Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Ellie, Feb 18, 2014.
With a PoD no earlier than 1780, create the strangest plausible 19th century, simple as that.
No successful U.S. Constitution gets written causing the United States to develop into a bunch of small independent states constantly warring against each other. Not that strange, but a start.
The French Revolution doesn't descend into the Terror and remains relatively enlightened. The Cult of Reason becomes a defacto state religion and spreads it's influence across Europe and into the Americas.
Strangest in the new US? In Europe? In the world? And strange how -- chaotic or dystopian? Or with fringe ideas and nations of OTL doing better? Or something else?
King Louis doesn't run causing Lafayette's constitutional monarchy to succeed = Napoleon becoming the Wellesley of France; no Louisiana Purchase probably a earlier American Spanish War instead; revolutions in South America unsuccessful; maybe even Empires of New Spain and such in which the King of Spain is also the Emperor of New Spain, so on so on
A series of meteorites strike Europe in the 1870s...
What? It's been done?
Can we please make this a collaborative TL? I can probably find some obscure PODs from around this time...
In addition to the Cult of Reason, keep France using Decimal Time and the Republican Calendar, while the Orthodox still use the Julian calendar and the rest of Europe keeps the Gregorian calendar, just to make scheduling a nightmare.
Well I think in such a timeline historians would consider it more 'natural' than strange, but: the successful modernizations of more non-European countries.
So maybe the Ottomans, Egypt, Tunisia, Persia, China, Siam, Panjab. It's not unreasonable to expect a few stronger/charismatic leaders e.g. Selim III, Guangxu (?), Ibrahim Pasha(?) to at least succeed in achieving military parity (at least) with the West. That would well wipe out the 'historical' narrative/course of the non-West in the 19th Century.
Also, maybe have a more charismatic/brutal Napoleon-esque leader in Mexico or South America who can act as a counterbalance to the US.
But maybe for Europe, a nice PoD could be if Napoleon had actually gone through with his original plan to go to Constantinople during 1795. Given Napoleon's ambition he could probably have risen quite far in the ranks, perhaps even effecting earlier Ottoman reform/resurgence. That would certainly change the look of Europe in the 19th Century.
Well, if Guangxu can get rid of the control from Cixi, there might be a chance, but I think the dowager were way too powerful for the little emperor and the supporting intellectuals (who didn't know how to play their cards, if they have any). So maybe different sperm combining the same egg leading to a series of different heirs of the royalty who were both much competent and open-minded, therefore you got so many butterflies, such that Cixi won't even exist, such that the Qing dynasty will be the superpower of the world.
Anyway, for me, I think that OTL 19th century in short, is a Europe-wank, so if you want an "weird" 19th century? Have the Europeans wank much less.
A 'wank' is where a nation or other group does much better than would be reasonably expected. A 'screw' is where a nation or other group does much worse than would be reasonably expected. This is not the same as a situation where a group simply does very well; otherwise it would be possible to say that the last ten years have been a veganism-screw because most of the world still isn't vegan (even though it's virtually impossible to imagine a scenario where veganism would dominate the world from that starting point) or that the fall of the Western Roman Empire after 450 CE was a Rome-screw (even though by then the WRE was unstable, tottering and weak in a variety of ways so its fall was virtually certain).
The nations of Europe had lots of advantages in the 19th century that made their success virtually inevitable. It would be incredibly unlikely for any other state of affairs to take place.
Let me clarify: the PoD can start anywhere, but it has to drastically change the world. That means "spreading" to other countries, not just making one country a little different.
With a drastic and early enough POD anything can work: no Hebraic monotheistic reformation, and the world some 2,400 years later would be very, very different...
But my original requirement was a PoD no earlier than 1780. By "anywhere" I mean location.
What are the odds of a Marxist-inspired revolution occuring in America some time in the late 19th century?
I didn't realize Napoleon thought of going to Constantinople. Hmmm...
POD , a carriage accident kills Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette in 1783. The U.S. is largely unaffected and still has its Constitution, but a decision is made that all territories would be free - that is, without salvery - as young Dauphin is influenced by regents who not only realize France is in awful shape and needs reforms but who also is anti-slavery. His views are adopted by Jefferson, who has always admired France and who takes takes and man's ideas and runs with them when in 1787 he is ambassador to France.
Napoleon goes to Constantinople, where he starts to rise in power, while reforming the Ottomans. However, he faces challenges from those who greatly distrust him. The Ottomans break into a Civil War eventually between reformers and traditionalists, while Europe's nations form into staunch alliances of France, Spain, and Austria versus Britaina nd Prussia, with German and Italian states in the middle and both sides courting Russia.
Napoleon's forces gain the upper hand, and Napoleon launches an invastion of Persia to secure its Eastern borders. He then attacks with his full military might agaisnt Russia, which had attacked thinking the Ottomans would be busy with the Persians for a lot longer. Britain is agaisnt Russia at first, fearing the Ottomans will lose (and Britain not wanting to see Russia get Constantinople). However, after some initial Russian success (since the Ottomans were busy with Persia) the British see Napoleon crushing the Russians and they begin to wonder if they made the right call. Austria, in order to gain territory, and Sweden, to see if they can get something back after the losses in the Great Northern War, join in, and the Swedes capture St. Petersburg.
Starting with a crushed Russia by 1810 would be a very interesting start.Who does Napoleon go after next? Could he try to smash Austria fromt he east to get Hungary or even Vienna?
Meanwhile, the U.S. has had skirmishes with Spain over Louisiana, but even if the rest of Europe doesn't get into this war (and they might) the Spanish had major economic problems. Eventually, Mexico woudl probably revolt and the U.S. would help in exchange for land, so would get some of Texas and the West, anyway - perhaps San Francisco Bay are but not Los Angeles.
Napoleon might see Russia, not Britain, as the #1 enemy he'd like to crush for good in this TL. But, it's so big, I wonder if he could. Others might start to turn against him. And yet, if the Ottomans are destroyed, Britain would worry about wh takes Constantinople. Unless they can inspire a Greek revolt and let a Greek kingdom be a puppet state - except OTL they only held the penninsula after their war for independence, nothing near what they do today. So, whatever the outcome there it might seem very strange as opposed to OTL.
Yeah, after a brief stint under the Army of Italy in 1794, Napoleon was imprisoned as part of the fallout from the death of Robespierre, took part in a fruitless expedition against Corsica, and then was posted to suppressing rebels in the Vendee. So you see why he was a bit miffed at France, and why he wanted to go to the Ottoman Empire. It was only the October royalist insurrection in Paris that allowed him to get into the good graces of the Directory.
Would it be remotely plausible for Napoleon to successfully create a middle eastern empire like he briefly fantasized about doing?
Also, increase Mormonism and Bahaii to their largest plausible size could certainly help. An independent Deseret which keeps polygamy around would be strange, especially once you got into the twentieth century.
Also, have the Taiping Rebellion succeed, and the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom takes control of at least part of China.
Spiritism taken far more seriously? People such as Victor Hugo and Conan Doyle were its strong advocates, and for sure many other believed in it if not so openly; and it was generally not seen as incompatible with the Christian faith (to-day only 'divination' / 'foreseeing' is condemned by the Catholic Church). Reinforce it with Theosophy, and one can have for instance an openly Christian pre-Aleister Crowley being to Queen Victoria what Rasputin was to the Tsarina. In such context some officially backed researches are not excluded, in the same way as (reportedly) during the Cold War both the USA and the USSR funded researches on 'paranormal' potentialities, mostly telepathy (so useful for instant communication with submarines). Specially some may remember that according to many traditions dead people can see the future (in Germany, a re-reading of the Völuspá in the wake of the Wagnerian craze?), and which government would dare to totally ignore the possibility? Hence necromancy could be the object of active, if secret, experiments, with the old ouija evolving to an automated astral telegraph...
Such atmosphere in the 'high circles' would have a rich echo in the rural areas, where many people were still ready to believe in werewolves and the Wild Hunt, or at least that the bone setter / water diviner, or that old woman, can 'curse' your neighbor's cattle and well or your wife's lover...
Not quite Ano Dracula but rather weird nonetheless.
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