A Destiny Realized: A Timeline of Afsharid Iran and Beyond

trade with European partners was sought, and Morocco continued to develop commercial links with European countries. Britain in particular loomed larger as a trade partner of Morocco due to her growing textile production around the turn of the century, but additionally due to her opposition to the Bourbon Powers who represented Morocco’s main threat. Although British attempts to secure Moroccan aid during the War of Sardinian Succession came to naught, she had secured a commercial treaty in 1802 which enabled British merchants to trade more freely in Morocco, paying less in tariffs than her European competitors. However, by this point, the sheer volume and price of British manufactured goods entering Morocco were beginning to hurt native cottage industries. Morocco’s economy was beginning to see the first signs of deindustrialisation.

No. Nononononono! Don't do it Morocco!! You don't know what you're dealing with!!

Maybe these will give the Ottomans incentive to try and conquer Morocco in the future.
 
I wonder if the "War of Sardinian Sucession" is going to be something like TTL's napoleonic wars? The big war or series of them that shakes up european society and army organization, or such? (actually, how is France doing so far?)
 
This has got thinking of some Islamic equivalent to the European Union developing as an ideology.
Not a carbon copy perhaps, but maybe a different form of Pan-Islamism, that aims less at some Ummah-encompassing Caliphate and more at a community of co-operation among Muslim states. However, some grudging recognition of the right of each state to exist is still a long way off from that.
If the TL Saudis are just as uber-puritan as their real-life counterparts, I have a feeling a lot of shrines in Makkah and Madinah did not survive the occupation, especially the shrines at Al-Baqi'.

Wait, what? did Italian unification began early?

No. Nononononono! Don't do it Morocco!! You don't know what you're dealing with!!
There is always the chance to rebuild as there was in Karbala and Najaf in OTL. There has been some destruction, though the Saudi occupation of the Holy Cities has not been as long as it was in OTL.

Italian unification isn't quite happening yet. The winds of change are coming to Europe though.

Would it be that bad? You can't ban women from driving if you don't have cars...
Maybe these will give the Ottomans incentive to try and conquer Morocco in the future.
It's a possibility. If the Ottomans can directly administer Algeria, or at least reign the Deys in, they may well be able to at least subjugate Morocco.
I wonder if the "War of Sardinian Sucession" is going to be something like TTL's napoleonic wars? The big war or series of them that shakes up european society and army organization, or such? (actually, how is France doing so far?)
The War of Sardinian succession is actually a somewhat larger-scale War of Bavarian succession. Not quite as big as the Seven Years War mind you.
 
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Disaster Averted? - The Russo-Persian War of 1792-94

As Russia’s territory expanded southward, her Muslim enemies were no longer the weakened Khanates that had once been part of the Mongol Hordes, but rather the large empires of the Middle East, the Ottoman Empire and Iran. The first wars between Russia and her new neighbours were initially minor victories for the latter, but by the 18th century, the powerful Russian state under Peter the Great was able to win a number of victories over the Islamic empires to the south. Perhaps the most dramatic Russian success had been the Russo-Persian War of 1722-23, which saw vast territories in Northern Iran, including the rich territories of Shirvan, Gilan and Mazandaran, incorporated into the Russian Empire [1]. Although the Russian occupation, assailed as it was by logistical challenges and disease, was eventually ended, it was not forgotten by the Iranians. Nader Shah had fought the Russians in the 1750s, winning the fortress of Kizlyar, but had otherwise confirmed that the trackless steppes of Southern Russia could not be conquered easily.


Peace between the two powers prevailed for over four decades subsequent to the war, which saw the development of trade between the two, but which also saw tensions over the borderlands of the Caucasus. With the collapse of the central government in Iran following the overthrow of Shahrukh and the subsequent weakening of the Iranian army, it had appeared that Russia’s time had come. A group of Avar rebels had crossed into Iranian territory in the winter of 1791, and the Iranian governor of Shirvan refused to hand the fugitives over. Russian commanders in the area, aware of the real weakness of the Iranians, acted on their own accord and laid siege to Kizlyar. When the fortress fell after a surprisingly short siege, the Russian Government sanctioned the actions of its generals and dispatched reinforcements. Meanwhile, Russian forces defeated the other scattered Iranian forces in the area, gradually seizing control of Dagestan.


For the Iranians, this was a disaster. At a time of great internal turmoil, the last thing that was needed was a conflict with a seemingly stronger power, and the collapse of the Iranian position north of the Caucasus Mountains was a foreboding event. Though the Russians did not yet have the strength to strike south, they could in future have threatened the Caspian Seaboard and perhaps beyond. Calls in Mashhad for patriots to rise in the defence of Iran fell on deaf ears, as regional governors instead turned inward rather than lend their strength for the defence of Iran. Perhaps the one exception to this rule was Emam Qoli, the hero of the Turco-Iranian War of 1785/6, who began to mobilize forces in Armenia to combat any Russian attempts to intervene in Georgia or Shirvan. Despite this, Iranian forces in the whole of the area adjacent to Russia numbered no more than 30,000. This was insufficient against a Russian force which already outnumbered them, and whose numbers were being augmented by reinforcements from St Petersburg.


With the situation dire, the Iranian military recovery of 1794 was surprising. Subordinating the Governor of Shirvan, Emam Qoli had assembled a force of 40,000 men. This was outnumbered by a Russian force of perhaps some 84,000, though the Iranians had superiority in terms of artillery. This superiority was used well as the Iranians relieved the Siege of Derbent, defeating an equivalent Russian force and sending the impetuous Russians back into Dagestan. Orders from Emam were that “no Russian is to be given a second of rest in Iranian territory. Cavalry will attack their supply lines, their forts should be taken with cannon, and any attempts at resistance broken by our Jazāyerchis”. The idea that an inferior force should take the initiative on a tactical and operational level was a risky one, but perhaps in part to the ability of Emam’s subordinates as well as to the quality of his own forces, he was able to push the Russians beyond the Sulak River, taking a great many prisoners and for the time being, leaving the Russians at a disadvantage in the region.


However, Emam was aware that larger armies were on their way, and that he could not replace the losses that he had sustained on the campaign. His own personal goals had been achieved in the campaign, and he had judged that further conflict would be detrimental to his own position primarily. Thus, he offered a compromise peace. Russia would regain the Kizlyar fortress and the border of Russia and Iran would be confirmed at the Sulak River as it had been in 1735. Russian prisoners would be returned, and Russian merchants would have the right to trade in the northern provinces of Iran. Although the Russians may well have gained better terms had they continued to fight on, the tempting offer from Emam as well as renewed threats on their western borders encouraged the Russians to accept the peace offering. The Treaty of Kizlyar confirmed much of what had been in Emam’s offer, though had been ratified by Shah Ja’afar in Mashhad as well as Tsar Paul. The peace treaty was seen as a humiliation in Iran, as although not much territory had been ceded, what had been lost was still perceived by interested parties as a stain on the glory of Iran. This was ultimately to produce more instability within Iran itself than to endanger the peace treaty.


[1] – See post 12


* * * * *

Iran in the Wake of Defeat

“In an Empire such as ours, political power primarily grows from success in war. The man who has shown he can protect the empire and its interests in conflict will have more support when imposing his will at home”


Iran’s political system prior to its defeat in the Russo-Persian War of 1792-94 had already been unstable. Regionalism reign supreme due to a weak central government presided over by an ineffective Shah. More interested in alcohol and forcibly acquiring women for his harem than in serious governance, the Shah’s main responsibility for the defeat was in his abdication of leadership rather than any decisions he had made, though elements of the Iranian state that still desired a centralised model blamed the Shah for the loss of Kizlyar. By the time that news of the defeat had sunk in, the Shah’s name was used as a curse in the streets of Iran’s cities, and the hapless Shah ended his days after a short illness, probably caused by poison. Next in line to Iran’s throne was Timur, another grandson of Nader, who showed even less interest in government than his predecessor had done.


This may have meant that Iran’s road toward decentralisation would continue, but besides a dislike for the Shah, the war had enhanced the aura of Emam Qoli, the prince who had distinguished himself in the earlier war against the Ottoman Empire. By now, Emam Qoli was probably the most powerful of all the regional governors in Iran. His forced had proved their effectiveness and by 1795 he dominated the Northwest of the country. Indeed, it was suggested by some in Mashhad that he act as Regent for the Shah, though this apparently didn’t transpire. Instead, possibly due to some coercion in his part, he was confirmed as the governor in Shirvan as well as Armenia, and was given responsibility for Georgia too. If Iran was on the road to a break-up, it would be Emam Qoli who would be in the best position to pick up the pieces. This may have been what he had in mind.


Following the loss of the war with Russia, many Iranian intellectuals began to write more what an ideal government should look like. Though there was not the phenomenon of pamphleteering seen in Western Europe, perhaps due to the relatively low literacy rate in Iran, the breakdown of the censorship apparatus of the central state ensured that there was a limited space for speech that would have been seen as threatening in earlier ages. Without a strong ulema to take the place as the guardians of accepted thought, thinkers such as Rashid al-Shadabi and Hamid Kasi openly articulated a vision of a relatively pluralistic state with a somewhat secular outlook on law and administration. Unlike Enlightenment thinkers in the West, this was not rooted in anticlericalism but was seen as a more workable solution to the enormous religious divides between different parts of Iranian society [2] As forward thinking a solution as these were though, the Iranian government was not strong enough to reform the system to accommodate these ideas, and this concept of religious pluralism was still limited in a society in which the vast majority adhered to the doctrine of supremacy for their own religious sect.


Nevertheless, these ideas about the relationship between religion and government, as well as government in general did slowly circulate among those with an education within Iran. As devastating as the chaotic reigns of Ja’afar Shah and Timur Shah may have been to trade and the economy as a whole, this chaos did foster the development of different strains of thought that may not have occurred had the state been stronger around the turn of the 19th century. As in France when the Bourbon Monarchy began to weaken in the same period, the breakdown of the status quo encouraged different ideas that were less about what was “revealed”, and more about what was in the capacity of man to change. Unlike France however, there was little dissention about the role of religion on a spiritual level, and nothing in the same spirit as deism emerged.


As the 19th century began, Iran appeared to be taking more steps toward the re-centralisation of the country. The shock of the Russian War was compounded with the loss of the Shi’a Holy Cities of Karbala and Najaf to the Saudis in 1802. Once again Emam Qoli took up arms against the invaders, turning the governor of Iraq into his own puppet and leading an army into Arabia. Victory against the Saudis was achieved with the cooperation of his old Ottoman enemies, though his reconquest of the Holy Cities endeared Iran’s Shi’a population to him. Iran’s Sunnis were likewise appeased through his accommodation with the Ottomans as well as his role in the liberation of the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah. When Emam Qoli returned to Iran in 1805, he was by far the most popular figure in Iran, as well as the most powerful. Once again, a powerful military leader appeared to have the upper hand over a Shah who lacked the ability to rule the nation.


[2] – To try and explain what is a bit complicated (and possibly nonsensical), there still exists no doubt in Iran that Islam is the one and only true religion, and for religious scholars and the population at large, takfiri concepts remain strong. Secularism (which I use for lack of a better word) is less an idealised goal and more of an “ugly compromise” at this point.

* * * * * *

Author's Notes - At long last, there is a growing acceptance that a centralized government is not something to be endured, but may well be something to be desired. Emam Qoli seems to be the best positioned to re-impose strong government in Iran, but his claim to the throne is weak, and he does not have the foreign policy successes that Nader did. And while Iran has largely staved off Russia for now, the bear's power is growing.
 
Not a carbon copy perhaps, but maybe a different form of Pan-Islamism, that aims less at some Ummah-encompassing Caliphate and more at a community of co-operation among Muslim states. However, some grudging recognition of the right of each state to exist is still a long way off from that.

Ah yes, what greater enemy of Globalism than regional nationalism.
As the 19th century began, Iran appeared to be taking more steps toward the re-centralisation of the country. The shock of the Russian War was compounded with the loss of the Shi’a Holy Cities of Karbala and Najaf to the Saudis in 1802. Once again Emam Qoli took up arms against the invaders, turning the governor of Iraq into his own puppet and leading an army into Arabia. Victory against the Saudis was achieved with the cooperation of his old Ottoman enemies, though his reconquest of the Holy Cities endeared Iran’s Shi’a population to him. Iran’s Sunnis were likewise appeased through his accommodation with the Ottomans as well as his role in the liberation of the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah. When Emam Qoli returned to Iran in 1805, he was by far the most popular figure in Iran, as well as the most powerful. Once again, a powerful military leader appeared to have the upper hand over a Shah who lacked the ability to rule the nation.

Based on the way worded it, I am quite skeptical that he will live long enough to see these expectations become a reality.
 
Without a strong ulema to take the place as the guardians of accepted thought, thinkers such as Rashid al-Shadabi and Hamid Kasi openly articulated a vision of a relatively pluralistic state with a somewhat secular outlook on law and administration. Unlike Enlightenment thinkers in the West, this was not rooted in anticlericalism but was seen as a more workable solution to the enormous religious divides between different parts of Iranian society

I wonder if this idea would be workable in India. Given the stronger trade links Iran weaves to the subcontinent, I can see a few strains of administrative secularism taking root in some Muslim princely states such as Bhopal, Hyderabad, and Mysore.
 
Ah yes, what greater enemy of Globalism than regional nationalism.

Based on the way worded it, I am quite skeptical that he will live long enough to see these expectations become a reality.
There is room for co-operation between Muslim Powers in this TL, but it is less likely that there will emerge the desire for a Caliphate encompassing all Muslims that exists within Pan-Islamist parties such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

Perhaps I haven't quite thought of whether this is going to be an Iran-wank or screw yet, so it could go either way.
I wonder if this idea would be workable in India. Given the stronger trade links Iran weaves to the subcontinent, I can see a few strains of administrative secularism taking root in some Muslim princely states such as Bhopal, Hyderabad, and Mysore.
It may work even better in India. Although there is more in traditional Islamic thinking to address religious minorities (more adaptable than traditionalist scholars would admit, considering the mostly-tolerant attitude towards Hindus) such as the "People of the Book" concept, in states with increasingly vocal Hindu populations, some form of accommodation may well be more suitable for Muslim-ruled Indian states. The fact that much of the Muslim Elite of the subcontinent speaks Persian is likely to speed up the spread of these ideas as well.
 
India - 1784 to 1804
The_North_Entrance_Into_The_Fort_Of_Bangalore_-with_Tipu%27s_flag_flying-.jpg


The Military Revolution of India?

The British dream of Dominion in India had been smashed in 1771, when a disastrous war with the Kingdom of Mysore ended with the capture of Madras, the main British base on the subcontinent. Although the British would remain as a major trading power and power broker within India, the dreams of some in the East India Company that territorial dominion could be achieved were now dead. When it had delivered the killer blow to the British in India, Mysore was arguably the most militarily modernised state in India. Rather than cavalry-focused armies with enormous and cumbersome artillery, Mysore had adopted many of the methods that the British and French had introduced to India. Her armies were focused around regular infantry who were paid regular salaries, the cavalry was reigned into providing a supporting role, and the artillery was made far more limber, designed to defeat formations of infantry.


Mysore’s army under Hyder Ali was arguably India’s first native modernised army. When the Marathas sent an army south in 1785 to extract tribute from Hyder Ali’s successor Tipu, they were met with an army more disciplined and effective than their own. Not only was the force sent across the Tungabhadra River destroyed, but Mysore counter-attacked and took the fortress of Bahadur Benda after a week-long siege [1]. The success of the armies of Mysore marked the most decisive defeat that the Marathas had suffered thus far, and the fact that Mysore’s armies were organised largely along western lines did not escape the attention of other Indian states. Though the Maratha’s subsequent slip into Civil War prevented the adoption of the Mysore military model in their own armies, other major rulers such as the Maharajah of the Punjab, as well as the rulers of Bengal, Awadh and Hyderabad took notice of what had made Tipu Sultan’s armies so successful. By 1810, India’s armies had for the most part abandoned the organization and tactics that had dominated Indian armies for centuries, and had organised European-style forces focused on infantry and artillery based tactics.


Less quick to develop were Indian navies. Although Indian states tended to be major shipbuilders, exporting to countries such as Iran and Zanzibar, the level of seamanship remained sub-par when compared to European sailors. European East-India companies tended to provide the naval muscle for Indian states during their various wars, and were rewarded with preferential trading rights and naval bases. Although this would not provide them with the territory that they had ruled earlier in the 18th century with the exception of a few ports, this nevertheless managed to keep the European East India Companies as major players in the Indian economy. Indeed, the only success of the Marathas in their war with Mysore had been the destruction of Tipu’s fleet at anchor in Mangalore. Perhaps the main lesson drawn from this was that in comparison to the task of establishing modernised armies, to build a navy capable of taking on European navies would be very difficult indeed.


[1] – In the war that had taken place between Mysore and the Marathas at near enough the same time in OTL, the Marathas were saved from a harsh peace by the efforts of the British. Without a strong territorial and military presence in India however, Mysore is able to enjoy the fruits of her victory.


* * * * * *


State Formation in Early Modern India

The collapse of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century had by its close, led to a system of successor states who quarrelled over the remains of their predecessor, even as they both relied on its legacy to cement their own legitimacy and cemented the regionalist bases of their states. While the Maratha Empire aspired to dominion over much of the subcontinent, especially following the Peshwa’s assumption of the Mughal throne following defeat against Mysore in 1786, this conflicted with the base of the state which emphasised Maratha culture more so than Hinduism. In the chaos that emerged following the defeat at the hands of Mysore, the Peshwa’s attempt to recover some prestige as a pan-Indian ruler was undermined as the Chhatrapati, or king, of the Marathas attempted once again to become more than titular rulers. This rebellion was not only aimed at changing the internal power structure of the Maratha Empire, but also aimed to end the attempts to rule over India, and instead to form a smaller and more coherent state around the core Maratha regions.


Perhaps most surprising was the consolidation of a neo-Mughal state based in Hindustan. The rulers of Awadh had profited greatly from the disruptions that Nader Shah’s invasion had brought to India, and soon asserted her autonomy from Delhi. Although Awadh was later to suffer from the depredations of the Marathas, she was left in an excellent position following the collapse of Maratha power during their civil war. The ambitious Nawab Ali Mirza Khan was able to use the modern army that had been built up by his predecessors and expand into the vacuum that had been left behind. Awadhi forces had captured Delhi by 1801, and by 1803 much of the Hindustani core of the Mughal Empire was left in the hands of the Nawab. Naturally, with the seat of Imperial power in his hands, he declared himself the first in a life of hereditary Grand Viziers of the Mughal Empire in 1803. More so than the Maratha Peshwa, the claim was taken seriously by the nobility, as despite being a Shi’a heretic, Ali Mirza was at least a Muslim.


In many ways, this revived Mughal State resembled the old. Territorial claims from Peshawar to Bengal were re-affirmed, Persian was confirmed as the language of the court and administration, and Islam confirmed as the supreme religion of state. And yet, much was different about this new Mughal Empire. Reduced in terms of territory ruled, the new Dynasty nevertheless focused on winning the support of the population rather than territorial expansion. Traditions of the Awadhi Nawab such as the patronisation of Hindu shrines as well as the Islamic Ulema ran strong. Administering the reconstituted state was made easier by the immigration of learned men from Iran, who fled the various upheavals in that country in the turn of the century. And at the same time, this prevented the trend that was taking place in states such as the Punjab, the Maratha Empire and Travancore, which was the increasing use of native languages in the administration and court of state.


In other Muslim-ruled states such as Bengal, Hyderabad and Mysore, there was a continued use of the Persian language in administration, which still maintained far greater prestige than native dialects. However, especially in the case of Bengal, the fact that these states tended to encompass peoples with a common language tended to foster increasing use of the language in a commercial setting. French traders in Bengal noted that in contrast to several decades ago “some knowledge of the Bengali language, long dismissed as the tongue of peasants, is an increasing necessity for those who wish to do business in the country, even in Dhaka”. In addition to increasing adoption of local languages by merchants, the era saw a rebirth not only in Bengali literature, but in other local languages such as Kannada, Tamil and Telugu. Although this trend was held back in part by the generally low literacy rates across the Indian subcontinent, it did foster the beginnings of stronger regional identities.


* * * * * *

outside-an-indian-dye-house.jpg!Large.jpg


“Indian Summer” – The Economy of the Indian Subcontinent at the turn of the 19th Century

India had long been a land of fabled riches. Desire for Indian spices had pushed European explorers around the Cape of Good Hope at the end of the 15th century, though by the beginning of the 19th century it was Indian textiles above all which clothed many coastal areas of the world. India at the end of the 18th century was exporting more textile goods than any other area of the world, dominating areas such as Iran, East Africa and the East Indies. The quality of Indian goods had been remarked upon as far away as England, and indeed it may have been the case that only high tariffs on the part of European governments which prevented Indian textiles from dominating the market in Europe as they did in the Indian Ocean basin. Areas such as Bengal and Mysore grew rich off of textile exports, which ensured a healthy flow of specie into India, funding not only the wars of its rulers but also the increased commercialisation of the economies of the various Indian states [2].


However, this bright picture of the economy disguised growing problems within the economies of Indian states. Continued warfare between different states contributed to the devastation of countryside in the borderlands between them. Although the growth of taxation as a portion of the economy had not hampered economic growth, the often destructive warfare did ensure that otherwise fertile areas remained relatively poor. In regions of India where warfare was more endemic, such as the core of Hindustan, constant warfare drove both populations as well as productivity down, and left these regions relatively undeveloped compared to formerly peripheral regions of the Mughal Empire. In addition to the problems brought by high levels of warfare, a combination of high wages and low literacy rates had produced in some areas a “ceiling” of growth similar to that of the Yangtze Delta [3]. Although innovation was present in other areas of Indian societies, there was not the move toward the technological improvements that would soon give Britain an edge in manufacturing. Indeed, despite the levels of prosperity seen in a number of countries in India, the evidence that the subcontinent as a whole was beginning to reach a “ceiling” in terms of development is strong.


[2] – Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not by Prasannan Prathasarathi paints picture of a thriving Indian economy in the 17th and 18th centuries, which had undergone as much an “Industrious Revolution” as parts of Europe and China, as well as presenting an interesting thesis on why Europe gained economic pre-eminence in the 19th century.

[3] – In the aforementioned source, it is suggested that far from being poverty stricken, some Indians may have had living standards on par or possibly ahead of contemporary Western Europeans. I do realise that this is still contended, but is worthy of more than simple dismissal in my own opinion.

* * * * * *

Author's Notes - India's division is confirmed even as the Mughal Empire, in a way, has some life breathed back into it. Thanks in part to its questionable legitimacy, the neo-Mughal Empire will likely not be able to restore the Subcontinental Empire of old, thus allowing India to go further down the path of regionalism. This looks good for states such as Mysore, which would be dynamic enough to survive the rough-and-tumble of European politics. As the world begins to transform more profoundly in the 19th century, some Indian States may well do far better than they did under the British in OTL, though of course nothing is guaranteed.
 
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Traditions of the Awadhi Nawab such as the patronisation of Hindu shrines as well as the Islamic Ulema ran strong.

A strong ulema - well, that’s a considerable change from the (old) Mughal Empire where every emperor except Aurangzeb tried to destroy its power.
 
The success of the armies of Mysore marked the most decisive defeat that the Marathas had suffered thus far, and the fact that Mysore’s armies were organised largely along western lines did not escape the attention of other Indian states. Though the Maratha’s subsequent slip into Civil War prevented the adoption of the Mysore military model in their own armies

So who wants the biggest
The rulers of Awadh had profited greatly from the disruptions that Nader Shah’s invasion had brought to India, and soon asserted her autonomy from Delhi. Although Awadh was later to suffer from the depredations of the Marathas, she was left in an excellent position following the collapse of Maratha power during their civil war. The ambitious Nawab Ali Mirza Khan was able to use the modern army that had been built up by his predecessors and expand into the vacuum that had been left behind. Awadhi forces had captured Delhi by 1801, and by 1803 much of the Hindustani core of the Mughal Empire was left in the hands of the Nawab. Naturally, with the seat of Imperial power in his hands, he declared himself Padishah of the Mughal Empire in 1803. More so than the Maratha Peshwa, the claim was taken seriously by the nobility, as despite being a Shi’a heretic, Ali Mirza was at least a Muslim.


In many ways, this revived Mughal State resembled the old. Territorial claims from Peshawar to Bengal were re-affirmed, Persian was confirmed as the language of the court and administration, and Islam confirmed as the supreme religion of state. And yet, much was different about this new Mughal Empire. Reduced in terms of territory ruled, the new Dynasty nevertheless focused on winning the support of the population rather than territorial expansion. Traditions of the Awadhi Nawab such as the patronisation of Hindu shrines as well as the Islamic Ulema ran strong. Administering the reconstituted state was made easier by the immigration of learned men from Iran, who fled the various upheavals in that country in the turn of the century. And at the same time, this prevented the trend that was taking place in states such as the Punjab, the Maratha Empire and Travancore, which was the increasing use of native languages in the administration and court of state.

slice of Maratha flavored pie?

Awadh: ME!!
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Interesting update. Mysore's development of a European-style army is going to have some big ripple-effects, especially in terms of military officers. Considering the wealth of the Indian regions, I can see kingdoms such as Bengal and Awadh hiring foreign and even European commanders to further develop their troops, like what the Sikh Empire did IOTL. As a knock-on, the hiring of these foreign men could make India even more exoticised in the Western press; I dimly remember reading an account of an American commander whom served in Sikh-ruled Punjab getting gloriously popular back home.

On another note, Iranian-style secularism is going to be a shoe-in for India, given the ethnic and cultural mix of the new muslim-ruled states. With that said, the Shia creed of the Awadh rulers might entice some educated folks from Iran to emigrate there, and the latter might not see eye to eye with the Awadhis' patronage of Hindu temples.

Speaking of which, is Benares/Varanasi under the Awadhis or the Marathas?
 
Speaking of which, is Benares/Varanasi under the Awadhis or the Marathas?

I’d say Awadhi, because any scenario in which the Marathas have Benares means that Allahabad and even Lucknow itself are under threat by the Maratha Empire. Benares also had its own Hindu rulers suzerain to Awadh even before Karnal, thus ensuring the loyalty of the Hindu population.
 
A strong ulema - well, that’s a considerable change from the (old) Mughal Empire where every emperor except Aurangzeb tried to destroy its power.
Indeed. There is much to gain in associating themselves with the old Mughal Empire, but the Awadhi Dynasty (I'm sticking with that name until I can think of something better) aren't looking to re-found the empire as it was, but rather are carrying over the institutions and patterns of rule that were developing in Awadh and mixing them with Mughal methods of rule elsewhere.
So who wants the biggest

slice of Maratha flavored pie?

Awadh: ME!!
And the Awadhis are going to stuff as much Mughal territory as they can into their chubby little cheeks.
the pie is a huge deep fried mashed potato patty.
I don't get the connection, but I felt it.^^
I figured it was kind of like a giant naan bread, but I suppose it's all good.
Interesting update. Mysore's development of a European-style army is going to have some big ripple-effects, especially in terms of military officers. Considering the wealth of the Indian regions, I can see kingdoms such as Bengal and Awadh hiring foreign and even European commanders to further develop their troops, like what the Sikh Empire did IOTL. As a knock-on, the hiring of these foreign men could make India even more exoticised in the Western press; I dimly remember reading an account of an American commander whom served in Sikh-ruled Punjab getting gloriously popular back home.

On another note, Iranian-style secularism is going to be a shoe-in for India, given the ethnic and cultural mix of the new muslim-ruled states. With that said, the Shia creed of the Awadh rulers might entice some educated folks from Iran to emigrate there, and the latter might not see eye to eye with the Awadhis' patronage of Hindu temples.

Speaking of which, is Benares/Varanasi under the Awadhis or the Marathas?
The pattern of hiring European military officers may well offer a route to riches similar to those open to the Nabobs of OTL, though ultimately this will be for the benefit of Persianate-Native run states as opposed for European polities or trade companies.

Ultimately I feel that those Ulema who do move to India (which wasn't exactly uncommon in OTL, as the courts of India were often far richer than those of the Middle East) will have to compromise on their previous views on how non-Muslims should be treated in a Muslim polity, or at least understand that in this area they may not be listened to as keenly by rulers for purposes of realpolitik.
I’d say Awadhi, because any scenario in which the Marathas have Benares means that Allahabad and even Lucknow itself are under threat by the Maratha Empire. Benares also had its own Hindu rulers suzerain to Awadh even before Karnal, thus ensuring the loyalty of the Hindu population.
Varanasi is under the Awadhis by 1804. My impression is that the Marathas for the most part failed to build up a sense of pan-Hindu unity that may have enabled them a greater measure of support amongst the non-Muslim population. Not to advance the view of tolerance too far, but contrast to the "clash of religions" impression of Indian history, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh rulers usually ruled with at least some measure of tolerance, to do otherwise would have been suicidal.
Can't believe I just found this timeline; amazing writing.
Well be prepared for more treats ahead in the future;)
Many thanks! The good news is that this timeline is not going anywhere any time soon. Right now the plan is to go ahead at least until the early part of the 20th century, but depending on how I feel at the time (this is still a year or more off) I may continue it further.
 
Southeast Asia - 1784 to 1804
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Crisis and Consolidation: Mainland Southeast Asia at the turn of the 19th century

Burma’s sack of Ayutthaya did not result on the conquest of the Chaophraya Basin by Burmese forces. What it had managed was the next best thing, namely the near-total destruction of Thai power in Southeast Asia, at least for the time being. Burma’s control of northern Tai states such as Lan Na was confirmed, and her ambitions for westward expansion could now be pursued in earnest. The death of Hsinbyushin in 1784 barely slowed down the wave of Burmese expansion, which had reached Assam by 1790. The involvement of India’s great Northwest power in a war with Awadh allowed the Burmese to gain dominance over Assam in the 1790s, giving the Burmese a foothold on the Indian subcontinent. With Arakan conquered by 1786, even Chittagong was threatened by Burmese forces, but even the aggressive Konbaung kings thought better than to attack Bengal, in part due to the depopulation of Burma. Indeed, by the late 1790s the aggressive wars of her kings had gained Burma a large empire but had emptied its treasury and had left the country denuded of manpower. Bodawpaya had recognised the exhaustion of the country following the subjugation of Assam, and for perhaps the first time in the history of the Konbaung dynasty followed a more peaceful approach toward its neighbours.


The Burmese destruction of Ayutthaya marked not only the loss of Siam’s most important city, but the destruction of the state. In the anarchy that ensued, a half-Chinese general named Taksin attempted to re-found a Thai state at Thonburi. Although initially successful, rumours of insanity soon began to spread, possibly leading to his assassination in 1788. Phra Phutthayotfa, Taksin’s friend, closest advisor and possible assassin, attempted to hold the reigns of the state following Taksin’s death, though rumours of his involvement in the assassination of the former king dogged him throughout his short reign, and within months he faced a rebellion led by Phraya Phichai, another follower of the late King Taksin. Within the space of ten years, Siam had seen war after war as well as the destruction of its main urban centre and the depopulation of its core in the Chaophraya basin. Peripheral areas such as the Malay Peninsula and the Khorat Plateau were largely independent, giving the age a lasting reputation for disunity and chaos in Siam.


By the beginning of the 1790s, it appeared as though the worse was over for Siam and that it had entered a period of recovery. Immigration from Tai peoples from outside the Chaophraya basin as well as from Chinese people outside of Siam began to reverse the depopulation that had devastated the core of Siam previously. Phichai’s administration was beginning to solidify along the lines of the old Ayutthaya Kingdom, providing some sense of continuity to Siam’s people, and foreign ships once again began visiting Thonburi. This recovery was to prove something of a false start, as the warlike Phichai would not be satisfied with the task of recovery. He dreamed of restoring the glory of the old Ayutthaya Kingdom, and began sending troops further up the Chaophraya basin, earning the ire of the Burmese king Bodawpaya, who sent armies south into Siam once again in 1793, defeating the forces of king Phichai and sacking Thonburi in 1794. Following a few years of anarchy, Maha Sura Chakri, the brother of the previous rebel Phra Phutthayotfa, established a new state centred on Bangkok, and once again began the long task of restoring the Siamese state [1].


Change too came to Vietnam, as both the southern Nguyen Dynasty and the northern state ruled by the Trinh steadily came under increasing economic pressure. The increasing burden upon the peasants had eventually given rise to the Tay Son rebellion, which destroyed the southern state and indeed put a heavy amount of pressure on the Trinh rulers of the north. Despite the appeal among some literati for a united Vietnamese state, the Trinh were able to weather the storm of the Tay Son, and by 1791 a peace had been established between the two. Divided Vietnam may have stayed, were it not for the border conflict between the Trinh and the Chinese in 1800 which left the former exhausted. In the wake of even heavier burdens placed upon the peasantry to support the costly war effort, rebellion broke out in Northern Vietnam, weakening the Trinh at the time when the Tay Son armies once again marched north. This time, they were more successful and within the year had united both the Northern and Southern states of Vietnam, reunited the country for the first time in centuries.


[1] – Some false familiarity here. Although Siam will be led into the 19th century by the Chakri Dynasty, it will be founded by the brother of OTL’s Rama I (Phra Phutthayotfa), and will be far weaker than the Chakris of OTL.


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Toward Security?: The Southeast Asian Islands
The decisive defeat of the Dutch by the British was a watershed in the history of Southeast Asia’s archipelago. Although the Dutch had kept their richest possessions, the establishment of a British base in Malacca, as well as the opening of VOC lands to trade from non-Dutch merchants, threatened to destroy the power of the Dutch in the region. The establishment of a permanent British presence on the Malay Peninsula encouraged various Malay Sultans to sign treaties of friendship and commerce with the British, with Johor, Kedah and Selangor all signing these treaties in the 1780s. The British soon developed a taste for both spices and forest goods from the Malay Peninsula, and their ships were instrumental in curbing piracy in the straits of Malacca. Combined with a non-existent Siamese presence on the Peninsula, the larger Malay states were to benefit greatly from the relative security of the era.


Harking back to Malacca, the great Malay Entrepôt state of the 1400s, both Johor and Kedah (and to a lesser extent, Terengganu) looked increasingly to trade as a way to shore up their own power. In 1787, the Sultan of Kedah established a new capital at Tanjung on Pulau Penang to take advantage of the increasing volume of trade passing through the straits of Malacca. In addition to the traditional role of an entrepôt state, Malay states turned to the production of trade goods to supplement the incomes of the Sultans. Parallel to the growth of trade was the decline of the Anak Raja, who had previously terrorised the seas of the Malay Peninsula alongside Bugis Pirates. The second half of the 18th century had seen the beginnings of their decline, though the advent of British sea-power in the region expedited their downfall. Threatening Chinese and Indian merchant ships plying Malay ports was one thing, but attacks on British shipping were met with swift responses. The increasing danger of the profession of piracy gradually pushed pirates of varying origins away from the Malay Peninsula and toward more isolated coasts such as Borneo.


The absence of an overbearing Siamese presence benefited some Malay states more than others. Johor’s relative decline in the earlier part of the 18th century, caused in part by Bugis adventurers who set up their own break-away states in Selangor and Sembilan, allowed the Sultanates of Terengganu and Kedah to increase their own influence in the Malay Peninsula. A trend toward growth in the peninsula as well as disruption to agricultural production in Siam increased the value of Kedah’s rice exports in the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. Kedah was able to use this newfound wealth to leverage her position, taking advantage of a succession crisis in Perak to seize territory and secure the submission of their favoured candidate for the throne [2]. This marked the beginning of a wider trend of consolidation throughout the Malay Peninsula which contrasted strongly with the earlier tendency toward the breakup of larger states such as Johor.


For the Dutch East India Company, the loss of the monopoly in Java and the Spice Islands in the east of the Archipelago was nothing short of disastrous. The existing financial problems of the VOC were greatly exacerbated by the loss of trade value, and the increasing volume of trade between native states and other European powers, particularly Britain and France, in the region. The financial situation declined to such a degree that the company was near-insolvent by the 1790s, and nationalisation had become a necessity. In 1799, the VOC charter lapsed and the company was dissolved, bringing the Dutch East Indies more closely under the control of Amsterdam. This change in administration was accompanied by the arrival in 1800 of a new governor who was determined to turn the East Indies into profitable colonies once again. In the Netherlands, it was hoped that by reforming the colonies, they could prove to be assets as the Netherlands was increasingly hard pressed in Europe by the relative decline of the country.


By contrast, the period saw growth for native states such as Surakarta and Yogyakarta. The population of the native Javanese states outpaced that of the Dutch ruled areas of Java, averaging around 1% per year at the end of the 18th century. Despite the growth in population and cultivation, this had not resulted in a growth of prosperity for the majority of Javanese, whose prospects for economic improvement remained hampered by the endemic security problems caused by robbers, bandits and wild animals, as well as the increasingly high taxes imposed by the Sultans. The stresses on Javanese society were increasing as the 18th century drew to a close, and murmurings amongst the Dutch that the Javanese Sultans would have to contribute more toward the defence of the East Indies seemed to herald disagreement between the Dutch and their clients in the future.

[2] - Kedah had an initially promising position in the 18th century of OTL, though the resurgence of the Siamese under Taksin the Great, as well as internal challenges reduced Kedah's status. This may well lead to a confrontation between Terengganu and Kedah in the early 19th century provided a foreign power does not intervene on the Peninsula.

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Author's Notes - Burma marches on and Vietnam is reunited in similar fashions to OTL, though the big divergence here is the weakness of Siam. The inability of Siam to assert itself against the Burmese has led to the weakening of its influence across Southeast Asia, and in particular will have huge ramifications in Laos, Cambodia and the Malay Peninsula. The VOC has become defunct in OTL, though it remains to be seen whether the rest of the Dutch East Indies will be threatened by Britain, as indeed it was in OTL. Here at least, the situation depends on what happens in Europe to a more significant degree than the mainland.
 
the Awadhi Dynasty

Wait a second. Has the dynasty of the Mughal Empire itself been replaced? I didn’t see that the first time round. I don’t think it’s plausible for the dynasty to be replaced, because the line of Timur, Genghis Khan, and Akbar has a legitimacy that cannot be matched by any other ruler. I can imagine the Nawab of Awadh proclaiming himself the prime minister of a blatant puppet ruler and this post becoming a hereditary one, but most certainly not replacing the Mughal line.
 
The decisive defeat of the Dutch by the British was a watershed in the history of Southeast Asia’s archipelago. Although the Dutch had kept their richest possessions, the establishment of a British base in Malacca, as well as the opening of VOC lands to trade from non-Dutch merchants, threatened to destroy the power of the Dutch in the region. The establishment of a permanent British presence on the Malay Peninsula encouraged various Malay Sultans to sign treaties of friendship and commerce with the British, with Johor, Kedah and Selangor all signing these treaties in the 1780s. The British soon developed a taste for both spices and forest goods from the Malay Peninsula, and their ships were instrumental in curbing piracy in the straits of Malacca. Combined with a non-existent Siamese presence on the Peninsula, the larger Malay states were to benefit greatly from the relative security of the era.

This gives me the impression that the Bencoolen Presidency has received a lot more attention that OTL.
 
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