Good Lord, that is truly amazing!The Northern Indies in 1840
Hi! This is a map I made for the MOTF 212, it is probably one of my biggest map so far, and i'm quite proud of it.
This is actually supposed to be in the same TL as that Northern Queensland map i made a year ago, which is a TL i've been slowly working on for the past year, frankly a lot has been retconned since (an obious exemple: the East India COmpany collapses in the 1760s there, so i clearly had to change how this Queensland appeared), Anyway the *actual* POD is that Jean Pierre Pury de Neuchatel (best known IRL for founding one of the first settlement in IRL Georgia), who wanted to send an expedition to western australia in the late 1710s, after being rejected by the French, England and Dutch, goes to portugal, this has far reaching consequences in Africa,America, Europe and Asia, but for the sake of this particular map, It's better to assume that the POD is that France does slightly better in the first carnatic war.
I'm collapsing the description in Spoilers
Bengal, the Paradise of Nations
The Pathani Realm, the last of the great empiresBengal, In the north east of the sub continent, is probably the most industrious and resourceful of all the Indian nations. A former Mughal subah,Bengal gained significant power following the collapse of Mughal authority, the region became the wealthiest of India and was well integrated in the world economy, however Maratha plunder and european intervention would nearly jeopardise this prosperity by 1750. It wasn’t until the reign of Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah that Bengal would rise again and assert total independence, under his rule, The Maratha rulers of Nagpur were overthrown, rescinding the costly tribute Bengal had to pay, he evicted the British from Calcutta and later forced the french out, and he waged a war against the Afghans after their victory at panipat and their action against the Jats and Oudh while the later war would prove inconclusive, it allowed Siraj ud-Daulah to cut ties with the now Afghan-dominated Mughal emperor in Delhi, and restyled his title as sultan of an independent Bengal.
Siraj ud-Daulah had liberated Bengal from old threats, yet he found himself at odd with new ones, first the Afghan under Ahmad Shah would not retreat from the Penjab and Upper Ganges, and after the first inconclusive war with them, a true battle of influence started, first in Oudh where the Bengali struck a geopolitical victory by ensuring the succession of the Pro-Afghan Nawab of Oudh (whose participation at Panipat was improtant in ensuring the Afghan''s victory), Shuja-ud-daula, with his pro-Bengali son Saadat Ali against his mother and adopted older brother, the crisis would spark a short war with the Afghan which allowed the Bengali to take control of the strategic fort of Allahabad from the Bengash Afghan warlords, who like the Rohillas of Rohilkhand had quickly sided with Ahmad Shah before or shortly after Panipat, the battle of influence over the Gangetic plains was crucial as they were the source of many crop for export, one of the most important being opium which the British would trade across asia. The battle of influence also extended to the Bhundelkhand, were Dacca and Dehli fought for influence over the various sons of the great conquerer Chhatrasal, as well as the Himalayas, Ahmad Shah managed to ease tensions between Rohillas and the Sirmour and Kemaon Kingdom, forcing the later to side with them eventually, west of it, the newly united Gurkha kingdom under Prithvi Narayan was initially thought to be a threat to northern Bengal, but his succession by his incompetent son Pratap Singh who had a much less offensive policy eased relations between the two, Dacca however did manage to influence the dozens of small principalties east of Nepal and supported the Kaski kingdom to take over its neighbors, giving Bengal direct commercial access to Tibet, in the middle, the various Baise petty states, stuck between Bengali and Afghan sphere of influence, decided to confederate and stay neutral, becoming in a way a Switzerland in the Himalaya. To the west of Bengal lies a plethora of small states who have been subdued into the Bengali sphere of influence, with various hill people in between regularly raiding them, of these Tipora, Dimasi and Meckley (Manipur) are the most important as they allow a direct commercial link with the Ava Konbaung kingdom of upper Burma. North of it lies Ashem (Assam), or what's left of it after the terrible 1790s Moamoria revolt of Moamoria Sattra followers against the oppressive Ashemi rule and the Paik forced labour system, the rump Ashem has been subdued into Dacca's sphere of influence, but upper Ashem is still outside of most political rivalries, and only occasionaly trades tea with Bengal.
The Alliance between Bengal and the British started as a way for the Sultan of Bengal to counter French influence in the Bengal bay, who had by the late 19th century started to tax and inspect various merchant ships, and who also, were a constant military threat through their army in Orisha, the French support to the Mon kingdom of Burma against the konbaung kingdom was also one of the reason for this re-allignement, eventually in the 1780s the Bengali accepted back british traders, although they were forbidden to occupy the fort of Calcutta.
The reassertion of Bengal’s power would be a boon for its economy, the end of the Marathi tribute which amounted for a third of the revenue of the nawab filled the sultan’s coffer, while export of sugar and rice, principally oversea, would increase the prosperity of the zamindars landowner, but it was really the boom in Bengali textile - cotton and silk mostly - which changed everything, Tighter control of European factories once they were allowed back gave more advantageous trade for most rural textile producer , but more importantly, the introduction of more advanced weaving machines and looms by european investors dramatically increased productivity, concentrated in cities these new machineries would start a large exodus of rural weavers, which would be followed by other adjacent workers, The city of Dakka , among others, thus grew from 1 millions inhabitant by the the mid 18th century to over 2 millions by the 1830s, the much larger textile production would come to dominate much of the Asian textile trade, and both European investors and traders and Urban Bengali nouveaux riche would make fortunes, many of the later would reinvest their wealth in lavish estate taking from both Bengali and European style, , the finest Jamdani fabric, and most importantly in arts and literature, with the goal of giving a widepread reputation to Bengali culture and nationhood. European ideas entered the Bengali high society While British investor were introducing more and more complex machinery, including railways and steam powered loom, fuelled by the first Bengali coal mine By 1840, Bengal had truly become the most prosperous region of Asia, however it wasn’t without problems, the millions of new urban workers would have trouble living, and overcrowded bungalows would multiply in them with terrible sanitary conditions, crime and unlawness would rise while Various cities were unable to police their new neighbor hood, child workers would also become more and more common with little attempts made at forbidding it. In rural areas, the situation wasn’t better, ignored by the various zamindar (who were more invested in influence battle and rivalries with the urban nouveaux riches) or by the Sultan’s administration, traditional rural communities of mixed Weaver and farmers would struggle to keep up with the increased productivity of urban weavers, while they found it harder and harder to export their rice to the traditional buying regions in the Carnatic and circars as France was in deep local rivalry with both Bengal and the British
While the latter would occasionally come up with new markets for the cheap Bengali rice they as a result used predatory practices with Bengali farmers. In this context a new movement appeared, traditional tanti weavers, in a similar fashion yet separate from the British luddites, would start to target new machineries and destroy them, as well as trying to prevent and shame worker who had gone to cities. While by 1840 this movement was not threatening the authority of the sultan through the zamindar, it would only grow and become more turbulent in the following decades, and eventually have a large influence, as many subsequent social movements of the Indian continent would take inspiration from it.
Despite these challenges, Bengal in 1840 is still without a doubt the most stable and industrious nation of the Indies, and it seems like its economic advantage over the continent will only grow in the next decade, yet recent disagreement with britain are making many reconsider their relations, the permanent british military presence in Alahabad, while useful against the Afghan, make many wonder about Bengal's military dependency on Britain in such a strategic location, other don't exactly understand some of the misplaced priorities of the british and their lobby, for exemple their ongoing pressure for Bengal to subdue the isolationist Upper Ashem, which does not produce much except tea. Many are cautious of the growing british commercial presence in Dacca, but for the moment it seems the two nations are too economically intertwined to break relations.
A colonial state on its last stand: The French IndiesTo the west lies the mighty Pathani Empire, founded by the great Ahmad Shah Durrani who united Afghan tribes, he expensed into the penjab and Kashmir and after decisively defeating Maratha forces in Panipat (a blow the Maratha would never recover from) , was able to create a vast region of influence over north India and get recognition from the effectively powerless yet still legitimate Mughal emperor , however in the decade following that victory, Ahmad Shad faced a variety of challenges that forced him to consolidate his empire, Jats warriors and the Gwalior at the eastern edge of his empire, a short, inconsclusjve conflict with Bengal over the latter’s refusal to recognise the Diwani, the right of revenues to Dehli, and more importantly many severe uprising by the Sikhs of Penjab. The empire he consolidated, ruled seasonally from either Qandahar and Delhi, took much from its predecessor, effectively a warrior state, much like the Marathas before, it took over previous Mughal tax base, and imposed their own taxes over previous Maratha Chauth, local administration was oftne kept with little changes, Already largely independent Subahs became Vilayats with little effective changes, The Pathani empire managed to strike a successful symbiosis of military power and revenue ressources. While the religion of the rulers changed, Ahmad Shah would prove relatively tolerant toward Hindus, and the army, below the permanent upper class of Pathan warriors and riders, was composed nearly equal of Hindus and local Muslims, Socially, Ahmad shah’s rule can be noted for the uniformisation of marriage laws, which would particular bring to the favour divorced and widowed women.
Yet in contrast to these unassuming changes, the Sikh warriors stayed the largest threat to the young empire, Ahmad Shah would spend most of the rest of his rule until 1790 fighting them, early on, the Sikh often managed to take over provincial capitals and other large cities, it was only after costly campaign that they would be defeated on the battlefield in the 1770s, but it wouldn’t mark the end of the fight, most Sikh went underground, fighting as insurgent for decades, Ahmad Shah had to significantly overhaul the bureaucracy and military of the penjab to slowly and painfully fight them, yet in the end it worked, at the cost of a genocide of hundreds of thousand of penjabi Sikh, these campaigns would later be considered as one of the main reason for Ahmad Shah’s inability to expend his empire in the second half of his reign.
For the Sikh who escaped death, escape was the only option, many fled to the south and east, to Bengal or to British coastal ports, a large number also fled into Cashmere, one of the first region conquered by the Pathani, its isolation allowed the Sikh to suddenly take over it in the 1770s, they evicted as many local Muslims and persecuted the rest like the Afghan was persecuting them before, and as fierce warriors they consolidated the cashmere valley into a true fortress,appealing European help, many french and British advisors reached out to them and helped them establish defences, and so far, these are holding, nearly 60 years after their exile they have managed to create a self sufficient stage, constantly besieged by the Pathani and manages to push back all previous invasions
Land of Broken Dreams: the divided Post-Maratha west.On the western coast of the Bengal sea is the French Indian State, the crown jewel of the French global empire, but behind the wonders of the bountiful land and the great jewels exports lies a decrepit state close to breakdown
The French Indian state owes its existence virtually entirely to one man: Joseph François Dupleix, a general and governor in the french army in India, he first showed his skills in the first carnatic war in the 1740s, where he and naval officier Mahe de la bourdonais (with whom he had rocky relations) decisively beat the English near the Carnatic coast, a few years later he would help the french gain large influence on the indies' eastern coast by suppoting a puppet nawab for the throne of arcot - Chanda Sahib - against the claimant supported by the british, while at the same time ensuring the nizam claimant Salabat Jung a seat on Hyderabad's throne, for which he was awarded large area in the circars region. In possession of the circars and with the carnatic under his puppet's rule, he would kickstart a new colonial state where the French would directly collect taxes from the land - bypassing many intermediaries - and raise a local army instead of using mercenaries, ths novel rule would prove extremely effective against the british in the third carnatic war, where the french gained near total control on the eastern coast. Once free of british rivalry on the coast, Dupleix continued his scheme of creating a great indian empire, extending his rule to the Arcot Nawab's teritory, he turned the fertile coastal land into a money earner, replacing traditional agriculture with commercial plantations, many would horribly fail resulting in famines causing the deaths of millions, aggravated by the ban on bengal rice import. He also ordered the expension of gem mining, which would give the french crown jewels rivalling the Tarvernier Blue Diamond. He also started further expension, taking advantage of the collapse of the Bhonsle rule in nagpur to snatch the Orisha region.
He and his successors to the seat of governor of french india would continue to support the Nizam of Hyderabad in his crusade against the maratha, which would become more linked in european rivalry once the Maratha capital Poona became an effective british puppet. In Burma, he would support the mon ruled Hanthawaddy Kingdom and defend it against Alaungpaya's invasions, giving france influence on the whole lower Irrawaddy and pupetting Arakan, which gave France control of most of the bengal sea, directly threatening Benga
Yet French India would fall to its own excesses, its successive greedy governors would lack Dupleix's governing and military skills and would be further pressured by the King's ever increasing demands in the oversea empire, which had become an important source of pride for Louis XVI and XVII as a way to distract from the insufficient reforms in the metropole at the end of the 18th century. As decades went by, more and more uprising would start which would be put down with increasing difficulty, finally in the 1830 the first succesful one, an uprising of the Khand people in inner Orisha with support from the Bengali and English, threatened the whole French indian state, ever since the state has been on the brink of collapse and with the English navy imposing itself more and more in the Bengal sea, the french Indian state's days are numbered.
In the Center-west, north of the Malabar coast once stood the Maratha Empire, by the 1750s its tributaries reached from coast to coast but it would quickly collapse mere decades later. Everything changed after the third battle of Panipat against the Afghans in 1761, the defeat was terrible for the Peshwa of Poona, Baji Rao whose eldest son Vishwas Rao was killed at the battle, along with most of the great maratha generals and tributary warlords like the Shinde and Gaikwad, while the Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah could not deal a decisive blow against the Maratha, his army managed to take control of the penjab and much of the part of the north indies that had fallen under Maratha tribute a decade before, while Sikhs would fight for decades after the battle, the various Rajput states were disorganised and quickly fell under Afghan rule, and while the Jats warriors managed to briefly hold on against the Afghan onslaught thanks to Suraj Mal, his capital at Bharatpur would eventually fall, forcing him to flee first first to Gwalior, and then south of it, in the land previously held by the Shinde Familly, where Jat warriors still manage to hold on decades later.
South of Rajputana the Marathi Empire quickly unraveled, both in its periphery and in its center, the Gaekwad led state of Baroda was the first to collapse, virtually beheaded by the death of his leader, Damaji Rao. Revolts and attacks by Koli warriors rocked the former Baroda state, and managed to hold onto the coastal port of Cambay, while in Gujarath the dozens of petty state along with the kingdom of Junagadh would free themselves from Baroda's rule, Ironically, Pindari mercenaries under gaekwad's army who fled before the battle of Panipat would move south, devastating the land before settling in the city of Azmer.
Similarly to the Gaekwad collapse, the Bhonsle dynasty in Nagpur would fall, while Janoji Bhonsle did not take fight at Panipat the ongoing Maratha collapse severly weakned his legitimacy, furthermore as he was exacting the equivalent of four millions pound to Bengal on Behalf of the Maratha, the latter decided to take advantage of the Bhonsle's weakness and invaded Nagpur, the Bengali armies never had to reach the city as loyalist to the Gond line, the former rulers of Nagpur before the Bhonsle, decided to overthrow Janoji and quickly made peace with Bengal and recinded Nagpur's link with the Maratha and the tribute.
Out of all the Peripherical Maratha Generals, only the Holkar managed to survive the crisis intact and even thrive, Malhar Rao Holkar avoided much fo the post Panipat struggle after returning from the Battle alive, he would be succeeded by his daughter in law, Ahilyabai, who would rule for nearly 40 years until 1806, women ruler were rare in 18th century Indies, and she only took power because she had been trained and selected by her father in law and after her own son, the heir after Malhar Rao's death, went insane. Skilled in Diplomacy and Administration, she managed to Stay at peace with both Hyderabad and the Afghan, while making her domain thrive, particularly in the Kandesh region, while the rest of the Indian west was struggling, she still tried to expend her influence, snatching the upper Nurbudda valley from Nagpur after the Bhonsle Dynasty's downfall. In the last decade of her regin she took a more agressive stance, creating the basis of an alliance centered around her domain which claimed to be the last true Hindu led state of India and the successor of the Maratha, she gained influence over part of Rajputana and the Bhundelkhan, and at the time of her death it seemed that her realm and vassals could almost elevate themselves as one of the major indian alliance, like the Afghan's or the Bengali's.
At Poona a succession crisis quickly happened as Both Peshwa Baji Rao (who died weeks after his son) and Vishwas Rao had died, Baji Rao's second son Madhav Rao ascended to the throne but quickly found himself in conflict with his Uncle Raghunat Rao, the struggle ended with Raghunat sidelining for a time his nephew, but this would be for nothing as the Nizam of Hyderabad soon declared war to the weakened Marathas, he quickly managed to reach Poona, forcing Raghunat to hold over several forts the Maratha had taken from the Nizam a decade before. This defeat would be the first of many as each neighboring state tried to gain independence from Poona, soon the Kandesh valley would fall out of Poona's grasp, followed by the Konkan coast, effectively controlled by the Angria familly of former Maratha admirals, and then the south ruled by the Pathwarda dinasty.... The 1760s and 1770s would see the near total collapse of Maratha power, and only the British' arrival, after keeping away form India for nearly 20 years after their defeat in the seven years war and the bankrupcy of the East India Company, would save Poona, the British signed treaty which effectively turned the former Mighty Maratha into nothing more than a vassal. The British intervention would be decisive in countering a French-Supported Hyderabadi invasion attempt, which would bring India's west coast definitely within the realm of european rivalries. While the British lacked the logistic capability to send expeditions deep in the Ghats, their navy allowed them to gradually subdue the coast, they subdued the Angria of the Konkan, signed protectorate agreement with the Koli rulers of Cambay, and the booming port city of Broach, which they used to project influence of the remnant of Gaekwar rule in Baroda,they negotiated the purchase of portuguese Thasa and Baçaim (the latter which they had retaken after the Maratha collapse) and took over Dutch Surat in the Fourth Anglo Dutch war.
in 1840, British influence over western india extends over hundreds of thousands of square miles and dozens of tributary states of various size, simultaneously the british rule over 3 separate states, the Bombay Hinterland, the Concan coast and former Dutch Surat, These territories saw british experimentation of the methods used by the French in their own colonial state, although with a lighter hand, they however did not manage to turn them into profitable hinterlands, as while the first decades of british rule saw generally favourable climate, the devastation caused by the successive war of Maratha collapse had damaged much of the pre existing farming.
I think my thoughts can be best summarised by saying that when I first scrolled down I simply skipped the map, believing it to be a basemap from the period or similar, before having to do a double take when I realised that it actually was the map.
Very well done!