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Alternate History

892-951 CE (Superpowers)

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Reign of Aulus:
1629 (876)-1645 (892)
Reign of Brutus:
1645 (892)-1704 (951)
Reign of Claudius II:
1704 (951)-1739 (986)

Before even setting himself onto the throne, Brutus was one of the most influential individuals in the Empire, next to only his older brother. On his 25th birthday he was named Governor of Judea, an extremely important position due to how highly the Jews are regarded in Roman society. On turning 29 he was given the position of Mensarius Superus, essentially the highest financial position in the Empire. It was only a year later that he was reported that his brother had died and he was the next in line. Excited to receive another "promotion" so soon after his last one, Brutus immediately began to do things to make his mark on his nation.

Civil Events

Through his experience as the Mensarius, Brutus knew a good deal about where money was being spent, and in what places this money was wasted, and so many times during his reign he worked to reduce costs and increase income for the government. The first move he made in this direction was in 892 itself when he decided to reduce the costs of cleaning the cities, something which went into the millions of Denarii every year and left thousands of Romans with a rather undesirable job. Furthermore, it was believed that damage to building infrastructure by vermin was a major cause in the level of destruction in the earthquake not even a century ago. His solution to this problem was as inventive as it was effective, even still being in use within nearly all major cities.

Since the 500's, a rather unorthodox pastime had grown popular among the rich and middle-class, this pastime was eagle training. Although considered to be extremely difficult, many people could now make their living capturing and raising eagles to be sold to potential buyers. At the same time, the less exclusive sport of falconry became extremely popular and by the late-600's Rome had an incredible infrastructure in regards to both sports. Brutus, an avid aquilarius (equivalent to falconer...but for eagles), thought that their ability to spot and capture prey so effectively made them the perfect solution to the ongoing vermin problem in the cities. He organized for almost 6,000 eagles to be permanently integrated into the 24 largest cities in the Empire from 892 to 904. At the same time, many of the minor cities had small falcon stations established for the same purpose.

Roman Eagle

Drawing of an Eagle seen over Rome (1341)

By the 920's virtually all other birds in the major cities were wiped out, and the number of eagles and falcons was cut back a bit in order to prevent them becoming the next major problem. Many still remained to continue maintaining the city, but all in all, a good deal of money was saved through these efforts (though their was some clean-up in the initial aftermath of their introduction). In addition to this, regulations were extended to all cities that required for more efficiency in building construction, with no rooms or spaces available for some animal to occupy.

In 898 he created the first public transport system that extended to the new province of Frigerra (Iceland). This consisted of two boat networks, one from the North coast of Lugdunensis (Normandy) and another from the West coast of Caledonia, near the city of Correlia. All profit generated by these and the other networks that were to follow went to the government, much like the other networks that already spanned most of the Empire. Other public boat networks were created in the Red Sea, connecting the provinces of Arabia and Axum; between Achaea and the provinces of Judea, Syria and Numidia; and one going from the province of Lusitania to Hibernia and Caledonia. Five primary hubs of public transportation were also organized, these are the cities of Carthage, Tyrus, Alexandria, Neapolis and Magdunum (near Correlia). Although back and forth pathways extended to almost 40 other cities, they only extended from one of these four hubs, greatly organizing the entire network. Most of these reforms were completed by 925 CE.

Public transportation was not the only way in which Brutus attempted integration of the Empire, as he had two other primary projects as well. Although the centuries old practice of placing public bulletins was still in heavy use, Brutus saw it as a rather flawed and overly costly system, even if they were being made in paper since the late-700's. Instead, taking advantage of the prosperous printing industry, Brutus commissioned for the construction of 40 printing houses in the cities of Rome, Constantinopolis, Neapolis, Tyrus, Carthage, Parisium, Londinium, especially Melita and about 15 others. Every week these would print an edition of the Nuntia Imperia, the first publicly circulated newspaper in the world. In the form of a thin book about 30 cm high and 20 cm across, most issues of the Nuntia were about 20 to 30 pages long, filled with news on virtually any happenings of importance throughout the Old World. The First Edition of the Nuntia Imperia was circulated on January 1st, 912 with the headline proclaiming the declaration of war on the Danish Kingdoms over an incident in Frigerra.

The general format of the Nuntia was to have the entire front page dedicated to the biggest story of the week. The next 8-14 pages would then be dedicated to other important news stories, ones that would not be considered normal occurrences (for instance, whilst the appointment of a new emperor might go into the Politicals, it would be part of those 10 to 16 pages). The next 2-3 pages were known as the Ludonus, and provided information on the weeks events at the Coliseum in Rome, major events that week in other amphitheatres, and any significant occurrences in the world of sports. Another 2-3 were called the Artanus and discussed art and events relating to art, the first of these pages usually being a feature on a major piece of art or architecture somewhere in the Empire. Next were 3-5 pages called Civiliam that provided information on any current government acts or motions, as well as usually a page or two that described the primary meeting of the Senate that week, something which usually occurred on a Saturday. There were also four other sections: the Peregranus (Major Foreign Events), the Forum (Business and market news), the Otianus (Vacation sights and other leisure related things) and lastly the Mortianus (Obituaries of important people).

His other attempt to better organize the Empire was to reduce the number of national holidays, only by a little bit though since the Romans loved their holidays to such a high degree. Considering most shops and businesses were open on these days anyways, owing to the large profits that could be made off of vacationers, this was only helpful to a small margin, and mostly just affected people working in the government, especially those in the Senate.

In 931 in Jerusalem another development was being made. The Academia added a new wing, the first in 50 years, to open up a whole new branch in modern medicine. With quarters for about 100 people, it was dedicated to the examination and treatment of the mentally insane. Special cases of mental disorders from around the Empire started to be brought there for both treatment and study, in the hopes of curing whatever was ailing them. Regardless of how effective it was, the structure was the first of its kind in the Roman world, an emulation of the Arabian maristans. Although it remained the only building of its time in the Empire for several decades, another was built, this time near Tyrus, in 972.

Military

With no new threats on the horizon, and virtually all old threats dealt with, the Empire went through one of its first periods of piece in a long time, with the doors of the Basilica of the Archangel Michael closing once more. The peace lasted from 890 to 911 CE, when contention arose over a new issue. It was not only the Romans who had discovered and were in the process of colonizing Frigerra, as the Danes had arrived there not too long after the Romans did. By chance, both settled opposite halves of the island and never encountered each other. However in 905 a Roman ship and a Danish ship encountered each other on their way to the island, and each had a tense moment before continuing on their path. When this happened a second time in 909, the Romans followed the Danes and discovered that there were others as well. Following a few years of inquiry, the Emperor finally confronted the Danish leader about this. Upon receiving is rather rude reply, Brutus officially declared war on the Danish Kingdoms over the island of Frigerra, and so by a common agreement, fighting would be restricted to the island and its surrounding waters.

Just in 912, some of the most extensive battles of the war took place, with the first move being made by the Danes, who followed a Roman ship to find their cities on the island. This was however a trap and the Danish longboats were led into some cliffs to the south end of the island. Here a pitched battle was fought with Roman quiqueremes and deceremes with their flamethrowers and Magna Ballistae absolutely destroying the Danes. A new tactice was however developed, since the Danes stood no chance against the Romans in straightforward battles at sea, they would instead ram them, thereby damaging both ships, and then make an attempt to board. Although the later was only effective on quiqueremes, due to their comparatively smaller size, it was the best the Danes could hope to do.

By 916 Danish spies did manage to discover the locations of the Roman cities and enough troops had been brought over that the land wars on the island could begin. Nearly 34,000 Danes were ready to fight and another 100,000 or so were ready to be brought over by ship. The Romans were far more content to slowly and steadily take over the island, safe within the defensive walls of their cities. One legion was still brought over in 915, but the situation was hardly considered to be on the scale of an emergency as of yet. Once large armies started to attack their cities, they did however bring in another legion, as well as create 2 auxiliary forces.

In 917, Roman engineers at the Naval Academy completed what was widely considered one of their greatest projects, the creation of a fortress at sea. Designated as the Amplavis, these hulking warships were of a design similar to OTL Galleons, though on a slightly large scale, almost the same size as the Ming Dynasty treasure ships here. In fact the first ship of this kind was about 110 m long, 56 m wide, larger than any ship ever made in history up to that point. In the design from the Naval Academy, standard armament for the Amplavis was about 16 Magna Ballistae on each side, in two rows, two on the bow, four on the stern and then one jet Greek fire on the bow as well as one on each side.

Not only was the Amplavis heavily armed, but its thick hardwood hull rendered arrow volleys on its side do nothing but decorate the ship. Only siege weaponry could damage it to a measurable degree. Furthermore, due to its enormous sails, which were pulled up in combat, and oar banks for maneuvering, the galleon could reach impressive speeds before engaging the enemy. A tactic developed before the ships even went into battle told the captains to simply direct it towards the enemy at full speed, firing all weapons. There was no practical defense against this tactic for the time being.

By 921 almost 40 Galleons were built by the Romans and the waters around Frigerra were unquestionably in their hands. Still, it was not until 927 that they enacted a policy of blockading the entire island. Nearly the entire Classis in that part of the world, as well as about 60 Galleons were used in this process. Meanwhile, the Galleon style of ship was fast becoming the most popular design in the entire Empire, and not just for long distance travel. Within the Mediterranean, all other types of boat were being replaced by Galleon-esque ships, far larger than their predecessors. These were being used in trade, transport and even leisure; by 926 all trading vessels involved in the Roman side of the Silk Trade were Amplavi.

The Xth Century became the Century of the Galleon, whilst by its end, the ship itself had already become almost symbolic of the Empire's power, in both foreign and domestic circles. More than 60% of internal trade, and 90% of external trade was done with Galleons; all public transport was done with Amplavi and the entire Roman Classis had about 120 of them in its arsenal, through the Bruti Naval Reforms between 920 and 938 CE. These were only added to the Navy, and so other ship designs remained in use, though to a slightly less significant degree. Furthermore, in 935, Brutus commissioned the construction of the Imperial Flagship, the Heart of Rome, a gargantuan 180 m long and 98 m wide ship with five flamethrowers and 90 Magna Ballista. As well, on the deck were two "Hammers", enormous mechanical devices which launched stone projectiles large enough to sink a ship with just one blow.

As for the war itself, the Romans continued to gradually built forts and cities in their plan to conquer the island, with the Danes losing thousands of lives in their attempts to curb their growth. By the 940's the Kingdoms were both literally and morally exhausted, and fighting had slowed down considerably by that time. Then, in 944, the Federations of Germania got into several small skirmishes along the Danish border, with each sides militia engaging in prolonged brawls. By the end of the year, war had been declared by both sides and the Kingdoms found themselves in another mess. That war would only end in 955 with the surrender of the Danes to the Federations and the loss of a good deal of land and resources.

The Icelandic Wars itself finally ended in 953 with the Treaty of Reykjavik, the city exchanged by the Vikings to the Romans as part of the terms of the treaty, and the location of its signing. Their reasons for bringing such a long war to a close are quite obvious, mainly consisting of exhaustion and new problems having arose.

Another important development of the war was the Celeballista ( invented 945), a significantly improved version of the Polybolos, perfectly suitable as an artillery piece. The new device had approximately the range of the Scorpio, and one fifth of the power of the Magna Ballista. Its main advantage however was its ability to fire one missile (a metal ball) every second. Furthermore, actual reloading was unnecessary as it worked through a combination design of a conveyor belt and chain powered by a small hand-cranked windlass. Although only one person was required to operate the turret, a second person was very useful to have to help with the attachment of additional ammunition belts.

Secondly, in 938 a man-portable version of Greek Fire was invented by engineers at the Military Academy in Carthage. Even though it did not utilize the "jet fire" design used on ships, its release of a cloud of flaming gas was equally effective, only a much smaller range. The design choice also allowed for much larger ammo capacity, as it could now be fired for about 12 seconds before needing to be refueled.

Mayan Conglomerate

In 897 CE Mayan engineers had completed their adaptation of the Native canoe vessel. The ship that they built was much larger, resembling the Galleys used in Ancient Greek and Roman societies. As these ships had much the same capabilities as galleys, they finally allowed the Mayans to expand outwards to the Caribbean Islands. Almost immediately, in 898, two ships were sent out to explore. In only a month or two they had already discovered what their astronomers concluded had to be new land. A settlement was established and soon trips were being made back and forth every few months to keep the colony more easily sustained. Soon though, the Mayan government banned conquest and the new colony seemed like it was going to wither away under the new laws. However, several bureaucrats found a loop hole and termed that this was not conquest, but a new form of expansion, which they simply termed "growth". The colony was therefore allowed to prosper, and soon relations were begun with some of the natives there.

They learned that the name of the island was Caobano, which the Mayans adapted into Nahuatl as Cubagano. With the arrival of the Romans, this would evolve into the Latin Cubagua. For the moment though, steady growth of the colonies continued apace and by 950, the entire west half of the island was under Mayan control. It became the first official Colonial State, and so received no membership in the Mayan Grand Council. All of this though was only the beginning of the Mayan Age of Colonization, and there was still much to come.

With the completion of their conquest of the Columbian West Coast, the Mayans position in their region of the world was fully secured. Forts and walls had been completed in the previous century to completely secure their borders and now it seemed that all external matters to the nation were of a completely separate world. Still, with all the natives within their territory pacified, and no longer required to give people for sacrifices, the Pyramid of the Sun was in danger of not being able to perform its function. 600 or so sacrifices were required every year, more when a grand event was occurring, and so a steady supply of victim was still needed. However, Mayan academics had informed the government that continued expansion was currently unadvised and might lead to too much instability in the state. Therefore, all conquest was to be put on hold, by law, until 992 CE.

Nevertheless, the issue of sacrificial victims was equally as important, to not go through with them might lead to ruin, as many people said. Luckily, in 893, some scouts discovered rich and prosperous tribes to the north of the Grand River, hunting some creatures that the Mayans had never before encountered, bison. Both these discoveries were intensely interesting to the government and would become the focus of almost the entirety of the next century.

To begin, in 894 some Sioux translators (Sioux were one of three protected tribes under Mayan law) and diplomats visited several Sioux tribe to learn more about the bison as a food source. By trading several stunning objects for the information, the Mayans learned virtually everything there was to hunting, butchering and preparing bison. With this information in hand, plans were put into place for the military to capture several thousand bison for domestication, finally provided the Conglomerate with a large stable source of meat, replacing the birds and snakes which had once dominated their meat producing industry. By the late 910's over 4,000 had been captured, and they were capturing an additional 400 every year. Further ahead to the 950's about 40,000 were already domesticated and almost 1,100 were being captured every year, with hundreds more being bred.

As for sacrificial victims, with the only prerequisite of avoiding the protected Apache and Sioux people, the Mayans had free reign over the Great Plains to take their required number of people at will. Often, several hundred more than necessary were taken for use as slave labor. By 902, the perfect plan was established, one which most modern societies would consider as completely inhuman. Every year, just before the Winter Solstice, the Mayan military would spend about a week travelling the Plains for victims in what was known by most tribes as The Culling. These people would be kept as slave labor, or in prisons until such time as a victim for sacrifice was required.

Within a few decades, the Culling became notorious within a region of several hundred thousand sq km, an uncontrollable fact of life for the native population. The worst part though was that to a village it seemed entirely random, some years they would have people be culled, other years they wouldn't. This was because the Mayans were very careful to not depopulate the tribes in fear of losing their source of victims. In effect, it was the first time in history that provides an example of one civilization farming other human beings. The process was so successful that it continued for the next six hundred years, though to lesser degrees when the Mayans were in the process of conquest elsewhere. Even once the Great Plains were conquered, areas where monitored constantly to allow for the continuation of the Cullings. Ultimately, sacrifice began to lose its importance, the second fall since the change in the Conglomerate religion to Ahauism in the 1000's. By the time of the Great War, the Cullings were long ended and so would close another chapter in the history of human brutality.


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Also see Geopolitics

Index
Reign of Aulus:
1629 (876)-1645 (892)
Reign of Brutus:
1645 (892)-1704 (951)
Reign of Claudius II:
1704 (951)-1739 (986)

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