Let Me Tell You about My Be-eeeesssst Friend! A Byzantine-Sasanian Re-approachment - 602 AD

Hello, all.

I've been posting for over a decade now with probably a dozen major TL's. Most of these tend to start in the 17th and 18th centuries as those are both my periods of interest and "expertise". I have a business degree, not history so this is just a hobby of mine.

Thus far, the earliest TL I ever made was one which started in Tudor England.

For this TL, I've decided to branch out and try a new era of interest. Here are some necessary historical facts leading up to this timeline for those unfamiliar with the era.

1. In the early 7th century, Christianity was starting to fragment. Already the Nestorians had broken off after the Council of Ephesus as had what would become the Syriac Church after the Council of Chalcedon. These had been deemed heretical by the Pope and Byzantine Emperor. Thus, naturally, they were quietly supported by the major rival to the Byzantine Empire at the time, the Sasanian (Persian) Empire.

2. The Byzantine Empire (and the Roman Empire which preceded it) had lost most of the western reaches of the old Roman Empire including half of Italy itself. Constant conflict with the Lombards of Italy (with their Germanic alliese) as well as the Azars and Slavs of the Balkans left the Empire almost constantly broke due to the costs of war and tribute to the barbarian tribes in hopes of keeping the peace.

3. The Byzantine was also rivalled in the Near East by the Zoroastrian Sasanian Empire of centered in Persia.

4. The Zoroastrian Church was largely a Persian-centric religion and had, in the opinion of many contemporaries and later historians to have become decadent and corrupt.

5. The Byzantines had an Arab client state called the Ghassanid Kingdom of southern Syria (despite being heretical Miaphysite sect which became Syriac) while the Lakhmid Kingdom of southern Iraq (Nestorian like the largest Christian denomination of the Sasanian Empire) was a client of Sasanian Persia.

See a map for Europe, the Near East and North Africa in 565 AD below courtesy of our friends at wikipedia:

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6. The Byzantine and Sasanian Empires had fought a number of wars over the decades and centuries. These would not only destroy relations with each other but with their Arab Christian/Native Religion allies.

7. Both the Byzantine and Sasanian Empires would see numerous political and military coups. In 590, powerful nobles over through the Sasanian King and replaced with his son, Khosrau II. By 591, another General overthrew Khosrau II.

8. In 591, Khosrau II would flee to an unexpected destination: the court of Maurice. The two agreed to ally and then end the war between Persia and the Byzantine. This was accomplished later that year and Khosrau II was put back upon the Sasanian throne. Against many contemporary expectations, Khosrau II actually followed through on his promises to return the Sasanian portion of Armenia to the Byzantine Empire.

9. While Khosrau II would be pressed to adopt Christianity (the "official" form beholden to Rome), he would decline to do so. However, he did allow the Nestorian and Miaphysite's great freedom and even raised several of these Christians to high office. Khosrau II would spend the next decade concentrating on internal issues.

10. Maurice, freed from war with Persia, would concentrate his limited resources upon regaining control of the northern Balkans. After a crushing victory over the Avars and Slavs in Wallachia, he regained control to the Danube. Plans were made to colonize the region with Armenian settlers. With the victory, the Byzantine no longer had to pay 80,000 gold solidis per year in tribute to the Avars. However, the Byzantine Empire remained functionally bankrupt and was forced to make austerity cuts to reduce costs. This included a 25% reduction in soldier's salaries, making him very unpopular despite extending the Empire's borders to its greatest extent. Maurice also unwisely refused to pay a minor ransom in 599 or 600 AD in order to retrieve 12,000 captured Byzantine soldiers from the Avars.


It is at this point that my TL begins. Hope you enjoy it.
 
Another one yes even though I would not call the sassanids very tolerant previous to the 7th century as before but especially after khowsrow I they really distrusted the chirstians due to his son attempted cue
The Romans taking laizica the Armenian back and forth etc
But any way it's a good start .
 
Nice. It confuses me too, that the two empires didn't realize the expedience of leaving each other alone and focusing resources on easier fights. The Mediterranean for the Romans, Arabia for Persia.
 
Chapter 1: Uprising
602 AD

Ctesiphon, Capital of the Sasanian Empire

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Image of King Khosrow II:


King/Shah Khosrow II of the Sasanian Empire (also called the Empire of Iranians) was getting damned tired of his Capital. Ctesiphon was perfectly pleasant in the summer but the endless problems associated with the throne plagued him from day to night.

1. The Onoq Khaganate (the Ten Arrows), comprised of Turkic peoples to the north, had done some raiding though reports from wherever the hell they called their capital these days held that it was only local chieftains, not another full-fledged war the Empire could hardly afford. The Turkics were pastoral people, settling north of the Empire from lands far to the east, near China. The Nestorians had been begging the King to allow them to proselytize the barbarians. By this point, the King was ready to let them if this could keep the tribemen off his back for a while.

2. Speaking of the Nestorians, the damned Christian sect which had received a protected status in the Zoroastrian-dominated Empire (though less dominant than before), were stirring up trouble. In theory, minority religions should just keep their mouths shut and be grateful to be allowed to exist. However, the Nestorians, led by his own finance minister Yazdin, wanted Khosrow to ban the Miaphysite Sect which was favored by his favorite wife, Shirin (and Gabriel, the Royal Physician). While nominally favoring the Miaphysites (one had to in order to keep his wife happy), the King didn't see a difference between the two.

In fact, he failed to see the difference between the two and the "Great Church" of the Byzantine Empire and other parts of the west. Apparently, there was some sort of divide over the "nature of Christ", whatever that meant. One thought that the man was fully divine, his mortal body borrowed or some sort of illusion. Another thought he was both a divide being AND a mortal man. Others thought the latter but somehow combined into one into one indivisible...but somehow seperate....form???

Honestly, the King couldn't give a damn. While persecution of the religion had been common for centuries by the Zoroastrian leaders of the Empire, recent decades had seen more moderation for the assorted sects....except of course for the "Great Church". Absolutely NO Sassanid King would allow a religion beholden to the Pope of the West and the Byzantine Emperor. These smaller sects had been persecuted in the Byzantine Empire and found toleration of a sort in the Sasanian Empire.

3. The nominal "allies" of the Empire, the Lakhmid peoples of the south, were apparently in the process of being Christianized. Normally, the King would not care but even the King, Al-Nu'man, professed Nestorian Christianity. Al-Nu'man had fallen out with his ally's ministers in recent years with some of Khosrow's ministers. Some of Khosrow's advisors were hinting that perhaps Al-Nu'man should be eliminated and the southern Kingdom be annexed.

4. The Zoroastrian priesthood was similarly complaining, which is about all they did other than live ostentatiously off of the wealth of the official church. More than once, the King wondered just how long the religion would dominate the Empire. In just a few centuries, Christianity had come to dominate half the world yet Zoroastrianism remained locked in Persia, the religion apparently uninterested in proselytizing foreigners. This seemed a poor strategy for the decadent priesthood. But Khosrow could only manage the situation as best he could.

5. More than one coup had been attempted by various generals over the years. There always seemed to be a plot around the corner.


It was in this state of mind that the initial rumors coming from the west arrived. Soldiers of Byzantium were rebelling against the Emperor. Well, that was common and initially Khosrow ignored it. He and Maurice had an understanding from long ago. Both would respect the current boundaries and leave the other to resolve internal disputes in peace.

Why, without the intervention of Emperor Maurice, Khosrow would never have regained his throne a decade past. The King and the Emperor had spent much time together in Constantinople as the Byzantine forces had built up to march up the Sasanian Empire and remove the usurper from the throne. Naturally, Maurice attempted to convert the then young Khosrow but to no avail. Still, the Emperor "adopted" Khosrow. Unlike other Byzantine Emperors or Roman Emperors before then, this was symbolic and Khosrow was not being made heir to the Byzantine throne.

But the Emperor was as good as his word and helped Khosrow crush the usurper. Khosrow, good to his own word, handed over the disputed provinces in Armenia (against some of his own ministers' advice and common expectation). In hindsight, this was a good thing as the Armenians were almost entirely Christian and devoted to the Church of Rome. Being controlled by the Sasanian Empire would lead to endless rebellion and ensure poor relations with the Byzantine Empire, which would no doubt invade again at the first opportunity.

Granted, the peace of the past decade allowed the Byzantines to regain much of the Balkans but the Christian Empire was entirely bankrupt and couldn't even pay its own soldiers. There seemed to be no threat in the short or medium term. If the Court rejoiced at news of another rebellion against the Byzantine Emperor, something sure to destabilize the King's neighbor for a few more years....so much the better.

Then news arrived that some in Ctesiphon applauded...but Khosrow mourned. Maurice had been murdered by his General, Phocus, whom also murdered the Emperor's sons and forced the Empress and daughters into a convent. Within days of assuming control, Phocus was publicly speaking of invading the Sasanian Empire. This was utterly unacceptable.

Though it would cost dearly, the King knew he must prepare for war. It was during these preparations that the King received two unexpected visitors: the prince Theodosius and Constantine Lardys, the Prefect of the Byzantine East.

The King recalled both well from his time in Byzantium though Theodosius had only been a young boy at the time. With a start, the King realized he was this age when he was reduced to begging at the court of Maurice.

Though some courtiers recommended executing the visitors or throwing them into a prison, the King ignored them. The reports of Phocus repeatedly threatening to invade the Sasanian Empire were getting irritating and, as his army was building up, the King made an offer to the young Prince: Khosrow II would put the boy back upon the Byzantine throne on a couple of conditions.

1. Any further attempts to proselytize the "Great Church" eastwards would stop...and that included to the north and south.

2. Once back upon the throne, the new Emperor would ensure that the Ghassanid Kingdom would halt its raids into the Lakhmid lands AND that the Byzantine Empire's attempts to convert the Ghassanids back from their own rite to the "Great Church" would end as well.

If there was one thing that the King feared, it was the idea of the Great Church gaining Hegemony to the north and south of the Kingdom and not just the west.

In truth, the King was uncertain if Theodosius would or even could follow through on such an agreement should he gain the throne from Phocus but, as the Sasanians were already going to be fighting this Phocus character, the King may as well have a legitimate heir to the Byzantine throne on his side. Indeed, Lardys, an experienced man with wide connections in the Byzantine Empire, was instrumental in pointing out the weaknesses of Phocus' character and how it would undermine his position in Byzantium.

By 603, the Sasanian force was already marching east with attachments of Lakhmid, Ghassanids (surprisingly these worked together well) and even some Turkic tribesmen hired from the Onoq Khaganate to the north. Barely into Byzantine territory with "Emperor" Theodosius at the fore, thousands of Byzantines were rallying to his side. Apparently, to consolidate his power, Phocus had removed many long-standing and powerful families from office and replaced them with his own relatives and lackeys. Even those supportive of the overthrow of Maurice were getting anxious about this usurping brute.

After a few sharp battles, Phocus would be defeated in Anatolia and see his army alternately collapse or change sides, throwing open the gates to Theodosius. The new Emperor, now only nineteen, did not even have to execute his father's killer as Phocus had been killed by his own troops after he, like Maurice, proved incapable of paying them.

Against expectation, King Khosrow II did not take advantage of the situation. Once he saw that Theodosius was safe on the throne, he turned his Sasanian, Turkic and Lakhmid allies around and marched home, much to the relief of the new Emperor and the people of Byzantium whom doubted that the city could protect itself from the long-standing enemy.

The King only had one additional request from his "brother", Emperor Theodosius. Having been freed from their convent, the Emperor's mother and three sisters arrived back in Byzantium. Spying the young women, the pretty Anastasia caught his eye and Khosrow inquired if she may return with him as one of his wives. Lacking any real capacity to refuse, and feeling to do so would be dishonorable, the Emperor granted his sister's hand in marriage to the Sasanian King.

Seeing the back of his "ally", Theodosius breathed sigh of relief and turned to consolidating his own power. Among the first things to do was finding himself a wife. His father's male line had been all but wiped out and Theodosius was but one illness or assassin's stab away from ending his line completely. While many of the Byzantine old families would be willing to provide a wife, the new Emperor opted for a political marriage to the Arab daughter of the Ghassamid King. Relations between the Byzantine Empire and the Ghassamid Kingdom had been poor in recent years due to the religious chasm between Great Church and the Miaphysite faith practiced in the Ghassamid Kingdom. Given the Ghassamid role in protecting the Empire's southern border from Arab raiders, this seemed a reasonable agreement though many Byzantines were horrified at the marriage of their Emperor to a "barbarian".

In the end, the Emperor didn't care. He had to learn how to rule, the Empire remained bankrupt and no doubt the Avars, Slavs and Lombards would soon attempt to take advantage of the situation (only internal tribal disputes prevented them from doing so in the past two years).

The nation needed stability and this helped provide it. That was good enough for Emperor Theodosius.
 
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Another one yes even though I would not call the sassanids very tolerant previous to the 7th century as before but especially after khowsrow I they really distrusted the chirstians due to his son attempted cue
The Romans taking laizica the Armenian back and forth etc
But any way it's a good start .
I think by the time of Khosrow II, this was less of a problem.

What I can't find is any form of estimate of how many Christians there were in the Empire. 5%, 20%? No idea.
 
I think by the time of Khosrow II, this was less of a problem.

What I can't find is any form of estimate of how many Christians there were in the Empire. 5%, 20%? No idea.
armenia caucasian iberia and caucasian iberia where predominantly chirstians and resisted forced conversion on multiple occasions and the nestorians where growing in the past century but compared to the 3 above they where not the majority or heck even a sizable minority in mesopotamia
 
Great! My only worthy gripe is that Ctesiphon is a good winter capital, but not pleasant in summer. The shahanshahs' summer courts were almost always on the Iranian plateau, not the baking hot Mesopotamian plain.
 
So Heraclius didn’t decide he would be best served usurping the empire. Good hopefully with Theodosius surviving and no 30 year long war with Persia, the Romans will be well suited to turn the Muslim Horde back.
 
Definitely will watch this. With a secure frontier, perhaps the Romans will be able to consolidate their Western holdings enough that they will be able to pay for their own defense, and more importantly provide manpower for their own garrisons.

Not to mention, Spain is potentially a very valuable reconquest. Again with a relatively stable eastern frontier, perhaps the Romans will see fit to topple the Visigoths' house of cards before too terribly long.

Small quibbles though: The Romans never really had a prince as we would see it, given that de jure the Empire was not a hereditary title, as technically speaking they were still a republic, just with all the power and authority being invested in the Emperor. Sure de facto it was often hereditary, which was achieved by the Emperor naming his heir apparent co-emperor often at an absurdly young age, but if he was not a well liked candidate or his father was not popular himself the army, bureaucrats and even the people of Constantinople themselves would not hesitate to throw them out.

Essentially, heredity was more a bonus to one's informal political campaign than a guarantee of succession.

Ultimately that doesn't break anything in the story really, as it can be dismissed as his position being interpreted that way by literally everyone else, and certainly he had more legitimacy than a usurper who couldn't pay the troops that had supported him with the support of the Prefect. Its just that if I didn't call these things out I'd never get a chance to talk about them with anyone except the few of my friends that are as big history nerds as I am, and if I say "Roman" one more time around them they might just kill me!

Anyways, keep it up! I'd like to see where this goes.
 
Neat; I'm glad you're trying a different era, it's a lot of fun to branch out like that. You've done some really cool timelines, I'm anxious to see how this develops.
 
Definitely will watch this. With a secure frontier, perhaps the Romans will be able to consolidate their Western holdings enough that they will be able to pay for their own defense, and more importantly provide manpower for their own garrisons.

Not to mention, Spain is potentially a very valuable reconquest. Again with a relatively stable eastern frontier, perhaps the Romans will see fit to topple the Visigoths' house of cards before too terribly long.

Small quibbles though: The Romans never really had a prince as we would see it, given that de jure the Empire was not a hereditary title, as technically speaking they were still a republic, just with all the power and authority being invested in the Emperor. Sure de facto it was often hereditary, which was achieved by the Emperor naming his heir apparent co-emperor often at an absurdly young age, but if he was not a well liked candidate or his father was not popular himself the army, bureaucrats and even the people of Constantinople themselves would not hesitate to throw them out.

Essentially, heredity was more a bonus to one's informal political campaign than a guarantee of succession.

Ultimately that doesn't break anything in the story really, as it can be dismissed as his position being interpreted that way by literally everyone else, and certainly he had more legitimacy than a usurper who couldn't pay the troops that had supported him with the support of the Prefect. Its just that if I didn't call these things out I'd never get a chance to talk about them with anyone except the few of my friends that are as big history nerds as I am, and if I say "Roman" one more time around them they might just kill me!

Anyways, keep it up! I'd like to see where this goes.
Thanks for the comments.

If I used the word "Prince", I probably used it incorrectly. I agree that, had Maurice died in his sleep, that the Senate probably would not have selected the then-eighteen year old as his successor.

However, with the inadequate Phocus having fouled things up, I'm not sure if the Byzantine Senate would be interested in just picking the next best general to be the new Emperor. A more pliable 19 year old might have been preferred by the people, especially given that he led an army to Byzantium. In this scenario, I think Theodosius' elevation to the status of Emperor would be a given, though how long he stays there would of course be another question with no close male relatives.


I agree Spain would be a valuable reconquest as I believe that was a good source of grain and iron (and probably other things). However, evicting the Lombards from half of Italy would probably take precedence. Either of these would be long in the future anyway as no doubt the bankrupt Byzantine Empire would remain broke for the foreseeable future even without a 30 year war with Persia.

My premise is that the somewhat tribal Lombards, Avars and Slavs (the latter two had suffered bad defeats only a few years prior to this point in my TL) may take some time to gather themselves for another raid into the Balkans, leaving that the priority of the Byzantines.

Also, I'll be going into the religious situation in Egypt, the Levant and their Ghassanid Kingdom allies (by this point the Copts had largely taken on heretical Miaphysite positions) and how that will affect the Byzantine Empire.

And don't think I've forgotten Heraclius the Elder and Younger. The former is the Exarch of Carthage.

Another point I'll be getting into is the situation with the Lombards in Italy and the power struggle between Pope and Emperor.

Thanks for reading.
 
However, with the inadequate Phocus having fouled things up, I'm not sure if the Byzantine Senate would be interested in just picking the next best general to be the new Emperor. A more pliable 19 year old might have been preferred by the people, especially given that he led an army to Byzantium. In this scenario, I think Theodosius' elevation to the status of Emperor would be a given, though how long he stays there would of course be another question with no close male relatives.
Oh of course. I wasn't challenging the plausibility of the situation as a whole. Particularly with an army at his back and the city gates open to him, the Senate largely becomes a rubber stamp of approval for what the soldiers have already decided. My understanding is that more than anything they were something of a old mans' club with no real authority beyond the symbolic. Hell, at times chariot racing teams held more power!

I agree Spain would be a valuable reconquest as I believe that was a good source of grain and iron (and probably other things). However, evicting the Lombards from half of Italy would probably take precedence. Either of these would be long in the future anyway as no doubt the bankrupt Byzantine Empire would remain broke for the foreseeable future even without a 30 year war with Persia.
Yeah those are definitely more immediate concerns. Italy in particular is much closer at hand and a great deal more symbolically important. Its situations like this that make me wonder if the Romans would have greatly benefited from fractional reserve banking or whether they would have abused it and caused an even greater collapse.
 
Chapter 2: Bitter Consequences
603 AD

Byzantium


"Emperor" Theodosius III was still getting used the idea of being emperor. Barely 20 Years old, he was the undisputed most powerful man in the Empire.....for whatever that was worth. The Empire was in tatters and utterly bankrupt. The army had been destroyed by a civil war and only the small remnant of loyalist soldiers (or just people whom didn't like Phocus) in Byzantium ensured that no other General would be overthrowing the youthful Emperor today.

Of course, that only stood until one of the senior officers of his "loyal" corps decided to try to overthrow him. Given that none of these soldiers had been paid in coin (only food, shelter, ample liquor and the use of some prostitutes borrowed from the local jails kept the soldiers under any semblance of control.

Theodosius knew that he needed to find at least SOME coin for the men...and perhaps more importantly something for them to do. Beyond the legitimate concern of a military coup, there was also the fact that the Senate hardly enjoyed having a defacto occupying army in the capital indefinitely. Phocus had been unpopular, incompetent and brutal. He'd alienated powerful men whom could have sustained his reign.

The young Emperor knew that he could not make the same mistakes. After removing virtually all of Phocus' supporters, Theodosius returned many of the old civic leaders to power. Many had been loyal to his father even when, in hindsight, Maurice had made poor decisions managing men. Unlike his father, Theodosius would at least attempt to court popularity.

In truth, Theodosius was not entirely unprepared. When he was six, Maurice made his eldest son "Co-Emperor". It was plainly a meaningless title merely intended to bring Theodosius into the public eye with the intent of eventually replacing Maurice when the latter died after a long reign. Even when he grew to the relative manhood of his late teens, Theodosius was given little authority by his father.

As the position of Emperor was not exactly hereditary, a two or three decade "apprenticeship" probably would have resulted in almost automatic ascension to the role. Indeed, Theodosius and his five murdered younger brothers were the first sons born to a reigning Emperor in nearly 200 years. After centuries of Emperor's "adopting" their preferred successors (often successful soldiers, of course), it seemed possible that the Empire would revert back into a hereditary succession.

Had the previous years been of peace, that may have helped Theodosius' cause. No one wanted a soldier in charge during peacetime. They were more useful when the Empire was under threat. Similarly, peace prevented the very development of popular soldiers (like Phocus had been with his men) whom might also find general support among the public and the Senate.

But God willed his life to be as it was and Theodosius dare not bleat to the heavens why he lost so many of his family members and been forced to take such responsibility years or decades before he was truly ready.

Ready or not, God would challenge the Byzantine Emperor. As he fully expected, the Slavs and Avars were already probing the now defenseless Danube. Years before, the barbarians had taken a terrible series of defeats from the Byzantine forces (perhaps the first good news in decades). If a proper response were not initiated soon, it was only a matter of time before the gains of the past were lost.

Unfortunately, the Empire was critically short of money. Taxation had fallen and fears of rebellion in Armenia and Egypt were whispered throughout the halls of Byzantium. The Lombards and their German allies were rumored to be plotting to sack Rome...again. It was painfully obvious that very little help could be dispatched from Byzantium.

Even before Phocus' military coup, the Empire had looooooooonnnnngggg been in dire financial straights. Even the decade of peace with Persia of the 590's had done little to improve this situation. A civil war certainly did not help.

Taxes had not been collected and whole regions of the Empire only sporadically contributed. Many cost far more to maintain a tenuous hold than they ever paid back to the Metropolis:

1. Armenians seemed to enjoy rebellion against whomever their master was that decade (Armenia was now split between Persia and Byzantium). Knowing he could not put down another rebellion, the young Emperor told his governor to avoid annoying the Armenians no matter what.
2. Both Syria and Egypt appeared intent on their heretical Miaphysite practices despite vigorous attempts to stamp them out and return the people to the "Great Church". As Emperor, it was incumbent upon Theodosius to bring these heretics to heel. In reality, he told his governors to halt anything which would incite the people further.
3. Heraclius (and his son also named Heraclius) were serving ably as the Exarch of Africa (Carthage) and the Emperor saw no particular reason to recall them despite the Elder being a skilled General. The occasional barbarian horde made it to Africa and Heraclius was more than capable of protecting the prosperous region.

Thinking of the Exarchate of Africa, Theodosius recalled it had been his father Maurice whom had formed the Exarchate of Africa as well as the Exarchate of Ravenna. Both were intended to empower local officials of remote (or non-contiguous) regions which could not be easily aided by the rest of the Empire. Yes, it meant delegating a great deal of power but, given the financial weakness and military brittleness of the Empire, it seemed a wise option.

Theodosius would consider over the next year empowering these Exarches even more. Particularly Ravenna, he considered. With the damned Lombards at Rome's throat, anything to strengthen the local Catholic hand against the miserable Arian (anti-trinitarian) heathens was acceptable.

Little did the Emperor know that events were already in motion in Italy which would alter the fate of the peninsula.

Milan, Capital of the Lombard Kingdom

Theodelinda, Queen of the Lombards, lay dying. A plague had ripped through northern Italy, one which even her friend Pope Gregory (the Great) had witnessed with unmitigated joy. The Lombard Kingdom seemed to be hit worse than the remnants of the domains still under Byzantine Catholic control.

Having given birth to a healthy son only a few months prior, the Frankish-born Catholic Queen was in poor shape. Her husband, Agilulf, retained the Arian ways and the Queen quietly sought to turn the Lombards to the true faith. Already, the King had allowed her to baptize their three-year old daughter and newborn son as a Catholic. Letters exchanged with the Pope were filled with hope that the Lombards may be converted in her lifetime.

But that was not to be. Theodelinda would expire in 603. The grief-stricken Agilulf would hear of the Pope's ill-considered words stating the plague was god's wrath on the Arian Lombards. Then and there, Agilulf vowed never to allow his people to enter the Catholic church. Having tolerated the Catholics for his reign (even allowing his late wife to actively support the "Great Church"), Agilulf had quite enough of the Pope, of the Byzantine Empire....of damned near everything.

The Lombard Kingdom was not, in fact, only Lombards. A diverse group of Germanic tribes from Saxons to Bavarians and a dozen others had joined the Germanic Lombards in their trek to Italy. There they would mix with the Ostrogoths and others to control most of the peninsula by 603.

Immediately, the King would summon his allies, even those in Bavaria and the land of the Franks (whom had fought the Lombards in the past). Promises were made of land for the migrating Germanics if they fought well and loyally.

By 604, Pope Gregory would gaze on with horror as a Germanic Army marched first upon Ravenna....then Rome.
 
Great update. I feel pedantic about my only gripe...you often use "whom" when in fact "who" is correct. There are places for "whom", but rarely in your text.
 
Chapter 3: Visigoth Kingdom
603

Visigoth Kingdom (Hispania)

King Liuvigild of the Visigoths had reigned for decades. Now in his eighties, the King had spent decades attempting to reconcile his Arian Gothic subjects with the native Chalcedonian Catholics. However, nothing had ever managed to close this breach.

Even his own sons had adopted the Catholic religion...and been executed when they rebelled against their father.

Now aged, the King despaired what would occur when he died. The Visigoth aristocracy, which was slowly becoming indistinguishable from the natives, probably would be willing to convert to Catholicism if that maintained their tenuous position over the Iberians. When the King died in 603, he chose his nephew to replace him. Granted, this did not mean automatic succession but the powerful King's word meant a lot.

Unfortunately, the nephew never got the chance to reign as he was assassinated by a Catholic....a Catholic Visigoth. Within weeks, the whole of the Visigoth Empire was facing civil war. Dozens of indigenous peoples in the sprawling Empire, for religious or political reasons, rose up against both Visigoth factions (Catholic and Arian). A dozen pretenders to the throne would rise up, splintering the Visigoth nobility, leaving the Empire incapable of putting down the rebellion.

By 604, the Empire built by King Liuvigild had collapsed and tens of thousands of Visigoths had been slaughtered by the vengeful Catholic natives. 200,000 Visigoths were forced to flee the Iberian peninsula and seek refuge in Gaul. However, the Franks and Burgundians, both having largely moved away from Arianism would refuse sancutary. By 606, the Visigoths travelled to further east into the Kingdom of the Lombards where they were welcomed by the still-Arian Lombards, Saxon, Ostragoths and others. Joining this migration were the last of the Vandals whom had, years before, taken sanctuary in Iberia. Other professors of the Arian faith, including some Franks, Burgundians and Bavarians, would similarly travel onto the Italian Peninsula where they received a warm reception by the King of the Lombards, Agilulf, whom desired additional warriors to wipe the Pope and the remnants of Byzantine power from Italy.

604

Ravenna

The Exarchate of Ravenna had been formed out of several local Duchies in hopes of unifying the remaining Italian provinces under Byzantine control against the Lombard invaders. This was only partially effective. The northernmost remaining city under Byzantine control, the effective frontline against the barbarians of the north, would be the well-defended city of Ravenna under the Exarch Kallinikos.

Kallinikos has been Exarch for many years to some good effect. He maintained a longtime truce with the Lombards, giving the Italians a seldom-found peace. For reasons no one quite understood, in 601, Kallinikos had kidnapped Agilulf's daughter and her husband while travelling from Parma. Shortly, Agilulf would battle to the gates of Ravenna, defeating the Byzantines.

When Agilulf's wife died in 603, the Lombard King renewed his assault on Ravenna, seizing the countryside around the seaside town. Unlike before, little help would be forthcoming from Byzantium as Emperor Theodosius remained bankrupt and the Byzantine military utterly shattered. What few troops were available were already dispatched to the Danube in 604 when pleas for help reached the Imperial capital.

Within a year, Liguria, Annonaria and the remnant of Emilia under Byzantine control fell with the exception of the well-protected city of Ravenna, whose natural defenses and strong walls left it the last real bastion of power in northern Italy for the Empire. Several towns attempted to hold out. When they fell, Agilulf offered no mercy and sacked them, settling the towns with Lombards and other "Barbarian" migrants from Germany, Gaul and Iberia.

Pope Gregory would look on in horror as half the Exarchate of Ravenna fell. It was obvious that Rome could only be the next target.

It was at this point, when the barbarians were at the gates of Rome that the aged Pope expired, ironically of the same plague which had claimed the Lombard Queen. One vicious and decisive battle outside of Rome convinced the defenders that the city was sure to fall. Over the course of the next few months, as the siege wore on, the city fathers and the terrified Papal officials opted to flee via the sea with whatever they could carry, including church records, precious artifacts and pieces of art.

Naturally, this shattered the morale of the Romans and, seeing the Byzantine soldiers and Catholic clergy escaping, the locals opted to seek a negotiated settlement with the King of the Lombards. By this point, seeing his own army withering from the plague, Agilulf was willing to guarantee personal property and lives. He even offered to allow the Romans to maintain their Catholic faith. For the most part, he'd intended to be magnanimous. However, once the gates opened, there was an orgy of looting by the Lombard Army. Within a few years, the King also closed down the Catholic convents and monasteries. By 608, when he was wiping out the last of Byzantium's Italian domains in the south and over half a million "barbarian" Visigoths, Vandals, Burgundians, Bavarians and Franks arrived in Italy by invitation of the King of the Lombards, Agilulf would decide to put an end to the right to worship of the Catholics and made Arianism the official religion of the Italian Peninsula.
 
Goood just some things how is Liuvigild alive in 603? if the pod is 600s AD and he died in 586 like one or 2 years of longer life makes sense but 17? Any way the rest is very good
 
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