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The Western Roman Empire (A.D. 2017)
The Rhine Frontier
The Western Prefectures, though entirely lost by our rulers prior to the reign of Justinian, are today still largely intact and relatively secured.
The Latin-speaking land of the Suitzers, friendly to Rome and governed by a council that is chaired by a president, protects both the Upper Rhine frontier and the Alpine passes. These duties are so important that military service is mandatory in Suitser-Land. And the wealthiest members of the empire ensure Suitser loyalty with large deposits in their vast treasuries. A contingent of Suitzer soldiers serve in Rome as the bodyguard for the Pontifex Maximus. The Suitsers' formidability has allowed their culture to thrive and their people to live well.
Defense of the middle course of the Rhine is shared between the Frankish barbarians in the south and the Roman Citizens of Germania Secunda in the north. The Franks today control all of what was once Gaul and the Seven Provinces (including Aquitaine), just as they did in my time. Today, however, they speak Latin (poorly) and are loyal federates within the empire. Unlike the Suitsers, the Franks and the Germans are no longer known for their militaristic societies and banking largesse. Nevertheless, theirs are two of the three most-powerful domains in the western empire. Historically, both regions have produced Roman emperors in the centuries after Justinian. And, despite their shared Teutonic heritage, they both hate one another. The previously-mentioned province of Germany II (Secunda), or Lower Germany, exists west of the Rhine. Many of its citizens speak Latin and are similar to the Franks. Yet they are administratively linked to the larger German province beyond the Rhine that stretches even beyond the limits of earlier Roman conquests at the Elbe. These nominally-Roman citizens have retained their German language. They are more-closely linked in culture and religion to their barbarian neighbors than they are to Rome. Nevertheless, they are the guardians of the trans-Rhine frontier and the first line of defense, should the Poles or other Slavic tribes choose to invade the empire.
The Lower Rhine is in the hands of barbarians in a kingdom called the “Northern Lands”. The Northern-Land Germans have made use of civil engineering to control the Rhine delta. Though once great fighters and merchants, they are now known primarily for opiates and sodomy. This decadence and their alliance with Rome must be due to their being boxed in by the Romano-German province to the east and by the Roman Empire both west and south.
West of the North Lands is Belgica Province. Latin speaking, the Roman citizens of Belgium are mostly of German and Frankish stock. However, there is a large community of local Gauls whom the Germans erroneously refer to as “foreigners” in their native tongue. Oddly, while the upper Roman provinces are governed by presidents, Belgium’s governor today is a hereditary monarch of German ancestry. Belgium province acts as a frontier against the Northern barbarians holding the lower Rhine.
The Danube Frontier
The Danube Frontier in the Western Empire is far-less secure than the Rhine, in my opinion. Pannonia, for example, is entirely gone and replaced with an odd collection of provinces and barbarian tribes that are both hostile and friendly. The river's source and its upper portion are within the Roman Province of Germania Prima (previously the name of a Rhine province). This Germany I, or Upper Germany, is home to a large garrison of American soldiers who must hold doubts about these Romans' loyalties to the empire. The middle Danube frontier is to this day still held by the Ostrogoths after 1,500 years. Though no longer a bellicose people, the Ostrogoths, like their Suitser neighbors, have abstained from entering into any direct military alliances with the empire. They control lands on both sides of the Danube and they are the first line of defense against the barbarous Czechs to their north. As it was in my day, the Roman Empire today relies on allies and mercenaries to guard the fragile Danube frontier against the encroaching hordes. The Czechs have not shown signs of unrest though, because the province of Trans-Riparian Germany runs against their western countryside.
The Northern Seas
I will speak now on the Diocese of Britannia, now called “Britannia Superior”. While the freedom-loving Germanics tend toward independence by retaining their language; or following an independent church or, in the case of the Franks, refusing to incorporate into the empire at all, the Angles and Saxons are the most-independent peoples of the Germanics. Strictly speaking, Britain is not much of a Roman diocese. The Britons do not speak Latin. They follow their own Anglican Church. They have their own invented legal system. Though militarily a part of the empire, they are economically independent with their own trade laws and coinage. Britannia’s governor is a Germanic monarch that controls the territory north of the Antonine Wall, known as the Scot Land. the monarch also governs one-quarter of Hibernia (now called Eire-Land). Besides Angles, Saxons and Scots, there is a large rural community in the west made of up native Britons (also referred to as "foreigners" by the insufferable Germanics). In the former Domain of Soissons, now part of Frankish country, there resides still yet another community of Britons. Among all the provinces or dioceses that ever produced emperors, Britain’s monarch came the closest to controlling the entire world at one time or another. While the Germania provinces and the Franks regularly compete to control the empire (with Italy only as a junior partner), Britannia remains a quiet and reluctant third competitor of equal or better strength to the Germans and Franks. Britain’s duty is to keep the barbarian fleets of the north from reaching the continent. These include the Scots and Eire peoples on its own islands. To the east of Britain and north of Trans-Rhine Germania are two settlements that must have budded off from greater Germany and formed their own kingdoms. The first is called the Dane March and the second across the northern straight is called the North Way kingdom. These two allies serve as a barrier against the Suede barbarian hordes coming from the frozen country.
The Roman frontier provinces are almost entirely German in one way or another in language and religion. The two Rhine provinces mentioned are not part of any Roman diocese at all, but are instead semi-independent. They work closely with the Franks to the west and high Germans east of the Rhine. And though Upper Germany province (on the Danube) still falls within the traditional Italian prefecture, its actual governance is shared with Lower Germany; and both provinces are administratively under the German president living beyond the frontier. To add to this confusion, I'll add religion. The German peoples, both Roman and barbarian, have broken from the Roman Church. Most Germanics today follow not Arianism (as they had in my time), but they follow an ethno-centric form of Nicene Christianity made only for Germans. Named for its heretical founder, Martinus Luther, the Lutherians pride themselves on their protestation against the imperial establishment church. The citizens and barbarians near the frontier tend to be light skinned and very tall. But as we get closer to the sea at the south, we find a different sort of Roman governance, religion and citizenry.
The Southern Seas
Like that of Britain, the dioceses of Italia and Hispania are intact. However, Italy is governed by a mere president (rather than an imperial vice-regent) and Hispania, like Britannia, is governed by a Germanic monarch. Much of the old buildings of Italy have been restored to some reasonable condition and indeed look even better than the ruins in my time. They follow traditional Nicene Christianity of the Patriarch of Rome, who has taken on the imperial title of Pontifex Maximus. Most of the old regions and cities still exist; Etruria, Umbria, Campania, Calabria, Milan, Ravenna, Venice, Naples. Though I note that there is a Lombard colony as well. In fact, most of the “older” families live toward the south and along the coasts. Sicily and Sardinia fall under Italian governance, though Corsica is administered by the Franks. Italy’s north is bordered by the allied barbarian tribes of Franks, the Ostrogoths and the Suitser land. The Suitsers satisfactorily keep relations healthy between the Ostrogoths and Romans and mix well enough with all parties mentioned.
Hispania and Italia have both produced Roman emperors over the centuries. Hispania’s was in fact the first to come close to colonizing the world and uniting the empire again. Hispania, called by the slang “‘spa[i]n—“ by the Angles, keeps many cultural traditions of the old Roman Empire alive today. These include the gladiator combats, which have evolved simply into combat between men and a bull. The people of Spain and Italy are often darker skinned with darker hair and are smaller than their Germanic neighbors. Aside from the allied Franks and possible seaborne attacks from the Eire land, Spain is a relatively-secured diocese today. On the west coast of Spain’s peninsula in the former province of Lusitania, a city-state called the Port of Cale has expanded much of its holdings into an allied domain. The Calians, known for their expert seamanship and vast colonization over the centuries, speak Latin, follow Nicene Christianity and I believe are as loyal to and integrated with the empire as any official province or diocese.
Across the sea, North Africa, like the Port of Cale, is governed by city states that expanded along their coasts and into the deserts. There are three domains in total: Marrakesh, Algiers and Tunis. There might have been more-concerted attempts to enroll these domains back into the Roman Empire had the Franks not conquered them and administered them poorly. Only in Marrakesh, where the Franks were forced to share governance with Roman troops from Spain, do we see regular stability. Elsewhere, the barbarous Franks massacred and imposed their warlike tendencies on the local peoples. Marrakesh is governed by a monarch, while the other two domains have apparently not given up their provincial status entirely and are governed by mere presidents. Their reluctance to sever the last strand of affiliation with the empire is further underscored by their choosing to still speak the camp Latin of the Franks, in addition to their official Saracen languages. Unlike the rest of the western Roman Empire today, the North African domains are not Nicene or Christian regions at all. They follow a monotheism of the Arabs that borrows from Christianity and Judaism, as well as from Saracen customs and superstitions. This has created a deal of animosity and much warfare between the Christian and the Mohammedian worlds.
Though emperors have existed off and on since the time of Augustus, the last fell from power nearly a century ago. Though various titles can be used to indicate imperial power, the general rule seemed to be that the emperors west of the Rhine used the title of “emperor”. Those east of the Rhine, preferred to be called “Caesar”. Three new emperors emerged in Germany, Italy and Spain (and the east) after the fall of the last Caesar in the First Great War. These new men with imperial authority took the lesser title of “Duke” with which to rule. The strongest of these fell in the Second Great War in the 1,945th Year of Our Lord. The Spanish duke, being the last of all, died decades later. As I mentioned, there is still an imperial Pontifex Maximus in Rome who, though only in control of his affiliated parishes, has extended his communion to all of the heresies that profess the Nicene Creed. These include the churches of the Greeks, the Angles and the high Germans. Many of the wild peoples beyond the frontiers have been evangelized. These include the Poles who, it is said, had one of their own tribe acclaimed as patriarch. Militarily, the empire is held together by a North-Atlantic Pact that is headquartered in the province of Belgium. Its most-powerful member and de facto leader is the Roman province of America. Officially, the military command has a rotating leadership from each province and he carries the title of Secretary--indicating the secrecy of his duties. Regarding trade and immigration laws, the Roman Empire is in a legal union. Its governing body is also headquartered in Belgium. Thus, the imperial power has been split into three categories: civil/legislative, military and religion. In the west, only the North African domains, Suitser Land, Eire Land, the Suides and the Ostrogoths are under no obligation to provide troops. This makes the Suides the most dangerous in my opinion. However, the Ostrogoths, Eires and Suides are all in economic communion as part of the empire. Only the Suitser peoples are fully independent, though the Romans in Britain are planning to assert their legal independence.