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An Alternate History of the Roman Empire: Constantine in the Ascendant

By Tim Venning

Battle of Constantine and Maxentius (detail-of-fresco-in-Vatican-Stanze) c. 1650 by Lazzaro Baldi after Giulio Romano,

This long Series of Articles discusses a hypothetical history of the Roman Empire wherein Marcus Aurelius lives longer and so it's more stable. In the first twelve articles this took us to 324. We join the story in the aftermath of Constantine's victory.

Licinius now made haste to tolerate Christianity and allowed the survivors to rebuild their lives and institutions – though Constantine was to accuse him later of planning new persecutions, probably to rally Christians to himself as he invaded the East in 324. Equally importantly, Constantine – whether due to his just and moderate character or due to a shrewd eye to good publicity - won a better reputation for humane and honest governance, banning crucifixion as a legal punishment and making an effort to restrain government brutality, and he even carried out a purge of the more ruthless and intimidatory as well as bribe-taking governors, sub-governors and magistrate who had bene appointed by Aurelian and later Diocletian and Maximian in the West as men who ‘got things done’ and were efficient. To these three, loyalty and competence were all that had mattered in State servants; to Constantine morals and justice mattered too, and this was already apparent in his revitalization and appointment of new men in the senior civilian ranks in Britain, Gaul, the Rhineland, and Spain between 306 and 312.

After 312 this was extended all over the West, and the high moral standards of local bishops and Christian laymen led to the Emperor increasingly calling on them either to take on high civilian service or at least to advise him on who was suitable for this. His senior Christian advisers, headed by Lactantius and reinforced by refugees from Maximin in 311-13, played a major role in this. But Licinius was known for his harsh and greedy rule as not only ‘biased’ pro-Constantine writers admitted. Licinius was also linked to the ‘revivalist’ pagan philosopher Iamblichus of Emesa, a thinker who did his best to assimilate the intellectual ideology of Neoplatonism (previously in favour at Gallienus’ court in the 260s) to the traditional rituals of Romano-Greek religious cults. Iamblichus and his followers appear to have been welcomed at Licinius’ court, and no doubt were feared as a threat by Constantine’s attendant Christian clerics who urged their ruler to destroy this menace – though contemporary writers believed that the two rulers were too suspicious of each other to have co-operated long-term anyway.

Logically this melding of ‘high philosophy’ and complex logic and imagery, as would appeal to the intellectual classes taught the works of the great Greek thinkers, and the scattered and diverse varieties of Greco-Roman cultic worship (which were usually a matter of keeping up ancestral ritual and was often linked to ancient fertility-cults and local ‘animism’) was the first attempt to provide a coherent framework for the ‘high’ and ‘low’ traditions of (and recent developments in) what was to become called ‘paganism’ by its Christian foes. It was all the more dangerous to the latter as it could appeal to both intellectuals and the local rural lower classes, with complex Platonic philosophy to rival Christian theology and with the Platonic concept of one ‘Supreme Being’ or force guiding the universe reconciled with its ‘lesser incarnations’ ie the Olympian pantheon and the multitude of contemporary local gods. Iamblichus and his allies lacked the same networks of expert intellectual supporters and regional administrators that the Church had so they were at a disadvantage compared to the Church . But if they had appealed to Constantine not to his rival Licinius and/or had a stronger presence by 312 in Constantine’s lands would they have stood a chance?

The Christian community had only suffered marginally from Maximian and had never been attacked by Constantius in the West, so arguably if Maxentius rather than Constantine had won out in their struggle in 306-12 the religion would have continued to grow unhindered but would never have had the ‘boost’ of Imperial conversion and patronage (making it fashionable and a ‘plus’ for those keen to impress the Emperor) plus ‘tax-breaks’ in 312-40 as in reality. Luckily Constantine rekoned that Christianity provided a useful propaganda tool for him (as the ‘chosen one’ of a militant God) plus a ready-made body of Church personnel to assist him. The prominent and prolific Christian writer and enthusiast Lactantius, later one of his main ‘cheerleaders’, and other Eastern exiles provided a crucial link to the network of Christian clerical personnel and their use to promote Constantine as the favoured candidate of their God. Constantine himself was originally a devotee of the ‘Unconquered Sun’ as one supreme god, so used to that sort of concept – and he referred to this one supreme god as his patron and partner on his early coinage, like Aurelian and Probus . He then ‘downplayed’ this in favour of naming Apollo, a ‘saviour’ as well as sun-god, as his patron in autumn 310; his choice of who exactly was his ‘One God’ was fluid but the concept remained similar. After 312 the Christians provided him with a ready-made Empire-wide bureaucracy to aid him, and so allying to their Church was politically attractive. He duly ‘out-sourced’ some judicial duties to Christian bishops after 313 and allowed them not only exemption from taxes (already given to pagan priests and soldiers for generations) but to hear judicial appeals. To be fair to his sense of justice, the bishops were probably more reliable for giving honest decisions and not demanding bribes than some secular judges given their requirement of ‘moral leadership’ to their flocks.

In early 313 Constantine met Licinius at Mediolanum for the latter’s marriage to his half-sister Constantia, and the two rulers concluded an alliance whereby Constantine had all the West and Licinius all the East; there was some doubt left unresolved over the

exact frontier in the middle Danube region. Both Emperors agreed to tolerate Christianity and allow freedom to all its worshippers and the return of their confiscated property in the ‘Edict of Milan’, which enabled Licinius to enlist Christian support against the persecutor Maximin. Maximin crossed the Bosphorus in April to invade Thrace before Licinius had time to return from Italy and raised a large army from the lower Danube legions to attack him as some senior ‘pagan’ generals there joined his cause; Constantin had sent a sizeable army to North Africa to secure full control there from Carthage and was not able to aid Licinius militarily. What Maximin did not realise was that behind his back Constantine was posing as the saviour of Christianity and the local landed elitefrom the persecutions and harsh tax-demands of Maxentius, and was in touch with dissident enemies of Maximin (not only Christians but some Greeks alienated by his harsh autocracy) in Egypt via exiles at his court. In spring 313 he sent a large naval expedition from Carthage to Egypt while most of its garrisons were absent en route to Thrace to join Maximin’s army there against Licinius.

Constantine as represented in the Hagia Sophia mosaics

Maximin’s gamble that his threats to use Romulus as a pretender would cause Constantine to back off misfired, and as a carefully-timed local revolt by the relatives of nobles he had executed for their assets seized the seriously undermanned citadel of Alexandria the Constantinian fleet arrived to assist them. Maximin’s remaining commanders, shut out of the city and lacking siege-engines, fell back on the Nile delta and Memphis, and after their emperor was defeated in Thrace they either surrendered or fled to Palestine – leaving Egypt in the hands of Constantine, who sent his half-brother Julius Constantius to take it over. The tax-revenues and corn-supplies of the richest province in the Empire fell into his hands, and as he had ordered his men to release all the Christian slave-labourers from the mines and announce freedom of religion he was welcomed by the Christian community as their saviour. The great pagan priesthoods would have preferred Maximin to win, but had to accomodate themselves to the victor (temporarily they hoped) and be glad of smaller fines than they had feared – and after Maximin died these were doubled. Romulus, like Cleopatra’s son Caesarion when Octavian took over Egypt in 30 BC, was an embarrassing political ‘left-over’ and was swiftly executed. (The Egyptian campaign is my invention, but Constantine did execute Romulus, in Italy.)

On 1 May 313 Maximin’s much larger army, possibly c.70,000 men, engaged Licinius’ force at ‘Campus Severus’ near Tzurulum in Thrace; however the Eastern troops were exhausted from Maximin’s winter anti-bandit campaign in the mountains of Phrygia and the long march to Thrace and were routed and largely destroyed. Maximin had to escape to Asia Minor on a boat disguised as a slave, and as Licinius crossed to Bithynia he fled to Cilicia. Licinius established his court at Nicomedia, and confirmed the ‘Edict of Milan’ for all his dominions; the pagans’ heartland, Egypt, was now in the hands of Constantine so they were a lost cause and he feared that if he did not agree with the latter on full toleration he would be influenced by his clerical allies to cut off the Egyptian corn-supplies to the ‘pagan’ Emperor in Nicomedia . Lacking the men to both hold the Syria-Mesopotamia region and attack Egypt, he had to accept the loss of the latter to save what remained of the East. His rival now held the Western control of the Egyptian corn-supplies over Licinius, and had graciously guaranteed him half of the food as long as the treaty lasted . As Constantine also had the prosperous mine-rich land of Dacia and its garrisons he had a military advantage too.

Licinius executed Galerius’ widow Valeria among a purge of suspects who had openly or unofficially backed Maximin, and advanced East to Cilicia to besiege Maximin, who was inactive and possibly sick after the rigours of his flight (as the Christians later vengefully claimed), in Tarsus. In August Maximin died at Tarsus as Licnius approached with a much larger army, aged around 40; his dominions accepted Licinius as Emperor and the Christians exulted in the death of their arch-enemy as Licinius threw the late ruler’s young children in the River Calycadnus. Constantine meanwhile defeated a Frankish invasion across the middle Rhine in late summer 313, crossed the river with a new bridge of boats at Cologne, and won more victories in a march across the Taunus mountains and along the Roman roads constructed through then allied Frankish lands to the Elbe by his father. The Franks were forced to accept peace and in August Constantine held victory ‘Frankish Games’ at Trier, accompanied by his eldest son Crispus (his only child by Minervina) who was now in his late teens. He appointed his half-sister Anastasia’s husband Bassianus as ‘Caesar’ in Italy and the Danube provinces, as his fully adult heir pending his eldest son’s majority ; this annoyed Licinius who claims it infringed his sovereignty in Dacia, which he and Constantine both claimed. Constantine’s mother Helena, not seen at any Imperial court since her enforced divorce from Constantius, now arrived at his winter 313-14 court at Trier from residence in the East; the devout Christian Helena and her ally Lactantius started to influence him in favour of a stronger personal commitment to Christianity.

Mural likely depicting Lactantius.

Lactantius now presented his literary work Divinae Institutiones to Constantine, setting out the reasons for his taking up a role as God’s agent in Christian governance of the Empire and providing the Emperor with a guide to Christian theology and the Divine plan for the Empire. At some point over the next two or three years Lactantius was made tutor to the Emperor’s eldest son Crispus, to provide the ultimate heir with a specifically Christian education; later as Constantine’s three sons by Fausta (Constantine II, Constantius II and Constans) became old enough they were given Christian tutors too. The Emperor had clearly decided by 320 that the Empire should have a Christian-led future, and Imperial funds that had been given to major ‘pagan’ cults, temples, and festivals in the 280s to 300s were now diverted to rebuilding Christian churches in towns and cities across the West and to subsidizing the schools set up by bishops to educate the next generation in Christian ethics and theology. Those bishops who now assisted the Emperor were keen to press an ‘official’ Chuch line that the persecutions had not been due to any fundamental divergence between their religion and the Empire but to a misunderstanding exacerbated by malicious stories and the paranoia of Diocletian, Galerius and Maximin. They were too happy to have secure Imperial backing to raise questions about why various officials and courtiers who had collaborated in the persecutions were still in office, although the retention of such people by Licinius in the East was played up by Constantine’s propagandists as showing that he was not really a Christian ally and was not interested in real justice. Constantine now posed as the heir of Aurelian as protector of his people against invasion and tyranny and promoter of honest officials from all social backgrounds, but also as the heir of Marcus Aurelius in promoting ethical rule and justice and as the heir of Septimius Severus in widening the ‘access’ to office and wealth away from a small aristocratic elite.

The question of what to do with ‘lukewarm’ or ‘traitor’ clergy and laymen who had collaborated with the government during the persecutions still affected the reinvigorated Church in the West as well as the East. Later in 314 there was a controversy in the Church in Carthage over the election of a new bishop. The majority of clergy elected the late Bishop Mensurius’ ally Caecilian, the former opponent of those who suffered in the persecution; the latter started a campaign against him, alleged that a Church official who surrendered holy books to the persecutors was among those who consecrated him so the ceremony was invalid, and chose the ‘rigorist’ Majorinus as rival Bishop. They appealed to Constantine to use his legal powers to evict Caecilian, and he ordered Bishop Miltiades of Rome and a commission of three Gallic bishops to investigate; Miltiades brought in fifteen Italian bishops to help the committee in a formal ‘synod’. Before they met Majorinus died, but his party elected Donatus to take his place. Militiades’ synod ruled in October that Caecilian was legal Bishop of Carthage, and excommunicated Donatus who had ordered that all Christians in his diocese who sacrificed to the gods during the persecution submitted to being rebaptised. Other bishops who had taken a similarly ‘rigorist’ line about the ‘apostates’ who sacrificed were however allowed to continue in office under a compromise.

The ‘Donatists’ appealed to Constantine to overturn the synod’s decision, and a formal split between two rival lines of ‘legal’ clergy in North Africa, neither recognising the others’ appointees or having communion with them, followed . The death around the same time of Achilleus, Bishop of Alexandria during the persecutions, also caused controversy; his elite’s ‘man’ Alexander defeated the much more prominent and popular theologian Arius, the most prestigious contender but one formulating unorthodox views on Christ being a man ‘adopted’ by God not His son and equal partner, in the election of his successor. As Arius persisted in proselytizing for his own theology and teaching it to his supporters the new Bishop held a synod to excommunicate him and ordered him to cease teaching and submit all his sermons and writings to the official clergy; Arius refused and another ‘schism’ between two rival groups followed in this admittedly faction-prone city.

Constantine’s victory and conquest of all the West was now followed by active measures to promote Christianity and encourage people to convert to it, though the date of his personal ‘conversion’ has been disputed. At the least, the determined language of the ‘Edict of Milan’ in 313 showed that he regarded the recent persecution as abhorrent and the Christians as full partners in the Empire who deserved support and his official letters to the provinces of the East in 324-5 showed that he encouraged conversion to the religion as the true faith. He prevailed on Licinius to pardon and support Christians at their ‘summit meeting’ in 313 which stabilised the Empire into two allied realms of East and West in 313, with the ‘Edict of Milan’ restoring all property to Christians across the Empire and declaring it a tolerated religion. The accompanying immunity of all the clergy from taxes and civic duties, financial support for the Church, and State construction of prestigious new Christian churches followed in Constantine’s West from 313 and in the East once he had conquered it in 324 . The Church’s officials were thus placed on a par with pagan priests and other State officials, and had the financial resources to concentrate on their work without fear of poverty or State vicimization (and could spend time praying for the Emperor to gain him Divine backing). In association with this, the Emperor also invited prominent clerics to court to advise him - a ‘first’ for any emperor – and appointed Lactantius as tutor to his eldest son Crispus, showing his desire for the next ruler to be firmly Christian. The role of his Christian mother (St) Helena as a background influence was also important, well ahead of her famous tour of the Holy Land in 326 to locate and ‘map out’ sites for pilgrimage shrines after the fall of Licinius.

The abandonment of persecution was a politically wise move to decrease inter-communal tension in a precarious state quite apart from notions of justice and satisfying public unease about the recent onslaught, but active promotion of Christianity was another matter. To that extent, the choice that Constantine made in 312 to move from support of the cult of ‘One God’ in the form of the Empire’s usual patron, the sun-god, to the Christian God and thus co-opt the clergy into his administration was an unexpected and personal move - and a sign of strategic imagination aside from the thorny question of his real ‘beliefs’. In the new official propaganda, indeed, the Christian God was regarded as Constantine’s patron and the protective diety of the new regime, responsible for his victory in 312. The Church organization, formerly a rival and ‘enemy’ of the State, now became a department of State instead with its clerics promoting loyalty to the ‘holy’ Emperor as the patron of their religion and God’s chosen instrument. Eusebius’ biography of Constantine duly set the pattern for centuries of Church promotion of ‘divinely-aided’ rulers. This was an undeniable example of a personal decision having major consequences, though Constantine already had inspiring and well-organised Eastern clerics like Lactantius as refugees at his court in the late 300s so they were already ‘working on’ him to establish a policy of Imperial/ clerical co-operation.

The notion of the State and the Church as allies already existed in embryo before 312, but that year’s events made it a formal and hopefully permanent alliance. Co-opting the Church as an ally also provided the insecure new ruler of all the Roman world with a ‘ready-made’ body of motivated supporters within each province that already had a Christian congregation, as a ‘back-up’ to the existing lay bureaucracy and the army – and as Constantine promoted himself as the champion of their religion and the ally of their God they had good reason to stay loyal to him. This policy therefore went beyond existing mid-late C3rd Roman State propaganda about the Emperor as the chosen one of the ‘Saviour God’ to adding the Church on to the Emperor’s network of supporters, and this policy was likely to be kept up by his dynasty as it usefully gave them an enhanced role. In terms of the strategic situation of 312-16, these moves also gave Constantine an advantage over Licinius in making him seem the champion of toleration and justice and blackening the names of his late foes Galerius and Maximin – and by implication of Licinius too if the latter did not follow Constantine’s lead. Should the latter prove obdurate, the Church could now act as a ‘fifth column’ in the East (where it was longer-established and stronger than in the West) for Constantine and in any case the ‘Constantine/ Church’ alliance put Licinius on the defensive. However, it was clearly going beyond this politically wise new policy of co-operation to tilt the balance’ against ‘pagans’ by firstly appointing mainly Christians to senior office and churches and then banning all State officials from taking part in pagan sacrifices. This was due to Constantine’s personal commitment to the Church and his sense of ‘mission’, at any rate after his successes of 312 and 324. Without that, the Christians would probably have had a far longer period as one of a number of competing religions, and conversions would have been much slower (at least among the job-seeking elite).

In 314 a major Church Council of almost all the bishops in the West was held at Arles in the Gallic provinces of Narbonensis, at Constantine’s initiative after the controversy over readmitting those Christians who sacrificed to the pagan gods to communion threatened to tear the Church in two as seen in the ‘Donatist’ controversy. On 1 August the Council opened under the presidency of Bishop Marinus of Arles with Bishop Chrestus of Syracuse given Imperial authority to organise the agenda. The new Bishop Silvester of Rome sent representatives rather than attending, but probably did not ‘boycott’ it over not being invited to preside. The Council agreed that Caecilian was the legitimate Bishop of Carthage, and sorted out other disputes over the holders of episcopa office in the aftermath of the persecutions. The resultant ‘canons’ (laws, backed by the State) included legislation for Christian laymen to accept official office under the State, which the Church had previously opposed, provided that they were verified by their local clergy as acting in a Christian manner in office. The date for Easter was to be set across the Empire by the Bishop of Rome, and bishops were banned from moving between sees.

Constantine deported the ‘Donatist’ leaders to his court at Trier to be ‘persuaded’ of their errors that winter; however he had to order the local Carthaginian governor, Aelianus, to check a document which purported to show that Caecilian’s consecrator Bishop Felix co-operated with the persecutors in 303. (It was shown to be a Donatist forgery.) Constantine and Licinius co-operated in a 315 campaign on the lower Danube against local Germans, and Licinius agreed to give up his claims to Dacia as he did not have the money available to defend it due to the cost of rebuilding the Eastern army facing Persia after its losses in the 306-13 civil wars – but rumour later had it that his failure to send promised subsidies to help Constantine repair crumbling frontier walls and forts in the Ostrava Gap and Beskids was deliberate and done in the hope that his colleague would have to raise new taxes for this work and so make himself unpopular and easier to remove. From 25 July to September Constantine and his court were in Rome to celebrate his ‘decennalia’, the start of the 20th year of his reign; the Imperial party included his eldest son by Fausta, Constantine II (born 312), who was now announced as the next ‘Caesar’ for Italy once he was old enough to rule. The events saw the dedication of Constantine’s large new Baths in Rome and of his ‘Arch of Constantine’ , commissioned in 312 at the entrance to the Forum Romanum, commemorating his victory over Maxentius. Constantine married his half-sister Anastasia to the leading Roman senator Bassianus, who was linked to Licinius as his brother Senecio was an official to the latter and who now became his main contact with the Senate – though this did not lead to the Christian Bassianus and his allies converting many senators to the new religion.

Argument between the Donatists and the Orthodox as painted by Charles-André van Loo

Crispus was sent to Trier to rule the North-West provinces as ‘Caesar’ with his own court in spring 318, and Constantine moved his own court to Mediolanum / Milan and set up his base there with Fausta and their (eventually three) sons; the eldest, Constantine (II), had been born in 312. An uneasy peace persisted with Licinius, though it was clearly not going to last and the latter started to remove Christian officials from his administration from 319, apparently fearing that they were in touch with Constantine or his allied clergy and aiding plots to undermine him. His actions duly made this threat worse as Christians stopped looking to him for promotion and assorted ‘pagan’ allies of Maximin who he had sacked in 312-13 drifted back to his court to offer him their support in return for work – and nervous clerics and lay survivors of the persecutions who feared a repeat started to head West to the safety of Constantine’s court where they were welcomed. Among these men was the great historian of the persecutions and Christian thinker Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia (the East’s capital), a man who sought to keep the memory of the thousands of martyrs alive with his written memorials and who also played up the notion that God had saved the Christians by helping Constantine to victory and so forcing Licinius to emulate his toleration – which duly annoyed Licinius. Fearing arrest after rude Imperial comments about his works, Eusebius secretly fled to Italy in 320 and offered his support to Constantine, who he now eulogised as the Divinely-aided instrument of the destined victory of toleration and in due course Christianization across the Empire. Like Constantine, he also saw the use of morally rigorous and just bishops and laymen in bringing the rule of justice and humanity to the Empire after Diocletian’s and Galerius’ harshness and partisanship, and the two men soon became allies with the Emperor commissioning the Bishop to write suitably laudatory works for him. Constantine now allowed the granting of legacies to the Church, which vastly increased its wealth and enabled legacy-hunting clerics to flourish but aided their public social service work too, and closed the lawcourts on Sundays, the days of worship, which aided Christians in becoming lawyers. Less toleration of dissenters was apparent in the East ,and was allowed by Licinius who wanted to make the Church divided and unpopular.

In 322 Constantine finally decided on forcing a showdown with the increasingly hostile and aggressive Licinius, who was now refusing Constantine’s plan to make his third son Constantius II (the second by Fausta) the next ‘Caesar’ of Illyria , Dalmatia and Dacia and was demanding that his own son by Constantine’s half-sister should inherit these lands as his deputy instead. Constantine marched to Dacia to repel a Sarmatian invasion (not in OTL) but after achieving this headed on to the lower Danube, as invited by local commanders to help him as Licinius, absent in Syria, had not sent them the promised aid. He campaigned successfully, within Licinius’ dominions, and defeated and killed the Sarmatian king and expelled his tribesmen back over the river. Licinius chose to ignore Constantine’s action in entering his realm without permission, but tension between them increased again. After a winter at Carnuntum Constantine defeated a Gothic invasion across the lower Danube into Lower Moesia in spring 323, and prepared for war with Licinius who was gathering troops in Southern Thrace. His eldest son Crispus campaigned against the Alemanni on the middle Rhine, and was summoned East to join the war against Licinius, who returned in haste from Syria. Constantine now declared that he had had to march to the lower Danube to protect it from invasion as Licinius had failed to look after his citizens, and offered peace of his colleague would accept Constantius II as heir to the Balkans and put his (Licinius’) son by Constantia, Licinius II , into the rule of Thrace and Greece based at Byzantium or Adrianople – and agree to reinstate all sacked Christian officials. Licinius refused, and collected an army of c.150,000 infantry and 15,000 cavalry moved from the East or recruited from the southern Balkans at Adrianople, while his admiral Abantus was stationed with 350 ships at the mouth of the Hellespont to stop the Western fleet attacking their supply-route to Asia. Constantine marched SE from Sirmium into Thrace with 150,000 infantry and 15,000 cavalry, and Crispus brought the Western fleet over from Italy to Athens and thence up to Thessalonica .

On the 3rd of July 324 Constantine won the decisive battle at Adrianople with a surprise attack across the River Hebrus; Licinius retreated East to Byzantium and his fleet retired to the Bosphorus after a defeat by Crispus off Callipolis (Gallipoli), enabling Constantine’s fleet to enter the Propontis. Licinius fled Byzantium to Bithynia to avoid being trapped on the European shore. Constantine occupied Byzantium, where he probably started to think about the strategic usefulness of the site as a new Eastern capital to replace Diocletian’s Nicomedia. Licinius, at Chalcedon across the strait and plagued by desertions from a clearly losing cause, raised his senior civilian minister Martinianus to be his fellow – ‘Augustus’ as a capable and reassuringly Christian official, but this did not stop his problems. Constantine landed in Bithynia, and on the 18th of September his army won a major land-battle at Chrysopolis outside Chalcedon. Licinius retreated to Nicomedia with the c.30,000 men he had left but was persuaded not to fight on by his wife Constantia who contacted her brother and secured his promise that he would spare Licinius’ life; Licinius surrendered his capital and on the 11th of November 324 abdicated. He was removed to captivity in Thessalonica, his young son Licinius (II) was deposed and sent to Italy to be put in house-arrest, and Martinianus was deposed and imprisoned in Cappadocia. Licinius’ older, bastard son was apparently forced to take his mother’s legal status as a slave to disqualify him from the throne and ended up employed in an Imperial textile-factory in Carthage.

(Largely as in OTL, but slightly simplified.)


Timothy Venning is a respected Historian who won the London University History Prize in 1979 and whose latest straight history book is Cromwell's Failed State. He has also written multiple books of counter factual essays including Caesars of the Bosphorus, Eternal Caesars, King Charles or King Oliver and King Henry IX, all published by Sea Lion Press, and If Rome Hadn't Fallen.


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