled holy water upon Theodemir’s head, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, I hereby bless you as Emperor of Rome.” Theodemir grimaced slightly; this was not entirely unsuspected, but might not play well with his own people. At least the Patriarch had not tried to recognize him as an Orthodox heretic. Showing benevolence, he looked at Thomas, “I think you for your blessing.”

    At that point his men broke into a cheer, and the chant of “Theodemir, Emperor Theodemir” rang through the hallowed chambers. He was not unpleased to note that the Rhomans were calling his name as well.

    The Glory of Emaneric’s Heirs: the Lectures of Dr. Valamir Fralet
    Trans. Edwin Smith
    Bern [OTL: Verona, Italy]: Skipmann and Sons Publishing, 1997

    Upon his return from Constantinople, the newly crowned Emperor moved to solidify his new title. He was formally blessed by Fadar Theodosius in Ravenna, and then had the Senate of Rome properly recognize his new title. Despite this, his failure to seek a blessing from the current Pope in Rome, Simplicius II with whom he had been feuding, caused minor difficulties during the last years of his life, but did not seriously hinder his legitimacy.

    For the last four years of his reign, Theodemir focused upon securing his hold upon those territories he had inherited and conquered during his life. He continued to build bridges between the Visigoths, Ostrogoths and Burgundians, helping to eventually foster the merging of these kingdoms under his successors, and also made efforts to placate the Senate in Rome and the Roman communities of Gaul and Hispania.

    Finally, and most significantly, he worked to secure a stable succession, having the nobles of both Gothic Kingdoms, and also the Senate in Rome, recognize Amalaric as his chosen heir and co-ruler. From experience, he must have known that such efforts would not make for an entirely peaceful transfer of power, but would help his son when the time came.

    In the end, Theodemir was planning a war against the Suebi, to restore control of the Rome over the entirety of Hispania, which he took ill and died. His death was met with sorrow from all corners of the Western Empire, and even from abroad; his old friend, and ally, Germanus I sent a large donation to the Goths to construct a memorial fitting of the Gothic Emperor. His mausoleum, which dwarfs that of his Father, stands to this very day and remains one of the most visited sites in Ravenna.

    The Life of Theodemir the Great
    Wulfila Strabo [FN7]
    Trans. Athelrad Edwardson
    London: National University of Sexland Publishing, 1964 [FN6]

    And so passed from this world, Theodemir the Great, Emperor of Rome, and King of the Goths; the world had not seen his like since the days of Caesar or Alexander. Many were his passions and sorrows and, thought he died, like all men, a sinner, surly he was one specially blessed by God; for it was he who rebuilt the Empire of Rome, and brought peace and stability to our lands.

    I feel myself blessed to have been able to call him lord, teacher and friend. He will forever be missed, and this world may never see the likes of him again.


    [FN1] My feeling is that Belisarius was popular enough, that any effort to move against him would be crushed. Germanus, not a foolish man, understood this and chose to bide his time.

    [FN2] Arheimar is the Nordic translation of the name for the original Gothic capital upon the steppes, and means “River Home”. It is only recorded in the Hervar Saga, but that same Saga includes authentic Gothic names which had not been used in centuries, as well as fragment of incredibly old poetry, and so the name seems to reflect a very real tradition. The Saga was eventually translated by one Christopher Tolkein as “The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise” and is well worth a read if you A) enjoy Germanic history or B) want to see where J.R.R. Tolkein got some of his ideas from  Seriously, its awesome!

    [FN3] Procopius is exaggerating somewhat; the damage done to the region was not so great as that done to, say, Northern Gaul by Theodemir in his war against the Franks. But, well, it makes for good propaganda. It should also be noted that Procopius is writing under the reign of Germanus I, and, even in OTL, had a disagreeable relationship to Belisarius. In the ATL, such band feelings carry on to his depiction of Belisarius’ heir. Also, the reference to the Empress Julia fits into Procopius’ OTL penchant for blaming men’s behavior on manipulative and evil wives.

    [FN4] Not all battles have their exact position recorded in history, and so is the case with this one. However, its important, and so it doesn’t seem unlikely that the citizens of the city would try to erect a memorial situated, somewhat, where they felt it took place.

    [FN5] This is a big difference from the crowing of Charlemagne, obviously. I figured, with forewarning of what was about to occur, Theodemir would make such a demand. He, after all, is not going to want to be seen in anyway as subservient to the Eastern Emperor; especially after he just managed to win that Emperor his throne. I also wanted to take this moment to show a bit of levity in Theodemir’s character; for so many chapters, he has been consumed with hatred for the Franks, and I thought it would be good to show that there is more to him than forever burning rage.

    [FN6] Theodemir and Germanus: The bromance of late antiquity ;) Seriously though, I like to show some humanity to my characters, and demonstrate that they are not simply pawns enslaved to historical forces. I figured from their background, either having experienced setbacks and moments of tragedy, but still possessing a strong will and grit, that Theodemir and Germanus would have actually gotten along fairly well.

    [FN7] This is a minor retcon on my part. In previous posts, I’ve always listed the nation as “England.” The more I thought about it, especially since I reference them as Saxons more often than not, I thought it would be interesting if the nation goes by the alternative name of Sexland (Sex, being the common Anglo-Saxon shortening of “Saxon” as in Wessex, Essex and so forth). Okay, you have m permission to giggle like school children for a bit; but you’d better get it out of your system now! :)

    Okay, so, as I promised, here is the new chapter, and its the one which brings to an end the Reign of Theodemir the Great. I hope you enjoyed it, and felt that it was a good conclusion to this part of the story.

    Having finished off this part, I think my next post will look into the 'mythology' which comes to surround Theodemir and his family (I figure that this ATL will certainly feature a "Matter of the Goths"), because that is a topic I've played aroun with and actually find very interesting. After that, I will look at the beginning of the reign of Amalaric, and then move on to exploring the effects of butterflies upon the region; especially the Gepids and Lombards, the Arian Church, as well as the Vandals and what's going on in Britain.

    As always, please feel free to shoot me any questions or comments; trust me, I eat them up :)
     
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