Alternate History

997-1015 CE (Superpowers)

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Late Tyrian Dynasty:
1669 (916)-1750 (997)
Bellum Civile:
1750 (997)-1768 (1015)
Reign of Legarus:
1768 (1015)-1775 (1022)

After an anti-Marian faction took control of the Senate, the empire was split into a mess of pieces as different generals positioned themselves for civil war. With Eastern Africa and most of the Trans-Danubian provinces, the former Caesar Marius and his family had the advantage of numbers on land but lacked the hold over Rome itself and a number of wealthy provinces, although they held Egypt and its grain. Meanwhile, the rest of the empire was under the control of the Senate and its Committee, giving them greater resources at sea and the legitimacy of control over Italy. Neither side had clear control over the outcome of the war.

Sides of the conflict

For the time being, a timeline of events in the civil war suffices to outline its procession and explain its outcome. However, first a brief summary of the military and political situation toward the beginning of the civil war is needed.

Marian faction

Unlike the SenateCaesar Marius Silanus started with the disadvantage of having his two centers of power completely separated. His two territories were Germania, originally consisting of the provinces Varinensis, MarconensisCimbria, Gothica, Dacia, and Taurica; and Aegyptus, consisting of the core provinces of AegyptusNubiaAethiopia, and Arabia Petraea. For these two sides to communicate, they had to cross by ship into the Pontus Euxinus (Black Sea) through Byzantium or to pass the Pillars of Hercules as a preliminary to going through the Mare Britannicus. With this obstacle, Marius in Germany did not make contact with his sons in Egypt until 1001, when the war had gotten well underway.

As for armies, Marius began the war with six legions in Egypt and 13 legions in Germany, leaving him in control of over half of the 26 legions that constituted the professional branch of the Roman army at the time. With control over Dacia and Germany, he had little trouble swelling his forces by another four legions within the first decade of the civil war.

Aside from the wealth of East Africa, Marius possessed the advantage of the industrial heartland of Germany and the farmland that dotted its countryside. His sons in Egypt had a similar advantage of agricultural supplies but suffered from a lack of arms and armor. However, the lack of industry was supplemented to a degree by access to oriental trade. The Chinese Empire knew little of the civil war happening a world away but it was prepared to support the Romans during a time when they required iron.

Although legions started the war with numbers typical of a Tyrian legion, the chaos of prolonged conflict forced a number of deviations from the usual, not the least from an inability to find personnel with expertise using advanced siege weapons. For this reason, Marius was sparing with his exclusive access to manufacturers of the testuda siege engine, getting his local experts to train more specialists in its maintenance and operation.

For allies, Marius had the Kingdom of Venetia whose monarch was anxious to assist the emperor of Rome by levying his armies to provide ~65,000 soldiers for the war. However, no other foreign powers were prepared to oppose the power that held Rome.

Senatorial faction

With more than two-thirds of citizens, the Senate controlled the largest pool of recruits for the legion. Furthermore, the Senate had more than a hundred thousand trainees in the hills near Mediolanum, the exclusive training ground of the Legion. By 1002, it had a standing army of 21 legions and had begun to field levies of troops armed with simpler weapons. A large fraction of the armies of the Senate were its non-professional soldiers, largely armed with polytrahoi (repeating crossbows) and lighter armor.

At sea, the Senate had a dramatic advantage. Marian forces only possessed a fraction of the fleets in the Red Sea, which were all but useless for naval battles in the Mediterranean or Oceanus Germanicus (North Sea) and the Grecis Britannicus, a key navy but one ultimately dwarfed by the combined high fleets of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

In the international arena, the Senate had the Kingdom of Ghana, who could only provide gold and iron, and, more importantly, the Imperium Sarmatianum (Sarmatian Empire), who offered the services of their standing army to Rome.

With control over the capital, the Senate maintained an element of legitimacy that Marius could not muster but they needed this support to mitigate the effect of their revolution against the emperor. Many common citizens and noble citizens saw the emperor as the symbol of Rome and continued to be entirely unwilling to support those who would overturn his lawful authority.


In the midst of this chaos, the Fatimid Caliphate, centered on the Persian city of Basra, took the opportunity to defeat Rome. After a successful campaign in India was ended in 1000 CE, the Fatimids turned their attention toward the West, attacking the Great Judaean Wall near Palmyra, where the Rashidun Caliphate had failed to invade three centuries earlier. This invasion was a resounding success, bringing an army of ~120,000 muslim soldiers beyond the primary defensive line of the Roman Empire.

The shock to Romans is difficult to overstate. The Eastern Great Wall had held back the enemies of the state for nearly 700 years and had granted Rome the ability to deal with Persia as it pleased. The breaching of the wall meant the possibility of losing the eastern provinces and no longer holding a single clear frontier against the forces of Persia and Arabia. Rome had never been more vulnerable since the time of Augustus than at this moment of loss. For its part, the Caliphate had geared itself on a popular level to a Jihad (Struggle) of the external variety. There was dramatic polarisation of the nation toward war against the Romans and the Caliph had only minor civil conflicts with religious dissidents to distract him from this goal.

Brief Timeline

  • 997: Start of the bellum civile (civil war) with the purge of the capital.
  • 998: Consolidation of control over Rome by the Senate and mobilization of Marian forces in Egypt as a response.

In order to run the empire, the Senate had the people vote on the formation of a committee - eventually known informally as the Committee - that consisted of the Magister Fiscalis (Master of the Purse), Generalissimus (supreme commander of the Legion), Consul Italiarum (Consul of the Italians), Consul Graecae (Consul of the Greeks), two censores, two tribuni (with minimal influence), the Magister Correctores (Overseer of Governors), and the Praetor Urbanus (Chief Praetor). In effect, the Committee directed the entire operation of the Senate and its domain, only partially intervening on the legislative authority of the popular assemblies. In general, there were few popular assemblies during the civil war due to the dangers of bringing together large grounds when food could be more scarce and when the populace was too polarized.

  • 999: Both sides have postured sufficiently for war and take their first major actions against one another.
  • 1000: Muslim forces invade Syria and enter into conflict against the senatorial forces of the region.
  • 1001: Senate moves in the Mare Suebicum (Baltic Sea) after winning the Battle of the Herulian Straits and taking the naval fortress on the largest island of the straits.
  • 1002: Local legions of both the Senate and Marius collaborate to fight the Caliphate but are drastically outnumbered.

Collaboration between legions of both sides in Arabia had no effect on the antagonism between Marius and the Senate. The choice to join forces was an independent decision of the Syrian legate and two of the generals under the sons of Marius. In this way, five legions were brought to bear against the combined forces of Islam, forcing them into a guerrilla war over Syria and Cappadocia. This part of the conflict lasted beyond the civil war but had generally fallen into the favor of the Caliphate by 1009.

  • 1003: Fighting over Noricum - the largest supplier of Pistorian steel in the empire - reaches its peak.

Marius pushed into Noricum with the full weight of his forces this year, although there had been fighting in the province since 1001. As a strong supplier of steel, Noricum was a focal point of the civil war. The Battle of Ovilana was a major defeat for Marius and marked the turning point in the battle over Noricum. From this point forward, the Marians were forced onto the defensive.

  • 1006: World observes a new star that is ten times brighter than Venus. All sides in the conflict take it as a positive omen.

The supernova of 1006 CE re-ignited the desire for war on both sides of the conflict. Senators in Rome considered it a sign that their last three years of successes were the start of a final push toward victory and Marius believed it signaled a turning point for his side, as an omen that the war would swing in his favor. In the midst of this confusion, the papal elections in Rome terminated in the favor of Pontifex Maximus Legarus, as a replacement to the previous Pope that died under mysterious circumstances. When his election coincided with the new star, the middle-aged pontiff took the event as an omen of rebirth for Rome. Over a few years, he would come to accept this sign as a call to action to use his influence to end the civil war.

  • 1008: Caesar Marius dies, leaving his son Marius the Younger in power without a formal election.
  • 1009: Marius the Younger dies in an attempt to reach Germany to assume the command of his father.

Despite the death of two emperors, the Marian faction was on the rise from 1006 to 1009 CE. Although they did not attempt to take Noricum again, the rest of the nation of Dacia came under its control and almost half of Pannonia was taken. The latter was only a stone's throw away from the Rubicon, the traditional frontier that marked a clear and present danger to Rome. Meanwhile, the Senate completed the City Wall of Rome, the first stone fortifications built for the capital since ancient times. This structure was built with a great deal of haste but had the benefit of a massive economic base working on its construction.

  • 1010: First elections are held since the start of the civil war in attempt to signal peace to the people of Rome.
  • 1012: Marian forces fail for the last time to cross the Rubicon, as the Senate finally brings its enormous advantage in terms of population to bear upon the war.
  • 1013: Senate and Sarmatia crush Dacia between their armies, breaking the access of the Marians to the Black Sea.
  • 1014Battle of Alexandria starts a lengthy series of combined naval and land battles along the Nile.
  • 1015Pax Romana. Pope Legarus uses the tribunes to hold an election "in response to the death of a princeps (Marius) without a lawful heir" and lobby the people against the Senate, effectively making himself the emperor in Rome.

End of the war

After becoming the princeps civitatis in Rome and ensuring the compliance of magistrates throughout the empire, Legarus went about convincing Marius Oratonius, the last surviving son of Caesar Marius, to relinquish his authority to the rightful emperor. In exchange for upholding the honor of the Silana branch of the Junii by retaining the lawful status of the first Marius and for letting him step down from his position of power, Oratonius gave up control of his armies and recognized the rule of Caesar Legarus. In this way, the internal hostilities that had racked the empire came to a close.

Late Tyrian Dynasty:
1669 (916)-1750 (997)
Bellum Civile:
1750 (997)-1768 (1015)
Reign of Legarus:
1768 (1015)-1775 (1022)

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