Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Augenis, Sep 26, 2016.
If it could offer an idea (feel free to ignore) Tuscany tried to get into the colonies game in OTL Guyana perhaps things go better and tuscany tries to colonize Australia?
So will this lead to an earlier and more intensive settlement of the region than OTL.
Part 49: The First Domino Falls (1750-1763)
The heart of the developing Industrial Revolution was Wallonia. Even though this region was only acquired by France in the Twenty Years' War over a hundred years ago, it was easily integrated into the Republic and became one of the nation's most vital provinces. Here, France's largest source of coal and iron was located, and a thriving heavy industry rapidly built itself around it. Wallonia had already been quite urbanized compared to the rest of Europe before, and the Revolution only hastened the process. Of course, France wasn't alone in the path towards industrialization, and as soon as great inventions come, copies and reinventions follow. The water frame was quick to spread to Britannia, which remained as a large textile producer despite it's isolation, and the properties of the steam engine were adopted by German entrepreneurs in Saxony and the Rheinland, both also rich with natural resources.
Not in Lithuania, however. What was happening there, though? Well, for one, this eastern empire now had a new overlord - Grand Hetman Augustas Velniukas, successor to Algimantas Songaila, and he was approved by the dying Emperor Algirdas III in January of 1751. Velniukas was already 65 years old at the time of his inaugural, and he achieved this position by spending quite a lot of money on bribes - he could afford it, of course, being a wealthy magnate from Samogitia and all. He was a conservative, old and not very energetic man, and his rule was one of calmth and growth. However, he was a great opponent of Abolitionism and an old guard within the military, so he irritated the liberal and republican forces within the country. The Russians didn't like him much, either, much like they disliked any Hetman - but who would ever listen to their opinion?
Like a yin-yang to the new Grand Hetman was the new Emperor. Emperor Algirdas III died on June of 1753 after a long period of illness, dying while clutching to his heart. It is not known what was the disease that killed the 50-ish year old Emperor, but modern historians suspect a heart disease of some sorts, or maybe just an unlucky heart attack. Whatever may have been the cause for his death, he was replaced by his eldest son, Jonas II, a true man of the Enlightenment. Educated in the University of Paris and acquainted with the philosophy at the time, he was liberal, opposed to the Hetmanate, to absolutism and to serfdom, he was very well liked by the moderate and liberal forces within the country, and, while he didn't show it, he secretly harbored hopes to one day remove the Hetman from power and restore the position of power of the Emperor. Since the coup led by Chodkevičius, the monarchy held a ceremonial position at best, saved from complete removal thanks to the authority that the Emperor, as the head of the Lithuanian Orthodox Church, was to the common people of the empire. The keys to power were held by the Hetman, who ruled as a dictator, as well as his clique, the Council of Lords, in a weird oligarchical military dictatorship - and Jonas II hoped to one day change that.
The beginning of the second half of the 18th century seemed to be calm, what with the tensions between France and the HRE decreasing and such, but a crisis shook Lithuanian society in 1760. And it, unsurprisingly, was tied to Russia. With the spread of the Enlightenment, a number of individuals across the region were hoping that the seed has been sown for a new, more successful Russian rebellion, hopefully with foreign support. Many of the Russian intellecuals who were considering such a revolution, like Ivan and Vladimir Kozlovs, had been forced to emigrate, settling in Western Europe and finding brothers in arms in the name of German Enlightenment thinkers, who were also wishing for their state's independence. However, in 1760, Lithuanian officers revealed a Russian-German plot to incite a rebellion in Tver, and numerous people affiliated were captured and arrested. The rebellion was prevented, but a worrying thought reached the minds of the Lithuanian government - this Enlightenment thing, and especially the Germans, are dangerous! France was not the only country worried about the things developing in Germany anymore...
Vilnius in the 18th century
Another worrisome event happened in China in 1758. During the last years of the Ming dynasty, the Chinese emperors reluctantly allowed the Portuguese to set up a few trade ports on the massive empire's coast, most notably in Hainan and in Macao. After the East Asian War, those ports were taken over by the Dutch, but the relations between the Europeans and the Chinese mostly remained the same, even after the Ming were replaced by the Shun dynasty. However, the new Emperor of China, Chuangzhi, was not happy with the situation in the European trade ports - used to the protection that the Emperor gave them, the Europeans began acting like little kings in their ports, freely exploiting the local Chinese populace and raising costs of their goods while purchasing Chinese tea, porcelain and silk at extremely low prices. The Dutch also learned of the Shun efforts to study European technology, and thus began withholding their secrets. After a number of diplomatic mishaps, Chuangzhi arrived to the final solution - kicking out the Western devils from the Chinese mainland and Hainan. Knowing that the numbers are not on their side, the Netherlanders retreated without firing a shot, and their ports were seized. A devastating blow to Dutch trade in East Asia.
Nothing good was going on on the other side of the world, either. The Benin Empire, forged through guns, cannons and steel in the beginning of the 18th century, was not meant to last. The nation covered a vast territory, and the bureaucracy of the originally small nation was overloaded. Trying to tie dozens of cultures together into a single state proved to be impossible, and after the Oba died in 1755, a succession war escalated into the complete collapse of Africa's short-lived gunpowder empire. It may have fallen quickly, but it's impact on the development of West Africa is insurmountable - Benin brought Western weaponry, bureaucracy and a more centralized style of rule to the region, and even though it collapsed into splinter states, they all retained the legacy of the Empire, seeing it as a pinnacle of the region's power.
However, while all of that was important, the true star of the show was the events in North Vespucia. More specifically - New Netherland. Dutch colonial rule over the region proved to be harder and harder to bear for the colonists of the region. It's hard to say which exact event led to it's end, but a string of bad decisions and often just determined fate was responsible. As time went on, more and more countries switched to a mercantilistic trade system, prioritizing exports and fighting imports with high tariffs, and such a situation was deadly to the Netherlands, which lived and breathed with world trade. The eviction from China also played a huge part, and as the Netherlands moved closer to bankruptcy, the more they taxed New Netherland, seeing it as their only choice for survival. And it's not like the Netherlands didn't attempt to switch to domestic production - but how do you do that when you're so lacking in money? Hell, how do you do that at all? The more taxes on New Netherland grew, the more they resented Dutch rule. It was the first half of the 18th century when a separate "Vespucian Dutch" identity formed, and now it had to be put into the test.
The final straw came with Wilhelm van Lieber, a Dutch tax collector who arrived to New Amsterdam on June of 1760, informing the New Netherland Assembly of a recently passed colonial tariff on furs - and the people of New Amsterdam responded by tarring and feathering the poor man, then sending him back to the ship to go back to Europe. This was the signal for the beginning of the Vespucian Independence War. Militias began to form across the country, in the same style as the French leveé during the Flammantian Wars and Russian opolcheniye during the Great Russian Rebellion. The metropoly only held 2500 men in the colony at that time, and even that small number was widely spread out across the country, so the first stages of the conflict were a resounding success. The New Netherland Assembly, previously merely a colonial parliament organized for resolving local matters, now changed it's name to the Vespucian Assembly, declaring itself to be the supreme government of what used to be Dutch Vespucia.
Problems came when the metropoly finally assembled a force for putting down the upstart colonists, and the first shipment of over 3000 soldiers arrived in New Rotterdam, in the north of the country, in spring of 1761. By summer, over 10 000 Dutch soldiers were stationed in the Vespucias, and despite heavy resistance, they managed to secure the north of the country, barely failing to take New Amsterdam after a siege, Not all Vespucians wanted to rebel from the Netherlands, either - many were opposed to such a radical step, and others were just undecided. A capable leader finally arose among the previously disorganized Vespucians - Herbert der Pols, previously a minor commander in the Dutch colonial army, now the supreme commander of the Vespucian militia, and in the Battle of Nordehamm, he broke the loyalist lines and secured a major victory in the conflict, pushing the metropoly forces back to the outskirts of New Rotterdam by the beginning of 1762.
Neither side was able to continue the war any further, however. The Netherlands was nearing bankruptcy, and it could not maintain a standing army for long, and the Vespucians were blockaded at sea, ran low on ammunition and supplies, and the northern part of their country had been greatly damaged by the conflict. France, ruled by the Blue Party, was still neutral, but elections were drawing near, and the frontrunner Red Party candidate Francois Doriot was openly advocating for supporting the Netherlands - it is not known whether this fact had any effect on pressuring the combatants, however. Negotiations between the Vespucian Assembly and the Netherlands finally began, and in a historic agreement, the New Rotterdam Compromise of 1762, the Netherlands accepted the independence of New Netherland, although with a vague addition "in eternal ties with the Free State of the Netherlands". In practice, this equated to the two countries aligning together on foreign policy and maintaining a free trade agreement between them, and the Vespucians nominally accepting Dutch overlordship in some occasions.
While not completely independent yet, the Vespucia Free State was born. VFS became the first country in the world to begin applying the ideas of the Enlightenment within it's political system, and the Vespucian Assembly was ready to enact such radical, crazy ideas as universal suffrage for all males, abolishing the three estates and equalizing their rights, and the separation of powers into the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. Vespucia had always been a nation of immigrants and refugees, united for a seek for freedom and a new life, and while some parts of Europe were embracing absolutism or "reactionary" democracy, it's lawmakers set their sights on the values of equality and liberty.
One interesting fact to note - many volunteers from Europe participated in the Vespucian Independence War, mostly on the side of the colonists, and they formed what is now known as the "Vespucian Liberty Legion", a nod to the Jean de Foix's Liberty Legion during the Flammantian Wars. Many of them were Germans, though there were many French, Spanish, Italian, Czech, Polish and even some Lithuanian volunteers. The leader of the legion was Albrecht Reiter, and one of the many officers in the Legion was an interesting, fiery, but bright German man from Bavaria, noted by General Reiter as "a wayward, but competent boy, with a burning heart", named Maximillian Schwarzburg...
While all of this was happening, Grand Hetman Augustas Velniukas's health was rapidly weakening. The general was almost 80 years old by then, and on October of 1762, not long after hearing the news of the establishment of the VFS, the dictator of Lithuania died, to the surprise of none. Velniukas's rule was not marked by any superb achievements nor great successes, but it did not have to be. The biggest headache he caused for future generations was for Lithuanian high school students in the 21st century, who keep forgetting him, because he was in between two truly great and memorable leaders... After Velniukas's death, the Council of Lords appointed Martynas Pacas as the next Grand Hetman of Lithuania.
Unlike his predecessors, Pacas was only 38 years old, energetic and willing to seek for change. But what challenge awaits him in this changing world?
More the time passe more i see a future franco-Lithuanian alliance
Yes - if Emperor Jonas II manage to pull a Meiji and overthrow the Shogunate - I mean, the Hetmanate :v
And like that the USA analogue is born
P a r t i t i o n
To me Lithuania is far too big, too stable. You have a small Lithuanian population ruling over a vast Russian and other population that easily dwarfs it. Russia did it OTL because they could literally drown everyone else in Russian blood and even they failed, that is nowhere the case here. Historically the more you tried to erase an identity the more you enforce it on it's peoples' consciousness, Jews and Basque being a good example. I'm aware that TTL Lithuanians are trying the devide and conquered tactic, but that should be even more difficult with an advance Russian State with Russian culture next door, you can't stop their culture from reaching past the border. North Koreans are doing the same thing, importing mass media from the South through smuggling despite the government's efforts against it. And that's a fellow ethnic Korean State.
You have an ethnic Russian state right next door that should have a pretty cavalry heavy military on favorable geography capable of dancing and weaving around before gunpowder advances far enough. There is no way Lithuania can remain whole after nationalism comes around full throttle, esp. Since Russians should be pretty proto-nationalistic already. They certainly won't be throwing armies of millions of men like the other big powers could both OTL and TTL.
You are forgetting an important factor here - Ruthenia. The Ruthenians, unlike their cousins in Russia, are loyal to the government and do not face discrimination, and both Lithuania and Ruthenia make up the country's backbone, not just the former.
I am not here to spoil anything about future events (which I have planned as far as the late 20th century), but most of what you are worried about gets addressed. And thank you very much for the comments and criticism, I don't get much of the latter lately, which is sad, because how else do you improve?
What's the meaning in your ATL for Ruthenia? I mean even in OTL there's some controversy about it.
I guess in your ATL they're Slavs and Slavic-speaking though.
Why are the Slavic Ruthenians the backbone of the Lithuanian Empire?
Because the Ruthenians are less massacred, burned and raped by the Lithuanians than their Russian cousins?
So the Ruthenians are cowards, betrayers of the common Slavic cause?
Are the Ruthenians happy by living in the Empire where all the real power belongs to the ethnic Lithuanians?
I mean in fact the 'ethnic' Ruthenians are the second rate people after the first rate 'ethnic' Lithuanians.
I might be wrong and inattentive but I don't see a lot of ethnic Ruthenians holding important posts on the "imperial" level (I don't mean local Ruthenian administration here).
Where are ethnic Ruthenians among the imperial generals in the Grand Lithuanian army, among the high imperial office-bearers, among the imperial ecclesiastics (clergymen)?
Can an ethnic Ruthenian become the head of the Lithuanian Empire?
How numerous are the 'ethnic' Ruthenians as opposed to the 'ethnic' Lithuanians?
Do the Ruthenians serve in the imperial Lithuanian army at all? If they do, are there special Ruthenian troops?
Can you elaborate on any of these issues?
Alright, I will try.
In this TL, "Ruthenia" refers to roughly the territories of OTL Belarus and Ukraine plus the Smolensk region. More accurately, however, the difference is that these regions were acquired early on in Lithuania's existence and have thus been fully integrated into the nation.
"less" is a strong word here. More of a "almost none" to me. But yeah, sort of.
It depends on who you ask. The more liberal or nationally minded Ruthenians, like some parts of the intellectuals and lesser nobility, would probably say no to that. Others, like rich, powerful magnates whose rights are pretty much equal to their Lithuanian counterparts, don't see a big difference.
In the Lithuanian participation in the Twenty Years' War, the Livonian Front was headed by a Ruthenian general (you can go back and check, I remember that I put it down). There definitely are Ruthenian people in the highest levels of the Lithuanian government, it's just not as easy to notice because I "Lithuanize" most noble names in the nation (which speaks of an entirely different event, this being the merging of Lithuanian and Ruthenian nobility, just like what happened IOTL).
Probably not an Emperor considering their Lithuanian heritage, but a Grand Hetman - not only they can, but one already has. Just that I Lithuanized his name.
If you remember, in OTL the Chodkiewicz family originate from modern-day Belarus and are East Slavic in origin.
This fact didn't change ITTL.
Ruthenians are more numerous than Lithuanians, although the size of the latter's "ethnic" population has increased due to conquests in the north and east (ITTL, Lithuanians consider Latvians and other Balts to be "Germanized" Lithuanians)
Ruthenians serve in the Lithuanian army much like Lithuanians themselves. Russians do, too, but they are limited to the roles of average soldiers.
Thank you very much for the questions and the criticism. I concede in that I left the Lithuanian-Ruthenian-Russian triangle rather vague, and it needs to be solved considering what is going to happen eventually.
Could either of you explain WHY the people and culture went extinct in our timeline.
As far as I know, the division between Poland and Lithuania in the Commonwealth was what split the "Ruthenians" (I don't even know if that's the accurate name, it's just the closest translation of the Lithuanian word we use for them, "rusėnai") into what we know as OTL Belarusians and Ukrainians.
I can see how that division would lead to the language diverging evolving from Ruthenian dialects into Belarusian in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Ukrainian in the Kingdom of Poland.
I hope you do realize that this contradicts your previous statement about Ruthenia being a backbone of the Lithuanian Empire.
I mean Ruthenian rich powerful magnates, who enjoy the Lithuanian rule, are 0,00001% of the Ruthenian population.
But 99,99999% of the 'ethnic' Ruthenian population are not too happy to live under the 'ethnic' Lithuanian yoke.
In my book that doesn't qualify as 'being backbone'.
I know that the Ruthenian magnates are rich and powerful; but in case of the national popular uprising of the Ruthenian common folks against the Lithuanian yoke, the rich Ruthenian magnates who sold their Ruthenian 'ethnic' identity are the first natural target of the common people's wrath - they are robbed of their riches.
I don't quite follow you.
What does it mean "being fully integrated into the nation"?
Even if we take only Ruthenians and Lithuanians that makes kind of odd nation:
10% of the population speak the Lithuanian language
90% of the population speak the Slavic language(s)
If the Ruthenians are not discriminated (which makes them backbone of the Empire, you said), then that makes it the dual Ruthenian-Lithuanian nation. And the Lithuanians are most naturally being slowly Ruthenianized. And with time that would be the Ruthenian-speaking nation.
If the Ruthenians are discriminated they are not the backbone of the Lithuanian Empire. They are the threat, that's kind of obvious, inevitable.
So we have the Lithuanian Empire where 'ethnic' Lithuanians are 5% of the population and 90% are ethnic 'Ruthenian-Russian-Slavic' (which are closely related and are closer to each other than in OTL by the simple fact of being united into one Empire).
And those Slaves have military experience in one of the best European armies.
That's what I call "living on the gun-powder keg" for the 'ethnic' Lithuanians.
If the Lithuanian Empire is at war with some European country, that country might promise 'national independence' for all the discriminated Lithuanian Slavs - a little bit of propaganda, some letters sent into the Slavic territories, some Ruthenian and Russian nobles proclaimed Grand Princes/Hetmans/Knyazes/Zars/whatever - and there are uprisings. The independent Russians won't miss that opportunity and invade as well. If the Ruthenian/Russian detachments of the imperial Lithuanian army don't rebel, then they are considered unreliable by the Lithuanian government and withdrawn from the fronts.
So the 'ethnic' Lithuanians (5% of the population of the Empire) are against 90% of the Slavic population of their own Empire, and against the country, they are at war with, and against the invading independent Russia.
So in your opinion, what happened to get the Ruthenian people replaced by the Ukrainian and Belorussian people?
Why ? i mean in last century peasant don't care about this kind of statement, What we should ask is how they live ? If they are happy of Lithuanian rule or not. After yes it could cause problem for future but for now, i don't see any reason for a rise of nationalism, they don't have bad history between them, local ruler are Rutheinan even if they are slowly Lithuanianized, more they share a common history fighting together... So problem will rise with Enlightment but for now i don't see any reason serfdom is weaken it's a period of progress for peasant so for now they are happy but maybe after with a retrograde sovereign. Personally in begining i will more see revolt like we always be faithful we just want more right that give independance.
in TTL Lithuanian ruler encourage the Lithuanian culture which has developed throughout the country so elite became more Lithuanian after yes i think like you that peasant was not really involved in this process so maybe it could change in future.
For now they are pretty separated, and people don't care about it but maybe now with enlightment period, this process could happen being slowly Ruthenianized (it could be really nice) maybe some kind of gradual, like in begining merchant, after army, ....
What about Ireland OTL, the Gaels were slowly assimilated over centuries into English speakers by the ruling elite within the country who made up only a tiny percentage of the population
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