From the Ashes of the EmpireWe all know the reasons why the Old Empire collapsed:
From the lofty ambition of Resurgence after the third republic became the Second Imperium, by the time of the Modernian calendar reformations and the presumption of Year Null, more countries and people called themselves Imperial than at any other time in history. That growth came at a price felt by year 13 of the early Modern calendar - for though the icy reaches of the Northlands, the Rusic Wilderness, the rich tapestry of the Near and Middle Moselinds, and the tropical and desert interior of the Aefaric Continent now shared a common border with the Old Empire, the increases in taxation, profit from mining and industry could not prop up the increased bureaucracy required to funnel all of that back to the Videan Peninsula.
It led to increased taxes and decreased profitability back home, a fact that drove corruption - almost an Imperial tradition - to the extreme. Coupled with local level politicking creating pressure in the markets, and a long drought that saw food become scarce and incredibly expensive in the homeland, the Imperium was driven to enact its own downfall, cutting its budgets and cutting as many corners as it could, shifting power from bureacracy and combining it with the most stalwart of its agencies - the Legions and Auxiliaries.
Monetary constraints lowered, and the end of the drought of 57-8, the Old Empire had trouble in the form of increased crime and corruption. With local Praetorians either powerless or complicit, it was a natural progression for the Imperium to use the Legions as law enforcement, seeing them reign in the corruption to acceptable levels within a few short years, but leaving the Legions themselves weak across the borders.
It was only a matter of time before conquered peoples began flouting their overlords, a few retractions of territory increasing the sense of the Imperium's weakness; then came the loss of the Middle Moselinds in 95, a move which also emboldened the early Cistinian church to begin defiance in Ghomal.
By 100, the decline had well and truly begun, with territory steadily lost in Aefarica and the Near Moselinds. In 135, the southern city-states began their secessions from the Imperium, while weakness in the Imperial line was also destabilising the central bureaucracy; in the Ruse, parts of the Auxiliary had simply abandoned their posts, leaving the Empire during the night. It was all downhill from there.
Some say that these affairs have been studied to their very death, and while we don't wholeheartedly agree, it is not necessary for us to invoke the full aspect of the decline. But it is at the agreed End-Point (the summer solstice of 199), after which the Old Empire was no more, that the story of Talbadas truly begins.
While the administration began to crumble in the furthest corners of Old Empire, bureaucratic power defaulted to the Legions. For a few short years, the Legions and their Auxiliaries kept enough peace and maintained enough taxation to support the regional government, but the sense of pointlessness set in. Once news of the Rusic desertions and the Soithic secession began to filter through the Empire, that sense began the rot.
From 140, Auxiliary and even Legion desertions were a daily occurrence, first a few departing in the night, then larger walkouts, and the famous Raising of Fingers in the Far Podrics, when six whole centuries paraded before the commander, stripping off their red cloaks with the left hand and saluting him with the middle fingers of their right, before marching out never to return.
While taxation dwindled, for a moment the Legions had a glut of funds that was urgently used to shore up loyalty. Some could not be swayed by the bribery, some called it an affront, but many remaining had their faith in the Old Empire renewed, their hopes of citizenship restored.
The brief shining light was soon darkened. Gholia, the central province of Ghomal, revolted in 143, cutting off the north-western Legions from the homeland. South Podria revolted in 144, followed by the Aegic Islands throwing off the Imperial yoke. Then in 146 came the informal end of the Empire, with Gaius Augustius Ermanius walking from the throne, declaring to the senate that the Empire was dead and a Republic hopeless.
He was hurriedly replaced by Marcus Darius, who in 147, would be thrown to an angry mob for draining the Videan treasuries to keep the Legions intact. The moment his mangled corpse was recovered, Ermanius' words rang true. The senate gave order to disband the Legions, with all Videans ordered to return to the homeland.
The Legion survived another two years while the orders flowed down the highways. Soldiers were stood down, free to return to their homelands; commanders stranded in what would soon become enemy territory with little hope for survival. Some deserted at once, either trying to make their way home or making a new home among the citizens they served. The news shook the citizenry as well, as there many who were citizens by marriage and oath.
Legionnaires, Auxiliaries and Citizens alike looked at the situation with disdain, their promised dream ripped away from them. Abandoned in a realm of changing opinions, their decision was simple - to take their reward anyway. So began the migrations.
History lists the First Migrations beginning in 160 - though extrapolation can put it as beginning in 151 -, the period by and large ended in 170, seeing members from the Far Podrics and the Ruse make their way towards the Videan. The word of it led to trickles from other corners of the Empire, spurring the Near Podric, Gemainic and Far Gholic citizenry to undertake the Second Migrations of 173-177.
The Last Migrations occurred in 179-181, seeing members from Sapia and Near Gholic make the big move. All that remained of the Old Empire after these people moved was the infrastructure, historical documents, and the place names, though there were a number of outposts remaining in 185. From then until 199, only a trickle of migrants headed for the Videan Peninsula.
The End Point had come, and the Interim began.
© Copyright 2013 Trent Michael Shannon - All Rights Reserved