Collaborative timeline: Dunes of the Desert, a Timeline without Islam

Chapter 106: Balkanization, A Familiar Concept
The Rhomaic Empire had been the hegemonic powerhouse controlling practically the entirety of the Eastern Mediterranean Basin. However, in the thirteenth century it has found itself to be on the defensive, unable to truly compete with superior Naiman military

The defeat of the Rhomaic army at Kelezene (1) and the direct casualties of the army may not have been that destructive as one may think, but the real Rhomaic military as it was, was unprepared for the lightning speed under which the Naiman forces were able to penetrate into the Anatolian Plateau. Right after having received new from the major defeat, the Rhomaic army has had little time to reorganize itself and strengthen garrisons along the eastern border. In fact, as the threat of the Naimans has been perceived as urgent, over a half of the campaign forces has come from the eastern Anatolian dioceses, which after the defeat were left practically defenceless. True enough, additional forces were pulled from Thrace, Macedonia and Moesia to support the eastern provinces, but the Naimans were able to plunder much of the Anatolian plateau before these troops were able to enter their new positions.

The inland Anatolian plateau has been raided and plundered to such an extent, that waves of refugees from the plateau were pouring towards the coast. The Rhomaic Empire had to pull its forces back to the “Lydian Spine”, the divided between the basin of the Aegean Sea and inner Anatolia.

The Empire has thus shrinked considerably on the Asian continent, now consisting of the Pontic Coast, Bithynia, former Roman province of Asia, Lycia, Pisidia, Pamphylia and Cilicia and the Syrian Coast, as well as Cyprus. These coastal regions protected by mountains to shield them of from the interior regions, which are occupied by the Ilkhanate.

The Pontic Alps are settled by being colonized by Kartvelian-speaking peoples
In the north, the Pontic Alps provide a natural barrier to protect the coast of Trebizond and Sinope from Naiman raids. The Rhomaic emperors allowed “Iberian” (2), mostly Lazic and east Georgian refugees to settle the slopes of the Pontic Alps. The areas settled by these Kartvelians were in the rugged mountain terrain, in the higher altitudes, which had been unsettled by the Greeks at the time. The Kartvelian mountaineers took up a similar role like the Vlachs – taking up the role of mountain shepherds, herding mainly sheep, but also cattle and goats, these highlanders are also noted for their formidable battle skills. Indeed, they are given exemptions from taxation, rather paying tribute by supplying the coastal cities on the Pontic coast with fresh milk, cheese and other produce, as well as acting as border guards, keeping the mountain passes secure for those coming from the “right” side of the borders, and deadly from invaders coming from the wrong side.

The borders of the Rhomaic Empire have shrinked substantially, as the Slavic peoples of the Balkans affirmed independence
Unfortunately for the Empire, the Haemos Peninsula did not provide a safe hinterland, and the hour of weakness was taken advantage of by the Slavic inhabitants of western part of the peninsula. The Croatian state expands southwards, to take control of Lika, the Una Valley and Usora, as well as northern Dalmatia to include Iadera (3), Šibenik and Knin; the southern regions of Dalmatia, from Spalato southwards to Cattaro in the south become the domain of Ragusa, a city-state and merchant republic prospering on the Dalmatian coast.

Bosnia has assumed independence as well, and this mountain Duchy has become an important centre of the Bogomilist (Sometimes also known as Patarenist) faith, which has become institutionalized with its own hierarchy, having its seat in the town of Visoko. Bosnia is located in the largely inaccessible mountain valleys of the Dinaric Alps. The area has found itself on borders between the Catholic and Orthodox; and nominally was within the jurisdiction of Rome; however the Croatian bishops have not send missions so far inland and administered de facto only the coastal strip.

Pavlikian faith, also known as Bogomilim is rather popular among the southern Slavs.
Unfortunately for the Rhomaic Empire, the balkanization process does not end here. The Serbs, a proud South Slavic people seize the moment of opportunity and rise against the Empire to restore their independence. There appear two Serbian state: Rascia located between the Drina and the Morava rivers, and Zeta in the coastal regions, around lake Skadar. They were joined the some Gegarian clans of the northern Albanians.

In Paristrion, the Rhomaic Empire has to counter Kipchak raids from the north, with the Haemos Mountains the heavily fortified Haemos Mountains serving as their primary defences. The Danube proves to not be a sufficiently strong border, and the Karvunans, at first fleeing Naiman attacks to the safety of the Rhomaic Empire, now join the Kipchak raiders and ultimately carve their own state in Paristrion, in the province that was once Moesia Inferior.

The Karvunian Kingdom, squeezed between the Danube and the Balkan Mountains is thus the logical result of Rhomaic retreat to the south. This realms is repopulated by Karvunian (4) who had fled north of the Danube in the past century. The Karvunians are a Slavic ethnic group, who are the descendants of the Slavic tribes intermixed with Danube Bulgarians. They as well have picked up the Bogomilist faith, which is deemed as heretical in Constantinople. This expresses their disdain for Rhomaic rule after all.

Most likely any remaining Orthodox Karvunians living in the cities and the lower altitudes would have come to be assimilated into the Greeks; those living in the higher altitudes have become assimilated into the Vlachs. The Jewish community in Karvuna has enjoyed

Anatolia is populated by a mix of Armenians, Truks and Cappadocian Greeks having retreated to the mountains. The Isaurian language is fightin for its survival, and likely to become assimilated by the Armenians
The Vlachs are the dmoninating ethnic group in the Margos valley (5) and the lands to its east. The Vlachs are known for their Hillman culture and being the Empire´s chief source of recruits. Ultimately, it is the last loyal ethnic minority of the empire in the Balkans, apart from the Tosk Albanians. The Vlachs are Orthodox, and after seeing the Bogomilist heresy spread among the Slavic peoples of the Balkans like wildfire, the Patriarch of Constantinople has commissioned “all monks and hermits who are able to speak the tongue of the Balaxoi, also called Moisian or Dakian to arrive to Mount Athos, and to bring the Word of the Lord to them in their own tongue”.

The translation of the Gospel and the liturgical texts meant that “Church Vlach”, also known as Old Vlach, has become the liturgical language in large parts of the Balkans. Church Vlach is interesting, because it was not written neither in Greek, nor in Cyrillic nor in Latin, but the Vlach alphabet has combined letters from all of these, although the largest number of letter, especially the consonant sound such as “l”, “m” “p” are directly copied from Cyrillic.

The Theodosian Walls are the limits of the authority of the Magistrate of Constantinople
As for the core regions of the Empire, the cities have grown substantially. The city of Constantinople, flooded with refugees reaches a stunning 350 000 people (6). The cities of Thessaloniki, Adrianople, and Smyrna number over 100 000 each. Important cities, although not as populous, include Trebizond, Tarsus and Antioch, numbering over 40 000 each. As a result of the transformation of the society, mainly with the countryside ravaged, and many former provinces (7) lost, the administrative divisions are again reorganized. Magistrates are established in Thessaloniki and Smyrna as well, and these cities are not part of any province. The remaining provinces are as follows: Thrace, Macedonia, Dacia, Epirus, Morea, Pontus, Bithynia, Asiana, Cilicia, Cyprus, Syria and Creta et Cyrenaica.

Being now a more urbanized society, the role of the Senate, a longly neglected institution, begins to take a greater importance. Different factions gradually emerge, which articulate the interests of different groups:​
Faction of Reconquest - backed by the military, this faction seeks a strong military, capable to reconquer lost lands of the Empire, and is heavily supported by refugees from Anatolia, having lost their homes, as well as the Vlachs and the Iberians.
Faction of the Market - this faction is made predominantly by the merchants, who seek to continue to expand the navy, and wish to promote trade opportunities. The Faction of the Market can be seen as a force of liberal, mercantilistic oligarchic republic
Faction of the Purple -This faction supports the strenthening of the imperial authority, and seeks to centralize the Empire.
Faction of the Knights supporting a transition to a fully feudalized Empire. This faction is of course popular among the large landowners

  1. Erzincan​
  2. Kartvelian​
  3. Zadar​
  4. Bulgarians​
  5. Morava​
  6. In OTL, Constantinople had 200 000 in 1127​
  7. Previously the provinces were referred to as dioceses. Gradually their numbers increased through time, and by the thirteenth century, their borders correspond more-less again to the old Roman provinces​


i wish there was a eu4 or ck2 mod for this scenario seeing all those province maps XD just to play around in this fascinating world
i wish there was a eu4 or ck2 mod for this scenario seeing all those province maps XD just to play around in this fascinating world
As the year 1444 is about to be seen on the horizon, an EU4 setup will be published . This will include redrawing the maps available on the EU4 wiki (painted in THICC colour scheme. However, I am not planning to develop the mod .
Chapter 107: Of the Baptism of Lithuania and the Crumbling of Rus
Continuing even further northwards up the Dnieper River, we reach the East European Plain, an area which is populated by quarrelling East Slavic principalities in the west, and Uralic peoples in east and north.

To say that the Russians and the Merya were unprepared for the Naiman invasion is an understatement. The principalities have been too busy fighting each other to take the early warnings easily; subsequently their military prowess was destroyed on the Khopyor River. With most of their cities being protected by wooden palisades, their defences were overcome easily.

The Merya kingdom offered even less resistance. Being relatively lightly populated, the area of the Upper Volga basin was directly incorporated into the Golden Horde. The incorporation of the Merya and related Uralic peoples into the Golden Horde has slightly shifted the religious balance of the latter in favour of the Orthodox faith. Apart from the Merya, there were also other Orthodox subjects within the borders of the Golden Horde, such as the Alans, the Goths and the Circasssians – and ultimately this variety of peoples, as well as their Russian tributaries have convinced the Khans to embrace the Orthodox faith.

The Merya Kingdom was divided by the Khans into four subdivisions, paralleling the tribal divisions of the Volga Finnic peoples. The Merya proper located on the Upper Volga, in the Yaroslavl and Tver regions; Cheremissia in the region of Galich and Nizhniy Novgorod; Murom around the eponymous town and Mordvinia in the easternmost parts .

Novgorod dominates the north of Russia
The East Slavic states were stretched particularly on the north-south axis, from Novgorod being the northernmost to Kiev and Pereyaslavl in the south. Particularly the cities of Kiev, Pereyaslavl and Chernigov have been hit especially hard in the raiding and destruction caused by the Naimans.

In the south, both Chernigov and Kiev have been considerably weakened by the Naiman raids, and the principalities of Odoyev and Pinsk have seceded from these two states, respectively. The strongest principalities in the region are Galicia-Volhynia, Lithuania and Smolensk. The area in the Dnieper Basin is known as Ruthenia, but remains rather disunited.

With Galicia-Volhynia being a strong contender for dominance in Ruthenia, they are able to achieve the consecration of an independent Metropolitan Archbishopric for Galicia-Volhynia from the Patriarch in Constantinople by the 1260s,

The Orthodox Church in eastern Europe is divided into five Metropolitan provinces: Kiev, Novgorod, Merya, Halych and Naugardukas (Lithuania)
The northern region is dominated by the Republic of Novogorod. Novgorod has become a prominent member of the Baltic Sea network, supplying Europe with fur, and has managed to assume dominance over the smaller Uralic tribes of the north- Ingrians, Karelians, Veps, Nenents, Komi and Estonians. For their part, the Novgorodians relied on the local tribes to supply them with fur, and they ruled over the vast lands via local chieftains, who are gradually incorporated into the Republic of Novgorod, gradually taking up Novgorodian customs and religion. It can thus be said that the expansion of Novogorod was a voluntary process, and was fermented primarily by trade. The initial presence of Novgorod was primarily through means of establishing outposts, where merchants traded with the local tribes. These outposts were founded primarily alongside rivers, where Novgorodian merchants buy fur from local trappers. Gradually, these outposts grew, as the native tribes settle at these outposts. In this way Karelia, Ingria, Vepsia, Nenetsia and Komi land all naturally gravitated to Novgorod. In the west, Novgorod secures the Estonian coast to prevent it being conquered by a hostile power, such as the Curonians or, even more dangerously, the Swedes.

The Ushkuiniks were Novgorodian river pirates. Russian own version of Vikings
Novgorod is a westward oriented power, having its interest in being part of the Baltic Sea network, and controlling the fur supply from the Neva and White Sea basins; the Volga basin neitherr the Dnieper basin are the source of interest for Novgorodian expansion. True enough, ideally, Novgorod would happily see a disunited Volga basin, consisting of a number of quarrelling states.

With Novgorod being an aristocratic republic, it differs significantly from the other East Slavic realms, and the general populace enjoyed much more freedom ,and the peasants, however few of them there were, had a significantly better position than in Ruthenia. Especially important is the upholding of a rule of law, enabling a sense of legal security. This allows for private initiative, much to contrast a rather despotic manner that may have developed in a Russia under a stronger Naiman yoke (2).

As for the Baltics, five independent realms: Curonia, Latgalia, Lithuania, Sudovia and Prussia. These realms are all native Baltic kingdoms and Duchies (3). As for Estonia, most of it has been conquered by the Republic of Novgorod, which establishes a fortified city in the place.

As for Latgallians, they have been able to conquer the Livonians, who were their northern neighbours, and most importantly, they have wrestled control of the Daugava estuary (4) from the neighbouring Catholic Curonians. The Curonians are in control of the western maritime regions of Curonia and Samogitia, as well as the islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. Until recently, they have been a great threat due to their piracy in the Baltic Sea, however recently they have made an alliance with Denmark, and their Duke and some of his noble are Catholic Christians.

Medieval Lithuanian soldiers
Lithuania, a little further east, centred on the Upper Nemunas Basin has a king who is an Orthodox Christian himself (5). King Mindaugas (6) has travelled to Constantinople to get baptized and crowned king. This was done also to legitimize his rule over the conquered territories of Polotsk and Minsk, whose inhabitants were predominantly Orthodox East Slavs; some of the Lithuanian nobility had already intermarried with the local East Slavic aristocracy, adopting East Slavic Christian names.

Ruins of Naugardukos Castle
Gradually, Christianity has made inroads into much of eastern Lithuania, however the western regions remain largely pagan. As part of the deal, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has detatched “Litouania” from the jurisdiction of Kiev around Naugardukos, called Navahrudak by the local East Slavic popualtion Although some pagan temples were repurposed as Christian churches and people were baptised, the process was very gradual, with most of the people still participating in pagan sacrificing, or most often, syncretizing both religions, going to church as well as making pagan sacrifices.

Baltic paganism still remains strong Lithuania and Curonia.
There was actually no attempt to forcefully convert the pagan subjects of the Lithuanian kings, and conversion to Christianity is only “encouraged”.

The Prince of Kiev complains to Constantinople “but look at those Litwanians. They are like a wolf in sheep´s skin, dressing in a Christian fur to fool us all, but deep inside they are all pagans. They do this spectacle to fool us all. They go to church and display themselves as good Christians, to appease Russian princes, but then, in the night, even the king long with his nobles sacrifices beasts to Perkunas and commits idolatry”. However Lithuanians refuted these “allegations” and when summoned to Constantinople, Metropolitan Tijuvilas (Theophilius) defended these practices “our mission is not that of Joshua, to destroy pagan city after pagan city, but that of mercy, compassion and patience. We are those who set the example, who are the light in dark. How many years has it taken Rome to get Constantine the Great, the founder of the most marvellous city on earth, to accept the sign of the Cross? “

  1. In OTL this occurs a few decades later​
  2. Greetings, Ivan the Terrible J​
  3. As the Teutonic Order State does not exist. What exists in the Baltic are Low Saxon merchants and settlers, but the organized Teutonic Order and the Northern Crusades do not exist. Therefore, I envisage that the nearby Eastern Slavs will play a much more important role in the history of the Baltics​
  4. Where the modern city of Riga is located​
  5. With a more powerful Rhomania, and no concern with enmity from the Crusaders, the Lithuanians are going to have more incentives for than against converting to Christianity. You see, in this case Christianity is not associated with foreign attackers​
  6. This guy actually became Christian, although Catholic in OTL.​


Catholic Lithuania controlling Belarus and 2/3 of Ukraine was pretty much ASB in OTL. Especially when Catholicism was the religion of the Teutonic Knights, in my opinion
When it was Catholic, it was backed by Poland, so no ASB's here. And despite being Catholic, Lithuania was fairly tolerant. And ITTL when Hungary collapsed and Lithuania is semi-Orthodox, semi-pagan, expect Poland (which remained more or less united retaining rich Silesia and access to sea) to take up the mantle of biggest crusader in the region. After Naiman conquest, Galicia - Volhynia is in danger from West - remember that dukes of Kraków IOTL tried to take this part even if XIIIth century and their attempts weren't succesful because of opposition from other dukes - this factor is absent, because line of Władysław the Exile is the exile or completely died out and Poland (like Hungary IOTL) retained fairly strong central authoritiy of the king and because of Hungarians acting against it to get Ruthenia for themselves - if there is no united Hungary, there is no action in Ruthenia. Poland can have Pope's support as a defender of Christianity and therefore it is in the postion to crusade.
When it was Catholic, it was backed by Poland, so no ASB's here. And despite being Catholic, Lithuania was fairly tolerant. And ITTL when Hungary collapsed and Lithuania is semi-Orthodox, semi-pagan, expect Poland (which remained more or less united retaining rich Silesia and access to sea) to take up the mantle of biggest crusader in the region. After Naiman conquest, Galicia - Volhynia is in danger from West - remember that dukes of Kraków IOTL tried to take this part even if XIIIth century and their attempts weren't succesful because of opposition from other dukes - this factor is absent, because line of Władysław the Exile is the exile or completely died out and Poland (like Hungary IOTL) retained fairly strong central authoritiy of the king and because of Hungarians acting against it to get Ruthenia for themselves - if there is no united Hungary, there is no action in Ruthenia. Poland can have Pope's support as a defender of Christianity and therefore it is in the postion to crusade.
Are you hinting that Poland ITTL should have conquered Galicia-Volhynia already? :eek:
Chapter 108: Separated by the Carpathians: Poland and Slovakia
We are now heading westwards, into Central Europe. This update is thus to speak of the situation in the Pannonian Basin, in, Poland and Prussia.

As for the Pannonian Basin, in the beginning of the 13th century we can see a fractured region, with four major contenders. In the north and west, we can see the strongest power in the basin, the Duchy of Slovakia. The Duchy of Slovakia rules over the valleys and hills of the Western Carpathians, but also the Little Pannonian Plain. With such hilly terrain, the country is dotted with a large number of castles, many of which are only wooden. Some of them were however made of stone, and have provided refuge for the population in the surrounding countryside during the Naiman raids.

Realms of Central Europe
The result was still a large depopulation, caused by famine during the Naiman raids. However, it has been noted that the stone castles were not conquered nor destroyed during the attacks, and the Duke encourages the nobles to rebuild their wooden fortifications into stone castles. By the late 13th century, the royal authority is waning and the most powerful nobles, the magnates, are the ones who hold the real power in the realm. To counter their influence, the Duke offers privileges to major cities: Prešporok, Pezinok, Modra, Trnava in western Slovakia Kremnica, Banská Štiavnica, Banská Bystrica in central Slovakia and extends the privileges of the cities in the Spiš region in eastern Slovakia. Central Slovakia becomes the destination of a large number of Germans, but also Walloons and other Latin peoples, who develop the gold-mining in the region. The Dukes seek to side with the townsfolk to counterbalance the influence of the magnates, and in some regions, they are highly successful.

Pannonia as a duchy was reduced to the western bank of the Danube River, as the areas to its east were taken over by Cumans fleeing westwards. The destruction caused by the Naiman-Kipchak raids is limited mostly to the countryside, populated by Magyars. The city of Sopiane is unconquered, and most of the Pannonians have found refuge in the castle. The result is that by the end of the century, the linguistic balance in Pannonia is now even more in favour of Pannonian, a Romance language which has somehow managed to survive in this province. By now, it has taken very strong Slavonian and Magyar influences, as well as Venetian and Lombard ones as well, but still, here we have it, a legacy of Roman rule in Pannonia.

The Alfold has reverted to a nomadic society

The Duchy of Temes had been overrun by Pechenegs, who had allied with the Cumans heading westwards and they have jointly the Khanate of Kunság (or Cumania Minor) in the Greater Alfold Region. The population of Kunság consists, well of Pechenegs, Cumanians, Alans, Magyars and Biharians, and is very sparsely populated. The people living in the area have returned back to the original nomadic way of life, being herding horses and livestock. Further eastwards we have the Duchy of Ardeal, which tow retreats its borders back to where they once have been, into the highlands of ancient Dacia. The Duchy remains almost undamaged by the Naimans, as they are protected by the mountain fortress of Transylvania they inhabit. Ardeal remains populated by both Vlachs and Biharians, although it appears that the former are becoming more and more prevalent, with Biharians being pushed northwards into the Marmaroš regions.

We can see some linguistic shifts taking place
Further northwards, beyond the Carpathian Mountains, we arrive in Poland. For the Dukes in Mazovia, the presence of pagan Prussians has been a constant source of trouble. To Poland´s northeast, there are the Duchies of Prussia and Sudovia, two realms, which Poland would like to extend its influence over. To the northwest, Pomerania is controlled by the Danes.

Christianity has made its way even to northern Europe. Kashubia is now fully Christianized
The kings of Poland had to address the threat posed the pagan tribes to their north. Een in the early 13th century, the Prussian and Sudovians were raiding the Mazovian lands north of the Vistula. The Mazovian dukes were trying hard to stop those raiders, but their attacks were time and again more difficult to stop. To contain the Prussian threat, subsequent Polish kings resort to settling German burghers on the lower Vistula River, who are settled as “guests” of the local dukes. While fighting the Baltic pagans, the Poles saw themselves as the bulwark of Christendom, as the shield that guards the Christian commonwealth, being the antemurale Christianitas.

Medieval Prussian heritage has still its place in contemporary culture
As for Prussia, it is going to develop similarly to Curonia and Pomerania. You see, Prussia is orientated towards the Baltic Sea and thus is very likely to interact with the dominant power in the Baltic Sea basin, which is still going to be Denmark. Where Poland fails with the stick, Denmark is succeeding with the carrot Initial friendly relations are going to be exchanged by attempts of the Danes to dominate Prussia, resulting in independence wars, where the Prussian rebels are aided by Sudovians, their eastern kinsmen. The Sudovians are still pagans, in fact one of the last pagans in Europe, being established in the buffer region between Prussia, Lithuania and Poland (1).

Ultimately, Poland ends itself found in a war against Denmark, which sought to control the entire amber coast from the estuary of the Elbe to the estuary of the Neman, controlling the southern shore of the Baltic Coast. However, the Polish, along with the Saxons are able to prevent this from happening and the result was Saxon dominance over Mecklenburg and Polish conquest of eastern Pomerania.

As for Prussia, the Prussians themselves have converted to Catholicism, as have the Curonians. Liepaja has become the seat of an Archbishopric, serving for both Curonia and Prussia; the capital of Prussia is now fixed at Truso.

The newly established Archdioces of Liepaja cover Curonia and Prussia
Both Prussia and Curonia have become Catholic feudal monarchies, although, well Catholicism nor feudalism have not penetrated deeply into the society of these Baltic realms. The peasants can be found in a much freer environment compared to their counterparts in other parts of Europe.​

  1. Covering the Bialystok Voivodeship and large parts of Grodno Oblast and Brest on the Bug river
Chapter 109: The End of Danish Hegemony in the Amber Sea
Continuing further into Scandinavia, we can witness three large kingdoms: Denmark, Gaetia and Norway.

Denmark has become a major power in the Baltic Sea, having established control over not only Jutland and Scania, but also the Danes control the Pomeranian coast via local dukes. Denmark sought to control the entire southern coast of the Baltic Sea, enabling them to control the world´s trade with amber.

Amber is a gemstone found on the southern Baltic coast
Denmark at first has established friendly relations with Curonia in the eastern Baltic coast, and sought to make Prussia their clients. While initially successful, later on the Prussian dukes got annoyed as the Danes were shrinking their authority more and more, until they have had enough. The already baptised Prussians were joined by their eastern neighbours, the pagan Sudovians, and sought to expel the Danes from their country once and for all.

Denmark was making gains and have reconquered Elbing, but then the Polish and Saxons have joined the war as well. The Saxon kings have been setting their eyes on the land of Mecklenburg, which they saw as rightfully being an extension of their territory, basing their claims on the fact that the Abodrites had been vassals of Charlemagne. The Saxon merchants in Bremen and Hamburg were more than willing to fully participate in a war against Denmark to break Danish hegemony over the Baltic Sea trade; in alliance with Novgorod and Poland, Danish hegemony in the Baltic Sea was broken. With Mecklenburg seized by the Saxons, the Danish control in the south was reduced to Pomerania, which lost some its eastern counties to Poland as well, and the city of Lybaek, which is still a predominantly Danish city.

Danish language expands in Pomerania, in Holstein it however leaves place for Saxon
By this time the major cities of Pomerania have adopted the Danish language. You see, Denmark has had a significant population growth, and was becoming a rather crowded place. Many Danish landless Danish peasants were being offered land in the south, and were beginning to settle in Pomerania. The Danish language in Pomerania has been spreading from the coastal towns, which were engaged in the trade to the largest degree, as the merchants were speaking mostly Danish; thus being proficient in Danish has become an advantage if you lived in a coastal town of Pomerania. As Danish has become dominant in the town, it gradually spread into the countryside, along with the Danish settlers, arriving predominantly from the islands and Scania, from Jutland to a much smaller degree.

However, one ought to remember that the native Slavic population was not displaced nor killed, but the Pomeranians largely remained in place and just adopted the Danish tongue and customs.

The labyrinth of lakes in Savonia and Tavastia was among the factors that caused a Gaetian defeat in the region
As for Gaetia, they continue to expand northwards, taking over Norrboten to, take over the entire coast of the Gulf of Bothnia. However, once pushing eastwards to expand their domain in Finland, they are held back. The force that opposes them is that of the Tavastians – a Finnic tribe found in south-central Finland, a buffer between the Gaets and domains of the Republic of Novgorod. The invading Gaetish force was met by Tavastian, and neighbouring Savonian warriors, along with Novgorodian forces (1). Without knowledge of the local terrain, the Gaetish commanders appear to be ultimately lost in the maze of lakes, forests and mosquitoes (2). Therefore, the Gaetish conquest of Tavastia is most likely about to fail.

A map of scripts used in Northern Europe. Red is Latin, blue-green is Cyrillic

Gaetia is portrayed in green colour from now on, to avoid confusion caused by the blue to name the realm "Sweden"
Of note is the independence of Visby (3), a merchant republic located on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. Visby maintains cordial trading relations with their partners in Curonia and Prussia.

As for Norway, not much happens, apart from it experiencing a civil war (4), and extending its even further northwards along the coast of Finnmark.

When comparing the form that feudalism has taken in Scandinavia, we can view a few major differences. Firstly, the Catholic Church does not wield significant influence, in contrast to Germany, Poland or Neustria. There are no prince-bishoprics which can be seen in Scandinavia. Although the Archbishops of Lund, Uppsala or Nidaros are the authority that are present as regents until the next king is crowned, the influence of the clergy is much smaller.

Secondly, the status of peasants as a fourth estate of the realm remains a respected one. Large parts of the land, especially in Gaetia and Norway, are held mainly by freeholders, who are not vassals of any nobleman, but are in theory direct subjects of the king. Scandinavia can be viewed as a much more egalitarian society than the rest of Europe. Why? Perhaps one can speak of a Viking legacy, when warriors were valued for their skill not descent, or perhaps the harsh climate, where people need to cooperate, and the clannish nature of the society persists.​

  1. What plays in favour of the Finnish defending their lands? Well, I guess it´s going to be capable Finnish defences of Finland in the OTL Winter War, and Novgorodian victory of Alexander Nevsky on the Battle of the Ice. A Swedish heavily armed force is going to be met by the Ushkuiniks. More importantly, the lakes of Finland are going to cause a headache to Gaetish *Swedish* commanders, while the Finnish tribes are going to use the terrain to their advantage. As for Novgorod, they are more than happy to extend their influence into Finland, although they are not going to exert heir control directly.
  2. So we are going to have not only Orthodox Lithuania, but most likely Orthodox Tavastia *Finland* as well; In OTL we have most of Finland Lutheran, previously Catholic, and Karelians were Finnish people in the east distinct for their Orthodox religion. ITTL, we are very likely going to have a Tavastian or Karelian Orthodox identity, with a Catholic Finland in the west.
  3. Shown as blue on the map; Gaetia is going to be shown in green, so that our readers do not label the realm as “Sweden”
  4. As in OTL


Chapter 110: Kleinstäterrei - A Reality in the Germanies
Germany as a regions remains starkly divided. Apart from Saxony and Bavaria, the other parts of the realm have also split into essentially three parts, Swabia, Franconia and Lotharingia.

A map of the Germanies in the late 13th century. Knote that most polities in Franconia were too small to appear on the map. Nevertheless , in still can be seen that the dominant powers in the area remain Saxony and Bavaria, to a lesser extent Swabia as well
Saxony has already established itself as an independent realm in the past century and has been recognized as a kingdom in its own right by the Roman Pope. Saxony controls much of the German lowlands and has wrestled control over Mecklenburg from Denmark. Saxony in the thirteenth century remains a largely stable kingdom consisting of seven duchies: Westphalia, Angria, Ostphalia, Thuringia, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg and Holstein. In addition, there are two royal cities which are outside of any ducal control: Bremen and Hamburg. The two cities are highly engaged in the Baltic trade and have been the major proponents of the war against Denmark.

Frankfurt am Main was one of the more important cities of medieval Germany
Germany itself, being under the guise of the Holy Empire has continued to fracture and weaken; until Swabia under the House of Welf. The fragmenting of Germany did not end there however. Franconia and the greater Main-Rhine Valley have failed to find a universally acceptable heir, in the contrary, the area fell into what has become to be known as the Kleinstäterei, a status of fragmentation, when each of the landlords is actually independent and rules over his domain almost without any restrictions. Among the prominent entities emerging in this region are the Prince-Archbishopric of Cologne, the Prince-Archbishopric of Trier, the Prince-Archbishopric of Mainz, the Principality of Berg, the Duchy of Hesse, the County Palatinate (whose ruler was the de iure regent, thus King of Germany, with no authority other than the one on paper), the Free City of Frankfurt and the Prince-Bishopric of Wurzburg, controlling most of the lands that are known as Upper Franconia (1).

A reenactment of medieval life
This area described, roughly corresponding to the old Frankish Austrasia, has becoming one of the areas of Europe with a high level of population density, especially in the Rhine gorge. While many people are living under the rule of petty counts and dukes, and others are living under the rule of prince-bishops, many others are organized freely, in the so-called Free Imperial Cities, such as Speyer, Worms or Frankfurt. In fact, Frankfurt on the main river was among the most prominent of them. The presence of such a large number of polities on such a small area has had the competitive effect of bolstering innovation.

The Swabian lands (2) in the upper Rhine and uppermost Danube districts have been originally settled by the Germanic Alemanni tribe; later on they have adopted the name Swabians. As such they had become a stem duchy of the Carolingian Empire.

Swabia is a duchy under the rule of House Welf; among their vassals are the counts of Baden, a few free cities in Alsatia, the free city of Augsburg, the House of Habsburg, the counts of Hohenzollern and of Wurttemberg; furthermore the prince-bishops of Constance, Baden and Chur, and finally in the Alpine Valleys, around the Vierwaldstättersee, a number of rural communes, calling themselves the Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, or the Swiss Confederacy. The valleys, also sometimes known as Waldstätte " forest states" have become an important factor, due to the opening of the saint Gotthard Pass, resutling in a new route connecting Swabia with Italy.

Bavaria, the country of sausages and beer, can be found further eastwards. The Bavarian monarchs continue to control the northern slopes of the eastern Alps (3), and have become crowned as kings. Among the vassals of the Bavarian kings are the prince-bishoprics of Salsburg, Passau and Trent, and the free city of Augsburg.

An example of medieval German architecture
Beyond the Bohemian Forest, there is the Duchy of Bohemia, a Slavic country with its capital at Praha. Bohemians have taken over Moravia through a marital union, and the area is unified by the Przemyslid dynasty. With this union, the Czech kings have been elevated to the rank of kings, and have managed to get a separate archbishopric , detatched from that of Mayence. The Archbishopric of Prague was to cover also the Moravian lands, to include also Lower Austria.

A map of the canonical provinces of the Catholic Church in the thirteenth century. Lands have been detatchd to form the rchbishopric of Prague; furthermore lands were detatched from Cologne and Mayence and transferred to Bremen and Magdeburg
The duality of the Kingdom, composed of Bohemia and Moravia is still evident, and the younger sons of the king hold the Duchy of Moravia as an appanage, with its capital at Olomúc; Moravia maintains a somewhat distinct linguistic identity, compared to Bohemia. The thirteenth century sees also a significant change in the cultural landscape of Bohemia. German settlers, already dominant in Lower Austria and Egerland, continue to settle even further along the western and southern reaches of the kingdom.

On the southern side of the Alps, we have Carinthia, a South Slavic realm. Carinthia has come under significant cultural influences from Italy (4),

As for the Low Countries, these have become largely independent as well: the so-called Frisian Freedom was the official name of the republic in that area and has been a reference to the absence of feudalism over there. However, feudal structures were at least superficially existent in Holland, Brabant, Hainanut, Gueldern, and Luxemburg. Lutych and Utrecht were prince-bishoprics. As for Flanders, the area has effectively become a republic and has enjoyed prosperity, as it was an early industrial area, where wool from England was being processed and the textile manufactories have made the area relatively prosperous; the towns themselves were ruled in the form of aristocratic republics, and the office of the Lord of Flanders was rotating between the cities, out which the most prominent were Anwerpen, Brugges and Ghent. Apart from the prospoerity, given its strategic position, it was however a highly contested battlefield,as the Neustrian kings south to establish their rule over the region

Above is the map of the government forms in the Germanies.
It is important to note here, that in what is generally understood as the Low Countries, there exist four linguistic zones during the High Medieval Period. Firstly, the northern coast, very much corresponding to the extent of the Frisian Freedom and including the northernmost tip of Holland, speaks Frisian, a variety of West Germanic actually closer to English than the other Continental Germanic speeches. Secondly, there is Overijsel, which has been briefly part of the Prince-Bishopric of Utrecht, but later on conquered by Saxony; the area itself speaks Low Saxon. Thirdly, we have the area on the Lower Rhine, encompassing Holland, Utrecht, Brabant, Zeeland, Lutych, Flanders, but also the adjacent region of Cologne, Aachen and Berg. These areas form a linguistic whole, a triangle with the corners at Dunkirk, the northern tip of Holland and Cologne (5). The Wallonian speakers are almost fully contained in Hainaut and western Luxexburg (6); eastern Luxmeburg speaks a Germanic variety.

The continental West Germanic area in the High Middle Ages. We can see slight hints of the Drang nach Osten, as well as populating the Alpine Valleys in the Vorarlberg and western Tirol regions

  1. Or Bavarian Franconia to most of us.
  2. Roughly Baden-Wurttemberg, Alsace and Bavarian Swabia
  3. Including Salsburg and Austria.
  4. Given the country´s position on the southern slopes of the Alps, and its inclusion in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Aquilea, I believe this makes more sense, than continued Bavarian dominance. Linguistic influence is going to be in not only Furlan and Venetian, but also some Latin as well. Continued influence from Romance languages will thus make *Slovene* much similar to Croat than Czech.
  5. The northern parts of the Rhineland speak a dialect of Meuse-Rhenish, which can be counted as very similar to the varieties of the Netherlands and northeast Belgium. It is thus likely that the people of Berge and Aachen will embrace a common identity, especially if they are not politically separated from the Netherlands as happened in OTl. To make this happen, we might see the United Duchy of Julich-Cleves-Berg, inclufing the Gueldernland, become unified a little earlier than expected, and become a dominant power in the Lower Rhine.
  6. Which is now in Belgium


Chapter 111: The Signorias of Italy
On the southern side of the Alps lies the Italian Peninsula, which is a heavily urbanized society. The Po Valley, which has been organized as the Lombard League previously in opposition to any possible German expansion further southwards. As hinted before, the loose confederacy of the Lombard League collapses, especially as the interests of its member states gradually diverge more and more.

The city of Venice is one of the most iconic Italian cities
Practically all of Lombardy has dismembered into a variety of city-states, among them Genoa and Venice being the most prominent. Other city-states of northern Italy include Milan, Novarra, Ivrea, Monteferrat, Saluzzo, Piacenza, Lodi, Bergamo, Lodi, Cremona, Brescia, Verona, Matova, Vicenza, Padova, Treviso, Ferrara, Bologna, Modena, Reggio and Parma.

Political fragmentation of the Peninsula reigns supreme. Venice, the Patriarchate of Aquilea and the Despotate of Trinacria are among the largest countries.
The areas of northern Italy are home to a large urban culture, caused by a population explosion. At least a third of the population of northern Italy was urbanized, and there was a substantial move of population from the rural areas to the city. Northern Italy is thought to be home to some of the largest cities of western Europe, perhaps comparable only to those in Bética; roughly a dozen of them have more than 50 000 people, and a handful have over 100 000 as well.

The urban civilization of Lombardy is notable for improving farming techniques, resulting in an agricultural revolution, giving large yields and able to support such large populations. The concentration of the people at such a scale results in development of commerce.

Especially Genoa and Venice are more and more engaged in Mediterranean trade; the Venetians virtually take over the trade between the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe, having close relations with merchants in Kemet and Phoenicia, as well as the Rhomaic Empire.

Genoese merchants compete with Afirkan and Pisan one is the western Mediterranena basin, pulling the shorter end of the string

The city-states (pink) dominate northern Italy. The majority of them have, however falled under the control of one family, the notale exceptions being Venice, Pisa, Genoa and Florence.
As regarding the political system many of the city-states eventually become dominated by a few noble families, establishing the Signoria system. The ones that don´t are by nature the more populated ones , where it has become much more difficult for one of the families to dominate the entire city, and a handful of other competing families manage to block the ambitions and aspirations of the strongest ones for dominance over the city. Such is the case in Venice.

The spread of literacy and the general openness of the urban society has made it possible for the spread of dissenting religious views. Especially those arriving from Guyany and Burgundy: the Waldensian teaching has gained popularity also on the Italian side of the western Alpine Valleys. Meanwhile Catharism , having its base in the Guyany and Septimania regions also spreads into Lombardy, with Vicenza, Mantova and Bergamo being the major centres of the this faith in Lombardy. There are also records of Cathar presence in other cities of Lombardy, such as Brescia or Novara. However, only Vicenza, Bergamo and Mantova where the Signoria openly embraces the teaching of the Cathars (2).

Religious breakdown of the Peninsula. While most of Italy remains Catholic, Waldensians dominate the Alpine foothills, and Catharism has also found its way into northern Italy. Orthodoxy remains vibrant in the south.
Tuscany located further southwards is also home to a handful of city-states, Florence, Lucca, Pisa and Sienna being the most prominent. The city of Pisa is a powerful competitor for commercial dominance in the western Mediterranean, especially in the Tyrrhenian Sea; their possession of Corsica gives them a major advantage over chief competitors in Genoa and Lucca. The rivalry between Pisa and Genoa results in a number of wars; from which however Pisa emerges victorious.

To their east, there was the Republic of Ancona on the coast and the duchy of Spoleto controlling the Upper Tiberus Valley in Umbria. The Duchy of Spoleto is amongst the odlest existing polities in Italy, dating back to the crumbling of the Langobardic kingdom and has continued its existence since the Carolingians in practically the same form unaltered, at times coming into conflict with the Roman Pontiff.

Roman Catholic jurisdictions inside Italy. Venice has recieved its own Archbishop, much to the gruniting of the Aquilean Patriarch
The temporal authority of the Roman Pontiff is been reduced essentially to the region of Latium, and his spiritual authority was in heavy decline as well (3). Without the threat of a militaristic staunchly monotheist religion at the gates, the Papacy has failed to unite the chivalry of Western Christendom under a common cause; rather the feudal lords fight their own petty wars, and are far from anything that could be described as a paragon of virtue. Even the prince-bishops, controlling large estates and principalities act like feudal as well as spiritual lords, with the Pope being the largest of them; his conspiring with some city-states against the others in the fragmented late medieval Italy has left many people disgusted of the Catholic hierarchy and the feudal order of the society altogether.

The southern part of Italy is dominated by the Duchy of Benevento, which can trace its existence to the Langobards as well. The Dukes of Benevento had been allied themselves with the Papacy, providing a buffer between Rome and Rhomaic-held territories in Magna Graecia. However, the Dukes of Benevento time and again come into conflict with the rising cities of the Campanian coast, which are increasing in both size and prosperity, and the Dukes gradually lose their control over these coastal cities, which try to copy the trends found further northwards.

The city of Benevento is the seat of the Dukes, who had been controlling much of south-central Italy
Rhomaic control over Salerno, Apulia, Calabria and Sicily has often been contested, especially by the Latin population of Salerno. After efforts of the Rhomaic Emperors to impose Greek rather than Latin in church, the population was highly concerned and the area was in unrest. With the Rhomaic authority weakened, Salerno was the first to assume independence.

The independence of Salerno was soon followed by aspirations of some military commander in Messina, who declared himself the lord of Trinacria (4), and establishes his seat in Syracusa. Trinacria is a mixed Greco-Latin realm, with Greek being dominant in southern Calabria and the more urban eastern coast of Sicily; Latinate dialects continue to be spoken in the northern parts of Calabria and western Sicily. The Despots of Trinacria are known to be fairly tolerant rulers, allowing both the Latins and the Greeks , as well as sizeable Jewish communities to practice openly .Trinacria, controlling the Strait of Messina seeks to posit itself as a competitor for control over the Mediterranean trade. Its greatest competitor: Afirka, on the coast of Tamazgha, positing itself as heir of ancient Carthage. A bitter rivalry between the two is to follow, as their mercantile aspirations are very similar.

Ultimately, Apoulia remains the only part of Rhomaic rule in the Appenine Peninsula, being at the heel of the Italian boot. The garrisons in the area remain undermanned, and the area retains its predominantly Greek character.

As for Sardinia, Logudoro, the last of the independent judicati was conquered by the Afirkans in the 1240s, with most of the island under direct control of the Afirkans; only the northeastern tip remains under the control of Pisans. Pisan rule over the island of Corsica has resulted in the Tuscan dialect almost fully displacing a native Southern Romance Corsican variety.

Adding the linguistic map as well, although nothing has changed since the last time we visited Italy

  1. The spread of Waldensian teachings into the Upper Piedmont can be explained through the fact that the dialects spoken also on the Italian side of the Alps are the same Arpitan dialects as spoken in Savoy. Therefore, it was much easier to spread the message there, and the natural environment was also very much the same, meaning the mentality of the people was similar as well.
  2. What is intriguing is that ascetic or dualistic religious movements have become popular only in heavily urbanized societies. Take for example the presence of Buddhism and Jainism in Mauryan India, which has been supplanted by Hinduism, as India has gotten more and more feudalized. Or the appeal of Buddhism to Greeks or Gnosticisim and Manichaeism in the Late Antiquity – the early centres of these communities were always heavily urbanized societies where people were actually developing critical religious thinking. Therefore, if Catharism is going to make any inroads outside of its native region, Lombardy is the perfect candidate for this. The cities of Vicenza and Mantova were chosen because they were historically the seat of Cathar bishops. Bergamo was chosen because… why not?
  3. The Late Medieval Papacy was losing ground in OTL to reform movements such as the Cathars, the Waldensians, the Lollards, the Hussites and ultimately the Protestants. All these movements claimed that the Catholic Church has diverged greatly from the original early Christian Church. Without the Muslim threat and the creation of Monastic Holy Orders, such as the Templars and the Teutonic Knight or the Knights Hospitaller, the Catholic Church is not going to be in weaker situation than in OTL; and given the fact that Manicheism is still vibrant in Asia and not as persecuted as in OTL, Catharism is going to be in much more trouble.
  4. Supposedly one of the Greek names for the island, Trniacria encompasses as a realm both Sicily and Sardinia
Chapter 112: Cathars, Waldensians and the War for the Throne of Neustria
Western Europe is a rather dangerous place in the thirteenth century. Guyany is a place striven by religious division, as is Burgundy as well. Further northwards, religion is not the main source of conflict. Warfare over there is fed by competing claims over the crowns of England and Neustria alike.

Guyany is one of the most culturally developed parts of Western Europe, especially ancient Septimania, with its culture of troubadours and urban heritage dating back to Roman times. Although not as populous as northern Italy, it is still relatively highly urbanized in comparison to Neustria. Commerce along the Mediterranean has especially transformed Septimania into a highly prosperous region, and Jews, Catholics and Cathars alike enjoy relative high level of tolerance. With written Visigothic law still valid in this part of the world, women enjoy a considerably higher status than in other parts of feudal society.

Castles in Guyany were built in largely inaccessible terrain
Catharism as a major religious movement in Guyany has begun in the 12th century already; by the end of the 13th century it has become widespread not only throughout Guyany, but their teaching was spreading also into Neustria and Navarre. The teachings of Catharism were noted to be very close to Manichean positions; especially in their dualist position, saying that the kingdom of God lies in heaven, while the earthly realm is described as the realm of evil. The Cathars did not acknowledge the extant sacraments of the Catholic Church, their most distinguishable sacrament was the consolamentum, upon which a credente (believer) becomes a bonhomme, also known as Perfect, which were required to live in celibacy and practice vegetarianism – very much comparable to the Manichean Elect.

Religion in western Europe Darker blue is Catharism, lighter blue is Waldensianism
The embracement of Catharism by the dukes of Septimania and Tolosa however leads to a backlash in Bordeú, where the dukes of Gascony are staunchly Catholic. Guyany thus continues to experience prolonged periods of warfare between the kings at Tolosa and their displeased Catholic vassals, the Dukes of Gascony, seated in Bordeú. The city at the mouth of the Garonne is known not only for its famous wines, but also for its long rivalry with Tolosa, and the Catholic Dukes of Gascony thus, conspiring with the Dukes of Poiteu, have waged war against the “Heretic King” of Tolosa. The “Heretic King” has rallied his vassals, the lords of Albi, Arvernia, Foix, as well as a few volounteers from Rosello, and defeated the Catholic zealots on the Lot River.

The kingdom of the Two Burgundies on the other hand sees a division of the realm, with Burgundy splitting into an Upper Burgundian kingdom based in Lyon and a lower Burgundian kingdom of Provence with its capital shifting from Arles to Marselha. Apart from religious divisions, caused by the spread of Waldensianism in Upper Burgundy and the predominance of Catholicism in Lower Burgundy, there were also other factors in place, such as the variation in the tongue of the peoples inhabiting the distinct regions. In the later part of the 13th century, Provence, this staunchly Catholic realm becomes part of the lands of the crown of Navarre, which has come to dominate the Ebro Valley in the Iberian Peninsula.

The Cross of Burgundy is the well-known flag of this realm
Waldensianism has become the religion of the King of Burgundy, and subsequently many of his nobles and courtiers accepted the teachings of Pierre Waldo. What Waldo called for was ascetic apostolic poverty, and declared the teaching of the purgatory and the veneration of saints as nonsense

Neustria sees prolonged warfare between the royalists, controlling the eastern parts of the realm and an Angevin-Burgundian alliance. Upper Burgundy has extended their control also to Ducal Burgundy around Dijon; Angevin control over Neustria is limited at first ot the western lands of Armorica, between the Loire and Seine rivers, consisting of Brittany, Anjou, Maine and Tourraine.

A political map of western Europe. Notice the Angevin position in Armorica
The Angevin king has found a claim to the throne of Neustria, and seeks to become its king. The result is the War of the Throne of Neustria (1). This war is one of the largest conflicts in the medieval world in Western Europe and displays the extensive deployment of armoured knights. When speaking of medieval feudal warfare, many people actually think of the War for the Throne of Neustria. While the heavily armoured knights in shining plate armour were iconic, they were defeated by another brilliant force – the English longbowman. England fielded vast numbers of archers, who were lightly armed and in case of injury were able to escape much faster than the heavily armed Neustrian knights, once shot down and wounded had trouble escaping the battlefield.

Crucial for the English success in the War for the Throne of Neustria was their conquest of Artois. This region, connecting Normandy and Flanders has been crucial for Neustria as it has been their only sea access. Once Artois and especially the valued port of Calais was in Angevin hands, and the Burgundians had joined from the south as well, Neustria was effectively defeated, and was to give up the region of Orleans on the Loire Valley as well. The landmark treaty of Arras (1284) sees Orleans, Bourbon and Blois returned to Neustria; however Artois and Calais as well as much of Picardy is to become part of the Angevin realm

Incidentally, Neustria also witnesses the spread of Catharism in their own territories – mainly in Nevers and Artois.

For the Angevin monarchs, their domains south of the Channel were as important for them as their domains to its north, if not more. True enough, their title begins with being “King of England, and Normandy, Brittany were mere duchies. Ultimately, king Edward declares himself “King of Armorica” – “Roy d´ Armorique”.

Angevin expansion is also targeted westwards, where Dumnonia is conquered in a rather short campaign; success in Devon has inspired the Angevin kings to try their luck in Cambria as well. Advance into Cambria is slow, and the Cambrians offer fierce resistance. The Welsh are led by a charismatic leader, named Llywelyn (2).

Glamorgan experiences an influx of Latinate knights from Armorica , speaking a dialect called Gallo, as well as Normans, who have established their fortresses in southern Glamorgan, and this influx of Latinate speakers ghas managed to keep the Romance language of Britain alive
At first, the English defeat the Cambrian knights, or at least their best imitation thereof, at the Battle of the Severn, where the King of Wales is killed as well. The English proceed and occupy the lowland region of eastern Powys and Glamorgan. However, Gwynedd sees the rise of Llywelyn, master-at-arms of the duke of Gwynedd, who himself has been killed in battle, while his heir is only a minor.

Llywelyn manages to convince his fellow countrymen and unites them in their struggle against the English, putting away old disputes. While the lowlands of Glamorgan are occupied by Norman and Angevin knights, the Cambrians are never truly subdued in the hills, using the terrain to their advantage.

The Cambrian Mountains. This hilly landscape was the bastion of Llywelyn´s resistance
The English have suffered a number of defeats in the hills, and Llywelyn leads an expeditionary force, devastating Lancashire and Merseyside, before turning southwards into the Severn Valley. Ultimately the kings are forced to accept the reality and independence of Cambria, even though the border is pushed in favour of the English.

Alba, in the north of the island, continues its struggle against the Norse in the Kingdom of the Isles. The kings of Alba are seated in Perth in the Fife, and the country struggles as continued feuds between the various clans and lords of the Highlands continue. Gaelic culture is vibrant in Alba, although some of the burghs are populated by settlers mainyl from Flanders and Denmark, bringing in their dialects and influencing the Anglish varieties spoken in Lothian.

A Medieval warlord of Alba
Ireland remains disunited, although the number of competing has reduced throughout the 13th century to five. Connaught has become the domineering force of Gaelic Ireland, while other polities include Munster and Tir Eogain. Scottish lords have taken over control over western parts of Ulster, in their vision to unite the Gaelic peoples. And last, but not least, we have Leinster, ruled by the Norse-Irish, controlling the south-eastern parts of the country.​

  1. A variation of the Hundred Years´ War
  2. Who is going to play a role similar to William Wallace in Scotland
Note: What do you guys think of my updates? Please give me some feedback and ideas. There is still a handful of updates (Spain, Tamazgha/Maghreb, Mali, Coast of Guinea, Vinland) before the general overview.


Is there a Hungarian state/culture/language in Europe at this time? I can barely make it out on the map.
Unfortunately for the Hungarians they are not in charge of any independent country. Cumania/Kunság is a mix of Cumania, Pechenegs and Magyars, but the latter ones are in decline. Some Magyars also live in Pannonia, but again their numbers are dropping
Unfortunately for the Hungarians they are not in charge of any independent country. Cumania/Kunság is a mix of Cumania, Pechenegs and Magyars, but the latter ones are in decline. Some Magyars also live in Pannonia, but again their numbers are dropping
I suggest that there be a "Magyar Revolution" sometime later on in the timeline where the Hungarians revolt against their Slavic and Romanian overlords (reverse of OTL)
Chapter 113: High Medieval Hispania
The early thirteenth century sees the Iberian Peninsula divided into six realms – Asturias, Navarra, Contestaňa, Toletu, Granada and Lusitania.

In the northwest, we have Asturias, bound between the Atlantic Ocean and the Duero River. Feudal institutions have replaced the older clannish ties of the Cantabrian hills by the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Life in the hills is difficult, and many people are moving from these highlands either southwards into the Duoro Valley or northwards into the coastal towns, where they pick up fishing as their main source of livelihood, or recruit themselves as mariners, mainly to Guyanese and Angevin captains. Asturian fishermen are known to supply the demand for fish, especially in the days of fasting, but also to supply the diet of the Cathar bonhommes. Additionally, some of the younger sons in Asturias offer themselves as mercenaries, fighting in the wars of Guyany or in the War for the Throne of Neustria.

A political map of the Peninsula: Galicia has gained independence
Later on, however, these mercenaries are also fighting in dynastic wars within Asturias itself, the result being the independence of Galicia in the west. The town of Santiago de Compostela is a popular pilgrimage destination in western Europe, and is visited by Catholic pilgrims from Guyany, Armorica, Toletu or even from Maurtain in Tamazgha. When speaking of Catholicism in Asturias and Cantabria, the “folk Catholicism” as expressed especially in Cantabria and the hilly regions of Asturias takes form in a rather syncretic belief, mixing Christian beliefs with older, pre-Christian Celtic beliefs, which come up in a disguised form, mainly by reverence of certain saints. This form of folk Catholicism persists mainly in the highlands and the mountainous regions.

Theology in the lowlands, such as around the city of León, is inspired in part by a continuation of certain beliefs in Arianism, which has been brought to Spain by the Visigoths. In part, Asturias contains the regions of the densest Visigothic settlements in Iberia, and some theologians have had trouble explaining the doctrine of Trinity and the divinity of Christ, and the ideas of adoptionism, or those very close were present in Asturian theological discourse (1).

The Kingdom of Navarre is the realm controlling the Ebro Basin, with their capital at Çaragoça. While commemorating their Basque origins, the Navarrean kings are increasingly interested in the direction of the Mediterranean. Tarragon at the Ebro Delta offers the Navarrean kings access to trade in the western Mediterranean; their inheritance of Provença makes them even more interested in the region (2), being actively involved in the wars in Guyany, with the ultimate interest at taking Septimania. Navarre has been building an extensive fleet, and to this fell victim many of the forests on the southern side of the Pyrenees. The Navarrian fleet, with many Cantabrian rowers, manages to defeat the Afirkan one, and Navarra conquers the Balearic Islands.

The extent of the Basque language is visible in green
In the mainland of the kingdom of Navarra, there are four major tongues that are spoken: Basque, the original language spoken in Upper Navarra and around the Bay of Biscay being a language isolate. Tarragonés (3), at least the variety of it spoken at the royal court and by the citizens of Çaragoça, the capital city of Navarra, has become the language of the court and the king, and subsequently all royal decrees are written in it.

Edetan, the variety spoken to the south of the lower Ebro is giving way to Tarraconés and retreating its use to the villages in the Iberian Mountains. In the northeast, the Guyanish-related variety (4), spoken previously in the Duchy of Empuriu, is known as Empurdán (5); the Empurdán speaking areas, due to their linguistic proximity have also adopted Catharism, although this religious current did spread into Castellón, just south of the Ebro estuary.

When speaking of the cultural composition, apart from Cathars the realm hosts a significant number of Sephardic Jews, who are mostly concentrated in the cities.

Catharism has found inroads into Navarre
The Kingdom of Navarra includes thus a number of peoples, with also differing mentalities – the Basques, being a semi-feudal, semi-clannish society, the middle Ebro watershed being a largely feudal society with large plantations and ultimately the mercantile coast, being again largely interested in trade.

The southeastern part of the Peninsula had been under control of the Republic of Contestania, which has come under pressure from neighbouring Meseta. A successful military commander has taken over the country, and established a feudal Duchy in the area. The dukes of Contestania remain allied with the Maurs.

A typical landscape of Meseta
The Meseta (6), or the Carpetanian Plateau, remains ruled from Toletu. The area is mostly flat, with large villages being considerably far apart from each other. The Meseta is a largely arid region, with the countryside dotted with windmills, and Toletu on the Tagus River is among the few cities in the Meseta. Small rustic towns grew around castles, which are the seats of counts and feudal lords. Meseta is a perfect example of the feudal system in the Iberian Peninsula, as agriculture, in the form of vast plantations was practically the only economic activity which could be pursued, apart from mining. Subsequent Mesetan kings such as Pedro IV Redbeard or Tiago VI the Bold have tried to gain sea access in the southeast along the Contestanian coast, to conquer Valencia or Cartagena, but all their attempts have been vain. Mainly as king Pedro the Redbeard at the battle of Caravaca (7) sought to make use of a combination of his caballeros, that is, knights, and of his jinetes, light cavalry javelin throwers. However, his forces were defeated by Contestan phalanx of heavy pikemen (8). Furthermore, the small Bétican city-state of Granada, squeezed along the southern coast, was able to take advantage of Tiago´s defeat and Granada conquers Xaén in north-eastern Bética.

Granada remains an independent city-state controlling Upper Bética and has so far resisted Toletan or Lusitan attempts to take over the city. The dukes of Granada view themselves as the rightful rulers of Bética, despite most of it being part of Lusitania. In war with Toletu, the Granadans have asserted their claims by conquering Xaen; the city of Cordova, on the other hand has come into the hands of Lusitania

Granada, situated in the mountainous terrain of Upper Bética, has managed to maintain its independence from both Meseta and Lusitania
Lusitania is the most powerful of the Hispanic kingdoms (9), controlling the southwestern portions of the Peninsula. Lusitania enjoys its strategic position – housing many of the Peninsula´s ports and a very temperate oceanic climate. The river drain the streams of Lusitania westwards, into the Atlantic Ocean, which remains the main focus of the Lusitan kings. Improvements in ship building have allowed for developing regular trade contact with the Mali Empire in the Sub-Saharan region, and Lusitan products such as wine are exchanged for the one thing that the Lusitans valued most. Gold. Gold from Mali, gold from the Niger River has greatly enriched the captains in Lusitania and made them grow even stronger.

Lusitan trade with Mali, going around the established trade routes across the Teneré (13) Desert has caused an economic loss, and Mauritania has challenged the existent Lusitan dominance on the Macaronesian Archipelago.

Many sons of peasants and lesser nobility volunteer to join the crews, in trading with the legendary O Dourado (12), the lands of gold. The wealth arriving Lusitania causes a general inflation in the country, and is used to give royal patronage to artists, philosophers and early experimentators. The kings used it to construct majestic palaces and cathedrals of Yesball (10) or Lisabon, which also renowned for their extensive use of gardens.

The Cathedral of Yesbal is one of the architectural jewels from this period
Lusitania is thus one of the top most influential countries in Europe at this time, rivalled by the ever- quarrelling city-states of Lombardy. Both Yesball and Cordoba have around 100 000 people each, and Lisbon is close to that number as well. The distinction between the green and largely rural Lusitania, where the country is filled with villas, villages and vineyards, and the predominantly urban Bética remains strongly pronounced. The Lusitan and Bétican languages are perceived as distinct languages (11). Bética is also home to a sizeable and influential Jewish community, concentrated predominantly in the cities of Bética, where in the largest of them they make up between a quarter and third of the overall population of the city. The Jews of Bética use a variety of the Bétican tongue filled with Hebrewisms, which they called Ladino and write down with Hebrew Script; to Christians, this dialect is known as Sephardic.​

  1. Without the Reconquista I see Spain without the religious zeal, given their wars against the Moors. Spain is not that connected and identified with Catholicism to such an extent, it no longer is the base of their identity. Therefore, some earlier developments of Spanish theology are able to continue and somehow continue to exist in the unique environment of Spain.
  2. Navarre takes up the role of *Aragon* in OTL.
  3. Upper Aragonese, or Navarro-Aragonese, under a slightly different name
  4. Catalan after a different name
  5. And importantly enough Empurdán is not spoken in most of Catalonia, but chiefly in the OTL province of Girona and northern Barcelona as well
  6. Meseta has become the standard name of the kingdom, which is based mainly in the region of Castilla-La Mancha
  7. Caravaca de la Cru, region of Murcia
  8. Which marks one of the first defeats of European knights, similar to OTL pikeman victories of William Wallace in Scotland and the Swiss against the Habsburgs
  9. Corresponding to Portugal south of the Duero, plus Extramadura and Lower Andalusia.
  10. Sound changes according to Spanish Wikipedia in Mozarabic.
  11. Bétican can be easily reproduced using Mozarabic and Ladino (Sepharadic) forms.
  12. The Portuguese (Lusitan) form of El Dorado
  13. Sahara


Contestania sort of sounds like it's contested. XDDD Is it a historical name from somewhere or did you just come up with it?
Contestania sort of sounds like it's contested. XDDD Is it a historical name from somewhere or did you just come up with it?
The Contestani were a pre-Roman tribe in the region of Murcia and southern Valencian community. Later, the Romans combined the area with Castille to call it Cartagensis.
Indeed, its independence is Contested, with the major claimants in Toletu (Toledo), and in northern Africa...