Friday, March 6, 2015

The Saracen and the Cross

I figured it was about time for another of my maps.  It's got it's flaws, yes, but overall I'm reasonably happy with it.  I'm also happy to report that this map received a gorgeous cover by another map maker.  I will be posting that map, along some bits of art I've had commissioned, in a future blog post; though the map wasn't commissioned, but it still deserves to be featured.  Anyway, let's talk about the original.  It's set in the early 19th century and among other things:

Things first deviated from our world when the Egyptian general Saladin converted to Christianity in the middle of the Crusades. Exactly why this happened has never been confirmed, but sources say that Saladin claimed to have received a vision from God telling him to fight in the name of Christianity. Of course, many of the symptoms he experienced while in the middle of these visions bore a notable resemblance to epilepsy, so who can say?

Regardless of the source of this revelation, Saladin and his forces helped to reclaim the Holy Land for Christendom. At the same time, the Kingdom of Abyssinia supplied troops to aid the war effort as well.

Saladin and the Abyssinians later went on to usurp control of Egypt from the Fatimids and established a new ruling dynasty. In time Saladin would be canonized as a saint by the Orthodox Churches of Egypt, Abyssinia and Greece.

The Islamic world remained fractured and disjointed as result of Saladin's conversion to Christianity. Though Persia would remain something of a regional power there would never be another great Islamic power in the history of this world.

The success of the Crusades meant that the Byzantines didn't have to be concerned about invaders from the east or the disaster of the Fourth Crusade. As a result the Byzantines were able to stabilize and expanded northwards into the Balkans. The Byzantines also became long term allies of the Egyptians and Abyssinians.

The got interesting in the Iberian Peninsula. On the one hand, the Reconquesta proved less than successful. On the other hand, much of North Africa had returned to Christianity thanks to the efforts of the Egyptians and Byzantines. Facing the possibility of potentially becoming an international pariah, the Moors made a token conversion to Orthodox Christianity (as they viewed the Orthodox nations as most likely to become the next great powers), but still retaining much of their culture as it was during Islamic times. This blending extends to the title of the rulers of Hispania being named both King and Emir.

England won the Hundred Years War due to a combo of better tactics and Joan of Arc getting kicked in the head by a very temperamental horse. After the war France was annexed and the two nation became known as the United Kingdom of England and France. Intermarriage between English and French nobles was encouraged to make the transition smoother. The United Kingdom would go on to conquer Ireland, and Scotland would join around the time it did in our world.

Russia was hit even harder with famines during the Time of Troubles. This, along with the Cossacks never rebelling against the Poles and the Romanovs failing to rise to power, lead to Poland-Lithuania annexing Russia and becoming the great power of Eastern Europe.

Like in our world many nations searched for a easier route to India during the Age of Exploration. Egypt and Abyssinia, due to their location, had the easiest time of this. Hispania attempted to take what they believed to be the long way, but instead discovered something even better: the Americas. Their first expeditions landed about where the Southeastern United States is in our world.

Byzantium attempted the reach India by sailing around Africa and they established a colony in Southern Africa. However, one of their expeditions blew off course and landed in Brazil. The Byzantines claimed the land, figuring they find some use for it eventually, and indeed they did after they entered the sugar trade.

The United Kingdom claimed what would have been Canada with their first permanent settlement being at Mount Royal (Montreal). Ironically, of all nations it would be they who should act as the arm of the Catholic Church, with the pope more than willing to grant request to the nation's rulers. Missionaries from the United Kingdom would even find their way to the Far East.

In China, the Manchu were only partially successful in their conquest, with much of Southern China being ruled by the Southern Ming dynasty. The Southern Ming instigated many forward thing reforms while the Manchu clung to outdated traditions.

In Japan, rulers proved much more receptive to Catholicism, albeit a form heavily influenced by Shinto. This would prompt Japan not to turn it's back on the world. Japan sent missionaries to Southern China and Korea, and they established an colonial empire in the name of spreading the gospel (or so they claimed anyway).

Unfortunately, peaceful relations with the Catholic Church weren't to last, as before long the Church decided that Japan was incorporating too many elements of Shinto and Buddhism and threatened the nation with excommunication. In response, Japan mailed a sword to the pope with instructions on how to commit Sepukku. China and Korea soon followed Japan's example and established their own state churches as well.

Though the Catholic Church still held saw over much of Europe, they still worried about the potential threat posed by the Orthodox powers and the churches of the Far East. Although the United Kingdom was a powerful ally they needed a backup plan. To that end the Chrurch put much effort into aiding the unification of the Holy Roman Empire. The balance of powers of the Holy Roman Empire were directly modeled off of those of the United Kingdom. However, Brandenburg didn't join the empire due to being part of the Polish-Lithuanian Empire.

Despite the best efforts of the Catholic Church, however, many nations, in the wake of an alternate Reformation of sorts, have established their own state churches or otherwise distanced themselves from Catholicism. Outside the United Kingdom and Holy Roman Empire the Catholic Church is considered something of a joke and no longer as powerful as in the past.

Denmark has established colonies in the new world as well. Nearly half of their colonists come from nations other than Denmark. This results in New Denmark having a very cosmopolitan feel to it.

The Dutch, owing to less religious conflicts, have remained united and have established colonies in the Gulf Coast and northern South America. Like New Denmark they receive many colonists from outside the Netherlands. Some of the colony's notable cities include New Amsterdam (New Orleans) and Albany (Shreveport).

Hispania has allowed Egypt to establish a joint colony in what would have been Virginia. Egypt agreed in order to get in on the trade New World goods such as tobacco and to be able to set their own prices on such goods.

Because of the role the Abyssinians played in the Crusades, many Europeans view Africans as their equals. This mutual respect has proved benefits to many African nations. The Wolof Empire has established a colony in what would have been French Guiana. The Swahili City-States have formed a loose confederation and are slowly becoming a minor trading power.

The Inca have managed to avoid conquest. Conflicts among early would-be colonizers gave them time to recover from the effects of disease. Though much of their empire would be lost they were able play the various powers off of one another to avoid being conquered. 

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