Alternate History Europe in 1884

Last modified: 10th Dec. 2013
Alternate history Europe map in 1884 following the Great War of 1878-83

The point of departure of this alternative history is that the negotiations which resulted in the Austro-Hungarian compromise of 1867 failed, and so the Dual Monarchy of Austro-Hungary did not eventuate, but rather Hungary remained simmering under the rule of Austria, which became more militant and aggressive. The Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 still took place, but Austria mobilized (although did not attack), and the southern German states did not participate. As a consequence France's defeated was less humiliating, and Prussia did not compel southern Germany into its Empire until 1875. When Russia invaded the Ottoman Sultanate in 1877, Austria also invaded, taking Bosnia and Novi Pazar. Unbridled by Hungarian conservatism, the Austrian army then made a dash to Salonika, to stop expansion by Bulgaria (a Russian client) in Ottoman territory. This sparked a war with Russia, which in 1878 brought in most of the continental European powers:

1. Central powers: Austria, Germany, Greece and Rumania
2. Allied powers: Russia, Bulgaria, Ottoman Sultanate, France, and Italy.

The Ottoman Sultanate joined the Allied powers because it felt more threatened by Austria than by Russia. France was seeking to regain Alsace-Lorraine from Germany of course, and Italy was seeking territory from Austria. Although the Central powers advanced on all fronts (except Greece, which was quickly reconquered by the Ottomans with French help), they were unable to achieve decisive victories. However the Central powers scored major coups in encouraging the Poles (living mostly in the Russian Empire) to rise in rebellion against the Czar, and in persuading Ismail Pasha, the Khediv of Egypt, to declare independence from, and then war on, the Ottomans. With Prussian military advisers, Ismail regained the Ottoman territories his grandfather (Muhammad Ali) had conquered in the 1830s, and created an Empire stretching from Tunis to the frontier with Persia, plus Crete and Cyprus. This alarmed the British, who saw it as a threat to their own Imperial interests. Their entry into the war turned the tide against the Central powers. Warn down by years of war and economic blockade, they sued for peace in 1883.

The result of the 1884 Peace of Paris is illustrated, with countries which were not involved left uncoloured. Amongst the allies, the greatest winners were France and Italy. The Ottoman Sultanate had its territories mostly restored in the west (and kept Greece, ending its 50 years of independence). But the once Khediv Ismail, now styling himself Sultan Ismail of the Alid dynasty, only had his wings clipped: France took Tunisia and Beirut, Italy took Crete and Tyre, Britain took Cyprus and Jerusalem, and Russia took Armenia. This last compensated Russia for the loss of its Polish territories. As the greatest loser despite being on the Allied side, the Ottoman Empire fell into civil disorder. Eventually the secularist Turks made common cause with the Orthodox Christian leaders to create a modern constitutional monarchy. The Sultan was forced to became merely Emperor, dropping all pretensions to be leader of the Muslim world. The Empire was renamed after its capital city and one third of the seats in the new diet (whose procedings would be conducted in Turkish and Greek) were reserved for Christians.

The map also shows the (mostly accurate) borders in actual history in c.1884, resulting from the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, which made peace in the Balkans following the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-8, and the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Novi Pazar in 1878. These were present on the uncoloured map I began with. The colours I have chosen, by the way, are based on those in the Atlas of European History 2nd ed. (Times Books, London, 1998) so that I would not think too hard about this.

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