Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Basileus444, Apr 30, 2015.
"We're gonna build a better Empire, with Black Plague and Jesters!"
It’s worth remembering that the power balance is swinging dramatically in favour of the Catholics (since the days of Andreas Niketas). They’ve taken back most of the powers from Avignon and the UK and Germany are just as powerful as the Roman Empire. If this new succession war kicks the Empire in the balls again Respect from the West may deteriorate again. From the German perspective Elizabeth is the rightful heir (backed up by her descent from the eldest daughter of Helena I), everyone else are usurpers.
Well, the problem is that the position of Rhomanian Empire was not well-suited for the next centuries, when the center of the world and the main trade routes would shift away from the Mediterranean following the discovery of the New World. England and Holland, and even France and Iberia were far better positioned.
Besides, if one hostile naval power manage to control Gibraltar, the way to reach the ocean for the Empire would be shut.
By the 18th century, for nations like France or England, they could easily strong-arm the Empire by simply bringing some ships-of-the-line and having them firing just as a threatening message. Oh, and if realpolitik trumps religion, they would be a target for Russia.
Not really. TTL Roman Empire has been very trade-focused over the last few centuries and her trade prospects are better than the Ottomans' have ever been.
-Romans never became complacent with having a spice-trade monopoly like the Ottomans did
-Romans favour blue water navy
-Romans have built a large network of trade ports and spice factories across the Indian Ocean and beyond
-Romans have built large ship-building and weapon-manufacturing industries on the other side of the Suez Isthmus
-Romans have converted and integrated various ethnic groups across its eastern holdings, creating a large dependable population base (notably unlike the Western Europeans - Romans are playing the long game)
-Romans have powerful maritime allies in Ethiopia and Orthodox Japan
-Romans are actively contesting the control of the Strait of Malacca and the Spice Isles against European rivals
-Romans have powerful naval squadrons in the Indian Ocean constantly hunting rival spice traders
The title of "Main Spice Trade Route" is very much in dispute.
In addition the trade routes across Panama have been closed off by the Mexicans who now have enough modernized armies to put up serious resistance against European encroachment in Central America. Without New World gold Western Europe will soon enter economic crisis for lack of specie.
The Empire has no interest in the Atlantic, it owns the Suez route.
How do you figure the UK will do that when the Empire has Eastern Mediterranean locked down with fleets of equal quality?
Russia is a fractured mess more interested in fighting itself. In addition realpolitik interests will ensure Russia will stay friends with the Roman Empire, not target it. Why on Earth would the Russians turn hostile when the Empire ensures stable trade through the Straits, is Russia's biggest trading partner, is the biggest ally it has against the Catholics to the west, and is proper Orthodox to boot?
Are you sure you remember the events of this timeline? As HanEmpire has explained, none of the things you've said makes much sense.
Gibraltar is only a base, and not even on the narrowest part of the strait. Before mines, airplanes and long range artillery of 20th century you only close straits with a bigger stronger fleet, Gibraltar itself isn't that important.
Empire isn't on the Atlantic trade routes, but it's right there on the Asian one, which are if anything more profitable (much more people and money there).
Why do you assume Triunes (UK) would gain any significant advantage in naval technology? They are both first rate great powers of comparable abilities.
Realpolitik is not just overlaying OTL relations in TTL. OTL Russia had interests in Black sea region because Tatars pillaged and enslaved it's southern territories, it was bordered by hostile muslim states (not much trade there) and Ottomans blocked russian access to Med. In TTL Black Sea if fully orthodox, a huge trade hub and Russia has free access to Med.
Realpolitik you think you see isn't there.
I mean, depending on the POD that allow the Romans avoid their fate.
ITTL, the POD is after 1204, which, IMO, is a little too late.
Also, how come the UK suddenly becomes Triunes?
It was a fact that the Mediterranean was unsuitable for large ships like carracks or galleons during the 15th-16th century. Most of the warfares here involved galleys, which were a dead-end path. There is a reasons why big ocean-going ships were developed in countries which have access to the Atlantic.
I think this is borderline ASB.
The UK is an island, which means it does not have to maintain a huge army. This is not the case for the "Roman" Empire.
Any version of post-1204 "Roman" Empire is not going to expand all the way down to Arab Peninsula or Egypt to get access to the Indian Ocean. It's just too weak to do so.
Besides, it is a fact that Roman military technology began to lag behind the West during the OTL 13th-14th century.
This is the 17th century, but wait and see.
IIRC it's the United Kingdoms of England, France and Ireland. So UK for short.
They control most of France, they have a pretty big army organised around their "Tours" system, enough to beat back Arles (supported by Castile) and a distracted Germany.
So basically England won the OTL Hundred Years War
First, this is the continuation of a previous timeline, in which are written how exactly events occurred for the world to get to this particular situation. Read that first, then snipe about this one.
It basically went the same as in ITTL: some guy thought, hey maybe it would be a good idea to just build a bigger cog, add a bigger forecastle and aft-castle and put canons on it. Then fight Muslims with it. The technology evolved from there. It's just that in with just that this time it was the ERE instead of the Venetians who thought it first.
Why? It was close to happen in IOTL, except with Catholicism instead of Orthodoxy. ITTL the ERE instead of the Portuguese are the ones who had close relations with the Japanese, and they were much more willing to arm and support their allies in the Far East. This time the Christian Daimyos in Japan had more support from the Europeans, moved more aggressively and won instead of being defeated by the traditionalists.
This was also not the case for OTL Spain, who was both a great land power and the premiere naval power for a few centuries.
Again, the Iberians. In 1204 nearly half of the peninsula was occupied by the Caliphate and were divided into Portugal, Castille, Navarra and Aragon. Spain in 1604 was an European superpower and owned biggest (and most profitable) swaths of land in the New World.
I'm not seeing any real issues to stretch believability here.
I’d like to also add about the plausibility of the ERE to expand and become again a great power in this timeline. Besides the Spanish as Sir Omega pointed out just simply look what the Ottomans accomplished 250 years after Osman’s death conquered the Balkans Hungary Anatolia the Levant Mesopotamia Egypt the Hedjaz Vassalized a large portion of North Africa.
Jesus it’s like play EU4 on easy with cheats if that isn’t ASB then what is and this happened. Plus there are others examples look what Cyrus the Great did or Alexander.
Rapid expansion almost always is followed by a complete collapse. Alexander's empire didn't last after his death after all and neither do most conquerors. What you get with the Ottomans, TTL Romans, and other successful large empires is a gradual expansion and consolidation. 250 years is an eternity when, theoretically, you could pull an Alexander and conquor the known world in a few years.
You are right i just wanted to make a point that these kind of conquests/expansions are feasible consolidate these gains is another matter
Really? Oddly enough I seem to remember that the post 1204 geopolitical continuation of the Byzantine empire did exactly that conquering Syria and Egypt, fighting it out with the Portuguese in the Indian ocean and sending expeditions out all the way to modern Indonesia. And given the way the post 1204 Anatolia was fragmented in over a dozen states which one would come on top was largely contingent on matters like frex Andronicus II disbanding the army in 1282. Or the house of Lascaris being backed by the Anatolian peasantry and vice versa and the Palaiologues hostile to it. Or the personalities of the early members of Osman compared to say the beys of Karaman. And so on.
You didn't read the timeline did you?
You should really read the timeline before commenting on it. This is not a "what if" speculation thread, these things already happened in the story.
Besides, it's really good.
Since TTL UK obviously has land based threats and has to divert substantial resources from their navy it's obvious they won't achieve the naval supremacy of OTL.
It appears that the seas will be contested by the Romans, Portuguese, UK and Dutch TTL, will this increased competition help spur more accelerated developments in ship building and naval technology?
Stark: I feel the same way about the term ‘Byzantine Empire’. It’s a cool name.
RogueTraderEnthusiast: That was the point of coining the term in the first place, to belittle them and distance themselves from the “real Romans”. I have read (but can’t remember where) that if you called a native of Constantinople a Byzantine they’d go ‘yeah, and?’ It wasn’t an insult if you were referring to an inhabitant of the City. But broaden it and it’s clear you’re just being insulting.
Namayan: It’s pragmatism. The Romans don’t see any point in needlessly insulting an Emperor who has potentially 20+ million subjects, so as long as Munich isn’t poaching on the ‘of the Romans’ bit in official correspondence between the two realms they’re willing to swallow some pride. Although behind the Germans’ backs…
Westerners calling them Rhomaioi: That wouldn’t work since everyone knows that you’re just calling them the Greek word for Romans. It’s what the Romans/Rhomaioi/Byzantine/Greeks call themselves. So by using that term they are legitimizing the Romans’ position, not undermining it. It’d be like someone deciding to insult Germans by not calling them Germans and instead calling them Deutsch.
HanEmpire: And a lot of that is from OTL.
ImperatorAlexander: Yup. Andreas Niketas was the high-water mark of the Romans overshadowing the rest of Europe. They can still be a big player but they’ll never regain that (comparative) height again.
Thank you to all who responded to Thomas‘I didn’t read the TL’1195’s points.
JohnSmith: Short answer, yes. The top of the line warships produced by all the premier naval powers (Rhomania, The Triple Monarchy, Spain, Lotharingia) are comparable to OTL warships 40-50 years from now (2nd and 3rd Anglo-Dutch Wars).
"Many things can be said of this era, both good and bad, but one thing is uncontested: they knew how to dream."-Excerpt from Summoning the Ancients: A Brief History of the Historic-Romantic Era
"That book is far too powerful for you. Only the greatest masters can master the Compendium of Sideros, and you are very far from that yet, Mr. Strange."-Excerpt from Doctor Strange
Between Eras: A Cultural Interlude
The first third of the seventeenth century has often been called the beginning of the modern era as many factors taken for granted in modern eras have their origins in this period. At the same time some historians have called it, rather than the late 1400s, the real finale of the Middle Ages as many of the most distasteful elements of the medieval period are on full display.
By 1633, the New World colonies are already an important part of the European geopolitical and economic landscape. Although many of the smaller islands are still unclaimed by any powers, the plantations already established are changing the European diet with their mass influx of sugar, kaffos, and tobacco in unprecedented quantities. Less appealing, the use of African slaves by the thousands in the cane fields is already beginning to plant the mind virus that black Africans are an inferior breed to Europeans; a pamphlet arguing such as justification for slavery is printed in London in 1629.
On the northern mainland, Vinland is doing well for itself exporting furs, fish, and timbers but the population is still extremely small with Malmo exerting very little actual authority on the ground. The true success story here are the Triune colonies. By 1630 they extend more than 800 miles along the coast from Isengard [OTL Boston] to Cape Hatteras, with timber, mining, and small-plot farming common in the north and large tobacco plantations in the south.
The attitude of the Triune colonists, which already number almost 60,000, towards anyone who is not them, is rather poor. Although cooperation with natives is done, the zeitgeist of the colonials show that those times are merely tactical expedients. The end goal is the complete displacement of the natives from any valuable land. Somewhat of a scandal are the number of individuals, often indentured servants, who flee colonial society and ‘go native’. These people, officially classed as ‘race traitors’ in a 1632 Isengard ordinance, are to be killed on sight.
Slaves are present throughout the colonies, although economics mean that they are concentrated towards the south; that said the use of slaves for hauling timber in the north is becoming common. The number are only a fraction of those in the Caribbean (the number of Caribbean slaves is over a hundred thousand by 1640), but the concept of Africans as ‘inferior beings’ seems to have originated from the southern colonies, possibly in reaction to puritan religious immigrants in the north who disapprove of slavery in general.
The western colonies are an integral part of the Atlantic economy, itself a subset of a now ‘global’ (provided one ignores the collapse of Wu civilization) economy for the first time in human history. A Toledo watch can be shipped to Vera Cruz and sold for Mexican silver. The watch can then be carted to Acapulco and put on one of the Pyrgos galleons (at this point only one or two a year sail). In Pyrgos the watch can be traded for Chinese porcelain. The porcelain is then shipped down to Surabaya to be traded for pepper. The pepper then is shipped to the marts of Constantinople where a Novgorod merchant exchanges it for the furs he’s carrying. Returning home to sell the pepper, he then uses the money to purchase a share in a ship carrying a cargo of Polish rye. In Antwerp the rye is offloaded and sold, the ship taking on a cargo of North Sea herring that is then delivered to A Coruna, eventually ending up on the dinner table of a certain watchmaker in Toledo.
One unpleasant effect of the global economy is general price inflation, which is picking up at the end of this period. The likely cause is the influx of Mexican and Japanese silver. Prices have now more than doubled since a century ago, wages rarely keeping pace, with all the attendant social difficulties.
Rhomania is no more exempt from these pressures than any other early modern state. Bread riots and wage strikes disturb cities and towns; none are significant individually but do illustrate the precariousness of many people’s existence even in one of the richest and most prosperous early modern states. The Roman government does intervene with work programs and charitable endeavors, as well as leaning on the church to contribute as well. That said, given the military’s insatiable demand for money and supplies during the Eternal War, said efforts are hardly adequate. Demetrios Sideros’ argument for heavier church taxation is to ensure these efforts become more substantial and stable. While to their credit, many priests and bishops do contribute to what in modern terms would be called social welfare, many remark that the church as a whole is rather tight-fisted, an observation not limited to the Orthodox Church.
What catches many historians’ eyes though is the increased exchange of ideas that go along with the exchange of goods. This is helped substantially by the growth of two ‘pan-national’ languages which have come to dominate much of high European society by the end of this period. These languages are Greek and French.
The prominence of Greek is well established. Knowledge of the Roman tongue is extremely valuable amongst the various Roman vassals and in the rest of the Orthodox world, while in Hungary, Lombardy, and Spain it is still a useful skill. Within that zone it has become the international language since the reign of Andreas Niketas.
The prominence of French is much more recent. Although militarily the Triple Monarchy has not been very impressive the last couple of generations, culturally it has shined. Opera, developed in Paris, has captivated the hearts of many with opera houses built from Lisbon to Riga. In sculpture, music, and poetry the Triune dominance is near complete. The German lands are by no means bereft of similar accomplishments but these fail to expand beyond the German linguistic zone.
In science too the Triunes have been proficient. The microscope is invented in Caen at the same time as the Academy of Sciences is established in King’s Harbor. The Academy isn’t a school but a meeting place where scholars can gather and discuss, provided that religion and politics are left off the table.
The Academy is a microcosm of a pan-European ‘college of letters’. By 1630 scholars from across Europe are discussing various questions amongst themselves in correspondence, the topics varying from botany to physics to political science. If one can master French and Greek, then one can communicate with practically nearly every member of the ‘college’.
This ‘college’ is not anything even remotely resembling a formal structure, but one unwritten rule is that theology is to be left out of the conversation, with some exceptions such as that shown below. As a result, relations between individuals is much more amicable than might be expected from the political tensions between the great powers, particularly at the end of the period.
One item of great interest to the ‘college’ is the discovery of the ruins of Pompeii in 1618 with some small excavations already taking place within a decade. Some credit this as the beginning of the modern discipline of archaeology, although the methods are exceedingly primitive and haphazard by modern standards. Still some historians see this discovery, which give the people of the era direct access to the world of antiquity, inspiring them with ages past, as a significant impetus to the character of the ensuing era, the Historic-Romantic.
Another topic discussed is the idea of international law. Even before this era there has been some progress in this area. By 1600 the execution or even imprisonment of an ambassador would be considered a most heinous crime; the fact that many Asian and African powers, including the Ottoman Empire up until 1550, do not concur is one argument for questioning whether such powers can truly be call civilized.
In the first third of the 17th century, some moves are made to soften the edges of warfare. Although nothing is codified, customs are arising for the fair treatment of captured officers in war (common soldiers are usually conscripted in their captor’s armies) as well as better treatment for enemy civilians. The Roman sack of Buda was legitimate under the rules of war, and although brutal was not extreme by the standards of the early modern era. However some quarters view the Roman actions there as rather uncouth. The Roman response to such protests is usually a contemptuous sneer and the remark that Latins seem to have no such misgivings when it comes to them sacking Roman towns.
Although completely uninvolved in anything related to law, international or otherwise, one prominent individual involved in the college is one Abraham Spinoza, a Lotharingian Jew who is often called the father of Biblical criticism. In 1622 he is excommunicated by the Antwerp Jewish community for his writings on the Bible. His crime is treating it as a historical work, with all the source criticism that entails. He argues that Moses could not have written the Pentateuch and that Deuteronomy specifically was a cynical power ploy by the Jerusalem priesthood to enhance their authority .
While the Jews of Antwerp are horrified by his heresy, Spinoza corresponded with several Christians throughout Europe who are more sympathetic to his arguments. One of his most frequent correspondents is Demetrios Sideros who sends him a dispatch of 7,000 hyperpyra after Spinoza’s excommunication for moving to Amsterdam, a small merchant and fishing town in northern Lotharingia. In one letter Demetrios writes “the actions of the deity in the scriptures our faiths share in common are those that, if conducted by a man, would mark the perpetrator as a most cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant; said man, if he were to come under the jurisdiction of the Roman law, would receive the severest sentence possible under that law.” (The Sideros-Spinoza letters, of which there are 14 surviving, 8 by Sideros and 6 by Spinoza, are the basis for many historians’ arguments that Sideros was an atheist.)
The less-than-reverent attitude toward Holy Scripture is a sign of things to come, but is a distinct outlier in this period. For one feature of the era noted by historians is the significant and often violent uptick in religious fervor.
There are a couple of possible explanations for this. The social dislocation caused by inflated prices may have people turning to religion for comfort, and the era is filled with outbursts of plague and famine. None of these are comparable to the disasters of the 14th century, but things are worse than they have been especially after the comparatively benign late 16th century. The plague and ensuing famine in Roman Syria in 1626 alone killed a quarter million in the space of six months.
Also the religious-political landscape has suffered several seismic shocks in the recent past. The Great Uprising and the Eternal War and the Sundering of the Rus scarred the Orthodox Romans, while the sack of Mecca and abduction of the Black Stone was a hammer blow to the Muslims. The conversion of Hungary and Scandinavia alarmed the Avignon Catholics while the horrors visited upon Hungary by Roman arms terrified Rome. Is it any wonder that many feel that apocalypse hangs in the air?
And in dark times, it is the minorities that suffer. The pogroms in Sicily were a devastating blow to the local Jews and there have been more such attacks throughout much of Europe, some sparked by the infamous blood-libel. Much of the Rhineland, Pomerania, and Bohemia all order their Jews expelled during this period. Although Casimir of Poland does not go that far, his reign does mark a sharp turn from the admirable Polish tradition of (comparative) religious tolerance. A Jew can be publicly flogged for failing to pay proper respect when passing by a Christian.
As a result, the Jewish population in the area bounded by the Rhine, Alps, Baltic, and the Russian border drops by 70% in this period. Most immigrate to the three regions that between them by the end of the period contain two-thirds of Christendom’s Jewry, Rhomania, Khazaria, and Iberia.
Rhomania has several large Jewish communities; that of Constantinople numbers about 8,000. These are concentrated around the Aegean basin, although smaller concentrations exist in Sinope, Attaleia, and Tarsus. The Jews are clearly second-class citizens but they face less restrictions compared to Bavaria for example. In Bavaria a Jew cannot ride a horse; in Rhomania a Jew can ride a mare or gelding, just not a stallion. Also unlike in Latin Europe Jews are not at the bottom; even they can look down on Syrian Muslims.
In addition while the Jews pay heavier taxes, that means the Roman government is even more invested in ensuring the Jews aren’t molested. An attack on Roman Jews can and will end with the instigators on the chopping block. While the Jews know that this isn’t from governmental affection, it is justice they aren’t used to getting from other Christian governments. Finally, there are many economic advantages to residing in Roman society; unlike every other European power, Jews can relocate to the eastern territories. By 1630 there are two thousand Roman Jews in eastern Rhomania, half in Taprobane and the other half split between the three despotates of Island Asia.
Khazaria doesn’t have the wealth and development of the Roman Empire but King Theodoros highly desires the influx of skilled Jewish artisans. Many of the Bohemian and Polish Jews end up here, concentrating in the few Khazarian towns and particularly in Kazan. A few who have connections with Roman Jewry become quite wealthy by streamlining the exports of fur to the Empire, where the dynatoi and mesoi have a seemingly insatiable demand for fine pelts for coats.
Iberia is a promising new destination in this period once the war with Al-Andalus begins. Ferdinand doesn’t trust the Andalusi Muslims after Nasr’s coup, but he knows that in the face of Marinids he can count on the steadfast support of the Mozarabic Christians and Andalusi Jews; Hayyatist Islam likes to ignore the parts of the Quran about treating fellow peoples of the Book decently. More Jews means additional manpower for keeping the local Muslims in line.
Although the opportunities for Jews in Spain are growing under King Ferdinand, he does bar Jews from settling in the overseas territories. Mexico is the one place overseas, aside from eastern Rhomania, where Jews can settle. Although they come in much smaller numbers due to the expense of travel, the Jews of Mexico come for the same reason their brothers go to Khazaria. The Komnenid Emperors value the influx of Jewish manpower and artisanal skills and the native Mexicans don’t have a tradition of anti-Semitism.
It is not just the Jews that suffer though. This time period is the height of the ‘witch scare’ and tens of thousands of women (and a few men, but less than 10% of the total) are burned to death for witchcraft in this era. The patterns here are different than for the persecution of Jews. Arles sees the most of witch-burning, with a third of all such executions in Europe in this period, but there are no Jews in Arles (the Jews were expelled before the Kingdom was even established and the order was kept on the books). Southern Germany, which sees no new Jewish expulsions in this period (although the odd pogrom here and there), comes up second in the murder of ‘witches’.
There is also a distinct upsurge in the activities of the Inquisition in both the Avignon and Rome Papacy. Bohmanist groups are spreading in both areas, with surreptitious support from the Triune government. An Anabaptist sect has formed in the upper Rhineland while the supposedly sorcerous Book of Enoch, published by a Venetian printing house in 1615 (after being translated from Ge’ez to Greek by a Roman scholar ten years earlier), is gaining a dismayingly large fan club. Demetrios Sideros owns a copy.
In modern eyes it is Spain that comes out looking best in this area. In Spain the per capita rate of witch-burning is a tenth of that north of the Pyrenees and the Inquisition is much weaker here. King Ferdinand decrees that the property of convicted heretics is to be split between the crown and the local bishops. The Inquisitors are not to see a penny; they are paid a state salary instead to cover their expenses. This is an effort to reduce corruption. Furthermore all executions have to gain the approval of the local bishop, the regional governor, and the King himself before they are to be considered valid. One Inquisitor who fails to goes through channels and conducts an unauthorized auto-de-fe is hanged as a murderer, the only concession to the church being that the Crown does not sequester the hanged man’s possessions as is its right by law.
The Romans think even less of Inquisitors since all of them are heretics in the eyes of the Inquisition. They are a common boogeyman in Roman fiction of the period and even to this day but even in many Catholic circles the Inquisition is reviled as corrupt and vicious. In one particularly sickening incident in 1615, the pre-pubescent Catharina Latomia of Lorraine is raped twice by her interrogator, although it is claimed in the Inquisitorial report that Satan was the one who did it . With that in mind, the Roman response to Inquisitors is rather understandable; any Inquisitors on Roman soil are to be killed on sight.
 Deuteronomy, the last book of the Pentateuch, is purportedly delivered by Moses to the Israelites just before his death and the invasion of Canaan. Several hundred years later during the reign of King Josiah of Judah, a law book is discovered in the Temple by priests that has been forgotten for several centuries which is the inspiration for Josiah’s religious reforms. Scholars believe said book was Deuteronomy. One argument is that Deuteronomy demands centralized worship of Yahweh, something which had never been an issue in Israelite history till that point. If said text was Deuteronomy, it was discovered by a Jerusalem priest, the group that would massively benefit from the centralization of worship and the ensuing power, prestige, and wealth, which seems rather…convenient.
 THIS IS OTL! The only change I made was to move the event forward from the OTL date of 1587.
The dichotomy of view on "race" between the West and Rhomania fascinates me. I can't wait for Romans to have a mixed-race Emperor! Can you imagine the Triune dignitaries having to bow down to a quarter Greek, quarter Ethiopian, quarter Taprobani, quarter Malay Emperor? They'd have aneurysms on the spot! How do these folks deal with the fact that the Ethiopian Empire is clearly powerful and prosperous?
I thought the Jews were one of the 3 pillars of the Sicilian Despotate alongside the Avignon Catholics and Orthodox. What happened?
Separate names with a comma.