POD: In 286, Rome is divided into two. But it reunites in 330. The empire continues to prosper until the 600s.
By 302, Rome was in ruins. The agricultural west and the merchant-run east had severe economic problems. Barbarians were attacking both Roman empires and the separate militaries could not handle them. In 330, Constantine I moves the capital to Constantinople, and most of Rome's skilled laborers moved too. In 331, Constantine I offered the Western Romans and edict that would reunite the empire under himself. The Western Romans accepted, although humiliated, they needed the financial support of the East. Constantine I never converted to Christianity, although he reformed the Roman pagan religion and published Roman Religion in 334, which set the standards for their faith.
The Roman Empire then suddenly began to prosper again. Huge amounts of crops were produced in Egypt, Spain and France, while coal was mined in England and Rhineland. In the east, Antioch, Constantinople, Sidon, and Alexandria became major trade centers that connected the east. By 400, large trading companies had emerged, the largest being the Antioch East Lands Company. Capitalism became increasingly important in Rome, and large companies invested in scientific exploration. It was between 400 and 500 that gunpowder and the printing press were discovered, and more efficient farming techniques made it possible for the government to provide free food for all of its citizens. Also, with coal being mined, steam boats and railways were invented. By the 400s, all of the empire was connected by rail.
The Beginning of Roman Decline
In 415, a Persian king banned Roman traders from passing through his kingdom. There was a huge economic crash at this time, as major corporations and the government desperately searched for a new way to get to China. From 421-33, Iceland, Greenland, and Axum were discovered while searching for new routes to China. Rome began to use Axum and then India as their new link to China, but this wasn't good enough as the Axumites charged a lot of money for using their ports. Many companies wanted to travel through Siberia.
In 442, a group of major trading companies convinced the Senate to invade the land "north of the Black Sea," and from 442-71, the Romans fought a vigorous war, conquering Ukraine, Livonia, Poland, the Caucus Mountains, and some of Russia during it. The war cost an estimated 1.5 million Roman lives and over 16 million lives of the conquered populous, who resisted for 40 years after rhte initial invasion. By this point, it was apparent that companies such as the Antioch East Lands Company were dominating the government. They financed more of the war than the Senate! They also took captives from the lands and sold or employed them. Many were employed on farms where they replaced Roman citizens, who were then unemployed and looked to other ways to make money. By 480, Romans had discovered heroin, cocaine, and amphetamine, and along with opium, an illegal market for these drugs were created. Also, military weapons were stolen and sold on the streets. Poor families had to sell their children into slavery, and prostitution became so common that there was a brothel on every block in Constantinople.
And, even more dissatisfying, the newly conquered lands served barely any purpose. No Romans wanted to settle the now nearly unpopulated land, and it was costly for the Roman companies to build checkpoints through Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, and the Gobi Desert. In 497, the Antioch East Lands Company went bankrupt. They controlled 6% of the Roman economy, and this had an effect on the rest of the economy.
From 500-550, Rome's economy got worse and worse. The Chinese were now trading more with Persia and Axum, who stole the Roman's technological innovations and sold them to China for cheaper prices. They also had more mineral deposits than Rome, and their economy was allowed to prosper.
By the 570s, revolts began. Massive peasant uprisings in France, England, and Spain occurred. For three years (576-79), a peasant republic was created in OTL Belgium and Normandy, but the Roman army raided it in 579 and slaughtered up to 2 million people. This led to a new political mood in Rome. Peasants and the middle class began to not tolerate senseless murders. They wanted justice and freedom. Massive peasant protests were held through the 580s into the 630s, most of which were raided by the Roman government and brutally broken up. The mood was right, but the government didn't want to handle it. In 606, Emperor Justinian III banished all forms of democracy and declared martial law. While he was trying to keep order in his own countries, other countries began to take pieces of Rome as some independent nations were formed in Rome's corners. Kurdistan, Novgorod, and Saxonia were formed between 600 and 630.
The New Order in the West After Rome
Rome officially collapsed in 634. Some provinces declared themselves a nation, but in most cases, the aristocratic rulers could not defend their land from the freedom-hungry peasants. Civil war led to Europe's population being slashed in half between 630 and 700. The shortage of population from war created a gap in jobs, which meant less food production, more disease, etc.
Also, many regions relied on others for goods. With a makeup of hundreds of small countries, it was hard for an English nation to get goods from Persia. This meant that many areas were deprived of resources, and thousands upon millions died as a result.
In 652, Viking tribes began to conquer Rhineland, North Germany, and Holland. In 654, Ethera of the Swede tribe declared himself king of all Vikings, and spent the next 19 years conquering those who refused to acknowledge him as king. He died in 679, reigning only six years as the accepted king of the Vikings, but during his time he created an alliance with the Saxons and conquered East Prussia.