Overestimated historical states

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Koprulu Mustafa Pasha, Aug 11, 2019.

  1. Koprulu Mustafa Pasha Sadrazam of the Roman Empire Gone Fishin'

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    I have seen soms threads about a certain state. The state is to my idea overestimated in capabilities but people tend to forget that.

    What are to you states pre-1900 that are being overestimated in what they could achieve?

    Edit: could the USA conquer Canada in 1812? Or could the USA conquer and rule all of Mexico
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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  2. Metaverse Banned

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    You need to provide an example. We get a lot of things in mind with broad definitions like that.
     
  3. pompejus Hertog van Gelre

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    England/Britain
    Japan
    Probably Prussia and Russia (in the 17th century neither of them were particilarly strong)
     
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  4. Alexander Helios Unofficial Algonkologist

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    The United States during it's early days.
     
  5. NiGHTS BMC-14

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    Most definitely Britain and America.
     
  6. NegusNegast Well-Known Member

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    I'll add another vote for the early United States. I think a lot of people on here forget that the US in 1812 was far from the superpower it is today, or even the great power it became in the later 19th century.

    I'd say no to both, assuming the latter is referring to the Mexican-American war. The only way the US is getting Canada is if the British decide they'd like to divest themselves of quelques arpents de neige and sell it. OTL showed that the British in 1812 had the power and will to strangle the East Coast economy. New England was already hit pretty hard OTL so I don't see why an ATL could go better for them.

    For the second, could the US defeat Mexico's conventional forces? Easily. Could they maintain rule over a restive population of millions of restive Latino Catholics in a country that is anti-Latino and anti-Catholic? I don't think so. It would be like Prussia attempting to annex all of France in 1871. Sure, the regular army is defeated but good luck getting a population with a well-developed national identity to submit to your rule without an expensive occupation force. Not only is it a huge distance to project power from the American "core" which at this time is still the East Coast, the terrain of Mexico makes it super easy for guerilla movements and secessionist movements to thrive.

    Also, I'd add to the list Ethiopia. As per my username I do think Ethiopia is super cool, but I often see it mentioned in countries that could "pull a Meiji" in the 19th century and I just don't think that's realistic given the resources, population, and location of Ethiopia. Ethiopia didn't have the high literacy rate of Japan, nor did it have the practice of Rangaku where the Japanese studied European tech for a long time before Meiji. And while Japan entered the Meiji reformation after a long period of peaceful internal consolidation and population growth, Ethiopia until the 1850s was still wracked with internal conflict, the Zemene Messafint. Ethiopia could definitely turn out better than OTL given some PODs IMO, but the concept it would become an African Japan is not realistic to me, especially when there are many much better candidates.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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  7. DocJamore Well-Known Member

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    On this site? The Inca. Especially the Inca reforming.

    The main issue I have with them is hindsight bias. Alternate History is fiction and as such it is difficult to separate the escapism and projection that comes from that. People love talking about how rulers in the past should have acted, but the reality is that people in the past acted according to their own circumstances and not what we thought they should have done. In the case of the Inca this becomes particularly bad. Exactly how are the Inca supposed to react to Capitalism, which is incompatible with their economy? What would be their views on European secularism and divine right? How would the nobles and priests react if the Sapa Inca started to seize their property like the Protestants would begin to do in Europe? How would the Panaca react if the lands of the dead emperors were confiscated? There are various outcomes to all of this, and I imagine in some of them the Emperor would lose. And if the prestige and the power of the Emperor diminishes under the weight of a growing and more gradually corrupt nobility, it becomes hard to imagine exactly were the Empire is going to go and how it would turn out.

    Now they genuinely had a remarkably non-corrupt Empire that was huge in size and resources, a motivated leadership interested in expansion, and were about as isolated from the Atlantic as you'd could get. It is also true they were terribly unlucky and it is hard to imagining them suffering any worse fate than in OTL.The concept that they could reform has merit. Their leadership was open to new ideas. However it seems likely they would be limited to military reforms. Societal and Economic reforms would be much trickier and frankly that style of restructuring has ended up toppling many an Empire across history.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  8. Nassirisimo Angry Arab

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    I think this is a very interesting point. The vast majority of non-European polities in the 19th century were unable to "Pull a Meiji" in the sense that they could emulate Japan's limited industrialisation and empire-building in the run up to the First World War. Few non-European states had the power base, with some of the most populous areas outside of Europe (Java, India) being under European domination before Japan had even been opened. Other independent states such as Iran, Madagascar, etc had small and scattered populations which were not exactly conductive to industrial economic development. Few non-European powers had the favourable geopolitical situation that Japan had. Japan had relatively weak (but in China's case rich) Asian neighbours and was far removed from the European centres of power. In contrast the Ottoman Empire bordered two European great powers and had been losing ground since the end of the 18th century, and her weaker neighbours were incredibly poor.

    I suppose in this sense you could say that any power in which people suppose they could have "pulled a Meiji" in the 19th century is overrated. Sure many countries had a chance to survive in the sense that Siam did, but actually joining the European games of industrialisation and imperialism is a pretty tall order, even for the few non-Western countries that did have the resources for it.
     
  9. Fabius Maximus Unus qui nobis cunctando restituit rem

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    The United States, as others have said.

    Not a country, but I think a lot of people overestimate the plausibility of European pagan cults being able (or even wanting) to "reform" into something like the Christian Church.
     
  10. Fabius Maximus Unus qui nobis cunctando restituit rem

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    Related: I think a lot of people overestimate the inevitability of the spread of Protestantism. To take just one example of how things could have gone differently, if England had remained Catholic there would have been no major Protestant colonial powers (not counting the Dutch, because outside of South Africa their durable colonies weren't generally settler colonies), and Protestantism would probably be confined mostly to northern Germany and Scandinavia.
     
  11. water123 Really bad at names

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    Really, there are 2 major events that happened OTL that would get you laughed off of literally any other internet forum for being so completely and utterly ASB that no one would believe it:
    • Alexander's Empire
    • The Spanish's brief conquest of the Incan Empire
    The colonization of America/Africa/Southeast Asia/Oceania/etc is also by no means a given. Hell, colonialism at all is not really a given. A POD as late as in the 1300's could easily lead to a vastly different "colonization" of the new world, if it even happens at all.
     
  12. St. Just STOP BUMPING STOP BUMPING STOP BUMPING THREADS

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    You forgot the early Islamic expansions and the Spanish conquest of Mexico IMO. And the Mongols also way outperformed previous steppe peoples and successor steppe peoples (although with fairness to the Manchu all of China gained quickly is a good consolation compared to decades of fighting the Song and also conquering a bunch of other shit).

    As for the OP question: Anglosphere (inc. CSA) constantly, both the Byzantines and the Ottomans, Japan, Germany (more in post-1900). But honestly most TLs have one or a few polities or movements overperform...
     
  13. Rdffigueira A citizen of the Southern Hemisphere

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    I'd add the Mongol expansions, but, to be fair, this goes beyond the purpose of the OP.
     
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  14. John7755 يوحنا Lightweight Faqih

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    The conquest of the Mongol Empire makes some sense though. It is not as if it is ASB when you understand the background. Regardless, it is just out of an underestimation of pitched battle that people assume Alexander's conquest is ASB.
     
  15. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

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    The German Empire. Apparantly if Franz Joseph so much as passes gas at the wrong moment Germany annexes half of AH, with the other half being an "independant" Hungary ruled by a German princeling.

    The early US, specifically its demographic strength.
    What if New France survived the Seven Years War? It gets Texas Effect'd.
    What if Spain's colonial empire isn't disrupted by the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars? Everything east of the Mississippi gets Texas Effect'd.
    What if there was no War of 1812? Canada gets Texas Effect'd.
    What would the US be like if it had Quebec or Cuba or some of the more densely populated parts of Mexico? They'd all be english speaking protestants in three generations tops.
     
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  16. water123 Really bad at names

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    That's fair. Without Islam as a major unifying factor, various different proto-Arab groups could have emerged from overpopulated Arabia at different times which would have then immediately have been stuck between the rock of the Byzantine and the hard place of the Sassanian, which would either force these groups south into Africa, east viking style, or through whichever polity blinks first.
    I mean, yeah, but Alexander a.) was in control of a unified Greece which had never happened before, b.) conquered what is commonly taught/told to be one of the most powerful empires in the world of it's day, and c.) left lasting cultural and historical legacies throughout the Near East that would have not happened without him. Not to mention the absence of Alexander the Great permanently alters the histories of the Middle East and Europe, and therefore the Roman, Sassanid/Parthian empires, and the post-Roman world.
     
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  17. Gukpard hominem populist

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    Paraguay was so wanked by Brazilian Marxists on the 1970s that it became a meme nowadays, I think it can be a example of that because even today you can see from time to time someone asking here about the Paraguayan "superpower"

    There is also the Brazilian empire. While it is true that it was the most democratic Latin American nation, it was not the power Brazilian monarchists want it to be. There was a desastrous incident called question Christie that Britain caused against Brazil and since the Brazilian government didn't had the power to counter them, we simple backed down. There was a meme on monarchist circles that the Brazilian navy was the second strongest at the time and it have been debunked over and over again. Funnily enought it was stronger than the American navy until the 1870s.

    I once heard from a Indian friend that the mughals are overly estimated as their control was focused on Delhi and the rest of India was descentralized and only nominally under their control
     
  18. Jürgen Well-Known Member

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    Without Protestantism, England would be just have been a much lesser version of France and would not have established a colonial empire nearly as big or important as in OTL.
     
  19. water123 Really bad at names

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    I feel like Brazil is always underestimated in maps, actually. To those uninitiated, Brazil is basically just "the Amazon or Rio," ignoring the fact that Brazil is huge and extremely diverse. Brazil is also kind of seen as "America's shitty beta version" in most maps as well.
     
  20. Gukpard hominem populist

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    Americans tend to underestimate us, but Brazilian monarchists wank the empire to the brink, we were a regional power and a country with only 20% literacy, not something to challenge France, Russia, the USA or UK.