In this week’s DLC, Marcus Mac Dhonnagáin gets creative after spending some with the municipal management aspects of Rome: Total War
It has been near a year since I last wrote to you, yet the winter made it impossible to send this via secure channels. I am still not used to the heavy snowfalls here. The lands to the North of Rome are not hospitable to those of us that are used to the sun. This is an unkind, uncivilised place, where the rule of law means nothing.
You tasked me with bringing Roman order to a part of this place. Two years ago we said our farewells at the docks before I joined the men aboard Admiral Vetori’s fleet. Your last words to me were, “It is the enemy you cannot see, my son, which will challenge you most. This enemy that cannot be defeated with swords alone, but instead must be coupled with economics, intelligence and an understanding of the common man.” At the time I brushed it aside with a brashness I am now ashamed I ever possessed – for I fear your omen has come to pass.
Fighting the barbarian armies was not a simple task. Though they may be unclean brutes who have no sense of Roman order, they are not the half-wits we thought them to be. Though they may lack discipline, they instead possess a feral strength, as well as a dogmatic refusal to bend the knee. Though it cost the lives of too many good men, at least they were in front of us. Though Roman Might conquered them on the battlefield, I sense that we have not truly defeated our foes.
After we had routed the last of Warlord Consentius’ army, we installed ourselves into the large city of Narbo Martius. Whatever happiness the locals might have had for our sight was lost the moment we began slaughtering them and looting whatever valuables we could. Though it did replenish our coffers, the local people never forgave us. Yet they could do nothing; we had just defeated their former rulers on the open field while also slaughtering anyone who didn’t cooperate with our orders.
For a time it seemed like they simply accepted what had happened and did nothing to fight us. In this time I spent what funds you could spare on repairing the damage we wrought upon them, as well as introducing them to our values and customs. Conquering a people is not enough; we must civilise them and show them the values of our Empire. These policies seemed to work for a while; we even had some men join the town watch we trained to keep better order on the streets.
It was only after your order for the withdrawal of the majority of my army nine months ago that problems began to arise. The men I had raised for the town watch required to be paid. Not only that, but I also needed more money for the construction of a sewer system, as well as several farms. For this I raised the taxes. I began getting word of unrest amongst some people, people complaining about how much they were forced to pay, yet I ignored it. Then rumors began to spread that that Consentius had been spotted in the West somewhere, raising an army to rescue the city. I again took no action, except to send out a spy in order to get a sense of what people were saying. He gave me weekly reports, which usually amounted to nothing but some harmless plot with some dissidents.
I dealt with them as any Roman would deal with a traitor – they were publicly flogged and then executed. Amongst them, however, was a priest of their old false gods. It was then that the town guard began to be shunned and scorned. We discovered one night that two off-duty guards who had visited the tavern had their throats slit. Night patrols were increased from a pair of men to a group of five – all heavily armed. I strictly forbade any members of my retinue to walk the streets, unless they were protected. We never found the murderers; the perpetrators had escaped the city.
Three months later my spy brought me news of a man who had entered the city without the guard’s approval. I immediately sent for his arrest, and he was brought before me. The evidence was damning; he had been one of Consentius’ former spies and had entered our city through illicit means. Like the others, I publicly executed him and those who had protected him. It was only a sign for more trouble, though.
Word had reached us that trade caravans had been harried on their way into the city by unknown rebels. I sent a host of 24 mounted guardsmen to deal with the problem, thinking it would be enough to drive any bandits away. It worked for several weeks, until they were ambushed and killed. The two remaining survivors arrived back the same day, badly wounded. The locals crowded around the pair as my men attempted to escort them in. They stared at them smugly, whispering amongst each other that this was how Consentius dealt with occupiers.
That night I placed the guards on high and alert, and thank Jupiter I did. The people rioted. They attacked the tavern, the blacksmith, the temple. They would have even taken the barracks had I not mounted my horse and ridden out to meet them. Fighting in the open is where I excel, yet I do not take satisfaction from my victory. Hundreds of them were killed; men and women armed with simple farming equipment and hunting spears. Yet, had we not crushed them, then there would have been a revolt.
It was well into the winter and I could do nothing but imprison most of them, while killing any prominent leaders that informers could identify. Yet even this turned into an opportunity for the people to settle old scores and grudges. Informers accused innocents. It was only informed to me after I had conducted the executions of what they had done. I strung up the lot of them.
Nothing happened afterwards, though the reports of bandits became more common. There were even sightings of Consentius himself, fully clad in his warlord armour leading a host of his loyal soldiers as well as mercenaries he had hired. I dealt with the bandits as best I could, yet I found no willing recruits amongst the town people to replace casualties. I eventually instituted conscription, yet this led to desertion. A trader was stopped by men wearing our uniforms and carrying our weapons. He and his guards were quickly slain and left to rot.
With winter ending, father, there’s a scent of defiance on the spring air. The rumors are becoming true. To the west, Consentius is amassing his strength, and may very well seek to take revenge on those who took his city. I do not worry about him; however, I am more concerned about the threat within the walls. The town watch’s numbers are being depleted, and I do not think I can survive another riot. Already I’m hearing of plots being formed. I don’t have enough men to kick down all the doors within the city, besides, it may spark another riot.
The “common man” detests me, as well as Rome itself – despite all we have done for them. I will not lie; I have mismanaged aspects of the occupation. Yet I did not think that managing a city would be as deadly and dangerous as fighting against an army.
I finally understand the weight of your warning. Please, do not let me fall into ruin.
Follow Marcus on Twitter: @M_M_DH