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Mitch Young
Mitch Young
Posts: 13

4/13/2019
Hello, delicious friends!

One thing that's always intrigued me about Fallen London is how its world history diverges from our own. We know the fall of the first three cities doesn't affect known history much as far as we can tell (particularly since the identity of said cities is still debated). Thanks to The Silver Tree, we know history begins to noticeably diverge with the fall of the fourth (Karakorum), which predates its replacement from the Mongol empire's capital, in 1260, by approximately six years. It's possible that a certain Flemish monk managed to escape and relate the city's final hours to the outside world.

The biggest historical shakeup by far must be London's fall. In less than 24 hours, around February 14th, 1862, the British empire, the largest empire in the world, was figuratively beheaded. How do you all think the world changed? Presumably the Neath was discovered shortly before the fall, given that it was Dutch explorers who discovered and named the Unterzee first. What do you think became of the British empire? Was it broken apart by hungry rivals, did its colonial subjects manage to attain independence, or did the British empire left behind on the surface manage to regroup and recuperate in a major city like Dublin or Glasgow? What do you think happened to Canada, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, or India? What about the then-battered-and-broken China? The rapidly modernizing Japan?

We haven't even speculated about technology! What of Tower bridge? Was it ever built? What of the transatlantic telegraph cables that were laid by British companies in 1866 of our world? Did somebody else step up and finish the telegraph network, or was it forever incomplete? There are so many different ways the fall could have altered world history in so many domains of life, that I decided to make a thread where people could speculate on and discuss the divergences from our world.

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Siankan
Siankan
Posts: 931

4/14/2019
Mitch Young wrote:
(particularly since the identity of said cities is still debated)

It's not. Well, the Third City is, to a minor extent, but the others are very well known.

Thanks to The Silver Tree, we know history begins to noticeably diverge with the fall of the fourth (Karakorum), which predates its replacement from the Mongol empire's capital, in 1260, by approximately six years.

I don't have the relevant conversation on hand (the are whole threads of this stuff elsewhere on the forum), but I believe the consensus is that Karakorum fell in 1388, and that Uskhal Khan was the one who sold it. Silver Tree is about Karakorum, but not its sale.

s it broken apart by hungry rivals, did its colonial subjects manage to attain independence, or did the British empire left behind on the surface manage to regroup and recuperate in a major city like Dublin or Glasgow?

We know little of Surface Britain, but I think it's safe to say that the current center of government is neither Dublin nor Glasgow. The new center of government would almost certainly be English (and if it were Scottish, it would be Edinburgh). York and Winchester have good historical claims, though I can see claims of different sorts advanced by Manchester, Lancaster, Bristol, and Reading. Expect a catfight once the provisional government shakes out.

What do you think happened to Canada, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, or India?

Even on our timeline, Canada's confederation occurred in 1867. No doubt the loss of London accelerated the process a bit, but wouldn't have made a big difference. Australia (which became independent in 1901) and New Zealand (1907) probably saw a greater acceleration. India's the real question, but we simply don't have information by which to speculate. The Empire depends on the Royal Navy, and the Navy would not (for the most part) have been caught in London's fall. Thus, Britain's main power remained intact. Whether its moral courage could rally enough to use it (and what position would be taken by, e.g. the Dominions and the United States) is entirely speculative.

What about the then-battered-and-broken China? The rapidly modernizing Japan?

The French and Germans probably stepped into Britain's shoes here. Perhaps the U.S. had an easier time enforcing its Open Door policy (by which it tried to prevent Europe from carving up China like they had Africa), but otherwise little would have changed in East Asia.

What of the transatlantic telegraph cables that were laid by British companies in 1866 of our world? Did somebody else step up and finish the telegraph network, or was it forever incomplete?

If the British couldn't finish the job, France and the United States would have. No question there, really. The cable was too important, and became even more so as American power continued to grow.

There are so many different ways the fall could have altered world history in so many domains of life, that I decided to make a thread where people could speculate on and discuss the divergences from our world.

It has plenty of cousins, but then, so do the Snuffers. One more won't hurt.

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Jolanda Swan
Jolanda Swan
Posts: 1583

4/20/2019
I imagine chaos.
Not only because the dominant power was beheaded, but because the horror of such a thing happening was very likely to cause an surge of dread. Old certainties would fall; monarchies would crumble. The texture of the world changed after the two world wars in part because of the horror unleashed. This would have been no war, but a sanity-rattling occurence nonetheless. So I imagine many revolutions, revived faith in the occult and the supernatural, and technology taking a very different direction.

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PSGarak
PSGarak
Posts: 686

4/25/2019
The Waltz That Moved The World contains some description of what happened on the surface (although as some pointed out, it's from a biased source). It describes anarchists as being a dominant political force.

Italian Unification did not complete in our world until 1871, nine years after the Fall. I strongly suspect that in the world of FL, it did not complete. While there are various mentions of Italian cities in FL, I don't recall any actual mention of Italy itself.

I also have theories about the Great Game, but that's a larger topic.

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Siankan
Siankan
Posts: 931

5/4/2019
Honeyaddict wrote:
But to the more direct period after the fall, I imagine Ireland and Scotland would attempt to gain their independence again since England lost contact with it's seat of Power.

Ireland was always trying to gain independence, of course. A rising or two each generation is a venerable Irish tradition. Scotland, on the other hand, has no independence to get; Victoria was their monarch just as much as she was England's. The Act of Union made them equal partners in the United Kingdom; Scots nationalism was not a particularly important force in the politics of the national between the Stuart revolts and the modern fad for irredentism. If anything, the Scots are likely to be the ones holding the Union together during the initial panic, while the English were busy panicking and wondering what just happened.

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Siankan
Siankan
Posts: 931

5/14/2019
Lazaroth wrote:
I would imagine they'd have at least nominal ties to Germany/Prussia, through the Empress' Shadow.

Britain and Germany were closely tied ever since Georg of Hannover became George I of Britain. There was much intermarriage between the two (and of course the Prince Consort was German), and many nobles held titles in both countries. This caused a mess during WWI, when German cousins were held as traitors because of their English titles, and the royal family changed its name from Saxe-Coburg to Windsor. It also must be remembered that after the Unification Edward VII became the chief opponent of German expansionism. (Kaiser Wilhelm once said of him, "My uncle Edward is the devil!")

Lazaroth wrote:
Egypt probably never would have become a British Protectorate, because that was only a few years out from the Fall of London, and I seriously doubt they had recovered enough to expand. Egypt could have stayed as an Ottoman vassal, separated from the Ottomans as an independent state, or even been conquered by the French again. Hard to say. But I wouldn't imagine any other European powers could take over there, since I'm not sure they'd be able to challenge French interests in the Suez Canal like Britain could.

Much depends on the recovery of the British spirit. The army and the Royal Navy would have lost little of their strength when London fell; hordes of troops were not normally stationed in the capital. Even the field commanders, excepting those with particularly ill luck, would have been on station and not in the Neath. So it all depends on how quickly the Redundant Heir could have pulled things together.

In that regard, I think Britain would have been fortunate. Edward may have been under his mother's thumb, but once he got on his own he showed significant ability in the international sphere. He was related, through his wife's family, to many of the royal houses of Europe. With Germany rising, in all likelihood, faster than it did in our timeline, I suspect both Britain and France had reason to push through the Entente Cordiale faster than they did for us, and that he would have traded his family connections to draw closer to Russia. Securing French and Russian alliances would have gone a long way toward keeping the other powers out of India, at least. Perhaps Britain got a smaller chunk of the African pie, and Germany or France a larger, but I have enough faith in Edward to think the results were not entirely disastrous.

Lazaroth wrote:
India's a tricky one. Similar to Egypt, I'm pretty confident they didn't stay under British control. Britain just wouldn't have the economic strength to fund the continued occupation. The Sepoy Rebellion was only a few years in the past, so it's entirely plausible that there would be another attempt to throw off the British Raj.

I'm rather inclined to think that India stayed in British control. The Sepoy Rebellion had divided India, not united it, and the British had dealt with at least some of its causes afterward. Also, India was the jewel of the Empire, its most important possession, and they would have dropped all Africa, perhaps all their possessions, before losing it. The French, no doubt, would have tried to lever something, and the Russians perhaps would have gotten Afghanistan after all, but as I said above, these are the two powers whom concern over rising Germany would eventually have pulled closer to Britain. They would, no doubt, have leveraged concessions--perhaps the French gained a freer hand in North Africa or Indochina, the Russians in Persia and Afghanistan--but I suspect that they ultimately would have agreed to stay out of India.


The real wildcard among the Great Powers is the United States. American foreign policy during the late 1800s mostly revolved around free trade and the Monroe Doctrine; her only significant expansion after buying Alaska came because she supported Cuba's independence movement, and the Philippines were always meant to be temporary. I don't think the U.S. would have been actively hostile to Britain, but there are two unanswered questions. First, would she become an ally? American naval and economic strength continued to grow in this period; she could be a formidable guarantor to British integrity, if she chose. I am, however, skeptical of this, between American republicanism and anticolonialism and the fact that the late 1800s were a period of strong isolationism in the U.S. If anything, Washington would be likely to encourage the independence of Britain's American colonies, in keeping with the Monroe Doctrine. The other question is Canada. Periodic movements in Canada and Newfoundland (which at this point was a separate dominion) have sought union with the United States; none of them have ever gained strong popular appeal, but that might change in response to a major British disaster. Also, what of the Caribbean colonies? It was a widespread assumption at this period that, should some great disaster befall the British Empire, the Anglophone islands of the Caribbean would have sought refuge by becoming American territories or states. Would they? Might Nassau be sending senators to Washington in our version of 1897?

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So let's take a global look at British possessions, ca. 1897:

- Home territorial integrity is almost certainly intact. Ireland is a wildcard, but unlikely to be independent yet.

- Canada is probably intact, but annexation movements in Western or Atlantic Canada may have joined their regions with the United States. Newfoundland is likely to have joined either Canada or the United States. Canadian independence will be further along.

- British possessions in tropical America (including Bermuda, for the purposes) stand equal chance of remaining as they are or becoming U.S. territories. (I see only the Bahamas as a likely state, at this point.) Home rule or independence is unlikely, except perhaps for British Honduras or British Guyana. It's possible that, down south, the Argentines might have made a play for the Falklands.

- British bases in the Mediterranean--Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus--are important links to India and defended by the Royal Navy. They are unlikely to change status. The same is true for her Arabian protectorates. Egypt I suspect will still be an Anglo-French condominium, though perhaps with more French influence.

- In Central Asia, Russian influence is likely to grow in Persia and Afghanistan.

- India remains intact, though Indian security might be lessened. The Raj may, however, have been restructured, depending on what bargains the British needed to strike with local rulers to maintain stability. Burma may be British, French, or independent, though given the small forces involved in the Burmese Wars, I suspect the Union Jack.

- In the Far East, Singapore and Hong Kong will still be in British hands, though British control of Malaya may be less. Siam may have fallen to the French, but I suspect this Entente, like that of our world, would have guaranteed Siamese independence.

- Australia and New Zealand, with their associated Pacific territories, probably have home rule, while still acknowledging Victoria and Edward as queen and regent. Like Canada, their independence process will be more developed.

- In Africa, British influence is likely to have waned in favor of French, and perhaps German. The only territories I am willing to bet on still are those most important for the security of India: Cape Colony, Zanzibar, and British Somaliland. The rest is up for grabs. French gains are likeliest in West Africa, especially Cameroon, and the French may have beaten the British to Khartoum. It's entirely questionable whether Britain would have committed to the Boer Wars, though French and German expansion in southern Africa may have mandated it. If either nation pried Mozambique off of Portugal, then control of Transvaal and Orange Free State would have been an immediate strategic necessity. It would help if we knew whether Cecil Rhodes had ended up in the Neath.

So, in my take anyway, the loss of London is not a death blow to the British Empire. She is weaker, power has devolved in the more populous colonies, but she remains intact. Anti-German alliances with France and Russia have the side effect of securing good relations with her two main colonial rivals, and relations with the United States, though probably rocky at times, will probably reach a _modus vivendi_ that maintains the security of Britain's American colonies. The biggest question is whether Britain will be on the back foot in the Scramble for Africa, or whether she will have recovered enough under the Redundant Heir's leadership to dominate East Africa as she did with us.

N.B. There is almost no direct canonical evidence about the state of the world outside Europe. All of this is, therefore, entirely speculative and based chiefly on real-world history and issues that Failbetter may have altered in their own way.

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Mitch Young
Mitch Young
Posts: 13

9/6/2019
I've been going through all the ES' in chronological order and I've learned something very interesting from "The waltz that moved the world." It says:

[spoiler]The Duke tilts his head upward and raises a hand towards the Neath's ceiling. "I haven't lost the stars. I still remember them – dancing their slow waltz across the Heavens." He turns to face you. "After London fell, Europe grew ugly. A great power vanished; the wars to replace her destroyed what was left. Politics. And when the dust settled, did we have peace? No; revolutionaries crept up from the bowels of the earth, to bomb the few cities left untouched. That was what brought me into the Game. But things are even worse today than twenty-five years ago. I'm glad I can't see what they've done."[spoiler]
edited by SGTLemon on 9/6/2019

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Siankan
Siankan
Posts: 931

4/25/2019
PSGarak wrote:
Italian Unification did not complete in our world until 1871, nine years after the Fall. I strongly suspect that in the world of FL, it did not complete. While there are various mentions of Italian cities in FL, I don't recall any actual mention of Italy itself.

Insofar as Italy's acquisition of Rome was a side-effect of the Franco-Prussian War. However, this was only the cap of the process. The bulk of the process was complete by 1860, when Garibaldi conquered Naples, and the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed in 1861. The only Italian territory not in Victor Emmanuel's hands when London fell were the Papal States and the Veneto.

Now, this does bring up one interesting path of speculation. In our world, Garibaldi's Roman campaign (which brought the Papal States--but not Rome itself--into the Kingdom of Italy) took place in the summer of 1862, six months or so after London fell. Would the Fall have changed that story? It's possible. Britain was a major backer of Garibaldi and his private army; the fall of London (and with it many of Britain's major politicians and a sizable portion of its movable wealth) would no doubt have curtailed that support. In addition, Garibaldi was virulently anti-papal, and while many of his men shared those beliefs, others were Roman Catholics trying to balance that faith against an ardent desire to complete the unification. Would the Fall of London, heart of Garibaldi's chief ally and center of the strongest Protestant power in the world, just when Garibaldi was planning an attack on the Papal States, be taken in Italy as a sign of God's judgment against him? If so, would his recruits have dried up? Would it encourage others to take up the holy cause of defending the Pope's temporal domains? Would it have brought France and Austria to openly intervene? None of those questions can be answered definitively, but it seems likely that London's fall, at just that point in time, would have shifted the balance of power in Italy, particularly as regards the Papal States.

Now, do I think that's enough to ultimately halt the Unification? No, not really. I do, however, think it might have changed the timetable. It's even possible that the Pope still controls Rome in the present day. (This is especially likely if Germany is still divided, as this would mean either no Franco-Prussian War or a French victory.) I do not, however, see any consequence that would have perpetuated Austrian rule in the Veneto, which was basically dead as soon as Italy and Prussia thought to make common cause; barring any definite word from Failbetter, it's safe to assume the Italian tricolor flies over Venice.

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Mitch Young
Mitch Young
Posts: 13

5/3/2019
I learned something interesting through some google-fu. London's population in 1860 was over 3 million while England's overall population was over 18 million by 1861. I also remember reading somewhere that over half of England's movable wealth was in London around the time of the fall. The amateur conclusion I can draw from this limited data collection is that the British empire would have been in severe disarray in 1860's due to the fall and until contact could be reestablished with Fallen London. The question remains as to how aware the colonial territories were of this event and how willing they would have been to take advantage of the ensuing chaos to vie for independence.

Upon further research, I have come to doubt that India would make an attempt for independence before the British empire could reorganize itself. India had already attempted an uprising in 1857 wherein a lot of Indian states actually fought in support of British rule. Given the mixed opinions of British rule at the time, and the psychological toll of losing an uprising less than a decade prior, I seriously doubt that the Indian territories would have capitalized on the disorganized and disoriented British to make another attempt at independence. At least, they wouldn't have done so before the British could recuperate.

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Mitch Young
Mitch Young
Posts: 13

4/21/2019
Jolanda Swan wrote:
I imagine chaos.
Not only because the dominant power was beheaded, but because the horror of such a thing happening was very likely to cause an surge of dread. Old certainties would fall; monarchies would crumble. The texture of the world changed after the two world wars in part because of the horror unleashed. This would have been no war, but a sanity-rattling occurence nonetheless. So I imagine many revolutions, revived faith in the occult and the supernatural, and technology taking a very different direction.

I would agree with Siankan. While the Fall would certainly shake up the world, humans are adaptable creatures and would no doubt come to terms with the event. While I don't think entire governments would fall, I think there is a nugget of truth to what you have speculated. In Sunless Sea, when you visit Vienna you find that the Liberation of Night has spread its influence to the surface and would no doubt have bolstered the real-life anarchist movements of the late 19th century.

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