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Alternate History Vivat Stilicho!

stevep

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Well this is leading up to a very nasty conflict. Atilla has unified most of the Huns behind him and the east seems to have found a cunning general in Aspar so its a potentially dangerous combination. Although how much the two sides will/can trust each other could be an issue. Plus while the Sassanids have suffered some nasty defeats and have a dangerous new enemy to their east there is the certainty that they will want revenge - whether they feel soon is the time to take it is another matter. I'm expecting the western empire to survive but how much damage will result I don't know. Mind you is there much room for more Germanic invasions over the Rhine or upper Danube or has Atilla pretty much closed up his empire to the Roman border?

The point of interest to me as a Brit is events in England. I realised I made a mistake in an earlier post as I was confusing the father with the son. I don't know if its the strength of Ambrosius that has prompted the Saxons to sail so far north but if they do end up securing themselves there where if/when they turn up will the Angles go? Ambrosius does seem to have secured most of the south of England and the former southern Roman province - although not sure what the status of Wales is - so I would expect him to be heading north, or Ælle coming south soon.

Been keeping an eye on events in China where I think we have an earlier reunification of the state after the final collapse of the Han a century or two before but will they last longer than the Sui who only ruled for a short period? Mind you that reunification about 140 years earlier than OTL will have impacts.

By the way why are you complaining about Aspar's use of camels? Isn't that what their designed for?:p
 

gral

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In Britain, Ambrosius continued his campaign of reconquest by attacking Dumnonia, the largest and most powerful of the southern British kingdoms which had rebelled after his father’s death. After some smaller skirmishes in the spring and early summer, the rebel emperor marched west at the head of a 4,000-strong army to face King Uthyr and a similar number of Dumnonians at Guoloph[29]. Here he was victorious, routing the Britons with a well-timed cavalry charge into their flank while they were busy fighting his infantry, and captured Uthyr as he scoured the latter’s men from the field. Instead of killing the rival king however, Ambrosius allowed him to live as a vassal in exchange for his baptism and that of his family into the Pelagian Church. Furthermore the betrothal of Uthyr’s younger sister Eigyr to Ambrosius himself was arranged, though due to the bride still being a child at this time, the marriage ceremony itself was postponed until she had grown older.
Eigyr... Ygraine?
 

ATP

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Ha! those Hephtalite must be aliens in bad disguise! But sassanid Emprah would eventually crush vile xeno.
Back to topic - WRE would probably lost.In Poland we found few graves which belonged to Huns,so they were there.If becouse slavic people is new name to Weneds,and they were used as cannonfodder later by Avars,then Hunns could use Weneds/slavic people as cannon fodder,too.
When ERE attack WRE,they could try take their african provinces,too - but without Bellisarius as general and stupid Vandal as enemies,it probably fail.
I think that all they could get would be Dalmatia.

P.S i found song for Ambrosius after victory over Saxons:https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwihy7SK3_TwAhWHCBAIHRrdBHQQwqsBMAF6BAgHEAE&url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MC0S60Gp5rM&usg=AOvVaw3YwLa5_FNrGZvpxmVelgZ8
 

Circle of Willis

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You can expect Attila to do quite a bit of harm in the foreseeable future - this last chapter & the one before it had the purpose of building up the threat he poses (plus he's been mentioned since the first page), and my last name's neither Weiss nor Benioff so I can safely say that the next couple chapters will not involve him dying anticlimactically on the Danube before he accomplishes anything of note :LOL:

As far as the western reach of his realm goes, Attila has expanded the Huns' western border some, but not (yet) so much so that he's on the Rhine already since Bleda was still around to rein him in when he was making his first westward drive. However the opportunity still exists for him to push the tribes on there - mainly the Alamanni & Ripuarian Franks at this point, since the Thuringians are the main tribe to have fallen under Hunnish power before Bleda stopped Attila - to attack the WRE's Rhine frontier with bribes, threats or raids, if he so chooses to open up that front. Re: Slavs, IIRC some of them may have fought under Attila and ended up settling in the Balkans before the 6th century IRL; indeed the southeastern reaches of the Vistula Veneti's lands do seem to have been under Hunnic influence by the end of the 4th century, so I don't think it's unrealistic for at least a couple Slavic tribes being among Attila's horde even if they aren't yet nearly as numerous or influential as they would be a century later, historically. I'll be including an updated map with the next post, which will also be this timeline's first map to show more than just the Roman world.

The Saxons have come further north than they did historically due to a combination of northern Britannia being visibly much weaker & less organized than the south (even before Ambrosius attained his majority), and their Jutish cousins already being there. Those Jutes would be easier to integrate into Ælle's realm than the Britons if he can subjugate them, and most likely it would've been loose-lipped Jutish traders and sailors who told stories of easy, anarchic pickings north of the Humber to the Saxons back on the continent in the first place (much to the regret of their kin who have already settled in England).

Britain as a whole is definitely building up to the area between the Trent, Severn & Shakespeare's Avon being the major battleground between the northern-based Anglo-Saxons & southern-based Romano-British, as opposed to the east-west divide that existed historically. As for the native Britons, they're too disorganized to be a major player at the moment and will be in deep trouble if they don't start consolidating in the near future, although the ones in Wales are much safer than the ones in northern & western Britannia since the Irish are just coming over to raid, not conquer (for now).

@gral Yes indeed, good catch. I think I've said it before, but you can expect a rather different Arthurian cycle coming into being ITL; quite a few of the names might be familiar, but their deeds and family relations won't be the exact same as OTL. That's already been the case with the earlier Constantinians before Ambrosius, for example.

Anything else and everything else are gated behind spoilers for future chapters, as usual 😉
 

ATP

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Attack from both sides - WRE must lost at least some lands.Unless those german tribes are smart and ,after coming to WRE,declare for WRE.
Slavic/Weneds were wery disorganised - "Gothica" Jordanusa mentioned many kings killed by Goths,but they,considering what we found there,probably was just chieftains with few bodyguards and tribal warriors.
 
440-442: The Scourge of God, Part I

Circle of Willis

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The early winter of 440 was a mild and relatively pleasant one, as if the heavens themselves knew it was the calm before the storm Attila would be bringing once the spring rains fell. As his Huns and both Romes took the opportunity to make their final preparations for war across the Balkans, Eucherius and the Western Roman court celebrated the wedding of the younger prince Theodosius to Akgül, the daughter of Bleda, as well as her baptism and that of her fellow Hunnish exiles into the Nicene Church[1]. At the same time, Attila sent a request for experienced siege engineers to Constantinople, claiming that he needed their knowhow to put together siege weapons if he was to have any chance of cracking the strengthened defenses of the Western Roman border cities & fortresses; against the urging of Procopius, who warned that this was sure to make the already-dangerous Huns twenty times deadlier, Theodosius assented at the advice of Chrysaphius, who assured him that Attila would surely be as faithful to them as the fallen Bleda and that even if he weren’t, no siege engine the steppe hordes could put together would ever be able to breach Constantinople’s defenses.


The Emperor Eucherius in his twilight years greatly resembled his father Stilicho's own elderly appearance

Attila initiated hostilities on March 1 with an attack not across the Middle Danube into Roman Pannonia as he had before, but over the Lower Danube and into Moesia instead. To the shock of Marcellinus and other Western Roman defenders, thanks to Theodosius’ engineers he did in fact have battering rams and siege towers with which he assailed their border cities this time around, starting with Margus[2]. Soon after that town’s fall, the Eastern legions began marching westward from Thrace and battling the Visigoths stationed along the border & in the Rhodope Mountains. The initial Western Roman strategy was to count on said Visigoths to hold their Eastern cousins off while their reinforced forts and walled towns slowed and weakened Attila in western Illyricum, after which their gradually-reinforced field armies would squash him once and for all before heading further east; but the speed at which Attila was moving and ransacking Illyrian towns forced Eucherius to march to respond ahead of schedule, well before the last-minute reinforcements he had requested from Aetius could join him in Dalmatia.

However, even without the additional forces Aetius was sending, the 30,000-strong Western Roman field army was already an extremely formidable force – one of the largest the West had fielded in decades – with substantial contributions from the Burgundians, Rugians, Visigoths and even a small contingent of Hunnish exiles backing up the legions themselves. Marching from the Dalmatian diocesan capital at Salona, Eucherius first confronted Attila’s horde at Domavia[3] on the edge of the Dinaric Alps and soundly defeated him there, nearly trapping him against the mountains and forcing the Hun warlord to retreat with over 4,000 dead – about a tenth of his army. Calculating that Attila’s next move would be to try to retreat eastward to attack Visigoth territory and link up with the Eastern Romans, Eucherius dispatched a 6,000-strong cavalry division under Theodosius’ lead to shadow the Huns’ movements and prevent them from achieving this. Attila accordingly retreated northward instead with the aim of retreating back over the Danube and onto his own territory, though he had to deal with Theodosius’ horsemen harassing him and the main Western army following him the entire time.

Theodosius firmly got ahead of Attila just before he could get over the Danube, trapping him between the Western Roman cavalry and his imperial father’s host on a plain near the looted town of Bassianae[4] by April 14. With no way out but through, Attila decided on forcing a pitched battle, believing the terrain was far more favorable for him here than the feet of the Dinaric Alps had been. Knowing that he had to crush Theodosius’ men before Eucherius brought the full force of the main Western Roman army onto the field and stomped him flat between them, the Hunnish khagan threw everything he had at the Roman cavalry corps, which in turn strained to keep him trapped on the battlefield long enough for Eucherius to arrive. Alas, as outnumbered by the Huns as they were, the Western Roman cavalry was unable to withstand the Huns’ arrows and lances and were driven off the field. Theodosius was among the dead, unhorsed by Attila’s own oldest son Ellac[5] and finished off not long after.


Ellac prepares to finish off the dying prince Theodosius

Eucherius finally reached Bassianae hours after his younger son’s demise, while the Huns were still wrapping up their pursuit of the latter’s shattered division and regrouping on the Syrmian plain. Attila did not fail to notice and, knowing he could choose between finally retreating over the Danube or trying to defeat the Western Roman Emperor on the same day, boldly chose the latter course of action. Eucherius for his part was at a disadvantage, for Theodosius’ defeat left him more heavily outnumbered by Attila’s horde and with only 2,000 cavalrymen of his own, and he did indeed consider withdrawing to nearby Sirmium to let Attila fall back & await Aetius’ reinforcements; however, Attila changed his mind by raising up Theodosius’ corpse on a stake in full view of the Western Romans. Enraged beyond reason by the sight of his dead son, Eucherius committed to an immediate attack on the Huns.

At first it seemed to Attila that his provocation worked a little too well. The Western Romans’ initial charge crushed through his still-disorganized infantry, scattering many of the subject Ostrogoths and Gepids aside with heavy casualties. Eucherius even reached the Hunnish camp, which Attila had drawn his wagons around to defend, and nearly broke through before Ellac returned with the rest of the Hunnish cavalry which had been missing from the field until that moment. The Huns’ own prince drove away what little cavalry Eucherius still had and forced the Western Romans to pull back with an attack on their now-exposed flanks. Still, Eucherius refused to leave the battlefield – not that he could disengage safely without his cavalry, anyway – and he and the Huns fought well into the night, with the Western Romans maintaining their circular shield-wall even under the pressure of numerous Hunnish charges and feints.

Not even having their formation split in half by a particularly devastating charge under Attila himself, resulting in the weaker barbarian federates being annihilated and the Burgundian king Gundahar being struck down, could get Eucherius and his men to give up; for that matter neither did Eucherius’ own death, shot in the throat by a Hun horse-archer while trying to hack a path to Attila himself. In the end Attila had to come to terms with Marcellinus & Carpilio, the remaining senior Roman commanders; in respect of the Western Romans’ fighting prowess, the khagan agreed to allow them to withdraw southward unmolested with the corpses of their emperor and prince in tow, and because his own army was in no shape to try to finish them off he actually kept his word on this occasion.


Despite their emperor's demise, Marcellinus & Carpilio managed to put up a fierce (and exhausting) enough last stand to impress Attila into letting them retreat from the battlefield

The Battle of Bassianae had proved exceedingly costly to both sides, but by far the Western Romans had gotten the worst of it. Out of the 28,000 men they had going in, they had sustained some 12,000 losses including Eucherius, Theodosius and Gundahar, with the contingent of pro-Bleda Hunnish exiles in particular being nearly totally annihilated. Attila had also lost 11,000 men out of the 35,000 he had originally, which were nothing to sneeze at, but proportionally lower than the casualties the Romans had sustained, and he found them easier to replace than the Western Empire did their own. Now the eldest grandson of Stilicho, who had been administering the empire in relative safety from Ravenna all this time, decidedly had a long and difficult road ahead of him as the new Western Augustus. Romanus’ only saving grace at this point was that his father’s constant thrashing of would-be usurpers and wisdom in surrounding him with capable and loyal lieutenants, such as Aetius and Joannes, ensured he didn’t have to fight another civil war on his ascension, which he certainly could not have afforded.

Almost immediately making that road even more difficult for Romanus, Attila was determined to resume the offensive and capitalize on the Western Romans’ weakened position as soon as possible. After resting his army and while more reinforcements were en route from the eastern reaches of his empire, he compelled the surrender of Sirmium and once more invaded Roman Pannonia, conquering the last of its fortified towns by July. Among the captives he took in this rampage was a young equestrian from the shores of Lake Pelso[6] named Orestes[7], who offered to join his court as a notary in exchange for his life and that of his family, and sufficiently impressed the Hunnish king with his knowledge of arithmetic & the Hun language to be granted this favor. While Marcellinus went to aid the Goths, Carpilio lost more ground in Dalmatia before finally receiving his father’s reinforcements from the Gallic frontier as well as the remaining Italian legions personally led by the new Emperor Romanus, and together the two managed to push Attila back enough to stabilize the Illyrian front in the Dinaric Alps by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Romans remained on the offensive against the Visigoths to the southeast. Shortly after the Battle of Bassianae Procopius rooted Theodoric’s men out of the Rhodope Mountains, while Aspar defeated the king’s main army in a large battle just east of Amphipolis, and Anatolius led a third force of nine legions to Athens by sea where he promptly secured the city’s surrender. Theodoric’s attempt to negotiate terms in the face of this overwhelming power was shot down by Emperor Theodosius himself: believing victory to be imminent, the Eastern Augustus had declared that nothing short of the reclamation of the East’s old Illyric territories and the expulsion of the barbarian blight from those lands could satisfy him.

Marcellinus had hurried down to Thessalonica with half of the remaining Western Roman forces in Dalmatia and reached his destination on June 26 – just in time to attack the flank of Procopius’ and Aspar’s combined host while they were battling Theodoric before Thessalonica’s gates, forcing the Eastern Romans to retreat that day. But with the pair still active to the east of the great city and Anatolius storming northward from Athens, driving Visigoth settlers to flight before his advance and negotiating the surrender of one Western Roman city after another as he went, it became obvious to the pair that they could not realistically hold Macedonia for much longer. Thus Theodoric and Marcellinus spent the rest of 440 and early 441 waging a fighting retreat from the dioceses of Dacia and Macedonia, once again evacuating as many of the former’s people to Dalmatia with them as they could, while being harried not just by the Eastern Romans but also some of Attila’s Huns after the collapse of the Middle Danubian frontier. In the process Theodoric’s middle son, also named Theodoric[8], was felled in a skirmish with Aspar’s cavalry near Dioclea over the winter; but in the end, with the help of diversionary attacks from the Dinaric Alps in the autumn to relieve the pressure Attila was bringing to bear, the two had succeeded and preserved both the continued existence of the Visigothic people and enough of Marcellinus’ legions to make a meaningful contribution to Romanus’ imperial army.


Theodoric Junior moments before joining the growing list of notable Western Roman casualties in this war

Compounding the tragic circumstances the Western Empire found itself in, near the end of 440 Akgül gave birth to the emperor’s posthumous niece – named Theodosia in honor of her deceased father – but soon became feverish and died herself. But Romanus had no opportunity to mourn his sister-in-law’s passing, for the circumstances of the war forced him to remain in Dalmatia to lead his armies all through the winter and into the spring of 441. From his headquarters at Salona he called for reinforcements from Africa, including the Vandals and Moors, but the Eastern Romans put a stop to this when their navy vanquished that of the West in the Battle off Hydruntum[9] in February of 441, making it too unsafe for the African forces to try crossing into Italy by sea. More fortunately for the Western Romans, an attempt by Anatolius to land Eastern troops in Apulia and from there march on Ravenna was frustrated by Joannes, who caught the former’s army while they were landing outside Brundisium and pushed them back into the sea before they could establish a proper beachhead – though the strain of the battle, and the still-poor broader strategic outlook for the West, was apparently too much for him, for the old imperial treasurer died of a heart attack a week later; another hard loss for the Augustus he mentored in financial matters, and whose reign had already started with so many personal losses in the first place.

Ironically, the defeat of the Western Roman fleet turned out to be somewhat to their advantage when Theodosius II (frustrated by his failure to invade Italy) sent legions from Egypt and Syria to attack Africa later in the summer; reinforced by Fredegar’s Vandals and Caecilius’ Berbers, the Western African legions handily turned this incursion back at Leptis Magna[10]. Attila’s own attempt to open a new front this year by inciting and harrying several Alamannic and Ripuarian Frankish tribes into attacking Gaul also turned out poorly, as although Aetius lacked the numbers to directly defeat the invaders head-on after having sent so many of the Gallic legions to reinforce his emperor, through Salian Frankish emissaries he was able to secretly persuade their Ripuarian cousins to turn against the Alamanni – having easily secured permission from the embattled Romanus to make whatever promises were necessary to prevent the empire’s weakened western frontier from collapsing at this critical time.

When the two armies fought near Mogontiacum that autumn, the Ripuarians abandoned the Alamanni and opened up gaps in their lines, allowing Aetius and his own Salian federates to crush them and send them fleeing back over the Rhine. However this victory did not change Aetius’ own lack of Roman manpower, preventing him from backstabbing the Ripuarians; accordingly he had to appease them by actually following through on his promise to settle them in the lands of the Salians within the empire, which were also expanded further south both as a reward for said Salians’ own service and to accommodate the new arrivals. It could therefore be said that the Franks were collectively the biggest winner on the Gallic front of the war, for their king Chlodio quickly absorbed the Ripuarians into his kingdom and extended his domain as far as Nemetacum[11].

Outside the two Romes, in Britannia Ælle and Ambrosius continued to strive to expand their power, though they also ran into the occasional reverses. For his part Ælle went to war with the Jutes and defeated them thoroughly in a battle outside Bretlinton[12], one of the new towns the latter had founded, after which Oisc of the Jutes submitted to his authority and offered up one of his daughters in marriage to the younger and more powerful Saxon warlord. Having subjugated his fellow Germanic invaders, Ælle next turned against the Britons once more: but in that he had less luck, for Gwrast and Arthuis, two grandsons of Coel who ruled in the Pennines, managed to temporarily check his advance in the Battle of Catale[13] at the beginning of winter. Similarly Ambrosius had initial success in reasserting his authority west and north of Glevum, recapturing the old fortress of Magnis[14] from Powys and the market town of Venta Silurum[15] from Gwent on top of forcing the latter’s king to bend the knee, but was unable to push deeper into the Welsh mountains and had his northern push checked at Winnicas[16] by the Powysians in the fall.


Ælle teaching the Jutes who's boss in the Germanic parts of northern Britannia

Come 442, Romanus and his generals found new hope when they fought a second battle at Domavia – this time against Aspar – and emerged victorious. Having caught him off-guard when their troops made a nighttime descent from the mountains, they had inflicted heavy losses on his legions and nearly captured the Alan general himself in the fracas. Carpilio and Theodoric both believed the severe beating Aspar had taken opened a gap in the dead center of the Eastern Empire’s front-line, and that it was time to go on the offensive; Romanus was inclined to agree, having grown frustrated after spending more than a year on the defensive and eager for revenge. Marcellinus alone argued for caution, but the emperor overrode him at Carpilio’s urging; according to the latter, holding their present positions in the Dinaric Alps would just give the Eastern Romans time to recover, and they had to strike while the iron was still hot. So did the Western Roman army begin marching to leave the Dinaric Alps.

However, in truth the Eastern Romans were putting their own strategy into motion. Aspar had in the first place been the one to engineer the broader plan, which required him to draw the Western Romans out of Dalmatia by throwing a large enough battle to make Romanus and company overconfident. He then retreated to join the rest of the Eastern Roman legions amassing at Ulpiana, while the Huns maneuvered into position to the northeast with plans to trap the Western army between them. The hammer fell on a plain north of Ulpiana[17] on June 24, where Romanus’ scouts warned him of Attila’s approach from the north just as the Eastern Roman army under Procopius’ overall command – which, at 34,000 strong, was more numerous than his own by some 12,000 men – came into sight to the south.

The emperor decided to beat a retreat westward back into friendly territory, but of course his enemies weren’t going to let him get away that easily. As soon as he saw the Western Romans trying to leave the battlefield, Aspar immediately launched an all-out cavalry charge, which Romanus repelled by having his legionaries form a shield-wall but served the former’s intent of keeping the Western legions from falling back too quickly. The Eastern army constantly trailed and attacked its Western counterpart, which in turn had to stage a slower fighting retreat rather than hurriedly fleeing the field as Romanus hoped to do. Still, they managed to maintain order and fall back to the west as a cohesive force in the face of both Procopius’ infantry and Aspar’s cavalry until Attila arrived with 13,000 cavalry, having left the greater part of his army under Ellac behind to move more quickly, and began his contribution to the battle by devastating the Visigoth contingent guarding the Western Romans’ right (northern) flank.

Under the added pressure of the Huns, the Western army began to crumble and its fighting retreat degenerated into a rout across the Dardanian field. By the time night fell, Romanus had managed to limp to safety with only 11,000 men, fully half of his army having been slaughtered or taken prisoner by his enemies, and both Theodoric and Carpilio had fallen; the former was cut down by Attila himself as the khagan crushed his Visigoths, while the latter atoned for advising Romanus into this disastrous engagement by leading a rearguard action near sunset until he was overwhelmed and killed an hour later. The emperor himself had been under threat in the later stages of the battle, but was carried off to safety by the intervention of his friend and candidatus Majorian.

The calamity that was the Battle of the Dardanian Plains crippled the Western Romans’ Illyrian army and made a defense of Dalmatia impossible, something which Romanus was painfully aware of – hence why he opted to retreat all the way to Aquileia rather than try to make a stand at Salona or elsewhere in the province – and which the Huns in particular were eager to take advantage of. Attila wildly raced ahead of the Eastern legions, determined to raze and pillage as much of the province as he could without having to share any fun or plunder with his allies, and left very little for the Eastern Romans to pick through as they followed in his wake. Most infamously the Huns subjected the aforementioned provincial capital itself to a brutal sack on July 30, killing or enslaving nearly three-quarters of the city’s population – including Bishop Hesychius[18], who was martyred within moments of emerging from his church to ask for clemency to the unfortunates trying to shelter inside it – and absolutely gutting the Palace of Diocletian, from which Attila stole even the very gates. News of the horrific incident dismayed Theodosius himself as well as Aspar and Chrysaphius, though they had been the most ruthless members of the Eastern imperial court; the latter eunuch, concerned that Attila might just be out of their control and that in any case he could not be allowed to grow too powerful, did not have to work particularly hard to convince his overlord to call for a ceasefire and negotiate terms with the Western Romans before Attila invaded Italy itself.


Attila and his men in the middle of ransacking the Palace of Diocletian

Attila was infuriated by his allies suddenly suing for peace, but determined that he could not continue his advance past the Histrian peninsula after his scouts reported that the magister militum Aetius was personally marching to Romanus’ aid – leaving behind a skeleton garrison on the Rhine that he could’ve taken advantage of, had he not made the Teutonic tribes living there attack it and fail the year before. At Aquileia the Eastern and Western emperors hashed out the terms of peace with both Aetius and the Hun khagan in attendance: most of the Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum was to be divided between the Huns and the Eastern Roman Empire, with the former acquiring Pannonia & Dalmatia while Dacia & Macedonia were finally returned to the latter after nearly 40 years under Western control. The Visigoths were of course kicked out of their old Balkan holdings, for the Orient considered their presence pestilential and a severe detriment to the local Greek population; Visigoth captives in Eastern Roman custody were largely enslaved, with only the nobles able to afford extortionate ransoms being allowed to go free. The Huns were required to respect the appointment of a new Bishop of Salona – to be decided by Theodosius now, not Romanus – to replace the deceased Hesychius.

Though no tribute was asked of the West (only ransom payments for captured Western legionaries), the Eastern court having determined that they couldn’t afford any respectable sum anyway and that weakening the Western Empire too severely wasn’t in anyone’s interest but Attila’s, the territorial loss of not just Stilicho’s earlier conquests but also Dalmatia – effectively meaning the entire eastern half of the Western Empire – was still a severe loss, to put it mildly. Aside from the now-also-lost Dacia, Dalmatia had been a key source of manpower for the Western army (particularly its cavalry, among whom the equites Dalmatae had provided one of the more effective counters to the Huns until they were decimated in this war) even after Eucherius’ land reforms began bringing Italian recruitment back up, almost like what Africa was to the Roman urban mob’s survival. And of course, the defeat greatly tarnished the prestige of the Western imperial crown, for it had been their first serious reverse since Stilicho took power in 395 (not their first territorial loss – that had been Britannia in 422 – but, of course, losing one half of their European territories was far worse than one remote and exposed province).

Almost immediately after these terms were broadcast, rebellions flared up among the Burgundians and in Hispania & Africa to take advantage of Romanus’ weakened state. Against Spanish usurper Maximus II (a Lusitanian legate with no actual relation to the previous Maximus Tyrannus beyond having the same name), the emperor sent the Visigoths; as his brother-in-law and their new King Thorismund absolutely refused to be settled in Noricum[19] on the new border with the Huns, Romanus agreed to instead place him and what remained of his people in western Hispania[20] instead, if only they could secure it from the rebels first. Against the African usurper Antalas, who had the backing of Donatists encouraged by the East’s victory, he relied on Fredegar and Caecilius once more while he strove to rebuild the core of the Western army. And against the insurgent new Burgundian king Gondioc he counted on Aetius, who also nominated the Romano-Gallic nobleman Avitus[21] – a member of his staff who had retired just before the war with Attila and the Eastern Empire began – to replace the late Joannes as the West’s permanent comes sacrarum largitionum. Finally, to thank Majorian for saving his life and secure the new border, Romanus arranged the man's marriage to his sister Maria and appointed him Comes Illyrici – commander of the Western Roman forces in Illyricum, which at this point really just meant Noricum.


Majorian, Romanus and Aetius debating how to proceed from their defeat in the Eastern-Western War of 440-442

Off to the East, Theodosius was over the moon at the news of his legions’ smashing victory, which finally restored the pre-407 territorial integrity of his half of the empire. To reward the generals who had returned to Constantinople as heroes, he assented to the marriage of his daughter Licinia Eudoxia to Procopius’ son Anthemius[22] and to appoint Aspar’s own son Ardabur Junior[23] to govern the diocese of Dacia despite the latter’s youth & inexperience. He also considered welcoming them with a triumph, but was dissuaded from this by his sister Pulcheria, who thought it improper to celebrate a victory over fellow Romans won with the aid of barbarians who just martyred a bishop. In any case, Theodosius also decided to stop paying the Huns after 442, for as far as he was concerned he no longer needed their services. To Attila however, this was nothing less than the Eastern Romans suspending their tribute just after undercutting him by negotiating peace with Ravenna, and he certainly was not going to allow such a treacherous insult to go unanswered…



1. Western Roman Empire
2. Eastern Roman Empire
3. Franks
4. Burgundians
5. Romano-British
6. Britons
7. Saxons
8. Western Roman rebels
9. Vandals
10. Huns
11. Caucasian kingdoms of Lazica, Iberia & Albania
12. Garamantians
13. Sassanid Empire
14. Ghassanids
15. Lakhmids
16. Hephthalites
17. Gupta Empire
18. Vakatakas
19. Rouran Khaganate
20. Northern Liang
21. Tuyuhun
22. Western Qin
23. Liu Song

====================================================================================

[1] Historically some Hunnish nobles were known to have disagreed with Attila and Bleda’s rise to power, and to have fled to the Eastern Roman imperial court where they converted to Christianity. Upon forcing the Romans to hand them over, the Huns crucified these renegades.

[2] Požarevac.

[3] Srebrenica.

[4] Donji Petrovci.

[5] Historically, Ellac was indeed the eldest of Attila’s three known sons and struggled over the succession against his brothers after Attila died from a nosebleed in 453. He seemed to have been the strongest of the three, for the Hunnish Empire mostly collapsed after his demise in the Battle of Nedao a year later and barely lingered as a shadow of its former self for another decade before disappearing entirely.

[6] Lake Balaton.

[7] Historically the last magister militum of the Western Empire, father & puppet-master of its last emperor – the child Romulus Augustulus. Orestes was known to have actually served Attila as a ‘notarius’ IRL.

[8] Historically, Theodoric II murdered Thorismund soon after their father’s death on the Catalaunian Plains and usurped the Visigoth kingship for thirteen years before he was in turn assassinated & usurped by their youngest surviving brother, Euric.

[9] Otranto.

[10] Al-Khums.

[11] Arras.

[12] Bridlington.

[13] Cattal.

[14] Kenchester.

[15] Caerwent.

[16] Wenlock.

[17] Kosovo Polje.

[18] Historically mentioned as the Bishop of Salona in De Civitate Dei.

[19] A province spanning parts of modern-day Austria & Slovenia. It was famous for producing high-quality ‘Noric steel’ for weapon-making.

[20] Centered on Tierra de Campos in modern Castile & León, which was also historically known as Campi Gothici – the Gothic Plains.

[21] The historical Western Roman Emperor from 455 to 456, noted for his strong friendship with the Visigoths and favoritism toward fellow Gallo-Romans after donning the purple.

[22] Western Roman Emperor 467-472, the last to be recognized as such by the Eastern Empire (which was also responsible for installing him in the first place) until Julius Nepos and also the last Western emperor of any ability. He was eventually fatally undermined by Ricimer, who overthrew and beheaded him for resisting his designs one too many times.

[23] The eldest son of Aspar, presumably named after his grandfather, who was made Consul in 471 and was killed in the same riot that took out his father.
 
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PsihoKekec

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That was one hell of a trashing Western Romans took, it will take a while to rebuild and it will be especially hard to reform the devastated cavalry units, a key force in countering the Huns, who are about to teach Eastern Romans a thing or two about the tender mercies of Attila. I have a feeling that with his newly acquired siege skills, he might find himself audacious enough to try besieging Constantinople.
 

gral

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IIRC, Salona was sacked and destroyed 2 centuries later in OTL(by Slav migrating tribes, if memory doesn't fail me). Many of the Salonan refugees fled to take shelter at the Palace of Diocletian, and the city of Split came into being as result of that. Here, it looks like Salona will survive, while Split will never be(or there will be a different city at the site). Perhaps nearby Trogir replaces Split as the big coastal city of the area?
 

PsihoKekec

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I don't know, Palace of Diocletian is well placed so Split will still exist and is bound to eclipse Trogir at leat in 18th century (who knows what direction the wider history will take), when the direct danger to both cities ceases and the island location of Trogir becomes the hindering factor.
 

stevep

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Ouch that was very nasty/ Not just losing a large and important chunk of their European lands but a lot of manpower as well as some important figures.

Theodosius saw some sense in not pushing the west too far but is likely to face Attila's rage now, which will probably give the west a period of greatly needed peace to recover. Plus once the hammer starts to fall on the eastern empire you could see the Sassanid's deciding to take advantage of their weakness. As such I can see bad omens ahead for the eastern empire. Doubt the Huns will take Constantinople but I could see them beseiging it. [Wondering if this would be similar to the OTL war under Phocus and later Heraclius against the Sassanids but with Attlia's Huns replacing the Alans as the western horde barbarians. However in this case can't see any aid arriving from the west unless a western emperor goes for broke.]

With his marriage into the imperial family I wonder if Majorian's future will have a purple tint? If like OTL character he's capable but should have a markedly better position than OTL where so much was outside his control.

In Britain the future looks difficult for the Saxon's as they hold a quite small region and a less fertile one than OTL while Ambrosius is looking powerful. However things could change and there might be more migrants to come so have to see what happens.

The Goths have taken a pounding and lost the land their held for ~40 years but could survive while the Franks are now united and had a pretty easy war which could be ominous in the future.

Another great chapter although I didn't realise that Eucherius was so old. Seeing the 1st picture of him in his 'twilight years' made me think - well he's got some way to go yet so will survive this conflict. :oops:
 

ATP

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Now,Attilla could plunder ERE to his heart content.WRE would not help them,even if they want it.
About Brites - i read,that Arhus was title,not name,and it mean only supreme commander when various british kings faced invaders.
Which mean,that britons should have such artur arleady.Usually it was stronger king.

P.S since there is still few Hunn survivors in WRE,made them instructors for roman calvary.I read,that Bellisarius made his cathaparcs from steppe people,sailors and mountain men - becouse they arleady knew how to live hard life.
 
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443-445: The Scourge of God, Part II

Circle of Willis

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Sorry for not replying to your responses earlier guys, this past weekend was pretty busy for me & I'm due to get vaccinated tomorrow afternoon. Of course I'm hoping for no side-effects worse than the sore arm the rest of my family who got it had to power through, but if the next update happens to take longer than the usual 3-5 days to come out, well now you'll know why. Anyway, let's get on with the show!

====================================================================================

For the Western Romans, 443 marked the end of the challenge posed by the Huns – for a little while, anyway – and the beginning of a new round of more familiar, internal threats. The one most pressing to the empire’s core was the opportunistic rebellion of the Burgundians under their new king Gondioc, the son of the late Gundahar[1]; though the Burgundians had been mauled as badly as anyone else in the Battle of Bassianae, they were still dangerous enough to lay waste to much of the upper Rhodanus River valley and place both Lugdunum and Vienna[2] under siege. That ended when Aetius marched at the head of the remaining Italian and Dalmatian legions against them from the south while simultaneously coordinating an onslaught of Frankish foederati under Chlodio and Aegidius from the north, vanquishing the Burgundians in battles at those cities before the end of spring; Chlodio’s son and heir Merovech[3] distinguished himself in the battle at Lugdunum, where he challenged Gondioc’s younger brother Chilperic[4] to single combat and slew him in sight of all Burgundy’s other mightiest warriors, causing them to lose heart. Gondioc himself survived these defeats and fell back to the Alps but, realizing the Western Romans were still more powerful than he could handle, surrendered early in the summer and reaffirmed his loyalty to Ravenna.


Exhausted and wounded, Merovech issues horn-blasts to signal his victory over Chilperic

Months after Aetius suppressed the Burgundian rebellion, the Visigoths reached Hispania to do the same to the usurper Maximus II there, while Romanus was off raising new cavalry legions in Gaul and having them drilled in part by the few pro-Western Roman Hunnish survivors of Bassianae and the Dardanian Plains. Despite their great reduction in numbers in the recent war, the Visigoth warriors who had managed to survive up to this point were some of the most grizzled veterans living in the entirety of Europe and (together with the Hispanic legions backing them up) rapidly proved to be more than a match for the green urban levies, Priscillianist guerrillas and Asturi and Callaeci tribesmen serving Maximus on the battlefield. Every time Maximus dared show his face, Thorismund and his remaining brother Euric[5] caved it (and his army) in, reclaiming the cities overrun by the rebels throughout the summer and settling their people on the western Hispanic plateau while Maximus retreated into the northwestern mountains as his predecessors did when defeated in the field.

While Euric led efforts to eliminate him, finally capturing the usurper in a skirmish in January of 444 and delivering him to Ravenna for execution, Thorismund set about building a new capital by the River Arlanzae[6], which he creatively named Baurg-af-Thorismund[7] – simply, the ‘fort of Thorismund’, and increasingly referred to simply as ‘the’ Baurg by his subjects – on New Year’s Day that year. At his sister the Empress Theodesinda’s request, Thorismund built a church for Nicene Christians in addition to one for Arians like himself, and invited priests from the Archdiocese of Toletum[8] (Hispania’s oldest and most prominent archdiocese) to preach freely there. This did not sit well with more conservative elements of Visigoth society, whose Arian beliefs were a core part of their identity which set them firmly apart from their Roman neighbors and who disdained Thorismund’s and Theodesinda’s overt fondness for the Roman ways they had grown up with; however, as their position (and that of Visigoth society in general) was still too precarious for them to make any serious moves against their staunchly Western Roman-backed king, they held their tongue in these years.


Romanus and Theodesinda pay a visit to the Baurg's new Nicene church shortly after its completion

At the same time that Aetius was crushing the Burgundians and Thorismund was marching to Hispania, Western Roman loyalists and supporters of the usurper Antalas were clashing in Africa. The former, led by Fredegar of the Vandals and Caecilius of Altava, had the advantage in open battles and sieges alike, and quickly suppressed the revolt to irrelevance outside of the inner African countryside; but much like the rebels of Hispania, those of Africa waged a guerrilla war from mountains and deserts where the imperial loyalists could not follow so easily, and Antalas proved more slippery than Maximus II by far. To counter this strategy, the two kings petitioned Romanus for permission to directly negotiate with or fight the hinterland Moorish kings and chieftains aiding the rebellion, which he granted.

Caecilius bribed or beat many of these lesser Berber lords into submission, finally getting the king of Volubilis[9] to hand Antalas over so he could be delivered to Ravenna in chains in February of 444, while Fredegar expanded further into the Aures Mountains by building fortified settlements past his people’s initial allotted settlement and driving away or subjugating the local Berbers. However, this success came at the cost of empowering both kings and allowing them to deepen the alliance between their peoples, culminating in the double marriage of Fredegar’s only daughter Freya to Caecilius’ heir Ierna and that of his own son Gerlach to the Berber king’s eldest daughter Basilla. In response to the news, Emperor Romanus sent them his congratulations – perhaps he was thankful to them for suppressing the rebellion of Antalas, unaware of the danger a united Afro-Vandal front might pose in the future, or too busy rejoicing over the birth of his daughter Serena around the same time to think about the latter.

While the Western Empire was struggling to reassert order in its provinces and Romanus himself was busy rebuilding the core of his army, the Eastern one spent the entirety of 443 and the first half of 444 luxuriously resting on its laurels. Chrysaphius, seemingly vindicated by the previous year’s great victory, was firmly ascendant over his rivals, and successfully marginalized Paulinus and even the princess Pulcheria in this time. Ardabur Junior did not take his duties as Dacia’s new governor seriously and was thus the first of many Eastern Romans to be rudely shocked when Attila suddenly attacked in the summer of 444, citing Theodosius’ failure to pay him the usual tribute as the cause and frightening away the unfortunate envoys the latter sent to try to explain that what he viewed as tribute, the Romans intended to be his salary – now that they no longer employed him, why would they continue paying him? The khagan demonstrated the answer to that question by sacking Singidunum on July 30, Ardabur having abandoned the city by fleeing to Constantinople well ahead of his horde a few weeks before, and it would be but the first of many he’d deal this harsh lesson out to.


Attila directs his Hunnish horde onward from Singidunum's ashes

Since the Eastern legions on the European side of the Hellespont had been depleted by the war with the West (though not to the same extent as the Western legions), the initial strategy of the court in Constantinople was to count on their fortified cities slowing down Attila’s advance while they moved reinforcements from the Sassanid frontier over the straits. But unfortunately, thanks to Theodosius’ provision of siege engineers in the past, Attila had closely observed how to construct effective enough siege weapons to assault these fortifications, and so the Huns were able to move much faster through the Eastern Roman defenses than anticipated. As Attila closed in on Thessalonica, Theodosius decided he had to respond prematurely and sent Procopius and Aspar out to contend with him, though their army was known to all to be outnumbered by an order of at least 3-to-1.

The Eastern Romans met Attila on the plain before Thessalonica on the afternoon of September 4. Their scouts had reported that many of Attila’s men had dispersed to raid the countryside while he negotiated the city’s surrender, so Procopius & Aspar both thought the Huns’ numbers had been diminished to the point where they actually had a good chance to defeat Attila himself; but in truth this had been a mirage, a trap set by the cunning khagan precisely to bait them into attacking him, and his sons and tarkhans[10] were in truth awaiting his command to gather their forces and swarm the battlefield. The Eastern Romans thus found themselves increasingly beset on all sides by returning Hunnish cavalry as they tried to fight through Attila’s infantry and camp defenses; Aspar was the first to realize the full gravity of the threat they were facing and persuaded Procopius to retreat just as Dengizich[11] and Ernak[12], Attila’s younger sons, arrived to their rear with 9,000 horsemen.

Leading a great wedge of heavy Roman cavalry, Aspar desperately hacked open a path for their retreat through the new arrivals and managed to shepherd the Eastern Romans to safety before Ellac could join the battle and completely seal the trap, but his success in salvaging the situation had not come cheaply. Out of the 11,000 legionaries they had at the beginning of the battle, about 3,500 had been killed or fatally injured, including Procopius himself – maimed by a javelin thrown by Dengizich. Meanwhile Attila held the field, subtracting fewer than half the Eastern Romans' losses out of his larger army, and showed the defenders of Thessalonica that no help would be forthcoming, compelling the city’s leaders to surrender. The Huns chose not to sack the great diocesan capital only after first extracting a hefty ransom of 1,500 pounds of treasure, leaving even the city’s praetorium and churches almost as bare and unadorned as they would have been if Attila had actually sacked the place.


Attila's younger sons hurry to close their father's trap around Procopius and Aspar

While Aspar retreated to Constantinople with the dying Procopius and Emperor Theodosius now decided to take absolutely no further risks until his reinforcements crossed the Hellespont, Attila had free reign across the entire European half of the Eastern Empire. He rampaged down to Athens, which unlike Thessalonica decided to resist him and paid the price when he stormed their defenses with crude rams and siege towers. The Huns promptly sacked the city for all it was worth, and carried off many thousands of its citizens in chains; among the most prominent captives were the family of Empress Aelia Eudoxia and Proclus[13], the Scholarch of the city’s great Platonic Academy, who impressed Attila enough that the khagan decided to pressgang him and all of the other Neoplatonic intellectuals he captured that night into his court rather than simply dash their brains out.

While Attila was returning north with his vast loot train and numerous captives, the Anatolian legions had finally arrived in Constantinople and hurried to intercept him under the leadership of the Isaurian general Zeno[14]. The Eastern Romans blocked Attila’s path near the sacked ruins of Beroea and forced a battle there in December: although the Huns eventually broke Zeno’s ranks with a massed charge involving their heaviest cavalry, the Anatolians had put up enough of a fight to infuriate Attila into changing his plans and following them as they retreated to Constantinople instead of retiring home for the winter. Thus 444 ended, and 445 began, with the Huns pillaging the Thracian countryside and besieging the Queen of Cities, the first time this would happen to the Eastern capital in its history.

While Attila was overseeing the construction of rams and a pair of siege towers against the Theodosian Walls, Shah Yazdgerd noticed the Eastern Romans’ border defenses beginning to slacken as more troops were pulled away to relieve the capital, and naturally decided this would be an excellent time to make a move against the distracted Theodosius. As Persian armies marched on Nisibis and Callinicum, the faction of Aspar and Chrysaphius was joined by a reluctant yet pragmatic Anatolius to prevail over that of Anthemius, Paulinus and Zeno, persuading Theodosius to sue for terms after the Huns mounted a failed preliminary assault on Constantinople’s defenses toward the end of January 445.

Attila delivered harsh terms for Anatolius to take back to the Great Palace: 6,000 pounds of gold up front, a yearly tribute of 1,800 pounds of gold (triple the 600 paid prior to and during the war of 440-442), and a price of ten golden solidii for every captive the imperial court cared to ransom, starting with the emperor’s Athenian in-laws. Elements of Attila's horde also continued to dwell in the Diocese of Dacia, and the Eastern Romans did not have the strength to force their departure. Thus before the snows even lifted, Attila could proudly proclaim that he had bested both halves of the Roman Empire within the same decade, a feat no other barbarian leader before him had achieved and which got bishops & other historians in both empires to increasingly refer to him as the frightful ‘Scourge of God’.


Old Anatolius all but begs the Scourge of God for mercy at a feast featuring his many captives from Athens, including Theodosius' in-laws and a particularly dismayed Scholarch Proclus

With the Hunnish threat temporarily mollified at great cost, the Eastern Empire was able to fully turn its attention to the Persians, who by now had recovered all the land they’d lost in 435 and were once more marching into Roman Syria. While Aspar and Zeno scrambled to marshal a response, Theodosius sent Anatolius and Anthemius through the Georgian kingdoms and over the Caspian Sea with their own mission: reach the court of the Hephthalites in Bactra, and try to form an anti-Persian alliance with these White Huns. That an alliance with another bunch of Huns just disastrously backfired in his face did not seem to matter overmuch to the Eastern Augustus.

Irony aside, once they made it to Bactra the Eastern Roman envoys did not find it difficult to incite Khingila[15], the young and dynamic Šao of the Hephthalites, to attack the Persians while they were distracted in Syria. He and his people needed no excuse to go raiding for Persian treasure and slaves, and so they cheerfully struck an accord with Constantinople to once more ravage Khorasan, which they were going to do as soon as they heard of the Shah’s western distraction anyway. The Hephthalites’ help could not have come at a better time, for by the fall of 445 Aspar and Zeno were hard-pressed and had nearly been pushed all the way to Antioch even after they followed in Procopius’ footsteps & built carroballistae to counter the Persian elephantry. The sudden onslaught of a 30,000-strong Eftal horde in his rear (which burned down Merv for their opening act, with Anthemius and Anatolius as observers in Khingila’s court) forced Yazdgerd to redeploy many of the troops he had been sent to attack the Romans, almost immediately relieving the pressure on Theodosius’ field generals just before the year ended.


Khingila and his court treat Anthemius & Anatolius to a much more welcoming feast than the 'Black Huns' did

While the Roman-Persian war heated up with the entry of the Hephthalites, to the east the old Samrat (emperor) of the Gupta dynasty, Kumaragupta[16], scored a rousing victory over the Pushyamitra tribe on the Narmada River toward the end of the rainy season – at the cost of his own life, struck down by a dying Pushyamitra javelineer in his moment of triumph. His eldest son and heir Skandagupta[17], already a highly experienced warrior himself, swore to avenge him by permanently subduing the rebellious Pushyamitras and any who would stand with them or give them shelter from his wrath. As this year ended while he was still marshaling his armies however, Skandagupta’s first notable achievement as Samrat was receiving an embassy from the Liu Song.

Speaking of the Liu Song, they sent that embassy to India not as rulers of southern China but all of it, for in 445 Emperor Wen finished his grand campaign of reconquest by baiting the allied armies of Western Qin and Northern Liang into a shattering defeat outside Jincheng. At long last the Middle Kingdom had been reunited and Wen could fully turn his attention to internal affairs; in that regard the emperor had big plans indeed, including the completion of a university he had been building since 438 to train scholar-officials and an overhaul of his bureaucracy, supplanting the barbarian chieftains and collaborators imposed by the fragmented and non-Han northern dynasties so as to more smoothly integrate the reconquered provinces. Between Wen’s continued capable rule, the Rourans north of the Great Wall having been appeased, and a handsome and well-respected heir in the crown prince Liu Shao[18], the reunited China under the Song dynasty – from now on there would be no need to affix the family name of ‘Liu’ before it – was set to emerge from the mid-440s in better shape than the other great civilizations of Rome, Persia and India.


Unlike his perpetually diligent father, Crown Prince Liu Shao was more than happy to while his days away in idle pleasures, especially now that his dynasty had prevailed over all its enemies to reunite China

====================================================================================

[1] Historically Gondioc was indeed the eldest son and heir of Gundahar. He took advantage of the chaotic reign of Valentinian III and later the assassination of Majorian to expand the Burgundian kingdom, eventually claiming Lyons as his capital, and also married Ricimer’s sister late in life.

[2] Vienne.

[3] Ancestor and namesake of the Merovingian dynasty which historically first ruled France until 751, and Aetius’ second most notable ally at the Catalaunian Plains after the Goths. Legend had it that his father was not Chlodio but rather a ‘quinotaur’ or five-horned mer-bull, which impregnated his mother Agasela while she was bathing in the sea; since this sea-monster was also described as a fish, and fish happened to be a secret symbol of early Christians, other authors interpreted it as a claim that Merovech and his dynasty were descended from Jesus.

[4] The Burgundian king who historically succeeded Gondioc, ruling 473-480.

[5] The third son of Theodoric I, who murdered Theodoric II and usurped his throne thirteen years after the latter had done the same to Thorismund. He was historically one of the longest-ruling, most ruthless and most formidable Visigoth kings, defeating a wide array of enemies ranging from the Suebi in Lusitania to Anthemius’ imperial legions and the Romano-Britons of Riothamus to expand their borders from Algarve to the Loire River.

[6] The Arlanzón.

[7] Burgos. Historically, Burgos would not be founded until 884, 440 years later than its founding by Thorismund ITL.

[8] Toledo.

[9] Near Meknes.

[10] A Turco-Mongol title for a general or military governor, subordinate to a khan or khagan. The title was known to have been used by the Hephthalites and Gokturks, among others; as the Huns were quite possibly either a Turkic people or had Turkic elements to their confederation, I think it’s logical for them to use it themselves, as well.

[11] Attila’s middle son, who historically quarreled with his brothers after their father’s death and aggressively tried to rebuild the Hunnic Empire after their eldest brother Ellac’s disastrous defeat & death at Nedao. In this he failed, and eventually he was killed and his head was sent to Constantinople.

[12] Attila’s youngest and most obscure son, who seems to have been content to eke out a meager existence in northern Dobruja and so probably managed to avoid the violent deaths of his older brothers. He disappeared from the pages of history after 469, as did what remained of the Huns.

[13] One of the most prolific Neoplatonic authors, who codified one of the most complex and best-developed systems of Neoplatonic thought and whose works influenced Thomas Aquinas centuries later. He historically succeeded his mentor Syrianus as Scholarch, or head, of the Athenian Platonic Academy upon the latter’s death in 437.

[14] No actual relation to Tarasikodissa, another Isaurian who historically arose to become emperor and took the same name in 474. This Zeno became Consul in 448 and was a consistent advocate of fighting Attila until his death early in the reign of Marcian.

[15] The first known ruler of the Alchon Huns, who have been alternatively considered either a tribe of the Hephthalites or a related but distinct people. Regardless of their exact relations, Khingila is the earliest possibly-Hephthalite king whose name is known to historians.

[16] Historically either the seventh or eighth Gupta Emperor, depending on whether one believes Ramagupta reigned or not. He revered Kartikeya, the Hindu god of war, and was a successful warlord for most of his life, but suffered some serious enough defeats (including against the Pushyamitras) near the end of his reign that his son Skandagupta was credited with restoring the Guptas’ fallen fortunes after his death.

[17] Skandagupta was the Gupta Emperor succeeding Kumaragupta I, who historically did not die until ten years after the date of his death ITL. He ruled in the mid-5th century and was noted as the last truly great ruler from his dynasty, who defeated all his neighbors and maintained the Guptas’ borders at their greatest extent.

[18] Historically Emperor Wen’s eldest son was initially described as a promising heir: a handsome man and a good equestrian & archer, but his relationship with his father broke down amid defeats at the hands of Northern Wei until he eventually committed patricide to usurp the throne of Liu Song. ITL however, Northern Wei’s early defeat by Liu Song has gone a long way to preserve the cordial relations between father and son, at least for now.
 

PsihoKekec

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Given how high they were on their own self-esteem after victory against Western Roman Empire, I wonder how many in Constantinople were not surprised by Attila's sudden yet inevitable invasion. Sending envoys to explain him how the tribute was really just a salary, when he was already invading them, just shows how out of touch the court was.
 

stevep

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Well the big question, at least in the wider west, is what will Attila do next? I can't see him being happy at peace, no matter what tribute he's getting. As such I see stormy times ahead for the western empire as I'm expecting him to turn west again. He won't want it recovering to any great degree and also it was the one that probably attracts the greater hostility as it was in the west he was an hostage so long.

Also ominous references to the Vandal successes in N Africa and links with many of the local Berbers possibly ending up as a serious problem for the empire.

Similarly omens about potential religious division inside the Visigoth state. Which could end up well with most of the Visigoths converting to Nicene Christianity, which reduces the potential for conflict with the empire or could see a major civil war and/or the overthrown of the current Visigothic royal family by more conservative Arians.

Not sure what's going to happen in China with it being reunited much earlier than OTL, although that could be good for it if the Song dynasty proves stable and provides lasting orders. [Which isn't certain as already we have seen the Qin being replaced quickly by the Han and OTL while it was the Sui who reunified China they lasted less than 40 years before the longer lasting Tang.] However I have a gut feeling the Song will be about for a while.

Anyway your keeping many pots boiling. Looking forward to seeing how it works. Hope the jab goes well but if it doesn't then just take your time. We can wait.

Steve
 

ATP

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Excellent chapter.It seems,that WRE in long run is safer now,becouse Huns and ERE would never join forces again them.
Unless Vandals in Africa create their own state,without Africa WRE probably would fall.Especially if Visigoths follow and take over Spain.

P.S i forget,that according to Jordanus and his Gothica,Hunns was overlords of most of slavic/wened "kings" defeated by Goths before 400AD.But,since we do not found any biggerr settlements there,they must be just small local tribal chieftains.
So,Hunns would not gather any big army from slavic/wened people.
 
446-449: Romulus and Remus, united

Circle of Willis

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Alrighty, it's been a week and I've had no side effects besides the arm soreness, which I did have for a bit longer than anyone else in my family but finally went away entirely a few days ago. Since then I've been able to complete the latest chapter, so here it comes! From now on I'll be returning to the usual schedule of updating every 3-5 days, and will of course let you guys know (as I did with the previous update) if something's coming up that might cause a delay.

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446 saw both halves of the Roman Empire continuing to undergo turmoil. In the Eastern half, the war with Persia continued as Shah Yazdgerd was not prepared to give up his conquests so easily, even as he had to redeploy large numbers of troops away from Syria to counter the Hephthalite threat bearing down on his eastern satrapies. For their part, the Eastern Roman legions had already been doubly battered by the Persians and Huns, and thus had to rule out any dramatic offensive to restore the antebellum border at a lightning pace. Instead, Aspar and Zeno spend the year grinding down the Persian garrisons left behind from Chalkis[1] to Callinicum in siege after siege, being constantly harassed by the Sassanids’ Lakhmid allies in the process, rather than crushing the Sassanid army in a grand field battle or two and simply compelling these garrisons to surrender.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the Persian Empire, in contrast to their new Roman allies the Eftals under Khingila were able to push deep into Sassanid Khorasan and Khwarazm, viciously pillaging and burning cities and the countryside alike as they went, and handily routing or encircling and then crushing the sparse garrisons and small response forces they encountered. At Aria[2], Khingila spared only the Christian townsfolk and their bishop as a favor to his Eastern Roman guests; Anthemius later informed him that these particular Christians were Nestorian heretics, and so neither he nor Anatolius particularly cared if he sought to put them to the sword or carry them off in chains instead, but by that point the Hephthalite king had already made his decision and stuck by it.

Khingila annihilated the first Sassanid army to seriously challenge his advance at Nishapur on June 10; there his victory was so thorough, and his horsemen so swift in their pursuit, that the Hephthalite army was able to chase the remnants of their Persian adversaries through the city gates and sack Nishapur itself immediately after their triumph on the battlefield. Using convoys of Bactrian camels to transport their supplies, he next crossed the Dasht-e Kavir spanning the central Iranian plateau, and though the Eftals were unable to crack the more formidable defenses of the cities beyond this desert they still managed to raid the Persian hinterland as far as Spahan[3]. It took until the autumn for the Persians to finally begin massing enough troops under the competent leadership of brothers Ashtat and Izad Gushnasp[4], who finally dealt Khingila a stinging defeat in the Battle of Yazd that October. Nevertheless, he defied the Gushnasps’ expectations by executing an orderly retreat across the Dasht-e Kavir before the year ended, even thwarting their attempt to pursue him in a cavalry battle on the eve of a seasonal rainstorm a month later.


Anatolius converses with Khingila, Šao of the Hephthalites, as they retreat eastward near the end of 446

In the Western Roman Empire, Romanus ramped up taxation and conscription as a continuation of his efforts to rebuild his bloodied armies. While the reforms his father had made to the Western civil service and the administrative ability of Avitus allowed for more thorough tax collection with less embezzlement, obviously neither the tax raise nor the draft were popular with the Roman people and bagaudae activity increased throughout the year. Gaul and Italy, where the increased burdens fell hardest, experienced the most restlessness; Hispania (where the Visigoths had just smashed a major uprising) and Africa (where the Vandals and Moors assisted the Western Roman authorities in maintaining order) remained stable and provided what Ravenna asked of them with relatively little trouble in comparison. Fortunately for the emperor his able lieutenants, Majorian and Aetius, were there to aid him in nipping the brewing rebellions in the bud before they could rally behind seriously threatening usurpers.

While Romanus and Majorian led the Italian legions in suppressing scattered bagaudae bands in the peninsula throughout the spring and summer (Romanus doing so in the south while Majorian handled rebels in the north), Aetius and Aegidius took the new Hun-trained Gallic cavalry formations raised over the last few years and put them through their baptism of fire in a campaign against Brutus of Augustoritum[5], who was emerging as the most charismatic and successful of the Gallic bagaudae warlords. Aetius’ horsemen fell upon Brutus’ bandits before the latter could finish fortifying his largest encampments near his hometown and crushed them with great slaughter; the rebel chief himself abandoned his men in an attempt to save himself upon witnessing the few defenses he had set up failing, making their defeat a certainty, but was run down and killed by Aetius’ fastest riders. Shortly after this victory these two highest-ranking generals in Gaul also reinforced their friendship with marital ties, as Aegidius’ son Syagrius[6] married Aetius’ daughter Bonifacia before the year’s end.

In this case and all others, the defeated brigands who had been taken captive were consistently given a stark choice by the authorities; enlist the Western Roman army at half-pay for five years (to be raised to full pay for the rest of their fifteen-year contract if they exhibit good behavior, and of course if they survive that long) or be executed on the spot for treason. Many chose the former option over the latter, allowing the Western Romans to compensate for the losses they’d taken in the first place by having to suppress these bagaudae to an extent. The new recruits they’d gained might be of dubious quality and reliability for obvious reasons, but Romanus and his generals decided this was better than nothing; at worst, they’d at least have some spare arrow-fodder on hand with which they could better preserve their core forces in the inevitable rematch with Attila.


Gallic bagaudae attempting to ambush a detachment of Western Roman troops under Aegidius

Speaking of which, while the Scourge of God basked in the shine of his greatly increased gold tributes from the Eastern Empire, he had not forgotten about the West. Hunnish horsemen raided the Noric and Italic borders fairly regularly, further straining the limited resources Majorian had available to him in these regions, and Attila happily sheltered and recruited those bagaudae bands which managed to slip over the border into Dalmatia while the Western Romans could do little but watch and complain, lest they rouse his ire before they were ready to fight him. The Comes Illyrici did have an avenue of retaliation opened to him by Attila’s own avarice, however; Orestes the Pannonian increasingly chafed at his inability to rise further within the Huns’ ranks, for he was not a particularly skilled warrior or commander and in general had no talents which could impress Attila beyond his literacy, numeracy and fluency in Latin, all of which were useful but did not greatly endear him to a ruler as violent at the core as the dreadful khagan.

When Orestes requested the hand of one of Attila’s daughters at a feast that autumn, Attila openly laughed in his face and asked if he was jesting; when the flustered bureaucrat responded that he was in fact completely serious, the khagan laughed once more, so raucously that Orestes himself privately noted that he thought the latter was going to die like the Hellenic philosopher Chrysippus. After settling down, Attila admonished him for thinking that he – an insignificant provincial gentleman who couldn’t outride or outfight even Attila’s youngest son Ernakh, and who the Hun warlord viewed as little more than an especially useful freedman – had any chance with any woman of the Attilid clan, and that he should be satisfied with how highly he had risen in Hunnish service already. The deeply drunken prince Ellac heaped insult upon insult, adding that his sisters’ horses would make more realistic husbands for them and that Orestes did not have it in him to satisfy even the meekest of them in bed. The Hun royals laughed further when Orestes departed without dueling or even insulting Ellac back to salvage his wounded pride, as (although they knew that Ellac, even drunk, was more than a match for the Roman bureaucrat) it apparently proved his lack of manliness in their eyes; but in truth the enraged and humiliated Roman turncoat had made his decision to turn his coat back in favor of the Western Empire in that yurt at that moment. Before the year had ended he had begun to secretly work with Majorian, helping the latter to build a spy network in Dalmatia and using his brother Paulus[7] & fellow Pannonian notaries loyal solely to him as his envoys to these new spies, to feed the Comes Illyrici as much information about Attila’s military strength and movements as he could.

While the West gained Orestes’ allegiance, the East was also able to find their own allies within the Hunnish empire. Theodosius, rattled by the speed and ferocity with which Attila had rampaged against the Eastern Empire, increasingly fell under the sway of the militantly anti-Hun court faction led by his sister and tasked Chrysaphius with finding ways to subtly undermine the Scourge of God, even while still being at war with Persia. Though annoyed at his new directive, the eunuch complied in hopes of regaining his master’s favor and found his job to be easier than he thought, for the khagan had not lightened the burden of tribute on his myriad subjects despite being greatly enriched by his victory over the Eastern Empire – instead continuing to demand the same sums of valuable goods and slaves from them as he always had. Disgruntled chieftains and kings within the Hunnic Empire proved receptive to Chrysaphius’ clandestine efforts to contact them throughout 446; the most prominent of these budding insurgents was Vandalarius[8], the king of the Ostrogoths. Alas, with the geographic divides and rivers of bad blood between them, neither empire cared to coordinate their growing intelligence efforts behind the borders of Attila’s realm.


Whether they struck West or East, after 446 Hunnish raiding parties increasingly found the Roman defenders better-prepared for their arrival, as if they had rats in their midst leaking information to their enemies...

Come 447, Attila decided to take more proactive measures both to further expand his empire and put pressure the Western Romans. He attacked the remaining Germanic tribes between his domain and the Rhine once more, this time with no intent of stopping until he reached the river. The Thuringians, Ripuarian Franks and Alamanni felt his wrath throughout the year, and indeed those few who did not bend the knee or die beneath Hunnish lances & arrows were forced to mass at the Western Romans’ frontier in preparation for an invasion of their own.

But Aetius led the Western Roman response in such a way that he undercut Attila’s plans. Instead of fighting the Thuringians and Alamanni who began to storm over the Rhine or through the Alps, he advised the Emperor to open negotiations with them and work out a mutually beneficial deal. These barbarians would be temporarily billeted on Roman territory, not quite as contracted foederati under Western Roman suzerainty but as recognized independent allies: their agreement was to last not indefinitely, as was usually the case with the federates’ foedus, but only until their mutual enemy Attila was dealt with, after which they would return to their liberated homelands. All these tribesmen and their families were exclusively settled in border regions: the Ripuarian Franks with their Salian kin in Belgica, the Thuringians in the Rhineland from Novaesium[9] to Borbetomagus where they would be supervised from Augusta Treverorum by the Comes Arbogast, and the Alamanni in the northernmost reaches of Maxima Sequanorum (particularly near the abandoned ruins of Augusta Raurica[10]) and northwestern Rhaetia.

These arrangements were tested almost immediately. The borderlands settled by the new arrivals were still exposed to Hunnish raids, which Attila of course duly mounted in an effort to drive them further westward and break down Aetius’ scheme. Under the pressure of Hunnish harrying and in search of safer, more fertile lands, the Thuringians and Alamanni tried to leave the lands assigned to them, forcing the Western Romans to fight them toward the end of 447 anyway. Aetius and Arbogast defeated the Thuringians on the Nava River[11] and forced them back to their allotment, where the pair stayed to help them fight off further Hunnic attacks; Arbogast led the Gallic legions and Thuringian federates to victory over a particularly large raid on Borbetomagus that Christmas Eve led by one of Attila’s cousins, Laudaricus[12]. The Alamanni meanwhile were bottled up in the Alpine passes by the Burgundians and Rugians, who were in no hurry to hand over their own territories, and eventually forcefully subjugated by Romanus himself, who took hostages from several of their most prominent clans to assure their loyalty. Only the Ripuarian Franks were generally content, and that was because they were integrating quite easily into the Salians’ ranks, further increasing the latter’s power.


Romanus' legionaries attack the Alamanni in the Alps during the winter of 447

Romanus and his advisers also took the time to come to an accord of sorts with the Romano-British this year. Since it was patently obvious that the empire could not retake Britannia in its current shape and Attila had yet to drop dead despite their fervent wishes, the Augustus decided to instead extend an olive branch of Londinium and officially recognize that the province was lost. In exchange for Romano-British would make commitments to drop their imperial pretensions; to allow an orderly evacuation of the remaining Nicene Christians from Britain with their property intact; and to provide the Western Empire with whatever aid they can against the Huns when the time to do battle with Attila again came.

For his part, ‘Augustus’ Ambrosius was still struggling to further expand his realm against the native Britons and also had to contend with not just mounting Irish raids (mostly from Leinster to Cornwall and Dumnonia) but also the Saxons, who first crossed into his lands and pillaged as far as the half-rebuilt walls of Lindum in July, and so he was receptive to Romanus’ terms – in these circumstances he had no chance of pursuing his father’s and grandfather’s imperial claim anyway, and he absolutely did not want to have to worry about another Western Roman invasion while he was battling his many enemies in Britain. So on November 27, 447 members of the Western Senate and the Consilium Britanniae watched as their rulers signed the peace treaty in Rotomagus, after which Western Roman chroniclers and officials ceased referring to Ambrosius as a rebel and began to instead treat him as a foreign monarch bearing the title Riothamus[13] – the Latin translation of the Britonnic Rigotamos, or ‘great king’, which his indigenous vassals had been calling him since he subjugated them and which he had now adopted for himself in place of Augustus.

Out east, Constantinople managed to finally bring Ctesiphon to the peace table this year. Aspar and Zeno evicted the last Persian troops still on traditional Roman soil by the end of July, even soundly thrashing a significant Sassanid-Lakhmid army near Amida with the help of their own Ghassanid allies. Around the same time, Khingila renewed his offensive in the east and defeated an even larger Persian army at Tus[14], where the Eftals even captured Yazdgerd’s eldest son and crown prince Hormizd[15] after he foolishly charged too deeply into their lines. This defeat brought the Shahanshah to his knees and forced him to sue for peace: in the west the Eastern Romans and Persians restored their old pre-420 border, allowing the latter to retain Nisibis (which Aspar had been unable to recapture) in exchange for an immediate payment of 2,500 pounds of gold and an annual tribute of 500 more pounds of gold, spices and bolts of silk. The Hephthalites were the big winners of the war, getting to keep all of their territorial conquests – Bactria, Sakastan, Khwarazm and large parts of Abarshahr and Hyrcania – and also acquiring a massive ransom of 7,000 pounds of gold and 1,000 of Yazdgerd’s most prized slaves, mostly eunuchs and concubines, for the safe return of Hormizd, followed by a yearly tribute of 1,000 pounds of gold bullion to keep them at bay.

Even further east, 447 proved to be another triumphant year for the Guptas. Skandagupta completed his war of vengeance against the Pushyamitras, comprehensively crushing them across the length of the Narmada River and even capturing their king (who he used as a footstool for several months before finally executing via elephant). Those Pushyamitra tribesmen who were not felled by Gupta blades and arrows sought refuge with the Vakatakas, a Brahmin dynasty hailing from the Deccan Plateau who were the only major obstacle still standing in the way of total Gupta rule over central India. Naturally, the Vakataka raja Pravarasena II’s[16] decision to shelter these Pushyamitra refugees (no doubt in hopes of using them to shore up their own army against the Guptas) provided Skandagupta with a convenient casus belli against them.


Skandagupta having a difficult time deciding whether to execute the Pushyamitra king via elephant or tiger

In early 448, Attila grew suspicious toward Orestes after Majorian began to effectively counter Hunnish raids into Italy and Noricum, to the extent that it seemed the Western Romans had foreknowledge of where and how many raiders would be striking each time – which, of course, they did thanks to Orestes. To deflect suspicion, the wily Pannonian outed Vandalarius of the Ostrogoths as a traitor, having procured evidence of the latter’s communications with the (Eastern) Romans through his bureaucratic position; he could not care less about the Ostrogoths’ importance to the Eastern court’s schemes, being concerned solely with not getting arrested and put to a torturous death by the Scourge of God at this point. Vandalarius for his part could not disprove the allegations, backed as they were with a trove of messages from Constantinople’s spies, so he instead challenged Orestes to a duel to prove his innocence; however Attila had flown into a rage at the revelation and stepped up to fight Vandalarius himself, smiting the Ostrogoth king with his Sword of Mars and having his corpse quartered so the pieces could be sent to every corner of his empire.

After killing Vandalarius, Attila’s first instinct had been to exterminate the Ostrogoths, but as they were the largest and most important of the subordinate tribes under his rule he decided to instead assure the loyalty of the former’s heir Valamir[17] by taking his brother Videmir[18] as a hostage in the Hunnish court and also claiming their sister Ildico[19] as his newest concubine. Since his bedding of the latter went smoothly without any lethal incidents, despite his wounds from the duel with her father and heavier-than-usual drinking that night, Attila next turned his sights on the treacherous Eastern Romans – his failing raids against the West and suspicion of Orestes temporarily forgotten amid his fury at the East’s scheming to turn his vassals against him – and after claiming their annual tribute, sent the emissaries who bore it to him back to Emperor Theodosius with a blunt message: ‘the Scourge of God is coming for you’.

The Huns struck even before this diplomatic party had returned to Constantinople, obliterating Singidunum and Sirmium in their opening attacks so thoroughly that few ruins were left standing after each whirlwind of violence. Attila’s horde burned and pillaged their way as far as Thessalonica before turning east toward Constantinople, devastating yet more cities and towns in their path and completely annihilating every legion sent against them down to the last man; the Huns took no prisoners for ransom this time, but instead struck off every Eastern Roman’s head to add to the ghastly trophy collection their khagan intended to present to Theodosius. Zeno the Isaurian’s own head was added to the pile when he was killed and his army almost totally wiped out in the Battle of Adrianople that August – his co-commander Anthemius, who had just become father to his first daughter with Licinia Eudoxia days before, escaped that same disastrous defeat by the skin of his teeth.


Attila and his sons driving Valamir and the Ostrogoths before them, so that they might serve as arrow fodder against the Eastern Romans

Attila laid siege to Constantinople from the end of August onward, staking most of the thousands upon thousands of heads (many having rotted until only the skulls remained by this time) before his camp to intimidate the defenders and catapulting the other heads over the Theodosian Walls with the onagers he was building, and also calling upon Theodosius to come forth and fight him man-to-man: the Eastern Augustus, in probably the single wisest decision he had made all his reign up to that point, elected to cower in the Great Palace instead. Attila spent the next three months first on trying to cut the city’s waterborne supply routes, but the Eastern Roman navy easily sank every ramshackle fleet he put together and resupplied Constantinople by sea day after day; since this failed, he decided to once again aggressively try to break through the Theodosian Walls in a series of assaults, from escalades and onslaughts with siege towers to ramming attacks on the gates to night-time tunneling efforts, putting all he had learned from Eastern Roman engineers in the past to use against his former teachers.

Not once did Attila succeed in breaching Constantinople’s defenses, but in the end, he didn’t even have to do that to prevail. Theodosius’ nerves frayed a little bit more with each bloody assault on the walls and each volley of severed heads into the city; he finally cracked after a 15,000-strong relief army under Aspar and the Gothic mercenary general Arnegisclus[20] was kicked back over the Hellespont by Attila’s two eldest sons at Callipolis[21] on November 14, after which the emperor began to ask for terms. At first it seemed nothing would sate Attila short of the emperor’s own blood, but by mid-December the khagan had ‘graciously’ moderated his demand to another 6,000 pounds of gold up front and the handover of whoever was responsible for intriguing with Vandalarius in the first place. Chrysaphius managed to frame a dozen unfortunate minor officials, bureaucrats and eunuchs with Theodosius’ own connivance (he was after all still the emperor’s favorite eunuch), and when Attila left he also left these twelve men crucified before Constantinople.

Heaping injury upon injury, the Scourge of God creatively interpreted his agreement with Theodosius to mean he’d only leave Constantinople itself; his Huns continued to roam across the Diocese of Dacia, northern Macedonia and western Thrace while their subject tribes began to squat in these lands, with the Scirians of Edeko[22] in particular settling in Dacia (where they established their capital in the ruins of Naissus) and Macedonia while Sclaveni (Slavs) from the northernmost reaches of the Hunnic Empire were among those who settled in Thrace. When the court of Constantinople demanded to know why the Huns were still occupying their territory, Attila bluntly replied that treachery begets treachery: why should he honor his word with a pit of vipers that offered him tribute with one hand (after he twisted the arm attached to that hand) while trying to stab him with the other? If the Eastern Romans so badly wished to make him honestly live up to the terms of their peace, they were welcome to try to enforce it, if they dared.


An equestrian of Dardania kneels before his new Scirian overlord

Attila’s decided lack of magnanimity in victory, which recalled the haughty words of Brennus when he first sacked Rome nearly a thousand years before, outraged virtually everyone in Constantinople. Pulcheria, Paulinus, Anthemius and the rest of the militantly anti-Hun faction were now firmly ascendant over that of Chrysaphius; even the eunuch himself, humiliated and discredited by the recent disaster, was now set against Attila. The only problem all involved had was that the Huns had just proven that the Eastern Empire could not defeat them on the field, at least not alone, and that Vandalarius’ death had understandably dampened any other prospective rebel’s enthusiasm for a Roman alliance, making it much harder for them to weaken the Huns from within as Chrysaphius had initially tried. Pulcheria persuaded her purple-clad brother, who was seething at Attila’s embarrassing victory over himself but also too terrified to fight the Huns head-on again, of the need to reconcile with the Occident – at least long enough to eliminate their mutual enemy in the Huns.

In this same year Skandagupta went to war with the Vakatakas, citing their provision of refuge to the Pushyamitras as his cause. The vastly larger Gupta army defeated its Vakataka adversary all along the southern banks of the Narmada over the spring and summer, then drove south to Nandivardhana[23] and sacked the city just days after Pravarasena II and his family fled ahead of their advance. Pravarasena himself and the rest of the Vakatakas were now willing to cede much of their northern territory to the Guptas and also hand over the surviving Pushyamitras, who had proven far less helpful to their war effort than they’d promised; but Skandagupta had gotten the impression that the Vakatakas were weak enough for him to subjugate entirely and so instead demanded their total submission, which they were not willing to give. Thus did this war in central India continue on.

As 449 dawned, the Eastern Roman court decided that the latest christological controversy would provide the perfect cover for their attempt at rebuilding bridges with the West, which had spent the entire past year loudly laughing at the Orient’s misfortune while quietly continuing to rebuild their strength. A certain archmandrite (high abbot) named Eutyches was so offended at the fallen Patriarch Nestorius’ teachings on the nature of Christ that he drove into the opposite extreme and spent the past decade preaching that Christ had only one nature – a perfect and total fusion of his divinity and humanity – which also rendered the Messiah inconsubstantial with mankind, something which orthodox dyophysites perceived to be a denial of Christ’s human nature. He had garnered enough of a following, particularly among the Egyptian Church, that the Emperor could now justify convening an ecumenical council to address his position, which Theodosius did starting in February of that year. Time was generously allotted to the Western bishops to attend this synod, which was to be held in Ephesus (like the earlier one which had condemned Nestorius) and presided over by Patriarch Flavian of Constantinople, known to be a zealous dyophysite and critic of Eutyches himself.

While bishops from Lutetia to Nikiou[24] and even Vagharshapat in Armenia gathered to debate the nature(s) of Christ once more, Patriarch Flavian and the Eastern imperial court worked to sway Pope Leo to their side and get him to work as their intermediary with the Western court. Through the Bishop of Rome, the Eastern and Western Romans hammered out terms for their cooperation against Attila as spring turned to summer and summer to autumn: the chief issue of contention, Illyricum, would be split in a way that mostly favored the Occident, as the Orient agreed to concede the Diocese of Dacia to them ‘in perpetuity’ while retaining only the Diocese of Macedonia out of the entire prefecture. To further mend bridges between the two Romes a betrothal was also arranged between the Western Caesar Honorius, now nearly fourteen years old, and Theodosius’ one-year-old granddaughter Euphemia.

The Second Council of Ephesus itself reinforced this sense of renewed (however fleeting) Roman unity. With the support of both imperial courts, the dyophisitic united front presented by the Latin and Greek patriarchates prevailed over the monophysite-sympathetic Egyptian one: two weeks before Christmas the Council denounced Eutyches as a heretic and monophysitism as a heresy, and further reaffirmed the dyophysitic position that Christ had two natures, divine and human, coexisting in a perfect and inseparable hypostatic union – that he was simultaneously ‘truly God and truly man’ at his core – in addition to the usual condemnations of Arianism and other earlier heresies[25]. Although the Egyptian clerics were able to accept the first decision, however reluctantly, they perceived this new 'Ephesian' definition of the Savior's nature as a direct attack on the miaphysitic position of the late Cyril of Alexandria, which held that Christ had one nature with unmixed human and divine aspects.

This outcome enraged Dioscorus, the Patriarch of Alexandria and champion of the miaphysites, who incited a mob of both miaphysites and monophysites to try to forcibly reverse the Council’s judgment; however two legions under Anthemius who were on standby to prevent such an outcome violently dispersed the mob and arrested the Egyptian Patriarch, after which the Council spent its last days deposing Dioscorus for heresy on top of his more obvious violation of the law and looking for an appropriately orthodox replacement for him. Though Chrysaphius had been sympathetic to the monophysite position himself and allowed Dioscorus to believe he’d back the mob, the eunuch ended up allowing the Egyptian to fail for the temporal ‘greater good’ of facilitating an anti-Hun alliance between East and West. No others immediately challenged the Council’s decision, with even the Armenian clergy present (who were previously inclined toward the monophysite position) having come round to it over the months, hence why they elected not to support Dioscorus’ actions – and why the Persian government increasingly viewed them with suspicion for apparently aligning with the Roman authorities[26]. However, the Church of Egypt continued to oppose the Ephesian creed and refused to recognize Dioscorus' Ephesian replacement, effectively entering into schism with the rest of the Roman Church.


Dioscorus of Alexandria animatedly debating supporters of the dyophysite orthodoxy in the presence of Theodosius & Aelia Eudocia, some months before he decided more aggressive tactics were needed to win the argument

Meanwhile, the Western bishops returned to Ravenna not only to publicly give Emperor Romanus there the good news, but also to privately inform him of the East’s terms for an alliance against Attila, which he grudgingly assented to (despite his own complete lack of any positive sentiment toward Theodosius) in light of the threat the Huns posed to them both. Now the two Romes stood united again by blood (or rather the promise of it, to be fulfilled in fourteen or fifteen years’ time) and creed, however briefly and even if only for the sake of convenience, and hurried to prepare for another major confrontation with their mutual scourge.

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[1] Qinnasrin.

[2] Herat.

[3] Isfahan.

[4] The Gushnasps were historically among the named leaders of the Persian army which defeated a major Christian Armenian rebellion at Avarayr, 451. Some sources indicate they were brothers, others that they were father and son instead.

[5] Limoges.

[6] Syagrius historically preserved his father Aegidius’ autonomous Gallo-Roman realm, centered on Soissons, for twenty-four years after the latter’s death (and ten years after the demise of the WRE itself) before he was defeated by Clovis of the Franks. He initially fled to the Visigoth court, but was handed over to Clovis for execution by the Gothic king Alaric II by no later than 494.

[7] Historically Paulus led the last Western Roman army in an ill-fated defense of Ravenna, and with it the rule of his nephew Romulus, after Orestes had been killed by Odoacer.

[8] Known to have been the father of Valamir, who was historically the king of the Ostrogoths from 447 to 465, and thus the maternal grandfather of Theodoric the Great (Valamir’s nephew through his brother-in-law Theodemir).

[9] Neuss.

[10] Augst.

[11] The Nahe River.

[12] Noted to be a kinsman of Attila’s in the 511 Chronica Gallica, he was historically killed in the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains.

[13] ‘Riothamus’, as noted, was the Latin translation of a term that meant ‘great king’ to the native Celtic Britons. Historically a Romano-British warlord called Riothamus led an army over the Channel to assist Emperor Anthemius against the Visigoths in 469-470, but was defeated and possibly killed by the latter’s king Euric in the Battle of Déols. It is unclear whether Riothamus was actually his name or just a title, as it is ITL for Ambrosius.

[14] Near Mashhad.

[15] Historically the Shahanshah from 457 to 459, this Hormizd was usurped by his own brother Peroz with the help of the Hephthalites.

[16] The historical king of the northern branch of the Vakataka dynasty between 420 and 455, Pravarasena was also Skandagupta’s cousin (his mother was the princess Prabhavatigupta, the latter’s aunt) and seems to have parlayed his dynastic ties to the Guptas to assure peace between their realms. However, near the end of his reign he took a more hostile stance against his northern neighbor, and appears to have tried to back a usurper against Skandagupta.

[17] Eldest son and successor of Vandalarius as one of the earliest attested kings of the Ostrogoths in Hunnish service. He fought for Attila at the Catalaunian Plains, probably stood among the rebel tribes at Nedao, and died in a riding accident while responding to a Scirian raid in the anarchic years following the Hunnic Empire’s collapse brought about by the latter battle.

[18] A younger son of Vandalarius’, who co-ruled the Ostrogoths with Valamir and was also present at the Catalaunian Plains but appears to have predeceased the latter.

[19] Historically Attila died from a nosebleed on the night of his wedding to an Ostrogothic princess bearing this name, whose relation to the ruling Amali dynasty is unclear. As you can see, for this timeline I’ve settled on making her a daughter of Vandalarius.

[20] A Gothic general who led the Eastern Roman army in the hard-fought Battle of the Utus in 447 and fathered Anagast, another general in their service. Historically, it was he who died fighting the Huns around this time rather than Zeno the Isaurian.

[21] Gallipoli.

[22] The father of Odoacer and his less-known brother Onoulphus, who ruled the Scirians before them and most likely fought for Attila at the Catalaunian Plains. After Attila’s death, he joined the Gepids and other rebels at the Battle of Nedao and was later defeated by the Ostrogoths at Bolia.

[23] Near Nagpur.

[24] Zawyat Razin.

[25] This is pretty much the polar opposite of what happened at the historical Second Council of Ephesus, which was a victory for the Monophysite faction (thanks in large part to Chrysaphius rigging it in their favor every step of the way) and even included a mob led by Patriarch Dioscorus of Alexandria deposing & fatally injuring Flavian of Constantinople. That council was denounced as a ‘robber synod’ by Pope Leo, nearly causing an East-West schism and necessitating the Council of Chalcedon two years later which reversed all of its judgments and imposed the Chalcedonian Definition; ITL, the Council of Ephesus has instead come to the same conclusions Chalcedon did and shored up East-West unity at the cost of antagonizing Egyptian Christians.

[26] Historically the Armenian bishops were present for the 2nd Council of Ephesus but not the Council of Chalcedon, on account of being embroiled in a major rebellion against Persia in 451. That was the primary reason why they eventually chose not to follow the latter church council’s judgments, though they did not make this decision until a century later.
 

PsihoKekec

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Attila, bringing the sworn enemies together through mass destruction and murder, Hitler learned a lot from him. I wonder how long the ''in perpetuity'' will last once Attila is gone, but that's putting cart before the horse, as I reckon he still has a lot of destruction in him to share with the world.
 
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