by Demetrios Rammos
Imperator Maximus, part 1
The Western Roman Empire. When the empire was divided it
would be difficult to believe the western part of it was doomed to destruction
and the eastern part destined to survive to the 15th century. It is true that
the east had started with advantages over the west. It had one and a half times
the population of the west and probably a more vigorous economy on a per
capita basis. It didn't have t deal with the amount of barbarian pressure the
west had. And Asia Minor and Greece
proved a coherent defensible core for the empire.
And yet not all was in favour of the East. Barbarian pressure might have been
higher on the west but the western emperors did not have to deal with a great
power like Sassanid Persia either. Italy
was potentially as secure and homogenous as Asia Minor
should the western empire was to be reduced to a surviving core. And the Rhine border was kept largely intact to the early 5th
century while Aetius was able of successfully defending it for over a quarter
of a century after it had been broken post 406. Almost as notably the western
empire was in a position to beat back the Huns in 451 a mere 25 years before
her final end and at a time Visigoths and Vandals to name but two had
effectively taken over considerable chunks of its territory.
Where the western empire was not as lucky as her eastern counterpart was in her
leadership. Emperors tended to be weak; many did not prove particularly capable
and worse yet after about 390 most emperors weren't but puppets for people,
usually generals, running the empire behind the scenes. Added with worse strife
for the purple than in the east it left the empire gradually weakening till it
finally came to an end both de jure as well as de facto in 476 AD.
Magnus Maximus holds the dubious privilege of being the last powerful, probably
also the last capable, western emperor. A Spanish Celt with connections to the
family of Eastern emperor Theodosius he rose to the rank of comes
Britanniae in 380. In 383 he declared himself emperor and invaded Gaul. Defeating and killing Gratian in August the
next year he was officially recognized by Theodosius and de facto recognized by
The situation remained static to 387 with Maximus ruling effectively the whole
western empire sans Italy
from his court in Trier.
Then in 387 Maximus effectively invaded Italy
but not before Valentinian II could flee to Theodosius. What followed was
disaster for Maximus as Theodosius crossed west the next year repeatedly
defeated Maximus and executed him in Aquileia
on 28 August 388. With Maximus went the last strong and efficient emperor of
So say Maximus captures and executes Valentinian II when he takes Italy
and after some initial tension Theodosius without Valentinian to prop decides
to accept the new status qwo, after all he has already recognized Maximus and
the latter is a former client of his family. Maximus at an age of about 48 has
come to rule the whole western empire.
Imperator Maximus, part 2
left Magnus Maximus as the sole surviving emperor of the west in 387 and
Theodosius recognizing him probably with some reluctance to his position
Maximus was by all accounts a capable man. He rose through the ranks in a
turbulent period from non commissioned officer to emperor. With the exception
of his last campaign against Theodosius he won every other campaign he fought.
In the 5 years of his reign he proved a strong efficient ruler reorganizing
Gaul's provincial system, keeping the Rhine border secure, probably to no small
extend due to his connections among Goths, and becoming the first emperor to
come to conflict with the pope in a foreshadow of things to come.
The ATL Maximus has Italy
to draw upon for manpower and resources in addition to his OTL domain. This
affords him way more manpower and revenue. The army of the western empire is
built upon the same organization with that of the eastern empire and
theoretically similar tactics with that of the east, after all at least in
paper the imperial army is still a single force. The west is fielding an army
roughly similar in size with the east. On the other hand there are considerable
differences in the composition of the two halves of the imperial army. The
majority of the clibanarii and catafractii heavy cavalry units are in the east.
Lanciarii and ballistarii, heavy infantry and catapult troops respectively are
almost exclusively in the east. The army of the west has the majority of the
mobile units, the army of the east the majority of heavy mobile units and
specialist troops. Essentially both halves reflect what their respective parts
of the empire consider the most dangerous security threat. In the case of the
Eastern Empire this is Persia
in the case of the Western empire its barbarian neighbours.
With the Huns pressing from the east German pressure to levels almost unseen
before in the late 390s. After Theodosius death in 395 the Visigoths invade Thrace in 396.
Maximus comes to the aid of his eastern counterpart the same year and the
Visigoths are temporarily settled around Epirus
before in 400 they set themselves again on the move this time with the aim of
launching an invasion of Italy.
In 402-403 the invasion comes but Maximus is able to drive it back. 
In the winter of 406 with the Rhine frozen the
tribes to the east of it invade en masse. Unlike OTL the western empire has
been under strong rule for a bit over 2 decades. The Rhine border has not been
denuded of troops to the same extend under Maximus but has been still weakened
as Maximus has had to move troops to meet the Visigoth threat against Italy. With
Alaric launching a second invasion of Italy Maximus has to concentrate his
efforts on defending Rome
itself from the Visigoths. And the surge across the river as Alans, Suave,
Saxons, Franks & Burgundians is just too strong for the Roman defenders to
It may be too strong to completely hold but not for Roman armies to contain at
least to some extend and perhaps more importantly survive as an organized
military force despite the onslaught. Diplomacy comes to aid of insufficient
military power. Maximus has kept for a long time good relations with the Goths.
Now he accepts the Franks and Burgundians as foederati breaking them from the
greater mass of the invaders. In 407 the legions of Britain
are moved to Gaul to help contain the
invasion.  For the next decade Gaul turns into a battleground between Rome and barbarian armies
the latter being largely Alan and Suavi.
Back in Italy Alaric's second invasion is not met by any particular success.
Between 408-and 410 northern Italy becomes a battleground between the armies of
Magnus Maximus and Alaric, Rome is on one occasion threatened but Alaric fails
to make any permanent gain. When in 410 Alaric dies the Visigoths now under
Athaulf are driven out of Italy
by Magnus Maximus son and co-emperor Victor and settle into Gaul
by 413. Magnus Maximus dies late in 410 the throne passes to victor with
relatively little trouble.
Victor isn't facing a particularly easy task. For a decade after he ascends to
the throne he has to continue the fighting. By 417 between the Romans and their
foederati the Alans have suffered heavily enough for them to be mostly absorbed
into the Vandals much like the Suave. The Visigoths have established an
independent kingdom in Gaul and for every
practical purpose so have done the Vandals.
As of 425 the western Roman empire and her administrative structure and armies
are still standing. Italy
has survived the Visigoth invasion relatively unscathed and Rome with a population of about half a
million is the largest city of the west and one of the largest in the world. Africa has kept on being a secure place, one where the
empire's Burgundian foederati finally settled. Iberia hasn't been reached by the
barbarian invasions but has become home for Frank foederati. Britain has
been effectively lost to the empire. Gaul has
been the hardest hit of all imperial holdings being a battleground for over a
decade and to a large extend beyond direct imperial control with Visigoth and
Vandal kingdoms established on its soil.
Victor sets upon re-establishing control over Gaul
post 425. In 427 the count of Africa revolts in Carthage only for loyal troops and Victor's
Burgundian foederati to destroy the rebel in short order. In 435 a Hun
mercenary army instigated by Victor's magister militum Flavius Aetius 
invades and destroys the Vandal kingdom. Unfortunately for Rome the Huns then turn their eyes upon the
empire. By the time of Flavius death in 445 the empire has been subject to a
constant Hun threat. Fortunately for the western empire the Huns concentrate
their efforts against the eastern bemire. Faced against the massive walls of Constantinople and eastern armies the Huns force the
eastern empire to pay tribute but leave the western empire on its own.
Things change with the death of Victor in 447. Aetius efficiently secures the
succession of Victor's son to the throne. The Huns find it an n opportunity to
turn upon the western empire. In 451 the Huns invade Gaul
only for the Roman and Visigoth armies working for the first time together to
defeat them in Chalons. The next year the Huns invade Italy only to be defeated again by
an imperial army. Only two years later the Ostrogoths and the Gepidae revolt
against the Huns bringing their threat to an end.
 Pretty much the same with OTL. If Stelicho could check the Visigoths in
real life so can together with Maximus now. Or so can Maximus on his own for
 Obviously not the OTL Aetius as he was born in 396 but a character
generally similar to the OTL one.
 One might recall that Maximus has started out on his path to the purple as
comes Britannia and thus still commands the loyalty of the troops of Britain. The
results are ironically the same for Britain itself.
Imperator Maximus, part 3
By 450 the
worst of the barbarian invasions has passed for the western empire. The
Visigoths hit hard from the Hun invasion are not an immediate danger for the
empire. Further east the Hun empire is crumbling as the Ostrogoths and the
Gepids revolt against the Hun. The empire maintains reasonably good relations
with the Alamani and the other major German tribes, the Saxons the Thuringian
kingdom and Bavaria
are not directly bordering the empire to be a threat. The Franks and
Burgundians have become foederati of the empire since the time of Magnus
Maximus. This hasn't created trouble in the case of the Burgundians which are
being absorbed, more or less peacefully by the population of Roman Africa.
The Franks much more numerous are not that easy to absorb causing trouble
for imperial administration in Iberia
Thus in the generation after the battle of Chalons the western empire gets a
peaceful respite from the near constant warfare of the first part of the fifth
century. The economy starts growing once more, and with it grow the revenues
and the capacity of the western empire to wage war. By the time Magnus Maximus
grandson dies in 485 the empire has recovered to a large extent and can hope to
The problems for the empire come from inside. After Magnus Maximus seized the
throne the western empire saw power passing to his son and grandson with
relative ease. Things don't keep on going smoothly in the imperial succession
of 485 as two younger sons of the late emperor claim part of the empire for their
own. The concept, alien to Roman custom shows the extend of Goth influence
inside the western empire. By 486 the legitimate emperor is at war with both
his brothers with one of them calling upon the Ostrogoths for support and
another finding support among the Salian Franks, one of the Frank
The western imperial army in 486 consists of the limitanei, largely static
forces tasked with guarding the imperial borders and the Comitatences which
constitute the primary field armies of the empire. There are 4 armies of the
latter each under a magister militum, the armies of Italy,
Gaul, Iberia and the Presentum. Of these
the last is the western empire's strategic reserve stationed mostly in Italy, the army of Gaul is the largest and the
army of Iberia is also
covering North Africa. Heavy infantry is still
playing an important role although it is supplemented by heavy cavalry,
numerous fast mobile units mostly consisting of light cavalry and some units of
horse archers. Heavy cavalry units are not as important as their Eastern Roman
counterparts, for one thing the West does not have the economic resources of
the East so can't afford the specialist troops the armies of the eastern empire
can call upon. For another the enemies the western emperors are facing are not
as sophisticated as the East's Sassanid enemies.
The army of Iberia suffers a defeat to the Franks in 487 that allows their
chief Childeric to unite the other Frank tribes under him and post 489 to
declare himself king of the Franks in direct opposition to imperial authority.
In the 25 years to his death in 512 the Frankish kingdom manages to secure
control first of Aquitaine and then a significant part of Iberia but fails to
dislodge imperial troops from either Gaul nor Iberia. After his death the
kingdom is divided between his three sons. Between Roman diplomacy and personal
ambition the 3 successor states find themselves at odds between each other by
520. Quite ironically the establishment of the Frankish kingdom fails to stop
the continued Latinization of the Franks.
The future of Gaul is determined in 488 in the battle of Soissons
as the emperor brings against the Visigoths the army of the Pesentum the army
of Gaul and part of the army of Italy
decisively defeating them. The empire fails to take immediate advantage of her
victory having also to fight the Franks and the Ostrogoths but nevertheless the
Visigothic threat is removed from Gaul. The
cost of the victory is paid further east as the Ostrogoths capture Illyricum in
the same year and invade Italy
afterwards. The invasion of Italy
is beaten back before the gates of Ravenna in
493 with imperial armies forcing the Ostrogoths out of northern Italy in the aftermath but Illyricum
remains in Ostrogoth hands.
The empire is luckier in Gaul where a series of campaigns after the end of the
Ostrogothic war recovers the territories to the west of the Rhine in a series
of campaigns thus re-establishing the old Rhine
frontier and putting enough pressure to the Franks to contain losses. And in
the meantime the economic recovery of the empire more or less continues as
Italy, Africa, most of Gaul and a part of Iberia are left more or less
unscathed from the renewed wars.
The late 5th century becomes also notable for another trend. The Germanic kingdoms
on the borders of the empire have absorbed some deal of imperial civilization
and organization as well as Christianity. Now for the first time in centuries
states expand towards the east instead of the other way round. The Visigothic
kingdom despite its defeat in Soissons
is strong enough to absorb the Alamani by 495. This is followed by the division
between the Ostrogoths to the South and the Visigoths to the west and finally
the conquest of the Thuringian kingdom by the Visigoths in 531.
The division of the Franks is the western emperor's advantage after the death
of Childeric's death. In 521 imperial armies invade the kingdom
of Aquitaine perhaps the weakest of
the three Frankish states destroying it by 525 at the same time the other two
Frankish kingdoms spend their energies in a civil war leaving a single Frankish
kingdom of Iberia in its aftermath. In 530 it is
the turn of Iberia
as the empire goes to war with the Franks. The reconquest of Frankish Iberia
will prove far harder taking some 13 years and devastating a considerable part
but in the end by 543 all of old Roman Iberia is again firmly in imperial
Imperator Maximus, part 4
Eastern empire the survival of its western counterpart doesn't significantly
affect the international situation till the middle 5th century. The ties
between the two parts of the empire are close throughout the period and Rome and Constantinople
usually keep on friendly terms as well as cooperating wherever an opportunity
presents itself. This state of affairs though doesn't change the fact that each
half of the empire is practically fighting for survival by is own. A cynic
might also observe that the friendship between western and eastern emperors may
well be more a result of both having more immediate problems elsewhere than
anything else. Still whatever the reasons a precedence of peaceful cooperation
between east and west is taking hold by the early 6th century and should it
continue would have interesting effects for the future.
Church policies are a notable area of cooperation between western and eastern
emperors as both have a vented interest in having the authority of the church
under firm imperial control. Of the 5 major patriarchates of the Christian
church 4 lie within the boundaries of the east and are more or less under the
influence of Constantinople. The exception,
that of Rome, attempts in the late 4th and early 5th century to become the
dominant influence in the politics of the western empire as well as exert a
similar influence in the church as a whole.
Unlike OTL though, the emperors of the west are too strong for the influence of
the church to become dominant. Magnus Maximus is the first emperor to clash
with the papacy. Under his successors the clash gets more serious and ends with
the papacy finding itself into the same position vis a vis imperial authority
as the patriarchates of the east. The western emperors with cooperation from Constantinople also take care to upgrade a number of
western bishops to patriarchates to further break the power of the popes. By
the start of the 6th century there are 7 patriarchates as the bishopics of Carthage and Orleans
are accepted as patriarchates in the first and the second half of the 5th
century respectively. Rome and Constantinople
are the most influential of the 7 patriarchates with that of Alexandria a close third. The changes
inevitably affect the evolution of Christian doctrine both in east and west.
>From the eastern point of view the first significant external change the
existence of the west creates is that the Vandal fail to materialize as a
threat as they never reach North Africa to
establish a largely successful piratical kingdom. In OTL both the east and the
west had gone to great lengths to try to neutralize the threat the eastern
empire launching under Leo a massive effort with over 1000 ships to bring the
Vandals down. In the ATL the same resources go towards reinforcing the imperial
borders in the Balkans and Persia
The east still carefully breaks the Goth influence in the high command of the
imperial army by strengthening native army elements and recruiting large
numbers of Isaurians troops from Asia Minor in
the second part of the 5th century. "Zeno", an Isaurian himself rises
to the throne as successor of "Leo I" and in the 15 years of his
reign completes the breaking of Goth power inside the army, not without
clashing with the Ostrogoths as well as introducing the Henoticon a first
attempt to reconcile competing dogmas inside the church. His son Leo II fights
the Persians to a standstill in 502-505 and fights back successfully against
the first Slav incursions in the Balkans.  Married to a sister of his
western counterpart his is succeeded in turn by their son Constantine III rises
to the throne in 525.
Constantine III much like OTL Justinian inherits a resurgent empire with
considerable financial reserves. Unlike Justinian he isn't looking west, after
all the west is ruled by his fellow emperor and relative. There is Persia and the
Balkan border to deal with. When the near constant wars with Persia restart in 527 Constantine is determined to bring a decisive
result in the empire's favour instead of the usual costly draws.
In OTL Justinian's Persian policy cost something in the order of 4.8 million
solidi. The reconquest of north Africa alone cost 8 million solidi and the war
21.5 million solidi. Of the Persian costs about 3 million were the actual cost
of military operations was around 3 million with the rest spent on buying
truces off Chosroes and the rebuilding of Antioch.
Of the imperial army at a time that the magister militum of the east had under
his command a field army of some 25,000 men Belissarius brought 18,000 men to
the invasion of the Vandal kingdom and Narses had an army of 25,000 in Italy.
eastern war sees no truces and the armies that would had gone west fighting
mostly in the east . At an average annual cost of about 800,000 solidi a
year it is twice as costly as Justinian's operations in 540-544. For 36 years
between 527 and the centennial peace of 562 the Eastern empire and Persia are in
constant war. Ironically the financial burden of the Persian war is lower
overall than the financial cost of Justinian's wars at least for the eastern
empire. For Persia
though the burden is far more severe. In what is largely a war of attrition the
has to fight for twice as long as in OTL, against an enemy that in a 36 year
period devotes several times the resources it committed in OTL and without the
benefit of over a million solidi in Byzantine subsidies. In 562 Persia may still be standing with relatively
little territorial loss, Armenia
excepted, but it has been utterly exhausted from the fighting. Of no
smaller importance is that in the midst of war Persia is unable to implement most
of the internal reforms Khusro I.
In the Balkans Constantine maintains a strictly defensive policy. Despite the
ongoing war with Persia
the empire can afford to put significant resources  in the defence of the
Balkans. Slav and Bulgar raids beyond the Danube are frequent but the defence
establishes is too strong for the Slavs to break. The potential Ostrogoth
threat is neutralized when the empire machinates first a war between them and
the Longobardi, an abject failure from Constantinople's point of view as the
Longobardi end up conquered by the Ostrogoths and then a war between the Avars
and the Ostrogoths.
After a 15 year respite the Persian war restarts in 577 over conflicts between
the two empires over Yemen
In 577 a Persian army launches a successful surprise invasion of Armenia only to
be decisively defeated in the battle of Melitene the next year. The death of
the Persian emperor in 579 brings internal trouble for the Persians of which
Leo III takes advantage to gain a second major victory in Constantina of
Osraene in 580. This is followed by a successful invasion of Atropatene
 in 583 and four years later in the field of Arbela
the war is decided when Leo defeats for the third time the Persians. Ctesiphon falls to the
Byzantine army in 588 and by the 590 when the war officially ends the Sassanids
have been forced beyond the Zagros.
 Leo II is a rough counterpart to Anastasius. He doesn't have to fight an
Isaurian war being alt Zeno's son and has also more resources due to the lack
of the Vandal three. Both give him more resources to deal with the Slav
 Although part is being used in defending the Balkans. Still call it the
field army of the east rising to a permanent strength of about 40,000.
 What remains from subtracting the cost of the Persian wars from Justinian's
expenditures. Which is 5.5 million solidi. More than what Justinian spent
against he Persians.
Imperator Maximus, part 5
time of Constantine the Roman
empire both in west and east has become a Christian empire even if
Christianity is by no means the sole religion exercised by its subjects. When Constantine made the
conversion, Christianity was still a minority religion inside the empire. Given
official support from the state it keeps growing in numbers but still there are
considerable enclaves of the old religion in the 6th century. Most emperors are
somewhat adverse to outright persecution of pagans, people like Theodosius I
being rather the exception than the rule. As pagans are of some importance
during the 5th century both as part of the imperial administration and as part
of the army the emperors f the period are quite willing to let them be.
Constantine III unlike Justinian sees little reason to closing the schools of Athens or for that matter
launching a wave of persecution against the pagans that in OTL would continue
beyond the time of Justinian. Zeno the founder of the Isaurian dynasty was a
former pagan who didn't take his orthodoxy altogether seriously in person. His
successors while undeniably Christians retain a willingness to leave their
pagan subjects alone as long as they keep loyal and two not trouble them in the
same way with the various Christian groups inside the empire. It may not be the
best possible world for pagans but it isn't the worst possible world either. By
the time Leo's conquest of Mesopotamia
paganism despite a constant loss of ground to Christianity is still a going
The Christian church of the 5th and 6th centuries is facing major trouble from
the variety of heresies that spring up in the period. Early in the 5th century
Arianism is still going strong especially among the Goths. But the 2 new
heresies that spring in the east Nestorianism and Monophysitism prove in
relatively short order more important. Or more troublesome as far as imperial
authority is concerned. Nestorianism is the less troublesome of the two
especially as its adherents are mainly concentrated beyond the boundaries of the
empire. But monophysitism which spreads widely throughout the provinces of the
eastern empire, especially in Syria
turns into a major problem.
It is a problem the Isaurian emperors are determined to tackle. Zeno makes a
first attempt when he issues the henotikon, a compromise formula created by the
patriarch of Constantinople. The heavy
handed tactics of Zeno who failed to call upon a synodical council before
issuing is decree are one of the reasons of its failure. Opposition from the
pope of Rome
who excommunicates his Constantinopolitan counterpart another. But still
henotikon is important both in showing the empire's monophysite subjects that
the imperial authority is willing to reconcile them and to the role in plays in
the future of the papacy.
Since the time of Magnus Maximus the western emperors are waging a battle with
the popes for the control of the Christian church in the western part of the
empire. The creation of the patriarchate of Carthage was a first only partially
successful effort on the imperial part to break the power of the papacy. The
papal disagreement to the Henoticon is to say the least not well taken in Constantinople. One of the clauses of the marriage of
future Leo II to a western princess is that the imperator does something about
his troublesome bishop of Rome.
The western emperor is anything but adverse to comply. The struggle that
follows ends with the creation of the patriarchate of Orleans
and the passing of church jurisdiction over Greece
to the patriarch of Constantinople. With some
9 million followers the pope of Rome
is still the most important in the empire but his influence has been severely
At the time Constantine III rises to the throne in 525 the balance of power
inside the church has seen considerable change. The patriarch of Constantinople has been accepted as an equal to the pope.
And so has become...the other patriarch to claim the name of pope that of Alexandria. Alexandria had been
already an important see of the church. The undermined authority of the papacy
meant that the patriarch of Constantinople was
also weaker vis a vis the eastern emperor than he would have been otherwise.
The vacuum of power inside the church has been covered by the patriarch of Alexandria creating a
tripolar Christian war. And also importantly the church
of Alexandria tends to be rather
closer to monophyshite views than either Rome or
Constantine III follows on the path of his father and grandfather in trying to
reconcile "Chalcedonian" and monophysitye Christianity. The solution
patriarch Peter IV of Alexandria comes of with
adopts is called monoenergism namely that Christ has two natures as per
Chalcedonian doctrine but one "will" as per Monophysite doctrine. Constantine taking the lessons from the earlier failure of
the henoticon calls up the 6th ecumenical synod in Antioch in 540. Monoenergism is accepted by
all the patriarchs of the east sans that of Jerusalem,
with some arms twisting from the patriarchs of Jerusalem
as well as the two Monophysite churches of Armenia
and Axum. It will still take time for
Monoenergism to prevail reuniting monophysites and "Chalcedonians"
but the start in reconciling the two doctrines and rather more importantly for
the emperors in reconciling the grand majority of their subjects with imperial
authority has been made. Leo III has behind him a united empire when he drives
Persian armies of Mesopotamia.
Obtaining Mesopotamia creates a whole new
short of religious problem for Leo of course. Mesopotamia is at least as
populous as Egypt
if not more and the grand majority of its population is anything but Christian.
Worse yet what Christians there are are mostly Nestorians a group generally
accepted as heretics by everyone else in the Christian world. If the empire is
to hold onto Mesopotamia as Leo has every
intention of doing and if the land is not to become a constant hotbed for
revolts against imperial authority something has to be done. Leo quite
pragmatically, or perhaps just because he can't do otherwise, brings out of the
dust the edict of Mediolanum from the time of Constantine pointing out that
Constantine was after all a saint and an isapostle so he couldn't be wrong in
tolerance. At least for the time freedom of religion or some semblance of it
has returned to the Roman world.
Imperator Maximus, part 6
Maximus pulls out of Britain
the last Roman regular forces in 407 in an attempt to keep at bay the great
invasion of Gaul in the previous year Roman
Britain is left to fend for itself with whatever forces remain at hand.
Romano-Britons do not expel civilian administrators as they had done in OTL
given the close relationship between the Maximian emperors and Britain but
these administrators are first mostly, later nearly completely local in their
It takes no more than a year between the removal of the Roman army and the
first invasion of the Saxons in Britain
in 408. The Britons are able to drive back the invasion by their own and in 410
Victor, son of Magnus Maximus has to admit that they are effectively on their
own in a communiqué with Londinium. And yet Victor is not entirely cut
off from what still proclaims itself to be Roman Britain. Considerable numbers
of Britons followed Magnus to Rome
when he became emperor. The troubled situation of Britain means that thousands more
are liable to immigrate if they have a place to go. In OTL that place Armorica
was settled by British refugees thus ending up with the name of Brittany. And if the
Welsh traditions are to be held true the first settlements in Armorica
were created by Conan Meriadoc, cousin to Magnus Maximus. With a Maximian
dynasty ruling Rome there is no colonization of Armorica at least on a large scale. Instead the refugees
are settled as military colonists in Italy where the Maximian emperors
use them as a recruiting ground for their own imperial guard. The Comites
Britaniae, recruited from British refugees and colonists, become under Victor
the backbone of the Western empire's imperial
Back to Britain
the Romano-Britons have to face trouble from the Picts in the north, the
Irish in the west and the German tribes in the east. Despite the failure
of the Germanic invasion of 408 Saxon raids continue virtually unhindered and
on occasion coordinate with Pictish raids. Roman Britain holds on by itself. In
429 a Roman-British army under Victor's general Germain of Trier  defeats a
joint Pictish and Saxon force. Three years later Victor who cannot spare troops
or any significant amount of money to reinforce the Britons sends Christian
missionaries to Ireland and Scotland in the
hope that if the Irish and the Picts get proselytized they are going to be less
of a danger.
When in 442 Anglosaxon mercenaries revolt the result is the first permanent
foothold of the Anglosaxons in Britain.
Over the next decade the Anglosaxons expand their control through Britain, causing a desperate letter for help to Rome in 447. Help fails
to come immediately, Victor has far more troubling problems with the Huns
but finally some little aid shows up, the first direct imperial involvement in
Britain in half a century when a small Roman fleet reappears in the north
coast of Gaul hindering Anglosaxon movement between Britain and the German
coast and a handful of small Roman specialist units and engineers find their
way to Roman Britain. Coupled with veterans of the empire's Briton units and
the gold such veterans bring back Roman Britain puts up stiff resistance to the
The imperial crisis of the late 5th century threatens to destroy the delicate
balance established in the years after the defeat of the Huns. But the Roman
victory against the Visigoths in Soissons brings he coast of Gaul opposite to
Britain firmly in imperial hands and in a move considered somewhere between the
daring and the foolhardy emperor Victor II follows it with crossing the channel
at the head of the Comites Britaniae and a handful of other units of the army
of the presentum in 491. The first emperor to set foot on Britain since
his great-grandfather Victor leads a Romano-British army to a decisive victory
against the Anglosaxons in Mons Badonicus before being forced to return to the
continent to continue his war with the Franks. Foolhardy or not Victor's action
stops on its tracks the Anglosaxon expansion for 2 generations and strengthens
the nominal allegiance of Britain
Two generations later it is too late for the Anglosaxons. By 543 the western
empire has brought to heel its opponents regaining full control of all its
domains sans Britain.
Ten years afterwards an imperial army is landed in Britain to bring it back in the
empire. Roman Britain is brought back quite willingly and without much
resistance. The Anglosaxon kingdoms are a different matter by they are too weak
for the might of an imperial army that in 7 years destroys them one by one. By
is once more Roman in substance as well as name.
 Who would have been Germain of Auxerre.
Imperator Maximus, part 7
At the start
of the 6th century the Ostrogoths have established a considerable state to the
north of the 2 Roman empires. Initially centred in Pannonia
the Ostrogoths took over from the western empire Illyricum
during the crisis of the west in the late 5th century.
"Theuderic" follows his conquest of Illyricum by moving his court to
the old palace of Diocletian on the Dalmatian coast and not only keeps
Roman administration going in Illyricum but actually expands it to Pannonia. During his
reign the Ostrogoth kingdom prospers considerably and urbanization spreads into
the Pannonian areas of the kingdom. Relations both with the western and the
eastern empire are tolerably good.
Then Theuderic dies and his successor looks to Roman lands for possible further
expansion. Constantine III interested in his Persian war does not want
additional trouble from the north. A liberal application of gold brings a
Longobard invasion of Ostrogoth lands. It backfires to the extend of the
Ostrogoths conquering the Longobards by 550 but Constantine is able to find yet more enemies
for the Ostrogoth kingdom from the east. The Avars and a variety of Slav tribes
are on the move for some time. With the Danubian border strongly held against
raids and Byzantine diplomacy in action their movement gets directed west. The
Gepids are decisively defeated in 540 and in 555 the Avars invade the Ostrogoth
kingdom. Initially with the Ostrogoths still weakened from the
Longobard war the Avars make considerable headway into the Ostrogoth domains.
But the tides of the war turn around. The Avars are a common enemy both for
Ostrogoths and the previously defeated Longobards furthering integration
between the two German tribes and the kingdom Theuderic left behind proves too
well organized to go down with a single stroke. In 570 the Avars are decisively
defeated on the banks of the Danube around the area of modern Budapest.
It takes two more generations for the Ostrogoths to absorb the Avar state but
by 630 it has been incorporated into the Ostrogoth kingdom. Quite fortunately
for the Ostrogoths both the Eastern and the western Roman empires have their
own issues to deal with in the same period. The Eastern empire is too deeply
involved first in defeating Persia and following absorbing Mesopotamia to start
with and post 600 it has other major concerns as well for it to interfere with
doings north of the Danube if there are no pressing security reasons to do so.
The Western empire has its own troubles as well.
By the time the Avars are brought down the expanded area of the Ostrogoth
kingdom has seen a century of wars and population movements. The original
populations have heavily intermingled with German, Slav and Avar populations.
The end result is not quite anything of the four. Gothia as the Ostrogoth kingdom
comes to be known in the 7th century has a culture loosely based on the Roman
model but with heavy Germanic and Slav elements with the language moved to the
same direction. Coupled with it's Arian Christianity Gothia is the first
distinctive civilized state to arise in Europe post the Roman
empire. It will not be the last.
Despite the wars most of the period between the start of the Longobard war and
the completion of the conquest of the Avars is a period of steady if slow
economic growth for what is to become Gothia. The more advanced areas of the
old Ostrogoth kingdom are left more or less intact for most of the period with
the exception of the early phase of the Avar wars it is the Ostrogoths that are
on the offensive. In addition with the partial exception of Illyricum
the rest of the Gothian kingdom is relatively thinly populated so Slav and
German settlers do not displace the older populations but instead bring an
increase in agricultural production. Towns follow in the wake of the increased
production and the need to better administer the newly incorporated lands. By
the mid 7th century they are still a far cry from the Mediterranean world in
size and development but still there.
Imperator Maximus, part 8
start of the 6th century Aksum is widely
recognized as one of the "civilized" states of the world by its peers
in Constantinople, Rome and Ctesiphon. Christian since king Ezana adopted
Christianity at about the time of Constantine the Great, with a long literary
tradition in Ge'ez, a local Semitic language, and Greek, with widespread trade
throughout the Indian Ocean Aksum is one of the great powers of its day. A
maritime power Aksum has under a not
particularly strong hold modern Yemen.
Aksumite expansion into South Arabia has been
hindered by Sassanid influence. Persia has her own rivaling interests in Arabia
and Aksum is friendly to Byzantium as well. Early in the 6th century
the Aksumites have re-established their control in Yemen once more.
This time though the Sassanids are hardly in a position to interfere with the
Aksumite doings in Arabia. Post 527 the
Sassanids have been entangled into 36 years of constant war against Constantine
It takes to 577 for Persia to recover enough to start meddling in Yemen but its
meddling in Armenia at the same time bring a restart of the war with Byzantium
with catastrophic results for the Sassanids. By 588 the armies of Leo III are
and by 590 the Sassanids have been forced behind the Zagros.
Aksum takes advantage of the Persian, as well as
the Byzantine troubles, to secure and expand its control over Arabia.
Aksumite armies and fleets bring the Yemeni coast under firm Ethiopian control,
Christianity in its Aksumite form spreads in the cities of the region and
perhaps as importantly the Yemeni cities prosper from the Aksumite rule and the
increasing trade it bring in the region.
As the century progresses Aksumite influence and control spreads further in the
peninsula following the caravan routes. By the start of the 7th century the
cities of Mecca and Medina have been brought under the rule of
the Negusa Negest.
Arabia at the time the Aksumites for all
practical purposes conquered it was suffering from not inconsiderable
demographic pressure. The Aksumite conquest ironically brings a solution to the
Arabian problems as it opens to the Arabs the lands of the empire. In the
decades following large numbers of Arabs move to Ethiopia
proper, especially Adulis while the Monophysite Christianity practiced by the
Ethiopians comes to dominate Arabia.
The Arab influx coupled with the increasing volume of trade over the Indian
ocean as the economy of the Mediterranean basin and Europe in general enters
into a new phase of growth by the 7th century conspire to bring to new highs
Aksum. Adulis with a population well over 100,000 people and increasing is
second only to Alexandria and comparable to Carthage as one of the greatest cities of Africa. Aksumite influence overland steadily grows both
by military means and through cultural and religious influence and by the start
of the 8th century Aksum
bordering Roman Egypt.
Of no less importance is maritime expansion. Already at the start of
the 6th century Indian Ocean trade was dominated by Byzantium,
Persia and Aksum. With Persia
removed as an important player the trade mostly comes under Byzantium
and Aksum. With
Aksumite ships an ever increasing presence in Indian ports some inevitably
venture further afar with small numbers of Aksumite traders and missionaries
reaching as far as Indonesia
while a handful of Aksumite ships reach as far as China,
the first western ships to do so since the 3rd century. Aksumite ships also
move south setting up trading posts in the African coast all the way to Zanzibar.
Relations with the Eastern Roman empire to the
north are generally good during the 6th century but grow more perplexed as the
7th century progresses. Byzantium
has been a source of trade and ideas for a long time. But by the 7th century
Axum is alongside Armenia
the world's sole monophysite states. The Eastern Roman empire were
Monophysitism came to being is under the Isaurian emperors relatively tolerant
 and post 540 the Monoenergism doctrine adopted by the 6th ecumenical synod
supposed to reconcile Chalcedonians and Monophysites. The Aksumite church has
officially accepted Monoenergism but nevertheless as the new doctrine spreads
through the Eastern Mediterranean basin the
more extreme adherents of the two older ones increasingly find themselves marginalized.
By 600 numbers of "pure" Monophysites are emigrating to Aksum. Ethiopia
certainly benefits from this influx of
usually skilled immigrants but as a result the Aksumite church ends being much
closer to original Monophysitism. Couples with increasing trade antagonism in
the Indian ocean and an ever increasing volume of trade with the Mediterranean by the end of the 7th century the Basileus
and the Negusa Negest have found themselves into a delicate balance as neither
side is really willing to end in an open confrontation with the other. 
Aksumite churches in Jerusalem as well as Alexandria and Constantinople are only one sign of the
value Constantinople places on its relations
with Adulis. It is also de facto admittance that the Aksumite church while
officially Monoenergist is actually different than the Byzantine one.
 The emphasis being on relatively.
 Besides the ...technical difficulties a war would entail for both sides.
Imperator Maximus, part 9
tour in the imperator Maximus world of year 700.
The Western Roman Empire.
The recovery of Britain
in the 560s by the Western empire is often seen as the end of the period
of Germanic threat and invasion. After more than a century and a half of wars
the empire stands holding largely the same borders with it held back in 400 the
only loss of note being Illyricum. Italy and Africa
managed to get over the whole period more or less unscathed. The worse that
happened to Italy
was relatively short lived invasions to her north that never made any permanent
gains. Africa saw the settlement of large
numbers of Burgundian foederati in it but her peace was not interrupted at all.
France and Iberia were far
more severely affected by the invasions and for long periods of time were a
battleground. On the other hand Roman imperial authority never broke down in
them and large numbers of the German tribes were actually peacefully settled
and gradually absorbed. The end result has been leaving both Gaul and Iberia still as
urbanized regions with a working monetary economy and state apparatus. In
OTL the population of Gaul went from about 5
million people in 400 AD to some 3 million by 650 before doubling back to
some 6 million by 1000. The population of Maximian Gaul is down to some 3.75
million by the mid 6th century. Iberia
whose population had gone from 4 million to about 3.5 in the same period
doesn't see any population loss of note by 550. Britain left largely to her own
devices in the same time suffers worse. Back in 400 population was perhaps
750,000 people. By 500 it had dropped to something like half a million and
would keep the same to 650. Recovered Britain of 560 is no different in
that regard. Overall when Magnus Maximus took the throne the Western empire had
a population of around 22 millions. A century and a half later when the crisis
comes to its end the empire still has some 17.5 million subjects.
The century between 550 and 650 sees a return to peace for the western empire.
After the early half of the 6th century destruction of the Franks and
re-incorporation of Britain
it takes the western empire at least a generation or two to recover its breath
and fully absorb the newly re-incorporated areas before seriously contemplating
new conquests. The imperial border keeps largely quiet in the same period.
Relations with the eastern empire remain good, especially as Constantinople
can't afford a confrontation with Rome any more
could. Gothia which could be seen in Rome as the most immediate threat given it
hold over Illyricum is to weak to threaten the empire by itself and two strong
for the empire to take on deliberately. The same more or less holds truth for
the Visigoth kingdom in Germany
Post 600 the picture doesn't much chance. Continuing Roman influence has found
its way in Germany
proper, leading to its evolution even faster than was the case in OTL. By 600
with Germany as advanced as
it was by roughly 900 in OTL the Western Romans find themselves bordering what
they call Germania, a more or less centralized
state evolving from the old Visigoth kingdom. Roman and German armies clash
often enough in the century after 600 over the Roman control of the Rhineland but the wars are hardly decisive enough to come
to threaten the existence of either state. Clashes with Gothia besides seeing
the return of naval warfare in the Mediterranean
after several centuries aren't any different.
The empire still expands her borders in the same period. Modern Holland comes under firm Roman control during the 7th
century as Roman fleets and armies move to destroy any surviving Anglosaxon
threat towards Britain,
or rather more practically to secure sea trade in the region. In Britain modern Scotland
are the last border of the empire not bordering a recognized civilized state
and quite ironically the introduction of Christianity has turned both to
worthwhile targets for Roman conquest. A century of low scale warfare brings Scotland to the
empire and turns the Scottish highlands to one of the imperial armies prime
recruiting grounds. Ireland
is invaded by a Roman army in 605 and conquered by 620.
One and a half century of relative peace and stability, at least by medieval
standards does quite a lot to bring back prosperity in the empire. By 700 the
population of the empire has increased to a quite impressive 24.5 million ( 8
million in Italy, 5 million in each of Iberia and Gaul, 4 million in Africa,
1.5 million in the British islands and 1 million in Sicily, Corsica and
Sardinia) with revenues in the range of 6 million solidi. With prosperity comes
both resurgence of arts and culture and of the size of towns though the empire.
While both the Western and the Eastern Roman empires claim to be Roman and
recognize each other as such in practice there is an ever increasing cultural
drift between the two parts of the empire. The Eastern part is ever
increasingly becoming a Greek empire in all but name and the western part
evolves further apart from its own Roman roots increasing the cultural gap with
the east. Religious differences are also accumulating. Technically both the
west and the east are Monoenergist Orthodox. But in practice the western
churches started out with the more fanatically Chalcedonian elements and the
same process that saw Monophysites moving to Axum sees Chalcedonians moving to
the west. By 700 counting on the area of the empire, you can find orthodox,
Chalcedonian and for good measure Celtic versions of Christianity, the last an
unexpected side effect of the conquest of Ireland. The Chalcedonian version
is the most popular through the west.
The other problem the empire faces is regionalism. Even if all western empire
citizens would consider themselves Roman in practice there are ever increasing
differences in language and to a lesser extend culture from region to region
and the influx of German foederati accelerates this trend. As of 700 you have
Gallic, Brittanic, African, Iberian and Italian dialects, to name
but the most significant increasingly, diverging from the original Latin and
ever less mutually comprehensive.
With diverging dialects come diverging cultures. A Briton and an Italian of 700
may well both claim to be Roman. It isn't necessarily the same question whether
they are actually part of the same culture. Ironically the economic and
population growth of the 7th century makes things worse in that aspect. In 500
it would be questionable if separate Gaulish, Italian or Iberian states would
be feasible by their own and their governors at least surviving ones. By 700
the case may well be different.
Then in summer 702 Maximus IV the last of the Maximian emperors dies without
Imperator Maximus, part 10
The Eastern Roman empire.
For the Eastern empire the 6th century has been one of unprecented political
success. Under the Isaurian emperors the Sassanid empire is decisively defeated
with Ctesiphon taken in 588 and the Persians
forced to concede defeat and control over Mesopotamia
2 year later. The northern border has been kept impregnable, ironically aided
by the rise of Gothia north of it which places a barrier between Byzantine
areas and the tribes further afar.
The Isaurians have also managed to bring the Monophysite problem to what
appears to be an end between the introduction of the Monoenergist doctrine by
the 6th ecumenical synod and de facto religious tolerance. After the conquest
of Mesopotamia, Leo III officially brings back
the edict of Mediolanum in order to keep his new subjects reasonably quiet.
Taking advantage of its victories of the 6th century the eastern empire can have
a much needed respite during the 7th century. External threats for most of the
century are minimal. The relationship with the Western empire remains friendly.
Persia deprived of something
in the order of 40% of her revenue by the loss of Mesopotamia
is suffering from serious domestic trouble after her defeat and even after it
puts her internal problems under control it can't mount any serious effort at
The empire and Persia
do clash a number of times in the second part of the 7th century but these are
merely border wars and not particularly costly from the point of view of the
empire. In the north newly emergent Gothia is recovering from the wars that
brought it to being to be much of a threat either and besides has troubles with
both the eastern and the western empires to be a major threat to neither.
The Bulgars appearing in the second part of the 7th century are a different
matter. After defeating an imperial army the Bulgarians manage to mount a large
scale incursion south of the Danube in the
660s. But the imperial answer is immediate and massive. Under emperor
Constantine V the empire launches a 2 decade war against the Bulgars with the
weight of the greater empire behind him. In 678 the Bulgars are decisively
defeated with their remnants forced north of the Danube
again. Constantine follows this with successive
campaigns north of the Danube into OTL
Romania. While the empire fails to actually conquer the area the Bulgar kingdom
in the area is forced to become a client of the empire. Constantine ends up known as Bulgaroktonos,
the slayer of Bulgars for his successes against the Bulgars.
The relative peace not only in the empire but also neighbouring states doesn't
fail to bring economic and population growth at levels uprecented since the
late antiquity. The imperial "nomisma" the gold coin of the empire is
the medium of exchange of choice all over the area from the Atlantic to India. The
Western imperial coinage is following the same pattern but is struck in hardly
the same quantities with its eastern counterpart. The economy of the Eastern
empire is comparable to 10th century Byzantium
on the per capita level and that of the Western empire not much behind.
Manufacturing sees considerable growth in the period. The area of the Eastern empire
is the leading producer of precise machinery such as it exists since the
Hellenistic era. Visitors of the imperial palace of Constantinople
are often stunned by the mechanical animals in the throne room. Then in 630
Philomachus of Rhodes comes with a more practical application of gear
mechanisms when he invents the world's first mechanical clock leading to the
development of considerable clock manufacturing centres in Constantinople, Alexandria and the Western imperial city of Syracuse. Silk finds its
way to the empire already in the 6th century, by way of imperial spies reaching
to China if contemporary
historians are to be believed, with a significant silk producing industry
established in Greece
and the Ionian coast by 700.
Trade with India and by
sees a major surge at the same time. In part this is due to the new period of
economic growth in the Mediterranean world and increasingly central Europe. But not least it is due to two political factors.
The first is the growth of Axum during the 6th and 7th centuries and its
expansion to Arabia. Already at the start of
the 6th century Ethiopia was
playing an important role in the trade with India. By the start of the 8th
century the involvement of Axumites in the trade has far increased in absolute
terms and not inconsiderably increased in relative terms.
The second is no other but the conquest of Mesopotamia
by the Eastern empire. Greek commercial interests have been playing a major
role in the Indian trade since the time of Alexander. With the conquest of
Mesopotamia the empire gains ports in the Persian gulf.
Charax Spasini the port on the head of the Persian gulf sees new growth as its
role in the trade with India
further increases. Ships can get from the Indian ports to Charax. From there
through the two rivers, the system of canals and in the last end of the route
caravans trade reaches Antioch
on the Mediterranean coast.
While all look bright in the exterior not everything is as bright underneath as
well. Understandably the return to the edict of Mediolanum doesn't survive
indefinitely even if it replace by a reasonable level of tolerance towards to
Zoroastrian population of Mesopotamia. In the
meantime Monoenergist orthodoxy and tolerance doesn't altogether succeed and in
one occasion backfires. Syria
and lower Egypt go largely monoenergist both in name and essence. Upper Egypt
while technically Monoenergist in practice is closer to Axumite doctrines than
the doctrine preached forth from Alexandria and Constantinople. And Mesopotamia
goes... Nestorian much to the horror of the 7 patriarchates.
Nestorianism was the primary Christian creed at the time of the conquest of Mesopotamia. Understandably the number of Christians
increases under Christian rule. And almost as understandably the combination of
relative tolerance and Nestorianism being predominant among the Mesopotamian
Christians leads to the new converts becoming predominantly Nestorian with the
exception of enclaves around major army camps and Charax that are largely Monoenergist.
Ethnic lines short of follow the religious lines. Anatolia
and the part of the Balkans under Byzantine rule are mostly Hellenized with the
level of Hellenization deepening with every successive year. Greek influence is
rather less pronounced in Syria
and Egypt but there to
Hellenization is making inroads, particularly in Syria, after the religious schism
between Chalcedonean orthodoxy and Monophysitism is melded. But with the
exception of the Syrian coast and parts of lower Egypt, like the delta and
Alexandria,Greeks are very much a minority both in Syria and Egypt and
insignificant in Mesopotamia.
Then when in 702 the last of the Maximian emperors dies in Rome with no
successors emperor Leo IV as sole emperor of a theoretically single empire that
has been ruled as two separate entities for the past 3 centuries has to decide
what to do over it. Especially given how due to the not infrequent marriages
between Constantinople and Rome
he can make a reasonable claim on the western throne even solely on dynastic
Imperator Maximus, part 11
the late 5th century and the 6th century have hardly been good and the 7th
century hardly starts any better. First had come crushing defeat at the hands
of the Ephthalites also known as the White Huns. Coupled with the rise of the
power of the nobility Persian social troubles led to the rise of the Mazdakite
movement civil war with the overthrow of emperor Kavadh in 496 and his
restoration with Ephthalite help in 499. Kavadh's successor Khusro I would had
proven one of the greatest Sassanid emperor's in OTL, fully restructuring
the empire in more centralized lines, waging war, generally
successfully, against the Byzantines in the west and breaking the power of both
the Mazdakites and the Ephthalites by the end of his reign.
In the ATL Khusro is faced with a rather different situation in the west.
Instead of having Justinian wasting most of his efforts in his temporary
reconquest of Italy, North
Africa and part of Spain
, Constantine III throws most of the empire's resources in the struggle
Faced with about two times the force he'd had faced in OTL in a 36 years war
Khusro is forced to peace in 562 conceding the Byzantine control over Armenia
but otherwise keeping the western border intact. In the east Khusro still
manages to bring down the Ephthalites. The cost besides the obvious exhaustion
of the Persian state is in Khusro failing to institute most of the
internal reforms that he would have had in OTL and to leave the Mazdakites
relatively untouched as means of counterbalancing the power of the nobles.
Things go much worse after the death of of Khusro. War with Byzantium starts
again with catastrophic results in 577. By 588 Byzantine armies have forced Persia to the
Zagros and internal strife among the the noble families and inside the imperial
family start to go out of hand. Between 588 and 620 over a dozen emperors rise
to the Sassanid throne. The great nobles are increasingly more powerful
gradually turning Persia
into a loose feudal state. Popular reaction in the form of the Mazdakite move
grows in popularity increasing social tensions.
Then in 623 the Khazar's invade Persia
through the somewhat unlikely route of Azerbeizan. Under khan Ziebel Khazar armies
enter Atropatene, defeat a first Persian army sent against then and in 625 a
second army this time under emperor Khusro II is again defeated by Ziebel's
army. Then Ziebel changes the nature of the war in a single stroke.
So far the Khazar's are following a form of shamanism with the Tengri sky god
as the main figure of their pantheon, the ruling Ashina clan being supposedly
the favorites of the god. It is a religion somewhat influenced by Confucianism
and not particularly kind on Khazar rulers that fail. Failure being considered
a sign of the lack of Tengri's failure and ritualistic execution of Khazar
rulers on religious grounds in not unheard of. The Khazar invasion of Persia despite
the victories over Persian armies on the field is hardly an all ssuccesfull
enterprise and Ziebel is facing troubles inside the tribe. His solution is
quite inspired. Ziebel converts to the Mazdakite version of Zoroastrianism in
630. His move does split the Khazars but gets him fanatical adherents inside Persia itself.
It takes one more generation for all of the remaining Sassanid realms to fall
to Ziebel's armies and by then the said armies are largely Persian in
composition even if their core is still Khazar. When the last of the Sassanid
emperors is killed in battle in 659 the Ziebelids remain sole rulers of the Persian empire.
The Ziebelid dynasty starts out fundamentally differently from the preceding
Sassanids. It is not just that they are foreign to Persia. After all by the time
the Sassanids are brought down what part of the Khazar's have not converted to
Zoroastrianism are back in the steppe and not neccesarily in the best of terms
with their Persian brethren. The differences are twofold. First most of the
nobility has been killed during the war and by Mazdakite rebels. This allows
the emperors to concentrate power in their hands far more easily than the late
Sassanid emperors could hope. Second Mazdakite reforms do break up the large
estates in favor of peasant communities and smaller landholders. The Persian armies
and state organization of the second part of the 7th century come to reflect
the reorganization of the Persian economy alongside Mazdakite lines.
First comes the satrapy system. One of the few reforms Khusro I managed to
bring forward was establishing 4 main regions in Persia each with its own regional
army. The satrapy system is an outgrowth of this with Persia divided
into 25 satrapies each of which furnishes her own army contingent in campaign
and has a ready army force to defend. The army in terms of tactics and
organization is no much different than that of the Sassanids. There is a
central army in the capital with full time heavy cavalry regiments. This in
turn is supplemented by heavy cavalry from the provinces and infantry militia.
The difference is more in the composition of these troops. The Dehlgans are now
recruited from small landholders given their holdings in exchange for military
service. The infantry militia mostly archers with a leavening of spearmen come
from the poorer members of the class.
The system proves robust enough for the Persian state to survive the pressure
on its eastern and northern borders as well as clashes with the Eastern empire
in the second part of the century. Internally the new Persian state is
rather healthier economically and more centralized than it was under the old
regime and so has become its army. With the border secure and internal peace
after 660 Persian economy and population start recovering. By the start of the
8th century Ziebelid Persia
is still too weak to be able to challenge the Eastern empire. But it's not too
weak for emperor Khusro III to lead his armies east in the first serious
Persian attempt to expand their holdings in that direction since the 4th
Imperator Maximus, part 12
Maximus IV dies in 702 it throws the Roman empire
in a crisis not seen in centuries. Emperor Leo IV of the east, a nephew of
Maximus IV on his mother's side has the best claim to the western imperial
throne. But in 702 the last time the two parts of the empire were under the
same ruler is over 3 centuries in the past. With no serious external threats,
Persia being still too weak to take on the Eastern empire and Germania and
Gothia while formidable nowhere near a match for either west and east there is
little to restrain the two parts of the empire for clashing with each other.
The overall economic and population balance is clearly favouring the eastern
empire. With the addition of Mesopotamia the
Eastern empire has over one and a half times the population of the western
empire and that population is more productive to boot. That the western empire
is divided to boot as each army commander and provincial governor decides for
himself which side to join makes things quite worse. When in May 703 emperor
Leo IV crosses to Italy at the head of 40,000 strong army Sicily and South
Italy, still largely Greek speaking at the time declare for him. Soon enough
they are followed by the Magister Militum of Italy. Leo enters Rome without resistance and is declared there
an emperor by senate and army alike. The pope severely weakened by his clashes
with the western emperors can't but accept.
Things are more problematic further west. North Africa
declares for Leo. The magister militum of Gaul declares himself emperor itself
declares from himself. The army and fleet of Britain declare their own emperor
but make no move to get involved in the "civil" war between the
Gallic emperor and Leo, a prudent move leaving them untouched for the time
being. Corsica and Sardinia quickly come under
Leo's control nearly all of the Imperial fleet is under Le's control. A Gallic
invasion of north Italy
is defeated by Leo. Finally in 705 imperial armies go to the attack. As the
army of north Africa passes the pillars invading Iberia,
the army of Italy combined
with Leo's Eastern troops invade Gaul itself.
The imperials may have the upper hand but subduing Gaul and Iberia doesn't
prove particularly easy. The Gallic emperor manages to get Gothia on his side,
not difficult when presenting it with the concept of having to face a combined
empire, thus forcing Leo with most of his troops to turn back to the Balkans.
But this hardly proves enough to save the Gallic empire. First it it hardly
only the Gallic emperor that can play the diplomatic game and Leo's with the
resources of all the Eastern and half the western empire in his hands finds it
relatively easy to buy the Germans services. Post that the British emperor
accepts becoming exarch , a new title created by Leo, in exchange of accepting
Leo as emperor. In exchange as exarch he is to stay virtually independent from Italy and Rome
and a good chunk of the coast of northern Gaul
is to be part of the exarchate.
It takes 5 years for Leo to force a peace on the Gothians. It takes 10 more
years of fighting for the Gallic empire to be brought to heel, a task made that
easy only by both sides seeing it as a civil war, one were changing sides,
usually for the imperials isn't particularly rare. The Gallic emperor having to
fight on four fronts, against the Germans in the east, the imperials in Iberia and southern Gaul and the exarchate of Britain's
troop in the East is finally forced to surrender in christmas of 719.
In 720 Leo IV can claim for the first time since the fourth century to be the
sole emperor of Rome.
The cost has been 17 years of war and spending the imperial monetary and
military resources in a war that in terms of scope isn't much different to the
Roman-Persian wars of the 6th century and that doesn't leave a necessarily loyal
population in Gaul and Iberia.
Right afterwards he is forced to embark in a costly campaign to drive the
Germans beyond the Rhine that soon turns into all out war with an alliance
between Gothia and Germania that takes till 730 to beat.
Administration of the reunified empire isn't necessarily any easier task. Two
more exarchs are created one in north Africa and one in Gaul with Iberia divided between them and Italy under direct control from Constantinople. Neither of the two exarchate's such
created are as independent as the British exarchate but they are still an
admission on the emperors part that directly managing everything from Constantinople is not feasible.
Is the reunification of the empire a good thing? Only time will tell. The only
certain thing is that it has taken 30 years of wars and a heavy burden on both
men and treasure. And that burden has been mostly taken up by the provinces of
the former Eastern Empire.
Imperator Maximus, part 13
Leo IV dies
in 735 only 5 years after the wars are brought to an end. Constantine VI who
succeeds him has relatively little trouble with keeping to the throne and
relatively little inclination for more war after the generation of wars his
father launched to bring the two parts of the empire under the same throne. He
places most of his efforts in
keeping together a state extending from the Zagros mountains in the east to the
Atlantic in the west and he seems to be doing
a good job at it. The Germans and the Goths are in no shape to threaten the
empire. The Bulgars have been reduced to imperial clients back during the
time of Constantine V. And Persia
seems to be having her own problems or at least not to be looking west, a
situation that Constantine
is content to let be.
So Constantine's main efforts are towards
economic recovery, reincorporating the two halves of the empire and bringing
the more independent minded of the exarchs closer to Constantinople.
He early on officially declares both Rome and Constantinople as imperial
capitals, something that Leo IV had let be de facto but failed to declare or
perhaps didn't even thought it needed declaring. He ties the exarchs by
marriage to the imperial throne, in the belief this will make them more loyal
to the dynasty. Economic recovery proves less illusive to bring. Constantine
cuts back on the size of the imperial armies to about 300,000 troops all over
in addition to the navy, down from the nearly twice this size Roman armies had
swelled during the war. The taxes are returned to their prewar levels.
Prosperity does not take long to return. Most of the east and a good chunk of
the west had seen little to no fighting to start with and the imperial economy
quickly recovers. Learning and the arts had seen a rennaisance during the 7th
century one one halted during Leo IV's reign. Under Constantine it is back with a revenge. Dying
in 763 Constantine's
reign comes to be remembered as a
golden era of peace and prosperity. With the exception of a clash with Persia in 749
it is nearly entirely free from any serious war.
But even if unseen the cost is there. The peace survived more due to the
reputation of the imperial armies than anything else. Constantine has cut down
imperial armies and fleets well beyond what the western and eastern empires
kept combined at the start of the 8th century and this army has been somewhat
neglected. Monoenergist Orthodoxy and Hellenization have kept growing roots in
the empire but this has come at a cost as the reaction from both sides of the
spectrum, what once would be described as pure monophysite and Chalkedonian are
distancing themselves by the day. Partly this is due to developments inside
orthodoxy itself. The growth in prosperity and learning during the 7th century
has brought a backlash inside the church over certain practices.
Extreme iconolatry is increasingly coming at task and so are doing the
extremities of monasticism or perhaps more accurately the wealth being
accumulated by it. The first problem is dealt with when the 7th ecumenical
synod declares that it is the persons depicted in the icons honoured and not
the icons themselves, while condemning such extremities like using the paint of
icons for healing pots. But putting limits to
monasticism and taxing the monasteries properties, both practices Leo
introduces during his wars and Constantine
maintains isn't received as well. By the time of Constantine's death
Monophysitism in the Axumite form and "Gallic" catholicism, both
rejecting the 6th and 7th ecumenical synods are openly apart from the official
mainstream orthodoxy and while imperial authorities avoid persecution riots
between fanatics and monks from all three sides are again a different matter.
To the east of the empire the Ziebelids of Persia launched their own effort of
expanding east at the same time Leo launched his western wars. For two
keeps the peace on her western border because it is most of the time at war in
her eastern border. Persian expeditions out of Sogdiana steadily expand
Ziebelid rule over Central Asia and area with considerable ties to Persia already.
This causes reaction on the part of China which under the Tangs is
expanding it influence westwards at the same time the Persians are expanding
their own influence eastwards. In 746 a Tang army some 30,000 strong clashes at
Talas with a slightly smaller Ziebelid army. The superiority of Persian cavalry
and treason among the Tang's mercenaries decide the day in Persian favour
leaving central Asia to the Persians and their
client states. An accidental, but no less important, result of the battle is
paper making making it to Persia.
By 760 paper making is an important Persian industry with large exports of
paper both to India and the Roman empire. Inevitably the secret spreads further and
by 800 paper has reached the Mediterranean world with the paper being made in Alexandria, Constantinople and Rome. Less accidental is the increasing
influence of Buddhism to Persian Zoroastrianism, helped to no small extend by
the long interaction between Buddhism and Zoroastrianism in the region and the
earlier Mazdakite victory in Persia.
The Persian expansion in central Asia is
something of a side project though. In 700-710 Khusro III secures modern Afghanistan and in 713 leads an army of some
40,000 men, half the overall Persian army of his time, in an invasion of India,
the first since the time of the Sassanid campaigns against the Kushans. North
West India at the time
dominated by a number of mostly Rajput kingdoms proves surprisingly easy to
conquer. Khusro defeats a Rajput army in 714 and reaches the banks of the Indus. By 716 his army has pushed all the way to the
border of the Kashmir and the victorious shah returns triumphantly to Persia. A
backlash comes almost immediately with the Persians driven out of everything
sans modern Sind and southern Punjab by the
rallied Rajputs. But Khusro is back in 720 retaking the lost areas and
consolidating Persian rule over them. Persian expansion is checked and
temporarily driven back by Bappa Rawal of the Mawar kingdom and Nagabhata I of
the Pratihara dynasty. But after both die Persian armies take advantage of the
weakness of Nagabhata's successors and the ability to accommodate Rajputs
inside the Persian system to bring the Pratihara's down by 780.
To the north of the Danube Gothia and Germania
turn their drive to expansion on other directions. By 750 Gothia extends from
the Carpathians to the east to the eastern half of Bavaria
in the west having incorporated the whole of modern Czechia and Slovakia in the
process. Germania likewise controls the area between the Elbe
imperial border. There are varying degrees in centralization between the 2
states despite their common German ancestry. Gothia, no more German by this
point even if Gothic is a largely Germanic language a heavy influx of Slavic
words is following a system roughly similar to that of the Roman western
empire. Germania is more feudal in
organization but still the German kaiser has considerable powers. Gothia
is again the more urbanized of the two not in the least due to inheriting
back at the time of the creation of the kingdom. The borders of both states
slowly but inexorably keeps driving to the east hand in hand with Arianism.
In 763 the same year with the death of Constantine VI a Scottish monastery
is destroyed by raiders from the sea. It won't be the last as Norse raids
increase in frequency and severity in the coming years. But this will prove
only on of the problems Roman Europe has to face.
Imperator Maximus, part 14
Constantine VI dies in 767 the imperial throne goes to his second son
Tiberius as the elder Leo has already died before Constantine. Michael on the outside is heir
to the strongest polity on Earth, especially given the troubles China is facing
at the same time. This while true is not the whole picture. Imperial armies
have been cut back
in size under Constantine
a move that while making sense at his time is not necessarily good in the
longer term as new challenges start rising in the imperial border. And second
for the imperial system, including the exarchates to work smoothly it requires
at the throne a strong emperor, with considerable diplomatic ability and
tolerance towards the variety of religions and Christian denominations of his
Tiberius is definitely not the man to be that. So far the Isaurians have been
the longest lived dynasty on the imperial throne in either the west and the
east. Partly this has been a matter of good luck on their part. Partly it has
also been the succession going to the more capable relative as opposed to the
closest relative. Future historians often differientate between the Isaurians
and the Isaurian-Antiochenes of the 7th and 8th centuries. But Tiberius is not
a particularly capable army commander, too haughty to be a good diplomat; after
all he has been raised as a member of the family ruling most of Europe and not one intended for the throne and too much
of a true believer not to meddle in his subjects religions.
It doesn't take long for the effects to show. In 768 Tiberius fishes from the
dust the laws from the time of Theodosius against paganism. The ancient
religion is still surviving in the background of the empire's life even if a
small group and sometimes mixed up with Christian notions. But the non
Christian population of Mesopotamia is still
anything but small despite nearly two centuries of imperial rule. This is
coupled with a marked decline in the tolerance of the imperial throne against
the non orthodox and with attempting to pack imperial administration and the
upper clergy with men following the emperor's decrees to the letter as early on
provincial administrations prove rather resistant to actually implementing as
opposed to giving lip service to the decrees coming to them from Constantinople.
But by 773 things start coming to a head. The King of Kings is not willing to
tolerate, persecution against his fellow Zoroastrians, confident in his own
power after the Persian conquests in India
and Central Asia and in possession of a huge
well led army. After Tiberius ignores his demands for the pressure on
Zoroastrians to stop a Persian army 150,000 strong crashes onto the Zagros
overwhelms the imperial
defenses and invades Mesopotamia. Imperial
armies while outnumbered put up strong resistance and despite support from the
population the Persian advance is initially slow. The Persians capture Charax
in 773 and bring Ctesiphon
under siege in 775.
This brings an imperial response although not perhaps the best of all possible
response. The Imperial army of the east in the late 8th century is still
organized largely along its earlier system with armies under Magister Militum.
There are 7 of the latter, these of Thrace,
Illyricum, Mesopotamia, East, Armenia
as well as the 2 armies of the Presentum kept as a strategic reserve.
Tiberius takes one of the two armies of the presentum, leaving the other to
keep an eye to the west and the Danube
border, strips Egypt and Syria from all units of the Magister Militum of the
east, adds to that the army of Armenia and what contingents of the western
armies are ready at hand and moves to contest the Persian advance in
Mesopotamia. It is not a wrong move. It is just that Tiberius is not capable
enough to lead the army he massed. The battle of the Tigris a bit to the north
of Ctesiphon ends with Tiberius falling on the
field the first emperor since Adrianople and
over half of his army destroyed.
The throne passes to a 7 year old with a regency proclaimed under the fallen's
emperors advisors. It doesn't prove particularly effective while continuing the
fallen emperor's policies. Ctesiphon falls late
in 775 and by the end of 776 the Persians control all of Mesopotamia.
In 777 they move to invade Armenia
which falls by 780. In Europe the Bulgars break their vassalage and invade
across the Danube while the
Gothians invade Italy and
the Balkans and the Germans attack Gaul. Norse
raids intensify in the same period.
It is hardly surprising under the circumstances that central authority
effectively collapses. The exarchate of Gaul is largely Gallic catholic,
unsurprising given how the practice has risen in Gaul
itself. With a population of some 5 million in Gaul itself in addition to some
2 million people in Iberia
the exarchate has over twice the population of Germany. The exarch simply ignores
the calls for troops from Constantinople in 778 in order to defend Gaul and in
the summer of the next year he destroys an invading German army in front of the
exarchate capital of Orleans.
A mere two weeks later his soldiers raise him on a shield and the patriarch of Orleans crowns him amid
the genuine enthusiasm of the populace. The Gallic empire is born. For the
third time since the 2nd century AD.
News from Gaul bring set up a domino in other
areas of the empire. In Memphis the Monophysites
rise in revolt joined by most surviving units of the army of Egypt. A
monophysite officer, Arsenius is proclaimed emperor and takes control of most
of Egypt with the initial
exception of the delta and Alexandria.
The delta falls soon enough. Alexandria
with its largely Greek population , massively fortified since the time of the
Ptolemies and with open access to the see is put under siege but
Arsenius fails to take it. It doesn't quite matter. An Egyptian expedition
against Cyrenaica fails but early in 780 Arsenius invades Judea and Syria capturing Damascus
News of the fall of Jerusalem coupled with the
loss of Armenia
bring revolt at the very core of the empire. The past 5 years have been a
string of disasters for the imperial armies more often than not when led by
appointees of the regents but inevitably some of the commanders do show out as
either luckier or more capable than the rest. Michael Ainian is one of them.
Born in Eurytania, one of the least developed parts of Aetolia in central Greece,
Michael follows the usual outlet for people that want to escape the life of the
mountains joining the imperial army. By a mix of luck and competence he quickly
rises through the ranks to second in command of the army of Thrace when the
latter is sent to meet an invading Bulgarian army in 780. When the Magister
Militum dies in an accidental skirmish with the Bulgarians it is Michael that
takes command of the army and the man that traps and annihilates the invaders
in the battle of Dorystolum 2 weeks later.
This doesn't stand very well for some of the regents. The mountains of central Greece
are one of the last strongholds of paganism inside the empire and while Michael
is a Christian he is suspect in that account. Post that he is not a character
making himself very popular among the regents. News of taking command of an
imperial army without waiting for orders from Constantinople
and his subsequent victory make him both suspect and potentially
dangerous. Michael is ordered to come to Constantinople
while a loyal replacement is sent to take over the army.
Whether Michael was willing to comply or not remains subject of conflicting
accounts. What is certain is that his soldiers revolt in the news, kill his
replacement and declare himself emperor. The army of Illyricum joins them and
Michael marches to Constantinople. Resistance
is negligible. The regency does manage to bring together an army in Adrianople to stop Michael only for it to disperse in the
Michael's troops, the part not changing sides that is. When Michael reaches Constantinople the Demoi and some of the army units
stationed in the City rise up. The unfortunate Leo VI dies by a stray arrow as
the imperial palace is stormed. The next day the gates of the City are thrown
open and Michael enters in triumph and is crowned emperor in the cathedral of
St George.  Asia Minor and the parts of Syria out of Egyptian control
declare for him. Michael buys an one year truce from the Persians at a rather
heavy 1000 nomismata a day  and moves to deal with the Gothians defeating an
Gothian army in Sirmium in Sirmium early in the summer of 781. This doesn't end
the Gothian threat, after all the bulk of Gothian armies are in Italy but is enough to bring the hard pressed Italy
to Michael's camp.
This leaves the exarchs of North Africa and
Brittania. Both can claim a relationship to the old dynasty, the exarch of Africa being married to a sister of Tiberius and that of
Brittania being a cousin of him. And both declare themselves the legitimate
emperors. The empire has found itself with 5 rivaling emperors in addition to
having to fight off a multitude of foreign enemies.
 Which would be the equivalent of St Sophia in this TL. But given how we do
not have a Nika revolt to destroy the original St Sophia nor Justinian for that
matter some other cathedral will come to being. Couple this with the military
successes of the empire at the time and St George being the protector saint of
 In addition to the truce not covering the areas controlled by Arsenius
army. Essentially Michael pays the Persians to invade Egyptian held Syria instead of Asia Minor.
Imperator Maximus, part 15
we return to the flames of the Roman war a short look to the brave new world of
The survival of the western empire in Imperator Maximus has had substantial
effects to the development of European lands beyond the old Roman frontier. The
survival of the west has left in place a literate state with a considerably
larger population than OTL and a much larger monetarized economy than OTL as
well. The first result of this is that knowledge from, usually, the Roman lands
spreads faster than OTL. The second is that the volume of trade the imperial
economy can support is greater by far in volume and intensity. The result is
that by 600 the population of Europe has
stabilized, at a level higher than it would have had in OTL.
The Norse lands are no exception to this. By the late 7th century the
population and economy of them are comparable to these at the start of the
Viking era of OTL. As it happens no raids materialize though, as far as the
greater Roman world is concerned. The western empire of the late 7th century is
too strong to make a good target for raids. The war of imperial unification
leaves an opening but raids are short lived in the face of the fleet the future
exarch of Britain
establishes during the war, while working as mercenaries in the armies of the
combatants tends to be more profitable for the ones interested in fighting.
But if raids don't happen in the imperial lands the Norse are not merely
trading beyond the borders of the empire. The German coast is subject to
raiding and the Baltic is subject to quite more. The Norse penetrate through
the river system with traders and mercenaries reaching all the way down to Constantinople. Known as Rus by the Slavic populations
they set up Novgorod
 in 747 while in 725 a Rus contingent is part of the imperial army sent to
deal with the Germans. The first Rus state follows in 755 and quickly expands
to the south from there. "Kiev" is
established sometime in the period and in 800 the Rus make an abortive attack
against Constantinople itself. Utterly failing
before the massive defences of the imperial capital and the rapidly expanding
imperial fleet of the period the Rus still make enough of an impression for
Constantinople to sign a trade treaty with them in 804. Bordering with the
Bulgars to the west and the Magyars in the east the Rus principality will prove
stronger than both of them.
In the west with colonization in the British islands and Gaul
out of the question, Norse colonization is directed beyond the borders of the
empire. The Faeroe islands are colonized starting around 727 and annexed to
by around 763. By about the same year the Norse have grown confident enough on
their own power and Roman defences weak enough to raid Roman held Caledonia in
the last years of Constantine's
VI reign. In the following decade with the Persian war and the death of Tiberius
throwing the empire to chaos Norse raids intensify reaching all the way to the
western Mediterranean basin. As the empire breaks up and the local exarchs
declare themselves emperors one after the other in the aftermath of the fall of
the Isaurian dynasty the wars provide a handy opportunity both for raiding and
for work as mercenaries. What they do not provide is an opportunity to secure
land from any of the combatants. All the successor states besides a claim to
the imperial throne have inherited well working local administrations as well
as organized armies and at least some little naval power usually from the
fleets present to keep piracy at bay. These forces expand fast under the
pressure of the wars and are simply too powerful for the Norse to make any
permanent gains in what was imperial territories.
Thus the Shetlands or rather Hjaltland islands become part of the Norwegian
kingdom by 766 and are colonized some time before. Iceland is first settled in 767.
With few if any settler going to the British islands and northern Gaul, Iceland
the Hjaland's and the Faroes all see rather more intensive colonization than
would have been the case otherwise. The results spill further away. Within
little more than 2 generations of the colonization of Iceland, Greenland
is discovered and colonized in 845. But Greenland
itself is in no position to support much of a colony. The two Norse settlements
come to hold some 5,000 people at their peak but are more important in a
different fashion. Some 14 years after the discovery of Greenland, Norse ships
reach Helluland (Baffin island?), Markland (Labrador) and Vinland by 859. A small Greenlander settlement in the
860s fails between internal conflict and pressure from the Native Americans.
But with a growing population in Iceland and news describing Vinland and
Markland as at least as good as Iceland and certainly better than Greenland a
second much larger expedition this time directly from Iceland is sent to
Vinland in 892. The survivors of the voyage are numerous enough to bring cowpox
to north America...
 I believe the name "New City"
is as good as any to be chosen in an ATL. And the position of the cities would
be largely dictated by the geography of the region.
Imperator Maximus, part 16
start of 782, the Roman empire has seen better
days. Nearly a decade has passed since the start of the Persian war and 7 years
since Tiberius and half his army fell in the battle of Seleukeia on the Tigris. The empire is under 5 rivalling emperors, the
Persians have driven Rome out of Mesopotamia and
are advancing in Syria.
The other of the empire's neighbours, Germans, Goths and Bulgars have taken
advantage of the situation to invade the empire with varying degrees of
success. And in what is perhaps the clearest show of imperial weakness the
empire finds itself subject to considerable Viking raids, something largely
unheard of before Tiberius.
For the western parts of the empire things are not so troubling as in the east.
It is true that they are the areas most affected by Viking raiding. It is also
true that there are 3 rival emperors and the Goths and Germans to contend with.
But the exarch and future emperor of Gaul brings the German invasion to a halt
in the battle of Orleans
in the summer of 779, the Persians are too far and the Vikings more of a
nuisance than a serious threat. As for the Gothians with Italy declaring for the emperor of Constantinople they cease to be a problem the Gallic
emperor has to contend with. By 780 the main problem of the west is the civil war
between the 3 emperors.
The Gallic emperor is pined between the emperors of Britannia and Africa and also facing the Germans. But on the other hand
he has strategic advantages and Flavius Antonius I, victorious exarch turned
emperor is quick to put them to use. Re-establishing the Rhine defences in the
aftermath of his victory in Orleans he stands on
the defensive against the emperor of Africa
and throws his weight in the fight against the Briton emperor. It does not
prove particularly successful in the sense of the Germans gaining solid control
of the eastern bank of the Rhine and the African armies slowly expanding their
hold in Iberia from about two thirds of the country to about 75% of it but
Gallic armies drive the Britons out of the holdings the exarchate had in the
mainland by 785 freeing up the troops operating against them for the Rhine and
Iberian fronts. These reinforcements stop cold the African advance in Iberia and
force the Germans to terms but that is the limit of Antonius successes. At sea
the Gallic empire has to maintain 2 completely separate navies one operating
against Britannia and one against Africa. This
geographic separation coupled with the strong Britannic navy, a result of the
Viking raids and Britannia's own position lead to a Gallic failure to gain
control of the seas in either front. Thus the British islands stand safe from
invasion behind the sea and the sea lanes between Africa and Iberia that keep the African army in Iberia strong
enough to take on the Gallic armies on an equal footing remain open.
In the east things are rather more complicated especially as the two eastern
emperors have to deal with the Persian juggernaut are fighting among themselves
and in the case of the emperor of Constantinople he also has to deal with
trouble in the north. Michael I is quick to take advantage of his victory over
the Bulgars right before the short civil war that made him emperor and buys
himself a peace with them. A costly 1 year truce with the Persians gives him
some time to organize his defence of Asia minor
as well as deal with the Gothians. His victory against the latter in Sirmium in
781 gains him Italy and a respite in the Balkans but with the war with the
Persians starting again the next year the emperor is not able to send more than
token support to Italy. With the African, Egyptian and Briton emperors hostile,
Michael makes a deal with Antonius I by which they recognize each other as
emperors of the east and the west respectively.
Arsenius, proclaimed emperor of Egypt,
has his own problems. His drive into Syria while easy in the sense of
monophysite populations declaring for him thus easing his advance brings him
facing the Persian army and the encounter proves hardly to the Egyptian
benefit. Arsenius is a capable general, his troops highly motivated not to say
edging on fanatic as the Persians advance comes to threaten Jerusalem. But a good chunk of the
expeditionary units stationed in Egypt before the war died with
Tiberius and the remaining suffered yet more in the years afterwards. Arsenius
army is well trained and often enough experienced when coming to units of
former limitanei but is lacking in certain skills most notably heavy cavalry
against the veteran Persian armies. Worse yet it has to fight against a
numerically superior opponent as Michael buys his truce and Persian armies turn
south to Syria
What ensues can be hardly described as positive for Egyptian arms. Any attempt
to hold back the Persian tide on the field fails. Arsenius answers by applying
a scorched earth policy while he tries to hold the forts in Syria and his army harasses the
enemy to the extend possible. It does not manage to stop the Persian advance,
the Persians are just too strong at this point and in the aftermath of the
conquest of Mesopotamia and Armenia
too well versed in siege warfare. But it does manage to gain time and to attrit
the Persian army at the cost of significant loss of ground. By the end of 781
the Persian armies have cut their way to the coast of the Mediterranean and are
The end of the truce with Michael further slows down the Persian advance as
they divert forces north but this is not enough to stop them. Damascus
falls in 782 and Jerusalem
follows in 783. By the next year a Persian army is about to invade Egypt.
Neccesity now brings Michael and Arsenius together. Michael's armies failed to
make any inroads into Persian held areas since the end of the truce in 781 but
have held their own fairly well. Michael is controlling the primary recruiting grounds
of the old Eastern empire, has inherited the surviving expeditionary armies of
the East and has relatively easy ground to defend. But Michael isn't inclined
to see Egypt also falling to
Persian hands when he fears that this would inevitably lead to his Asia Minor
defensed crumbling under the pressure of a Persia
fighting only him and also having the resources of Egypt to draw upon. Arsenius under
increasing pressure is in no position to keep fighting both Persians and
Michael. The holy or unholy, counting on who is asked, between the two emperors
comes to being. Michael recognizes Arsenius as Augustus, Arsenius recognizes
Michael as basileus as well as the imperial hold on Cyrenaica and Alexandria. The last
becomes a free port.
Thus in the
spring of 784 the army of the shah of shahs moves to take Gaza
and open the road to Egypt.
Arsenius with the imperial army moves to intercept him. And Michael sails to
join his fellow emperor. In a stroke still argued among historians over being
either complete accident or great generalship Michael lands his army behind the
Persians trapping them between his own army and that of Arsenius. The battle of
Gaza is nearly
as disastrous for the invading Persian army as that of Seleukeia was for
Tiberius. The tidal wave of Persian victories and conquests is brought to a
The war is hardly over or won with the battle of Gaza. The Persian advance may be blunted by
defeat and attrition but their ability to hold back Roman counterattacks is a
different matter. For one thing Michael and Arsenius might have cooperated
enough for the victory of Gaza
but from there to coordinating a counterthrust against the Persians there is a
distance. Post that even after the Gaza defeat Persia holds everything from the Mediterranean
to draw upon for men and resources. The war goes on for 4 more years of thrust
and counterthrust till Persia in the face of mounting casualties and troubles
with the Turkish tribes in her northern border and Indian rulers in her Eastern
border, instigated from Constantinople and Memphis respectively  agrees to
peace in the treaty of Nisibis in 788. Under the terms Mesopotamia, Armenia and most of Syria
pass to Persia.
The empire had started the war as the one undisputed power west of China. It ends it
shattered in 5 states and with Persia
in its former position of power.
 With a stronger economy on the Mediterranean trade with India keeps
rising ever sinse the 6th century. Given Persia looking to this direction, to
some extend a side effect of India's economy increasing in turn due to the
trade with the west , I presume our alt Byzantines of the eastern empire have
been throwing their diplomatic nets to India. The contacts with the nomad
states to the north of Persia
are an older thing, take Justin's II alliance with the Turks in OTL for
Imperator Maximus, part 17
In 800 Persia
has won nearly as spectacular a victory over its Roman enemy as that won by the
Eastern empire some two centuries ago against the Sassanids. With holdings
extending from the coast of the Mediterranean to the Indus the empire ruled by
the Ziebelids is the second most populous on Earth with only China holding a
larger population. This is coupled with a generally positive external
situation. The various Indian kingdoms in the east of Persia are
hardly in a position of threatening it. The Turks to the north can be a problem
but Buddhism and Zoroastrianism are spreading among them, alongside increased
Persian influence after the Ziebelid expansion in Central
Asia. Although both China
and to a lesser extend Constantinople raise trouble there for the time
is relatively secure in that direction.
In the west Persia
is facing two of the Roman successor states. The "Greek" empire views
itself as the continuation of the Eastern empire with its Gallic ally the
continuation of the Western empire.  A formidable enemy extending from
north Syria to Italy and containing some of the most densely
populated and developed areas of Europe it is
nevertheless beset with enemies on nearly all sides. Egypt under its first independent
dynasty since the 4th century BC, is populous and rich in absolute terms...and
much too weak in relative terms to hold indefinitely against both of its major
neighbours. The country survives for about a generation after the peace of
Nisibis as all sides are mostly recovering from the previous war to be involved
in large scale military operations but when war starts again in 820 the Persian
advance proves irresistible and the Persians conquer Egypt by 833.
Making further advances west proves more problematic for the Persians though.
Michael I and has invested the generation of relative peace in preparation of
the inevitable resumption of hostilities with the Persians. Alexandria
and Antioch have been thoroughly fortified with
fortifications comparable in power to the Theodosian walls of Constantinople.
As long as the empire holds the sea lanes open it is near impossible to bring
either of the two cities down. Persia
while not having the best relation with sea establishes a sizable navy using
its new Syrian subjects. But that navy is nowhere near sufficient in size and
quality to wrestle control of the seas from its Greek opponent for the time
being. The Persian advance stalls before Alexandria
and Antioch for the next two generations as as
Greek and Persian fleets struggle for mastery of the eastern Mediterranean
In the east things prove easier. India
is broken up into rival dynasties and the Persians have breached the Indus since the early 8th century. While Persia was still fighting in the west against
the Egyptian and Greek emperors, Persian armies were bringing the
Pratiharas down in India.
For the next 2 generations Persian kings of kings keep looking west with their
efforts in the east concentrated on solidifying their control over the parts of
already under their rule. When Bahram IX decides in 858 that expanding in India is more
profitable than the endless fights on his western border he has a loyal base to
launch his campaign further east. Massing an army in Abisind  he
successfully invades Gujarat capturing the
Maitraka  capital of Vallabhi in 860 and Anhilwara the capital of the Rajput
Chavda dynasty in 868 breaking organized Indian resistance in the area. It
takes nearly as long to complete the conquest of Gujarat
but by 880 it is over and Persian probes are being launched further east.
Successes abroad are matched by internal success and prosperity. By 900 Ctesiphon again the capital of the empire is the largest
city on Earth outside China
with nearly 1 million citizens and architectural work to match its size. It is
hardly the sole major city of the empire. Susa the ancient Achaemenid capital
and the Sassanids winter residence has about a quarter million citizens a
number comparable to that of Damascus in the west but far behind the 500,000
citizens of Aspadana . On the eve of the 10th century Persia
is one of the world's most urbanized cultures.
Part of the Persian wealth finds its way to the sciences. The academy of Gundishapur
is in place since 271. Post 800 it becomes the world's largest institute for
higher learning and with a fame to match, bringing together teachers and
visitors from places as far away as Roman Iberia and China. Indian, Greek and Latin
philoshofers, religious thinkers and scientists all find their way to the
academy, which by 870 has the largest library in the world, an unrivalled
medical department, a translator department busy taking advantage of the
earlier introduction of paper and large numbers of astronomers and
mathematicians. Indian numerals may have already reached the Mediterranean
through the sea trading routes. But it is due to Persian influence that they
find widespread use. Gundishapur and by extension Persia
are the cultural centre of the world and its Greek counterparts in
Constantinople and Rome
while significant are not as important as the academy. Greek scientists do
manage to hold their own in some fields, like mathematics, but overall
both they and the other Roman successor states play a secondary role.
By 900 the rivalry between the mathematicians of Constantinople
and Gundishapur has become something of a legend. Ironically it is Constantinople that takes first advantage of
"Persian" numerals when in 840 Theodore of Ephessos couples
mathematical notation based on them with Diophantos Arithmetica creating modern
"Arithmetic"  . For the rest of the century Greek mathematicians
while behind in trigonometry will be ahead in algebra and the solution of the
3rd degree equation turn to the new holy grail of medieval mathematicians.
In 848 the Jade Sutra, the world's oldest known printed text comes to being in China.
A generation later typing on the Chinese style has reached informed people in
the academy and the Persian alphabet is notably easier to deal with than
Chinese ideograms. Thus when Mark of Beirut, a Syrian in Gundishapur and former
goldsmith comes in contact with the system makes the next logical connection
and creates movable type using bronze letters. Continuing experimentation he
follows it with replacing it with lead... and in the end by 897 producing molds
for his movable type making its widespread use possible. The era of the
printing press has come.
But Mark will not be the sole late 9th century Persian to leave his distinct
mark on world history...
 Neither Greek nor Gallic empire actually call them officially Greek or
Gallic respectively, but everyone else outside commonly refers to them this
way. We'll do the same for simplicity shake.
 Modern Sind.
 Who with the Rajput troubles and no Arabs are still a going concern.
 After all when they were about to convert they converted to a version of
Zoroastrianism that was willing to accept their conversion. And if one can be
Imperator Maximus, part 18
empire. The western empire if you ask its own people. The Gallic empire if you
ask anyone outside. At the eve of the 9th century Orleans
controls all Roman lands to the west of the Rhine, a part of northern Italy and northern Iberia. Flavius Antonius I once
exarch now emperor is the ruler of the second largest and most
powerful of the Roman states while allied to the first.
Not all is well for the Gallic empire though. The external situation looks
generally bleak for it. To the south it faces the former exarchate of Africa,
now under an emperor of itself controlling North Africa and the grand majority
To the east it is facing Germania. In Italy it has to
deal with the Gothians. In the north besides the Norse which are little more
than a nuisance Britannia is forming one more Roman successor state with
Londinium allied with Carthage.
The only imperial ally the Greek empire, the Eastern Roman one according to the
basileus proclamations, has its own problems in the east namely keeping at bay
an ever increasing Persian collosus. It is useful to the extend of its navy
keeping that of the African emperors at bay and confronting the Gothians in
Italy the Adriatic and the Danube but both are distinctly secondary concerns as
far as Constantinople is concerned.
Beset with enemies on all sides the Gallic empire does not fare particularly
well during the first half of the 9th century. It manages to hold at bay
Britons, Germans and Gothians as well as seaborne African attacks. It fares
rather worse in Iberia.
While large battles are uncommon the African emperors slowly gain ground with
every passing year. By 850 nearly 9 tenths of Iberia
is being ruled from Carthage.
Increasing population and economic strength in Gaul
proper allows the imperator to keep the size of his armies and fleets nearly as
in the early 800s despite his territorial losses. By the same token though, his
opponents are yet more powerful than they were back in 800.
The turn of Persian interest east post 859 gives a respite to the Eastern
emperor, one that he takes advantage in trying to secure his
northern borders. This in turn gives something of a respite to the Gallic
emperor as the Gothians have to turn more of their efforts to face off Greek
armies but not much of a respite. From the point of view of Constantinople
the Bulgar kingdom  is much more of a nuisance than a Gothia that was being
"Romanized" since the early 5th century and that by now politically
is not much different than the Roman states. Two centuries of intermittent
warfare have created a more or less stable frontier between the two powers in
the Balkans with their main differences by now lying in northern Italy. Thus the
Greek land efforts mostly concentrate on breaking the Bulgars once and for all.
At sea though in the face of increasing African and British naval power and the
ever present Norse the Gallic emperor is largely dependent on Greek fleets out
of Sicily to
maintain the balance against against the African fleets. By 900 Gallic armies
have been driven out of their last strongholds south of the Pyrenees
but the remaining imperial holdings are largely intact.
Culturally the Gallic empire is to a large extend in the shadow of Persia and and
the Eastern empire but this hardly means it does not have an active cultural
life of its own. The empire is home to its own rather active branch of
theology, Gallic Christianity has some not inconsiderable differences from the
orthodoxy prevailing in the east, while polemics against the Arianism that is
dominant in Germany and Gothia are quite common, as well as home to a very
popular poetry and literature taking its themes mostly from the ancient world
and the wars of the empire. Gaul is also home to no less than 4 universities in
Massilia, Orleans, Trier and Lutetsia.
To the north of the Gallic empire the British isles
are forming the smallest of the British successor states. Largely Romano-Celtic
especially after the defeat of the Anglosaxon invasions back in the 5th and the
6th century and the incorporation of Ireland and Caledonia afterwards, the
islands are prospering despite wars with Gaul and the occasional troubles with
the Norse. To a large extend this can be attributed to the relative security of
them. The British imperator is maintaining a navy that while small by
Mediterranean standards is the most powerful in its own region making Britannia
secure from anything but the occasional Norse or Gallic raid. At the same time Britain is a center of trade exporting mostly
wool and iron products as far away as Constantinople and Persia.
Britannia has a single university in Londinium, which is somewhat provincial
compared to the larger Gallic, African and Greek universities. But
it can claim a role in history far more important than most of them. It is in
Londinium that future saint Olaf studies to become the "apostle to the
Norse" upon his return to Scandinavia at the head of a missionaries paid
and supported by the British emperor. And it is again the scholars of Londinium
that collect the stories of the Norse explorations in the north Atlantic thus
making the rest of the Roman world aware both of the accuracy of the older
Greek accounts on Thule  and of the presence of Greenland, Markland,
Helluland and Vinland apparently beyond the ocean. Coupled with prevailing
British myths of Hy-Brazil, they prove sufficient to launch several north
Atlantic expeditions post 880, establishing trade links with the Norse
colonies. Then in 897 a British expedition reaches Markland and after passing
the winter in the newly establish Norse colony in Vinland discovers Saint
Patrick's island (Prince Edward's island) and Caledonia Nova (Nova Scotia)
before returning to Hibernia late in the same year.
 Centered in modern Romania.