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1290 (537)-1348 (595)
1348 (595)-1395 (642)
|Reign of Tyrianus:|
1395 (642)-1440 (687)
Fabius the Younger died before he could name his successor, leaving the decision of who should be emperor to the Senate. Unfortunately, the most popular candidate would prove to be a disinterested and inept leader, only popular for his lavish dinners, wealth, and strong familial heritage as a member of the nobility. This choice for emperor would not be harmful for the empire but only as a result of the constitutional reforms of Ulpius, allowing Rome to function without its autarch.
Caesar Petro (595-621)
Quintus Corvus Lutatius Flavius Petro accepted his nomination to become emperor but did not take to role with enthusiasm after winning the election. Petro had never known anything other than great wealth and was already one of the wealthiest men in the empire, owning many large inheritances. To be sure, becoming emperor would vastly increase his wealth and dignitas, high as they already were, but he was smart enough to know what responsbilities came with the titles and powers. His first reception by the Senate came without ceremony, after modestly professing that he did not care for such things. When he greeted legions in the new province of Taurica, he admitted to being ignorant in the ways of war and named Fabius Laevinus, the son of the late emperor, as Generalissimus (supreme commander of the military), in honor of his father and accomplishments. This office was to be held for life, allowing Petro to avoid troubling himself with military affairs.
Laevinus would command the legati augusti that governed the imperial provinces and received from the emperor the authority to declare war against foreign powers. He was told that there were to be no limits to what he might do with Rome's military might except the law that made Rome what she was - meaning no entering Italy or harming Roman citizens. Nothing else within the purview of military affairs was to be denied the new Generalissimus (Petro forgot the full title of Dux Generalissimus (most general leader of the army) in his decree). The supreme commander would wield his authority to its fullest.
With the Legion in good hands, Petro sought to lift his other burdens. As with Laevinus, Petro would prove no fool when deciding who would hold his place in the Senate. Now that he was emperor, he had no need to pursue his cursus honorum in the Senate - he had achieved higher status than almost any man before him. Pleased to relieve himself of long days spent listening to other senators drone on in the Curia Julia of the Great Forum, Petro called the Senate, as First Senator, on the first May of his rule, to announce that he would retire as a senator to pursue his "other duties as first citizen". He named the elderly Quintus Julius Scaeso, a former Consul of Italy and one of the chief supporters of the emperors, as Princeps Senatus, taking on senatorial duties and powers that had been specific to emperors. In return, the old senator put forward a motion to grant the emperor the right to speak before any senator, should he attend the Senate - a power the emperor graciously accepted.
In addition to this "gift", Petro also decreed that the Senate would have five years to enlarge its membership to 1000 senatores. He told his illustrious colleagues that the empire needed more men as magistrates and that too many sons of noble patricians were growing up without the opportunity to join their ranks. He likely also thought that more senators would be required to keep the prosperity of his empire while he retreated to a more private lifestyle.
By removing himself from the Senate, the emperor would no longer be responsible for calling senators to the assembly and would not bear the social expectation of attending the majority of senatorial assemblies. For its part, the Senate had a mixed reaction to the emperor's move. Most saw it for what it was: a thinly-veiled shirking of the responsibilities of first citizen; others were glad that there would be less autocratic oversight over their deliberations; and a small minority feared that this was a portent of a future castration of the Senate's powers. The first and second groups had the most accurate view of the matter as there would be almost no oversight of the patrician assemblies during the entire reign of Petro.
However, the Proprinceps - second man to the emperor - was his cousin Septimius Lutatius Catulus, a hanger-on when Petro had been younger and a loyal supporter before the death of the last emperor. Septimius retained his seat in the Senate, as a senator coming off a term as propraetor (senatorial governor) of Gallia Narbonensis, and would continuously use his position as well as a few loyal tribunes to maintain his cousin's influence even in his absence from the Senate.
New senate house
However, Septimius only used his influence to maintain support for his cousin and he would not prevent a number of luxuries taken by senators now that they effectively had a greater say in the administration of the empire. Their emperor had few plans for the vast coffers of Rome, merely seeking his own pleasure rather than self-aggrandizement through public works and the praise of the common people (his opinion of himself did not require further inflation). Fortunately, the pleasure of one man was not too expensive for an empire - with the exception of his tropical retreat on the Insulae Canariae (Canary Islands). After other regular funding, the Senate was left with about 240 million denarii every year for spending at its discretion.
Strange as it is to say, this statistic is well worth mentioning. Emperors tended to be either spendthrifts, using most of the extra public funds, or misers, stopping other officials from spending money. Petro stood out as neither personality type due to his disinterest in public office. In the hands of the Senate was a rare opportunity.
Unsurprisingly, the first thing that the Senate did was give itself a new senate house. The old Curia Julia was a modest yet prominent structure, built on the Forum Romanum, where the Senate would regularly convene. With its expanded membership, there was nowhere near enough room in the Curia for all active senators (a serious oversight on the part of the emperor). On this basis, the Senate approved the destruction of the old building to clear space for a newer, larger (more elegant) senate house. For additional space, the Senate also tore down the Forum Julium and its basilica (the former Temple of Venus Genetrix).
Dedicated to the emperor on completion in 613, the Curia Petra was constructed as a collection of conencted facilities covering an area five times greater than the old building. Most prominent of these facilities was its rotunda, topped by the finest and largest dome ever designed by Roman architects. The unreinforced concrete dome spans 52 meters (180 pedes) but the dome is raised such that the oculus is about 63.5 meters (220 pedes) above the floor. Its coffers are hidden behind ornate artwork on an additional layer etched in gold. By this token, the Curia Petra was the tallest building in Rome, overshadowed only by the Capitoline Temple and imperial palaces due to the height of the hills on which they are mounted.
Beneath this rotunda is the place of assembly for the Senate. A semi-circular gallery supports enough wooden benches for well over a thousand senators, providing enough room to separate into opposing factions over an issue. This gallery is split into three equally large pieces by entrances to the hallway that circulates the rotunda. The wall opposite the gallery does not open to this hallway but instead faces an elevated platform with a permanent throne for the presiding magistrate of each assembly (someone has to preside over every meeting of the Senate, deciding the schedule and officiating on the order senators may speak). Behind this curule throne is a cushioned bench for the plebeian tribunes to sit apart from senators.
Flanking the throne are the main entrances to the senate floor, offering somewhere cordoned-off for citizens to observe when the Senate is in session (a small marble balister separates these two spaces from the rest of the rotunda so senators usually enter from the two entrances among the galleries). As many as a hundred people can watch from the sidelines of the rotunda while a further thousand can listen from the surrounding hallway, enabled by the carefully designed acoustics of this building. A massive door, behind the wall opposite the galleries, opens onto the Forum Romanum several meters away from the entrance to the Curia Julia, facing the Bank of Rome. The outside of the new senate house became a larger senaculum, a public area to which senators would flock in the hours before a senatorial assembly.
Other large facilities of the Curia Petra were a dining hall consisting of multiple floors, with a roof offering a stunning view of the entire capital; a basilica closed to the public that offers a more private space for small groups of magistrates to discuss affairs of the state; and a colonnade enclosing a small park, intended for informal gatherings and reception of foreign dignitaries. The new facilities cost billions of denarii and construction forced the Senate to be creative for a few years with where it would convene. Aside from building itself a new Curia, the Senate also reduced taxes on luxuries and shifted toward a more egalitarian system of income taxation, to replace the progressive taxation that had been in effect since the time of Agricola. Subsidies were also issued for the banana and silk farms in Egypt and Arabia Petraea, increasing supplies of these rare luxuries. Emperors had never had a short personal supply of these goods and most were unwilling to waste public money on something that would not please the common people so this was the first direct intervention of the government in these industries, except the involvement of an emperor in the procuring of silk worms from China many centuries earlier.
There were more mathematicians and philosophers in the Roman Empire than in other regions of the world, bolstered by the existence of the Faustian Academy and Lyceum of Athens, Musaeum of Alexandria, and Technaeum of Carthage. These prominent institutions were places of work for hundreds of scholars and thousands of students learning at their feet. Millions of denarii of public funds supported them as previous administrations had passed laws to include subsidies for these schools in the national budgets agreed each year by the Senate and Caesar for periodic spending (e.g. public wages, health care, etc).
The current administration had no interest in these schools and unlike under Fabius Magnus, no effort was made to supplement funding for military research at the Technaeum or for philosophical studies at the Musaeum. Nonetheless, research persisted in the form of discussions between resident scholars, often inspired by attempts to realize ideas in practice using what little funds were left over after maintenance and salaries.
Some commentaries on the Politika of Aristotle, the Politeia of Plato, and several works of Cicero were written and circulated starting around 599, spurring new evaluations of Roman politics. One brave soul, Sythimedes of Corinthia, went as far as to offer criticism of the contemporary regime - albeit, a gentle criticism presented as suggestions for improvement rather than an outright revolutionary or threatening treatise. In principle, his work was a reflection on the nature of Roman government.
Sythimedes pointed out that the Princeps Civitatis (first amongst the citizens) was a king, in all but name, acknowledging that not only had the Roman Republic fallen (as everyone knew since Tiberius) but another Roman Kingdom had arisen. Through his entire book, Sythimedes refers to Rome using the term regnum (kingdom) normally reserved for other empires. Similarities between the powers of the princeps civitatis and oriental monarchs such as the Persian Shah and Somali Boqor were made explicit, running through political ramifications of the imperial veto and speaking order. He had particularly critical words for those scholars and senators who believed that Ulpius had restored the Republic, deftly tearing down their position.
However, Sythimedes also acknowledged the differences of the regnum romanum from other regna, describing Rome as a new sort of kingdom - viz. a regnum philosophum whose leaders, in principle, were the philosopher-kings of Plato. Many of the principes civitates had fallen short in practice but the system of adopting a successor generally ensured a suitable leader after the death of a good emperor, especially when compared to the rate that hereditary succession produced good kings. On this heading, he actually criticized the practice of electing an emperor under certain circumstances, citing a number of problems that suggest he had Quintus Corvus Petro on his mind in his writing. Furthermore, distancing the imperial family from power, by placing firmer restrictions on adopting a blood relative or even dissolving the concept of an imperial family, leaving only a ruling emperor, his council, and his candidates for adoption living in the Domus Augustana, was proposed. The latter manner of taking away the importance of the imperial family (completely in this case) would finally bring an end to the practice of emperors leaving public money to their wives, and children in their wills. Sythimedes thought that an emperor should be "father only to the people", somewhat jokingly adding that this idea would also legitimize the philandering of many emperors.
Aside from his criticism of emperors, Sythimedes noted that the Comitia Censoria (assembly of censors) needed more censors as that assembly had the greatest concentration of power in Rome, with its control over citizenship, even surpassing emperors. His discussions of how this control could be exercised to great effect contained a number of original possibilities that had never arisen since the reinstitution of the censores by Caesar Marcus. Sythimedes also suggested procedures for exposing whoever was in power to young patricians in ways that would better demonstrate their prowess as leaders, effectively accelerating and fine-tuning the process of finding a successor to the emperor. For the judiciary, he argued that the legal process had become a craft of some sort, "churning out sentences like a butcher delivers cuts of meat". As a means of humanizing the criminal courts, he thought that the presiding judge who sentences a man to death should be the man who carries out the execution. He believed that this would ensure a more thoroughly considered verdict from the judge.
Other philosophers had mixed responses to Sythimedes. Many scholars from the Faustian Academy and the Lyceum attacked the book, perhaps thinking they were taking the lead in a public backlash against the treatise. However, news soon spread that when the emperor heard about the criticisms against his office he only laughed, praising Sythimedes for his courage. The emperor said that had he not already fathered children, he'd have taken the Greek's advice and left his wife. With this reaction, there was no chance of the Senate going behind the back of the emperor to ban the text or persecute its author.
In 607, a doctor ballistarii (artillery instructor) from the Technaeum started a contract with the Grand Harbor of Carthage to design a harbor crane for unloading ships in the annulus where the majority of traders docked. Since the docks of the annulus were beneath a large canopy, the engineer had seen a way of integrating vertical and horizontal cranes into the ceiling. In their position, these devices would not obstruct the internal piers of the annulus, except by needing new columns to support the weight they added to the ceiling. They were arranged in such a manner that cargo up to 20 tonnes could be removed from a ship then moved in steps (by gantry crane) to the edges of the annulus for unloading. This network of machinery was more elaborate than even the most complex watermill, consisting of over a hundred vertical cranes located over the water and nearly five hundred distinct gantry cranes spread over the 2.39 km² surface area of the annulus.
To finish this commission, the city of Carthage needed to request money from the Senate, as the project was coming close to depleting the municipal and provincial treasuries (which were modest by comparison with the national treasury). However, the improvements proved worth the cost as they were of reliable construction and allowed ships to be unloaded easily dozens of times faster than a crew of dock workers and with far less labor. The reduction in staff on the docks alone were worth the costs of the network of cranes.
As one of the only major indoor wharves in the world, the Grand Harbor of Carthage could benefit in a unique way from cranes, but news spreads quickly and soon a number of other dockmasters were seeking the engineer to design cranes for their docks. Carthage's city senate was happy to spread the word about its now famous engineer, a Phoenician by the name of Balyaton. His designs for other harbors were far less complex than his system in Carthage but it was the concept of a harbor crane that truly revolutionized Roman docks. Some were tower cranes, rotating about a fixed spot on the harbor; some were gantry cranes that moved cargo along a line on the piers; and a few, such as those in Ostia, even drew power from urban aqueducts.
Meanwhile, a new piece of infrastructure was being integrated into the streets of the city of Rome. Over the last two centuries, the Cloaca Maxima (grand sewers) of the city had been expanded to outpace the impressive sewers of Byzantium, to the point that there was a sewage tunnel beneath nearly every road in Rome (however, private baths did not catch on as they did in the east as the Romans loved their thermae). This infrastructure permitted the Senate to build more extensive rainwater drains in the city streets, as the existing tunnels were not as effective as they could be at draining away rain. These new drains were larger but no more prominent than older drains, their size making it easier for trash to wash away during a good downpour.
However, when the Senate began to commission water carts for the street cleaners in 614 to wash the filth from the streets when there was not enough rain, there was an outbreak of malaria that would kill nearly a hundred thousand people. Doctors brought in to assess the epidemic asserted the teachings of Galen of Pergamon, correctly blaming the mosquitoes that breed in pools of stagnant water. At their behest, water carts were banned from use in cleaning the streets. Nevertheless, with the new size of the drains, street cleaners could easily sweep refuse into the sewers.
A few years later, the Senate would directly connect the aqueducts to major drains beneath the city streets, separated only by a valve that could be accessed without much effort (as long as the person had the key to its warded lock). When opened, water would basically flush the drain of waste that had accumulated over the week or two between uses.
One other invention from this period that is worth mention was a flywheel designed to operate with a polybolos (semi-automatic artillery). To use this device, the artilleryman would crank the flywheel to its full rotational velocity then draw down the gears to connect the rotating weights to the chain drive of the ballista. By design, the gears would lock together securely so that the weapon would be driven by the stored energy, in principle allowing an artilleryman to focus on aiming as his ballista automatically reloaded and released its missiles. As historical value, the weapon built at the Technaeum in 601 stands apart as history's first automatic weapon, but the flywheel could only power the chain drive for about 30 seconds on a reasonable charge and was bulky enough to hamper the practical mounting of the polybolos. For this reason, the Legion could not use it widely.
Both the military and military spending were now under the control of one man who had no other responsibilities than the Legion (unlike an emperor, who would normally control the military in addition to other tasks). As might be expected, the Roman army under the leadership of Laevinus (595-619) drew extensively on public funds.
First, Laevinus went about building more walls for the limites (national borders) of the empire. At last, the border of Mauretania received its own brick wall and a stone wall was built to replace the old brick wall in the southern mountains of Ethiopia, as this old Aksumite wall had been punctured at several points. There had been minor raids by Somali kingdoms since the annexation of the Kingdom of the Aksum and while these were barely a threat, the new wall would cut them off from Ethiopia entirely. These walls were started around 595 and 598 respectively.
A year after construction started on the second wall, Laevinus commissioned labor to cut down all trees within 4 stadia (740 m) of the Fluvius Vistillus, a river acting as a moat to the breathtaking Vallum Vistillum on the western shore. Geologists on the military payroll informed the generalissimus that deforestation would allow the river to cut away the soil over time. Hearing where where the shoreline would become most vulnerable, Laevinus had it reinforced with concrete retaining walls both to prevent erosion and hold back the soil from falling into the river (already, a good portion of the Vistillus had such barriers but most of these were on the western bank to prevent erosion from undermining the foundations of the wall). Wood from this deforestation was used to construct a brick and mortar wall at the new edge of the forest, 740 meters from the river banks.
Almost as long as the Vallum Vistillum, this secondary wall was meant to prevent the close approach of the main wall on the river and to prevent retreat from the killing zone that had been created by removing the cover of trees. Furthermore, this wall would obstruct the approach of siege weapons, providing ample warning of an invading army should the constant patrols along the Limes Vistillus somehow miss the invasion.
Alongside his efforts to fortify the empire with defenses of brick, Laevinus sought to defend it with defenses of men. The elite cohort of Spartans, the Cohors Lacona, was refitted to be an honor guard for the generalissimus, following wherever he went and fighting alongside him in battle. These Spartans became his primary arm and were responsible for his life. By this time, the Spartan cohort was better equipped and vastly better trained than any legionary cohort, which is no small feat since the average legionary has ten years of military experience under his belt. This training cannot compete with the Spartan lifestyle, the life of a people who once again lived and breathed the military, training their whole lives to be selected as the best for this elite unit.
Next, Laevinus added two entirely new legions to the Roman army, bringing the total back to 28 legions. These were stationed outside the Vallum Magnum Judaecum along the Limes Arabicus, defending Armenia and Mesopotamia from Persia. This expansion of the standing army of the empire reversed the attempts of earlier emperors to reduce Rome's military in light of its cost to public funds and the increasing lack of occasions that require the services of the Legion.
Indeed, the role of the army for the last century and a half has been mostly policing the border provinces and patrolling the hills, forests, or deserts within a few dozen kilometers of the border fortifications. Laevinus intended to temporarily change this role.
Conquest of Persia
In one of the most ambitious military expeditions in Roman history, Laevinus assembled 17 legions in the provinces of Armenia and Mesopotamia. These forces were drawn from the eleven local legions with six legions from Ethiopia and Dacia. Altogether, he would field 108,800 legionaries, 27,200 sagittarii, 920 polyboloi, 200 mobile carroballistae, and 1,700 miscellaneous ballistarii to assist with deployment or the construction of siege towers, battering rams, and heavier ballistae.
Sassanid Persia stood no chance against half the weight of the Roman military. The legions set out from their disparate bases on the Ides of March, an agreed date by which to synchronize the invasion. One by one, Persian cities fell. Shah Hormizd II assembled the largest army that he could muster at the capital of Ctesiphon - an admittedly impressive force of 180,000 men conscripted from the major cities (with only a years time to train), the 10,000 Immortals, the 24,000 daylamite heavy infantry, and about 13,000 heavy cavalrymen. Sadly for the realm of Iran, the Shah had to distribute his elite soldiers across a vast field of green troops, or risk near certainty of losing a flank in the early stages of battle. This dilution of his forces would prove perhaps no less disastrous as the legions marched straight through their battle lines, shadowed as they were by archers that fired with no concern for their allies (as the testudo would rhythmically halt and close its shields in time with the volleys). Artillery hammered at the Persian cavalry from afar, thereby guarding the legionary formations from a fatal charge (although two legions were lost after a few successful waves of heavy cavalry).
The battle did not last too long. By the end, most of the Persian elite soldiers lay dead or dying in the sand and what remained of the conscripts had been routed from the field. The Shah managed to flee down the Persian roads, heading to the coast. When news reached him that the last Persian cities along the Euphrates and Tigris had fallen, he sought to flee to allies in India by taking a boat out of the gulf on the borders of Persia. His luck would not find him as the Romans had anticipated this action and effectively blockaded the neck (about 53 km wide) where the gulf met the Erythraean Sea (Indian Ocean).
Captured and without an army, the Shah conceded to the demands of Laevinus to relinquish his kingdom to Rome, adding the entire land of Persia to the Roman Empire (not to mention a Persian treasury of 160 million denarii looted from the capital). When these lands were handed to Rome in 611 CE, the Senate was wet with anticipation over separating the new territory into provinces for administration. Land around the Oceanus Hyrcanianus (Caspian Sea) became the province of Media, the main cities in the cradle of civilization became Assyria, the far eastern lands facing the belligerent Turkic tribes became Sassania, the lands on the gulf became Parthia, the lands bordering the Indian kingdoms were made into India Minor, and the existing provinces of Mesopotamia and Armenia were appropriately expanded. The whole region was placed under the new Foederata (federation of provinces) referred to as Persia.
Not only did the conquest require the loss of four legions worth of men, the annexation would prove nearly impossible. Constant patrols by the ten stationed legion were required throughout the new imperial provinces, with men carefully searching ruins and towns for rebels that were raiding incoming shipments. Meanwhile, Turkic tribes were encroaching upon Sassania from the east and north, crossing the new Limes Persicus in the tens of thousands. In response, the Romans were forced to arm the locals of Sassania in about half the Turks numbers, leaving the defense of the land in the hands of the Sassanids and two legions.
Around this time, the Romans more fully adopted the term Magna Sarmatia for the region north of the Armenian Mountains, including the province of Taurica (Crimea). Strong comparisons were made with Magna Germania as the new land beyond the borders of the empire, where civilization came to a halt. However, compared to the Limes Persicus, the Limes Armenicus (a line now distinguished from the Limes Arabicus that had once meant the entire eastern frontier) was a peaceful place, buffered by the small Kingdom of Iberia and a few weak Sarmatian tribes living in the mountains. Iberia was a foederatus (vassal state) of Rome starting from a few decades after the annexation of Armenia.
Now, Rome was in control of the famous Silk Road and suddenly, contact with the far east flourished where before Romans only knew of those lands through sea trade and a single brief conquest. Unlike the Sassanids, Roman legati augusti (imperial provincial governors) had local merchants go farther into India for trade, creating more direct contact between the Persians and the Indians. In particular, the Rai Kingdom of Sindh was contacted directly for a meeting with prominent senators. Closer trade and political relations with the Sindhi Kings were sought by the Senate but offers of a foedus (alliance) were refused. Sindh had never interacted with Rome before, although traces of Hellenistic culture were noticeable from an earlier time (e.g. in coins).
The legatus of India Minor received Raja Sahiras II of Rai in 617 and tried to regale the Sindhi King with descriptions of Roman power, even holding a parade of two legions in his honor. However, the Rajput would leave unimpressed, saying that his armies were nearly four times the size and countering descriptions of the defeat of the Hunnic Empire with his ancestors own conflicts against the Hepthalites, which he regarded as more fearsome than anything Rome had fought. He did not pay enough attention to the dinner conversation to realize that the army on parade for him was a mere fourteenth of the whole standing army. Even more egregious was how the Rajput remained unimpressed by the conquest of Persia, instead expressing disgust at how weak the Persians had allowed them to become to be defeated by such a meagre power.
Governors of the Persian provinces were certain that Sindh would take advantage of this perceived weakness by invading, but the Rajput clearly had other concerns that kept his armies elsewhere. Nevertheless, a larger garrison of legions was kept on the border province with the Rai Kingdom in case the situation changed.
Other local kings were received by the governors of Sassania and India Minor but none were willing to declare their allegiance to the Roman Empire as a foederatus, as they had effectively done for Persia, except for the Kingdom of Bamian which needed the support of a strong military power to fight the Turks.
A vassal for Rome
Although Rome no longer had an international rival in Persia, the Confederation of Germania posed a new threat. The Huns had created the only unified empire of Germanic and Sarmatian peoples but this alliance of Germanic kingdoms somehow appeared more dangerous in the eyes of the Senate, as a lasting political organization of the former tribes.
As a buffer against this great power, the Senate sought to unify the border tribes into a foederatus dependent on Rome. The Officium Barbarorum (Bureau of Barbarians) spent three years finding the right chieftain among Slavic tribes, who live beyond the River Vistillus, for Rome to support in a conquest of the other tribes. Since his Roman supporters referred to him and his kin as Venetians, the Chief Gniewen adopted the name for his tribe, as an expression of his patronage. From 615 to 628, he was supplied with quality weapons, armor, and training for his tribe, which gradually grew from less than a thousand people to nearly a million, as one tribe after another was forced to swear its allegiance to him.
During his conquests, Gniewen received nearly a million denarii in silver - a highly prized metal for his people - and thousands of sets of long swords, scale armor, wooden shields with bronze rims, and war horses. No group in Eastern Europe was better equipped than Gniewen and his tribes. In 629, a formal declaration of fealty to Gniewen by all the lesser tribes he had conquered was regarded by the Senate as a sign of their success - the foundation of the Kingdom of Venetia.
For his part, Gniewen enforced Roman styles and culture in his royal court - having learned Latin himself from the dignitatum (diplomatic legate) that Rome had kept in his close company. A vulgar Latin would be the primary language of his court while the practices of Roman politics were adopted to some degree. Gniewen kept a council called his Senat and an assembly of magistrates called his Regis Suvetis (King's Assembly), which was responsible for bringing the king's plans to fruition. These Magestirs (Lords of the Royal House) were selected from among the most loyal feudal lords acquired by the king. In total, the Emperetor (King of Venetia) owned the allegiance of nearly 550 lords, some of which were raised up to lords of lords as a way of facilitating the control over such a diverse kingdom.
Trade with the highly productive provinces of Magna Germania provided a strong economic foundation for the Venetians. They were taught some Roman agricultural practices and trained in Roman metallurgy, although Romans would often sell ingots of metals such as iron and silver for use by Venetian blacksmiths (allowing a modest level of ore exploitation given the kingdom's access to metal weapons, coinage, and jewelry). The primary currency of the Venetians would be the Roman denarius, which was available to the king in large quantities due to the patronage of the Roman Senate.
As a means of maintaining military control, the Emperetor required that all his lords live within wooden halls, outlawing the construction of stone dwellings above a certain size. However, the River Castle (Castel Fluven) of the Emperetor was an impressive structure, constructed with the aid of a Roman architect. This castle would serve as the residence of future kings, allowing them to remain safe while their vassals lived in buildings that were all but impossible to defend. The design of the castel, as the Venetian nobility called it, was the first of its kind as a fortified private residence. Other kingdoms in Europe had not taken the steps toward fortifying their great halls, at best some Germanic kings had built walls around their capital cities.
For Rome, the creation of a kingdom was less expensive than fielding more legions (as each legion required almost 2.5 million denarii in annual wages) and did not endanger Romans for the defense of the empire. However, there were still some senators of a more conservative bent who strongly opposed dependence on barbarians for the defense of Rome, citing the refusal of previous great emperors to stoop to such cowardly military tactics. Nevertheless, there was no turning back from their creation without losing control of the Venetians so even disgruntled senators were forced to support Roman patronage of the Emperetor.
By 650 CE, the Kingdom of Venetia covered a large region hugging the coast of the Mare Suebicum (Baltic Sea), stretching from the Turuntus in the north to the souternmost tributary of the Borysthenes in the south and east. Nearly 1.5 million Slavs populated its villages and farms, out of which 90,000 lived in its capital of Venetia (situated on a tributary of the Vistillus).
Meanwhile in Eastern Europe
Politicals affairs were not stable. A number of problems plagued each Kaisar (High King of the Germans) of the Confederation of Germania, only becoming more troublesome over time. First, the Kingdom of Lombardy continued to grow in power since the reign of Buris the Great, encompassing almost an eighth of the confederation by 620 CE. Lombardy had gradually expanded west toward the Baltic Sea both through territory acquired by the Lombard King's lords and through Slavic chieftains pledging their fealty to the King as they settled on the borders of his territory.
Second, the Kingdom of the Alans was becoming steadily more culturally isolated from the other kingdoms. Its connection had never been strong, as a Sarmatian kingdom, but in 604, the King of the Alans converted to Roman Christianity, forsaking the gods of his people and the Germanic gods to which he owed worship as a Germanic King. As a result, the confederation was plunged into religious war starting around 607, when the High King permitted kings or lords to go to war against one another for infidelity to the gods (a stance taken to avoid the involvement of his own kingdom, the Vandal Kingdom, in any wars. Both the Thuringian Kingdom and the Ostrogothic Kingdom raised war hosts from their lords to fight the Alans. Another High King brought an end to the wars with the Treaty of Stromm (628), permitting each king to manage the religious affairs of his people.
After the treaty, the Avar Khaganate relinquished ties to the Germanic gods. Indeed, the Avars were a third problem that the confederation occasionally needed to confront, as when one Khagan broke his oaths by halting payments to the High King. This infidelity to the crown received a violent response, ending in 636 with the loss of territory and horses by the Khaganate. In the end, the Khaganate would only survive another two years before splintering into several Khaganates. At the same time, its lands were being lost to the Göktürks, who were slowly migrating west from the plains north of China.
These Turks posed the fourth threat to the stability of the confederation - a foreign power that would not settle for peace as easily as Rome. Fortunately, the confederation could raise powerful war hosts when incursions came too deep into its kingdoms, but these were not enough to prevent the absorption of most of the successor states to the Avar Khaganate, losing most of its land around the northern shores of the Oceanus Hyrcanianus. The Western Turkic Khaganate was never offered a place in the confederation, as most kings were uneasy after their experiences with the Avars.
Around the same time, the confederation was influenced by a Roman dignitatum to open peaceful relations with the Kingdom of Iberia and the Kingdom of Albania, as the Kingdom of the Alans had spread into the Armenia Mountains. Roman influences on the confederation were becoming a fifth danger to be overcome by High Kings. For similar reasons as the creation of a new kingdom in Venetia, Rome did not want the confederation to be of one mind - disagreement between kingdoms served Roman interests more than unity. Furthermore, Rome could not abide one kingdom growing too powerful.
After seeing the third Lombardic High King in thirty years, the Roman Senate had to act. A time when a king was elected to be Kaisar was a time during which surplus food from taxes allowed the people of his kingdom to work on great works of architecture. A long succession of High Kings in one dynasty would allow one kingdom to grow inordinately strong, as Lombardy was doing. In reaction, Rome instigated the usurpation of Kaisar Aginpert by armies raised by nine of the eleven remaining kingdoms. His defeat and execution in 641 allowed the Kingdom of Bavaria to grow around the borders of Lombardy, stifling the kingdom.
Similar wars would be fought between kings at the behest of Rome as the empire continually tried to maintain a certain balance of power in the confederation.
Lastly, the confederation faced an influx of Slavs from the north and west. These peoples were nomadic by origin but exposure to Germanic culture and dealings with Germanic kings would allow the gradual settlement of unoccupied lands starting in 597. There would be nearly almost half as many Slavic as Germanic peoples by the end of the next century. These new kingdoms would be too much to bear for the confederation, as a meagre system of elections by feudal lords could not maintain the loyalty to the High King of such a widely distributed patchwork of regna (feudal kingdoms) and agusties (Free Fiefs).
Caesar Aquillus (621-639)
When Petro died of a fever in his villa on the Canary Islands, his adopted successor Marcus Cornelius Aquillus was elected with slim majorities from the people and Senate. Aquillus was already in his late forties when he ascended to the curule throne and he was known more for his quick wit than skills that would suit him to governing the empire. However, the instruments put into place by Petro to allow the Senate to hold the fort, as it were, would find use under this next disinterested emperor.
Unlike Petro, Aquillus sought glory for himself. When the empire was plunged into a foreign crisis through which it would lose nearly a fifth of its territory, he panicked and demanded that he lead an army to regain Roman lands, especially after the Senate attempted to go around him to offer peace to this enemy of Rome.
When news reached Aquillus of the victory of Generalissimus Laevinus over Persia, he swiftly announced that a celebration was in order for the capital. Persia had threatened Western civilization since the Greco-Persian Wars and had been a thorn in the side of the Roman Empire for as long as there was an emperor. Many Romans, including the emperor, saw its permanent defeat as one of the greatest triumphs in Roman history. For an event as grand as this triumph, Aquillus desired not only a great festival but also a grand monument to the triumph of Rome over Persia. In preparation for the return of the great general, Aquillus had the finest artists and architects in the empire brought to Rome and ordered the Janiculum Hill cleared for a triumphal arch.
Built over a decade, the Victory Gate became the largest triumphal arch ever built until that point in history. On the whole, the arch did not strongly resemble any previous arches, although there were similarities to earlier tetrapylons (four-sided archways). Standing on the second tallest hill around Rome, the Gate itself rises an additional ~71 meters above the ground and faces the Capitoline Hill directly east from its position. The Victory Gate has four barrel vaulted gateways: two central arches spanning its long faces, not unlike the ancient Arch of Titus, and two smaller arches across its width. The large archways span ~27 meters and have keystones resting ~49 meters above the floor below. By contrast, the smaller archways only reach as high as the imposts for the main arches and only span about 21 meters. Unlike other triumphal arches, the center of the Gate, between the two central archways, was a concrete pendentive dome with an interior circle of diameter 32 meters.
Above the archways was a stoa that from an aerial view had the shape of the letter "I" with its horizontal strokes. From the same vantage point, the whole Gate has a rectangular appearance. The roof of the stoa had a rotunda that was parallel and concentric to the dome beneath the walkway and that had an octastyle portico facing the Capitoline. On each flank of the rotunda, the roof of the walkway rose again to the height of the rotunda's peak, except these two roofs above the legs of the central arch were flat. Topping each roof were gold chariots, driven by the angel of victory (Nike). While the portico of the rotunda was in the classical style, the dome itself was topped with a golden eagle whose wingspan extended as far as ~8 meters.
Various surfaces across the Victory Gate depicted scenes from conflicts between Persia and the Graeco-Roman world, especially of the recent conquest of Persia. Most images of this sort are on the ceilings inside the rooftop stoa. Spiral staircases accessible from the back of the monument, on both the northern and southern legs of the western archway, go up to the space within the stoa, allowing the public to enjoy the space above the monument for various activities. The colonnade had no parapet to prevent people from falling but most of the ledges around the walkway only overlooked a short drop to another part of the monument.
The view from the walkway of the Victory Gate was breathtaking. Effectively the entire capital was visible from its eastern side, bringing tens of thousands of locals to its colonnade every day. Due to its size, unique design, and location, the Victory Gate swiftly gained a national reputation. Within a century, the Gate had become a symbol of military strength and a reminder of the golden age under the Fabian emperors, before the rise of Islam.
Prophet of Islam
As Persia collapsed in the north, the Arabi were becoming a unified people. Around 622, an Arabian prophet, who claimed to have heard the word of God through an angel, fled to Yathrib from the city of Mecca. Yathrib was renamed Medina (un-Nabi) or the City (of the Prophet) as part of a chain of events that rapidly united Arabia. Within a decade, the prophet, known to his followers as Muhammed, died and his friend Abu Bakr was elected his successor, leading his armies onto foreign soil in service of Allah (God). Although Abu's leadership was opposed by those believing that Ali ibn Abi Talib had been named his successor, he proceeded to conquer the rest of the peninsula, engulfing the Roman vassals of Ghassan and Lakhmid.
Abu governed according to the Constitution of Medina, a unilateral declaration of law by the prophet. People and tribes who accepted these laws became part of the Ummah (Community), even those who did not directly follow the prophet's teachings. Those who did follow Muhammed were viewed as being of one faith. With emphasis on voluntary submission to God, this faith would be referred to as Islam and derived its tenets from the recitations of Muhammed (Qur'an). The Islamic polity that would succeed Muhammed's unified Arabian state was the Caliphate, the state of the successors of Muhammed (Caliphs).
Before dying two years later, Abu appointed his closest and most capable supporter, Umar, as his successor. As with Abu's appointment by the Muhajirun, Umar was opposed by those who believed that Muhammed had named his cousin, Ali, as his first successor. However, the military and political elite, including Ali, desired only a unified Caliphate and so Umar reigned with the full support of the Ummah and of the companions of Muhammed (Sahaba).
Umar would prove a most able ruler, instituting many reforms of how the Caliphate would be governed. He would build great cities in conquered lands, organizing them according to rigorous principles of social planning. Meanwhile, starting in 635, brilliant Arab generals such as Ali and Khalid ibn Al-Whalid led the forces of Islam into battle against the Roman Empire.
Rome did not anticipate the forces that stormed out of Arabia Deserta. One of the armies that crossed into Mesopotamia had over 100,000 soldiers, led by the brilliant Khalid. Arabs knew of the Vallum Magnum Judaecum (Great Wall of Judaea) so the armies of Khalid steered farther east, aiming for the Fertile Crescent and former Persia. Once Mesopotamian cities were under their control, they moved into Assyria to confront a Roman army massing at Seleucia. Several miles from the city, the two armies clashed - a force of ~100,000 Arabs against five legions. Despite the skill and technology of the legionaries, the battle was a decisive victory for the forces of the new religion. Only the legate of Assyria could flee, taking his last two legions to join with the two Indian legions and the three legions fighting Turks in the far east.
News of the defeat at the Battle of Seleucia (636) reached the eastern provinces only a few months before word came from the emperor recalling the eastern legions back behind the Great Wall. The defeat in Assyria had been even worse than the Battle of Augusta Vindelicorum, with the legions faring that much worse against a proportionally smaller foe. These Arabs had a zeal in battle and in conquest that put fear into the hearts of senators, such that they motioned that the Legion could not allow their armies past the wall at any cost. As it happened, this cost would be their recent territorial acquisition: Persia.
Peace terms were sent to Khalid, offering lands east of the Tigris as well as half of the Fertile Crescent. This offer was presented as highly generous on the part of Rome, ostensibly given in honor of "Arabian bravery against armies that are 200,000 strong". The response of General Khalid was brief, "Then let us see them." Rome would have no choice than to fight.
Caesar Aquillus assembled an army from seven of the eastern legions and two of the Dacian legions. Other legions were moved to Egypt, Nubia, and Arabia Petraea, to repel a possible crossing of the Mare Rubrum. There would be no mercy should the Islamic armies try to cross the wall or the sea but Rome had become too cautious to take the offensive. Meanwhile, the Arabs were easily taking over the lands of Persia, as there were neither governors nor a unified military to stop them. Some cities would resist their approach but common folk did not expect another invasion and most of the elite was informed of the reason for which the Romans had abandoned their cities. There was scarcely enough time for the Persians to reunify before the Arabs took them.
Khalid did not bring his forces back around until 639, when the last major city in the Zagros mountains had fallen. He had heard that the Romans were refusing battle, cowering behind their Great Wall until an army would approach. The great Muslim general would not disappoint Rome, assembling the greatest army that the Caliphate had ever seen. Nearly 180,000 men would partake in the attack on the wall near Palmyra but they would be surprised to find a Roman army with nearly half their numbers (as the emperor saw fit to scout for several days march ahead of the Great Wall while maintaining rapid communication along its length).
At the Battle of Palmyra, Khalid would face his first and only defeat, managing only to take the fortress at the gate before other legions expelled his forces slowly into the pass between the primary and secondary layers of the Great Wall. True to reputation, the Great Wall withstood every siege weapon that the forces of Islam could muster, forcing the invaders to pack dirt over the forward concrete barrier to roll their engines up to the secondary wall and absorbing thousands of blows from catapults (most of which did not even hit the primary stone wall or fortress).
Five legions were lost in the battle but the Arabs lost three men for every fallen legionary. Unfortunately, the emperor was killed when the fortress was taken, as the gates were breached and the courtyard stormed too quickly for him to escape. On the death of the emperor, Aulus Cleganus Rostrus took power as his lawfully adopted successor.
Rome's victory at Palmyra would suffice to convince Khalid and Umar that an invasion of the Roman Empire was worth no gains that could be made for the Islamic community. A treaty of peace was signed in Nisibis where Rome relinquished all Asian lands beyond the Great Wall to the Caliphate, including the heavily Romanized and Christianized province of Armenia. The Senate had agreed that holding even Armenia would be an impossible task if the Caliphate could raise another army in the future. Although peace would not last long, the agreed borders would have a lasting geopolitical influence on the region.
In this way, the peak of the Roman dominion on this Earth would come to an end. For a mere two decades, the Roman Empire stretched from the Canary Islands to the Indus Valley, maintaining its conquest of Persia for even longer than Alexander the Great. Around half of the human race lived within Roman territory during this time, a total of ~120 million people. There had been no empire before and there would be none after that could boast such an achievement. Sadly, Rome could not have anticipated the sudden expansion of the Arabian tribes, leaving itself completely vulnerable when they united. These events were a lesson to be recorded for posterity, reminding Romans to prepare for unexpected dangers and never grow too complacent.
Caesar Cleganus (639-642)
Unfortunately, the next emperor would not partake in the more cautious spirit of Rome. He had his eyes on more than mere glory as his adoptive father had pursued to his grave. Cleganus wanted to rule like a god and wield a power that could not be hindered by other men. While he knew he could not acquire this in Rome, he wasted no time realizing his dream elsewhere.
Regrouping the Legion
The manpower of nine legions was lost in the war against the Caliphate. Without a draft, the Senate would take two decades (a full military service period) to replenish the ranks of the Legion but nothing they could do would appease the widespread grief over the loses of the empire. More cosmopolitan citizens were shocked and frightened by the sudden contraction of the empire but most people's grief came from the loss of brothers, fathers, and husbands to an unknown and strange enemy. Children left without fathers from the war were on public welfare until they turned fifteen, a useful propaganda devised by senators in private but presented to the public as a way for Rome to honor the sacrifices of its legionaries.
For the next few years, the Senate would go to great lengths to increase the prestige of the Legion, restoring its reputation after its first major defeat in a thousand years. In general, the reign of Cleganus marked a peak for the military influence of the Senate.
As destroyed legions were slowly recreated or replaced, the Senate devised a new peacetime allocation of legions, although they could not implement these plans until the emperor returned to Rome. Nevertheless, the new arrangement addressed the changed geopolitical situation of Europe, accounting for the creation of a new vassal in Eastern Europe and the emergence of Islam.
Five legions were to remain in Magna Germania to patrol the still wild lands that stretched between coloniae. Another five were to guard the border along the Tyras River where the Kingdom of the Alans now touched the empire. Mauretania would be designated a propraetorian province and its two legions would be moved to Taurica. Of the remaining fourteen legions, there were to be three in Egypt, two in Nubia, and two in Ethiopia as well as seven legions smeared across the eastern provinces from Cappadocia to Arabia Petraea. Syria would be returned to the governorship of a legatus augustus so that legions could be stationed on its section of the Great Wall. Obviously, this change meant two legions were to be disbanded. None of the changes proposed by the Senate could come into effect without the permission of a commander of the military, someone such as the emperor (who was away from Rome for most of his reign).
Motivated by the defeat at Seleucia and Pyrrhic victory at Palmyra, the Senate agreed that Rome needed to improve its primary military unit: the legionary. Both the abilities and equipment of legionaries received attention from senators.
For better soldiers, the Senate raised the number of years of training required to become a legionary to five years, meaning someone volunteering for military service would spend a quarter of his service period being trained. Large training grounds would need to be constructed deep within imperial provinces to offer more intense and varied programs for tirones (recruits). After the senatorial reforms, a legionary would be stronger, faster, and more disciplined than any earlier counterparts.
Equipment for the Legion would also be improved. Smiths from the province of Noricum were famous for their norica, an alloy of iron with greater tensile strength and durability. From one generation to the next, blacksmiths had been refining their craft into more elaborate and versatile techniques, with more intricate weapons and armor to match these techniques. When the Senate hired the smiths of Noricum to design a new suit of armor to replace the lorica laminata, they did not take long to draw on their earlier creations to present a fine piece of legionary armor to the visiting members of the Senate.
The armor's cuirass was a single plate of norica, case hardened for heavy impacts and ridged to deflect blades and arrows. Shoulder plates looked similar to the old armor but extended farther down the upper arm. From beneath these plates, a leather sleeve in which plates of norica, no larger than bronze coins, were embedded came out then enveloped the arm until it reached a norican bracer on the whole wrist. Leather straps were strung from this bracer between the fingers to provide a rough surface on the palms to improve grip on a sword hilt or the reins of a horse.
Below the waist, the new armor was no different than the lorica laminata, nor were the galea (helmet) or cast iron pieces made any different. As always, the gladius was sheathed on the right hip, since dominance of the right hand was strictly enforced and there were problems involved in drawing from the opposite hip. Overall, this lorica tectata protected the most frequently struck parts of a legionary, greatly improving his odds in battle, and brought Roman armor in line with the most recent advances in the craftsmanship and technology of Roman smithies (no government, not even Rome, could seize every new development as it arose).
Control over Somalia
Seeking absolute power, Cleganus saw one simple avenue. If he conquered territory for the empire, then he could do as some of his predecessors had done, taking the land as his own ager privatus (private land). To be sure, Egypt still held this status but it's place in the empire and its people's status as cives Romanes would be obstacles to his goals for absolute power.
Setting out with six legions in late 639, Cleganus did not take more than a year to take the separate Somali port towns. To get this army, Cleganus simply took the remainder of the eastern legions, which the Senate had intended to station along the coast of the Red Sea. Unsurprisingly, this action infuriated the Senate who could do nothing but receive word of his refusal to pass their military reforms and his dismissive words that "If these Arabi cross into Egypt, then my army is not far away. Do not worry about such things." With this message, Cleganus had free rein to realize his aspirations in Somalia.
To be clear, Cleganus did not appoint any unique titles or powers to himself - even appointed a praefectus somalianus as was appropriate for his determined mode of governance. However, with control over the local legions and no means for communication to reach other provinces, there were no obstacles to Cleganus simply doing as he planned. The only news that came to Rome was a request for about 130 million denarii to come by ship to one of the Somali ports.
From February 640 to January 642, Cleganus forced the locals to build monuments in his honor - a 26 m tall statue of himself and a massive palace for himself, covering an area of almost three acres. He lived better than any king during his time in power. His legionaries were receiving four times their regular pay and gladly took part in his brutal public executions, even of some of their own, while nearly two thousand of them formed his personal guard alongside the two cohorts of the Praetorian Guard that had been brought from Rome. Everywhere Cleganus went in his "kingdom" he was surrounded by hundreds of soldiers, making it impossible for anyone to so much as touch him. Criminals were brought before him in his more modest yet still large palace in the rich city of Opone, the former residence of a powerful Boqor (whose head now adorned the palace walls on a pike).
Although no Rome, Opone was a beautiful city with lavish gardens, stunning marketplaces, and access to water. Cleganus lived an easier lifestyle than any emperor before him, even his epicurean grandfather could not enjoy the luxury of thousands of slaves that he could abuse and replace at a wave of his hand, even while their brethren were building him a luxurious new palace.
Back in Rome, the Senate eventually heard rumors of their emperor's activities in Somalia, displeased as they were that he had destroyed loyal trading partners and taken nearly half of what remained of the military. With the Proprinceps able to send a report to the emperor at any time, senators were cautious to express their fury and distaste with the behavior of Cleganus. This situation may have continued for a few more years had news not come to Rome that the Arabs were massing their armies near the coast of Arabia, supposedly building ships in great numbers. With this news, opposition to the emperor suddenly became of national importance, as an unchecked invasion of Egypt would cut the grain supply to Italy and put nearly ten million citizens in the hands of a dangerous foreign power and religion.
In reaction, the Senate had the six tribunes unanimously call an assembly of the people to elect a Generalissimus who would have total control over the armies of Rome, allowing him to raise new armies and concentrate forces in Africa. The Proprinceps came during the popular assembly to accuse the tribunes of treason, demanding that one of them veto the assembly and annul its validity. Not only did none of the tribunes comply but two of them rallied the mob against the Proprinceps. He was trampled by the crowd, dying several hours later when no one dared bring him out of the street to a hospital.
Informants of Cleganus reached Somalia two months before the Senate and its Generalissimus had assembled its army in the foot of Italy. With full control over the Classis (Navy), the Senate easily deployed its seven legions on the coast of Egypt. At the same time, Generalissimus Tyrianus Papilius received a message from the emperor accusing him and the Senate of the highest treason against Rome and demanding that they return control of their armies. A reply urging the emperor that the Senate only intended to fortify Egypt against the Arab threat was met with no answer - many senators feared the worst.
Their fears were realized when news reached Alexandria that every legatus in the empire had received a command to assemble in Nubia to destroy the rebellious army of the Senate. Expecting the worst and with no way to confirm the movement of the legates, Tyrus moved his army east into Arabia Petraea, a more defensible land with fortresses and mountains. From here, he sent his own messengers ordering all legates to stand down and return to their posts as his army had a mandate from the people to defend the eastern provinces from another invasion by the forces of Islam.
By June 642, the Generalissimus learned that there were still five legions heading to meet the emperor near Thebes. The other three legions had followed his orders, returning to their stations. Most legionaries knew this would be a civil war and some were not prepared to take a side between the emperor and the Senate, powerful as the latter had lately become. Leaving the scene of the impending clash of legions was an easy enough way to avoid being implicated with one side.
Cleganus wasted no time with his legions, taking Alexandria without bloodshed the moment he reached its walls. From this strong position, he fed his men and even replenished some of his ranks from the local citizens, as he was down by a twentieth of his strength from attrition and his penchant for executing his own soldiers. With a full force of eleven legions, Cleganus was confident that he would prevail against "traitorous scum" that followed the Senate.
Although his mandate was to defend the eastern provinces, Tyrianus decided to bite on the emperor's challenge to meet him on the peninsula connecting Africa with Asia. He knew Cleganus had the advantage of numbers but there were a couple aces up his sleeve that Cleganus would not expect. First, Tyrianus had taken the time to stop in Sparta to raise the Laconic Cohort, giving his forces the 640 greatest soldiers in the empire. Second, the smiths of Noricum had recently finished an order of the new plate armor for legionaries, with which ~1,600 of his men were outfitted (they would have several months to get comfortable with their new gear before the battle with Cleganus - although, that would be less time than the Senate expected).
Few battles in history compared with the clash of these two Roman armies. On all sides, 115,200 legionaries took part in the fight, alongside 28,800 sagittarii and 7,200 kataphractoi (heavy cavalry). Roman artillery on both sides proved highly effective at cutting down legionaries, whatever armor they wore. Heavier ballistae were used by Tyrianus to smash the testudo formations of the opposing centuriae, opening their defenses to his infantry. Overall, the senatorial legions were better commanded, winning the day with a decisive collapse of the emperor's center by the Spartans.
At the end of the day, 45,000 legionaries lay dead on the low-lying coast of the Sinneh peninsula, further weakening Rome. In this sense, the battle was a disaster for the empire, as an even greater loss of manpower than the war with the Arabs. There were now only enough legionaries in the empire for 17 legions, most of which would be concentrated on the Limes Arabicus. This reorganization would prove necessary when a fleet of nearly five hundred ships sailed for Nubia from the coast of Arabia. A dozen decaremes were broken against this armada, a sacrifice that reduced the Arabs down to a third of their original numbers.
When they landed in 646, it did not take long for the well-informed successor to Cleganus to bring nine legions to bear against what remained of the Arabic army. This victory cemented Rome's supremacy in diplomatic relations with the Caliphate, allowing the empire more control over how the two superpowers would interact in the future.
Statistics for the Roman Empire of 621 CE
Population: 119 million (49.8% of humans), including ~5.5 million slaves
Area: 11,289,000 km²
GDP: 10.115 billion denarii (~$131 billion US)
Treasury: 75 million denarii (~$975 million US)
Government revenue: 617 million denarii (~$8.02 billion US)
Military spending: 330 million denarii (53.5% of revenue or 3.26% of GDP)
Military size: 179,200 legionaries (28 legions), ~280,000 auxiliaries, 10,000 praetorian guards, and ~230,000 crewmen
Legislature: 1,000 senators
Christianity: 99% of citizens
Maya Conglomerate The king Ch'anqua II brought the Mayan civilization up to an even higher point than ever before. Though they had previously been marginally divided by differences in culture, both between the dominant Yucatecan and Nahua cultures, as well as the countless smaller ones such as Zapotecan. The monarch brought Nahua to the center stage, demanding of his citizens that they forsake the old language and customs. It was therefore that in 610 CE, Nahuatl became the official language of the Conglomerate. It was to be taught in all schools as well as to be used for the teaching of any other subjects. By 622 over 90% of the populace spoke Nahuatl, accomplishing an important step in its culture becoming the dominant of the empire.
Other changes, such as alterations of official religious practices and family customs, were made so that by 625, Nahua was the dominant culture of the Mayan and Mexica peoples. However, the Great Leap Forward, as the Mayans had called it, was not only about changing their own language and culture. It was also about making major strides in infrastructure and technology. The number and diversity of schools was increased over this period, with even the children of farmers going to special agricultural schools. At the king's death in 633, over 92% of Mayan children were going to school and the unemployment rate was effectively at zero.
In 634, scientists discovered how to more easily extract metals from their ore, in this case the intended metal was copper. Only 30 years before, metal extraction was discovered by the Mayans and the government quickly went to work finding a use for this. Eventually, in 611, a law was passed that limited the use of smelting facilities to people working for the government. Further advancements on the technology were made when several engineers discovered Iron smelting in 641. This new metal had far more desirable qualities than copper and so was considered the potential candidate for any use of metals that was not purely for decoration.
The discovery of metal extraction led to an expansion towards the north, thereby taking large quantities of land from the primitive natives. To the north of Mesoamerica were vast stores of metal ore, particularly iron, tin and copper. This region would soon become the industrial heartland of the Conglomerate, taking on similar role as Germania in the Roman Empire. The promise of economic prosperity here led the government to allow a movement of population from the Maya States to the newly acquired lands. The geopolitical effect of this would be felt within only a few decades after the shift was permitted in 639.
A prominent Mayan scientist named Ik' Balam made several unique discoveries between 597 and 628. He created, using new chemical equipment that had been invented in 577, several types of acids from natural components. The new substances included nitric acid, sulphuric acid, tartaric acid, hydrochloric acid and the uniquely potent aqua regia, or nitro-hydrochloric acid. The discovery of how to make these liquids was an important development of the time period and allowed for many of the industrial breakthroughs that would soon follow. That same scientist would later discover a method of distilling mixtures through the use of heat and tubes, discovering pure distillation.
1290 (537)-1348 (595)
1348 (595)-1395 (642)
|Reign of Tyrianus:|
1395 (642)-1440 (687)