Alternate History

761-835 CE (Superpowers)

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Early Tyrian Dynasty:
1440 (687)-1514 (761)
Middle Tyrian Dynasty:
1514 (761)-1588 (835)
Reign of Cassius:
1588 (835)-1642 (889)

The local neighborhood of Rome grew more crowded as Eastern Europe became more populous and civilized. No emperor of Rome had seen as large a number of kingdoms as presently existed during the entire eight centuries of the Principate. The influence of the other European kings complicated international politics, requiring more complex diplomacy from the Senate. As the strongest and most ancient civilization in the region, Rome was the object of both imitation and jealously. More importantly, its diplomats were in high demand from kings and caliphs, who knew the empire as much through local legends as through its own emissaries.

Historical Statistics for 800 CE (1553 AUC)

Caesar Quirilus (761-782)

Caesar Quirilus came to the curule throne on the heels of the greatest war that Europe had witnessed in centuries. His adoptive father had outdone himself in setting the Germanic kingdoms at each other's throats and the chaos he wrought had run its course. Roman citizens were starting to become worried about the clash of kingdoms raging just beyond the limites (frontiers) of their empire and the need for peace was clear. His allies, the Kingdom of Venetia and the Magnum Imperium Sarmatianum (Great Sarmatian Empire), were urged into a peace with the Kingdom of Lombardy and the Three Kingdoms of the Angles and the Andals, who were already crippled and embittered but not divided. With the Treaty of Byzantium (762) signed, Quirilus went on to rule an increasingly tumultuous empire before dying early of plague.

Mechanical devices

Pistorius Mica left behind a wealth of written works for Roman engineers, presenting hundreds of new mechanisms that could be copied for new machinery. Among these were the crown wheel escapement, various epicyclic gearsbevel gearworm gear, belt drive, glass sandpaperpendulumtorsion springscissor mechanism, and screw nail. Tools invented by Mica include the circular saw, belt sanderscrew-cutting lathe, screwdriverbrace and bit, scissor jackcrowbarchurn drill, and spirit level. The tools and machines created by Mica lifted the mechanical tradition of Roman engineers into the stratosphere. When someone from the Technaeum published a catalogue of mechanisms in 770, he enabled easy study and replication of these tools in future engineering. Unfortunately, the sheer number of illustrations in the catalogue made it infeasible to print copies. Nevertheless, the Technaeum had about a dozen copies and by 780 nearly a hundred other copies were circulating elsewhere.

One of the most significant inventions in the wake of Mica's prolific life was the mobile field mill, a horse-drawn carriage which milled grain for feeding an army as it marched. Limited by animal power, the field mill functioned by a tilt hammer powered from the rotation of the wheels of the cart, milling grain without slowing down the army. After improvements on the design, the Legion began to deploy the machine from its fortresses along the Vallum Vistillum for soldiers going out on excursions into the Germanic kingdoms. The main inspiration for this device was likely the carriage odometer that accompanied every legion to measure the distances they traveled outside the empire. These odometers had been used for centuries in mapping Europemeasuring roads for the milestones, and surveying construction sites with unmatched speed and precision.

For the navy, one engineer invented a dirigator (magnetic compass) that was suspended neither by rope nor in water. Instead, his compass needle was suspended by a pin to a board and this board was kept level, even on a boat, by a gimbal (a device in common use by mariners for keeping liquid vessels, such as inkwells, level even in rough waters). His compass was dry unlike a water suspended needle and could be read more accurately, using a windrose drawn onto a board behind the needle. Navigators saw tremendous benefits from the more practical design, allowing easier reading of absolute bearing while performing other tasks. Unfortunately, the ability to maintain a constant bearing was not combined with the availability of maps that represented lines of constant bearing (as in, constant angle of motion relative to the direction of magnetic north).

In 789, carpenters working on assembling testudae for the Legion invented the scissor lift for raising and lowering the assembly as they worked. These lifts derived from the scissor jack that Mica invented to assist in the repair of carriages. Like the jack, the height of this lift was varied using a metal screw turned by a large T-shaped bar. With Mica's screw-cutting lathe, blacksmiths in cities large enough to have a demand for screws could easily carve metal screws of various sizes, including for scissor jacks. Although this new device did not see extensive application, it was useful in several niche areas such as vehicle manufacturing.

Of course, military engineers and craftsmen were not the only innovators in the empire. A surgeon teaching at the academy in Corinthia invented the scissor forceps in 783, an improvement over the more cumbersome clamps used to stop bleeding before these arterial forceps were invented. Another surgeon adapted the water-powered circular saw to his practice as a bone cutter, replacing the commonplace handsaw in some of the larger galenariae (hospitals). High speeds were achieved using high pressure water pumps and a low gear ratio, giving the saw the capacity to cut through thick bone.

Around 765, the first rotary winnowing fan was developed on Italian farming estates owned by the middle class. These machines reduced the effort required to separate the wheat from the chaff after a harvest and introduced more mechanization into Roman agriculture, alongside the horse-drawn mechanical reaperwater-powered mill, and ceramic irrigation pipelines. By this time, the agricultural process in civilized parts of the empire vastly exceeded outputs in nearby kingdoms, often yielding double the amount of produce for every acre of agricultural land. However, the efficiency of Roman fields had more to do with their reliance on a three-field crop rotation than with advanced machinery.

Northern raiders

Perhaps the most frightening series of events starting during the reign of Quirilus was the surge of raiders from Scandinavia. The Senate had accepted the existence of a massive peninsula north of the provinces of Magna Germania (Greater Germany) and knew that pirates tended to originate from its cold shores. Although Cimbria (Denmark) had been purged of coastal villages by Caesar Tyrianus in the middle 7th century, the Danes, Jutes, and Teutons of Scandinavia were not similarly crushed. What they were was threatened and offended by the repeated destruction of their villages on the Scandinavian coastline near Cimbria. Persistent incursions of the Roman fleet into their lands spurred a hatred for the "men beyond the sea" and provided a common cause for the small kingdoms of the great white north.

On their own, these forces helped unite kingdoms into larger collections of villages. By 760, only eight major kings ruled within the southern lands of Scandinavia [from OTL Oslo to Stockholm]. Along the northwestern coast, by contrast, nearly thirty kings ruled over small land holding and, even farther north, people lived in hunting and fishing tribes without much interaction with the men who farmed those lands near the fjords. At this time, the northmen were facing shortages of food and farmland, exacerbated by the denial of a large stretch (~350 km) of coast for fishing. Furthermore, villages that had people who traded across the sea were treated unfairly in trade in Roman provinces, as they were recognizably non-Christians. Since the majority of coastline that was accessible to the Danes and their kin was in Roman hands, these problems had far reaching effects on Scandinavian societies.

Men living north of the Herulian Straits went forth during these tumultuous times to raid the rumored lands of the Romans. The first such group landed in 772 in the province of Belgica, near the Lacus Flevo. Along the coast, the northmen found a small Roman villa owned by a wealthy patrician of the nearby colonia. His entire family and all his slaves were put to the sword, his wife and daughters left in a manner that suggested rape to the merchant who stumbled upon the remains of the man and his family villa. Everything of value was taken and his private granaries were emptied down to the last grain. The northern raiders must have been amazed that settlements to the south were both undefended and wealthy, since they spread tales of the vulnerability and extravagance of the people beyond the sea when they returned to their homes in Scandinavia. Many people in that land would have known about Romans and their cities but the success of this raid seems to have put this knowledge into a new light for some Scandinavians, slowly encouraging future attacks on Roman soil.

Through this event, the Romans came to better know the Boreanari (Northmen). News spread quickly throughout the empire of how northern pirates raided the home of an aristocratic citizen. Since none of the family was spared, Romans came to the conclusion that the northmen were so savage that they were even deaf to cries of being a Roman citizen (people of Rome believed that the claim "Civis Romanis sum" or "I am a Roman citizen" would force clemency from foreign attackers). However, the news aged by the end of the year, as most news of isolated events did in the face of gladiatorial games and imperial propaganda.

When several small villages in the north of Hibernia (Ireland) and east of Britannia were similarly sacked from 773 to 781, the majority of the empire was no more alarmed. Unbeknownst to the Senate, these raids were increasing in frequency and intensity as more northmen participated in these raids. By the time a party of 400 Boreanari sacked a colonia of 12,000 citizens in the province of Germania Inferior, there were more than ten raids each year and hundreds of men participated in each one.

The destruction of an entire municipium shocked the Roman world and its Senate. A colonia consisted solely of citizens with their slaves and would have several Christian temples. Losing a colonia the size of a small city was an affront to Rome and its Church, making her and her God seem weak and unable to protect Roman citizens (disheartening many citizens and Christians). In this light, millions of Romans were talking about the northmen and the threat they posed. From its allies, the Senate learned that towns in the Kingdom of Kiev and the Kingdom of Venetia were similarly suffering raids from light-skinned, blond, fur-clad warriors.

By the end of the year 782, the Generalissimus (most general commander of legions) had brought three legions to the coast of Germania Inferior, spreading his legionaries among the coastal cities. Similarly, the Senate deployed a sixth of the Mediterranean High Fleets in the seas north of Gaul, allowing the Britannic High Fleet to concentrate its forces in the Mare Suebicum. Despite these precautions, Rome had only begun to experience the damage that would be wrought by the surge of the northmen.

Discovery of Nickel

Throughout the early 8th century, miners in Germania Superior found copper ores that could not be smelted normally, instead sickening the smiths who tried to extract the copper. For this reason, the place of its occurrence gained a bad reputation, drawing the attention of geologists from the Lyceum. By 780, they had determined that the supposed copper ore was unlike any other ore known to the academy, meaning it must have contained some previously undiscovered arrangement of the seven elements.

Geologists faced the same problem refining the pseudo-copper ores into metal that had troubled the miners and smiths. The locals who originally discovered the ore shared their views on the matter - that the devil had corrupted the copper in their mines, leaving it in a poisonous and unusable form. For this reason, the geologists took to calling the new ore metallum diabola (devil's ore), despite not taking the people's stories at face value. Eventually, a white metal was smelted from the devil's ore and the Lyceum shared the techniques that they discovered for properly smelting the new metal.

Interest in the ore dwindled after a few years. The metal (nickel) became more commonly known as diabalum (nickel) and got used for jewelry due to its similarity to silver and resistance to rust. Trade brought nickel necklaces and bracelets as far as Alexandria and Antioch, with merchants often ascribing them magical properties based on the stories of the locals who forged the jewelry. For the time being, nickel became an uncommon but recognized metal in the Roman world.

Caesar Paulus (782-827)

Julius Paulus came to power during a tumultuous time for Rome. Raiders were sailing down from the north to pillage coastal and river towns, forcing the Senate under his adoptive father to relocate ships to the Oceanus Germanicus (North Sea). Meanwhile, the aerarium stabulum (state treasury) was reaching a breaking point. After Ulpius and Fabius, emperors had been expected to continue wide scale systems of paying child care and health care costs for Roman citizens, alongside substantial payments to provincial governors for the benefit of the provinces. Altogether, expenditures outside Rome required half a billion denarii in public funds to sustain - an expenditure whose real value exceeded the total income of most earlier administrations.

There was growing pressure from the Roman elite in the Senate to cut spending outside Italy but the prominent provincial faction of the Senate (including nearly 400 senatores who could not trace their lineage back to ancient patrician families) dominated. This opposition can be best explained with reference to the political climate of Rome.

Roman politics

By the 8th century, the Senatus Romanus had become a battleground between two nominal factions of senators. Championing the good of the city of Rome and of the economy of Italy were the patricianes (men of the fatherland), a label appropriated by senators around 765 CE to emphasize their support for the heart of the empire. Their opponents in the Senate were foederales (those who favor the allies), a name given by the patricianes to senators who sympathized with the good of the provinces at the expense of Rome. Neither faction was sanctioned or recognized by the state but senators tended to self-identify with one group or the other, and the influences of their respective ideologies on senatorial voting was pronounced.

During the reigns of Quirilus and Paulus, the foederales held a position of dominance. Both emperors sought support from the provinces above all else, especially with the memory of the Greek civil war having wedged itself into the public consciousness. Despite the weakening of the imperial powers in the 6th century, a Caesar still held the greatest influence in the Senate and the assemblies of the people, giving his position the greatest influence on fiscal and legislative votes. However, this legal restriction of imperial powers was followed by a de facto loss of influence throughout the 7th century, culminating in a period of ten years where the emperor did nothing and the Senate governed entirely in his absence, on account of his near comatose state. This period of inactivity differed from that under the disinterested Corvian emperors, who could keep the Senate under control without being present by being the principal military authority, due to the existence of another supreme commander. Indeed, the Generalissimus had become a counterbalance to the emperor, especially once Caesar Valerius made the position subject to senatorial election.

In particular, the foederales were the source of the rising proportions of provincial stipends through the aediles provinciales, paying for a greater number of local cultural festivals and construction of monuments. For example, in 779, the city of Antioch finished replacing the old citadel on Mons Silpius with a 42 meter tall statue of the crucifixion of Christ, a monument that was visible throughout the entire city (notable for some unique additions to the image required to stabilize the painted bronze). Other large public works in the provinces were cathedralsChristian monuments, monuments to emperors, and other symbolic monuments, such as the Golden Statue of Britannia - personification of the island of Britannia - in the main forum of Londinium.

A major factor in the growing political strength of the foederales was the enfranchisement of coloniae (citizen settlements outside Italy) and of Greece. By 750, Italy retained only 540 out of 800 centuriae suffragiae (voting groups), giving citizens outside Italy a large influence on popular assemblies (especially since so few registered voters for each centuria could attend a given vote). Furthermore, most voters in Italy had families living in the colonies, keeping them attuned to life in the major provincial cities. By these tokens, senators with roots outside Rome were being disproportionally elected to the Senate and even Italian senators were shifting their policies in favor of citizens throughout the empire. When combined with the inclinations of the emperor, these developments ensured continued growth in the influence of provincial interests.

For his part, Paulus virtually doubled the number of voting groups in Greece, increasing the total number of centuries to 880. Along with this strengthening of Greek voters, he established voting pens in the city of Byzantium, giving citizens in Greece and Anatolia easier access to the popular assemblies. These Saepta Tyriana were about half the size of the Saepta Julia in Rome but were built away from the city center and featured more permanent, efficient pathways for voters. As always, the organization of popular assemblies was a monumental task for the local aediles and their assistants. A great deal of planning was required to prepare the temporary pathways for voters feeding into the largest cities in the empire.

Meanwhile, the patricianes pushed for larger subsidies of grain in Rome (citing the differences in price from grain in Egypt) and for increases to the size of the Legion and Classis (Navy), especially in light of the northerner raids and wars with Muslim caliphates. They primarily opposed the widespread provision of subsidies for citizens to have children and the costs of maintaining hospitals. Ever since the 3rd century, galenariae (public hospitals) cost the treasury more than they procured in fees (since the wages for medici (doctors) had steadily risen as they became more specialized nationwide). Aside from these major issues, dozens of small debates became associated with the factional struggle in the Senate, polarizing the legislature on a number of issues.

Scarcity of funds reached the point in 800 CE that the Senate had less than 25 million denarii for public works and festivals in Rome, forcing the curtailment of some of the major public games. In 811, a number of games were canceled for the first time in more than a thousand years, as the Magister Fiscalis prohibited the Senate from dipping the treasury into debt. When cancellation of the public festivals for Christomassa sparked the Saturnalian Riots, the emperor intervened by impeaching the Magister and going around law and custom to appoint a new one, who could overturn the decree of his predecessor and permit the capital to hold this most important of festivals at the correct time. From here, the Senate avoided serious debt by selling the highly valuable ager publicus (public land) in Greater Germany.

The combined wealth of the treasury in the form of public land was incredible at this time. While several hundred million denarii in income came from the output of such property, the land itself was worth a large kingdom (easily within the range of several billion denarii, although an accurate estimate of its true value is impossible). Selling public land in the north easily sustained continual expenditure on the provinces alongside festivals around the capital. However, the Senate and Caesar were forced to show the public that the threat of the northmen to Germany was not significant, as people were hesitant to move north onto new land when there was constant news of raiders from across the sea. For this reason, Rome had to take the offensive against the North.

At the same time, the Senate raised taxes on non-citizens and increased tariffs for trade along the Mare Rubrum (Red Sea). On the whole, the period from 780 to 890 was a time of exceptionally high taxes, as tax hikes were eventually imposed on citizens in addition to non-citizens. Although high tariffs encouraged improvements in shipbuilding to allow larger holds and faster speeds, most other crafts saw a stagnation over the reigns of the foederalis emperors, aside from the constant refinements in techniques. In particular, the craft of machinists (machinatores) ceased its rapid rise in sophistication that had been started during the reign of Caesar Tyrianus. Few risky innovations were undertaken in established methods and designs until taxes and tariffs returned to normal levels - by 800 CE, taxes had reached a high of 6.4% of GDP from a regular 5% of GDP.


Another reform pushed by the foederales was the partial enfranchisement of Aegyptus. Although the right of voting could not be extended to this important province, Paulus did hold a popular assembly in Rome and Byzantium to institute four tribuni plebes (tribunes of the plebs) for the province of Egypt. After the reform, the capital had 20 tribuni with the individual power to veto laws that were not in the favor of the common people. As with other tribunes, these plebeian officers were selected by lottery among the plebes who lived in towns within the province of Aegyptus. In 854, another emperor would extend this right to the regions of Hispania and Africa Carthaginia (Africa Proconsularis), bringing the number of tribunes to 24.

Tribunician power had become a powerful moderating influence on the affairs of the Senate, although the office was designed to have little influence on the decisions of an emperor. Since bribing a tribune was considered treason, this practice was limited to the wealthiest of senators, who could afford to use extreme discretion and bribe witnesses. In 849, there was a scandal over the bribing of the Italian tribune Gaius Corrhylus, leading other tribunes to hold a popular assembly that enforced greater oversight on the daily activities of the tribunes. Already, all tribunes lived within the same building and were under the public spotlight but it was always possible for one to arrange clandestine meetings or for a senator to catch one alone for a quick proposal.

Several measures were implemented for the oversight of the tribunes. First, a praetorian prefect and his entire cohort of 500 praetorian guards were assigned to protect and watch the tribunes. Different cohorts were assigned this tribunician duty every week while a different set of seven guards accompanied a specific tribune every day. Aside from the obvious task of protecting the tribunes from harm and arresting anyone who attempted to bribe their ward, guards stationed at the Domus Porcianus - the home of all the tribunes - and at the Basilica Popula - the office of the tribunes - were tasked with recording the comings and goings of every tribune. Second, the tribunes were forbidden from leaving their Domus after a certain hour, preventing them from meeting to arrange or receive bribes except during hours when they were extremely visible to the public. In this regard, the tribunes were given a uniform of sorts to announce their position when outside the Domus. This wardrobe was a highly visible red silk gown that went from the neck to the feet but had few adornments aside from the multi-layering of cloth that was fashionable for Roman robes.

Even before the reform, tribune was a heavily scrutinized position for a pleb to take upon himself but now the political need for the tribuneship to be a duty rather than a privilege was plainly obvious. Nevertheless, a tribuneship remained the highest honor that a pleb could achieve, without rising in status through wealth, and the desire to accept the opportunity to become tribune was widespread among plebeian citizens. Since the tribunes were afforded numerous luxuries during their year-long tenure, loss of personal freedom tended to get overlooked by the commoners who got the position and writings from the time indicates that these people preferred being tribune to returning to their regular lives as craftsmen, merchants, or clerks.

War with the Danes

With three legions and an entire high fleet standing between Scandinavia and the German provinces, Rome briefly earned itself the upper hand against the Boreanari. Two northern longships approaching the coast were boarded and burned in 782 while a raiding party of a few dozen northmen was repelled from the gates of Colonia Fabia Germanica by the posted century of legions. Few records have emerged from within the society of the northmen but the decrease in raids from 783 to 791 suggests that the efforts of the Senate were not in vain. Unfortunately, the calm is also associated with a period when northern kings became aware of the raids led by some of their people in an effort to procure additional food through Winter vikings (expeditions across the sea) these kings began to actively participate in the raiding of Roman Germany and Britain.

Danish raiders

As it happened, the Danes had united themselves behind King Sigfred in 788 - one of only six or seven remaining kings in the southern reaches of Scandinavia. Rhetoric to his people spoke of retaking ancestral fishing lands from the men beyond the sea and he must have been pleased when word reached him of his people going on vikings to raid the land of his enemy. In January of 792, he rallied his entire kingdom behind another raid of Roman land, promising them a great "harvest" to get them through the Winter. More than 10,000 Danes crossed the Baltic into Germania Inferior and began laying waste to the countryside. Thousands of farms were raided for their winter stores and thrice as many Roman citizens were put down by axe or sword.

With characteristic reflexes, the three legions posted in the province chased after these northmen. However, intel on the enemy was scarce and the same strategies used to fight earlier small raids were used against this invasion. Once several cohortes worth of men were lost after getting ambushed by larger than expected numbers, the legate of the province changed strategies. However, his reaction was too slow and the raiders had left as the season passed. Requests were sent by this legate directly to the emperor, asking permission to lead four legions into Scandinavia. His request was denied due to the risk and the cost, and instead the man was dismissed for his failure to defend his assigned province. At the same time, the emperor appointed a new legate for Germania Inferior and relocated two legions from Germania Superior to assist in the defense.

Next Winter, the Danes returned in greater numbers. Instead of raiding along the coast, Sigfred sailed unimpeded down the Fluvis Oldoa (Oder River) and reached the urbs of Colonia Lora only a few dozen kilometers from the coast. This city of 90,000 citizens was defended only by a hundred or so town guards, since the legions were focused on patrolling the coastline. As might be expected from a fleet of 10,000 raiders, they sacked the city. The granaries of Colonia Lora were emptied and most of the once great colony was burned to the ground, leaving only a skeleton of marble buildings and stone walls.

The sack of Colonia Lora convinced the emperor that defending Germania Inferior from raiders across the sea was impossible, even for the Legion. Generalissimus Terentius Baius was recalled from the eastern provinces, where he was charged with supervising the defenses of the Limes Arabicus, for deployment at the head of an army to invade Scandinavia.

Rome's Retaliation

Unfortunately, Rome did not know the origin of the "vikingr" and its invasion involved more exploration than fighting. Unlike the earlier invasion of Cimbria by Tyrianus, the legions did not destroy villages along the coast. Instead, Terentius would arrive in a Scandinavian village and fortify the surrounding area while treating the village leaders to a feast. In this way, he tried getting information from them about who organized raids across the sea. From the first few villages, he learned that a Mjötuðr (land-giver) lived farther east. No one could give the name or a more precise location for this leader.

Exploring along the coastline, Terentius encountered a number of "lords" - men who had authority with the nearby villages. Most of the Danish lords took time to realize where "Romans" came from and when they did, these lords complained to Terentius about the various injustices that his people directed at the Danes. As he soon learned, the Danes were suffering from being refused the right to trade in Roman ports (on account of being from outside the empire - not only were there larger tariffs on trade with foreigners but most citizens were uncomfortable doing business with people who spoke little Latin or Greek, were "heathens", and dressed in a manner they associated with barbarism). The resulting difficulties of trading with Romans, alongside the destruction of coastal villages during the reign of Tyrianus and the occasional missions of Christian proselytizers into Nordic villages, seem to have motivated raids of Roman land, when combined with the threat of starvation. Terentius must have realized that Rome had given good reason to these lords and their people to attack its empire since the Generalissimus began to burn villages and longhouses of Nordic lords after only visiting a handful of locations.

Since Terentius had arrived in the Summer, King Sigfred initially lacked an army with which to fight back - men of fighting age worked their fields when the seasons did not prevent them. However, he was not blind to the arrival of men from across the sea and was calling men to arms by the time the first villages were being burned. However, it was not until September that a force of 32,000 Danes were barreling down upon Terentius and his legions.

Taking the legionaries by surprise, the Danish warriors slaughtered the majority of the Roman forces and killed Generalissimus Terentius. The defeat cost Rome its best living general and over a tenth of its army. Survivors from the attack were taken prisoner by King Sigfred. When a ransom for these men arrived in the Senate, the assembly sent a response to the effect of the question, "how can we pay to return men who are already dead?". No information exists about what happened to the captives.

Second Invasion of Scandinavia

There were more raids during the Winter of 794 and the Romans returned to Scandinavia in full force the following Summer. A ship had followed the messenger who had brought the Senate's response to the King of the Danes and his place of embarkation was the chosen landing point of six legions from the northern provinces.

No risks were taken by the Roman expedition. Twice the cavalry had been brought on ships to provide a denser web of surveillance around the marching columns and artillerymen were kept on constant alert during the day. Extensive encampments were prepared before each night and efforts were made to end each day with the sea on one side of the camps (protected as the coast was by a continuous cycling of decaremes, quinqueremes, and runners from the Britannic High Fleet). Slowly, the legions laid waste to the coastal villages and the homes of any lords who lived a few kilometers inland. Nearly 500 km of coastline was ravaged over three months, including the home of King Sigfred. The following Winter, the King of the Danes had few ships for raids and had lost a large portion of his potential vikingr. His men had gone into battle against the invaders but the Romans were always prepared for his attacks and outnumbered his forces by a small margin, giving them every battle by a wide margin. In the end, the invasion was a massacre of the Danes, crippling their ability to continue doing harm to Rome.

King Sigfred died during one of the battles on Scandinavian soil and has gone down in legend in Danish history. His successor was the Danish king who formally made peace with the Roman Senate. Unfortunately, the royal authority was slipping in the wake of this effective genocide of the Danes and other Nordic kingdoms were beginning to take advantage of their weakness. As a result, Rome achieved a measure of peace for a decade as Danish vikings had all but ceased and other raiders were distracted by their conquests of Danish land. To make matters worse for the Danes, raiders brought the pestis gravis (bubonic plague) with them on their return trips from Germany, which was suffering a pandemic during the 790's. The spread of the plague through Scandinavia further hindered the ability of the northmen to go on vikings and ensured a greater measure of peace for several decades.

Exploring the Old World

Twice in the last two centuries, the Roman Empire had been surprised by invaders from an unforeseen direction - first the Arabs came out of Arabia Deserta (the Arabian Peninsula) to conquer the Persian provinces and later the Northmen came down from Scandinavia to pillage the coastal towns of Germania, Gallia and Britannia. Speculation circulated about other foes that might be lurking in the unexplored regions around the empire. In 812, one senator wrote about the possibility of other unseen dangers. His main warning concerned the caravans that occasionally emerged from the great desert of Africa, since they were similar in culture to the Arabs (living in a desert and trading over long distances with caravans). This senator also warned of the lands farther south of Ethiopia and the potential for the Somali to unite as a powerful force in the region. Lastly, he wrote of Thule, a land to the far north mentioned in early geographical texts, and the possibility of a "middle kingdom" between Hispania (Spain) and Sinica (China) across the sea. Geographers had long known the circumference of the Earth and the senator noted that the width of the empire only comprised a small fraction of its length.

Kingdom of Gana

Heeding these warnings, Caesar Paulus commissioned the Lyceum in 815 to deploy cartographers and geologists alongside troops to explore deep into the great desert. Of particular interest, were the mountain ranges mentioned in the reports of Cornelius Balbus from the 1st century BCE and the lake discovered by Julius Matiernus a century later. Other expeditions by Roman merchants and guilds were cited from the last three centuries (there was a pause in foreign expeditions by Romans from the start of the 2nd century to the start of the 6th century) and helped inform these new expeditions with more recent events (such as the decline of Garama).

Over four months, one expedition from the Lyceum followed a caravan to the twin cities of Kumbi Saleh - the residence of the wealthy Kaya Maghan (Lord of the Gold). His domain was known as the Land of the Warrior King, which the Roman explorers took to calling the Regna Gana. Since gold and salt was traded from this land in prodigious quantities, the expedition brought items that were expected to be in higher demand, such as steel weaponsarmor, and spices. In return, the Romans received local maps and established more formal trade agreements with the Maghan. Some men in the royal court knew Latin and many of the merchants could speak the tongue enough to do business, making language differences only a minor obstacle.

On the way back from Gana, the geologists investigated the mountains that local Berbers called the Ahaggar and Romans knew as the Hogares. This range in the middle of the desert, east of Gana, and dotted with oases was of great interest to the academy, requiring an extended visit to measure the sizes of its mountains and the extent of its minor lakes. The most important discovery in a geological regard was that the great desert stopped where the Kingdom of Gana began. However, the emperor was more interested in the trade agreements that the soldiers got from the Maghan. 

In response, the Senate named one of their own as dignitatum ganum (ambassador to the Ghanaians) and sent him in 818 with a cohort of the Praetorian Guard along with several million denarii in valuables to trade. Sending advance notice of his arrival, the ambassador entered Kumbi Saleh at the head of a parade of praetorians, which the Maghan had come to the outskirts of his capital to witness. The scale of the display was far from impressive but it would serve as a point of reference for the ambassador's detailed descriptions of the Legion. His purpose was to assess the strength of the Regna Gana and possibly gain it as a regional ally, to warn Rome of impending threats coming out of the great desert.

By 821, the ambassador received the blessing of the Maghan to establish a permanent embassy for Rome in the capital. Over time, the ambassador learned that Gana could field between a hundred and two hundred thousand soldiers but that these would be levies rather than professional soldiers. He found that the kingdom had no means of crossing the desert with an army and that there was little direct contact between the capital and cities along the western and southern coasts (as it happened, he also informed Rome that there was a coastline to the south of the kingdom - drastically changing how Romans perceived Western Africa). Trade with the coast was mediated by a series of city-states to the west of Gana.

Trans-Saharan trade received a boost after the expedition, strengthening the Kingdom of Gana in a manner similar to the effect of trade on the older Kingdom of Aksum. Roman merchants from Mauritania and Africa Proconsularis emulated the trading practices of the Ghanaians and by 850, many had become accomplished at traveling by camel and caravan across the great desert.

While trade was flourishing, Roman cartographers set out across the desert with odometer and compass to map the region. Their expeditions from 820 to 835 determined the width of the desert from Mauritania to Kumbi Saleh and located the poor villages that remained from the once powerful Garamantians. A major expedition in 833 took three years to find the coast of Western Africa, discovering the dense jungles of that region in the process. Only a dozen men from a group of over a hundred returned from the jungles alive. These survivors were paid handsomely by the Senate for their maps and a verbal record of the expedition.

Mapping the East

While the Senate desired information about unexplored regions, there were gaps in its knowledge of even the most familiar foreign kingdoms. With the falling cost of paper maps and the brief period of peace after the reign of Glaucinus, Rome was poised to learn more about its closest neighbors. Around 782, an expedition funded by the Bishop of Antioch sought closer relations with religious leaders in the Umayyad Caliphate of Arabia. At the same time, the priests and cartographers who made the journey mapped the western coastline of the peninsula, measuring the distances along the roads between cities using an odometer. Their maps of Arabia were the best in Rome before the techniques of the Ghanaian expedition became more widespread. The explorers of the Desertum Africanum combined the measurements of an odometer with the behavior of a compass to not only determine distance but also get an accurate estimate of shape using measurements of angle relative to lines facing north (i.e. bearing).

Explorers from the Lyceum used this method to more accurately map Arabia in 831 while another group sent by the governor of the province of Cappadocia did the same in 834 throughout Western Persia, as far as the Oceanus Hyrcanianus (Caspian Sea). The new technique for cartographers became the norm for fast but accurate map making using a wagon odometer. Maritime maps were seeing similar improvements but accuracy was limited by a lack of measure for distance, forcing cartographers to rely at sea on the time measurements of sundials to estimate distance (among other possible proxies).

Given the security of the Roman frontiers in Eastern Europe, neither the Senate nor local governors were interested in exploring the lands of their German, Sarmatian, or Sclavene (Slavic) neighbors. Although there no mapping expeditions, contact between Rome and the Germanic kingdoms - through Roman embassies and constant trade - led to Rome acquiring decent maps of the kingdoms of Venetia, Sarmatia, and Francia by the 850's, with maps of other kingdoms following over the following decades. At a minimum, these maps conveyed the relative sizes of kingdoms and the locations of rivers. Even the Great Germanic War had not forced the Roman Senate to acquire more accurate maps of Eastern Europe - although it had been the force that pushed Germanic kings to get a better picture of their lands, eventually allowing this information to spread to Rome.

As the aristocracy of Rome continued to cultivate an image of "worldliness" and concern for affairs on a global scale, detailed maps of the known world became popular luxuries in Italy, Greece, and Egypt, often getting displayed in an atrium or triclinium. However, their maps were mere caricatures in comparison with the public maps in the Vatican vaults. Supervised by the Prefect of Travels, this vault of maps was only available for official business and provided the Senate with an unparalleled perspective on world affairs; combined with the enormous communication network that Rome maintained within its own territories and the ears that the Senate kept in most foreign courts, the Roman government usually knew and understood new events wherever they occurred. As far back as the 6th century, the Legion had also been using copies of such maps to guide its military campaigns.

Color theory

After the writing of Perspectiva by Pelocles of Alexandria (667-718), the study of light and glass lenses gained a place in the studies of the natural philosophers in various philosophical schools. Although the famous Pistorius had largely ignored light, his mechanics of atoms had a profound influence on the geometrical study of light (ray optics). Philosophers using lenses and glass in their experiments with light gradually started working with a more diverse array of shapes. Prisms had long been known for the rainbow effect on their surfaces but it was not until 775 that a Roman undertook a systematic study of their properties.

Anneaus of Parisium demonstrated that a thin ray of sunlight that passed through a prism produced a distinct rainbow in a precise pattern of colors. From this observation, he inferred that the prism actually decomposed white light into the visible colors and, therefore, that white light was the result of a combination of all the colors in a rainbow. Using other prisms, Anneaus found that he could arrange two prisms such that one prism canceled the refractive dispersion of the first prism. Since sunlight was a combination of colors and could be decomposed by refraction, Anneaus postulated that the colors of objects were the result of a preferential reflection of certain colors from a source of white light such as the Sun. If light consisted of different component colors, then a good explanation for the color of physical bodies was that they reflected a different amount of each component of light.

Today, the discovery of the color spectrum of white light is a central aspect of Annean color theory, alongside the differential refrangibility of different colors and the preferential reflectivity of different materials.

Anneaus is also known for the invention of spectacles (berilla) for correcting his own myopia. Not only were his eyeglasses the first concave correcting lenses but they also differed from earlier lenses attached to a person's head. Earlier reading lenses were attached to a circlet around a person's head and were used exclusively by craftsmen to get magnification on their work. The berilla invented in 782 by Anneaus sat on the bridge of the nose but could be attached more firmly to the head by string. His innovations slowly caught on among acquaintances in Gaul, up to the point that an emperor was wearing spectacles of a similar design around the year 870, where the elderly emperor is depicted in a tapestry wearing berilla (likely for presbyopia).

By the mid-9th century, the lens-grinding industry in Britannia, Gallia and Hispania had became as important as any luxury that could be afforded by the middle class. Gallic lens grinders had to compete with the cheap market for reading stones in Egypt and it did not take long for corrective lenses to became a major commodity in cities such as Alexandria and Thebes. Spectacles were a relatively inconvenient accessory and unsuitable to people with physically-demanding lifestyle. For this reason, scholars and priests became the groups most associated with spectacles by the 10th century, in addition to senators in the capital.

Legion tactics

Rome learned a great deal about warfare from the Magnum Bellum Germanicum (Great Germanic War), including new lessons in fighting well-armed massed infantry and heavy cavalry charges that used couched lances. Only the Persians had fielded armies of a comparable form but Persian cavalry was distinctly lighter than Gothic cavalry and did not charge in the same fashion, preferring to harry the enemy with its mobility. For its part, Rome made use of its own heavy cavalry - the kataphractoi - but it found that these were less effective at countering Gothic charges than its field artillery. Indeed, the manuballista (long-range crossbow) and the polytrahoi (semi-automatic artillery) together could halt even the heaviest cavalry charge.

Since artillery was less expensive to maintain than cavalry, the Senate took the growing prominence of Gothic cavalry in Europe to be evidence that the Legion needed a more extensive artillery corps. Artillery wings needed reform anyway after loosely replacing existing artillery with new designs from Pistorius Mica, creating a haphazard spread of new and old weaponry. As a definitive reform, the Senate in 780 urged Generalissimus Terentius to raise the size of the artillery corps to 2000 ballistarii per legion, out of which 240 artillerymen would serve as support staff while the rest would be assigned to operate specific weapons.

The old carroballista was phased out in favor of the mobile polytrahos which incorporated most of its advantages in mobility. There were to be 760 polytrahoi of this form in every legion alongside 1000 manuballistae. Although the testuda was nominally an artillery piece, it was operated entirely by regular legionaries fielded in addition to the regular infantry complement of a legion. For the future, officers would be trained in more elaborate and extensive application of field artillery. The Legion had steadily increased its reliance on scorpios and ballistae but this change marked a major shift in the weight borne by artillerymen, beyond what would be expected from the increase in their numbers. Romans were finally realizing the implications of their vastly superior field artillery and more to the reason for the change, their enemies were finally becoming enough of a threat on the field to warrant an emphasis of this advantage.

Return of the North

Around 810 CE, the Danish Kingdom was in tatters and had been mostly consumed by the Kingdom of the Swedes (Regnum Sueonum), the dominant realm of Scandinavia. Where the Danes were fierce, the Sueones were numerous and better organized, alongside their only somewhat more mild ferocity in battle. Indeed, vikings from Sueona, as Romans would call the land, were far more dangerous to Roman Germany before the ill-fated campaigns of King Sigfred. While the Sueones were briefly distracted by their conquest of the Danes, the year 811 marked the return of many Sueones to the Baltic in search of Roman plunder.

The resurgence of the Boreanari shocked the Senate and people of Rome. A measured response was not in the works as Rome had no patience for the Danes after they appeared to renege on the agreed peace. Five legions went north from Germany to find the King of the Danes and bring him to the capital in chains. Their success before the next Winter came as a surprise but the continuation of viking raids did not. A continuous campaign in Danish lands persisted for the next two years to little effect. For their part, the Sueones knew enough to avoid direct confrontations with the Romans, basing their knowledge of the empire from that known by the Danes. The few Swedish men-at-arms that fought skirmishes with legionaries were indistinguishable from the local Danish militia.

When killing Danes did not prevent further raids, the Senate settled on a more costly strategy. Hundreds of watchtowers were built along the northern shore of Germany, each tower standing more than 40 meters above the ground. Commanding a view for miles around itself and communicating with its brethren through fire signals, one of these towers could warn the entire coast between two port cities of raiders approaching the shore. A warning would propagate to the two nearest military harbors, alerting both cities to send a fleet to intercept the raiders before they leave. To facilitate the search, only the towers whose watchmen had seen ships were allowed to keep their signal fires burning for longer than half of an hour. Only the fastest galleys were used for this purpose, giving the system a response time of nearly five hours under average conditions.

Although the raid that alerted the fleets could not be stopped, this system would keep the invaders from returning home, serving the dual purposes of weakening the enemy and discouraging future viking raids. Each of the towers was unassailable without siege engines and its auxiliae (provincial guardsmen) were encouraged to delay the raiders as long as possible. Armed with polytrahoi, the watchmen were actually quite effective against enemy men-at-arms. Small raids could be stopped without alerting other towers. Unfortunately, the cost of this system forced the Senate to sell even more public land land to afford without debt.

By 820, viking raids in Germany had almost entirely stopped due to the rarity of success. However, King Svoren of the Sueones had by that time united virtually the entire southern portion of Scandinavia, making his kingdom stretch from the Baltic to the North Sea. Not only was his kingdom strong but he had become weary of Rome after listening to the constant plight of his people during the Winter, when they did not have enough food. King Svoren resolved to take fertile land from Rome to ease their suffering.

A fleet of several hundred longships smashed the Roman fleet guarding the Herulian Straits, bringing the majority of his people's ships out into the Oceanus Germanicus (North Sea). From his ports on the ocean, Svoren launched an invasion of Britannia, embarking east of the city of Eboracum with 54,000 northmen. Despite the defeat of the Roman fleet in the straits, the empire was taken completely unawares in 823 by their invasion. Within six months, Svoren had taken Eboracum by climbing its walls and opening the city gates. Now in control of a heavily fortified city of 140,000 Roman citizens, controlled by the presence of a third as many of his own men, Svoren began to procure trade rights between the people of northern Britannia and Scandinavia.

Meanwhile, a few longships that remained on mainland Scandinavia harried the coastal defenses of Germany, engaging in bold attacks on the defensive towers and goading the Roman fleets into constant activity. Svoren's tactics delayed retaliation from the Legion and gave him two years to fortify his position in the north of the island. Thousands of Suoenes emigrated from the peninsula to Britannia and elaborated upon the fortifications of Eboracum with motte-and-bailey structures. Following standard procedures, the original town guard had destroyed their better equipment (e.g. polytrahoi) rather than risk losing the technology to foreign invaders. This brave move reduced the amount of military equipment available to defend the new possession.

Three legions were sent in early 824 from Germania to Londinium, despite concerns in the Senate that the invasion was a ploy to draw legionaries away from the defense of Magna Germania. As any intelligent commander would, Svoren remained safely behind his walls, even as the legions built walls to surround his position. By the fourth month of the Siege of Eboracum, Rome had brought three testudae to Britannia, as a means of more safely concluding the siege. At this point, the people of Eboracum were beginning to suffer for the depletion of the city's granaries, while the occupying forces rationed the food among themselves.

A volley from the armored siege engines destroyed one of the ancillary gates into the city and brought the battle into the gateway itself. While the defenders seemed poised to hold their advantageous position in hand-to-hand combat, one of the testudae went ahead of the advancing legionaries to break through the defensive line blocking their entrance. Despite the effectiveness of these shock tactics, the legion could not push through to the city streets. Archers and field artillery were useless in the battle taking place just beyond the gateway since there were few clear shots at positions behind the wall.

By the end, the legionaries were repelled from the gates and had lost one of their armored vehicles to the relentless onslaught of northern long axes. Only a few thousand remained from the three legions as they regrouped outside the city walls. The order to end the siege was relayed the following day, followed by the burning of the ad hoc fortifications used to besiege the city. Rome allowed the defenders free reign of the countryside once more, ensuring that the citizens of Eboracum would not starve.

King Svoren offered the Roman Generalissimus a peace that would leave a large part of the Britannic countryside in the hands of the Sueones but would permit the emigration of any Romans from Eboracum. His message was respectful and written in Latin. Learning about the Romans from the people of Eboracum, King Svoren expressed deference to Rome for the might of its armies and the greatness of its construction but threatened tremendous bloodshed should the fighting continue. Indeed, nearly as many legionaries were lost as northmen - a proportion to which the Legion was not accustomed. In effect, half of the advantages of a legion on the field - artillery, heavy cavalry, and flexibility - were disabled by the circumstances of the battle, leaving only the hardened professionalism of legionaries and the superior quality of their weapons and armor. These were no small advantages but the Sueones fought with a ferocity in close combat that conferred its own benefits.

Eboracum remained in the hands of King Svoren for the remainder of his reign, ending with his natural death in 829. By this time, Rome had mobilized ten legions and had assured itself that Germany would not be invaded while its defenses were weak. They arrived after the body of Svoren had been returned to its homeland and retook Eboracum at great loss. King Svorensson offered to curtail his people's raids on the condition that Roman ports accepted trade with the Sueones. In 833, the new emperor agreed to a modified version of the terms, bringing the Scandinavian Wars to a close with the Treaty of Eboracum.

International commerce

Although the Senate only regulated trade through tariffs, Roman merchants and guilds had their own policies that restricted access to Roman goods to other societies. Most guilds were staunchly against international commerce, with the rare exception in the case of the fur trade with Kiev. Independent merchants tended to be more liberal in their prospects but even regular Romans were picky about their trading partners. In general, Romans did not trust pagans and Muslims, different people citing different reasons for this distrust (e.g. immorality of people who were neither Christian nor Jewish, lack of loyalty to the Roman Caesar). However, merchants in some cities were slowly becoming accustomed to these foreigners, just as merchants in Egypt and Arabia Petraea had grown used to trading with Indians and Persians.

Germanic trade

In general, the Roman provinces of Germany had strong trade relations with the closer Germanic Kingdoms. Both Venetia and the Sarmatian Empire had especially close ties to Rome due to their leaders' adoption of Christianity as well as the conversion of many of their merchants. Commerce with the colossal economic power of Rome was a valuable commodity in the kingdoms. Lombardy had frequent wars against the Kingdom of Kiev and the Kingdom of Venetia, in attempts to gain access to the Baltic. One of the largest of these wars was the Decenomachy (Decade War) that lasted from 827 to 837, before ending with Kiev relinquishing the entire southern half of its territory to Lombardy.

In this way, the Lombards entered the arena of Baltic trade and began building their own fleet to protect their interests. The land that the Lombards acquired would frequently exchange hands over the next few centuries. The defeat and death of the King of Kiev led to a magistrade usurping the position of his son, taking the throne for the Rhos people (gentem Rhosianum). There was tremendous discontent from the more rural Rhossians toward the self-proclaimed Kievans who dominated the capital. The Roman dignitary at the time relayed a message from the Roman Senate in 839, recognizing the authority of Rhossia in the region.

Rhossians took over the fur trade with Rome while the Lombards took a small share of their own. With its vast land, the Lombards had a far larger supply of furs but Rhossian fur was generally recognized by Romans as superior in quality, due to the competition between different furriers over trade with Rome for the last century and a half.

Weapons from Rome become highly valuable commodities in the Germanic kingdoms. Although trading swords, artillery, bows, and other weapons was punished by death, some Roman merchants took the risk of selling polytrahoi and steel swords to high lords in the kingdoms. A steel blade could sell for as much as a sable cloak and was easily worth hundreds of acres of farmland, although no Roman would buy land in the kingdoms. The market for Roman weapons would only grow over time, after starting sometime in the late 8th century. At various times in the 10th century, Roman artillery inspired the creation of crossbows, through attempts to replicate the designs of the polytrahos or manuballista. These local designs would improve over time but could never match the quality and capabilities of weapons which originated from the empire.

Swedish trade

After the Treaty of Eboracum, merchants were forced by the Senate either to trade with the northern pagans or get creative in the manner in which they refused business. Traders from the Kingdom of the Swedes were privileged with the right to complain about unfriendly merchants to a local praefectus mercaturae advenarae (chief of foreign commerce). The new office was only found in major port cities outside the Mediterranean and dealt with conflicts between citizens and foreign non-citizens (advenae or aliens). In general, this prefect favored citizens in his dealings but he was expected to bring serious matters to the provincial praetor.

Within a few decades, trade with the North became more regular, leading to a more friendly relationship between Rome and the Kingdom of the Swedes. The office of dignitatum sueonorum (Ambassador to the Swedes) was instituted as part of the treaty to foster closer relations between Rome and the North. Commerce and diplomacy brought Roman culture to the Swedes, including the influence of emissaries from the Roman Church. Similarly, Norse culture started its first forays into the empire through Britannia and the German provinces, both places that Swedish merchants frequented.

One particular development was the dissemination of runestones in certain ports. Taverns and wharves that wanted to express their acceptance of the Boreanari built runestones, written in the Norse alphabet, where visiting merchants would see. This trend started in the city of Colonia Messala (OTL Lubeck) in Germania Inferior about two decades after trade with the North opened. By 870 CE, they were a common site in cities along the Mare Suebicum and Oceanus Germanicus.

Perhaps the most important development of contact with the northmen was the influx of slaves for the markets in Rome. Northmen used slaves that they called thralls and many were willing to sell them to visiting Roman merchants for a hefty price. Slavery had been declining in the Roman Empire from a general lack of war so trade with the North gave the market a welcome boost.

Muslim trade

By 830, the Somali city-states were firmly under the sway of Islam, with a majority of merchant princes in a majority of cities having accepted the faith of the Umayyad Caliphate. For this reason, Somali merchants favored trade with Arabia over Rome. Still, there remained strong trade contacts between Rome and other Somali, and each dignitata somalianum (Ambassador to the Somali) worked as hard as the last to foster good faith to Rome within all the states.

At the same time, Roman trade routes were deeply entwined within the two caliphates. The Arabs were expert seafarers and still mediated trade between Rome and the Far East, giving them large shares of the Roman silk, spice, and porcelain markets. Trade with the Umayyads was generally favored over the Fatimids, largely due to proximity to the Red Sea and the continuation of old mercantile contracts out of the cities of Aelana and Berenice with Arabian merchant families. In general, Romans viewed Fatimid Muslims as Persians and their caliphate as a continuation of the Persian Empire. Despite their Arabian monarchy and Islamic faith, the Fatimids largely consisted of Persians and Armenians. Even the royal family was half-Persian from the marriage of Husayn's son and successor to a daughter of the defunct Sassanid dynasty.

Qaganate of the Khazars

At the end of the 8th century, the Germanic kingdoms were in a dreadful state. Plague and war from earlier in the century had depopulated most realms and in their wake, invaders known as the Khazar Turks appeared from the east to conquer the Bulgars, who themselves had taken over Saxony. No other khaganate compared in size and strength to the colossal Qaganate of Khazar (Regnum Cassaria), with armies of horse archers numbering in the tens of thousands and territory covering virtually what seemed to be all the land east of the Attiline River (Volga). The presence of the Khazars across the river from four of the European kingdoms terrified their royalty and aristocracy, motivating each to respond in its own manner.

Sarmatia answered the threat by hiring Roman architects for the design of defenses along the Attiline. Since a single wall was not feasible, the fortifications consisted of strategically placed river fortresses, watch towers, and city walls near the riverbanks. As an additional security, the Qaisar of Sarmatia personally visited Rome to request a defensive pact. At a meeting in Rome in 797, the Qaisar learned that the Khazars were a foederatus (vassal) of Rome. As another vassal of Rome, the Qaisar pleaded in the Senate for military assistance, only to be reprimanded with the fact that the status of foederatus only earned a nation trade rights in the empire, in exchange for its protection of a border of the Roman Empire - not the reverse. Defense was the sole duty of the vassal and not the concern of the master, despite the actions of other emperors suggesting otherwise. Only a year later, Qagan Ashur of the Khazars invaded Sarmatia with more than 60,000 horse and half as many foot soldiers. Their war lasted five years before the two sides reached a stalemate around the Tanais River. By agreement of both powers, each would keep its troops on its own side of the river, cementing an effective border between Khazaria and Sarmatia.

With a presence on the Mare Euxinus, Khazaria gained direct contact with the Roman Empire, facilitating the deployment of a dignitatum cassarianum (Ambassador to the Khazars) in Atil. In a strange coincidence, the city that the Khazars founded on the mouth of the Attiline River on the Oceanus Hyrcanianus (Caspian Sea) was called big river (atil) in the Turkish language of the Khazars, matching the Germanic name for the river itself. The city of Atil received a large share of the wealth coming into the qaganate from the conquests of Ashur, building the settlement into the greatest of the kingdom.

In the south, Ashur took over control of the Gates of Alexander - a small but formidable series of fortifications built earlier by the Sarmatians along the Darial Gorge. To the north, he drove armies into the Kingdom of Gotha, tearing apart the famous Gothic cavalry with archers on horseback. By 810, Ashur had taken the High Lord of All the Goths (Rex Magnus Gothorum) prisoner and usurped the fealty of the last Gothic lords in the kingdom. Four years later, the Swebian Kingdom fell in a similar manner to his hordes. Other kingdoms were only spared by his death in 816, engulfing the kingdom in a power struggle over new and old lands that would last until 821, when the young Balendar and Salanur. Their alliance renewed the old tradition of diarchy (dual kings) that Ashur had broken by assuming the titles and power of his qagan.

Civil war had weakened the Kingdom of Khazaria enough that it lost several battles in 829 against the Kingdom of the Franks, who forced the withdrawal of Khazars from Francia. Despite this loss, the Khazars retained their reputation of military power and continued to terrify the kings of Eastern Europe. When the Confederation of Germania dissolved in 814, after losing more than half of its territory and its dominant member, former members including the Kingdom of BohemiaKingdom of Bavaria, and a number of Augusties (Free Fiefs) pleaded with Ashur to accept tribute for peace. His successors would seek similar concessions from kings in the region when the situation permitted. During the reign of Balendar and Salanur, the qaganate underwent dramatic internal transformations. A system of equal rights and punishments was put into place for everyone living within Khazaria and a stricter hierarchy, modeled after the feudal system of government in Gothic lands, was enforced from the diarchs to the lowest chieftains. Furthermore, a system of silver coinage known as the Yarmaq was created to facilitate commerce, especially with Byzantium across the Black Sea. 


After the Khazar Wars, some Eastern European nobles and kings were driven to expend the effort of fortifying their homes into fortresses. Before this trend began, the only castle or fortress outside of the Roman Empire was the Castel Fluven built in 631 as the seat of the Emperator of the Venetians. In the Kingdom of Venetia, only the royal family was permitted defenses around his residence, preventing a widespreading building of castles by the nobility in his kingdom.

The first castle raised somewhere else in Europe was the White Tower in Maghas, the capital of Sarmatia. This fortress was built by order of the Qaisar in 754, using local sources of limestone for the exterior. The height and splendor of this royal residence dwarfed nearly any other structure in Eastern Europe and earned fame even in the Roman Empire. At 115 meters, the tower stood as one of the tallest freestanding structures in the world and gave the Qaisar a vantage point for viewing the surrounding lands.

After King Buris VI of Lombardy finished his famous Abotten Castle in 827, the integration of fortifications into a residential complex took off in the rest of the region. By 900 CE, more than a hundred castles had been built across Lombardy, Francia, and the former kingdoms of the confederation. Every king had his own castle, either in his hometown or nearby, and many high lords had acquired permission to construct their own. For the time being, forts in the region were motte-and-bailey castles, some such as Abotten would have a stone keep in their center. Few of these castles were marvels to behold and none remain to the modern day, but many stood on the sites of future stone or brick castles which would characterize the chaotic lands of the Germanic kingdoms.

Caesar Illyrio (827-835)

Adopted from a powerful family, Publius Aemilius Illyrio had his reign cut short when he suddenly became ill after a public event in the capital. Consensus among his contemporaries was that he had been poisoned but no suspects were ever convicted for his murder. Caesar Illyrio is primarily remembered for bringing a definitive end to the Scandinavian Wars and a return of the northern half of the province of Britannia to Rome. Like Paulus, Illyrio supported the foederales faction in the Senate but his position was more moderate. For this reason, he had designated two successors, one in support of each faction, and was in the process of deciding who to name his proper successor when he died in 835 CE.

After several weeks of debate in the Senate, the assembly was finally swayed by the Princeps Senatus to pass a law that would allow a vote to choose the next emperor when a Caesar left two successors. In this way, Gaius Cassius Pius - the foederalis that had been adopted by Illyrio - was elected to the highest office of Rome by the Senate.

Development of algebra

Perhaps the most notable development from the reign of Illyrio was the publication in 830 of the Summa Arithmetica et Geometrica by Marius Cardanus, an instructor at the Technaeum in Carthage. Primarily, the text was intended as a review of solutions for quadratic equations, particularly of how to express rational-valued solutions in decimal notation, and an original investigation of other types of equations. Finding the intersections of conic sections, Marius derived a geometric solution for cubic equations and solved the Ptolemaic problem of finding the isosceles triangle whose equal sides terminate on any two points on a circle. The latter problem had become of recent interest among geometers studying straight line collisions in Pistorian mechanics. In the same vein, Pistorius Mica himself had noticed that cubics had more than one solution but could do no more to solve them than earlier Greek mathematicians could do. Elsewhere in the book, Cardanus devised formulas for the sum of squares and sum of quartics, using them in a method of exhaustion for rotating a parabola to calculate the volume of a paraboloid.

Aside from these particular discoveries, Marius contributed enormously to the methodology of mathematics, to the point that he is viewed as the Father of Algebra alongside his predecessor Diophantus of Alexandria. First, he rediscovered the concept of a negative number, which had been lost since their invention by an unknown Alexandrian mathematician writing in the 6th century. Cardanus noted a number of quadratic equations investigated by Diophantus which could be solved by assuming a rational number that did not have a positive value. In order to explain negative numbers, Cardanus relied on the concept of zero, which had been used by Roman mathematicians since the middle of the 8th century.

Second, Cardanus elaborated upon Diophantine notation for unknown numbers, namely using a letter of the alphabet to stand for an unknown quantity then substituting a number at a certain point in the process of solving the equation. His expansion of the notation involved the use of different letters for different unknowns and the study of systems of equations in the same unknown by repeating the same letter in the different equations. In particular, Cardanus denoted a single unknown by the Greek letter λ, a convention that grew to the point that λ has become the universal symbol for an unknown or variable quantity. In particular, the development of analytic geometry after Cardanus popularized λ as one coordinate and π as the second coordinate in a plane. This latter development fit nicely with Marius' reasons for choosing λ - he imagined every number as an interval on a line (linea) so an unknown number was an unknown line which he abbreviated as λ.

Finally, the greatest contribution of Cardanus to mathematics and algebra was his method of reduction, where one expression is reduced to a simpler expression for more easily solving an equation. Namely, given two equal expressions, each can be simplified by adding a deficit on one side to the other and simply removing the deficit on the original (e.g. λ - 14 equals 20 could be reduced to λ equals 34, which solves the equation). Similarly, a positive quantity on one side could be removed by subtracting that number from both sides of the equation (e.g. λ2 + 20 equals 12 + 5λ2 can be reduced to 20 equals 4λ2). Cardanus referred to his methods respectively as facilio (reducing) and amotio (removing). In modern terms, he had invented techniques for cancelling a number from both sides of an equation, a methodology that differed from earlier methods for solving equations. The method of reduction showed great utility for mathematics and the pedagogy of mathematics, allowing for general methods for solving equations.

Using his methods, Cardanus made a number of other arithmetic and algebraic discoveries. Working with some incommensurable ratios, namely the square roots of non-square integers, he noticed that the continued fractionation of these values produced a repeating (periodic) pattern in the continued representation and he took to presenting these patterns as solutions to polynomials that did not have rational solutions. Before him, mathematicians would worked with irrational numbers by treating them only as magnitudes on a geometric figure, an interpretation pioneered by Eudoxus of Cnidus (408-355 BCE). By applying the method of continued fractions, developed by Roman mathematicians in the early 8th century, Cardanus had developed an algebraic way of handling irrationals and was the first to accept these magnitudes as solutions to polynomial equations.

On another note, Cardanus also discovered that the sequence of numbers 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 - where the two prior numbers are added to yield the next number in the sequence - has a ratio of successive numbers that becomes close to the golden ratio. This famous Cardanan sequence remains popular among amateur mathematicians. For these purposes, Cardanus also became the first person to approximate the decimal representations of several square roots and of the golden ratio, and he invented the point notation to replace the more cumbersome types of notation that his predecessors had employed to start decimal fractions. Improvements of decimal notation were constantly being attempted by Roman mathematicians, contributing to this rapid development of its uses from becoming ubiquitous for mathematicians and merchants around 670 CE to the use of decimal fractions by 830 CE. The spread of ideas required to disseminate these numeration techniques would have been far slower without both the speed of communication under the Roman postal service and the close communities of scholars maintained using this system for a "republic of letters".

Basing his work on the Summa Arithmetica et Geometrica, a contemporary published a systematic study of quadratic equations in their own right, completely independent of their geometric interpretations (a perspective only taken accidentally by Cardanus). This work from 836 presented specific quadratic equations only as one case within an infinite class of problems defined by a more general form of that equation. Altogether, the 9th century marked the beginning of an algebraic study of equations, a study of equations that used general methods without reference to geometric solutions.

Copyright law

As letters and the printing press pushed the dissemination of written works, the power of the written word was multiplied. In 823, the Senate passed a law requiring printing licenses for anyone operating a press and strictly regulated the provision of licenses. These laws were specific enough to give specific printers exclusive rights to print specific books during a fixed period of years. Any person caught printing a book without a license for that edition would be fined and possibly face corporal punishment. Most books were not regulated in this sense but religious texts and books of historical significance (e.g. the Romana Historia) were limited by the possession of a specific license. In a similar way, the printing of heretical texts - as defined by the Council of Jerusalem in 534 and expanded over time by the Patriarchs of the Church, eventually by papal charter (epistula canona) - was strictly illegal. Editions of works by classic authors were occasionally restricted by decisions of the Senate to sell exclusive rights to their printing to specific printing houses, as a dubious means of making more money for the treasury. In 857, praefectus jurum imitarum (overseer of copy rights) was instituted for a senator to personally oversee the allocation of these printing monopolies.

Since handwritten copies were still produced, the Senate had to supplement its early copyright law with a statute in 834 that forced anyone publishing a written work to send it to Rome for approval by the Censores - the high-ranking magistrates who kept public morals and monitored the activities of other magistrates (especially the emperor and the Senate itself). Both senior and junior censors could be tasked with reviewing publications for approval but their new duty still demanded a great deal from individual members of the Comitia Censoria and became a common source of complaint by authors and publishers, especially during the years of the Census when the censors were required to personally handle the polls in Rome. A register of approved texts was stored in the new Tabularium Censorium (Archive of the Censors) located far east of the Roman Forum. Copies of parts of this register could be requested through channels made available by the praefectus imitarum or the archivist of the new vaults.

In practice, individual copyrights could be acquired by an author of a new book by request to the praefectus imitarum, but this right would only be held by his printing company and tended to only last 2-6 years (at the discretion of the prefect within certain limits prescribed by the law). For this reason, the relationship between an author and his publisher was a heavy burden for the former, as long as he wanted exclusive rights to his own work. Despite this risk, the possibility of profit from writing and research was a new option for philosophers, mathematicians, playwrights, and other writers, creating new motivations for scholarship. The introduction of a profit motive for research would become a driving force for the advancement of Roman technology.

Maya Conglomerate

With firmly held borders to the South and the North, the Mayans were able to concentrate the majority of their forces to the West coast of North Columbia. Like any of their other neighbors, the natives on the West Coast were incredibly primitive, utilizing wooden and stone weaponry and made up of villages of between 200 and 4000 people. More than being no match for the Conglomerate Standing Army, they were extremely lucky to even kill a single Mayan soldier. Worse for them still, the Mayans had recently invented an artillery piece that used gunpowder to launch 200 fire arrows at once, with the design having been perfected since the time of its inception in 751. By 771, over 100 were in use by the Mayans, whilst a single volley from just one could wipe out an entire native army.

Unlike the Romans, the Mayans had no need to fortify their borders with walls, merely constructing a few forts at strategic positions sufficed to keep them safe from the nomadic tribes lurking outside. Not so great a problem was the tribes living inside their borders. Numbering at about seven million in a total population of 100 or so million, the natives posed no real threat to the Conglomerate as a whole due to their small numbers, lack of advanced technology and isolation from the central Mayan States. Still, they had very little incentive for revolution, as from their overseers they received education; health care; roads; water and food, all at far greater quality and in far greater quantities than they would ever have gotten before being conquered. Furthermore, once a village was part of the Conglomerate, and had paid their tribute in lives and materials to the Mayans, they only need continue paying taxes and they would be all right, having complete exemption from any further kidnappings for sacrificial ceremonies. There was one separatist group of natives, roughly named the People's Front of the Apache, but they did little more than plan attacks on the Mayan royal family, always failing miserably whenever an attempt was made.

The act of sacrifice had become almost a science to the Mayans. Every morning at the Pyramid of the Moon in Teotihuacan a dog was sacrificed once the sun itself had broken past a certain point on the horizon. At midday, in the Pyramid of the Sun, the daily sacrifice was performed, based on whichever day on the calendar it was. Furthermore, if there was a special occasion, such as the crowning of a new King or another victory over a tribe being announced, then a second sacrifice, usually of humans, was done. All in all, about 600 humans are sacrificed every year in Teotihuacan, with an additional 2000 animal sacrifices or more performed over the same period. Other temples usually performed sacrifices to bless the inauguration of a new building or State governor.

Unlike many civilizations who sacrifice more when something goes wrong, the Mayans simply sacrifice to a different god for the same thing, believing that their sacrifices are enough as it is, and if a god is punishing them still, then surely another god will be more reasonable. This was just one of the many examples of the Mayans supreme arrogance in their belief of their own importance. Mayans and Mesoamericans were not allowed, by law, to marry or procreate with any of the native tribe members. Doing so would result in their mate and his or her entire immediate family being executed. Any children that resulted from such a union were executed in a special cleansing ceremony, by the Mayan parent themselves. Although by the standards of most civilizations this is tremendously barbaric, the Mayans believed that to not do so would be the worst barbarity of all.

In late 788 a new weapon was designed based on the Pyrobola (grenades) that were in heavy use by the military. These Pyrobola Insidiae were essentially 3 kilograms heavy devices with a perfectly flat surface at the top resembling ground. The intention of their use was to bury them in strategic locations so that only half-an-inch of soil was on top of them. When someone stepped directly on them it would move down a mechanism that set off a spark igniting the gunpowder within, blowing up like a fragmentation grenade. Though the kill radius was only about one meter, it was tremendously useful as a weapon of shock and awe, often dissuading an entire attack once one or two had gone off. As the shell was made of carefully crafted ceramics, one of these could remain in the ground for more than 20 years before the gradual seeping in of water rendered the gunpowder useless. In arid environments however, which the Mayans were now encountering to the east of their recent conquests, a land mine could remain fully functional for decades on end, finally becoming useless once the spark mechanism had rusted away.

By law, it was required that detailed records on any mine's location were kept at the nearest fort. Furthermore, all army bases had an up-to-date list that detailed all areas that may contain mines on the bases side of the empire.

Early Tyrian Dynasty:
1440 (687)-1514 (761)
Middle Tyrian Dynasty:
1514 (761)-1588 (835)
Reign of Cassius:
1588 (835)-1642 (889)

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