Impact of this Byzantine Empire surviving to the present day

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by NAF, Feb 2, 2019.

  1. NAF Active Member

    Sep 20, 2017

    Let's say that Justinian's conquests were much more successful and the Roman empire was able to hold on to the pictured territories permanently.

    1. How powerful would this Byzantium be on the world stage?
    2. What do you see being the major cities of this empire in the modern day? How would Constantinople develop?
    3. Would such a strong Eastern Roman Empire delay or accelerate a renaissance in Europe?
    4. With such a long time for the populace to assimilate, would the majority of the empire speak Greek as their first language, or would local languages remain prevalent? How assimilated do you see Italy becoming?
    5. How wealthy do you see this empire becoming? What quality of life do you think its citizens could enjoy?
    6. What effect would this surviving Rome have on the development of Christianity? Do you see a schism of any sort happening ITTL?
    7. How would such a strong surviving Roman Empire impact the development of other European powers? Could states such as France, Spain, and Great Britain form as well? What about the HRE?
  2. viciosodiego Member

    Sep 23, 2017
    How does such a state even survive.
  3. NAF Active Member

    Sep 20, 2017
    I see no reason why it couldn't survive, albeit changed significantly as time goes on.
  4. Old Kentucky Well-Known Member

    Jan 6, 2018
    Huntsville, Alabama USA
    1. As it would have to hold it's own against the Russian Empire, the Ayyubids, Austria-Hungary, the Turks, and France over the centuries it would have to be at least strong enough to wage successful defensive campaigns. The Byzantine Empire did have a powerful navy something that would have to be maintained.

    2. Constantinople would remain the jewel of the empire; probably the largest city, well fortified and cosmopolitan. Rome and Alexandria would vie for the next highest honors. The Italian cities would thrive and grow without the constant wars that bedeviled the peninsula. Jerusalem would benefit also. Belgrade would likely become both a major trading center and military post.

    3. I think that the Renaissance would be accelerated as a surviving Byzantine Empire would be a better conduit for knowledge to travel westward . The ravages of the Mongols may even send many scholars and the like to live in the empire.

    4. Greek becomes either the first or second language of the vast majority of the people as the centuries roll by. As the Byzantines referred to themselves as Romans I could see Italy readily assimulating into the empire. Italy, as a nation, was a somewhat later concept so there would not be that inertia to overcome.

    5. General prosperity is almost a given as the Empire straddles some many trade routes. The Suez Canel may have been built centuries earlier helping commerce thrive. Food production was not a problematic issue in much of the state keeping famines at bay.

    6. As most of the important centers of the early Church would be within the territory of the Byzantine Empire I think that the Catholic-Orthodox schism would not happen. Christian proselytizing continues.

    7. The continued existence of the Byzantine Empire doesn't allow the Umayyad Caliphate to conquer north Africa and Iberia so the Visigothic Kingdom lasts longer but I don't think that it morphs into a state similar to Spain since the Reconquista and the culture it created would happen.
    The Frankish Kingdom I think would follow a similar path on its way to becoming France as it did but without Charlemagne being crowned by Pope Leo III the HRE does not come into existence.
    England doesn't stop from happening.
    Its influence on Russia and the Ukraine would be interesting as they concider themselves sucessors of sort of the Byzantine Empire.
  5. Evil Crusader Well-Known Member

    May 18, 2016
    Italian Riviera
    History does not work like a Paradox game. We have but one example of such a big polity resisting up to now, China, and that has a vastly different geopolitical scenario. Italy is particularly vulnerable, and eventually some Persian polity will weaken that ERE enough that some lands are lost for good.
  6. Rèxīn Member

    Jan 27, 2019
    I imagine these kind of scenarios lately so here's my take. Do note I am not a historian and feel free to correct any errors.

    This Roman state in these modern times will probably be a superpower with all that natural gas and oil on its eastern territories. Assuming it manages to industrialize faster than its neighbors and it doesn't get its wings clipped like the Ottoman Empire in the great war.

    Major cities I could think of is Rome, Alexandria, and Jerusalem for religious reasons. Constantinople of course, for political and economic reasons. Maybe Ravenna, Milan, and Antioch? Not sure about these ones.

    With a strong state connecting the richer east to the west, technological advancements will probably be faster. This state will probably be wealthy comparable to western European states today.

    Greek will probably be the primary language and might even replace Latin in religious texts so the schism might never happen. The schism will never happen anyway if the emperor exerts greater influence in Italy which in this scenario, he does. What is also interesting is how the Copts will interact with this united Catholic-Orthodoxy. Also no Protestant reformations? No Anglican Church? Good heavens, the butterflies!

    This I cannot say for sure. Maybe several states forms in these regions due to the meddling of a strong Roman state. Maybe they get reconquered by an ambitious and able emperor. Maybe a Frankish king unites various Germanic states then conquers Spain creating a HRE-like state.

    Britain I'm certain less so because of the Vikings, Normans, and French (Franks?).

    What is also interesting if I may add is a strong Roman state will probably delay the age of exploration and discovery. Which would mean the native Americans would probably have a century or two to prepare before the other side makes contact. I do not know if this will help though as the primary reason for their deaths is diseases. Also which polities are strong enough to become the regional powers in America? The Aztecs and Incas?
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
  7. KidCabralista Cape Verde's Unofficial Wikipedia Meister

    Jan 25, 2019
    The Front Lines of the Second Aroostook War
    Exactly. I have no idea how something like this is supposed to hold together for that amount of time - there's just too many centrifugal forces acting on it in the geopolitical situation for the scenario to make much sense. China only worked because of the unique conditions facing it and even then it often had trouble keeping it all in.
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  8. ennobee Well-Known Member

    Mar 12, 2015
    Greater Houston/Galveston suburbia, Texas
    It would have to survive for 1800 years, something up to now only the old Egyptians had manages to do. More importantly, it would have to survive 700 years after the OTL fall of Constantinople and 800 years after OTL Constantinople was overrun by the Crusaders.

    Of course, the fall of Constantinople was one of the factors contributing to the renaissance so the butterflies are tremendous. It could very well be that in 2019, Byzantium is one of the leading nations on earth because it knows how to harness steam power while most other nations still rely on mules and donkeys.
  9. BellaGerant Well-Known Member

    Apr 21, 2017
    While the longevity and power of such an empire does require quite a few things going right for it (excessively so), especially leadership (which the Roman Empire had not the best of luck in at time) and responses to outside threats (invading armies, migrations, and natural disasters), the old trope of the Renaissance not happening without the fall of Constantinople requires a bit too much suspension of disbelief, in my opinion.

    The Renaissance started way before the Ottomans took Constantinople, the ideas and influences (writers like Dante, Petrarch, etc; the devastation of the Black Death causing a shift in contemporary philosophy; the social and political environment of Northern Italy) leading up to it starting from the 14th century and the Rebirth itself usually being dated being from the earlier half of the 15th century, decades before Byzantium fell. Did the influx of Greek scholars fleeing from the collapsing Eastern Roman Empire help? Certainly. But the Renaissance was already underway when they arrived and their role was of nurturing, not birthing, the Rebirth.

    In any case, assuming that avoiding the Renaissance in the 15th century would lead to everyone using mules and donkeys is a bit too much of a stretch, seeing as 1. technology disseminates very quickly, especially along trade routes and if it's useful (hell, Native Americans were using firearms against Anglo settlers despite lacking the infrastructure for armament production), and 2. it assumes no technological innovation could happen without the Renaissance despite the need or other potential events during the ensuing 600 years that would catalyse a Scientific Revolution.
  10. NAF Active Member

    Sep 20, 2017
    I hope I don't come off as rude, but I always think it's a bit unfair when people go on these Byzantium survival threads and continually espouse the notion that any surviving ERE beyond Greece and Anatolia is doomed to either slowly wither away or suddenly implode. I especially find it unfair that you attribute the decline of this hypothetical Byzantium to some inevitably formed Persian polity. Why is such a Persian state inevitable to form? What's to stop this ERE from eventually consolidating its holdings in the east and ensuring that its lands will remain under its control?

    Now, I will not argue that the survival of the Roman Empire in the scenario I have put forth is not unlikely, because it most definitely is. For such a state to survive intact until the present day requires a lot of luck, perhaps even an absurd amount, but it is possible, incredibly unlikely as it is, for everything to go right for the Romans. So long as the scenario I have put forth is not outright, without a doubt ASB (and I don't really think it is), then I'm not so much interested in the likelihood of Byzantine survival as I am with having my original questions in the post answered.
  11. ByzantineCaesar Secretary-General of URSAL

    Mar 22, 2010
    São Paulo, SP, Brasil
    I really don’t get this culture of the OP presenting a premise and asking a question, only for people to come and post not trying to answer the question but to actually question the very premise itself, which isn’t up for debate. You don’t like the premise? Just stay out of the thread. I’m pretty sure your contributions are not what the OP was looking forward to when he presented the scenario.
  12. Wolttaire Well-Known Member

    Aug 4, 2018
    it more of internet thing of telling people they are wrong
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  13. KidCabralista Cape Verde's Unofficial Wikipedia Meister

    Jan 25, 2019
    The Front Lines of the Second Aroostook War
    This is actually a good point and I apologize for jumping to criticism right off the bat. It's one thing for someone to toss around literal impossiblities while telling everyone to play along and another if the scenario is merely very unlikely. If there's a setup where the latter is the case, it does seem rude upon reflection to just negate it, especially if the person posting already understands how unlikely it is and is not considering that.
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  14. FleetMac Patriotic Scalawag

    Jan 13, 2011
    VA boy living in a TX world
    Not to chest-puff, but I feel I'm guilty of this to a degree. However, I also try to offer a variation of the OP that seems more likely, or stipulations on how the scenario could work. At least that way it's productive, rather than poo-poo'ing the idea needlessly. I agree than going into a thread merely to sabotage its very existence without a reason is pointless and rude.

    Speaking of which, @NAF part of the issue from my POV is that Justinian's conquests were a case of biting off more than he or Belisarius could chew, given how much trouble the Lombards gave them in Italy. HOWEVER, therein lies fertile ground for a well-defined POD beyond "Justinian does better"; establishing a specific Lombard shortcoming or having them incorporated into the empire as foederati are just two ways of going about it (searching for threads on Justinian could give you ideas). Once that's done, following through on the butterflies will get you to the heart of the OP.

    In general, ignoring butterflies for a moment, I think Rhomania would be an Eastern equivalent to OTL's Carolingian empire in terms of relative power and importance. Extrapolating from that, you could see a great power in the making (IMHO something like the Ottoman Empire in relative terms, if not better off depending on how the politics of the empire unfold).

    Linguistically Greek would probably be the main language as a means of administration except for Romance and Semitic dialects in Italy and Africa/Asia respectively (assuming the latter isn't overrun by the Muslims, itself an assumption they aren't butterflied), so local tongues could still survive locally based on my aforementioned Ottoman comparison (although Latin could retain relative importance depending on post -Justinian developments, he was the "Last Roman" in that regard after all). I don't see England or Francia being erased, they're too peripheral to the Romans IMO, and Spain would be different without the Reconquista but something approximating it is likely by the High Middle Ages (again, going off of economic and technological developments bound to happen that a bigger Rhomania wouldn't flounder). Just my $0.02.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
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  15. SeaCambrian Alien Space Bat

    May 28, 2018
    Is the Byzantine Empire allowed to temporarily lose and later reconquer (with up to 100-200 years delay) the territories on the map? In that case, it's very plausible with a Justinian era POD and anyone who lived in 500 or 600 AD would have considered this scenario to be the obvious future.

    Or do the Romans have to hold this territory continuously with no interruptions? If so, it's insanely difficult though still possible.

    Either way will lead to a significantly different development of the Roman empire.
  16. FleetMac Patriotic Scalawag

    Jan 13, 2011
    VA boy living in a TX world
    Sorry to hit this thread up again just for a shout-out, but THIS awesome concept seems geopolitically appropriate (albeit with a different POD, though that doesn't preclude such a scenario per se for the OP's purposes). To wit, it has the same territory indicated up-thread and demonstrates how Rhomania could/would interact with a multipolar Eurasia over time.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
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  17. CaedmonCousland Writes Overly Long Comments When Bored

    Apr 26, 2017
    Well, just several quick thoughts.

    What happens to Islam? If Islam doesn't take Egypt or Palestine, it might not survive long term. Although the possibility of it just taking everything east of the ERE is a possibility, maybe even spreading to Africa through east Africa. A lack of a strong Islamic spread can affect India and Persia, and with those borders it is almost certain that Iberia won't be taken by Islam and so the Reconquest is gone.

    The Frankish Empire might not form. They were helped along by aiding the Pope in Rome, gaining papal and clerical legitimacy. The Kingdom of the Franks will still form to some degree, but the title of Emperor is totally out of their reach. I don't think Constantinople even recognized most of the 'western' Roman Emperors in the Medieval times. Here, the ERE possesses the important cities of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Rome. If they don't recognize a new Emperor in the west, nothing less than a religious schism will change it.

    Assuming some similar trends in European development, this ERE would be a superpower up to the modern time but would probably proportionally lower in importance over time. As the Baltic/North Sea/Atlantic trade routes develop you'll see the countries there develop almost entirely different from the Romans simply due to different geographies and trade routes. If colonialism happens, the ERE becomes the Austria-Hungary equivalent. A major power, but lacking the colonies of western Europe.

    Religiously, I assume everywhere outside of the ERE will develop a Christian structure with very autonomous bishops. There will simply be too large a gap between eastern Mediterranean ERE and northwestern North Sea/Atlantic regions. Especially as one bishop probably won't reach for supremacy to cause conflict the way it happened IOTL when Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem fell to leave a Rome vs Constantinople affair.
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  18. Pelranius Well-Known Member

    Jun 26, 2018
    Ummm, because things like logistics and the like actually matter?
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  19. Basileus444 Well-Known Member

    Oct 30, 2011
    I wish I could like this post multiple times. It deserves it.
    Now regarding the OP:

    1) I'd say pretty powerful. Unless for some reason it's technologically backward or incompetently managed, it'd be a great power although I'm not sure if it could break into USA/USSR level superpower level.

    2) Constantinople of course, Antioch, Alexandria. Possibly Smyrna as a hub for western Anatolia trade. An alt-Venice (not necessarily on the lagoon) is also a prime candidate, as a conduit for eastern goods. It has Mediterranean access for ease of transport and is close to several Alpine passes for trade with northern Europe (same as OTL). Carthage/Tunis is another prime candidate as a major seaport.

    3) I'd think earlier, since in this scenario more ancient texts are likelier to survive and the west will have easier access to said texts. If a hypothetical Parisian professor wanted access to them, he'd just have to go to Milan, for example, rather than Cordoba. In this TL, there might be no 'Renaissance' as we think of it.

    4) I think local languages stay prevalent. At the time of Justinian, native languages were still going strong and by that point Egypt and Syria had been ruled by Greek-speakers or Romans for close to a thousand years. Italy probably keeps speaking an alt-Latin. By the present day I think most people would be bilingual, speaking the local tongue of their region (Syriac, Coptic, Latin etc) and Greek.

    5) I think in this case the devil is in the details. A good TL writer could plausibly write many varied outcomes.

    6) I think there would still be a schism of some sort. Christians love to fight with other Christians about points of theology. Something will come up. One possible fracture point for a schism may be western/northern Europe breaking away to form a separate Christian church as a way of emphasizing their independence from the Emperor in Constantinople.

    7) HRE, not happening. There still could be a German state of sorts, but not one with 'Roman' in the title. States like France or England or Spain could form. The Empire, because of its size, will have a lot of commitments so the times it can afford to police western/northern Europe will be limited.
  20. Burton K Wheeler l'état profond, c'est moi Moderator

    Jun 11, 2006
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