Alternate History

There but for the Grace of Gods: So that others may prosper (A World without Rome)

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In the past many empires have risen and fallen; it is safe to say as far as human history goes that Rome was not among the least of these great powers. It had an immeasureable impact on the world as we know it. This is but an attempt to measure it.


The original Dodecapoli.

On that note let us begin. In the 8th Century BCE in our timeline the Island of Elba was taken from the Ligurian tribe of Ilvates, by the Etruscans. What would have happened if the Ligurians had been powerful enough to establish permanent trade with the Etruscans instead of being invaded? This is what is explored in this timeline, as well as it's resulting effects on a certain young Latin City. If a world without Genghis Khan is alternate history's Mt. Everest, then this is K2. With this in mind let's begin.

Supplementary Articles

The Vulture and the Wolf (Expansion of Etruria, and Fall of Rome)

The Treaty of Fufluna

The Ilvate chief was not surprised when he received the message from Fufluna that they wished to form a mutual protection pact, after all they had become great allies in recent times over mutual usage of the granite [1] and metals found on the island, and the Ilvates had fleets of pirating and trading vessels in their hands [2]. But never the less when he received the message he allowed a hardy laugh to escape from his lips before running out of his hilltop house to shout out into the market place below “The Ambrones and Rasna [3] will live together and die together.” As the meaning of this message became clear, celebration broke out in the community. In honour of the festival the Chief declared that all goods could be sold untaxed that day [4].

The new alliance would be quick to be tested, months after the final agreement was organized the Dodecapoli [5] sent its forces into the Battle of Alalia with a fleet of Punic-Etruscan-Ligure ships, a total fleet of 150 ships against 60 Phoecian Pentekonters. The battle ended entirely in favour of the league of Carthaginians, Etruscans, and Ilvates. As a result Etruscans gained greater control over Corsica, parts of Sardinia and Iberia, as well as getting a tribute from Massalia [6].

After this the Ligures were seen as much more valuable because of their valiant contributions to the battle. Vetluna entered into the agreement with Fufluna and more groups of Etruscans allied with Ligure tribes to the North. As the tribes began to pair off with cities, the more powerful the Etruscans became, eventually by the 530s BCE the Etruscan territory was expanding to twice Etruria's original range and trading with the Venetians, Illyrians, and even the Senones as well as other Celts who really had the choice between fighting with the largest army in Northern Italy and trading with them.

Chapter 1.2

The Mediterranean Sea after the dust settled from the Battle of Alalia.

The Etruscans were at the height of their power. They had a few commanders to the south but Carthage was also growing in power and they were forced backward, the Etruscans could just not control that much land even with the incredible alliance they had with the Ligures. This was the beginning of the end of their command of their corner of the Mediterranean.

[1] Part of the POD, the Island of Elba was rich in mineral resources one of the rocks discovered on the island is Granite but this wasn't taken advantage of until the Romans got a hold on the island. With this Elba has another resource and even more cash rolling in.

[2] Byproduct of wealth, that pays for itself.

[3] Ambrones are the Ligures, Rasna are the Etruscans.

[4] Another thing done differently that creates wealth for the leaders, similar to Medieval trading towns.

[5] The Dodecapoli is the Etruscan name for the league of 12 cities.

[6] Massalia was a colony along the coast in the Marseille area.

I came, I saw...

Veii was the richest and most powerful of the Etruscan city states, but unfortunately for the city it was the farthest from the race for control of Liguria. So if it wanted any treaties with Ligurian tribes it was going to be difficult. However they managed to create an agreement with the Briniates and even offered them an area for settlement at the mouth of the Tiber River. Of course it wouldn't be for the whole tribe but many explorers welcomed the chance to visit a new area or seek their fortunes raiding the Latins. Soon a community of a thousand people most of which are men began to develop at the Tiber.

But the area had been inhabited before by young Latin farmers who did not take well to being forced off their land, many were killed immediately while trying to resist, a few left peacefully but resentfully, some banded together to form a small resistance aided by constantly raided farmers in the surrounding areas and were killed, and a few went into the cities and incited the crowds against the Ligures and Etruscans. Although little evidence of these people remain their mark on history and their brilliant words are still remembered by people around the world for their masterful use of rhetoric and inspired persuasion. Only a few small pieces have remained from one of the best speeches:

...a child similar to this one here was once my next-door neighbour, that child died at the hands of the deceptive demons of Veii, many men like yourselves died trying to protect their property much like you would for your family and how I should have done for mine, this is not the time for fear this is the time for strength, when you are treated as slaves or even worse as game animals to be hunted by Ambrone raiders you must fight back...”

In this he managed to activate tribal emotions, to identify himself as one of the in-group, to give a direction for their angers, a way to carry it out, and he wrapped it up in a narrative that could be identified with [1]. And in 519 BCE large groups of people took up arms in the cities of Ardea and Gabii the first conflicts arose near the Aniene River, a tributary of the Tiber River, a large group of Latin farmers rushed down the slopes of Monte Catillo towards the Aniene River where a group of Briniates were plundering a farmer and stealing his flock, within minutes the Latins had killed all the Briniates and had declared victory. Ecstatic from this victory, more Latins from the cities of Gabii, Ardea, Tibur, Praeneste, Ferentinum, and even the Volsci city of Velitrae joined the army, larger in size now even than the Briniate settlement. Rome was an exception, it had favour with the Veientes and did not wish to break their trust, especially under their Etruscan king Tarquinius.

Once the army reached a complement of at least 1800 people, they marched on the Briniate colony, the colony had grown to 1700 people. And finally in 518 BCE the war for Latium began.

[1] There is multiple devices used in rhetoric, Pathos is pitting yourselves against other tribal groups, Ethos is labeling yourself as part of the in-group, Logos is identifying a precise plan for how to do what is being asked, and Mythos is using a captivating story to illustrate your point.

The Battle for Latium

With the combined forces of Gabii, Ardea, Tibur, Praeneste, Ferentinum, Velitrae, and now Antium, almost 2000 troops marched on the Briniate settlement. They traveled down the coast believing they could take the Briniates by surprise. When they set up camp five km down the beach from the settlement they were all on edge, no one was prepared for a battle, perhaps a quarter were privy to any actual battle experience we cannot know for sure. But they were prepared to fight and die for their cause and they were about to fulfill that.

A glint of steel appeared in the forest, one scout saw a glimpse of light and before he could move to respond, he suffered a painful death. Another scout saw and shouted into the crowd, finally a few heads began to turn. By then it was too late, a roar came out of the bush and the people rushed for their weapons, before they could get anywhere the Ligures had killed several dozen. More would follow. Some attempted to escape around the edges to attack from behind or simply to run, some escaped but most were killed by soldiers waiting in the forest.

Soon the people were forced into the water and panic broke out, they expected to die. Some swam or attempted to run for it, a couple got through the lines that were now spread over about 750 metres.

Out of the original forces probably about 1200 survived on the Ligure side and perhaps 140 escaped of the Latins this is one of the most powerful example of the effects of surprise attacks.

One leader of the unit got into the walls of Rome, the undercurrents of political dissatisfaction were stronger than Tarquinius thought and it was only stressed by the visitor, 10 days later, a king was dead and a new rule was about to begin. The leader who's name was Agrippa lead 500 warriors across the river Tiber to march on Veii, the people of Veii however had been watching their movements for quite intently many had already left, the soldiers of Veii were better trained, greater in number and they did not use the same formations that hindered the Romans in cities. When the Romans crossed the Tiber and entered the city they found it abandoned and began to loot, suddenly arrows began raining down from rooftops onto to the soldiers and the battle began, many became stuck in houses or were forced to retreat, the rest were killed in the streets. The army of Veii suffered nearly no losses in the skirmish. No number has been written down as to how many died or survived because soon after, an army of 500 from Veii and 450 from the settlement marched on Rome. Once again the Latins were under attack.

Remus was Right

This time Agrippa could only muster an army of about 400, their morale was shaken, and like his recently destroyed predecessor his political support was waning.

Before they had even entered into battle about 25 soldiers deserted along with the majority of the citizens of Rome. Agrippa could only pray that on more balanced terms the armies of Rome would win. The armies finally engaged in battle in an open farmland area outside of Rome, the Romans had low morale but they were still fairly trained and their phalanx army's tactics were meant for battling on plains.

The League of Veii and the Briniates were very aware of this and together they amassed an army of 1500, a fraction of the number volunteering for service after their last success. They had a three part plan; first they would send large numbers of troops to launch an attack and disorganize the Roman Phalanx. Then once the roman armies was spread out and their forces were weakened the first attackers would retreat behind their army's reserve troops, themselves in a phalanx, and wait it out. The phalanx would be attacked by the remaining Roman troops who the Veientes and Briniates vastly outnumbered and overpowered. While this is going on the first troops loop around back and cut off the escape. It was a seamless plan, but too perfect. The resulting conflict would have major casualties on both sides.

Both sides met on the plains south of the city that had once been a farm before the Briniates, both sides sent out their leaders to the middle of the field before the battle and made threats, nothing unexpected. Then the romans began to march, the Etrusco-Ligures showed more restraint but they did charge, phase one began. This is where they hit their first snag in their plan, normally their is a large group of light infantry (normally the poorer troops) at the area of contact so that the richer, more heavily armed troops could survive to reek the benefits and this is what the Etrusco-Ligures planned for. But most Romans had left in a hurry, there were thousands of houses and huts from people that were wealthy, and many had left enough material to arm a mere army of about 375. So the shield wall was stronger than the Etrusco-Ligures expected and the initial lines were cut down, but eventually they succeeded at getting through the shield barrier. Already the plan's flaws were apparent and more of this was on the way. As the reserves marched towards the battle in a phalanx, the first wave continued to fight, another flaw was showing itself, the fighters were in a warring mindset and didn't bother to check what was happening and the friendly troops disrupted the phalanx. Eventually most got out or were killed by being sandwiched between the friends and the enemy, finally most of the first wave got into their final positions and the reserves engaged in battle. After less than an hour the armies retreated into the Etrusco-Ligure net of soldiers, perhaps 25 slid through the cracks and got out, they would cause trouble for years to come. But the Etrusco-Ligures also suffered casualties, about 600 died.

The remaining 900 marched on Rome and sacked it. The last toehold of the Latin Resistance force was gone. This though was just a sign of things to come, the Latins were gone but the Samnites took the territory, the Briniates left the agreement to join into a pact with Vetluna. The next chapter will cover the destruction of the Dodecapoli hegemony.

The Fallen Nest (Fall of the Etruscan League)

Reality Check

In the year 500 BCE, the Etruscans controlled an empire, but they had a small population. Barely 50 years ago they were a small league of cities with a big navy. Since then the population had barely increased. The population could not maintain the infrastructure they had created in Iberia, Liguria, Marseille, and throughout Italy.

But this was just part of the problem, in Iberia they were attacked by the Celtiberians and Carthage, in Marseille they were under attack by Gauls, in Liguria the territory was under attack by revolutionaries and the alliance of the Cenomani and other tribes, Raetian tribes came down from the mountains and began invading the Po Valley, Carthage attacked Sardinia, Corsica, and even the Italian coast, and to top it off the Samnites and Senones did not take well to being forced south and were destroying Etruscan settlements in southern Italy. Magna Graecia was claiming territory for Greece in the South and in Picenum through their extensive fleet of ships.

And to top this all off, they had growing internal conflicts, all Ligures were war-like and they did not like being confined to a League of cities and many revolted, some used their influence to use their allied cities to turn against their rival Ligure tribes. You could say it was over before it began.

This is how we begin our story of the fall of Etruria as we know it.

Death of a Salesman

Most raiders wouldn't dare go after Gaul colonies in Tyrrhenian Sea, but after this Baalyaton could retire early and entice his son to take up the trade. Baalyaton even had captives he could afford to sacrifice to appease Ba'al. His crew was drunk or claiming their portion of the prize. No one cared about the boat on the horizon that was rapidly catching up with them. And by the time someone noticed the ship it was too late, they could not get away. Shafat did not take up his fathers business, eventually he became an artisan.

The council of elders was furious when the ship did not return, they were aware of the return they would collect on the huge load that was coming in from Gaul, after all Baalyaton had expressed interest in joining the Council of Elders. That goes straight to their coffers. But they soon saw it for the opportunity it was, it was an attack by the Etruscans and Ligures one might call it an act of war.

In 492 BCE, before the colony knew what hit them 20 carthaginian warships were entering the harbour of Ιbēr [1]. A message would not get out, perhaps in a few days a battered collection of refugees would find the charred remains of Cecni [2]. By the time a fleet of ships successfully got out of Massalia and got back to the homeland, Carthage had taken most of the colonies on the Iberian peninsula leaving only Sardinia, Corsica, and most of Italy.

Eventually the Etruscans mounted a resistance, a fleet of Vetluna, Elba Island, Caisra, and Tarchna ships protected Corsica and evacuated Sardinia, and secured parts of Massalia. Suddenly they hit a snag, the people of Alalia, Tarchna, Caisra, Vetluna (and Fuflunans on their ships),and the Ilvates realized they included only a third of the Dodecapoli, where were the rest of the Etruscans? When many of these cities outright refused to joining the naval defence effort the people of the Kingdoms that actually were participating was outraged, Vetluna and Fufluna along with Elba Island entirely withdrew from the battle and vowed to protect their own harbours, the Duocapoli was formed.

Mantua, Atria, Spica, Tauisamo, and Felsina are on the coast of the Adriatic Sea or in proximity to it, none had any investment in a doomed Alalia, or the Tyrrhenia Sea. They were expanding while the league was stagnating and withering, they didn't want to continue to prop up the ventures of ten obsolete cities that were falling apart from the inside-out. And in 487 BCE they formed a league of five cities, the Northern League of five. In the year 485, after the burning of Alalia, only eleven major Etruscan cities had any allegiance to a centralized League [3]. And now they had other enemies to deal with, close to home now.

[1] Our Valencia.

[2] Our Barcelona.

[3] 10 of which are the traditional league and one is in Liguria (La Spezia area).

Friends, Countrymen, Latins, Lend Me Your Ears

Veii was falling apart, Carthage was virtually at their gates and to the South they faced a growing rebellion. They had not had contact with Campeva in weeks, and tension was in the air. On July 5th, 486 BCE scouts reported an army marching from the south, an army of Samnites. As they marched past vast tracts of farmland they shouted, “We have all felt the wrath of the Rasna, we must all defeat them.” And it is said that hundreds streamed toward the growing force on a heading for Veii.

On July 8th, 485 BCE the armies of Latium and Samnium met the Veientes in battle in the ruins of Rome. The Veientes controlled an army of 1000 or less at the time, they were still recovering from the Latin Wars. However because of it they had well-trained veterans. But at their gates was a horde of 4000 enraged, oppressed Latins and Samnites, some had even participated in the Latin Wars. There main advantage, other than their numbers, was a profound hatred of their enemies.

The Samnites would get their first glimpse of the Etruscan army when they climbed over the remains Servian Wall at the Southern end, over burnt houses and a regrowing wildlife, as they walked through the patches of poppies, they could see the Etruscan shield wall marching over Palatine Hill, the glint of steel, and the reflections off helmets. On both sides people could see the masters of their fate, the catalysts for their death. Then a Latin in the Samnite army charged, and a feeling of control swept over the crowd. They knew who would win, they knew they could do it.

When they hit the shield wall any morale in the Etruscan forces evaporated. The waves of troops just kept coming and soon the battle seemed to be over. The Etruscans began to regroup on the edge of the Tibur River to make a final stand, perhaps some stragglers would get the idea and escape while they still could. As the Samnites charged on towards them, the Etruscans prepared. This time there would be no escape, though the details of the final stand are sketchy, it is said that they fought valiantly. The Huns when hearing of their story would retell it as a story of the ultimate sacrifice that the soldiers made. In the end though their lied a river of red and a burning city of Veii. Caisra stopped taking refugees a couple days later. In 484 BCE, Caisra was in the same position as Veii once was, they brought their armies in from the battles with Carthage to protect themselves from the Samnite threat. They knew it was inevitable, but they knew that they would do their best to stop it.

And then there were nine.

Land of the Picenes

The South-Eastern borders of Etruria were heavily fortified, and while Samnites continued on their conquest, eventually invading Caisra and Tarchna, the Piceni had their own concerns. They knew that if they could get Arretium and take control of the corridor between the Arno River and the Tiber River the rest would fall easily. However in between them and Arretium lied multiple barracks, 18 have been found by modern archaeologists and they range from 20 to 500 people in capacity (however most are within 100 to 200 people in capacity). Once they were past this first hurdle they would have to deal with Perusia, a poorly known city that however was flourishing from the monopoly over goods from Umbria, unique to the area, for example, Brown Coal or Lignite can be found as close as 50 km away and it had become popular for its well developed Vineyards. And because the native Umbrians were largely peaceful and easily domitable they injected a burst of culture and allowed for usage of their efficient, and heavily armed hilltop fortresses.

Despite different cultures they formed an alliance with a large chiefdom that was forming to organize the Samnite army, it was mainly Samnite but had Latins, Volsci, and possibilities of a single Etruscan defector representative were said to advise the chief. The army of Samnites now had 12,000 people, the Piceni however were not organized. Instead many different tribes controlled the land called “Picenum”. However they were able to form a union against their Etruscan persecutors and form a gathering of 5000 and with guidance from the Samnites and a couple thousand troops they were able to plan an invasion.

There was three parts to the invasion; first they had to establish a corridor through the various barracks in the area to minimize confrontation.

Once they were able to get supply trains through they would march on Perusia. And from their, using Perusia as a forward base of operations, they would hit Arretium.

The Etruscans now had a battle on three fronts.

Mor ad Etrusco [1]


To be successful the Piceni would need to get through the Etruscan fortresses stationed around Umbria that most likely accounted for about 5000 people combined.

In the year of 480 B.C.E., 8000 troops marched from Alf Lake [2]. They had a distance of 100 km to travel to get to Perusia. The forces would first meet on the Raeti Plains [3], where two fortresses were positioned, both with about 500 soldiers. Both fortresses set up a phalanx on opposite sides of the Alf River [3]. The Piceni simply looped around them and attacked from every side, no one escaped the rage that had been building up in these troops over 40+ years.

When the Piceni began marching again, the army was less than 200 soldiers worse off. They crossed the plains and the army split into three, following three paths; on one path they crossed the Umbrian Plains [4] to the Olnuph River [5] and follow it to Perusia. A second group followed the Zwar River Valley [6] and then took other paths to the coastal plains. And a last group went through the mountains attacking various barracks and destroying mines. Let's first follow the coastal group, a force of 2000 people.

The group separated and followed the Zwar River until it began to turn toward the south, and then they marched across the mountains to the coast. They first encountered Etruscans in a Brown Coal mine on the opposite side of a ridge that they crossed while moving away from the river, they came down the hill towards the mining encampment and killed everyone, and then burned the village, the brown coal dust was in the air and caught almost instantly, the whole village was engulfed, next they met a barrack a couple of km from the coast with 120 people. Unfortunately for the Piceni, they were not as successful at killing this group, multiple troops escaped and alerted the nearby barracks, and on the foothills at the coast they were met with an army apparently a little bigger than them.

Though the forces were outnumbered, they were angry and ready for battle, some of the Etruscans had never seen battle. Little detail of the battle has survived but afterward a modest army of Piceni survived. They looted resources from the bases that the Etruscan counter-force had left nearly empty. An army of about 200 returned to aid the main effort, the Etruscans on the coast had been nearly destroyed and were effectively out of the war, in a couple years they would begin to regroup but not for these battles.

The second group that was disabling any outposts that could bring resources into the community, while this was happening, marched towards a known hub of transportation, mining, and trade that was only 50 km from Perusia, the settlement was called Matluna. And during the movements of the Perusia attack force that was to go along the plains, their force of 2000 would head parallel towards the Matluna settlement. Writings record two Etruscan barracks along the way, one with 20 and one with over 200 however, due to hostilities in Zydenhasl [7] we cannot locate the smaller site. They first encountered the small outpost and quickly destroyed it, killing everyone, and then the larger outpost.

They were on the fortress before the Etruscans could do anything, and they fired volleys of arrows into the citadel. And stormed through the gates before they could be closed. And after a bloody battle, the Piceni only left a burning shell. After this they continued unhindered to Matluna.

When they arrived at Matluna, they found that farmers had managed to warn of the encroaching army and a phalanx formation was being organized outside the fortress. When they began, they came out of a valley to the south and began to run. And another front began coming over the nearby foothills on either side of the valley. At this point the two sides were on roughly equal ground. What would happen would be one of the bloodiest battles of the Piceni conquest of Etruria. And although Piceni won, the victory was not the last one battle on their journey.

After the dust settled and blood stopped flowing the city was burning and the Piceni were tending to their wounds. It was found that their leader was dead, one of about a thousand that had died, and no soldier in the army could be chosen as a replacement. And suddenly the forces lost their cohesion, Samnite factions began circling their wounded and different Piceni factions began asking who the true enemy was. Over the course of a day, several brawls took place and in a single tent about 20 men were throwing their hats into the ring for control. That night no one slept, no one let their guard down. It was not until the morning however till one of the troops found the body of the man that had been vying to lead from the Samnite camp was dead. And suddenly all hell broke loose, as the man came around the corner and shouted the news, the samnites filled with rage began lashing out. And other Piceni took the chance to rekindle old feuds. After this, all that was left was a band of Samnites and some Piceni escaping into the woods. The Samnites now could work together and headed back to the main army.

[1] “Death to the Etruscans” with the little grammar that we know from the Osco-Umbrian Languages.

[2] Alf Lake means “Elf Lake” in Dutch (see the ending chapters). Is OTL Lago del Salto (Lake of the Jump).

[3] Raeti Plains is OTL the city of Rieti.

[4] Area of OTL city of Terni.

[5] Named after a Hun (long story, but this is going to be a long book isn't it), our Tiber River.

[6] Zwar is a weird warping of the word black from Dutch and German to make a weird Germanic language.

[7] Zydenhasl is an ATL Italian Country the name means “South Country” in my weird twisted ATL Germanic language.

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