Yeah.
Anyway, this is my first post here, and it looks like people get banned for pretty much no reason, but I had this idea and I'd like to discuss the possibility of it actually happening.
The premise is that the Roman Empire collapses sooner, probably during the Crisis of the 3rd Century (and when I mean collapse, I mean entirely collapse). There is no savior that appears, or maybe all of Rome's heroes die trying, and the empire is lost.

Of course, the immediate successor (politically and economically) is Byzantium, but we'll focus on Gaul for now. Now, given what the Empire of Gaul actually managed to achieve (nothing) in OTL, it wouldn't be unrealistic to call it there and have the west essentially disappear from history, but lets say that the nature of the collapse puts Gaul in a better spot than they were, and they remained entirely unchallenged for their initial rise. Christianity is, of course, still expanding into the Empire at this time; knowing the trends of history, huge, terrible events usually cause people to challenge their beliefs, so the faith might actually spread a little faster in the parts of the Empire that were hit the hardest. By the time the Christian religion converts most of Italy, the Gallic empire has collapsed (due to my skepticism on whether or not it could survive it's next few leaders), maybe even a couple different times. By whatever means, the tribes are no longer united.
Here is where I might see some objective backlash. I'm a student of Theology, and have never tried to put my ideological biases toward it, but there's a clear cultural or genetic link between north/western Europeans and Protestantism. Excluding France (and even they had the Huguenots), all north/western European countries are Protestant and share the same general complaints against Catholicism (quite socially restrictive, dislike of large or mandatory tithes, less focus on the 'collective' aspect of church and more on the personal side, not open to self-guided progression through faith). If what I've said before had actually happened, I think Gaul would become a new pocket of Christianity.
Charlemagne, if he would even be born, would grow up in a 7th century, Christianizing Gaul with an ancient, yet strong culture of respect and adoration toward the long-gone Roman Empire (signature of the Gauls' common opinion of Rome). Having converted to Christianity in OTL, and given it's practical utility in unifying the faiths of his people, doing so would be well in the cards.
Charlemagne proceeds to unify Gaul under the Frankish Empire, spreading Christianity among the tribes-- a Christianity that quickly bears little resemblance to the Greek Orthodoxy (given that there would be no prelude nor reason to stifle eastern theological differences, since there is no western power base in Rome, a Christianity similar to eastern "Orthodoxy" would be the default, based in Byzantium). Since the regions of contact between Gaul and Byzantium are essentially just Italy at this time, and with Italy being controlled by various tribes who opportunistically invaded during the collapse (or some minor level of Byzantine control), there's not much motivating the two to really care about each other. Unless Charlemagne seeks to conquer Italy, which would only occur should it be untouched by the Greeks, eastern and western Christianity instead diverge here, with "Celtic Catholicism" taking prominence in the Frankish Empire (or New Empire of Gaul). Speaking theologically, this strange version of Catholicism would still magnify the Roman aesthetic, but in a less prominent way, taking features and organizational structures and Gallicizing them. With this, I call back what I said about western Europeans. I think the main difference between eastern and western Christianity, in this timeline, would be a split between Orthodoxy (correct thought = salvation) and Orthopraxy (correct action = salvation), respectively. This seems to fit well with Gallic culture and north/western European tendencies.

Without too much further writing, I'll extend the timeline up to about 1400, between 800 and which, a very different variety of Northern Crusades happen. The Teutons are converted-- perhaps less violently due to the nature of "Celtic Catholicism"-- to the faith as the new Empire spreads into Prussia. The Huns (who were never fully defeated) and Slavs are dealt with slower than OTL, but wouldn't remain an obstacle for long. The Carolingian dynasty, rather than repeatedly splitting the land obtusely, might make the more logical decision (especially in this timeline) to keep the different tribes as reorganized, Christian kingdoms, with descendants of Charlemagne on the thrones of those most directly conquered by the Franks, and loyal, local leaders allowed to keep their own under pretense of conversion... and there you have it, Protestant HRE-- or at least, something kind of like the HRE. Probably not what you were expecting, maybe it's contrived, but I'm interested to hear everyones' thoughts. I've made a quick map to show what I was thinking of while writing, descriptions/borders subject to change.

Oh yeah, and the black plague might shake things up, OR, it might be far less lethal (Gauls are more spread out, pagans were usually described as cleaner than Christian peasants), accelerating the need for colonization once the word of Norwegian explorers got further south. Imagining a Celtic, Protestant HRE colonizing the Americas is a little too tempting.
 

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Hello and welcome to this board! Generally people get punted for engaging too naively (barging in super old threads, bumping their own repeatedly, posting a lot of shallow questions) or in bad faith (mostly in the form of supporting certain cruel and evil factions). Note the trend, avoid the pitfalls.
OTL = Our TimeLine. POD = Point of Divergence

As a fellow student of Theology, I think there's value in discussing Church hierarchy & theological evolution over all those years; there's a lot to unpack on certain strong ethnic claims too.
Even if we assume Christianity still becomes the dominant religion to the degree of OTL (a harder outcome overall), the lack of Constantine's endorsement and personal success means it will be organised differently; would the counciliar system emerge? Bishops become relevant enough to gain their OTL socio-political roles? With such a early POD, we likely have a different to no Augustine (who, I'll point out, was no Northerner); that will have major theological ripples in itself due to his role in the debates over grace, salvation, and Church-State relations.
And finally, we come to an open problem; such a faith would no longer be the perfect tool for aspiring Kings willing to reclaim the mantle of Rome. It wouldn't have such a large governing experience, nor be the essential preserver of literacy, nor have such a strong association with "Rome" itself. While it can survive like Insular Christianity did in Ireland (though I'll note, Ireland was shielded from invasions and struggle to a degree Gaul could never be), it would probably do worse overall outside of this Gaul Empire, even if we assume people still cling to it and not, say, Mithraism or any other competitor.
Going outwards; if said post-Gaul Empire is so tied to Rome, why doesn't it even attempt to grab it? Why would it divorce from the legitimate Emperor and its brethren in Greece (or what would cause it)? What role, if at all, does Islam play in this scenario? Are we assuming Islam does Islam things? If so, it still has impacts on the Church, and frankly assuming we just get alt-Catholicism and alt-Orthodoxy feels tacked on, a way to come to your desired outcome with no relation to the events proposed.
And of course, while alt-imperial-Gauls may not have the cultural use of splitting up land (which wasn't about being obtuse, by the way), those Christian kingdoms will definitely struggle against each other; in fact I would propose that only then, with a orthopraxy-orthodoxy split, would a real Christianisation start, with people striving to prove they are better by the sword because that's what pre-Industrial societies at large did.

And of course, discussing whether the alt-Europeans would want to go beyond the Ocean is another large thread's worth by its own. It also is super reliant on actual political situation around this alt-Protestantism. Frankly, with such a early POD and enough fudging, you can easily contrive anything that makes something close to Protestantism even the catholic and orthodox (lowercase intended) form of Christianity.
 
Hello and welcome to this board! Generally people get punted for engaging too naively (barging in super old threads, bumping their own repeatedly, posting a lot of shallow questions) or in bad faith (mostly in the form of supporting certain cruel and evil factions). Note the trend, avoid the pitfalls.
OTL = Our TimeLine. POD = Point of Divergence

As a fellow student of Theology, I think there's value in discussing Church hierarchy & theological evolution over all those years; there's a lot to unpack on certain strong ethnic claims too.
Even if we assume Christianity still becomes the dominant religion to the degree of OTL (a harder outcome overall), the lack of Constantine's endorsement and personal success means it will be organised differently; would the counciliar system emerge? Bishops become relevant enough to gain their OTL socio-political roles? With such a early POD, we likely have a different to no Augustine (who, I'll point out, was no Northerner); that will have major theological ripples in itself due to his role in the debates over grace, salvation, and Church-State relations.
And finally, we come to an open problem; such a faith would no longer be the perfect tool for aspiring Kings willing to reclaim the mantle of Rome. It wouldn't have such a large governing experience, nor be the essential preserver of literacy, nor have such a strong association with "Rome" itself. While it can survive like Insular Christianity did in Ireland (though I'll note, Ireland was shielded from invasions and struggle to a degree Gaul could never be), it would probably do worse overall outside of this Gaul Empire, even if we assume people still cling to it and not, say, Mithraism or any other competitor.
Going outwards; if said post-Gaul Empire is so tied to Rome, why doesn't it even attempt to grab it? Why would it divorce from the legitimate Emperor and its brethren in Greece (or what would cause it)? What role, if at all, does Islam play in this scenario? Are we assuming Islam does Islam things? If so, it still has impacts on the Church, and frankly assuming we just get alt-Catholicism and alt-Orthodoxy feels tacked on, a way to come to your desired outcome with no relation to the events proposed.
And of course, while alt-imperial-Gauls may not have the cultural use of splitting up land (which wasn't about being obtuse, by the way), those Christian kingdoms will definitely struggle against each other; in fact I would propose that only then, with a orthopraxy-orthodoxy split, would a real Christianisation start, with people striving to prove they are better by the sword because that's what pre-Industrial societies at large did.

And of course, discussing whether the alt-Europeans would want to go beyond the Ocean is another large thread's worth by its own. It also is super reliant on actual political situation around this alt-Protestantism. Frankly, with such a early POD and enough fudging, you can easily contrive anything that makes something close to Protestantism even the catholic and orthodox (lowercase intended) form of Christianity.
Perhaps I'm hedging a little too much on the will of the Gauls to "make it happen," but I'm still interested in discussing the broader world and implications (especially with Islam and in regards to an alternate Christian theology, glad to meet you btw).
So, I don't want to "argue" for my original post, since this is about what might realistically happen, but I do think some of my predictions had merit. Firstly, to establish my baseline for my opinions, I think that history is largely motivated by three factors: individuals' will, genetic predisposition, and religious belief.

On the "tacked-on" alt-Catholicism and alt-Orthodoxy, I don't want anyone to think that this Gallic Empire would be anything close to Catholic. Without Rome, and with only a mirror of a legend to work off of, the Christians in Gaul would be very Gallic, and their aesthetic/general dogma would vary slightly from place to place. The Orthopraxic nature, given Charlemagne's "might = right" style and heavy-handed, law-and-order figure, would totally contradict medieval Catholicism, and I agree that it would be far less concerned with preserving Roman knowledge (if as much had even survived their destruction). The split from the Eastern Church is largely, as I said, a genetic predisposition; northwestern Europeans historically favoring Protestantism and being a more, I guess, "Faustian" people (think Germany, England, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, and with Northern Italy and France being the Catholic exceptions) as opposed to the less-"Faustian" east, which didn't end up playing nearly as big a role in colonization or industrialization. The split between East and West had already been brewing in early Christianity, even during the 3rd century, so the departure from each other would only be an inevitability that would simply come quicker. Ultimately, Celtic Christianity would be very pagan-inspired, very honor bound/warrior-cultured, and very ingrained in local tribalism (proto-nationalism). These would be the unifying things that Charlemagne would enforce with his conquests during the "unification" of the tribes. Given his original success, there's no reason to believe he might fail against a fairly less-capable Germania (as they had even less industrialization or advancements from Rome, given that it fell so early). If good steel, chainmail, and early-medieval technology arrives a hundred or so years later than OTL, we still get a sizable, well-maintained, well-governed power in the west with a huge barrier (Hungary, the Pale, and the Alps) that separates the Gauls from the Greeks. If the unifications (up to the Baltic) take a total of 100 years, all while slowly converting the populace, Byzantium would still be struggling against Islam, the Huns, and the Persians, relatively all at once. So long as the Mediterranean remains the graveyard of Rome, it would probably stay that way.
I did imagine a much more pagan/Germanic-dominated Europe with the collapse of the Roman Empire having basically destroyed all that remained of the Latin-speaking parts of the civilized world, so in my imagination "going for Rome" would have had about the same implication and rewards to Charlemagne (still not sure he'd even exist, but I'd say it's more within the possibilities of the scenario) as it would have to the United States when the Yucatan asked for annexation-- somewhat tempting, there are trade routes to exploit and a clear strategic advantage, but the "heart" of the Gallic Empire would be up north, probably focused on very slowly spreading Christianity to the other tribes.
Now, saying that Rome and the vast majority of Italy is essentially a dirt hole in the ground (dotted with small Greek vassal states) by ~840, I think the real prize for the Gauls would either be Iberia (and North African trade), or eventually going to North America and reaping the bounty over there. In regards to European colonization, there were far more motives than "I'm going to India, right?" that led Spain-- and as a more relevant example for this, Britain-- to colonize the new world. I say Britain since they would be much more similar in religion and genetics to Alt-Gaul, and their response to the Alt-Black Plague/Crusades would have be the catalyst for seeking new lands and having a few brave explorers head off along the routes the Norwegians took.
For Islam, since I don't know nearly as much about it as I do Catholicism, European paganism, and Orthodoxy, may or may not be completely different. Let's say it still rises because "why wouldn't it?" The followers of Muhammed go out and spread up to Iberia, Afghanistan, and the Caucasus. Gaul probably fights the Caliphs for control over Iberia, whereas the Eastern Empire fights them over the Mediterranean sea. Islam has no trouble going into Africa or India like in OTL, but would probably end up controlling the same area. I say this because Byzantium, for all it's lack of Italy and the rest of the Empire, would have less to politically and economically deal with toward the west, being divorced from Gaul.

Now you were definitely right, I didn't even begin to consider the alternate philosophers and theologians that would come out of this. I would think some of them might have survived in the Byzantine Empire, but they definitely wouldn't have the same opinions. The POD is likely too vast to accurately predict what Augustine might change his opinions on (or what he is/is not divinely inspired to do), but if he went to Gaul, he certainly would have had an utterly titanic role in shaping the faith there. The Gauls would also, absolutely, fight amongst each other. Much like the OTL HRE, and countless other examples, the Gallic Empire would be rife with inter-state conflict and dispute, which would eventually split the empire a few more times amongst it's former tribes.
 
Why the "absolutely"?
Considering that every known Human polity has exhibited this exact behavior, I wouldn't doubt it. Also, since the culture of the Gauls would remain largely as it was (at least for a while), they would still consider life and combat to go together like bread and butter. Not to mention the endless alternate squabbles among the nobility/tribal leaders for power over their local regions. I would think that their internal conflicts would be more numerous than OTL's HRE due to the cultural changes.
 
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