Yet another Modern Day Byzantine Empire

So. I wrote a draft to a book. It's yet another alternate history where the Byzantine Empire survived to the modern day 2016. Yeah yeah, I'm a Byzaboo. Only, it's the sort of ridiculous alternate history where there has to be a series of ridiculous, improbable events. And, even worse, it's the sort of alternate history where the modern timeline isn't even affected that much. My head-canon is that this neo-Byzantine Empire fulfilled the same void as the Ottoman Empire.

Honestly, I just wanted an excuse to write a matrilineal modern-day Byzantine Empire. Yeah, you can see where this is going when I mentioned matrilineal. And, of course, I chose the point of divergence to be 1453--or rather, a few decades earlier when Constantine XI's sole daughter didn't die in childbirth.

Yup. Revived Byzantine Empire from a tiny rump state in 1453? I may have been too influenced by my EU4 games. And, uh, after the Napoleonic Wars, this Roman Empire controlled most of the eastern Mediterranean, including Greece, Crimea, Anatolia, Syria, Jerusalem, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Sicily and Rome. Yeahhhh, shit, it's pretty ridiculous it conquered all of that in roughly 350 years or so.

As I mentioned, this cursed timeline doesn't even affect modern events too much. It joined the Central Powers during WWI and got the shit beaten out of them. Boy, you thought the Ottoman partition was bad. This Empire lost everything except mainland Greece and Anatolia. Even eastern Anatolia seceded to form the Republic of Turkey, presided by the glorious Ataturk. Cyprus was snatched by the British, and honestly, in my head-canon the partition was basically exactly the same as OTL Ottoman partition after WWI. One important detail is that the Imperial government remained intact. Pre WWI there were talks about transitioning to a republic, but the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and, in the same time and place, Imperator Zoe Palaiologos left the Empire in a regency during WWI. The regency council was corrupt and incompetent, and this led the people to restore the monarchy after the devastating loss.

In WWII, the Empire was attacked by the Axis and thus joined the Allies. Most of mainland Greece and Crete fell in around the same dates as OTL, but Constantinople held out until the end of the war. For the Empire's efforts, the Allies rewarded them with Cyprus and wiped debts from WWI. Oh, and a permanent seat on the UN. Yay. The Empire was in no position to bargain, and its Imperator (Alexandra "The Pirate") didn't push the issue.

Imperator Alexandra "the Pirate" was a racist twat (she loathed Germans, Italians, Turks, Japanese, etc), but she was amazingly competent at keeping the Empire together during the Cold War. She finally abdicated in 2000, (she's still living in 2016!) and her successor, Imperator Ophelia "the Feeble", while not as flashy as her predecessor, was good at diplomacy and easing Romano-Turkish tensions in a post 9/11 world. Which leaves us to here. Yup. It's literally modern day borders except for OTL Greece and Turkey and Cyprus.
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Mind, the Empire is crumbling in 2016. While most positions are reasonably democratic, the head of state is still a monarchy and has considerable power much to the chagrin of the populace. Unless drastic action is taken soon, the Roman Empire will finally join the 21st century and become a Roman Republic.

I could already hear the questions.

How tf did the Balkans end up the same way as OTL?

In 1453, the Byzantine victory at the battle of Constantinople killed Mehmed II, but didn't decisively defeat the Ottoman army. Surviving heirs competed and eventually the Ottomans split into the Western and Eastern Ottoman Empire. The Western Ottoman Empire had the main army since, well, they were still stuck on the European side of the strait. And they were a terror to the Balkans. They somehow replicated the OTL Ottoman Empire's successes and nearly conquered Vienna just like OTL. They weren't fully stamped out until the mid-late 1800s by Austria-Hungary and the Byzantines. And then Yugoslavia formed after WWI, like normal.

How similar are we talking about to OTL in 2016 do you mean...?

Syrian Civil War is happening. Pokémon Go was still released. Bitcoin was also around $300. The Chicago Cubs finally won. Leicester City won the Premier League. A gay nightclub is bombed in Florida, Turkey has a coup, Olympics were in Rio, and an airport is bombed in Istanbul/Constantinople. Panama Papers are released. All on the same dates. Yup. That similar.

Wait, you can't just do that. The Byzantine revival surely would affected those events somewhat.

Probably? Those events were slightly affected. The Panama Papers, for instance, had some hidden corrupt Byzantine officials. And certainly demographics in Syria would be different, but remember, the Entente still owned it after WWI. There's surely some world where events largely play out the same.

So why is the Byzantine Empire matrilineal?

After dueling and decapitating Mehmed II in 1453, Imperator Konstantina "the Great" ascended to the throne after her father's death, his only heir. Of course it was disputed, but the public loved her for being the hero of the Siege of Constantinople. Of course, she also had to kill and blind and castrate cousins and uncles, but don't they all?

And it happened she only had daughters. And the next Imperator also only had daughters. It kinda stuck. Of course there were eventual civil wars when sons would argue, but eventually the Palaiologoi would become the world's only matrilineal dynasty.

This does have societal implications, such as the Empire becoming more feminist than most. It was also able to punch above its weight, drafting both men and women into their wars.

You are aware Imperator Alexandra and Imperator Ophelia are old? And they had their daughters at like, what, fortyish?

Yup.

Why did you post this...?

I'm not a historian. My only historical knowledge extends from Paradox games and curiously browsing through Wikipedia articles and videos on interesting subjects. I am also aware this scenario is, like, 0.00000000000000001% probable. But...is there anything I hadn't accounted for? Like, I dunno, maybe the Chicago Cubs could only win the World Series if and only if the Ottoman Empire existed. But in my limited, primitive understanding, most current world events could be traced back to post WWI, and the existence of a Byzantine Empire instead of a Greece and Turkey shouldn't affect the timeline too much, Syrian Civil War included. Mind, the Republic of Turkey does still exist. It's in NATO and everything.

I am sorely aware I should have asked this question after I wrote my draft.
 
How tf did the Balkans end up the same way as OTL?

In 1453, the Byzantine victory at the battle of Constantinople killed Mehmed II, but didn't decisively defeat the Ottoman army. Surviving heirs competed and eventually the Ottomans split into the Western and Eastern Ottoman Empire. The Western Ottoman Empire had the main army since, well, they were still stuck on the European side of the strait. And they were a terror to the Balkans. They somehow replicated the OTL Ottoman Empire's successes and nearly conquered Vienna just like OTL. They weren't fully stamped out until the mid-late 1800s by Austria-Hungary and the Byzantines. And then Yugoslavia formed after WWI, like normal.
An Ottoman Empire that only has its European possessions from 1453 cannot possibly replicate the successes of OTL's unbroken OE. This "Western Ottoman Empire" would barely even have any Islamic and/or Turkish subjects in the first place. One well-timed Bulgarian revolt or Hungarian attack and it's finished for good.
 
An Ottoman Empire that only has its European possessions from 1453 cannot possibly replicate the successes of OTL's unbroken OE. This "Western Ottoman Empire" would barely even have any Islamic and/or Turkish subjects in the first place. One well-timed Bulgarian revolt or Hungarian attack and it's finished for good.
Yeah, that is definitely a stretch, but quite possibly no more implausible than a resurgent 1453 Byzantium. I originally envisioned that the Ottomans luckily had a series of genius rulers and generals that would enable the "western Ottoman empire" to survive, but maybe I should retcon it so 1453 Byzantium takes that role instead.

I would prefer a "western Ottoman Empire" to keep the modern Balkan geopolitical situation somewhat similar, but maybe that's a lost cause.

At the very least it'll be pretty easy to revise that history and worldbuilding in my draft since I hardly mention the remnants of the Ottoman Empire or the Balkans at all.
 

Rognvald

Gone Fishin'
So. I wrote a draft to a book. It's yet another alternate history where the Byzantine Empire survived to the modern day 2016. Yeah yeah, I'm a Byzaboo. Only, it's the sort of ridiculous alternate history where there has to be a series of ridiculous, improbable events. And, even worse, it's the sort of alternate history where the modern timeline isn't even affected that much. My head-canon is that this neo-Byzantine Empire fulfilled the same void as the Ottoman Empire.

Honestly, I just wanted an excuse to write a matrilineal modern-day Byzantine Empire. Yeah, you can see where this is going when I mentioned matrilineal. And, of course, I chose the point of divergence to be 1453--or rather, a few decades earlier when Constantine XI's sole daughter didn't die in childbirth.

First of all, congratulations on completing a draft to a book! That's a big accomplishment!

As to the topic, that is completely okay! You can write whatever you like; but be warned, by putting this up here you are subjecting yourself to critique.

Yup. Revived Byzantine Empire from a tiny rump state in 1453? I may have been too influenced by my EU4 games. And, uh, after the Napoleonic Wars, this Roman Empire controlled most of the eastern Mediterranean, including Greece, Crimea, Anatolia, Syria, Jerusalem, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Sicily and Rome. Yeahhhh, shit, it's pretty ridiculous it conquered all of that in roughly 350 years or so.

That is a very large Byzantine Empire by any stretch of the game! It would also completely alter the history of the world in unrecognizably ways.
As I mentioned, this cursed timeline doesn't even affect modern events too much. It joined the Central Powers during WWI and got the shit beaten out of them. Boy, you thought the Ottoman partition was bad. This Empire lost everything except mainland Greece and Anatolia. Even eastern Anatolia seceded to form the Republic of Turkey, presided by the glorious Ataturk. Cyprus was snatched by the British, and honestly, in my head-canon the partition was basically exactly the same as OTL Ottoman partition after WWI. One important detail is that the Imperial government remained intact. Pre WWI there were talks about transitioning to a republic, but the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and, in the same time and place, Imperator Zoe Palaiologos left the Empire in a regency during WWI. The regency council was corrupt and incompetent, and this led the people to restore the monarchy after the devastating loss.
A surviving Byzantium, especially one the size of the one you described, would heavily impact modern events. This is a Point of Difference dating back to the 15th century. How do nearly 500 years of history progress exactly the same, to allow for a recognizable Central Powers?

In WWII, the Empire was attacked by the Axis and thus joined the Allies. Most of mainland Greece and Crete fell in around the same dates as OTL, but Constantinople held out until the end of the war. For the Empire's efforts, the Allies rewarded them with Cyprus and wiped debts from WWI. Oh, and a permanent seat on the UN. Yay. The Empire was in no position to bargain, and its Imperator (Alexandra "The Pirate") didn't push the issue.

Imperator Alexandra "the Pirate" was a racist twat (she loathed Germans, Italians, Turks, Japanese, etc), but she was amazingly competent at keeping the Empire together during the Cold War. She finally abdicated in 2000, (she's still living in 2016!) and her successor, Imperator Ophelia "the Feeble", while not as flashy as her predecessor, was good at diplomacy and easing Romano-Turkish tensions in a post 9/11 world. Which leaves us to here. Yup. It's literally modern day borders except for OTL Greece and Turkey and Cyprus.
You really shouldn't have modern borders, especially with a Point of Difference so far back.
Mind, the Empire is crumbling in 2016. While most positions are reasonably democratic, the head of state is still a monarchy and has considerable power much to the chagrin of the populace. Unless drastic action is taken soon, the Roman Empire will finally join the 21st century and become a Roman Republic.

I could already hear the questions.

How tf did the Balkans end up the same way as OTL?

In 1453, the Byzantine victory at the battle of Constantinople killed Mehmed II, but didn't decisively defeat the Ottoman army. Surviving heirs competed and eventually the Ottomans split into the Western and Eastern Ottoman Empire. The Western Ottoman Empire had the main army since, well, they were still stuck on the European side of the strait. And they were a terror to the Balkans. They somehow replicated the OTL Ottoman Empire's successes and nearly conquered Vienna just like OTL. They weren't fully stamped out until the mid-late 1800s by Austria-Hungary and the Byzantines. And then Yugoslavia formed after WWI, like normal.
There is no way that a "Western" Ottoman Empire could survive, as pointed out. It rules over a non-Turkish and non-Muslim population, and it would be easy pickings for the Christian powers of the Balkans. A surviving Byzantium completely prevents the Balkans as we know them today, because you prevent the conversion of Bosnia and Albania to Islam, you prevent hundreds of years of Ottoman occupation (and the effect it had on local economies), and you likely prevent Hungary from coming under the Habsburg dynasty! They also wouldn't be called the Balkans, because that is a Turkish term.

How similar are we talking about to OTL in 2016 do you mean...?

Syrian Civil War is happening. Pokémon Go was still released. Bitcoin was also around $300. The Chicago Cubs finally won. Leicester City won the Premier League. A gay nightclub is bombed in Florida, Turkey has a coup, Olympics were in Rio, and an airport is bombed in Istanbul/Constantinople. Panama Papers are released. All on the same dates. Yup. That similar.\
That is fine for a book, but note that doing this violates almost all of the accepted norms of alternate history. Something as big as a surviving Byzantium (especially one as expansionist as in your scenario) would cause a massive butterfly effect over world history, altering it completely.

Wait, you can't just do that. The Byzantine revival surely would affected those events somewhat.

Probably? Those events were slightly affected. The Panama Papers, for instance, had some hidden corrupt Byzantine officials. And certainly demographics in Syria would be different, but remember, the Entente still owned it after WWI. There's surely some world where events largely play out the same.
There may be a world where events largely play out the same, but not with the scenario you are presenting. Generally, the farther back you go, the more the timeline is altered. Additionally, the larger the event you affect, the more the timeline is altered. You have both gone back far, and picked one of the turning points of world history. It is incredibly unrealistic for the world to play out nearly 100% the same.

So why is the Byzantine Empire matrilineal?

After dueling and decapitating Mehmed II in 1453, Imperator Konstantina "the Great" ascended to the throne after her father's death, his only heir. Of course it was disputed, but the public loved her for being the hero of the Siege of Constantinople. Of course, she also had to kill and blind and castrate cousins and uncles, but don't they all?

And it happened she only had daughters. And the next Imperator also only had daughters. It kinda stuck. Of course there were eventual civil wars when sons would argue, but eventually the Palaiologoi would become the world's only matrilineal dynasty.

This does have societal implications, such as the Empire becoming more feminist than most. It was also able to punch above its weight, drafting both men and women into their wars.
This is extremely unrealistic and reads very much as a contrivance. Which you admit it is; you want to write about a matrilineal Byzantine Empire. That is fine! But it is nigh-on impossible.

Why did you post this...?

I'm not a historian. My only historical knowledge extends from Paradox games and curiously browsing through Wikipedia articles and videos on interesting subjects. I am also aware this scenario is, like, 0.00000000000000001% probable. But...is there anything I hadn't accounted for? Like, I dunno, maybe the Chicago Cubs could only win the World Series if and only if the Ottoman Empire existed. But in my limited, primitive understanding, most current world events could be traced back to post WWI, and the existence of a Byzantine Empire instead of a Greece and Turkey shouldn't affect the timeline too much, Syrian Civil War included. Mind, the Republic of Turkey does still exist. It's in NATO and everything.
Basically, the world you present to us is historically impossible. There is no chance that a surviving, expansionist Byzantine Empire (let alone a matrilineal one) would not have massive, timeline altering effects from the very beginning. One early reason, of course, is that the Greek scholars that fled the collapse of the Empire for Italy would not have done so, thus altering the course of the Renaissance, which, in turn, effects European cultural and social development, etc., etc..

Which is fine! You are more than free to write the book you want to write, but the world you create for it does not feel fully realized. Investing a little more time researching the topic, as well as reading surviving Byzantium timelines on this board, could help you craft a more believable world.
 
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First of all, congratulations on completing a draft to a book! That's a big accomplishment!

As to the topic, that is completely okay! You can write whatever you like; but be warned, by putting this up here you are subjecting yourself to critique.
Thanks for the congrats, but there's still a long road ahead and it's not my first time finishing a draft ha ha. And yup, I decided to post here for the critique. Thanks!
That is a very large Byzantine Empire by any stretch of the game! It would also completely alter the history of the world in unrecognizably ways.

A surviving Byzantium, especially one the size of the one you described, would heavily impact modern events. This is a Point of Difference dating back to the 15th century. How do nearly 500 years of history progress exactly the same, to allow for a recognizable Central Powers?


You really shouldn't have modern borders, especially with a Point of Difference so far back.
I really, really, really shouldn't have modern events turn out to be the same, but when I was initially outlining this novel, it struck me "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if 2016 events were actual plot points? The 2016 Turkish coup, the 2016 Russian assassination in Ankara, and the refugee crisis are all plot points in this novel. And unfortunately, my sorry ass also wanted to write a modern Byzantine Empire so now we have this giant mess of a cursed timeline.

It's been really odd balancing narrative needs versus historical believability. I've decided to go with the former for a "rule of cool."
There is no way that a "Western" Ottoman Empire could survive, as pointed out. It rules over a non-Turkish and non-Muslim population, and it would be easy pickings for the Christian powers of the Balkans. A surviving Byzantium completely prevents the Balkans as we know them today, because you prevent the conversion of Bosnia and Albania to Islam, you prevent hundreds of years of Ottoman occupation (and the effect it had on local economies), and you likely prevent Hungary from coming under the Habsburg dynasty! They also wouldn't be called the Balkans, because that is a Turkish term.


That is fine for a book, but note that doing this violates almost all of the accepted norms of alternate history. Something as big as a surviving Byzantium (especially one as expansionist as in your scenario) would cause a massive butterfly effect over world history, altering it completely.
Unfortunately, my "western Ottoman Empire" was my idea on how to end up with a modern Balkans with an Islamic Bosnia and Albania, however implausible it may be. On the bright side, it absolutely does not come up in my draft, so if I ever do write a sequel/series, I have time to better think about it.

It has definitely struck me that my book absolutely does not follow conventional alt-history norms. What alt-history doesn't want to explore the divergence's effects on the world? What alt-history wants to have contemporary events happen? ...what alt-history wants to choose Byzantium 1453 as the divergence as opposed to, say, the more reasonable Battle of Manzikert or the Nicaea Reconquest of Constantinople? It really has been struggle trying to aim for historical plausibility versus, say, what I want to happen for coolness's sake.
There may be a world where events largely play out the same, but not with the scenario you are presenting. Generally, the farther back you go, the more the timeline is altered. Additionally, the larger the event you affect, the more the timeline is altered. You have both gone back far, and picked one of the turning points of world history. It is incredibly unrealistic for the world to play out nearly 100% the same.


This is extremely unrealistic and reads very much as a contrivance. Which you admit it is; you want to write about a matrilineal Byzantine Empire. That is fine! But it is nigh-on impossible.


Basically, the world you present to us is historically impossible. There is no chance that a surviving, expansionist Byzantine Empire (let alone a matrilineal one) would not have massive, timeline altering effects from the very beginning. One early reason, of course, is that the Greek scholars that fled the collapse of the Empire for Italy would not have done so, thus altering the course of the Renaissance, which, in turn, effects European cultural and social development, etc., etc..

Which is fine! You are more than free to write the book you want to write, but the world you create for it does not feel fully realized. Investing a little more time researching the topic, as well as reading surviving Byzantium timelines on this board, could help you craft a more believable world.
Y'know, sometimes I wish my brain was like "Imagination, are you sure you want to make the Byzantine Empire matrilineal?" or "Imagination, are you aware how absurd it is that the Roman Empire survived to the modern day and had no enormous consequences on global politics!?"

It's completely and utterly ridiculous. But a tiny part of my imagination screams..."It is possible! Even if it's just one scenario out of a trillion!" And thus, I wrote this book. Definitely would've been a lot easier if I used, say, a monarchist modern day Greece or a matrilineal Ottoman Empire instead. But I guess I'm a Byzaboo at heart. I am aware it takes a ridiculous amount of divergences and a ridiculous amount of convergences to result in this scenario, which is a definite no-no in many alt-history circles.

It's definitely been weird looking for beta readers, since I do tag it with alt-hist, and the summary itself doesn't particularly read like a standard alt-hist, more like, I dunno, some political thriller that happens to take place in a country called the Roman Empire.

I guess in posting here I'm mainly trying to discover the most implausible scenarios. That's two posters already that have commented on the absurdity on the "western Ottoman Empire." I will have to ruminate on that on how to justify how such a state could exist to create a modern Balkans.

Thanks for reading.

By the way, in this "alt-history," the Renaissance still occurs because the world subscribes to the theory the Renaissance was not largely triggered by the fall of Constantinople and the flight of Byzantine scholars to Italy. From what I can tell, there are many OTL historians who argue that was not a major factor.
 
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The latest date to have a surviving modern day Eastern Roman Empire would have to be 1341. Giving ole' Andronikous 3rd a few more decades to complete the subjection of Greece and then wait for Timiruds to smash Anatolia. Giving the ERE a chance to recapture important costal cities like Nicea, Nikodemia, and Smyrna while the Turkish beys are still reeling from the beating of Timmy. Any surviving Byzantine state after 1341 is ASB in my opinion. It was basically a city state post 1341 civil war.
 
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