Alternate History

986-1012 CE (Superpowers)

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Reign of Claudius II:
1704 (951)-1739 (986)
Pre-Schism Years:
1739 (986)-1765 (1012)
An Empire Divided:
1765 (1012)-1819 (1066)

Emperor Norban (988-1005)

Brought onto the throne following the suspicious death of his brother, which the public learned upon Norban's death had been assassinated by him, Norban still had the problem of the Arabs in Africa to deal with. They were inching ever closer to the major Aegyptus population centers and had already taken the cities in Axum province. As mentioned in the previous article, Norban and his troops managed to achieve victory before they could take Thebes and began to slowly push them out of the borders of Rome. All Arabs were pushed out in 995 and all that remained was to expel them completely from the continent. Their Caliph had long since returned to his palace, but the generals and their troops were nonetheless left behind to continue the fighting.

Civil and Military Events

Early Motor

First motor to reach 600 rpm (837)

Before getting to military matters, there are several things to cover in the civilian field. The main subject here is of course the development of motor technology. Since the academy in Parisium developed the first functional electric motor in 805, based on the designs of Archaedavincus, there was a gradual improvement of the device for the next 200 years. In 837, a motor was built that could perform about 600 revolutions per minute, finally offering several possibilities for practical applications. Powered by DC like all other electrical inventions of the time, the motor saw its first application in a printing press in Rome in 838. These commercial DC motors were very expensive and only the richest printing companies could afford to use them, as they greatly increased total output. Still, the motor was somewhat faulty, constantly sparking and was only used on one or two machines per city due to the risk and cost.

A more durable design was invented in 886, one which could survive rigorous applications in industry were it to be used there. As well, special metal guards were put in place to reduce the risk from sparks. The new motor quickly replaced all existing instances of its predecessor and within ten years, almost 80 were in use around the Empire. Some were even bought by members of the rich who ordered for them to be used to power a carriage. Although this drained the battery within about 2 hours, the image of a man driven in a carriage with no horse was one which captivated the minds of the public. More and more people were sending their sons to the electrical academy in Parisium to help make the next breakthrough.

Very little changed however, other than minor increases in the efficiency of the devices and interest was already starting to wane by the turn of the XIth Century. However, in 1004, an unknown scientist working from another academy in Alexandria of all places was able to create a DC motor with no sparking and which was very similar in both design and capabilities to those in use in OTL 1900. As with the last breakthrough, this new motor replaced all examples of the old one, whilst also causing a surge in the use of motors in other areas. The best part of his design was that it combined the three central parts of a DC motor into one solid unit, the rotor, stator and commutator were now indistinguishably part of just one motor. Were it not for the coming turmoil in the Empire, something which most importantly cut off any collaboration between the academies in Alexandria and Parisium, this technology may very well have entered far more widespread use a lot earlier. For the moment though, only about 210 were built for use in printing presses, though the split Roman militaries would also research potential applications in war.

Two Legions were sent out of Roman borders into Somalia to continue battering down the Arab forces, including the destruction of most their remaining siege weaponry. After six more years of guerrilla warfare against them, the Romans delivered an ultimatum. They could leave across the Red Sea in their boats, and the Roman Navy would not cause any harm to them, only observe them to ensure that there was no treachery. Tired from years of achieving nothing, and mentally worn down from the losses in Aegyptus, there was almost unanimous agreement among the troops to accept this offer, and accept it they did. The crossing was completed in early 1001 CE and before the end of the year, an official peace treaty was signed between the Romans and the Shi'ite Kingdom. Similarly to one given to the Persians many years ago, this treaty offered one century of unspoiled peace between the two mighty nations.

Not willing to take any chances though, Norban had the Somali Wall upgraded with a second larger wall behind the first, and ordered for the troop contingent there to be doubled, allowing for even more Polybola and Magna Ballistae. Even if a force as great as the last were to attack, the wall could hold them off for weeks, allowing reinforcements to arrive before things got too bad. As well, a massive Coastal Wall was built starting from 1002 in order to make the Empire's Red Sea Coastline impenetrable. A year later, construction began on coastal walls along the north side of the Anatolian Peninsula, thereby blocking any incursions there from either the Federations or the Shi'ites. Although the Empire was now more well defended from outside threats than ever, it was the most internally fragile it had ever been since the time of the Republic.

Public debt was high from the war and reconstruction efforts, and morale was low amongst the populace now that they had seen how useless the government was at protecting them. Furthermore, veneration of the emperor was turning into veneration of the Pope alone, and support for the current government was waning everywhere. Even worse, the wages of legionaries and auxiliaries were being reduced almost every year in order to lessen the debt and many cut-backs were being planned now that the Empire's static defenses were more indestructible. Worst of all, when Norban finally died in 1005, information of his brother's assassination was leaked to the public, and confidence in the emperors fell even more sharply, especially among members of the army. The Empire was about to collapse.

Emperor Julianus I (1005-1012)

Gaius Julianus Flaminius is historically regarded as the man who lost the Empire. It was during his reign that the Second Imperial Civil War started, giving a roughly equivalent reputation to Nero in that regard. Julianus was not by any means a bad emperor, but he was wholly unprepared for the serious of unfortunate events that started his reign and so he only served to further increase public resentment towards his position.

Civil and Military Events

Finishing the construction projects of Norban in his first year in power, Julianus' reign appeared as if it would be like that of any other peace time emperor, consolidating and enriching the nation. However, he made the mistake of continuing to decrease legionary wages during that same first year, and this was the last straw. A prominent general of the Crusade, General Gnaeus Moratius Brutus was known throughout the Legion as the Hero of Thebes, and so was a very highly respected name. More respected than the emperor it seems. Disillusioned from the war, and bothered by the decreasing wages of his brethren, Moratius organized a meeting of 8 Legion commanders who thought the way that he did. On March 15, 1006, they Rebelled.

Although many legionaries refused to fight against the Empire, Moratius managed to amass an army of 42,000 professional soldiers and his 8 generals. Starting in Hispania, where anti-Roman sentiment was long dormant, he managed to spark an outright rebellion of the Senatorial Province Tarraconensis in 1007. With a new militia force of 30,000 troops added to his legionaries, Moratius moved into Aquitania to raid the country side. Meanwhile, the Emperor and Senate had called for an emergency meeting on March 17, and were deciding what to do about the crisis. A week later, the emperor had decided, against the decision of the Senate, to send 12 Legions to fight them into submission. This was perhaps one of the worst ideas possible as Moratius managed to convince about a third of the attacking force to join him, by offering much higher wages, and the Romans were now faced with about 70,000 rebellious legionaries and 30,000 militia.

With the remainder of the attacking force beaten back, and the possibility of negotiation permanently off the table, the Senate had no idea what they could do. Luckily, perhaps, Moratius decided to move his rebellion to Brittania, leaving behind the 30,000 other revolutionaries to be dealt with by the Empire. Although the main Legion tried hard to contain the Rebels away from Londinium, Moratius and his soldiers won several decisive battles both along the coast and towards the northern end of the island and by 1011 they began to siege Londinium itself.

Taking the city only a few weeks later, Moratius established what he called the Free Republic of Brittania, little more than a military dictatorship over the Roman-British populace. From his nearly impenetrable position, he created a navy of pirate ships and began to raid Roman and Danish shipping routes in the North Sea. Although the Classis, who had higher wages than the Legion and were still loyal, managed to stop them a good deal of the time. Their annoyance over the next few decades would become especially apparent.

Back in Rome, unrest was at its peak. Protests were occurring in the streets and the Senate was in a furor over the ineptitude of their leader. On the August Kalends of 1012, about 300 members of the Senate conspired to assassinate Julianus on the steps of the Senate House, right in front of the Colossus of Sulla. Returning to their other brethren in the Curia, the senators declared a Republic and the dissolution of the Empire. Unfortunately for the people of Rome, things were far from over. Very far indeed.

Mayan Conglomerate

Whilst Rome was fragmenting, the Mayan royal family was only getting stronger. Their policies for the past few centuries were loved by the populace and not a single major revolution had occurred since the nation's foundation. As usual, only the Tribals to the north and south posed any real problems to the Conglomerate. Their access to weaponry and other technology was so limited though that they posed no real threat to national stability. Furthermore, they enjoyed far better lives once they were integrated into the Mayan nation, after sacrificial offerings ended, and so there was little reason for them to stir things up.

Nevertheless, Mayan technology was now falling behind the Empire. In Rome, electrical devices running electroplating machines and printing presses were coming into greater use, whilst handcrafts were still the norm in the New World. Still, they did have paper and the printing press, the latter developed over half a century ago, and Mayan metallurgy was now almost on par with that of the Romans, with the recent invention of a Mayan version of Wootz Steel in 962. The new material, far stronger than regular steel pound per pound, was now the norm in armor and weapon's manufacturing. As no other Columbian nation had access to even rudimentary metallic weapons, their advantage over their neighbors continued to be enormous.

In 998 however this gap widened even further when some scientists improved upon the grenade launcher design, allowing it to semi-accurately fire a small metal pellet rather than a grenade. The main development here though was that instead of lighting a short fuse as was down for the grenade launcher and cannon, a trigger was pulled that brought down a flint hammer which set off a small patch of gunpowder, thereby igniting more gunpowder behind the pellet. Known to the Romans as Protanibolum Silexis, for their use of flint, their smoothbore design made them an unfortunately inaccurate weapon to use. At distances beyond 50 meters something the size of a person was almost impossible to hit repeatably and so the main tactic that these guns would be useful for was volleys from an entire line of soldiers. In close combat though, these weapons were lethal and very frightening to primitive tribes.

In 1001 an improved design was developed, far sleeker than the originals from three years earlier, and this was what became the production model firearm for the Conglomerate Standing Army. With this new version, a trained soldier could reload and fire it off within about 16 seconds, whilst some professional were able to do so in only 8. Within two years, a tactic was developed specially for this weapons use. The infantry would stand in a battle line four rows deep. The first row would fire then move to the back to reload. Four seconds after the first shot, the next row would fire, and do the same as the first before reloading. After another four second had passed, the third row would fire and so on with the last row. Once the full 16 second cycle was completed, it would begin anew, with the soldiers usually moving forward so as to not lose ground in battle. Alternatively, this also worked as an effective tactic against a charging army, whilst the infantrymen would simply slowly move back from their attackers.

As Mayan infantry usually worked in battalions of men each, a single of these could keep up a rate of fire of 1 volley of five shots each every four seconds. Against an attacking native force, which usually numbered about 100 to 200 men, this could wipe them out in about 2 minutes, usually around the same time that they'd be in hand-to-hand combat range, where the Mayans had bronze shields and metal swords. That is only assuming one battalion though, and most Mayan attack forces consisted of 30 of these, led by one Commander. The Mayan Officers which led each battalion had the job of keeping the men in rhythm, often playing a percussive instrument of some kind and shouting each time they needed to fire. Reloading training had quickly become one of the most important parts of military training and so the entire process almost always worked like a well oiled machine.

1010 brought an even more sinister weapon to the Conglomerate arsenal. Following some experimentation with smaller designs, scientists managed to invent the first flintlock pistol that year. Military commanders in charge of designing the Mayan troop decided that along with one musket, each Mayan soldier had to have 2 pistols, each in a holster on a breast. Through the design of the holster, there was a hole right in front where the barrel pointed, and many soldiers were known to fire their pistols without even removing them from the holster. Since the pistols were a last minute weapon, meant to be fired off right before the enemy reached melee distance, they were designed to take longer to reload so that the bullet could be wedged in enough not to fall out over long periods of time.

As these technologies were only just emerging, they were not fully integrated into the army by 1012 and so another age of Mayan expansion had still not begun yet. The current musket design though remained in use within the Conglomerate, completely unchanged until around 1085 when more accurate smoothbore weapons were invented. The pistols however underwent continuous changes, being constantly improved and tweaked to get the optimal accuracy for the smallest size and weight. One fact of significance as well is that these guns were not yet considered for use in the hunting or killing of animals. It was considered incorrect to kill an animal that way and it was believed to spoil the meat. Disturbingly enough it was for almost the very same reason that those who have been shot were not eligible to be sacrificed to the Gods.

Back to Timeline or Superpowers

Also see Geopolitics

Reign of Claudius II:
1704 (951)-1739 (986)
Pre-Schism Years:
1739 (986)-1765 (1012)
An Empire Divided:
1765 (1012)-1819 (1066)

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