Surviving Carolingian Empire discussion thread

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Eurofed, Jul 6, 2009.

  1. Eurofed Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Since my previous newbie attempt at a Carolingian TL has sinked under a barrage of criticism, I humbly admit my inadequacy to the task, and retort by throwing the challenge to the forum:

    By which PoDs (as many as necessary, as long as non-ASB), after the birth of Charlemagene, can the Carolingian Empire survive as a great power and functional unitary state up to modern times ?

    * By 1300 it has acquired, assimilated, and remains in continued possession (barring temporary rebellions, military occupations, dynastic crises, etc.) of the territories of France, Germany (pre-WWII borders, without Prussia), Benelux, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Bohemia-Moravia, and Slovenia up to 2009.

    * By 2009 it has acquired and assimilated Iberia, Poland, Croatia, Slovakia, and Hungary.

    * Evolves to be a functional unitary monarchy comparable to contemporary OTL France or England by 1500 and remains a functional unitary (federal) state up to 2009.

    * Spanish Reconquista does happen in the TL at least as quickly as OTL and Islamic states do not exist in Europe by 2009.

    * Europe is not conquered by Mongols or Arabs/Turks.

    * It experiences technological and cultural progress similar to OTL Europe, give or take a couple generations.
     
  2. wiking Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2006
    Is the empire a Germanic or Latin state?
    I guess Europe is going to have conflict between the Slavic and Germanic state(s). Perhaps Russia has more in common with the East and the modern world power structure still resides in Europe, as it is as powerful economically as the OTL US
     
  3. Germaniac Gazi Pasha

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    Location:
    New Jersey
    I would expect that it would start as a Latin State, however with more and more Germanic peoples being absorbed and assimilated into this Uber nAtion the mixure of Latin and German would be as large as English is.
     
  4. Valdemar II Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2005
    Location:
    Copenhagen; the Kalmar Union
    Cultural the Frankish Empire were a Germanic state, linguistic it was majority Latin. Of course even a state like Lombardy were cultural Germanic, even through even at highest only around 5-10% spoke Langobardic.
    But in a surviving Frankish Empire, we would slowly see the Empire become more and more linguistic Germanic with the conquest and assimilation of Easten Europe.
     
  5. LordKalvan Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2004
    Location:
    Otherwhen
    It was a bit more complicated than that: in Lombardy there were three legal systems: the Carolingian one (later slightly modified by the Ottonian and Salic emperors), the Langobardic one and obviously the old Roman law (the Church never accepted to renounce to it - or at least to a bastardised version of the Giustinian canon). This pout-pourri lasted for a significant period of time: IOTL, Mathilda of Canossa in the late XI century recognised Salic law for the Imperial fiefs, Langobardic law for the allodial fiefs and Roman law when dealing with the Church. The system was obviously cumbersome, and opened the door for different scams and litigations. The main differences between the three systems were in terms of inheritance and of real estate (whenever a property was bought and sold, the vendor and the purchaser declared under which law the contract was stipulated; and the same applied obviously to wills).
     
  6. LordKalvan Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2004
    Location:
    Otherwhen
    I can see a few major problems for the establishment of a lasting "Carolingian" empire:
    • distances, and therefore problems with enforcing a consistent administration (and collecting taxes) all over a vast empire which lacks the backbone of a Roman-style administration
    • lack of enough surplus to pay for everything (armies, administration, infrastructures); coupled to this, the population in the Carolingian lands is still relatively low and I do not see the numbers for a major expansion beyond the borders; low
    • continuous attacks from land (Hungars) and sea (Vikings and Saracens): the Carolingians were never able to cope with the sea-raiders, nor I can see a reasonable solution beyond what they did. The Hungars were a somehow lesser (they were able to sack a single walled town, Pavia; on the other hand their raiding bands reached the Pyrenees at times) problem, but still a significant one. And it is a problem that cannot be solved by invading Pannonia: beisdes the logistic problems, the Hungars would just retire, and come back when the imperials have left.

    The only way out - given the size of the empire and the nature of the problems - was the Carolingian one: appoint "counts" in the settled lands, and warden of the marches at the borders.
    The "counts" and the wardens had to sublet beneficia to lesser nobles to make the thing work. Soon a classic feudal system is in place, with hereditary titles; and by marriage or war or imperial gift some of these nobles become really big and powerful; and troublesome.

    Mind, the Hungars and the Vikings sooner or later disappear by natural causes (mostly by becoming settled, and lacking the time and the incentive to go raiding. Or semi-barbarian kingdoms are born; and the new kings cannot accept everyone going raiding); the administrative issue can be also solved by relying on the church (which creates other problems, but for the future). The surplus issue and the population issue can be only solved by time.

    However, the OTL Ottonians and Salians proved that a stable and growing empire was truly too difficult to maintain, notwithstanding the population boom of the XI century and the economic strong recovery.
     
  7. Grey Wolf Writer, Poet, Publisher, Cat-sitter Gone Fishin'

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    Location:
    Deepest Wales
    It could do with some luck in the succession - either (1) a strong heir whose brothers are happier with small domains, perhaps on the edges where they can potentially expand them, or (2) less likely, a string of strong only sons which prevents the break-up of empire

    Best Regards
    Grey Wolf
     
  8. Eurofed Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    How can the Empire avoid that nobles and the Church do not get too powerful and get out of control, and the problems that Ottonians and Salians faced do not get terminal ?
     
  9. LordKalvan Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2004
    Location:
    Otherwhen
    There are a few classical solutions, mostly applied in England (both before and after the Norman conquest): a free yeomanry, the germs of a national Church, a good and accurate survey of landholdings (which makes easier to tax, and to make sure that the obligations which are attached to a beneficium are fulfilled). Excepting the first one only, the other two are a bit complex for a continental empire which also includes the papal seat and has to rely upon clerics to fulfil the administrative role. Even the yeomanry is difficult: a typical problem of the 9th and 10th century was that free farmers were inclined to renounce their freedom, they sought a safer and more protected life as serfs, either to a lord or (most commonly) to the church.
    Mind, a serf at the beginning of the feudal era is not screwed as badly as will happen in the 13th and 14th century; however, the problem from the point of view of a king (or emperor) is that he looses direct control on the land, and has always to go through the middlemen: dukes, counts, bishops...

    Another big issue is that the "empire" is very much different in its singlecomponents: Flanders, Lombardy, Provence, Ile de France are dotted by many significant cities, which have not lost the Roman traditions, and are ruled by bishops; however, east of Lotharingia the situation is much different. Just a few cities (if you can call them cities), and a lot of big nobles, mostly divided in a tribal way. It's not easy to find a way to accommodate every different situation under a common imperial law.

    I suggest you take the time of reading a few books on this period: go for those which deal with social and economic aspects, rather than the ones which privilege battles.
     
  10. Eurofed Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    All good suggestions. About the social disparity between the western and eastern scetions of the Empire, I was thinking that tax and economic incentives from the Imperial government for the development of cities should help to dimish the disparity.

    About the Church, well, founding a "national" Church in the proper sense is not that much feasible for the CE tiself, due to its size, since it would end up including most of the Catholic lands itself. However, I think that it should be possible for the Empire to make the Church itself "national" in a sense, ie. keeping the Pope and the main bishops subservient to the Empire (like the Orthodox Church) and a part of the Imperial bureaucracy and not develop into a independent theocratic international structure. I believe the key to do so is to crush the Cluniac/Gregorian Reform Movement before it may seize control of the Papacy and the Curia. The Church becomes another important power group within the Empire, like the nobles, and soon the burghers and the free cities, but not an antagonistic state-within-a-state.

    About the development of the yeomanry, I was thnking that giving tax incentives for the peasants to stay free and to organize into provincial militias, so diminishing the need for them go into serfdom, could work. Also creating a nucleus of a mobile Imperial professional army.

    I am also uncertain whether developing a system of proto-parliamentary representation, a Diet for the nobles, the Church, and the burghers, would help or hinder the development of the Empire.
     
  11. Valdemar II Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2005
    Location:
    Copenhagen; the Kalmar Union
    Yes but common population by the 9th century, primary thought of themselves as Lombard, while just two centuries earlier many people described themself as Romans. There's a inherience case in the 7th century where a Roman woman ask to get the case judged by Lombard law, while by the 8th Romans has become a term for East Romans and isn't used for the native population anymore.
     
  12. Valdemar II Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2005
    Location:
    Copenhagen; the Kalmar Union
    I think the most important thing for a potential realism, is that you give up the idea of a centralised empire, the empire could survive but in would be in the same form as the HRE and France in OTL survived the medieval periode, by the 12-15th century you can begin to centralise it, when the technology and infrastructure become ready.
     
  13. Eurofed Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Yes, I had envisaged this kind of OTL timescale would be necessary. To be nitpicky, to give up the idea of an early centralized empire.
     
  14. LordKalvan Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2004
    Location:
    Otherwhen
    That makes sense: the Carolingians co-opted a large number of the old Langobards nobles and property owners in their organization of the empire; I have also the suspect that an identification with the "Romans" was discouraged. Finally the last traces of the Exarchate disappeared by the end of the 7th century.

    That was my point too: people moved from one legal system to the other (the third one - Imperial law - was applicable to the Imperial fief holders only). Obviously, the woman who choose Langobard law saw better chances with it (or better, her lawyer did :D).
    It is also impressive how many legal professionals there were around: a medium city like Reggio Emilia (say 8,000 people in the walled town plus another 8,000 in the countryside) boasted 12 notaries at the beginning of the 11th century, and all the noble families (who were mostly residing in their castles in the countryside, except only for the obligation of keeping a townhouse) sent scions to study law.
     
  15. rcduggan 大元帅

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2007
    Location:
    New England Democratic Republic
    Although I'd like to point out that only the east would become more linguistically Germanic. France, Burgundy, and Italy would all stay Romance-speaking. The Frankish language had died out in West Francia by the ninth century, and the Lombard language is long gone. But if there is a migration east ITTL, there could be a similar pattern of Saxon and Bavarian settlement.



    So we'd need more sons like Charles the Child of Aquitaine or Pepin of Italy, rather than ones like Charles the Bald or Louis the German.
    The problem is that relying on this for too long verges into ASB - most sons rebelled at various points in OTL, so having generations of subservient young sons is very unlikely.
     
  16. Valdemar II Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2005
    Location:
    Copenhagen; the Kalmar Union
    Yes I only mean in precent of the population, through the linguistic border between French and German will likely lie a little further west. THe border will likely go through the middle of Lorraine, Wallonia and Picardy.


    You just need to kill them often enough in the start, to that the next generation of princes think it a little better through.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2009
  17. Eurofed Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    I was wondering how far the lnguistic boundary between Germanic and West Slav/Magyar would move eastward in comparison to OTL. I was assuming that ITTL a more vigorous German expansion to the East caused by a united Empire was a given, at the least up to the Vistula and the Danube, with the Germanization of Western Poland, Bohemia-Moravia, Slovenia, and Western Hungary. Is it plausible that the expansion would carry Germanization ven further, up to Eastern Poland, Slovakia, Eastern Hungary, Croatia, and Transylvania ?

    Well, I would really aspect that after a while, inheritance law and tradition would change if the Empire stays united, so that the ruling elites of the Empire would come to see it as indivisible. Dynastic rebellions may still happen after that point, but to contest the Impeial crown and not to set up separate kingdoms.