Alternate History

916-997 CE (Superpowers)

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Reign of Calvinus:
1642 (889)-1669 (916)
Late Tyrian Dynasty:
1669 (916)-1750 (997)
Bellum Civile:
1750 (997)-1768 (1015)

Caesar Calvinus redirected the productive output of the empire toward its capital by repealing a number of benefits that had slowly accumulated for citizens in the provinces. Rome flourished from the redirection of state revenue but many senators were against neglecting the provinces, since most senators originated outside Italy. This opposition could not prevent the election of the successor that Calvin chose but its discontent with the present regime would have terrible consequences for the empire.

Caesar Gallianus (916-949)

Gaius Gallianus Honorius was selected by Caesar Calvinus as his successor for princeps civitatis (First Citizen of the State) to uphold authoritarian support for the patricianis (centralization) faction in the Senate. Rome seemed to have suffered during the dominant period of the rival foederalis (provincial citizensfaction and Calvin intended to ensure the continuation of his policies for the good of Rome. Unfortunately for his aspiration, Caesar Gallianus was forced to compromise with the foederales on several issues, such as allocating more state funds to Magna Graecia (Greece & Anatolia), where nearly a quarter of senators had ties. Throughout his reign, Gallianus had his influence curtailed by the Senate, an assembly that had been suppressed under the more despotic regime of Calvinus and whose members were pleased to be dealing with a more compromising princeps.

Influence of the Senate

During the reign of Calvin, most decisions of the central government were authorized by the princeps civitatis (first citizen) or one of his appointed magistrates. He enlarged the size of his Concilium Civium (Council of Citizens) to nineteen magistrates and had a host of prefectures and magistracies created on the spot to assist his regime. The efficiency of the Calvin administration is hard to argue with but the Senate was not pleased with the situation for the duration of his reign.

When Gallianus took power, he promised co-operation with the Senate and his comprises with the foederales (supporters of provincial citizens) mark one such attempt. Over a decade, the Senate gradually forced more severe compromises and convinced him to dismantle the Council of Citizens entirely, leaving intact only fourteen of its magistracies. In this way, the regular advising of the emperor ceased to be a duty of a number of magistracies, freeing them for more careful performance of their primary duties as part of the management of the empire.

In its place, a number of minor prefectures were created, offering more positions of power to senators and increasing the influence of the government. By 940, there were 204 magistracies available to senators:

  • 24 praefecti (overseers) who supervise events and standards for a specific activity within the empire.
  • 25 aediles provinciales (provincial treasury executives) who authorize public spending in the provinces.
  • 4 aediles curules (national treasury executives) who organize public spending in Rome.
  • 50 praetores provinciales (provincial chief justices) who preside over the highest public courts outside Rome.
  • 20 praetores curules (national chief justices) who preside over the public courts in Rome.
  • 34 propraetores (provincial governors) who administer a proconsular province by lottery of former praetors.
  • 28 curatores pro censoris (junior censors) who perform the more arduous tasks for the censors as training to become one.
  • 10 censores who are the authority on the possession of citizenship and the status of magistrates.
  • 12 magistres (high magistrates) who are the highest authority within a specific jurisdiction of the government.

In general, the list goes from lowest to highest auctoritas within the Senatus Romanus. A praefectus was a citizen of senatorial rank who enforced regulations and oversaw procedures on behalf of the Senate. Lower in rank, a curator usually denoted a citizen who received a commission to oversee the implementation or maintenance of some public action on behalf of the Senate. Usually, a number of curatores stood under the authority of a praefectus, executing the more detailed aspects of his duties. A commissioner would have the authority to hire redemptores, anyone hired temporarily on a public wage to perform some task for the Senate.

In some cases, a commissioner could be a senator and some offices even required a senator to fulfill their jobs. For example, the management of government buildings (basilicae) often fell to a curator of senatorial rank, e.g. the national archives (tabularia). Also, the title of praefectus sometimes denoted a citizen of any rank who was tasked with overseeing some process on behalf of the Senate, although this role had gradually died away as different government functions fell under permanent offices.

On a temporary basis, the Senate often appointed its members to a collegium (committee or in other contexts, any association of citizens by law). Drafting laws was almost always done by committee, as often was setting regulations and resolving disputes. When a senatorial vote was close, each side could agree to elect five representatives for a decemviri (ten man committee) tasked with reaching a compromise. Permanent committees include the decemviri argenta, also known as the tractatores nummismata (Handlers of the Coins), who are selected from among the most renowned merchants to monitor the fiscal policies of the Senate.


Essential to the efficiency of the Senate were its praefecturae (prefectures). Hundreds of commissioners and thousands of civil servants fell under the purview of senatorial overseers. This system permitted an astounding degree of control for Rome that had reached its zenith during the reign of Gallianus. Among these offices were the following prefectures:

  • praefectus annonae porticae, who organized the shipping routes of grain for the public dole, enforced regulations on grain imports in the great harbor of Portus, supervised the praefecti in Carthage and Alexandria, and oversaw the transport of grain from the harbors to granaries in Rome (from which an aedilis curulis would distribute grain to the urban poor).
  • praefectus annonae alexandrinae, who oversaw the preparation of grain in Alexandria for shipment throughout the empire, created records of grain stored and grain shipped from Alexandria, and oversaw the storage of grain in Alexandrian granaries, checking for proper pest control and shutting down supplies during the outbreak of a disease.
  • praefectus annonae africanae, who performed the same tasks for the shipment of grain from Carthage.
  • praefectus argentarius, who approved license requests for banks throughout the empire, enforced regulations on interest rates and debt limits, and oversaw the operation of the mints.
  • praefectus tabularius, who oversaw the curatores of the public archives in the capital and approved spending to collect new documents for the libraries in Rome.
  • praefectus justimitarum, who approved petitions for printing licenses and copies of the public book register from any printing house in the empire, and oversaw the curatores of the public archives for this register, passing on requests from authors for their new publications to be reviewed by the censores or curatores pro censores.
  • praefectus regulae urbanae, who enforced the regulations of the updated lex magna urbana in cities and managed the public records on management problems in the coloniaemunicipia, and urbes.
  • praefectus aquiferium, who organized maps of the vast network of aqueducts throughout the empire, supervised the periodic maintenance of aqueducts, and oversaw the organization of local distribution networks for aqueducts in cities.
  • praefectus itinerarium, who approved changes to the public transportation network and oversaw the analysis of its traffic records for the regular re-organization of its routes.
  • praefectus vehiculorum, who supervised the couriers of the cursus vehicularis and organized postal routes.
  • praefectus viarum, who oversaw the maintenance of viae publicae (public highways) throughout the empire.
  • praefectus vigilum, who supervised the spartoliani (fire departments) and vigiles (watchmen) in the capital and advised other cities on maintaining a fire department.
  • praefectus comitanum, who advised cities on maintaining their auxilia comitana (town guard) and supervised the allocation of funds from the Senate to these forces.
  • praectus praetorium, who supervised the praetorian guard on behalf of the Senate and oversaw the praetorium in Rome.
  • praefectus censitorium, who supervised the censitores (census-takers) and organized the distribution of censitoria (census offices) in cities throughout the empire.
  • praefectus urbanus, who coordinated the actions of the praefectus praetoriumpraefectus vigilumpraefectus argentarius, praefectus aquiferiumpraefectus tabularius, and praefectus annonae porticae for the management of affairs in the capital.
  • praefectus collegianum, who supervised the guilds in the capital and mediated their disputes before they came to violence.
  • praefectus aerarium, who supervised the inflow and outflow of coins through the aerarium stabulum (national treasury), organized the financial records of the treasury for the quaestores who work in Byzantium, and sent envoys with copies of financial records for the senatorial vaults in Rome.
  • praefectus docatio alexandrinae, who supervised the studies and writings of scholars, poets, etc. at the Musaeum of Alexandria and determined the allocation of funds to the institution with the agreement of the Senate.
  • praefectus docatio africanae, who supervised the curriculum at the Academia Bellica and determined the allocation of funds to that military school and the associated Technaeum.
  • praefectus docatio athenae, who supervised the studies and writings of scholars at the Lyceum of Athens and determined the allocation of funds to that geological school.

Over the reign of Gallianus, the size of the officium publicum senati romani (civil staff of the Roman Senate) became formally separated into distinct officia (better encapsulated by the term departments). Almost every magistrate came to manage his own officium and the total number of civil servants in the capital rose above 11,000 apparitores. However, unlike earlier enlargements of the bureaucracy, this expansion caused a correspondingly large increase in the effectiveness of the Senate, albeit at inevitable but minor costs to efficiency. To a large degree, this revolutionary increase in how effectively Rome could govern its empire was a reflection of the ubiquity of paperlow cost of printing, and sophistication of political practice.

Caesar Arcadius (949-956)

Although his reign was short, Caesar Arcadius is an emperor whose name most Romans remember. He ruled during a revolution in the field of astronomia and devoted himself to encouraging these changes. Unfortunately, his successor did not share his love of natural philosophy and the brief period of endorsement for astronomy (hundreds of millions of denarii over six years) ended only a few years after it began.

Astronomical discoveries

By the 10th century, lens making was a major craft in BelgicaItalia, and Africa Proconsularis, although no province had a larger glass or lens making industry than Aegyptus. The lens maker Macro of Tanis invented an instrument for magnifying objects at a distance, which he called a farseeing lens (speculum distaviderum). First assembled in 919, his instrument consisted of a cheap copper tube inside which a convex and a concave lens were aligned. Distant objects were magnified almost three times by his instrument and he worked hard to market it to navigators through his guild of lens makers. By the late-920's, distavidera had gained enough popularity that scholars at the Musaeum were studying their behavior for optical science.

Gregorios of Anthylla

An astronomer known as Gregorios of Anthylla worked in the Musaeum at this time and saw the potential for the distaviderum to facilitate his observations of the sky. A year after building his first distaviderum, Gregory had achieved magnifications of more than a factor of 30, permitting far more detailed studies of the stars. His discoveries revolutionized Roman astronomy.

First, Gregory noticed that the planetae (wandering stars) became larger under magnification, in contrast to any other star in the night sky and in a manner similar to the moon. In particular, he confirmed the observations of Alderon of Aelana (714-780) that Venus had phases similar to the moon. With his instruments, Gregory recorded the period of these phases. The accuracy of his observations of Venus and its phases pushed him to argue in 933 that Venus must orbit the Sun, followed shortly by arguments of the same kind about the motion of Mercury. In 937, Gregory published On the Sphere of the Sun as a comparison between the predicted motion in his system where the Sun revolved around the Earth but the planets revolved around the Sun and the observed positions of the Sun and planets presented in the famous Index of Stars.

Astronomers were initially hostile to the Gregorian system, criticizing its proposed motion of the celestial spheres themselves. However, some astronomers celebrated the removal of epicycles and the capacity of this system to be matched with observation under the right parameters. By the 950's, the community of astronomers had become more accustomed to using distavidera and were corroborating the observation that Venus revolved around the Sun. There was little opposition to a geo-heliocentric system once the majority of the astronomical community had seen the evidence for themselves.

Furthermore, the reputation of Gregorios had been elevated by that time by the praise heaped upon him by the Roman Senate, in honor of his designs for a distaviderum. Receiving a stunning villa in Carthage and a position at the prestigious Technaeum, he continued his astronomical work while pursuing research into better farseeing tubes. However, he was beaten in the latter regard by optical philosophers at the Musaeum, who, in 951, created the first optical instrument that used two convex lenses. Their work was the result of a sophisticated theory of refractive telescopes (teleskopos was another name for the distaviderum). The new telescope of the scholars Caros and Dorianus replaced the concave eyepiece in the Gregorian telescope with a convex one. Unfortunately, a Dorian telescope presents an inverted image of whatever is being observed. For this reason, the Technaeum preferred to the Gregorian telescope despite its narrow field of viewworse eye relief, and relatively blurry image. In general, the Technaeum settled on telescopes with magnification around a factor of 12 for most purposes.

Second, through collaboration with astronomers sent to Corellia, Gregory calculated the distance of Mars at its brightest point, using the parallax between an observation in Caledonia (Scotland) and an observation in Aegyptus. His result for the distance between Earth and Mars during an opposition of Mars and the Sun was 78 million km (about 96% accurate based on the time of year of his measurements). Using the same technique and scrinilla obscurae (pinhole cameras), Gregory attempted to find the distance from the Earth to the Moon, arriving at a range of 110 million km to 160 million km. His calculations went against the even simpler measurements of Hipparchus of Nicaea and were confirmed by another of his contemporaries a year later. Also, the result 149 million km from the Eratosthenes of Cyrene fell within this range.

His efforts to use correspondence between distant observers to make astronomical measurements mirrored earlier efforts to get more accurate measures for important astronomical figures. Around 830, astronomers in Alexandria and Nicomedia calculated for the radius of the Earth the amount 6378 km from a circumference around 40,074 km. For the radius of the Moon, some astronomers found in 933 that it was between 1/3.3 and 1/3.6 of the radius of the Earth, giving a mean of 1849 km. After the work of Gregorios on solar distance, astronomers used telescopes to repeat the observations of Aristarchus of Samos to find a ratio of between 370 and 420 for the Earth-Sun distance to the Earth-Moon distance. On the whole, these measurements stood as the most accurate estimates of astronomical distances until the advent of a proper astronomical theory and were only able to be made using clepsabulae (hourglasses) to coordinate measurements with precise timing.

A third major discovery of Gregory was published toward the end of his life, reflecting a slow shift in his views on the heavens. During his nearly three decades with distavidera, Gregory had observed a number of peculiar features of the solar system. On its own, the similarities between the Moon and the planets - in terms of being larger than the fixed stars and sometimes having their own phases - was not disconcerting to the belief in perfect celestial spheres. However, observations of the solar surface revealed spots that moved across its surface.These sunspots had been noticed earlier by astronomers when particularly large ones were visible to the naked eye in 813 CE. Some astronomers dismissed these observations as transits of planets but their existence had called into question the immutable and perfect nature of the Sun. Gregory and some contemporaries found that sunspots were exceptionally common phenomena. These recent observations showed a rotation of the Sun and confirmed that the surface of the Sun changed over time, providing definitive evidence against the perfection of the heavens.


By 955, the astronomical community was in conflict with itself. Some astronomers stuck to the belief that the planets and stars were driven by the natural motion of aether. However, the weight of evidence slowly pushed astronomers back to the theory of Pistorius Mica, that celestial bodies were governed by the same force of gravity as objects on Earth. The latter view did not appeal to astronomers at the time because of its implications:

  1. If the stars and planets revolved around the Sun under the pull of gravity, then the Sun must have a weight.
  2. If the stars and planets were not pulled toward the Earth, then the Sun must weigh substantially more than the Earth.
  3. If the Sun weighs more than the Earth, then the Sun must be even less easily moved than the Earth.
  4. If the Sun weighs more than the Earth, then the Sun would not revolve around the Earth.

As a result, adherents to universal gravitation were forced to accept a heliocentric solar system rather than the now popular Gregorian solar system. Furthermore, a number of the above conclusions went directly against widely accepted astronomical beliefs and explanations. Neither school would achieve dominance over the other for some time. Eventually, the weight of evidence that the Sun and other celestial bodies were imperfect would force the more widespread agreement of astronomers on the truth of heliocentrism, but this shift did not dominate the field until about 1010 CE, since the Gregorian system made identical predictions about the actual motion of planets as far as the precision of both models permitted.


Arcadius accepted the requests of Gregory to build an observatory on his workshop in Carthage. The design mirrored the Altum Astrarium (Astronomical Tower) in Alexandria but had a long telescope fixed to its rings and was slightly larger. The tower itself stood a full fourteen meters taller than the great Alexandrian observatory. A similar tower was built in Rome in 952 on the Collis Capitolinus, specifically the hill opposite the Capitoline Temple of the Church.

After Arcadius, the construction of observatories continued under less extravagant patronage. Astronomers were realizing that a refractive telescope suffered loss of sharpness as the diameter of the lens increased. In 961, a scholar at the Musaeum explained the loss of sharpness as the separation of colors in the lens, similar to the dispersion of colors in a prism. This chromatic aberration could be mitigated by increasing the focal length of the lens. Since larger diameter lenses provided greater magnifications, astronomers sought longer focal lengths, where every doubling of diameter required a corresponding quadrupling of focal length to maintain the sharpness of the image.

By 997, the largest telescope was a 32 meter long steel tube that connected a 150 mm objective lens to a convex eyepiece, built by permission of the city of Athens on its acropolis. This massive instrument was contained in a small dome near the Parthenon and was under the supervision of the Faustian Academy of New Platonists. Construction of this colossal instrument was brought about by the governor of Achaia after the passing of a cometa (comet) in 989 drew nationwide attention from the public sphere. Astronomers had predicted the recurrence of this comet during its last passing in 912, making the connection using records of a similar comet that passed at regular intervals in 684760, and 837. With its latest appearance, the comet received the nickname of Cometa Marii (Marius' Comet) [Halley's Comet].

Arcadian calendar

One other major contribution of Gregorios was his work on estimating a correction to the slowly diverging Julian Calendar. Since the end of the Republic, Romans had followed a twelve month calendar consisting of 365 days with a single leap day every four years. This calendar had the Summer solstice on Martius 21 and the Winter solstice on December 21 but these dates had been drifting away from the solstices (as had the equinoxes) over the last millennium.

When Caesar Glaucinus died, astronomy was a popular topic in Rome and patronage of astronomers had reached its zenith. The replacement of the geocentric Ptolemaic system with the geo-heliocentric Gregorian system had made Gregorios famous and elevated the reputation of astronomers. Gregory himself traveled frequently to Rome when not working in his new workshop in Carthage and he had even shown the emperor how to peer through a telescope to see the surface of the Moon. Caesar Arcadius had a keen interest in astronomy and was aware of the issue of calendar drift. He resolved to mark the 1000 year anniversary of the Julian Calendar by having the famous Gregorios create an updated calendar for him to present to the public.

On the morning of Saturnalia in 954 the emperor began the Calendar Festival, a week-long celebration for the new calendar, and announced the changes to the calendar to the people of Rome. Heralds and messengers conveyed this information at the same time to the rest of the empire. The length of the festivities represented the seven days that were skipped by the new calendar, with Januarius 1 of 955 being recognized as both Saturnalia (Christomissa) for the previous year and the day of the new year. Although Caesar Arcadius would die the following year, his efforts for the reform are immortalized in the Arcadian calendar.

Caesar Theophilus (956-972)

Adopted from an Italian family, Johannis Annaeus Theophilus was one of the most senior members of the patricianes. His refusals to cooperate with the provincial faction in the Senate aggravated the friction between the princeps and Senatus. When he chose a young, hot-blooded senator of his own faction as a successor, Theophilus enraged his opponents to the point that there were growing rumors of conspiracies against the life of his chosen successor, culminating in a successful plot against his life. The emperor was forced at crossbow point to adopt Marius Junius Silanus, a well-connected German member of the foederales.

Second Fitna

After the first Fitna (Islamic Civil War) in 660-668, the Ummah (Islamic community) had settled into a relatively stable balance of power between the largely Persian Fatimid Caliphate, whose leaders were descended from the Prophet Muhammed through his daughter Fatima, and the Arabian Umayyad Caliphate, whose leaders were selected in traditional fashion by the Majlis al-Shura. Although more militarily powerful, the Fatimids were plagued by conflicts with the Turkish khanates from the northeast and the Sarmatian Empire through the mountain passes of the northwest. While the Umayyads disdainfully looked upon the Fatimid caliphate as a "nation of malawi", the latter was the primary center of Islamic scholarship and was technologically superior, with greater access to Indian steel for weapons as well as the benefits of traditional Persian knowledge.

Everything changed in 964 when the Kingdom of Khazaria formally fell to the growing Magyar Qaganate that had been slowly tearing the Khazar dominion apart from the inside since the early-10th century. As Ashur the Conqueror had temporarily done for the Khazars, sacral prince Gazen usurped the power of his companion war chief, bringing the Magyar tribes under a single leader. His son Pajk rebelled against Khazar suzereignty in 941, earning himself the historic name of Pajk the Liberator. In a short time, Pajk claimed most of the Khazar territories in the Caucasus region, bringing his territory up to the mountains themselves. Still, his center of power was on the Oceanus Hyrcanianus (Caspian Sea), limiting the ability of his people to control the far corners of the kingdom he had carved for them. Taking the title of Nagyfedejelem (High King), Pajk worked to separate his administration from the vassalage his people experienced under the Khazars.

With the frontier against the Turkish khaganates blocked by an Islamic rump state under King Nasur III, the entire northern frontier of the Fatimid Caliphate ceased to be a contentious border for the Islamic dynasty. These events coincided with a period of largely unquestioned rule for the Islamic elite of the Persian caliphate, after nearly three centuries of conversion to Islam and assimilation to Persian culture. With stable internal politics and a secure northern border, Caliph Abul-Hassan of the Fatimids turned his attention toward war with his Muslim neighbors to the south.
Fatimid Caliphate (994 AD)

Fatimid Caliphate at its height (994 CE)

The Second Islamic Civil War lasted from 967 to 981, ending when the Umayyad Caliph abdicated and the Majlis was dissolved rather than electing a successor. Although the Fatimids soon gave up parts of Arabia farther from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, effectively all of the Islamic cities in Asia were united under one kingdom for the first time since the Rashidun Caliphate. During the upheaval of the Fitna, the Sultanate of Maqadisha broke political ties with Asian Muslims. By this time, the Sultan of Maqadisha had one of the largest fleets in the world, protecting the trade interests of his kingdom, originally on behalf of the Umayyad Caliph but now at the liberty of the Sultan (a title that was made to signify an independent monarch rather than vassal).

Although the Somali of the sultanate were left to their own devices with a treaty signed by Caliph Abul, the death of the caliph in 986 left power in the hands of his son Hassan, who was insulted by the independence of the Somali Muslims from the one, true, and sovereign nation of Islam. His invasion of Somalia (987-992) saw the swift capture of the Maqadisha and the capitulation of the other Somali cities to the forces of a united Islamic community.

East Asian Islam

During its conversion of Persia, the Fatimid dynasty slowly pushed into West India and ChorasmiaCaliph Hussain ibn Ja'far (841-864) had the most success in this regard, conquering the ancient Afrighid Kingdom and extending the domain of the Fatimids to Bactria and the River Oxus. Some of the first Fatimid caliphs had achieved similar conquests but those of Hussain would last until the usurpation of Transoxana in 896 by the Persian deqhan Nasur Chomin. The Nasurid dynasty only grew in influence and was approaching its height during the Second Fitna, largely due to its close military ties with the Fatimids.

Over time, the Nasurids influenced the nearby tribal kingdoms of the descendants of the Afrighid dynasty, converting them to Islam by the 11th century. In some sense, the Afrighids were vassals of the Nasurids, serving as mercenaries against the steppe Turks of the far north but at some times, the Afrighids were a threat, demanding harsh treatment by Nasurid kings.

Meanwhile, the farthest reach of Islam into India was the creation of the Sultanate of Mansura (Sindh) founded as a vassal state by Caliph Mahmun ibn Hussain (867-889). A loose alliance of Indian kingdoms led by the Gurjara Empire retaliated against the repeated expeditions of Mahmun into Northern India. After several victories, the coalition repelled Mahmun's armies up to the great Sindh River (Indus) and the Gurjara Emperors fortified the frontier against future incursions. However, the fall of the Gurjara by the end of the 10th century left only a handful of small kingdoms in the path of the Fatimids.

East-West trade

Trade between Southern India and Islamic cities flourished throughout the early period of Islam. Most cities along the southern coast of India had small Muslim communities, by the 8th century, that tended to dominate the trade with the caliphates. Muslims were united by Sharia, part of which called for common commercial law and procedure, and did business most easily with other Muslims. Nevertheless, Islamic custom and law had ample room for trading with non-Muslims and even Hindu or Buddhist suppliers from India engaged in extensive trade with the Islamic world.

Ivory, cottonspicessteel, porcelainincensejewels, and silk were the primary trade goods shipped from the Orient to the Roman and Islamic worlds. In particular, Romans ignored Indian steel, preferring to procure ingots from elsewhere in the empire. Popular spices in Rome include piper niger (black pepper), from the Southeast Asian archipelagos; cassia (cinnamon), directly from Taprobane to avoid dependence on indirect trade through Somalia; cyminum (cumin) from Syria, Persia, and India; crocus (saffron), from Persia and throughout the Roman Empire; capsicum (bell peppers), from India; coriandrum, from Greece; and caryum (cloves), from the Southeast Asian archipelagos. Prices varied from the relatively cheap black pepper at a denarii a pound (i.e. 1 Dn per 329 grams of spice) to the expensive nutmeg often at over a hundred denarii per Roman pound.

For its part, Rome had many goods to offer the Orient. Roman glass was highly prized in India and now China, where the art of making glass had nowhere near the sophistication of glassmaking in Aegyptus and Gallia. While panes of glass for home windows were not commonly traded, lenses and vases were extremely popular items. In the last century, a prominent glassmaking industry developed around the Italian city of Venezia - not to be confused with the Slavic Venetia - from the collection of pebbles of pure silica on a nearby island. Venezia was the first and finest producer of crystalline glass (lead glass) in the world.

Aside from glass, Roman merchants traded in Roman rugs, alongside other high quality textiles; furs, from the northern reaches of the empire; metal ingots, although merchants were forbidden to trade Pistorian steel; and wine or grapes. In general, prices of most commodities relative to the cost of grain or gold were lower in the Roman Empire than in India, Arabia, Persia, or China, sometimes making mundane Roman goods such as cloth, fruit, ingots, jars, etc. competitive in price even over long trade routes.


A new culinary trend began in Egypt around 960 CE, after spreading from local practices in the province of Aethiopia. Some locals had discovered that a certain bean produced a remarkable beverage when roasted and left in boiling water. In Alexandria, the elite had taken to calling it mescula (roughly meaning the Mixture). By the end of the 10th century, mescula (coffee) had become very popular in Italy, Greece, and Egypt and a few mercinae (shops) would serve coffee to clients. The first mercina mesculana (coffee shop) opened in Alexandria in 967 as a place where clients were served coffee and given space to sit down for discussions. Scholars at the Musaeum frequented these shops, finding the drink stimulating for lengthy philosophical or political discourse.

By 986, the first coffee shop had opened in Rome, becoming a popular destination for senators to discuss recent debates or share political news. Only a decade later, the poet and satirist Erastus commented on the effect of coffee and coffee shops upon the political environment of the empire, blaming coffee shops for helping spark the civil war. In short, these shops were the perfect setting for meeting regularly with conspirators in small groups to hash out plans without the meetings drawing any special attention. Dinner parties were infeasible since there would always be wives, slaves, and often other families nearby who were out of the loop and gardens had already become known for conspiracies, making them the least desirable for actual conspiring. A coffee shop was spread out enough that conversations could be had in private, giving the perfect excuse to meet on short notice with very specific friends, and was open enough compared to gardens to avoid the chance of someone secretly listening into conversations.

Caesar Marius (972-997)

Starting with the support of the Senate, Marius focused on the expansion of Roman interests in Germania, by buying land for the state and funding construction in the larger German cities. Marius began to spend most of his time in Germany and drifted away from his allies in the Senate.

Latin alphabet

After a millennium as the dominant script, the alphabet employed by writers of the Lingua Latina had scarcely evolved. There was the addition of a letter for the consonant sound of "I' in the 6th century and the effective acknowledgement of the Tironian symbol that signifies the sound for et (and) during the steady adoption of the printing press in the 9th century but otherwise the Latin alphabet was even more stagnant than the spoken language that it represented.

[symbol for et is represented in the table below as an ampersand "&" although the letter looks more like a T that is missing the right line and the symbol for the consonant of i is in the table as "J" although the letter looks more like the lower half of an E]

Both of the above modifications to the Latin alphabet were slow adoptions as a result of cultural pressure, especially from the large Societas Latinae (Latin Institute) and the agreement that the new symbol was more convenient. One modification that had a more top-down introduction to the alphabet was the efforts of Marius to re-introduce the Claudian letters into the Latin alphabet.

The more prominent of these letters was the digamma or consonant sound of "V", as in the word "villa". By contrast, the original symbol of "V" would continue to signify its old vowel sound as in the word "Julivs". This letter looks like an "F" rotated half of a full circle. The other letter added by Marius from the Claudian letters was the antisigma or the letter for "PS" or "BS" as in the common terms "plebs" or "urbs". This one looks like the letter "C" mirrored on itself but connected at the spines. Enforcing the use of these letters was easy through regulations on the types available in printing houses, although it would take decades before the letters became commonly used in handwritten Latin.

Letter A B C D E & F G H
Latin Pronunciation /a:/ /be:/ /ke:/ /de:/ /e:/ /et/ /ɛf/ /ge:/ /ha:/
Letter I J K L M N O P ƆC
Latin Pronunciation /i:/ /g/ /ka:/ /ɛl/ /em/ /ɛn/ /o:/ /pe:/ /bs/
Letter Q R S T V X Y Z
Latin Pronunciation /ku:/ /ɛr/ /ɛs/ /te:/ /u:/ /wi:/ /iks/ /i: 'grajka/ /'ze:ta/

After these changes, the Latin alphabet contained 27 letters, alongside several typographic shorthands to denote certain sounds. The success of Marius in adding two letters to the alphabet would also set a precedent for future emperors - demonstrating that the state could dictate the customs of the mother tongue of Rome using the influence of the Latin Institute. For this purpose, Marius had expanded the reach of the Institute. By the 10th century, hundreds of ludi litterarii (elementary schools) in Italy, Sicily, and major cities in the surrounding provinces were owned by the Institute. In 977, Marius had a law passed by the Senate that required any ludus litterarius in a colonia (the more regulated cities in the empire) to be licensed by the Institute. Toward the middle period of the 11th century, elementary schools in settlements with the status of urbs faced the same requirements.

Being licensed by the Institute forced a school to follow certain rules for what could and could not be taught, specifically to enforce certain orthodox aspects of speaking and writing in Latin. Schools were also forced to abide by the lexicon of words approved by the Institute, allowing it to determine the Latin spelling learned by children throughout the empire.

Zhao dynasty

Emperor Zu of Zhao (971-994) unified China by conquering the remaining lands that had splintered from Tang China during the tumultuous Thirteen Kingdoms period. In Kaifeng, Zhao Zu established a strong central government and promoted the civil service examination system that had given earlier dynasties their competent bureaucracies. As Rome had done under Sulla, Zu sent cartographers throughout his empire to create detailed maps of every province for an atlas and improved upon the grand canal going through the capital by commissioning engineers who ended up inventing a pound lock to ensure safer passage.

After the unification of China, Zu fought the Northern Khitans in an attempt to retake traditional Chinese territories from barbaric steppe peoples. In their decentralized state, the Khitans were soundly defeated by the united forces of Imperial China, allowing Zu to reclaim the lands around the Kingdom of Goryeo (Korea). From 982 to 991, Zu devoted a great deal of his time toward the political assimilation of these lands, stamping out any remnants of earlier authorities. The northernmost lands that were owned by the Khitan merely broke away, since China was uninterested in conquering them. His efforts and those of his successors brought Northern China closer in culture and development of the rest of the empire.

As a former general, Zhao Zu wanted to bolster the military, a move that members of his court advised against due to China's long history of having generals usurp power from the Emperor of China (皇帝). Proposed measures to hold back the risk of rebellion were unfortunately detrimental to its effectiveness. For example, the Zhao Court advised that the successful generals of the war for unification should be stripped of their power and that commanders should only hold temporary positions to avoid the risk of troops becoming attached to their generals. Regaining the vast plains of the north helped Zu restore the horse supplies of his empire, building on the quantity and quality of mounts from the other horse-producing regions of China.

The army designed by Zu emphasized two types of soldiers: arbalists and cavalry. Imitating the Tang, Zu built his army on heavy cavalry whose regiments by the end of his reign incorporated hundreds of thousands of men. As support, the army had a similar number of crossbows. In the famous Riverside Battle of the Khitan-Zhao War, the Chinese took out a third of the Khitan cavalry in a single volley that consisted of over a hundred thousand crossbow bolts. Although crossbows always constituted a large portion of the Chinese army, successful actions such as this volley continued to cement its importance as a primary implement of war. The Zhao Army on the death of Emperor Zu reached a size of 620,000 enlisted soldiers, out of which only a fifth were infantry and almost a third were arbalists or horse archers.

Sina et Roma

Beside his internal reforms, Zhao Zu sought closer relations with the famous Western civilization of Da Qin (大秦 or Rome). Gold and steel from the Roman Empire had assisted in his rise to power and its goods had become highly sought in Chinese ports ever since Roman ships became capable of sailing the great distance to China. Gifts of gold and silk were lavished upon the dignitata sina (Roman ambassadors to the Chinese) and a lavish mansion was furnished for them near the imperial palace in Kaifeng. An exchange of military knowledge was arranged in 979 between Zu and the Roman governor of Nubia.

For their part, the Chinese showed off a battalion of fire lancers (火槍, gunpowder tubes) and a regiment of chu-ke nu (諸葛弩, repeating crossbows) but Roman engineers demonstrated their own polytrahos (repeating crossbow), emphasizing its higher rate of fire, deeper penetration, and larger magazine relative to the Chinese weapon. The Roman weapon sufficiently impressed the Emperor of China that he offered various exchanges for the instruction of his own engineers in its construction. Returning from the Roman Senate in 981 with a response, the governor received a formula for black powder, instruction on making fire lances, and a payment of around 3,200 kg of gold.

Over their time in contact, Roman and Chinese engineers exchanged a great deal of information, although the Senate was careful to withhold information on certain fronts. Over time, the Romans learned to use quicksilver (mercury) in the liquid escapements of horologia (clocks), to count the time using candle or incense clocks, and to plant seeds using a multi-tube seed drill. The latter device sparked an agricultural revolution in the Roman Empire, starting with its use in Egyptian farms around 1020 CE. Although the Chinese seed drill was fragile, Roman engineers would tackle its improvement over several years to build a costly but durable seed drill within thirty years of the original introduction of the technology.

Meanwhile, the medical communities of Roma and China participated in an unprecedented exchange of knowledge, one that far outpaced the dissemination of machinery due to the direct support given by both emperors. Chinese medicine and texts detailing its preparation became an integral part of Roman medicine, supplementing the regimina (therapy) and chirurgia (surgery) that constituted most medicina (treatment) in public hospitals. At the same time, Roman surgeons taught their craft to the Chinese and medical texts from the time of Galen were given to their doctors. On the whole, both societies benefitted enormously from the closer contact between their physicians. By the late 11th century, materials for Chinese medicines had become the most common trade good from China to Rome, prompting a crisis as its status had risen during a time of increasing mercantilism in Rome.

Lastly, the black powder whose formula was taught to the engineers of the Nubian governor had spread to the scholars at the Musaeum of Alexandria by the early 11th century. As a novelty substance, with unique properties, black powder spurred a new interest in the science of mixtures. In particular, Rome was far behind China in its understanding of sulphur and its many uses, as shown by the lack of this powder and the Chinese invention of sulphur matches around 1010. This once humble substance became the most heavily studied material among philosophers.

Roman provinces

Over the life of the Roman Empire, the administrative divisions have steadily evolved at the whim of emperors and senatorial groups, creating a bipartite system of organizing their territories. The highest layer of this system is the separation of regions into client nations (foederatae) or federations of provinces. Each foederata is governed by a Consul Gentium and has a special status in its patronage from Rome, compared to the client kingdoms (foederati) that only owe tribute and military service. In this sense, a foederata is distinguished by its possession of coloniae (cities of citizens), its participation in distinctly Roman systems of government, and the option of acquiescence to Roman law - in addition to the payment of tribute to Rome.
Roman Empire 990 CE

Administrative divisions of the Roman Empire

On the whole, Romans refer to this state of affairs as the Senatus Populusque Romanus (SPQR), as a type of state distinct from a regnum (kingdom). As a country, the populus (republic) of Rome was truly a mixture of political systems: the princeps civitatis (emperor) provided a monarchical element; the Senatus Romanus provided an aristocratic element; and the comitia centuriata (popular assemblies) as well as the tribuni plebes (tribunes of the plebs) provided a democratic element. These organs of government meshed with the equally mixed modes of territorial administration, using appointment of propraetores (civilian governors) or legati (military governors) and public election of consulares to govern Roman provinces. This complex system was the result of millennia of development since the overthrow of a monarchy in 509 BCE. No other state had a more sophisticated government, although the Romans still had a great deal to learn about bureaucratic procedure and appointment from the Chinese.

By the reign of Caesar Marius, there were 16 foederatae and 50 provinciae in the Roman Empire:

  • Italia, also known as Patria (the Fatherland), consisting of SiciliaSardinia, CorsicaMelitaAlpesRaetia, and Noricum.
  • Gallia, consisting of Gallia NarbonensisGallia Lugdunensis, and Gallia Aquitania.
  • Belgica, consisting solely of Belgica.
  • Magna Britannia, consisting of BritanniaCaledonia, and Hibernia.
  • Germania, consisting of Germania VarinensisGermania MarconensisGermania Gothica, and Cimbria.
  • Dacia, consisting of DaciaMoesiaSarmatia, and Odrysia.
  • Illyria, consisting of Dalmatia and Pannonia.
  • Magna Graecia, consisting of AchaeaEpirus, Macedonia, ThraciaPhrygiaLyciaBithynia, CretaGalatia, and Pontus.
  • Syria, consisting of SyriaCilicia, Cyprus, and Cappadocia.
  • Judaea, consisting solely of Palestina.
  • Arabia, consisting solely of Arabia Petraea.
  • Ægyptus, consisting of ÆgyptusCyrenaica, and Nubia.
  • Æthiopia, consisting solely of Æthiopia.
  • Africa, consisting of Africa Deserta and Africa Carthaginia (also known as Africa Proconsularis).
  • Mauretania, consisting of Mauretania.
  • Hispania, consisting of Hispania BaetiaHispania Lusitania, and Hispania Tarraconensis.

The territory of Italia, as distinct from the nation of Italia, had a separate status from provinces. Since the time of Augustus, the land was subdivided into 14 administrative regions and later emperors had not tampered with its organization, only modifying the borders of the northern regions to suit the times. Each region was overseen by a praefectus italiarum, appointed by emperors from the eques of Roman society. These overseers had virtually no authority and their duties extended solely to the discovery of civil or political problems in each region, which they were obliged to report to the emperor. With this system, Italy is often listed among the other provinces as a single unit, despite its special status within the empire. Similarly, most Romans refer to the nation of Italy as the Patria (Fatherland), emphasizing its importance among the nations of Rome.

In principle, Roman laws also distinguished the land of the city of Rome as the Pomerium, a term that carried legal, political, as well as religious significance to Romans. A number of statutes in the magna lex urbana (codex of municipal regulation) specifically refer to the Pomerium and impose unique regulations on construction within its limits. By the 10th century, the cities of Byzantium, Parisium, Antioch, Alexandria, and Carthago were also classified as part of the Pomerium, affording them special status within the community of Rome and regulated the geographic limits of the magistrati curules (imperial magistrates).

History of divisions

Four centuries earlier, the administrative divisions of the Roman Empire had relatively substantial differences. Describing all of these changes would be tedious but a few exemplary cases can provide a general idea.

Provinces beyond the Magnum Vallum Judaecum (Great Wall of Judaea) were lost around 636 to the forces of Islam, notably taking away the exceptionally fertile lands of Mesopotamia and the rich province of Armenia. After the Civil War in Greece, the nations of Graecia and Anatolia went through a period of regaining the trust of Rome. Around 645, during the restructuring of provinces after the loss of PersiaCaesar Tyrianus combined those two nations into Magna Graecia, both acknowledging the demographic reality of the region and honoring the Greeks. At the same time, the nation of Arabia was split into the nations of Syria and Arabia, with the former taking a couple of provinces from former Anatolia. Other borders were modified during the dramatic overhaul of the provincial organization, including the fusion of the Alpine provinces into Alpes and the renaming of the province of Africa Proconsularis to Africa Carthaginia, since the relevance of proconsularis had been lost with time.

During the Scandinavian Wars, the Senate under Caesar Paulus separated the nation of Gallia into continental and insular parts, acknowledging the linguistic and cultural differences between the two (largely due to small differences before annexation that were magnified by the immigration of Saxons and Scandinavians to Britain).


Although ethnic identity had little concept to Romans, the physical differences between people had a subtle and indirect influence on the distinctions between nations within the empire. Population movement throughout the empire, especially across the Mare Nostrum (Mediterranean Sea), has made Roman society a genetic melting pot, from the pale skinned British and German to the dark skinned Ethiopians. Everything in between these extremes of appearance can be found. Of course, generalizations in the similarities within an ethnic group, indeed the classification of an ethnicity itself, always come with a degree of inaccuracy, since a recognized ethnicity usually consists of relatively distinct subgroups and there are exceptions even in these smaller categories. In general, the color of skin is the most generalizable characteristic and helps to chart the movement of early populations throughout the Roman Empire, as this brief summary of ethnicities attempts to accomplish. However, categorizations of people by appearance are somewhat anachronistic since Romans identified more by culture than by physical appearances.

Many ancient cultural and ethnic identities have disappeared under the pressure of Romanization and the intermingling of people. For example, the Greeks have married extensively with the Romans and emigrated all across the Anatolian peninsula as well as the provinces of Thracia and Macedonia. As there had been few injections from outside populations, the people of the region that became Greater Greece consists of relatively similar groups with white but not pale skin and typically brown eyes. Blonde hair is more common among Greeks than red, which is most common around Byzantium, but blondeness is not nearly as common among Greeks as among Romans (Italians) and is practically absent when compared with Gallians or Scandinavians. In general, the Greek and Roman type of blonde was considered darker than the Germanic blonde.

Red hair was exceptionally common among the Gallians and the British, constituting about a third of the population of Gallia and nearly a quarter of the population of the British isles. At the same time, about half of Britons are blonde due to Saxon, Celt, or Scandinavian ancestry, any of which tended to contribute lighter shades of hair. By the same ancestry, the majority of Britons have pale skin; Gallians are distinguished by their slightly more olive tone, as a result of Roman and Hispanian ancestry.

Most of the population of Germany descends from Greek, Celt and Roman settlers. Their mingling together with Germanic as well as Scandinavian immigrants has given them a similarly blonder and paler appearance than typical Romans. Indeed, after about five centuries of Romans living in Magna Germania, the population had differentiated itself from the now common Hellena (Hellene) - a Latin term not to be confused with the Greek word for other Greeks.


In general, people living in the empire talk about seven distinct physical stereotypes and these are agreed to correspond with the effective ethnic differences between regions of the empire. Around the Mediterranean coast, the most common group is referred to as Hellena, distinguished by an olive skin tonedarker hair, and typically Graeco-Roman features. The majority of people living in Egypt, Mauretania, Syria, Anatolia, and Spain approach the stereotypical Hellene appearance to some degree, with a continuous process of homogenization still taking place between these coastal nations. Greece and Italy themselves are similarly beginning to become homogenized alongside the other Mediterranean peoples, as citizenship - and by that token marriage with Graeco-Romans - becomes more and more common. By the 13th century, Hellene would become the most prevalent ethnicity on the inner coast.

Throughout the nations of Gallia and Belgica, the people are mostly a mixture of Roman Italian and Celtic, although many people have Hispanian ancestors as well. As a result, the group referred to as Gallian (Galliana) is distinguished by light but not pale skinlighter hair, and typically Romano-Celtic facial features. They also tend to be several inches taller than Hellenes, due to the greater height of the early Celts. The populations of Gallia are far less mobile than those of Mediterranean provinces; the majority of their commerce and exchange of people is with Britain, Germany, and Italy.

Britannicus (Briton) can usually trace his ancestry to a mixture of Saxon, Scandinavian, and Celtic, although the proportion of people with Roman descendants rises dramatically in Hibernia (Ireland) and Caledonia (Scotland). Nevertheless, even people of Roman descent have tended to marry into the original population, with the result that the majority of people share traits most fundamentally with ancient Celts and Germanic immigrants. For this reason, Britons are distinguished by pale skin tone, blonde or red hair, and distinctly Celtic or Germanic facial features.

On a similar note, the population of Germany, known commonly as Germanae (Germans), tend toward lighter skin, lighter hair, and typically Germanic, Dacian, or Roman features. However, German Romans have darker complexions than Gallians, since their ancestry is more strongly Roman and Greek than Germanic, despite four centuries of slow Germanic immigration. Dirty blonde hair is considered a stereotypical German look, although that same color is not uncommon in Greece.

Living farther south and east are the Dacians, a group that has a strong mix of Roman genes alongside a pinch of Sarmatian. On the whole, Dacians have olive skin, more similar to Persians than Italians, blonde hair, and a mixture of Roman and Iranian features, notably a far greater height than other people in the empire (by an average of nearly 6 inches!). Their stature and striking appearance has made Dacians popular recruits for the Roman Legion, prompting many emperors to place standing offerings of citizenship to Dacians who would take a full term of service with the Legion. At this time, nearly a tenth of legionaries are Dacian.

Another major group is the Mauri (Berbers), who have been less integrated into the growing Hellene demographic. Berbers tend to have a dark skin, except not as dark as Ethiopians, Nubians, or Ghanaians, and are typified by curly dark hair. Unlike southern Berbers, who inhabit the Desertum Africanum, Mediterranean Berbers, i.e. Mauri, have a skin tone close to olive. Over the next few centuries, the Mauri of Mauretania join their brethren near Carthage (Numidians) in providing the ancestry of Hellenes. At this time, the Mauri have the lowest percentage of citizens after Nubians and Ethiopians.

Lastly, the Ethiopians are the population of the empire with the darkest skin, all black hair, and shorter heads, in contrast with the typically Roman, Celtic, Germanic, etc. feature of a long head and face. Partially for this reason, Romans tend to refer to the Ethiopians as snub-nosed. There has been only moderate intermingling of Ethiopians and Romans, due largely to distance rather than an underlying prejudice, but the city of Rome has a population of about ten thousand Ethiopians and their descendants, most of whom come from the nobility that moved to the capital since the annexation in the 6th century.

Of course, under all of these regional descriptions, the fact must be emphasized that a person with some particular appearance is possible to find virtually anywhere in the Roman Empire. Transportation is effective and cheap enough and colonization sufficiently common that the empire has become truly cosmopolitan (although the average plebeian citizen or non-citizen would not be able to afford the time away from home to travel). Furthermore, hundreds of small ethnic groups fall under these broader categories and can differ by remarkable degrees, effectively rendering the above descriptions sometimes moot. These small groups are Thracian, LibyanSyrianGalatianLydianArabianPersian, among many others.

German Caesar

Born from German parents - that is, from citizens whose ancestors colonized Magna Germania (Greater Germany) centuries ago - Marius had a deep connection to Roman Germany throughout his life. His commitment to the foederalis faction stemmed from a desire to improve the status of the German nation (foederata) within Roman culture and politics, to enfranchise Germany, and to improve the relations of Rome with its Germanic brethren. A growing subculture of Roman Germans considered themselves related to the Germanic people of Eastern Europe, in opposition to the prevailing view that Germani (foreign Germans) - as opposed to Germanae (Roman Germans) - were primitive, uncultured barbarians who had nothing to contribute to the Populus Romanus.

For this purpose, Marius financed trade routes along the Fluvis Rhenus (Rhine), Fluvis Albis (Elbe), and Fluvis Tyras (Dniester) by funding shipbuilding for commercial river boats and developing colonies at different points along the rivers. Over the last century or so, the Grecis Britannicus (High Fleet of Britain) has been quelling piracy in the Mare Suebicum (Baltic Sea) and Oceanus Germanicus (North Sea), even bringing the military governors of the German provinces into brief wars in Scandinavia. However, their efforts were paying off by the late 10th century and an understanding had settled over nearly all ports in the region that the ships of Roman origin were not to be trifled with unless you were desperate. This security had made hundreds of ships available and gave Marius the incentive to have the Senate elect him procurator navalis (high fleet commander) for the region with the intention of carefully managing as well as supporting trade in the region using the navy.

Due to logistical challenges, Marius moved himself to the German city of Virunum (Hamburg) in 978 to more efficiently run affairs in the German provinces. As the primary city of the German nation, Virunum held tremendous symbolic importance and as a central port of the region, it also possessed the largest population of any nearby city, at ~560,000 citizens and ~25,000 slaves. From the city, he unified merchant guilds into groups with influence across the entire Albis and magnified the presence of the Stena Guild of blacksmiths, miners, and distributors. Nearly a hundred million denarii was flowing yearly into the city, lifting the local economy into the metaphorical stratosphere.


Back in Rome, the Senate did not respond well to the activities of Caesar Marius. Many supported helping the provinces, but this emperor was funneling money into a single nation rather than spreading out state resources. A minority of senators, mostly German descendants who had allied themselves with several prominent patricianes, defended the emperor and argued into the sunset that the productive strength of Germany had fueled Rome for centuries, as the harvest of Egypt fed the city. In 992, a popular assembly was called by his supporters to prevent the majority from taking political action against the emperor, or worse, from taking violent and treasonous action as some of those same men had originally done to get Marius into power. The decision of the assembly was binding for a time, allowing the emperor to continue his vast expenditure in the frontiers.

The direct cause of the assembly was an attempt by senators to bar construction on the Virunal Canal through the peninsula of Cimbria (Denmark), for Marius to reduce the distance to the Baltic by 460 kilometers. Without political obstacles, Marius was able to go ahead with the project in late-992 when ground was broken at over twenty different locations. Work on the canal drained tens of millions of denarii from the treasury on a yearly basis, with senators constantly bringing it up in the Senate as an affront along with the other spending going on in Germany. News was already circulating in Rome by 991 that Marius was working on a palace in Virunum, designed as the seat of authority for the Consul Germanarum (Consul of the Germans). However, hundreds of senators suspected him of wanting to move his own seat to Virunum, a possibility that seemed more probable in 993 when he brought two legions to the German frontier to assist in construction.

Meanwhile, his control over the Senate was magnified by the appointment of his two sons to legatus (military governor) of both Nubia and Aethiopia, giving him reliable control over another five legions in addition to the five legions in Germany that were directly under his command as imperator (supreme commander). With the assured loyalty of nearly half of the legions and official authority over the others, Marius got away with thinly-veiled threats that ensured the loyalty of senators who might be willing to go against the recent decision of the common people in the assemblies.

Germanic tour

In 994, Marius left Virunum for a tour of the Germanic kingdoms. Although Rome was seen as a patron to some kingdoms, in particular the client kingdoms (foederati) of Venetia and Sarmatia, and a dangerous influence by others, especially the Franks, Marius intended to make the entire region friends and clients of Rome, by sponsoring magnificent public works in the kingdoms and displaying the full might of the Legion to lords and kings. For this purpose, he brought seven legions - an army consisting of 44,800 legionaries11,200 archers2100 knights in full plate7000 arbalists, and 4200 artillery pieces. Although most Germanic kings had seen armies of this size, Marius made sure that the word spread that this was only a tenth of the full strength of the Romans. At the same time, the uniformity and equipment of the soldiers left an impression in its own way. As a crowning component of his entourage, Marius brought six cohortes of the Praetorian Guard, for a total of 3,000 praetorians.

Marius was untouchable wherever he went. A throng of soldiers nearly a kilometer in radius surrounded him on march, with his own outriders extending as far as ten kilometers in all directions. When settled in the hall of a lord, his entire section of the grounds was filled with praetorian guards, whose cohorts he had handpicked for their loyalty to him. A Germanic foreigner would need to pass through almost a dozen checkpoints before meeting the emperor of the Romans, even a man with the status of king. Despite these barriers, Marius made the effort to respect the status of his hospes (hosts) and always gave a king or high lord a place of honor on the table next to himself, albeit while guards were constantly hovering nearby for his protection.

A supply route that stretched thousands of kilometers was trailing behind this army as it went through the kingdoms, giving more food to the peasants than it consumed. The fleets in the Baltic were sent down the river systems of Eastern Europe to supplement these supplies and assist in the throwing of huge banquets in the halls of Germanic kings. As intended, the splendor of this parade was recorded for posterity in the royal and noble courts. More importantly, the common folk would uphold the story of the Visit of the Princeps in their oral history for many generations to come. His impact on the Kingdom of Bavaria in 998 was such that a future uprising against the king would lead to a new constitutional monarchy entitled a principaden (principality).

Marius spent the first two years of his tour in Venetia before spending several months in Kiev and continuing downriver into the Kingdom of Lombardy, where a feast for nearly a quarter of a million people was held in the capital city of Stromm. Although the next stop was Bavaria, the emperor could not stay long as affairs had changed in Rome.

Coup d'état

When Marius was away, the Senate remained divided on his support. However, the issue was ultimately brought to a close when nearly a fifth of senators were killed by praetorian guards, under the order of the Italian Consul, on the symbolic ides of March at the start of a meeting of the assembly. In the wake of this massacre, other guards went about the city murdering equites (knights) who had known loyalties to Marius, effectively purging the capital of his supporters. By the following day, every man of note who had openly stood behind the emperor was dead, except for tribunicensores, and sacerdotes, whose deaths would have made a public outrage against the murders unquenchable.

With the consul, praetor urbanus, and over a fifty local magistrates in support of the rebellion, the conspirators had only a small amount of trouble quelling the unrest that followed, largely focused around compensating the clients and family of the deceased as well as instituting mandatory curfews for "public safety". News traveled slowly to the emperor, reaching his sons in the eastern provinces almost a year before he was aware that his authority had been overthrown. Although it took months for the news to reach Roman Germany, due to the stifling of the postal service, another five months passed before Marius heard. By that time, he was in the midst of his visit to the court of the Bavarian King and responded immediately to the revolution. His messengers informed him that his other son had maintained control of Germany while loyal legates had the provinces of Dacia and Taurica at the very least. No word had reached him of his two sons in Africa.

Within the month, his entourage of soldiers had arrived back at the city of Venetia but no word had come from the Great Sarmatian Empire, leading him to assume the worst about the designs of the Senate. As his personal vassal, the Emperator of Venetia was honored to raise his armies in support of the Roman Emperor, nearly doubling his forces before even returning to Germany.

Meanwhile, Marius Junius the Younger and his brother Paulus Junius had brought their armies into Egypt where the prefect had remained loyal to their father. As the base of the Eastern High Fleet, Alexandria made for an effective staging grounds for the planned attack on Rome, despite more than two-thirds of the fleet having been taken by its procurator navalis who was still loyal to the faction of the Senate that had taken power. Without rowers and soldiers to man the ships, the Silani brothers spent most of 997 and the early part of 998 building a fleet as well as trying to reach their father.

After failing to claim the loyalty of the legate governor of Arabia Petraea, Paulus took four of his legions to claim the province, leading to its capture before 999 CE. With all of Eastern Africa and Arabia Petraea, the brothers were able to deny access of the captains of the Grecis Rubricanis (High Fleet of the Red Sea) to any Roman ports, eventually leading to the mutiny of some against their procurator navalis and the decision of others to make for Arabian ports instead. With half the strength of the fleet, the brothers prepared their cities in the region for the inevitable counterattack of the disloyal governors.

In this way, the stage was set for the Bellum Civile (Civil War) between the family of Marius and the remnants of the Senate.

Statistics of the Roman Empire in 990 CE

Population: 187 million (39.9% of humans)

Area: 9,894,000 sq km

GDP: 18.38 billion denarii (~$349 billion US)

Treasury: 25 million denarii (~$425 million US)

Government revenue: 1.678 billion denarii (~$31.9 billion US), 9.13% of GDP

Military spending: 402 million denarii (30.0% of revenue or 2.19% of GDP)

Military size: 166,400 legionaries (26 legions), 217,000 auxiliaries, and 10,000 praetorian guards

Legislature: 1000 senators

Christianity: ~91% of the population

Reign of Calvinus:
1642 (889)-1669 (916)
Late Tyrian Dynasty:
1669 (916)-1750 (997)
Bellum Civile:
1750 (997)-1768 (1015)

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