So I started watching the OG Star Trek series, and loving it. It has put me in a sci-fi mood lately. In spirit of this, I have picked up Stellaris again. My, there have been quite a few changes to this game, and I welcome most of them! Game is more fun now. I revisited the Roman Empire space civilization i designed and touched upon some details before wiping all my previous saves and starting a new campaign with my interstellar Roman Empire.
Many of you may be thinking, "How the Heck could the Roman Empire have survived beyond the modern day and unify the planet under its grasp?" Well allow me to explore some ideas of mine that could allow for such a course. I must specify here that in relation to talks of domination below, I am opposed to these Roman things and its taint on my faith in history. I am not saying this would be a better world, but a different world, that is all. Enjoy.
Despite what your outdated history classes may teach, the Roman Empire did not fall in Late Antiquity (a half decayed into independent Foederati kingdoms), but rather in 1204 at the hands of rogue catholic crusaders tempted by Venetian guile and in zealous revenge for a genocide of catholics in the domain of the Roman Empire under Andronikos Komnenos, culminating in the disastrous Sack of Cosntantinople. Its demise was settled upon during the Partition of Constantinople where Western occupying forces split up the remnants of the Roman Empire into crusader states and unified them under a crusader dynasty dubbed the Latin Empire, and successor Greco-Roman Kingdoms vied for who better represented the continuation of the Roman Empire. The so-called "Empire of Nikaea" was able to dismantle the Latin dynasty in New Rome and a second Roman Empire was founded under the Palaiologos dynasty, though the damage from the Sack was so extensive that they would never be able to rise anywhere to the great power that the first Roman Empire had. This second take was more of a Greek kingdom with strong Roman Imperial ties, and from here the term Byzantium would be used in later centuries to classify the Palaiologos realm that lasted from 1261 to 1453 (before purposefully misused in western eurocentric propaganda during the early modern period), where the shadow of a shadow fell to eastern invaders and thence forge an attempted Islamic Roman Empire, the Ottomans.
That is what happened in our timeline, but it did not need to be so.
By implementation of the Foederati states to save funds on the military and the fall of imperial authority in the Occidental Roman realms due to corruption and puppet emperor, the West was going to be lost to the Roman Empire eventually, even if Maiorianus and the other last vestiges of strong authority were not assassinated by corruption. But a preventable loss of influence in the West would be the prevention of the rise of the Catholic, or Universal church movement, a counter-culture movement against the Roman Empire. During and after the reign of the Theodosius I, the Roman Empire proclaimed itself to be the realized New Jerusalem from the Holy Bible, and with that thinking, all of Christendom was to be under the power of the Roman Empire (the light in a dark world) and the leader was both a political and religious figure, this spawning the modern word Caesaropapism and the modern definition of autocracy which comes from the rank of the Roman Emperor in the government, Autokrator, absolute, supreme power (different from the title used by rulers to describe this position to their person, like Caesar, Augustus, and Basileus). The Catholic Universalism movement in the West taught that Christianity and Christians could exist and live beyond Roman Imperial borders and can survive without the Roman Empire or its authority. Parts of this initial movement still reside in the modern Papal Church, but was largely overtaken by church politics what with the Donations of Constantine and the making of their own (Carolingian) Roman Empire and Holy Roman Empire to secure their own hegemony over masses, and is now muddled with variance of traditions. The word Catholic was the same as Orthodox until they separated too far from one another and claimed one word each for themselves. (In short, the word Catholic Church now has a lot more baggage to it than the original Theodosian and later Universalist movement and main remnant from this period is the word Catholic itself). Likewise, the loyalists to the Caesaropapist rule of the Emperors were classified as being orthodox to the legal norm, and likewise this name exists in the modern day with little relevance to its present existence, unless a new Orthodox Emperor (understood as Divine Regent over New Jerusalem) is crowned by the Patriarch of Constantinople (which has been vacant since the fall of the Russian Empire; Vladimir Putin was offered Imperial coronation but he declined the offer).
In local levels, the traditions of the Roman Republic stayed true to freemen, though the growing danger of the world from the 200's-forward made many people give up their civil rights and become the first serfs in exchange for protection, and so serfs outnumbered freemen. On this topic, it must be said that slavery would later be technically outlawed on Christian grounds as the Abomination of the Age but many rich people had house slaves from captured prisoners of war and the Islamic Slave Trade and people turned a blind eye towards these as the only people that didn't like it were those in lower societal positions. The Roman Empire came to find that the best source of work came from motivation, so the Roman Empire serves as one of the earliest sources of free waged labor in the world. Funny how they go from mass slavery to free labor, but it took them less than a thousand years, and serfs were still a thing.
With those things in mind, a good way to prevent the rise of Western Christian Universalism (also in the East, like the Nestorians ceasing Iranian persecution of Christians during the Sassanian period was by declaring themselves separate from the Romans) is to expand upon Justinian I's creation of the Patriarchial Pentarchy, for by this there was only one Patriarch in the western provinces, the Patriarch of Rome (later to be called the Pope) who assumed control over the rest of Europe as being under his religious dominion and at the same time led the counter culture Universalism movement, and also at the same time the Patriarch of Roma claiming the place of Imperial divine power with the help of the forged document called the Donation of Constantine (discovered to be a forgery in the 1400's) being used to attain higher power and help solidify Papal rule over the (Frankish/German) "Roman Empire" in Europe (the Emergent West as Romans called the developing kingdoms of Europe when being polite and not dubbing them as barbarians even by the crusades).
Another means of this is to not be so strict in theological debates, allowing for more mental freedom and recognition in humanity's divine element of sentience, free-will. What constitutes as heresy and the crimes for it should be loosened, and Christ's message of freedom should be emphasized while also pointing out the need for a strong central authority to protect the commoners and economic stability, while also finding some way to make laws for the Emperors so that the prize of ultimate authority, the throne of the Roman Emperor, would not be as coveted and civil wars be prevented; reconciling this with divine authority and the boost of ego that comes with this is a tricky thing, only thing i can think of is adopting a philosophy of their contemporary future, Enlightened Despotism as laid out by Frederick II Hohenzollern, King of Prussia. This point of limitation of and responsible use of power is what stretches any plausibility for an ever-lasting Roman Empire, but the creation of the USA and the Internet are other events of implausibility in history as well as many other things, so perhaps something could be made. Potential reforms that fuse the Greco-Roman Empire with the earlier Latinate Roman Republic. To go off of the structure of the United States, perhaps a divine imperial federal level and smaller provinces/states with senators and monarchical governors, or in other words, in ways similar to the German Holy Roman Empire prior to the fall of House Hohenstaufen. The Empire being in a better economic situation for reasons stated below means that that Emperor Constans II will have no reason to strip precious metals from public works across Italy (shipping the stuff back to Constantinople), which accompanied by arresting the Patriarch of Rome (that is, the Pope) at the time for rebellious attitude, will make Italy and the rest of the West less angry at the Roman Empire and see a need for further independence.
Whatever the cause may be, retaining the unity of the Roman Empire, institutionalization of inherent freedom of man (within the plausible confines of their deranged Roman-Christian views), and the limitations of power while retaining divine authority, are the key ways of making a Roman Empire that could last. History would have an affect on these things, however, namely Islam. In our history, in the 600's Islam was able to expand beyond Arabia with a combination of military genius and unmerciful destruction, but solidifying their conquests over native peoples was because of national disunity and war weariness, the former for the Roman Empire in the form of rebellious Christian populations who tired of the tyranny of the caesaropapist Emperors and invited Islamic conquerors in so that they could practice their faith even it meant that they would have to pay more money than muslims (the dhimmi class of the Muslim caste system; i imagine it was only the wealthy because the poor in lacking funds would be forced to either convert or die), and the latter in the form of Iran under the Sassasnid dynasty who was essentially destroyed by the Roman Empire in their final war with them (though Iranian resistance persisted with minute Chinese assistance) and in this state found that after two major defeats they were wholly conquered, to not gain independence until (briefly the 1000's and (finally) the 1400's.
In a world where the local Christians of North Africa, Egypt, Palestine and Syria were allowed to express sentience on theology and not bear physical punishment of force for crossing the whims of a tyrant, the Muslim invaders would have found it so much harder to keep their conquest of the East Mediterranean, if being able to do so at all. With this means that Carthage, the richest city in the western realms, would have been spared a second complete annihilation and Roman imperial presence in the western Mediterranean have been secure, so long as the city remained in control or intact (Carthage and Ravenna were the most powerful cities in the Empire's western realms, they being the capitals of vice-royalty polities, Rome was naught but a nostalgic relic of the past). In our timeline, so destroyed was Carthage after its conquest by Islamic forces that the citiy's ruins were abandoned and the nearby village of Tunis was instead invested in (in time Carthage became a village and Tunis became the big city); the fall of Carthage allowed for the conquest of Marrakesh and after a betrayal by a Roman fort commander opposite of Gibraltar, the Muslims conquered the Visigothic Kingdom of Hispania, save the northern hill-lands.
With Carthage intact, Roman presence in New Carthage (South Spain) may be retained, and the heavily Romanized Visigoths will continue to be allies of the Roman Empire, providing a good counterpart to the Merovingian Frankish realms in Gaul. Without the Battle of Tours (Frankish realms in Gaul unify in order to halt and defeat a great Muslim horde from invading Europe from the West) to legitimize the illegitimate Frankish prince Charles Martel, the Carolingian dynasty does not rise to power and there will be no Charlemagne and the whole influence on history he had. The Conquest of Egypt and Spain proved to be vital to the economy of the Caliphate dynasties of the Arabian Empire, so without the funds in the form of the great treasures looted from these lands, we can expect that Islam to not be as expanded upon in this world, at least in the West. According to their scriptures, however, Islamic forces would continue onslaught to breach roman borders and the East Mediterranean may see a similar militarization of settlements like what was seen in Europe during and following the Third Century Crisis to defend against Germanic invaders.
One thing I wish to add is that the Chinese Tang Empire help fund Zoroastrianism Iranian resistance against the Arabian Empire, so after an inevitable fall of the "second" Persian Empire (under the Sassanid dynasty) I can imagine that to cause trouble for their newfound foes, the Roman Empire would fund their ancient enemy in rebel uprisings, the mutual funding of such things between Romania might cause diplomatic talks to ha e been attempted, adding a third attempt to the two attempts made by these two regions.
With the Roman Empire retaining influence over the Christian world (save the Nestorians of Iraq, the Syriacs of India, and the Oriental Church of China) and retaining its vital power-bases in north africa, the Roman Empire would be able to push back the great Sklavonian Horde that conquered Greece and laid waste to the lands and the ancient inhabitants before the empire was able to push most of the invaders out and they mixed with the natives. the Danuvian Limes would still be a hot bed for conflict, if not by the Bulghar Horde that Justinian II unwisely brought to those lands (and the nemesis Bulgarian Empire that the horde would turn into) then by other forces, but again the funds from the Mediterranean means that it would not be as apocalyptic. With ties to the West still intact, perhaps an alternative history counterpart to Constans II would successfully make Syracuse of Sicily the new Roman capital (he was assassinated for this consideration), so Justinian I's restoration of the West could still be a dream to be realized in the future.
From this point onward, with the technological achievements of the Roman Empire seen during the early medieval ages (Greek Fire, the automatons of the throne room, the flying throne, and mining machines) and stable national security, as well as ties to the Germanic kingdoms of the West without rise in papal power, we can see that the Roman Empire will become a couple centuries ahead of what was seen in our world, especially in the passing of ideas from the Germanic west (like the advancement of steel plate armor) to the mathematics of Iranian muslims prior to the crushing of scientific advancement by a certain al-Ghazali. Only worries be the tradition of Roman cut-throat politics, the pride of Emperors, and the influences of possible invaders like:
- The Viking Norsemen (a lack of Charlemagne's Saxon Wars would prevent the radical fury of the Norsemen and their attacks on Christian lands would be less fervent, but climate change and overpopulation would lead to excursions out from the north so Viking raids and invasions will still occur, but just be less severe; this might also lead to earlier exploration beyond Iceland and longer lasting settlement in Labrador),
- Seljuk Turks (Seljuk never converts to Islam, the actions of all his descendants never occur),
- and the Mongols (Temujin Borjigin could have died very easily while exiled as a child in the winter wilderness).
But who knows, maybe with the survival of the great empire of the west, perhaps gunpowder could be brought to Rhomania without need of Mongol delivery, or maybe chemists could make their own gunpowder in their own search for eternal life and power. And with that, it is only a matter of time before a second era of Roman expansionism unites a resurgent Europe back with the Roman Empire or at least vassalizes them, religious fervor may make a thing like Roman Crusades, and in seeking alternate routes around the Islamic world to their eastern counterparts in Cathay , may have them discover the New World. (Cathay a strange archaic word for China, but they thought was separate from China, so there was both China and Cathay coexisting when in reality they were the same thing.)
From here, i can say that centuries down the line after a lot of stuff happens, the Roman Empire spans the globe, whereby in an early action in Stellaris, they then unify the Earth under a single banner, and start mining the rest of the Sol System. They seek to expand the realm of their realized New Jerusalem to the stars, pressing their claim as the inheritor of all Creation no matter who or what may stand in their way. All planets shall like tzatziki sauce, or perish! Joking aside, a lot more places are going to go with neo-byzantine and neo-byzantine-gothic architecture (from the influence of Franks and Visigoths), and so might remind you of Theed from Naboo.
To fit this new world of total dominance of a single, theocratic-monarchic imperial state, a new Dominante System may evolve (the first version in our timeline never dying until the empire died twice, started by Constantine I following his abolition of the Tetarchy System, tweaked by Theodosius I), the title of Basileus (meaning King or Emperor) having since given way to Sebastokrator (a title coined by Emperor Alexios I Komnenos that was itself meant to supplant the ancient title of Caesar in rank). Sebastion is a Greek translation of the Latin Augustus, and means "venerable, awe, reverence, dread, to feel ashamed in the presence of", and Kratos means Ruler in Greek. This new word is to hark back to the times of the Pax Romana while not upsetting the Greek-speaking majority of the Empire. The planet Earth is known as Hagioteira, or Holy Land/Holy Earth. The capital is Nea-Atlantikos, a massive green-tech megalopolis in-between Spain and the Caribbean, and is largely populated by global warming refugees of a largely beflooded Europe.
The words of this https://www.videoclip.bg/watch/561819_legionarii-knights-of-a-new-age, and its tone, befit my Space-Age Empire of the Romans, and the Roman Empire in general, its epic grip of fascination on me as an example of a dark picture of humanity that we must avoid to become, to never return to, and thus, to learn from.
The ruler was in some sense God's representative on earth and because of this, a weapon, which as a symbol of oppression, is conferred upon to the ruler into his possession in a religious ceremony. The "weapon" is a religious symbol as well as a symbol of government and oppression.