Of Rajahs and Hornbills: A Timeline

Bryant should feel lucky for getting an apparently quiet posting.
For a young man with a lust for adventure and little awareness of the horrors of war, a quiet posting does not feel or seem all that exiting though. Hopefully his encounter with the Sama-Bajau will be generally positive for most people involved.
Bryant is one of those young adults whom never really experienced industrial war or war of any sort (his family practically ended up in Southeast Asia because of his businessman of a father), and got enlisted mainly because (a) his country wants him to and (b) his curiosity for the outside world overrides the dangers. But being a new recruit, he never thought that his inexperience pretty much relegates him to guard duty.

OK, France will probably truce out against the Four Powers+Sokoto along control lines in Asia, the Pacific and sub-saharan Africa (except Ubangi-Shari to Germany and K-B, Ouaddai, Darfur to Ottoman protectorate), and will backstab Italy (I think that the Med will turn into a 3-way of France vs Italy+Serbia+Greece vs OE+BE+A-H). Libya will be retaken by the Ottomans, Tunisia is too close to call.
Congress Poland will become independent. Finland will become independent. Estonia, Livonia, Courland, Lithuania, “Belarus” and “Ukraine” will become independent as German puppets. Bessarabia will be annexed by Romania. The southern part of the Caucasus will be turned into Ottoman puppets. European Russia will have a revolution. Siberia will end up as a rump tsarate under Chinese protection. Korea will be partitioned along the Sobaeks and the Taebaeks. “Turkmenistan” will be taken over by Iran. Italy will survive minus its colonies and Dalmatia. All other predictions hold from last time.
I'll give you an admission.
...
...
...
You are correct on one point.
Okay, several points.
 
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For a young man with a lust for adventure and little awareness of the horrors of war, a quiet posting does not feel or seem all that exiting though. Hopefully his encounter with the Sama-Bajau will be generally positive for most people involved.
I'm sure when he's older and frailer, he'll tell his grandkids about the time he was posted in the mystic east. And regail them with stories of war and pirates, and those strange tattooed Headhunters he met so very long ago....
 
Bryant is one of those young adults whom never really experienced industrial war or war of any sort (his family practically ended up in Southeast Asia because of his businessman of a father), and got enlisted mainly because (a) his country wants him to and (b) his curiosity for the outside world overrides the dangers. But being a new recruit, he never thought that his inexperience pretty much relegates him to guard duty.



I'll give you an admission.
...
...
...
You are correct on one point.
Okay, several points.
I made a map of Europe! (BTW, Courland is independent, its colour is just very similar to Russia’s) France should own some of Piedmont and Sardinia but I was not going to be bothered with drawing them. I think that it would be the Corsican majority parts of Sardinia and the former departments of Doire, Po, Stura and Alpes-Maritimes. That exclave of Dalmatia which I show as being part of Austria-Hungary could also remain part of Italy or become part of Montenegro.

And one of West Africa!
ORAHwestafrica.png
 

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That is a very inexplicable set of borders in the Baltics and directly south thereof. I get that they might be following some tsarist administrative borders, but those were worth very little when it came down to the individuals on the ground. Also, why would anyone want a Greek-Ottoman land border on Krete?
 
That is a very inexplicable set of borders in the Baltics and directly south thereof. I get that they might be following some tsarist administrative borders, but those were worth very little when it came down to the individuals on the ground. Also, why would anyone want a Greek-Ottoman land border on Krete?
Yes, those are former Tsarist borders. The Ottoman-Greek land border in Crete is because, according to the actual TL, the western third of Crete has been ethnically cleansed of non-Greeks and the eastern two thirds have been ethnically cleansed of Greeks.
 
I made a map of Europe! (BTW, Courland is independent, its colour is just very similar to Russia’s) France should own some of Piedmont and Sardinia but I was not going to be bothered with drawing them. I think that it would be the Corsican majority parts of Sardinia and the former departments of Doire, Po, Stura and Alpes-Maritimes. That exclave of Dalmatia which I show as being part of Austria-Hungary could also remain part of Italy or become part of Montenegro.

And one of West Africa!
View attachment 519355
Wait, I'm probably forgetting something, but, is Bosnia somebody's protectorate/zone of influence within Turkey or is it its own thing?
 
For being attempts to show the postwar fallout in Europe and West Africa, that's an impressive set of maps! I can't say they are all correct (not least because we haven't seen yet how the Great War will unfurl over the next few years) but some of the postwar borders are remarkably close to what is envisioned.

But with that said, other places shall be more of a mindbender than others. Crete and the Balkans will be a hotspot for nationalists, as is the Caucasus. As for West Africa, I should note that France has been making a railway from Algeria to Timbuktu, and it's completion mid-War will affect the overall region in the postwar aftermath.
 
Wait, I'm probably forgetting something, but, is Bosnia somebody's protectorate/zone of influence within Turkey or is it its own thing?
Bosnia is autonomous because the republican government that showed up in Sarajevo while it was cut off from the rest of the OE was still nominally loyal but wanted to keep being a republic.

Also, here is southeast Asia (Free Tonkin and China are once again a case of similar colours, and I am NOT drawing the War of the Insane) :
ORAHSEA2.png

Guerilla pockets in British-ruled Tonkin and Laos not shown.
 
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1906: Indochina (Southeast Asia, Part 1/?)
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Ulani Keopraseuth, The Years of Foreign Lead: Indochina (Anh Duc; 2018)

…As 1906 dawned, the British slowly realized they may have underestimated Indochina.

Though Cochinchina was pacified in relatively short order, the colonies of Annam and Tonkin still boiled with revolt. The arrival of the British was never really welcomed by the sceptical locals – whom were already burned by the previous French – and the mountainous interior lent well for guerrilla forces and bandits. The arrival of the eccentric emperor Thành Thái himself into a peasant army boosted the reputation of the agitators and before long, thousands pledged themselves into the royalist ‘Restoration Army’ (though some groups used that as a cover for banditry), with the intent of forcing out the new arrivals, as the emperor put it in a decree, “till they run back towards the sea!”

The result was a continuous guerrilla conflict that paralyzed Annam for much of 1906. The British-assembled Annamese Expeditionary Force consisted of only around 600 men, of which most were actually Indian in origin. With such low numbers across such a vast hinterland, effective control was reduced to the French-built coastal railways that stretched across some lengths of the colony, with sporadic calls to the Royal Navy for aid when severely threatened. Wildcat attacks struck any patrol that dared to climb inland, while local villagers gave ample food, supplies, and information to the entrenched rebels.

At Tonkin, the situation was worse. In the mountains, rebel groups quickly established connections with smugglers in Qing China and thus insulated themselves from any dearth in supplies. In the northeast, the Yên Thế district became the polestar for a revived rebellion led by local peasants and feudal lords, whom had already resisted French forces for over a decade before the Great War. While Hanoi and the Red River basin eventually folded into British control, the western and northern highlands remained dangerous up till the midsummer.

But as time went on, cracks began to appear on the rebels’ façade. In Annam, the runaway emperor began to act strangely in private and in public, first requesting for an all-women troop of guards for himself and then asking for out-of-season fruits and dishes. Soon, it was clear that some mental disorder was manifesting within the monarch, whom never truly adapted well to rebel life in the mountains. [A] The source of this “internal affliction”, as the British would call it, is still a controversial topic among historians and nationalists, but it can be said that Thành Thái’s erraticness led him to be slowly sidelined by rebel leaders, whom always saw him as a simple prop to legitimize themselves.

It also did not help that much of the rebel forces began to clash with the other inhabitants of Annam’s mountains: the Degar. Made up of a diverse mix of indigenous peoples whom have inhabited the land for centuries, the “people of the mountains” – as named so by the French – were traditionally seen by the Annamese as a foreign ‘Other’ that could not be trusted or accepted. And thus, acceptable to pillage and plunder. It wasn’t long before a significant portion of the Restoration Army was diverted to tamp down the increasingly violent conflicts that began to affect the central and southern highlands...


1906 - Indochina - Middle Degar.jpg


British photograph of two Degar men and the remains of a skinned water buffalo, circa 1906. It is these perceptions of relative plenty that led the Annamese rebels to plunder Degar villages.


Meanwhile, the Annamese Expeditionary Force began to receive reinforcements from Malaya and India, as well as recruit locals to further expand control into the mountains. In the capital of Huế, the new British administration enthroned yet another Nguyen prince to mark “a fresh start”, as well as lowering some taxes and repealing some of the worst colonial laws; in effect, using a combination of carrot-and-stick methods to sway peasants and Degars to support the government. By August, the Restoration Army was on the retreat.

Still, it wouldn’t be until early 1907 that the end came for the emperor and his peasant army. The easing of the winter monsoon coupled with food shortages and increased British presence finally tipped the scales, and the Restoration Army’s makeshift capital of Khe Sanh fell in a titanic battle that left thousands of peasants and troops dead. Emperor Thành Thái himself was captured attempting to escape the city (covered in paper charms, no less) and would later be permanently exiled to the Seychelles, but his spirit of defiance would eclipse his eccentricities and bandit groups would continue to invoke his name well into the 20th century…

…For Tonkin, the end would be much more muted and grinding. British reinforcements from India were also received, yet the conflict would became one of piecemeal progress against well-supplied enemies. The fact that Tonkinese rebels can smuggle supplies from Qing China made them much harder to dislodge; often, British forces would set out to a village or district, deal with whatever they had found there, set up a garrison presence for some time, and then move on, hoping that their actions were enough. As such, the pacification of the colony would continue long after the end of the Great War…

But it was also this problem that led to a peculiar – and controversial – experiment conducted by the British: population relocation. Taking a leaf from the conflicts of Europe and Africa, the new administration in Hanoi began enacting measures that entailed forcibly moving villagers away from mountainous strongholds. The public outcry that arose from this quickly put an end to the practice, yet it would be one that would be sporadically considered, and sometimes done, over the course of British Indochina…

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Ethan Huynh, The History of Laos: 1900-2000, (Aesngsavang: 2005)

No one expected the War of the Insane to catapult Laos into the 20th century.

In truth, the British had not prepared anything concrete for the mountainous colony. Cobbled together from three separate kingdoms, the Protectorate of Laos was the most underdeveloped state in French Indochina. To Singapore and India, it was a place barely of worth and its deposition was mainly done to prevent an inland French base of resistance from coalescing. With the surrender of the French Governor-General at Vientiane, it seemed their mission was accomplished.

But the British never realized how much their foes’ fall released the pent-up tensions of the peasantfolk and the mountain tribes. At Champasak to the south, a man named Ong Noi – modern consensus consider this a false name – proclaimed himself as a Phu Mi Boun (Person of Buddhist Merit) and launched a religious rebellion to create a theocratic state. In Luang Prabang, local elites quickly began haranguing the British for the reinstatement of the opium trade. Peasant farmers everywhere started to ignore their tax dues, even to official Lao collectors. And in the northwest, the Hmong people of the mountains rose up to carve their own homeland, led by a charismatic man called Pa Chay Vue.

Thus was born the War of the Insane; a web of separate conflicts that set the mountains of Laos ablaze. From the banks of the Mekong to the borders of Tonkin, the 500-strong British expeditionary force quickly found themselves overwhelmed in grasping a sense of order. Worse, the lack of future aims for the colony forced the British commander to side with the elite court at Luang Prabang by default, which caused enormous outrage among the peasantry whom initially hoped for the best, yet now see the British as little more than their former French occupiers.

But what made the war truly legendary was the proliferation of gunpowder firearms among the rebels. The Hmong people of north-northeast Laos were no stranger to tribal wars, yet their proximity to China and the mountainous Indochinese trade routes had gifted them with the extraordinary knowledge of gunpowder making, simple manufacturing, and barrelled weaponry. When the French and British began asserting themselves in the mountains, it didn’t take long for these ideas to merge together. Using local deposits of sulphur, charcoal, saltpetre, and metal, Hmong smiths quickly began crafting carbon-copies of rifles and matchlocks before finally striking with the iconic Tsiv (Fierce) musket, capable of inflicting accurate damage at a great distance.


1906 - Indochina - Laos musket.jpg


Still shot of a Hmong musket from the Russian documentary, ‘The War of The Insane’, circa 2000.

And they were produced by the thousands. Craftworks hidden in mountain camps continuously pumped out firearms and gunpowder while runners dashed to and fro to trade them with other rebel groups, whom sought them for their effectiveness. In fact, the proliferation of gunpowder firearms was so rapid, nearly all major rebellions in Laos were using them by mid-1906, much to the shock and horror of the British. They were baffled at how these peasants and mountain tribes were able to access such weaponry, and an investigation was even launched from Hong Kong on whether Qing China was honest in having no intentions in Laos. In short, to the people whom saw their weaponry as superior, the thought that locals and indigenous inferiors could best them in firearms was – well, insane.

In the meanwhile, calls for reinforcements were bleated out to all nearby forces, yet it was Siam whom surprised everyone by answering it. King Chulalongkorn and his ministers had quietly observed the escalation of the Great War from his very doorstep, and though they were thankful to the British of ousting the troublesome French at the east, they weren’t in the mood for Siam to be surrounded by British colonies.

A communique was swiftly sent to the Bangkok’s British embassy that Siam could intervene militarily and relieve the expeditionary force, yet demanded the territory be declared a neutral and independent state under joint Anglo-Siamese influence as recompense…

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Notes:

Well, it took a while, but the Indochina update is finally here! Overall, I’m not particularly happy with how this turned out, especially the Laotian part which feels a bit bare, uncomplicated, and not fleshed out than Annam and Tonkin, when in all rights it should be the opposite. But in the end, I think it’s better for something be finished rather than for it to be perfect. And yes, the shot of the Hmong musket is from the Rare Earth video, I admit.

In one notable instance, all the information on this update can be referenced back to post# 1434.

[A] Emperor Thành Thái was known to have an erratic personality in real life and may even have a mental disorder, though to what degree was he 'sound of mind' is still heavily disputed today. French and Vietnamese sources are veeeerry biased in discussing his mental illness, with the former seeing him as a sometimes violent puppet-ruler, while the latter portrays the emperor as feigning insanity in order to divert French attention from his pro-nationalist leanings.
 
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Ok. This land is not especially wealthy. There's a big important war on. The locals have a thousand conflicting agendas which they are willing to kill for. Why try to impose order? The land started out as a French colony, just let the troubles ferment and boil and then in the final peace treaty (begrudgingly) concede Laos and Tonkin back to the defeated. Let them have the fun of trying to suppress some very experienced guerillas and bandits after their military has been severely curtailed via some nice clauses in the treaty.
 
Crazy Emperors leading peasant rebellions are what I come to this site for.
Truly the hallmark of a noteworthy timeline. XD

Ok. This land is not especially wealthy. There's a big important war on. The locals have a thousand conflicting agendas which they are willing to kill for. Why try to impose order? The land started out as a French colony, just let the troubles ferment and boil and then in the final peace treaty (begrudgingly) concede Laos and Tonkin back to the defeated. Let them have the fun of trying to suppress some very experienced guerillas and bandits after their military has been severely curtailed via some nice clauses in the treaty.
Vietnam* is actually quite wealthy in natural resources, but that aside, the British would prefer having these areas in one piece as any instability could complicate matters for them, the local elites, and the French settlers/administrators whom are still there. While the temptation is there to let Annam, Tonkin, and Laos go violent or break-off in their own way, the last thing London and Singapore wants is to end the war with additional grudges with France (though this is hinging on whether they are willing to give back Indochina at the end, especially once the colonies' gold deposits are made known).

The Bajaus are excellent divers/swimmers. A good foundation for future Cambodian Navy SEALs. :p
But firstly, Cambodia needs to entice them to stay, first. 😛
 
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