WI the Byzantine Empire survived until WWI

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Caligo, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. Caligo Member

    Nov 30, 2018
    Surely this is a common topic here but I thought I would take a crack at it. The divergent point for this alternate universe from our own occurs much later than most Byzantine survival scenarios. I like the idea of Alternate history running parallel to our own almost as if this scenario is the world's true history & perhaps we're the ones living in some unfortunate althist thread. This means that much of world history is destined to follow much of the same history. The Byzantine Empire in this universe plays much the same role as the Ottoman in our own. The divergent point in this universe occurs around the turn of the 13th century. In this universe the Bulgarian & the subsequent Serbian Empire never expand into Byzantine Territory. The Byzantine Army is able to squash the Bulgarians and the Empire is put in a better position to defend against Turkish incursions to the east.

    I am refering to the Eastern Roman Empire as the Byzantine Empire because it's what we all know it by but in this universe it would be known officially as the Roman Empire & colloquially as Romania. I know this is confusing because we have a modern state called Romania which would seem to exist in my own maps below but this state is known as Wallachia & its language known as Wallachian as this term was used for the whole of the Romanian language during the middle ages. So from now on Romania = Byzantine Empire & Wallachia = (our) Romania. Because our history until the 13th century is the same, much of the Crusades & Turkish migrations occur just the same. The Sultinate of Rum spreads the Turkish language & costums to the native Anatolians of the peninsula's interior.

    [Map of Romania in 1914. Purple = Romania proper, Light Purple = Territorially Adjacent Colonies]


    [This is an ethnic map of Romania in 1914. Purple = Greek, Shades of Blue = Slavs (Bulgarians & Serbs), Hot Pink = Albanians, Gold = Turks & Azeris, Orange = Georgians, Red = Armenians, Yellow = Kurds, Green = Arabs & Arabized Berbers, Lime Green = Christian Arabs/"Arameans"]


    [Greatest extent of Romania & Romanian territorial claims. Romania had several colonies in southern India in the early 1500s, however, the British ran them out in the 1600s. There are still pockets of Orthodox communities in Southern India to this day as a result.]


    (Flag of Romania)

    The motivating ideology of Romania from ancient Macedonia to the middle ages can be described as Helenic evangelism. Around the 13t & 14th centuries Romania turns away more towards Orthodox Evangelism as a binding ideology to keep the various ethnic groups of the empire from rebelling. Romania once the Bulgars & Serbs are subdued would begin to look east to retake Asia minor. Needless to say Romanian forces defeat the squabling Turkish warcheifs. The Romanians would work with some Turkish tribes against others. Defeated Turkish tribes would be given the option of aquiring interior lands in exchange for loyalty & converting to the orthdox faith. Obviously islam would continue to exist in private amongst some Turks for some decades. However, the Turks were relatively recently converted to Islam & would be pragmatic when it came to religion. By the 16th century Islam would have died out in Anatolia.

    The mamluk sultinate would have existed in Egypt & the Levant placing much of the same hazardous trading condition for Christian powers as in our world meaning Columbus would still sail west in 1492. The history of the New World is virtually the same as in our world. For nearly 200 years since the Anatolian reconquista the borders of Romania would remain unchanged. Consisting of Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, Albanians, Turks & Armenians all united by the orthodox faith from the Danube to the Euphrates River. Spain next to the Mamluks like would be the main rival of Romania. When Spain discovers the New World & its great wealth Romania sees this as upsetting the power balance between the leading Orthodox & Catholic powers. Romania starts to look south as an oportunity to rebalance the two Empires. Through diplomacy & force Romania seizes Arab lands as colonial states with a necessary amount of autonomy.

    The Greeks seeing the aquisition of these lands in the middle east & north Africa to be for economic reasons & not religiously motivated would be wise enough not to try to push Orthodox Christianity on Muslim Kurds, Azeris or Arabs. These new lands would make the empire look drastically bigger however they're considered "territorially adjacent colonies." As I said Romania would play much the same role as the Ottoman Empire in our own. Romania would not get along with it's Catholic neighbour Hungary. Little wars between the two would create the same circumstances that formed the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Romania would see Orthodox Russia as it's closest ally for much of the medieval period. Only until the 1850s would the relationship between Romania & Russia sour over territorial claims over Crimea. These two powers would fight their own Crimean War, Romania being supported by Western Powers. At the end of the war Romania loses any territorial claims north of the Danube & Caucasus Mountains. This perceived loss of territory sours its relationship with Russia and strengthens ties with Romania's former rival, Austria-Hungary. Just as the Ottoman Empire entered WWI on the side of Germany & Austria-Hungary so too does Romania against Britain, France & Russia. In this universe WWI begins after a Wallachian Nationalist assassinates Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Cluj. Wallachia has the support of Russia & Romania has an antagonistic relationship with Wallachia as they sided with Russia during the Crimean War. (Ik crimea is a turkish place name & probably wouldn't be what its called in the universe). You know how this story ends, the Central Powers loose the war. Arab nationalists are encouraged by the allies to rebel against Romanian rule. Romania is balkanized at the end of the war & the Roman Empire is finally ended in 1922. Let me know what you think about this scenario and how you think it would impact WWII.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  2. Atamolos Pontifex, princeps, and augustus

    Dec 22, 2014
    The island from Lost
    This post just committed a holocaust against butterflies

    Jokes aside, it's definitely ASB to have TTL continue along such a similar path to OTL (down to the exact same archduke being assassinated at the same time more than 400 years after the POD). The premise by itself isn't implausible on its face, but a surviving Byzantine empire would have an insane amount of butterflies. Welcome to the website btw! Sorry if I seemed a little too dismissive, I promise I'm not trying to be rude
  3. Lalli Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2010
    Surviving Byzantine (not matter of POD) would cause such gigantic butterflies that OTL would be totally butterflied away and world would be totally unrecognsible or at least very different. You can't have Byzantine and OTL WW1. It is just totally ASB.
  4. Caligo Member

    Nov 30, 2018
    Hey yeah thanks no I dont take offence. I'm new here so i dont really understand all the acronyms you guys are using. What does ASB & TTL mean? There's an element of fantasy to my timelines because they imply a level of predetermination. Basically fate exists in all my ATLs. Ferdinand's assassination is fated to be the start of WWI in all universes lol.
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  5. Kirook Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2014
    TTL is This TimeLine, and ASB is Alien Space Bats (as in “it could only happen if Alien Space Bats came down from the sky and used advanced technology to change the course of human history or something”).

    The general policy of this site—which is not a rule, and you won’t be banned for ignoring it, but it’s adhered to by almost everyone—is that fate doesn’t exist in alternate history. The “butterfly effect” means any small change can potentially have massive consequences for the timeline, and this is a very large change.
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  6. Dingus Khan Emperor of Nowhere

    Nov 10, 2017
    Perhaps OP should've asked, what if the Byzantine Empire survived into the 20th century? Because a surviving Byzantine Empire means that the Ottoman Empire never rose to power, and the timeline is just going to be so drastically different that the geopolitics leading to "World War I" as we know it would never happen.
  7. Galba Otho Vitelius Well-Known Member

    Apr 21, 2016
    Replacing the historical role of the Ottoman Empire with the Byzantine Empire could happen if you can avoid the late 11th and late 12th century Byzantine declines, or you really wank the revival after the Fourth Crusiade so that the Byzantines basically become Christian Ottomans.

    Note that without the 11th century decline there are no Crusades, and even avoiding the 12th century decline will have Constantinople take over the crusader states, which would produce butterflies.

    Strategically, this empire will in the exact same position as the Ottoman Turks, and their dealings with western (Catholic and Protestant) countries will be very similar. One crucial difference would be relations with Russia, which would likely just be much better than IOTL. The only way to make them as bad as Ottoman-Russian relations is to engineer a split where the Russians come off thinking they are the real Orthodox Christians, and the Byzantines are faking it. This orients Russian expansionism away from the Straights and the Balkans, since both are controlled by a friendly power and there is no real need to bother going there.

    You probably start butterflying away World War I with the Napoleonic Wars, since the Byzantines will probably ally with whatever the Russians wanted to do, and without the IOTL war between the Russians and the Turks, the Russians can concentrate on fighting Napoleon. You probably don't get Tilsit. If Russia's border winds up further West, this affects the European alliances. The British are going to want to prop up Germany (or Prussia) and Austria against Russia. And Russia is the main supporter of the Byzantine Empire, instead of Germany propping up the Ottoman Empire.
  8. TRH Tyrannosaurus Rex Handler

    Sep 19, 2012
    Hm. You know, this board does draw a distinction of sorts when it comes to events in a timeline converging with real life. Creating a detailed progression of events from the middle ages towards the 20th century, and still having parallels like an assassination in Sarajevo is frowned upon, as you can see. The point of alternate history, as we see it, is to show how changes build upon each other, such that a minor initial change snowballs into what may as well be a different universe given enough time. So to do what you suggest, and fight against that avalanche with the hands of fate, well, it's not how we think this genre should work.

    That said, if you want to skip the intermediate steps, and simply detail the 20th century collapse of the Roman Empire, then I think people would be more receptive to that, despite the convergences. Granted, a story like that would fit better in the Writer's Forum section rather than this one, but it seems like that's what you want to focus on, and I do think there's a place for that here.
  9. ByzantineCaesar Secretary-General of URSAL

    Mar 22, 2010
    São Paulo, SP, Brasil
    Of course something similar to WW1 would happen and could have a similar set-up of alliances. We are dealing with structural forces here. A systemic war is almost inevitable as long as the international system becomes more interconnected and distances are reduced by technology. As long as the Industrial Revolution and European colonialism/imperialism happen (and the two are dependent on each other), a global systemic war is likely to happen at some point. If Romania here is meant as a Christian replacement of the Ottomans, the distribution of capacities could mirror the OTL WW1 one, leading to the formation of a similar balance of power, leading to similar alliances and a similar systemic war, if there is enough unresolved tension.
  10. SeaCambrian Alien Space Bat

    May 28, 2018
    While you're right in some ways, I don't think scenarios like this one should be as controversial as they tend to be on this forum.
    Though less rigorous than ones that consider the butterfly effect, it's about the difference between hard sci-fi and regular sci-fi. It doesn't bring it out of the realm of alternate history.

    Looking at Harry Turtledove's works, which vastly increased the popularity of the alternate history genre, there is plenty of convergence.
    Familiar elements also provide an interesting "compare and contrast" viewpoint. "Ceteris paribus" (all other things remaining the same) is a pretty common idea for many other kinds of thought experiments.
  11. General Ripper Banned

    May 21, 2016
    The TL of surviving Byzantium (OTL Greece and Western Turkey seems plausable) would be interesting to read...
  12. Masked Grizzly Well-Known Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    One question that comes to mind in this or other ATL scenarios where the Byzantines play a similar historical role as the Ottomans would be their relationship with the Russian Empire, given both are Orthodox powers.
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  13. Soverihn Proud Tribalist

    Dec 9, 2012
    Cibao Wilayet, Caliphate of Quisqueya
    This is a really interesting thing because from a map perspective a Balkans/Anatolia based power and a Russian based one would be natural allies with a ton of synergy together, with like Russia getting access to huge new markets while the Balkans would obtain large amounts of raw materials through major waterways that would reinforce manufacturing here.
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  14. Tripledot Well-Known Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    We'd be arguing with Byzantine nationalists over whether or not the Turkish Genocide was a thing, surely...
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  15. Blorg just discovered shared worlds. Gone Fishin'

    Jun 22, 2018
    Somewhere in Canada
    A create rump state would have less butterflies
  16. Condottiero Knight of the Square Table

    Aug 3, 2004
    Uxama Argaela
    How can you describe as colonies territories that have been claimed and administered by this "Byzantine Empire" (or the Roman Empire) for almost 2000 years?
  17. Masked Grizzly Well-Known Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    Perhaps Byzantium in an analogue of WW1 would join the Allies rather than the Central Powers, though could an ATL Central Powers victory still lead to the Post-Ottoman-like breakup of the Byzantines?

    OTOH where does that leave an ATL Berlin-Baghdad railway, let alone if the Byzantines managed to establish mutual good relations with the German Empire like the Ottomans apparently did in OTL?
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  18. Caligo Member

    Nov 30, 2018
    Well i was just considering how ideology changes among the ruling class of any country over time. The Greeks of the 16th century don't have the same as the Greeks of the 5th century. Keep in mind that alot of changes has occured in the Arab world since the days of Constantine. Romania doesn't seize this territory until the early 1500s as a reaction to Spain's growing empire in the Americas. Meaning Arabs by this time have been practicing Islam for nearly a 1000 years by that time.
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  19. ArchimedesCircle Radical Groucho-Marxist

    Aug 25, 2015
    Tecumseh's Confederacy
    Any PoD back this far is likely going to change or prevent the reformation, which has drastic repercussions for the Holy Roman Empire, which could well remain in existence until TTL 1914, meaning no Germany. There's also no guarantee that Britain will conquer India and thus become the most powerful nation in the world, or that the French revolution will unleash the forces of nationalism in Europe. Russia might not exist, or it might be more Europe focused. There's a lot of stuff that's going to change to the point that none of the players of OTL WWI would still be recognizable.
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  20. The Undead Martyr GOP Delenda Est

    Apr 11, 2013
    south of the (Canadian) border
    In the long term this changes a lot especially depending on how the divergence goes.
    In the first place a surviving Macedonian empire is far more likely to onw sicily than egypt, and lklely butterflies both the crusades and at least delays the schism as well as massive effects on christianity (no reformation, or a very different one, if chalfedoniqn christianity is already decentralized away from Rome).

    Add to this that the balkans are very different right down to their name. Does Serbia even exist ttl? It's much easier IMO to see a surviving Romania hold onto that province than egypt or syria. Austria Hungary may well not form given that it was created in large part due to fear of the ottomans. Does Italy exist? If the south is under Romania and the North under the HRE or independent... or for that matter you could see Italy be the flashpoint for a world war, with a northern lombard state expanding into crumbling Romania and "liberating" Sicily and rome.

    And for that matter what of France, or Spain, or England? With no indifferent crusades, different religion, different central Europe.... Does France still form? Does Provence join catalonia and Toulouse? Does a frankish led Germania unify on the Rhineland? Does a separate Wendland exist or join Poland?

    Early modern divergence make things more familiar bit are also more difficult for getting the empire that strong.
    One possibility is a surviving Anjou two sicilies conquering Rhomania then crusading into Jerusalem and Asia minor alongside Hungary, as if they can avoid collapse they have a window in the 13th and 14th centuries and widespread support to mayne really become a major power. Perhaps have Joanna and Andrew have a son and the latter escape assassination? Or else maybe make Joanna a boy.
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