PUSHING BACK THE TIDE
* ATTENTION * - This After Action Report has been abandoned due to issues with the game. I have, however, already written some things pertaining to this attempted project, mostly in the form of extensive background. As such, this post is much like an essay, and I hope that what I have gathered is accurate enough and is enlightening despite only how far I got into it. And as a reminder, please, only reply in the review topic, thank you. If you wish for me to continue in this 'essay' please ask me in the review topic. I would also like to apologize for the hasty ending, I was preparing to abandon this but I felt that there should be at least some sort of an ending to give closure.
The following chronicle is a gathering of numerous accounts from throughout the centuries. It is an account of a dark time for the ancient powers, as the Empire of the Romans and its ancient rival Iran were like mighty rocks against the ravaging tides of time’s violent progression.
634 AD, October 5
My name is Teodoros, and I am an artisan who also has a love for the social sciences in the form of a hobby. I grew up in the metropolis of Konstantinopolis, the sacred capital of the most glorious Roman Empire. I have taken up to record the events of the world that I live in as I find that history is horrifyingly both repeating itself and progressing. My hope is that by writing this chronicle that I will be able to look back and make sense of it all. Before I go forth to record what is happening outside the mighty Theodosian Walls, I feel I must give background. The city of Konstantinopolis as well as the current state of the Roman Empire has its roots in the all-consuming holocaust [inferno] of chaos known as the Third Century Crisis, when the old heathen Greek colony of Byzantium was burned in the midst of the all-consuming flames of war and invasion, and the darkness of plague and famine. The people of the world thought the world was ending, and really the glorious Empire of the Romans probably should have been destroyed, but in fact it was to be reborn, like a phoenix.
The Third Century Crisis is the culmination of the faults of Octavian Caesar’s Principate System that gathered over around 200 years, ending the Paxa Romana. In the doomsday atmosphere, civil war between rebellious ‘imperial’ states and many foreign incursions reigned supreme. The chaos led to the establishment of the usages of serfs, and development of castles and abandonment of suburban areas [that would not be reestablished until the rise of gunpowder warfare]. The military also changed, beginning the slow shifting from the nostalgic iron plating of the Early Empire to using mail coats and harnesses with leather strappings, something Rome absorbed from the very Germanics it all-too-often fought with. Eventually, Emperor Aurelian destroyed the rebellious Gallic and Palmyrene ‘Empires’, but death still embroiled the land as the northern barbarians and eastern Iranians invaded and all were humbled by disease and starvation. It all was salvaged by an imperial bodyguard named Diocletian. Diocletian assassinated the general Numerian at the city of Chalcedon, the younger brother of Emperor Carinus, was proclaimed emperor by the legion he took over and fought to make himself the only Emperor of the Romans; in the wake of the Battle of the Margus River, the new Emperor Diocletian ceased the chaos and restored peace to the Mare Nostrum and turned the empire into a system bureaucratic ‘sub-empires’ which he called the Tetarchy. Diocletian appointed his top officers from the legion that he took over and appointed them as Co-Emperors of his Imperial Tetarchy (two augusti, two caesari). Another rebellious state tried to secede, this one calling itself Brittanic Empire and it was crushed by the co-emperor Constantius Chlorus. After his unholy and monstrous persecution of the Christians, Diocletian abdicated his throne; Maximiun, one of his loyal officers and augusti, retired as well at the behest of his lord and Constantius Chlorus was made an Augustus.
All was peaceful until Constantius Chloris Flavius died, where in Britannia the local legion crowned his son Constantine Flavius as the new Augustus of the West, a title held by his father before him. Galerius, the de-facto leader of the Roman Empire under the Tetarchy, reluctantly sent Constantine the standard Imperial purple robes, but made him instead a Caesar, putting him below Severus, a man who Galerius appointed as the next secondary Augustus. Maxentius, jealous of the power held by Constantine and yet the new ruler was supposed to be beneath him bureaucratically, proclaimed himself sole emperor of the west and prepared to conquer Constantine and his holdings. Galerius sent Severus to stop him but his legions defected to Maxentius. Outnumbered but yet not faltered, Constantine went to put down the rebellious Maxentius. It was here that Constantine saw a cross in the sky, a Christian priest coming along the way to help Christian soldiers telling them it was a message from the One and Only God Almighty. Later that night, Constantine had a vision in his sleep where he was spoken to by The Christ to decorate his shields with the Chi-Rho sign (a symbol used by Greek Christians as it held the first two letters of Christ). The next morning, instead of sacrificing to his god Helios (he was until then a member of the Cult of the Sun) he prayed to the Christian God and did as The Christ supposedly commanded. It was at the Battle of Milvian Bridge that history was truly changed. The pagan priests for Maxentius gutted an animal and saw signs that told them that the ‘True Emperor of the Romans would be victorious’, and it was with great arrogance that Maxentius meant it would be him: Constantine won that day, and then marched forth to Rome. Once at the ancient now-defunct former-capital of the Roman Empire, he went to pray at a Christian temple rather than commit the sacrifice to Jupiter at the Temple of Jupiter, which has traditionally been done since time immemorial. He then proclaimed himself Augustus, seeing that he earned it. Once in power, Galerius thanked him, but after a meeting with Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius sought to pacify the instability by not rewarding anyone for taking power and attempted to demote Constantine back to rank Caesar; Constantine however continued to label himself as such, and the once-stable Tetarchy system began to show signs of dissolving. Seeking peace, Constantine met with the co-emperor Licinius and together they wrote one of the first documents to promote universal tolerance of faith, beliefs, and religions, called the Edict of Milan. One of the main points of the Edict of Milan was to make official the tolerance and protection of Christianity that his father Constantius Chloris previously ensured in his small domain as a legal religion. Relations deteriorated between the two and feeling betrayed and obligated to protect an oppressed minority (also in thanks to the deity that provided his victory), Constantine went forth to battle Licinius. Licinius’ ‘peace loving, tolerant’ nature giving way to his bloodthirsty real self through the course of war and the conflicts culminating in the Battle of Hadrianopolis [Adrianople] and the Battle of Chrysopolis. Constantine Flavius had the treacherous colleague and rival executed and finally there was peace.
The two leaders of the Tetrarchy, Galerius and Diocletian (in order of death) both died in the year 311 AD, all-out war in 313, and with Constantine’s total victory in 325, the Roman Imperial Tetrarchy System was abolished and in it’s place Constantine established the last major governmental reformation, called the Dominate System (only four more reformations would take place, but they were miniscule when compared to the impacts of Diocletian’s Tetrarchy and Constantine’s Dominate). One of his first actions as emperor was the disbanding of the Praetorian Guard, the elite bodyguard unit founded by the first Roman Emperor Octavian Caesar centuries before; they were responsible for the Third Century Crisis, killing emperors that they didn’t like and appointing their own, and Constantine wanted to ensure that the security of both the realm and his own life would be safe from these ‘safe keepers’. Though not important in the grand scale of things, it should be noted that Constantine had his eldest son Crispus and his wife Fausta killed for ‘dark reasons’; some have speculated either conspiracy to the Imperial throne, others have said incest between the mother and son, some say both, while others have other speculations. Either way, their names have been mostly purged from history, only a handful of records still exist, such is the level of disgust that Constantine found in his son and wife, whatever it was they did.
There is never truly peace in the world. Even Constantine, who celebrated peace, did not get to enjoy it, as there were barbarian Franks to fend off (who emerged from the ashes of the Third Century Crises and had been a pain since), Iranians to defend from (the current Iranian state being the Sassanian Empire, which succeeded the Parthian Empire in 224 AD in a coup after many civil wars), and varying degrees of internal tensions to deal with. In-fact, it was while preparing for war against the Sassanian Empire that Constantine sensed his death drew near. Before he died Constantine was baptized as the first Christian Roman Emperor (though this is disputed with claims of Emperor Phillip Julius ‘the Arab’, one of the scarce ‘successful’ emperors to rule during the chaotic Third Century Crisis). These issues continued with Constantine’s successors.
After the death of Constantine Flavius ‘the Great’, his sons fought one another for dominance in the empire. Out of the brotherly bloodshed from within the Neo-Flavian Dynasty, it was Constantius II who won the battle, the usurper Magnentius committing suicide after he lost to Constantius II at the Battle of Mons Seleucus. Constantius II eased his position into power by massacring many of his family members, such acts disheartening a certain cousin Julian. During this time, the people of Nova Roma petitioned the emperor to have the city renamed to Constantinopolis (‘City of Constantine’, later slightly shortened to Constantinople) in honor of the mighty hero, which he gladly did in honor of his father. Defending the Empire from barbarians, continuing his father’s war against the Iranians (which Constantine I died before continuing), and having his corrupt younger cousin executed, Constantius II rule was short lived as he himself was other-thrown by said cousin’s younger half-brother, Julian.
I try not to go too into detail on individual emperors and will only go into those that had great importance in history, but the 4th century (300’s) had a few of them, and Julian was one of them. Julian Flavius was to be known as Julian ‘the Apostate’, nephew to Constantine the Great. From being Constantius II’s Caesar (second-in-command), Julian alone now held the title of Augustus of the Roman Empire. Julian abandoned the Christian beliefs of his earlier family members and became someone like Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the sense that he tried to see the old myths of the gods as allegories and studying platonic philosophy, except with some anti-Christian sentiment. He created a new edict of religious toleration, but it was rather biased against Christians. He did this because he saw the Roman Empire before the Third Century Crisis and how because it worshiped the country in the form of a deity the legions of old would conquer to please Roma and bring her glory, giving them the morale to forge such a great empire. He attempted to bring back the old ways with sacrifices to the gods and confiscated many Christian church properties to fund the government. It was also to fund the wars in fighting great barbarian invasions into Roman lands. He had the trust of the West, but the East was still unwary of how he rose to power, and it’s predominate Christian population did not help.
Once the defense against the Germanics was done, Julian stayed at Antioch to make the East like him more, where after a series of unfortunate mistakes and character suicide in the pursuit of gaining popularity while trying to appease the old gods, everyone began to dislike him even more. One of the most costly of these mistakes while staying at Antioch was ordering the rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem so as to give further demeaning to the Word of God for the Holy Scriptures describe the rebuilding of the Temple to be done at the End of Times and in the return of The Christ. However, when trying to have it rebuilt by the remaining Jews (most fled to the corners of the world at the Temple’s destruction, which for time-reference happened shortly after the Book of John's Revelations was written), great earthquakes starting in Galilee kept destroying the progress as earth separated and rocked, balls of molten rock and fire crushed and burned the project until eventually Emperor Julian abandoned the project, ignoring the truth that Christians spake when giving the phenomena credit to God Himself. Despite the omens set against this enterprise, Julian told himself that if he was to gain the trust of the East like he did with the West, specifically the soldiers there, he had to gain glory in victorious warfare. War between the Romans and the Sassanians erupted again, Julian Flavius’s bold plan was to sack to the Sassanian capital of Ctesiphon like Galerius did under the rule of Diocletian. This would later be revised into replacing the Iranian leader with Julian’s brother and thus make the Sassanian Empire a puppet state of Rome as well as permanently pacifying the eastern border. Some say that there was deeper reason for Julian wanting to attack Ehran, as Julian saw himself as the reincarnation of Alexander the Great and people have since theorized that he was trying to cement his beliefs by conquering Iran like Alexander did with the Achaemenid Empire.
During the Third Century Crisis, there was an emperor named Valerian Licinii (put into power by the help of a legion and the Praetorian Guards, no surprise), and his war against the invading Sassanians was such an absolute failure that he was captured as a prisoner of war [something not seen again until Alp Arslan Seljuk captured Emperor Romanus at Manzikert centuries later]. Before his imprisonment Valerian’s desperation in the face of losses made him increase sacrifices to the gods of old and sent a decree to the Senate that all were to make sacrifices to the gods, especially Christians: church officials were to be executed, laymen were to convert or to be turned into serfs or executed, and high ranking officials were to convert or lose their title and/or be executed. Though initially treated well in prison Valerian was soon put under harsh enslavement and eventually killed by being forced to eat molten gold, then his body was skinned and then his skin was baked, and after being stuffed with straw was then nailed to a wall in the main temple of Ctesiphon facing outward toward the wall (could be seen from outside the walls). Unlike Emperor Valerian Licinii, Julian of the Neo-Flavian dynasty had initial success, even reaching the Sassanian capital of Ctesiphon with military wit and winning a great victory at the city gates, but they were shut before Roman forces could enter. Ctesiphon was the greatest city in the world second only to Rome’s capital of Constantinopolis, and with that honor came mighty impregnable walls. In the face of such fortifications and incoming Sassanian reinforcements Julian’s military prowess gave way to rashness (the sight of the old Valerian's stuffed skin may have frightened him as well). Julian Flavius followed the advice of his council and abandoned the Sassanian capital but refused to abandon the war: he had his great river fleet destroyed to serve as wood for siege weapons, and when the Sassanians arrived they butchered the trapped Roman forces, Julian barely making it out alive. While attempting a forced withdrawal Julian was attacked at the Battle of Samarra. He won, and rather than taking the victory for what it was he pursued the retreating Sassanians, abandoning his own armor for speed. It was at the next confrontation, where he destroyed the retreating Persians that he was mortally wounded in the conflict and died shortly afterwards.
For trying to extinguish Christianity with old Roman polytheism, Julian actually reformed the pagan priesthood to a proper organized religion by using a lot of stuff from Christianity, such as the rigid organization practiced by the more influential bishops, the exclusivity, coupled with other things. Julian mixed his adherence to Marcus Aurelius’ teachings of inner peace in midst of chaos, and his beliefs in the myths of old pertaining Jupiter and Neptune to be allegorical and not fact into his reformation. These things actually made the transition from paganism to Christianity much smoother after Julian’s death as he removed the strong sense of tradition that local pagans previously adhered to, and by the time of Emperor Theodosius the empire was predominately Christian and he made it the official religion (abolishing the secularized government started by Constantine Flavius).
Edited by Sir Iaredios, Dec 27 2015 - 02:34 AM.