An Alternate History of Eurasia: 1200s and Beyond
By Larry Young
For Computer Literacy Class
This timeline, which will begin in about 1200, will be an alternate history of Eurasia (that is, Asia and Europe), as well as parts of Africa. Other parts of the world might be mentioned in passing reference. The scope of this timeline, which will be organized into sections about each year, will extend over the geographical area from the Holy Roman Empire (Germany) to as far east as south-western Japan, thus covering a vast region. I will primarily focus on the Asian mainland and on eastern Europe.
Map on eve of Alternate History Events, 1200Edit
Within the tribe of the Mongols, a young man named Temujin ascends to the position of Chieftain. Temujin is very ambitious, with dreams of uniting all the nomadic tribes to the north of China and east of Kara Khitai under his rule. At the time, the Mongolian peoples were divided into the following tribes or "chiefdoms": the Mongols, the Jalayrs, the Taichuds, the Kereit, the Ongirrad, the Merkits, the Tatars, the Naiman, the Tangut, the Uyghurs, the Tuvans, and the Kirghiz. The chieftains and leaders of these tribes bickered with each other, hampering any effective cooperation. This primary factor leaves the Mongolian tribes exposed to external enemies, such as the Jin Chinese. The young Temujin will change all of this. He consolidates his power over the Mongol tribe by ruthlessly eliminating all of his opponents and demanding the absolute obdience of his tribesmen.
In the Byzantine Empire, thousands of miles to the west of the Mongolian tribes, the Byzantine emperor Alexios III dies under mysterious circumstances. Rumors (which are later untrue) are spread that the emperor "accidentially" killed himself. Whatever the case, Alexios was succeeded to the Byzantine throne by his younger brother Issac. Issac was a ambitious figure, who wanted to restore the Byzantine Empire's defenses and reorganize the entire Byzantine government, while strengthening his authority over the nobility. He also wanted to confirm his link to the old emperors of the Roman Empire. In order to confirm his power, Issac had himself crowned at Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, and bestowed upon himself a new and Latin title: Imperator quod Autocrat of totus Romanorum (Emperor and Autocrat of all the Romans). He proclaimed that the Byzantine Empire was to be a New Roman Empire, with power that was to exceed that of the old. Thus the Byzantine Empire would begin a great revival, at the exact same time of the creation of the Mongol Empire.
Among the Principalities of Rus', a great "internal dispute" occurs. The princes of Vladimir-Sudzal, Galicia-Volyhinia, and Tver compete with each other for power and influence. Each of these princes vie for the all-important title Grand Prince of Kiev, which by now is more of a symbolic then real position. The infighting amongst these Russian princes weakens the stability of the Russian principalities and paves the way for their subjugation by the Romans.
Temujin enters into a marriage compact with the Chieftain of the Jalayr Tribe, Ughistai. He makes preperations with the Jalayr Chieftain of a future marriage of Temujin's son, Jochi, born this year, and the eldest daughter of Ufghistai, Salate. Besides the main marriage agreement itself, the two chieftains also established a military alliance between them and pledged "forever friendship" between their tribes. This will pave the way for the eventual unification of the two tribes within the next few years. The Mongol Chieftain also begins making plans for bringing the Ongirrad tribe under his rule through forceful means. He also sends spies into the Merkits tribe, to the north, to gather information about their leader and warriors.
In the New Roman Empire, Emperor Issac II instigates a large range of reforms, meant to consolidate his authority over his dominions and to strengthen the New Roman economy and armed forces. The Emperor issued a decree which called for the complete reorganization of the military forces of the New Roman Empire. The decree established a new "system of ranks and precedence" to govern the command structure of the military, ordered the construction of new military foundries and supply posts, and established the Valganian Bodyguards, who were to serve as the Emperor's personal protection unit. Issac mandated that every noble in the Empire was to provide him at least 500 soldiers in times of war. In exchange, they would be awarded estates of land, as long as they provided soldiers and military supplies. This thus created a way to maintain the nobility within certain limits.
In the Kingdom of Karnataka, along the western coast of India, a new ruler ascended to the throne. His name was Sindahara Vujis. Vujis had been born into a poor family, which belonged to the lowest caste of Karnatakan society, the workers. Vujis had been sold into slavery when he was only a boy of 6 years. He impressed his master, however, with his hard work and undying loyalty. His master thus allowed him to be educated with basic reading, writing, and mathematical skills, and when Vujis was 18, set him free. Vujis then gathered support amongst the Karnatakan population and was able to seize the throne by coup. He was determined to dismantle the caste system and to make Karnataka the major state of India. And over the next 40 years of his reign, he will succeed.
The Jin Dynasty suffers several major internal disturbances. Zhāngzōng, the Jin Emperor, dies under mysterious circumstances. The last years of his reign had seen increasing pressure from the nomadic tribes to Jin China's west and northwest, as well constant raids and incursions by the Song to the South and numerous internal problems with famine and plague. A full-scale dispute over the throne broke out at the royal court, with the deceased Emperor's Han wife attempting to usurp the throne, but being resisted by the Emperor's former advisors. As a result of these troubles, the stability of the Jin Dynasty weakens and the Song Emperor begins making plans for a major invasion.
(No map needed for this one)
Temujin launches an ruthless and full-scale assault against the Ongirrad tribe. The Mongol Chieftain had planted many spies amongst the Ongirrad and had also stirredu up internal disturbances among the family of the Ongirrad Chieftain. He had also expanded and strengthened the warrior groups of the Mongol tribe, eqiupping them with new armor and training them heavily in the arts of war and discipline. As a result of all of these factors, the Ongirrad were in no position to resist the Mongol onslaught. The Ongirrad Chieftain, Kumul, was killed by his own servant (a spy working for Temujin), while his warriors were scattered and the villages under his dominion burned down and ravaged with fire. Soon after, Temujin incorporated the Ongirrad tribe into his own lands. The Kereit and Taichud tribes, afraid of the power of the Mongols, quickly declared themselves "servants of Temujin" and surrendered to him, thus bringing their lands under his control. Of the central Mongolian tribes, only the Jalayrs remained outside of Temujin's control.
Sindahara Vujis I began measures to strengthen Karnataka and to increase his own personal authority. The King issued a decree which required all of the nobles and priests, the highest caste of the Kingdom, to pledge their complete loyalty to him and to promise that they would not do anything "contrary to the Royal interest, for the sake of the Supreme One." The decree also established a Office of Accounting, to be consisted of men chosen directly by the King, that would take a census of all of the properties and lands of the Kingdom for record purposes. This would also help the King determine which nobles or landowners might take the longest to be contained in proper limits. While these actions are popular with the common castes, the nobility are outraged, but powerless to do anything.