Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Jonathan Edelstein, Jan 7, 2012.
Fascinating piece, as always.
Judging by all this talk on Chan Santa Cruz, I think it'd be really cool to see a sort of "wrap-up" update on how Central America has fared from the POD to the current point in the TL. An "entry point" for the butterflies would probably be British Honduras and the effect of Abacarist ideas on race relations there. 19th century Central America was a complicated place where each nation was torn between municipal and party politics, but JE's done such a good job portraying little-explored regions' histories so far and I'd really like to see what could be done here.
Has this list been updated up to the most recent post ?
That would provide for a really awkward border, as most of Sudetenland is South of Saxony, around which Prussian territory would snake. I didn't find any maps of Sudetenland that also show the pre-WWI states, but here is one of the reginal division of Germany after the annexation of the Sudetenland by the Nazis, and the borders of the Gau Sachsen are identical to the borders of the state of Saxony. So it would be more natural to divide the Sudetenland between Prussia and Saxony, along a line somewhere East of Gablontz (visible on this map). Giving a big chunk of Sudetenland to Saxony may be one of the bribes Wilhem pays to become Emperor.
BTW, what about the German-speaking areas bordering on Bavaria (e.g. the area arond Krummau in the second map) and on Austria (Znaim / Nikolsburg) and the German-speaking enclaves (Iglau, Olmütz)? I'd assume that the enclaves are part of the Czech Kingdom and for the Krummau area, it would make the most sense to give it to Bavaria. As for the Znaim / Nikolsburg areas, I doubt that Germany or the Czechs would want to give them to Austria, but I assume that Salzburg wouldn't reach so far East that they could be easily joined to Germany, so probably they're part of the Czech Kingdom as well?
Since I've managed to include Andorra, it would hardly be fair to ignore Central America. The entry point may actually be Jamaica, which avoided the 1863 uprising in TTL and, while remaining an aristocratic limited-franchise colony, has a large and growing democracy movement among the black and mixed-race population. Ideas could jump to British Honduras from there. And depending on how the Maya quasi-state develops, it could also be a vector for ideas to enter Guatemala and Honduras and interact with local revolutionary traditions.
I'll visit Central America and Mexico sometime during the early twentieth century.
It hasn't; I'll try to take care of it one of these days when I have more free time than currently.
This makes a lot of sense; consider it done.
Your disposition of the Bavarian border areas and enclaves also makes sense. Wilhelm is wary of giving anything to Bavaria, but the Bavarian government will also be looking for bribes to recognize him as emperor, and he may give them the territory in exchange for a few less policy concessions. The enclaves' population would form a German-speaking minority in the Czech kingdom; given the Czechs' close ties to Germany, I doubt they would be mistreated.
BTW, a question about Japan: would it be at all plausible for northern Sakhalin, the Kuril and Commander islands, and especially Kamchatka, to take on the status of a frontier? By this, I mean an area where Japanese who have a sense of adventure, and who might not fit in so well in the home islands, would go to fish, trap fur or prospect for gold. They'd adapt at least partially to the ways of the Russians and the indigenous people - including, in the Kurils and northern Sakhalin, the Ainu - because those people know how to survive in northern climates. The Japanese of the home islands would consider them strange, and a bit foreign, but also romantic, and through them, there would be some noble-savage romanticism of Ainu and Kamchatkan cultures. Could this happen, or is it just not something that would fit into the Japanese mindset?
YOU get some Sudeten Germans and YOU get get some Sudeten Germans and YOU get some Sudeten Germans, too!
Also really interesting updates, Jonathan! Can't really add anything that hasn't been said already though. Except that MAYBE it could work with the "Japanese frontier"... Though while as far I am aware there exist next to none narratives like that in Japanese culture these developments plus some foreign influence (who knows, maybe some authors like Karl May get popular in Japan?) it could be possible that this sense of adventure becomes part of the Japanese mindset for now. Maybe even infused with some Shinto mysticism, like discovering the gods and spirits living in these new, "unknown" regions.
Fantastic stuff as always! I had a small question about Newfoundland. On the map, I see it is independent. OTL, negotiations for admittance were almost successful in 1892. Given the more deadly war, more dire economic situation and the consolidating trends of in other white dominions like Australasia, I think an earlier Confederation admittance would be likely.
Thinking of "Buddha on Ice?"
I'll correct the map for the Sudetenland: if anything else changes, the map will be open for modifications till Friday, but after that I wash my hands of it.
PS - Is there a *Boer war in the offing? The South African republic is still stuck with the problem of too much gold and too few people...I'm really curious now about how South Africa (the British bits) are going to develop.
I'd like to help, but I'm not so confident of my skills.
What are the prospects for Scandinavian unification? I initially thought they would join the Great War together, but that didn't happen.
The Karl May connection could certainly happen. There was plenty of German-Japanese cultural interaction during the Meiji period in OTL - the Japanese language picked up lots of German loanwords during that period - and I don't think that would change in TTL. So Karl May could become a fad, and some Japanese authors might write novels in his style with a side order of Shinto mysticism, and then one of those imitators could write a romance of the north - "Kaoru of Kamchatka" or something like that. Add that to the general fascination with Russian culture and the new territories, and we've got our frontier narrative.
Unless there are significant cultural reasons why this wouldn't happen, I think I'll go for it.
Hmmm. On the other hand, wartime Canada was more preoccupied with internal divisions than Australia and NZ - with the Quebec conscription riots, it might not have had time to incorporate Newfoundland. Maybe as of 1900, negotiations for admission are in progress but haven't concluded yet.
Buddha on Ice was the best thing ever, but I can't get anything like that in 1898, more's the pity. Kamchatka as the scene of Japanese westerns will have to do.
Thanks for your patience; hopefully we won't try it too much.
At this point, the Orange Free State is a de facto British client and the South African Republic is drifting into the Portuguese orbit. The ZAR still has serious tensions with the uitlanders, but there's a way to overcome them - remember what the term "Afrikaner" means in TTL's 21st century.
The "academic" update on postwar African politics will touch on British South Africa, and there will be more on it during the 1900-10 cycle.
You've already helped by reminding me of the Gomburza and the role of the Filipino clergy in the nationalist movement.
Does my scenario at post 2720 sound reasonable?
They didn't really have anything to gain in the war that was worth the price, and once they saw what trench warfare was all about, they thought it the better part of valor to stay out.
At any rate, Sweden and Norway are still in personal union at this point, and depending on domestic politics, the crisis of 1905 may be avoided. As for Denmark - was there any major unionist movement there in OTL, and if not, would there be a reason to have one in TTL? I guess that the Scandinavians might want to unite in order to counterbalance Germany, but that motivation also existed in OTL and didn't lead to unification. Maybe with Finland and the Baltic ports as de facto German clients, there will be more of an impetus for Scandinavia to at least form a defensive alliance and customs union.
@JonathanEldestein, I don't really know; my gut says that there could be problems with such a scenario, but I can't elaborate much on why.
So, I've suddenly been hit by a thought. With how nations are being seen in different lights ITTL, I was just thinking that Korea's going to probably be seen as more "Western" than other East Asian countries. Russian interests will predominate there for a time and, if it ends up in a similar religious situation to OTL, it will religiously end up dominated(at least in plurality) by Orthodox Christians and Orthodox-influenced Chedonists in Korea proper. Added on to that, there's still that large wave of immigrants to Brazil and most of them, I'm assuming based on Isabel's rather ultra-Catholic pressure, have embraced or will embrace at least a syncretic/folk version of Catholicism there. This paints an appealing picture for people with more assimilationist ideas for colonial policy or missionary support.
On the positive side this could give the Koreans and similar groups a more positive view and respectful relationship from even more ethnocentric Europeans, but on the negative side, they could be held up as an example of what all those other colonials "should" be doing in the coming backlash in various nations with other nations under the empires being expected to eventually do the "same" as their overlords perceive it with all the possible accompanying pressures and punishments that can imply.
You know... I've been looking for something to write about and considering how much I like that premise, I'd like to attempt to write a short story set in TTL's Japan if you don't mind. Seems like a fun experiment for me once I've written my upcoming exam
Fair enough; I'll do some more reading and consult with others before I write anything definite about the Philippines. I should do that reading anyway; the Philippines are a place that I really ought to know more about.
Hmmm. Korea is, in OTL, the most Christian country in East Asia by a longshot, but I'm not sure it's considered any more Western than its neighbors. Christianity is certainly a data point that Europeans would use in determining how Western a country is, but cultural trappings also mean a lot - Lebanon and Ethiopia were never considered Western although both had Christian majorities during this period. Also, TTL's Korea will embrace a version of Christianity that is itself considered vaguely "oriental" by western Europeans - the syncretic Catholicism adopted by the Korean diaspora in Brazil won't find much traction in Korea itself, and where it does find traction, the shamanistic side of it will predominate. So while Korea will get some brownie points for having such a large Christian population, it will still be thought of as no more Western than Japan (Japanese industrial modernization will counterbalance Korea's large Christian population).
By all means do! Like I've said before, anyone is welcome to write stories in this universe - just run the idea by me first to make sure it doesn't conflict with anything I plan to do. I'll look forward to your contribution.
The last 1898 narrative - which I've been working on all along - might be finished later today.
I don't mean to add to a no doubt heavy workload, but I can't recall you mentioning what became of Tchaikovsky ITTL?
Edit: Will we be seeing much ATL-Dada post war or something more optimistic? Mind you, marxism hasn't had any major hiccups recently ITTL, so the left is probably less dismayed than post WW1.
Well, Lebanon was really borderline at some points, but for the rest I basically agree.
1898, Part 2
Dublin, Haifa, Kigali and Rehoboth
“So we fight an’ die four years for the bloody dame in fancy clothes,” said Dan O’Neill, “and now what do we bloody get for it besides a flag on our graves? I’ll tell you…”
The thirty others at the Flagship pub listened with varying degrees of attention. This was a solid Irish Workers’ Freedom Party neighborhood, and this local – like most of them – had become one long wake for the fallen since the soldiers had returned. Everyone at the tables had heard O’Neill’s speech at least once, and most of them more than that.
“… has bloody Cranbrook changed his mind about home rule? No, all he just says he’ll buy us some land.”
“That’s something, Danny, don’t tell me it isn’t,” said Tim Kelleher, freshly demobbed and still wearing his uniform jacket. Before the war, the British government had offered loans for peasants to purchase land; now, it proposed to buy landlords’ estates and give them to men who’d served in the war.
“With a preference for bloody officers…”
“And the wounded.”
“Yes, I know, and those who’ve been decorated. I’ve got two wounds myself, and a lung full of chlorine, and mentioned in despatches, so I know I’m not at the end of the line. But they’re still trying to buy off a tenth of us to sell out the rest, and you know damn well that the good land’ll all go to the bourgeois. We need to run the show ourselves, settle our own accounts with the bloody landlords…”
Whatever else O’Neill was going to say was interrupted by a crash of a rock through the local’s window. “Ave Maria, you red bastards!” someone outside shouted as the men in the pub ran to the broken window – which was the worst thing they could have done, because the next thing that came through it was a bomb.
It wasn’t a very good one, and it rolled under a table before it exploded, but it was enough to to do the job. The explosion ripped through the pub, overturned the table, sent nails and pieces of glass tearing through the air. By the grace of God no one was killed, but nearly everyone bled from multiple wounds, and someone was screaming about his eye.
“You bastards!” O’Neill cried and charged out the door, with others following. Suddenly a bullet crackled down the alley, with another close behind. “Ambush!” he shouted. “Go back in and bar the door!”
There were no guns in the pub, and the men took cover anxiously, waiting for the attack. But it never came, and after half an hour of terror, they judged it was safe to send for a doctor.
“Bloody Proddies…” one of them said, but another answered “I don’t think it was Proddies. Didn’t you hear them? It was Ave Maria – the Legion mob.” Most of the returning Legionnaires were as fervent nationalists as anyone in the Flagship, but they had no time for socialists, and it seemed that they’d decided to make their feelings known.
“We’ll sort them tomorrow,” O’Neill said, and this time there was no disagreement at all.
The marchers moved inexorably down Haifa’s main road, past the shops and importers’ offices. “Election now!” shouted the Brotherhood of Labor, the returning veterans, the Jews and Muslims, the followers of Abacar and those of the Bahá'u'lláh. And Lev Davidovich Bronshtein shouted with them. “Election now!”
The Porte promised an election after the war, and then after the peace treaty – now they’re saying that they’ll hold one when things settle down, Bronshtein reflected. Well, things won’t settle down until the election, and it’s about time they learned.
He supposed he didn’t blame them for wanting to wait – not after seeing what had happened elsewhere. France had elected a socialist government and bought itself a civil war; Lord Cranbrook had lost his majority and was hanging on by the skin of his teeth; Wilhelm, who’d thought to be acclaimed Kaiser, now had to haggle with the Reichstag; and nobody knew who would run Austria. Soldiers returning from the war didn’t want to come back to more of the same. They wanted change, so that their sacrifice wouldn’t be in vain – and in the Ottoman Empire’s cities, they wanted not only new parties but a new system.
Bronshtein supposed that he counted among them. He’d only joined the Bedouin scouts and had never been in the trenches, but he’d seen a few fights, and after that a protest march didn’t scare him. And hadn’t the Bahá'u'lláh said that everyone must be free?
“Yes he did,” said Rania beside him, and he realized he’d spoken out loud. Much of her Bedouin tribe had come to the city for the protest, but she marched with him, not with them, and he felt a stab of pride at the thought. They’d been through the war together and decided three months ago that they would marry; the sheikh had pronounced himself impressed enough with Lev’s performance on the battlefield to agree, although he was no doubt also thinking of the stake the tribe would one day have in the Bronshtein farm. No one would have imagined a generation ago that a Bedouin woman might marry a Jewish man, but under the Bahá'u'lláh’s teachings, surely all things were possible.
There was a knot of policemen at the next intersection and they watched the marchers carefully, but they did no more than that. Wise move, Lev thought; a good third of the protesters had been in the war, the trade unionists could also handle themselves, and neither would hesitate to fight if the police tried to stop them. It would take more troops than were under arms now in Haifa, and for that matter in all the sanjak, to rout the marchers from the streets.
They’re marching like this in Stamboul today too, and in all the cities of the Balkans, and in Anatolia and the Levant. He’d heard that there would be protests and strikes even in Tripoli and Benghazi. They want to wait for things to settle down, do they? Let them try to wait us out now.
“Election now!” he shouted, his voice one with thousands of others.
“My grandmother used to tell me that she and my grandfather would lie together like this,” said Paulo the Younger. “On the roof of their house, I mean.”
Mélisande, beside him, rested her head on his chest and let him gather her in. “After they’d done other things?”
“She never talked about that part. Although she did say that my father would wonder what they’d been up to.”
He looked past her toward the parapet of the only building in Kigali where they could lie like this. All the other roofs in the city were thatched and sloped steeply to shed rain, but the armory was built of stone, and its roof was made for soldiers to stand on and defend. It was a hard bed, but nothing a pile of straw couldn’t cure, and a cool rain had broken the night’s heat.
“Your eyes are far away,” she said. “Where have you come from this time?”
“Samuel’s kingdom and Maniema, and the Bembe clans in the west.”
“For your kings?”
“Yes. And from here I go to Bujumbura.” Once, Paulo had had a home and a district that he’d been sworn to guard, and Mélisande had been a constant wanderer, but things seemed somehow to have reversed. She stayed in Kigali now for three months at a time – from council to council – before roaming the land for the next three, and he couldn’t remember the last time he’d spent more than two weeks in one place. There was a new order to shape in the eastern Congo, and neither the British colonial service nor Tippu Tip would run out of tasks for him soon.
She raised herself on her elbows. “What are they like, the new countries?”
“Variations on the same theme, just as the Great Lakes kingdoms are.”
She looked questioningly at him for a moment. “I think I know what that means…” He cursed himself silently; it was easy to forget that for all Mélisande’s perception and intelligence, she’d had very little education. Her childhood was unimaginable to him, almost like the stories of his grandfather’s time as a slave. Maybe that was why she reminded him so much of the elder Paulo: visionary, driven to freedom and not happy unless life was a constant jihad.
Of course, Grandfather was much older by the time he had to rule a country, and he’d seen much more of the world. And it still killed him – the British talked him into attacking Dahomey, and he ended up with a bullet in his chest.
He willed himself back to the here and now, and told Mélisande what variations were. They talked about music for a while, and her questions quickly led into the realm of his ignorance, and the conversation slowly drifted back to where it began.
“All the countries here stand on three legs – herders, farmers and holy men,” he explained. “The difference is in how they relate to each other, and in which way the faith pulls the rest of the country – and in how much the people who had power before are still fighting to get it back.”
She nodded gravely – this she understood. She still preferred to deal with the people directly, but she’d picked up a few tricks of managing factions, and Paulo had taught her a few more that he’d learned from his father. He wasn’t sure he ought to have done that, because some of the factions might be more willing to become Tippu Tip’s clients than Mélisande was, but he’d done it anyway.
“I’ll be cashiered if they ever find out,” he muttered. “That or worse.”
“For… this?” She spread her hands to take in the two of them where they lay on the straw.
For a moment, he thought of leaving it at that, but he’d long since found that he was incapable of lying to her. “Bad enough I have commissions from both the Sultan and the Queen, with their plans drifting apart. If I have loyalties here too…” He looked up and let the rain fall directly on his face. “I’m afraid I’ll have to choose, and if I have too many masters, I won’t be able to avoid betraying something dear to me.”
“Why have any masters at all?” It really was that simple to her. Power over others, and serving those in power, were the roots of evil in her theology, which explained why she set such harsh restraints on herself. “The purest form of shura is when there is no ruler to consult the people,” she’d said during one of their conversations. “It is where the people rule and consult each other.” And when she’d said that, he’d heard his grandfather saying only God can limit freedom…
Maybe it was natural that she would feel that way, given how she’d grown up. But he’d lived closer to power than she had, and he wasn’t as prepared to dismiss it. It was Tippu Tip’s power that kept the rubber barons and mercenaries from making the eastern Congolese into slaves again, and power like that could be worth serving.
“All my masters are in my heart,” he said. “It isn’t easy to let them go.”
Mélisande nodded again. Maybe she was wondering how much of his heart she had, compared to the Sultan and the Queen. But it wasn’t in her nature to ask such things.
“Tell me a story,” she said, and gratefully, he did.
There wasn’t much for a Schutztruppe captain in Rehoboth to do. The Basters and the Boers who’d joined them  acknowledged Wilhelm as their king, and they’d made their peace with the settlers in Südwest-Afrika, but they ran their own affairs and conducted their own patrols, and they’d made clear that they didn’t need German troops to help them. They actually didn’t need Germans for much of anything; Germany might be the strongest power in the region, but they felt that their way of life, and certainly their faith, was the superior one. Many of the askaris who’d gone to fight in Europe had fallen in love with the bright lights of Berlin and stayed; the Basters had almost all come home.
So, no, there wasn’t much work for a Schutztruppe captain like Karl Müller – he saluted the Basters’ Kaptein in the morning, rode out with his men to guard against cattle-raiders and report on the condition of the trails, and not much else. He suspected – no, more than suspected – that he’d been put out to pasture; a Herero officer adopted into a German family might be good enough in wartime, but now that there was peace, he was an embarrassment best put where no one would see him. His father had got him the commission, but that had been when Vati was a power in the foreign service; he was no longer that, and Karl doubted that he’d ever be promoted.
It served its purpose, Karl acknowledged. What Vati had done – and Karl might never know how many favors the older man had had to call in to do it – had kept him out of the trenches. He’d spent most of the war in Kazembe and Barotseland, where he hadn’t had to fight anything worse than bandits. Toward the end, when Portugal was no longer a threat, they’d sent him to Kamerun to join the assault on French Congo, but even that paled beside what the soldiers in Europe had faced. He’d survived, and now it was time to move on.
Mutti and Vati aren’t coming back to Africa, so I can always go manage their land. He could be, in all but name, the Bauer Müller, oath-bound to a hundred herders and peasants as well as five German tenants, and could take his father’s seat in the district Bauernkammer and his rotating seat in the colonial legislature. But he’d come to question the justice of that arrangement during the course of his travels, and with Ndapewa doing such a good job as bailiff, he’d be superfluous. And besides, I might as well admit that I’ve fallen for the bright lights as badly as any askari – I’d rather stay in Rehoboth where they don’t dance and they think the devil brews beer than live on a farm.
Before the war, when he was eighteen, he’d thought of going to the university. He wouldn’t be the only African at Leipzig or Jena, or at the new public college in Berlin; the Germans in Germany were more accepting of that sort of thing than the settlers here.
Maybe twenty-four isn’t too late to start, and it’s about time I saw my parents again.
 See post 932.
 See post 1180.
Great update as always!
I've noticed, Jonathan, that you prefer to write your narratives from the perspective of "positive" characters. You rarely show us the eyes of someone committing atrocities or making morally wrong choices. I remember a Russian soldier attacking a peasant village, but that's about it. I like it - even though atrocities still happen, it adds to the overall optimism of the story.
Yeah, though when all the talk is of improvement it does sometimes give the impression that things are actually good. Which isn't always the case, as has already been mentioned regarding the late war.
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