Friday, April 20, 2012

The Calm before the Storm

After Julius Caesar returned to Rome in triumph, he served another term as Consul, in 700 AUC (54 BC).  He used this year to further consolidate his political base and bolster the positions of his allies in government.  He lavished the city with games and construction projects, expanding his already impressive popularity.  As his term wound to an end, he continued the various efforts to maintain the support of the electorate, only now the games were held in the name of his various political allies and lieutenants. 
The most ambitious of the projects begun during Caesar's consulship would be the Library of Rome, built with the stated intention of rivaling that of Alexandria.  Caesar sought to have a copy in Rome of every book in Alexandria.  Nearly as grand as the library would be the extensive upgrades to the facilities at Ostia's port, the nearest to Rome.  A large fortified harbor was begun, with 2 long seawalls to protect the harbor and a sophisticated lighthouse.

Caesar also pursued various minor political reforms, seeking to improve the Roman state wherever he thought possible, to the extant that the state and people were willing to tolerate after the previous decade's reforms.  The most significant successful reforms were term limits for various magistrates.  Governors were also now subjected to similar limits on their terms, requiring continued support of the assemblies to maintain their posts.  However, governors seeking to stay in office simply bled their provinces dry (to an extent that was shocking, even by Roman standards) to afford bribing the assemblies, leading to several provincial revolts during 701 and 702 AUC (53 and 52 BC).  Thus, hard term limits were imposed on governors as well.

Less significant reforms included efforts to weed out corruption and fraud, such as establishing a formal licensing system for practitioners of medicine.  Caesar also sought to expand the number of Italian voting tribes from 12 to 14, though resistance to that from the Roman establishment dissuaded him from pursuing the effort any further.

While Caesar and his allies were busy in Rome, his protege, Lucius Octavius, served as governor of Dacia.  While serving as governor, his main goal was to solidify the Roman dominion of the area, which was hampered by the logistics of the current borders.  Collaborating with the governor of Illyricum, Gaius Claudius Pulcher, Octavius sought to subdue the various tribes in the Illyrian hinterland.  To the north, the Boii remained firm in their allegiance to the Republic, but the tribes between the coastline and Dacia could not be relied upon.

So, in the spring of 701 AUC (53 BC), Octavius and Claudius began campaigning in Illyria.  The first phase of the campaign secured the Savus (Sava) river, which was the main goal of both generals.  They then moved north, securing the Dravus (Drava) river, which was then established as the border between the Roman Republic and the Boii, who occupied Pannonia between the Dravus and Danuvius.  With this narrow strip of land securely in Roman hands, Octavius and Claudius methodically marched south,  crushing all the opposing tribes before them.  By the end of 702 AUC (52 BC), inland Illyria was subdued and added to the province of Illyricum, greatly shortening the Roman borders.



More of a house cleaning than anything else to set the state for future updates.  Everything major program Caesar does at this point is something he planned to do.  The smaller efforts, such as the regulation of medicine were efforts proposed by other Romans, such as Pliny.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The World, circa 700 AUC

Red: Roman Republic
Purple: Xanthian Empire
Yellow: Empire of Seres
(more detailed key to follow)

Early Reign of Han Zhao Di

Han Zhao Di, who reigned over the Han Dynasty of Seres for many years, has been regarded by many historians as one of the greatest men to ever rule that country.  Born in the year 660 AUC (94 BC) as Liu Fuling, his father was Han Wu Di, Emperor of Seres at that time.  Wu Di was advanced in his years, at that time, already 62.  Between this and several heartening omens associated with the birth, the young boy quickly gained favor with his father.  Thus, when Wu Di died in 668 AUC (86 BC), the young prince was elevated to the throne.

During Zhao's early years, there were three regents who advised him: Huo Guang, a prominent statesman, Jin Midi, a former Xiognu prince, and Shangguan Jie, commander of the imperial guard.  The three men were able to effectively govern the vast empire as Zhao matured.  Their regency was exemplified by the frequent debates between two major factions in court politics: the modernists, who supported the various government monopolies, and the reformists, who opposed them.  Huo Guang and the Imperial Secretary, Sang Hongyang, were instrumental in the support of the monopolies, which were, for the most part continued throughout the regency.

It was in 670 AUC (84 BC) that one of the co-regents, Shangguan Jie, would die of illness.  Upon his death, Jin Midi suggested that Huo Guang assume sole responsibility as regent for the young Emperor, so as to avoid the potential for conflict between himself and Huo.  Huo declined, citing Jin's humility and propriety as insurance against a rivalry ever forming between the two.  Demonstrating his admiration for Jin, Huo orchestrated Zhao's marriage to Jin's granddaughter, a marriage that would prove fruitful and loving.  Jin Midi himself would not live to the end of the regency, dying of illness in 673 AUC (81 BC).  A few years after that that Zhao was prepared to assume the responsibilities of ruling in his own right.

Retaining Huo as an advisor, Emperor Zhao set about about reforming the economy of Seres.  His father had aggressively prosecuted many wars, straining the economy.  To foster growth and alleviate the burden on the people, Zhao lowered taxes throughout Seres.  He also instituted a two-tiered form of taxation; one based on property and one based on income (such that it could be called income).  The tax on income was much lower than the property tax, shifting a greater share of the burden on the landed elites, while alleviating the lot of the poor.  His early reforms were staunchly opposed by the landed gentry, members of whom were responsible for two attempted palace coups against him.  The vigorous reprisals against the conspirators cowed many in the gentry for the time being.  By 680 AUC (74 BC), Zhao's reforms were firmly in place, as was his position as Emperor of Seres.


Not a very meaty update, I admit.  Of course, Rome will be the centerpiece of this timeline.  However, I do have more detailed proceedings intended for China in the future of the timeline.

The Unification of Gallia

The Gallic Republic was forged within the many wars that began roughly around 692 AUC (62 BC) that took place in the eastern half of Gallia, involving incursions from Germanic tribes and the migration of the Helvetii tribe.  The Suebi, a powerful Germanic tribe under the leadership of their king, Ariovistus, entered into an alliance with the Sequani, a Gallic people living north of the Helvetii, who lived north of lake Lemanus (Geneva), to assist in their war against the Aedui, a powerful tribe living west of the Sequani.

The Aedui were a tribe closely allied to the Roman Republic, and had a political system that may have been inspired by the Romans.  Their chief magistrate, known as as the Vergobretus ('judgement-worker'), was elcted annually, and had power of life and death over all of the Aedui, but was forbidden to go outside of their territory.  They had many client tribes who depended upon the Aedui.  The Sequani, meanwhile, quarreled with the Aedui often, and the opportunity to use the Suebi to defeat them was far too appealing.

The Aedui sent Diviciacus, who had previously served as their Vergobretus, to Rome to seek help.  A skilled orator and personal friend of both Cicero and Caesar, he pleaded fiercely for Roman military aid.  Eventually, one legion was sent, the Legio IV Gemini, under the command of Lucius Aurelius Cotta.  The news of the Roman support for the Aedui intimidated some of the chieftains under Ariovistus, but most of the Suebi and Sequani followed through with their invasion.

The Aedui army met with that of the invaders near the fort of Cabilionum, on the Arar (Saone) river.  The Romans, who had arrived shortly before, had spent much of their time improving the fortifications of the site, as well as building several artillery engines with which to bombard the Suebi and Sequani.  The bombardment was so effective that the invaders were obliged to attempt to cross over the river, to the southeast.

The Aedui pursued them fiercely, leading to panic and confusion among the enemy ranks.  As the warriors boarded their boats, the Roman artillery was able to sink many of them, drowning countless Suebi and Sequani.  The remainder of the force was able to flee the battle, returning to their homelands.  Cotta, satisfied that the Romans had fulfilled their obligation, withdrew back to Italia, while the Aedui followed the Sequani back some ways up the Arar river, ensuring the the Aedui would control the traffic along the river.

After this war, the prestige of the Aedui was greatly increased, and many nearby tribes acquiesced to their primacy, including the Lemovices, Petrocorii, and the Bituriges Vivisci (cousins to the Bituriges Cubi, who already were clients of the Aedui).  Thus, the Aedui held sway over much of central Gallia, down to the borders of Gallia Narbonensis, the Roman province, and west to the Atlantic Ocean, just north of Aquitania.

However, the Sequani were not content to lay defeated, and soon found a new ally against the Aedui.  This time, it was the Helvetii, a fellow Gallic tribe, who, under their king Orgetorix, desired to move westward, so as to flee the incursions of the Germanic tribes pressing against their boarders.  Orgetorix, who was of a clever and militant mindset, eagerly encouraged an alliance with the Sequani, agreeing to split much of the land of the Aedui between them.

The Helvetii were not inclined to be conquerors, however, and Orgetorix spent much effort and time persuading the leaders of the tribe to his point of view.  Eventualy, by 695 AUC (59 BC), the Helvetians were ready to march, and began their trek westward, into the territory of the Aedui, soon joining up with the Sequani under Casticus.

As the assembled Helvetian host marched into the territory of the Aedui, a call to arms was raised among many of the gallic tribes allied to the Aedui.  Even more were brought into the alliance through skillful diplomacy, with rumors spread that the Sequani and Helvetii planned to divide the territory of various other gallic tribes amongst themselves.  The Aedui also requested more assistance from the Romans, but received little help, other than the Roman governor of Gallia Narbonensis blocking attempts by the Helvetii to march through Roman territory.

The first major battle between the two sides was again along the Arar river, approximately halfway between Cabilionum and Lugdunum.    The Helvetii were eventually able to cross the river and managed to hammer the Aedui ranks, driving back many of the allied forces.  The Aedui retreated back to their capital of Bibracte, while the allied tribes dispersed north and south to the fortifications along the Arar.  The Helvetii and Sequani debated extensively on what course to proceed on, and eventually settled on pursuing the Aedui to Bibracte and taking the fortress, decapitating the leadership of their opponents.

However, while the invaders argued, the Aedui spent their time reinforcing the fortifications and preparing for the potential of a siege, efforts that were redoubled when scouts confirmed that their enemies were marching on Bibracte.  Equally important was the assurance of the continuation of support from the other allied tribes, who were making cannily making sure to extract many promises from the embattled Aedui in their time of need.  The allied tribes, for their part, harassed the progress of the advancing army, focusing their efforts on attacking scouting and foraging parties.

The Sequani and Helvetii reached Bibracte in mid June of 695 AUC (59 BC), and found the fortifications to be very impressive.  Further, much of the surrounding forest had already been harvested for timber, depriving the attacks of much of the material they needed for circumvallation works.  Still, they pressed on and were eventually able to encircle the fortress.  No sooner had they done so, then the allied forces, which had contented themselves with harassing their efforts, began to attack in earnest.

Orgetorix and Casticus quickly scrambled to improve their fortifications to repel the attackers, bloodying both sides severely as they did so.  By August, the besiegers were also besieged themselves, with daily sallies launched against them from both sides.  At this point, Divicianus made great use of his diplomatic skills to sow dissent amongst the Helvetii, who had not been entirely enthused at the prospect of the war to begin with.  By late September, enough were of the opinion that the war was entirely due to Orgetorix's ambitious scheming, and agreed to rebel, on the condition of amnesty.

On the morning of September 21st, the allied forces launched their largest attack yet, focusing all their efforts on the Sequani positions in the fortifications, leaving the Helvetii completely unmolested.  Orgetorix responded by attempting to assist the beleaguered Sequani.  However, the forces that he brought to bear were those that were loyal to him, as the disloyal commanders convinced him to leave them at their positions, in case the attack as a ruse.  Persuaded, Orgetorix directly contributed to his defeat by completely separating the soldiers loyal to him from the greater body of the Helvetii.

Once the tribe was divided, the rebel leaders issued forth the signal, and opened their fortifications to the attackers, before turning on Orgetorix and Casticus and joining in the general attack on their positions.  Orgetorix quickly realized what had happened and made a valiant effort to resist the assault, but soon came to the conclusion that victory was impossible, and committed suicide.  Casticus was not so inclined and went down fighting.  By the end of the day, the Sequani army had been virtually annihilated, and a fair portion of the Helvetii lay dead as well, aside from those that had rebelled, now under the leadership of Divico, leader of the Tigurini Helvetii.

However, the allied forces were also ravaged by battle and disease, and the question of what to do with the Helvetii remained.  Adding to the discord were the demands of the various tribes allied to the Aedui that had been made in return for continued support.  Many of these demands were mutually exclusive, and the entire network of alliances and treaties forged by the Aedui during the war seemed to be unraveling, as was typical of Gallic relations of the time.

Dumnorix, the brother of Divicanus, was able to break the deadlock of arguments by focusing on the outside threats that still face the Gallic tribes: The Germanic tribes and the Romans.  Dumnorix was more inclined to passionate speeches and was no friend of the Roman Republic, while Divicanus was more sympathetic to the Romans and more patient with his negotiations.  The two managed to compliment their respective talents and worked tirelessly to keep the tribes a cohesive force.

It was after much negotiation that a permanent council of the Gallic tribes was formed, to which the overwhelming majority of the allied tribes would send representatives.  Taking cues from the Roman government, they set about negotiating and arguing how exactly their union would take shape.  Though the debates continued throughout the year and for sometime after, the most important had already been resolved: there would be a unified state composed of Gallic tribes, who would settle their differences peacefully rather than through force of arms.


I don't have much to say about the unification of Gaul, other than that its not a complete process by any means.  Largely just the tribes adjacent to and west of the Aedui have aligned themselves to the new government being formed around the nucleus that is the Aedui alliance.

The war itself is just a reinterpretation of the Gallic wars of our history, with the Romans largely left out, as their efforts have been focused largely eastward (particularly, in Dacia).  Further, as Roman allies have effectively come out on top, there is much less of a reason for Roman interference, for the time being.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Close of the Dacian War

Throughout much of 697 AUC (57 BC), the war between Dacia and the Roman Republic proceeded as a series of sieges and skirmishes, rather than set battles.  Caesar's legions would, at various points, lay siege to one Dacian city or another, while Burebista's army would attempt to wear away at the supply lines of the Romans, while they were held down in sieges.  When Caesar would pursue Burebista's army, seeking battle, the Dacians would turn and lift the current siege.  Thus, neither force was able to accomplish anything of note, other than delay.

This stalemate fit into Burebista's strategy, as he hoped to simply outlast the Roman invasion, counting on victory being simply 'not losing.'  Understanding that Caesar was largely after glory and the political capital that went with it, he made every effort to harass and humiliate the Romans.  He may, however, underestimated Roman tenacity and vindictiveness.

Burebista's greatest victory was, as it turned out, something of the set battle which he sought to avoid.  While marching to the relief of the city of Buridava, in the late summer,  Burebista's army was overtaken by a Roman force of two legions, marching to reconnect with Caesar.  Though Burebista did not have any intention of engaging the enemy force, as they were comparable in number, the situation was forced upon him.

However, the Roman commander, Lucius Antonius Hybrida, overconfidently spread his lines dangerously thin, in an effort to envelop the Dacian force.  Burebista, seeing the opportunity present to him,  was able to punch through the Roman lines in two separate spots, enveloping the troops between.  Over half of the Roman soldiers were killed in this battle, and Antonius was soon recalled to Rome in disgrace, to be replaced by the more competent Gnaeus Domitius Regulus.

More heartening developments were to be found in the west, where the Roman allies, the Boii, a celtic tribe, were winning a series of victories over the Jazyges and the Dacian army in their vicinity.  At the start of the war, the Boii were a waning tribe, under intense pressure from the Dacian invasions of their territory, as were their neighbors, the Taurisci and the Scordisci.  However, under their king, Artebudes, they deftly negotiated alliances with the other tribes, and began to coordinate their defenses against the Dacians.

The Boii had the advantage of having the other two tribes in between them and the Dacian kingdom, thus allowing them some breathing room while the Taurisci and Scordisci took the brunt of the raids.  Artebudes also made all possible haste to assist in the defense of those that supported his war plans, while his army would arrive just too late to assist those that were opposed to him.  Thus, he was able to allow the natural course of war to eliminate many of his rivals.  On one noteworthy occasion, his army was not far from the site of a battle between the Dacians and a rival of his, Moges.  Artebudes made sure his army arrived just after Moges and his retinue had been killed in battle, saving the bulk of the leaderless army and defeating the Dacians.  Such perfect timing was the exception, rather than the rule, however.

Artebudes' strategy was quite effective, and the Boii were, by 697 AUC (57 BC) pre-eminent among the three tribes, and were the only capable of sending troops to assist Caesar's army directly.  His fame, already quite noteworthy among his people and neighboring tribes, was to skyrocket with the defeat of the Jazyges by his army.  It was not even half a decade before that the Jazyges were one of the most feared tribes in the entire region.  Now, they had been attrited by constant war, as well as the tendency of generals to use overwhelming force against them, for fear of their reputation.

Meanwhile, to the north, several barbarian tribes, including the Germanic Quadi, and the Venedae and Navari, began to raid the northern regions of Dacia.  Burebista's army could not defend against these raids, as well as those of the Boii and Bastarnae, and hold back Caesar's Legions.  As the war ravaged the land, many people suffered and some began to lose their faith in Burebista's leadership.

The coming winter was harsher than usual, and exacted a cruel toll on the populace.  Caesar spent the winter, forging ties with many of the Dacian tribes to the north; those that suffered the most from the constant raids.  He brought food and other gifts for the nobles, and soon won over the Costoboci and Carpi tribes.  He left with them garrisons to defend against the barbarians.

With the loss of the Carpi and Costoboci, Burebista knew that he could no longer avoid open battle with Caesar.  His strategy of bleeding the Romans white had worked just as well, if not better, against his own people.  He made every effort to pin down Caesar's army on favorable terrain, while Caesar made similar effort.  Eventually, the two armies met several miles northeast of the Burebista's capital of Argadeva, near Apulum.

As the two armies approached each other, Caesar began to make preparations and built up extensive fortifications around his army.  Burebista's army made a few attempts to assault the fortifications before building their own circumvallation, in imitation of Roman siege methods.  However, by doing so, the Dacian army was deprived of the mobility with which they had foiled the Roman attempts to defeat them.  Pinned down, Burebista's army was soon forced to defend against attacks from the allies of Rome, led by Octavius, Spartacus, and Artebudes.

The Dacian army did what they could to build defenses against the incoming armies, but their forces were soon stretched too thin by the double assault.  Caesar's troops assaulted the Dacian fortifications just as the outer lines were being completed.  As the battle raged, the outer army also renewed their attacks.  It was not long before the situation was hopeless for the Dacians, and Burebista, as his army disintegrated around him, took his own life, effectively ending the war.

The remainder of the Dacian military and government quickly surrendered to Caesar after one more minor skirmish.  Dacia was divided up, with some western territories being granted to the Boii and the northern areas, where the Costoboci and Carpi tribes resided, were established as allied client states of the Roman Republic.  The rest of Burebista's kingdom was divided into provinces.  Those territories to the south of the Danuvius river were organized into the province of Moesia.  The province of Dacia was organized out of the rest of the territories, stretching from the Danuvius in the south, to the Tisia in the west, up to the territories of the Costoboci and Carpi in the north, reaching around to the river Tyras, beyond which lay the Bastarnae, who were still allied to the Republic.

Once the civil affairs were in order, a process taking much of the remainder of the year, Caesar made preparations for further campaigns, against the barbarians beyond the territories of the states newly allied to Rome.  This campaign took up the better part of the year  698 AUC (56 BC), and the Roman forces were largely successful against the tribes, defeating armies of Quadi, Venedae, and Navari in efficient order.  Caesar, however, mainly sought to impress, by force of arms, the power of the Roman Republic and its faithfulness to its allies.  Therefore, he accepted peace with the tribes on generous terms and returned to Dacia before the close of summer.

Caesar, of course, could afford to be generous, given the wealth that which flowed into his coffers after the conquest of the Dacian gold mines.  Much of this went directly to his veterans, many of whom were also settled in Dacia on land confiscated from the conquered.  He also used the wealth to support the campaigns of his allies in Rome itself, including Lucius Octavius, who had returned to the city to run for Consul, and was elected.  By the end of  698 AUC (56 BC), Caesar himself was in Rome, celebrating a triumph for his victory.

While researching the Boii, I came across some information on Noric, one of the most eastern Celtic languages, spoken in Austria and Slovenia.  About as close to the Boii as I could get.  One of the few Noric inscriptions known references a man named "Artebudz," whose name is theorized to mean "bear penis."  Originally, the Boii king was to be named Moges, but, quite frankly, you have to go with the funnier name. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Continuation of the Dacian War

With Scythia minor firmly under Roman control, Caesar assembled his forces and marched onward, while leaving behind the Legio VIII to reinforce their rear in Scythia minor, including dredging out sections of the Danuvius and building an intricate system of dikes and levies to allow for the flooding of the marshlands, in case of Dacian attacks.

Caesar led the main body of his forces up, along the Hierasus (Siret) River, towards the Dacian city of Petrodava, while his lieutenant, Lucius Octavius, lead the Legio X up the coast, to take the port of Tyras, near the mouth of the river of the same name (Dniester).  Caesar planned to isolate the Dacians from their chief allies, the Bastarnae, with this phase of the campaign.

Octavius had little difficulty in securing Tyras, surprising the Dacian force assigned to defend it.  He quickly set about reinforcing the defenses of the city, which soon proved necessary, as the Bastarnae army bore down on his position, besieging the city after an initial attempt to storm the walls proved unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, Caesar was faced with the main body of Burebista's army, under the Dacian king's command.  Caesar had, in his army, three legions and their auxiliaries, totaling roughly 48,000 men, as well as 10,000 Thracians.  Meanwhile, Burebista had over 100,000 soldiers in his army, hoping to crush Caesar's main force in a climactic battle.  The two armies clashed south of Proboridava, where a tactically inconclusive battle took place, with moderate casualties on both sides.

However, Burebista's plan was to hold down Caesar's forces long enough for the Dacian force to circle around them, cutting off their access to the lower part of the river.  The inconclusive bloody battle served this end perfectly, especially since Burebista's larger force could weather casualties with less difficulty.  By the end of the battle, the Romans were faced with a Dacian army both to their north and south, preventing them from advancing either further along the river or back to their base of operations, at Barbosi.  Caesar, surmising the Dacian strategy, conducted a forced march eastward, to the next branch of the Hierasus river, continuing his march up that branch.

Burebista then sent a smaller contingent of his army after Caesar, to follow him up the river, while his main force continued back up the main branch of the Hierasus, assuming that Caesar intended to circle around the Dacian forces and resume their advance on Petrodava.  However, several days into the new march, after some distance had been placed between Caesar's army and his pursuers, and the main Dacian force, the Roman army spun around and engaged the pursuing force.

The resulting battle went quickly in the Romans' favor, as the Dacians were not prepared for the onslaught.  Caesar made special effort to annihilate the army, before turning eastward, and marching in relief of Octavius at Tyras, where more and more of the Bastarnae were gathering and constructing ships in order to starve the city into submission.

As Caesar's army arrived at Tyras, the Bastarnae began to abandon their efforts of the siege and focus on repelling the new army.  The main Bastarnae force, under the command of their king, Zanatis, attacked the Roman troops relentlessly and savagely, their cavalry more than a match for the Romans, thus enabling the barbarians to press the Roman force on two different flanks.  As he saw his lines buckling and breaking, Caesar rushed to the front and began shouting to individual centurions and encouraging them, heading into the heat of battle itself.

The legionaries, seeing their general rush off into battle as they were being beaten back, hardened their resolve and stood firm.  Still, however, the Bastarnae continue to hammer into them, bloodying their army.  Caesar's bravery (or recklessness) again proved to be decisive.  As he fought the enemy, he came into battle with Zanatis, their king, himself.  The two fought for some time, until Caesar slipped on the blood drenched ground.  Zanatis then thrust down his sword powerfully at the Roman general, who was able to roll out of the way just in time, the blade sliding along the side of his armor.  Zanatis himself was caught off balance by his thrust, and Caesar thrust his gladius into the king's stomach, killing him and earning Caesar the Spolia Opima, the highest award any Roman could ever receive, which had been verifiably awarded only once before (though two, including Romulus, had received it in legend).

The soldiers on each side around them had become somewhat transfixed on the battle, and the Bastarnae were disheartened, while the Romans were encouraged.  These feelings soon spilled throughout the lines, and the Romans redoubled their efforts, while many Bastarnae fled in distress.  What looked to be a possible defeat for the Romans soon turned into a clear victory, as the Bastarnae army was shattered and demoralized.

After the battle, a delegation of Bastarnae nobles came forth to seek peace with the Romans.  They honored Caesar with many gifts for his bravery, and pledged that they would not seek war with Rome any longer.  Caesar accepted their peace offer and negotiated an alliance with the nobles, thus shoring up the northern front of the war.  The assembled parties agreed upon the border between Rome and the Bastarnae to be the Tyras river

By this point, Burebista was facing reports of increasing attacks from the Roman allies, the Jazyges, in his western realms.  Confident in the impregnability of the fortified cities of Dacia, he gathered the bulk of his forces and led them west to battle the Jazyges.  Thus, as Caesar's forces began to march into the Dacian heartland, Burebista was battling the Jazyges.

The records of these battles are not as detailed as those directly involving significant Roman forces, but the outcome is clear.  After a series of major battles, the first being fought in the mountain passes near Tapae, the Dacians were able to defeat the Jazyges and subdue them.  The final battle of this campaign was during the winter of 696-7 AUC (58-7 BC), when the Dacians launched a surprise attack over the Tisia (Tisza) river, catching the Jazyges off guard.  Subsequently, the Jazyges swore their allegiance to Burebista, effectively reversing the major alliances of the conflict.

As the winter set in, with the Romans laying siege to the eastern cities of Dacia, Burebista had a new plan for the war.  He intended allow Caesar to invest himself in long, protected sieges, while he would continually harass the Roman forces apart from the main army, wearing them down until he could crush them.  Meanwhile, Caesar was busy shoring up his supply lines and expanding his forces, reinforcing his current legions and recruiting a sixth legion, the XIV Falxa (named after the Dacian curved sword, the Falx), which contained a significant proportion of natives.


And so Caesar's war in Dacia continues.  I've been torn about the writing of this segment.  On the one hand, Caesar clearly is going to win, given the theme of this history, and the fact that he's a really good general with a really good army.  On the other hand, I don't want to make it too easy on him.

I also decided that Caesar should get the award of Spolia Opima, given to a Roman general who defeats the opposing commander in single combat.  Before him, only three Romans ever achieved the honor, making it the highest award any could receive.  Those three were Romulus, Aulus Cornleius Cossus, and Marcus Claudius Marcellus (one of Rome's best generals, ever).  Of those, only Marcellus is verifiable.  In our history, no other Roman would ever receive Spolia Opima.  There was the case of Marcus Licinius Crassus (grandson of the triumvir of the same name), who defeated the king of the Bastarnae in combat (the inspiration of this segment).  However, Augustus denied him the award on a technicality, as Augustus was, in theory, the Roman commander, by merit of his political position.

Also, a note about the Jazyges.  They're known more commonly in our history as the Iazyges, but I decided to translate them with a 'j' instead of an 'i', as that is an accepted spelling, and, since I haven't been spelling Julius as Iulius, it seemed only fitting.

Lastly, Octavius is the brother of Gaius Octavius, the father of Augustus.  I originally intended for Gaius Octavius himself to the commander, but decided that he was too much Caesar's peer to be serving under him (they were roughly the same age and Octavius even advanced quicker up the political ladder, in our history).  Instead, I decided that a younger brother of Octavius would serve the same purpose quite nicely.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Beginning of the Dacian War

Gaius Julius Caesar was, in 692 AUC (62 BC), a rising star in the Roman Republic.  He had successfully leveraged his popularity with the Roman people to further the enfranchisement of the other cities of Italia, with the Lex Julia.  As his term as Praetor drew to a close, he was able to leverage his new popularity with the rest of the peninsula to advance his career further.

So it was that, in 694 AUC (60 BC), he served a term as Consul, during which time, he spent much of his energies planning and preparing for a military campaign to crown his career.  He was not stifled for lack of options.  To the north, in Gallia, the Helvetian tribes were pushing up against tribes allied to the Republic.  Meanwhile, in the east, the Dacians, under the king Burebista, were launching a series of campaigns against the various independent tribes in Illyricum.  Burebista also supported various Greek cities that were discontent with Roman rule, always flirting just on the edge of acceptable conduct.

Burebista had worked hard during his time as king of the Getae tribe, pre-eminent among the Dacian peoples.  He was responsible for the expansion of their territory up to the Hypanis (Bug) River  in the north, down to Dionysopolis (Balchik, Bulgaria) in the south, and west to Hercynia (Moravia).  He reformed the Dacian military and refined the fortification of many locations, in the Murus Dacicus style, a combination of Dacian and Greco-Roman engineering.

Caesar was ultimately destined to campaign against Dacia, and soon, treaties were made with various tribes along their borders, including the Scordisci, Boii, and Taurisci confederations, all of which were feeling the weight of Burebista's armies.  Caesar then was assigned, at the end of his term, to the province of Illyricum, and made the final preparations for his campaign.

He issued several proclamations demanding that the Dacians leave the allies of the people of Rome alone, while mustering his forces, gathering up many auxiliary troops and an additional legion, recruited from volunteers across the Italian municipalities.  He was also able to procure the support of the Thracian king, Spartacus, a long-standing Roman ally.

As Burebista continued to defy Caesar's demands, Caesar began to march off to war, determined to conquer Dacia.  Against him stood Burebista's armies, numbering nearly 200,000, as well as their allies, the Bastarnae tribes to the north.  Caesar had, under his command, three legions, the Legio V Illyrica, Legio VIII Victrix, and Legio X Felix, numbering roughly 24,000, as well as an equal number of auxiliary troops.  His allies included Spartacus, with an army of roughly 20,000 men in total, as well the force of the Scordisci, Boii, and Taurisci tribes.  As the war began, Caesar was also able to secure the allegiance of the Jazyges, a Sarmatian tribe living in the vicinity of Dacia that had dealing with the Republic.

Caesar's army quickly reached the Danuvius (Danube) River and linked up with Spartacus' Thracians.  He spent the first year of the war securing fortifications up and down the river, and building ships to patrol it.  It was near the end of the campaign season in 695 AUC (59 BC) that the first major battle took place, near the Greek city of Tomis, in the region known as Scythia Minor (Dobruja).  The Dacian army was able to cross the river with little difficulty, and march down one of the smaller rivers toward Tomis, where they intended to then foliow the coastline and draw as much of Caesar's army away from the Danuvius as possible.

Caesar, leading the Legio VIII, though well behind the Dacians, was able to make up the difference relatively quickly, through both forced march and by transporting most of their supplies by boat, enabling their baggage train to be carried along with great speed.  Though the Dacian general, Dapyx, expected to be well into Thracia before the Roman army could reach him, they were able to catch up to his forces before he even reached the Euxine Sea.

With the rivers and lagoons to their back, the Dacians hurried to build makeshift defenses, which quickly became inundated by unexpectedly heavy rains.  Though the rains slowed down the Roman advance somewhat, they devastated the Dacian fortifications.  Dapyx then marched his troops, numbering roughly 40,000, against Caesar's army of roughly 20,000 (8,000 Legionaries, 8,000 Auxiliaries, and 4,000 Thracians).  

Caesar ordered the Thracians, on the left flank, to give way to the advancing Dacians, while holding much of his cavalry in reserve.  As the Dacians poured through the gap in the line, the Roman cavalry stormed down on them, driving them against the river, where the ground was still too soggy for effective cavalry charges.  However, by this point, the Thracians had reorganized their lines and had once again made contact with the Dacians, while the bulk of the Roman force was occupied with holding down the remaining Dacian army, while the forward units were destroyed.

Now, with the numbers of the opposing forces much more equal, Caesar's army began to roll back Dapyx's, shattering the Dacian force.  Roughly 12,000 Dacian soldiers were able to escape the battle, a loss of almost 28,000.  Meanwhile, Caesar's forces had lost almost 8,000 troops.  Through this hard-fought battle, Caesar's forces were able to secure Scythia Minor relatively quickly afterward, shoring up fortifications in the area.  By the spring of 696 AUC (58 BC), the region was firmly under Roman control, depriving Burebista of many of his Euxine Sea ports.  Meanwhile, Caesar also enrolled two new legions, the XI Scythica and the XII Tempesta.

So, clearly, Caesar will not be conquering Gaul in this history, but Dacia in its place.  I figured that, since this is Julius Caesar we're talking about here, he deserves more detail and embellishment, so I've gone into more detail about the forces involved and the battles.

A note about the legions named: they're total fabrications.  At this point, most legions were still temporary units, apparently, and so the units Caesar had in our history and this were recruited during his terms.  This means that the numbering and naming of the units will differ from those used in the Gallic campaigns of our history.

Burebista, also, was an interesting character.  He expanded Dacia far beyond the realm he inherited, reformed the government, improved its fortresses, and dabbled in involving himself in the various Roman civil wars of our history.  Caesar was planning on invading Dacia for his trouble, right before he was assassinated.  Burebista faired little better, however, and died soon after.  His kingdom collapsed into different successor states, which combined weren't able to field a quarter of the army that he had.  Its really amazing how many grand empire builders there were around this time.  A shame, almost.