Wars of Christian Expansion
As Christianity continued to rise and dominate the cultural and political structures of the Parthian Empire, Armenia, Galatia, Capadoccia, and Egypt, the nations entered a kind of "Alliance." While it was hardly official, the royal families of each nation were friendly with each other, and worked to spread Christianity across the remainder of the Near East. Galatia and Capadoccia were particularly close, with several royal marriages between them. As the second century dawned, the five Christian states began to become more violent with their attempts to expand Christianity. By 114 AD, these Egyptian attacks began to evolve into a full blown border war, quickly joined by the other Christian nations.
Egypt was the first to officially deploy its army, and the other christian nations quickly followed suite. Capadoccia and Galatia quickly began to focus on the Macedonian free regions of Anatolia. Armenia - which was the least devout nation by far - only invaded a half dozen small states bordering it, leaving the Parthians, and the Egyptians to take care of the rest of the near east. Both of there armies, while out of practice, were far more effective than any resistance the disunited states could put up. Quickly, their armies tore through the area, and after 8 years of fighting, most of the Near East was under the control of Christian rulers. The five initial Christian states also greatly expanded their influence, and saw their power, and the power of their region, grow dramatically.
Keltoic Disorder and the Creation of Ambactoismos
Independent of the Christian wars in the near east, the Keltoi had their own troubles around the same time. The trouble started in 154, when a small revolt started in Locudula. Normally, a revolt like that would have been crushed quickly, but after around 100 years of peace, the Empire was completely unprepared for it, and the recent expansion had strained their economy. While the the violent part of the revolt died within weeks, riots and other civil unrest continued for years, varying between simple civil unrest and full on rebellion. While various officials, including the Emperor, Welcrew, tried to intervene, nothing worked until 129. In that year, Welcrew asked to meet with various leaders of the so called "revolution," which at this point had spread to Parisi, as well as the less populated space between the cities. In addition, other movements had started in the west, and the Empire looked like it could fall apart at any moment.
During the council, which was held in Nouio, an agreement was reached: The Keltoic Empire would remain intact, but various parts of it would be self governing, to an extent. Though it took almost three year to hammer out the details, eventually, 6 "Cheifdoms" were formed, mostly in the eastern half of the nation. This left about 1/3 of the land in the Empire under control of Welcrew, while the other 2/3 was split between 6 chiefs. This actually worked incredibly well, at least at first. Welcrew and his successors got the same amount of taxs revenue, and could still raise armies, but were spared the day to day administration of large parts of their Empire. The Cheofdoms, meanwhile, got to enjoy self governance, but also got the protection and infrastructure of the larger Empire.
While it was a good deal at the time, this deal would eventually set the scene for Decentralization, (later known as Ambactoismos) a phenomenon that would dominate most European nations until well after 1000 AD. Basically, whenever a monarch's power grew weak, they would follow Welcrew's example and take their kingdoms apart. While these moves would almost always work in the short term, in the long term they reduced most of Europe into useless states, where most kings could do little to control their kingdoms. In the long term, this would hurt the continent in its competition against the Near East and Asia, and for much of its history set it dramatically behind its neighbors. Overall, this Keltoic Disorder was much more than it seemed - it more or less created the system Europe would use for the next millennium.
The Conversion of Carthage
After the war of Christian expansion, Carthaginian trade in the east Mediterranean became exponentially more profitable. The captured port of Alexandria became an extremely rich city, and while records are lost to history, there is speculation that Alexandria surpassed Carthage itself in wealth. The beginning of Carthage's conversion to Christianity started in around 134 AD, when successful merchants in Egypt began to convert to gain better relations with the local populace. While most of these initial conversions seem to be more abut profit than faith, some were apparently genuine. As a result, the religion quickly became a minority religion in various Carthaginian cities, including Carthage itself. While this didn't have any initial effects on Carthaginian culture, as it grew several notable families began to follow the religion, and in 158 AD, brought it to the attention of Hannar.
When the religion was brought before Hannar, he was icy to the idea. He didn't particularly like the new religion, and saw no reason the convert his nation. However, he second son, Hacor, saw the value in accepting the religion of their largest trading partner. In addition, and probably more importantly to his desicion, he saw an opportunity to gain power for himself. After much deliberation, he was able to gather a group of powerful nobles together to stage a coup against Hannar. In 159 AD, the coup was carried out. Hacor and his allies quickly killed Hannar, and Hacor's older brother. While the precise time frame is unclear, Hacor quickly managed to gain the throne, and secure his position. While there are records of a power struggle for several months after the coup, it is clear that Hacor was able to put any resistance down effectively, leveraging his popularity and newfound power.
By 160 AD, Hacor was in complete control of Carthage and ready to convert the nation. Instead of a simple declaration, as had been done across the near east, he began by converting himself, and sponsoring the building of churches. After this, he began to convert merchants and other wealthy families in greater numbers, essentially making it so that by 170 AD, most members of the upper class were Christians. Slowly, this began to filter down to the lower classes, and through various incentives and some instances of forced conversion, Carthage was largely a Christian state by 190 AD. While this greatly increased its trade with the east, it began to alienate its western trading partners in Europe. While this wouldn't be that bad in the short term, it would eventually culminate in the Second Mediterranean War, as well as generally terrible relations with Europe.
Senone Trade Expansion
While Carthage was converting itself to Christianity for trading purposes, the Senone were expanding their own trade operations. Traditionally, the Senone Republic had been the gateway between the southern trade routes and the increasingly rich Keltoic states. This gig had only gotten more lucrative following the centralization of the Keltoi, and by 150 AD, the Senone were probably the richest nation in Europe. This wealth lead to a lot of rich merchants, many of them looking for ways to expand their wealth. While at first, they tried to increase existing trade, it quickly became apparent that trading with the Keltoic Empire had already reached its highest possible point. In the late 150s, certain traders began to expand their operations to two places: The southern regions of Keltoia, largely ignored when trading began, and the massive untapped wealth of Germania.
At first, trade in southern Keltoia seemed to be much more profitable - after all, the Keltoic Empire had expanded there recently, ad many settlements had risen up. However, Germania would quickly prove to be somewhat of a dark horse. The Germanic tribes had already been trading with the Keltoi, and embraced the new source of profit with open arms. Records are sketchy, but some apparently even went to war over the best trade routes. While the land was initially less rich, the intensity in which the Germans pursued trade was unprecedented, and soon Germanic trade overshadowed south Keltoic trade. For decades, nothing would come of this except riches for the Senone, but over time, Germania would centralize much the same way Keltoia did, except on a slower timeline, and create a religion in the process. The immediate effects would be less dramatic - the Senone simply got richer.
Conflict in Iberia
Following the conversion of mainland Carthage, their colonies in Iberia began to slip away. Because Hacor had largely focused on the conversion of mainland Carthage, he had allowed the colonies in Iberia to remain pagan. His successor, Hacor II decided to rectify this issue, and in 190 tried to expand Christianity to the peninsula. Almost immediately, this proved to be a mistake - the citizens of Iberia were very set in their ways, and were already resentful of the mainland's conversion. Of the first priests sent to the area, almost half were killed or otherwise driven off, while the others were given lukewarm responses at best. Meanwhile, the two church's Hacor II had tried to have built were subject to the vandalism of the citizens, and labor eventually stopped on both. Despite the situation looking like an abject failure, Hacor II continued his efforts.
Etrusca, eyeing the dissidence in Iberia decided to throw in their cards by sending a contingent of trade and (purportedly) military ships. The ships were operating on orders from the Etruscan king Dentara, who had ordered them to gain the goodwill of the people by selling their goods at a lose. Soon after Dentara refunded the ships for their loses, a flood of Etruscan ships began to go to Iberia, offering their goods at rock-bottom prices. Predictably, this gave the Iberians a much more favorable view of Etrusca, and as Hacor II continued his heavy handed "Christianization," some began to identify more with the Etruscans than the Carthegians. Slowly, the territory began to slip out of Carthage's control, and by around 200 AD, Etruscan military ships regularly landed in Iberia, and some Etruscan forts even began construction.
Mercifully for the Carthaginians, Hacor II finally died in 201 AD, and was replaced by the far more competent Darius. Immediately after ascending, he slammed his fist down over Iberia, immediately moving naval ships to the coast to remove Etruscan influence from the colony. Within days, a half dozen Etruscan merchant ships AD been sunk, as well as a military ship. Day later, the two completed Etruscan forts were sacked, while the uncompleted ones were destroyed. After four months of being hit by deadly raid,s the Etruscans finally agreed to withdraw - they knew they couldn't beat the naval might of Carthage. However, while Etrusca was expelled, Iberia would never return fully to Carthage. Meanwhile, the increased completion with Carthage prompted the Etruscans to begin building up their navy.
The Birth of Wodanismos
As Senone and Keltoic trading increased with Germania, the Germanic religion - later to be known as Wodanismos - began to become more fully formed. At first, this evolution was slow, but the fact that trade now connected the diverse German tribe allowed them to centralize their beliefs, to some extent. Unlike in Carthage, Merchants didn't exactly line up to convert, especially at first. However, as the religion grew and the Germanic people began to form more centralized structures, merchants began to find it profitable to sponsor the construction of shrines and other places of worship. While the purpose of these donations was generally to garner favor with the populace, it lead to the growth of the religion, and helped it further legitimize itself as an institution, rather than just a philosophy. By 180, a small hierarchy had even establish itself, primarily based in what would become Chattia.
As the Germanic religion grew, it was given a formal name - Wodanismos (Wodan after the most powerful god in the pantheon, ismos being the Greek suffex for "belief"). While mostly limited to Germanic territory, it became increasingly influential in shaping Germanic society, rivaled only by the influx of trade. When small leaders of semi-centralized states began to rise across Germania, many used the religion to legitimize themselves and subjugate those under them. The Clergy also became a powerful force, often serving as advisors to tribal chiefs, with some even completely controlling the affairs of notable tribes and settlements. By around 200, a few Keltoic traders had embraced the religion, bringing it west to the Keltoic Empire. However, for the most part, even by 200, the religion was still evolving, and primarily limited to Germania. It would undoubtedly be a powerful force in centralizing the region, and would eventually spread across Europe.