Rome

By the 4th Century the Roman Empire is in contraction, her frontiers under constant pressure as vast barbarian populations push in from the shadowy reaches beyond her northern horizon.  To the empire’s east a Persian king flexes his might.  With Emperor Constantine’s death in 337 CE, Shapur II brings fresh war against Rome.  The Persians will continue to threaten Rome for the next three hundred years, eventually supplanted by equally aggressive Islamic dynasties until Constantinople falls to Mehmed II’s Ottoman armies in 1452.  And so dies the last vestige of the Roman Empire.
years-of-bone-and-ash-rome-augustusyears-of-bone-and-ash-rome-ceasarBut it is from the North that the first fatal blows fall.  Not since the sack of a young Rome at the hands of a Celtic army in 390 BCE has Rome felt the scourge of barbarian invasion as it does when Germanic Goths attack across the River Ister (Danubius) in 378 CE.  Rome’s Eastern army falls in defeat at the Battle of Andrianople, its emperor, Valens, dying with his legions.  More defeats will follow.

After 395 no one emperor will rule both the Eastern and Western empires.  In that year the Goths, who have settled south of the Ister by treaty, rise up again.  Led by their king, Alaric, the Gothic army attacks throughout Thracia.  By 401 the barbarians strike into Northern Italia, and again in 405.  Rome is sacked in 410.

During the winter of 406 a confederation of three major tribes – the Vandals, the Alans, and the Suebi – sweep out of Germania across the frozen Rhenus, pillaging the rich provinces of Gaul until they reach the Pyrenees and Hispania in 409.

By 429 the Vandals, led by their king, Gaiseric, leave Hispania to cross the Straits of Gibraltar and overrun North Africa – a key source of grain and trade for Rome. By 435 the Vandals rule all of North Africa from Mauretania (Algeria and Morocco) to Carthage (Tunis).  Gaiseric will go on to sack Rome in 455.

While the Vandals savaged Rome’s Gallic and African provinces, all of the Roman provinces suffer militarily as well as economically. The Huns, who in 422 had forced the Eastern emperor, Theodosius II, to pay a heavy annual tribute, and now led by their new king, Attila, invade Thrace in 434 defeating the Romans in battle. Then, two years later and fighting for the Romans in the West, Attila leads the Hunnish army against the Burgundians and defeats them.  By 447 Attila is attacking the Romans in the East, invading Thrace again where he exacts more tribute from the Emperor.

In the year 450 Attila turns his attention and his thirst for conquest upon the Western empire, crossing into Gaul.  Following months of pillaging the farms and towns of this still fertile province, the Huns suffer a rare defeat at the battle of the Catalaunian Fields in 451.  The victorious Roman general, Flavius Aëtius, in another timeline, will come to face another menace out of the East soon after his victory – the Krîll of Krîl-lôc.

However, in the present timeline, in this reality, Attila retreats back into the Hun lands east of the River Ister only to attack Northern Italia a year later.  Fortune, it seems, has turned from the Hun.  Disease and famine force his army to withdraw once again to their Eastern sanctuary where, in 453, Attila dies.

map-rome

The speculation surrounding Attila’s death remains unanswered to this day.  However, with the subsequent invasion of the Krîll of Krîl-lôc, a plausible explanation could be put forth that the Huns and their king were the first of mankind to be in the wrong place at the absolute wrong time.  But that puzzle lies beyond Time’s dark divide, along a disparate timeline altogether, yes?

Back in our present timeline . . .

years-of-bone-and-ash-rome-marcus-aureliusyears-of-bone-and-ash-rome-dying-gaulBy 455 CE, the Western Roman Empire has known little else besides invasion, economic disruption, rebellion and usurpation of its field generals, and the sack of Rome itself for half a century.  With the rare exception of two of her generals, Flavius Stilicho and Flavius Aëtius, Rome’s armies have tasted little but defeat under this continuous assault.

Abandoned to her own means with the final withdrawal of Rome’s legions in 410 CE, Britannia fights for survival against marauding Saxons, Caledonians (Scots-Picts), and Hibernians (Irish).  Pressured from all sides, what had once been a unified Roman province quickly fractures into a patchwork of fiefdoms ruled by tribal chiefs, tyrants, and invading barbarians.

In 476 CE Rome loses her last Western emperor, Romulus Augustulus.  So ends the long reign of Rome over the Western known world – 500 years as empire and over a thousand since her founding.  But again, along another thread of Time, both Eastern and Western empires die together in the flames of a Krîll invasion.  Indeed, in this reality the world whole is lost.

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