Alternate History

801-837 CE (Superpowers)

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Reign of Valens:
1515 (762)-1554 (801)
Reign of Cassius:
1554 (801)-1590 (837)
Early Peritan Dynasty:
1590 (837)-1629 (876)

Cassius, son of Valens, was unfortunate enough to be in charge when Rome faced its next greatest crisis, the Viking Hordes. Although it is true that they'd been attacking the Empire's coasts for some time now, Cassius was the one who saw both the problem's climax and its end. He was regarded by later historians as a simple and incompetent leader, unready for his position as emperor. His appeasement of the Vikings has most recently been regarded as one of the Top 10 worst decisions made by an Emperor.

Civil Events

Though the Empire was safe from falling into debt thanks to his father's streamlining, Cassius certainly seemed to have made every attempt possible to get it there. The Cassian Reforms between 804 and 816 were a costly and inefficient attempt to upgrade the Empire's infrastructure to reflect the advances in mechanics of the last century. Although there were many far reaching benefits from these programs, their cost was seen as being simply not worth it.

Nearly a quarter of the expenditure on the reforms was directed to the construction of windmills and other wind powered devices. This included a wind/man-powered pump that moved water to the top of a tall tower in Constantinopolis for it to be stored for later use, thereby creating the first water towers. The aggregate capacity of aqueducts throughout the Empire was also increased by about 25%, whilst several growing cities were given their own large central cistern.

The island province of Melita especially received more attention than it had in a while. An underground cistern, built inside one of the island's highest hills, now provided a more efficient means of storing the water that was being transported to the island everyday by ship. When at full safe capacity the cistern could provide a continuous supply of water to the island for one and a half months. Cisterns on the other two major islands of the Archipelago were built with the intention to have continuous stream of water to certain parts of the islands so as to reverse the desertification process that was underway there.

Meanwhile, in 805 at the Academy in Parisium, Roman scientists built the first electric motor, a device that had been invented by Archaedavincus. Though it was a simple and largely impractical device, it performed the function it was intended for and that was enough of a success for the scientists there. For the time being however, the electric motor become little more than a novelty item for the rich, being used in toy automatons or in "magic" shows.

The construction of the motor was followed by a more practical develop in 809, ampulae that could be recharged after they were depleted without having to take them apart and replace the fluid and metal nodes. Although it gradually lost efficiency after each charge, and methods for recharging them were in fact more costly than building one non-rechargeable battery, the developed had great implications for the electroplating industry. Now, the richer firms had far greater success than independent electroplaters, making the industry more monopolized than it had previously been.

In the latter part of his reign, following the devastation left by decades of Viking raids, a reconstruction program was enacted on the nation's many northern port towns. In particular, the important trading stations along the West Germanic Coast had substantial upgrades made to them. As well as reversing the physical damage to the Empire, Cassius' reconstruction programs helped to repair his image within the Roman people and brought him up from the status of an "abysmal emperor".

In 819, a former Roman senator in Hibernia, intrigued by ancient tales of a land called Thule, set out from his native province to confirm whether there was some truth to the old myth. Although nearly a third of his crew died in the frigid conditions of the journey, something they were unforgivably unprepared for, they did discover a new island after only 2 months of travel. Sadly, the senator died of frostbite late December only days after arriving on the island. Still, as he wanted, his remaining fortunes were donated to funding further expeditions to the island. Somewhat ironically, the island was named Frigerra so that its inhabitants would always know the fate of their land's discoverer.

By 821, a settlement of more than 1,800 people existed on the island and the government of Rome was made aware of this untaxed land. Immediately, imperial funding was started on the colonization efforts and the entire island was claimed as the Roman province of Frigerra. An imperial government was set up, state buildings such as banks, hospitals and ports were built over the years, and by 830 the one city's population had grown to about 75,000.

The minor legal drama that played out when Rome claimed the island over the estate of Licinius (the senator) caused a crisis in the Senate over the claiming of new lands. Originally, new living space for Romans was usually taken through war and upkeep of the colonies was always undertaken by the government. Now that new land had been discovered that was, at the time, claimed by no one, either foreign or domestic, there were new legal dilemmas that needed to be resolved.

To fix the issue, the Senate put forward the Colonization Act before the emperor in 822. The law stated that a Roman citizen could not own land that was not either within recognized Roman territory or was bought in a foreign country with consent of the Roman state. Therefore, if a Roman set up residence in terra nulla (a term invented by the law) they were obliged to receive a government permit, or face repercussions with the Legion. What this meant was that if a Roman were to ever set off to explore new lands, they could only do so as part of a government expedition. Under this law, no entrepreneurial colonization could occur.

To the east, in the Federations of Germania, a new ruler came to power. Officially known as King Karl VIII, his later subjects knew him as Karl the Great. Coming to power in 796, Karl made it his first order of business to take back lost land from the Muslims. They had an unstable border with the Ummayad Caliphate and now that the Arab state was divided, it was the right time to strike. The importance he placed on soldiers on horseback rather than foot soldiers allowed for his trademark tactic of rapidly advancing on his opponents land, a move he referred to as a Blitce. Descended from a Frankish father and Gothic mother, and living in the Duchy of Lombardy, Karl appealed directly to over a third of his nation's population, whilst his policies made him popular with the rest.

Peace was negotiated with the Sunni Republic in 802, and a new border with them was created about midway through the Caucasus region. Now, Karl worked on improving the defenses of his ramshackle nation. Sea walls and fortresses were built in Taurica to maintain their presence in the Black Sea, whilst the Federations' first defensive wall was built along the new border with the Arabs. Finally, to remove the problem of their border facing the Romans, he skillfully negotiated trade routes with his former enemy, once again bringing about an era of peace between the two nations. As part of the trade deal, an official border between the Empire and the Federations was decided upon by both Karl and Cassius. The Roman emperor himself gained a certain respect for the man's position, lauding him for his ability to lead such a "poverty stricken and wild people as the Germans". Karl's rebuttal to this, making a joke about how a wild populace meant wild women, meant that the growing friendship between the two was in no way spoiled by Cassius' rather untactful remark.

With fully secure foreign relations, the great king began to focus more on matters of internal unrest. He passed a law dividing each Duchy into Regions, each led by an elected official, put in power by popular vote of the male population. Although the voting system was highly unorganized, and very prone to corruption, it was a huge advance in reducing unrest within the local population. Each of the elected officials was supposed to personally bring up the issues of the people he represented to their own Duke. Once again, corruption was widespread among these officials, but due to the fact that they could be voted out of office, it was very unlikely that revolts would grow out of matters such as this. The effectiveness of this administrative change became obvious over the course of the next century, a time when rebellions were a tenth as common as occurrences then they had ever been.

Finally, King Karl VIII made several actions that gave the Federations a more centralized economy, improving greatly on the subsistence farming and the sporadic smithies that were the backbone of the nation's industry. The first guilds were formed, modeled after the Roman Conlegia, greatly increasing the flow of ideas between cities, and even between states. A law was passed that required a minimum amount of farmers per acre of land being exploited. As hard a rule as this was to enforce, it ensured that less of each year's crop failed and that individual farmers therefore had higher standards of living. Unfortunately, what would have been his greatest policy failed only a year after its inception. He attempted to send several intellectuals on a journey through the Roman Empire to gain some of their knowledge of medical practices. The Roman's strict laws on the sharing of information with foreigners utterly destroyed this plan.

Nevertheless, when Karl left this world in 836, his nation was better off then it had ever been. Trade was high, industrial growth was accelerating and the people were in a happier state of mind then they had ever been before. Even though his efforts didn't bring the Federations to anywhere near the standards of Rome, it was a giant leap in the right direction for a state that seemed on the brink of collapse almost every other year.


The Danish Kingdoms of the Vikings, one of the most violent nations of the time period, had grown in size and power over the past century. Their raids on Roman territory reached their apogee in 817 CE with the sack of the province of Cimbria's capital and their first victory against the Roman navy at the Battle of the Hibernian Sea. It was there that a Viking fleet of more than 80 longboats faced off against the sea's 14 ships. Through a devastating charge tactic that rendered the Roman flamethrowers largely useless, they managed to destroy the Romans at the loss of only 27 ships or so. Still, although one Roman ship was lost for every 2 Viking ones, it was a moral victory as the only time the Classis had been bested since the Axum War in the VIth century.

In 822, the Western Mediterranean Fleet was brought up to the Baltic Sea to help fend off the Vikings. It was that very year, just off the coast of Cimbria, that the battle that set off the Danish Wars occurred. The Battle of the Baltic consisted of 130 Roman quinqueremes and 20 Deceres, against a fleet of over 380 longboats led by the jointly chosen Ragnar Lodbrok. The Romans achieved a stunning victory through their heavier reliance on Magna Ballista over their Greek Fire, one such shell even killing the ruthless Viking leader Ragnar himself. Nevertheless, the Vikings continued to work together after the battle and for the first time a single Viking Chief was elected as the Protector of the Danish people.

Following a year straight of constant sea battles, Protector Ivar I led a campaign to take the Gallish capital of Parisium in Roman Lugdunensis. On August 6 his army of 50,000 Viking raiders successfully landed on the West Gallish coast and set up camp to prepare for the march to the city. Roman scouts that had been following the Viking ships had already informed the Legion of the attack and so before the night had fallen, an army of 10,000 legionaries had arrived to drive them off. Although they seemed on the brink of defeated against the mighty Danish charge, the Romans held fast behind their shields until they had dwindled down their enemy to a force less than their own. With only 105 men to the Viking's 90, the battle fell into armed one on one combat. Here, Roman ranged weaponry proved vital in assuring their total victory over the remaining Vikings.

Though the Empire was in shock at the loss of 10,000 professional soldiers, they managed to quickly get back on their feet and bring the attack to Viking cities. Originally, before the war started, this was considered an immoral option as most Danish cities were peaceful farming towns, and there was no way to know which ones were perpetrating the attacks. Now, the imperial government could finally tell the public that the enemy was clear cut, the entire Danish nation was to blame now. Following 9 months of the brutality the Romans brought upon the Danish people, a Genocide more than making up for the number of Romans the Vikings killed, Protector Svorjberd sued for peace with emperor Cassius.

Signing the Treaty of Londinium in mid-824, all Viking raids were brought to a halt and an almost uneasy peace fell over the northern seas. There was one final heavy cost to the Empire as an inherent part of the Treaty. The province of Cimbria, which had only been Roman for a century or so, was handed over to the Danes as their own territory. They called it Danemarc or "Land of the Danes". Three years later, the Danish Kingdom broke up into five separate kingdoms. Though each still respected the conditions of the treaty, they now had a new enemy they could concentrate their efforts on. Each other.

Mayan Conglomerate

In 815, a Mayan scientist made an enormous improvement to the Pyrobolum design. By replacing the inexpensive flint with more effective, and more expensive, steel, as well as perfecting the right amount of flak to explosive ratio, the scientist had designed the ideal grenade. The kill radius was now approximately 8 meters, whilst the steel fragments made armor of almost any kind completely ineffective. As quickly as the Mayan industry could, the new grenade was implemented throughout the army.

Improvements in science such as this were all to common during the IXth century. Several new chemicals were discovered, however, many had virtually no use at the time. Dispersal methods for fertilizer and water were developed for use by farmers. These advances kept Mayan agriculture even further ahead of the rest of the world, and brought their urbanization rate up ahead of the Roman Empire. Also, a new style of architecture was emerging that put emphasis on geometric perfection. Another feature of the movement was the addition of more stylistic sculptures or ornamentation on buildings, particularly over entranceways. By 830 it was the had become the most popular architectural style for new buildings, at which time the style began to be referred to as Kukulkanan.

Along with the architectural movement, art itself began seeing a resurgence. Paper, and not stone, became the new medium of expression for Mayan artists. However, although the material used was changed, the style of drawing remained largely the same. The only change was that more detail was added in the drawing of the environment around characters in their pieces of art.

In the capital of Teotihuacan, the finest school in the entire New World was completed in 834. Able to accommodate over 22,000 students, and providing additional training to almost 3,500 adults, the Academy of Quich'en provided yet another reason for people to be immigrating to that illustrious city. Furthermore, since it opened its doors to any Mayan citizen, regardless of wealth, it provided the kind of education that the rich enjoyed at the better schools, to people who were only able to afford a lower level of schooling for their children.

Furthermore, the city of Chichen Itza opened up the first ever Mayan military academy. Much like its Roman equivalent, it provided strategy lessons, battle training and classes in important moments in the Conglomerate's military history that should either be emulated or avoided. Another advantage of the facilities was that it allowed lower-class Mayans who had already finished their standard military training to have the potential to go immediately to the rank of officer, without having to put their lives at risk beforehand. Unlike the school which had been built around the same time, the Military Academy of Chichen Itza provided its services, for a not-so small fee.

Back to Timeline or Superpowers

Also see Geopolitics

Reign of Valens:
1515 (762)-1554 (801)
Reign of Cassius:
1554 (801)-1590 (837)
Early Peritan Dynasty:
1590 (837)-1629 (876)

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