AHC: Modern Unified Orthodox Balkan Nation - "Byzantine" revival

As the title states. Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to have an independent nation that englobes the entirety of the Orthodox balkans (modern greece, serbia, montenegro, bulgaria and romania minus transylvania) by the year 1880, with a POD no earlier than 1750 (couple of decades before the national awakening. This country must NOT be a Russian puppet and must get Constantinople and Bessarabia by the year 1900. Each ethnic group is to at least partially retain their own language for domestic use, but have Greek as the language of education, legislation and lithurgy. Bonus points if you get it to percieve itself as a Byzantine restoration.

Good luck!

Edit: Here is a good piece of info for anyone who's not very familiar with the situation

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Deleted member 93645

Catherine the Great had a plan in the 1780s to restore the Eastern Roman Empire after a partition of the Ottoman Empire by the Russian and Habsburg Empires. If this Greek Plan were successful, and the Napoleonic Wars occur on schedule, the French could prop up the restored Roman Empire against Russia and Austria, bestowing them the Orthodox parts of the Balkans.
Thanks for the response

Firstly, while I do find the Greek Plan to be an interesting POD, in reality it seems very unlikely to succeed. While the initial compromise between Russia and the HRE was made, in reality it was evident that russia had a lot more to gain from the end of Ottoman rule in the Balkan area, seriously altering the power balance in the very place the Habsburgs where looking forward to expanding their sphere of influence. Secondly, for whatever terms the two of them planned to impose on the Turks to be imposed they would had needed the aproval of Great Britain and, to a lesser degree, France. And I just don't see that happening. Finally there is the fact that the state that would be born from this struggle would most definitely be a Russian puppet, with the Habsburgs unable to influence it in any way that mattered (note that now Russia would be the ONLY other country in the area).

Given that the time range is so big (130 years), I think there are many good oportunities for something like this to arise; the reason I think a POD on 1750s is ideal is because it was in the 1760s that bulgarian nationalism first showed signs of life, mainly as a reaction to the control of the Bulgarian Othodox Church by mostly Greek ministers, with the subsequent hellenization of lithurgy and church based education being perceived by Bulgarians as a threat to the survival of their literature and their language as a whole, which had been the only thing that had allowed them to avoid assimilation by the Ottomans.

So, off the top of my head, maybe a Bulgarian literary movement starts among the elites around the year 1750 that gives them some sense of security in their ethnic identity and causes Paisius of Hillendar's Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya (basically the first book in modern Bulgarian; it insited his compatriots to resist the hellenization of the church and is considered by some as the basis for Bulgarian NATIONAL identity rising along with the cultural one) to go mostly unoticed or, if the Patriarch of Constantinople has enough foresight, a timely excommunication (in OTL this excommunication was directed to the guy that was eventually appointed as Excharch of Bulgaria in 1870; by then, it was obviously too late). If this allows for Greek to continue replacing slavonic in church (as it had been doing for quite some decades with Ottoman sponsorship) and become an equivalent to what Latin was to Catholics and also continues to be the one and only avenue to western ideas and science then it might have a chance to become some kind of unifying force. For instance, if literary current takes a anti-Ottoman instead of anti-Greek, and pro-Orthodox (that increasingly looks to the Patriarchate of Constantinople instead of some far away "Russia") instead of pan-slavic (which wasnt really a movement until after 1815) vein it is entirely posible for it to become popular among all other christian Ottoman vassals and spread to their respective languages. If it becomes popular enough to transcend into an itellectual current with some politically relevant ideas around wich all Balkan nation can rally then we would have optimal conditions for a nation state to arise when the Ottomans are pushed back/collapse. With the empire's eroding authority in the Balkans and general decay, this "liberation" could happen at many points during the 19th century (though later PODs would have effects on the countries ability to modernise), but there would be an important precedent for translinguistic unity among them. As I said, the time window is pretty huge, and that's mostly so that the necessary social bases for a multilinguistic nation can be set. But that's just one possibility :)
I don't know if I can see Greek becoming the "Latin of the East." The advantage of Latin was that it had no country; in the age of nationalism, the Greek language can't help but be identified with the nascent Greek nation. Even if the Patriachate plays its hand more wisely, it may be impossible for Bulgarians and other non-Greeks to accept further Hellenization of the Church as the Greeks - defined mainly by their language - begin to assert their particular identity more forcefully. Wanting Greek to be both a universal liturgical language and a particular national language at the same time seems like a perfect example of wanting to have your cake and eat it too.
The best place IMO - is the Napoleonic Wars. Let Napoleon storm in, but in 1812, rather than go into Russia - instead see if he can propose a treaty - perhaps a Russian secession of territory to Napoleon, or an alliance, to invade the Ottoman Empire, where neither the Russians or French would be granted the crown but a joint invasion to provide territory for a new Roman Empire - centred around the Greek independence movement. Whoever would be chosen as King, is instead offered the title of Roman Emperor, with the captured territory consisting of the Greek Territories (See Greece/Constantinople, S.Balkans), E.Balkans north of the Rhodopes 'Administered' by the Russians on the Emperors behalf, and the W.Balkans 'Administered' by the French.

Whatever butterflies this has on Europe is for Europe, but lets assume that post-war (say 2-5 years?), Russia and Napoleon still go to war, leading to conflict between the French and Russian Administrations - who are told by the new Emperor (backed by a rapidly expanding and modernising Roman Army) that if they leave, and do not fight on Roman territory, that the Roman Empire will stay neutral in the war. Seen as advantageous by the French and Russian forces, who rapidly withdraw to new frontlines, the Roman Empire starts to establish its Orthodox, Greek Bureaucracy, reinstating the old Roman system of recruitment into the army being the main path to citizenship, with the army operating using Greek.

With northern Neutrality confirmed, and the rise of the new Roman Army, the Romans can try to turn their attentions East - with an Ottoman Empire not only trounced, but wracked by nationalist rebellions, the Romans can invade and try to take territories populated by Greeks. With the army-based route to citizenship, paid for using land that was abandoned by Balkan muslims moving east.

It will have problems, most certainly, how to ensure that the other cultures, whilst being Hellenised through the army (and only the army), don't rebel.

Now, admittedly there isn't a Wallachia or Bessarabia in this Empire - and I doubt it would be ready to take that territory from Russia any time soon - but through some sort of federalism, and democracy - I'm imagining a Constitutional Monarchy, over a Thematic Democracy, or a Democracy of the Citizenry (which is attained by military service), which would mean the entire legitimate demos would speak enough Greek to be in the army - but is still allowed to use their native tongue at home. Combine it with land-payments that could scatter demographics around enough that speaking Greek is more convenient, as per the Romans of old, and you can rapidly expand the state until it has to rely on paying troops using salaries rather than land payments.

The Emperor may well step down, or become increasingly powerless as per the British Monarchy, serving as a tourism attraction and source of national unity - neither really matters.

The only concern I still have is whether the Romans can support a Federal Multi-cultural Empire, whilst at the same time creating Greek as the Common Language. I don't see it as impossible, but it won't be easy.
IMO the Patriarchate of Constantinople might do better to continue its earlier policy of tolerance for non-Greek languages. Before, the Patriarchate was at least somewhat respected by all Orthodox Christians. Overt Hellenization lost it a great deal of that respect, and even problems that didn't have to be 'national' in nature (high-ranking clergy's corruption and collaboration with Ottomans) soon acquired national overtones. All this weakened the authority of the Patriarchate and made cooperation between Greeks and Bulgarians, Serbs, etc. harder than it should have really been. Maintaining a stronger solidarity among common Orthodox Christians in opposition to Ottoman rule would be more useful than imposing Greek - it can be enthroned as the main language of the state once the new "Byzantine" nation arises. But then again, that's doesn't fit the AHC requirements.

The part where the country must not be a Russian puppet is also not easy. Even if the Orthodox ethnic groups launch a united (easy) and well-coordinated (hard) revolution, they still might need the backing of at least one Great Power. Greek Byzantine revivalists were strongly pro-Russian, and expected Russia to play a major role in their liberation; and the Serbs and Bulgarians had equally strong pro-Russian currents. So, while it may grow independent over time, I imagine this neo-Byzantine nation would have to start its life under Russian influence.


The best place IMO - is the Napoleonic Wars. Let Napoleon storm in, but in 1812, rather than go into Russia - instead see if he can propose a treaty - perhaps a Russian secession of territory to Napoleon,
You must have the butterflies flap their wings early on then. Napoleon's beef with Russia was regarding Western Europe and the continental system. He did not intend to conquer any significant territory not in the west(i.e. Poland) from the Russian Empire. This desire for a short decisive campaign led to the goose-chase of the Russian forces that led to the disaster.
Something must happen that forces Napoleon to interfere in the Balkans directly.