Fall of the British Empire

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Seleukeia, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. Seleukeia Well-Known Member

    Mar 28, 2018
    I would like to know if it is possible for the British Empire to have been decisively crushed in a war with a grand coalition of powers while at its height so as to cede a large portion of its international power projection to another great power, likely to be France. This could happen at any real period for me, whether the Seven Years' War, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, or anytime in the Victorian era and beyond.

    Personally my favorite concept could be the Patriots being more successful in the ARW, managing to capture Canada and Nova Scotia as well as Florida and the Bahamas, while the French manage to retake Senegal, parts of India, and the Lesser Antilles, as the Spanish take Jamaica, Belize, Menorca, Gibraltar, and the Mosquito Coast. If this were to happen, the British economy would be shattered by the loss of the Caribbean, which would also effectively end the Industrial Revolution. In return, all of that lucrative sugar income would be going into King Louis' coffers, who would likely be able to circumvent the French Revolution as he now actually has more than a penny in the bank.

    I feel this is the most likely candidate for the fall of the British Empire as this POD takes place when the French and Spanish still have rather substantial navies with which to inflict some defeats on the Royal Navy, as it precedes the effective end of Franco-Spanish naval power at the hands of Nelson.

    I would also pair up this resurgent France with a conquest of Egypt (yes, Napoleon, I know), since to my knowledge of the period the French were well aware of the Ottoman's being the leper of Europe and most likely planned to take their own share of the pie (Egypt for the Nile revenue and the Holy Land for the prestige) before it all fell to Catherine.

    Also, I wonder what would occur with the Americas in this period. What would happen with Louisiana? Would it be given to France? Would America somehow come into possession of it? And what about the Spanish American Wars of Independence? Would they still occur if the Spanish Empire is still relatively successful on the international stage?

    Anyway, even though I invariably put a lot of focus on my idea with all of that text I wrote, I do also hope for discussion of other potential PODs that could see the same general result: the fall of the British Empire.

    Zagan likes this.
  2. Dominic Well-Known Member

    Aug 6, 2008
    It's doable for any time period, but most will require an earlier POD. Defeating Britain in a war is one thing; destroying the RN is another, and this is what would need to happen for the British Empire as a whole to be 'crushed'. Without having time to post in detail, IMO any POD that leads to one or more European powers developing powerful navies would be enough to create the possibility. A victorious Napoleonic France could certainly do it given a couple of decades, or later in time some alliance between France and Germany would also be sufficient. If you want to go for the most spectacular defeat possible, IMO a US-German alliance in the early 20th century has the most potential for battleship-on-battleship action, as well as the logistics to actually occupy a place like India.

    Achieving any of this without an earlier POD is rather more challenging though, with the only time period coming to mind is the late 18th century or sometime before the Seven Years War.
    Ciniad and xsampa like this.
  3. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    How about doing this on the relatively early stage? For example, the Dutch are remaining in an alliance with Louis XIV and joined Franco-Dutch effort cripples British navy beyond repair (de Ruyter came reasonably close on his own) and keep acting aggressively in tandem attacking the British ports and colonies and attacking the British merchant ships (all the way to those carrying coal to London). Plus, they are implementing a policy pretty much preventing the British trade on the French territory (not too much on the Dutch existed, IIRC), something similar to the Navigation Law. This may prevent Britain from growing into the major power and the biggest colonial empire.
  4. Seleukeia Well-Known Member

    Mar 28, 2018
    Not a bad plan. Perhaps another method would be Louis conquering the Netherlands in the early 1670s with the English on his side, the conquest of the Netherlands making him even more powerful on the world stage. If one can get a French Netherlands and control of the sugar islands in the Caribbean (as well as maybe heavier settlement in New France), than French naval dominance may be able to be kept over the British.
    Ciniad, alexmilman and Dutchguy101 like this.
  5. Dutchguy101 Member

    Apr 2, 2018
    Honestly I doubt it catholic against Protestantism that would cause a rift, unless a really strong alliance could be established
  6. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    Indeed. Of course, this assumes that he is considering the Dutch trade interests as a high priority and using resources of France to back them up.
  7. Fernando III Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2017
    If you allow Jorge Juan's naval reforms to prosper (you need to remove Carlos III and maintain Ensanada in power for as long as possible) the Spanish navy throughput and naval quality would have increased substantially and the possibility of a Franco-Spanish navy to surpass the royal navy wouldn't be unlikely whatsoever. During the American wars of independence the Franco-Spanish navy performed pretty well against the RN and the Spanish naval decadence started when the Ministry of Maratime affairs decided to dish the more efficient English like shipyarding that Jorge Juan designed than the French naval model that was overburocratic and at the hands of a bad minister of maratime affairs the Spanish navy ended up building extremelly big and slow ships that were pretty much obsolete by the 1790's