Note: Numbers in this article are written in Roman Numerals, as the Arabic characters never managed to spread beyond the Arabian Peninsula in this timeline
The Roman Empire (Latin: Imperium Romanum) is the post-Republican period of the Roman civilisation, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe, Africa, the Varoias (Americas), the Indian subcontinent and Oceania. The term is used to describe the Roman state during and after the time of the first emperor, Augustus I Magnus.
The D-year-old Roman Republic, which preceded it, had been weakened and subverted through several civil wars. The empire was formally created in Ante Christum (AC) XXVII
Roman expansion began in the days of the Republic, but the Empire reached its greatest extent under Emperor Tiberius XX. However, with the Varoian Revolution in AD MDCCLXXXIII, the empire lost vast swathes of land in North Varoia to the newly created Sed status Varoia (United States of Varoia).
The empire faced the greatest challenge in its history with the Magnus Bellum, which plunged the entire world into war. However, Magnus Germania and its allies were defeated and the empire emerged from the conflict stronger than ever before.
The powers of an emperor (his imperium) exist, in theory at least, by virtue of his potestas tribunicia and his imperium proconsulare. In theory, the tribunician powers (which are similar to those of the Plebeian Tribunes under the old republic) make the Emperor's person and office sacrosanct, and give the Emperor authority over Rome's civil government, including the power to preside over and to control the Senate.
The proconsular powers (similar to those of military governors, or Proconsuls, under the old Republic) give him authority over the army. He is also given powers that, under the Republic, had been reserved for the Senate and the assemblies, including the right to declare war, to ratify treaties, and to negotiate with foreign leaders.
The emperor also has the authority to carry out a range of duties that had been performed by the censors, including the power to control Senate membership. In addition, the emperor controls the religious institutions, since, as emperor, he is always Pontifex Maximus and head of the Ecclesiae Catholicae. While these distinctions were clearly defined during the early Empire, eventually they were lost, and the emperor's powers became less constitutional and more monarchical.
Realistically, the main support of an emperor's power and authority is the military. Being paid by the imperial treasury, the legionaries also swear an annual military oath of loyalty towards him, called the Sacramentum.
The death of an emperor leads to a crucial period of uncertainty and crisis. In theory the Senate was entitled to choose the new emperor, but most emperors chose their own successors, usually a close family member. The new emperor has to seek a swift acknowledgement of his new status and authority in order to stabilize the political landscape. No emperor can hope to survive, much less to reign, without the allegiance and loyalty of the Praetorii and of the legions. To secure their loyalty, several emperors pay the donativum, a monetary reward.
While the assemblies continued to meet after the founding of the empire, their powers were all transferred to the Roman Senate, and so senatus consulta acquired the full force of law.
In theory, the emperor and the Senate are two equal branches of government, but the actual authority of the senate is negligible and it is largely a vehicle through which the emperor disguises his autocratic powers under a cloak of republicanism. Although the Senate still commands much prestige and respect, it is largely a glorified rubber stamp institution. Stripped of most of its powers, the Senate is largely at the emperor's mercy, and over the centuries, several emperors have almost succeeded in abolishing it.
Many emperors, however, show a certain degree of respect towards this ancient institution. During senate meetings, the emperor sits between the two consuls, and usually acts as the presiding officer. Higher ranking senators speak before lower ranking senators, although the emperor can speak at any time. By the 3rd century AD, the senate had been reduced to a glorified municipal body, and continues in this capacity to the present day.
Senators and Equestrians
No emperor can rule the empire without the Senatorial order and the Equestrian order. Most of the more important posts and offices of the government are reserved for the members of these two aristocratic orders. It is from among their ranks that the provincial governors, legion commanders, and similar officials were chosen.
These two classes are hereditary and mostly closed to outsiders. Very successful and favoured individuals can enter, but this is a rare occurrence. The career of a young aristocrat is often influenced by his family connections and the favour of patrons. As important as ability, knowledge, skill, or competence, patronage is considered vital for a successful career and the highest posts and offices required the emperor's favour and trust.
The son of a senator is expected to follow the Cursus honorum, a career ladder, and the more prestigious positions are restricted to senators only. A senator also has to be wealthy; one of the basic requirements is the wealth of at least MMMMD denari.
Below the Senatorial order is the Equestrian order. The requirements and posts reserved for this class, while perhaps not so prestigious, are still very important. Some of the more vital posts, like the governorship of provinces such as Aegyptus, Brittannia and India Roma, are even forbidden to the members of the Senatorial order and are available only to equestrians.
A legion is a body of MMMM men, comprised of X smaller battalions called cohorts. During and after the civil war, Octavian reduced the huge number of the legions (over LX) to a much more manageable and affordable size (XXVIII). Several legions, particularly those with doubtful loyalties, were simply disbanded. Other legions were amalgamated, a fact suggested by the title Gemina.
In AD IX, Germanic tribes wiped out three full legions in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. This disastrous event reduced the number of the legions to XXV. The total of the legions would be changed constantly throughout the centuries (during the Magnus Bellum there were over CL legions) until the current number of XC was settled upon.
Augustus also created the Praetorii: IX cohorts ostensibly to maintain the public peace which were garrisoned in Italia. Better paid than the legionaries, the Praetorii also serve less time; instead of serving the standard XXV years of the legionaries, they retire after XVI years of service.
While the auxilia are not as famous as the legionaries, they are of major importance. Unlike the legionaries, the auxilia are recruited from among the non-citizens. Organized in smaller units of roughly cohort strength, they are paid less than the legionaries, and after XXV years of service are rewarded with Roman citizenship, also extended to their descendents. There are roughly as many auxiliaries as there are legionaries.
The Roman Classis not only aids in the supply and transport of the legions, but also helps in the protection of the frontier with Magnus Germania in the rivers Rhine and Danube. Another of its duties is the protection of the very important maritime trade routes against the threat of pirates. Therefore it patrols the whole of the Mediterranean, parts of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans and had also a naval presence in the Black Sea. Nevertheless the army is considered the senior and more prestigious branch.
The Aeris exercitus is the newest addition to the Roman military machine. First created in AD MCMXX it has since become a very important addition to the military, playing a major role during the Magnus Bellum in defeating the Luftwaffe. The air force, like the army, is comprised of legions and auxilia, though its numbers are fewer. There are X legions and just C men in an aerial legion, made up of II cohorts of L, with as many auxilia in reserve. The aerial auxilia, like those of the army, are recruited from among non-Romans.
Until the Tetrarchy (AD CCXCVI) Roman provincae were administrative and territorial units of the Roman Empire outside of Italia. In the old days of the Republic the governorships of the provinces were traditionally awarded to members of the Senatorial Order. Augustus I's reforms changed this policy.
Augustus I created the Imperial provinces. Most, but not all, of the Imperial provinces are located at the borders. Thereby the overwhelming majority of legions, which are stationed at the frontiers, are under direct Imperial control. Very important is the Imperial province of Aegyptus, the major breadbasket of the empire, whose grain supply is vital to feed the masses in Rome. It is considered the personal fiefdom of the emperor, and Senators are forbidden to even visit this province. The governor of Aegyptus and the commanders of any legion stationed there are not from the Senatorial Order, but are chosen by the emperor from among the members of the lower Equestrian Order.
The old traditional policy continues largely unchanged in the Senatorial provinces. Due to their location, away from the borders, and to the fact that they have been under longer Roman sovereignty and control, these provinces are largely peaceful and stable. Only a single legion is based in a Senatorial province, for example, Legio III Augusta, stationed in the Senatorial province of Africa.
The status of a province is subject to change; it can change from Senatorial to Imperial, or vice-versa. Another trend is to create new provinces, mostly by dividing older ones, or by expanding the empire.