A Destiny Realized: A Timeline of Afsharid Iran and Beyond

the news that the Burmese had concluded their war with Bengal. The Burmese armies had been defeated, and were exhausted from their long struggle with the Bengalis. Burma’s strength had been sapped for now but the Siamese seemed to be well aware that they would eventually recover. Senanurak thus resolved to have the seemingly inevitable Burmese conflict sooner rather than later. In 1813, Siamese troops crossed the border into Lan Na, a Tai-dominated Burmese tributary state and easily despatched the forces of the Lan Na, whose indigenously-made firearms were no match for the European and Middle-Eastern imports of the Siamese. The local population, who for the most part disdained Burmese rule, welcomed the Siamese with open arms. A Burmese counterattack the following year was smashed, and the Siamese forces took Chiang Rai, crossing the border into the Shan states of Burma.

As it happened, the Bengalis were well aware of the threat that was posed by the Burmese, and the new Sultan of Bengal was determined to make a show of Bengali power and prestige, as well as bring the North-eastern corner of the Indian Subcontinent under his influence. Heading off the threat of the advancing Burmese would be an added bonus, and with this in mind, Bengali troops headed north not long after the Burmese conquest of the Ahom capital of Rangpur, supporting a son of the old king and inflicting a number of defeats on Burmese troops. Burmese resistance in Assam would only cease in 1809 following worrying news from Siam, which left a devastated Assam firmly under the influence of the Sultan of Bengal.

I will state I called it that the Bengali will at some point would bring the assam region under their control.
 
I wait the coming Maritime SE Asia update eagerly. I can see the reversal of fortunes for Siam and Burma breeding some resentment as time goes on.
 
As a minor aside, I'd like to point out that sati was not that common of a practice. In fact it was really prevalent only among Bengali Brahmins who were themselves were a small subset of Bengali society, certainly no more then single digits percentage wise. It's fair to say sati was no more widespread than witch-burning in Europe.
It's also confused very often with the Rajput custom of Jouhar, or ritual suicide to avoid dishonor, which was always voluntary and done in wartime. It's so tied to the concept of Kshatriya honor and chivalry that it spread even to Mohammedans. Tipu Sultan famously committed suicide rather than be captured by the British after the Battle of Seringapattam, for example.
Certainly the impression I get is that Sati was not widespread by any stretch of the imagination. As tends to be the case with Orientalists, that which is imagined as backwards in non-Western societies can arguably receive disproportionate attention, horrifying though they may be.
In the final part of the Siamese section, it looks like you out “Siam” where you meant Burma. Right now it reads like Siam beat Siam, which allowed Siam to grow into a stronger power than Siam.

Other than that, interesting update. Would the British be willing to try and reestablish the EIC in Burma, and how would Bengal and Siam react if they tried?
In the final part of the Siamese section, it looks like you out “Siam” where you meant Burma. Right now it reads like Siam beat Siam, which allowed Siam to grow into a stronger power than Siam.

Other than that, interesting update. Would the British be willing to try and reestablish the EIC in Burma, and how would Bengal and Siam react if they tried?
Thanks for spotting that, it should be fixed now.

Weakened as Burma is, the EIC doesn't quite have the power to hand yet to establish herself as she did in OTL. The EIC had been previously kicked out of Burma in both OTL and TTL by Hsinbyushin in the 18th century, but cannot force its way back into the country with the manpower of India as she did in OTL. It's worth bearing in mind that Britain's involvement in Burma in OTL at least partially stemmed from their fears over Burmese expansion to the west.
I will state I called it that the Bengali will at some point would bring the assam region under their control.
Entirely possible. It would be easier for the Bengalis to project power into the region than it would be for the Burmese. What kind of control this will entail remains to be seen but Bengali hegemony in the region seems much more likely than any alternatives.
Who is the current Sultan of Bengal? Siraj Ud-Dawlah?
I assume he was succeeded by his son or another relative, he'd be pretty old in 1831.
Siraj ud-Dawlah would be almost 100 had he survived to the point where the last update ended, which would be legendary. He has passed away decades ago, though Bengal is ruled by his descendants.
I wait the coming Maritime SE Asia update eagerly. I can see the reversal of fortunes for Siam and Burma breeding some resentment as time goes on.
The Burmese are likely to harbour resentment against the Bengalis as well as the Siamese, though tensions with Siam are likely to be the more significant of the two. Siam's position does look very strong for the time being however.
 
Religion and Philosophy in Early 19th Century Iran
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Tabriz, 1830

Sometimes eccentric people can, in spite of their defiance of societal norms, find themselves a place in society. Some do so by rank, others by wealth. Mirza Ali Abdari was in some ways, a little bit of both. The son of a successful merchant, he had made huge sums of money controlling one of the great merchant houses of Iran, exporting carpets and silks to Europe and importing spices and rice from the rest of Asia. This gave him the kind of wealth that made one famous, and was perhaps the most significant reason why a man who was known to walk the bazaars of Tabriz dressed as Farang and not suffer total ridicule at the hands of his peers.


But this was not the only unusual activity he engaged in. His vast wealth had not only enabled him to build up what may have been one of the most impressive libraries in Western Iran, but had given him the time to read it and ponder what was contained in the books. Besides the classics of Iranian literature such as the Shahnameh to religious treatises by Persian and Arab scholars. He was also one of the few to understand enough French to read and comprehend some of the more revolutionary works which had emerged from that country in the previous century. These more unusual literary tastes were tolerated, so long as they were kept in his own private library. For although Afsharid Iran was a land of comparative tolerance, there would be little tolerance from the authorities for works which divorced the concepts of sovereignty from the government. Different religious views may be tolerated, but not when it came to the Shah’s position in the order of the world.


Despite the stifling of any public disagreement with the established authorities, there was however some room for manoeuvre in the thought of what would perhaps be known in the West as “Non-Conformists”, at least in the larger cities of the country where a degree of anonymity from one’s neighbours was possible [1]. It was in this space that Mirza Ali absorbed as much as he could from both Western learning, as well as contemporary and historical Muslim works. This he could do while sharing it with a select few. Sharing this learning with his son Abbas could sometimes become a challenge however.


“So fundamentally, is there actually any difference between what Voltaire and Paine and all their ilk say, and what the Muʿtazila said a thousand years ago?”

Mirza Ali shook his head. “That’s reductionist. What would the chances be that their writings would be a simple repletion of what had been said before? Consider that few Muslims have ever read these old books, let alone these Farangi philosophers”

“But baba, you cannot deny the similarities, all the common themes and arguments”

“No, I cannot” Mirza Ali acknowledged. “But that isn’t what you said Abbas. You clearly said to me that there was no difference, and that patently isn’t the case. Let us have a read again…”


The two read, and after some time Abbas spoke once again. “So this idea of a “mechanical universe”, I do understand that it is something different. Who was the man who had thought of this again?”

“Newton”

“The Angulasa?”

“Yes, that’s the one. I don’t read English, and I’ve never managed to get my hands on French translations of his books, so I’ve never been able to read his work directly, but from what I understand, he sees the whole universe as adhering to its own laws, set by God at the beginning of time” As Ali Mirza spoke, he did realise his own ignorance of what was apparently an increasingly fundamental element of the Western way of thinking.

“So what role does God play in this world? Does this mean we are pre-destined or?”

“There is no broad consensus on qadar, remember that Abbas” [2]

Abbas nodded. “So what is the value of these foreign writings?”

Inshallah you will realise one day. The Muʿtazila wrote, a human’s reasoning abilities are important, as revelation is. I suppose that in this regard, they are more honest than those scholars of the other schools”

“And what of the Jafari’s?”

Mirza Ali smiled. “Everyone is a Jafari’ in this country and no one is my son. The Shah’s official Mullabashi states that we are all Jafari’s, and for nearly a hundred years of the rule of the Afsharids, it seems as if no one can explain whether they are aligned with the Sunni or the Shi’a”

“And everyone in Iran follows their conscious regardless”

“Correct, to a certain extent. People follow the beliefs of their community, and we have held the peace in our country this way. Too much blood had been shed over the question before, in the times before the Afshars, so to avoid this Muslims must tolerate other Muslims”

This raised a question in Abbas’ mind however. It was the way of all people to search for a definitive answer. History had been marked by conflicts over which idea was the truth and which was mistaken. Why indeed, should Iran’s stability on the question of religion be a permanence rather than an interlude? Why would the reign of Shahrukh be a temporary blot rather than a prelude to something far worse?


[1] – The heterogeneous nature of the Iranian Empire has meant that in larger urban centres, the mixing of Sunni and Shi’a, as well as non-Muslim religious groups, has created something of a “gap” in which those who aren’t too public with their possibly heretical views to exist.


[2] – Qadar, or predestination is an important element in Islamic theology and philosophy. It is a fundamental belief in Sunni Islam, and yet Shi’ism for the most part asserts that the future is not written. It is worth bearing in mind that both Sunnism and Shi’ism do predict a complex series of events for the end-days however.


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A Necessary Coexistence - Sectarian Politics in Early 19th Century Iran

Nader Shah’s religious reforms were in essence, a way to suppress the problem of religious conflict within his army. As a man with military matters on his mind at all times, he was little concerned with the theological infeasibility of the “Jafari’ Madhab” that he attempted to force onto the country, but for his purposes the policy more or less did its job. The Shi’a Persians and Turks and the Sunni Afghans and Uzbeks were welded into an army that was able to beat any of Iran’s neighbours [3]. Although his successors were not quite “rulers from the saddle” in the way that Nader had been, they nevertheless found it expedient to publically adhere to the Jafari’ Madhab. The rule of Shahrukh, which temporarily saw Twelver Shi’ism as the official school of Islam in the Empire, resulted in such a sectarian backlash that when central control was re-established by Emam Shah, the government took an even more lassie-fair attitude toward religion than it had done previously. As far as possible, the government would abstain from an official religious policy, in stark contrast to traditional Islamic practice.


The social currents of the early 19th century were somewhat different than they had been in the 18th century however. The vicious occupations of the Afghans, as well as the persecution of Sunnis under the Safavid Shah Sultan Hussain, had now long passed out of living memory. The Empire remained a confessional patchwork, the centre being largely Shi’a after a hundred years of officially Sunni rule but with the fringes still adhering to Sunni beliefs. This coexistence was not absolute, but many of the most significant threats of violence came from outside the Empire’s borders, most notably that of the fundamentalist Wahhabi movement which burst from the centre of Arabia to sack the Shi’a holy cities of Karbala and Najaf at the beginning of the 19th century. The massacres which accompanied these events met with little in the way of retribution inside Iran, and for the most part the fracture lines tended to be within religious sects as opposed to between them. In the wake of the disenfranchisement of the Shi’a clergy in Nader’s reign, the clerics had moved away from a legalistic approach to one that focused more on spiritual experience, emulating and sometimes joining various Sufi orders.


In urban Iran, different circumstances led to different outcomes. The growth in prosperity, although interrupted by deteriorating conditions around the turn of the century, resumed in the second decade of the 19th century, and saw Iran’s largest cities increasingly wealthy and hungry not only for foreign goods but for foreign ideas. Especially in the west of the country, the importation of Western knowledge did result in a renewed interest in the ideas of rationalism among the elite and even among some sections of the Ulema who catered to these men. Protected largely by their wealth and status within society, they not only took the first tentative steps toward welding traditional Islamic thought to new strains of philosophy coming from the West, but were able to found different institutions, such as the madrassa which would later become the famed Tabriz University. Although the initial focus of these educational institutions were to disseminate scientific knowledge that could be considered useful in other aspects of life, they were nevertheless linked to mosques and participated in the study of Islamic knowledge as well as secular knowledge.


The main divide in Iran theologically appeared to be an urban/rural divide between those whose religious experiences were focused on the spiritual, and those who tended to focus more on the intellectual aspects of the Islamic faith. The Sunni-Shi’a divide was still very much present in the country, but conflict and tensions surrounding it had been lessened by the ambiguous religious policy of the Iranian government. The patterns of early Afsharid Iran may well have continued without the great internal and external changes that would be wrought by the 19th century, but ultimately these patterns would both influence and be fundamentally changed by the subsequent events of the 19th century. However, they were indeed important for the future and must not be dismissed as simple irrelevant preludes.


[3] – For the purposes of this timeline, it should be noted that OTL’s Azeri identity doesn’t quite form as it did in this timeline.

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Author's Notes - I wanted something that would delve into a bit more detail when it came to the religious situation in Iran. To the rest of the Islamic World, Iran shows a face of official Sunni piety, though most are aware that this is a facade, and that Iran's government is "secular by way of neglect". For the most part the Afshars have managed to succeed with the delicate balancing act of different religious groups in the country, though quite how far they can go with this remains to be seen, and religion may once again become a great flashpoint in Iranian history going forward.
 
It’s a funny coincidence that Bengal ITTL is doing almost as well as Iran and the royal dynasty of the Sultans of Bengal is called Afshar.
 
It’s a funny coincidence that Bengal ITTL is doing almost as well as Iran and the royal dynasty of the Sultans of Bengal is called Afshar.
The Afshars are just kicking ass all around in this timeline. It's worth noting that the Afshars of Iran don't have a surname as we understand it, and the dynasty is named for the tribal affiliation of Nader.
Really interesting developments, wonder how this amalgamation of Islamic and western philosophies will look when fully realized.
In some ways, the developments mirror those that took place in OTL under Islamic reformists such as Jamal al-Afghani, Muhammad Abduh and Sayyid Ahmed Khan, though without the background of impending or realised European dominance which will affect how some western concepts are integrated into Islamic thought.
 
Southeast Asia Part Two - Maritime Southeast Asia 1804-1831
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Diponegoro and the Eclipse of the Dutch East Indies

With the victory of the British over the Dutch in the 1778 Anglo-Dutch war, the question of the Dutch East Indies seemed to temporarily hang in the balance. However, the peace treaty, although stripping the VOC of some key ports in Maritime Southeast Asia, left the Dutch with their largest and most prized possession in the region, namely their colony in Java. Having suffered both from a defeat in a colonial war, as well as a generally declining position on the European Continent, the rulers of the Netherlands increasingly looking toward their colonies in the East Indies as a way of guaranteeing their continued relevance as a nation. The increasingly parlous condition of the VOC was some impediment to this, and the Dutch government was all too happy to formally take over the administration of the colonies when the VOC’s charter lapsed in 1799.


For quite some time, crisis in Europe prevented the Dutch from focusing on the reform of their remaining colonies. The Netherlands remained neutral in the wars which wracked Western Europe in the wake of the French Revolution, yet her vulnerable position meant that she could hardly remain aloof, and indeed had to deal with her own revolutionaries, which were defeated by 1802 without foreign aid but whose rising nevertheless frightened their rulers. And as it would transpire, the strategy that the Dutch would use to settle their internal problems relied in part on their rich colonies in Southeast Asia. The colonies would not only be a source of revenue for the Dutch government, allowing them to lessen the burden at home, but they would also provide prestige for the Stadtholder among both his own people as well as the other rulers of Europe. Of course, in order for this to be possible, the Dutch East Indies would have to be transformed from a near-bankrupt, vulnerable chain of colonies into something rather quite different.


The Dutch dispatched the famed and capable administrator, Willem Van Rompaey, to preside over the sweeping changes envisioned for the Dutch East Indies. The remaining native powers would be more closely monitored from Batavia, taxes would increase and the size of the Dutch squadron in the region would increase, paid for by increased taxation from her colonies. Capable Van Rompaey may have been, but his autocratic style grated the Javanese aristocracy, and the peasantry resented the increased burden of taxation, which was on average greater than that of the other Dutch colonies in the East Indies. The Dutch appeared to have pushed the Javanese too far by 1810, when both Surakarta and Yogyakarta erupted in revolt, but the augmented Dutch forces in the region were able to defeat the rebellion with comparative ease, providing one last humiliating check to the Javanese nobility. Both Sultanates were further reduced in size, making them ever more dependent on Batavia.


Here the story of independent Javanese political history may have begun to draw toward its end, cowed as the traditional powers that be were by the Dutch. However, a series of events would lead to a tremendous turn of events on the island. The eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 was an event of global significance, resulting in the “Year Without Summer” which saw famine in many far-flung corners of the globe. In Java, the eruption was nothing short of apocalyptic in appearance, killing tens of thousands. For the Javanese, the eruption was an important sign, and this was followed by a swift deterioration of living standards throughout Java, leading to a wave of millenarian uprisings as the 1810s came to a close.


It was onto this increasingly unsettled stage that the Javanese Prince Diponegoro returned to the stage after a pilgrimage to Makkah and other travels around the Islamic World. Passed over the succession in favour of his more malleable younger brother, Diponegoro not only nursed a great deal of resentment toward the Dutch for usurping his throne, but his time away from Java had changed his outlook greatly [1]. As well as a more normative religious outlook, Diponegoro had developed his ideas on kingship, Java’s place in the greater Islamic world and on warfare. Upon his return to Java, he was very much convinced that he was the man to drive the Dutch out of the island, but he would do so relying not on the court traditions of Java, but on religious inspiration and the anger of the peasantry. In this respect, there are interesting parallels to be drawn with the peasant-led revolts in Vietnam which had preceded Diponegoro’s revolt by a few decades.


Diponegoro raised his standard of revolt in 1817, overthrowing his younger brother Hamengkubuwono III and within a year, expelling all forces loyal to his brother and the Dutch out of both Yogyakarta and Surakarta. Flushed with success, he instituted a new order in the lands he already controlled, imposing a system of Islamic Law resembling that of the Ottoman Empire’s, beginning to train a new army along modern lines and going so far as to declare himself the heir of Mataram. However, by 1819 the successes had slowed and the Dutch appeared to be consolidating their hold on what remained of their colony in Java. Although successful in a number of ways, Diponegoro had failed to sweep the Dutch off the island quickly, and now had to contend with reinforcements arriving from Europe. By 1820, the Dutch were making headway against Diponegoro’s reconstituted Mataram Sultanate, and had recaptured the key towns of Cirebon and Bandung. It looked as though Diponegoro would succumb to the Dutch as his forces were continually pushed back, and by 1821 a number of his allies had already surrendered to the Dutch.


However, 1820 had also seen revolution back in the Netherlands. As committed as the new Dutch government was to holding their far-flung colonies, their alliance with the revolutionaries in France brought them into war with the British as well as Spain [2]. With a base close to Java in Malacca, the British wasted no time in making an alliance with Diponegoro, which the beleaguered Sultan was only too happy to accept. Cut off from reinforcements and threatened by British naval power, the Dutch position collapsed, allowing the British to occupy West Java and for Dioponegoro’s forces to occupy the rest of the island. By 1822 the war in Java, as well as the rest of the East Indies had been settled. Dutch power in the region had been destroyed forever, and this time there would be no restoration of Dutch territories occupied by the British. Diponegoro had seemingly achieved his aim of pushing the Dutch from Java and re-founding the Mataram Kingdom under his own rule.


There was more to this supposed restoration than first appeared however. Firstly he had not conquered the whole island of Java, with Batavia and many of the Sunda lands now in British hands rather than Dutch. His lands had also been devastated by years of destructive warfare, and the task of reconstruction would be a long and difficult one. Most significantly however, the internal power structure of Diponegoro’s new Sultanate differed greatly from the Javanese kingdoms of old. Abandoned by the aristocracy early on in the Java War, he had relied on ties with the ulema to secure his legitimacy amongst the Javanese people, alongside the folk beliefs and prophecies of Javanese peasants. Though not a theocracy in the traditional understanding of the word, the new Mataram would depend far more on religious legitimacy than the Javanese states of old, and furthermore, said religion would more closely resemble normative Islam than the syncretic Javanese Islam which had held sway earlier.


[1] – Diponegoro has spent some time in both the Iranian and Ottoman courts, and besides receiving a more conventional view on Islam, has brought back a few Iranians and Turks with him.

[2] – There will be more about this later for sure. Europe has not been quiet by any stretch of the imagination.

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The Malay World in the Early 19th Century

The informal division of the Malay Sultanates into a Dutch and a British sphere following the Anglo-Dutch War of 1778 was by no means lasting, even if its effects on the peninsula were. For Johor, it further contributed to a breakdown of ties between it and Riau, further deteriorating its position vis-à-vis the other Malay states of the Peninsula. Although some states such as Kedah were able to maintain traditional trade links with the Malay Sultanates of Sumatra, the British and Dutch attempted to prevent this as far as was possible. This division was only one aspect of an increasing European presence in the Malay world however. An increase in European shipping also saw the beginning of European naval patrols, making the occupation of piracy somewhat more difficult, though this seemed to affect the Anak Raja more than the Bugis and Orang Laut peoples. More success was had to the north, where Kedah and Aceh tended to have more conciliatory policies toward pirates. Despite the continued allure of piracy, many Bugis continued turned more heavily toward trade as well as cultivation, continuing their integration into the fabric of Malay society on the peninsula.


In the northern Malay Sultanates, the threat of piracy and the errant Anak Raja partially receded only to be replaced with the far more severe threat of a resurgent Siam, determined to impose its authority on the Malay Peninsula. By this point, Kedah had become the dominant state among the North Malay Sultanates, buoyed by almost half a century of economic growth as well as the possession of one of the great emerging entrepôt cities in Southeast Asia. When Siamese armies entered Nakhon Si Thammarat north of the Sultanates of Kedah and Pattani, they demanded the submission of Malay Sultans in person in the Siamese capital of Bangkok. For the Sultans, this was an appalling violation of previous custom. A letter from the Sultan of Kedah explained that although he was happy to submit to the Bunga Mas tribute, as well as that of men and materials, this violation of his dignity was not to be tolerated. In the end, only Pattani submitted in this fashion to the Siamese king, and through a show of force Kedah, Perak and Kelantan were able to evade Bangkok’s initial demands with a submission of the Bunga Mas tribute.


The period also the spread of Malay cultural influence across the Southeast Asian archipelago. Brunei had long been a stronghold of Malay culture in Borneo, and in the early 19th century Malay culture also had an increasing impact on the Sulu Sultanate, which like the Malay States, was beginning to see the utility of Islam in uniting both its own people and its neighbours against the threat of non-Muslim encroachment. In Sulu’s case, the threat came from Spain, which had maintained a colony in the Philippines for centuries. Piracy from the Sulu Sultanate targeted Spanish shipping in the Philippines as well as raiding for slaves across the archipelago, and the Spanish authorities often had little recourse against the maritime superiority of the Sulu raiders and their fast ships. Unlike the pirates around the straits of Malacca who were still powerful but subject to increasing pressure, those of Borneo and especially the Sulu seemed to have a far easier time of engaging in their chosen profession.

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Here's a map just to give a picture of local developments. Don't say I don't spoil you all, though my mapmaking skills do need development.
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Author's Notes - This time, the Dutch aren't coming back from this defeat. As will be covered in later updates, they have been expelled from pretty much every colony they hold overseas. This will obviously transform not only former Dutch colonies but the Netherlands itself, though this will be on top of the Dutch Revolution. Java seems to have gained a greater measure of independence, though it may be more difficult than anticipated for Diponegoro to place his kingdom within an Islamic sphere, surrounded as he is by British territories and dependent somewhat on their goodwill. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that the effects on Javanese culture as well as economics and politics will be enormous.

And among the Malay States, Kedah's star is rising but with Siam's rising far higher, it seems only a matter of time before Kedah is once again forced to become an official subject of the Siamese King. If this does happen, Johor may well have another chance at becoming the preeminent Malay power, or perhaps a Sumatran Malay state such as Siak would have a better chance.

Next update will be on all the exciting stuff that's been happening in Europe in the meantime.
 
However, 1820 had also seen revolution back in the Netherlands. As committed as the new Dutch government was to holding their far-flung colonies, their alliance with the revolutionaries in France brought them into war with the British as well as Spain [2].
From this, it sounds like the French and Dutch basically had a second revolution not 20 years after the first one ended. Tumultuous times.
 
This time, the Dutch aren't coming back from this defeat. As will be covered in later updates, they have been expelled from pretty much every colony they hold overseas. This will obviously transform not only former Dutch colonies but the Netherlands itself, though this will be on top of the Dutch Revolution. Java seems to have gained a greater measure of independence, though it may be more difficult than anticipated for Diponegoro to place his kingdom within an Islamic sphere, surrounded as he is by British territories and dependent somewhat on their goodwill. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that the effects on Javanese culture as well as economics and politics will be enormous.

So there is hope for the Brtish taking over the East Indies. Especially if they play their cards right with the Malay Sultanates and there fear of Siamese hegemony.
 
After being gone for a while, it's so nice to read this again. :)

Right, onto business. Diponegoro has certainly succeeded where his real-life counterpart buckled, despite his failure in uniting the whole of Java. Given the placement of the British in Batavia and the Sunda lands, I wonder if this will accentuate the rift between the Sundanese and the Javanese. There is already the saying that Sundanese women should not marry Javanese men, and the influx of British culture would add another layer to the division. Besides that, Bali is under Mataram's sovereignty! Did his forces decide to emulate their ancestors' might and invade? Or was there a shared sense of togetherness at beating the Dutch the brought the Balinese courts into the Javan fold?

As for Malaya, looks like the only constant for the land is change. The Bugis and Orang Laut are being pressured to give up their piratical ways, and it looks like some of them are changing their lifestyles. Given the close relations between Malaya and eastern Sumatra, I won't be surprised if some of them became successful intermediaries between the tropical sultanates. And Sulu looks like Sulu; I won't be surprised either if the Malay word for 'pirate' comes from the polity as it did IOTL. Is the state's foreign policy as unpredictable as it was in real life? I can imagine the Sulu court asking the British to trade with them while simultaneously eying their ships in search of plunder.

Speaking of which, I wonder what's the relationship between Sulu and Maguindanao. For all these two states bedeviled the Spanish, I can't seem to find anything concrete about how they saw each other.
 
From this, it sounds like the French and Dutch basically had a second revolution not 20 years after the first one ended. Tumultuous times.
Reports of the death of the revolution may have been exaggerated. Developments in Europe (and her colonies) have been very interesting indeed.
Will you be doing anything on Iran in 2018? Their GDP per capita will likely be about $50k!
Ideally I'd like to bring up the timeline to as close to the present as I can. Quite what Iran would look like depends on how their 19th century turns out, but considering that at least in terms of her state structure and economic development, Iran is probably a century ahead of schedule than she was in OTL (which says a lot about the abysmal state of Iran's development in OTL) Iran's position by TTL's 2018 is likely to be better than in our own world.
I bet all those little kingdoms look pretty good to the Awadhis and Punjabis.
As buffer areas perhaps, but the border regions between the Marathas and Awadhis are rather quite poor when compared to other regions within India. What the Punjabis may well see as a priority in the future is expansion down the Indus with a view to a sea port, though this may incur Persian wrath.
Would be fun to see the neo-Mughals make a play for Gujarat and its coastline. Maybe they could call up some old friends among the Rajputs?
It's a possibility. Unless the strength of the Marathas recovers swiftly, the Neo-Mughals may have a bit of leeway in terms of expansion in the region.
And northwards, they can brush up the old alliance with Kumaon in an attempt to tear it away from Gurkha rule.
Assuming of course that the meme-like strength of the Gurkhas can be overcome of course.
Mataram being Java (which has a metric buttload of people IOTL), I assume Mataram has a few million people?
Mataram doesn't quite hold all of Java, missing out the comparatively populous mostly-Sunda areas to the West, but there's still around 6 million people in Mataram by around 1830. Assuming that the population growth of Java is as swift as it was in OTL's 19th century, Mataram could end up being a pretty significant player in the region later on.
I think it's too early to say for sure.
Certainly a bit too early to make such a precise guess.
So there is hope for the Brtish taking over the East Indies. Especially if they play their cards right with the Malay Sultanates and there fear of Siamese hegemony.
The fear of the Siamese was what allowed the British to gain a foothold on the Peninsula with the acquisition of Penang in OTL (in a perfidious British fashion of course, swindling the Sultan of Kedah). Without the Dutch to contend with, the British may have a shot at consolidating their full control of the Straits of Malacca, leaving them in a powerful position. The British Empire of TTL will certainly not look like our own, but it will be a powerful one in its own right.
After being gone for a while, it's so nice to read this again. :)

Right, onto business. Diponegoro has certainly succeeded where his real-life counterpart buckled, despite his failure in uniting the whole of Java. Given the placement of the British in Batavia and the Sunda lands, I wonder if this will accentuate the rift between the Sundanese and the Javanese. There is already the saying that Sundanese women should not marry Javanese men, and the influx of British culture would add another layer to the division. Besides that, Bali is under Mataram's sovereignty! Did his forces decide to emulate their ancestors' might and invade? Or was there a shared sense of togetherness at beating the Dutch the brought the Balinese courts into the Javan fold?

As for Malaya, looks like the only constant for the land is change. The Bugis and Orang Laut are being pressured to give up their piratical ways, and it looks like some of them are changing their lifestyles. Given the close relations between Malaya and eastern Sumatra, I won't be surprised if some of them became successful intermediaries between the tropical sultanates. And Sulu looks like Sulu; I won't be surprised either if the Malay word for 'pirate' comes from the polity as it did IOTL. Is the state's foreign policy as unpredictable as it was in real life? I can imagine the Sulu court asking the British to trade with them while simultaneously eying their ships in search of plunder.

Speaking of which, I wonder what's the relationship between Sulu and Maguindanao. For all these two states bedeviled the Spanish, I can't seem to find anything concrete about how they saw each other.
It's good to have you back. :)

Diponegoro's revolt has been, if anything, even more strongly religiously driven than it was in OTL. The Balinese aren't quite subjugated but they're unlikely to have much leeway in a Javanese state which will increasingly try to prove that it is just as Islamic as Turkey, Iran and company. And barring the unlikely event that the Javanese are able to push the British from the Sunda lands, the divide across Java is likely to accentuate the division between the Javanese and Sundanese people, which based on my own limited experience (I've only been to Indonesia once) isn't exactly insignificant anyway.

As for the Malay world, I guess the dividing line will be "ordered" piracy resembling what had taken place during Malacca's period of domination versus the more indiscriminate form of piracy which was seen in OTL. With the British becoming more strongly established in Java and the rest of the East Indies however, pirates may be brought under more pressure than they were in OTL.

I've not been able to find much at all on Sulu and Maguindanao. I mean one would have thought that as the Spanish bore down on them later on in the century they would have made common cause but I haven't found much about it.
 
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