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.