Sweet Lands of Liberty
By D Fowler
Part 18 – New Lands, and Hanging On
As noted, new lands were discovered in the middle of the 13th century. These new lands provided only a sliver of hope during the Great Famine. After a very poor gorwing season in 1315, both England and France had send ships to the New World to see if their colonists could provide something. Up and downt he coast they went, unknowingly spreading disease as they did so, looking for some areas that had good crops. The places were few and far between
Still, some hope had been provided. And, a little more land had been explored, too. While England’s turmoil had already begun, the French monarch in 1323 sent a fleet of 7 ships around the world. The circumnavigation lasted till 1327, and only 1 ship returned. They had learned earlier that there was no waterway getting them to the other side of the ocean, so they found the mouth of the mighty Amazon River, followed the coast south. Went around the tip of the continent, came north part of the way, and then went west – and a little north - till landing in Fiji. They found a few other lands, including Australia, and finally ended up near one of the stops their ships made around Africa as they had gone to Abyssinia. From there, they simply went around Fraica, back to France.
The discovery was hailed as a great success for the French, but a year later, the King died, and the French Civil War began. That, and the Plague, meant that thigns would be delayed. For a while, war in England and France meant that quite a few people, especially Protestants, fled to the New World. This was a marked contrast in French policy from before, when only Catholics were allowed to colonize the new lands.
However, the “flood” of people (to them a flood, to modern eyes small numbers, only in the tens of thousands total) to the East Coast of the new continent over the last half century stopped. And, nobody could understand why. They knew there were major wars over there, but that had caused an increase. The famine had meant less money to send expeditions, but it still caused there to be news from Europe – indeed, there had been desperate cries for any kind of grain.
But now? As 1348 became 1349, both England and France had seemingly cut off contact. A few ships had gone to them, but they hadn’t returned. Up and down the coast, people began talking. And, banding together.
Finally, word reached from some natives in the South. A ship or two had attempted to sail to warn the people last year. However, it had drifted way off course. When it finally teached lands far to the south of their intended target, everyone on board was dead of some mysterious disease.
The shock waves were enormous. Had God smote the ensire continent of Euroep? Would there ever be anyone coming from Europe again? Protestant and Catholic banded together, and decided they needed to form their own kingdom; independent of Europe, and founded on the Bible. It would be named, symbolically, Noahland, after the man who had fled in the ark, before God flooded the world. A king was chosen, and the region divided into districts. They were determined to survive, even as the weather started to get cooler int heir part of the world, just as it had in Europe.
Then, finally, word came. In 1351, the first ships brought word that there had been a terrible plague. It hadn’t wiped out all of Europe, but perhaps a third, if not more. England and France had both been unable to send anyone to tell the colonies, because the Plague spread so fast, people would all be dead by the time a ship got even halfway there.
Inventors were challenged to try and make a way “to make voices carry across the ocean,” in case such a calamity – or anything else – happened again. England and France didn’t know what to do with this “new nation” that had suddenly cropped up, out of what had once been their colonies. But, each knew that it needed to make sure no future colonies attempted this. For the time being, with turmoil still in France, and somewhat in England, the nations simply ensured that “Noahland” remain friendly with each and supply them freely through trade. The European powers were just too weak to try and reclaim their colonies, as they were still recovering from the Plague’s effects. Besides, there were enough Protestants there, that – givent he reactionary states of both – there was some thought that perhaps the Protestants should be shipped there.
The Great Plague also devastated the Muslim world, too. In fact, while ships couldn’t get to the New World – unless one counted Greenland - it had stretched from Egypt to affect most of Northern Africa, and even into Mali, thanks to increased trade and exploration by Europeans. It didn’t ravage that empire near as much as Europe and the Middle East, however.
Experiments would continue for quite a while on sound, and how it traveled. That, and a variety of other things, would be what sparked a series of revolutions, including the Industrial one, over the next couple centuries, as learning increased.
Meanwhile, feudalism had been broken in Europe, for the most part, though serfdom continued in Russian areas for a long while. However, the inhabitants of Hoahland weren’t concerned with vassalage; indeed, they saw themselves as being like Greek city-states in a confederation, though with a king as the head; their numbers were small enough yet. Any spare labor could be from hired natives.
Part 19 – .Knowledge Shall Increase – and So Shall Hungary
As the 14th century drew to a close, the Catholic Church was coming to grips with the presence of the Protestants – the Waldensians and Arthurian/Anglicans, plus some lesser groups such as Baptists and others. An incoming Pope in 1370 had this to say:
“With the lands of Western Europe – Holland, which has come under the influence of a good portion of France, Savoy, and Britain – mostly secure under Protestantism, we look to the Reconquista – which has captured almost all of the Iberian Penninsula – for hope, as well as to the East, where the Hapsburgs have been joined by Hungary to dominate the region…We are not very concerned over the new lands, for we do not expect anything of substance to be gained there.”
That last would be seen as one of history’s great mistakes. In actuality, explorers – for the most part - hadn’t found the massive deposits of gold. Noahland – shortened by now to Noalan – was focused on the Northern part of the hemisphere, and explorers were just now beginning to look into points south with great interest.(1) Span and Portugal were still paying more attention to the Reconquista, and Al-Andalus was more of a concern, too, because if any Mediterranean power wished to try to colonize, they would still need to get through there.
Noalan had made a treaty by this time with a confederation of natives near the Great Lakes.(2) They hadn’t found every native tribe to be friendly, of course, but as they exchanged ambassadors, it became obvious that they could co-operate with some of these people; they had had to, during the period when they were totally cut off from Europe.
This increase in knowledge led to more and more people becoming interested in learning about the outside world. An increase in knowledge was beginning to take place, as the nobles of France – more nobles than not being some level of Protestant now, though the King could be either – sought to increase their nation’s power. In Britain, meanwhile, there were even missions organizations forming to spread the Gospel, in the natives’ own languages.
This interest in knowledge spread to communication, too. England and France engaged in a spirited race to see which one could create a way to communicate long distances. One person used the ideas gleaned from waves rippling in the water, another used echoes, still another something else.
Finally, in 1403, an Englishman developed a series of beeps that could be used in various ways to equal different letters. A transmitter and receiver took a few years longer to build, but radio would become a useful military device by mid-century. The first transatlantic transmission, from London to the capital of Noalan in 1441, Arthurville, proclaimed, “Glory to God on high, and on earth peace, good will to men!”
France obtained it a few years later for their colonies. Each had colonies by this time, the British north of Noalan, the French south. Britain – that comglomeration between England, Wales, and Scotland, was more interested in finding a Northwest Passage to Asia, while France wished to explore the coast. Each went after islands in the carribbean, to claim them as their own. An interesting alternate history was published recently which had these nations at war with each other for over 100 years instead, though that length of time is quite implausible. Still, a war at some point might have been likely, were they not bonded together by a common enemy – the Catholic Church, more notably the Holy Roman Empire.
The HRE had gone through struggles, but an uneasy peace existed now between it and Savoy. Savoy gained a few more mountain cantons, but only ones that wished to be Protestant. They also had a small feud with France over Provence, but that wasn’t very huge. Truth be told, Southern France, including Provence, had lost so many people in the Great Plague, it was wondered if the population would ever recover.(3) So, France wasn’t too worried about how that part had revolted in the Civil War and joined itself to Savoy.
Savoy became the place where people would flee to escape persecution. If they didn't' think they could get to Britain, let alone Noalan, they would go to Savoy. The Church was especially upset with Savoyard hiding of dissident scientists who dared to question Church teaching as the 1400s drew on, but France had too many nobles were were Protestants. Indeed, there were even some in parts of Germany and in very northern Italy, though most of these had fled to Piedmont.
Meanwhile, with their energy renewed thanks to the deposed Frenchman, a potentially ugly mess was averted, and the early 1400s were spent securing the Western part of what remained of the Byzantine Empire. Civil War had once again ravaged that shrinking empire, after 150 years of relative peace, not counting battles with the Il-Khanate, and its successor state, a state that finished off the small Turkish groups in that area. The Byzntines had survived a long time after the Fall of Rome, but the end finally came for them in 1492, when the Hungarian Empire captured Constantinople.
A noted Byzantine scholr wrote:
“It probably would have ended sooner or later; if they had focused more on the West, one of the Turkish groups would have simply gained prominence and taken it, perhaps with a bit of Europe, too. As it was, Hungary only took as long as it did because it was hard for them to subdue the Orthodox believers, as they tried to do. A fair amount went right for them, but that happens.(4)
The Il-Khanate, meanwhile, had begun to splinter into several kingdoms, given by the sons of one ruler, who had an empire ranging from Anatolialast the Indus River in India.(5) Hungary owned little in Asia proper, but a few years earlier, the Spanish Reconquista was completed. No part of Europe was under Muslim rule, but the Pope had to instead be satisfied with a lot of Protestants in Western Europe.
Part 20 – The World in 1600
On the eve of the Industrial Revolution, here is how things stand in 1600, the final post of this TL. Unless someone wants to continue it.
China, Japan, etc. – virtually unchanged from OTL.
The Safavid Dynasty rules Persia, with a related family ruling the nations of Syria and Anatolia. Anatolia often needs the help of Persia – which includes Mesopotamia – and Syria – which includes the Holy Land – to shore up its norther frontier, though, as it fights in the Caucasus with Russians.
Hungary withstood some revolts by Serbians a few decades ago, and is right now in a cold war of sorts with the Hapsburgs, who control Austria. While the Hungarian Empire struggles with whether to help Russia, or to help Anatolia to keep Russsia from getting too powerful, they also have a battle over the electorate of the Polish monarchy quite often. The Pope is often called upon to mediate in the intrigue betweent he Hapsburgs and Hungarians, whose feud has become a synonym for family fighting throughout Europe, as they two vie for power in Poland, in the Italian kingdoms, and so on; even reaching into some of the German ones on occasion. Hapsburgs only control the HRe and Austria, though, and have been shut out of the Spanish and Dutch crowns. The Spanish King is a descendant of the other claimant that lost the French Civil War.
Savoy, by contrast, is totally independent, and has begun to develop some more direct democracy, in an era when most of Europe is under absolute monarchs. Their neutrality is also well established, with the states that surround it being France – which is too powerful – and Catholic states, which would not want to be ruled by a Protestant nation, anyway.
Scandinavia is rather similar to OTL, though more catholic there are still a fair number of Protestants. Because of influence from Britain, Denmark-Norway is more Protestant than Sweden.
The Netherlands has recently gained its independence nd is in the French sphere of influence.
France found the gold in Aztec country in the early 1400s, preventing the Aztecs from rally getting off the ground. However, their habit of not colonizing a lot – just preventing the Aztecs from doing things like human sacrifice – means that Spain and Portugan still got a fair amount of it, too. In fact, once “gold fever” hit in Mexico in the 1430s, the Pope lambasted the two for paying more attention to the gold and not enough to the Reconquista. Prospectors from many nations came, though.
Britain has been trying to play favorites in Ireland, because the kings are still not totally organized. The moment one goes against their wishes, they work to depose him. Still, there is talk that the Irish can come into the British Union instead of just being toyed with. They would just have to live with Protestant rule, which they don't' want. However, British policy has always been not to totally try to conquer them, a tradition which began when Arthur II backed off of it. Britain still has some holdings on the island, though.
Britain, meanwhile, has mostly stayed away from the gold fever that hit earlier. Since it came in slower, just like the diseases that hit the natives, it hasn’t destroyed the economy near like it could have, especially if one country pocketed it all.
Still, the British have problems. The weather has gotten a lot colder, and they relied on capturing the regions north of the Five Great Lakes. They have found themselves moving south, into the Plains, to explore, and while they claim a lot of land, their colonies have really needed the help of Noalan and the natives.
Noalan remains a pleasant kingdom on the Middle Atlantic seaboard, which stretches to the Ohio River and north to the border with the Iroquois, who have received technology from Noalanians. As they’ve shared this technology, the British haven’t been able to fight natives too much, though the French have been quite successful where they’ve tried, as it hasn’t penetrated too far south. And, the Spanish and Portugese have been even more successful. Noalan doesn’t use slave labor, as they are still in a feudal system, but the influx of immigrants has caused them to develop an economy more in line witht hat of Continental Europe. Everyone is expected to do his part, just as King Arthur II – who, in some ways, is still seen as their founder – would have wanted it.
Britain and, mostly, France go along with the decision not to have salves – Britain has Arthur II’s legacy and a climate not conducive to it in tmost of the land they own, while France doesn’t colonize with as large a populace. However, even the French have a few, and the Iberian nations are not shy about having slaves. They have been fighting in Africa for decades now. However, they don’t own many colonies in the New World.
The Incas were reached by British missionaries first, then quickly after that by the French, and have been warned to stay away from the Spanish and Portugese. They are something of a French protectorate, as they have the best navy in the world, though Britain’s is closing in, and Spain’s is not far behind that.
Technologically, the British and French are the most advanced, though mostly only in the area of radio. There is communication between them and their colonies, and recently that technology prevented a possible war when British and French forces clashed along the Missouri River, over who had rights to an area on the confluence of it and the Mississippi, to build a city. Savoyard negotiators helped to iron out a treaty in which each would build one, one on each side of the Missouri.
Oceana hasn’t been colonized much. French exploration, however, means they have something of a head start. India is at its peak under the current dynasty, and they and Persia have a rivalry going, as well.
With the Industrial Revolution getting under way, the world in 1600 is a rather nice place, especially because of the presence of several wonderful lands of liberty.
(1) Not only is this because of the ravages of the Famine and the Great Plague, but of course, Constanntinople was still Christian.
(2) OTL’s Iroquois
(3) Even in OTL, some places in that area are less densely populated now than they were in the early 1300s! (Yes, I was amazed to read that; I’ve enjoyed learning as I did this.)
(4) Indeed, I tried not to make any more happen right than happened for the Ottomans in OTL, who in TTL are ruled by a successor state to the Ilkhanate, as noted.
(5) Whether it’s an alternate version of Timur is for the reader to decide. It could still be in TTL; or, at least someone very similar.