DBWI: Have Europe be the center of the modern world

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Whiteshore, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    As we all know, with the exception of the Rhomanian Empire, the Caliphate of Cordoba, and the Kingdom of England (and they only modernized when a group of secularist and nationalist officers broke the power of the monarchy and the clergy in a military coup), Europe has been one of the backwaters of a world where most of the technological developments have been in either Dar al-Islam, Bharat, or Zhongguo. So, how could Europe have become the center of the modern world? Have the Church be less powerful? No collapse of the "Holy Roman Empire" in the 12th century?
     
  2. Indicus Stuff

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    You'd want to avoid the Turks invading Europe through the east. Though they created the prosperous Turco-Russian syncretic culture in the east, further west, they proved more and more harmful, notably destroying Rome in one raid. Maybe have them invade Bharat instead? Or have them invade Iran and go to, I dunno, Asia Minor?
     
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  3. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    Maybe have more Turks adopt Islam as opposed to the 45-45 split between Orthodox (and Nestorian) Christians and Islam with the remaining 10% being Buddhists?
     
  4. Galba Otho Vitelius Well-Known Member

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    Maybe if the Black Death killed fewer Europeans?
     
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  5. dartingfog Professional cynic

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    Well, according to the book Gunpowder, Gems, and Steam by Jahred Dimmun, Europe was seriously disadvantaged by geography. It's just too remote from where most of the development was going on during the Medieval Period. Look at the "lucky latitudes", i.e., between 20 and 40 degrees latitude: Europe is entirely north of that aside from its southernmost parts. That isolation slowed its development. Sure, Europe had some advanced civilizations 2,000 years ago but the continent never managed to develop much past that. Europe never had much of an agricultural package; pretty much all they had was wheat, while Bharat and Zhongguo had soybeans and rice (far more calorie-rich than wheat). And while the lands of Dar al-Islam have a similar agricultural package to Europe, it had a several thousand year head start on civilization compared to Europe.

    Now one might talk about the similarities of climate between Zhongguo and Europe, and that if Zhongguo could become advanced, so could Europe. But this ignores the fact that Europe is too divided. All those peninsulas and islands create ethnic divides. And that inevitably causes conflict. I mean, Europe had two massive wars that killed millions in just the last century. That conflict is what has slowed down technological advancement in Europe and kept it backward. In contrast, Zhongguo is united (both geographically and ethnically), and that unity means centuries of uninterrupted peace and progress.

    In short, the world was simply destined to develop along an axis from North Africa to the Korean Peninsula. Thus, I find this premise very implausible.
     
  6. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    Well, those advanced civilizations did provide the core of one of the three European states which successfully modernized (and also claims to be the rightful heir to said civilizations), the Rhomanian Empire, although one might make an argument that Rhomanian modernization was assisted by it's proximity to Dar-al-Islam.
     
  7. Indicus Stuff

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    The Rhomanians aren't in Italia anymore; in fact, they're pretty much Asian, what with their centre of power essentially being in Asia Minor. Yes, Constantinople is right between Asia and Europe, and they have the Peloponnese, but the centre of the Rhomanian population is in Asia.
     
  8. Planet of Hats Ahmadi-Cruz Parlante Gang Donor

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    You'd almost need something catastrophic, like the Oghuz Turks wheeling south around the Caspian Sea instead of going north and hitting the Saqaliba. Even that might not be enough. You'd need something to completely smash the Breadbasket of Civilization going on in the Levant, Arabia and Egypt at that time, and not much can do that short of natural disasters, but those are a bit ASB. Even then, it'd have to somehow result in Europe getting its hands on our technologies a lot faster. There's a reason Leon and Navarra, and to some extent Aquitaine, tend to be better off economically than the rest of Europe: Cultural exchange with Andalus has ensured that they actually have access to modern technologies, while most of Europe won't touch it for reasons of religious zealotry.

    It almost feels like the only thing that can save Europe is to ISOT Alexander the Great into a Turk or Mongol nomadic migration and have him go on a gigantic wank rampage across the Breadbasket. Or have Europe somehow come to own an enclave in the Breadbasket where they interact more regularly with Islam. Or both. Even with that level of ASB nonsense, you have to contend with Europeans being divided tribally and their kings having no real authority over their underlings.

    The other one that might do it is to have the Christians succeed in reconquering Andalus, but I don't think that was going to happen. Maybe if you averted Ibn Hafsun; his revolt succeeding meant the Catholic Kings had to deal with a regime that empowered Muslim conversos instead of hiring mercenaries and Berbers all the time.

    Read an interesting dissertation awhile back about how the inferiority of European rulers has a lot to do with the fact that they didn't have a divine mandate the way the Caliph did. Christians for some reason stuck with a different guy as their spiritual leader. Maybe that's part of why Europe always seemed to have these bizarre feuds between the Church and the kings.
     
  9. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    Except for the Orthodox Church and the Rhomanian Empire, where the Ecumenical Patriarch was firmly subordinate to the Emperor.
     
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  10. Planet of Hats Ahmadi-Cruz Parlante Gang Donor

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    Yeah, it was the other way around in the rest of Europe - the Bishop of Rome ruled his own fiefdom but had spiritual authority to mess with the Kings of other kingdoms, but somehow had no temporal authority in those kingdoms, except for the parts where the churchmen owned land...?!

    Medieval Europe's land situation was confusing and it just goes to show you that it wasn't just tribal divides that hurt them, but internal divisions, even against their own spiritual leaders. It's almost unreal how many times the Bishop of Rome had to excommunicate kings and nobles - which I gather is pretty equivalent to invoking takfir on them.
     
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  11. deleonism one of those theythemmers

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    I'm a firm believer that if Europe had followed the example of Zhongguo and Dar al-Islam, developing a standardized language and writing system understandable by the vast majority of the population, they could have stuck together and built a proper, united civilization-state. Instead they can't even decide on a single diplomatic language amongst themselves, and insist on using more and more dissimilar alphabets than even Bharat (and at least in Bharat the various scripts are mostly just variants of Devanagari).
     
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  12. Indicus Stuff

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    What's a "Mongol"?
     
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  13. Planet of Hats Ahmadi-Cruz Parlante Gang Donor

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    They're a group of peoples related to the Turks. I guess the Song had some trouble with them in the 1100s and 1200s or so.

    You don't see much of them anymore.
     
  14. deleonism one of those theythemmers

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    I think Planet's referring to a (rather archaic) umbrella term for Khalkha, Buryat, and Oirat people, who form small minorities in Zhongguo's northern territories.

    Edit: Knight'd. getit instead of ninja'd
     
  15. Indicus Stuff

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    Oh, indigenous peoples of Xibotudi[1]. I don't see how they'd become anything of importance.

    In regards to Bharat, I guess you could have the Ghurid Empire[2], or some sort of remnant of it, last longer. Their successors in northern Bharat quickly collapsed, and the weird anomaly of Muslims in the Astikist[3]-Buddhist land of Bharat quickly vanished. They were pretty bloody, from what I remember. I guess you could have those "Bharatiy Shahs" last longer, despite how weird that would be.

    [1] Land in and around Siberia.
    [2] Here. ITTL, they conquered the same land as IOTL
    [3] Hindu.
     
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  16. Planet of Hats Ahmadi-Cruz Parlante Gang Donor

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    You never know with steppe peoples. That whole region was a weird mess that kept pushing stuff into Europe.
     
  17. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    If they had a more successful ruler, maybe they could have successfully held areas east of Hindustan (OOC: TTL's term for OTL Pakistan along with the Indian Punjab) as well. Also, what do you think was the reason the English were able to modernize quickly? The fact that their monarchy and clergy was emasculated politically by a group of reform-minded officers, aristocrats, and intellectuals?
     
  18. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    So, your thoughts on what could have led to European modernization, folks?
     
  19. Thanksforallthefish King of Dolphins

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    Europe is just too far from the main trade routes of the Indian Ocean and the Silk Road. The free exchange of goods and ideas through those roads allowed the progress of what we consider 'modern' civilization. Most trade routes stopped at Rhomania, since at the time Europe had little to offer but fur and cattle.

    I think the people who blame Catholicism for Europe's stangnation are mostly prejudiced. While it's true that Catholicism is the most traditional of Christian denominations and the conflicts between church and state in Europe were (and still are) bloody, I think that it's mostly a matter of geography than anything else. If Catholicism went through a period of instropection and reform like Islam or other religions, Europe would still have to deal with being at the edge of the known world with little routes connecting it to the centers of trade and the Mediterranean beign controlled by Rhomania and Cordoba.

    Maybe the old Roman Empire could have survived and become an unified civilization-state like Zhongguo or Bharat. History has proven that innovation and wealth is easier in peaceful, diverse, stable empires, rather than the squabbling little states born after the Sack of Rome. Even before the Sack of Rome, European civilization seemed on a trend of going from stable centralized states towards more tribal ones. I'm not sure if that can be reversed by that time. Feudalism is too much of a strong tradition in European culture to go away that easily.
     
  20. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    So, what other European states do you think could have pulled an "England" and modernized and why? Me? I'd go with the Kingdom of Burgundy as their ruling dynasty produced a series of highly intelligent and charismatic monarchs who maintained stability and protected Burgundian independence (I've been reading on King Charles V, King Louis IX, and Queen Genevieve I of Burgundy, who were interesting figures who were arguably responsible for Burgundy's relative prosperity)

    OOC: I am thinking of the Burgundians as essentially pulling a "Siam".
     
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