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|Reign of Cassius:|
1588 (835)-1642 (889)
|Reign of Calvinus:|
1642 (889)-1669 (916)
|Late Tyrian Dynasty:|
1669 (916)-1750 (997)
Calvinus is a controversial figure in Roman history. Some remember him as Calvin the Great or Calvin the Builder but others speak of him as King Calvin, each for his own reasons. After changing his views, Calvinus became an ardent opponent of spending in the provinces but did not make his views known to his adoptive father. In the last ten years of the reign of Cassius, Calvinus was made the de facto leader of the patricianis faction in the Senate. Once in power, Calvinus took rather tyrannical measures to institute the sort of reform required to refocus the power of Rome on its own well-being.
Caesar Calvinus (889-916)
Over his first few years in command, Kaeso Aurelius Calvinus slowly assumed a greater portion of political power in the Senate. His supporters returned the ancient office of princeps senatus (first man of the Senate) during his inauguration and Calvin made certain to exercise the authority of his position to keep the Senate in line with his political goals. Calvin continued living in his home on the Quirinal Hill, since there was no imperial residence in Rome after the earthquake and the emperor made every attempt not to miss sessions of the Senate. By 891, few decisions of the illustrious assembly were not influenced by the emperor. At the end of the year, Calvin had the Senate name him its Generalissimus, removing any equal to him in military authority.
With a firm grip on the Senate, Calvin set upon enacting sweeping reform of state expenditure. Salaries for medici (doctores) and chirurgii (surgeons), as well as other salaried civil servants, were diminished. At the same time, stricter medical regulations were imposed upon the options for health services that were available without cost. Only surgeries would remain free, forcing citizens to pay for medical opinions and regiminae (therapies) (in addition to check-ups and medicines which had always cost patients). Finally, a number of galenariae (public hospitals) suffered reductions in staff, based on the results of census information.
In particular, Calvin ordered a larger officium (staff) for the Magister Archiatorum (Master of the Physicians), giving him a number of accountants and mathematicians to (qualitatively) analyze census data. Using their analysis, these officials were tasked with estimating sufficient but conservative sizes for the medical staffs at all public hospitals. More powers were also granted to the Magister Archiatorum, authorizing him to reorganize hospitals and modify health policy without the consultation of the Senate. However, he legislated for this additional freedom with the restriction that the Magister Archiatorum could never appropriate more than one sixth of state revenues for public health care - a substantial reduction compared to earlier health expenditure.
While health care was getting cut down, Calvin repealed the children incentive, saving a yearly amount of over 200 million Dn. On top of these changes, Calvin had been gradually reducing provincial stipends for the first four years of his reign. By 895, the state had more than 500 million Dn of surplus funds for paying the national debt and devoting to public works. In this way, the debt would be paid over several years while Calvin focused on expenses in the capital.
As a result of these cutbacks, the health of Roman citizens declined and families in the colonies started to have fewer children. Although there were no major revolts against these changes, many citizens were discontent. Since the people of the capital were seeing benefits from other state spending, Calvin easily ignored the common folk's opposition to his reforms.
One peculiar consequence of the reforms was that some doctors and surgeons left the empire, offering their service to kings, lords, and caliphs in other lands. Almost no medical experts had left the empire to practice medicine before the changes since there was always paying work in the Roman Empire, either in a hospital or as the personal physician of someone with wealth. Indeed, the supply of medical care has not been enough to meet its demand at any point in ancient history. At this time, the supply of private physicians grew dramatically but the change happened too quickly for some to find work, forcing them to try their luck elsewhere. Roman medicine was famous from the Canary Islands to China and these expert doctors tended to be welcomed in other lands with open arms. Few state had the infrastructure, technology, or academic climate to implement everything known to Romans but the exodus of doctors still disseminated a great deal of medical knowledge to the rest of the world. Until the health care system saw another change, this situation would persist.
Combining weaker medical care with no more financial support for children, the Roman Empire experienced a slowing of the rising proportion of citizens (cives) relative to non-citizens (peregrini). Overall, the population was still rising as a whole due to recent advances in agricultural methods but this factor only slightly favored citizens. Furthermore, the empire became more vulnerable to plagues and disease as long as there were fewer doctors monitoring its citizens and less exposure to the opinions of doctors.
State revenues declined dramatically during the reigns of Caesar Paulus and Caesar Cassius as over half of the ager publicus (public land) owned in 800 CE had been sold to fund services for provincial citizens. Calvin tried to reverse this trend by buying certain types of land. In particular, he bought mines, smithies, forests, watermills, and orchards. Farms were generally ignored for these purchases, since Calvin did not wish to add to the grain dole and farms were generally harder for the state to oversee. Usually, the previous owner of estates purchased by Calvin were allowed to continue working the estate for a share of its profits. In 897, Calvin cut the shares of profits given to provincial governors from public land down to a third.
By his death, Calvin had restored the share of public land to nearly 3.2% of GDP - a far cry from its size under Caesar Valerius at its peak but a substantial improvement over its amount under Cassius. All of the draconian and frugal measures implemented by Calvin were justified for the reconstruction of Rome and presented in the nationwide propaganda alongside the vilification of Cassius for his failure to rebuild.
As a means of reducing the ability of the Senate to oppose his actions, Calvin used the popular assemblies to push a reform of the powers of the tribuni plebes (tribunes of the plebs). His Constitutio Porcio allowed a majority agreement of the Concilium Tribunum to remove a senator from the Senate, forcing him to seek re-election to regain his seat. Otherwise, a senator would serve for the rest of his life. The only restrictions that he put into this constitutional law were that a magistrate would only lose his seat once he finished his term (functionally making censores immune to this form of impeachment) and that the emperor could veto the decision of the tribunes to remove a senator.
Getting the tribunes in his pocket, Calvin removed dozens of senators from their positions through this process, never implicating himself directly in any of the impeachments. Nevertheless, most of the Senate was aware of this practice. While the majority were in support of Calvin, those who opposed the practice or any other policies that he promoted soon found themselves out of office. No emperor had wielded power over the Senate to this degree since the passing of the Corpus Juris Civilis.
The problem that motivated Calvin to favor the well-being of Rome over the support of its provinces was the primary reason for the dramatic reductions in public spending and became the target of most of the funds that his reforms had re-opened. Throughout his reign, Calvin tore down old residences in the capital and replaced them with new stone doma, at the same time as his contractors cleared the ruins that had been left untouched by his predecessor. Hundreds of thousands of houses were restored and replaced in this massive reconstruction program. For the first time, the wealth of a third of human civilization was being devoted to improving and restoring a single city of less than 2 million people. Great works were accomplished in this situation.
One of the primary construction projects aside from private homes for common citizens was the restoration of the Palatine Hill. After clearing the ruins and demolishing nearby buildings, thousands of stonemasons, smiths, and general laborers were brought under the supervision of a team of architects tasked with designing a massive palatial complex for Calvinus and his successors. Several considerations went into the overall layout, requiring nearly 170,000 square meters of land on and around the hill. People living on land appropriated for the palace were some of the first to receive new homes elsewhere in Rome. In general, whenever the construction projects of Calvinus required occupied land, the people were treated to new and better homes elsewere, avoiding the possible discontent associated with taking land. At the same time, the extravagance of the new palace was figuratively masked by the scale of the rebuilding program for common residences.
An essential theme of the design for the palatial complex was public openness, except for the core residential building. On the site of the Domus Flavia, the new aula principia (reception hall or aula regia) was constructed. At the heart of this structure was the audience chamber, where an emperor would hear the pleas of his fellow citizens. The chamber had an open floor stretching 59.2 meters away from the public entrance and 44.4 meters across. At the end of the hall was a series of elaborate steps going up to a dias raised almost a full meter and a half from the main floor. While lower arms of the dais flanked the open floor, the central feature was the Sella Marmorea (the Marble Throne), a new symbol of the imperial authority. Earlier emperors sat upon a sella curulis, which they had in common with other magistrates, but often used gilded wooden chairs for less formal affairs. This new throne was stark white marble with thin lines of gold marking its edges.
The main entrance to this chamber from the street was the Porta Augusta (Imperial Gate), a 5.92 m tall arched gateway set into a marble facade in the form of another gate nearly twice the height of the true entrance. Using methods of his own invention, an artist brought to design a gilded image for the entire facade created the appearance of a crowd visible on either side of the gate looking toward a vanishing point on the horizon. By design, this vanishing point was situated above the gate itself, where a distinct but attached image of a she-wolf was crafted from gold and rubies. Two exits from the audience chamber were located within the aisles separated from the open floor by massive columns that extended onto the dais from both sides. These doors were small but ornate and were reached before ascending the aisle steps onto the flanks of the dais.
After leaving the chamber through these doors, a visitor would find himself in a hall of the semi-circular building attached to the aula principia, such that the walls along the dais of the chamber pushed into the semi-circle. Given the designation Orbis Gentium (Circle of Nations), this building contained four floors among which 70 rooms were unevenly divided. Each chamber in the orbis had an aesthetic that reflected either a distinct region of the empire or a foreign nation known to Rome. In principle, these rooms were designed to provide a welcoming atmosphere for people waiting to hold an audience with the Caesar. Most of the ground floor was devoted to an open-concept waiting room, furnished with enough seating space for hundreds of people, for the people of Rome.
A large gate in the orbis, situated directly opposite the Imperial Gate, opened into a public garden surrounded on all sides by stoa (covered walkways) that were accessible directly from the via augusta, the road which circumscribed the entire palatial complex. The only buildings in the entire 8,000 square meters of garden space were a small Christian shrine, dedicated to the Legion and to all citizens who have died in battle, and the hut of Romulus, supposedly preserved from ancient times. Although the stoa of the garden had the same appearance for most of its length, several parts were porticos for other buildings in the complex.
More visible than any other building on the Palatine was the Agora Augusta (Imperial Court) where the private residence of the reigning emperor and private audience chambers were situated. On the whole, the Agora was a rectangular structure with outer dimensions of 148 by 74 meters and raised above the hill itself on a concrete platform that kept the ground floor of the building more than 10 meters above the roof of the Circus Maximus. Located on the former site of the Stadium of Domitian, the Agora was highly visible from its position on the hill, literally overshadowing the Circus and standing only a few hundred meters from the new amphitheater being constructed at the same time. An icosastyle portico facing the Circus dominated the southwestern end of the Agora and blended into a rectangular colonnade along the entire perimeter of the building. Each column had a shaft that was 17.7 meters long and on average about 2.6 meters thick and a capital as long as the shaft was wide. On the side opposite the Circus, a flight of stairs led into the colonnade from the garden but this thick complex of stairs only wrapped around about half of the whole Agora, with the appearance from above of a mane around the head of a lion. Back on the first end, a linear flight of stairs extended from the colonnade down into the Circus itself, as the intended path for an emperor attending its spectacles.
The inside of the Agora was dominated by a rectangular peristyle atrium in its center. From an isometric perspective above, the Agora would have the appearance of a thick rectangular shell with columned perimeters on both its inside and outside surfaces. In this shell were the imperial library, containing a wealth of maps, scrolls, and codices rescued from the old library, and a number of cubicula (private chambers), triclinia (dining rooms), and tablinae (offices) for the reigning imperial family. Bedrooms were placed on the upper floors of the Agora, basically above the height of the outer columns, while most study rooms and lounging rooms were placed on the main floor to allow high ceilings and easier access to guests of the emperor.
Other buildings of the palatial complex include: the Triclinium Magnum, the public dining hall of the emperor, capable of seating more than a hundred guests; the Domus Peronus, a comfortable inn, with kitchens and sleeping areas, devoted entirely to the housing of citizens in the capital who had no home or could not afford food; and the Aula Annona, a macellum open to the street and meant for the dispersal of the public grain dole to the people of the capital (attached to the outside of the House of Pero).
Construction on the Palatium (palace complex) took 19 years for over a thousand builders to complete. A major obstacle to work on the palace was the ongoing construction elsewhere in the city which demanded other local resources and labor.
As hinted earlier, the entire palatial complex gave the impression of being a space for public use and for the benefit of the public, with only the Agora requiring closed to the public. Although praetorian guards constantly patrolled the gardens and the via augusta, no one was denied access to these other spaces. The availability of what is effectively the palace of the emperor of Rome reflects the patron-client nature of the imperial office itself and gave the project an air of charity to the public despite the grandeur of the Agora or the need to tear down old residences on the Palatine Hill.
Despite the cost of the palatial complex, the state had ample surplus funds in the 890's to begin another restoration program for the capital. Furthermore, Calvinus had brought a legion from Magna Germania to Rome that he used to build temporary residence for the builders and other workers brought to work on his grand restoration of the capital, circumventing the problem of labor by drawing on the massive reserves available throughout the provinces. Similarly, Calvinus was named procurator navalis of the Grecis Occidentalis (Western High Fleet) to give him control of hundreds of ships that he could use to procur materials.
With logistical issues handled, Calvinus found more architects and artists to work on a replacement for the delapidated Flavian Amphitheater which had been damaged by the earthquake and gutted entirely by the fires that raged afterward. While the new amphitheater would be built on the ruins of the Thermae Trajani (Baths of Trajan) among other buildings, the old amphitheater of the Flavians was to be further restored and redesigned as a proper indoor market. In effect, former seating space was excavated and the outer ring expanded up until the arena floor. Arched bridges were strung across the arena to connect opposite sides of the new marketplace. Calvinus was motivated to repurpose the amphitheater into the Mercatus Flavius (Flavian Marketplace) both to retain the new role for which the facility had been used in the last half a century of disrepair and to justify the construction of a grander amphitheater as a new symbol of Roman wealth and civilization.
As a site for the Amphitheatrum Aurelium (Aurelian Amphitheater), Calvinus cleared the ruins on the Esquiline Hill and tore down the infamous Subura district of the capital, relocating its residents to the new doma being built on the city's periphery. At the same time, the valleys between the Esquiline and Viminal Hills around Mons Cespius were filled in some places with soil to create a circular foundation for an elliptical amphitheater with a semi-major axis of 740 meters. The height of the outer wall was about 68 meters while the inner wall of the arena stood five meters above the regular floor. At the center, the arena itself had proportional dimensions as the outer ellipse but only had a semi-major length of 148 meters. The amphitheater is notable for the shallow slope of its seating area, around half of the slope for seating in the Flavian Amphitheater.
On average, 450,000 spectators could be seated simultaneously in 914 when this marvel of engineering was completed. However, there was little purpose in seating people farther than 200 meters from the arena for gladiatorial combat or theatrical performances so the full capacity of the stadium would only be filled under a few circumstances. The most common such event was to allow the emperor or another magistrate to address as large a crowd as possible in one place. For a speech, the seats could be overfilled to fit the entire adult male citizen population of the capital in the stands.
More than anything, the construction of the Aurelian Amphitheater demonstrates the growing sophistication of Roman architecture and engineering, respectively in its elaborate aesthetic features such as statues or reliefs and in its sheer size. Both the palace and the amphitheater required Calvinus to recruit the most respected artists and architects in the empire, after a search that took nearly a year to accomplish to his satisfaction. Overall, the construction of both facilities required a fusion of beauty and practicality into the same structures, on scales that had never been seen in human history. For its part, the Aurelian Amphitheater remains one of the most recognizable features of the landscape of Rome, with its white marble exterior belying the complicated interior structure of stone, steel, and concrete that upholds its tremendous girth.
MercatusDamage to the Mercatus Trajani (Trajan's Market) had been extensive but most repairs were accomplished by local merchants in the reign of Cassius. Nevertheless, Calvin devoted millions of denarii toward a complete remodelling of the great market, replacing wooden stalls with more shops of stone, brick, and marble. Streets, alleys, and walkways around the market were similarly repaired, giving a new appearance to the famous shopping center. However, the largest change to Trajan's Market involved tearing down the buildings behind its famous hemicycle and building a series of concentric hemicycles of increasing radius. Each semi-circular ring of market stalls was one floor above the smaller one, up to a total of four rings.
Elaborate staircases came down from the second floor of the market, twisting away from the Forum of Trajan in the direction of the market square. The third floor was reached from a single staircase in the center of the second ring while the fourth floor was accessible from a spiral stairwell inside the building outside the main ring of the third floor. With this expansion, the floors below the top level had entrances to an inner marketplace behind the rings, where the majority of shops could be found. In general, a stall on the main rings of the new market was considered more prestigious than a stall inside the structure. Nevertheless, a place in Trajan's Market continued to be desired over one in any other marketplace in the capital, on par with the new Flavian Market.
The side of the building opposite the market rings opened into a massive open-air balcony shared between the second and third floors of the shopping complex. The side opposite the Forum of Trajan was a flat space on the same level as the second floor and staircases reached around each corner of that end to reach the two balconies on the third. There was no inner shopping space or balcony for the fourth floor. Instead, its market ring was topped with a classic imbrex and tegula roof in the shape of an annulus.
Instead of rebuilding the Basilica Ulpia at the end of Trajan's Forum, the ruins were cleared and the colonnade of the forum itself was extended to the two nearby libraries [whose roofs are barely visible in the image behind the old basilica]. This remodelling gave visitors to the forum a stunning view of the Victory Column of Trajan that stood between the entrances of the libraries.
Although the Horologium Augusti (Imperial Clock Tower) did not fall in the eathquake, the disaster damaged its machinery which left the famous landmark reliant on its function as a solarium (sundial). Around 892, Calvin had the tower torn down, filled in the machinery with concrete, and had the plaza resurfaced to remove the bronze that marked the passage of time. In its place, he had a victory column raised at the center of a new forum. The body of the column was a single piece of red granite, ~24 meters long and ~2.9 meters thick, topped with a simple statue of a commoner, representing the victory of Rome over the earthquake. The characterization of the column as a symbol of victory, like the columns of emperors after a war, and its position near the Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) were deliberate moves to bolster the spirits of the people after the decline of the city following the earthquake.
Decorations on the pedestal of the column depict scenes of the reconstruction of Rome, going counterclockwise around the base from a scene of ruins to an impossible view of many of the major monuments of the city (including many that existed before Calvin). The plaza itself was unlike any other in the Eternal City. From above, it had the appearance of a giant red splotch on the face of the city, with its surface area of about 11 acres covered entirely in red granite. The transition from grey or white city streets to a sharp red floor was made somewhat less jaring by having every road meet the plaza at a freestanding arch but nothing could stop the Forum Aurelium from standing out among the public spaces in the capital.
Although the markets, palace, and slums were hardest hit by the earthquake and inferno, the Forum Romanum near the Collis Capitolinus (Capitoline Hill) suffered its share of damage. The Basilica Aemilia between the Roman Forum and the Forum of Nerva was hollowed out by fire after its roof and several columns had already collapsed. Although its ruins were cleared almost immediately by merchants on the Forum, its former site had become overgrown with grass by 890 CE. As part of his restoration, Calvinus paved over the entire site of the former basilica in order to expand the great forum. This land blended smoothly into the space of the senaculum that had encroached upon the old site of the Curia Julia ever since its replacement by the Curia Petra, together the two sites contributed almost a third of the open space on the Forum Romanum.
In general, the patricianis faction in the Senate had a consensus on reducing the density of buildings in Rome, both for aesthetic reasons, opening the congested streets, and for mitigating the ability for fire to spread. The expansion of various forums around the city center was considered an effective way to create more open spaces. However, this construction effort was not the only way to reduce congestion. Several neighborhoods were torn down and rebuilt with wider streets and fewer insulae (apartments). A great deal of these works for the benefit of the common people were funded by taking money from a number of patricians, or rather forcing them to publicly announce that they were donating money for renovations to Rome.
After its restoration, the capital become a drastically different city, in a way that completely overshadowed the transformations that are traditionally attributed to the reign of Octavius. There were three shifts in the composition of Rome: (1) the domus became more common in proportion to the insula as a type of residence, (2) the population density of the city center fell dramatically while the outskirts expanded, and (3) wood became a rare sight, especially on the outer surfaces of buildings.
In the past, the domus, a distinct but always evolving style of high quality housing, was reserved for the wealthy while the insula, a highly varied style of low quality housing in apartments, was the common home for the rest of Roman society. Calvinus made an effort to reverse this trend in the capital by building a large proportion of doma to house people displaced by the earthquake, fires or his other construction efforts. This program of reconstruction required the tearing downs of hundreds of acres of slums that had appeared on the outskirts of Rome in the absence of a response for a few decades after the calamity. In general, doma became more common the closer one was to the Forum Romanum while insulae were only found over shops until one crossed the Tiber or went out as far as the Aventine Hill or the Mausoleum of Augustus, where they were common as a distinct building. Overall, more than 10,000 doma and 24,000 insulae were constructed during the reign of Calvinus.
Nearly a third of the funds for this reconstruction came from a draconian measure instituted by the emperor. Patricians living in Italy were forced to "donate" certain amounts of their wealth for the building of houses in Rome. This effective tax was one of the main actions that drew a negative characterization of Calvinus, from certain circles. At the time, no one could complain in public about this procedure with an entire legion and the praetorian guard being wielded by Calvinus to turn the capital into a police state.
Apartments built in this period used as little wood as possible. For this purpose, a style of brick and concrete housing that had seen sporadic application in the previous century exploded in prevalence, becoming the single most common type of building in the capital. Houses of this style are generally attributed to this period and the following few centuries. If a fire sprung up near a house in this style, then there was nothing exposed enough to catch a spark or to heat enough to ignite, making the spread of fire beyond one building unlikely. Furthermore, strict laws were passed by Calvin on placing wooden signs and market stalls outside buildings, protecting Rome even more thoroughly from fire.
All of these practices culminated in a new architectural aesthetic in Rome, one that slowly became popular in other cities. The new style popularized by Calvinus has become known as Renovamentum (Revitalization or Restoration style), for its association with the reconstruction of Rome and the view that this style better represented a high degree of civilization. Poets and philosophers writing a century later considered Restorational architecture a zenith for the artistry and technique of Roman construction.
Obviously, Renovamentum drew heavily from Classical Roman architecture, using the classic vault, arch, column, and dome. However, these classical elements were used in new forms, such as the ogival arch, pendentive dome, blind arcade, and rib vault, as more complex geometric forms were employed. None of these elements were new to architects but they saw more full application in the movement. Other existing architectural elements that grew in popularity with this style were glass windows, flying buttresses, dwarf galleries, and squinches. Although these elements were used, the essential characteristics of the Restorational style was the fusion of simplicity and immensity. Even homes were made to seem as large as possible by opening rooms into one another and carefully employing glass windows.
Public buildings took immensity to another level. For example, the outer hall of the ground floor of the Aurelian Amphitheater had a ceiling consisting of alternating large and small pendentive domes, the former more than 35 meters across and 50 meters high. This structure repeats around the entire outer ring, broken symmetrically only at eight points where the ceiling spans as a single, straight barrel vault of similar grandeur. Standing in this great hall felt similar to entering a canyon.
Buildings such as amphitheaters featured vibrant colors. Many structures from this period have outsides of white stone and internal walls mixing ruby, amber, and teal marbles. Floors of major buildings are usually glazed marble of a similar color to the walls but domestic buildings tend to favor small brick tiles with smooth surfaces. In general, the standard appearance of walls and floors in Restorational doma is an ornamented pattern of tiny bricks. Far from having a dissimilar appearance to the large buildings, these brick homes share the highly open arrangement and the shapes used in basilicae (public buildings) of the same period.
On the whole, the Renovamentum style of architecture was heavily influenced by developments in mathematics and how these principles applied to the calculation of volume or the distribution of weight. Architectura (architecture) was one of the industries that had the heaviest demand for innovations in mathematics and geometry.
Collaboration of architects with mathematicians was often mediated by contracts between architect guilds (collegia architectoni) and academies with mathematicians. Although architects were accomplished mathematicians by trade, they still differed to the more practiced geometers for more challenging problems in a particular design and favored the texts of pure mathematicians over works that were published by architects. Architectural theory remained indebted to De Architectura by Vitruvius but more advanced texts had been written over the centuries, always following his three principles of firmitas, utilitas, and venustas but using newer mathematical techniques such as the method of indivisibles or algebraic geometry.
In general, Calvinus intended to reconcentrate the wealth and power of the Imperium Romanum in Rome. His physical restoration of the Eternal City was only one of many means toward this end. Another part of this process was to increase the centralization of the Legion, a military force whose men rarely saw military service within less than a hundred kilometers of Italia. Since more than nine-tenths of legionaries came from Greece, Syria, or the colonies, the majority would never see Rome or Italy before serving in the Legion. Although legionaries defend the empire rather than just Rome, the patricianis faction in the Senate was starting to be concerned about trusting such people to remain loyal to a place (viz. Italy) that they never knew.
For this reason and for the purpose of homogenizing training, Calvinus commissioned the construction of a training facility in Italy. Situated in the mountains feeding into the Po river, this facility began in 890 as a series of encampments deployed by one of the legions of Germany on its way to the capital. Starting as little more than a brick fort surrounded in a field by hundreds of tents, the Castra Strativa Martiana (literally Standing Camp of Mars but meant as Camp of Martial Prowess) or Castella Martiana for short, would grow as emperors steadily expanded the site as it grew in importance. However, at the start, the castella consisted of only a few campsites and served for the military training of about 9,000 legionary recruits (tirones) at a time. By the end of the reign of Calvinus, the castella martiana was training every recruit for the Legion, meaning somewhere around 60,000 trainees - this role only marked the start of the site's rise in importance to the empire.
Training regimens for recruits at the camp were more physically intense than earlier programs, taking full advantage of the difficult mountainous terrain where it was situated. Over a decade, more elaborate regimens were developed that played upon the massive number of trainees of incrementally varying skill and strength. Full scale mock battles came to be regularly staged, preparing the men for a variety of possible scenarios (e.g. getting ambushed during a march).
Several times during his training, a recruit would be brought to Rome with a few hundred of his brothers. They would spend an appropriate amount of time enjoying the capital before returning to their rigorous training. In this way, every man who fought for the empire as a legionary (as opposed to another unit) would know Rome and know the heart of Roman civilization. Senators believed that these experiences would strengthen the motivation of legionaries, seeing the greatest thing that their efforts were protecting.
Transporting legionaries from Genua, a major port town near the camp, to Portus, the commercial hub of the capital, became an essential duty of the Grecis Occidentalis after Calvinus started to deploy their ships for this purpose. The fleets also came to serve the role of transporting the fully trained recruits throughout the empire, through rivers into Gaul or by sea to the eastern provinces. This transportation made the centralization of training not only possible but also feasible.
Overall, the new procedure for training legionaries produced a more consistent level of skill and fitness, improved the general ability of legionaries to work in larger formations, and ensured that all future legionaries would be acquainted with the capital. A benefit that was not seen until later was that training regimens and procedures could be more quickly and thoroughly modified, since only a single training site needed to be informed of a change and monitored for adherence to that change.
By the 10th century, Rome had a highly specialized bureaucracy and had developed an elaborate political philosophy to justify its countless political instruments. Rome knew its place in the world and constantly compared itself with other nations, using a specialized vocabulary for understanding political systems. As a summary of this situation, one could accurately say that although Rome did not possess uniquely advanced science or technology, its politics and civil ideologies were more sophisticated than those of any other civilization, as a result of millennia of gradually refining its political systems in a stable environment.
Basis of politics
On a global scale, Romans recognized every person - from a slave to an emperor - as hominum (human) and as one part of the greater whole of humanitas (humanity). In this view, everyone was equal (aequalis) and free (liberis) by jus naturale (natural law) and, therefore, also in the absence of any contrary factors. One such factor was the union of men as a gentem (nation). General conditions for the cooperation of people were seen as involving a disruption of jus naturale, a process that made some men greater than others and imposed servitium (servitude) of some men to others.
However, Romans believed that nations should only exist under certain conditions. Proper conditions or procedures for the union of people as a nation and for interactions between nations constituted a Jus Gentium (Law of Nations). Similar to jus naturale, the law of nations was unwritten and not created by the minds of men - its rules were independent of human invention and legislation. Nevertheless, Romans believed that every nation recognized this law and that ignorance of this law was detrimental to all nations, since states that operated in contempt of the law of nations were corrupt, unstable, and a threat to other people.
Nations were only one type of res publica (public entity). The concept of res publica was general to the extreme and included: the business of managing a union (public affairs), the rules restricting activities within the union (laws), the institutions established to ensure the continuation of the union (governments), the union itself (nation), and the sum of all these things (the state). In general, some nations could manage their own public affairs; a sovereign nation in this sense was known as a populus (republic). Since the people were seen as the source of sovereign authority, populus also referred to the government of a people. For this purpose, Romans distinguished nations and their governments into populi and regni. A regnum (kingdom) was a nation in the service of one person or one organization, i.e. either a monarchy or an oligarchy was a kingdom. Rome itself was considered a populus, since its government, in principle and in appearance, depended on democratic institutions for its authority.
A nation together with its laws and government constituted a civitas (state). Participants in the affairs of a state were its cives (citizens), meaning a kingdom did not have citizens and certain people (e.g. slaves, children) were not citizens in a republic. Rules imposed either voluntarily or involuntarily upon a specific nation were its jus civile (civil law). The civil laws which originated from the authority of the people were leges (statutes) while civil laws followed out of tradition were mores (customs). In this sense, a kingdom can only possess customs or regones (decrees), where the latter are rules involuntarily imposed on a nation. As a result, Romans considered their laws superior to the laws of other states, since the latter are only the decrees of a ruling class.
For a republic to exist, Romans believed that a people must relinquish its libertas and aequalitas under natural law. This occurs through the institution of its government. Members of the government are always citizens of the republic; they are citizens tasked by their former peers to manage public affairs and ensure the continuation of the state. For these purposes, a people vests its imperium (authority to rule) in specific members of its government, each of whom is known as a magistratus. Specific magistrates rule only within specific domains, determined by the very procedures which gave them imperium. Since no procedure is perfect, the correct distribution and application of imperium requires validation. Recognized authority to pronounce the legitimacy of a specific use of political power in a republican government is auctoritas within the domain of that activity. No rule or institution can simply grant auctoritas; it is a recognition by a particular source that a person is virtuous and discerning.
In principle, imperium is distinct from auctoritas. The former enforces the commands of a magistrate (in a specific domain) while the latter recognizes that a magistrate knows what commands should be issued. For example, the Pope had no imperium in the state but often had no equal in auctoritas. In practice, Romans had found that these two factors were often best separated into different types of magistracies, where the validation of one magistrate balanced the power of another. For example, tribunes possessed little imperium - in the lesser form of potestas - but had the authority to invalidate decisions of the Senate.
The distribution of auctoritas in a republic can be complicated and is not strictly tied to magistrates. In Ancient Greece and in the Roman Republic, the true source of this type of authority was religion and tradition, as in the mos maiorum (ancestral customs) and priesthood of Ancient Rome. With the erosion of the mos maiorum and dissolution of the old religion, the original source of auctoritas vanished. Fortunately for Rome, these social forces were no longer necessary. By the reign of Octavian, auctoritas in Rome rested with the Senatus Romanus, in a manner similar to how imperium came from the Populus Romanus. In this way, a magistrate acquired most of his auctoritas by virtue of being the choice of the Senate to carry out his appointed duties.
While imperium and auctoritas for a specific magistrate are both restricted to specific domains, most magistrates are not absolutely powerful within their respective domains. The actions of a magistrate can be overturned by opposition from another magistrate of equal or greater imperium. For this reason, no magistrate was without peers. In Rome, the princeps civitatis (first citizen) was a peer to all magistrates (primus inter pares) and could invalidate nearly any political decision. This office became seen as the embodiment of the Populus Romanus, a vesting of the sovereign authority into a single person. Furthermore, the princeps was the ruler recognized by the Pontifex Maximus of the Christian Church and had auctoritas as much from God as from the Senate.
By the 6th century, Romans recognized only their own state as a republic. They saw the fate of every other republic to be eventual transformation into a kingdom, as happened to the Macedonians, the Germans, and the Garamantians. In general, the ability for a republic to exist on a scale larger than a city was viewed as impossible except in the case of Rome, which had somehow achieved exactly that form of government on a continental scale. In their dealings with other nations, Romans were constantly conscious of the illegitimate features of their governments and saw other common people as enslaved to their rulers. In political literature, this status of other nations justified slavery as part of the spoils of war owed by a nation to the victor. In this sense, slavery was seen as a result of the law of nations and had to represent a rise in status for the enslaved person. This perspective is reflected in many writings from the 6th to the 12th century, as in the phrase, "Better a slave in Rome than a freeman in Germany."
War itself was justified under the law of nations, but only under certain circumstances. Defensive wars were never unjustified, as long as the mistreatment, to which the war was a response, was genuinely harmful. A war motivated by a breach in trust - in either the commercial or diplomatic sphere - was similarly justified, on the grounds of rectifying unfair circumstances. However, there was not such unanimous agreement on preemptive wars or wars where territory was acquired. Of course, emperors often declared war for such controversial reasons, but this underscored the genuine moral conflict on the matter between philosophers and senators.
Where Rome truly displayed the development of its politics was in diplomacy. The Senate felt obliged to maintain a permanent presence in the courts of foreign kings, for facilitating communication between each kingdom and Rome. Similarly, it constantly encouraged other kingdoms to send envoys to Rome. Both functions were under the purview of the Officium Barbarorum (Bureau of Barbarians), under the authority of the Magister Gentium (Master of Nations). Using its embassies, the Senate had continuous sources of information on events in other nations and on the actions of their governments, giving Rome an unprecedented degree of understanding of foreign affairs. This knowledge was a tremendous advantage for Rome and allowed it to play other nations against one another, especially when combined with the fact that an ambassador from Rome (dignitatum) was usually the most valued and trusted advisor for the nearby Germanic or African kings.
A dignitatum often held authoritative positions in a royal court. In the Kingdom of Venetia and the Great Sarmatian Empire, the respective ambassador held more sway over the monarch than almost any local official, effectively maintaining the foedi (alliances) of those kingdoms with the Roman Empire and enforcing their status as foederati (vassal kingdoms). In the caliphates, the Roman ambassadors had no authority but were people of great consequence, often sought for information on international affairs and a familiar sight in the court of each caliph. Even in war, the ambassador was usually treated with respect, as a convenient avenue for the diplomacy that always follows conflict (whether to demand terms or to surrender).
A peculiar feature of these embassies was their purpose as an extension of auctoritas. Since the reign of Caesar Fabius, Romans saw their government as the only republic but this belief was no formality. The implication was that no other government had an understanding of how to legitimately govern a nation and therefore, Rome - as the only legitimate government - had a responsibility to supervise other governments. Senators and commoners in the Roman Empire genuinely believed that they were the sole source of humane laws and political procedures. For this reason, the Senate had a great deal of contempt for other governments and had the belief that it was responsible to some extent for the affairs of all nations.
As essential as Rome's political philosophy was to its own stability, the empire owed an even greater debt to its bureaucracy and political institutions. A major component of this system was the elaborate network of civil servants (apparitores) that served the state on a public salary. Over 3 million denarii was spent each year on paying these government assistants and more than 6,000 people took part in this system, alongside thousands more on a wage from various magistrates. A few thousand more worked as tax collectors (fiscatores) and census-takers (censitores) for the state but only those officials working for the Senate or Caesar on a public salary constituted the officium publicum senati romani (Civil Staff of the Roman Senate).
In general, no senator had civil servants and each senator was only assisted in his daily tasks by his personal servants. Only a possessor of civil power (either potestas or imperium) was entitled to an officialis or apparitor (civil servant) and many officiales were assigned to a facility or institution rather than a single person.
As a start, there were the lictores (bodyguards) assigned directly to senators of great importance. These men tended to be former legionaries or provincials seeking an easy route to citizienship (most lictores became citizens when they retired). Their sole duty was to protect their magistrate and they were granted legal sanction to issue capital punishment for this purpose. At this time, most lictores were armed with a small polytrahos (repeating crossbow) and the traditional fasces (wooden axe) as their badge. Sometimes, a team of bodyguards would be dismissed for a short time and replaced by members of the Praetorian Guard but this was only done when a magistrate was considered in danger or whenever one left the capital.
All of the archives in Rome were open from dawn until dusk and require the constant supervision of the tabullarii (archivists) in the employ of the capital. Each tabellarius had the tasks of admitting magistrates into an archive, denying the entry of non-magistrates without special permission from a magistrate, organizing the records themselves, and fetching specific documents when requested. Usually, a low ranking senator was named curator tabularia (commissioner of the archive) of each vault, putting them in charge of the archivists within their appointed facility. Archives in the capital included the Tabularium Anticum, for records on magistrates, court records, and the local census records; the Tabularium Vaticanum, for the public maps and records that became obsolete; the Tabularium Antonini, for provincial census records; the Tabularium Quirinum, for copies of spending and tax records from Byzantium; and the Tabularium Censorium, for the registers of banned and permitted books for printers in the empire. In total, these facilities required around 80 archivists to properly manage their affairs. The Vatican Vaults were the largest archives by nearly an order of magnitude of the number of scrolls and codices.
Archives always had scribae (clerks) on hand to create copies of records on request and to renew old copies for further storage, since paper and even parchment degraded over time. Other scribes took records of private meetings and court cases or made a record of an event at the behest of a present magistrate (usually, the emperor or princeps senatus had the duty of ordering records made for recent foreign or domestic events). The best scribes were tasked with working sessions of the Senate ad verbatim for the Old Archives on the Forum Romanum. Finally, a few dozen scribes were deployed with every marching army to write letters for the commanders. More than 500 scribes were employed through the Officium at a given time.
Of similar rank to a scribe, some numerarii (accountants) did finances for magistrates and advised the Senate using records of the state finances. While most public accountants worked in Byzantium, as part of the aerarium stabulum (national treasury), the government itself needed its own accountants for preliminary accounting and for planning state expenses. Managing finances for the Senate directly were the 10 quaestores curules, whose rank stood immediately below that of senator. A quaestor was an auditor-general, whose potestas taxanis (power of appraisal) extended to the validation and supervision of financial documents. In total, about 90 accountants worked in the capital under the supervision of the local quaestors.
A reigning princeps civitatis had an array of civil servants who maintained his residences. A cubicularius was one of a hundred eunuchs who served as chamberlains in the new Agora on the Palatine Hill. These servants took care of the bedchambers for the emperor and his family, prepared their wardrobes, and often arranged their meals. Slaves in the palace did the truly arduous work of cleaning floors and furniture; the chamberlains only made beds, put away clothes, and rearranged decorations. A higher ranked eunuch supervised the chamberlains on behalf of the Magister Officiorum and was called the praepositus augusti domestici (caretaker of the imperial household). Hundreds of regular servants and slaves took care of the rest of the palace.
Lower ranking civil servants included praecones (heralds) and viatores (personal messengers), who were constantly running around the capital and relaying the words of magistrates respectively to the public and to other senators. Their duties were essential for the sheer efficiency of the government in Rome, keeping every bureaucrat in the capital on the same page.
Similar networks operated in Byzantium through the officium publicum aeraria (Civil Staff of the Treasury) and across the empire through the officium militum generale (Military Staff of the Empire). The military staff served legati augusti (provincial commanders) but worked in their greatest numbers under the Generalissimus (supreme commander of the Legion) in Carthage, where he had his primary offices as part of the War Academy. Eventually, these officia evolved into clearly delineated departments assigned to each Magister or Praefectus, before becoming the Magisterium system of government departments known today.
Embassy in China
Calvinus took a step forward in the globalization of Roman politics by arranging the creation of a Roman embassy in China, under the supervision of a dignitatum sinum (Ambassador to the Chinese) in the court of the Emperor of Min China. On their end, the Min had accepted a Roman embassy only as a possible advantage against the other twelve kingdoms into which the Tang Empire had fractured. The Roman presence in China would shift once the Senate gained a better understanding of the situation. By the latter half of the 10th century, Rome actively supported the Kingdom of Zhao, a large state in the northern territories, assisting Emperor Zhao Zu in his conquest of the other kingdoms and his re-unification of China under the Zhao Dynasty.
Under the new regime, the Chinese government accepted Roman ambassadors with open arms, respecting the debt they owed the empire for its naval support in the Battle of Fuzhou and its financial support of their cause. An embassy was built for Rome in the new capital of Kaifeng, although its placement kept it far from the residences of the Emperor of China (Huangdi).
This unprecedented extension of diplomacy from Rome was the result of recent developments in sailing, namely the combination of lateen and square rigs on a single ship (amplavis). Such vessels could sail in open water without a team of rowers, opening the cargo space to store provisions for longer journeys with a smaller crew. Near the start of his reign, Calvinus commissioned several amplaves for the Classis Romanis (Roman Fleet), bringing the first of the new craft into the naval forces of the empire. Although only built for the Red Sea High Fleet and the Britannic High Fleet, these ships allowed for much longer trips, unless the space was devoted to transporting a larger crew of marines.
At the same time, the amplavis was becoming a more common cargo ship for merchants, expanding the range of Roman trade. Although this development ensured that some merchants would travel to China, the journey was still expensive, risky, and seen as a frightening experience of isolation, where a citizen would see almost no other Romans aside from his companions for more than a year. Nevertheless, the emperor succeeded in motivating his ambassadors and their servants to push forward with diplomatic ties with China. One reason for Calvin's specific interest in China was his general lack of interest in renewing relations with any of the kingdoms in India, largely due to the growing disdain of those kingdoms since the rebuke of Rome by the Kingdom of Sindh. Diplomacy with Indian kingdoms had been stagnant for the last few centuries, despite the obvious continuation of trade.
Plucking one legion of the six legions from Eastern Africa, Calvinus established a brick fortress at an oasis in the middle of the Desertum Africanum. After negotiations with the Regna Gana (Kingdom of Ghana), caravan routes were reorganized to pass almost exclusively through this new outpost. The Castella Africana stood out for its material and size, a 25 acre facility that was composed almost entirely from brick. Some marble was transported from the coast, almost 2,000 kilometers from fortress, to pave a thick marble road starting at each of the two gates and crossing straight through the fortress. The Via Castella symbolized the approach of Roman civilization and marked the halfway point between Ghana and Roman Mauritania. The fortress offered its hospitality to any merchants regardless of origin, allowing the complete reconcentration of Trans-Saharan trade through one route.
A brick and ceramic aqueduct was completed in 914, bringing ample supplies of water to the outpost. As a former garrison for the province of Æthiopia, the legionaries stationed at the castella brought their expertise in camel reconnaissance and warfare. By patrolling the desert from the western end of Mauritania to the eastern end of Africa Proconsularis, the presence of this legion effectively expanded the Imperium of Rome deep into the desert. This extension of the Roman Empire marked a progression in the activity of Romans in Western Africa and in tightening the control of the Senate over Ghana.
The presence of a waypoint between Mauritania and Ghana further discouraged East-West African trade by making its route safer and cheaper, in addition to how much business could already be found to the north of the kingdom. By cutting off the former trade, Rome contained Islam and the Umayyad Caliphate to the eastern coastline of Africa. However, the situation in Somalia was near its peak as the entire region fell under the control of the Sultanah Maq'ad-i-Shah (Sultanate of Mogadishu) around 910 CE. The land of Somalia was swiftly becoming a major center for Islam.
In 894, the Jami'at al-Rashid (Rashid University) was completed on the commission of Sultan Hamid of Mogadishu. This center of learning greatly surpassed the madaris (schools) in the rest of the Islamic world and, at the time, was overshadowed only by the Bayt al-Hikma (House of Wisdom) founded by Caliph Musa in the Fatimid capital of Basra. Schools such as the Musaeum and the Technaeum in Rome had provided a model for these academic institutions.
The Sultan of Mogadishu was a patron of the arts and sciences, spending his kingdom's wealth on poets, artists, theologians, and other scholars from the rest of the Islamic world to encourage them to come to his city. His predecessors had improved upon the city of Mogadishu with the help of the Umayyad Caliph, creating a strong foundation for a cultural capital of Islam. As the foothold in Africa for the Umayyad Caliphate, the Sultanate would continue to grow culturally, economically, and politically for a century. In 963 CE, Mogadishu was placed beside Medina, Mecca, Bagdad, and Basra as one of the five pillars of the Ummah, showing the heights to which this great city soared in less than two centuries.
Hamid gave his city new international recognition and convinced Rome to send its first dignitatum somalianum (Ambassador to the Somali) in 50 years, despite Mogadishu being only a territory of the larger Umayyad Caliphate. At the same time, he convinced two philosophers from Alexandria to join the Rashid University to teach Roman astronomy and Roman chemistry. The Senate of Rome was not aware of this emigration, since its laws explicitly forbid scholars at the Musaeum from teaching non-citizens. One of the main advantages of the Rashid University was its large library of texts translated from Latin and Greek. A translator at al-Rashid could have a salary equivalent to 100,000 denarii, such was the perceived importance of scholarship in the Sultanate.
With its Western influence, al-Rashid created an Islamic philosophy based heavily on Aristotelianism. Many of its instructors taught Aristotelian metaphysics, logic, and geology alongside more contemporary literature covering Balerian chemistry and Ptolemaic astronomy. However, Mogadishan scholarship floundered in mathematics and did not possess a sophisticated methodology for original discoveries, instead relying on the practices of Aristotle. The philosophers brought from the Roman Empire introduced more progressive methods but they did not leave these ideas behind. Overall, these influences led to a tradition of Islamic philosophy remembered as Falsafa that stood apart from the philosophical schools of Basra.
A particular innovation from al-Rashid was the practice of granting a certificate that recognized that a person had received an education at the school. Although similar to the medical license given by medical academies in the Roman Empire, this was not a legal document that conferred a right to practice a certain skill or to teach a certain topic. Rather, the degrees given out by al-Rashid simply marked a person as an expert and as someone worthy of respect for his knowledge. This procedure of granting degrees further encouraged an environment of pursuing knowledge for its own sake. By contrast, Roman philosophers had an eminent practicality to their search for knowledge, with glorification of discovery being the exception rather than the rule.
Statistics for the Roman Empire of 916 CE
Population: 164 million (38.8% of humans)
Area: 9,894,000 km²
GDP: 15.8 billion denarii (~$269 billion US)
Treasury: 25 million denarii (~$425 million US)
Government revenue: 1.401 billion denarii (~$23.8 billion US), 8.87% of GDP
Military spending: 385 million denarii (27.5% of revenue or 2.44% of GDP)
Military size: 166,400 legionaries (26 legions), 217,000 auxiliaries, and 10,000 praetorian guards
Legislature: 1,000 senators
Christianity: >99% of citizens
|Reign of Cassius:|
1588 (835)-1642 (889)
|Reign of Calvinus:|
1642 (889)-1669 (916)
|Late Tyrian Dynasty:
1669 (916)-1750 (997)