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Stellaris Space Romans - Origins

The Hip Historian Iaredios




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Despite what your outdated history classes may teach, the Roman Empire did not fall in Late Antiquity (a half decayed into independent Foederati kingdoms), but rather in 1204 at the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.



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:kaukau: It's interesting to see where you went with this.  Rome gets build up a lot by historians, but primarily because throughout history is was built up as this grand ideal that many would-be empires strove to revive.  Many kingdoms wanted to "inherit" the Roman Empire, with the emphasis on Empire.  The liked the idea of Rome: what it accomplished, against all odds, going from one city state to an empire controlling the entire Mediterranean.  Yet, they didn't really want to revive Rome itself, since Rome had only done so much to Romanize the areas it conquered.  What they wanted was to evoke the grandeur of Rome to give a sense of legitimacy and historic weight to their attempts at empires.


The problem with Rome was that it was, from its earl legends, not built upon national identity or any higher ideal, but a cult of personality.  The mythical founder, Romulus, was a man raised by wolves.  For a period, Rome was a republic, but it was the nature of the culture to admire strong, driven leaders like Julius Caesar, and the nature of the politics for people like Julius Caesar to declare war against his former political allies to consolidate ultimate power.  Roman never had a philosopher king; the values of Rome favored people like Julius Caesar.  Because of this, Rome could never last.  When studying Roman history, I grew very frustrated reading, over and over again, about just how dysfunctional their politics were.  They seemed to have assassinations like we have elections.  Just about every regional governor was arrogant and couldn't work with others.  Everyone was looking out to become the next Caesar.  The leaders of the era seemed driven only by hedonism, vanity, hubris, and naked ambition.


People act like it was the constant invasions of the Germanic tribes and the latter invasion of the East that toppled the empire, but really the empire didn't deserve to last.  Politically speaking, it was an ugly mess that could not survive, even if it was the only nation on Earth, because there was so little unity.  Nowadays, we look at that and think, "How could they not get along with each other?" but we have a mindset completely alien to anything that they could have known.  Our modern ideas of nationhood don't translate to anything that they could have experienced.  They simply could not view themselves as civic leaders all working together for the sake of a united Roman citizenry, because no such thing existed.  The most Rome was able to unite its empire was that it at least gave its former dominions all a shared sense of Mediterranean community.  Civilizations expanded their idea of what their neighborhood was, and Rome is basically responsible for creating the concept of the West.


This isn't to say that Greco-Roman culture didn't contribute anything else.  Greek philosophy, rationalism, the scientific method, a variety of legal systems, and a common writing system all spread thanks to Rome.  Though the ideas for a republic lay dormant, those, too, carried on because of Rome's legacy.


Reading through your idea of an alternate history, the best way that I can sum it up is by saying that Rome wouldn't have fallen if it was more united with a national identity, and that they would have survived longer had they been a Federated Liberal Theocracy with republican citizenship, as opposed to an Imperial Unitarian Theocratic Autocracy.  In other words, they needed ideals that were more ahead of their time.  In order to achieve this, they needed to first allow for more religious debate, which would in turn create a common citizenry which would value their uniquely Roman rights.  This would make them harder to subjugate.  A united citizenry would mean that regional governors would see themselves as being on the same team, but that would not be enough.  They would have to have less incentive to make power plays against one another, and for that the mystique and grandeur of the Caesar would have to be diminished.  In the modern era, we try to limit the executive branch in order to limit the power of the federal government as well as create checks and balances within the government.  Interestingly, the reason you gave for weakening the Caesar is different entirely than modern rational; rather than limiting the power of the federal government, this system aims to squelch the ambitions of the federated governments.  This is an interesting distinction.  Ultimately, what this accomplishes is a united Rome where regional governments are loyal to each other and the common sense of Rome, and politics are far more stable.  This would create a far, far more long lasting identity that could reunite even after period of division, as we have seen with China (though not necessarily for the same reasons).


Now, I have to give you credit.  It' been a long time since I've heard the term Basileus, and overall this was a cool refresher.  I'm a bit more steeped in 19th and 20th century history, so I don't know as much on ancient Rome as you clearly do, and some of this is still new to me.  For a moment, I also thought that when you referred to the Donations, you were talking about schismatic Donatist sect.


You might find the five-part series The Christian Tradition: A History and Development of Doctrine. by Jaroslav Pelikan a good read, if a bit dry.  In spite of the name, no, he wasn't a Russian, nor Orthodox (at least initially).  He was an American Lutheran pastor, although that later part changed when he joined the Greek Orthodox Church, which doesn't surprise me given the nature of his writings and his fascination with early history.  In any case, he has an invaluable bibliography for people curious about topics that are at the very least related to some of the things you discussed here.


Fare well, Historian.



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:kaukau: It's interesting to see where you went with this. 




Fare well, Historian.



Many under Roman Imperium (government/rule), with some time after being conquered and newer generations having no connection to the their older kingdoms, would find themselves loyal to the status quo. While the legions existed, there tended to be more loyalty to the general that paid the soldiers rather than the polity itself (it is this reason why the commander-in-chief in the US is elected by the people, albeit without the risk of tyranny that direct democracy would create as seen in ancient pre-Roman Athens). Due to the amount of civil wars this contributed to, this was restructured and legions done away with, but it was around the same time that the germanic foederati states were founded inside of the Imperial borders (reminiscent of tumors TBH), the mass foreign populations flooding into the military service  combined with the puppeting of those West Roman Emperors in late antiquity by "barbarian" kings (the very same that ruled some fo these foreigner reservations) and corrupt politicians, made for an disloyal military that when the time came and the strength of the Imperium dwindled to such an extent that they forwent tradition and set up their own kingdoms. To counter this with the historical timing of these things, you would either need to elect your nominal military commander (completely unhistorical) or root out the corruption. In the East Empire, before the twin imperium system was thereafter abolished, this was just done and the corruption conspiracy was destroyed and it allowed the Roman Empire to survive for nigh another thousand years. At the end of it, its the small things in this world that build up and make up the bigger picture that we all see and effects us.


Anyway, about national unity. Again, the sharing of the Latin imperium and its military dominance is what first created this, but after this began to wane, there so happened to be a replacement that had been seeded back in the early days of the Empire, Christianity. For a long time, the Roman Empire's domination over church affairs across its borders and beyond made their strain of the faith the national unifier. It is only with the religious dissent of the early papacy (not for noble reasons mind you, look up the Donations of Cosntantine) that this unifier was splintered. After most of the Empire's land had been gone from dominating the mediterranean world to just holding out in Greece, modern-Turkey, and south Italy in the course of just less than 200 years, and Greek having been the dominant language of the east mediterranean since Alexander the Great until the Caliphates, and Latin having been 'hijacked' by 'uncultured barbarians', the Roman Empire in its medieval Hellenization became xenophobic to things not-Greek. Classical Latin was still treasured but later variants were scorned upon as children tainting a masterpiece painting. This would lead to Europe, or "the Emergent West" as Emperor Manuel Comnenus would call them, living in a different reality from the Roman Empire, and vice versa for them (this along with a clash of egos would lead to the Great Schism of 1054, a debate that wouldn't be settled until the Empire's destruction in 1204). So they had achieved nationalism, but with their military might, and after the battles of Manzikert and later Myriokephalon, the weight of its legacy, and their general advancement, they became haughty and prideful in the face of the 'child' nations that surrounded them, which didn't make them any friends aside from a distant Ruthenia (divided, pre-Russia). Ever since Venice, a former vassal of the Roman Empire, was hired by the Emperor Alexius Comnenus and their subsequent assisting in Crusader transport, Italians (westerners) had come to dominate Roman economics, and his grandson Manuel had been open to Westernization (even hosting jousts in the ancient Hippodrome circus), which to the Romans was appalling as they were just 'barbarians' and Rhomania was the holy pie in the sky, so the last Comneni, Andronicus Comnenus exterminated the foreign merchantile class in a genocide of "latins" to purify the country of these 'vampires' but the Italians and French had two revenges, one being a war and the next being the later Sack of Constantinople in the failed fourth crusade of 1204. Ever since their foundations in mythic times the Romans had been haughty and looked down upon their neighbors, even the Greeks (though to a lesser degree) of whom they by seeming-fate had shifted over to adopt and become over the course of a thousand years (a detail that will always fascinate me). They felt superior (some more than others), and for a long time backed it up (longer than anyone else in-fact, and that fact is what makes them important), but in the end they fell to the trap of death and demise that all things mortal shall succumb too, like all civilizations and even this very cosm we presently inhabit.




Now, as for philosopher monarchs, the Roman Empire had a few of these. Vespasian was idealistic, but perhaps not a philosopher. Marcus Aurelias was indeed a philosopher. So too was Leo VI Makedon (the tortured soul). Many emperors after its complete Christianization ahd to dabble in theology seeing as to the theocratic nature of their job, but some were more enthusiastic about this than others. The thing is that the Roman Empire always seemed to be at war, at first to spread its own glory across the world, then to keep its economy afloat in order pay for all the people they absorbed, and later on after they lost most of this land they had to continue to fight to survive against near-constant invasions and civil wars, and so because of these things barracks emperors tend to be more common than taking time to do deep thinking while you gave military control to a general who very well could jsut take the army you gave him and jsut make himself emperor. Doesnt' mena amny fo them didn't see the value in such stuff though, so they promoted wise thinkers, so logn as they were not heretical or did not become corrupt and succumb to treason.

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