As is traditional, here is what I listened to while processing this turn. Pretend to care, or not.
Generally eastward starting with ...
These imperial ambitions had long rankled the more traditionally-minded clan leaders. Their relative loss of power in the new provincial structure was perceived as a slap in the face. Further, the Khakhan was settling some tribes in new cities - cities, by the Sky God! - and buying land from a farmer kingdom instead of taking it by force. In the spiritual realm, others were upset by the establishment of a formal primacy for the worship of Tengri and the other Old Gods.
More and more it was seen by many that the Hephthalites were in danger of ending up like the Kushans: weak, lovers of foreign arts and gods, and eaters of bread. A few even whispered that Kiliciler planned to settle the clans on farms, with their fine horses used to pull a plow or run a water pump.
Before the Spring Equinox, before even the Dead God worshippers went on their annual insane bread-and-water diet, Buyukpencere decided to make his move. Somewhat less than half the tumens in the capitol had been placed under his command. A distant cousin of the Khakhan, he knew that he was the man who had to drag his people back from the precipice of "civilization" before Kiliciler destroyed them all.
Buyukpencere and his household men overwhelmed the Khakhan's guard, seized him, and dragged him before the court. There, in an act which would reverberate for years, the man who had pledged anda to Kiliciler suddenly beheaded the kneeling lord, held the head aloft and asked the gathering to proclaim him their new leader. After such a display, and some with red spattering their fur jackets, the khans declared their support for Buyukpencere and his program of neo-traditional rule.
Word spread quickly along the Silk Road. Before the equinox, the Balkash Khan, Fittcheen the Grey, declared he would take his small state out of the Hephthalite yurt, forming the White Turk Khanate from Balkash, Avar, and Turgay. The wily old nomad knew that now was not the time to be involved in a bloody civil war, and his people were grateful for this wise leadership.
Further, the imperial leader Akhkulili and the allied khans Baskale of Sogdiana, Qaboos of Quba City, and Sharadan of Gurgan decided to make the most of the situation and leave the imperial order.
Akhkulili was in Gurgan with a guard of a few hundred horse archers, ready to engage in another mission for Kiliciler when he learned of the death of his khan. Unfortunately for him, Khan Sharadan heard the news a bit earlier, and had Akhkulili arrested and kept in an old Parthian keep for possible later use.
Within a week Akhkulili's guard commander had arranged for dawn assault on the small fort. Caught by surprise, the gaolers still put up a stiff fight from a detached fortification. As he leaped into the saddle, the prisoner felt an arrow bite deep into his thigh. Letting out a yelp of pain, he nonetheless rode with his men into the desert wastes. There, among the rocks and shrubs, they hid out, raiding the occasional caravan for loot and news.
What they heard was not encouraging for Akhkulili's ambition to be the new khakhan. The revolt of Turkmen cut them off from the Khanate proper, while Otarsh (and Tashkent) and Singanakh (and Otrar), in addition to other splintering provinces and cities, showed the state to be in a precarious position. Recuperating from his wound, Akhkulili decided humble himself before Kiliciler's heir, Akshunwaz, who was similarly isolated in Khwarzim.
The Crown Prince was similarly put out by events, but was unable to come up with a plan for reaching the capitol in order to make his claim on the throne. Thus Akshunwaz surprised Akhkulili by welcoming him at his small impromptu court in Dashovuz. In the next few years their efforts at consolidating power resulted in the accession of the Khazakh clans (see Khwarizm Hunas Khanate below).
Meanwhile, Khakhan Buyukpencere was trying to get the court to agree to his proposal to wed Kiliciler's only daughter, Umay. The tribal elders, however, steadfastly refused to allow the eight-year-old to be joined with the usurper. Buyukpencere had lost influence over these men since that fateful night, but had found substantial and surprising support among the local people. The Buddhists had no love for Kiliciler and while not approving of his methods did see his return to more tolerant religious policies as a good and welcome thing.
The Ilkhan was marching along the Silk Road at the head of a few thousand horse archers and some lancers. While he knew that this force was hopelessly inadequate against what Buyukpencere could bring to defend Bactra, he also knew from gossip in the ancient caravansarais and cities that the newly-minted Khakhan had yet to consolidate his power. Buyukpencere had apparently let his power go to his head, and midnight purges, feasts, and orgies were all rumored to be common in the capitol.
It was a hot August day when the banner of the Ilkhan was sighted from the watchtowers of Bactra. Agents of Buyukpencere had watched the small force for many days now, and the regicidal Khakhan had prepared well. Ilginc's scouts found the city gates open and unguarded. The Ilkhan sighed. This was an obvious ambush. Yet his hope, and that of his men, was that the sight of the particular braid in his horsetail standard indicating he represented the dead Khakhan would remind them all of their real allegiance.
Thus Ilginc rode at the head of his men, stopping just past the gatehouse. His standard bearer at his left hand, he motioned his men to silence. The city was eerily silent, for which he was happy.
In a clear voice which carried in the hot air, he said, "Since our ancestors left their home nutuq to make this place our new ulusut, we have ruled by hewing to the old ways. You all know that the yasa calls for duel as the way to resolve disputes when all else fails. Buyukpencere denied this to Kiliciler, butchering him like a kid."
Ilginc paused, letting those last words sink in. He continued, "Buyukpencere, I now call you to show these city-folk, these ch'agua, what their masters are made of, to restore honor to our people. If you are a man, come to the south gate caravansarai. I will wait."
With that he ordered his column to turn about and leave Bactra. Within the watch Buyukpencere and a small guard had appeared in the cleared wagon-park within the mud-brick walls of the caravansarai. The Khakhan looked ill-at-ease, and it was not obvious that he lead the contingent of officers. They in fact seemed instead to surround him at all times, to block routes of flight.
The Ilkhan mounted his horse and checked his equipment. The quivers hanging from his saddle were full of black-fletched arrows, but he knew they would be nearly useless in the limited space. More important was the sword in a sheath, the lance in his hand, and the ancient gilded handax on his saddle. This last had been handed down from the founder of his clan some 200 years in the past, taken, it was said, from a Sarmatian princess in battle.
His armor made a faint hissing sound of lamellae rubbing together as Ilgince rode to the center of the hard-packed dirt field. Buyukpencere then rode out, slowly. A man yelled, another replied, and soon the people lining the walls were bellowing and gesturing. The Khakhan quickly knocked an arrow and let fly while urging on his horse. But Ilginc's horse was already at a gallop just as the Khakhan's shaft recoiled from his shoulder. Surprised at Ilginc's tactics, Buyukpencere hastily stowed his bow and pulled the spear from the strap across his back.
But by then the Ilkhan's lance head was already a length away from his opponent, and in an eyeblink was protruding redly from the Khakhan's neck, having pierced the gorget. Ilginc was amazed at Tengri's great favor. He released the shaft, pulled in the reins, and grabbed the gilded ax. As Buyukpencere struggled vainly, Ilginc's left hand grabbed his helmet plume up, baring the neck. The handax swung and the Khakhan's head was held high for all to see.
A sudden roar from the crowd took Ilginc out of the battle. Looking at the faces of the officers who had ridden out with Buyukpencere, he knew they were now his anda.
The chaos in the empire did not make life any easier for Bulang Sechen, and after a few years it appeared he might need show loyalty to both the crown prince and the usurper. How he might do that and maintain honor was an energizing topic among the shamans of the esh and lesser temples.
The Khan left the Juan-Juan Khan in Nogai, wished him well, and moved to create tighter bonds within his own steppe federation. Perhaps some changes would be needed ...
The call to transhumanance issued by the Ilkhan was by no means heeded in every yurt nominally loyal to the house of P'ulochen, the Khakhan-to-be. Somewhat fewer than half the clans gathered outside Khocho just before the meadows had begun to green. Significantly, the Eastern Turkish and Eastern Mongol Khanates had decided to urge their clansmen to load up the horses, wagons, and camels, again with mixed success. This meant that a power vacuum was created, and various local leaders eyed each other warily as the nomad federation disintegrated. Within a few years small raids became common, skirmishes became the stuff of legend, and some spoke longingly of the Juan-Juan hegemony.
Even Khocho was abandoned, the citizens gathering up their belongings to ride west. By the end of 416, only a few squatters could be found in the city, and a few clans had expanded their ranges into the under-grazed turf and forest of the vacated regions.
The young prince, aided by Ilkhan Anakai and by the "little khanum" Hara, lead his people from Altai into independent steppe lands. The huge horde cowed the clans of Tarbagitai, Saraba, and Ryatka into allowing passage, but these declined the offer to join the march westward. The Khan of Tarhain decided that he, for one, would not be pushed around, and waged a guerrilla war against the invaders. The response of the Ilkhan was swift and sure, and the grassy hills provided little refuge against the thousands of Juan-Juan warriors lead by the Gurkhan, Kutelburi. The locals were beaten into submission, but the delay forced the horde to winter among the Tarhain clans, a further aggression.
The Oghuz lands proved a happy respite, as the Turkish guides helped the Mongol-lead federation to cross their territory. The Alans of Urkel agreed heartily to join once they heard that the lands of Uldin would feel their hooves. A faint hope of vengeance against "the Hun" stirred a flame within them as their wagons trundled west.
Local peasants proved quite happy to lead the many khans from the east across the Volga, and waved pleasantly enough as the thousands continued on and departed their homelands. The various kings, khans, and shahs of Torki, Levedia, and Atelzuko were so intimidated by even a few Hun tax collectors that they never considered leaving for the west. The Hunnic officials, for their part, usually avoided meeting the horde by sudden hunting trips, or journeys to shop for horses far from the Juan-Juan route of march.
By the autumn of 416 the 200,000+ migrants crossed into Pechneg. The local khan was an ambitious sort, and decided to join the horde with his small army. Camped for the winter across the steppe up to the Black Sea coast, the Juan-Juan appearance caused a small exodus of Greek and Persian merchants from the port of Olbia - all of whom were replaced by traders who smelled opportunity for profit.
A few months later Hui-Yuan died in his sleep at the age of 82. Whether from sorrow over his good friend Kumarajiva's death or simple advanced age, his loss also shook Master Lo-Wang.
Construction begins on a road from Annam north. Clearing jungle and cutting through mountain passes makes for slow work.
General Ling-Su, meanwhile, leads thousands of Chinese refugees towards Nan-Chao. By the autumn of 413 they all had arrived at the gates of I-Chou, expecting to build a quarter of the city into their own, a new home in this faraway land. But by then the locals had become quite disenchanted with the Chinese and their snubbing of their women, most particularly the courtesan who had given the king two children. More important was the concept of colonization, repugnant to these independent-minded citizens.
As the handcarts of belongings pushed into the city, the local youths attempted to seize Ling-Su. He escaped these, and quickly ordered the settlers to run out. Once they were out, the gates were closed, the walls lined with armed men, and the city revolted. The very next day, the corpses of three Annamese agents were hung from the city walls having failed spectacularly to quell the unrest.
King Ma Yueh was not pleased with these developments. He was sure, however, that after some time to cool off he might once again succeed in wooing the city. Meanwhile, he sent Ling-Su to redeem himself by diplomacy in Lingsi. This he did, but in the midst of negotiations the General collapsed. Before nightfall of March 3, 414, he was dead, as sad end for a man of good family. The king wept bitterly that his old comrade-in-arms who had followed him so far would die in such a place.
Letters were sent to all the pagan nomads who dwell beyond the Great Wall. For those of great minds, a message of warning emerged. For those who merely chew bone, the message was another stern example, that those who cultivate the soil are driven insane.The Five Sacred Peaks are slowly crowned with special temple complexes. Construction begins on two more, that of Tai Shan in Funiu and Song Shan in Chinling, to join the first, the Temple of South Heng Shan in Ghang'De. By 416 these were finished, ahead of time and on budget. Ko Chao Fu is pleased with these concrete signs of devotion to the spirit of immortality.
This was quite a relief after the trouble with the temples serving peasants in the Later Yen Empire. The local priesthood resented the Master's attempts at extracting a portion of their donations for use by the central bureaucracy. Despite much pleading and many messages sent throughout that land no silver was collected.
The Master spent all of 415 and 416 engaged in various arcane and mystic rituals. In the event, all the sacrifices, fasting, and silences came to naught.
Missionary work in Kwangtung merely confused the locals, who were also annoyed to have the extra temple attendants pestering them. The pagans of Korat were far more welcoming.
Other efforts included the clearing of Kiang'si for rice cultivation and hog farming, the building of a new city in Tsainan, Jinan, on the Huang Ho, and the raising up of a hard road along the river from Jinan to Pienching. A bridge was put across the Yangtse from the capitol into Taiping, a wonder with sections that raise and lower to allow ships passage up and down river.
Daoist evangelism in Szechwan was intense and entirely ineffective. In contrast, the mission of Imperial Princes Gui and Zhou to the free city of Koeuichou was a notable success. The Duke of Koeuichou offered his daughter to the emperor in marriage, and joined the empire with his powerful city militia. And the Sung were sent silver and grain to alleviate their chronic problems.
The growing power of the Ts'in caused the minor lords of the border lands of Funiu, and the revolted Duke of Jianxi, decided to nominally accept K'ung Ti as their suzerein. Pleasantries aside, it was becoming clear that the Eastern Ts'in would be on the prowl soon, and that it would be wise to ride that tiger instead of becoming an easy meal.
But the problems of Prince Gui had no easy answers. For 12 full moons - nearly at the moment of fullness, according to court astronomers - he would awaken from sleep screaming. When calmed, Gui would report to his spritual advisor Master Sima Ce his visions of nearly-human talking puppets, metal firebirds zooming through the night sky, blossoming flames, and brave rescues. These dreams were all different, some with metal snakes carrying puppets inside, others with metal fish carrying people, and always with a strange foreign tongue spoken by what looked like demon-possessed barbarian dolls. None could understand or cure him of these spirit invasions, and they ended of their own accord in the Spring of 415.
Well before sunrise, three men slipped into the bedroom of the Daoist priest in charge of Bandao through a hole cut into the wall of his simple hut earlier in the day. The recumbent figure on the mat was still, and the leader of the group stepped quickly forward, pulled a garrote from under his belt, and moved to wrap it around the neck of the holy man.
A light bright as the sun suddenly flashed in the room, and in an instant the old man was among them, his carved staff striking down, left, and up. None escaped, and the black-clad assailants were carried off by acolytes for "questioning" all the next day. The Daoist minority in the barbarian land rose up against Koguryo officials, merchants, and other symbols of royal authority - the men had confessed to being sent by Kwanggaet'o himself.
The Bandao khan, Silginik, angrily reduced his status in the Koguryo polity and marched his troops home to deal with the growing spate of raids and killings between rival communities. By 416 the land still smoldered, but overt violence had been quelled. Missionaries in Mantap found the locals more reticent to receive the message of the Buddha after this episode - the incongruity of the King's actions and faith was too much for many.
In the end, their reluctance was rendered irrelevant. The King himself lead his army into Mantap, and in a brilliant campaign imposed the Buddhist order there by slaughtering the native army and beheading the local khan. Ashoka would have been proud, many noted with irony.
This message from the Dao Master was received on a fine spring morning:
Lu Kuang, Emperor of China, Later Liang My coy fish have whispered of a perfumed, copper-eyed cat, with a long, flowing, white coat, who seeks to awaken the 3-headed Northern Dragon, to have him feast upon the flesh of the Hoa-tun of the 2 husbands. -Ko Chao FuThe emperor shook his head after the message was read to him, and called for some more tasty beef ribs to gnaw on.
Nonetheless, the Later Ts'in emperor was pleased to see his brother and heir Shek Hsing well-fed and moving amiably among the Yen staff. With the Toba under assault by Mu-jung Ch'uei and his forces, clearly a convergence of interest existed. Further, the Later Ts'in state was as tenuous a secular entity as one might imagine. Thus after much discussion over many months Yao Hsing was convinced that, well, perhaps forgiveness was a good thing, and that his family integrating with a successful enterprise might please his ancestors.
While the Yen emperor awaited the arrival of a large mercenary army in Hopei, the Toba emperor was busily despoiling the Later Ts'in homeland of Shensi. We need not detail the sufferrings here of the looted, the enslaved, the murdered, of the brave yet futile resistance. Suffice to say that by 414 thousands of bound Chinese were being lead north to work fields for the Toba. The lucky ones made it through the abandoned siege lines around Chang'an and into that ancient capitol to find refuge with their emperor and his tiny force. Even the soldiery committing the atrocities was not so happy, and cursed their leadership as cheap for keeping most of the booty for themselves.
Wasting no time was Prince Mu-Jung Shen'qu. Leading 14,000 horse across the border directly into the Toba capitol district of Yun province. Facing him was a newly-raised defense force of less than 3000 lancers under general Ts'ui Hao, which had quickly deployed to hold the passes around Wutai Shan.
By June these were being probed by Shen'qu's light horse across the mountains. Soon the main Yen army managed to flank one of the passes and force general Ts'ui back. Just as he was beginning to consider falling back into Tai, a messenger arrived at his tent with welcome news: Prince Lai-Hsiang's infantry and general Jy-Houng's cavalry were just arriving in the province. With these welcome reinforcements he ordered his troops to make selected counterattacks to hold up the enemy.
The Prince allowed Yen forces to advance all the way to the suburbs of Tai, and there faced them. His 25,000 men formed a line with thousands of armored Chinese crossbowmen, sword and shield men to guard them, and flanked these with heavy cavalry. The Yen prince Shen'qu smiled when he saw this deployment, and moments after lining up his all-horse army with flanks echeloned back ordered a charge aimed right at the Chinese in the center. With typical nomadic disdain for anyone foolish enough to put his honor on the line without a horse, he expected to sweep these infantry away and then roll up the interior flanks of the Toba line.
But the Chinese let loose volley after volley of crossbow bolts, dropping hundreds of armored horse as they came within range. This shooting made the Yen line ragged as it hit the infantry, who in turn had suffered little from sniping on the ends from horse archers. Armored lancers on armored horses surged into the recoiling ranks of Chinese foot, and a melee ensued, causing hundreds of casualties among these blighters.
Lai-Hsiang then sent his riders right and left, ordering his and Ts'ui's heavy cavalry to push back the thin line of enemy horse archers and fall upon the Yen flanks. The effect was horrific for the enemy, who were lanced, maced, and cut down from the rear while fighting emboldened Chinese to their front. Within the hour thousands of lamellar-suited nomads lay dead on the field, the rest pursued by the fresh Toba cavalry from the flanks and the guard which had been held in reserve. By the beginning of the winter the Yen army defending the other side of the mountain passes numbered around a third of those who had ventured through them on the attack.
In spite of this debacle, another Later Yen army pushed across the mountains through Junji Guan into Shan'si province. Mu-Jung Ch'uei himself lead a force of Yen and mercenary troops with the intention of taking Tai'Yuan. The garrison of Toba light troops was eventually chased from the hills and villages, and the Chinese foot began digging trenches around the enemy city.
Later in the spring of 415 the Later Yen emperor received news that his Toba Wei counterpart had arrived in the province with a large army and would be in his face within days. Mu-Jung Ch'uei ordered most of his force out from around the city and began deploying for battle near the village of Yushe.
He was too late. Within the hour the Toba Wei army was sighted on a ridge opposite the Yen command tents. Surprised and outnumbered two-to-one, Mu-Jung Ch'uei saw his army disintegrate as the enemy heavy horse charged into and through the siege lines, taking no prisoners and catching all who fled down the country lanes. The mercenary commander was cut down as he tried to organize his infantry into a square, and the Yen emperor barely got back across the mountains and back to his palace.
The Toba army continued home laden with enslaved Chinese and loot, plus the battlefield spoils from defeating the Yen who had the temerity to invade the unconquerable nomad lords. Toba Kuei ordered maps brought to his palace and consulted his advisors late into the night.
In the event, no barbarian army threatened, so he took the opportunity to march his forces through Shentung and to the ancient capitol of Loyang. There he found the city in a precarious state. A Later Yen fleet had brought supplies to the hungry citizens and had shown Shek Hsing, the Later Ts'in crown prince, to be safe and in hand. This had emboldened the garrison commander to begin ignoring decrees from Chang'an and organize a local militia to work with his civilized Qiang to maintain order.
When offered a chance to join the Sung and come under the protection of the Eastern Ts'in Empire, the soldiery of Loyang wept for joy and demanded the Sung army be let in the city. In any event, the walls were mere rubble after decades of strife, city buildings all marked in one way or another by the dozens of occupiers they had housed. Unlike most of them, Ma Ch'in did not take the opportunity to announce his Mandate from Heaven to rule all China.
More substantial assaults on the Toba state were to come, however (see (Hou) Later Yen).
Unfortunately, Pendravarman was to be once more called into battle (see Khmer Kingdom of Funan below).
The campaign opened at sea. The fleets of Ligor king Gridha Sayee and Johor King Karmjit Muthupandi sailed to the mouths of the Mekong to interdict trade ships bound for Sresthapura. These Malay fleets had little effect, as the only ships engaged on these routes were long-accustomed to running pirate blockades between the Spice Islands and the negligible trade continued.
More important was the call of Saha Yaduveer for bandits, headhunters, and others beyond the pale to join the army and receive both amnesty and regular pay. And of course the chance for loot was not ignored by the thousands of ne'er-do-wells that showed up on the mustering fields in the spring. Their only uniform was a parrot feather armband, and the called themselves the "Tall Feathers." These companies advanced before the main army, scouted the flanks, and generally caused mischief among the Chen-La.
Moving north along the Mekong once more was the main army under the command of lord Var Dhara. The van was taken by Perak king Nghor Kheiu, who relished the opportunity of showing his prowess as his daughter Tarita was married to that no-neck Funan prince whats-his-name. He would let the empire know what Perak nobles were made of. More sanguine was the former pirate king of Andaman, Darsh "Silverfin" who was taking his vessels up the Mekong in support of the land troops. He knew that victory was not guaranteed, and had no taste for battle on a narrow strip of water.
As it happened, the "Silverfin" arrived too late to make a difference. The young king of Nampung did, however, hear from a wandering merchant of the invasion of his new brother-in-law's lands from Khmer, and mustered his small army to assist in the defense. Bands of "Tall Feathers" scoured the countryside, but were frequently thwarted by local people, their lack of knowledge of the landscape, and their own tendency to loot, rape, and burn as they moved.
Only a few days into Surin, near the town of Mounlapamok, the Funan army found the waiting Chen-La army, under the command of the Crown Prince Bhavavarman. The nearly 15,000 defenders anchored one flank on the Mekong, the other on a dense copse well-known to the local woodsmen. Facing them was almost twice their number of Khmer and their Malay allies.
In a light rain, the "Tall Feathers" tried to probe the front and rear of the enemy position, but were driven back by patches of marsh and by defending skirmishers. After nearly an hour of this, the rash young king from Nampung decided he had had enough, and ordered his warriors to charge along the riverbank where they were positioned. At the head of a dozen elephants and around 1500 tattooed and feathered men, he ran headlong into the very surprised Malays, who had expected their opponents to remain in a secure place.
So amazed were they, in fact, that king Nghor Kheiu ordered his men to fall back. Seeing the effect of this charge, Bhavavarman commanded his entire force to assault the enemy lines. The Funan troops put up a stiff resistance, but with their flank turned by the Nampung charge it was all that lord Var Dhara could do to organize a fighting withdrawal. Intensifying rain helped the invaders to slip back across the border with minimal losses.
After the battle, the Perak king decided that his honor had been laid low by Funan. On this flimsy pretext - said by most to be a cover for his own poor battlefield performance - he marched his remaining men and elephants back through the Isthmus of Kra and home. Princess Tarita spent an entire month in mourning over her father, sending even her husband the Crown Prince away. Further sorrow came when the beloved wife of Korn Danh, Queen Saru of Kedah, died in childbirth.
King Purnavarnam ordered the town of Bekasi be enlarged into a real port city. Further, he sent agents to win friends in Makaram, who were also awakened by events in the region. The king and heir also decided that their days of carefree bachelorhood had to end, and each took wives from honorable families.
Prince Ojin overcomes his angst at the loss of his wife to wed Minekawa Takako. Within a year she had given birth to a healthy baby girl. Finally, on a cold grey November morning Soga Tomomochi passed away after a short intense fever while on a mission to woo the Kwanto clans. His devotion so impressed them that they agreed to join the Yamato cause heart and soul.
Rumors from Court:
Nintoku councils Ojin on his campaign planning, temper and possible brutality. "Your complicated plans, with multiple troop movements and command changes, almost cost us your win at Edo." The King continues, "Keep maneuvers simple, and your trained troops will carry the day. Nihon men are good fighters because of your good leadership. You are a mighty warrior, but that is only a part of being King. Try to turn enemies into customers. No one can trade with a desert. To fight hard for victory, but not to dishonor that victory, is wisdom a King needs." Ojin sulked for a short while because the King lectured him on being a better Army leader, and then rebuked his behavior after the Edo victory. He took the lessons to heart about simplicity in maneuver warfare. In Kwanto, there are distractions from military duties and grief. Some beautiful and grateful Kwanto maidens soothed his hurt over the loss of Nintoku's beloved Happy Flower. After two years commanding the Kwanto Province defenses against the renewed Emishi treat, Ojin marries comely young Minekawa Takako in the fall. The couple has warm winters under the blanket. Ojin believes an heir today keeps a DF away. Jingu's father was intent on marrying her off, and she was not without thoughts of romance. Her hopes were dashed after meeting the Korean prince and the Saga ruler. "They're so ugly." Jingu said. Her dad sighed and replied -"remember when I talked about inner beauty and setting standards too high?" Jingu nodded. Nintoku roared "This time pay attention!" Nintoku began to plan a secret wedding of Jingu and Mononobe Jutaro - the new Southern Mountains leader. Kazu goes on tour on the mainland. He starts in Silla, them moves through other provinces in Korea. His shakuhachi (trad. Japanese flute) playing earned him coins in market performances, and invites for private recitals. He likes to think his dashing looks and personality wins him fans, but his fans are excited only by his music. Kazu wanders the Korean area and areas northeast of Korea, looking for a wealthy princess or daughter of a tribal chief to appreciate his charm. He wanders a while looking, still blowing air kisses to himself when he sees his reflection in still ponds. Soon, though, the prince began to miss the mountains and seas of his island home, and set sail for Naniha.
By the following spring she had provided him a new son, and was living in his palace. The bishop was of course scandalized, the locals either amused or outraged, and the women of his tribe were livid at the example he set. How are my tall daughters, they thought, with their pale hair and oddly-colored eyes to find worthy husbands here?
At the christening of his new son at the insistence of his mistress - which the bishop refused to perform himself - Arbogast announced that not only would the child have a name, but so would this province. Carthaginensis, an absurd name to Germanic ears, was henceforth to be Hauptland. The people within the church whooped in approval of the name for their new home. What attitude the Latins had was kept to themselves.
While the king enjoyed the pleasures of rule, Prince Otto and Galindus went to work. The first target was neighboring Saguntina, whose people agreed to recognize Arbogast as their king since they had recently left the Roman Empire and were realizing the exposure of their position. They would not provide their full support because Arbogast had as yet to submit to the will of God and accept baptism by the Holy Spirit.
Galindus ate chilled oranges with nobles, but Otto began to surround the landward side of Valentia, which still hewed to the imperial path. But the praefect Colloidius, on seeing the numerous fair-haired warriors encamped beyond the unwalled city, set out to negotiate with the Alamanni commanders. Within a week Otto was residing in the city, even though Colloidius was not one to act precipitously.
Astigitanus was not so easy, and the campaigning carried on into the winter of 413, followed by a hearty looting of the province and, in the spring of 414, the settling of the land by more barbarians. The looting did not, however, include more than a few Roman Christian churches, which the warriors held in high regard, even those who held to Wotan and his ilk.
The garrison commander of Carthago Nova refused to parley with Otto, and so the prince sent the messenger away and ordered several trenches dug. Just as mattocks were digging into the soil, a ballistae projectile came soaring from the city walls, landing near the surprised warriors. Near the midpoint (it had slipped) was the round and battered head of the same garrison commander. The gates of the city were thrown open to the Germans, and a wagonload of weapons and armor was lead out.
Newly-free Baetica resisted the Germanic invasion. The defenders were overwhelmed and slaughtered, the province looted and settled as before. The city of Gades, however, would prove quite a different story. It was well-fortified and the local commander was a veteran of the Frigidus and no friend to barbarians. Similarly, the city fathers had no wish to live next to German colonists. They knew that their city was as old or older than distant Roma, and that on the tip of a peninsula theirs was an easily defensible position. A regular siege was thus begun by the Alamanni in the heat of an Iberian August.
The Gades commander, Tertullian, had ordered a channel dug across the peninsula just within archery range of the walls. A clever idea, it nearly lead to disaster as the men guarding this project were attacked and wiped out. After this turn he was happy to let the Germans approach up the long spit of land and suffer under arrows and ballistae shot.
But as the weather cooled the Alamanni warriors began to get restless - and smelled better as well. Their prince was petitioned to press the siege, and by October he had relented. Unknown to them he had been searching for an adequate ram head, and had at last found one sturdy enough to force the land walls of Gades. On All Saint's Day of 415 scores of small boats approached the city from the mouth of the nearby river, where they had been hidden in the rushes. Tertullian knew that this was a diversion, of course, but he ordered a few numeri of sagittarii to make a great show of defending against these boat-borne barbarians.
The garrison commander had meanwhile ordered most of his forces to take positions on the inner wall just inside the land gate. A small show was made of defending this gate, a risk he was willing to take. The Alamannic warriors finally sundered the giant wooden double doors with their metal-tipped tree trunk and surged through. Those following pushed ahead of warriors stalled just inside the walls at the sight of piled stones lined with Roman defenders.
When the space was filled with Germans, Tertullian gave the order. Under the plaza, dozens of ropes were yanked, pulling blocks from under vertical timbers unseen by the enemy. A thousand warriors tumbled into the suddenly sunken ground, some killed or injured on the sharpened stakes set to greet their fall, others wounded in the short fall itself, and the remainder confused and immobilized. A rain of arrows and stone now fell on the bewildered barbarians. Few made it out alive, and few survived to be taken prisoner. Waves of Germans charged the gates in an attempt to rescue their fellow, and hard fighting repulsed each assault.
By nightfall the Alamanni camp was filled with wounded men, the rest silent with fatigue and depression. For their leader, Prince Otto was not to be found in that camp at the base of the peninsula, and most assumed he had been killed in the initial breach of Gades' defenses. But the following day a messenger left the city under a flag of truce and announced that Otto yet lived, protected by his armor and trapped under rubble in the pit trap. The messenger, a haughty local youth in a bright imperial uniform, demanded the barbarians remove themselves from the vicinity within the day. Further, he demanded they send to their king for ransom if they wished to see Otto again.
He then turned on his heel and strode briskly back to the city. It was only then that they noticed that the youth had somehow dropped the seat of his embroidered trousers. A shout went up among the outraged Germans, but only a few arrows were sent his way as cooler heads doused the tempers of most.
So pleased were the citizens with this defense of their home that, despite extremely heavy losses, they chose Tertullian as their comes and became allies of the emperor in Mediolanum - whoever that might be. The oppressed and in some cases dispossessed Romans in Baetica were inspired by the severe beating handed to their German colonizers, and revolted widely. The unrest was put down with some difficulty, hundreds more warriors passing from this life.
Less fortunate was young Prince Eric the Bastard's mission to the Alans. Before he even had a chance to chat up the Shah, Eric and his mounted guard were surrounded and captured. He soon charmed his gaolers and has the run of the camp, but is not allowed to leave - not that he is terribly interested in returning home, as these Alans were found to be a lively bunch.
Realizing that force must be met with force, Hecate ordered the raising of guard units for many temples from among the faithful. This call went out as the Bishop of Roma was similarly preaching for a Holy War, so few objections from the official faith were heard. Even an illiterate peasant knew that the Sibyl, while clearly not Christian, stood against barbarism and was therefore to be trusted in this regard. Her much-publicized financial support for the Western Empire helped.
In a further sign of militancy, dozens of priests, oracles, and temple workers were "tested" for loyalty and faithfulness. Some did not survive the ordeal, which in the end was cancelled when it became clear to Hecate that clerics and worshippers were using the effort as a ethod for executing vendettas.
Travelling to Sicilia (some said it was in order to escape the negative effects of the Faith Test) Hecate found many people eager to attend the refounding of temples in that province. Neapolis was hostile, and the local bishop fulminated against the rebuilding of the temple of Artemis - mainly because he wanted the site for a new church. Returning to Roma, she was disgusted to find the countryside littered with - of all things - Goths (see Ostrogothic Kingdom).
High Priestess Lydia proved remarkably successful in overcoming the local Church authorities. Revived temples in Dalmatia, Korinthos, and Thessalonica were mainly due to her efforts - and educational body art. These did not help her, however, when her few galleys were blown off course in the Ionian Sea. A few sacrifices and Neptune blew fair to send them on their way home, much to the rejoicing of the sailors.
Hecate was the rumor among the Christians that she had revived the cult of Magna Mater with the taurobolium and the creation of a a galli priesthood. The ceremony occurred a bit too close to Lent for many non-Pagan Romans. A raid on 24 March 414 did not reveal anything of the sort, however.
Donald knew that his courtiers had all taken wives from the Aquitanian slave raid. Despite this, he realized that chaos was brewing in the wider world, and associating with what they called "civilization" had merit. Besides, he could always back out later, right?
Following the thread of "civilization", the king sent his son to Monapia, and as he knew would be the case the local lesser kings agreed to join the realm. Also, Midhe was filled with colonists, who felled many trees and plowed many fields. In a more outrageous move, he established a royal city, Dublin, in Midhe. Just as tongues were wagging that the old king had gone soft and "Roman," both he and his son were presented with infant sons by their wives.
Their rhetoric was convincing. By the time the legions of Britain arrived at Mediolanum, it was agreed that the army of Stilicho and that of Uldin would have beaten each other to a pulp. Neither would be in a condition to truly rule the Empire, and Marcus would march into the palace in triumph.
The citizens of Mercia, Britannia II, Atrebatia, and Venta were less interested in distant politics than in the reestablishment of order. Of course, the idea of locals gaining key influence at the imperial court added to the appeal of Marcus as their emperor. By the time the troops had arrived outside Venta they were allowed into the city by popular acclamation, and the old Legio II Augusta fortress was pleased to have someone to maintain their pay.
Many local merchant ships were just coming out of dry-dock for the summer, and Marcus' officers leaned on their owners - hard. The troops were quickly loaded, and within a week were disembarking at the port of Gesoriacum. Refreshed, the Britano-Roman Army marched through Menapia, Belgica II, and Parisii with no problems. The army wintered from November 414 in Lutetia, a small yet charming city.
The year 415 was spent crossing Lingonia, Maxima, and Alpes. These were joined to Marcus' growing empire, along with the cities of Augustodunum and Sequanorum. By late autumn his army was entering the despoiled province of Liguria, and for the first time the legionaries, equites, and others felt the cold touch of fear of the Hun.
"The Conversion of Clodius" translated by Todd Yoho, One dark and stormy night while in his war tent, Clodius and Merovech were studying dispatches from all of their ministers. They were racking their brains for a way to make ends meet, and planning the next season's movements. Late into the night, a messenger barged in without announcement; always quick to anger Clodius' stare dripped venom. "This had better be important!" The messenger quickly went on to say that the Roman Christian Church had formed an armed body of men to protect their interests. Already not in the mood to hear trivial news that didn't affect him Clodius screamed "This is what you interrupt me for!?! News of a pathetic church army!" The wise beyond his years Merovech studied the messenger and said " Hold father, I believe there is more to his story than just that." The messenger had a thankful look in his eyes when he continued. "The army is to be headed by a man named Renoldus." That was all the man need say, Clodius looked away and Merovech dismissed the man. "When I was a young man I stood on the banks of the Rhine and looked into this mans eyes. I know him; he was a Centurion who served against my father. Now he is in charge of a Church army! We cannot allow this church to hold sway in our lands!" Merovech silently agreed. While the men quietly contemplated the news, a presence was felt by both. They turned to see a man that almost looked female stood in their midst. "Hale Clodius" the man said. "Who are you?" as his anger rose quite quickly. "Follow Me." was the reply. Both men looked to each other quizzically. "You will be the father of a great nation, but you must follow me or all will be lost." " I will ask again, who are you." This time it came out rather weak in comparison to the last time. Both men were starting to feel strangely in awe of the figure before them. "You don't have time to argue Clodius, the time is near to act. I will supply proof if that is what you need." At that the "man" waved his hand in Clodius' direction and before he could protest he fell silent. Merovech stood in shock and stared. "Is he" was all that could escape his throat. The figure replied " Yes my son he is dead" With that he waved his hand again and Clodius sputtered and choked. When his eyes opened, they were filled with terror. "Now do you believe in my power?" asked the figure. Finally Clodius came to his senses and quickly went to his knees to bow to the figure that had done the impossible. "Give me your message master" Mervoech appreciating the situation did the same. "All that I ask is that you follow me and all will be revealed in time." "I will master, I will" but when the men looked up the figure was gone. With a renewed vigor, Clodius and Merovech quickly set about revising their plans.To that end Merovech set about capturing, sacking, and razing all the Roman Christian churches his warriors could find in Belgica I, while his father vented his barbaric fury on the Roman churches and as well the temples to Jupiter, Hermes, and that crowd that could be found in Germania I. Arian Churches (see Arian Christian Church) were not only left alone, but provided sites of worship to the Prince of Peace. Many making offerings of silver and prayer were thanking the Living God for their excellent fortune in having a wise king who shared his loot with them.
Clodius then returned home to Lorraine, found a wife, and to celebrate their marriage ordered a general sack of all Roman Church places of worship. The large numbers of peasants who followed the word from Roma were outraged, but most did nothing. By Christmas of 415 thousands of refugees fled into the now-free city of Trier and prayed for deliverance. The king was unconcerned, because at the winter solstice he was given a new son by his new wife, giving a lie to the grey hairs in his beard and his smooth pate.
Meanwhile, Merovech, having abused the local priesthood, sought the allegiance of the leaders of Belgica I. Of course this was hard work, but the offer of marriage into what was clearly the rising regional power tipped the scales and Merovech married Maria, grand-daughter of a dux on Easter Sunday of 416.
After taking a wife (see Saxon Kingdom), Jentze announced that his head thiufand, Ernst Terpstra, would be Crown Prince and Heir. This measure was met with incredulity among the Saxons, who naturally felt slighted, and among many of the Frisian nobles who objected to the flaunting of tradition in the naming of heirs.
Unrest was to widespread, in fact, that the move across the Rhine was delayed for several years while Jentze and some priests worked to smooth ruffled feathers. The end result was that Ernst remained an army commander, and Jentze agreed to consider a Saxon as his Crown Prince. By February of 416 the Frisians were ready to make their move across the frozen Rhine into Germania II.
Ernst lead his warriors secretly across the river in a night move. They spent the spring assaulting strongpoints all along the coast, and by April Roman resistance had crumbled, though well over a thousand barbarians had been killed in combat. They then set about enslaving the people of Germania II.
This proved to be a mistake. The province was settled with an inordinate number of legionary veterans, and more importantly their sons and daughters. Faced with enslavement to a barbarian horde, the population rose up and formed a pseudo-comitatensis of 4000 men, including cavalry and hasty fortifications centered on the manor houses of retired centurions and officers.
The summer of 416 saw extremely heavy fighting, though with few actual combats. Badly outnumbered, the Roman commander Agorius - a devotee of Scipio the Elder - mainly kept his troops out of the field, preferring a war of raid and ambush. Though a few of his strongholds were stormed by Ernst, by the end of the summer the rebels had yet to be put down, and the Frisian had to admit that he was in no position to enslave the citizens of this new conquest. While able to extract some taxes, the warriors would need to remain in order to keep the province in hand.
Bringing a definite close to an age, Osburga, wife of Wig of Holstein and sister of Hengist, passed away in November of 416 of the flu at the age of 39.
The monastery of Whithorn was attacked by over a thousand horse and foot, sacked, and burned. Many martyrs for the Faith were made that day. This force, lead by the king himself, destroyed the churches in Strathclyde as well. The troops were well-pleased with their share of the loot, and all hailed Talorg as a wise and just ruler. Well, most hailed him.
Various delays meant that the host was able to cross the Danube only by the spring of 415. There they found the Lombards in possession of their lands and herds. A few locals were rounded up, and informed Vitalianus that there were nearly twice as many Lombards as Quadi warriors, but that they had no horse.
Marching to Leugaricio, a Lombard army finally opposed the 11,000 Quadi warriors a week past Easter. The Lombard leadership was Prince Aistulf and the newly-promoted thiufadus Wacho, who arrayed their men across the road in traditional fashion, a line of glinting spiked shield bosses dotting the row of round shields. To left and right swarmed lesser warriors, most with bows or javelins.
The seasoned Quadi warriors lined up similarly, their corps thinned to match the enemy frontage, a few cavalry on the wings and a thousand contus-armed horsemen in reserve. These advanced on the Lombards across the newly-planted fields outside the former Roman outpost. Not to be outdone, the Lombards advanced as well, shouting as they came, light troops thrust forward on the flanks like the horns of a bull.
Vitalianus nodded, and his Sarmatian-style cavalry swung out from the rear, across a field, heading for the Lombard archers on the right wing. Unfortunately for them they did not notice the low swale before the archers, who had loosely formed up on the high ground to one side. The bottom of the declivity was still moist, the ground muddy, and the charge of the Quadi horse broke up before it could catch the bowmen. These continued to pour arrows into the cavalry milling about before them. Some contophoroi reached the top of the low rise, only to be surrounded and dragged from their saddles.
A column of warriors was detached to aid the cavalry, who were by now falling back. This column was in turn attacked by the nearest Lombard body, armed with spears, axes, and a few swords. A confused melee ensued, and Vitalianus decided to have his army fall back. About a thousand of his men had been lost by the time the force fell back across the Danube, harassed by the mass of Lombard peasant archers all the way. All told both sides had about equal casualties, but these were more telling on the Quadi because of their smaller initial force.
Thus the Quadi decided to fall upon the hapless citizens of Pannonia I, who had so recently agreed to shelter under the Roman parasol. They could only hope the Quadi made as pleasant masters as the Suevi had been. For his part Vitalianus was biding his time - and was not happy to do so. In Slovakia were thousands of clans under the heel of the Lombards, and he promised his warriors a reunion with their families (see Empire of the Huns).
After Uldin drove the Lombards from Slovakia, King Vitalianus pledged his eternal loyalty to the Hun cause.
Scores of local priests and bishops throughout the empire were set to work aiding provincial authorities in maintaining control. This was fairly successful, and staved off a total collapse of imperial influence. But a great number of provinces fell away, though most cities hewed to the message from Mediolanum - or more accurately from Roma. Beyond this, gold and silver from Innocent's fisc were used on behalf of Honorius and his successors (see Western Roman Empire).
Taking the next step, Innocent preached this missive during his celebration of Epiphany in
The Holy Father and all religious leaders have been outraged by the murderous actions by the Huns, Ostrogoths and Suevi tribes and their allies against the religious faithful and their holy sites. After fervent prayer and much discussion, the unfortunate decision was reached to call upon all Christian people to take up arms against the wanton agents of Satan. The Holy Father agonized privately at the extreme nature of such a response, but felt that the actions were utterly necessary, as the fate of all Christendom is threatened by the wretched foes. The slaughter was made more unimaginable because the traditions of the church have always instructed her followers to nurture the spirit and leave politics to temporal leaders. The outrageous slaughter of innocents has left the Holy Father with no other choice but to call God's faithful to take up arms and smite the madmen who ride with the agents of apocalypse.The response was enthusiastic, if ultimately futile (see Holy Empire of Rome).
On a parallel track, the Holy Father has instructed his bishops to seek out those among the agents of darkness who may yet hear the call of the Lord, beg His mercy and foregiveness, and receive conversion to the Holy Church of Rome.
Having secured Slovakia, the Vandals left their Lombard friends and marched into the high lands of Austria. This was liberated and turned over to the Alans, and the army next headed for Bohemia. This land had been abandoned by the Suevi, who had cleverly decamped for the clement Roman province of Venetia. The few people there were quickly subdued, and the administration of the land - such as it was - handed over to the Lombards.
Hunneric, the Prince, marched his cavalry to the gathered horde of Asding Vandals, seeking to join the two peoples. In the spring of 416 he was wed to Thudigunda, a niece of Queen Heletradana. The Asdingi are now quite friendly with the Silingi.
Out in the provinces panic was the order of the day, and praefecti and other local officials were hard-pressed to perform the usual functions of taxation, the recruiting of tirones for the army, adjudication of disputes and criminal proceedings, and so on. In some places, such as Hippo Regius, nascent anti-imperialist feeling erupted into riots running up and down the narrow streets, yet were suppressed. In others, such as Neapolis, local power brokers decided that their interests demanded provincial independence - unless and until someone arose from the ashes of the present situation to protect them from the Hun and the Goth.
Generally the city folk were less likely than country folk to make a move towards local control. The former were aware of their dependence on trade, both within the empire and with distant places, and were more easily controlled by the comitatensis and other garrisons. The latter had become more dependent on local landowners, who often resented taxation and used their farmworkers as ready auxiliaries to the now-common household troops.
The empire would have collapsed utterly were it not for the Church. The Bishop of Rome, Innocent, knew that his organization was all that remained to provide governance in the far reaches of the empire. Local priests and bishops were urged to aid imperial agents wherever they could, to oppose a fractured empire as they would oppose heresy, and to lend their monks to aid in clerical work of another sort.
Generally this move was a success. In a few places the episcopate was either willingly or forcibly co-opted by the powerful into allowing a province, such as Histria, to go its own way. But generally the word of the Christian priest was respected, aided in some cases by the few openly-practicing Pagan temple priests. These were alarmed at the prospect of the empire's demise, as holy to devotees of Jupiter as to those of the Christ Jesus, though of course for wildly different reasons. This convergence of views lead to a minor flourishing of ecumenical feeling.
More important was the letter from the Bishop of Rome read throughout the Empire near the end of January of 413 BCE (see Roman Christian Church below). The despair, fear, and dread fealt by most citizens from Britannia to Panonnia was provided a positive focus. Thousands travelled by any means possible, in the end by galley or grainship to Aquileia. The leader of the contingent of "crusaders" from Gaul, the hitherto obscure tribune Claudius Dardanus, rose to command of the 15,000 Holy Warriors by dint of negotiation, status, and charm. Which is to say that he convinced the other regional corps leaders to work together and, better yet, under his aegis.
While the Holy Spirit was bringing the imperial army and the citizen army together, a different sort of spirit embued the court huddled in Mediolanum. The impending execution of Flavius Heraclianus for treason weighed heavily on the city; most heavily of course on his wife Pulcheria, torn between loyalty to her brother, Honorius, and her husband. She needed help, and knew whom to approach.
"Like husband like wife, is that it?"
Pulcheria sighed. "That would be easy for you. Turn me in, like a two-for-one deal in the market?"
Sarus chuckled. "OK, I'm in. And I have an idea how to make everyone happy ..."
Honorius waited by the postern gate. So far all of his schemes to save Mediolanum were working fairly well. If the Empire lauded him as a savior, that would be a great bonus, but mainly he hoped he would be getting out of the place alive. But, he reflected, if I froze to death out here. Where was Sarus? Ah.
A small group of figures was approaching from out of the pre-dawn fog, Palatina, by their swagger. Good, thought Honorius. Then I can get back to the nice warm palace and that stack of decrees to sign. Hmm, have to settle some disputes between members of the vigintivirate of the city ... Good Lord!
The guardsmen quickly moved to either side of the Emperor, then held him by his arms while another quickly covered his mouth with a cloth. Honorius was bound foot and arm, eyes locked on Sarus' until he was carried down a narrow street under the dim pearly sky. While understandably outraged and terrified, the Emperor was not sure whether the priest walking ahead of the soldiers was an omen of favor or ill fate.
When it was announced some days later that the Emperor had successfully escaped the blockade of the city, an unexpected tumult erupted in the city. The auxilia were surrounded in the palace by a huge mob of youths who screamed for the accession of Olympius. As quaestor he had been managing the petty disputes of the capitol for several years, and was well-known among the plebes for his fairness.
But the hapless Olympius was quickly arrested by agents of man the army raised to the purple, Heraclianus, and held in the palace. Under torture he implicated Sarus as his accomplice, and Sarus was in turn questioned harshly. He quickly confessed to having conspired to use the mob against Heraclianus, and Olympius was released. Sarus, protesting his innocence, was dragged before the court along with his wife, Galla Placidia. The two made an eloquent argument, but Heraclianus was not convinced and ordered the two executed on the very next noon. Later that night a struggle between Sarus' devotees and the gaolers lead to the death of Sarus and the wounding his wife. She, however, was spirited away in the midst of the confusion, carried off with broken several ribs courtesy of a nasty spill down a staircase.
Only later was it realized that the local Praetorian praefect, Jovius, was behind the unrest. He however was not within reach of imperial authorities, in one of the city quarters in open revolt. From a basement apartment Jovius sent messengers seeing to the next phase of his plan. A well-planned riot erupted requiring most of the palace guard to restrain the mob. A score of men garbed for palace duty made their way into the complex, seeking Heraclianus. Pulcheria's own agents told her of the trap planned for her husband, and the holed up in a suite of rooms.
The auxilia would only recognize the legitimacy of Flavius Heraclianus and his connections with the Theodosian line, while the plebes rallied behind Jovius, though fear of the Hun and the Legion held their leaders back from declaring him emperor. For a day and a night a standoff ensued, until Pulcheria smuggled herself out of the compound to negotiate with Jovius and his supporters. While not above holding Pulcheria hostage, Jovius knew that the citizens would not stand for such behavior.
After two frantic days that saw a minor looting of imperial treasures and scores of plebes slain in futile assaults on the Palatina, an "arrangement" was reached. Heraclianus would be "Augustus" and Jovius "Caesar," reviving the dual rulership of Diocletian. It remained to be seen whether this scheme would be any more successful than the original.
As if the Fates were not done punishing Honorius, he learned in March of 414 of the death of his wife, Maria, of a stomach ailment. This turned the deposed emperor yet more bitter, and from his ascetics cell somewhere in Africa he smirked and chortled at news of events from Italiae.
Once the siege was lifted in late summer of 414 (see Empire of the Huns) a great festival was held - a rather somber affair in reality, as the devastation wrought on the suburbs of Mediolanum was brought into sharper focus. Heraclianus began enforcing imperial rule further abroad but found that revolted regions were quite pleased to be out from under Roman taxation. Lacking substantial military forces - he could call on only a few thousand auxilia and an ala of equites of various grades - the emperor contented himself with issuing decrees and communicating with loyal provincial leaders.
The Suevi were quietly thanked for keeping Stilicho at bay (see Holy Empire of Rome) so well, though of course Heraclianus would scarcely allow himself to be seen lighting a candle for them in his chapel. Clearly, his rule was tenuous, and many hoped for some army to appear to defend the capitol from the Goths and others who had settled inthe home lands.
Thus it was with fear and loathing that Heraclianus contemplated the approach of the British legions under Marcus (see British Roman Empire). Here was a truly Roman army, unopposed, capable of taking Mediolanum by siege. And in fact this army crossed the Alpine passes as soon as the snow had thinned sufficiently in 416. Despite the efforts of Heraclianus' agents to suppress this news, and to cow those who might plot against him, the general mood in the city was one of happy expectation. Fear of another siege by barbarian or Roman was stronger than any love of the emperor.
Marcus Traianus Marcellinus, Emperor of Rome, rode towards the capitol at the head of a numerus of Sarmatae contrariorum miliaria having encamped his army some miles away. Rumors of bad water around the city were taken seriously. Marcus was clad in imperial red and had chosen a red draco standard for his guard. His agents within the city had assured him that a bold show with a small force would win the day more effectively than any amount of entrenching.
This proved to be the case. Riding up to the north gate he spied a small group on horseback awaiting him on the road. Marcus' guard commander, Uterius, called for a halt as the emperor sat in the saddle, waiting in the welcome spring sunshine. At last the group from the city walked their horses up, dismounted, and went down on one knee in the thin mud which covered the unmaintained road.
Marcus regarded them a moment, then noted a bundle their leader held under
"You there with the bag," he barked out. "Rise and present me with whatever favor you have." The lancers stiffened, ready for any sign of deception, and several had arrows knocked to their Hun-style bows. Even their horses, comfortable in the chill under their silvery scales, stood at parade attitude.
The rather tall and gaunt man stepped up to Marcus and offered him the sack. "Open it," commanded Marcus, and the bearded officer carefully unwrapped the package. A rustle passed through the men of the numerus as they recognized the head of Heraclianus from the depictions on some of the more well-struck denarii and miliarense they had seen in the markets during their march through Gaul. Marcus only smiled, saying, "That will do, then. That will do."
As a footnote, several in the senatorial classes supported Jovius, and so he was kept on as Caesar. Olympius had his supporters as well, and was restored to an official post. Conditions in Aquitania declined to the point that unrest and general brigandage had driven enough peasants from the land that much of it was fallow, growing shrubs and small trees. Some of these plebes had taken to sea as pirates merely to survive, and found it to be a profitable, if dangerous, occupation. Intercepting tin shipments and payments became so efficient that more trade was shifted to the route through the Pillars of Herakles from the route up the Loire valley.
After Marcus' army had passed, the Burgundians crossed the Rhine in 416 and took Maxima. The new emperor sighed, contemplating the multitude of barbarians setting up shop in the empire. At least there was some good news, as a few provinces rejoined the empire of their own volition.
There was the issue of the thousands of Germans settled in Venetia, reinforced by a very large Hun army under their Prince Ruas, a canny leader. While wondering at his next move, the first boatload of crusaders disembarked at the port. Stilicho had of course received the call to Holy War from Innocent, and had dutifully passed this on to his officers. Besieged in Aquileia by the very target of the war, they needed no prodding to greater effort.
By the middle of the summer, over ten thousand troops in varying states of organization, arms, and attitude were squeezed into the port city. Every night the cathedral was packed with a mob of leaders of the various contingents, arguing, laughing, and generally attempting to sort out their roles. Rapidly rising to the top of the pack was Firmicus Mavortius, a charismatic Gallo-Roman from Massilia. He was chosen to lead negotiations with Stilicho.
As presented by Firmicus, the makeshift Holy Army would be attacking the Suevi and Huns before the month was out. Stilicho and his army was invited to come along. Naturally, the putative Emperor was furious, arguing that the enemy had reportedly fortified their new villages throughout Venetia, probably still outnumbered them, and that in any case Stilicho would be in charge of any operations.
Firmicus waited patiently. At last, when the barbarian fury in Stilicho's voice had stilled, he said, "As I said, we will be attacking. With your men our total force would be doubled. With the favor of God we will then prevail." With that the newly-minted magister militum left Stilicho's newly-minted court.
Stilicho did not sleep that night. While he could sit here in Aquileia for a very long time, he knew that the machinations in Mediolanum, and the movement of the legions Britannia meant that in order to press his claim it was essential for some action to take place soon. But though marching out with the Holy Warriors would nearly double the size of his army, he knew that would only match the size of the barbarian host. Attacking a defending enemy without having any real advantage was not likely to turn out well.
By dawn he had decided both that he needed sleep and that joining with Firmicus' forces was the only way forward.
Thus it was that on July 5 of 413 CE the federated army marched out from Aquileia, legionary standards seen in the same mob as banners bearing various Christian symbols - fish, anchors, and so on. Deploying before the city, the army did not move for three days, during which no enemy showed. Firmicus then demanded they find the enemy and exterminate him, and Stilicho reluctantly acceded.
The host marched up to Concordia intent on taking the place despite its Suevi palisade and garrison. The emperor rapidly assented to Firmicus' management of this engagement. Two weeks of assaults did not produce results, despite the vast mismatch in size between the defending German force and the crusader mass. The city itself had fallen fairly early on, but a citadel was yet strongly held by the Suevi. Stilicho had not been idle, sending out reinforced foraging and scouting parties. By the end of the fortnight he was beginning to worry - none of these had returned.
At dawn the next day, a centurion of auxilia reported that a large number of enemy had been sighted beyond a canal about five miles away. News of this spread through the army, and Firmicus' men as a body began to march in that direction. Stilicho sent couriers to order a halt, but to no avail. Sighing, he left a small holding force with the baggage in Concordia and followed the crusaders.
By early evening the canal had been reached. Firmicus managed to convince his staff to order a halt at the water's edge - he was fired with holy zeal, but he was not a fool to cross in the face of the enemy. Some thousands of what appeared to be Suevi stood in line of battle about a half mile from the canal.
The two armies faced each other for nearly an hour before a shout arose from the Roman rear rankers. They had spotted a troop of equites sagitarii racing for them down a low hill. A few minutes later, a line of Hun light horse stretching across the horizon appeared in hot pursuit. Stilicho swore and ordered his cavalry reserve to turn about to face this new threat, and more of his own horse archers to attempt to skirmish with the Huns, to slow them down. With his back to a canal and his rear exposed to enemy horse archers, he was not feeling optimistic. Consulting a map, he realized that crossing the canal would provide them the quickest route back to Aquileia - them being his Roman regulars, to whom he owed everything.
As the sun sank in the west, he ordered his large engineer legion and a mounted guard to head downstream a bit and to dig a tributary of this canal perpendicular to it, and fast. By the time night had fallen that flank of the army was covered by a screen of infantry behind a small moat. This helped preserve some of the army from periodic probes by Suevi youths with javelins and swords from across the canal, and more seriously from Hun parties. Near midnight a major attack by Hun heavy cavalry just at moonrise slew hundreds of crusaders, but were beaten back.
Again, Stilicho was busy. Thousands of his infantry managed to float or swim down the canal, which was lowered by the summer heat. The engineers also created a ford across the canal for later use, essentially under the noses of the Suevi who as Germans were notoriously poor at posting vedettes. At sunrise the Huns attacked down the slope, the Suevi, lead by Prince Korga, charged for the canal. At this moment Stilicho sent his horse across the canal at the ford, causing the Gunther the Burgundian to hold back his Alan and Hun mercenaries to guard that flank. But rather than attacking, the Roman equites, many with infantry riding double, took off south at a rapid rate. Gunther, recovering from his surprise, gave chase but was unable to catch them. This gap in the Suevi line allowed more Roman infantry columns to cross and attempt to escape.
Prince Ruas had, meanwhile, ordered his 5000 Gothic heavy cavalry to charge the front of the Firmicus' troops on the other flank. Some units held, but many fled or dissolved into chaos at the prospect of contact with the enemy, and a vast melee followed. Hun nobles with lance and bow then attacked in support, supported by veteran horse archers.
In a nutshell, it was a vast slaughter. Nearly all the crusaders were shot down or run through, and thousands of Holy Empire of Rome regulars were killed as well. Allobichus, magister officiorum, had retired to the train in Concordia and held out for some days before a German warband finally hacked its way in. Firmicus Mavortius died in the front ranks to a Gothic lance, and Fulvius Thalassius, dux Dalmatia, died a heroic death in combat with Hrothgar the German mercenary commander.
Stilicho made it back to Aquileia with a sizable fraction of his army and not a few of the crusaders, less than half its original size. Back in Liguria the scene was less promising for the barbarian cause. Huns, Goths, and Germans were all anxious to put an end to this siege of Mediolanum and get on with the looting and pillaging (see Empire of the Huns).
By the late summer of 414 reports began to arrive from his agents in Venetia that Prince Ruas was taking his powerful Hunnic force south to molest the rest of Italiae. Stilicho suspected a trap, and waited within the walls. After the narrow escape from Concordia, few of his subordinates were willing to gainsay his caution in dealing with the barbarians. Instead, he spent the Fall touring Histria, Pola, Savia, Aquincum, Pannonia II, and Sirmium seeking support from the locals.
This proved both successful and wise, as the Quadi were operating in the area just then (see Quadi Clans). So as soon as the whether had improved in 415, the army of the Holy Empire of Rome marched forth from Aquileia to take the battle to the Suevi, to liberate the Empire, and incidentally put Stilicho in Mediolanum before Marcus arrived with his legions of Britannia.
Unfortunately for Stilicho, the Suevi king Agnar returned to Venetia from the lines around Mediolanum with over 5000 veteran warriors just after the Hun Prince Ruas left the province. Agnar learned of the impending Roman attack, and placed Hrothgar the Sell-Sword in charge of his armies. The Roman commander, however, had no intention of repeating the disaster at Concordia. His plan was to raid, to probe, a war of surprises, feints, and rapid assaults.
Thus all Venetia was a battlefield as each army broke into smaller forces for what was one step above guerrilla warfare. The Germans could rely on their settled clans for support, while the oppressed Roman peasantry usually supported Stilicho. By summer it was clear that neither side had the upper hand. A raid by a body of Alan mercenaries on the Holy Empire main camp on June 29 gave Stilicho a nasty arrow wound in the thigh, and his army slowly withdrew back into Aquileia.
Little had been gained in the Roman adventure, though the campaigning by Stilicho was certainly brilliant. Losses had been heavy, and all he had to show was a captured Suevi thiufand. "Great," thought the new emperor, "another one for my collection of barbarian nobles." For indeed he was holding in Aquileia the heirs to the Ostrogothic and Quadi thrones, plus this new Suevi leader.
This did not go smoothly. After a running battle over several days, however, the holy warriors were all either driven off, slain, or enslaved. The port city sufferred only partial burning and looting.
In the next months Jenne-Jeno was also taken with little trouble (to the Moors), and any locals there and in Jenne who could be caught were captured were enslaved and marched off to tend fields and build aqueducts on land once theirs. The vacant farms, towns, and city were settled by Berbers. Fleeing locals taxed the resources of Adawara and Ghana. The king of Ghana was outraged at their treatment and vowed to avenge them, but the lords of Adawara were more circumspect, feeding the refugees but otherwise taking note that the "Roman Demons," as the Moors had become known, were so far undefeated.
But life had changed for Octar. The words of that Roman agent, Zenobius, had changed his attitude perceptably. Encouraging his family to join him, Octar had submitted to baptism in secret on All Saint's Eve of 412 CE. One by one his brothers and sister joined with him. The work of the Holy Spirit and/or enlightened self-interest took the family to the conclusion that support for Uldin was not the correct path. The call of Innocent for Holy War solidified his belief.
Zenobius, however, had one more act to perform in his own play to bring the Word to the new king. For Octar was on close to despair when his younger brother Modares was felled by a runaway ox-cart in the street of some nameless Latin town. The Hun watched helplessly as his sibling bled out his life in the dust. Zenobius knelt, prayed, and the man rose from the ground. All hailed this miraculous recovery and Octar was sold.
He was however still a Hun. Moving his small yet potent army south into Italiae was aimed at keeping his still-pagan army happy. And of course Octar was not yet above a bit of looting himself ...
Before the local Hun administration - in a state of chaos just then - could warn Aemilia, the army of Octar pushed down the Roman road into Flaminia. There, attended to by the Bishop of Ravenna, the army was consecrated as a Holy Army, and took the name "Red Huns" for the Blood of Christ. Naturally, the warriors gathered cheered the name, interpreting it as the blood of their enemies. Octar, crowned their King by that Bishop, was not about to disabuse them of that notion.
In the rebellious province of Samnium news of the approach of the Huns was not received so well. Their magnates shut themselves up in the cities and manor houses and feared the worst. After a few of these had been sacked, a party of leading citizens - praefecti and similar - approached Octar. A vast amount of gold, silver, and jewelry was to be turned over in exchange for their acquiescence to his rule. The new king smiled broadly at this, and gave half the loot to his men.
Crossing the Appenines into Campania the Huns faced a different reception. A local army arose as they approached Neapolis - and was easily swept away, fleeing militia hunted down by efficient horse archers until only a few remained to tell the tale. Here a real looting took place, though holy places were made off-limits by Octar and his brother Prince Modares. Within a week the city of Neapolis was in sight.
While lacking the impressive walls of Mediolanum or Ravenna, it was nonetheless a well-defended port city. Octar sighed, then sent for a priest to act as negotiator and interpreter. Turpilio had "retired" here and was leading the alert and attentive garrison. Billetted in the surrounding towns, the Red Huns found the local food to be quite nice and the people pleasant though wary. Turpilio, who had taken the title comes Neapoli with his limited literacy, by spring of 414 had agreed to accept Octar as king. As a condition of the alliance, the Hun forces were baptized, though of course most had little understanding of what this meant. Yet more obscure was Turpilio styling himself comes Scythicus.
The scale of the disaster was only apparent the following day. Without these experts and records, imperial governance collapsed. Nobody knew just whom to assign to what task, and when, and who the Hun agents were in the distant provinces.
Thus it was that as the Western Roman Empire was bursting at the seams, so too was that of the Huns. The various mercenaries remained with Uldin in his camp, but that was to be expected. Above the Caucasus Abasgia, Iberia, and Khazar fell away. Taman and its city, plus Levedia and Polovotsy on the Maeotian Sea slaughtered their Hun officials, or as was more usually the case simply ignored them, though the key region of Patzinak stayed loyal - or frightened. Atelzuko no longer obeyed Uldin. Carpathia revolted, but the subject Slavs and others were still too intimidated by the ferocity of the Hun to dare leave the empire.
Distressing as these developments were, there were positive developments. Uldin took great pleasure in ransoming back to their families nearly two thousand captives taken in the ransacking of the Po river valley. But these were small, if numerous, joys. More sorrows were to come.
The morning of February 14 was crisp and clear, unlike the mind of the Khakhan. A late night of Roman wine and Roman women had left his mind a dim fog and his breath liable to act as a weapon in its own right. So it was with dazed shock that he heard from his Ilkhan that thousands of Huns from those clans loyal to Octar had left the army two days earlier (it had been quite a party) and was heading south. Rumor had it that Octar was fed up with waiting outside the city and was heading south to loot and pillage.
Uldin was not fooled by this talk. He knew Octar to be a sober (more so than the Khakhan ...) and reflective man, unusual traits in a Mongol. The Khakhan had trusted Octar, and knew that just the prospect of a bit of fun was not enough to cause him to betray his anda. Further, there was the clue that he had left the mercenaries under his command behind, with orders to join up with Prince Balimber. He sighed and realized that he would need to wait for more news (see Red Huns) from that front. The loss of most of the Hun administrative apparatus meant that he had to give most of the orders himself, and Uldin dared not leave the siege of the Roman capitol to those lack-wit Goths in order to punish Octar.
In the following month the weather turned miserable. Rain, wet snow, and consistently cloudy weather dispirited the troops but did not break their morale. More wearing were the continuing rumors that Octar was having great fun in the warm and willing south, while they were stuck in these fetid camps. Then there were other rumors that they had turned Christian and were marching to defend Roma on behalf of Innocent, others about demonic possession, and so on. The fact that the few citizens of Mediolanum who had been captured looked exceedingly well-fed did not augur well in the eyes of Goth and Hun alike.
As the weather warmed, the health of the army seemed to decline. Then a few men died. Idle talk about Octar turned to animated discussions featuring words like "curse," "plague," "demon," and the like. A few more deaths featuring symptoms of blindness, pain, hallucinations, and a variety of horrible sufferrings began to raise panic among the warriors. Within a week the besiegers were in chaos, effectively ending the cordon of the city. Thousands of warriors were laid up with fevers, diarrhea, and other unsavory ailments. Fear of contagion caused many chieftains to move their men away from the encampments of diseased troops.
By October this was all too much for the Taifali, whose King Vallia decided to declare victory - was not Honorius reportedly dead? - and march to their next task as per orders. More or less ...
The Via Aemilia was clear as the Taifali marched on Verona. Vallia was disappointed to see a set of recently-constructed defenses at the city gates, and his advisors suggested they move along. Entering Flaminia they found it lightly defended, and with some wisdom decided to settle there, not looting but rather farming and ranching.
The loss of the Taifali was balanced by the great victory at Concordia (see Western Roman Empire), and this helped to cheer Uldin as he spent the winter trying to get his army back to the lines of circumvallation about Mediolanum, and to convince Gothic, Hun, and German troops to reoccupy their camps of the year previous. However every time one warband would move back illness would strike within days and they would be obliged to pull back.
The spring of 414 saw Uldin attempting to isolate Mediolanum with a thin circle of camps over twelve miles from the city. While this did not really constitute a full blockade, it did prevent substantial supplies getting in, and communications were effectively disrupted with the rest of the Roman provinces. But by the end of the summer it was clear that the rest of the Hun staff would no longer stand for this waiting in Liguria. Uldin was forced to accede to their demands, and on August 16 of 414 held a conclave of the khans, kings, and thiufans, at which he announced that he declared the Siege of Mediolanum to be at an end, and turned them loose immediately on Liguria.
This move was wildly popular, and Liguria was the body on which the barbarian host vented nearly two years of frustration and anger. So violent was the pillagin that thousands of refugees filtered in to Mediolanum with stories of flight, horror, and atrocity.
The barbarian host divided. The Khakhan and his heir moved across the Appenines into Alpes Cottiae, closely followed by Ariaric II, the Ostrogothic king, and his ally Hellebich, Chief of the Gepids. Prince Ruas headed down the coast from Venetia into Flaminia.
For his part, Uldin lead a large force down the road to Dertona, which was sacked and burned, and once across the mountain passes in the spring of 415 spread out to loot the Mediterranean littoral. Roman Christian churches were shown no particular attention - they were taken with the rest. Thousands fled to relative safety behind the walls of Genua, which was hard-pressed to feed all the new citizens. Some of those who did not escape, most especially the various magnates and equites with lands, were taken along by Uldin. A minor revolt was quashed within the month, and elderly Huns were set up in villages to collect taxes and regulate affairs.
As this was taking place, the Ostrogothic host entered Alpes Cottiae with a rather different agenda. After allowing their families to rest a bit on the shore, Ariaric moved his warriors with Uldin along the coast towards Tuscia. And suddenly he pulled up his horse, clutched his chest, jerked, fell from the saddle and rolled down the slope and off one of the famously high cliffs into the sea. A dozen men lost their lives trying to recover the body, but only a few scraps of Ariaric's clothing could be found on the rocks far below.
Within a week the thiufand Ardabur claimed the throne for himself, and pressed his case to all within earshot. For Ariaric, while a great leader, had left his brother and heir Athanaric in Aquileia, and Athanaric's young wife Tamora, the Taifali princess, remained with the army, childless. Eriulf remained loyal to Athanaric, and challenged Ardabur to combat.
The feud between the two leaders and their entourages was short - Ardabur and his men charge immediately, contos levelled, and either killed or disabled the dozen or so men on the opposite side of the field within minutes. The following day Tamara was found dead of a stab would through the heart. While some were outraged, and many murmured, Ardabur was acclaimed as king on April 1, 415. He named two of his clan as his lieutenants, and announced that the tribes would continue on with their plan to settle in Tuscia and Latium, which they did behind the wave of a Hunnic advance.
Meanwhile on the Adriatic coast, Prince Ruas and his horde left Venetia for Flaminia. There he spent most of 415 meeting with the Taifalis, attempting to convince them to rejoin the Hunnic federation. But by time the winds off the sea turned cold he could see that a more long-term effort would be needed. It was while deciding whether to proceed down the coast into the lands of the Red Huns that the prince received a courier from the Quadi, requesting aid from their Hun masters in evicting the Lombard army from Slovakia and to liberate their families. News had also come of a new challenge, a horde from the east called the Juan-Juan arriving in imperial lands on the Black Sea.
Thus it was that Prince Ruas' force and that of Khakhan Uldin turned about and headed north in the spring of 416. Moving through Aemilia and Venetia, this large force met the Quadi licking their wounds in Pannonia I. King Vitalianus was exceedingly pleased to meet the Hun leadership, and after a short feast in their honor marched with them across the frontier and into Slovakia.
Defending Lombards were first incredulous, then angry, then terrified at the prospect of facing the entire Hun army. Crown Prince Aistulf managed to convince his tactical aid Wacho that, no, we can't take these guys. It did not take many words to get the Lombard warbands to immediately flee for the safety of the Vandal frontier. The fighting retreat of Germanic infantry against tens of thousands of horse archers and mercenaries was a pathetic coda in the history of the world.
In the end, only a few men survived the onslaught of the Huns to tell the tale, and the Lombard army essentially ceased to exist. From Slovakia, Uldin collected reports from the east and pondered his next move.
Citizens in Constantinople immediately went into mourning. Some few took measures such as self-flagellation, wearing masks of emperors as derived from pagan practice, and women covering their faces and hair. At court, suspicion of poison was in the air, though doctors announced the little boy had died of natural causes. Others blamed a curse on the family for taking in the Visigoths. Still more in the senatorial and knightly classes saw the inaction of Arcadius to help the Western Empire and wondered what malady afflicted the imperial administration.
Talk of poison was most prevalent among various factions among the lower classes, who always assumed the worst about their betters. Taking advantage of this were several courtiers who were under investigation for corruption. Thus when these were rounded up in the morning of 15 March 413 CE, the evening saw rioting centered on the quarter which had been occupied by the Goths before their massacre in 400 CE.
The militia responded, as well as some units of scolae and auxilia palatina, to put down the mob. The following days saw running street battles, neighborhood blockades, and a decay in law and order generally. On 18 March a fire began in a tannery and spread quickly. Before it was doused - or more properly speaking was smothered in a late heavy snowfall - hundreds of people had died and many buildings were destroyed. Many citizens were arrested and executed, and the blaze of popular anger died with them.
To keep these ingrates well-fed enough, grain was imported from Sudan, and arrangements were made with the Monophysite clergy to use the produce of fields which had been donated to them.
Athaulf, the magister officiorum and King of the Visigoths, was placed in command of many new alae of cataphractoi and told to march them to Bishop Eutropius Cypriotis. When these arrived by the early autumn of 413, the bishop showed Athaulf orders to turn over command of all his heavy horse and re-equipped Gothic legionaries and engineers to Eutropius. The leader of the Visigoths was livid and left immediately for his camp. For the rest of the week Athaulf sent away all emissaries from the bishop. Finally, he ordered his non-Gothic cataphracts to march to Eutropius and join his command, with his "compliments." In the end, the bishop backed down and allowed the magister officiorum to retain his position over what had become after a fashion his boukellarioi.
Further success was found in arid Madina, where scores of missionaries scoured the land searching for the unsaved. Their attitude and dress meant the pairs of men in white robes carrying bibles were well-received and proved effective. Persarmenia and Axum received the benefits of Church largesse.
On the other hand, the attempt to found a cathedral in Lydia by Bishop Bertimus sank into a mire of local politics and theological disputes with remnant Pelagians. Dorian in far Khirghiz had his run of luck come to an end when the nomad princes tired of his preaching. A minor khan and his clan grabbed him one midnight and tied him to a post in the middle of the steppe. Left for days, he began to have visions, one of which was of an angel with a sword cutting him free. This turned out to be a minor khanum whom he had baptized. She and her clan had tracked him down and freed him, though his wounds were severe.
Patriarch Theophylact was dining with some nobles at the celebration of of the consecration of a new Cathedral in Faiyum. The feast had been blessed and the leader of millions of faithful was wolfing down his cooked fish when he suddenly went rigid, his face turned color, and he collapsed. Before anything could be done to help him he had expired due to a fish bone caught in his throat. A younger man might have survived, but at 52 he was already considered "wizened" to his people.
After a short conclave in Alexandria, Theophylact's favorite, Luke, was anointed as the new Patriarch.
When asked later whether his future wife pleased him, all Menelik could say was that "she smiled enthusiastically." The prince sighed and considered that the pomp and power sometimes came with a price.
The emperor at least was pleased with the match. Later developments (see Nobades Kingdom) would seem to have rendered any political advantages moot, but Tewodros took a look view, and smiled at news from the north. King Satifal was now family, and so was kept as a well-treated prisoner, though many wondered aloud at just what message was sent in this by the Nobades. Some considered it a mark of their superiority, others a sign of peaceful intentions.
More obviously pleasing were reports of great success by missionaries to Djibuti, though increasing Indian influence to the south were a cause for a few late night discussions with his courtiers. To counter this development, ties with the trade city of Avalites were strengthened.
Not interesting enough for Movad, however. A large force under the Crown Prince, Phillipus Silko, and General Dunkas entered Beja unopposed in 413 and reached the Red Sea coast by February. Disgusted at the lack of defense of his realm, the Beja king switched his fealty to Movad, and became a general for the Nobades invaders. Moving up the shore the force turned inland after questioning some local fishermen, and reached the village of Salaleh at the edge of the desert. The army "reprovisioned" much to the annoyance of the residents.
The following day, the mood among the villagers had mysteriously improved. Suspicious, Dunkas sent out some camel scouts who returned within the watch to say that a large force was heading for them, and would arrive before nightfall. Rather than panic, Silko retired to his quarters in what had been the headman's villa. He called for Dunkas, and soon orders were issued right and left.
Nobades warriors on camels, some 1500 of them, headed out beyond the irrigated fields and over a dune. Meanwhile, several hundred engineers were detached to round up all the villagers and herd them away from the likely battlefield in order to maintain secrecy. Then archers and spearmen were concealed in the village, cavalry in the oasis shrubery, and a thin line of infantry near the village.
The Blemmye king, Satifal, approached Salaleh with his scouts. He noted a line of spearmen facing him across the road, some men on camels and horses to either side. This should be a walkover, he thought, and sent a runner to the army. The barbarians took some time forming a line of battle about a half mile from the village, but eventually were advancing on the mud-brick buildings as the sun approached the horizon.
With the first volley of arrows from his archers the invader's line broke into a run - away from Satifal's troops. The fled with some speed into the oasis greenery, and the king's heir Balan lead a pursuit with the cavalry reserve while the remainder of the Blemmye army cheered and quick-marched for the town, hoping for some light looting.
They were very suprised at the ambush which awaited them in the village square, and Balan's horse was charged by Nobades cavalry concealed at the edge of the oasis. The remainder of Satifal's men were charged from behind a dune by the concealed warriors on camels. Disorganization and surprise caused a panic in the Blemmye force, and despite strenuous orders from Satifal - including an incident where he lanced one of his own warriors - it disintegrated and was pursued into the deep desert. While thousands of the local warriors were slain during the chase, far more died in the desolate rocks and dunes in the heat of the next day.
Surrounded, Satifal and his guard fought on as darkness quickly fell in the dry air. The king was wounded by a javelin in his right arm and called for a truce. He was taken prisoner along with Balan, who later died in an escape attempt. The Nobades army then marched on what passed for the Blemmye capitol and captured the royal family.
The processional into Kerma was something to behold, as each warrior tramped through the gates bedecked in captured gold chains, silks, and trailing at least one slave. Treated with more respect were the Blemmye royalty, who were allowed to ride on asses. Movad was greatly pleased with his heir and his general, and lavished titles and gifts on them both. To cement his relationship with the Axumites to his south, and to pique his sense of irony, the fallen king Satifal was sent under guard to Axum, with Movad's complements. The Blemmye clans were placed under the Nobades, with some of them thankful for their mercy and others sullen and rebellious.
After a few years of joy and general discussion of the dispensation of their subject nation, Movad became ill with a seizure that paralyzed his left leg and arm. Another sudden attack on February 4 of 415 CE slew the mighty king, and a full month of mourning followed. Prince Phillipus worked hard to avoid any dissent, and became king shortly thereafter. The child of Movad II became heir, though that status was not guaranteed forever.
The Church was otherwise quite busy expanding its influence throughout the remaineder of the empire. This prompted Narses-Kartir to famously exclaim at every public event, "Shato-manau vahishto-urvano," (With the mind in joy and the soul in bliss) summing up the attitude of nearly all of the faithful.
Several palace eunuchs confessed under "intense" questioning to being Roman agents, but one courtier muttered that under such techniques they would probably confess to fathering a dozen sons. More gentle methods lead to the conversion of many in Dura and Osrhoene.
The asvaran to the Lakhmids, Dariush, passed away in his sleep at 46 after a banquet in Hira. Leftover goat meet was fed to a slave, who rather than dying a horrible death seemed quite happy to be feasting on such fine fare. Less happy were the nobles of Balasagan when in the autumn of 415 their shah died in a tragic hunting accident. This weakened the pro-Sasanian to the point that the new shah had to cut his ties to Yazdigerd's court. The shahanshah was not pleased, but was known to be a patient man.
The court poet Anaphalact penned this bit of prose on hearing of events in far Turan:
The captains of Rome are beginning to mutter "Oh Great," they do say "here comes yet another" Or could it be Cestiphon has made a blunder? Between the two rivers will you stop to plunder?The shahanshah was greatly pleased, and gifted the man with a golden laurel diadem and a silver plate with Yazdigerd emblazoned in the center.
Efforts in Kalyani were not fated to meet with success (see Pandya Kingdom below).
Thus it came to pass that the court of Govinda, the rather grandiosely titled yuvaraja of Kalyani saw parties from Chera and Pandya engaged in what might charitably be termed "lively" discussions of politics, religion, and loyalty. By late 414 it appeared that the arguments from Banabhatta were the more convincing. Also apparent was the growing hostility between the several thousand troops from either side who were wandering the streets of this cosmopolitan city. Several minor incidents, usually involving the connivance of an alluring ganika, had threatened to erupt into riots, staved off only by discipline imposed by leaders on both sides.
When at last Govinda announced he would join with the court of Jatavarman the mood on the docks turned ugly. Only by the presence of the yuvaraja and his small guard was open warfare avoided. The Cheran troops retired to their fortress, Panadura, up the coast, there to ponder their next move.
As a token to the locals, the marriage between a daughter of Govinda and Maravarman took place in Kalyani. One ill-omen occured when, as the Svetambara acharya chanted the marriage vows the fire near the altar was blown out by a sudden wind. A quick-thinking courtier relit the flame, but the couple decided to spend the next few days in purification.
Sailing home with his new bride, Maravarman was swept overboard by a freak wave, though one crewman said the brave prince went down battling a timingara. Thus was his wife a widow, and many were her tears at her fate.
Prince Kamara Gupta again saw to the oversight of the Empire. Watching his son Prince Skanda running and laughing as the boy chased a his Priyamvada and Harina through the courtyard, and was in turn chased back across by the girls and several of their attendants, he sighed wistfully for the simple pleasures of youth. "Your time is coming soon boy, best enjoy it while you can," he thought to himself. "What would you do if you caught one of those girls without your sister around I wonder? Time to find you a bride I think. Just as your sisters Sakuntala and Anasuya will soon be married it is time to think about the future."
This future arrived sooner than any had thought, for Chandra Gupta II, quickly called "the Great" by his countrymen, succumbed to a rapid fever in the cool evening of November 24, 415 CE, at the age of 56. The eleven days of his funerary rites, including the lighting of his pyre, were met with weeping among the common folk across the land, and none dared consider challenging the right of his heir Kamara to the throne.
On the very day his remains were placed in a jar, Sakuntala gave birth to a boy and a girl to her husband, the Nadavaria Raj, thus cementing ties to the empire. Kamara named his young son Skanda as his heir, and no relative rose to object. Also married was Anasuya Gupta, to Subhas Tharoor making him a prince. Many snickered at the match - he was literally old enough to be her father - but the couple seemed genuinely happy and her father, Kamara, was pleased.
The Raj of Edrosia died of an unknown infection in 416 as the winter solstice approached. Rumor had it that some strange African disease, curse, or malaise had been brought back with him, but no real evidence was brought forth. His son was happy to remain within the empire in its grief. A fleet sailed from Edrosia to blockade the rebel city of Kalliana, but to no avail (see Vakataka below). And a new road was carved from the capitol to Pravarapura was another indication of Gupta support for their close neighbor and ally. That road, however, could not help the emperor in his attempts to convert the capitol's Jains, who held yet more closely to their creeds.
Babasaheb Ambedkar had an exciting time in the Palk Strait, when odd currents and strange calms kept progress to a snail's pace. His small fleet had to put in at Sopattinam, where Babasaheb inadvertently insulted the local harbor master so severely that the sailors were only ashore for two days. At sea for a few more weeks, they managed to find a haven at Machilipatnam. Naturally, tales of sea monsters and other horrors of the waves were the talk of the quays for months. The senior commander was glad to arrive safely in Tamralipti, thinking not for the first time that he was getting a bit old for this. Regardless, he was at Chandra's side to the last.
Abhayadatta of Pattala took his fleet to Opane in far Africa. Finally meeting that reknowned beauty the Kandake of Opane, he endeavored to gain her allegiance. After much hard bargaining she agreed to join with him to improve their already strong trade ties with a military component. He also met success with the King of Sarapion, a rough mud-walled town filled with people from all over the region, including outcasts and exiles from India, Rome, Arabia, and beyond.
Well-pleased with himself, Abhayadatta set sail for home. After a few days at sea his ships were assaulted at dawn by a large pirate fleet. After a hard battle lasting the entire day the brigands were driven off, but nearly all the marines were lost and many of his small ships had been captured or burned. They turned about, put in at Sarapion for supplies and rest, and put to sea once more. Arriving back in Pattala, King Abhayadatta made offerings at the temple to Manimekhala, and lead a mourning procession winding down the narrow lanes of his city.
From Sabara City sailed Raj Sang Nila Utama to woo the Malayadvipa regency to the Gupta cause. In their discussions the Regent was convinced of many advantages to being affiliated with the Guptas through their vassal, Sang Nila Utama. Secret negotiations lead to the entry of Malayadvipa into the Gupta sphere, and the Sabara Raj made for Srivijaya. These tribes were quite happy to be a part of some large distant empire throught Malayadvipa, which could counter the influence of the Tamara king.
His cousin a caravan master, Kalidasa may have penned this now-lost gem in early 414 CE:
Where are you heading oh mobile young one? Where are you going you wandering Juan-Juan? The grass on the wide steppe grows short where you linger. Once you move on farmers give you the finger.
The captains of Rome are beginning to mutter "Oh Great," they do say "here comes yet another" Or could it be Ctesiphon has made a blunder? Between the two rivers will you stop to plunder?
Down south all the hindi from high caste to low are grateful for mountains well covered in snow. We know that some day our cousins will visit, and when they arrive we won't answer "Who is it?"
The holy centers at Chandela and Varanasi were, on the other hand, very receptive to the many learned gurus who lectured and preached there. This contingent was lead by the illustrious Virasenadeva, highly respected by his fellow scholars.
Driven by a vision, Crown Prince Vis'vadeva organized an elephant hunt in 413. Many were dubious at the prospect of a hunt lead by a pre-pubescent lad, but others knew of his ties to the other world and purified themselves before embarking. For several months the party searched the lowlands, losing one person to a tiger and several to fevers. One hot moonlit evening, the boy's personal guard captain arose to find him missing. Fearing a tiger had dragged him away, he roused a few men and rushed off along the presumed trail with spears and swords. A few minutes brought them to a clearing, where they pulled up in amazement. An elephant so large that the word scarely seemed adequate to describe it stood in the moonlight. Astride the neck of the beast was the young prince, leaning over and speaking into its ear.
Biscotti was astonished at what his son had achieved, and a special garden was constructed for the animal. Spontaneous temples sprang up nearly overnight along the outer wall of the park. Within months the queen, Pima, announced her pregnancy, and over the next years she gave to the dynasty three children.
And so it was that a fleet was sent to the island of Sumatra in a bid to counter growing Gupta influence in the Suvernadvipa. Utara and Aceh were conquered with little difficulty, establishing a Pallavan toehold in the region. As a result of this subdual of the locals and Gupta and other work in the region, pirate dens were cleared out all along the shores of the Malacca Strait, much cheered in capitols from Chera to Korea. The Riouw Sea pirates remained very active and thus trade was not much improved.
Meanwhile Varijchopra marched his forces into Nasik and after only a week ordered an assault of the poorly-defended city. The citizens were not about to submit, and the struggle on the ramparts, gates, and surrounding villages was fierce. The general directed the action from his howdah, making him an excellent target for a sortie party of archers. He was felled by a shaft through the shoulder and caught by his swordbearer. The mahout skillfully moved the beast out of the line of combat and Varijchopra was taken to his tent and healer.
With their commander out of commision the siege lapsed and substantial supplies were brought into the city by land, much to the consternation of the Edrosian sailors hovering off the coast. This was brought to an end in 416 when Sathiyadevanrao appeared in Varijchopra's camp with fresh troops and a fresh attitude. A regular siege was instituted, and by the end of the year the defenders were clearly sufferring from the near-constant archery, sapping, and occasional ill-planned sorties.
Back at court confusion reigned over the issue of royal succession. The ambassador from the Gupta court thought it was time for Divakarasena to take the reins of power into his young hands. Prabhavati, however, was loath to give up the regency, and most of the rajas and court officers agreed that the youth was in need of more training before taking up such a difficult post. The Gupta agent fumed at this lack of coordination but was powerless to push his agenda.
Hope this helps. Please see prior turns' newsfaxes for more hints.