DBWI: No Xi Dynasty

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by SealTheRealDeal, Sep 20, 2019.

  1. LostInNewDelhi Anarcho-Shaivist

    Oct 30, 2014
    Out of Context: This is a Double-Blind What If, in which the original poster pretends to be from a different timeline, and postulates something that happened in real life (no Xi dynasty) as a "What If?" The commenters, also pretending, fill out the details of the Xi-dynasty timeline and make wild guesses about what a no-Xi timeline would look like.

    In Context: You bring up a valid point-- whether the Hsi dynasty was a century of imperial rule and a half-century of warlordism, or a half-century of imperial rule and a century of warlordism, is hard to know for sure. What is known is that the Shang-kung 賞功 Emperor (Chang Hsien-chung) died in 1678, his elder son Hsing-ch'ao 興朝 (Chang Tien-yang) in 1692, his younger son Chao-wu 昭武 (Chang Chieh-fo) in 1743, and the usurper Shang Ching-kwei in 1751. The jury is still out on which of these years is truly the Xi dynasty's last.

    OOC: Yeah, there's actually been a fair debate about the extent of his brutality. For one, he'd been active as a rebel since the 1620s, and for twenty years he ruled lands in Anhui, Henan, and Hubei without fucking shit up more than the usual Ming-collapse standards. The first few years of his rule in Sichuan (1644-47) also seem to have gone normally-- he minted coins, enlisted the help of local Ming officials, etc. However, diffuse groups of Ming loyalists and unaffiliated bandits continued to harass him, and his frenemy Li Zicheng had already taken Beijing. So he's now stuck in Sichuan, and Sichuan is unsafe... so he resolved to make it safe by terrorizing the opposition. But then, the sources for him killing millions come from Qing authors in the 1670s-- and the Qing elsewhere accuse him of killing 600 million, which is 4x China's population at the time. The newer theory on what exactly happened to Sichuan is that the Qing, after killing Zhang in 1647, were faced with the exact same problem (an ungovernable province filled with diffuse groups of enemies that can't all be defeated in one big pitched battle) and used more or less the same means to solve it. So instead of one guy killing millions in 3 years, it's probably more realistic that the confused fighting of several groups (Zhang, remnants of Zhang's defeated army, the Qing, Ming loyalists, the Three Feudatories) killed millions over 30 years.

    IC: Indeed, if Chang hsien-chung was to be killed by a stray cannonball at the Siege of Chungking, the immediate beneficiaries would be the Shun and Ming loyalists-- though I really wonder about the Ch'ing. The Jurchens are often cited as a possible dark horse, based on their excellent performance against Ming and Joseon armies through the 1610s and 1620s. But it seems they never really recovered from their Pyrrhic victory over Joseon in the campaign of 1636. The death of Prince Dorgon by Korean musket allowed Joseon's provincial armies to contest the siege of King Injo's hideout in Namhan Fortress, and heavily distressed his brother Abahai, ruler of the Jurchens and leader of the besieging army. The Jurchens still compelled the surrender of Injo and secured recognition as suzerains of Joseon, but after Abahai died of natural causes in 1643 a feud broke out between his brother Dodo and his son Hooge, while the powerful commanders Yelu, Jirgalang, and Daisan promised aid to both and delivered victory to neither.

    Perhaps the Jurchen war-machine could have been employed in a conquest of all Hwa-hsia; instead, it consumed itself. The departure of the Ming-defector bannermen back home to intervene in the Shun-Hsi contest for power through the 1650s marked the end of any imperial pretensions, and laid the foundations for the North Asian empire of the Taeyang.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2019
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  2. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2017
    Now I've heard some theorize that "Manchu barbarity" was over exaggerated to make Zhang Xianzhong's brutality more palatable.

    That said, Looking at the Jin and Yuan it seems clear that conquest dynasties tend to only last about a century, so the Qing may not stay around long.
  3. KingOnTheEdge Vive La Revolucion

    Mar 12, 2019
    Yeah but at the same time, the Bengali conquest of Tibet before Britain showed up saw a lot of tolerance, and the Yuan only collapsed because they strayed from Kublai Khan. And the Qing said they weren't successors of the Yuan as a whole, but of Kublai specifically.
  4. KingOnTheEdge Vive La Revolucion

    Mar 12, 2019
    So would a united china be able to withstand the europeans? They were huge and had insane population as well as a strong army, but china before the end of the dynastic cycle was infamous for their arrogance and difficulty modernizing, not to mention the europeans were rarely as honorable as the Chinese liked to pretend they were. Britain took over the yellow river valley and around there by crippling the government with opium and other narcotics.

    No collapse and we'd probably see Japan directly annexed into the American pacific and Manchuria and Korea go to Russia. Though I'm not sure about Britain. They gained both population and legitimacy by conquering Beijing, being able to market their asian empire as the 'Tàiyáng' dynasty, and it's attributed as part of why the empire survived the Cloudy Period from 1918-42 after the wars with Germany. China was too loyal, India was scarred of the repercussions from the Chinese empire, and the other dominions were suffering the same period as Britain itself and leaving would pointless. And by the time they could leave, Britain and France were back on their feet. And ready to bring the colonies to heal

    ooc: ww1 happened basically as otl, and so did ww2, but the lack of Japan being a threat from being so linked to America's sphere of influence meant Germany fell earlier, leaving no room for certain horrors and thus not discrediting Empire. thus while the early 20th century was still messy for most of the western world (so... the world) it wasn't too much for the whole empire
  5. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2017
    I'm not sure it would repulse the Europeans, but a united and broadly stable China likely wouldn't be diced up and partitioned like OTL. Perhaps like Vietnam it ends up ceding some ports and signing some disadvantageous treaties, while remaining sovereign and united.
  6. Dolan Lookin fer Gooby

    Apr 4, 2018
    Vietnam has the bad luck of being attacked by Europeans during the peak of conflict sith Thai Empire, the later who basically control the entire Northwestern South East Asia at that moment.

    Even now, the Thai Empire still control both Bengala and Malay peninsula, and more or less successfully present themselves as "The Lesser Evil" towards Malay Muslim population, compared to European domination.
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  7. KingOnTheEdge Vive La Revolucion

    Mar 12, 2019
    So Germany recently bought Taipei from japan, and because of it's history with the fall of ming, i was reminded of this threat. A united china probably wouldn't care for a rock off their coast, unlike the warring states that needed a trade port with the europeans far enough away it wouldn't disrupt the politics of the middle kingdoms (not that it worked. but they tried.)
    So, China doesn't blow up. Who settles Taipei, if anyone? I imagine the Germans or Americans, who both had smaller empires than the other powers, would be interested, which, considering the leadership during the time period where europe was directly settling in asia, could easily blow up. Which might butterfly ww1 and salvage france.

    Hell, Japan only had it because america decided giving its island to their puppet state to ensure loyalty was easier than direct settlement. A 19th century american settlement of Taipei would likely mean that the pacific is a sort of 'new frontier' before Space, which means, even before roosevelt, GREAT WHITE FLEET. ... and probably direct annexation of Japan instead of the puppet state thing
  8. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2017
    The Dutch controlled it before the Ming showed up, so if whatever keeps China united butterflies the Ming Loyalist's flight to Taipei then the Dutch may remain in place. Despite the decline of their homeland their colonial empire has proven awfully resilient, and a rock off the edge of China seems like a good fit for them.