Alternate History

730-762 CE (Superpowers)

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Constantian Dynasty - Part II:
1453 (700)-1483 (730)
Reign of Perita:
1483 (730)-1515 (762)
Reign of Valens:
1515 (762)-1554 (801)

The son of a prominent senator of the Dorian family of Romans, Emperor Perita was the official elected by the Senate to take over the post of Emperor of the Romans. He had already graduated from the Academia Bellica with several honors and had been Governor of Gothia for 6 years already, having led several armies against attacking barbarians. As usual of an elected emperor he was very successful throughout his reign, and overall made very good decisions for the sake of the Empire. Most importantly however, he greatly increased imperial subsidies to Archaedavincus, and so the reign of Perita was marked by the many continued advances of this great man.

Civil Events

Over the 730's Archaedavincus was putting forward his greatest idea yet, something which would be the single most advanced invention up to that point in history. He believed that since a fortress was the greatest conceivable defensive structure, the greatest offensive structure would be a fortress that moved. Calculating what substances had the greatest durability for thickness and for weight, he decided on a Davincan Steel defensive shell. His designs required for very precise thicknesses at certain parts of the vehicle, all parts able to resist even the strongest arrow bolts, and most parts were to be completely immune to ballista or scorpio weaponry.

The shape of the vehicle's armor was also design to be slanted in such a way that most long-range weapons would simply glance off of it, with the added bonus of making battering rams ineffective as well. Short-range weaponry, such as spears and swords, were similarly unable to penetrate its armor, even when wielded by the strongest of attackers. Heavy melee weapons like battle hammers and long axes could potentially dent it, but there would need to be an immensely strong man behind the weapon. Acutula theorized that only a catapult had the sheer power to destroy his new weapon, a threat that was hardly one to be considered, even for a vehicle of its size.

With a completed design being released in 734, Acutula dubbed his invention the Testudo Invicto, or the Invinsible Tortoise. The final design for the Testudo included a unique technological usage of the Celerite Arquus that resembled the Ancient Roman Polybolos in design. The new Polybolos used a chain link connected to a windlass to constantly reload from a magazine of 50 bolts as the machine is cranked. Adding the additional 8 seconds or so required to reload, an entire magazine can be inserted and used up within one minute. Located in a rotating turret on the top of the Testudo, with the gunner completely enclosed by protective metal, anyone firing the weapon was in the perfect position to wreak death upon large groups of enemies. Considering the Polybolos is capable of accurately hitting a target at 150 meters, it is by any definition, an incredibly deadly addition to the Testudo.

The only part of the design still missing was Archaedavincus' proposed weapon for the front of his creation. Since 733, he had been working on a new weapon that was supposed to function as an accurate long range siege weapon, similar to a catapult, but far more potent and efficient. In 747, he built the first Magna Ballista and tested it on a mock city gate before a crowd of military engineers. A single shot from the Magna Ballista had approximately two thirds the energy of the average catapult missile, allowing it to absolutely destroy medium scale fortifications such as gates and brick walls, but making it largely ineffective against a thick stone defensive wall. The device mechanically fired, in a similar fashion to a ballista, a 60 kg lead projectile with a steel tip for added penetrative power. Furthermore, it was able to be fired every 10-12 seconds when used by a skilled operator, allowing sieges to be completed in very short order.

Magna Ballista Shell

Magna Ballista Shell, dated to 1017 CE

The Magna Ballista was given three primary uses in the military. Firstly, it was fitted on the front of every Testudo with the gunner mostly encased in metal and with access to 30 missiles. Secondly, all Deceres were outfitted with two on each side of the ship. This, combined with the Jet Greek Fire placed at the ship's bow, ensured that even a single Roman vessel could destroy entire enemy fleets all on its own. Finally, the Magna Ballistae were occasionally placed in specialized carriages and dragged to a battlefield when the Testudos were not available. This implementation of the design was invented in 752 and essentially served to replace the onager in Roman warfare entirely. By the IXth Century, the siege weapons in Rome's arsenal were: the Testudo, the Magna Ballista, the Trebuchet, the Scorpio and the standard anti-infantry Ballista.

Although the weapon was designed, Archaedavincus still had to work out the methods required to actually built its individual components and then assemble them. Through several reworking of his designs during the 750's, he was finally able to have a team construct the first ever Testudo; under his careful supervision of course. Completed in 758, with detailed drawings of every stage of construction, the Testudo was still required to undergo several years of testing before it was produced en masse for the Roman Legion. The final stage of testing, its use in an actual battle, would not come until after the death of the current emperor Perita.

The complement of the completed product was as follows:

  • A Polybolos turret (360 degree view) at the machine's top with a single gunner and 1000 missiles (small steel balls) of ammunition
  • Four slave laborers to move each wheel forward, assisted only by pulleys to provide mechanical advantage
  • Each wheel was made of sturdy timber and encased in steel on the outer facing side, and its rims
  • A Magna Ballista at its front, able to marginally swing left and right, operated by a single gunner using 30 missiles (large shaped steel-lead shells)
  • Outer shell able to withstand direct hits from all but the largest siege weapons (i.e. Trebuchets, Magna Ballistae, Onagers, etc.)
Roman Armor Set

Body and head armor, dated to 870 CE

So potent a weapon was the Testudo, and so carefully used were they by the Legion, never has a Roman army fighting a foreign force, ever lost a battle when a Testudo was being used, that is until the First World War.

Other useful developments by Archaedavincus over this period were the discovery of a longer lasting chemical in the use of Ampulae; the perfection of several casting processes to make arrowheads and swords; and the improvement of the overall design of Roman armor. This final one involved a redesign of the old lorica segmentata, culminating in his invention of the lorica terestata in 745. Though the main body armor of the segmentata was changed to a smoother cuirass, the segmented shoulder armor was still incorporated, as was the clothing worn on a soldiers lower half. The helmet (Galea) was changed to a new standard, that every soldier regardless of rank wore. The only differences between the ranks was that Centurion and up had no cheek guards (see image) and sported a decorative plume. With this change to legionary armor, the auxiliaries were made to wear the armor that was normally worn by legionaries before the reform, making even more effective than they had been previously.

There were three other major advances by Archaedavincus during this period as well. The first was the discovery that when electrika was moving through metal, it exerted a force on, and subsequently had force exerted on it in the presence of magnetite. He therefore concluded that if he could come up with the proper designs, a device could theoretically be made that would provide constant energy, in the form of circular motion, if a current was applied, thereby laying the foundations for the Electric Motor. Two years later, in 749, he developed a method of inscribing the same message repeatedly on a piece of paper (a material brought over from China). This Printing Press allowed for the creation of infinite copies of the same written work to be made. Though he made several notes on the potential use of this sort of device, he never applied it himself and its designs were simply sold to a merchant in Constantinopolis on his death in 770.

A final invention of Archaedavincus was the Ampulae Manorum (Small Batteries). Thanks to his repeated developments in the efficiency of batteries, he was able to construct, for the first time, a battery that could easily fit into the palm of the hand. Unfortunately there existed no real use for this invention, as of yet, because electrika was only utilized in large scale electroplating.

As for the accomplishments of the Emperor Perita himself, he had many. Running on fiscal policies, he reduced taxes for the middle classes and put large amounts of government funding into the expansion of public markets, believing that a strong merchant class was the backbone of any empire. Furthermore, he abhorred the common practice of emperors of creating large "vanity projects" simply to display their own glory. Instead, he funded the construction of many useful public buildings, including banks, galenariae, theological schools, churches and sewage systems in smaller cities. His reforms greatly increased the standard of living for Roman citizens. One of his greatest changes however, was the expansion of the State Welfare system, that existed only in the Greek provinces, to encompass all Senatorial Provinces, as well as Aegyptus and Axum.

Perita also altered the Romans laws on capital punishment, this being one of the first major changes of the long-standing Corpus Validianus. He made it so that the only lawful method of execution was through the direct piercing of the heart with a sharp spear, an action that was required to be performed with exacting precision by a trained executioner. This was considered to be incredibly humane by the day's standards, particularly as it killed quickly and ensured no physical disfigurement like beheading and cutting of the throat did. However, a clause was included that certain crimes (such as mass murder, the murder of religious figures, or High Treason) were subject to a new more humiliating form of death. The subject was to be have their wrists slit, so as not to kill them, then they were hanged and their body dismembered and burned on a pillar, never to be buried. This was not only an incredibly painful and humiliating way to die, but the destruction of the body like this was considered an incredible affront to someone's honor and status as a Christian.


Due to the still increasing isolationism of Rome, very few military endeavors were undertaken during Perita's reign. The emperor agreed with his predecessors that the most important thing to help Rome's economy grow is to protect it from too many outside influences, and so all foreign activity save the important Silk Trade was stopped during the VIIth Century. Perita also believed that if no military action was taken against foreigners for a hundred years or more, all tensions would simply evaporate. Although this worked to an extent, what the Romans did not count on was the emergence of a new player on the world field, the Danes.

A threat from them was still to come later and for the moment the Romans were looking to consolidate their control over Cimbria, what the Danes knew as Jutland. One major step towards this was removing the Jutes control over the straits of running between the peninsula and the island of Fyn. A quick invasion of the island in 738 and blocking off of the waters there with the Roman fleet a year later, allowed for Jute influence in the area to be almost completely nullified by 742.

To defend the territory, coastal fortifications were built along the North-East coast of the peninsula in 744'. Later on, these fortifications were upgraded using the new technology that Archaedavincus had been developing. This includes large batteries of Magna Ballistae to fight off enemy ships, as well as Polybolos to fend off landing armies. Combined with these minor upgrades, the wall was extended another 80 km to the south. Like any Roman wall of the time period, the Cimbrian Wall was greatly sloped and featured large bastions every 10 Roman miles.

In 756, some of the remaining Germanic tribes to the east of the European border created an entirely new alliance, separate from the Federation. Although they managed to muster an army of 170,000 troops, their attack on the Wall of the Vistula was a complete failure, despite the use of siege weaponry. Following the attack, the Senate authorized for Polybolos to be fitted on the wall, replacing the already existing Ballistae that were in use there. At 20 per Roman mile, the addition even further increased Rome's defensive capabilities. Soon, an identical set up was used on all defensive land walls, including the Great Judean Wall. Never before had Rome's borders been more secure.

In Arabia, affairs were fare less peaceful. Tension had been rising since the death of Mohammed (known to the Romans as Mohamede) over who was the rightful successor to the position of leader of the Muslim peoples. One group, the Shi'ah believe that only the descendants of Mohammed, through his cousin and son-in-law Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib, were the rightful leaders of Islam. This faction was therefore led by the Imam, essentially a monarchical priestly class. The other group, the Sunni, believe in following the "way" of Mohammed and the question of succession should therefore be decided by giving it to those who are considered "rightly guided" by Mohammed's teachings.

This difference in views on such an important matter, as well as other things, led to open warfare between the two sides in 742. The sides were however not equal, with the Shi'ah consisting of between 50-65% of the Muslim population and Sunni 35-45%. The greater amount of the latter is largely due to Roman influence in the region, particularly the importance that Roman Christianity places on the Pope. Still, the Sunnis were the possessors of more advanced technology, due to having control of conquered Indian territory, and so there was a roughly even playing field for the two armies.

The incredibly destructive Sunni-Shia Civil War lasted until 750 CE when the governments of each side agreed on a ceasefire and the creation of peacetime borders for their new nations. The Shi'ah of course got the Muslim lands around Arabia whilst the Sunnis got those to the North and East. In 752, all Muslims who were not of the faction whose country they were in, were allowed to emigrate to their new home. As this was done along carefully chosen routes, keeping both sides separate, the migration was a complete success and both sides, through their honor, did not pull off any underhanded moves such as sending in a spy or the like.

This war brought an end to the dominant Umayyad Caliphate that had ruled the Arabian Empire since 661 and gave the world two more Caliphates. The new Sunni Republic, which was not much of a republic, was ruled by the Abbasid Caliphate founded by one of Mohammed's loyal uncles. The Shi'ite line of succession, though called many things, was known by Romans living in the area as the AlBaytid Caliphate, or the Caliphate of the House.

Mayan Conglomerate

Their population having hit 95 million in 720, the Mayan Conglomerate was fast becoming one of the most impressive empires in the world. United under the Mayan religion and the unified acceptance of the Mexica and the Maya of their one government, the nation had less internal tensions than any other, in America or Europe. Only the native tribes to the north, which numbered as about 2 million, were posing any sort of problem at all. Since they were all, by law, concentrated in one place, and were denied access to all but the most rudimentary of weapons (which they weren't allowed to possess, but were so simple anyone could make) these people could never pose a problem to the might of the Mayan Army. The Militia, which had consisted of natives, was disbanded in 643.

The Conglomerate's armed forces was far more uniform then most. Lacking any animals or vehicles that could be used for transportation, they only had one type of soldier. The standard infantryman, since 732, was covered from head to toe in armor, leaving only a hole where the face could see and breath. The Mayan Armor looked to be made entirely from fabric, as that was what the outer layer consisted of. This woven material was incredibly durable, a testament to Mayan material engineers, and a soldier wearing this was completely immune to native hand weapons and arrows, from a distance, even at points that were protected only by this fabric. At vital parts or non-mobile parts of the human body, such as the torse, head, shins, forearms, thighs, and several others, there was a metal plate fitted in for added protection. The armor in these areas was durable enough to withstand any weapon of the day, being immune to grenade shrapnel and blocking concussive forces, and easily blocking an arrow at point blank range. As would be proven later, this armor was also able to block the Roman Scorpio and Polybolos missiles and the ceramic plates used at certain parts provided added heat resistance, even against Greek Fire.

Mayan Sword

Standard Mayan sword (794)

As for armaments, every soldier was outfitted with 5 Pyrobola (grenades), a small composite bow and 20 arrows in a miniature pouch. Still, the item which really defined the Mayan soldier however was their sword. At 0.65 meters long, and made entirely of iron from tip to hilt, the Conglomerate sword was an incredibly effective weapon in battle. Similar in design to those that had been used by the Chinese, the Mayan Sword was held in an attachment on a soldier's belt, with no sheath around the blade itself. To accompany the sword, each soldier had a bronze shield, something which in 710 was changed to a wooden shield (the size of the Hoplon) with a bronze outer layer.

In essence, the Mayan juggernaut was unstoppable. In open battle, Mayan grenades and arrows, which every soldier was outfitted with, devastated the enemy before they could even get into effective range of their best weapons. As for guerrilla warfare, the Mayans, knowing their inherent advantage on the field, spent most of their training being taught how to fight a guerrilla war. Therefore, although the Mayan's technology allowed them to destroy any force in direct combat, their training also made them the most experienced when it came to subterfuge and fighting along forests and hills. With the only advantage a native army had, removed, the Conglomerate had absolutely free reign over any land it touched.

The one disadvantage that seems like it would plague them is mobility. Carrying well over 30 pounds of equipment, and armor (which is far lighter than it sounds) it seems impossible that a soldier could march for more than an hour or two before collapsing from exhaustion. Training was the key component here. Much like the Romans, Mayan soldiers were required to march, in full gear, 40 miles per day. This was in addition to the guerrilla training, sword and archery training that every single soldier was required to perform, each day. Although this made the life of a soldier an arduous one, the great honor associated with any military position, as well as the amazingly low death rate and exhilaration of battle, made it one of the most sought after jobs in the country. Since the reforms of Pakal II, the Conglomerate Standing Army (CSA) was made up of 600,000 foot soldiers, 30,000 officers and 1,000 commanders. Then came the 50 Generals of the Mayan War Council and finally, at the top, was the Grand Commander. The holder of the latter position was always chosen by the King himself and was kept a secret from everyone but the members of the War Council.

From 742 to 751, the Conglomerate conquered native territory up to the Great River at the connecting point between Central and North Columbia. Here, expansion was stopped and several forts were built along the river to provide defense. Though the rest of the land along the river was not conquered, the Mayans stopping about two thirds of the way up the river, the Mayans had great plans to expand along the West Coast of the continent. This however, would come later.

Back to Timeline or Superpowers

Also see Geopolitics

Constantian Dynasty - Part II:
1453 (700)-1483 (730)
Reign of Perita:
1483 (730)-1515 (762)
Reign of Valens:
1515 (762)-1554 (801)

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