Alternate History

762-801 CE (Superpowers)

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Reign of Perita:
1483 (730)-1515 (762)
Reign of Valens:
1515 (762)-1554 (801)
Reign of Cassius:
1554 (801)-1590 (837)

The emperor Valens was another one of Rome's finest leaders. Under his reign, the Viking threat made itself known to the world and, just as quickly, steps were taken to hold them off. More importantly, the advances in technology that Archaedavincus had been bringing the Romans for the previous 40 years were fully integrated into the functioning of the Empire. Finally, Valens made the greatest administrative reform of the Empire since the IVth Century, changing the very way that its vast area was governed.

Civil Events

Though the great inventor Archaedavincus was nearing his end, he still managed to be as prolific as ever. In 763 he invented a new crane design that was meant to be used in ports, something which greatly accelerating the loading and unloading of ships. In 765, he outlined the idea for a large mechanical clock which kept time in the manner of a water clock. His design included over 300 drawings for different gear and pulley set ups for use in clocks of several different kinds. His final great invention was the design and construction of the world's first wind-powered grinding mill in 769.

Although the windmill was his last practical invention, it was not the last thing he worked on. During the last few months of his life, Acutula was reportedly drawing the designs for human-like machines that could operate on their own, all of which were powered by the flywheel he invented in 743. Though the machine was only capable of simple motions such as standing up and swinging a sword, or firing an arrow, it was still one of the most innovative ideas in history. The plans for the automatons came from a weapon firing system Acutula had invented in 759, one which allowed a celeballista to fire continuously, for one hour, without the aid of a human operator. All it needed was for the flywheel to be "charged" and it would work till it ran out of potential energy. This latter invention was widely used in towers for defense as several of them could allow one man to tear apart massed troops with ease.

On his death in 770, the Academia Archaedavinca Eletrika was founded in Parisium as the first academy dedicated solely to research into the potential of electrical technologies. Though nearly a dozen different projects were being worked on only a year after its completion, the most important of these was the improvement on Acutula's rudimentary motor design.

The next year, the emperor Valens overhauled the administrative status quo where all of the Empire's prosperity and power was concentrated at Rome. He separated the City's power into three capitals: Rome, which remained the political capital, Constantinopolis became the center for the Empire's commerce and financial circulation, and finally, Carthage became the primary location for the military administration of the Empire. At each of these three cities was a High Minister appointed as the head of their city's specialized sector. It is however important to note that the emperor lost absolutely no power, only some responsibility, as he was still expected to make all the decisions (like raising taxes, declaring war, or presiding over the Senate).

The Princeps Senatus (an already existing position) was chief administrator of the Senate and had control over the questions of law and politics. Though his abilities were greatly curtailed when the emperor was still in Rome, he performed those two functions virtually to the full extent when the monarch was away. In control of the nation's economics was the Mensarius Superus who ensured the tax laws of the emperor were followed, and that money flowed smoothly through the Empire, passing through the hub of Constantinopolis. To keep in touch with the emperor, and so the emperor could keep an eye on him, the ten members of the Economic Council, all Quaestors, were spread between Rome and Constantinopolis.

Finally, the position of Generalissimus was made permanent and now represented the highest position in Rome's military. Though requiring imperial permission to declare war, he usually had complete control over battle plans, unless the emperor stepped in, and through the 4 Nuntius Bellicus he shared with the Mensarius, had control over the spending of money for military means. The Praeministrum Bellicum (Minister of War) in Rome was the position that connected the Generalissimus to the emperor, as the Generalissimus was usually stationed in Carthage. This system kept the two positions not only intimately linked to each other but, more importantly, to the emperor. The change saved an estimated 1% of the government's budget the year after it was implemented as well as helped the GDP grow by an additional 3% in the following decade.

On a smaller scale, a relatively unknown Roman merchant, who had purchased the printing press technology from Acutula's relatives on his death, founded the first printing house in 776 CE. Offering to print copies of official forms for the provincial government of Thracia, he managed to pay off the single machine he had within about 6 years. By 783 he had two more machines built, expanding it again to a total of 9 in 786. The following year he printed 100 copies of the Bible, completing it in about the time it took scribes to write out 3 of them. From then on, the merchant had three of his machines printing out only Bibles whilst the other 7 continued making documents for the government.

His business continued expanding until by 800 CE he owned 9 printing houses; in Rome, Constantinopolis, Jerusalem, Parisium and Londinium; 170 printing presses, and was printing approximately 30,000 copies of the Bible per year. Aside from the Holy Book, over 500 different publications were printed at his houses, including medical texts, military guides, records, fillable forms and several dramas. The merchant had become the sixth richest man in the Empire, an incredible rise in wealth for someone to have made in their own lifetime.

An interesting side effect of the merchant's success was that in 793 he used his already considerable wealth to demand to the government that he have exclusive rights to "his" machine, despite the fact that the original holder of the patent was Archaedavincus. His demand brought up an interesting situation in the Senate and after only a year, a law was passed that allowed for intellectual rights to be sold to someone who was not the original owner, thereby creating something of a business in the sale of intellectual rights. The law however stated the 20 years after the idea was sold, the patent became invalid and the invention was open to whomsoever could figure out how the technology worked.


The military history of the emperor Valens is marked by the first use of a Testudo, the man-powered tank designed and built by Archaedavincus. Though the first one had been built in 758, it was still undergoing testing and was only implemented in a battle situation in 764. It was decided that the test enemy was the Arabian city of Susa, the only mixed Arab city, one that was equally government by the Shi'ites and the Sunnis to settle their border dispute over the strategic city. Aside from it not technically belonging to either one, giving the emperor some wiggle room in an international argument, the city was the most highly fortified in the Arab World and so was the perfect target to try out the Testudo's weapons.

In this endeavor, Acutula displayed his characteristic confidence, some would say overconfidence, more than ever, ordering that only 600 legionaries and 400 archers accompany his machine in the siege. It was like this that the Battle of Susa began, with the 1000 Romans and the Testudo versus a defending Arab force of 8,000 men. To start the battle off, the 5,000 Arab foot soldiers came out from the safety of the wall and attack the meager Roman force on the field. Every last one of them was slaughtered as the other defenders refused to open the wall as the Romans drew nearer. All told, the Testudo alone killed more than 900 enemy soldiers, something which is in itself an incredible display of its power. With a days rest and the Testudo reloaded, the Romans were ready for the attack on the city itself.

Demonstrating incredible accuracy, Acutula's invention picked off individual archers from the wall as it approached the city. At 200 meters away it fired the Magna Ballista. The single blow shattered the city gates, launching them open and displaying the meter wide hole in what was once its center. Once it was in the city, the 600 legionaries marched into the city in formation, protecting themselves from enemy archers with their shields. With the City Hall leveled and only eight hundred to a little over a thousand archers left, the city surrendered to the Roman forces. In December of that same year, the Roman emperor offered to sell the city back to the Shi'ites, not the Sunnis, for one tenth of their yearly gold production.

The following year, Valens commissioned for 10 more Testudos to be built by 767, regardless of the cost. Putting Rome's industrial might to its full capacity, thousands of forges across the nation worked day and night to complete the task on time. Once they were finished, on schedule, 3 were sent to the border facing the Federation, 4 were sent to the Arabian borders, 1 was sent to Mauretania and 2 were sent to the Axum province. In 769, a law was passed that made it illegal to bring a Testudo into the province of Italia, this was to protect the city of Rome from any potential rogue soldiers.

Aside from a short war against the Sunnis due to a vengeful leader, the Romans experienced total peace from 764 to 789, the Church of the Archangel Michael, formerly the Temple of Janus, having its doors closed for the longest time in Roman history, only being opened in 797 when the emperor once again felt that the Empire was at war.

It was in 789 however that the Vikings made their first raid on Roman territory, attacking a small monastery in Caledonia on the east coast of the Britannic Isles. 43 Monks were killed and more than 200,000 Dn in valuables were raided by the Viking attackers, essentially meaning that the entire place was stripped clean of both people and metal. Nonetheless, no clue as to the nature of the attack could be discerned from the ruins and so no action at all was taken by the authorities. The next year, two more monasteries were raided, with the raids getting more frequent every year so that by 795 more than 30 monasteries, and 4 cities were attacked by Viking Raiders. In 798, the West Sea Fleet was brought up from the Mediterranean to aid with defending the Armorican Strait, the thinnest part of the Oceanus Britannicus. Thankfully, the Romans coastal defenses at the entrances to Rivers were more than sufficient to block the Vikings from attacking any further into Roman territory.

By the end of Valens' reign, viking attacks were being lessened to an extent, down from their previous high in 798 and attacks were now mostly limited to Cimbria, Germania and a few infrequent ones along the Britannic coast. These raids however, were only the beginning.

Mayan 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 4,000 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 off of 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 2,000 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 off 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.

Roman Empire IXth Century

Historical Statistics

Back to Timeline or Superpowers

Also see Geopolitics

Reign of Perita:
1483 (730)-1515 (762)
Reign of Valens:
1515 (762)-1554 (801)
Reign of Cassius:
1554 (801)-1590 (837)

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