The Darling of the World

Hmm... if the Restored Rome play their cards right, they may find Grecia quite economically profitable. But then they will also face more pressure to develop and control the region, and that wealth could bring in envious men...

On another note:
The idea of Rome as an universal empire that controlled all of the Mediterranean died with Florianus.
The only way that could work is with an independant Anatolia and an expansionist Egypt. Ooooh...
 
Hmm... if the Restored Rome play their cards right, they may find Grecia quite economically profitable. But then they will also face more pressure to develop and control the region, and that wealth could bring in envious men...

On another note:


The only way that could work is with an independant Anatolia and an expansionist Egypt. Ooooh...
There's a serious risk of the Second Roman Empire becoming a lot more "Holy" because of Tetricus' reforms, if you know what I mean. A particularly nasty civil war, plus a large migration at the right time...
 
There's a serious risk of the Second Roman Empire becoming a lot more "Holy" because of Tetricus' reforms, if you know what I mean. A particularly nasty civil war, plus a large migration at the right time...
And it's entirely too focused on the Med. Whether the Atlantic raiders are Vikings, or Bretons, or Irish, they're coming-- and if a defense against them can't be coordinated they can sail all the way to Treverorum.
 
And it's entirely too focused on the Med. Whether the Atlantic raiders are Vikings, or Bretons, or Irish, they're coming-- and if a defense against them can't be coordinated they can sail all the way to Treverorum.
Before I start writing the next update, I might as well say that it's a bit too early for these peoples to be relevant just yet. The biggest foreign threats to the empire still lie beyond the Rhine and the Danube.
 
Beyond the Rhine and the Danube? I'm thinking maybe the various Germanic tribes, or maybe a scythian-sarmatian people or the Huns. Love this timeline so far!
 
Beyond the Rhine and the Danube? I'm thinking maybe the various Germanic tribes, or maybe a scythian-sarmatian people or the Huns. Love this timeline so far!
The age of the Sarmatian/Iranic nomad is just about over I think, the peoples from beyond the Altai are just going to keep on coming from this point.
 
Part 19: Creeping Darkness
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Part 19: Creeping Darkness


The gruesome and unexpected death of Ardashir the Liberator in the burning waters of the Nile was a terrible shock to the court of the recently restored capital of Ctesiphon. In just two glorious years, the brilliant young Shah had reunified Iran, routed multiple Syrian armies and completely obliterated the capital of the kingdom that dared to attack and steal his country's rightful place as the master of the Middle East. The fact that he died in a river of what was surely hellfire right as he was on the verge of recreating the empire that was built by Cyrus the Great endless centuries ago didn't help: to the deeply religious people of that age, commoners and aristocrats alike, such a horrific end was surely a sign from God, in whatever way that He was worshipped, that He was deeply displeased with the Sasanian dynasty. The fact that he was the third monarch in a row to suffer a violent death (the other two being Narseh I and Hormizd I, his grandfather and father, respectively) provided further evidence of that.

The throne was once again occupied by a child, the ten year old Yazdegerd I. With Ardashir being quite absent from his son's life thanks to the many campaigns he led and his untimely end, the young King of Kings was deprived from a crucial role model at an early age, and was shaping up to be quite different from his father because of that. First and foremost, while most of the Shahs that ruled before him were, although officially Zoroastrians, were actually quite irreligious when push came to shove, Yazdegerd was an extremely pious and sometimes superstitious individual who, even though he had little power thanks to his young age, slowly but surely built very good relationships with the Magi, whose prominence in the empire had been steadily decreasing since the first days of the Sasanians. For now, all he could do was wear his crown and robes and see the political games go on in front of him as a harmless spectator.

There were many ambitious men who hoped to become top dog in such a scenario, but since the circumstances surrounding Yazdegerd's accession to the throne were so sudden, only one was in the right place at the right time to take advantage of them, that man being a most unusual fellow named Samuel bar Ezekiel, whose name already said a lot about him. A wealthy trader and one of the more prominent members of Ctesiphon's Jewish community, Samuel was one of the leaders of the revolt that ended the 65 year long Syrian occupation of the city, and was greatly rewarded by the grateful Ardashir II with many privileges and lands in Mesopotamia, as well as a place in his court. Because of this, he was in a perfect position to quickly seize power as regent once the vigorous Shah passed away in Egypt, for although many important noble families, especially the Seven Great Houses, looked down upon him as an outsider (although Jews were tolerated, the idea of one of them becoming so powerful was unheard of), he had many allies (and assassins) thanks to his trade connections in the capital and elsewhere.

However, Samuel's biggest and most urgent problem wasn't domestic, but foreign.


Tyrian pirates attacking an Iranian trading vessel with Syrian Fire.

Although the entirety of the Levant had been conquered by Ardashir II, a campaign that culminated with the complete destruction of Palmyra, one single and most stubborn holdout remained, allied with remnant Syrian government centered in Alexandria. This settlement was the important port city of Tyre, which was, thanks to the fact that it was located on a heavily fortified peninsula (it was an island until its conquest by Alexander the Great in ) that was almost impervious to land attacks, impossible to be conquered by the Iranians, who had no navy to speak of in the Mediterranean. Worse than that, its excellent position right next to multiple juicy trade routes which carried riches from places as distant as China and India turned the city into a safe haven for pirates and all sorts of similar lowlives, all of whom preyed on defenseless trade ships and caused tremendous damage to Iranian revenues.

As if that weren't enough, the Tyrians' friendly relations with Egypt allowed them to learn the secrets of Syrian fire, and they began to use the horrible substance to lay waste to important ports like Laodicea, Caesarea and Seleucia in the span of a few years. Ironically, the devastation suffered by these ports and their infrastructure prevented the empire from creating a fleet that could properly challenge the pirates for the time being. The only way they could be defeated was with foreign help.

Said help finally became available with the Roman reconquest of the Haemus peninsula in 336 AD. Taking advantage of Rome's new, decentralized political system, Samuel secretly made contact with the dux of Graecia (whose name is sadly lost to history), who controlled a powerful fleet thanks to the fact that he had to administrate many islands, promising him that Roman merchants would earn many trading privileges in Syria as long as he blockaded Tyre, which would allow the Iranians to besiege and capture the annoying peninsula. The dux, who was acting independently from the aging emperor Tetricus I, agreed, not only because of the bribe but also because the region he governed would become much richer if the pirates that stood between them and Syria were vanquished. At last, after being an extremely active hub for pirates for four years, Tyre was surrounded on sea by a Roman fleet and on land by an Iranian army in 338 AD. Aware that prolonged resistance was useless, the local authorities surrendered, hoping that their city wouldn't be sacked, and in return Samuel was surprisingly lenient: in exchange for expelling the pirates from its walls and formally submitting to the Shahanshah's supreme authority, Tyre maintained most of its institutions and internal autonomy.

Sadly, this success was nowhere near enough to offset the catastrophe that was taking place in the far east.



The magnificent Celestial Empire, having finally cast aside the last ghosts of the era of the Three Kingdoms and now entering a new age of prosperity, began to expand to the west, sending the skilled and ruthless general Shi Le in the campaign that became known as the Pacification of the West. At first, it seemed that only the city-states of the Tarim Basin (as far as Kashgar) would be conquered, but the ambitious Jie leader wasn't content with that, and marched further to the west, to lands that had never been put under Chinese authority before. Far away from a center of power that was in disarray thanks to the premature death of Ardashir II, the main cities of Transoxiana, Samarkand and Bukhara, surrendered to the eastern conqueror with no resistance. By the time the campaign was concluded, all territories east of the Oxus had been lost, wealthy lands that had sustained Iran during the difficult times of the Age of Division.

Not only that, but the arrival of the Chinese caused great upheaval among the nomadic peoples that lived in Central Asia, especially the Kidarites and the Hephthalites, who began to migrate in large numbers, searching for new lands to settle, and the obviously unguarded areas to the east of the Iranian Plateau, such as Bactria, Khorasan and Kerman, were prime targets. They too were enormously successful in their endeavors, and by the time Yazdegerd came of age in 342, even Merv had been lost to the invaders, and the only reason Kerman hadn't been overrun as well was the presence of the Citadel of Bam, which was still as majestic as ever, having received many upgrades since Odainat's siege in 269 AD. After this, the nomads moved in separate directions: while the Hephthalites would remain in the lands they conquered and would launch further attacks into the Iranian heartland, sometimes even reaching places like Spahan and Istakhr, the Kidarites would move into India, where they would establish a new kingdom that would soon find itself in a bloody struggle against the mighty Gupta Empire (1).

These colossal defeats, combined with the overly lenient treatment that was given to Tyre (many in the court wanted the port to be given what would become known as the "Palmyra Treatment") led to Samuel's downfall, with Yazdegerd's maturity providing the coup de grace to the battered and unpopular regent. Even his fellow Jews, once his most important base of support, were disgusted by his secret deal with Rome: many still remembered the days when their ancestors were targeted by popular riots and persecutions back when the so called "Old Empire" collapsed in the third century. Thus, the man who would later be seen as a precursor of the Jewish Golden Age (2) suffered a most ignoble fate, first being publicly humiliated and then executed on Ctesiphon's main square, a scapegoat who was unable to properly remedy problems that were more often than not completely outside of his control. Though Samuel bar Ezekiel's reputation would remain tarnished for many years afterwards, until sometime after the death of the man who ordered his execution, he did have one critical positive legacy: the defeat of the Tyrian pirates.


mapa 342.jpg


That would come in handy, for Yazdegerd would have to focus almost all of Iran's wealth and energy fighting a terrifying new enemy from the north. Soon, the entire country would burn, and a mighty new conqueror would leave his mark in history.

Summary:

334 A.D.
: Samuel bar Ezekiel, a wealthy trader of Jewish origin and a close confidant of Ardashir II, becomes regent for the young Yazdegerd I.

Sometime before 335 A.D.: The Pacification of the West ends, and Iran loses all territories east of the Oxus river.

After 335 A.D.: A growing number of displaced nomads, especially the Kidarites and the Hephthalites, migrate into the provinces of Khorasan, Bactria and Kerman.

338 A.D.: The city of Tyre submits to Ctesiphon after a combined Roman-Iranian attack. Many in the court object to the leniency with which the Tyrians were treated.

342 A.D.: After an eight year long tenure full of conspiracies, defeats and instability, Samuel is executed on the orders of Yazdegerd as soon as the latter reaches adulthood.

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Notes:

(1) I really need to make an India centered update sometime.

(2) The Jews who live in the Sasanian Empire are currently very well treated, and this will bring about handsome rewards in the future. The fact that many of them migrated eastward following the Crisis of the Third Century is an additional bonus.
 
It's just not Darling of the World if someone's not getting dunked on. I love it.

How are the Manichaeans doing? With their eastward push during the Age of Division, they're right in the Hunas' path...
 
Wait, so did China conquer all land up to the Oxus? That's a thicc Middle Kingdom.
Indeed. And there won't be any Abbasid Caliphate to kick them out of there so soon.

EDIT: There are always new nomads or really bloody revolts that could do that, though.
 
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Following OTL it should be polytheism with respect for Buddhism, since their path of migration takes them through Buddhist Sogdia, Bactria, and Gandhara.
Hopefully we will see Buddhist revival. white huns focusing on Iran is better for India. It will allow Buddhist sites to preserve itself from mihigula and white hun in the long run.
 
Hopefully we will see Buddhist revival. white huns focusing on Iran is better for India. It will allow Buddhist sites to preserve itself from mihigula and white hun in the long run.
Maybe, maybe not?

OTL the Kidarites were traveling at a much slower pace (~20 years), they had been nudged westward by one of the Chinese northern-barbarian dynasties (or climactic conditions) and when they reached the Kushans they just took over their culture and ambitions-- and then the Hunas overwhelmed them a century later, after getting their own westward nudge. Compared to that, here both Huna and Kidarite have been sent aloft by a much stronger push from a much more assertive Chinese dynasty, and so both have arrived at the gates of their respective targets in just 5 years (337 to 342). And Sogdia in the 300s isn't as Buddhist or urbanized as it would be later, and now it's under Chinese rule so they might be really different even if its most proximate influence is Persia but anyways The Kidarites may not know/appreciate as much of Kushan culture/religion as they did OTL. In the long term things may be different but some looting will probably come first.
 
Little extra note
Ooooh, I wonder who this conquerer would be...
Dun dun dun dun!

Anyway, I really should have created a footnote out of this in the last update, but I didn't, so here it goes.

Because of China's meddling in Central Asia, the migrations of the Kidarites and the Hephthalites are happening earlier and faster than OTL. The Kidarites, in particular, apparently almost destroyed the Gupta Empire in the mid 5th century IOTL, during the reign of Kumaragupta I. Since they're going for the Punjab in the mid 4th century ITTL, it is very likely that they will fight the Guptas during the reign of hyper competent monarchs like Samudragupta and Chandragupta II.
 
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