Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Maps, part IV

Yes, it's that time again!

I've been away from my painting table for the last couple of weeks, and now that I'm home there will probably be a brief delay until I get production started up again. Also, you may expect some Cossack-related griping in the near future.

In the meantime, here are a few more alternate history maps. Remember, these maps are fictional, do not depict real history, and should not be used as resources. Moreover, I do not intend them to make any political statement about the owners of any given piece of land, now or at any time in our past.

That being said, here's the first map: an "ironic reversal" of the Boer War.

Towards the end of the sixteenth century, a group of London merchants were granted permission from Queen Elizabeth I to form a company for trade with the East Indies--the predecessor of the British East India Company. In OTL, all three ships from their second expedition were lost at sea, but in this timeline, one survives, and on its return the captain advises his employers that a supply station should be built to facilitate future trade. It is several years before the company's backers can find the funds, but eventually they follow through on the captain's recommendation and the settlement of Goodhope is founded on the site of OTL Capetown.

The colony grows slowly but steadily, and bit by bit English settlers begin to push into the interior. Puritans and other nonconformists account for a disproportionate percentage of the new arrivals, and many of them move beyond the region of official government control. Relations with the native peoples are complicated and often devolve into violence. The city of Willemspoort is founded further east along the coast as a supply station for the Dutch, marking their first official presence in the region.

Despite their early advantage, the English eventually falter, and in the aftermath of one of the European wars they are stripped of many of their eastern colonies, including Goodhope and the outlying settlements, which are handed over to the Dutch. The unofficial farming and ranching settlements of the interior are left mostly to their own devices, although they begin to receive a steady influx of people from the coastal settlements who are dissatisfied with the new Dutch authorities. Known as "Rovers," many of them push east to the Limpopo or north and west across the Kalahari, provoking fresh conflicts with native tribes, particularly the Zulus. A series of independent English-speaking republics are formed across the interior of South Africa, not all of the recognized by the Dutch authorities in Goodhope. Dutch immigration to the so-called "Rover republics" is resented by the English-speakers, and tensions are only aggravated when gold and diamonds are discovered in the region. In early 1901, violence breaks out between Dutch settlers and English Rovers in one of the disputed regions. The Governor-General in Goodhope moves to assert Dutch authority, while the Rover leaders appeal to the Portuguese, who have tacitly lent their support...

Next up, alternate alliance systems in the 19th century lead to a different World War I:
Bismarck doesn't become a diplomat; he goes into law or something instead. Without him, Prussian politics proceed somewhat differently. There ends up being no conflict with Denmark over Schleswig-Holstein, but war still breaks out between Austria and Prussia in 1866. This war ends up going on longer than it did in OTL, without Bismarck's moderating influence, and some of Austria's allies in southern Germany are forcibly incorporated into the new German Federation. This, in turn, averts the Franco-Prussian War: the French are on their guard and the Prussians are busier holding together their new country. The French buddy up with the Austrians in a sort of new "Diplomatic Revolution," while the Germans build ties with Russia and Italy.  A Russo-Turkish war does occur, though along somewhat different lines than OTL--with Austria-Hungary more focused on the west and less well-inclined towards Russia, it doesn't end up taking over Bosnia, though Serbia and Rumania gain their official independence.

As described in the map text, a major war breaks out in 1900, between the Triple Alliance of Germany, Italy, and Russia and the Franco-Austrian Concert. The Ottomans and the British both end up joining the Concert, as the map colors suggest--the former to get back at Russia, the later partly because of the Great Game and partly due to worries about Germany. British intervention on the continent is limited to a few token forces, but the British navy has a grand old time against the Italians in the Mediterranean, and there's fighting against the Russians in Persia and Afghanistan as well as against the Germans in their couple of African colonies. (Almost anything is preferable to the trench warfare that engulfs much of the continent--it's pretty much like our WWI but without tanks and only a few primitive airplanes towards the end...)

And for the third one, it's back to Africa for a look at a rather dystopic Kingdom of Kongo:
The Kingdom of Kongo was one of the few nations that managed to avoid European colonialism; a series of smart and fortunate kings managed to play off the English, French, Portuguese, and Dutch against one another, while taking over several of Kongo's weaker neighbors.

Does this mean that Central Africa is a shiny, happy place in this timeline? Unfortunately not. Part of Kongo's strategy for retaining its independence was to be too valuable for any one European power to be allowed to seize, and so the kings of Kongo ended up paying for their freedom with all the resources at their disposal--gold, ivory, copper, diamonds, and even their own people, until the end of the slave trade. As the 19th and 20th centuries progressed, Kongo began to develop its own industries, and with the European nations distracted by wars at home, Kongo emerged as a regional power of its own. A timely declaration of war gave the Kongolese an opportunity to snap up some territories in the interior during the subsequent peace conference. These new territories, dubbed "special resource zones," are being ruthlessly exploited in an attempt to cement Kongo's status as an industrial power. Likewise, "Kongolese Catholicism" is being imposed at bayonet-point throughout the empire, with Muslims, followers of traditional religions, and Protestant converts and missionaries being targets for violence.

And here's a special bonus map! The story behind this one is not mine; instead, you can check it out here.