Alternate History

687-761 CE (Superpowers)

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Reign of Tyrianus:
1395 (642)-1440 (687)
Early Tyrian Dynasty:
1440 (687)-1514 (761)
Middle Tyrian Dynasty:
1514 (761)-1588 (835)

Tyrian brought not only peace to the empire but also a renewed spirit of cooperation between Senate and emperor. More than ever, Rome needed internal unity in the face of drastic losses of long-held territory to a powerful new enemy. Although the forces of Islam were becoming more fractured, the threat they posed to Rome still loomed heavily over its empire.

Caesar Valerius (687-738)

Born into a wealthy family, Lucius Valerius Messalus was the eventual choice of the Senate through its agreement with Tyrianus, whom earlier senators offered the titles and powers of a first citizen in exchange for not naming his own heir. Valerius was a man in his forties when the Senate elected him emperor. In many ways, he was of the opposite mind as the power-hungry Cleganus - the emperor who had gone to war against the Senate - since Valerius was a man with a philosophical distaste for war, taken from his time studying rhetoric and moral philosophy in Pergamum. His temperament and fondness for the painted arts also earned him the nickname of Flos, or "the Flower". Originally, his opponents in the Senate called him the flower as derision of his lack of male virtues but Valerius and his supporters took the name in stride as emphasizing his status as a peacetime leader. In this way, Valerius promised the people of Rome another Pax Romana as an end to the last few centuries of consistent war.

Ultimately, Valerius would become the longest-lived emperor in Roman history. Coming to power after finishing his consulship in sui anno, he went on to govern the empire for 51 years, exceeding the length of the reigns of either Fabius or Marcus, and living longer than any emperor before him. Despite his prosperous early reign, Valerius is also remembered for being almost vegetative during the last ten years, allowing the Senate to more firmly reassert its de facto authority. The result would be a weakening of the harmonizing effect of the princeps civitatis and a re-emergence of the factional politics that dominated the Old Republic.

Great Roman inventor

Despite his distaste for warfare, Valerius saw the need for Rome to defend herself against those who sought her wealth and power; this emperor was not too naive to shy away from strengthening the martial and naval forces of his empire. He left the logistics of the Legion in the hands of a capable Generalissimus (most general commander of the armies) but took it upon himself to improve its capabilities through military research. No emperor before Valerius gave as much funding to the Technaeum Armarum et Armatura (Technical School for Arms and Armor), as he often devoted more than 60 million Dn to this venerable public institution. With the patronage of the stage, the Technaeum could triple its staff and double its student body within less than a decade, bolstering its number of doctores ballistarii (artillery technical instructors) with graduates who did not join the Legion.

The quality of instructors during this period surpassed earlier times and would not again be matched for centuries but only one of these men is worthy of extended consideration. This notable doctor ballistarius was the son of an instructor who starting working at the Technaeum around 695. Little is known with certainty about the boy's early life while his father taught at the school but it seems certain this man had taken his child to work after his wife died. The young Gaius Pistorius Mica is supposed to have spent his time in the libraries, teaching himself from books including the Sinican Suncius' Ars Bellis and the Roman Dionada's De Motu.

Mica properly entered the historical record upon enrollment at the Technaeum in 714 as a student. Already familiar with the lessons, he spent much of his student life conversing with his father's colleagues and watching tests for new artillery pieces. At this time, some of these instructors were hiring him to produce copies of their designs for distribution to the Generalissimus and other military officials who might be interested in their weapons. Drawing copies was a common task delegated to students but professors favored Mica for this job due to his growing reputation for fastidiousness and for catching problems in the original designs. Although this young boy had no artistic talent, technical drawings at the time were largely geometric. Nevertheless, one of his instructors paid for his training under a famous local artist, who history forgets, so that Mica might produce drawings with aesthetic appeal to match his precision.

Mica's attention to detail and systematic approach to drawing helped him train quickly as an artist. When he graduated from the school in 719, Mica had developed exceptional artistic skills, that would only improve throughout his life, and professors were fighting to have him partnered with them instead of with their colleagues. The practice for graduating students staying as doctores was to be made an apprentice of sorts with senior professors, assisting them with research and teaching before working independently. By this time, Mica had suggested changes to the carroballista, noting that its collapsible wooden shell could be replaced with a collapsible wooden skeleton holding up leather sheets, if the skeleton were properly designed (something he supplied), and had been one of the minds behind a simple cranequin for reloading a crossbow by cranking a gear that pulls a rack to draw the string.

Although these ideas made Mica a desirable apprentice, they were only notable by virtue of his age. It was not until 720 that Mica made a name for himself with the invention of the first repeating crossbow, which he dubbed the polytrahos (multi-draw bow). His design was simple - a box above the stock held ten bolts that were loaded into the bow one-by-one by each forward stroke of a lever. On the backward stroke of the same lever, the bowstring was pulled back over its short total draw distance. Between stroke cycles, the bolt released at full draw. The recurve bow that served as the arc of this semi-automatic weapon was made from composite materials while its string came from sturdy animals fibers. The chosen fibers could not be drawn far but stored a relatively high amount of energy when stretched a short distance. When fired, this polytrahos was positioned on the wielder's knee from a half-kneeling stance, where one hand lay under the stock while the other worked the lever.

In strong hands, the original polytrahos could be unloaded within ~15 seconds, as demonstrated to the group that assembled one afternoon in the training field of the Academia Bellica (War Academy). Onlookers were astouned by the performance of the weapon. The mechanism of the device differed heavily from the polybolos - the common semi-automatic artillery piece used by legionaries - and was less than half its size, aweing even the most expert observers that afternoon. Within a few weeks, Mica was called to Rome to personally receive an offer of patronage from the emperor, who had heard everything about the young man. The emperor's gift was a large property close to the Technaeum that would serve as Mica's private workshop.

Pistorian war machines

As a condition of his patronage, the emperor tasked Mica with improving his design of the polytrahos for widespread applications. As unique as its function was, the original polytrahos demonstrated in the training field was completely impractical. First, there was no way to reload the weapon without removing the magazine, which had been nailed and sealed to the stock. Second, its power did not match other crossbows of similar size and weight, although it could still penetrate leather plates and ringmail. Third, firing from the knee would work on the field but was less useful on the battlements of a wall, requiring other ways to deploy the polytrahos. Over the next decade, Mica devoted a great deal of his time toward improving the weapon that made him famous. Otherwise, Mica was free to pursue whatever work he pleased. Granting the brilliant inventor this liberty would not go unrewarded:

Early war machines

From 721 to 727, Mica produced few devices of note as he spent most of his time either working on the polytrahos or building little mechanisms just to test an idea or see where an thought led - a formative process in his understanding of machinery. One device that he asked to be shown to the emperor was a portable bridge which curled into itself for convenient transport on a cart drawn alongside a legion. His final design unfurled to ~4.73 m (16 Roman ft) and curled into a cylinder only one and half meters in diameter. Rolled into an octagonal cylinder, it was 1.48 m tall, meaning the unfurled bridge would be that many meters wide. This was wide enough for two legionaries to march concurrently in formation over the bridge. To support the weight of soldiers and wagons, the bridge had removable metal poles that could be threaded through its edges along the entire length. Valerius demanded that cohortes going beyond the national frontiers each have one bridge, removing the obstacle of small rivers for the Legion and its supply line.

In early 728, Mica unveiled designs for a small assault boat created to ram enemy ships - naming the vessel a vespa (wasp) for its particularly potent sting. A single vespa was driven by two paddlewheels each operated by one man, using mechanical advantage to increase the speed of his paddling tenfold. The prow was covered by an armored shield, thick enough to shrug off projectiles as large as those of a small mangonel. This shield extended more than halfway back and terminated in a solid metal horn. Once a vespa rammed the enemy, its shield would open to expose a miniature siphon (pressurized hose) for spewing Athenian fire. There was enough of this flammable and waterproof fluid for a short spray that could rapidly engulf a ship in flames ignited from within the bowels of the ship (through the hole made by ramming). Overall, vespae were designed as small and light craft, that could pierce a hull with only their speed and sharp ram - more importantly, the vespa was a low-cost way to deploy Athenian fire, allowing only two men to destroy an entire enemy ship without help.

An undeniable cleverness could be seen in the design of the vespa, helping Mica's national reputation grow. The two pilots of a vespa guided themselves by the aid of a polished bronze mirror that doubled as protection for the stubby mast, but the vespa was intended to be aimed at its target before bringing the vessel up to speed. The shield opened rapidly after pulling its brake - fast enough not to give time for defenders on the deck above to kill the pilots before they could light the primer and fire the weapon. By design, a vespa was meant to be deployed alongside two false craft without the fire projector. When the vespa had proven itself as a reliable weapon, there came to be one vespa on every decareme in the fleet.

Working for another two years on Athenian fire, Mica created a ballista for launching lit containers of Athenian fire instead of stones. Ammunition had to be lit in the moments before firing. Although the flame ballista had the advantage of range over the siphones that normally deployed the fire, it lacked the intensity of a continuous stream of flame and required additional caution to light a fuse that burned strongly enough not to fizzle midflight but not enough to burn the cords of the bow. For this reason, the siphon remained the more common means of using Athenian fire, with only moderate and judicious use of these fire spitters.

Heavy weaponry

Working to improve upon the techniques of ironsmiths, Mica developed his own process for smelting iron, one that resulted in a far more durable and malleable alloy than wrought iron. From a chemical perspective, the alloy was a high carbon steel forged from wrought iron using high-temperature crucibles. Although similar to the famous norica (noric steel), the new alloy could be smelted from any ores of iron, as opposed to only the local ores of the province of Noricum. In addition to widespread availability, Pistorian steel (norica pistoriana) surpassed traditional noric steel in durability and the potential sharpness of its forging.

These advantages cannot be overstated. Noric steel was in extremely limited supply throughout the history of the empire but this steel could be forged from any source of iron, once a proper crucible forge was prepared. Greater durability has obvious utility in sturdier weapons and more robust armor but the malleability of the material - allowing its folding into sharp blades - also ensured aptitude as a material for springs. In particular, Mica recognized the potential of Pistorian steel as the spring for a ballista.

His earliest application of steel in ranged weaponry was a heavy ballista with a composite of animal fibers and bird quills for its cords. The actual mechanism of this ballista echoed the lignaballista, where two sets of cords and arcs crossed in the middle to fire a single projectile from a tube. However, Mica adapted the design of that old weapon to avoid compromising on maneuverability - his steel allowed for much sturdier moving parts in the assembly of this plumballista. Another unique feature of the plumballista was that its projectile was a ~37 cm long piece of lead shaped to "lower the transference of [its] momentum (conata) to the air" - i.e. it fired a 57 kg aerodynamic lead shell (with a steel tip!).

Mica's invention of the plumballista was a tremendous leap forward for artillery technology. Not even a lignaballista could match its regular projectile velocity of ~70 m/s and no catapult could compare with its accuracy. Furthermore, unlike the heavy ballista that were already at the disposal of the Legion, the plumballista could be transported alongside an army on the march. Despite its great portability and the size of its projectiles, the weapon had a capacity for destroying fortifications which rivaled the heaviest onagers. When deployed by cart, the plumballista fired with such force that rooting to the ground was needed to bolster its frame against the recoil. Even when gripping the soil, the weapon risked cracking its wooden parts when fired. Due to its size and large energy capacity, a single plumballista needed two ballistarii to operate - one to crank the loading winch and another to reload the ammunition before aiming the weapon and pulling its firing winch. 

Due to its failings, the new weapon was imagined by Mica to be suitable for ships and walls more than the field, especially given the length of time required to prepare it for firing. Within a decade, hundreds were deployed on battlements and the decks of decaremes, where the plumballista completely replaced the traditional heavy ballista. Four of them could be placed on the deck of a deceres in place of two ballista, due to their compactness. Nevertheless, the plumballista would have been most useful on the field where the Legion could deploy it to lay siege to enemy cities and tear holes through entire formations of men. Mica would spend a great deal of time finding a compromise that could make his weapon more feasible as a mobile artillery piece.

Most of the problems were resolved by removing its ability to swivel left and right. Firing along the axis of the body of its cart, the weapon only rolled backward when fired, as opposed to stressing the frame and unbalancing the weapon when fired at a horizontal angle. Inspired by this design, Mica thought of an entirely new frame for the weapon, giving birth to his most versatile war machine after spending nearly a decade of meticulously working to bring this idea to reality.

Steel tortoise

Drawings for this latest machine were sent in 750 CE to the emperor - delivered under the less than modest title of testuda invicta (the unconquerable tortoise). Like many of Mica's weapons, its design was inspired by nature - this time by the eponymous tortoise.

Enveloping a plumballista in a conical steel shell, Mica created a moving, armored artillery piece that could move forward into battle under its own mechanical power. Five men were sheltered inside the shell. When in motion, each man served his turn as its pilot, watching through thin glass slits and directing the actions of his companions. Meanwhile, these other men worked in pairs on either the left or the right set of wheels, pedaling forward or backward at different rates according to instructions from the pilot. Using the mechanical advantage of gears, these legionaries could propel their testuda at the pace of marching troops, likely exhausting them after less than a half hour of travel. For this reason, the testuda was designed with the advice that a testuda be pulled by mule when not in battle, allowing the pilots to ride within and stay rested for the physical intensity of combat. 

testuda left little room within its body for occupants. The middle plane of the cone was dominated by the plumballista, extending almost the full diameter of the shell and only able to angle itself vertically. Just above the main weapon were two polytrahoi scaled upward to increase their power and magazine capacity. Most of each turret lay safely within the testuda shell, swiveling freely about where their long snouts - that extended several inches ahead of their respective arcs - attached firmly to the vehicle wall. When a stationary position was taken during a battle, two of the pilots manned these polytrahoi while two others passed them magazines on the surrounding wall racks inside the testuda. The last man both fired and reloaded the plumballista, assisted only in the latter task by the two ammo feeders (leaving him to crank its winch himself).

Before a battle, other legionaries would run the pedals for as much time as they had in order to charge the flywheel for each pair of wheels. This storage device had been designed a decade and half earlier by Mica, requiring a few modifications to avoid losing most of its energy to the sudden bumps and shocks that were inevitable when riding inside a testuda. Enough energy was stored on a full charge of the flywheels to ease the legwork of the men driving the machine but not enough to propel the machine on their own. Each flywheel consisted of two 12 kg steel balls on opposite ends of a 0.42 m steel bar rotating about its center, sitting at the same height as the wheels and able to drive its respective wheels whenever a pilot engages a small lever in the cabin. The property of the flywheel that made its use here possible was a mechanism for slowly bleeding off stored energy to the wheels.

Tactics for using a testuda in a siege and in open battle were detailed in a short booklet that Mica included with his designs. A testuda needed decent infantry support on a field but returned the favor with its devastating effectiveness against cavalry and its invulnerability to archers. Since its polytrahoi could maintain a firing rate of one shot per second, massed infantry were also quite vulnerable to a testuda, although they could disable one once close enough and a limited ammo capacity restricted a testuda to only 1000 bolts from its polytrahoi and 10 shells from its plumballista. However, Mica noted the potential to crush enemy morale with the sight of a seemingly invulnerable machine that would be killing almost one man every second for the first quarter of an hour of battle - also mentioning the bonus to the morale of one's own troops by fighting alongside such a monstrosity.

On open field, the conical shell of a testuda towered almost eight feet above a legionary. Its bulge at the widest point extended out far enough to allow two men to lie down inside its belly and fully extend their arms and legs (nearly 16 feet wide). For armor, a testuda had almost five tonnes of Pistorian steel wrapped around its cone, protecting its occupants with an inch thick wall. The wooden frame added another two tonnes, for a total of nine tonnes when full of ammunition and men. Every attempt was made by Mica to conserve weight, since the men inside needed to move everything by their own strength.

Mica boasted that a testuda was the only siege engine that a legion would ever need. No wall, or at least no gate, could stand against its powerful plumballista and an army would feel half its actual size in the face of its turrets. Nevertheless, he advised the emperor to provide one to every cohort - ten for each legion - so that the armies of Rome might be invincible. Instead, he heard that only one would be made in Carthage, under his own supervision, before the decision for mass production would be made. The new emperor was less enthused by Mica than Valerius but he would not miss an opportunity such as was being offered.

Later war machines

As Mica entered his twilight years, his prolific mind did not slow, although the ambition of his projects was tempered. Five years before he delivered the plans for the testuda, Mica sent the emperor his final designs for the polytrahos. Since the first repeating crossbows had been made, the auxiliaries of Africa Proconsularis had been equipped with them. Without a doubt, the simple to use but effective weapon was suited to the amateur troops who guarded the borders and towns of the province. Criminals were loathe to confront a town guard when he could easily loose enough arrows to turn him into a pincushion before he drew a blade. For its success, the polytrahos had become the standard armament for auxiliaries by 754.

In particular, the polytrahos is now seen as the weapon that tamed the Wild North of Magna Germania. They were sold freely only in Germany, where merchants and homestead owners could use them to defend themselves against the wild men who descended from the original residents of the land. Suddenly, one Roman could hold off an entire band of men, even from his horse, where before only a large trade caravan could bring along a polybolos cart to protect its goods while citizens living on farms could only rely on a polybolos wherever they stationed one as a turret, giving raiders the opportunity to avoid their primary means of defense.

For town guards, Mica designed a saddle-mounted polytrahos that restricted the horse to a slow trot but turned the rider into a formidable keeper of the peace. Sitting with his weapon in front, these auxiliaries could patrol at leisure without worrying about having to pull their weapon off their back at the first sign of trouble. Sending even one guard on horse with a polytrahos would do as much as sending ten archers, vastly improving the efficiency of the auxiliary city guards.

Dozens of other turrets, each of a different size or ammunition capacity, were designed for future needs, as Mica did not trust anyone to accommodate his design to suit a new problem. Few of these would ever see the light of day. However, the most useful of them was a large turret intended to replace the polybolos on the battlements of Roman walls. A holster for magazines gave one defender the ability to loose nearly five hundred arrows without assistance or preparation, unlike the polybolos which needed one man to crank and another to feed ammunition. This heavy polytrahos would become a reliable ally for auxiliaries on defending the borders of the Roman Empire, turning a single soldier into an entire battery of archers.

Unused war machines

For every siege engine that the emperor accepted from Mica, there were two or even three that were rejected as impractical or even impossible. A long list of these inventions is difficult since there are no single terms for them, obscure as they still are. However, an attempt can be made to describe a few of these strange devices. The majority of them were found in the writings of the great inventor or in the remaining fragments of letters that he sent to Rome.

Sketches of a diving suit, a diving bell, and other small water craft were sent to the emperor alongside designs for the vespa. For fighting one of the Caliphates, Mica suggested a procedure for diverting the course of the Euphrates and the Tigris to the Oceanus Hyrcanianus (Caspian Sea) to permanently wipe out the center of Persian civilization. Similarly, he proposed a larger canal (fluvossa) between the Mediterranean and the Mare Rubricanum, cutting directly through the peninsula between the two seas unlike the existing canal that went from a branch of the Nile into the Red Sea. This canal would have linked the two largest high fleets of the Roman Navy and would have made the Red Sea accessible to ships built from the great shipyards of Carthage.

Following the lead of Archimedes, he created versatile cranes for lifting ships out of the water during a naval siege as well as a handheld version of the siphon for spraying Athenian fire. There were also sketches of a carriage housing a mobile forge for replacing weapons on the field and of ships filled with Athenian fire that could be ignited in proximity to a formation of ships. Aside from these distinct devices, there were also alternate designs for those war machines that were accepted, where these variations preceded little or great modification before producing the final designs.

Roman industry

First and foremost, Pistorius Mica was a military engineer employed by a national academy to build weapons of war. However, his curiosity and the freedom allowed in his work left him some spare time to pursue non-violent applications of machinery.

Most of his civilian inventions were commissioned by merchants working out of the Grand Harbor of Carthage. A number of them were merely improvements on existing devices. For example, Mica created a water-powered paper mill, improving upon the paper mill invented in Alexandria around 650 by allowing for the continuous forming of paper sheets using rollers. Machinery for pulp millsgrain millsstamp mills, and sawmills were invented by Mica from 730 to 751, before he left Carthage on a series of trips for the promotion and creation of his testuda. Meanwhile, he also worked with shipwrights in the development of the double hull for ships, although its invention is barely attributable to Mica. The double-layered hull eventually became the standard for all military vessels in the empire and would become a popular design for merchant ships.

Wind-powered mill

His greatest civilian invention during this twenty year period was the windmill, using the windwheel designed several centuries earlier by Hero of Alexandria (10-70 CE). His original windmill had a similar appearance to the waterwheel except wooden panes were replaced with a light fabric on a wooden skeleton and a wooden barrier blocked the wind blowing through one half of the windwheel, replicating the effect of only half-submerging a waterwheel into flowing water.

Several windwheels were put on the roof of the Grand Harbor for powering the cranes used to transport cargo throughout the docks, lightening the load for the person operating each crane. Indeed, the rooftop windwheel would become a popular device for driving low power machines in coastal cities. Due to the axial symmetry of how windwheels were connected to the machines they powered, the "well" in which the windwheel sat on a roof could be rotated to catch a better wind. These rooftop mills did not take long to grow in popularity among artisans, especially in places where water was not as abundant as Italy or Germany.

Windpower may not have been as strong as waterpower could be and energy could not be stored for later use, but it was far more readily accessible given the dwindling amount of accessible water in the empire. In fact, the Roman Empire was close to reaching its peak capacity for water power in some of its provinces, capping its industrial growth. In Rome itself, industries had access to the equivalent of ~1 billion kWh of mechanical energy from its aqueducts, using it to drive watermills for grinding grainmaking papersawing woodpolishing lenses, and billowing forges within the city. Centuries of integrating machinery and aqueducts into workshops in Rome had led to this unprecedented access to non-electrical energy. For this city of 1.3 million, an average citizen had ~769 kWh of energy, but in practice most of this energy went to workshops and the homes of nobles.

Although the rooftop mill would not become popular in Rome itself, the nearby town of Portus, also known as Ostia, benefitted a great deal from its use, nearly doubling its access to energy over the next few decades. Other port towns experienced a similar industrial growth as workshops throughout the Roman world commissioned their own rooftop mills. Inspired by his windwheels, Mica invented a better anemoscope that indicated wind speed by its rate of rotation. He built several of these anemometers for the Grand Harbor in 744, giving a reliable means of knowing the speed of the wind before setting sail. Other more open air ports were able to more openly display his anemometer to people on the docks.

Roman industrial capacity

There is no comparison in any other part of the world for the industrial capacity of the Imperium Romanum during this time. Centuries of peace within its core provinces was the perfect environment to foster the sophisticated application of machinery to the existing infrastructure of aqueducts. An industrial revolution of a sort may be viewed as starting near the end of the 5th century, when urban watermills started to be run off the energy that aqueducts supplied. Concrete dams were built out in the countryside near the starting points of aqueducts to raise their water to higher starting elevations. With this added energy, some energy could be diverted to watermills built along the length of each aqueduct while still leaving energy for the city at its terminus.

By the 8th century, this industrialization had peaked in Italian cities. As much of the water supply was being tapped for power as was sustainable given the myriad other uses of water and its reserves throughout the territory. At this point, Rome had daily access to ~50 amphorae (343 gallons) per citizen during the Summer while farmers used a separate supply of water for crop irrigation. Access to waterpower was still growing in Greater Germany, accelerated by immigration and an extensive local network of rivers. Overall, the empire had an industrial output that stood midway between its contemporary civilizations and an industrial civilization, exceeding those neighbors in production by several orders of magnitude.

Fueling these industries was a longstanding tradition, started by Caesar Sulla, of sustainable forestry. At this time, Gaul had enough forest coverage to supply all the timber and firewood of Italy as well as its own provinces while supplementing the supplies of the Hispanic provinces. After its depopulation, Raetia became a major supplier of wood from its northern half while Dacia was maintained as the primary wooded region for Greece and Anatolia. Sustainable forestry was no more evident anywhere than in Germany where nearly a fifth of its land was devoted to forestry zones, where wood was harvested in the manner of a crop. This access to timber played a major role in the incomparable level of industrialization of Germany by the 9th century.

Nearly as important as sustainable forestry was sustainable water. Roman geologists understood where water came from before being taken by aqueducts and hundreds of geologists were employed throughout the empire to monitor these reserves by measuring the water level of mountain lakes and the flow rate of mountain rivers. Romans did not understand the mechanisms that sustained these reserves and did not know the source of water from underground wells, preventing them from investigating the water reserves directly in the water table. More importantly, Roman geologists knew the effect of irrigation on soil degradation and had long been advising the Senate on agrarian laws regulating the proper treatment of soil on the farms of citizens. For this reason, farms in Magna GermaniaItaliaGallia, and Africa Proconsularis remained highly fertile after centuries.

Textile industry

Around the turn of the last century, a weaving machine powered by pedals was introduced to Syria from the Islamic world. Replacement of older hand looms with this vertical pedal loom was slow but Mica heard about it from colleagues who came from the eastern provinces. In 739, he improved upon the design by use water-power in place of pedals for operating the heddles. Some weavers in Egypt would further improve upon the water-powered loom around 780 by replacing the warp-weighted vertical loom that had been used for centuries with a more convenient horizontal loom.

Around 743, a guild of weavers in Carthage commissioned Mica to create a device for spinning thread into yarn, freeing laborers for more intricate work. His piece was a spinning wheel that could be powered by either water or a treadle. The former could be powerful enough to produce the high quality yarn required for weaving. This device would be steadily improved by other more devoted craftsman than Mica, until around 920 when hand spinning had gone out of practice for Roman citizens.

Agricultural tools

Agriculture was an immense industry in Africa Proconsularis, where a handful of aristocrats owned massive latifundia (landed estates) where slaves farmed crops for shipping to Italy and Greece. Besides Egypt and Germany, the lands around Carthage were the primary source of food for the empire. Hearing of the prowess of Mica with machines and being dependent for centuries on the mechanical reaper for harvesting crops, some landowners outside Carthage approached the great inventor to improve the reaper.

Visiting the countryside for a few seasons, Mica asked to go a step further in assisting the estates, compiling an ordered list of steps in the production process of their farms and detailing existing tools and techniques for each stage. Unfortunately, Mica was forced to leave Carthage for a decade to lobby for his testuda and eventually to supervise its construction in Greater Germany. Upon his return, he had a number of ideas for the latifundia of his home province which he showed his potential patrons in 765.

First, he observed that the difficulties slaves often had in carrying large bags across short distances on the estates wasted their time and made them less productive. For this reason, he advised a re-purposing of the Greek pabillus (one-wheeled cart), used on some construction sites, for carrying large loads over short distances. He designed such a large number of wheelbarrows that he recommended that a latifundium keep dozens of them for different tasks. His efforts to convince landowners that this tool would be profitable were rewarded with the dissemination of wheelbarrows in agriculture.

Second, Mica modified the heavy mouldboard plough to have a removable board that allowed tillage of soil in one direction for one furrow and the opposite direction for the other furrow. In short, this design permitted continuous plowing of a field, stopping the build-up of soil into ridges that created the characteristic topography of tilled agricultural land. Another facet of his design had the mouldboard covered completely in cast iron. The general concept of this heavy mouldboard iron plough were disseminated through Italian farms before reaching widespread use in Egypt and Germany by the end of the century.

For irrigation, Mica had the estates replace their Archimedes' pumps with a screw pump that he had invented as a tool for rapidly removing water from onboard a ship. In principle, this pump consisted of two intermeshing Archimedes' screws enclosed by the same container. However, the screw pump proved more unreliable for work on a farm and was swiftly abandoned in favor of the older Archimedes' screw pumps.

A final suggestion to African landowners was a three-field rotation of crops, where only one field would go fallow out of three instead of the common two-field crop rotation where half of the arable land was unused at any given time. His recommendation involved adding a year in the crop cycle where a field would be planted with legumes such as peas or cabbages. Unlike his more mechanically minded ideas, this concept of more elaborate crop rotation was owed to the farmers of Italia, from whom Mica learned of the replenishing power of legumes for soil.

Printing press

After returning to his workshop in 762, Mica retired from the Technaeum and his work for the Legion. Several testudae were already constructed in Germany and final designs for various types of polytrahoi were in the hands of other artillery engineers. With his rise in free time, Mica devoted himself to implementing ideas that had come to him during his voyages throughout the empire for business. Among these designs, the first that he pursued was a screw press that forced ink into paper, leaving behind the imprint of an image. This image could be a woodcarved drawing or a series of letters arranged into a codex page, permitting the repeated printing of a single page onto multiple sheets of paper. Once metal blocks for letters were cast and arranged, a page could be printed in the seconds that it took to apply ink to the blocks and crank the screw press into the paper.

This design for a printing press was inspired by a visit to the imperial mints in the capital - the sole location permitted to mint coins. Following the operation the punchcutting machines for coins, Mica invented a machine that could punchcut moulds as templates for the casting of metallic types of letters. These dies would get arranged into sentences on a larger plate before being pressed. The first movable type printing press of this sort was used in 763 to create dozens of copies of the book On Motion by Dionada, requiring about a dozen other assistants to help arrange the movable types. Over the next few years, Mica invented a water-powered printing press that could alternate pressing and releasing with the change of a single gear.

After the Technaeum recruited Pistorian presses to print copies of the Commentarii de Bello Gallico by Julius Caesar (a text that all Roman officers graduating from the Academia Bellica had to know), Mica accepted the school's request to be named its Scholarch, giving him ample influence to expand the use of his new invention. By 770, eight printing presses were running at the academy and thousands of copies of the Commentaries had been printed. Thirty years later, there were nearly a thousand printing presses spread throughout the empire, each printing up to 3,000 pages every day. Although printing became just another Roman industry, this was an industry that would revolutionize the society of Rome, bringing the written word to the common people.

Pistorian physics

More than anything else, Mica contributed to the history of science and engineering with his theories and techniques for studying nature. Teaching himself by reading Dionada at a young age, Mica stuck his whole life to the basic principle of Atomism - that every object was composed of indivisibles and the motion of anything could be studied by the linear motion of its atomic parts. With these beliefs, he led a revival of Atomism in the empire, as its ideas permeated all of his writing. No one could read first hand about the discoveries of the great Pistorius Mica without seeing them through the lens of Atomism.

Later in his life, Mica published a treatise that summarized his understanding of mechanics through Atomism, presenting what he termed the First Principles of Motion:

  1. An atom travels straight unless it is acted upon by another atom.
  2. The action of one atom upon another involves no loss of geometric momentum.

From these laws, Mica went on to describe how conata (efforts, or in other words, momentum) was exchanged, expanding the theories of Dionada beyond just collision. His theory is that the actus (action) of one atom upon another is required to change the motus rectus (rectilinear motion) of an atom, as he saw motion in a straight line as the natural state of every atom. There were two types of action in Mica's physics: collision and action at a distance. The latter type of action replaced Aristotle's teleological explanation of gravity and buoyancy using concepts of natural motion and the natural places of the elements. These notions had been on shaky foundations ever since material philosophers such as Balerios added elements to the original five.

Modestly, Mica professed that he could not say how but he could plainly see that some atoms can push or pull other atoms without collision. Action at a distance developed from Dionada's concept of connection, which he described as a tendency for atoms to attract when moved away from their natural arrangements and used to explain gravity and elasticity. The difference between action at a distance and connection was that the former manifested as a change in motion along a line joining the interacting atoms instead of in the direction that brings those atoms back to their "natural arrangement". Indeed, Mica did away with natural arrangements as much as he threw out Aristotle's natural places.

Several observations further developed Mica's concept of action at a distance, especially as it manifested as gravity. First, he pointed out that lighter objects fall no faster than heavier objects. His theory of gravity required that its action on heavy bodies was greater than its action on lighter bodies but he observed that heavier bodies were harder to move by the same proportion so the result was an identical change in motion under gravity for all bodies. Second, he observed that dropping an artillery shell from the mast of ship did not involve the ship leaving the shell behind, as Aristotle believed. Instead, the shell retained the motion of the ship even after no longer being in contact with the ship as it fell. For this reason, Mica believed that a person below deck on a ship, that could sail through the sea without rocking, would be unable to say whether or not the ship was moving, since objects would fall or follow trajectories no differently on a stationary than on a smoothly sailing ship.

Third, he followed Dionada in arguing that the Earth, as the heaviest aggregate of atoms in nature, pulled on the planets and Sun in the same manner that it pulled on ordinary bodies through gravity. His seminal treatise Prima Principia Kineses became the first widely received natural philosophy text to say that motion in the heavens was the result of the force of gravity. Sadly, this hypothesis of universal gravitation would take some time to receive widespread acceptance. The Principia also contained a large number of geometrical problems, for calculating motion under gravity, whose methods for being solved are not far from the method of integration, as they follow the geometrical method of exhaustion pioneered by Archimedes.

Since Mica and his contemporaries regarded the planets and Sun as the lightest of bodies, his argument that the strength of gravity was proportional to the mass of the attracted body could only be applied to the planets under the understanding that lighter bodies were easier to move in proportion to their masses and, therefore, every body responded the same way under gravity. For a system of this form, Mica took up the Dionadan description of orbits as "falling such that the target is always missed".

Fourth, he discovered by careful measurement that a distance fallen by a body was proportional to the square of its time spent falling, by a numerical factor that he determined as precisely as possible by hundreds of experiments. For his measurements, he had to invent a new tool for measuring time on a small scale. Copying the water clock, Mica filled a sealed glass container with sand so that once turned over sand would drip into the adjacent vessel at an unchanging rate. In order to save time, he made the glass vessel symmetrical so that the chamber into which the sand dripped was identical to the chamber in which it started. This simple tool was the first hourglass, a precise and reliable way of measuring the passage of time.

For precision, Mica had his hourglasses marked with lines from the top down to represent the timing of his resting pulse. For most of his life, Pistorius used his pulse to time his experiments but he knew his pulse to change with his mood so in 727 he invented the hourglass to record the timing of his pulse and have a reliable measuring device for time. Afterward, he used this first hourglass to mark other hourglasses so that he could measure longer spans of time. A number of his experiments would not have been possible without the hourglass, especially since many of his experiments were performed on ships.

His reasoning for using sand instead of water as in a water clock was that the granular size of sand particles allowed for greater precision in his measurements and the dryness of sand prevented the condensation problems that ruined the measurements of water clocks. Furthermore, a sealed hourglass was vastly more portable than any water clock, making it useful at sea. Use of hourglasses gradually spread from Carthage and Alexandria over the next century.

As much as he developed his model of action at a distance, Mica contributed immensely to the Roman understanding of collisions and simple machinery, drawing on what he had learned in the formative period of his career. He corrected the ancient Hero of Alexandria on the mechanical advantage of an inclined plane, using an argument involving a string of beads around two inclined planes. He was also the first to note that there was a unique ratio of the semichordis (sine) to radius (cosine) for every angle, identifying this ratio with the slope of an inclined plane for the purpose of calculating actions (forces). Furthermore, he observed that this ratio at the angle of repose of an object on an inclined plane was approximately equal to the ratio of the action of friction to the action of gravity on the object as it remained stationary on the incline.

Alternative to Aristotelianism

Mica shattered the Aristotelian worldview where bodies moved toward their natural places in the cosmos. His experiments that demonstrated his first principles of motion showed that rest was not the natural state of bodies and motion occurred without a constant source of this motion (either by forcing motion or by the natural motion toward a body's natural place). Some astronomers agreed that without natural motion, only gravity could explain the motion of the planets, stars, and Sun, as Mica implied. However, they took the evidence of Mica only to show that terrestrial bodies did not possess a natural motion. Instead, Pistorian mechanics only seemed to support the belief in the perfection of the celestial spheres in contrast to the imperfect terrestrial sphere.

As a result, philosophers drew a sharper line between aetherial substance and material substance, since all of the elements  that were not aether were now believed to follow their own laws that were distinct from the geometric laws of aether. As matters stood, philosophers continued to consider the cosmos as a sphere with concentric spherical shells. The outermost bore the field of fixed stars while inner shells rotated with the ring of each wandering star (planeta) and the Sun. Rings within the planetary shells held the planets themselves in their epicyclic motion. All orbital motion in this system was circular. In contrast, terrestrial bodies were kept on Earth by gravity while the Earth itself remained at rest in the center due to its sheer mass. Nothing could move the Earth and no other body compared with the Earth in its bulk. For now, universal gravitation would not be accepted.

Another nail in the coffin of Aristotle came during investigations of the maximum height of a siphon, a serious problem for the storage of water, hydraulic mining, irrigation, and water fountains for centuries. A solution finally came out of the Lyceum in 767 where a comparative study was done by Drusus Atarius on a mercury cylinder. Filling a cylinder with mercury and inverting the open end into a basin of mercury, Atarius saw a gap form in the mercury at the closed end of the cylinder. Since air could not have gotten through the glass or the mercury, he concluded that the gap was a vacuum. A year later, he published these results with a novel explanation for why the gap would not widen beyond a consistent amount. His theory was that the air above the basin must weigh upon the surface of the mercury, pushing down as much as the column in the cylinder pushed down. Since the weight of the column of mercury was the same in each iteration of the experiment and the column fell by almost the same distance each time, he surmised that the same weight of air must always be pushing on the surface of the basin.

However, many scholars disputed the claim that the gap was a vacuum, arguing that vapors from the mercury filled the space and that air had no weight - the latter still being contentious despite the weight of air being used to explain both the buoyancy of fire and the attachment of air to the terrestrial sphere. Atarius tried to assuage his opponents first by showing that the gap became longer if less air lay above the basin, traveling to the peak of Mount Olympus to demonstrate the difference to a group of his most fervent critics. When the column fell farther than at sea level, the debate was over. The experiment on Mount Olympus captured the attention of many Romans and the term "an Olympian experiment" has entered popular culture as a synonym for presenting "overwhelming evidence" in favor of a position.

This event was a catalyst for the ongoing trend favoring experimentation over speculation in philosophical inquiry, driven in part by the growing prominence of observation in astronomy and by recent discoveries about material substance. In particular, the experiment on Mount Olympus had as profound an impact on philosophers as it did because it spelled the end of Aristotelianism, dispelling one of the last features of the Aristotelian worldview (viz. the plenum). After moving to the Musaeum, Atarius worked with other scholars on his atmometron (barometer) and the properties of a vacuum. In 779, their work resulted in the invention of a vacuum pump that used pistons to easily evacuate the air within a container. These experiments would doom the attempts to revive Aristotelian physics to failure.

With his Principia, Pistorius Mica replaced the dominant mechanics of Aristotle and is regarded as the father of a new mechanics. However, decades would pass before the last reputable detractors of his mechanics would be silenced (the speed of its acceptance coming from the elevated reputation of Mica). The principle advantage of the new mechanics was its incorporation of the physical principles used by geometers, who were the driving force behind the last few centuries of developments in Roman engineering. By generalizing the principles of geometers alongside those of the atomists, Mica did not discover as many principles as this summary might suggest. Still, his work on this mechanical philosophy earned it the names Pistorian physics and Pistorian mechanics.


As astronomia developed, the emphasis on observations of the stars only became more pronounced. Roman astronomers spent most of their time producing detailed ephemeres (star charts) and carefully noting every star that they found. Among discoveries made at the time, the first recorded mentions of the nearest galaxies are worthy of note, although they were only known to the astronomers of this era as nebulae (little clouds or distant clouds). Only two nebulae were galaxies [Andromeda and the Large Magellanic Cloud] and about a handful were the actual remnants of stars. Other objects classified as nebulae were star clusters whose individualy stars could not be distinguished with the naked eye.

By the late 7th century, most astronomers worked from an astronomical observatory (perspectaculum or astrarium), the best of which had dozens of instruments for measuring the positions of the stars. There were hundreds of observatories spread across the empire but the most famous were in Alexandria. In 762, the Musaeum completed its Altum Astrarium. This tower dwarfed most buildings in Alexandria, with the exception of the Great Lighthouse, extending as high as ~41 meters. A unique feature of this observatory, aside from height, was that its roof consisted of rings that rotated to redirect a cosmolabe (astrolabium quadratum), an instrument designed to measure the angle between two stars as well as the inclination of a single star. The size of the measuring rings allowed for a degree of precision that no other observatory at the time could match.

Originally, the Astrarium of the Musaeum was only intended as an observational tower equipped with a variety of astronomical instruments. For this reason, the tower itself was completed in 722 under the patronage of Caesar Valerius. Modifications to the tower were inspired by some machinery described by Pistorius Mica and were only implemented forty years later. Once in operation, the remodeled Astrarium became the most popular sight for astronomers visitng the city. During the late-8th and 9th centuries, astronomers often repeated the statement that no one in their line of work should be allowed to die without visiting the Astrarium Alexandrinum, since it reportedly had a transformative effect on the perspective of any astronomer.

Using this astrarium, the astronomer Alderon of Aelana wrote his Index of Stars. Observing one constellation at a time, Alderon confirmed the location of every fixed star that he could find, asking his associates to verify that no stars were left uncatalogued in his great survey of the night sky. Around 6000 stars were identified in this catalogue, alongside notes on the colormagnitude, and position relative to a constellation of every one. Along with the catalogue of fixed stars, the index described the paths of all five planetae (wandering stars) and discussed the ecliptic of the Sun across different days of the year. Published in 783 after his death, the Index was meticulously copied and sent around the empire by other astronomers in Alexandria, turning the text into the seminal piece on observational astronomy.

By his careful observations, Alderon noticed that the planet Venus changed in appearance over its period in a manner similar to the lunar phases. His phases of Venus were only mentioned as an observation, with the mere possibility that this suggested that Venus was in orbit around the Sun. His private correspondence with a friend outside Alexandria shows that he believed these observations could imply the rectitude of the Pythagorean system, the contemporary term for heliocentric systems. However, Alderon went no further than suggesting the possibility that Venus circled the Sun and was not the first to present the idea, only the first who provided the phases of Venus as evidence for such a system. 


The art of the horologator (clockmaker) had been slowly refined for almost three centuries by specialist craftsmen. Although the solarium (sundial) remained a popular timepiece in plazas and gardens, tasks that required precision depended almost exclusively on a clepsydra (water clock). Since the invention of a compensating tank to keep a constant pressure, the only drawbacks of a water clock - often simply called an horologium (clock) - were evaporation, condensation, limited orientation, and temperature sensitivity, relegating them to a loss of precision in the range of half an hour per day. Temperature remained the greatest problem for the accuracy of water clocks, despite the standards implemented by Caesar Agricola to limit its effects.

Fortunately, most water clocks were only needed as timers, indicating the passage of a certain amount of time, preventing the build-up of errors over several days. One of the few large improvements of clocks after the compensating tank was the invention of a mechanism that counted the times that a container filled with water, before being emptied when full by an escapement. This horological design appeared around 700 CE in a clock intended for the public hospital in Carthage. A major trend in clockmaking was the attempt to build larger water clocks. The culmination of this trend was the Horologium Augusti, a facility built in 738 on the Campus Martius to replace the Solarium Augusti, whose inaccuracy had been known for centuries.

Feeding a sequence of reservoirs by aqueduct, the Horologium consisted of an enormous mechanism below the ground that slowly raised conspicuous silver pointers up a cylinder standing in a marble plaza on the spot of the old solarium. The cylinder itself was a tower whose position within a semi-circle of bronze lines on the ground turned it into an effective sundial, similar to the solarium. However, the proper measurement of time came from the position of the pointer along the height of the tower, raised by the action of gears driven by an escapement underground, to avoid the known problems with pumping water upward. In this way, the Horologium was both the largest sundial in the world and the first clock tower.

For the operation of its mechanisms, the Horologium had to overcome engineering hurdles in the transfers of high torque. For this purpose, the driving force for the mechanism came from the largest compensating tank used until that point in a water clock and motion was transferred by a complex gear train that employed epicyclic and segmental gearing. For facilitating rotation, many of the components had wooden ball bearings and a mechanism for bearing the weight of the machine while it was stopped for repairs. Replacing and inspecting parts was designed to be a simple process - continuous operability was one of the highest design goals of the entire project, forcing the architects to accept a much smaller structure than they intended.

Dedicated to Caesar Augustus, the tower and plaza displayed ample iconography pertaining to Octavius and his family. As an indicator of the time, there were silver statues of Eros - the son of Aphrodite - in each cardinal direction from the tower, referring to the now merely symbolic ancestry of the first emperor. At the top, a 2.96 meter tall golden statue of Octavius stood facing the adjacent Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace). Construction of the clock tower was scheduled for completion on the 50th anniversary of the peace in Somalia, due to the original symbolism of the solarium regarding the Pax Romana of Octavius.

Mechanisms at the base of the tower allowed the passage of time to be matched to the solar time which varied over the course of a year (i.e. the dial was meant to read the same time at every sunrise and at every sunset). Each sunrise, the pointers were reset to the bottom of the dial while the mechanism was modified to match the day of the year. Standing at ~32 meters in height and with pointers the size of a person, the clock could be read from as far away as the Mausoleum of Augustus. Unfortunately, the machinery beneath the ground would be destroyed in 847, leaving the tower as a simple sundial for about half a century.


Citizens in the major cities of Italy and Greece were able to keep track of world news through regular postings of the Acta Diurna (Daily Public Records) in their main forums. Among its contents were the activities of public magistrates, major events in foreign countries or distant provinces, and the deaths or marriages of important public figures. Both the Acta Diurna and the Acta Senatus - the publications of senatorial proceedings - were posted in paper, behind sealed glass on large marble boards. These boards were important sites for the average citizen; dozens of people could be found crowding around them every morning, even though the minutes of the Senate were not posted unless there had been an assembly the previous day.

In imitation of these publications and in the spirit of publicare et propigare (making public and propagating), the Technaeum employed the same concept in its Acta Technaea. Organized by an auctor publicus ludanus (Academy Publisher), this weekly posting states the most recent work by scholars at the Technaeum and is a venue for scholars to publish thoughts about the prevailing theories of the time. This Acta was originally posted in Rome and Carthage alone but eventually the scholars of the Musaeum of Alexandria pushed to have the same documents published on the grounds of their academy. By this time, the concept of publication boards was common in cities, as municipal senates sometimes copied the procedure of the Senate in publishing their decisions in the local forum and the people of Rome itself were especially fond of the practice.

To a large extent, the decision in 738 to publish the works of scholars at the Technaeum came from the prestige of Pistorius but other scholars also supported the new policy and, in fact, the majority of notices pertained to the work of these others. It was only that the public interest in the creations of the Magnus Machinator (Great Inventor) pushed the Scholarch of the academy to gain attention for his institution by publishing news that the public would find intriguing.

Pax Romana

Under early emperors, the term Pax Romana (Roman Peace) referred to the stability and security guaranteed by the existence of the Roman Empire and by the power of the Roman Legion. In this sense, the Roman Peace simply denoted life under the empire, starting with the reign of Octavius. However, the invasion of King Attila shattered this image of invincibility and absolute security when he sacked several Italian cities and devastated the proconsular province of Raetia. After this time, most people and senators stopped referring to a Pax Romana and the term itself lost its luster, despite the efforts of several emperors.

However, the historian Gaius Aurelius Silvinus, who wrote the famous Romana Historia, restored the term with a new meaning. In his great history, he referred to periods of peace without exception in Roman history as paces romanae, citing the majority of the reign of Caesar Heracleitus and the latter half of the reign of Caesar Draconus as prime examples. Furthermore, he used this term to refer to the reign of his own Caesar Fabius, glorifying the period as the greatest Roman peace in history. Afterward, pax romana was repeatedly used by emperors as a term of propaganda to mark their reign and historians would employ less biased eyes to label certain periods of time as eras of Roman peace. In this sense, the reign of Valerius was considered one of the great peaceful periods for Rome, discluding the few years before the end of the Muslim invasion of Somalia.

Beachhead in Somalia

After the First Fitna (Islamic Civil War), the two caliphates settled into a mutual peace promulgated by their leaders Husayn ibn Ali and Ibrahim ibn Hakkam. Even after the death of Husayn in 693, peace persisted in the Islamic world as each caliphate focused its efforts on other troubles. For his part, Ibrahim felt it his duty to spread Islam to the people of the Roman Empire, no matter how effectively they had resisted the forces of Islam in the past.

For this purpose, Ibrahim sent an army by sea in 688 to take the city-states of Somalia as a beachhead for his Caliphate. With only a few merchant fleets and city guards for defense, the desired ports fell within a few months of the first landing. In response, the Legion was forced to bring ten legions to bear against the 90,000 Muslim soldiers brought from Arabia. Fortunately, the last forty years of peace had given the empire time to recover from its tremendous losses against Caliph Umar. There were as many as 14 out of 26 legions in the eastern provinces, allowing Rome to draw only from its regional defenses for this war.

Unfortunately, the dignitatum arabicum did not learn of this invasion beforehand, as his predecessor had managed before Umar invaded Nubia. Without a warning, the legions did not arrive in time to assist the provincial auxiliaries defending the border with Somalia, allowing the Arabs to cross the Limes Somalianus before they even reached Ethiopia. Nevertheless, the legions were able to beat them to the city of Acsum, in time to fortify their position.

As a result, the war devolved into a year long siege of the provincial capital. The legatus refused to give up his strong position behind both city walls, hasty ditches, and giant caltrops, while the Arabian general refused to waste men on an assault. In the third month, the Arabs learned that they needed to demolish the aqueducts leading into the city, discovering in the process that food was being covertly sent to Acsum through its water supply. On the eleventh month, reinforcements finally arrived from Dacia with the Generalissimus at their helm. Arriving in the night, he hastily began a circumvallation of the besieging forces, getting enough defenses assembled overnight to discourage an immediate counterattack.

A few days later, the Islamic forces decided to roll the dice with a direct assault on the fortified city of Acsum. Beginning early in the morning, they had enough time, before the surrounding legions awoke, to break through the city gates. However, in the close confines of the city streets, the Arabs were overwhelmed by the superior infantry tactics, training, and armor of the legionaries. Unable to escape, their general was captured to be made an example to future generals and caliphs by torture in Rome before being returned to Mecca as a mere shell of his former self. His brutal treatment would give pause to future invasions.

However, the Arabian foothold in Somalia had allowed them to replace several merchant princes with Muslims who were more sympathetic to the spread of Islam than previous leaders. In 710, the federation of Somali cities splintered through a religious war between Christians, polytheists, and Muslims, each group seeking control of various ports. With Roman support, the Christian princes were victorious a few years later but there was no way to remove the Islamic presence without purging each city council.

Caesar Glaucinus (738-761)

From a prominent patrician family like his predecessor, Lucius Aemilius Glaucinus was adopted by Valerius midway through his reign. He was more experienced in war than Valerius, serving a few years as his Generalissimus during a brief conflict with the Fatimid Caliphate. When in power, his goal was to weaken the Germanic kingdoms to the north of his empire, leading to a level of war in Europe unseen since the days before the conquest of Greater Germany, definitively ending the peace of his predecessor.

Great Germanic War

With the defeat of the two caliphates during his predecessor's reign, Glaucinus viewed the kingdoms of Eastern Europe as the only remaining threat to his empire. For the last 60 years, emperors had relied on buffer states in the form of loyal kingdoms - the Great Sarmatian Empire and the Kingdom of Venetia - to hold back the dangerous armies of the Germanic kingdoms. These two kingdoms were Christian and wanted to emulate the culture and politics of Rome, keeping them allied to the empire, the latter as a foederatus (vassal state) that the Senate constantly reminded of the debt it owed Rome for its foundation.

Maintaining Roman influence and intelligence in the kingdoms was the Officium Barbarorum (Bureau of Barbarians). Rome kept special diplomats known as dignitata in all of the nearby foreign capitals. These Roman dignitaries sent news back to the Senate, keeping it informed of events in the Germanic, Arabian, and Somali worlds. For the most part, this information did not consist of anything that would be beyond public knowledge in the relevant kingdom but sometimes a dignitatum would bribe the servants or advisors of the local government to learn about confidential plans or motivations.

Glaucinus found another use for the Bureau: instigating political events in foreign kingdoms. Part of how the dignitata always operated was by obsequity and helpfulness to the kings who were offering their hospitality to each Roman dignitary. This role meant that they often served as a lesser advisor of foreign kings and a purveyor of global news, giving them both a direct and indirect influence on the actions of these rulers. Every one of these kings viewed Rome with a reverence and fear outshining even the attitude of ancient middle eastern kingdoms to Achaemenid Persia. Some believed that Romans had knowledge of more than other men, often twisted into the belief that the emperor and his Pope were advised by a god.

Using this influence, Glaucinus engineered a political disaster between the Kingdom of Lombardy and the Kingdom of Venetia, instigated over a decade before culminating in 749 with a Lombard invasion. Venetia brought both Rome and Sarmatia into the war as allies, exactly as the emperor wanted, while the Lombards had formed an alliance with the Confederation of Germania and the Three Kingdoms of the Angles and the Andals (Angland). The resulting war threatened to engulf the whole of Eastern Europe but the Kingdom of Francia and Saxon Kingdom were not nearly as pliable to Rome as the other kingdoms. They did not involve their men in this Great Germanic War (Magnum Bellum Germanicum).

In order to instigate the war, Rome only needed to offer its support to Venetia, so only two legions joined the Grand Army of Sarmatia and the army levied by the Venetian King. This allied army consisted of the only two professional standing armies in this part of the world, a total of 12,800 Roman legionaries and 36,000 Sarmatian legionaries accompanied by a proportional number of cavalry, archers, and Roman artillery. For its part, Venetia contributed ~50,000 soldiers who fought in the Germanic style, with boiled leather armor and iron weapons in comparison with Roman steel and Sarmatian bronze.

Their enemies fielded a much larger coalition army of ~120,000 foot soldiers assisted by nearly 8000 Gothic horsemen, who wore scaled iron armor instead of leather. The latter mostly consisted of noblemen from the lesser houses of the Ostrogothic Kingdom, supplemented by their own retainers who were also taught the traditional fighting style of the Ostrogoths.

Unlike Roman legions, who prioritized a swift end to any invasion, the Germanic kingdoms planned with caution. Indeed, where Roman warfare is characterized by aggressive strategies and cautious tactics, Germanic warfare had become distinguished by cautious strategies with aggressive tactics. This difference would drag the war on for nearly a decade - a continuation that Caesar Glaucinus ordered his generals to encourage. The intention of the emperor was to wear out the other kingdoms, whose peoples struggled more in war than Romans and whose armies could not be replenished from a massive population.

An outline of the Great Germanic War should suffice. At its outset, the Venetians repelled the invading Lombards and held them at the border while allies on both sides mobilized their armies to the line of conflict. Every time the Lombards tried to cross over the rivers separating their lands from Venetia, they were held forced to find another crossing. By the time they decided to break through the wall along the corridor between two major rivers, Roman legions had arrived to reinforce the wall. Around 754, the legions led a push deep into Lombardy, laying siege to the capital Stromm. The next day, Stromm was taken with a testuda at the helms of a small army, demonstrating the effectiveness of this weapon but finding only a Great Hall without a king.

Beating a hasty retreat from Stromm when the king arrived with his armies, the Romans and Venetians reached the wall with the King of Lombardy close behind. By this time, the Sarmatians had defended their capital by a combined army of the Angles and the Confederation. The latter responded to a call to push together into Venetia in revenge for sacking Stromm. They invaded in full force the following year, crossing the river during the driest time of year. Losing the siege of Venetia in 757, the Germanic armies were repelled from the Venetian kingdom then forced to defend the Kingdom of Bohemia as the Venetian alliance kept advancing as they retreated back into the Confederation.

Bohemia was devastated by the three years of fighting on its lands, earning its king the sympathy of the other kingdoms in the Confederation and their votes for leadership of the kingdoms as Kaisar Germanik (High King of the Germans). However, when several testuda were used by his enemies to take his capital, High King Wenceslav negotiated with the Emperator of Venetia to achieve a return to the status quo, a term of peace that was heavily favored by the Roman generals involved in the treaty.

Shortly afterward, the Lombards and Angles joined in the peace on less neutral terms, accepting demands for iron and gold as tribute to the Venetians, Sarmatians, and Romans. Overall, the lands of Venetia, Thoringia, Bohemia, Bavaria, Lombardy, and Western Sarmatia were heavily pillaged during the war, leaving behind a trail of nearly a million dead. The armies of the kingdoms were similarly depleted by over a decade of fighting, leaving Lombardy vulnerable to an invasion by the Franks a few years later.

Testing siege engines

As kingdoms burned, Rome emerged with only the loss of ~2,000 legionaries, its cities hundreds of miles away from any battles. However, her greatest victory was in field testing of the testuda against walled cities. At the Battle of Stromm, a single testuda accompanied the legion and 5,000 Sarmatians sent to take the Lombard capital. As a result, there was no siege of the city and the 10,000 defenders were overrun when the gates fell after three shots at a distance from the testuda. Roman legionaries used the vehicle as additional cover as they approached the destroyed gateway, allowing eighty men to mount the battlements to bring a halt to the rain of arrows pelting their forces.

This victory created the reputation of the testuda and proved the worth of Pistorius Mica to the new emperor. Three more of the new weapons were commissioned for the war. Their effectiveness in a siege was further shown by the capture of Corina, the capital of the Bohemian crownlands. Alongside other victories, the Battle of Corina (761) convinced Glaucinus to give testudae a permanent place in the Legion. Due to their expense, the four in Germany were stationed along the Vallum Vistullum while only three more were assembled for the Vallum Magnum Judaecum, where they might be used against the caliphates.

One testuda demanded about 60,000 Dn of steel plating. Techniques for creating fine quality steel were not yet common but the cost would steadily fall as skilled ironsmiths became accustomed to forging the new alloy. Machinery for propelling a testuda was intricate and required a similar quality steel to its armor. Highly skilled carpenters and blacksmiths were employed to create these components from raw materials, before being assembled by similarly skilled manufacturers at a single facility in Germany. With costly labor and expensive materials, molding steel components and carving wooden mechanisms for a testuda came to ~100,000 Dn, discluding the cost of its weapons and ammunition. Altogether, a single testuda took around half of a year to build and cost the state ~210,000 Dn with yearly maintenance and munition supply at nearly a third this amount. With the exception of its flywheels, the components of a testuda could last five years in the field before needing replacement.

Glaucinus was impressed enough by the siege engine that he demanded consistent construction of testudae for the German and Arabian legions, often to be stored in watchtowers along the major border walls. Orders for more testudae served the purposes of maintaining a constant supply of 10-16 throughout the latter half of his reign and of training its manufacturers for future orders.

New equilibrium

After the Magnum Bellum Germanicum, the kingdoms of Eastern Europe settled into a new geopolitical situation. Venetia had asserted its dominance over other kingdoms but also inflamed long-term relations with Lombardy. This war eventually led the Lombards to desire passage to the Mare Suebicum (Baltic Sea) to open direct trade with the Roman Empire, since the terms of the Treaty of Byzantium (762) barred the Lombards from sailing down rivers into the Baltic. This motivation would be the spark of countless wars between Lombardy and Venetia for several centuries.

Despite concessions forced upon Lombardy, that kingdom emerged in a stronger position than either Venetia or its own ally the Confederation. Only about 30,000 Lombard foot soldiers were lost in the war, leaving the capacity for the King of Lombardy to levy ~50,000 infantrymen and ~6000 cavalrymen. This military capacity proved necessary when the Kingdom of Francia invaded Lombardy in 764 to expand its border to the next major river. With equal numbers and marginally better armaments, Lombardy emerged victorious, acquiring some territories in the south of Francia.

Another state to come out of the war with a greater relative strength than its neighbors was the Great Sarmatian Empire. Satraps of its Kaisar were convinced by the war to accept heavier taxes to pay for a larger standing army. One of their generals in the war also proposed military reforms that were supposedly modeled after witnessing Roman legions fighting against the Germans. After these reforms, the Grand Army of Sarmatia consisted of 12 legions each with 3600 foot soldiers and 400 archers assisted by detachable maniples of heavy cavalry that added up to 22,000 riders. With a standing army of 70,000 professional soldiers, Sarmatia could even match the numbers of troops levied by the Germanic kingdoms and greatly outnumbered the Roman legions in the region, which counted only 44,800 legionaries along the entire European frontier.

Sarmatian equipment also focused on outfitted infantry with heavier bronze armor, replacing scales across the entire torso with a breastplate in the muscled style of the ancient Greek hoplites and the contemporary Laconic cohort of Rome. These troops were also given small javelins for engaging an enemy at a distance as they approached, although the Sarmatians did not know to copy the manner in which the Roman pilum broke on impact to prevent enemy troops from throwing it back.

This stronger army would prove useful in the coming century when the Fatimid Caliphate turned outward after working to convert its largely non-Islamic populace. Once its eyes looked to the outside world, the northern caliphate's first target would be the Sarmatians, who had begun fortifying the Darial Gorge after a brief conflict with the Fatimids in 660. At that time, the Muslim armies turned southward for internal reasons, giving the Sarmatians time to improve control over their position. Conversely, the Fatimids took control at the time of the Darband on the Oceanus Hyrcanianus. By 760 CE, the Sarmatians had only recently completed fortifications across the entire width of the gorge. Minor skirmishes slowed construction from 670 to 750 but the Sarmatians eventually had strong stone walls and a massive bronze gate to defend their border.

Sarmatia had the reputation in the Fatimid Caliphate as the Dar al-Harb (House of War), alongside the Roman Empire which they knew as Dar ar-Rhum (House of Rome) and their own lands which were the Dar al-Islam (House of Islam). In practice, this terminology referred to freedom to practice religion in these respective lands. Obviously, Muslims were accepted within the caliphates but they also found peace with the Romans in their provinces of Syria, Arabia, and Egypt where Muslims traveled to do business with Roman citizens. However, Sarmatians were fervently distrustful of practitioners of Islam and greeted Muslims with a lukewarm welcome throughout the 7th and 8th centuries. Around 770, there were a series of public riots against some Muslims that were working as merchants in Sarmatia, prompting the Kaisar to throw his support behind his people and bar the passage of Muslims through the Gates of Alexander, their name for the massive bronze gates guarding entry into their lands.

Conversely, the Fatimids exercised no such restrictions against Christians and Sarmatians, continuing to allow them to trade in under the House of Islam. Furthermore, the Sarmatians did not repel Muslim traders from their ports on the Pontus Auxeinus (Black Sea) but were distrustful enough to withhold certain rights to these merchants and keep them confined to port towns.

Germanic warfare

After three centuries, the former tribes of Magna Germania and Magna Sarmatia had changed. The hundreds and cantons remained the main division of land in most of those cultures but the chiefs of these homesteads had become lords who swore fealty to higher lords who were in turn the vassals of a king. One of the primary duties of a vassal was to levy an army in the defense of his liege lord, meaning whenever his liege bid him take his people to war. In most kingdoms, every family would send one man of fighting age for a short part of the year, usually no more than three months before harvests. However, the Saxon Kingdom and Angland required each family by law to send one man, whereas other lands had more malleable conscription.


These levies pertained to the commoners. The lords themselves were expect to send a large number of their own sons for the king's levy, especially if they were not going to war for their king. Horses were essential to the levying of an army. The distances covered by the older confederation forced soldiers to use a mount to travel from home to the battlefield. Some farmers and townsfolk owned their own mules or geldings but most were supplied with the lowest horses from their lord's stables, except in kingdoms where horses were more commonplace. A noble House tended to own enough horses for everyone in the household as well as dozens to hundreds of other horses for servants in peace and levies during wartime.

Gothic cavalry was famous among the kingdoms of Europe, standing out on the field where other armies dismounted to fight. These heavy horsemen were as covered in iron or bronze scaled armor as their war horses, which were bred for charging into the fray with both force and speed. Most Gothic riders were nobles or the retainers of nobles so their numbers were few but their presence had swayed the tide of many battles from the 5th through 8th centuries. Some kings of other realms would ride into battle in the Gothic manner, wearing metal armor bought from merchants of the Ostrogothic Kingdom. However, some of the high lords and the King of Lombardy inherited the equestrian traditions of the Vesigothic Kingdom after its conquest, donning their own scaled armor and mounting their own war horses when fighting alongside their own infantry. Highborn warriors from most of the kingdoms could afford some variety of scaled armor or chainmail, sometimes worn beneath boiled leather or furs.

Everyone else wore hardened leather to varying degrees, the poorest going into battle uncovered. Until the early 7th century, ironsmiths were not common enough for even lords to don chainmail, but during the Liberation War, only the commoners were without some form of metallic armor. Similarly, all variety of shields from bare oak to cedar covered in hardened leather could be found in the hands of Germanic warriors. By the late 6th century, few men went into battle with one arm free. No styles of shield were enforced within a single kingdom but families tended to adopt the shapes and colors of their communities, whereas lords were wont to craft elaborate shields to distinguish members of their household on the field.

As for weapons, peasants were at one time expected to arm themselves but kingdoms were eventually obliged to follow the lead of the King of the Alans in the late 6th century in forcing his lords to keep armories for arming their peasantry. Under such an arrangement, nobles would often provide the better weaponry, possibly even armor, to commoners who were most loyal in their service. Starting in the late 7th century, some nobles granted titles to these commoners as a display of their loyalty and as a pledge to arm them well for war. Often, titles accompanied the grants of land that had always been the way of rewarding common men who had proven themselves loyal to a noble household. During the 8th century, the manner in which these titles, weapons, and land were offered were almost as numerous as kingdoms in Eastern Europe.

The lowest soldiers wielded cudgels, clubs, and other bludgeons, usually fitted with stone, bone, or even metal studs. Some men knew to weigh down the end of a bludgeon, creating a rudimentary mace. Above these poor folk were the men who could afford a metal axe, designed in a similar manner to the woodcutter's tool (unless it simply was a chopping axe). In particular, the Franks were known for their throwing axes (francisca) that they wielded proudly. Spears were nearly as common as axes, with the Saxons famous for standardizing the length of their spears after ~690 and providing all of their levies with their own spears.

Only the nobles and their retainers could afford a sword for each of their fighting men, given the tremendous cost of iron in the Germanic kingdoms. The Free Fief of Lugan became famous during the Liberation War for its kuningsknecht (servants of the crown), a royal army that fought with two-handed greatswords supplied by their self-styled "king", the Grand Auguste of Lugan. Some of the Free Fiefs of the Confederation could afford to outfit their own armies with swords but these were only the wealthiest augusties such as Lugan.

At the time, only a few archers joined the armies levied by Germanic kingdoms. Few commoners could afford the training needed to become proficient with a bow and most lords viewed archery with contempt, leaving a small minority of people willing and able to fight with any sort of bow. As exceptions, the Bulgars and other successors to the Avars were known for their horse archers and the Franks had their throwing axes for fighting at range.


Unlike the Legion, a Germanic army fought without much internal direction, like a tide crashing against a shore. Some kings or lords could inject order into their forces by separating their armies into battle groups then sending these toward specific parts of the battlefield, but in the 8th century these skills were not the norm and their implementation only came under good conditions. For this reason, any tactics had changed the outcome of many battles, leading the Germans to highly value an intelligent and charismatic warlord when they were lucky enough to have one at the head of their armies. King Fuco of Lombardy and High King Cathric of Saxony were rare such examples.

However, even the least commander of a Germanic army knew rudimentary tactics. They knew to favor starting a battle with the higher ground and a few lords, especially those of the Sclavene culture, were apt at attacking from a position of cover in the forest, where they could take an enemy unawares.

Furthermore, the Germans were no strangers to the art of siege warfare. From the Goths and Sarmatians, the Germans were taught how to build simple onagers and wheeled towers from nearby forests. The latter were known to be more effective against the earthenworks walls that were common in Eastern Europe at the time. However, the skilled labor required to construct war engines, even as simple as a tower, were not always available to a Germanic army, often limiting an attacker to a lengthy siege.

Sarmatian warfare

During the 8th century, Sarmatia's great empire stood apart from the Germanic kingdoms in many things, from its maintenance of a standing army to its more organized tactics. Where other kingdoms used iron, the Sarmatians favored bronze as material for their weapons and armor. All of the equipment for 8th century Sarmatian soldiers was standardized and supplied by the state. A Sarmatian shield was a rounded bronze disc the length of a man's torso. The rest of a soldier's armor consisted of bronze plate in the shape of the covered parts of the body, including a bronze cuirass connected to the back by leather straps. For weapons, Sarmatian infantry fought with curved bronze shortswords and bronze-tipped spears, using the tactics of the Greek hoplites.

Romans viewed Sarmatian troops as successors to the Kingdom of Pontus, with similar appearance and tactics. However, they differed in their widespread use of heavy cavalry, similar to the Persian cataphracts. Sarmatian cavalry wore gear similar to the foot soldiers, except for their longer swords and heavy-headed spears (designed for greater durability). Unlike Germanic soldiers, Sarmatian troops trained for a year before ever seeing battle and were part of the military for most of their lives. For this reason, they had vastly superior discipline and training, giving them an advantage when numbers were not in their favor.

With a standing army of 43,200 swordsmen4800 bowmen, and 22,000 riders, the Sarmatians were a great military power in Eastern Europe, kept in check only by their need to defend against incursions out of Armenia from the forces of Islam.

Peace in Europe

The end of the Great Germanic War was a significant event in Europe. This war had been the greatest conflict on the continent since the civil war between Augustus and Marcus Antonius nearly eight centuries earlier. However, instead of engulfing Rome in conflict, the war struck the Germanic kingdoms farther north. For a decade, the common people on the borders lived in fear of losing their crops to pillaging armies and overall, hundreds of thousands of Germans lost their lives. A million people counted for a large proportion of the populace in a region with only 18 million people. In particular, the Kingdom of Bohemia lost 300,000 people out of its total population of 1.8 million, forcing the once second strongest kingdom of the confederation into decline.

Recovery from the war facilitated the spread of pestis gravis (bubonic plague) throughout the Germanic kingdoms, as food was distributed by lords and kings to a wide area that had lost its local crops. Nearly a third of the population of the kingdoms from Venetia to Bulgaria died as the plague swept through those lands from 760 to 790. Trade with Rome brought a similar resurgence of the disease within the empire, killing nearly 1.6 million citizens in Greater Germany and a further seven million people across the surrounding provinces from Greece to Gaul. Proportionally, only about a twentieth of the affected populations were killed by plague, as quarantines, common knowledge, and proper hygiene prevented the citizenry form suffering the worst of the disease. Nevertheless, the plague spread far in the empire, carried along by rapid trade and communication. Attempts were made again to prevent its spread to Italy but these efforts failed, unlike the quarantines in the 6th century. Nearly half a million Italians died but this number was paltry compared to the province's total population.

Weakness from the plague left the Saxon Kingdom vulnerable to an invasion by the Khaganate of Bulgaria. Under its strong leader, Khagan Ispor, the Bulgars stormed the keeps and villages of the Saxons, putting men and boys alike to the sword. By 774, Saxony was no longer one kingdom. Some lords held out against the Bulgar invasion but the majority of Saxon land went to the khanate. As part of the invasion, Ispor married his son to a khan of the Khazar Turks. On his death, the Bulgars clans were pledged to Qagan Tarbel who now had control over an empire covering the lands north of the Caspian Sea.

Francia and Sarmatia feared the growing power of this Kingdom of Khazaria and pooled their resources to combat the Turks in 791 when Tarbel was rumored to be at the head of a horde of 100,000 Turks. The Roman dignitary of Sarmatia took an interest in the sudden emergence of this empire, prompting the Bureau of Barbarians to send an emissary to the Khazars. Calling the Turks the "People of the Land beyond the Oxus", their territories known to the Romans as the Regnum Transoxianum, this emissary convinced Qagan Ashur to pledge allegiance to the Roman Caesar. Word of the strength of the "Legon Rhumanorum" had permeated the Turkic clans since Qagan Bumin ruled the Göktürk Khaganate. Khazar Turks believed that Rhum ruled the whole of the "Sunset Lands", meaning the entire Western hemisphere. Ashur could not refuse an offer to serve the ruler of half the world. His pledge of fealty began the co-operation of Rome with the strongest of the "barbarian" kingdoms.

National commerce

Trade is a means for villages, cities and states to satisfy a local demand for goods by selling a local surplus of goods elsewhere. When a people harvested or hunted more food in a year than could be eaten within the same period, some of those people began to devote their lives to other activities, partially freeing farmers and hunters from tasks such as building and manufacturing. This process was the origin of specialization and aspects of it are noticeable in the operation of every society.

In the case of a city, scarcely any food is locally produced. For this reason, a city may only exist where there are farmers, hunters, fishermen, etc. that get more foodstuffs than their families can eat. These men travel to cities, often on special market days, in order to sell their produce or exchange it for clothfurniture, or other goods. Grain taken to a city usually goes toward a miller, who grinds the grain into flour for households or for bakers to bake into bread and pastries. Fruits and vegetables go straight from an orchard to the market while meats are taken to a butcher or fishmonger for preparation before selling to households. In general, any foodstuff undergoes a process from collection to preparation to sale before reaching consumers in a city, each step usually getting done by a different business that specializes in its stage of the process.

City of Rome

Of course, actual cities operate with far greater complexity than just processing foodstuffs and raw materials into household goods. As an example, consider Rome in 800 CE as an extremely divergent case:

On a macroscopic scale, the Eternal City consists of over 1.8 million free citizens and around 440,000 slaves. Slaves in Rome have little direct involvement in processing or selling goods, except for the ~80,000 slaves owned by merchants, who carry goods and materials from the docks or gates to market stalls. Another ~5,000 slaves serve the imperial family as cleaning staff, waiters, cup bearers, couriers, scribes, pedagogues, and basic servants. These men and women are not the only slaves owned by the state; other slaves owned by the state perform the public services required to maintain a city the size and splendor of Rome.

Among these ~32,000 public slaves, ~8200 are spartoliani (fire fighters); ~3200 are quisquili (street cleaners) who clean either the city streets (~500), sewage tunnels (~300), or the public buildings and monuments (~2400); and ~5600 perform menial tasks around galenariae (hospitals), bibliotecae (libraries), and templa (temples). The last ~8,000 public slaves are gladiators owned by the publicly funded gladiatorial schools throughout the capital. The other ~320,000 slaves are famuli (house slaves), likely by a noble familiy. Almost a quarter of these slaves are children who can only perform the least strenuous of tasks for their masters.

Ancestry determines membership in the nobilitas, meaning a noble citizen of Rome either descends from past Roman senators or from nobility in an annexed kingdom. Custom forbids patriciani or senatores from working to build their wealth, except through agriculture where slaves perform the actual labor. This peculiar but longstanding cultural restriction removes the aristocracy of the capital from the productive force of the empire but frees them for necessary, indirect contributions. About ~12,000 patricians have their primary residences in Rome. While half of these citizens are women or children, the other half are essential for the city to be able to administer and control its vast empire. All patricians are members of the ordo equester (upper class)

First and foremost, there are 1000 equites taking part in government as senatores, devoting hours each day on legislative, financial, and electoral deliberations with the Curia Petra on the Forum Romanum. Within this bureaucracy are 113 magistrati who exercise direct political power either within Rome or in the provinces. Many senators and unelected aristocrats participate in the government through legal practice as avocati (advocates), the best of whom are selected for the capital's album judicum to serve as judices (judges). Within the capital alone, ~2300 advocates and ~350 judges are licensed to practice law, seeing their clients in their atria on most mornings. Since legal services are technically offered without charge, these jobs do not qualify as work for patricians. However, good advocates enjoy a high income through gifts from their wealthier clients.

Free citizens without the high birth or wealth to join the aristocracy may enjoy similar status by becoming a sacerdos (priest) in one of the hundreds of Christian temples in the capital. Over 2800 citizens are part of the clergy, working in temples to satisfy the spiritual needs of the nearly 1.4 million citizens who regularly attend mass in Rome. Scarcely 10,000 of these parishioners volunteer their free time to assist the clergy in their tasks. The highest ranking priests are ministers to their flock, leading public prayers and administering their own temple with the assistance of lesser clergy and lay volunteers. Other clergymen serve the bread and wine during service and tend to the needs of the resident minister, in the hope of receiving a higher calling for more meaningful work with the Church. At the top of the hierarchy is the Bishop of Rome or Pontifex Maximus (Pope) who administers the Roman Catholic Church (Ecclesia Christiana), with the assistance of a throng of other priests both male and female.

Other free men may serve Rome by joining any of the two military corps tasked with defending the empire. Some men leave the city to serve a term as a legionary but others stay to join the vigiles, the watchmen who patrol the streets to keep the peace. The vigiles are a special type of auxiliary soldier, accorded special status and training to reflect the importance of the capital. There are around 1,600 city guards in the vigiles, leaving the greater task of defending the capital from external threats to the Praetoriani. Drawn from the cream of the crop of men serving in the Legion, praetorian guards are an elite force dedicated to protecting the emperor and the people of Rome. Their military order has an exact membership of 10,000 soldiers and 20 prefects, none of which are superior in authority to the others. Praetorian prefects report directly to the emperor, who pays them by his own hand. For one of the prefects to be seen accepting coin from any other person is viewed as a tremendous blow to his honor and any suspicion is often met with his dismissal back to the lower ranks of the guard. Most praetorians spend their time patrolling the Capitoline and Palatine Hills or the gates leading into the ancient core of the Eternal City. .Already, ~26,000 adults of a productive age have been considered without any producing goods or services that can be exchanged with other settlements for durable or consumable goods to sustain its residents. Large cities in other kingdoms often barely meet that number of productive adults and usually devote less than a hundred men to these same tasks.

Sustaining two of these unproductive classes of society requires entirely unique markets that further drain the productivity of Rome. For example, raw silk harvested at farms in the eastern provinces is either traded outside the empire or shipped to the capital, where the only legal facilities for weaving silk into a cloth are located. In general, silk, ivory, incenseporcelaintropical woodsbanana, coconut, sugarspicesable, falernian wine, and Alexandrian glass are the most popular luxury goods brought for processing and sale in this city with the highest number of wealthy and noble families. Expert carpenters work ivory, glass, and tropical woods into luxury furniture while goldsmiths fabricate jewelry embedded with gems for the Roman elite to decorate their homes and bodies. Over 5000 merchants and artisans participate exclusively in these luxury industries.

Materials for regular industries enter the capital in a somewhat processed form (metal ingotsrough lumberstone blockscereal grains, etc.), leaving only a few specific steps for resident craftsmen to finish a marketable product. Most trade between Roma and other cities is mediated by merchants in national guilds who have contacts throughout the Roman world. As a result, the capital has ~50,000 merchants known as adeptarii, whose sole business is connecting local merchants and artisans with suppliers and buyers in other cities. An adeptarius tends to be exceptionally wealthy, earning his income from taking cuts out of any imports and exports that he mediates for what can be as many as a thousand clients.

Adeptarius is one of several jobs in a growing financial industry that is densest around Rome and Byzantium. Among these other financial positions are the numerarius (accountant) and the argentarius (banker). There are no organizations devoted solely to accounting, although the accountants at a bank usually offer their services to anyone with money loaned to that bank. A banker is either a curator pecunina, responsible for managing the employees at his banca (bank) and avoiding illegitimate practices, or a praecorator clientina, tasked with attending to clients of the bank in its atrium. The latter kind of banker is not strictly a bank teller; his job is more similar to the Roman advocate who speaks with his clients in his own home and does his business as if socializing. Even the largest bank, such as the Banca Romae, only has five praecoratores, each meeting a fraction of the bank's clients in the same massive atrium of this national bank. In the whole city of Rome, there are only ~400 bankers, each rarely seeing more than two or three dozen clients on a day of work, and around 12,000-20,000 accountants, depending on who qualifies as a numerarius.

Downfall of Aristotelianism

The work of Balerios and Pistorius called Aristotelianism into question by introducing alternative doctrines. Balerios had gotten natural philosophers to dispense with the four classical elements in favor of seven philosophical elements. Instead of losing their influence, the Aristotelian school accepted the change but interpreted it through hylomorphism - the understanding that substances are a combination of form and matter. The status quo where the Lyceum - the foremost academy for Aristotelians - led Romans in understanding nature did not falter despite the disruption by this Ephesian philosopher working in Alexandria.

By contrast, Pistorius delivered a more fundamental blow to Aristotelianism. At the core, his views were Atomistic - expanding on the largely unrecognized work of the philosopher Dionada. In particular, Mica replaced natural place as an explanation of gravity and buoyancy with action at a distance and opposed the existence of a state of absolute rest by arguing that moving smoothly in a straight line is indistinguishable from being at rest except by reference to the relative motion of other objects (in other words, only relative rest can be meaningfully determined through observation). Experiments where ballista shells were dropped from the masts of ships showed that objects retain their motion even when released from whatever moved them (at least refuting the Aristotelian thesis that an object stopped moving horizontally the moment no force acted on it). In general, the Principia presented a wealth of experimental evidence and a posteriori arguments against Aristotelian physics, always outlining clearly how to repeat an experiment (Mica strongly emphasized that an observation is only valid if anyone could find a similar result).

Aside from repeatable predictions, Pistorian physics had other advantages over Aristotelian physics in the academic sphere. On its own, the new mechanical philosophy explained geometric mechanics through physical theory, a feat that could not be accomplished by Aristotelians to any satisfactory degree (to the point that no artillery engineers depended on Aristotelian principles for their work - instead relying on principles of geometry which Mica presented as lines of action). Aside from its own merits, Pistorian physics was bolstered by the national reputation of its inventor, who was already famous in 760 for his marvels of engineering and contributions to the Legion.

Overall, Pistorian physics owed more to the geometric mechanics of artillery engineers than the Aristotelian physics of philosophers but was still beholden to the latter tradition for its philosophical underpinnings.

For its part, the Lyceum faced an existential threat. Some non-philosophical school in Phoenician Africa had just dissolved its claims to expertise in the description and explanation of change (physica) and refuted some of the fundamentals of its teachings. Once one of its own refuted the Aristotelian plenum by demonstrating the existence of a vacuum, the school had lost the last of its public and political support, dissolving in 769 after the loss of the majority of its philosophers and students as well as the termination of funding from the consular government of Greece.

However, the dissolution of the Lyceum was only temporary. Backed financially by mining and smithing guilds, Aristotelians who specialized in metallurgy and geology restored the Lyceum in 781 exclusively as a school of Aristotelian geology, largely in the tradition of the Aristotelian philosopher Nicomechus (436-497). Instead of relying on the Senate, the new Lyceum owed its existence to the Stena Guild of blacksmiths, alongside other smaller investors who benefited from the expertise of geologists.

Others who left the Lyceum devoted their efforts to writing polemics against Pistorian physics. Most criticisms attacked the notion of action at a distance, some critics even pointing out the contradiction of espousing an Atomism with more than collisions as actions. By their arguments, motion without contact - as in gravity, buoyancy, or celestial motion - could only arise from an internal source of motion, namely the natural motion of elements to their respective places in the natural world. Indeed, philosophers were universally uncomfortable with an action that could be exerted across space without contact but most were beginning to recognize the failures of the theory of natural place for matter and took action at a distance as the best alternative. However, even Mica freely admitted his discomfort with the idea and left the challenge to the philosophers to identify the entity that must mediate the action of gravity. Polemics against Mica amounted to little during his life and were long forgotten by philosophers after his death. When Mica became the Scholarch of the Technaeum, in 767, his reputation had reached its zenith, ensuring the success of his physics against that of Aristotle, at least in the eyes of the academic community.

Maya Conglomerate

Pakal II

King Pakal II the Great

Pakal the Great's conquests were not yet complete by the turn of the century, and his armies continued to advanced southward all the way up to 714. By that point they had reached the Isthmus of Pakal, the thinnest point of land leading up to South Columbia. At this point, a wall 20 meters high and nine meters thick was built to block the land off entirely. This wall was completed in 716 CE, only four years after advanced scouts sent into the jungle farther south failed to return.

Still, the Mayans had already conquered a great deal of land over the past 50 years and had yet to fully consolidate this territory. Estimates, done by later historians, calculated that around four million natives were killed over the course of the wars, or in other words, only 5% or so of the previous population remained in the area. This number was further reduced by disease and the taking of slaves so that by 730 all Tribal States were officially allowed into the Council as Mayan States, meaning they were now almost entirely populated by ethnic Mayans.

With all their troubles in the South taken care of, and no danger from an attack on their enormous coastal borders, the Mayans now put their entire focus towards the North and the integration of the rest of the Mexica States. Whilst those regions had most of the infrastructure of Mayan States, only about four had been changed and several dozen still remained. This issue was not a major one within the Conglomerate, and so it was merely done gradually over the course of centuries. For the time being, the government's main focus was the increasingly violent Native Tribes and as Pakal II died in 727, resolving this was left up to his successors.

Reign of Tyrianus:
1395 (642)-1440 (687)
Early Tyrian Dynasty:
1440 (687)-1514 (761)
Middle Tyrian Dynasty:
1514 (761)-588 (835)

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