AHC/WI: Germanic Western Mediterranean

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Mr_Fanboy, May 16, 2018.

  1. Mr_Fanboy Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2016
    Here's a question I've tried to get at in some form or fashion with different threads in the past, but I figured I'd ask it more directly.

    After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, much of its former territory was divided between kingdoms established by different Germanic tribes. Important examples include the Ostrogoths and Lombards in Italy, the Visigoths in Gaul and Hispania, the Franks in Gaul, the Vandals in North Africa. However, with a few exceptions like the Anglo-Saxons in Britain, these area did not really Germanize in the long run. Romance languages still predominate in Southwestern Europe, and North Africa is part of the Arab world.

    So, what would it take for most or all of the former Western Roman Empire to Germanize in the long run (linguistically, culturally, the whole nine yards) in the same way that the Arab language and Islamic religion came to predominate in many areas conquered by the early Muslim conquerors? I guess the first step would be to prevent Justinian's partial reconquest of the west by the Eastern Roman Empire (maybe distractions in the Balkans or from the Persian Empire?), and also any other conquests from outside groups (for instance, nothing like the Islamic conquests, which would be butterflied away in such a scenario anyway), but is that sufficient, or merely necessary?
  2. Gloss Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2014
    It would quite hard, a massive demographic collapse(very massive), a heavy resettlement of the various core populated regions and then a continuos streak of Germanic political, social and economic domination and cultural prestige that could push the linguistic border over the centuries, it would require various events to happen, probably no Christianity or have the Germanic population have a very heretical version of that, then a kind of hostility to Roman culture from the Germanic populations, or at least a stronger resistance to it.
    Although even with those things, I have hard time believing Iberia or Southern Italy becoming Germanic anytime soon.

    Maybe have the Roman Empire lose more territories during their late period before actually collapsing, allowing the Germanic populations to have a bigger demographic base?
  3. Mr_Fanboy Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2016
    Let me put it this way: why were the Arab conquerors able to culturally, religiously, and linguistically assimilate a large portion of the Middle East and North Africa where the Germanic invaders were largely unable to do that in the Western Mediterranean? Was it simply that the Byzantines were able to defeat the Ostrogoths and Vandals within several decades of their kingdoms being established, but that they were never able to pull an effective reconquest of most of the territories lost to the Arabs? This wouldn't, though, account for the fact that the Vandals were already Latinizing (losing their Germanic language, their Arian faith, etc) by the time the Muslim invaders came knocking, and the Lombards eventually assimilated as well.

    So, what's the difference?
  4. Socrates Well-Known Member

    Mar 13, 2011
    Prestige. Romanness was far more prestigious than Germanness, as it had been the height of civilization and advancement for centuries. With the Muslims, Arabic was the divine language of God and Arab practice was codified in the teachings of the prophet, so in post-conquest society, Arab language and culture was more prestigious.
    The Undead Martyr and JDF_01 like this.
  5. Mr_Fanboy Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2016
    Now, interestingly, I did make a thread asking about the feasibility of an "Arian Muhammad" - that is, someone capable of uniting the different Arian Germanic tribes into a cohesive religious/political/military force that conquers much of the Western Roman Empire.
  6. funnyhat Well-Known Member

    May 27, 2013
    It seems though that the linguistic shift to Arabic occurred before the religious shift to Islam. The shift also was slower (or didn't happen at all) in areas that did not already speak Semitic languages - Persia continued to speak Persian, and the Berber languages survived to the present day.
  7. Planet of Hats Ahmadi-Cruz Parlante Gang Donor

    May 10, 2016
    Land of Rust and Snow
    A lot of it is down to the Banu Hilal and Banu Sulaym several centuries later. It is hard not to become significantly Arabized when a million Bedouins show up, trash your farmland and make themselves at home. Also, the Almohads going convert-or-die on indigenous Christians.

    Christianity survived for quite awhile after the initial Arabic conquest of North Africa. For ex, the Arabs founded Kairouan as an administrative centre - but it had a Catholic bishop for apparently centuries. Hell, there may even have been some vestiges of African Romance language kicking around Ifriqiya until the Banu Hilal came through and injected the region with a massive shot of Arabity, undermining urban life and promoting an increase in nomadism in the region as they did so. While Arabo-Berbers were certainly around, there was a more distinct identity associated with the local people - not so much a Berber nationalism, but "These people are Zenatas, these people are Masmudas, these people are Barghaouatas," and so on and so forth.

    You might just end up needing another massive wave of Germanic migrants flocking to some of these areas years later to mix culturally and genetically with the population. Even then, there'd need to be a lot of emphasis on stability and the primacy of Germanic languages as languages of trade, administration and culture. As it was, many of the Germanic arrivals in the initial migration did what a lot of conquerors do and became a ruling class. You'd need enough of them for the language to become mixed with the ways of the common folk.
  8. Mr_Fanboy Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2016
    Would it be enough to, for instance, have the migrating Lombards vassalizing by the Ostrogoths and settled within their empire in a world where the Byzantines never invaded Italy, rather than replacing them after the OTL invasion? Here you have another group that's Germanic, Arian, etc.
  9. Mr_Fanboy Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2016
    Or, what about the Norse as the Berber equivalents in such a scenario? They did IOTL settle in Catholic kingdoms and largely assimilated (the Normans abandoned paganism, adopted French, etc), but if they settled in the successors to the old barbarian kingdoms where elites spoke Germanic languages and practiced Arianism, surely the Norse would likely adopt those traits and could hasten the Germanization of those areas, no? They're already fairly cultural close to the Germans.
    Last edited: May 16, 2018