A Destiny Realized: A Timeline of Afsharid Iran and Beyond

First of all, apologies for the late reply. I've actually got a trip to Japan coming up (I fly out on Friday) so there has been a lot of preparation around that which has eaten time that would usually be spent writing. I won't be able to get any updates out while I'm over there, but I'll get the introduction/teaser of the cycle of updates posted before then.
What Asian powers other than Japan and China would be developed? I think Burma.
Probabaly Siam too.
In the future? Well as in OTL, Thailand's maritime orientation and rich, rich agricultural lands may help her going forward, but development in the European sense certainly won't be coming to Asia for a few decades. There's still a number of candidates for the first industrial nations outside of Europe, but some of the more modernised countries such as Mysore lack key resources such as coal. Iran has a good amount of easily-accessible coal and close proximity to Europe though, just saying...
Prussia FTW!
I am impressed with how intelligent and meticulous this Frederick Wilhelm is compared to his OTL counterpart, so what changed?

I am holding out on France and the American Republic backing revolts in Spanish America in the future to compensate.
One cannot keep a good Prussia down. For now at least. Frederick Wilhelm is, for all intents and purposes, a different character than the Frederick Wilhelm III of OTL, with different parents and growing up in a different environment.

Revolutions in South America that are more ideologically motivated and less motivated by the resentments against the Peninsulares may well change not only the revolutions in Latin America, but the whole trajectory of history within the region. I'm not saying for certain it's the way things will pan out, but I'm certainly thinking it out loud.
Not what I expected, but good enough! Frederick Wilhelm must have balls the size of mountains to orchestrate and succeed at such a level of trickery. How does Britain feel about this?

But what of Persia and the Ottomans? With this new Holy Alliance to their north and a sense of begrudging “hang together or hang separately” between the two, will they begin probing for European allies or trying to meld together their own holy league?
Too bad about Poland though. I wish it could have survived.
As far as the British are concerned, those countries susceptible to revolution have been thwarted and reliable monarchies have been strengthened. That being said, there is in the UK, as in OTL, a strong movement of romantics who despise the policies of their government and who are a bit more sympathetic to the idea of revolution. A bit crappy what has happened to Poland though.

What Persia and the Ottomans will do will be interesting. Despite the conflicts between the two, Nader's idea of the Ja'fari Madhab was in part designed to avoid war with the Ottomans, with the removal of the Shi'a adherence which had made it legally justified to wage war on the Persians. With Europe a growing threat to both (especially the Ottomans) we could see more cooperation, and such cooperation could prove useful when attempting to bring Kurdish tribes on the borders to heel.
I meant East Asian, we all know Iran is OP. By 1900 I bet their population will be like 60 million.

@Nassirisimo what is the capital/largest city? What's it's population, and can we get more on how it's more modern than the rest of Iran and is also on par with European capitals?
I'll have a bit of an overview of Iran quite soon. If its population grows at the same rate that Britain's did in the 19th century, Iran by 1900 will definitely be approaching at least 55 million which is pretty damned big. Despite her aridity she also has quite a bit of potential for agricultural growth helps too.

Mashhad is the capital and largest city, but by this point (1830) it is a bit overshadowed by cities such as London and Paris. The population is around 600,000 but there are several other large cities such as Isfahan, Tabriz, Baghdad and Bukhara.
With India being under native rule for the foreseeable future, would there be any need for China or Japan to modernize? British-led Western projection of power into the region is likely more commercial based than anything, and I doubt any sustained military campaign the scale of the opium wars would be viable. Even Russia might not do much--IIRC there was a lingering fear of a Chinese reconquest of Outer Manchuria until very late in Imperial Russia's existence--especially after the Ili crisis.

With chaos in Europe and foreseeable European competition in the Indian Ocean, will Iran or the Ottomans see integration into the European alliance system?
To be fair, quite a bit of the motivation for the reform movements in China and Japan will have been taken away. The British do have a base in Java, but it is unlikely to provide them with the resources that were important in breaking into China. Japan may be more vulnerable provided power can be projected there, and a different kind of impact with the west may transform the politics of the late Tokugawa era (which may not end up being that late depending on how things go). Russia has the advantage of a contiguous land border and similar resources to OTL, but the fact that these resources are largely thousands of miles away across the Urals may complicate things.

The Ottomans are more likely to be integrated into the European alliance system, but it depends on whether the Revolutionaries can ally themselves with the Turkish "Jailor of Nations" or whether the Monarchies can ally themselves with the Heathen Turk. Iran is distant enough to be somewhat aloof, though may be looked at as a secondary ally, as indeed she was in the Napoleonic Wars of OTL.
Looking at that world map, I wonder what the average Ottoman turk thinks when s/he looks at a map and see the godzilla-sized Iran sitting right next door.

Also, didn't expect the Mossi to make an appearance in West Africa!
Well to be fair most of it just empty desert populated by nomadic tribes. But certainly this tl Iran urban population are larger than otl thanks to the stability Afsharid brought.
Mapmaking in the Muslim World still isn't the exact science that it's becoming in Western Europe, but by the 1830s it has really come a long way. Although the Ottomans are aware that the Iranian Empire is significantly larger, the Ottomans are also aware that their state is more densely populated, not having quite the vast expanses of desert that the Iranians have.

Iran's population is significantly higher than its OTL counterpart (think around four times the size). This isn't simply due to the larger expanse of the empire, but a century of relative peace and calm as opposed to brutal civil wars and internal divisions have helped increase population growth, besides investment in agricultural infrastructure and the like.

Indeed, the Far East sans European incursions likely doesn't see nearly as much social/economic/political upheaval (no mass unemployment of porters in Qing China due to Europeans opening up new ports for trade, the Japanese gold standard doesn't get exploited, less cholera, etc.) but there's also no pressure to purchase arms and naval equipment in the quantities that OTL China and Japan bought from Europe. Fewer students would be sent to the West to study, for one, since the Eastern world still remains Sinocentric. Technology would trickle in but it won't be at the pace of Meiji Japan, almost certainly.

Though unrest and militancy were on the rise even in the absence of Western influences OTL. The Qing and Joseon were having increasingly severe revolts leading into the 18th century (the latter having rebellion after rebellion even during isolationism in the 19th century) and Japan is going to get hit by multiple significant natural disasters in the 1850s, just due to geological events being set in stone. While the Europe being limited does buy all three more time, without significant changes to the institutions in those countries, the late 19th century/early 20th century would've likely signaled in an age of revolution in East Asia.
I would suppose that when these governments do come under internal pressure, the direction that any possible revolts or revolutions take depends partly on the geopolitical situation as well as how ideologies have spread in the 19th/early 20th centuries.
Can there be a list of all nations/empires with over 10 million people plz? I wanna see who has potential.
I'll try and work in a statistical update at some point soon.
Just finished reading this timeline. Well done Sir!
Many thanks!
Well, historically speaking Thailand did have something like that under King Mongkut.
What’s Thailand’s GDP Per capita, again?
Hardly a Meiji. Japan's modernization was after all under very specific circumstances.
It's complicated. Thailand isn't quite an "undeveloped" country in the sense that its Southeast Asian neighbours (sans Malaysia) is, but it obviously isn't Japan either. Thailand didn't exactly have an easy path in the 19th century, and didn't stay independent purely because she was too strong to conquer. She could not have pulled and upset victory in the way that Japan did. Nevertheless, she had several capable kings who were able to centralise the country and put it on the path for a fairly good 20th century.
so when's the new update gonna come? I wanna see Iran modernize!
The rest of the 19th century is gonna be fun, by the looks of it.
It's certainly fun planning ahead for it, and I'll assume the same is true of writing it. As I'd mentioned, I've been rather busy for the past week or so but I should have a new update ready on or around Friday.
 
The Dawn of a New Age - Introduction to Part 5
Iran as a Great Power? Iran's place in the World in the 19th Century

Although some of its lustre had been lost in the near-century that had followed Nader Shah’s death, the revived Iranian state under the Afsharids was still a power to be reckoned with. For the countries of Western Europe, it was not only a trading partner but a potential check on the growth of Russia. For China, it was the great eastern neighbour, far from an equal in the Sino-centric worldview of the Qing court but a factor to be taken into consideration nonetheless. But for other Muslim countries, it was far more significant. Iran was a counterweight to the Ottoman Empire, the supposed inheritors of the Caliphate. It was a model for state formation throughout the Islamic World, and many a sultan and emir from Java to West Africa modelled their own countries consciously or not on Nader’s model of centralisation based on a strong standing army. Indeed, the country that had most successfully emulated this model was the Ottoman Empire itself, which in some ways had exceeded Iran’s efforts due to its close proximity to Europe and the pressures on the state which that had created.


Although problems were mounting by the beginning of the 1830s, Iran was still prosperous. Its population of 23 million were relatively urbanised, and Iran’s capital of Mashhad was still amongst the largest in the world with some 600,000 inhabitants, though by now it was overshadowed by cities such as London and Paris as well as Beijing [1]. However, a testament to Iran’s urbanization was the number of large “secondary” cities with populations of over 100,000 which included (but was not limited to) Isfahan, Tabriz, Baghdad, Kabul and Bukhara. The relative tranquillity of Iran had allowed the country to become a centre for trade, particularly for goods travelling from Northern India into Europe. Travellers from elsewhere in the world spoke positively about Iran’s great systems of irrigation, which as of the early 19th century were undergoing continual improvement, ensuring that Iran had more than adequate irrigated farmland to support the growing population, no small feat in a country with relatively low rainfall. Growing population densities, internal security and a stabilization of food prices, helped along by government policy as well as investment on the part of landlords, helped contribute to the growth of internal trade and market specialisation.


Although the impact of European textile imports had begun to make itself felt by the 1830s, Iran was not as hard hit as others. She was geographically shielded from European invasion in a way that the Ottoman Empire wasn’t, had ample room for settlement in a way that Japan and China did not despite the vast areas of desert within the country [2]. Although Iran did suffer from famine, such as the famous 1816 famine which killed hundreds of thousands and shook confidence in the government, the system of managed grain depots managed to mitigate many of the effects of famine, and the availability of good farmland avoided the social pressures in the countryside that afflicted those countries whose land shortages had led to revolt. Declining wages within Iran’s cities did lead to a measure of unrest there, but as the Iranian Shah Emam had said, “it is the farmer and their success which sustains us all”. His nomadic sheep-herding ancestors may have been disappointed at his choice of priorities, but the Afsharid’s changed focus from Reza Shah’s reign and beyond had led to Iran’s “Golden Century”.


While Iran’s literacy rate was significantly lower than that of Japan’s, her volume of trade lesser than that of Bengal’s, and her population far lower and less dense than China’s, Iran’s range of strengths suggested that she would be well placed to navigate the trials and tribulations that the 19th century would bring with it. The large, diverse patchwork of various territories that had been sewn up by Nader Shah’s conquests and his successors was far from being anything like a nation, and yet the power of Persian culture proved to be a powerful adhesive even as its influence in South Asia was waning. Not for nothing did European commenters and politicians at the time rate Iran’s chances of maintaining its power as fairly good, even as they increasingly thought the Ottoman Empire to be doomed.


[1] – This is a huge contrast to the Iran of 1830s of OTL, which was a land of some 6 million people, perhaps as many as half of them nomadic. Even without the challenges of the 19th century, the chaos of the 18th century had left OTL’s Iran a poor, ignorant backwater.


[2] – This in itself is an interesting point. Although much of Iran was (and is) desert, increased benefit from irrigation and other agricultural infrastructure that was not present in OTL due to different land ownership laws have made more of the country cultivatable. Travellers such as Jean Chardin had noted that even under the Safavids, much more of the country could have been made arable with the right efforts undertaken, and the same is true even of Iran today.

* * * * * *

The World at the Dawn of a New Age

By the 1830s, Western Europe had definitely diverged from the rest of the world economically. A shift towards industrialised manufacturing had been taking place in Great Britain since the middle of the 18th century, and the pace had only quickened in the first decades of the 19th century, despite spates of warfare that engulfed various parts of Europe. Britain found that if markets had been cut off due to warfare or unrest in one area of Europe, it could easily find markets for its exports in other places. Its trade with its Spanish ally’s American colonies, in violation of a Spanish monopoly of trade that had been in place since the Bourbon reforms, grew alongside its trade with much of the Atlantic seaboard. Britain’s use of sea power also guaranteed opportunities for its merchants in times of war, as she forced her way into the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia. Through both her manufacturing prowess as well as her naval strength, Britain had established herself as the world’s pre-eminent trading nation by the 1830s. And by 1829, the epoch-making first passenger rail service ran between Liverpool and Manchester.


By this point, the modern manufacturing system had spread to Europe as well. The North of France, including its newly-acquired territories in Wallonia, was undergoing its own industrial revolution, fuelled in part by Dutch capital that was now increasingly restricted from finding its way overseas. Although a barrier to industrialisation seemed to have been reached in the patchwork Holy Roman Empire, as well as the increasingly backward Spain, it only seemed a matter of time before other areas of Europe adopted the same technologies and techniques that were fast making Britain an economic superpower. Despite this, vast areas of Europe, especially in the south and east, appeared to be stuck in semi-feudal systems. Talk of a “European” economic take off at this point seem premature, especially as areas such as Southern Italy, Russia and the Balkans seemed to be considerably poorer than the Yangtze Delta, Central Japan or Mysore. None of those regions could compare to Britain or Northern France however.


But to what extent did this economic superiority translate into other advantages over the rest of the world. With the exception of the Americas and the East Indies, the ability of European states to project power against native states was limited at best. Although Europe’s naval technology and expertise was far beyond what could be found in other parts of the world, the same was not necessarily true when it came to the technology of land-based armies. The Sultan of Mysore in particular was said to have had an arsenal equal to that of any European nation, wielded by a highly effective and modern army [3]. European style fortresses could be found as far away as Vietnam, where they had proved useful in warding off Chinese forces. Those states of Europe that were traditionally aligned against their Islamic neighbours had increasingly had the upper hand for the past century, and European merchants were unrivalled in their global reach, but the future course of world history was still greatly uncertain as the 19th century entered its fourth decade.


[3] – As mentioned before, without the destruction of modernising Indian states such as Mysore, the Marathas and the Sikh Empire by the East India Company, India is home to perhaps the most modern states outside of Europe and North America.

* * * * * *

Author's Notes - The 19th century really gets underway! It's going to be vastly different from our own though, as butterflies have affected pretty much every corner of the world. As of the 1830s, Spain still has enormous holdings in the Americas, Britain's Asian holdings are far less rich and populous but provide her with a base in Asia nonetheless. The Ottoman Empire has been strengthening for decades already by this point, and looks set to be a more effective bulwark against European expansion than the Ottomans of OTL. That being said, the economic, organizational and scientific bases of European power in OTL are still present in this timeline. While some of these are easily adopted, others are not, and although we may not see a Eurocentric world order emerge, her growing relative power will still have huge ramifications throughout the globe.

Apologies for this little teaser of an update, but as previously mentioned I will be in Japan and will not be able to update for some time, so expect something toward the end of November when the 5th part of the timeline will being properly.
 
It's interesting about Iran, despite it's physical geography it is home to many empires in the past from the Medians and Achaemenids to the Islamic empires in OTL. Perhaps, the Afsharids might become spiritual heirs of Cyrus the Great at this rate. I'd say quite fitting, considering Iran is home to the Old Persian Empire and the Sassanids.

With much powerful Iran ITTL and its' ramifications, leading to the more modernised states in the rest of the world, European Colonialism might not be the same as we knew in OTL.

Anyhow, have a safe trip in Japan Nassir!
 
By this point, the modern manufacturing system had spread to Europe as well. The North of France, including its newly-acquired territories in Wallonia, was undergoing its own industrial revolution, fuelled in part by Dutch capital that was now increasingly restricted from finding its way overseas. Although a barrier to industrialisation seemed to have been reached in the patchwork Holy Roman Empire, as well as the increasingly backward Spain, it only seemed a matter of time before other areas of Europe adopted the same technologies and techniques that were fast making Britain an economic superpower. Despite this, vast areas of Europe, especially in the south and east, appeared to be stuck in semi-feudal systems. Talk of a “European” economic take off at this point seem premature, especially as areas such as Southern Italy, Russia and the Balkans seemed to be considerably poorer than the Yangtze Delta, Central Japan or Mysore. None of those regions could compare to Britain or Northern France however.

Wonder how Feudalism will come to an end in this timeline compared to OTL.
 

Deleted member 67076

Those Spanish American colonies at this point are probably far richer than Spain is per capita, and as a whole it wouldnt surprise me if every viceroyalty matched or was close to the Metropole in population.

By this point (considering the Bourbons are still around), they'd have had around well over 50 years of a hemispheric free trade zone, and 70 of relaxed immigration and active settlement policies.

I think at this point the colonies are probably going to be hollowing out the metropole and using their money to buy out politics back home.
 
Those Spanish American colonies at this point are probably far richer than Spain is per capita, and as a whole it wouldnt surprise me if every viceroyalty matched or was close to the Metropole in population.

By this point (considering the Bourbons are still around), they'd have had around well over 50 years of a hemispheric free trade zone, and 70 of relaxed immigration and active settlement policies.

I think at this point the colonies are probably going to be hollowing out the metropole and using their money to buy out politics back home.
Time to move the capital?
 
Those Spanish American colonies at this point are probably far richer than Spain is per capita, and as a whole it wouldnt surprise me if every viceroyalty matched or was close to the Metropole in population.

Wonder if there is a national awakening in the works of these vice royalties.
 
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