Alternate History

485-537 CE (Superpowers)

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Reign of Draco:
1205 (452)-1238 (485)

Draconian Dynasty:
1238 (485)-1290 (537)
Fabian Dynasty:
1290 (537)-1348 (595)

Draco adopted an heir to the throne, restarting the tradition of an emperor selecting his successor for his apparent competence. His choice was Avitus, the son of a wealthy Sicilian who managed grain routes into Rome. The young man showed prowess in managing his late biological father's business, the results of which Draco noticed. Previously, an emperor would have adopted someone that had impressed them enough at some social event, but Draco saw fit to seek out his heir.

Historical Statistics for 500 CE (1253 AUC)

Caesar Avitus (485-494)

As another emperor in a new dynastic line, Avitus was under intense scrutiny by the Senate and people of Rome. The last dynasty had its ups and downs, where even the better emperors after Caesar Faustilon often neglected maintenance of infrastructure and bloated the bureaucracy with philanderers and fools. Of course, most emperors executed their own civil or military projects during their reign but the government had steadily grown more inefficient than under Faustilon. Draco reversed many of these trends by his distribution of authority to the Senate, leaving less work and responsibility in the hands of future emperors. However, his choice of the promising former general and consul Avitus as his successor was far from misguided.

Colonization of Germany

Caesar Draco had devoted nearly the majority of the state's resources to protecting and assimilating Magna Germania. From a legislative direction, he had claimed all the land in the region for Rome as ager publicus (public land). Some small claims by a few citizens on the borders were heard and some even granted but nearly every square kilometer of Germany was owned by the state. After 464, every retiring legionary was given a choice between a home in a German colonial city (colonia germanica) or a villa on a large plot of land in the German wilderness (alongside other choices of land or a lump sum of silver denarii). Greater Germany was large enough for the Senate to continue pursuing this policy for the next century, after which time most land had either been given or sold as ager privatus (private land) or been designated a restricted forestry zone for sustainable timber supplies. By 600, nearly a third of Germany was exploited sustainably for wood while the rest of the new region consisted either of colonial cities or of private villas for citizens making their living through their own forest, mine, or farm.

Germany in this era was described as an "uncertain yet lucrative land" for a Roman citizen. Stories circulated of both great fortunes and great calamities that had befallen colonists. This reputation gave birth to a new style of literature and theater in the form of frontier tales - stories about the hardships and successes of both fictional and historical colonists. One famous play told the story of a lowly actor who set out to work the mines of Germany, only to stumble upon a mother lode of silver; a greedy centurion caught wind of his fortune in a small colony then pursued the man with the force of his centuria. Such stories became immensely popular in Italia and in the other coloniae of the empire, leaving an indelible mark on Roman history and culture.

Colonists became regarded as hardy and resourceful people with a penchant for skilled labor. This widespread belief helped create the good reputation of German craftsmen and enticed citizens who fancied themselves that type of person into immigrating.

A most recognizable feature of frontier life was the threat of Germanic bandits and raiding parties. Although most native tribes were expelled in the great migration, over a hundred thousand remained and survived the purge as legions swept through the lands in advance of civilian colonization. With poor Latin and no hope of joining colonies, these tribal communications continued to exist in the public lands of Germany for centuries. Many of these people bore general animosity toward Romans and would frequently come to blows with citizens working in their plantations, mines, or villas, and merchants traveling on the roads. Sometimes, a villa would disappear off the map, leaving only broken buildings and a signs of struggle.

Rome was not idle against this blatant aggression. There were three legions stationed in castra (forts) throughout Germany and tasked with protecting colonists at any cost. At first, defending a territory as large as Germany was difficult but around 493 Avitus had reformed the Legion to facilitate the separation of legions into more mobile centuriae that could act as patrol groups to cover as much ground possible. These units occasionally separated further into their contubernia to go from villa to villa in an attempt to keep Rome as informed as possible. A single contubernium was a match for a Germanic raiding party while a century could handle most tribal villages of Germans. However, the Germanic tribes were not entirely unorganized and most were armed with simple iron weapons, ensuring that even a couple could pose a serious threat to a merchant caravan or family of citizens. Richer colonists met this threat by paying the state for a permanent garrison of legionaries on their lands.

However, the legions could not be everywhere and citizens were forced to come to their own defense on many occasions. A civilian market for military equipment opened in Germany to meet this demand, after authorization from the Senate. Three classes of high complexity weapons were used to great effect by colonists. A manuballista was a handheld crossbow, often mounted on a tripod due to its weight, which had an effective range at almost 500 meters. No other weapon could be as accurate at that distance, giving colonists an advantage against bandits. As a relatively inexpensive and portable weapon, the manuballista became known as the quintessential colonial weapon of Romans - an iconic weapon for a legendary period in Roman history.

Early manuballista used by the Legion,
later manuballistae bear a resemblance to this design

Designs of manuballistae evolved more rapidly after the 4th century, producing a wide variety of designs. Some new designs were sturdier, some lighter, and some longer ranged but massive. One of its main advantages were the sighting elements that were commonly placed in the metal head of the crossbow (weapon in image has a full square head instead of metal sights). Larger weapons of a similar design had a different name due to their size but retained the great range of the manuballista, some even exceeding a range of 600 meters.

Merchants favored varieties of the carroballista, since a heavier but cart-mounted artillery piece could deliver more penetrating blows and at a higher rate of fire than handheld crossbows. By 515 CE, most trade caravan had several carroballistae for fending off bandits on the emerging highways of Germany. Richer merchants could afford a fusion of the carroballista with a polybolos, the Legion's semi-automatic artillery piece. Feeding ammunition into a vertical funnel, two operators could easily drive the chain belt of one of these weapons fast enough to maintain a rate of ~11 bolts each minute. Every shot struck with the force of a heavy crossbow and could be relied upon to incapacitate any lightly-armored attacker. Designs for the polybolos were closely guarded by the Senate so only a couple of dozen workshops in Germany were licensed for and capable of its production.

With all the activity, this was an exciting period in Roman history. Thousands of citizens were starting new lives in a new province, often arriving with free land or a generous subsidy from the state. Despite losing the occasional caravan to Germanic tribes, Rome profited immensely from public mines, plantations, sawmills, stampmills, and other industrial facilities. Profits only grew as the level of infrastructure available in the region was expanded by action of the Senate and Caesar.

Since mills needed either a river or an aqueduct to supply energy for heavy industry, the state built over a thousand kilometers of aqueducts (aquae) throughout Germany, connecting cities, mines, and other sites for public industries. Private citizens could only afford access to water for mining by opening a contract for their mine wherein some profits went to the national treasury. More ambitious colonists supplied themselves with water by building simple wood and ceramic aqueducts. More than any other region, Germany was highly suited for production on a proto-industrial scale using mechanical hydropower. There was a higher volume of river flow per square kilometer than any place of a similar expanse and the population density was low, allowing this vast supply of water to be devoted toward watermills instead of nourishing cities.

While the first aqueduct in Germany was started in 489, Avitus was primarily concerned with building a network of roads to bring the region into closer contact with Rome. His goal required the connection of German cities to the viae publicae princepesque (imperial public highways) that spanned other provinces. Starting work in 486, architects and engineers used maps of German river networks and of existing colonial cities to plan the placement of major highways. For the Germanic highways, methods used by the great patron of the interprovincial highway system were copied (as in, they literally plagiarized old records for this project and took credit for the designs in the eyes of the emperor). Despite hundreds of millions of denarii going into construction, the highways did not fully connect all municipia until over a decade after the death of the emperor.

At the same time, three routes for the national postal service (cursus vehicularis) were instituted in Germany. The mutationes (change stations) and mansiones (rest stations) were far more sparcely supplied than those elsewhere but a message could still be sent from the Gothic capital of Vinona, near the Limes Venetus, to Rome in a mere seven days once the roads were done.

The vast wealth of a continent spanning empire made these ambitious projects possible but not trivial. The creativity of surveyors, senators, and engineers was heavily strained, even as these experts were drawing heavily from the extensive knowledge that was available to a civilization as ancient and well-recorded as the Roman Empire. In many ways, the challenges of colonizing Germany are viewed as a driving force for the innovations that would arise throughout the 6th century.

Casting iron

A major economic advantage of China over Rome had long been the invention of a blast furnace which could make a high carbon ferrous alloy known as cast iron, as opposed the low carbon wrought iron that was smelted in the bloomeries of Europe, Africa, and the rest of Asia. Although cast iron is more brittle than wrought iron (i.e. less suitable for physically stressful environments), it could be cast into a more versatile range of shapes in a process that was cheaper than hand-forging pieces of iron.

Around ~480, a blacksmith in the city of Virunum began to heat his furnaces beyond the melting point of iron. After a few little accidents, he learned to pour the resulting liquid iron into stone molds for casting. His method for raising the temperature of his bloomery was very tedious, requiring several men to work bellows for a long period of time and seeking to get around this issue, he worked with other craftsmen in Virunum to build a tall furnace which had multiple open ports for cold blasting air into the furnace. Ore was charged through the top with a limestone flux while air entered from the bottom, passing through the material being smelted. Iron would gradually descend through the furnace, coming out in molten form by opening a valve.

As a step forward in ironmaking, this method was really the final stage of about a century of evolution and this blacksmith was far from the first Roman to heat his iron beyond its melting point - only the first to pour the resulting liquid into moulds. Norica was an iron ore product with exceptional qualities, used by the military for its swords and armor segments. However, not all bloomeries in the province of Noricum produced such high quality iron, some were producing low quality iron that would be reforged at a different location into useable iron. This blacksmith who first created a blast furnace had only gone the extra step of melting this low quality iron before reforging and then pouring the liquid iron into casts.

This liquid iron became an extremely low quality iron. Due to its quality and the manner in which it was excreted from a furnace, its Roman inventor named it ferrum stercum (pig iron). Liquid pig iron could be cast into shapes while removing its impurities. The resulting cast iron was useful for iron kitchenware and farm implements, making its inventor, Titus Albucius Stena, a rich smith. Although Stena soon found that his pig iron was similar to a type of low quality iron forged in some parts of the empire, his addition of casting and blasting methods was unique and were the techniques that earned him fame.

By 493, Stena accumulated enough wealth to build blast furnaces in other cities, namely Parisium and Lugdunum in Gaul. He ran these other facilities through a guild that he founded, wherein he could appoint people to operate his furnaces in other towns. This expansion was the beginning of a powerful industrial guild in the Roman Empire. While commissioning forges in Noricum for his reorganization of the Legion, Avitus caught wind of the unique products of the Stena Guild and offered generous incentives for him to expand his smithies into Magna Germania. This was the beginning of the most powerful commercial entity that would ever exist - the Danubian Labor Guild. As the guild grew, it became one of several dozen nationwide guilds that connected people of the same trade within the same empire into a single community for sharing knowledge and forming long-distance contracts.

Bloomeries were by no means replaced by Stenan blast furnaces, since bloomeries were needed to produce wrought iron, but a wide variety of products could be made at less cost from cast iron: figurines, armor harnesses, weapon handles, carriage wheels, farming tools, kitchenware, and other low intensity tools. Hammers, nails, gears, and other machinery components mostly had to be made from wrought iron since cast iron shattered under high tensile and impact stresses. Furthermore, armor plates, sword blades, and other military equipment solely consisted of norica.

Military reforms

Beginning in 491, Avitus reformed the standard equipment and structure of the Roman Legion. First, he increased the length of the gladius by ~14 cm, improving its effectiveness in individual combat without loss to the ease of stabbing. Similarly, the spatha became the primary weapon for auxiliary soldiers at a length ~0.92 meters while the equestrian spatha was redesigned at 1.05 m. Equestrian swords were also rounded more at the tips to prevent sticking inside flesh when running down infantry. Dimensions for the central boss of the scutum (square shield) were reduced to lower its weight. The purpose of shrinking the metal part of the shield was for legionaries to tire less easily, as a lighter shield was easier to wield, without hampering their ability to deflect arrows. The only disadvantage to a smaller metal boss would be that a heavy weapon could more easily break the scutum - a minor risk compared with the increased mobility of the legionary.

At the time, the standard armor of a legionary was the lorica laminata. The segmented armor plates on this cuirass were forged from norica in a process which left the core soft to absorb the shock of direct blows - a process known as case hardening. While the plates were unchanged, Avitus replaced bronze components in the armor (e.g. buckles, hinges, tie-rings) with cast iron to reduce costs. These parts could be standardized from casting molds for production en masse for regular orders by the Legion. Although Avitus permanently phased plumbatae (darts) out of the Legion, the pilum (javelin) was still given to every legionary, as their brief volleys in the moments before engaging an enemy were highly effective against barbarian armies.

In terms of structure, Avitus raised the number of centuriae per cohort from six to eight while keeping the century at a standard 80 legionaries, for a total of 6,400 legionaries in every legion. Aside from its common infantry, a legion employed 80 centurions and, after the reform of Avitus, would always be led by a dux (pl. duces). On the military hierarchy, a dux reported to the local Legatus Augustus (often simply legatus) of the province or provinces in which he was stationed. Every group of ten legionaries (contubernium) in a century had one of its foot soldiers appointed decanus by its centurion, to whom the decanus would report.

As a commanding officer for centurions, the position of signiferius (standard-bearer) was retooled into the commander of a cohort. Avitus intended to turn the cohort into the main separable unit of the army, a separability enforced by distinguishing each cohort in the Legion with a distinct shield patternstandard, and other identifying traits. One reason for using the title signiferius for the CO of a cohort was that the carrying of a vexillum (military standard) was restricted to this officer, as a part of the reform in battlefield signalling. As commander of a cohort, a signiferius had the task of relaying orders to his eight centuries. At his level of command, orders were relayed using specific motions of the standard. Centurions were responsible for keeping an eye on the standard of their cohort, even when it was positioned behind them, to always know what orders to relay verbally to his troops. A legionary was only responsible for following the verbal commands of his centurion, with training to ignore other signals on the battlefield.

Every signiferius would have sat among the generals (duces) before a battle and had to memorize the initial tactics, alongside the cues for when specific orders were to be issued to the infantry. Legionaries knew to permit couriers through their lines in the middle of a battle, allowing a general to issue specific orders to his signiferii who could send the command down the line. Messages were also relayed by the aquilifer, the highest ranking signiferius of a legion who served a mediary between the general and the other seven signiferii. His standard was a golden eagle (aquila) that stood out among the cloth standards of his peers. At the same time, there were general procedures in the Legion for how a signiferius should respond to different situations, regulations instituted over time for the purpose of uniform behavior of an entire Roman army. In general, the procedures for signalling between officers in the Legion are too complex to be described as a linear relay of orders from generals to troops, since certain tactical decisions were in the hands of signiferii and even centuriones, and these commanding officers often had to alter tactics to account for signals from their inferiors or from the changing face of the battle. One of the most important commands was the order to deploy rear lines to relieve the front, permitting a continuous advance of the front line while those behind could regain their stamina.

With the removal of the century standard, the dress of centurions was modified to serve as a visible point around which a century could rally. More specifically, a legionary under Avitus had to constantly be situated in front of his centurion, distinguished from the other centurions in his cohort by the colors of his plume and the upper parts of his armor. The location of his centurion was the only tactical visual cue that a legionary had to keep in mind during a battle.

New regulations assigned one chirurgius legionis (field surgeon) to each centurion, formally enforcing a standard that had been haphazardly employed since the founding of the Corinthian Surgical Academy. While field surgeons could tend to the wounds of the troops, assistants were regularly needed to organize the equipment of legionaries, who would be busy building fortifications and digging trenches when their legion made camp. Every contubernium was assigned two servants for loading and unloading equipment from its pack mule. On a march, some timber, food, and cloth would be carried by mule, while the mules of a cohort would pull its mobile brick kiln in turn. When moving in a defensive capacity within the empire, a legion could leave its heaviest equipment back at its station, permitting a faster response time to danger. However, this came at the risk of being incapable of creating fortifications, perhaps in the circumvallation or contravallation of an already entrenched enemy army.

Aside from its civilian support, a cohort once had its own scout cavalry, varying in number according to circumstances, and an accompanying manipulus (division) of heavy cavalry, drawn from the equites of Roman society. Over the last century, the Legion had begun to favor a form of horseman which was even more heavily armored than a legionary, draped from the head of the rider to the legs of the horse in heavy scale armor. These Kataphractoi were made a standard component of the Legion, remaining the main division for citizens above the status of Pleb. There were to be 40 cataphracts for every cohort, i.e. 400 per legion.

Just as the cataphracts were integrated into legions, command over archers and artillery was directly given to the centurions and signiferii of their assigned cohortes. This reorganization involved precise standardization of the number of certain unit types that were allocated to each legion (usually as a specific number assigned to every cohort).

A legion after the Draconian military reforms had exactly 1,600 sagittarii (archers), 80 ballistarii (artillery observers), and 200 libratores (gunners). Ballistarii were specialists, trained either at the Academia Bellica in Carthage or taken from legionaries and libratores who apprenticed as "extra credit" with existing artillery observers by assisting in the management of artillery pieces and learning the techniques of artillery spotting and repair. Many legionaries who took upon this role would become a librator, soldiers who did the manual work involved in operating artillery. For now, a full education was a far less prevalent means of learning how to build and operate siege equipment than apprenticeship. In terms of standard siege weapons, each legion under the reform would field 40 polyboloi10 mobile carroballistae, and 120 manuballistae. Each weapon needed only one librator to operate once prepared but a number of other gunners were needed to prepare the equipment and assist as needed. At the same time, ballistarii were needed to spot for batteries of artillery and to maintain the equipment during operation. Both members of the artillery corps also had the task of building then operating field-assembled siege engines, a class of artillery pieces that included onagersrams, siege towers, and heavy ballistae.

When carrying all of its equipment, a legion brought enough wood to assemble several heavy siege weapons before a battle. Part of the advantage that the legion always had was its ability to supply itself on the field, construct fortifications in hours to days, and employ a wide range of military equipment. Every legionary contributed to the building of temporary encampments, as each foot soldier had his own shovel and could work a kiln. The Draconian reforms only magnified the technical skills of legionaries.

In emphasizing the Legion, Avitus reduced the importance of the Auxilia (non-citizen army). Maintenance of auxiliaries along the provincial fortifications was delegated to the government of an imperial province. Each division of border auxiliaries would be under the command of a comes or (count) of the region to which they were assigned. For the most part, the reform was meant to ensure that auxiliaries would no longer see battle far from their station. In this way, Avitus dissolved the tradition of mounted archery in the Roman army, in favor of more cheap archers who fought on foot.

Rome needed a more structured and efficient military as an empire that was now firmly rooted in its territory. The professional arm of its military was the Legion, drawing from Rome's massive number of fit male citizens. Artillerymen came from a similar stock while archers were now also solely citizens. The Auxilia was now functionally a wing of the military consisting of two sections: the Comitana which had town guards employed by the city senate of an urbs at no less than one auxiliary for every 1,000 residents, and the Limitana which consisted solely of border guards or fort contingents employed by a province. As another vital measure, Avitus instituted new standard wages for different positions in the Legion and the Auxilia.

Meanwhile, the classis (navy) was in a sorry state. Scipio had separated the navy from the Legion and renewed its contingent of vessels but there had been few replacements or repairs since his renewal. Most ships were ones built during his reign, although what few new ships were built came straight from the drydocks of Carthage and were of a high quality. Avitus had little concern for the strength of the navy since Scipio had effectively isolated the Mare Internum from the rest of the world and the Red Sea, next most important body of water to Rome, was effectively patrolled for pirates by the mighty navy of the Aksum.

Altogether, Avitus left behind a leaner but stronger military for the empire. Long-term contracts were signed with smithies and woodshops to supplement what could not be produced in industries on public land. With the growing number of public mills and smithies in Magna Germania, maintenance costs for the military plummeted by their replacement of private contracts. In some ways, this was one of the final stages in the transition of Rome from an empire held together by force to a united civilization, in essense, the first "modern" state. Agricola had reformed taxation, Sapiens fixed the bureaucracy (although it was degrading), and now Avitus had reformed the military to a true standing industrial army.

Father of Geology

Building on Theophrastus and Aristotelian philosophy, a Thracian natural philosopher by the name of Nicomechus published a work in 489 entitled Classification of Stones. This text was the culmination of three decades of field work for the Lyceum, involving the study of minerals and rocks throughout the empire. One property of stones which Nicomechus had extensively investigated was their hardness. Any rock which could only be scratched by diamond was labelled an Alpha stone, by quartz or anything harder was labelled a Beta stone, then so on for another ten stages. The lowest rocks by hardness could be scratched by soapstone and were classified as Lambda stones. His chart became standard for natural philosophers and miners after a few decades of circulation, appearing in various forms as posters or booklets for practical use.

Aside from the property of hardness, Nicomechus invented terms for classifying crystals by characteristic external shape. All of his classifications started from the more primitive designations of Theophrastus, correcting a number of his errors and extending his system over a larger number of stones even than Pliny (who was more prolific but less systematic than Theophrastus). In his work On Stones, Theophrastus had a primitive, informal way of discussing stones, often not going farther than saying that a certain colored stone was unusually heavy, smelly, hard, flammable, or lustrous. Nicomechus made vast improvements on his work, rigorously classifying stones by generally observable properties and distinguishing previously unrecognized differences of stones that had a similar appearances, a common error of early geological treatises.

On the whole, this text explained with rigorous detail how to identify the known ores for copper, iron, silver, tin, lead, zinc, sulphur, and mercury when out in the field. Older texts touched on such matters before Nicomechus but his exceeded other works in how systematically he classified ores and in how many unknown distinctions between ores he identified. Some of his success is attributable to the private financing of the Lyceum by mining guilds, who paid for his dozens of assistants and his lengthy trips to Egypt, Nubia, Arabia, Mauretania, and even once to India.

Large sections of the text were devoted to the study of groundwater and to what surface geology indicated about the water level below the surface. Procedures for digging aquifers were outlined, including a confined aquifer containing groundwater under positive pressure (an artesian well). Pressure at these aquifers could often be high enough that water gushes forth from the pipe inserted into the water table, releasing the water in a spray at the surface. Nicomechus summarized observations of the local geology and rain patterns that were required to find locations for building these aquifers.

Perhaps the most useful descriptions in his Classification of Stones was his identification of certain environments and terrain by the types of ores they tended to hold. His meagre attempts to explain these correlations were nowhere near as valuable as the sheer detail of what stones tended to be found in what environments. In some cases, Nicomechus had only seen coincidental correlations, that future geological philosophers would correct, but for the most part, his inferences on observation were sound. For example, he noted the effects of metals on nearby vegetation and drew images of different types of ore veins. Citizens, magistrates, and guilds surveying Greater Germany for mines would make use of this text for the next few centuries.

For his work, Nicomechus is regarded by Roman historians as the father of geology. Not only did he revolutionize the practice of identifying rocks from their observable characteristics but he advanced certain geological theories such as the notion that layers of rock in a local region were deposited gradually over time, settling out of water in by the same mechanism as Antipedes had postulated shorelines were formed. This process would mean that younger rocks lay closer to the surface than older rocks, with no possibility of exceptions where old rocks lay above younger rocks. Despite this final detail being in error, his theory marks the first presentation of the principle of superposition that underlies much of modern geology.

Caesar Darius (494-507)

After Caesar Avitus was assassinated on tour in Leptis Magna, his brother Lucius Draconus Darius took power. Darius was an older man by this time but he had been grooming a son who showed great promise and was only given the curule throne by his brother on the condition that his son would succeed him when the time came. His son Lucius Draconus Lorus was an intelligent man of 24 who had graduated from the Academia Bellica three years ago with the highest honors. Lorus was away on campaign in Germany when he received the news of his uncle's death and of the ascension to power of his father.

Greek separatism

In 495, a famous Greek orator, philosopher, and historian named Elarnassus wrote a scathing treatise on the independence of the Greeks and the majesty of their culture. He accused Rome of being a parasite for Greek knowledge and technology as well as for stifling the development of the Greek understanding of nature. Although not affiliated with any school, Elarnassus had already drawn a great deal of local attention in Epirus and Achaia, delivering inspiring speeches on the agora of Athens and meeting with a number of wealthy Greeks, attending their dinners as an honored guest.

By his efforts, tens of thousands of Greeks were inspired in the cause of the independence of their nation from Rome. Oratories by Elarnassus would remind people of how Archimedes held off an entire fleet of ships with his inventions and how one Greek Macedonian (the two cultures had long since blended by this time) had nearly conquered the known world in his lifetime, using only the manpower of Greek cities and tactics of Greek design. In essence, he argued that everything that made Rome great was of Greek origin and invention; therefore, the Greeks would be more powerful without Rome weighing them down. Obviously, his words were far more eloquent than these, but none of his texts survive to the modern day.

Three years after the publication, the emperor caught wind of Elarnassus and his ideology. The danger such ideas posed to the stability of the empire was apparent. They could not be allowed continued dissemination. On this head, Darius ordered that all copies of Elarnassus' philosophies be burned and that Elarnassus himself be taken away for quiet execution. Anything public would only provide the opportunity for further proselytizing. In this manner, legionaries were sent into his home to take him into custody on June 24 of 498. He received a private trial in Rome at which he was found guilty of treason and sentenced to be strangled on the outskirts of the city.

Hundreds protested across Greece when news spread that Elarnassus had been kidnapped by the Legion. In many ways, his execution had only turned him into a martyr for Greek independence. Although protests were subdued by city guards, the issue of separation from the empire would not rest for long.


Clepsydrae (water clocks) steadily grew more sophisticated as law courts and hospitals demanded better timers for their distinct purposes (e.g. doctors used clocks to measure a patient's heartbeat). In general, sophistication entailed more precise control of the flow rate and more convenient displays indicating the passage of time. Two problems for precision were that water flowed at a faster rate when warm or at high pressure. The former had been mitigated around the time of Hero of Alexandria with conical reservoirs but the latter was not addressed until standards were enacted by Caesar Agricola which specified how to prepare a water clock of a particular temperature relative to body temperature (relying on the senses of a person in a warm room).

Further improvements arose in the early 5th century, adding an extra reservoir - the compensating tank - to the water clock. This basin was situated between the primary reservoir, containing all of the water for the clock, and the mechanism that counted out the passage of time. A constant water level was ensured using a drain at the desired height in the reservoir, combined with pouring in water faster than the compensating tank released it into the clock mechanism. When the primary reservoir was refilled, the waste water that came from the drain over the same period could be disposed of alongside the water used for the mechanism. At a constant depth, the water pressure at the bottom of the compensating tank did not change for the duration of its measurements, improving the accuracy of clocks compared to using a single conical reservoir. As far as mitigating the problem of water pressure, this development marked a high point for the accuracy of clepsydrae.

Passage of time was marked by the ringing of gongs or bells but in the 4th century most water clocks had pointers that displayed the time remaining on a graduated cylinder. Fancier water clocks used the movement of figurines or doors to mark the passage of a predetermined amount of time. Regardless of display, water clocks were exclusively used as either a stopwatch, a timer, or as a way to count the hours in a day, say from sunrise or sunset. Most craftsmen had a water clock to time processes in their work and both city guards and the Legion used water clocks to apportion a night watch into equal shifts. Since these were the purposes of a water clock, none were designed to count out more than a day before requiring a refill and their accuracies were poor on short time scales (e.g. on the scale of a thousandth of an hour). Furthermore, the concept of an hour had no universal definition, varying in its meaning from one place to another and from one season to the next (based as it was on the shadow clock or gnomon).

Few people had ever been concerned about the limitations in the accuracy of water clocks but there was still a constant demand for ever more accurate timepieces, especially from the medical community. Multiple basin clepsydra remained the most accurate clocks for many centuries and were sufficient for the purposes of measuring the rate of a person's heartbeat for anomalies. In 496, the problem of modifying water clocks to match the season was resolved with the invention of a balance clepsydra. Using a "steelyard" balance, adjustments could be made to the pressure head of the constant pressure reservoir, according to settings on a graduated cylinder (usually marked to indicate the appropriate time of the year). Obviously, water clocks that were used as stopwatches did not benefit from this development but those used to replicate the purpose of a sundial benefited enormously, to the point that a clepsydra could never exactly replicate a sundial before this invention (requiring cumbersome and often inaccurate modification of the pressure over the seasons to achieve the effect).

At the same time, the mechanisms for water clocks were steadily becoming more robust and precise, producing less wear on the components over time and achieving ever greater reliability. Of course, there were no standards for clepsydrae except the Agricolan regulations for their use in the courts so the quality of clocks varied widely from one manufacturer to another. Nevertheless, the demand for water clocks was approaching a point where craftsmen could make most of their money building clocks for a variety of clients (judges, priests, doctors, and other craftsmen), up to the point that a collegium horologatores (guild of clockmakers) was founded in 544 within the city of Rome (no city had a higher demand for clepsydrae than the capital).

Resurgence of the Germans

While Greater Germany was coming more tightly under Roman control, the Germanic and Sarmatian kingdoms who once called that land their home were struggling far away to maintain a cohesive society. A mere decade after overthrowing the Huns, these peoples were still settling into their new land after a generation as nomads. Some familes were building homesteads around the elaborate manors of minor chieftains - others even put down roots around the manor of a king. At the start, the King of the Franks stood above his peers as Kaisar Germanik (High King of the Germans) and his actions would set a precedent for future monarchs.

High King Rodirrek of the Franks used his wealth - a surplus of food from the other kingdoms - to feed the people around his manor while they took time away from farming to support their lord in other ways. In particular, Rodirrek had his people cut down the nearby forest to build a Great Hall as his new residence. This massive manor had enough rooms for most of the men sent from the other kingdoms as advisors, allowing him to keep these nobles close at hand. He also had his people construct a simple wooden wall, with a shallow ditch, around his manor town. Its population swelled during his reign from about 38,000 to over 50,000 people, partly encouraged by the freedom their king had given some of his people from agriculture.

Germanic agriculture was an inheritance from the Saxones and Gothi, who had primitive agrarian societies even during Hunnic occupation of their former lands. Although they were forced to leave behind their rudimentary farms when Rome expelled all of the tribes from Magna Germania, they brought their practices with them. Hunnic lords spread Saxon and Gothic methods to the other kingdoms within their empire, taking large shares of people's produce in taxes.

When the Huns were overthrown, people continued to work the lands on which they had settled and were offered protection by the king who could raise an army of the local chiefs and other residents of their towns, both to protect their tribes and defend the Kaisar Germanik (High King of the Germans). Although the chiefs owed their loyalties to the Kaisar, their strictest loyalty was for their king and they had an essential duty to their people, as the source of their military and productive power.

By 496, the Confederation of Germania had expanded by several hundred thousand square kilometers as other tribes adopted agriculture on its periphery and kings claimed new land as their own from nomadic tribes. Sometimes, foreign chiefs would come before a king or even the Kaisar himself to form an arrangement, often leading to their tribe joining one of their kingdoms. There were few tribes large enough to settle as their own kingdoms - some tried and were acquired by force through the actions of one of the kings - but one group that had such strength was that of the Avars.

Around 507, a large nomadic tribe emerged from the east, riding horses as their means of travel. Approaching the system of thin lakes of the River Attila (Volga River), the Avars invaded through the Saxon Kingdom during the reign of High King Cathric of the Saxons. With his authority as Kaisar, Cathric levied an army of 45,000 men from the various kingdoms to fight the 20,000 or so Avar horsemen. With some initial defeats, Cathric himself fought the Avars to a standstill in a battle near his manor, crippling both armies. To intimidate the Avars to surrender, Cathric brought a force of barely armed peasants to approach from afar, a move that succeeded in forcing the surrender of what remained of the Avars.
Map of the Germanic Confederation

Confederation of Germania around 512

Through the Treaty of Miccaester (508), the Confederation gave land north of the Borysthenes to the Avars, who would be able to send representatives to the Concile Germanik, where they could vote on each new Kaisar and provide advisors to a reigning Kaisar, giving them some say in his decisions. As a pastoral society, the Avars were required to offer horses to the Kaisar as their tax - horses that would be distributed by the Kaisar however he wished. Cathric set a precedent of offering these to the other kings, supplementing their existing supplies of horses which were collectively exceeded by the horde of the Avars.

In its new location, the Avar Khaganate came into contact with the Bosporan Kingdom, a foederatus (vassal state) of the Roman Empire. For now, Rome would remain unaware of the Confederation this close to its borders and the Avars would engage in peaceful trade with the Bosporans, unaware of the powerful empire only a few hundred kilometers away. For Rome, Germanic kingdoms were no longer a concern of their armies and the threat of invaders from the east had passed. For the Germans, they now lived far enough away from Rome that they would never need to worry about a legion again. As shortsighted as these attitudes were, the presence of the Confederacy would have an indirect inluence on Rome, blocking the migration of nomadic tribes from Asia, as it had done in the case of the Avars.

Caesar Scipio II (507-528)

During the reign of Darius, Lorus returned to Carthage to attend the naval staff college of the War Academy. In those three years, he nurtured a deep love for life at sea and for the engineering of ships. For this reason, he changed his cognomen to Scipio, to reflect his admiration of the Princeps Nautici who had a legendary reputation among naval officers.


Scipio had no love for the peregrini (non-citizens or foreigners) living in his empire, showing particular distaste for how they would benefit from the Pax Romana despite contributing almost nothing to maintaining the peace of the empire. They paid a poll tax, known as the Tributum, and some fought as auxiliaries for the empire, but the burden of financing public services fell largely on the shoulders of the citizens. For this reason, Scipio raised the poll tax on non-citizens while removing it for patrician citizens, so that the nobility were no longer the only class of citizens paying a head tax in addition to their income and property taxes.

With the census determining how many people lived in peregrini households, unless those foreigners paid as a whole tribe, there was little difficulty in drawing as many taxes as possible from non-citizens. Scipio became the first emperor to use census data for the specific persecution of peregrini. Although he did not use violence, he ordered the Quaestores (financial magistrates) and the censitores (census-takers) to find valuable facilities or plots of land that were owned by non-citizens. These could be taken as "taxes" by the state with no way for the affected people to retaliate in a legal or military capacity. For now, this abuse of political institutions would be without consequence for the emperor.

A number of mining sites, mills, and farms were appropriated by the state under Scipio's program of exploiting the peregrini. In many cases, the robbed people were left to starve or be cared for by their communities. A great deal of riverside property was also taken by the government, providing good sites for watermills for Roman industries. Indeed, part of the motivation for these public thefts of property was to create more industrial sites in Central and Western Europe, within the older provinces.

Aside from abusing natives, Scipio raised taxes on luxuries, implementing a grape tax in Hispania and Italy as well as a tax on evaporation ponds for salt. These were profitable markets with a high demand, businesses that would not suffer a great deal from higher taxes. While Scipio's efforts had a positive effect on public revenues, he went a step further into enriching his purse by trimming the fat in the bureaucracy, performing a similar purge as his grandfather had during his reign.

With the additional revenue, Scipio raised the annual payment to parents for their children from 15 Dn to 25 Dn per child while lowering the maximum age for receiving this subsidy from 10 years to 5 years old. Altogether, spending on children subsidies for citizens fell by a tenth of the prior cost. Scipio reasoned that a higher upfront payment would be more motivating for citizens, even though the total reward was reduced. Sponsoring the children of citizens, Scipio believed that Romans would more easily "outbreed the foreigners in [their] land."

Public transportation

With a better distribution of national wealth during the last century, demand for leisure activities, such as travel to Greece, was rising. Patricians and most equestrians could afford the journey from Italy to Greece or some of the coloniae but most citizens did not have the luxury of paying traveling merchants for a ride in a carriage or ship. Even the wealthy faced a hefty price for a journey to somewhere as far away as Alexandria or Antioch. On top of these well-known issues, the Pontifex Maximus (Pope) complained to the emperor, as earlier popes had done unsuccessfully, that there were too many Christians who could not afford pilgrimage to the holy sites of Hierosolyma (Jerusalem).

Under the sum of these pressures, Scipio urged the Senate in 511 to make travel throughout the empire cheaper without simply throwing money at the problem (as he was devoting as much funding as possible to his own project). Their decision was to found the Collegium Itinerarium as a public guild offering transport for citizens along major routes. Starting with forty raeda (heavy carriages) driven by a battalion of coachmen (raedarii), the guild could offer trips from Rome to the ports in the foot of Italia. Whenever funds could be diverted, gradual extensions were made to the service, reaching every Italian urbs by 516.

Any journey taken through this service cost a citizen 2 Dn per day (wives and children were not counted for this cost but every adult male member of a group had to pay this fee). A single coach could carry as many as 15 people, each with a few kilograms of luggage, so the number of carriages on any given route varied. A question was added to the regular Census asking citizens where they had traveled since the last Census, providing data for the Collegium to use in allocating carriages along routes. For managing this system, the Senate appointed a magistrate known as the Praefectus Itinerarius. This office also assumed the duty of organizing the vaults on the Collis Vaticanus where state maps were stored.

Two years later, the Collegium expanded into the province of Palestina, carrying people between one of the ports on the coast to the urbs of Hierosolyma and the vicus parvus of Βηθλεέμ (Bethlehem). Daily prices for this service were double what they were in Italy, except during the low periods between seasonal pilgrimages for both Christians and Jews.

The only gap remaining in a journey from Rome to Jerusalem was the voyage by sea. Scipio was pleased to allow more spending on galleys to ferry people between Italy and Palestine. Such a service would only further justify his shipbuilding program for the imperial navy. The ships went directly between Tarentum and Caesarea Palestinae for a price of 160 Dn per passenger (no exceptions). As with other non-military public vessels, these ships would offer their space to merchants whenever demand did not suffice to fill their holds. This flat fee was less than half of the cost that a merchant ship would have incurred and easily less than a quarter of the price that most ships would offer travelers for that voyage.

Of course, accommodations on the maritime voyages were not great. Usually this involved a bunk for each passenger and enough food to last until the destination. A wealthy family could pay for a slightly better sleeping situation but they would need to make special arrangements before leaving port to have access to good food. Under good conditions, the liburnian galleys could make about 150 km over the course of a day, as this was close to the best casual speed for those ships. When the service was expanded in 526 to reach Melita, passengers could arrive within a mere five days of leaving the port of Ostia. On the year of Scipio's death, another extension of the service connected Alexandria with Caesarea Palestinae. By this time, the Collegium Itinerarium was netting 3.2 million denarii each year in profits for the public purse.

Syrian earthquake

The empire was struck by tragedy in the form of an earthquake that hit Syria in 526. Around 220,000 people, mostly citizens, were killed in Antioch alone, with another 80,000 in smaller towns. Fires raged through the streets of the city, destroying many buildings that were still standing after the initial shock. Even the Cathedral of St. Andrew caved inward, killing the Archbishop as well as several thousand worshipers who were there for the Feast of Ascension on the fortieth day of Easter.

Relief came through the transport of food from public liburnae but many of the aforementioned deaths were still of the disease and starvation that ran rampant through Syria in the metaphorical wake of the earthquake. The Senate supported the province with millions of denarii in aid for the next two years but with no executive decision by the emperor to do something such as send a legion or a team of workers to help rebuild, Antioch remained largely in ruins for two years. Scipio had no love for Syrians and was not moved enough to divert from his shipbuilding to actively assist the ailing province.

His adopted son had been deeply disturbed by the tragedy, openly expressing his grief to the people of Rome and even traveling to Syria himself to visit the poor with a cornucopia of food from redirected vessels of the Classis Annona. When he came to power in 528, this emperor massively increased relief spending, sending in the work force and architects necessary to rebuild the city of Antioch. His goal was to prepare preventative measures in the province in the event of another calamity. Unfortunately, the empire had few options for alleviating the damage of earthquakes. All that could be done was build mortar-free wallslighter roofs, and shorter buildings. A dome similar to that of the Pantheon was used for the reconstruction of the Cathedral of St Andrew. As an additional show of good faith, the new emperor extended citizenship in 531 to all free residents of Syria.

Syrian cities became the first places outside Italy to receive child bearing incentives, payments to parents with children of age 5 or younger. Although there were only ~200,000 children in Syria within this category, the payments still amounted to 5 million Dn. Furthermore, the new emperor convinced the Senate to create 4 positions of tribune of the plebs for the citizens of Syria, giving them a similar status to Greeks and Italians in terms of tribunician protection.

Renovation of the Navy

From his love for the sea, Scipio lamented the weakness of Roman naval power and the manner in which it had been waning ever since his namesake reformed the Classis Romanis (Roman Fleet). Emperors since the first Scipio were barely restoring or trying to replace ships, leaving the entire fleet in a dreadful state of disrepair. This other emperor's attempt to bring glory to the fleet of his empire was hampered by insufficient funds, priority on isolating the Mare Internum, and disinterest from his successors in the maintenance of his expended fleets. Nevertheless, the command hierarchy that Scipio I instituted remained in place.

The current Scipio spared no expense in his total renovation of the Classis Romanis. In order to ensure that his reforms stuck, he transferred total control over the fleets of the empire to the Senate. Past emperors feared giving military power to the assembly of aristocrats but a navy could not be used to overthrow an emperor and the time had long passed when revoking the autocratic office of princeps civitatis was realistically possible. Control over the Roman Fleet was given to the Senate through their power to elect and dismiss the five procuratores navales who commanded the high fleets (greces). Their leader, the Procurator Admirabillis, would possess magisterial power to authorize funds for the navy, up to a limit of 150 million Dn, unless opposed by the Senate. Of course, in placing control of the navy out of the hands of his office, Scipio made sure to force the Senate to elect him as the first Admirabillis for the remainder of his reign.

Redistributing authority over the sea was far from the only reform enacted by Scipio. With his position as Admirabillis, the emperor pursued the task of modernizing and expanding the high fleets of his empire. Each body of water faced different types of threats and Scipio knew enough about naval warfare to design appropriate fleets for each region when he began proper renovations of the Classis Romanis in 508. Before outlining ship distributions, a major change in ship design should be mentioned. Before the 6th century CE, the liburna (fast bireme) had been the mainstay of the Roman Fleet, as a fast and maneuverable vessel. Scipio had shipwrights replaces the classic ram with a light wooden spur and change from single-masted square sails to triple-masted lateen sails which were capable of tacking against the wind by beating out a zig-zag trajectory. This new ship design relied on a similar hull and deck to the liburnian galley but received its own name from the emperor - the cursoris (runner).

[a cursoris effectively looks like a triple-masted dromon with more oars, as a bireme-style galley]

For the Mediterranean, Scipio commissioned over two hundred cursores and four deceres (decaremes) to be split between the Grecis Occidentalis and the Grecis OrientalisVessels in the Mediterranean would continue to be assigned a military officer (decurio classiarius) who commanded a small division of marines, usually Roman citizens but not paid or armed to the same degree as legionaries. Remiges (rowers) would be peregrini hired from coastal towns, supervised by a rower who had risen to the rank of celeusta for the ship. Rowers were lightly armed to help repel boarding parties.

Every ship regardless of class was under the command of its navarchus (captain) and piloted by its gubernator (helmsman). Squadrons of ships would follow a captain of higher rank, known as the navarchus princeps, and were the next smallest group below a classis (fleet). The dux classiarius (commander) of a fleet was filled by navarchi who rose through the ranks but the Procurator Navalis who acted as their commanding officers were patrician magistrates appointed by the Senate. Since there were few legions stationed along the coast of the Mare Internum, the two internal high fleets had little interaction with the Legion, relying on their marines for the occasional battles with pirates.

A standard runner had 38 rowers, 18 marines/seamen, three nautae (officers), three or four servants, a medicus (doctor), a proreta (lookout), and a chef for the galley's galley. These ships were different in style than earlier imperial liburnae, losing its ramming abilities and its resistance to enemy artillery in exchange for the speed of a classic liburna. The role of these ships was a fast attack vessel, designed for rapid pursuit or swift running of patrol routes. In the Mare Internum, runners were in constant use, both for regular patrols and assistance of the postal service or grain fleet. Indeed, the classis annona africana remained the largest fleet of this part of the navy, at most times requiring over sixty vessels.

Seas and rivers connected to the Oceanus Atlanticus were within the jurisdiction of the Grecis Britannicus. Among its duties was the patrol of rivers in Gaul and Germany but Rome was only recently starting to realize the importance of another job. With the frontier at the River Vistillus, ships needed to cross the uncharted straights around Cimbria (Denmark). Only in the last decade had enough ships crossed and sank in those waters for semi-reliable maps to be created. Travelers and soldiers passing the region reported a number of fishing villages in the area, regarded as Herulian or Jutian communities of little interest but also to be distrusted as their waters were heavily pirated. Adding to Roman discomfort with the region, a number of invaders had tried to reach or settle in Britannia over the last two centuries. Indeed, aside from patrolling the Rhine, the primary purpose of fleets in the north had been watching the Britannic coastline for Jutian or Herulian ships, giving the high fleet its name.

Nearly a hundred runners were built from navaliae (shipyards) in Britannia and Lugdunensis. These would be concentrated in the Oceanus Germanicus (North Sea), where they could continue to pursue potential invaders, while the Angustae Heruliae (Herulian Straits) would be patrolled mostly by heavier warships. As part of Scipio's reforms, the greatest warships of the fleet became the deceres ("tens"), floating fortresses that could perform the role of an inviolable platform for archers and artillery. These were slow ships but they were armored where necessary and armed to the teeth with the latest artillery.

A standard decareme after Scipio required 800 rowers, supervised by ten celeustae, arranged in two banks on each side but with five rowers per oar. Their strength was needed to provide any momentum in battle for these 200 tonne, 84 meter long double-hulled behemoths. For combat, a decareme held a complement of 180 marines accompanied by an additional 46 ballistarii. The latter were tasked with maintaining the artillery pieces positioned both above and below deck, with some assistance from the marines when there was no risk of being boarded. The crowning jewel of some decareme was a siphon (hydraulic pump) for projecting hygron pyr (liquid fire) onto enemy ships. Although Scipio could only equip siphones on about a tenth of deceres across the fleet (concentrated in the east), even one ship with this weapon could turn the tide of a battle.

As an equally destructive complement of weapons, there were two swivelling ballista mounted near the center of the decareme's main deck (a platform that extended between the double-hulls for added stability of the artillery). Each of these ballistae fired a 62 kg projectile designed to pierce straight through the deck of an enemy ship. Along the edges of the deck were fifteen polybolos on each side, for take out enemy crewmen before a boarding action. Indeed, these ships were designed for neither boarding nor ramming as a primary form of attack. A single decareme had enough ammunition to punch holes in dozens of smaller ships, sinking them before more intimate combat could be initiated.

Marines hired for service on a decareme were required to have some experience with a sword and to learn proficiency with either a bow or the handheld manuballista, a crossbow with sufficient range for sniping targets at nearly 500 meters. Even without the heavier artillery, a decareme could depopulate the main deck of an enemy ship before even entering range of its own weapons.

Below deck, above and between the rowers, were thoroughly secured heavy ballistae, with a capacity just below 43 kg. These artillery pieces were fixed inside the hulls, unable to aim or make even the slightest adjustment to direction. Engineers known personally by Scipio during his time at the Academia Bellica had shown him designs for a ballista that could deliver a larger tensile force and over a longer draw distance than contemporary siege engines - in other words, the release could travel nearly twice as fast as that of any other design so that the projectile would also be released with twice the initial speed. Similar ideas had been floating around the academy for the last thirty years but no magistrate or emperor had shown interest in the weapons, as no one could propose a feasible mobile version except for placement in ships.

Scipio hired a number of these engineers to work with shipwrights on a design that incorporated several of these lignaballistae. As a result of these efforts, a new decareme had four lignaballistae on each side, arranged for a wide spread in their lines of fire. Although the latest designs replaced a number of wooden components with stronger metal parts, the weapons were still rather sensitive and could be rendered inoperable by the shock of near miss with a heavy catapult, even with the extra armor around their firing ports. Nevertheless, when effective, these artillery pieces were equally as effective as their heavier counterparts above deck, propelling heavy stones deep into the hulls of enemy ships. Their secondary advantage over other ballistae, besides a greater projectile velocity, was a shorter reload time using a strong chain drive mechanism to draw stones from a nearby compartment, limiting each lignaballista to the number of stones installed in these compartments when docked.

Despite their size, decaremes had such large crew sizes that they could not store enough supplies for long journeys, limiting them to operating within a single day's journey from the port in which they were stationed. By contrast, a runner could spend several days at sea before needing to resupply as long as it did not bring its team of rowers.

About eleven deceres were commissioned by Scipio for the Classis Britannicus. This number is very little in comparison with the 45 deceres built in the Mare Rubricum and even the 17 deceres guarding the Mare Axeinum (Black Sea). Warships of their size were too large to form the backbone of the Roman navy; this place of honor was reserved for the quiqueres.

A Roman quinquereme built after Scipio had a crew of 300 rowers as did earlier designs but the internal superstructure had been reworked to reduce the weight and improve the speed. Able to reach about three-quarters of the speed of a runner, quinqueres were designed in the new fleets for grappling enemy ships to reduce their mobility to the advantage of heavier deceremes and to board their decks when required. For this maneuver, a quinquereme had dozens of grappling hooks and a crew of 220 marines. Although there were no quinqueremes in the Mediterranean high fleets, the Classis Britannicus boasted 42 quiqueremes while there were 84 quiqueremes stationed in the Red Sea and another 31 along the coast of Anatolia with the Grecis Axeinis.

As the centerpiece for his navy, Scipio commissioned the construction of the second tessarakonteres ("forty") in human history. Larger than any other ship constructed during the classical era, the Navis Curulis floated at a length of 131 m and stood at a height of 21 m above the water line at its sternpost. In principle, the ship required 4,200 rowers and could hold an almost equal number of marines in its hold, some of whom would assist in sailing the ship. Although the ship would occasionally employ that many crewmen during the ship parades that Scipio was fond of holding, most of its life under Scipio was spent in Capri attached to a dock constructed specifically for holding the ship. There the Navis Curulis served as a pleasure ship for the emperor and his attendants, an extension to the large parties often held at his villa on the island.

When expansions to the new navy of Rome stopped in 528 CE with the death of Scipio, there were ~24,000 freeborn non-citizens working on runners, with another ~160,000 peregrini on other vessels, as well as ~32,000 citizens serving as marines on ships. This adds up to an unprecedented ~216,000 men taking part in the Classis Romanis.

National industry

Rome had an economy unlike any other at the time. Although production still got managed at a local level, the state regulated commerce through taxes and manufacturing contracts while certain regions specialized for producing certain goods before selling their products for their own necessities. Most industries throughout the empire were private but the state held a large slice of the pie in the newly colonized region of Magna Germania. Even as far back as the early Antonine dynasty, Rome produced more iron than the entire rest of the world, exceeding Chinese output by a factor of 16.

Roman cities were interconnected in a vast network of safe highways that encouraged trade and permitted a high degree of regional specialization. Through colonization, Germany had become the foremost producer of timber and wooden items within the empire. Some of its goods were used by colonists but their surplus flowed back to the other provinces and the capital, where the prices of carriages, in particular, and lumber, in general, fell dramatically. German mines got into the habit of shipping copper, tinsilver, and lead to other provinces as large ingots. These metal ingots would get used for specific products wherever they went, supplying a large volume of raw materials for industries in Italy and Gaul especially.

Nearly a quarter of the population of Magna Germania procured natural resources, perhaps in a mine or a lumbermill, while most other colonists worked the farms that sustained its population. As for most of its history, the empire placed a high value on the life of a farmer, encouraging many plebeians to immigrate to Germany where they could have their own land and for legionaries to prefer retirement in Germany where they were freely offered land by the Senate. In the entire region, there were only two urbes, with most communities forming as small mining towns or trading outposts. Extraction of mineral resources for the whole Imperium Romanum was at the following annual levels in the year 520...

  • Iron: ~175,000 t
  • Copper: ~35,000 t
  • Lead: ~150,000 t
  • Silver: ~430 t
  • Gold: ~22 t

...where (t) indicates metric tons or tonnes of a given metal.

Gold production had virtually doubled when Nubia was added to the empire while iron production had benefitted from the growth of iron mines and smithies in Noricum, as well as that province's population growth during the 4th and late 5th centuries. Lead and copper production now largely depended on Magna Germania, although mining sites elsewhere had grown in output over the last three centuries. Meanwhile, Britannia had become the largest producer of coal in the world, with an output exceeding most nations. British coal fuelled the hypocausts of Rome and the smithies of Noricum.

On a national level, the exploitation and processing of natural resources was facilitated by widespread access to watermills, in a manner that gave Rome a comparable economic output to some industrializing economies. Aqueducts tended to serve as a primitive system for power transmission while dams that raised water in aqueducts were functionally producing usable energy that could be accessed by watermills using the flow of aqueducts for power. Such industrial methods left Rome in a unique position for a pre-industrial economy, producing on a level many times greater than a population of its era would suggest.

Caesar Ulpius (528-537)

Ulpius, the adopted son of Scipio, truly cemented his name after the Syrian earthquake even though he was known throughout much of the empire before that calamity for providing welfare in the provinces. His journeys made him perhaps the only emperor since Marcus Aurelius who had a profound sense of the plight of the average pleb. Especially in the face of the wastefulness of his father, Ulpius resolved to relieve some of the suffering of the poor when he ascended to the curule throne.

His sincerity for helping the poor make it a tragic irony that he would be one of the few emperors to be assassinated in his prime. The involvement of the emperor in quelling a rebellion by the Greeks drove at least one nationalist to Rome for the purpose of killing the emperor as he greeted a crowd in the Basilica Julia. Greeks had conflicting and varied feelings about the murder of Caesar Ulpius, loved as the "fair giver of laws" but hated as "Flavius Draconus Ulpius Grecus", a cognomen maliciously given by sympathizers with the cause of Greek independence. Ultimately, his assassination would foster a greater national disdain for the Elarnassian ideology and convince many Greeks that supporting it would be dishonorable.

International trade

Ulpius lamented that Rome was not in control of its trade with foreign kingdoms. Merchants in Nubia and Arabia Petraea would merely travel to other regions such as China or India to exchange Roman goods or money for foreign commodities such as rare spices and silk. Although Rome produced silk in Egypt, Chinese silk was of a higher quality and still prized by the nobility. With the fall of the primary Roman trading partner in India around 375 CE, Roman merchants had gone on to trade with its successor, the Gupta Empire. Envoys sent to its Maharajra Chandragupta II in 407 showed Rome that India was now almost singly ruled by one emperor, who fielded an army grander than the entire Legion. Not to be outdone, the reigning Antonine who heard from the envoys a year later, invited representatives from the Gupta to Rome. Fortunately for her international reputation, Rome received the delegates under her next emperor, Maximius, who was both sane and a patron of the arts.

The Indian diplomats were shown an impressive spectacle in the Flavian Amphitheater and given a demonstration of Roman armaments such as the polybolos. While they expressed interest in taking some to show their emperor, Maximius would not oblige their request, especially after an advisor of his insisted on the folly of offering a "rival" state such a useful weapon. There was little direct contact between Rome and the Gupta Empire afterward. Each empire's merchants continued to trade but a Caesar would not correspond again with a Gupta.

Eastern Hemisphere 500 CE

Countries of the Orient around 500 CE

While Ulpius did not change anything about Rome's relations with the Gupta, he did impose larger tariffs on goods returning to Rome through ports in Arabia Petrae and Nubia, particularly on Indian spices and Chinese silk.

Some merchants trading with the Gupta during the 5th and 6th centuries adopted the local numerals used for representing numbers, employing it for papers of their own transactions. This decimal notation proved far easier to manipulate when calculating commercial data and by 530, was catching on with Nubian as well as Petraean merchants. Being unaccustomed to the Indian style of writing, their numerals were similar but not entirely the same as those invented by the Gupta. For the time being, the replacement of Roman numerals with Indian numerals was not only a local practice but one limited entirely to the local merchants of Nubia and Arabia Petrae.

Meanwhile, Ulpius sent an emissary to the King of Aksum to foster more efficient trade between their people. He offered his funding for the construction of a grand highway connecting the capital of Aksum and the province of Nubia, on condition that Rome retain control over the trade route. King Germanas agreed to the offer, even permitting a Roman embassy in his capital. A guard of 60 Praetorians went with the two Roman legati (ambassadors) once the beautiful new structure, in the style of the Basilica Aemilia but enclosed by thick walls, was finished in 539. Similarly, the Via Aksana was completed in 536 as an 894 km four-lane highway following the Eastern Nile. The large number of trade caravans that came to use this route and the prodigious spending of the members of the Roman embassy in Aksum ensured that these connections would remain.

A similar embassy for Aksumite delegates was established in the city of Thebes, where the emperor kept a dignitatum aksanum to care for them. However, not only did this diplomatic legate ensure a pleasant experience for the aksumite delegates, he also tailored their experiences in such a manner as to only reveal information at his discretion. For example, throughout the civil war in Greece, the Aksumites were left entirely unaware of the empire's extended period of weakness. This procedure is the precursor to an eventual foreign intelligence agency for the empire. For now, the office of the aksumite legate only served to maintain close relations with Aksum while still holding back information or "national secrets". This office had access to some of the best translators of the local dialects that the state could find. After the passing of the regional plague, the Aksumite delegates were moved to a more permanent residence in Alexandria.

In addition to reining in relations with Indians and Aksumites, Ulpius tightened his grip on the Bosporan towns of Taurica and sent a number of ambassadors to Persia to work toward a lasting peace between the two great powers. While the recent defeat against Caesar Draconus less than seventy years earlier was like a fresh memory for Persia, it had regrown in power since that time and was eager to avoid another costly war against the Roman Legion.

In many ways, Ulpius was an idealist, believing that Roman civilization exceeded any other that existed on this Earth and that it had a duty to hold itself as an example of political virtues and to cooperate with other civilizations. His writings would not see wide dissemination anytime soon but they would have an influence on political philosophy centuries later.

Civil war in Greece

Tension had been mounting in Greece between the common people and the city of Rome. Poor and dishonorable decisions by emperors over the last century had soured their view of caesarean leadership while, ironically, the benefits of another emperor during that same time had strengthened the public sense of strength and pride as a Greek nation. Philosophers and other authors were constantly writing fondly about the supposed golden age of Greek civilization and the power of the (Macedonian Greek) empire of Alexander the Great, namely how he conquered the known world with only the resources of Greece. Some of the more ambitious Greeks were privately discussing - sometimes seriously, sometimes not - the possibility of regaining the ancient glory of their people and throwing off the yoke of Roman oppression.

In particular, the writings and actions of Elarnassus of Nicopolis had an inspiring effect on the Greeks. One of his followers, Doreanos of Ithaca, devoted thirty two years of his life to Elarnassian ideals after narrowly avoiding punishment in 498 when he participated in riots against the Roman execution of his mentor. During those years, he formed a close group of like-minded people, separatists such as himself. Leading a conspiracy against Rome was difficult in their time and progress was slow. For the most part, this involved frequent dinners and symposia (drinking parties) with wealthy members of Greek society, identifying those who would be sympathetic to their cause and provide financial support. Other efforts had these men spreading their propaganda in Greek cities, where the literate could be influenced directly and the rest could be more subtly swayed (for example, they would leave posters in relatively isolated locations that depicted a Greek uprising against legionaries).

Emperors and the Senate caught wind of these activities but they did not pay it as much attention as they should have, reserving their reaction to removal of these messages by town guards or the rare disposal of discovered dissidents.

Finally, in 532, the flood gates opened. The eastern provinces had begun to suffer a pandemic of an unfamiliar disease during the later quarter of Scipio's reign. Spreading from Petra and Nubian ports, nearly a thousand people were dying in those cities every day by the time Ulpius took the throne in Rome. Before the plague could reach Alexandria, news had arrived in time for the it to close its gates completely to land trade - a procedure that had existed ever since the Plague of Carthage almost reached the grain supply of Rome. Ports along the east coast of the Mediterranean were being shutdown by order of city senates but smaller villages could not be controlled in such a manner. Some ships made it to Greece around 531, spreading the plague to some of the islands of the Aegean Sea. There were even outbreaks in Athens, Pergamum, Sparta, and Corinthia.

Alexandria was maintained by diverting some of the grain supply of Africa Proconsularis while Italy was sustained by more costly transport of food from Hispania and Magna Germania. While Italy received priority, there were shortages and high prices in Alexandria, starving the poor to the point of rioting in the streets. Thousands would die in the starvation and violence that affected the city while the rest of the province withered away from plague. Meanwhile, Byzantium was also forced to shut down its ports to shipments from the east, forcing the city to rely on far less voluminous supplies of food from Dacia and Greece.

All of these events, starting from the quarantine of Alexandria, transpired over the course of three months in 532. Unrest in Greece from increased food prices and shortages, with supply going to Byzantium, and from public fear from the disease was taken advantage of by Doreanos and his separatists to incite open rebellion. Within two months, there was somewhere around 130,000 armed rebels spread throughout the Greek cities on both sides of the Aegean. Of course, news travels fast in Rome, although messengers were delayed a week in Aquileia by doctors enforcing a quarantine on couriers from the cursus publicus entering Italy (Roman quarantines were based on the belief that someone could not be ill if they could go eight days without showing symptoms of any virulent diseases - doctors tending to these patients practiced full body hygiene).

Unable to engage in any kind of diplomacy with the risk of messengers returning with the plague, Ulpius was forced to offer full command of Roman armies to the legate of Dacia, Gnaeus Fabius Comptus, naming him Dux Generalissimus so that the military could operate without orders from Italy. Fabius brought nine legions with him to crush the Greek rebellion.

Here is where an event transpired which was highly anticipated by the separatists. By law, only Roman citizens could sign up for the Legion but nearly a third of citizens were Greek. For this reason, one fifth of all legionaries were Greek citizens and for simple geographic reasons, those stationed closest to Greece had the highest concentration. Out of the 57,600 legionaries and 14,400 sagittarii brought to fight the rebels, ~34,000 of the soldiers were Greeks. Furthermore, a similar proportion of centurions and three generals were also Greek. Two of the latter sympathized with the separation of their people from the empire. Starting from these commanders, two legions alongside a few thousand others turned on the rest as they prepared for battle with rebels who were staging near Thessalonica. Comptus had spoken with his generals before the battle, assuring himself however tenuously of their loyalty, so he was disappointed, but not entirely caught off-guard, by the fact that such treason came at their level of command rather than from the rank and file Greek legionaries.

Doreanos had been watching the approaching forces for signs of this betrayal and ordered his readied soldiers - of which about 80,000 had assembled there - to converge on the legionaries, attacking only the larger force. Sheer chaos followed.

On the mass of legionaries, there was only one actual front against the enemy, the southeast where Doreanos came with his militia. Generalissimus Fabius had situated himself near this line and drove his men into the oncoming wave of lightly-armored foes. The two legions holding this line were largely devoid of Greeks, from a discreet reshuffling of forces on the way to Greece, so they presented a united front to the rabble. Supported by similarly reliable artillerymen on adjacent hills, these legions lost little ground to the rebels, with Fabius only giving some ground as a tactic to fool his enemy into a more offensive position.

While Fabius held the sole frontline, his other generals fought along a blurred intersection of their five legions with the two led by the traitorous generals. With the advantage of loyal artillery and sagittarii, the former of which proved highly effective even against legionaries, the loyal generals managed to swing the battle in their favor. Noticing his odds, Doreanos called for a retreat of his forces, with the Greek legions following his lead. Fabius ordered his men not to pursue while they dealt with those legionaries who had betrayed them from within their own legions.

After his minor loss, Doreanos gathered his new forces with the rest of his conspirators in preparation to take Byzantium. With 9,000 legionaries and a more or less disorganized militia of 120,000 Greek rebels, Doreanos easily forced his way into the city using siege towers prepared before the battle. With his entry, riots over food shortages evolved into chaos in the streets, both from the disgruntled poor and those sympathetic to rebellion. Doreanos couldn't control the people - an attempt at calming rioters in the Augustaeum (main forum of Byzantium) was only met with a thrown rock before he could gain momentum. Restraining his legions from retaliating, Doreanos instead broke into the Aerarium (national treasury), holding the secure facility as his new center of operations as he tried to gain total control over the city. All of his troops had received strict orders not to loot shops and homes, instructions which generally were followed by the "occupying" forces.

On a July morning in 534, Generalissimus Fabius arrived outside Byzantium with his ten legions, seven of which were still operating at close to half strength from their pyrrhic victory at Thessalonica. Guards on the wall alerted Doreanos to the arrival of the Roman legions, having already sent word for a parlay as per his standing orders. His offer was simple: leave Greece and Western Anatolia to the Greeks, for peaceful cooperation, or face an "unending struggle for power [over Greece]". Knowing that any response would be used against him, Fabius nonetheless took the more elegant route of debating Doreanos' reasons for rebellion, professing the stability of Roman rule and the advantages of unity against "foreign" powers. This philosophical dispute continued for several hours as messages passed from one side to another.

Lamenting that no compromise could be reached, as perhaps the sole hope of creating a persistent Greek state, Doreanos told Fabius that he would not be allowed into the city and could decide for himself what to do. Unsurprisingly, Fabius readied his troops for the siege which would begin late into the evening. Without adequate ranged weapons, the forces on the walls fell quickly to the advance of siege towers from the west (other engines would be rather ineffective against the thick Walls of Byzantium). This brought the fighting into the streets in the climax of the Bellum Civile Grecis.

Fabius marched his men through the roads in lines of cohorts marching in synchronization toward the Augustaeum, a tactic that would prevent the enemy from surprising and encircling individual groups as they dispersed through the streets. Opposing sides met just west of the Augustaeum, combat spilling into the main forum as Fabius slowly advanced. By midnight, Fabius had the Aerarium surrounded and the few remaining rebels were being rounded up in the streets or hiding in people's homes.

As a show of good faith, Fabius had ordered that no one be executed once the fight was won and that Doreanos be brought to him unharmed. His capture marked the turning point of the civil war but not the end. Other conspirators remained in Greece but support was waning as news reached the provinces that provinces afflicted with the plague would not be required to pay taxes (a group that included the whole of Greece as well as Bithynia, Asia, and Lycia). With another two legions brought into Greece to capture separatists, the civil war would come to a firm conclusion in 543 under the reign of the next emperor. Altogether, around 48,000 legionaries were killed on both sides of the civil war. Nearly triple that number of Greek rebels were killed as part of the militia. As for Doreanos, he lived under house arrest in Greater Germany, not getting to see his beloved home for the last fifteen years of his life - leaving him enough time to see his dream fail under the emperorship of the same man who, on the outskirts of a major city, had lectured him on freedom and the political games of men.

Ulpian Plague

Of course, as devastating as the civil war was to the military strength of the empire, the plague which had precipitated its onset was a different beast entirely. Alexandria had to be sustained on more remote sources of wheat than Egypt as the imperial breadbasket was on hold, allowing warehouses to fill with grain that would never be used. Although this would feed one carrier of the disease (viz. rats), humans were the main carriers so this had little effect on its persistence.

This wave of the disease lasted into the next decade but had subsided enough that Alexandria would cautiously reopen its gates in Winter of 541. Ten years of grain shortages had shrunk the population from emigration and starvation by about 210,000 people. Byzantium suffered the plague after the Greek armies spent a year behind its walls (part of the reason why the rebels were so weak in the face of Fabius' army) but with its extensive hygienic systems and access to hospitals, the Thracian capital only suffered ~75,000 deaths out of its population of 680,000 people.

Unfortunately, the rest of the eastern side of the empire and Greece were nowhere near as lucky. Almost ~28% of the population of provinces going clockwise from Dalmatia to Egypt fell to the plague over that one decade. Some places such as Egypt took a hit up to 40% of the population. Trade with Aksum and Persia ensured that the entire region suffered. In the empire, this meant a death toll approaching 11 million people, including a quarter of Greeks, Egyptians, and Syrians. When the plague subsided, taxation in affected provinces did not restart until 543, leaving the empire with reduced revenues for much of the period. However, before the plague, annual revenues were exceeding a billion denarii, due to growing industries in Greater Germany, so the result was merely a return to earlier tax revenues.

On the other hand, Ulpius spent hundreds of millions of denarii subsidizing what grain could arrive in cities such as Alexandria and Byzantium, ensuring that when it was available, people need not pay the entire inflated price from shortages. Rome also faced higher grain prices as it received its food from Germany but this was similarly subsidized by the government. For its part, Italy did not allow unrestricted contact with the rest of its empire until 544 and even then, hospitals were extremely cautious and continued to advise the entire population to avoid meeting anyone who seemed ill. There were small local outbreaks of the same disease in Italy as in the rest of the world over the next two centuries but these were no more worrisome than regular sickness.

A dreadful series of winters in 535 and 536 heavily aggravated the starvation that some cities faced during the plague. Some of the shortages in Greece were alleviated by reopening grain routes from Egypt (as plague could spread no more to Greece than it already had done). Astronomers were fervently interested in explaining this unusual cold period as these years were marked by entire days without sunlight. Careful records were kept in the Musaeum of Alexandria during the quarantine - at the same time as the Didascalium Alexandriae got caught up in a frenzy of eschatological discussions and speeches. Indeed, the situation in Alexandria was so grim during that first winter that much of the city believed the end of the world was at hand.

Meanwhile, a group of Mauri in the province of Mauretania openly rebelled against the empire by sacking a legionary fort near the coast, stealing its entire store of food from Hispania. A firm response from the other legionaries swiftly put an end to this and a number of other sporadic uprisings by the locals in light of food shortages and meagre interaction of Mauri towns with Rome. The Legatus Augustus of Mauretania, who had been appointed under Scipio, took this rebellion as an opportunity to weaken the Mauri presence in his province, allowing his legions to raid their towns for food and to kill the locals without discretion.

One minor development following the plague was the widespread adoption of handwashing. Before this time, only doctors were regularly washing their arms and hands, as a force of habit from how often they washed at the hospital and out of their intimate knowledge of the importance of cleansing for preventing the spread of miasmata. With so many doctors advising people on how to stop the spread of a plague, the practice of washing arms and hands with soap upon getting home from the streets became popular for citizens living in Gaul, Italy, and Greece. Within a few decades, it was common sense for Roman citizens to wash their hands once or twice a day, several times more when a plague was passing through one's city. After the plague, Romans had exceptional hygiene, supplementing their traditional obsession with bathing (although bathing with soap had not yet taken the place of covering the skin with oil then scraping the oil away with any dirt covering the body).

Overall, the empire would take about a century to fully recover from the Ulpian Plague. Assisting this recovery was the emperor's gift of citizenship to Syrians in 531 and the entire freeborn population of Egypt in 536. With citizenship, came greater access to municipal stipends for public infrastructure, child subsidies for parents, and health care from free medical treatment in galenariae. As always, the mortality rate of citizens was substantially lower than that of non-citizens, facilitating their natural growth.

As a result, the state fell into moderate debt (~90% of regular revenue) even though virtually all extraneous funds went toward grain subsidies and expanded health as well as child services. In fact, the latter two rose by a combined annual cost of around 50 million denarii by Ulpius' death. Virtually no public works were built during the reign of Ulpius, leaving his name on very few buildings. Regardless, his name would forever be attached to one of the most famous documents in human history.

Corpus Juris Civilis

As an idealist, Caesar Ulpius lamented that the leges (statutes) and mores (customs) of Roman law were outdated, pagan, and sometimes oppressive - a poor code for what he considered the foremost civilization. Criminal laws to which judges and advocates referred in Roman courts had been enacted over the course of centuries, some even before the transfer of power to Octavian. Since judges often adapted their judgements to contemporary morals and popular ideas, sometimes either ignoring certain statutes or even enforcing their own customs, a great deal of the legal authority in the provinces was in the hands of non-magistrates - a system that made one court case vary greatly from another. Matters of ius publicum (public law) were handled by provincial governors or by judicial magistrates (e.g. praetores) but matters of ius privatum (private law) were at the mercy of judges who were only licensed by magistrates. Private courts were considered poor reflections of the public courts that preside in Rome.

Worst of its flaws, the law incorporated loopholes and superstitious nonsense that could still be referenced in court. The customs of jurists going as far back as the Republic still carried weight for people who spent their life studying law, maintaining the authority of the mos maiorum even as its influence in Roman culture gradually disintegrating in the face of Christian values. This disconnect between the prevailing culture and the juridical culture was hurting the legal systems and a full replacement of the customs of the mos maiorum with more authoritative laws was long overdue.

During his time in the imperial court of his father, Ulpius had worked with jurists he knew on collecting a list of active statutes and customs used by judges. When he became emperor, Ulpius used this list to try recodifying Roman law. His efforts were near a final product when the bellum civile broke out in Greece. When he heard that dissatisfaction with the authority of Rome had motivated the leaders of the rebellion, Ulpius resolved to have his laws enacted in the Senate as soon as possible, in the hope that reinvigorating and improving the law would weaken the moral foundation of the rebels. Promulgating his laws through the Senate, especially with the support of the senators who were Greek, was viewed as essential to this aim.

Driven by these reasons, Ulpius spent the next three years discussing his code of laws in the Senate, devoting his time to convincing senators, in the civilized fashion, that they should support his laws. Citing ongoing unrest in Greece was a powerful argument in his favor but he also brought the Pope to argue his case and drummed up support with the people of the capital city. Senators were not particularly opposed to the content of his code, generous as it was to them, but passing so many new laws was unusual and many senators were cautious about setting the precedent that Roman law could be changed so easily. In many ways, the debate in the Senate was one of the value of tradition against the advantages of progress, a long overdue conflict for Rome.

Once enacted in 535, the Corpus Iuris Civilis consisted of two parts - a codification of old laws that would be retained albeit with rewording or modification of content, known as the Codex Ulpianus, and new statutes written by Ulpius and his jurists, known as the Novella Constitutiones. The codification of existing laws and customs included the following:

  • Roman Senate has the authority to promulgate laws (legislative authority) by issuing a senatus consultum that contains the content of the new statute, unless the law is vetoed using tribunician powers.
  • Only members of the equestrian order are eligible for membership in the Senate. Membership in the equestrian order is only available to citizens who meet a wealth threshold, specified by the Senate, according to the Census.
  • Patriciani are equestrians whose ancestors achieved consular or praetorian authority or who have personally held one of those positions. Senatores are simply members of the Roman Senate.
  • patricianus must be officially referred to as vir spectabilis (an admirable man). Similarly, documents mentioning a senator should append his name with vir clarissimus (a most distinguished man). Going further, a present magistratus maior must personally be referred to and addressed with the title Illustris (the Illustrious). Also, the princeps must be addressed as Caesar <nameAugustus or with the title Dominus (Lord), and his name is to be appended with primus inter pares et vir praestandis (first among equals and a magnificent man), among other possible titles.
  • Every province is categorized as propraetorianimperial, or praefecturial according to its mode of administration. Governors for the latter two types are appointed while governors for the first type are elected in the Senate from among senators.
  • Provinces are organized into foederatae (federations of provinces) - semi-autonomous nations within the Roman Empire. Unlike before the Codex, the consul of each foederata is now elected by an assembly of citizens in its capital (before the reform, consuls were appointed directly by the emperor). As before, the consul must have descendants who lived for several generations on the land of his foederata. Consular authority is to be used by its holder to hear and satisfy the concerns of his nation and to prevent abuses of power by provincial governors.
  • Candidates for a consulship need (1) to have served a term as praetor, (2) to be no less than 42 years of age, (3) to be approved by the emperor, and (4) to have heritage within the consulship's foederata.
  • Magistrates are distinguished into two classes: magistrati curules, who operate within Rome, Alexandria, or Byzantium; and magistrati provinciales, who operate within the provinces. Every type of curule magistrate in Rome (e.g. praetor, aedile, quaestor) has an equivalent provincial magistrate. This system extends earlier reforms made by Agricola and Faustilon.
  • Unlike before the Codex, only one praetor provincialis is elected to each province (as opposed to one for each major city). Every city in that praetor's province bows to his judicial authority, meaning he may overturn the rulings of any of the judges that he or his predecessor has licensed to issue lawful judgements on citizens in his province. Non-citizens remain subject to their own laws but their interactions with citizens are now under the judicial authority of a praetor rather than a provincial governor (stripping governors of their judicial authority over citizens).
  • There are now two praetores curules (imperial praetors) who preside over courts outside Rome: the praetor militaris, who presides over military tribunals at the War Academy in Carthage, and the praetor fiscalis, who presides over trials of magistrates for mishandling funds from the treasury.
  • Removal of funds from the aerarium stabulum (national treasury) in Byzantium can only be approved by an aedilis. There are four aediles curules elected now by popular assembly and twenty aediles provinciales elected by the Senate, with the permission of the Master of the Purse. An aedileship is not necessary for a political career but offers the opportunity to improve one's reputation and confers better speaking privileges in the Senate.
  • Aediles cannot appropriate more than a certain amount of money by their own authority but must approve any consultations for spending handed to them by the Senate or emperor. Requests for funds to a provincial aedile by a provincial governor or consul to which he is assigned cannot exceed certain limits determined by the master of the purse or emperor.
  • The Magister Fiscalis (Master of the Purse) must approve of every candidate for an aedileship or quaestorship and has the power to dismiss them while in office. His primary duty is to prevent overspending based on predicted revenues (although he could only with difficulty oppose an emperor who wanted to ignore financial limitations). Otherwise, the magister fiscalis is responsible for the ager publicus (public land) that provides revenues to the treasury and for the minting of coins, supervised by his praefectus argentarius in Rome.
  • Magister fiscalis is a magistrate elected by the Senate from among its highest ranks.
  • Senators of a higher rank are privileged to speak before lower ranking senators in the Senate, with formal rank determined by the highest magistracy that a senator has held in his career. Bottom ranked senators may only speak when granted the right by the presiding magistrate of the Senate, otherwise these pedarii must remain silent. The sole political power of a regular pedarius in the Senate is his vote, both in the Senate itself and in the popular assemblies.
  • There are limits on the officium (staff) of accountants, aides, servants, etc. available on a public wage for magistrates and the Senate. These limits are stricter than before the Codex.
  • Censor is the highest position in the Senate besides the princeps senatus. There are at most twelve senior censors assisted by at least 28 junior censors, a change in structure from before the Codex. Both types of censor perform the Census in Rome but only the former can revoke citizenship or strip political imperium from a magistrate, based on their review of public records for illegal practices and breaches of civil duties.
  • After a slight modification, a candidate for the junior censorship must (1) be approved by a Patriarch of the Church, (2) have served a term as consul, and (3) be no less than 46 years of age. A junior is promoted to senior censor after his second Census, meaning after a minimum term of service of ten years, and after a spot opens among the seniors. Together, the senior censors form the Comitia Censoria (Censorial Assembly).
  • Roman Senate elects the commanders of the high fleet in the national navy. In general, the structure of the navy is unchanged since the time of Caesar Scipio II and the structure of the Legion is the same as at the time of Caesar Avitus.
  • Status of Princeps Civitatis (First Citizen) and Princeps Senatus (First Senator) are codified as dispensations of a popular assembly in Rome and of the Senate respectively. These offices and their corresponding powers are to be conferred upon a single man after the death of their previous holder. Other titles for the first citizen are Caesar and Augustus.
  • Adoption is the means by which a reigning first citizen selects his successor, with approval required from the censors when the choice shares his blood. This successor becomes a member of the Senate and is named Princeps Iuventutis (First of the Young). His duties during the reign of his adopted father are to preside over games, pursue a political career or military career, and earn the love of the people of Rome through public appearances. When his father dies, a princeps iuventutis faces the real possibility of not being elected by the people of Rome. The rules of adopting a successor, aside from election by popular assembly, originated during the reign of Maximius after the horror that was the Imperator Antoninus.
  • When a princeps dies without naming a successor, the Senate elects a new princeps from its ranks.
  • Civitatem Romanum (Roman Citizenship) is reserved to dispensation by the Senate or Caesar and to birth from a father who is a citizen. Also, a citizen can adopt a foreigner below the age of two, giving them citizenship. Both men and women may be citizens but only male citizens who live within certain areas are afforded the right to vote in popular assemblies.
  • Every person has a complex legal status consisting of some combination of categories. For status civitatus, people are cives (citizens), peregrini (local non-citizens), or hostes (foreign non-citizens) - although most Romans colloquially use the term peregrinus to refer to any non-citizen and the term hostis to refer to people presently at war with the Roman Empire. For status libertatis, people are either liberti (free people), libertini (freed people), or servi (slaves) - where servus indicates a person who has the legal status of re (object) rather than persona (person). Only a citizen has a status ordonis: each civis has a status based on his or her wealth (where the separate wealths of spouses is added together in this calculation). Each citizen is either a plebis (commoner) or an eques (noble). However, citizens of equestrian rank are distinguished into those who descend from a former consul and those who do not, where the former are called patriciani. For status publicus, a citizen may be a civis privatus (private citizen), a miles (soldier), or a senator - non-private citizens are collectively referred to as cives publici and do not include commissioners or members of municipal senates. Lastly, for status familias, citizens are distinguished as mothers, children (without gender distinction in law), and the authoritative pater familias.
  • As before the Codex, the status of pater familias is gained by a son of a male citizen upon his marriage, where the father frees his son from his authority. As before, a pater familias does not wield absolute authority over his family: his wife can divorce him and he cannot sell or murder his children as fathers did in the ancient past of the Roman Republic. However, people recognize the authority of a father in forbidding marriages for his children and the law recognizes a father as the default legal guardian of his children before they are married. His duties are to vote for his family and to declare his family and possessions before the Census. A married woman can take part in the Census separately from her husband by request, as has been the case for the many married women who do not speak about their finances with their husbands.
  • Only a citizen can enlist in the Legion, restricting peregrini to service in the less prestigious and less rewarding Auxilia.
  • A citizen facing criminal charges in a public court has the right to take his case before the emperor, who could defer this appeal to the supreme court of Rome at his discretion.
  • Magna lex urbana is unchanged since the time of Faustilon.

A number of criminal laws and civil rights were retained with slight modification from before the Codex Ulpianus:

  • Tort law and Inheritance law prevalent in the city of Rome are now codified as national statutes.
  • Marriage laws first legislated under Augustus are retained, albeit with a more Christian language. Marriage remains outlawed between people of senatorial rank and people who are not of equestrian rank (i.e. plebesperegrini, libertini, and servi).
  • Contracts are retained in their earlier form as written agreements in the form of questions with answers that were to be orally repeated before a licensed judge (stipulatio) to become binding.
  • Manumission remains in its recent regulated form with minimum age of 40 for the slave and 20 for the master. Strict procedures in place since Octavian and strengthened by later emperors are similarly kept.
  • Property rights (ius commercium) for non-citizens are left equivalent to those of citizens. As before, the state reserves the right to procur land as either a tax or with fair compensation.
  • Equestrians remain the only citizens with the rights to run for public offices (ius honorum). Plebeians are only permitted to take part in the lottery for tribuneships and to hold municipal offices, as far as political involvement is concerned.
  • Many laws written by the famous jurists GaiusPaulus, and Marcian are now codified as statutes. Any other statements of theirs that were once cited as laws are no longer authoritative in Roman courts.
  • Certain medical treatments at a galenaria (hospital) would still be guaranteed to any citizen for free. Stricter rules on what treatments are free have been added to the laws.
  • Immigration quotas for people moving into urbes stay except procedures are put in place by the Codex to allow the Senate to change these quotas for a specific city without issuing a new decree (allowing faster modification of quotas).
  • Stricter use of the vexillum morbidum (a flag indicating a ship carried disease) is now enforced for ships traveling to any destination, instead of only for ships headed to Italy.
  • Murder, bribery, usury, perjury, and adultery are cast in an even less favorable light, in reflection of Christian values. On the whole, the language of many old laws has been changed in light of Christian doctrine.
  • Treason remains a capital offense for citizens.
  • References to sorcery, non-Christian rituals, and magic are stricken from all laws.
  • Obvious loopholes are fixed in major laws and frequently abused laws are outright abolished.

As part of the codification of laws, Praetores in any given province would have the authority to promulgate new ius privatum by their own authority, unless opposed by a magistrate in Rome. These laws would only remain in force within his province and only for the duration of his appointment, after which period his successor could decide to uphold those laws. Similarly, unique rulings of a curule praetor would remain authoritative for twenty years. The writings of famous jurists would no longer be taken as a source of law by courts. Jurists would need to work with a proper legislative body to have their proposals legitimized by statute. Overall, the Codex reflects a transition from largely unwritten law to written law (ius scriptum).

The Edictum Perpetuum was a source for a number of statutes in the Codex Ulpianus but its continued modification would be abolished in a novella constitutio. Instead, the Praetor Urbanus would serve simply as the emperor's second man in the Senate, representing him in his absence and supervising the activities of the other praetors, and as a regulator of the supreme court.

New statutes for ius publicum could only be promulgated in a formal assembly of the people, such as the Roman Senate. This regulation continued to disclude the emperor from direct legislation, the main obstacle Ulpius faced in passing his code of laws.

The Novella Constitutiones were often major divergences from previous Roman law - sometimes calling back to the Republic and other times creating entirely new rules. Some of the most significant new statutes included:

  • Formal assembly of the citizens of the city of Rome in the Comitia Centuriata was re-instituted. A magistrate bearing the tribunicia potestas (tribunal powers) would have authority to call an "assembly of the people" to vote on a bill or to oppose the action of a magistrate or even the entire Senate. Regular assemblies would also occur for the elections of senatores, aediles, tribunicensores, and princepes.
  • The franchise for this Comitia Centuriata was extended to every citizen living in Greece. In principle, any male Greek citizen could vote in his respective centuria but, in practice, only the richest could afford to travel to Rome during elections to cast their votes, giving the elite of Greece a disproportional electoral power (creating a larger disincentive for anyone with money from working against the government).
  • Formal assembly of the Censors, sacrosanct magistrates who maintained public morals, as a Comitia Censoria was instituted. These magistrates would privately assemble every Sunday in the Basilica Concordia (closed to the public on that day) to discuss the moral state of the empire and its government, allowing them to reach a consensus on their decisions on how to exercise their unique power. With this reform, a majority of the censors needed to agree before a citizen would be stripped of his rank or citizenship (before this ruling, every individual censor held this power).
  • Prospective censores were expected to possess exceptional knowledge of philosophy, in particular ethics, and of Christian doctrine. Few senators would rise to the rank of censor as the position was held for life and few met the qualifications.
  • Office of Tribunus Plebis got formally reinstated (previous emperors had only appointed one when they cared to have one). Now tribunes of the plebs would come from a lottery of the citizens in specific regions, with four from Italy, four from Greece, four from Syria, and four from the coloniae. Any male pleb living in a town, with no record of crimes, was included in the lottery for a tribuneship, based on his location. The 16 Tribuni Plebes formed a Concilium Tribunum with powers of its own.
  • Elections for members of the Senatus Romanus would be held each year to fill seats that had become empty. Anyone of the equestrian order could run for Senator as long as he (1) had served a term as a Quaestor and (2) received permission from a reigning emperor to join the Senate.
  • Provincial and curule quaestors would be appointed by the Senate each year. Any male member of the equestrian order could run for quaestor as long as he (1) was 30 years old and (2) received permission from the reigning emperor. There would be thirty imperial quaestors and as many provincial quaestors as provinces.
  • While provincial praetors were still appointed by the Roman Senate, two new restrictions were placed on candidates. Now a candidate for the appointment needed to (1) be a member of the Senate who has reached 37 years of age and (2) have five years of experience as a iudex (judge) or avocatus (advocate).
  • If the princeps juventutis loses his election, then the city would await the decision of the Senate. Should they also vote not to accept the chosen successor, then the princeps loses his right to the throne. As when an emperor has no successor, an election would be held in the Senate to appoint a new princeps, without deferral to the people of Rome. Otherwise, the princeps would defer to the concilium tribunum which could choose to restart the process at popular election.
  • A period during which there was no emperor would be known as iustitium, in effect a state of emergency for the empire. No laws could be passed during a iustitium and no magistrate other than the emperor could be elected.
  • Every day of the year, a magistrate would publicly read one or more laws to the people in the Forum Romanum. This procedure was intended to keep the people informed of the laws that governed their empire.
  • A limit was placed on how heavily members of the plebeian order could be taxed on their income. There could not be a higher proportional tax rate on plebs than on patricians or equestrians. Furthermore, plebs would be permanently exempt from paying any form of head tax.
  • Bringing a legion into Italia would now be considered unlawful except with the authorization of the Senate. This would tend to be given for a lawful Triumph of a victorious general or for defense of Rome against an invading army.
  • Sanctity of the Pomerium was re-emphasized, after losing importance, but the region would have new boundaries. The region had no inherent sanctity in Christianity but the security of the empire did and this security was regarded as being intimately tied to the Pomerium. Military commanders would lose command of their armies and provincial governors would relinquish their offices the moment they crossed into the Pomerium.

Overall, Ulpius had only barely weakened the powers of the emperor. He still retained his potestas tribunicia maior, allowing him to veto literally any decision of the Senate and to overrule the plebeian tribunes on most matters. However, Ulpius took emphasis off the imperial family. Although an emperor would wield great power during his reign, his decisions would be at the mercy of the people of Rome once he died, possibly even preventing his adopted successor from gaining power. However, a reigning emperor was entirely within his rights to publicly support his choice. For a popular emperor, such efforts to drum up the support of the people guaranteed the election of the princeps juventutis. When an emperor was unpopular, such an action might even reduce his chances of getting elected, making it harder to distance himself from the mistakes of his adoptive father.

A number of the new constitutional statutes reflected political trends in the government of the Roman Empire. For example, the office of Censor was slowly becoming entwined with the Church, as a source of moral authority, and the censors themselves, who retained their positions for life, were becoming known as a group detached from the ambitions of regular politics. A senator could only pursue the censorship after serving a term as consul and becoming censor barred a senator from other offices. Both aspects of the position distanced its holders from power struggles in the Senate. Citizens had begun to equate censors with the sages of the Stoics, rational sources of moral advice to the Senate and Caesar. Censors had become highly regarded by the common folk and a number of minor controversies within their ranks had made each generation of censors highly suspicious of new members, to the point that both the Pope and the existing censors had to approve of candidates before an appointment. Over time, the respect that the censors held from the people made going against their suggestions a dangerous political move for anyone other than a Caesar. Under Ulpian laws, the process became even more judicious and required the vote of the people for each appointment.

The main power of censors was authority over the list of citizens and on the social order of every citizenAgainst the Senate, this power let them remove a citizen from the Senate and strip the authority of a magistrate. Against an emperor, it meant stripping the ranks of magistrates that he appointed, blocking all of his actions. Since censors were sacrosanct, like tribunes and emperors, they were, in principle, invulnerable to political backlash, except for the ability of the Senate to invalidate the authority of a censor. These powers were rarely used but the threat of them gave a censor unique authority in Roman politics, especially in combination with the respect for his position among the commoners. In creating the Comitia Censoria, Ulpius enlarged the collective powers of the censors but moderated them by more formal requirements of consensus for their actions.

From a socio-political perspective, the greatest change of the Novella Constitutiones was the condition that a man could only join the Senate through election. As the aristocratic government of Rome, the Senate had become the tool of a monarchy, where each member owed his position to the princeps civitatis. Ulpius transformed the assembly into a popular aristocracy - in effect, a form of representative democracy that had similar precursors in the elections of magistrates in the Roman Republic. The inspiration for this basis of senatorial power came from Aristotle, following his critique of hereditary aristocracy and the need for a middle path between democracy and monarchy. For this reason, his writings extoll the virtues of a system that is part non-hereditary monarchy, part non-hereditary aristocracy, and part democracy.

Another political idea that Ulpius recognized was the notion that the only true democracy was a lottery for authority. Although he regarded such a system in isolation with disdain, he wanted the democratic - or rather republican in his terms since democratia implied mob rule - component of the Roman government to employ a lottery. This system inspired the method of selecting the Tribuni Plebes. Once a citizen's name came up in the lottery during the month of elections, he had six months to prepare put his affairs in order for a year in the capital. For his year in office, he received a salary of 2400 Dn and lived in the tribunician residence near the Forum Romanum. Since a tribune would usually return home at the end of the year with over 1000 Dn, he was able to relatively easily afford the costs of restoring his affairs after being away for a year. Only citizens who lived in a settlement that was the size of a municipium or larger were included in the lottery, for practical reasons.

In principle, these statutes could be changed later by an assembly or a future emperor could bully the Senate, with his military authority, into enacting laws that he desired. However, this was no less possible now than for dictators or imperators to do the same during the Republic, an event that only occurred under extenuating circumstances. For now, the new laws were protected by love for the emperor that made them and, in time, they would acquire the force of tradition themselves. In practice, this code of laws was only an official recognition of a political reality wherein the Senate, with its bureaucracy, had slowly regained respect and power in Rome. It would take great upheaval to reverse this ongoing trend.

Ulpius made certain the populus romanus knew that his code of laws granted them great powers. For this, he would be much loved by the majority of citizens, even the nobility. Similarly, present and future popes would be ardent supporters of the Novella Constitutiones of Caesar Ulpius, advocating against the dissolution of any of its statutes. With such support, there would be serious opposition to changing Roman laws, unless the change was seen as in the spirit of the corpus.

Unfortunately, Ulpius would be assassinated in his prime, before he thought it necessary to adopt a successor. By his own statute, none of his children could assert themselves as his successor, leaving the decision to the Senate to elect a new emperor. Its choice was a newly elected consul and hero of the recent bellum civile - the former legate Gnaeus Fabius Comptus.

Supreme Court

One change to imperial laws that should be mentioned is a major addition to the judicial system. Before Ulpius, private courts in the provinces would be presided over by judges, licensed by a local praetor, and private courts in the city of Rome would have the imperial praetors as their judges. Specific departments of criminal law were presided over in Rome by a specific praetor, as they had been during the Republic, but other praetors were appointed in the provinces with more general authority there. Certain cases could be appealed to higher magistrates, ending when the case came before the emperor.

In principle, bringing a case before the emperor took it to the highest judicial authority in the empire. However, few emperors in the last two centuries have had any interest in law, dissuading citizens from this course of action. To restore the faith of the people in the judicial authority of Rome, Ulpius instituted a permanent office for presiding over the highest court in Rome. Elected by the Comitia Centuriata from a pool of candidates approved by the Comitia Censoria out of equestrian jurists who applied, this office of Princeps Iudex (First Judge) would preside over the highest court of Roman law.

Ulpius had plans to construct a basilica (public building) for the court of the princeps iudex but there were never enough funds during his reign. For now, this Iudicium Maium (Greater Court) would be held on the Forum Romanum, in full view of the public. This practice would continue until a dedicated location would be build for the iudicium maium.

Maya Conglomerate

Kuhul Ajaw Ch'anqua had conquered the whole of Mesoamerica, comprising all the city-states within that region of the world. Although he died in 491, his successor, Kuhul Ajaw Ekchuahan, was in a prime position to develop the civil structure of this young kingdom.

Fortunately, Mayapan had left substantial written records on scrolls throughout his life regarding his future plans for the Tlahtocaque Maya (Maya Conglomerate). These were considered divine decrees by the Maya people and viewed with a sense of awe by Mayapan's descendants. Occasionally, a successor of his would enact one of these plans, though cautiously since they included complicated conditions for when their execution was optimal.

Mayapan predicted that as the Conglomerate increased in size, it would need a uniform procedure for handling litigation and civil security. His answer for these legal matters was uncomprimising. Those who were dangerous to the stability of the state would be dealt with in proportion to their crime. A murderer would be executed, a thief forced to repay the victim or be indentured in servitude till the debt was paid, and an adulterer revoked of the right to elope or own children. More draconian laws, like cutting off the hand of a thief, were considered by the Grand Council but rejected to stay closer to Mayapan's vision. Three judges were also appointed in every walled city. They would preside together over every legal case within their jurisdiction and their majority opinion would decide all matters of fact and law. These appointments were to be made by the Kuhul Ajaw.

Maya as well as Mesoamericans were subject to national laws but many were more restrictive for the latter. No non-Maya could travel outside their state and any that were discovered in a Maya city-state without the proper papers would be beaten then exported back to their homeland.

The care with which the government monitored the population is impressive given how few resources were devoted to the task. Every Maya citizen had to acquire his or her citizen papers from a public institution if they were to own property or work within any territory designated as a Maya state. There were not only advantages to living in a Maya states but also disadvantages to living within the Conglomerate as part of a non-Maya territory. Taxes were higher, tariffs were imposed on exporting to the Maya states and infrastructure was nowhere near as advanced. To be sure, the Mesoamerican cities were not in a poor condition but they lacked the high quality roads and aqueducts enjoyed by residents of the Maya city-states.

If there were not enough reasons to have gotten citizen papers after their release in 486, citizens were the only permitted patrons of the moneylending establishments set-up by the government in 497 CE. All public functions from providing papers, to moneylending, to taking census information were performed in a single type of building, the Public House. There weren't many of these in the Conglomerate but people did business with the government infrequently enough that there were as many as were needed.

Local public records were sealed in every Public House. When someone renewed their citizen papers, which was necessary every 260 days if citizenship was to be retained, they also declared their wealth, profession, home, family relations, and financial history. These records were periodically cross checked with actual financial records from the moneylenders, who would guard deposits of people's money. Since the Maya currency was a perishable cacao bean, this allowed someone to secure their wealth for long periods without investing in property, for which they might not have sufficient funds.

After 503, all public buildings, including Public Houses, inns, and government residences had to be build from stone, concrete or other non-flammable material. Cities along the borders of the Conglomerate, even when they were not Maya, had some of the first city walls constructed around their perimeters. This discouraged the tribals of the continent from raiding houses during the night.

Active defenses were limited to the volunteer army for most of the first century of the Conglomerate. In 509, Ekchuahan had artisans build the first Maya Fortress about a hundred kilometers north of Teotihuacan. This became one of hundreds of forts occupying strategic locations in the local geography and housing active military personnel. Training, resting and relaxing were the major activities of soldiers in these forts. While they were members of  the army, they would barely do these things outside the confines of those stone walls.


Sometime around the 520's, schools became centers for scientific research on both new technologies and theoretical ideas. Though technological development in the Conglomerate would never again reach the levels it had under Mayapan I, they were still the fastest advancing nation in the world at the time. Agriculture was a major field of study there with many advances in fertilization technologies and crop organization methods being developed by 530. Collectivized farming was the most common type by 536, giving the Conglomerate the highest yield to farmer ratio of any nation in the world. Although this made it impossible for farmer families to advance economically, the social order system of the Maya made there virtually no resentment from them for this reason.

Roman Empire VIth Century
Reign of Draco:
1205 (452)-1238 (485)
Draconian Dynasty:
1238 (485)-1290 (537)
Fabian Dynasty:
1290 (537)-1348 (595)

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