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Thread: What If Byzantium Survived?

  1. #61
    humorless pedant joak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tongera View Post
    Why exactly would a Byzantine nation (Anatolia + Greece at the very least) not hold a lot of influence in the world (middle ages and maybe the modern world)? I figured that a nation state like that would hold a lot of influence in the world, for several reasons: big population, strong economy, powerful navy and army and figured that Byzantium would hold a fair bit of influence in the world for those reasons.
    There's no particular reason to assume it's more influential than, say, modern Turkey or Spain. It's possible and of course more fun to put them among the leaders of the modern era and the forefront of the industrial revolution, but I think the odds are they don't set the pace. And a strong economy (and strong navy specifically) require being heavily industrialized.

    Obviously most countries, and specifically most eastern European areas did *not* manage to benefit relative to the pack from the modern era. The different traditions, alphabet, political system and religion probably remove them from many of the liberalizing effects of the Reformation.
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  2. #62
    Captain Tongera's Avatar
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    Surely it could've industrialised though to avoid stagnation, but anyway to have a strong economy you don't just have to be fairly industrialised, for starters natural resources and and services. Why exactly would've Byzantine have the exact same problems as the Ottomans, other than the rise of nationalism, just because the Ottomans stagnated doesn't mean the Byzantines also have to, it could prosper or is it more likely that it wouldn't?

  3. #63
    humorless pedant joak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tongera View Post
    Surely it could've industrialised though to avoid stagnation,
    Well, theoretically *any* state could industrialize to avoid stagnation, but most didn't. It's not like there were obvious ways to get your people to industrialize and embrace science, and most rulers decided against that path . . .

    but anyway to have a strong economy you don't just have to be fairly industrialised, for starters natural resources and and services.
    I'd probably disagree with that overall, but definitely at the time I'm talking about (16th through mid-20th centuries) . . . a "service economy" wasn't going build a navy for you and neither were good resources. Sure, it might keep a landed class comfortable but natural resources didn't make a single nation into a great power.

    Why exactly would've Byzantine have the exact same problems as the Ottomans, other than the rise of nationalism, just because the Ottomans stagnated doesn't mean the Byzantines also have to, it could prosper or is it more likely that it wouldn't?
    I'm not saying it's impossible, by any means. If you were writing an alt-history I don't think it would seem off or anything to give them an aircraft carrier or nukes.

    However, the rise of the modern technology/industry based society is the exception and not the rule, and if you're talking probabilities you'd need to say why Byzantium would have more in common with, say, the French, instead of the Russians or Ottomans.

    Post before I already hinted at why I'm coming down against--they just weren't a western state and all the religious, social, and intellectual innovation I see them having to work out mostly on their own. I'll also add that by geography they weren't likely to benefit from the deep-sea trade routes that were opening up and empowered the successful states.
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  4. #64
    Captain Tongera's Avatar
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    Good points, that beats every point i had.

  5. #65
    Colonel Nicophorus's Avatar
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    IF they did survive, would half the threads in this section still be dedicated to them? hmmmm

    (seriously though, I know why I like them but.. it always suprises me how much everyone else is interested in this civilization)

  6. #66
    Captain Tongera's Avatar
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    I know i like them for a lot of reasons.... enough that i am writing my own alternate timeline where Byzantium survives.

  7. #67
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    Maybe Latin would remain the lingua franca and we all would be using it to write in this forum?
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  8. #68
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    The establishmend of the Sultanate of Rum was not what caused Byzantium to lose control of Asia Minor. In fact it regained all the economically important regions of the area under the Komnenos dynasty. The center was barren and of little value except as a basis for raids into the rich coastal regions.

    That's why I think that the battle of Manzikert was of no particular importance. The Fourth Crusade put the empire on a path towards terminal decline.
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  9. #69
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    So no fourth crusade and Byzantium had a fighting chance to survive?

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tongera View Post
    So no fourth crusade and Byzantium had a fighting chance to survive?
    Seems like a lot was riding on the quality of the Emperor at the time too. Endless civil wars when you are surrounded by enemies = you gonna die.

  11. #71
    General Basileios I's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicophorus View Post
    Seems like a lot was riding on the quality of the Emperor at the time too. Endless civil wars when you are surrounded by enemies = you gonna die.
    Indeed. In fact under Manuel Comnenus (1118 - 1180), the empire seems to have been in much better shape than in the years leading up to Manzikert. It controlled the Balkans and the richest parts of Asia Minor. The emperor pursued an active foreign policy, campaigned in Southern Italy, asserted Byzantine hegemony over the Balkans and the Crusader State and almost reconquered Egypt (!).

    Still, in my opinion the Fourth Crusade was the main tipping as it turned the empire from a great power into a minor principality. The question is, could the events leading up to the 4th Crusade have been prevented by more capable emperors?
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  12. #72
    General Basileios I's Avatar
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    Another very interesting question: Could the empire have repelled the Arab onslaught in the 7th century? Had the invading Arabs been defeated, would it have been able to hold onto North Africa, Egypt and Syria in the long run?
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  13. #73
    humorless pedant joak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Basileios I View Post
    Another very interesting question: Could the empire have repelled the Arab onslaught in the 7th century? Had the invading Arabs been defeated, would it have been able to hold onto North Africa, Egypt and Syria in the long run?
    It wouldn't have taken much for the Byzantines to have repelled the invasions; I don't think that's much of a question. The string of victories by the Arabs was really quite amazing, and a few battles that could have quite plausibly gone a different way could have been one by the Byzantines. That would have reduced the Arabs to raiders instead of founders of one of the most impressive empires ever.

    Absent the Arab conquest, I'd imagine they hand on to Africa and the Levant for a while. Although since the populace felt no real connection to the capital, it wasn't guaranteed.
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  14. #74
    I don't know why people are assuming the ERE would become a stagnant backwater like the Ottoman Empire did. Without the Renaissance, would the West even be in a position to industralize as rapidly as it did and gain such a technological advantage on the eastern nations?
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  15. #75
    Major Yasko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Basileios I View Post
    Another very interesting question: Could the empire have repelled the Arab onslaught in the 7th century? Had the invading Arabs been defeated, would it have been able to hold onto North Africa, Egypt and Syria in the long run?
    They would never been able to hold on these parts. They were despised by the population due to religious reasons. Hell, even the Persians could conqure these places right behind the rise of Islam, they had a population that were prepared to co-operate with any invader just to be able to get rid of Byzantines in the long run.
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  16. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yasko View Post
    They would never been able to hold on these parts. They were despised by the population due to religious reasons. Hell, even the Persians could conqure these places right behind the rise of Islam, they had a population that were prepared to co-operate with any invader just to be able to get rid of Byzantines in the long run.
    Syria and Anatolia they probably could have held onto.

  17. #77
    Quote Originally Posted by Yasko View Post
    They would never been able to hold on these parts. They were despised by the population due to religious reasons. Hell, even the Persians could conqure these places right behind the rise of Islam, they had a population that were prepared to co-operate with any invader just to be able to get rid of Byzantines in the long run.
    And incorrect and largely disposed assumption; the Egyptians and Syrians may have been disconnected from the Empire, but they certainly did not help the Arabs. I cannot think of any real example of an organized Monophystist support of the Arabs. They may have rebelled if the Heraclian sponsored religion was pursued, but they would not have assisted the invaders. The Persians were able to beat the Byzantines so badly partially because of Phokas' incompetence and partly because Heraclius took a damn long time getting himself together in order to really attack them, showing his own incompetence as well.

  18. #78
    Maharaja Fishman786's Avatar
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    The Jews did help the Persians (and the Arabs) and the few remaining Samaritans probably would have as well though.
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  19. #79
    Captain Tongera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fishman786 View Post
    The Jews did help the Persians (and the Arabs) and the few remaining Samaritans probably would have as well though.
    Why though? Did they help the Arabs as well?

  20. #80
    Quote Originally Posted by Fishman786 View Post
    The Jews did help the Persians (and the Arabs) and the few remaining Samaritans probably would have as well though.
    The Jews were an outlier, and one that though assisting in pogroms against Christians did not have any significant effect on the war.

    Visigothic Spain is where the Jews really played a role in dooming the kingdom.

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