Alternate History

837-876 CE (Superpowers)

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Reign of Cassius:
1554 (801)-1590 (837)
Early Peritan Dynasty:
1590 (837)-1629 (876)
Reign of Aulus:
1629 (876)-1645 (892)

Emperor Titus II (837-855)

The reign of the Emperor Titus II was a time of peace, as often occurs following a great war, as well as a time of catastrophe. Although he did handle the situation as best as any man could, his legacy will always be that of the man in charge when Rome was shook to the ground.

Civil and Military Events

Reading stones

Later reading stones circa 873 CE

In a small Galilean village in Judaea, a young lens merchant developed the wonderful idea of a convex lens that could be used to increased the visually perceived size of writing. His "magnifying glass" became incredibly popular in his native province and soon he had worked up enough funds to move to Constantinopolis in 840 and sell his products there. In 843 he developed a small eye piece, held on by a metal frame to cover one eye, that corrected vision to aid in reading texts. His reading stones became extraordinarily popular amongst both monks and press workers, both very easy to find people in the economic and Christian capital of the east. Eventually, in 866, he improved on the design by creating glasses with two lenses, thereby preventing the strain that can be caused by both eyes consistently seeing at different levels of clarity.

In 845, the man who had become known around the Empire as Galileo (Roman for "the Galilean"), made his greatest invention. Whilst tinkering with different lens combinations, he discovered a certain set-up that seemed to dramatically increase the distance which he was able to see. By making several geometrical calculations, essentially a pioneering attempt at optics, Galileo designed a rather nicely functioning refracting telescope. Three years later, Galileo made further improvements on the design by substituting a convex lens as the eyepiece instead of his original concave one, thereby decreasing the strain of viewing the image, at the cost of inverting it. After perfecting methods of constructing it, he released it to the public in 849.

Now that Galileo had a far steadier source of income than most people of his class, he began something which no one on the continent had ever done with as much precision as he: observing the cosmos. Nearly every year, new discoveries were made single-handedly by this curious Jewish man. Using gradually improving telescopes, Galileo discovered five moons of Jupiter, six moons of Saturn and evidence for what he believed was some kind of string of rocks forming a line across the sky. In 857 he released his greatest discovery to the public. Refuting the Aristotelian idea that the Earth was at the Universe's center and that everything revolved around it, he published his thesis, along with proof, that the Earth and all of the planets revolved around the Sun. Quickly, the scientific community refuted his theory and many hardline members of the community publicly attacked his work and his person. Eventually, by decree of the emperor, a public debate was to be held in Rome, mediated by the Pope himself, a man who was completely neutral on the subject of heliocentricity. Whomsoever convinced the Pope, or as the media put it, "induced a revelation", would be considered to have the most successful theory.

Normally, papal intervention was not an accepted method of resolving scientific conflict. Nevertheless, this was a matter of the heavens and so it was believed that God's representative on Earth would at least subconsciously know the truth in the matter. In any case, the Pope followed Galileo in the end and within two years he had the backing of most of the scientific community. In 878, almost a year after his Galileo's death, a famous Roman mathematician published calculations that conclusively proved, with sound scientific reasoning, that the theory of a heliocentric system was the most correct.

At the Empire's center, far more troubling things were afoot. 851 saw the most catastrophic earthquake to ever strike the city of Rome. Over 20,000 died and more than 400,000 were left homeless. Immediately, Titus II began the rebuilding process. For a nation as mighty as the Empire, finding the resources to repair a single city, regardless of its size, was not an especially costly endeavor. Furthermore, the destruction left much room for innovation and rebirth in a city whose architecture was constantly being upgraded and never replaced. It is because of all these facts that there is still a great deal of debate over whether the Earthquake of 851 had a positive or negative effect on Roman Civilization.

At the new Forum of Caesar in the City's center, a 200 meter tall mechanical clock tower dubbed the Turris Horologis was built. Powered hydraulically by aqueduct flow, the tower was the most accurate timepiece ever built, accurately keeping time to an error of 10 seconds every day. Still, with four faces, each in the direction of one point on the compass, the people of Rome would know exactly what time it was, regardless of the position of the sun in the sky, a wonderful improvement over the use of sundials. More importantly, the Turris popularized the idea of mechanical clocks, increasing their sale to the rich and jump-starting efforts to improve the accuracy of the technology.

By the emperor's death, nearly all of the city's residents who had been made homeless by the disaster were back in a home, though not necessarily in the same place, or even the same city. Dishearteningly, the mighty Coliseum was destroyed. To correct this, Titus began an effort to build an even grander replacement structure, with construction starting in late-852. Among his other efforts were the repairing of the Pantheon, construction of the Curia Sulla to replace the destroyed Senate, and finally the completion of a new aqueduct system that ran almost invisibly among the city's buildings.

Emperor Calvin (855-876)

In contrast to how Titus II is remembered as the "only emperor to see the City fall", Calvinus (often written as Calvin) is most well-known for rebuilding the City, often being given credit even for things that Titus II had done. Commonly, he is known as The Great Builder, and his name is appropriately featured on more buildings in Rome than any other emperor in history. The only downside to his reign was that it saw the resurgence of the Threat of the East, once again in the form of a united Arab state.

Civil and Military Events

Above all else, reconstruction of the city of Rome was the most important thing on the emperor's mind. Not only that, but the City was to be rebuilt better and more magnificent than it had ever been. Famously, in reference to Augustus Caesar, Calvin once said that he "came to a city of marble, and left it gold". That quote gives most historians all they need to know about his oratory skills, he was very pompous and non-to-creative nor witty in his speeches. Still, most of the aristocracy at the time loved him, and he held frequent parties to show how he loved them back.

One of the most famous of these events was the Inauguration Ceremony of the Palace of the Imperials in 867. As a replacement to the decaying and damaged palace, the Palace of the Imperials was the finest governmental building in the world until the construction of the Millenial Palace in XXth century Japan. Located on the Palatine Hill, replacing the Domus Augustana and Domus Flavia, the Domus Imperia served as both the emperor's residence as well as purposes of the state, combining the rolls of those two other buildings. The structure had two primary purposes: to show opulence, and to last forever, both of which are heavily reflected in its construction. Marbles were chosen primarily for their ability to survive being worn away over the centuries, whilst only certain metals such as gold, silver and brass were used when metal was needed.

The palace and grounds encompassed an area of approximately 1 km2. Furthermore, it was, at its highest point, 210 meters tall, making it the tallest structure in Rome, as well as the world, at the time. At the top of the primary and highest dome was a 6 meters wide golden eagle, one which was replaced with a two-headed one in 1071. Imagery was an enormously important aspect of the buildings that made up the palace, and many example of golden eagles, marble eagles and other fierce animals engraved in metal and stone could be found. Within the main grounds of the palace was the Colossus of the Emperors, a monument consisting of 8 different statues. The 20 meter tall Colossus of Augustus was at the center, flanked by 14 meter tall statues of the greatest emperors in full military garb. The other featured monarchs were: Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Sulla, Constantine I, Sapiens and Comptus. Finally, a 10 meter tall statue of Julius Caesar, dressed as one of the old Roman gods, stood in front of them, as if leading them into battle.

Aside from statues venerating emperors past, religious works of art were also very noticeable. Behind the emperor's throne, itself an enormous monument, was the 50 meter tall Golden Statue of the Crucifixion. Impressively, a mirror mechanism attached to a skylight in that same room ensured that both the sphere of the Earth at the tip of the throne, as well as the Christ Statue, would emit a blinding light at anyone who stared up at either of them. Though obviously out of convenience this was not used at all times of the day, it served greatly to impress foreign dignitaries and other visitors to the emperor. Although there were countless other details and intricacies of the palace, listing and describing each and every one would be almost impossible.

Before the Domus Imperia was completed, the replacement to the destroyed Coliseum was built, finished in 858. This Colossus Ingens (not to be confused with the statues) was one of the single most massive structures ever built in history, coming closely behind the Great Pyramids in size. With a 750 meter wide events arena, spectacles of the grandest kind could be had there. Its uses included public speeches, sports events, chariot races, mock naval and land battles, and when only half the stadium was being used, the presentation of theatrical dramas.

As far as seating went, over 350,000 people could be seated at any one time. 4,000 chairs of gold, marble and silk were reserved for those who could afford the 10,000 Dn price tag for just one event, though considering it came with shade and a great deal of elbow room, this was probably worth it. At 1,000 Dn, a person could get their own marble and cushioned chair out of the 54,000 available. Then, further away from the arena were 120,000 marble chairs for 100 Dn apiece. Finally, 180,000 people or so could be seated along the marble benches along the rim of the Colosseum. And of course, just above the southern end of the arena itself was the emperor's personal box, able to seat him, his wife and 16 other friends and family members. To enter the Colosseum there were 16 grand gates that led into the complex network of hallways within the superstructure itself. Of these, 2 led to the upper-price seats, 2 to the high-price seats, 4 to the low-price seats and 8 to the free seating area.

Elsewhere in the Empire, at the Forums of Constantinopolis, the largest bank in the world, the Argentaria, was completed in 876. Intended to serve as the nerve center for the state's control over Imperial finances (much like the USA's Federal Reserve), the Argentaria could also hold more physical money, and more records, than any other banking establishment built before it. Needless to say, this was the only thing of benefit that Calvinus did for the Roman economy as after he was finished the Empire was in a sorry state of debt. The only thing which prevented a complete collapse of the economy was that in 862, Calvin ordered for Roman ships to raid the fertile West African Coast, something which brought a great deal of gold into the Empire's coffers.

In 854, in the court of the Shi'ite Kingdom, the Caliph officially declared Holy War, or Jihad against the heretical Sunni Republic. Within eight years the republic was finished and virtually every last Sunni was either killed, converted or went into hiding. This left the Shi'ites in control of the second largest and second most populous nation in Eurasia at the time, finally being in a position to contest the power of the mighty Roman Empire.

Mayan Conglomerate

On the other side of the world, the Conglomerate continued to sprint ahead of the rest of the world. It was discovered that a solid metal tube could effectively concentrate the force of gunpowder into one single stream in 866. Optimal designs for concentration were tried, but a simple thin, bell-like shape always proved to be the most effective. Although this invention was mostly used for spectacles, or in attempts to use it as a pump, in 871 a Mayan scientist discovered a way that the force could be used to fire a projectile. This had of course been considered several years earlier in 868, but the projectiles used at the time were arrow-like and largely ineffective to fire from the tubes. This time, the scientist used round balls of metal as the ammunition. With the first prototype constructed and fired in 872, the Age of the Cannon began.

Immediately, the King of the Conglomerate was informed of the invention so that production could be started on the advanced new weapon. Though by 876 only 29 single-barrel cannons had been built, methods of production as well as places of production were rising in importance and their production was about to see a large increase. Still, in the mean time, the Mayan army was preparing for these additions to be made to their army. A new class of soldier was created to service and fire the weapons, with about 6 men needed per cannon, particularly as they were difficult to move. However, the effectiveness of the weapon in war was yet to be demonstrated.

Back to Timeline or Superpowers

Also see Geopolitics

Reign of Cassius:
1554 (801)-1590 (837)
Early Peritan Dynasty:
1590 (837)-1629 (876)
Reign of Aulus:
1629 (876)-1645 (892)

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