The Darling of the World

Is Tyre aligned with Zabbai's administration in Egypt or with the post-Palmyrene government(s) in Anatolia/Thrace?

Axum being the first Christian state is interesting, but its conquest of Yemen even more so. OTL, the Hadhramaut had an outsized influence in Indian Ocean religious affairs. The area has two sections: desert monasteries and towns like Tarim and Shibam in the interior, and a coastal region centered on Mukalla that's linked in with oceanic trade. The result is a highly mobile population that's renowned for religious learning and ready to take their ideas with them as they seek economic opportunities in the world. And they went all kinds of places, from East Africa to East Timor. And in both regions (and places betweeen) the Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence, favored by the Hadhramis, is the effective standard. Over the centuries the Hadhramis in the Malay Archipelago have been scholars, saints, kings, and even prime ministers.

So if a region like that is going to one of the heartlands of state-sponsored Christianity... there'll still be the older schools of Christianity in the old Roman East but we may see the biggest area for growth being the Indian Ocean, as this new faith takes to the waves and competes with Buddhism and Hinduism, or spreads unopposed to the Comoros, Madagascar, and beyond (especially if Oman flips to Axumite Christianity too).
 
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Is Tyre aligned with Zabbai's administration in Egypt or with the post-Palmyrene government(s) in Anatolia/Thrace?

Axum being the first Christian state is interesting, but its conquest of Yemen even more so. OTL, the Hadhramaut had an outsized influence in Indian Ocean religious affairs. The area has two sections: desert monasteries and towns like Tarim and Shibam in the interior, and a coastal region centered on Mukalla that's linked in with oceanic trade. The result is a highly mobile population that's renowned for religious learning and ready to take their ideas with them as they seek economic opportunities in the world. And they went all kinds of places, from East Africa to East Timor. And in both regions (and places betweeen) the Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence, favored by the Hadhramis, is the effective standard. Over the centuries the Hadhramis in the Malay Archipelago have been scholars, saints, kings, and even prime ministers.

So if a region like that is going to one of the heartlands of state-sponsored Christianity... there'll still be the older schools of Christianity in the old Roman East but we may see the biggest area for growth being the Indian Ocean, as this new faith takes to the waves and competes with Buddhism and Hinduism, or spreads unopposed to the Comoros, Madagascar, and beyond (especially if Oman flips to Axumite Christianity too).
Maybe Christianity will spread throughout the Indian Ocean, converting places like Ceylon and the Maldives, before reaching the Spice Islands. A Christian empire based in Indonesia, controlling the trade that passes through the Strait of Malacca? Who knows...

As for Axum conquering Yemen, that happened a couple of times in its history, but they were always kicked out by the Sassanids, I think.

Oh, and Tyre is allied to Egypt, with the bulk of the mighty Palmyrene navy which at its apogee controlled all of the Eastern Mediterranean, being loyal to Zabbai. Meanwhile, the Greeks of Anatolia, Thrace and, well, Greece, were left at their own devices. Those lands are still pretty rich, though, the Haemus less so.
 
Maybe Christianity will spread throughout the Indian Ocean, converting places like Ceylon and the Maldives, before reaching the Spice Islands. A Christian empire based in Indonesia, controlling the trade that passes through the Strait of Malacca? Who knows...

As for Axum conquering Yemen, that happened a couple of times in its history, but they were always kicked out by the Sassanids, I think.
Ceylon is... hard. OTL it was converting others, supplying the personnel and texts that spread Theravada Buddhism to Burma. That sense of centrality within Buddhist history (solidified by the presence of relics like the Buddha's tooth, and by the regular presence of Ceylonese monks in northern India as keepers of the original Buddhist shrines) is going to be hard to abandon when the alternative is being a marginal bit-player in a Christian world centered elsewhere.

The Sasanids did kick the Axumites out of old Himyar before losing it for the last time to the early Caliphate. It would make sense for them to go for it again if they want to raise the cost of oceanic trade for their new enemies in Egypt... but Axum might be price-gouging Zabbai hard enough as is.
 
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Ceylon is... hard. OTL it was converting others, supplying the personnel and texts that spread Theravada Buddhism through mainland SEA. That sense of centrality within Buddhist history (solidified by the presence of relics like the Buddha's tooth, and by the regular presence of Ceylonese monks in northern India as keepers of the original Buddhist shrines) is going to be hard to abandon when the alternative is being a marginal bit-player in a Christian world centered elsewhere.

Wow, I didn't know that. Makes sense why Ceylon stayed Buddhist while said religion vanished in the rest of India.

The Sasanids did kick the Axumites out of old Himyar before losing it for the last time to the early Caliphate. It would make sense for them to go for it again if they want to raise the cost of oceanic trade for their new enemies in Egypt... but Axum might be price-gouging them hard enough as is.

Egypt is in no shape for any foreign adventures. Zabbai is exceptionally lucky that Ardashir didn't know what Greek (or, should I say, Syrian) Fire was and how to counter it (lots of vinegar, apparently). His main hope now will be finding a receiving point for his grain exports. If enough crops weren't accidentaly burned by his superweapon, at least.
 
As he walked forward into a future of eternal glory for himself, his country and his descendants, he failed to notice that the mood of the men around him slowly changed from happy to worried, and from there to absolutely terrified. It was only when the people began to run and bump into each other, desperate to get out of the bridge, that he noticed what was happening. When he finally realized what was going on, he was dumbstruck. The wooden bridge on which he was standing on was being consumed by a raging inferno, and was on the verge of falling apart. What kind of idiot would carry a lit torch into such a massive structure made out of wood in broad daylight?

The King of Kings had very little time to ponder or even run away to safety when the boards over which he was standing on, weakened by the fire, crumbled underneath him, and the monarch fell on the waters of the great river below him. As Ardashir looked to where he was falling, he couldn't believe what was happening before his eyes. It all seemed like a terrible nightmare, a punishment from Ahura Mazda himself for his insatiable ambition, or perhaps a warning. But no, what was happening before his very eyes was absolutely real.

The Nile was burning. Not the vegetation on its banks, no, the water itself was on fire. Soon, the flames reached and engulfed him in their murderous embrace. As he came into contact with it and every moment of his short life flashed before his eyes, he realized that what he came into contact with wasn't normal fire, but rather a horrible substance that burned its way through the water, some sort of sticky mixture that he couldn't free himself of, despite his best efforts, for as he tried to put it out with the abundant water around him, the flames that were searing through his armor and cooking his skin and flesh only grew in size and intensity (6).

The last thing Ardashir II saw before he drew his last breath was his precious bridge collapsing entirely.

He was just 32 years old.
This histories first victim of Greek Fire, feels ironic given the use of Fire and water in Zoroastrian rituals.

Although the real question is where did this Greek Fire came from. I'm thinking it's from the Neo Roman Empire, who have decided to flex their muscles so to speak.
 
Most probably it came from some radical Greek faction from Alexandria, or the Aegean, whom may not want a Persia that could swallow everything whole.

Given the circumstances, I wonder if Anatolia and the Haemus will revolt and form their own states against the Persian and Roman yoke. Given the fact that those regions were the most prosperous bits of the Roman Empire due to geography, resources, and trade, a new empire could easily rise up and take the place of the former Palmyrenes.

 
Sadly, since Ardashir II destroyed Palmyra and had all of its knowledge obliterated, we'll never know who invented Syrian Fire. Considering how cosmopolitan the court of Wahballat the Great was, with people from Rome, Africa, India, China and even a few Iranians, it could have been anyone from these nationalities.

It's deeply ironic, really: had Ardashir not destroyed everything, he could have learned about the substance's existence and pehaps find a way to counter it. Since that didn't happen, the throne of Iran is once again under the control of a child (Yazdegerd I), in a time where the leadership of a strong Shah is more necessary than ever.

As for the people of the Haemus and Anatolia, all in due time.
 
Sadly, since Ardashir II destroyed Palmyra and had all of its knowledge obliterated, we'll never know who invented Syrian Fire. Considering how cosmopolitan the court of Wahballat the Great was, with people from Rome, Africa, India, China and even a few Iranians, it could have been anyone from these nationalities.

It's deeply ironic, really: had Ardashir not destroyed everything, he could have learned about the substance's existence and pehaps find a way to counter it. Since that didn't happen, the throne of Iran is once again under the control of a child (Yazdegerd I), in a time where the leadership of a strong Shah is more necessary than ever.

As for the people of the Haemus and Anatolia, all in due time.
As depressing a fate as OTL
 
Part 17: Blessed by Heaven
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Part 17: Blessed by Heaven


The China that existed by the time emperor Wen died in 285 was completely different from the one that he inherited over thirty years ago. During his reign, the once proud empire that had been shattered into three warring kingdoms was finally reunified into a single political unit after decades of separation, and the nation prospered just like in the days of the Han dynasty thanks to his wise, honest rule (and that of his chancellors, of course). It is, therefore, completely unsurprising that, while lesser countries and "empires" (Ha!) to their west desperately fought for their survival, the Celestial Empire as it stood under the Wu reached levels of opulence and grandeur that were only dreamed of by foreign kings. The arrogance displayed by historians and other intellectuals that were born and wrote their works during this period was certainly justified.

However, this doesn't mean that the period that immediately followed the reunification was a sea of roses, far from it, for although emperor Wen was a skilled statesman who did much to rebuild his country after the Three Kingdoms period, he was still a man from the south, who held much resentment for the north (controlled by Cao Wei, Eastern Wu's most powerful adversary), and it showed in his policies, deliberately or not. First, the sourthern regions of the country and the Yangtze basin were showered with investments and construction projects, while the cities that were in the Huang He, especially Luoyang, and further north were given much less attention, something that created a growing level of discontent in these war-torn areas. Second, the grand navy that was built during his reign significantly diverted resources that could have gone to the army instead, which meant that the land troops were becoming dangerously underfunded. For a country whose most powerful foreign enemies almost always came from the distant steppes beyond the Great Wall, this was a massive risk to take.

By the time Sun Hao (better known as emperor Yuanzong) took the throne after his father's death in 285 AD (1), it was clear that were a lot of things that could go horribly wrong all at the same time: the generals were dissatisfied with the lack of attention received by the army, the capital of Jianye was located too far south for the northern nomads, especially the Five Barbarians (Xiongnu, Jie, Qiang, Di and Xianbei (2)) for the emperor to keep them in check, and the population of the Huang He basin felt that it was being neglected by the central government. Aware that a radical change was required to keep these underlying tensions from becoming too severe to be contained, and hoping to buy some time with a grand gesture, the new monarch refused to be crowned in Jianye, and instead moved with his court to Luoyang, the former capital of Cao Wei, and still full of scars from the long siege that preceded its capture by Zhuge Ke's troops decades ago, where he was duly crowned and enthroned.


Emperor Yuanzong of Wu accompanied by two aides.

The transfer of the capital from Jianye to Luoyang was the first of many extremely controversial measures (at the time) that were enacted by the new emperor and would earn him much criticism from contemporary historians and other intellectuals, who labeled him a tyrant. Once he felt himself comfortable enough in his new home, he slashed the navy's funding in half, with many warships being straight up set ablaze, with their crews suddenly having to find new jobs for themselves while the funds that were originally given to the fleet were handed over to the army, improving the soldiers' pay and doing much to improve their capabilities whenever they had to face their nomadic adversaries. Large amounts of money were spent on repairing and later improving northern China's infrastructure, and many roads, canals and irrigation systems were erected, along with other buildings such as fortresses, temples and especially schools, which were essential for sustaining an educated bureaucracy (3).

However, no project of Yuanzong was either bigger or more controversial than the construction of the Grand Canal, a massive (1.776 kilometers long after its completion) waterway that took advantage of smaller existing canals and natural rivers, creating a single transportation network that linked the important port of Hangzhou to Luoyang and Jicheng (4), a city that was located even further to the north.


A map of the Grand Canal.

Although these projects did much to restore the economy of the north in the long term and catapult China into its new golden age, with the Grand Canal in particular earning the admiration of foreign travelers and spurring an economic and technological revolution (5), their short term costs were enormous. The construction of these monumental works required the work of millions of people, and at least six million labourers perished due to the awful conditions in which they lived and were forced to work in. This, combined with the considerable tax raises that were required to fund them as well as a surge in the number of unemployed people thanks to the cuts in the navy that were mentioned above, created a great amount of resentment against the emperor, who was becoming increasingly paranoid as his mental faculties gradually declined thanks to his old age, with the crown prince Sun Jin taking over more and more of his father's duties. By the time Yuanzong finally passed away in 302 AD at the age of 59, he was by far the most hated man in the country (6).

It was the prince, who would be enthroned as emperor Taizong, that reaped the benefits of his father's policies. Inheriting a state that was extracting massive amounts of new revenues thanks to the reconstruction of the north and the recently completed Grand Canal, he was to put the mighty and well funded Chinese army on a series of military campaigns and conquests that would bring China's territory to an extent that surpassed even that of the Han dynasty. In 307, after years of careful preparations, the monarch personally led an invasion against the Korean kingdom of Goguryeo, which was completely destroyed after two years of war by its vastly more powerful adversary, and the Four Commanderies were fully restored, with the northern half of the peninsula right up to the Han river, while the areas to the south of it were administrated by the small, tributary kingdoms of Silla, Baekje and Gaya.

However, the most famous campaign that took place during his reign was not the destruction of Goguryeo, but the one that became known by official historians as the Pacification of the West, which began almost twenty years later, in 325. The targeted region was too distant from China proper for Taizong to personally conquer, and his age was beginning to catch up to him, so he handed command to a talented, aggressive general named Shi Le, who was experienced in fighting against steppe nomads. This appointment caused a great deal of unease in the court back in Luoyang, thanks to the commander's foreign and humble origins: born in a Jie family, he was captured by Wu soldiers as a child and was sold into slavery, before his buyer freed him after being impressed by his talents, and he used his newfound freedom to pursue a military career, rising through the ranks of the army. Because of this, he was seen by more skeptical and/or xenophobic nobles as a potential traitor, who could cause tremendous damage to the country if he suddenly turned on the emperor (7).


A mural commemorating the Pacification of the West, led by Shi Le.

Thankfully, the general did as he was told, and was tremendously successful in his task. In fact, he was so successful that, instead of returning to Luoyang after the complete subjugation of the Tarim Basin sometime around 332 AD (some of the cities proved to be quite difficult to conquer, despite the attackers' overwhelming superiority) he advanced even further to the west than he was supposed to. Taking advantage of the fact that the considerably smaller empire of Iran was busy with its war against Palmyra in far away Mesopotamia and later Syria, Shi Le ordered his troops to cross the Jaxartes and capture the great trading centers of Samarkand and Bukhara with no difficulty at all, and only stopped marching when he reached the eastern bank of the Oxus river. The vast, fertile region of Transoxiana was incorporated into the Wu empire as the Sogdiana Commandery, which was under the jurisdiction of the autonomous Protectorate of the Western Regions.

Sadly, Shi Le would never be honored for his efforts, thanks to his death in 335 AD at the age of sixty-one, completely exhausted after a decade of war in a foreign land. His descendants, however, would later be showered with titles and flatteries due to their own future accomplishments, becoming extremely powerful figures that would have a great impact of the future of China and the Wu empire, becoming important players in the events that would later lead to the illustrious dynasty's destruction.

However, it would take centuries before said events happened.

For now, emperor Taizong could rest easy, assured that his country was about to experience an era of unparalled greatness and splendor that surpassed even that of the Han dynasty so, so many years ago. The realm in question, at the time of his death in 337 AD, stretched from the Aral Sea and the Oxus in the west to the Han river in the east, and was by far the largest, strongest and richest state in the whole world, no one else even coming close to its magnificence. While lesser kingdoms wrote their decrees and literary works in parchment, papyrus and other rare and expensive materials, the superbly skilled Chinese bureaucracy, as well as its endless number talented and innovative scholars and poets, had a virtually limitless supply of paper, something that increased literacy among the upper classes and made the preservation of literary works, as well as the administration of the state as a whole, infinitely easier.


Shi Le's great conquests helped spread the use of paper as well as future inventions to the west, and they also had a profound effect on China proper. It was likely because of them that a growing number of Manichean preachers could be found wandering within the borders of the great empire, with their first major Chinese temple being constructed in Chang'an sometime during the reign of emperor Gaozong, Taizong's successor. As the years passed by and turned into decades, the teachings of Mani found fertile ground in the vast plains of the Huang He and the Yangtze, and they would soon earn many powerful followers.


An obviously sinified depiction of Mani in a Later Xia era hanging scroll (8).

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Notes:

(1) IOTL, Sun Hao was the last emperor of Easter Wu before its conquest by the Jin dynasty.

(2) These five peoples lived inside and outside China during the Jin dynasty, and later rose up against the empire, which was weakened after years of civil war, and created multiple kingdoms (the Sixteen Kingdoms of the Five Barbarians) before China was once again united by the Sui dynasty in the late sixth century.

(3) Because of this, emperor Yuanzong will later be rehabilitated as a patron of public education ITTL.

(4) Beijing.

(5) Spoilers, spoilers...

(6) Although he was born in 243 AD (the year of the POD), childhood butterflies make Sun Hao into a ruler who's very similar to emperor Yang of Sui, who IOTL ordered the construction of the Grand Canal hundreds of years later: a ruthless, autocratic reformer who enacts several drastic measures and earns many enemies. However, since he doesn't order his army to conduct a series of disastrous wars, he doesn't suffer Yang's fate, and the Wu dynasty lasts.

(7) IOTL, Shi Le became the first emperor of Later Zhao, one of the Sixteen Kingdoms, and became famous not only for his military talent, but also for his cruelty. ITTL, many in the Wu court consider him to be a potential An Lushan.

(8) This scroll was made long, long after the demise of Wu.
 
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So China´s doing well for itself -wich inevitably invites more raiders after riches and glory. Truly, some things never change.
 
You guys really deserve a map of China after this fistful of information, and you'll receive one tomorrow (hopefully).

TL,DR: Tang China a few hundred years earlier. On steroids.
 
You guys really deserve a map of China after this fistful of information, and you'll receive one tomorrow (hopefully).

TL,DR: Tang China a few hundred years earlier. On steroids.
But it's also right in the way of the impending White-Hun and Turkic waves, and it doesn't have the experience of the Sui/Tang with turning nomads into auxiliaries... Rude awakening incoming, I bet.
 
But it's also right in the way of the impending White-Hun and Turkic waves, and it doesn't have the experience of the Sui/Tang with turning nomads into auxiliaries... Rude awakening incoming, I bet.
The Pacification of the West created a lot of upheaval among the peoples of Central Asia, including the ones you mentioned. Guess who's going to be right on their path?

India.

Oh, and Iran, of course. Yazdegerd I will have a lot of work on his hands...
 
That is one glorious looking Celestial Empire. I can only imagine Iran's shock at seeing their northern tributaries yoinked from some empire that's (gasp!) even richer than themselves. How's the Iranian court viewing China now, by the way?
 
That is one glorious looking Celestial Empire. I can only imagine Iran's shock at seeing their northern tributaries yoinked from some empire that's (gasp!) even richer than themselves. How's the Iranian court viewing China now, by the way?
They're too busy freaking out about Ardashir II's horrific death to care about what's going on in distant, distant Transoxiana.

Naturally, that will bite them in the ass later. Hard.

As for how China sees Iran, it's an inferior state that is nowhere near as powerful as the empire led by the Son of Heaven. It's a potential tributary, but it's so far away that only the very autonomous governors of the the Protectorate of the Western Regions care about it. Much easier to get tribute from either the little Korean kingdoms or Japan, or make huge amounts of cash from both arms of the Silk Road instead.
 
Part 18: New Feathers
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Part 18: New Feathers


After the death of emperor Claudius II in 324 A.D., the restored Roman Empire (the so-called "Second Empire" as a way to distiguish it from its predecessor) found itself under a difficult position about what was by far its weakest point since the days of the Old Republic: the succession of power from one emperor to another. During his long, successful life, the Restorer of the World may have had as many as eight children, but only three daughters survived to adulthood, with their siblings perishingfrom many illnesses, which are attributed to the fact that his wife was apparently closely related to him (though this might be a later fabrication). With no surviving sons to continue its legacy, the dynasty of Postumus was brought to an end, at least for now. Since Claudius didn't adopt anyone, only one result could happen: a civil war among the generals, where the victor would invevitably take over the reins of absolute power.

It is, therefore, a massive surprise that such a thing didn't happen. Gaius Tetricus, a scion of one of the empire's most prominent military and landowning families, with extensive properties in northern Gaul, and son of the famous general who reconquered Italy at Claudius' side, quickly took power in Treverorum and ruthlessly crushed any opposition to his rule before it could even rise up (1). However, he was faced with a situation that was vastly different from the one inherited by his predecessor, something that brought with it new hurdles to overcome. The empire once again held a considerable amount of territory in the Mediterranean, and the provinces of Hispania and especially Africa were grumbling about the fact that they were being ruled from a place that was right next to the Rhine. The barbarian migrations had slowed down for now, which gave the northern borders a precious amount of breathing room and also made many of the elites outside Gaul reconsider Treverorum's status as the imperial capital.



A coin depicting emperor Tetricus.

Though his position was secure for now, especially after marrying Julia Severina, one of Claudius' daughters, Tetricus knew that these underlying issues could ruin his family's fortune and, with it, the empire, if he kicked the can down the road, so he acted quickly and decisively, but only after he was (almost) unanimously considered to be the state's rightful ruler, of course. In 330 A.D., after six years in power, he began to move the capital from Treverorum to Mediolanum, a city that, although years away from achieving its former glory just yet, was an excellent location from which he could personally oversee the reconstruction of Italy and Dalmatia, as well as receive reports from Africa and its precious grain production more easily. This move, which took years to end, ruffled a lot of feathers back in Gaul, including those of many of his own family members, since it drastically diminished their stranglehold over the state and its institutions.

While this was done, another, more drastic reform began to take place within the Roman administrative apparatus. Since the long gone days of Augustus and his illustrious successors, the Empire was a highly centralized political unite where the emperor held absolute power over its armies and provinces, and although it could work spectacularly well when it had a good pilot at its helm, it also made the imperial office an extremely coveted one. Combined with an unclear succession system, any ambitious and sufficiently powerful general could be proclaimed emperor by his legionaries and march against the incumbent, something that could have disastrous consequences, as shown in the Crisis of the Third Century.

The cornerstone of this wave of change was the abolishment of the old provincial system in favour of a new form of local administration, known as the Diocese system. Each diocese was led by a dux (military leader) appointed by the emperor, whose job was to administrate and guarantee said tract of land's security against foreign threats, and was given a number of soldiers to enforce whatever policies he enacted or, as said before, repel outside attacks until help could arrive. It was a great gamble: each dux, once properly consolidated, was almost completely autonomous to the emperor, and could run the province he was assigned to as his own property, and with a personal army to boot. It would also make foreign operations more difficult, since the legions would be divided among the duces and it would take time for a sufficient number of soldiers to be mustered. Not that this mattered to Tetricus, since his primary focus, like any good Gaul, was on defense (2).

By the time the division was completed in around 334 AD, there were seven dioceses in the Second Roman Empire: Italia (centered in Mediolanum), Dalmatia (centered in Salona), Lugdinensis (centered in Lugdunum), Mauretania (centered in Caesarea), Africa (centered in Carthage), Hispania (centered in Tolentum), Britannia (centered in Londinium) and finally Gallia (centered in Treverorum) (3). The first duces to be appointed to their positions belonged to prominent local families, who, in the emperor's view, would be more interested in maintaining their own estates and protect their newfound autonomy rather than make any moves for the throne, which would leave their dioceses unprotected from bandits and barbarians.

While the diocese system was his most famous legacy, Tetricus was also a skilled diplomat, and established friendly relations with Lucius Zabbai's regime in Egypt, with the embassy sent by him giving the Palmyrene general turned king many gifts and addressing him as a fellow Roman citizen. In what became known as the Treaty of Alexandria, the Roman Empire promised to assist the country against foreign aggressors (obviously Iran) in exchange of a constant tribute of grain every year, something that would help in the reconstruction and repopulation of Italy. Similar overtures to the Haemus and Asia Minor were unsuccessful, since these areas had no centralized leadership just yet, with the cities and local aristocrats fending for themseves until one could overpower the others.

It was during this period of fragmentation that the greatest flaw of the new administrative system manifested itself. The dux of Dalmatia was an extremely ambitious and talented general named Marcus Florianus, who was born in Africa and was appointed to his position because the region had been deprived of local notables thanks to decades of raiding and warfare. Always eager in his pursuit of personal glory, he departed from Salona in the spring of 336 AD at the head of an army of around 20.000 men (almost all of the soldiers of his diocese) and marched towards Dyrrhachium, an important port and also the starting point of the road known as the Via Egnatia, which led all the way to Thessalonica and Byzantium. The city surrendered after a brief siege and, after securing his position, Florianus quickly marched to Thessalonica, which was ill-prepared to face a foreign assault and also surrendered after a week long blockade. As a way to minimize resistance to his rule, the Roman general treated his vanquished opponents fairly, and by the end of the year all of the Haemus, was under his control.

These moves roused great alarm in Mediolanum, for not only the dux of Dalmatia had abandoned his duites by launching himself into a foreign adventure (leaving his diocese vulnerable), he seemed to have become the exact sort of person that Tetricus wanted to prevent from rising, a potential threat to the throne. Florianus didn't care, for he was on the verge of crossing the Hellespont and bring the independent cities of Asia Minor to heel, just like he did to Greece and Thrace. He would land in Troy, and wouldn't turn back until he reached, let's say, Trapezus. Once this deed was done, he would march back to Italy, where he would be... duly rewarded for his bravery. Sadly, he suffered a fate that was shared by many promising leaders and conquerors throughout all of history: he was killed by an assassin's blade. Though contemporary and later historians have many versions on who exactly hired the man that did the deed, it is safe to say that the emperor breathed a sigh of relief when he heard the news.

The idea of Rome as an universal empire that controlled all of the Mediterranean died with Florianus. Meanwhile, the lands he conquered were organized into the dioceses of Greece, Thrace and Moesia.

second roman empire.jpg

The Second Roman Empire and its dioceses in the late fourth century.

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Notes:

(1) Nothing out of the ordinary.

(2) The Sack of Rome left scars that will last for centuries.

(3) This is nothing like the OTL dioceses established by Diocletian. They're closer to the Theme system (special thanks to @Al-numbers for the suggestion!), since they're very militarized, but they can also rip the empire apart when something bad happens. Such decentralization will bring about interesting results to say the least.
 
Not my best update, or my best map. From now on, we'll go back to Iran in what I hope to be a massive update, but I unfortunately can't make any promises. I'll try to focus all of my energy on this TL, but my interest is starting to drift away to other areas and time periods.

Comments and constructive criticism are much appreciated.
 
Is the civil conflict in Anatolia beginning to draw in mercenaries from outside the region, or have the Goths soured the Greeks on the whole "foederati" concept? Could be fun to see Anatolian warfare steadily draw in foreign soldiers (I'm thinking Georgians), something like the involvement of the Cumans in the wars of the Rus princes.
 
Is the civil conflict in Anatolia beginning to draw in mercenaries from outside the region, or have the Goths soured the Greeks on the whole "foederati" concept? Could be fun to see Anatolian warfare steadily draw in foreign soldiers (I'm thinking Georgians), something like the involvement of the Cumans in the wars of the Rus princes.
One can't afford to be a xenophobe in the Anatolian free-for-all. Not everyone has enough money to hire mercenaries, even if the warfare in the Levant and the Caucasus (along with all sorts of other foreigners) provides them with plenty of people ready to sell their services.
 
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