Small countries grow large

Please rate the following, from 1-10, where 1 is Totally Impossible and 10 is more plausible than OTL. Our timeline would be a 9 on that scale. :) Thanks.


Czarina Catherine and Potemkin both died early, so Russia didn't expand as much. Their successors were not as capable as the rulers in OTL, and the Russian aristocracy became even more lazy and decadent.

Around 1800, gold and other minerals were discovered in California, Alaska and Australia, and the Gold Rush started in each place. The wealth got sent back to Europe, and this affected the Napoleonic Wars. Among the prospectors were people from Liechtenstein. With more countries using greater wealth to fight Napoleon, he was defeated earlier– but revolutionary fervor was increased as well. Rebellion grows in Russia, Germany and Austria, and agents from Liechtenstein were able to make alliances with the disaffected. Francis II held onto his position as HRE, and secretly is persuaded to make a Liechtenstein noble his heir. It would supposedly be meaningless, the position powerless, but it would be highly useful to Liechtenstein later.

Or, Napoleon was not prominent, but the French Revolution still happened, and the HRE continued in existence. Either way, an heir to the throne of Liechtenstein somehow becomes HRE at some point.

In the meantime, the Romanovs got even more lazy and uninterested in affairs of state than in OTL. Some of the Romanovs go to California to get some of the gold themselves–but they stay in California, so the California Gold Rush doesn't actually help the Russian government much.

An heir to the throne of Liechtenstein gets influence at the Russian court, throwing around bribe money gotten from all 3 Gold Rushes. He marries a Russian princess, and converts to Russian Orthodox. When he marries the princess, the two realms are united–but he uses his influence, extortion and plenty of bribes to arrange for Liechtenstein to annex Russia instead of Russia annexing Liechtenstein. Maybe the Russians who signed the documents hadn't even bothered to read them. Maybe they were drunk.

The other European powers don't take the absurd event seriously and don't bother raising a protest until it is a fait accompli, much to their astonishment and annoyance. But by the time they realize it has actually happened, it is too late to do anything about it, and Liechtenstein is doing everything it can to keep the loyalty of its subject peoples, and is throwing its weight around Europe. The Russian aristocracy is too lazy to do anything about it as long as they keep their money, titles and lack of responsibility.

Of course as soon as Europe is rested from the Napoleonic Wars, they gang up on Liechtenstein to try to take Russia away from it, but the capital has moved to Moscow, and the effort to invade Russia fails, again. Also, the renewed fighting has incited more revolutionary fervor. The Revolutions of 1848 of OTL, take place in 1834 in this ATL, and are more successful. The revolutionaries side with Liechtenstein–not very logical, but the revolutionaries just wanted to be rid of the old ruling classes, and would have allied with anybody.

Liechtenstein itself is surrounded by enemy states but the Russian component of the empire is vastly larger and has many allies among the subject peoples of the other empires. The Liechtenstein empire wins the Eleven Years' War, and the Russian aristocracy is gotten rid of, and a new set of aristocrats has taken over.

I'm not sure about Liechtenstein absorbing the HRE?

Liechtenstein's liberal policies help stabilize the empire, and they hold onto Alaska, W. Canada and California.


In the 1300s, the HRE Charles gets the title of Duke of Luxembourg along with the Emperorship. Over the next 400 years, as the HRE grows weak and disunited, its political organization gets replaced with a new organization associated with the Duchy of Luxembourg, which becomes the Empire of Luxembourg. It is then able to establish a new set of alliances which the rulers can use to unify Europe. German princes feel more loyalty/respect/whatever for Luxembourg than for the HRE.


The rulers are the king of France and a Spanish bishop.

The POD is, one of the rulers is a person selected by the bishop, instead of the bishop himself. So at some point the bishop selects an individual with family ties to the HRE, Spain, Navarre, Burgundy and Holland. The other ruler of Andorra is the king of France, so the king of France marries the other ruler's sister and combine their kingdoms. The other heirs to the HRE are completely unqualified. I'm sure some wars would be fought, but afterward, the only surviving, capable heir is the ruler of Andorra. Some of these would be people who didn't live in OTL.

Nauru, St. Kitts and Nevis, Tongo, Gambia

Plague, Computer viruses cause collapse of currency markets, wealthy survivalists flee to these locations, and these four are among the few capable of acting effectively in the post-collapse world.


The Nigerian spam scam is a variant that was done with snail mail decades before the Internet. So somebody from Togo does the scam, successfully, on various wealthy Africans and becomes the richest person in Africa. This is before the scam becomes so well-known, and he'd have to get rid of anybody else who is trying the same idea.


The Ottomans don't become powerful. The Turks go south into India. The Papal States dominate Italy and Balkans. After the Avignon Controversy is settled, the French want somebody to become Pope who doesn't appear to be French; somebody who will be sympathetic to France. They help form a cabal, and one of the Maltese cabal becomes Pope, since he at first appears to be loyal to the French. He does help the Maltese cabal become more influential with subsequent Popes.

But when the Reformation begins, a Norman ruler of Malta, a member of the cabal, is secretly in league with the Protestants. The cabal encourages the Counter-Reformation in an effort to thwart the Protestant movements. It's a lot of trouble for the French and the Catholic hierarchy but popular with the masses.

Another Pope under the influence of the cabal, wanting to give the appearance of not being greedy for temporal wealth, gives up the Papal States to Malta, enabling the Maltese Empire to survive and grow. A combined Viennese-Maltese expedition discovers America, obtains Aztec gold, which is used to expand the empire westward. The Maltese dynasty marries into the Spanish dynasty, so the two crowns are united. They later absorb Portugal and Holland.

San Marino

Maybe the timeline I did for Malta would work better for San Marino? This country takes the Papal States and has influence on the Papacy for hundreds of years?

Here's another possibility:

Around 500 AD, a Visigoth selects this republic as his capital, and he makes alliances with the Popes, who are his puppets as he unifies the peninsula. Charlemagne dies young and the HRE is not formed. France is unified, but doesn't expand much. Germany remains a collection of independent chiefdoms. Over the next 500 years, San Marino conquers the Balkans and become skilled at Byzantine politics. The Ottomans are defeated at some crucial battles and find it more difficult to conquer the Byzantines.

By 1200 a ruler of San Marino marries a Spanish princess and in 1470 the empire sends an expedition which discovers America, gets Aztec and Inca gold. They aren't as cruel as the Spaniards were, and by the time the gold supply runs out, the Empire has established trade routes over most of the world.

Britain gets Canada and Alaska, and France gets OTL US.

Mexico and Central America, and South America are former San Marino colonies which become autonomous states within the Empire.


Ruler marries into French aristocracy, a plague strikes France and during the Reformation wars, a ruler of Monaco fights for the French throne, and wins, with the help of Britain. He was one of the only qualified candidates anyway. France is absorbed into the Monaco Empire, the rulers later send an expedition to discover America. Aztec gold and trade with the Indies strengthens the empire.


Islamic incursions into Europe are less frequent; they meet with bad luck and their generals aren't as capable, and the Moslems concentrate on Africa instead. The Ottomans don't become powerful; the Turks invade China instead. From 400-800, the Huns and other Asian tribes win crucial battles and devastate Europe even more. Around 800, a popular Greek Orthodox warrior unifies the Balkans and controls trade in Eastern Europe. The Chinese defeat the Arabs at the Talas River, so the Arabs don't obtain the secrets of printing, silk or papermaking. This slows technological advancement in the West. But the Albanians obtain the secret of Greek Fire from the Byzantines and use it against them and other opponents.

In 1070, Constantinople falls to barbarian invaders but by 1200 the Albanian Empire re-conquers the former Byzantine territories and unifies it. They treat the native populations better than the Byzantines did. The empire expands into the Levant over the next 200 years. The Popes never called for any Crusades, and the Albanians begin a policy of tolerance for other cultures. The empire expands into Persia and Central Asia. Ghurkas, Armenians and Kurds are encouraged to fight the Russians and Chinese. Russia and China are both smaller than OTL.


For tax purposes Bill Gates becomes a citizen of Seychelles. He's the richest guy in the Seychelles and in the world, he dominates the Seychelles government, hence the Seychelles dominates the world.
This would work just as well for any tiny country Bill Gates becomes a citizen of.


Pizarro dies in 1522, and a Spanish mercenary, without the slightest loyalty to Spain, marries into the Inca family, gets control of its gold and helps the Incas build an army and navy. Over the next 300 years they unify South America. He sends agents to encourage the Spanish to ignore South America and pay more attention to Mexico, so that he would have a free hand in Ecuador. It's not called Peru because he started his operations in Ecuador, and that's where the capital remains by the time he or his descendants expand his empire to Peru.


Prester John's kingdom was here. It was Nestorian, but tolerant of all faiths, and it begins to absorb local kingdoms and chiefdoms to the south–Bengladesh--and it reaches the coast. A particularly popular leader begins the process of unifying the Indian subcontinent. His descendants marry into or conquer the kingdoms of SE Asia.

Bhutanians are on board the Chinese ships which explore Africa ca. 1420, and bring back news of Africa's mineral wealth.

When the Ming dynasty falls, a Bhutanian general takes the opportunity to marry into the family of a Chinese general who is able to take control of China with Bhutanian help, thus establishing the Hsu dynasty. The Bhutanians take control of China and open trade relations with Japan. Bhutan also explores Africa and uses its wealth to help native states fight off European incursions.


Around 1800, an exiled Ottoman prince, seeking his fortune, winds up in southern Africa, marries into the Lesotho aristocracy and helps them form a stronger kingdom. The continent's vast mineral wealth is discovered and exploited earlier, and money is sent back to the Ottoman Empire, which helps the Lesotho kingdom grow.

When the Belgians send an expedition to explore the Congo, a Lesothoan agent makes sure the expedition comes to a bad end. Other European expeditions receive false or outdated information, slowing European progress in Africa.

With the help of the Ottomans, the Lesothoans become skilled at making the Dutch fight each other long enough to weaken them, keep them disunited and enable the Lesothoans to win more battles. It makes trade deals with Russia, Germany and Turkey to assist in holding onto its territory. Lesotho expands its borders to OTL South Africa and uses its vast mineral wealth to great advantage.

When the Irish Potato Famine strikes, German agents encourage Irish to emigrate to Lesotho and help hold it against European encursions. Queen Victoria isn't born; her parents have a son, Victor, who dies of the flu in 1854, during the Crimean War. The sudden change of leadership during the war proves a disadvantage to Britain. The new king, Albert II, who didn't exist in OTL, concentrates on strengthening Britain's position in Europe, the Near East and the Americas, with Africa getting much less attention. He lives to 1889, and is succeeded by King Philip, who decides it's time to concentrate on Africa.

Britain eventually does conquer Lesotho, but it's a long and difficult process. The World War breaks out in 1904-1909, during which time Britain gains control over Lesotho, but in the meantime is trying to control the Panama Canal Zone, Egypt, India and many other places. By the time the war is over, the British Empire is weak and tired, and the British government finds it much easier to allow Lesotho dominance over Africa, with the British Empire its prime trading partner.


Andrew Carnegie or Cornelius Vanderbilt, or somebody similar who wasn't well-known in OTL, gets into bad luck/trouble early in his career, can't/won't go back to the US, and somehow winds up in Tonga, where he becomes interested in local conditions and becomes an entrepreneur, getting into the shipping business in a region with no effective competition. His business skills are as good as OTL, and he takes control of Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii, and marries into the Hawaiian royal family. He forms an alliance of Pacific Islanders, helping them use European methods to compete with the Europeans. He sets up businesses and foundations, all controlled by him, to make the Tongan Pacific Federation a world power.

East Timor

During World War One, in 1918, American socialists go to Indonesia and get an estate on East Timor, where they fight off the Indonesian government and spend the next several years building up businesses and institutions, helping the poor, gaining popularity. Timorian socialism isn't so reliant on particular idealogical concepts. It's more flexible than Russian or Chinese socialism.

The Dutch neglect Indonesia because of the war. After the war, the US economy is not quite as good as OTL. There's a stock market collapse in 1929, and the Depression isn't as severe as OTL, but it's still bad enough for radical and revolutionary movements begin. Fascism and Naziism become popular. The Indonesian government gets overthrown and taken over by the Timorese Socialist Party. In order to distance itself from the excesses of Dutch/Indonesian rule, they change the name of the nation.

When the Depression hits, Timor encourages the disenfranchised to come to the Socialist Democratic Republic of Timor, which has become a popular welfare state. It doesn't ally itself with either Russians or Chinese. The US doesn't like it either, since it's socialist, but the US is still isolationist and racist. European and Timorese agents encourage the pacifist party in Japan. The Japanese do invade Manchuria, but not the Pacific.

Hitler's alliance with Stalin doesn't last as long as OTL, and he invades Russia sooner. His attempted invasion of Britain is unsuccessful, but devastating to Britain. Stalin invades Europe and crushes Nazi Germany. The German government falls, and the Russians stay in Berlin. Stalin orders massive retaliation against Europe, China and Japan, which lasts for several months before he is assassinated by Zhukov, who takes power and withdraws from Europe, bringing WW II to a close in 1944.

The US hadn't gotten involved, so its military is weaker than OTL. China and Japan are devastated by the war. The Timorese make an alliance with the Soviets, and with Soviet help, Timorese government and business interests become involved in rebuilding East Asia. In exchange for priveleges and favorable trade deals, Hong Kong is still technically British, but Timor controls it; Macau is technically Portuguese but Timor controls it as well. The new Chinese government is socialist, controlled by Timorian interests. Chiang Kai-shek and Chou en-lai had died during the war, and there was nobody else in the area to challenge Timorian involvement.


Around 1870, a Portuguese aristocrat/businessman controls Macau, incites civil war in China, the dynasty falls, the businesman moves in and takes over, marrying into a Chinese aristocratic family, spreads Chinese socialism. Eventually Macau controls economic and military interests all over China and SE Asia.


Germany won the First World War, and fascism and socialism were as much a threat as OTL. During the 1920s, European scientists took information and materials and went to another country.

Either they went to Grenada, Andorra, Luxembourg, Samoa, or someplace else, take your pick. They build an atomic bomb there. Over the next 80 years, the government and society became highly educated, liberal, wealthy, a tax and banking haven, with many techniques for covert operations, sabotage, cryptography and nifty spy gadgets, vehicles and hand weapons to use against other countries.

The nuclear scientists didn't go to the US because racism was worse there than OTL. It became isolationist and not as economically powerful as OTL.

Hitler was an influential journalist. The German-Soviet war of 1940-1942 ended when Stalin and the German chancellor were assassinated, and both countries were taken over by military governments and they negotiated a peace treaty.

Though the war was short, it was devastating. Neither side had the means or inclination to research the possibilities of the atomic bomb. Japan had successfully taken over the W. Pacific and E. Asia, and didn't feel the need to develop an atomic bomb.

During this period the world's first and only nuclear power was able to collect the materials to build "dirty bombs". It managed to keep its secret until 1945 when it revealed its weapons capabilities to the world.

And hence that country is able to enforce its dominance over this timeline's League of Nations.
Liechtenstein 2 - not for most of the ATL just for involving Liechtenstein lol

Grey Wolf
damp from ear juice
Aw, gee. I tried so hard. :p

Well, you other folks were discussing some of these becoming superpowers.

And plenty of countries did start out fairly small.

Any suggestions for improvements in any of these?

I would give the best chances here to:-


But not for the reasons you say

Albania, if severed from the Ottoman Empire in a different way could have ended up with all of the Albanian villayets and quite possibly an established ruler. You could perhaps look to Ali Pasha's Janina in the 1820s plus as an example, but still do this in the 1900s if you do other things differently

I'd give it a 6-7

P.S. Your ideas might be BETTER than mine sunsurf, I just don't know enough about the period

Grey Wolf
Since you are in the subject of small countries how about Cyprus? Peter I Lusignian king of Cyprus (and Jerusalem) during his reign had managed defeat the turks of southern Asia Minor and organise a crusade in Egypt where he occupied Alexandria but then had to retreat. WI he was more successfull and managed to actually concour coastal egypt and extend a stronger influence in Southern Asia Minor.From these two holdings the Lusignian´s manage to focus crusader activity and slowly concour all the coast of eastern mediterranean from egypt through syria and the levant to asia minor. An alliance with the byzantines would propably keep the turks at bay.

Since i´m biased i´ll give this scenario a 3 rating
I like them all but still i´d rate them as 2.

do we have any precedents of a (comparablly) small state gaining that much importance AFTER Rome?

The British chiefdoms were pretty small in the 5th century. Early Russia wasn't all that big, was it? And the kingdoms of the Iberian peninsula were pretty small. Portugal begat Brazil, which maybe could have stayed with Portugal in an ATL. That's all I can think of.

I should have mentioned, Charles IV had a brother, Wenceslas, who got the title of Duke of Luxembourg. If he had died early, Charles would have gotten the title. Wouldn't that make any difference?

Thanks for the suggestions, Grey Wolf; what should be different in the Luxembourg scenario?

Okay, I agree the scenarios are unlikely. I'd like to see comments on what should be changed, in the ones which aren't totally unsalvageable. I think the Monaco one may be one. Or San Marino?

Thanks again.
They could become the Venice of this ATL. They have a very good harbor, they have a central location in one of the chokepoints of the Mediterranean, and when Rome falls they sop up the islands of the Med. They also grab convenient harbors like Amalfi, Gebralter and Sabta, Durazzno, Trieste, Tyre after they dig up the causeway that Alexander built, etc. Anyplace that's hard to conquer from the land side if you have sea control.
This gives them an empire that is totally sea based. No land borders like the ones that got Venice in trouble. You start up a pirate base and they hurt you with mercenaries from all over the Med. The rest of the time they just build castles on all the ports that they have grabbed. Pirate control and taxes on sea trade are there thing. They don't care what happens on land as long as nobody conquers too much coastline and becomes a threat.
Maybe they find some of the Atlantic islands, or Iceland, or something. But basically they are only into trade and piracy suppression.

In the 1300s, the HRE Charles gets the title of Duke of Luxembourg along with the Emperorship. Over the next 400 years, as the HRE grows weak and disunited, its political organization gets replaced with a new organization associated with the Duchy of Luxembourg, which becomes the Empire of Luxembourg. It is then able to establish a new set of alliances which the rulers can use to unify Europe. German princes feel more loyalty/respect/whatever for Luxembourg than for the HRE.
My only concern was how the title went from duke to emperor of Luxembourg. In OTL the Austrian title was never that of Austrian Emperor until after Napoleon dissolved the HRE. The nation was known as Austria because the majority of the Habsburg property was outside of the HRE. You could do the same with Luxembourg - have the imperial family's possessions expand outside the historical HRE, which would make for an earlier pseudo-Burgundy. Then they will become known as Luxembourg like the Habsburgs' were known as Austria. To become an empire named as Luxembourg you need to kill the HRE. It can't really be France that does this, as France would annihilate Luxembourg as a state anyway.

Grey Wolf
wandering the mental highway


The Princes of Liechtenstein were extremely rich and powerful nobles in the HRE and later Austrian Empire. If the Habsburgs somehow choke in the apfelstrudel the Liechtensteins and their little principality could very well become the centre of a big empire. But I guess an early PoD is best.


Steffen Redbeard
I remember people writing timeline with Liechtenstein and Nauru being great powers. There was a Liechtensteinian West Afrika.