Alternate History

War for the Ashes of Rome (The Ashes of Rome Map Game)

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War for the Ashes of Rome
The Ashes of Rome War
Date 722-745
Location Western Europe (particularly Italy)
Result Victory of the Coalition, conquest of Italy
Anti-Gothic Coalition

Flag of Palaeologus EmperorByzantine Empire

  • Gepid Mercenary Force IFirst Gepid Mercenary Force (28-)

Pavillon royal de la France Frankish Kingdom (25-)

  • Flag of YorkKingdom of York (25- )
  • FlagOfEssexKingdom of Essex (25- )
  • Saxony AbrittusDuchy of Saxony (25- )
  • Gepid Mercenary Force IISecond Gepid Mercenary Force (28-)

Gepid RepublicGepid Republic (30- )

Celtic empireCeltic Leagues (35- )

  • Flag of PictlandCoalition of Picts (35- )
Gothic Empire and allies
  • Visigothic FlagVisigothic Kingdom
  • Ostrogothic FlagOstrogothic Kingdom
  • Ravne flagKingdom of Jutland (30- )
Gothic Independent States
  • Romae FlagNew Roman Republic
  • Flag of Sicily (The Kalmar Union).svgSicily
  • Portugal Gothic Flag Portugal
  • Coat of arms of GermanyGermanic Peoples
Commanders and leaders
</br> </br>
  • Visigothic FlagQueen Sventhila Lousean
  • Visigothic FlagHand of the Queen Alexander Salvioli
  • Ostrogothic FlagKing Chindaswintha III †
The War for the Ashes of Rome, also know as War for Rome's Reconquest, Gothic War or Imperial European War, is a massive European conflict that marked the 8th century. Considered by some historians as the marking point between two era, it is marked by the end of the United Gothic Empire, the new definition of Christianity in Europe and by the massive among of soldiers involved in the war.

Other historians refuse to consider the War for the Ashes of Rome as a single war, but more as a series of different war that followed themselves in a very short time.

The war also marked the beginning of Frankish dominance over Western Europe. Many historians believe that King Peter I was motivated less by the need to preserve what he considered true Christianity, and more from the fact that his father, Grand Duke Joseph, died after he contracted the plague from a corpse left by Gothic soldiers in Lombardy, as part of their biological warfare against the Lombards. Peter I blamed the Goths for what happened.

Two Different Wars

At first, the War for the Ashes of Rome wasn't a single war, but instead two wars that followed the conquest of Lombardy by the High Council of the Mediterranean.

Following the conquest of Lombardy by the Gothic Empire in 720, their leader allowed the local population to keep their pagan faith, a decision that would weaken the Empire, as faith was one of the main pillars that stopped the Empire from falling. Riot began to rise in every corners of the Gothic Empire for multiple reasons, going from taxes to the fact their ruler was a woman,which was badly perceived by the nobility and population.

Around the same time, changes began to appear in the Byzantine Empire. Emperor Anastasios II died from a plague, leaving the Byzantine throne vacant. It was, however, rapidly be occupied by a famous general who took the name of Leo III. Seeking to reclaim the Ashes of Rome, the new Emperor waged war against the weaken Gothic Empire, who held Italy (and Rome). Taking advantage of the Gothic Empire's situation of weakness, Leo III first years in the war were successful.

In 725, King William of the Frankish Kingdom died with no heir, leaving his nephew Peter to inherit. Using the war between the Goths and Byzantines, he launched his own war against the Gothic Empire, citing their unchristian behavior as one of their main excuse, and the fact that their use of the plague as a weapon had resulted in the death his father, Grand Duke Joseph. The Frankish-Gothic War even expanded to the British Isles, were both once held vassal nations. Peter I invited the bishops to assemble in Paris in order to elect a Pope. The Frankish King hoped to use this new Pope as a symbol against the Gothics, and expressed his desire to create a Papal State in Rome.

The Christian Meeting of Buteridava

On the side line, the Gepid Republic stood, watching in neutrality the war. The last Consul, Recimer Valomer, was a militaristic ruler who would have easily jumped in the war. Fearing war, the Gepid Senate elected in 725 Galindus Aric, who promised he would keep the Gepid Republic neutral in the European conflicts.

However, the Bessas Family and their pro-Christians allies supported the Frankish Kingdom and their desire to create a Papal State. Galindus thus decided to unofficially support the Frankish Kingdom, sending his thanks to the new Pope. He then invited both Leo III and Peter I to a meeting in Buteridava in order to coordinate their efforts.

During this meeting, it was agreed of the future division of Italy after the conquest, of the nomination of Peter I as commander of the united forces and of the Gepid Republic providing both nation with a mercenary force. With this, the Consul could happily claim that he kept the Gepid Republic out of the war.

Christian Meeting Buteridava

15th century depiciton of the Meeting, with Peter I and the Frankish (left), Leo III and the Byzantine (right) and Galindus Aric (center).

However, many changes happened in Europe during the meeting, and the Gothic Empire crumbled into many different kingdoms, the biggest being the Ostrogoth and Visigoth Kingdom, the later still being ruled by Senthila Lousean. During her last days as ruler of the Gothic Empire, she disbanded the Roman Senate, a decision that would spark rage among Europe, in particular in the Gepid Republic. Galindus Aric, who played his Consulate on the idea of peace and neutrality, unwillingly sparked a pro-war desire among the population and the Senate, and Hermenigild Valomer, who was at suppose to lead the Second Gepid Mercenary Force, was instead elected as Consul to lead the Gepid into the war, joining rank with the Franks and Byzantines.

Campaign in Italy

Emperor Leo III War

Emperor Leo III during the campaign in Italy

The Campaign in Italy was considered the main part of the war, and started following the enter of the Frankish Kingdom in the war. He was soon joined by the Byzantine Empire and the Gepid Mercenary Forces.

In the years that followed the Christian Meeting in Buteridava, the Coalition of Byzantine-Frankish forces gained many territories in the north, thus blocking any land access between Visigothic and Ostrogothic Kingdoms. However, Chindaswintha III was able to organize his men in order to protect the way to Rome, and repelled the invaders each time they tried to pass (to great cost of troops, however). Even if the Ostrogoths hold still, it became clear that the Coalition would sooner or later enter Rome as things were going, especially with the Gepid Republic on its way to re-enforce the invaders.

Emperor Leo III didn't wait there. He went on many expeditions on the coasts of Italy with his ships, raiding and gaining positions on the eastern coast, which gave him control of many new harbors. This would help him to lan a ambitious landing in southern Italy, a plan put in action in 729. However, many locals united to repel the Byzantine Emperor, and formed the Kingdom of Sicily to stand in his way and protect the region. Leo III was forced to leave most of his southern conquests, leaving the occupied lands he had left to the general Vithimiris Aric of the First Gepid Mercenary Force, so he and his troops could keep the region under control. He would eventually be able to make some gains in the south between 730 and 735.

In 733, the Coalition Forces, now joined by the Gepid army, was finally able to enter middle Italy, and conquered almost half of the peninsula. Byt 735, Rome was finally in sight for the christian forces, but the Frankish were low on morale, the war being hard on them, especially with the Lombard attacks on their lands up North. The siege of Rome finally began, and a bloody battle began to retake the capital of the greatest European empire. In 739, the city would finally fall to the Coalition, but resulted in the death of both Kings Peter I (Franks) and Chindaswintha III (Ostrogoth). To this was added the news of Pope John Francis II's death, which caused the problem of who would own Rome after the war.

The Gepid Republic used the following years to elect their own Pope in Rome, Witiric Hunigild (who after election would take the name Felix V) after a five years vacancy of the papacy, which helped Christianity accept the election, as the need for a new pope was urgent.

Leo III finally became active once again, invading what was left of southern Italy, this would lead to many massacres under his orders, as he didn't tolerate the local population's opposition to his conquest, considering Sicily as a legitimate part of his empire.

Campaign in Hispania

Peter I War

King Peter I during the campaign in Hispania

Soon after the crumbling of the Gothic Empire, Portugal, Brittany and Cataluna formed the Kingdom of Portugal, which stood as a buffer zone between the Visigothic and Frankish Kingdoms.

However, when the Visigoths kidnapped the newly elected Pope John Francis II, the Frankish King Peter I led many of his troops to invade Hispania in order to save him. Followed by the Second Gepid Mercenary Force (led by Sigeris Bessas), the Peter I began invading Portugal (as it stood in the way) and brutally killing his enemies. By 735, he was able to conquer most of Portugal, only leaving them with Brittany. This would open the path to Hispania. Peter, however, was forced to wait for assault because of the Lombard attacks on his northern provinces and the siege of Rome actually happening.

The Visigoth tried to organize a peace negotiation on their land, threatening to kill the Pope if they refused. But of the three main members of the coalition, only Leo III was in favor for the meeting, which was seen as a treason by the Gepids.

Campaign in the British Isles

Scotland Pict

Pictish Soldiers during the Campaign in the British Isles

The War in the British Isles was mostly done by the Frankish vassals, the Kingdoms of York and Essex. With Frankish troops, they invaded the little territories held by the Gothic Empire in the Islands in the first years of the war, and by the time of the Christian Meeting of Buteridava, the Gothics had lost most of their positions their.

The entrance of the Kingdom of Jutland in 730 gave the Gothic a powerful ally in the North that could turn the war in both the British Isles and Germany. The Pictish forces, who refused the presence of the Jutes in the British Isles, decided to join the coalition in order to expel the Jutes of the Isles.

By this time, the two sides wanted King Ankou Versnow to join them, and in the end, the Celtic Ruler chose the side of the Coalition, and declared war to the Goths and Jutes. This would, however, lead to a crushing defeat in a naval battle opposing the Jutes to the Celts, Picts also met defeat on the battlefield, the Jutes successfully pushing back their offensive. Even with the combine efforts of Picts, Celts and Franks, were able to push into Frankish territories.

Conclusion and aftermaths

With the conquest of Rome and the fall of Italy, the goal of the war was accomplished by the Coalition forces, and so Peter II accepted the offer of peace coming from the Visigoth Kingdom, now known as the Kingdom of Hispania, especially since he wanted to concentrate his forces against the Lombards.

Queen Sventhila Lousean once again tried to organize a meeting in order to agree on peace terms and to talk about the situation in Europe for the next decades. This led to the Conference of Toulouse, which is generally seen by historians as the end of the War for the Ashes of Rome.

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