Alternative History

212 B.C.- The Roman siege of Syracuse is successful and Roman forces storm the city. Archimedes is killed in unclear circumstances. In his study a number of mathematical and scientific writings were found along with blueprints for his inventions. His writings end up being scattered across the empire and are of little interest except for the war machines at the time.

324 A.D.- Pappus of Alexandria, a Greek mathematician who researched Archimedes and his mathematical theories, discoveries a copy of a manuscript that Archimedes wrote. On it are the ingredients for gunpowder and instructions on how to make it. Pappus follows the instructions, and while trying to figure out its purpose accidentally drops a candle into the gunpowder, which injures him severely and nearly kills him. His wounds progress him towards death and he dictates to his scribe (absent from the experiment) the ingredients for and procedure for making gunpowder. He dies soon after.

325 A.D.- The scribe of Pappus brings Pappus’ discovery to the rest of the scientific community in Alexandria, and soon many more experiments are conducted more cautiously. The scientists soon adapt Ctesibus’ cannon to work with the gunpowder instead of using air compression. It attracts the attention of local Roman army officers and word of its potential military uses spread across the Empire until it reaches the ears of Constantine, the Emperor.

326 A.D.- The cannon is brought before the Emperor Constantine’s court to demonstrate its power and military potential. The Emperor is pleased with it and orders it to be produced all over the empire and to be added to its legions.

328 A.D.- The cannon sees its first military use against Frankish raiders on the Rhine frontier. Although not particularly accurate its main use comes as a shock weapon and after experiencing casualties the Franks retreat. As word of this new weapon spreads among the Germanic tribes and as more raids are repulsed in this manner the amount of raids and incursions into Roman territory rapidly decreases.

332 A.D.- With legions equipped with cannons Constantine and his son Constantine II successfully campaign against the Goths winning outstanding victories with combinations of the legions’ superiority and the shock uses of the cannon. The Goths flee from what they call the “fiery death.”

334 A.D.- Sarmatian slaves rebel across the northern side of the Danube, and the Sarmatians call for the help of the Romans. After a stunning Roman victory where casualties were minimal but the Sarmatians fled at the sight and sound of the “fiery death.”

337 A.D.- The Sasssanid Empire attacks the Roman Empire across the eastern frontier under the leadership of Shapur II. Most of the attacks are repulsed by Roman legions and cannon but the Sassanids do succeed in taking some fortresses and outposts. Constantine of natural causes dies not long after the invasion begins. The Empire is distributed amongst his sons, Constantine II ruling Gaul, Britain, and Spain, Constans ruling Italy and Africa, and Constantius II ruling the east.

339 A.D.- A Greek scientist in Massilia invents the earliest version of the Arquebus, and it is the first portable firearm. It is kept a secret but eventually it reaches the ears of Constantine II, who wishes to use it in his armies but keeps it a secret from his brothers.

340 A.D.- After refusing to relinquish his guardianship of Constans, Constantine II marched into Italy against his brother. Using his new weapon the Arquebus and the cannon he marches into Italy where Constantine II and Constans faced off at Aquileia, where Constantine II won a resounding victory and Constans died in battle. Constantine becomes undisputed Emperor of the west and is vastly supported.

341-343 A.D.- Constantine II campaigns against the Franks who are defeated and forced back across the Rhine. Constantine II mandates that every Rhine fortification be equipped with cannon and in some cases the new Arquebus. He also campaigns against the Britons, Scots, and Picts in Britain with success and has outposts in Hadrian’s Wall fortified with cannon. In 343 Constantine II builds a column in Rome that depicts his victory against his brother as well as his campaigns against barbarians (including his 332 victory against the Goths) as well as the cannon and the Arquebus. During this time Constantius II and the eastern Empire also adopt the Arquebus and use it against the Sassanids.

344 A.D.- The Romans are victorious over the Persians when they attempt to capture the fortress of Singara. The Persians do however capture a Roman cannon and a few Arquebus which they begin to try to copy it.

351 A.D.-Magnentius, a Roman general, becomes an usurper for the throne after the army becomes dissatisfied with Constantine II. Constantine II is assassinated not long after Magnentius begins to gather his forces.

352 A.D.-Magnentius marches eastward against Constantius II after the eastern emperor refuses to recognize him because Constantine II was his brother. The forces of the usurper and Constantius clashed at the battle of Mursa Major near the Danube river. Both sides lose many casualties and it is a very bloody battle, but Magnentius’ forces triumph. Constantius II was praying at a local Christian shrine during the battle, and he and the remnants of the army flee eastward. Most of the armies of Constantius II in Pannonia and the Balkans pledge their allegiance to the Magnentius, meanwhile Constantius II gathers the remnants of his forces in Thrace.

354 A.D.-After successfully campaigning in the east against Constantius, Magnentius corners Constantius in Adrianople in Thrace where he made his last stand. The siege is long and bloody but Magnentius triumphs again. Magnentius proclaims himself emperor of the west and Magnus Decentius, a colleague of his, emperor of the east.

355 A.D.-Magnentius appoints Gallus, a relative of Constantius II whose family had been massacred by the former eastern emperor, as his caesar in the west while Decentius appoints Julian, brother of Gallus, as his caesar in the east.

356-360 A.D.-As emperor Magnentius makes many efforts to repair paganism that had been suppressed under the Constantinian dynasty. Word spread among the empire about Constantius' humiliating defeat at the hand of Magnentius when instead of fighting he was praying at a shrine. He becomes labeled as a coward and soon Christianity itself becomes associated with cowardliness. A resurgence of paganism begins among former Christians and the nonreligious and the imperial cult becomes revived.

360-369 A.D.-In Illyricum an obscure alchemist experimenting with gunpowder and tubes incidentally invents a primitive version of the rocket, it becomes a form of entertainment for locals and becomes a popular attraction in local amphitheaters, eventually spreading to Rome itself. Local Roman soldiers see its potential as a weapon and it is employed against barbarian raiders with mixed results as a shock weapon. When the Allemanni attack the frontiers in 368, Magnentius himself, although aging, campaigns against them using the new shock weapon in limited amounts. The Romans win tremendously experiencing only a few losses and the king of the Allemanni, Macrian, sues for peace in 369.

362-366 A.D.-The battle between paganism and Christianity intensifies as there are flat out riots between different groups in the streets, with churches and temples being damaged heavily.

367 A.D.-Magnentius orders a purge of Christianity within the empire because he believes it is causing chaos and disorder and is contrary to the empire. Chaos spreads across the empire as all known Christians are torn out of their homes and slaughtered in the streets, while all churches are looted and destroyed. The status of Christianity returns to pre-Constantine times as an illegal religion contrary to the old paganism. The remaining Christians are forced into the underground, heavily weakened in numbers by the purge and increase of paganism. Decentius follows in the suppression of Christianity but is not as ruthless about it.

368-369 A.D.-The chaos settles in the east and west with paganism the dominant religion. The army had also been purged of Christianity but the numbers lost were not huge because many Christians had changed to paganism following the lost of Constantius.

370-375 A.D.-The Huns appear north of the Black Sea and begin attacking and subjugating the Goths and Alans. The effects are noticed by the Romans but it is not much of a problem to them yet.

375 A.D.-The emperor Mangnentius dies of heart failure while at his headquarters in Trier. Gallus is proclaimed emperor of the west although this is disputed by the wife of Magnentius who proclaims their son Flavius as the rightful successor.

To be continued.