The Darling of the World

He was busy consolidating his power in Syria and Anatolia, and was waiting for an opportunity to either become the most powerful man in Iran (the power behind the throne) or subjugate it entirely, like Alexander the Great did so many centuries ago. Besides, the Goths seemed to be quite powerful and had just killed a Roman emperor. Picking a fight with them would be a costly distraction, but, in hindsight, it probably would have been a good idea.
Well there's always a chance for mistakes, and HEY you managed to incorporate that tidbit without retconing anything.
On a side will the Gallic Empire try and conquer the rest of the British isles after the Rhine front is stabilized?
 
He was busy consolidating his power in Syria and Anatolia, and was waiting for an opportunity to either become the most powerful man in Iran (the power behind the throne) or subjugate it entirely, like Alexander the Great did so many centuries ago. Besides, the Goths seemed to be quite powerful and had just killed a Roman emperor. Picking a fight with them would be a costly distraction, but, in hindsight, it probably would have been a good idea.
I just realized from reading chapter 10 that if Odainat did intervene and drove out the Goths like I stated, they would have entered Italy around the same time as the Alemanni did in this timeline. Not hard to imagine both Germanic tribes coming to blows over Italia with Romans being the biggest losers of the conflict.
 
Just caught up, and I've gotta say, interesting stuff. Those maps definitely gave me a dopamine kick. Let's see how long the Gallic Empire lasts.

Did Odainat have any second sons?
 
Part 13: New Beginning
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Part 13: New Beginning

It is common for Iranian historians and average people to depict the Age of Division as a "dark era" in their country's traditionally proud, powerful and independent history, and they certainly have some good logic behind their thinking. After all, while Palmyra entered a period of great prosperity after the end of the war and Odainat's passing, which led to the golden age that was the reign of Wahballat the Great, the Sasanian remnant in the Iranian Plateau and beyond was deprived of the rich plains of Mesopotamia after almost collapsing in 269 and, most importantly, the great capital city of Ctesiphon, a painful blow to the Shahanshah's prestige. The powerful armies that once rivaled with Rome were battered after the defeat at the Persian Gates, and only the mighty walls of the Citadel of Bam and the resolve of its garrison prevented the country from falling apart entirely.

However, this consensus overlooks many developments that took place while the Sasanian dynasty spent its days in Istakhr. The first and most apparent of them was that, centered in Pars rather than Asoristan, the King of Kings could and had to pay much more attention to what was going on in far flung provinces like Bactria and Transoxiana, now the most fertile regions in the empire thanks to the loss of Mesopotamia. This was obviously beneficial to cities like Samarkand, Bukhara and Merv, which were important trading centers thanks to their position along the Silk Road, since they now enjoyed increased protection from bandits and especially nomads from Central Asia, which allowed them to flourish and become a critical source of revenue to Istakhr that had to be defended at all costs.

Another welcome boost came from the waves of Manichean refugees who fled Palmyrene rule thanks to the brutal persecution to which they were subjected to in the western lands. Many of these people were artisans, traders and craftsmen of all sorts, and even those who were simple farmers provided a welcome boon to the cash-starved Iranian treasury. Over time, this influx of people altered the religious composition of the Iranian Plateau considerably, and its population, which at the beginning of the Age of Division was overwhelmingly Zorastrian with some Christian communities and local religions here and there. By 332, when Iran was reunified, the percentage of Manicheans in the Plateau had risen to at least 30% and was still growing. Naturally, this reduced the clergy's power, and the Magi were quite unhappy with that, but the Shah couldn't afford to persecute or expel these people just because they didn't belong to the state religion (1).


Although Zoroastrianism experienced a decline during the Age of Division, this coin made during the reign of Hormizd I (298-312) shows that it never lost its status as the state's favoured religion.

Unfortunately, although the situation wasn't as apocalyptic as it seems, the rump empire ruled by the aging Narseh still had only a fraction of the power that his father, Shapur I, and the wealth that he acquired from trade and farming was only a fraction of what he once had in 266, when he first took power. As if that weren't enough, the field army he had carefully assembled was smashed at the Battle of the Persian Gates: the force that he used to relieve Bam several months later was actually a hastily assembled militia that probably only succeeded in its task because Odainat's troops were utterly exhausted at that point. And as if that weren't enough, after the end of said siege and the rise of Wahballat the Great several years later, the Palmyrene Empire grew ever more wealthy and powerful thanks to the fertile lands under its control and the multiple trade routes that criscrossed its territory.

The sad reality that Narseh was forced to aknowledge was that, for the moment, his state couldn't defend itself from its mighty western neighbor through conventional tactics, and that it was simply too poor to field a large and strong army, at least for the moment. Thus, the King of Kings took the hard decision to disband most of his forces the moment he returned to Istakhr, with most of the remaining soldiers being horse archers and other light troops whose purpose was to harass an invading army with hit-and-run attacks while attrition did the rest. Naturally, this decision created many enemies and infuriated several nobles, who saw these actions as effectively surrendering two very important regions of Iran (Mesopotamia and Armenia) to a foreign invader who they hated infinitely more than the Sasanian dynasty.

A relief of an Iranian horse archer from the early 4th century.

It was this hatred of Palmyra that kept the nobility, especially the Seven Great Houses, loyal to the King of Kings, even though their power grew dramatically thanks to the fact that most of the remaining lands were sub-kingdoms and similar territories that were under their control, something that made the Sasanian Empire devolve from a reasonably centralized (by Iranian standards) entity to a federation almost identical to its Arsacid predecessor. However, even though they all agreed that starting a large rebellion or civil war was a very bad idea that would only worsen Iran's predicament, many of them were increasingly irritated at Narseh's refusal to do so much as launch a single raid against Palmyra as the years passed and turned into decades. He may have been the legitimate monarch in their eyes, but his passive attitude towards the west was seen as a sign of cowardice, even though many campaigns were launched against the countless nomads of Sogdiana and Transoxiana.

The breaking point finally came in 298. By then Iran and Palmyra had been in peace for almost thirty years, and Narseh, by this point an old man (he was in his late sixties) knew that he was never going to see Ctesiphon again, and was by now commited to ensure that this peace became a permanent one. Thus, he began to negotiate with Wahballat, who had no intention to conquer the east despite his immense power, and after several months of talks the two realms reached an agreement that would become known as the Treaty of Susa, which Iranian historians would later call the "Great Capitulation".

The terms of the treaty of Susa were simple, and could be summed up in two points:


  • First, the House of Sasan and all territories ruled by it would recognize the Palmyrene Empire as the rightful owner of Mesopotamia and Armenia, with the border betweeen the two empires being the Zagros Mountains.
  • Second, Istakhr would have to send a symbolic amount of tribute to Palmyra every year. Although said tribute wasn't crippling to the Iranian economy (Wahballat was so rich that he didn't care about the size of the indemnity) it showed to the entire world that Iran was effectively a Palmyrene vassal.
Having had enough of Narseh's cowardice and the humiliating treaty, a group of assassins who were likely under the pay of powerful nobles assassinated the elderly king in his sleep. As soon as news spread about what happened, the Seven Great Houses proclaimed the late monarch's young son, Hormizd, as Hormizd I, with those involved in the regicide hoping that the new Shah was more impressionable and could therefore be convinced to start a war against Palmyra (2).

The hopes of these warmongers were swiftly crushed. At first, it seemed that their efforts had paid off, since Hormizd increased funding for the army considerably and cut corners on other spheres of government to ensure that the soldiers were given better equipment, with, for example, infantrymen being given shields of better quality, rather than their old wicker ones that were used since the days of the Achaemenids. Speaking of, it was during his reign that the Daylamites began to be recruited in large numbers to serve as elite infantrymen. However, even though he may have had as many as 40.000 soldiers (most of them, as always, horsemen) at his disposal, Hormizd, just like his father, refused to attack Palmyra, likely hoping for an opportunity to strike that would probably only materialize itself after the death of Wahballat. He also initiated a large purge of any nobles that may have been involved in Narseh's murder, and, fearing that he could suffer the same fate, had most suspects executed.

His paranoia would only worsen as the years passed, since a growing number of bureaucrats and nobles (including more "pacifist" ones) became increasingly distressed with his fiscal policies in favour of the army. Thus, he was stuck between a rock and a hard place, and he would never see the golden opportunity to the west that he so desperately needed to shore up his position in the court. With no glorious victories to speak of, and bereft of allies, Hormizd I was assassinated in 312 AD in some "secluded place" in the east, a death that followed by that of his oldest son and successor, Adur Narseh, just a few months later, in a very sketchy hunting accident that was likely just an official coverup of what really happened.

After these gruesome events, the throne was now occupied by a younger son of Hormizd, a ten year old boy named Ardashir (3).

It would take time, but he would eventually leave his mark on the world.

Summary:

269-270: Cessation of hostilities with Palmyra after the Siege of Bam.

298: After nearly three decades of peace, the Treaty of Susa is signed between Iran and the Palmyrene Empire. Thanks to its humiliating terms, Narseh is assassinated shortly after and succeeded by Hormizd I, who has most of the nobles involved in the murder, along with other less culpable ones, executed.

298-312: Reign of Hormizd I. The army once again receives large investments and is said to have had as many as 40.000 men in its ranks, most of them horsemen. However, this happens at the expense of the bureaucracy and other sectors, something that, along with his paranoia, creates many enemies and alienates potential allies.

302: Prince Ardashir is born.

312: Hormizd I is assassinated, and his successor, Adur Narseh, suffers the same fate a few months later. After that, Ardashir II is crowned in Istakhr.

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Notes:

(1) Not that the Shah would ever want to do that and, with it, strengthen the clergy.

(2) This Hormizd was crowned Hormizd II IOTL, but since Hormizd I never took the throne here, he is the first Shah with this name. IOTL, he was assassinated in 309 and, after Adur Narseh's death soon after, the crown was passed to Hormizd's unborn son, the mighty Shapur II.


(3) A fictional character. Think of him as this TL's Shapur II, except he's a crowned as a child rather than as a fetus.
 
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Well there's always a chance for mistakes, and HEY you managed to incorporate that tidbit without retconing anything.
On a side will the Gallic Empire try and conquer the rest of the British isles after the Rhine front is stabilized?
Let's just say that Claudius (Postumus' son and successor) is a very ambitious man. By the way, what tidbit are you talking about? The one about the Goths?
Just caught up, and I've gotta say, interesting stuff. Those maps definitely gave me a dopamine kick. Let's see how long the Gallic Empire lasts.

Did Odainat have any second sons?
Looking at Wikipedia, it seems that Odaenathus (easier to search in the internet this way) had only one son before his marriage to Zenobia, a certain Herodianus (or Hairan) who apparently was murdered with his father in 267 IOTL. After Vaballathus, there was an Hairan II who may also have been Herodianus. Anyway, Zenobia's intrigue ensures that Vaballathus takes the throne, since she ends becoming Palmyra's de facto ruler (regent) thanks to the fact that Odaenathus becomes an alcoholic after his defeat.
 
Just caught up, and I've gotta say, interesting stuff. Those maps definitely gave me a dopamine kick. Let's see how long the Gallic Empire lasts.

Did Odainat have any second sons?
And another thing, I'm glad to see that the maps are worth it, since they're a pain in the ass to make. Still better than wikiboxes, though.
 
Looking at Wikipedia, it seems that Odaenathus (easier to search in the internet this way) had only one son before his marriage to Zenobia, a certain Herodianus (or Hairan) who apparently was murdered with his father in 267 IOTL. After Vaballathus, there was an Hairan II who may also have been Herodianus.
There's also Septimius Antiochus (the dude who led a rebellion in Palmyra a year after Aurelian defeated Zenobia), though it's unclear whether he was Odaenathus and Zenobia's son, only Zenobia's, a more distant relative of Zenobia, or just some guy. They also probably had daughters, and there's a theory they had descendants in Rome. Besides the fact sone historians record this, it would explain the weird Palmyran names among some Roman nobles in the 4th century.

Zenobia still has influential relatives in Palmyra. Exact relations are unclear, but there was a prominent general under her named Zabbai that was most likely related to her, possibly her brother, and more distant relatives in the nobility. Her father might have been a certain Septimius Zabbai, strategos of Palmyra.

Could they try to gain more power via Zenobia?

Anyway, Zenobia's intrigue ensures that Vaballathus takes the throne, since she ends becoming Palmyra's de facto ruler (regent) thanks to the fact that Odaenathus becomes an alcoholic after his defeat.
Secretly rooting for Zenobia to pull a Cersei. :p
 
There's also Septimius Antiochus (the dude who led a rebellion in Palmyra a year after Aurelian defeated Zenobia), though it's unclear whether he was Odaenathus and Zenobia's son, only Zenobia's, a more distant relative of Zenobia, or just some guy. They also probably had daughters, and there's a theory they had descendants in Rome. Besides the fact sone historians record this, it would explain the weird Palmyran names among some Roman nobles in the 4th century.

Zenobia still has influential relatives in Palmyra. Exact relations are unclear, but there was a prominent general under her named Zabbai that was most likely related to her, possibly her brother, and more distant relatives in the nobility. Her father might have been a certain Septimius Zabbai, strategos of Palmyra.

Could they try to gain more power via Zenobia?



Secretly rooting for Zenobia to pull a Cersei. :p
Sadly, Zenobia's fate has already been handled in Update 11. After being the de facto ruler of the Palmyrene Empire since 270-ish, she was "convinced" to retire by her son Wahballat in 283. Unwilling to risk her life and cause a civil war, and satisfied with the king's attitude (she raised him to be like this), she spends the rest of her life in some comfy estate somewhere in the banks of the Nile, mostly disappearing from historical records until her death in 304.

As for Zabbai, I admit that this is the first time I hear (or, in this case, read) about him, but surely he and Zabdas could have left some powerful descendants among the aristocracy. One can only imagine the strings that they could pull right before and after Wahballat's death.
 
Sadly, Zenobia's fate has already been handled in Update 11. After being the de facto ruler of the Palmyrene Empire since 270-ish, she was "convinced" to retire by her son Wahballat in 283. Unwilling to risk her life and cause a civil war, and satisfied with the king's attitude (she raised him to be like this), she spends the rest of her life in some comfy estate somewhere in the banks of the Nile, mostly disappearing from historical records until her death in 304.
Yeah, I'm aware, but the comparison was just too good to ignore. She had a nice run ITTL. Zenobia needs to be in more of everything. Lol.


As for Zabbai, I admit that this is the first time I hear (or, in this case, read) about him, but surely he and Zabdas could have left some powerful descendants among the aristocracy. One can only imagine the strings that they could pull right before and after Wahballat's death.
Yes, Zabdas and Zabbai's heirs could become a thorn in the side of the Palmyrene court as time goes on. Sidenote, is the Palmyrene nobility taking positions of power in newly conquered lands or is the government and management of these lands being managed by native rulers? If the former, we could see Zabdas and Zabbai being granted control of a territorial sphere of influence (ala Great Houses of Iran), whether political or military. This position could pass in the family, creating a new powerful class of nobility. Depends on whether Vaballathus wants to follow a policy of centralization or federalization (i.e the satrapy system). There's pros and cons on both sides.
 
Yeah, I'm aware, but the comparison was just too good to ignore. She had a nice run ITTL. Zenobia needs to be in more of everything. Lol.




Yes, Zabdas and Zabbai's heirs could become a thorn in the side of the Palmyrene court as time goes on. Sidenote, is the Palmyrene nobility taking positions of power in newly conquered lands or is the government and management of these lands being managed by native rulers? If the former, we could see Zabdas and Zabbai being granted control of a territorial sphere of influence (ala Great Houses of Iran), whether political or military. This position could pass in the family, creating a new powerful class of nobility. Depends on whether Vaballathus wants to follow a policy of centralization or federalization (i.e the satrapy system). There's pros and cons on both sides.
Can't say I disagree with you on Zenobia :D. She's a really interesting (and woefully underused) character.

The Palmyrene Empire is a strong, centralized state, owing many of its characteristics to the fact that most of it was former Roman territory. Although there aren't any satrapies per se, the aristocracy owns a lot of land and is very powerful. The generals and their descendants, in particular, are very similar to Roman ones, and they have direct control over thousands of soldiers. They are, predictably, quite ambitious. Moreover, this administrative centralization means that in some places the local elites are sidelined (especially in Mesopotamia), but since Palmyra is in a golden age for now, thanks to Vaballathus and the people who surround him, any problems that may arise can be kept under the rug for now.

Whoever succeeds Wahballat won't be able to involve himself on foreign adventures, though.
 
will we see some changes in India? Maybe a revival of Buddhism?

Is there any Buddhist converts present in Middle east?
From what I've read, it seems that Buddhism only began to decline at an alarming rate during the Hephthalite invasions of India, which took place centuries after the POD.

At this point, the largest religion in the Middle East, by far, is Christianity, which is bolstered by the arrival of large numbers of Christians from the west, who were first fleeing from Roman persecution and now from the utter shitstorm that is going on over there. However, there are multiple local religions and cults, as well a substantial Jewish minority, all flourishing under Palmyrene rule. Well, all except the Manicheans, that is, who by this point live mostly in the Iranian Plateau and are moving further and further to the east.

As for the Buddhists, modern day Afghanistan (Bactria and so on) has a significant number of them, along with other religions such as Hindus, Zoroastrians and Manicheans.
 
269-270: Cessation of hostilities with Palmyra after the Siege of Bam.

298: After nearly three decades of peace, the Treaty of Susa is signed between Iran and the Palmyrene Empire. Thanks to its humiliating terms, Narseh is assassinated shortly after and succeeded by Hormizd I, who has most of the nobles involved in the murder, along with other less culpable ones, executed.

298-312: Reign of Hormizd I. The army once again receives large investments and is said to have had as many as 40.000 men in its ranks, most of them horsemen. However, this happens at the expense of the bureaucracy and other sectors, something that, along with his paranoia, creates many enemies and alienates potential allies.

302: Prince Ardashir is born.

312: Hormizd I is assassinated, and his successor, Adur Narseh, suffers the same fate a few months later. After that, Ardashir II is crowned in Istakhr.
Seems like the Sassanids have devolved into something similar to the late Ottoman Empire of OTL.
 
Just wondering but will the next update focus on the developments in Roman Africa?
It will focus on the "Gallic" Empire, and will, among other things, involve North Africa.

Seems like the Sassanids have devolved into something similar to the late Ottoman Empire of OTL.
Pretty much. If the Palmyrene Empire were to suddenly splinter, the Sassanids, should they be unable to take advantage of that, would be toast outside of Persis.
 
Just caught up, can't wait for more.

Is there anything aside from the Palmyrenes' own attachments to al-Lat keeping them from just converting to Christianity? It would secure Mesopotamia for them, as I don't think there's any other significant religious group there aside from the persecuted Manichaeans.

Is Mani still alive? How open is he to papering over differences with the Magi, and does he plan to have a successor to head his priesthood?

EDIT: Even if the Palmyrenes were considering Christianity, part of me really hopes they don't do it. Let Christianity be a stateless faith for a little longer, I want some real wildcard to be the first adopter.
 
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Part 14: Back from Hell
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Part 14: Back from Hell


When Claudius was acclaimed emperor and protector of Gaul, Hispania and Britannia after Postumus' death in 285, it was clear that the empire he inherited from his father was vastly different from the one that was created in 259. Though its administrative structure was largely unchanged, which could create potential problems later, almost all of the domestic and foreign threats that surrounded the state since its birth had been crushed: the Alemanni and theit king, Chrocus, who sacked Rome three decades ago, were annihilated; the Franks were defeated and were in the process of assimilation; the massive Gothic army that threatened to take Burdigala and split the empire in two were driven back to their "kingdom" in the east, where they would soon be swept away by the armies of Wahballat the Great; last but not least, all of the military usurpers that rose up in revolt were defeated, ensuring that the realm remained stable.

Postumus became known as the man who held back what seemed to be an unstoppable tide. Claudius, young and ambitious, would never settle for that.

Now that the "Gallic" Empire's position was secure, the new emperor wanted to reverse this trend to his favor, and this could mean only one thing: foreign conquests, preferably with him leading them. It was with this in mind that, soon after his accession, he ordered the construction of a massive fleet that may have had as many as 500 ships, most of them troop transports and supply vessels rather than warships, with the objective of retaking the various islands of the western Mediterranean, especially Sicily, and, of course, the biggest target available, the once Roman provinces of North Africa. This was no easy task, for the empire had no naval experience whatsoever (something that made finding extra crews a really difficult job) and the gigantic amounts of money that had to be raised for such an operation led to considerable tax increases that raised several eyebrows not only among the nobles and senators of Augusta Treverorum, but also among the general populace.

Claudius certainly knew that, if this project ended in failure, he would never be forgiven. Nevertheless, the fleet was completed in 289, after four years of hard work and the spending of countless hard earned aurei (the standard Roman gold coin of the time), and he soon after began to discuss the possibility of invading Africa with his top generals, most of them hardened veterans who earned their stripes Postumus' reign and had few reasons to respect their young new leader. Thus, it would take a couple of years for this invasion to materialize, a period during which dark clouds threatened to gather around the court, with a growing number of notables of several classes believing that their emperor was a megalomaniac. They had a good reason to believe that, since it would have been much easier (at least on paper) to reconquer Italy and use the devastated peninsula as a stepping stone to seize control of the western Mediterranean.


A rough map of the provinces of Roman North Africa.

On the southern end of the pond, it is extremely difficult to know what exactly was going on in the region that was to be invaded after the Sack of Rome, and nearly all available sources of the time are multiple coins. From these sparse records, it is known that a certain Galerius Maximus was governor of Africa Proconsularis between 258 and 259, and monetary evidence shows that he became an autonomous ruler, with his capital likely being Carthage, for a few years afterwards, although it is unknown if he proclaimed himself an emperor or if he died peacefully or was assassinated. Considering that coins with his face were unearthed not only in the provinces that he originally ruled, but also in Sardinia, Corsica, the Baleares and Sicily, it is a reasonable guess that he was a powerful ruler (1). In the years between 266 (when Galerius' face and name disappear from coinage) and the invasion, the region may have had as many as fourteen different leaders or usurpers all over the place, an obvious proof of political instability, and raids from Berber tribes were likely also a problem.

The much anticipated invasion finally happened in 291, when a Gallo-Roman force of around 40.000 men stationed in Gadir and led by Claudius himself crossed the Pillars of Hercules (2) and landed outside Tingis, which fell without any resistance. Over the next two or three months the conquering army slowly marched along the coast, followed closely by the fleet that kept it well supplied at all times, and all of the cities along its path, including the larger ones such as Hippo Regius, threw their gates open and surrendered, a demonstration that the Afro-Romans either desired return to a semblance of stable government or were so afraid of a Berber takeover that pledging their allegiance to the invaders was seen as a better option for them. Anyway, the only place that showed a semblance of resistance to Claudius and his soldiers was Carthage itself, which too surrendered after its general, a certain Constantine (who is never heard of again) saw that his situation was hopeless.


The ruins of ancient Leptis Magna, once one of the most important cities of North Africa.

Although there were no major battles, the reconquest of North Africa was a magnificent victory that greatly increased Claudius' prestige back home, with many who were once skeptical of him now respecting the man's audacity. Not only that, but, after a few years of organizing everything (an administration, tax collection and all that) the vast region proved itself to be a large net gain to the imperial treasury, since, despite the years of instability and the Berber raids, it had not experienced nothing anywhere near as bad as the devastation that places like Italy and the Haemus suffered during the Crisis of the Third Century, and most of its infrastructure was still broadly intact. It was also a large producer of grain, and with the Mediterranean islands subjugated shortly after, trade quickly began to pick up not only with Gaul and Hispania, but also with the Palmyrene Empire to the east and, through it, India and China.

After returning to Treverorum a hero, the young emperor soon began to plan for what would be the most important military campaign of his career: the reconquest of Italy, once the center of Roman civilization. Ever since the sacking of the Eternal City decades ago, the peninsula had fallen into a period of complete chaos, with local cities and towns being forced to fend for themselves as a growing number of barbarians followed the footsteps of the Alemanni, raiding and sometimes settling all but the most fortified and defensible settlements, like Ravenna (surrounded by marshes and swamps) being spared from the wrath of the invaders. Even these few urban areas suffered from famine and disease, as the Gallo-Romans would later find out.

The reconquest of Italy began in 298, when a force of 40.000 soldiers crossed the Alps and advanced into the once fertile Po valley. It was there that the only battle of the campaign took place, on the outskirts of Mediolanum, where they encountered a large number of Juthungi (many of them soldiers but mostly civilians) who were retreating back to their homeland somewhere in Germania. Surprised by the Gallo-Romans, who were led by emperor Claudius and a general named Tetricus (3), they suffered a resounding defeat and were forced to surrender a good part of their riches before they were allowed to cross the Alps. After this confrontation, the rest of the campaign was very straightforward, with most cities in Italy (what was left of it) surrendering to the imperial troops, Dalmatia and Illyricum following shortly after.

Though it was easy enough getting there, it was not a glorious affair, far from it, and governing it would prove itself to be a Herculean effort. Three decades of war, countless raids by several barbarian peoples, combined with widespread social collapse, plagues of all sorts and famine, reduced what was once the center of the Mediterranean and one of the wealthiest regions in the planet into a depopulated, barren wasteland. A certain account says that Claudius broke down crying when he saw the ruined remains of Rome, which by then likely had less than thirty thousand people living in it, with large portions of it being slowly reclaimed by nature as buildings, roads, sewers among other things crumbled apart due to lack of maintenance.

After seeing the ruins, the emperor supposedly swore an oath that he would never again embark on a foreign adventure, and that he would use all of his energy to rebuild Italy and its once vibrant cities and farmlands. While many question the authenticity of the "Italian Oath" altogether (it does sound suspiciously similar to the tale of the Indian emperor Ashoka Maurya, who converted to Buddhism and became a pacifist after his brutal war against the kingdom of Kalinga), everyone agrees that it would take this resurrected Roman Empire several decades before its armies fought in foreign lands again.




Shortly before his death in 324, the Roman Senate awarded Claudius the title of "Restitutor Orbis", or Restorer of Rome (4). He had immortalized himself as the man who, through his ambition and audacity, had, by all means, restored the Roman Empire. It would take centuries before said empire could compare itself to the one that was ruled by men such as Augustus, Trajan and Marcus Aurelius.

Those glorious days would come. They had been earned.

Summary:

285 - Postumus, Emperor and Protector of Gaul, Hispania and Britannia, dies. Claudius, his son, succeeds him. Soon he orders the construction of a large fleet for him to invade Africa with.

289 - After years of hard work and great cost, the fleet is completed.

291 - Africa is reconquered.

298 to 300 - Italy and Dalmatia (what's left of them, anyway) are reconquered.

324 - Claudius II, now known as the Restorer of the World, dies after suddenly collapsing in his bedroom. Judging by contemporary accounts, it seems that he suffered a stroke.
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Notes:

(1) All that I found about this Galerius Maximus fellow on the internet is that he was the governor of Africa Proconsularis from 258 to 259. And that's it.

(2) The Strait of Gibraltar.

(3) IOTL's Tetricus II.

(4) That title, IOTL, was given to emperor Aurelian, who reunified the Roman Empire and effectively ended the Crisis of the Third Century.
 
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Zagan

Donor
[...] the title of "Restitutor Orbis", or Restorer of the World
The word urbe, urbis (later Latin orbe, orbis) is polysemantic. It can mean either world or city. When the name of the city was not mentioned, everybody understood that the city referred to was Rome, the City. Therefore, Restitutor Urbis (or Orbis) almost certainly meant Restorer of Rome, not of the World.

Source: I studied Latin for 3 years and I continue to read Latin to this day as I like it very much.
 
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