Tuesday, September 29, 2015

State of the Blog Post #1

It's been about two months since I decided to start a blog, and despite a few ups and downs, I think things have been going well! I've only missed one week, mostly due to the passing of my grandmother, but I've done my best to have something up every Tuesday and Friday. So, go me! I know the "real history" aspect has kind of fallen by the wayside, but I realized a lot of the stuff I was doing was either simply rewriting Wikipedia or talking about stuff that only a few people would be somewhat interested in. So... Alternate history scenarios, rants and other posts away!

Things may start getting a bit hectic in the near future, as just yesterday I started a new job at a local newspaper. I'm going to do my best to keep up with a twice weekly posting schedule, but that may have to change if I just can't write as much as I feel I can. Also may mean that the pictures, as much as I enjoy having them, may be either going away or losing their comments underneath.

Anyway! On to the main reason for this post. Two months might seem like a short or a long time, depending on how you look at it. However, I need some feedback, because I'm not sure what works and what doesn't yet.

So, I have ideas for how I want to develop the blog from here on out. Some of them are for sure, some of them are iffy, some of them are passing moments of fancy.

First, I'm thinking of doing "Theme Months," where all the posts I make that month would be on one topic. So far I have a World War Two and Roman month planned out, and then what ever other ones I may come up with. I was thinking of starting that with the next post on Friday, but I may put it off until November. We shall see.

Another thing I wanted to do was something that caught my interest on the Alternate History Weekly Update, which is "What Happens Next," such as this one based on Harry Turtledove's WorldWar and Colonization series. I'm not sure how that will work out, or if I may just submit a few ideas there, but it's something to think about.

I also wanted to take a stab at trying to write some alternate history based on other media, such as movies, TV shows, video games and books. I already have a few ideas there, but nothing written down yet.

An idea I had was maybe writing more, but shorter scenarios, along the lines of the This Day in Alternate History blog. Most of these would be written up based on suggestions I receive in comments, Twitter, Facebook and email, and would mostly be ideas that I'd think wouldn't require a full length article.

On the opposite side of the coin, I may try my hand at writing full length short stories for this blog. This is one of the ideas I've been debating about for a while, and I could go either way. I might only do this if I achieve my goal of writing a larger work of Alternate history stories, maybe as way of promotion. Again, I don't know.

Lastly, I've also been thinking that maybe someday in the future I could revisit or expand on some of the scenario's I've already been writing about here. This wouldn't be for a while, but something that I will keep in mind, especially many people's comments on things that I never thought of when I wrote the article.

So what do you guys think? I'm always open to more ideas, as the "ideas" part is usually the hardest thing for me. I will most likely be trying all the things I mentioned above at some point or another, but this is sort of a notice that I may be trying new things in the future.

Anyway, I'm writing this late at night (again) when I should be going to sleep. So let me know what you think!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Editorial: Five Things I Hate Seeing in Alternate History

If you are reading this blog, it's a pretty good chance you are doing so because you like Alternate History, and decided to put up with my twice a week rambles on topics that as of yet is not World War Two or the American Civil War (don't worry, I have a plan for them...). If not, it's because your a family member or a friend and I asked you to look at this blog. In that case, HI MOM /DAD/ BROTHER/ GRANDPARENT/ AUNT/ UNCLE/ COUSIN/ FRIEND/ ACQUAINTANCE!

However, I decided to take a moment and write what I think are some of the most important things when it comes to writing and enjoying Alternate History. This is not because I haven't read anything really historical in the past week to help me research a topic, or I'm holding onto ideas for just the right time, forget about them, then never actually do it. Neither of those.

But consider this perhaps a somewhat short and concise explanation of some of the pet peeves and cliches that I see popping up over and over again that just makes me cringe and want to set whatever I'm reading on fire. I've always wanted to get it off my chest, so might as well do it sooner or later.

1: The Lack of Plausibility. The best praise an alternate historian can get for something they write in the genre is "This is really plausible." My favorite line, one I got for my short story "From Enigma to Paradox" published in Substitution Cipher was "chillingly plausible" by Publishers Weekly. Publishers Weekly! This is an acknowledgement that the story that has been written is not only good, but the background and plot work together to present an effective "what if?" scenario, and one that, if events happened differently, could be real history.

That said, there is nothing that will destroy my personal interest in a story quicker than if the scenario isn't plausible, or isn't well explained, or feels like it was shoe-horned in just to seem "cool." One example is the novel His Majesty's Dragon, also known as Temeraire, where dragon's are placed in the Napoleonic War. When I was first reading the book, it just irked me. It took a while to figure it out, but I eventually figured out that it was because dragons were just put into the timeline, and though it's mentioned that dragons have been used by militaries and nations for centuries, human history developed exactly as in our timeline, which I think completely destroyed any sense of plausibility for me. I'd think that if dragon's had always existed, that it would do a lot more than just establish air warfare a bit earlier.

2: Alien Space Bats and Deus Ex Machina. In general, I don't like "serious" alternate history stories that thrown in a Alien Space Bat. What is an Alien Space Bat? Well, basically it's a deus ex machina. What's a deus ex machina? Click on the links I provided and stop asking silly questions! But basically it's when something otherworldly or unnatural comes in, either to start a story, provide conflict, or help clean it up. There are times when it works, like "The Race" that invades Earth in the middle of World War Two in Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series, but it's one of the few times it works. After the aliens are introduced as having somewhat modern weapons and technology in 1942, Harry then keeps it all grounded in reality, or as close as he can imagine it to be.

But the bad ASB stories, like Harry Harrison's Stars and Stripes trilogy were, suddenly, the UK is not only at war with the US over the Trent Affair, but also the Confederacy, then the US and CSA invade England... yeah, that's not happening. Scenarios that pull magic or advanced technology or aliens out of no where, have it fix a problem in the story, then never heard from again, is not only sloppy writing, but very, very, very bad alternate history.

3. The Butterfly Effect. If you have read my big timeline on the Alternate History Wikia, French Trafalgar, British Waterloo, you'll realize that I'm not a huge fan of The Butterfly Effect. Besides the fact that it's hard to find pictures of people you make up to place in something like the List of Presidents of the United States in a TL, it really doesn't make sense to me that if one very tiny thing changes, like say a butterfly that flapped it's wings in our timeline is killed before it can do it in another, it will rewrite all of human history... I don't think so. This is usually used when dealing with Time Travel stories, but it also pops up in more serious alternate history as well.

However, I also know that if something changes in 1805, say the French win the Battle of Trafalgar, that there will be consequences, and changes up to 1905, 2005, 2105, etc. But I don't think it will be as big or as drastic. After all, unless Napoleon winning a sea battle is actually the signal of the End Times, people are still going to be born, grow up, have children, do something important, then die, leaving a generation behind to continue on. So, even if the date of birth, death, name, and their importance in history changes (like say Richard Nixon not being the President but a used car salesman, to use a popular trope), I think that most of the people we know may still be around, just, you know, different. This isn't to say that people that may have lived in our Timeline wouldn't be born in this time, or people not born wouldn't be born either way, but I don't want to say "Oh hey, I killed a dinosaur in the Jurassic, now chickens will  rule the earth when I get back!" The Butterfly effect is something that has to be used carefully, and not just to make everything different for the sake of making something different. It should make sense. It should be... well, plausible.

4. "Ameriacentric" Everything. From the stats on my blog as of last night when I wrote this, the largest single group of people to view my blog are from the United States. 1,349 to be exact. The next closest, my home country of Canada, is a minuscule 193. So, I'm sure this will hurt some feelings (and lose me some views when I say it) but the US is not the center of the universe, and certainly shouldn't be the center of every single Alternate History scenario ever. Yet... it happens. I know I've done my fair share of Alternate History scenarios that focus on the US, but I also try, more often than not, to provide a more fair, balanced, and international view.

But when you have mostly Americans writing and consuming Alternate History, then you get "Ameriacentric" Alternate history, and then you have something like the god-awful Spike TV Alternate History TV show (of which all I could find were links to the terrible reviews of it, including by Matt "Mitro" Mitrovich over at the Alternate History Weekly Update), where, since the US (and the UK and Canada, but are never mentioned) failed in D-Day, the Nazi's bombed New York and won the war. Forget that the USSR had several million men nearly to the borders of pre-war Germany, and the US had the Manhattan Project... because the US lost, the world lost. The US had a big factor in World War Two, but if the US never entered World War Two, I highly doubt the Nazi's could have taken on the Soviet Union and won, or even lasted much longer than Hitler's death.

5. Never Enough Research, Never Enough Time. One thing I've found out time and time again when I was working on my alternate history, on the Wikia, for "From Enigma to Paradox" and now here on this blog, is that no matter how much I know about a subject, or what I think I know about a subject, it's never enough. When I started French Trafalgar, British Waterloo in high school, all I really knew about the Napoleonic Wars was Napoleon, Nelson dying at Trafalgar, marching into Russia in the winter time is a bad idea, and Waterloo. When I started writing it, I quickly found Wikipedia was my best friend. So many things I didn't know, and that I sort of winged as I worked on it, until by now, while maybe not an expert of the Napoleonic Wars, I have a pretty good understanding of it. However, I also couldn't research everything about the Napoleonic Wars, because I talked about much more than that: I've gone up to at least 2010-2011, so I need to have a basic understanding, or better than average knowledge, of over 200 years of history. And even then there are a lot of gaps and places I never talk about. I've had people write to me since I started this blog pointing out things that I never thought of, such as the effect of the Space Race in my first post, What if The USSR Never Got the A-Bomb? Since then, I have a list of things other people have asked me about in my different scenarios that I never talked about, but to some people is more important than what I wrote about. I'm not saying I'm right and their wrong, but that I just simply didn't have the time or knowledge to write about it.

It is so vital, so important, that you know the real history before you start changing it. This ties into everything else I talked about: without adequate research, the willingness to change and edit things, and the ability to connect the dots between people, places and events, you will write implausible, ASB, willy-nilly Butterfly effected, 'MURICA driven timelines and stories that to the average person won't make sense and to alternate historians make us cringe and shout at our computer screens in impotent rage.

This isn't directed at one person or anything, but it's supposed to provide maybe an idea of what new Alternate Historians should be looking at to develop their writing and understanding. It's also really important to state that everyone has a different idea of how an AltHistory scenario will play out, and often times more than one. If you ask a group of 10 Alt Historians something, say "What if the Nazi's won World War 2," you'll most likely get a hundred different scenarios, all different from each other.

Perhaps the most important thing I will say to a new Alt Historian that's reading this for the first time is that no matter what you write about, as long as it's plausible and not full of ASB and decently researched, I would read it and think it's alright, if not fantastic.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

AltHistory Scenario #9: What if The American Revolution Never Happened?

Ah, the United States. One of the biggest, richest and most powerful nations in the world; Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. Biggest economy, biggest military... biggest waistlines. And, for being a fairly young country (especially by European and Asian standards), has been able to pack in 50 states, 44 Presidents, the assassination of three of them, 237 years of history, and quite a few wars including a long, bloody civil war, which if you look at it... is a bit more exciting than, say, Canada.

I said exciting, not that it isn't beautiful.

However, Canada and the US have a very similar background, namely in that both nations were former "settler colonies" of the United Kingdom. However, the US violently broke away from the Motherland in the Treaty of Paris in 1783, while Canada more peacefully became a self-governing Dominion of the British Empire in 1867. So, what if the United States didn't have it's revolution and broke away from the British Empire?

Point of Divergence

There are several reasons why the Thirteen Colonies eventually declared independence, but the most well known is taxes. There are a lot of other reasons as well, but let's keep it simple today. After the Seven Years War (also known as the French and Indian War in North America), which took place between 1756 and 1763, the United Kingdom was nearly bankrupt from the cost of the war, despite the fact that they were the big winners, having gained Quebec, territory in India, and forced the French to give up land to their continental allies, such as Prussia.

Lead by a pug in a powdered wig human costume, King Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia

In North America, it changed the entire political situation. For over a century, as the French, English, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and other Europeans settled in the New World, different ways of dealing with the Native American tribes that were already in the America's were developed. At one end of the spectrum, Spain sought to dominate, control, kill and enslave many of the tribes and civilizations they met, all for the quest for gold, silver, and other resources. On the other end, France and England were more willing to work with the tribes up north, exchanging manufactured goods for furs and territory. While the French and English had there share of fighting with the Natives, were also more likely to ally with opposing tribes, providing weapons to their preferred side. This is the main reason for the big battles between settlers and natives, though they were often better described as massacres for whichever side got the jump.

Anyway, so with the French driven out of North America, the British believed that since they fought, and spent a lot of money, to save the colonists, the colonists should help pay for their defense. While it does make sense when you look at it subjectively, on the other hand no one likes taxes, especially when you have no say in how it should be spent. The Stamp Act, The Quartering Act, the Townshend Acts, and other such laws were passed by the House of Commons to raise revenue, but in most cases they were repealed or modified after huge public outcry in the colonies. With the rallying cry "No Taxation without Representation," the colonies eventually joined together in a Continental Congress, and the rest is history.

And... wow, still lost of powdered wigs. Was that like the only thing people liked back then?

So, for this scenario, let's say that a new act, The American Colonies Act (1776), let's call it, is passed along with the other money raising acts. To summarize, let's say that each colony is allowed to send one representative for each colony to the House of Commons to act as the representative to their colony in London. So, not only are the Thirteen Colonies now given representation, but also other colonies in what is now Canada and the many Islands of the Caribbean: Newfoundland, Lower Canada (Quebec), Upper Canada (now Ontario), St. John's Island (Prince Edward Island) Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Jamaica, the Leeward Islands, and the British East Indies. So, 22 men (and only men for a long time, becuase, you know, the patriarchy and etc.) now can sit in the House of Commons, though they can't vote, but have a say in how their colony will be governed back in England. The not-voting thing is mostly because, due to the long communication delay between Europe and North America, it would be impossible for the new representatives to be able to work with the people they are representing.

Immediate Consequences

The demand for "No taxation without representation," is somewhat undercut with the new American Colonies Act. While the representatives can't vote, they have a voice in London, especially in the well written and popular Benjamin Franklin, the representative for Pennsylvania. Franklin, while he can't vote, is given many chances to speak in the House of Commons, and is recognized as a smart, well informed, and passionate individual, especially for his home in North America, science and, later in life, abolition. Another representative, George Washington for Virginia, is more quiet, and only makes one speech in the House of Commons, but he got along with many of the MPs, and helped to convince many to reduce or eliminate the taxes on the colonies.

If I could ever go back into time, meeting Benjamin Franklin would be right up there on the list. Right after seeing if you really can kill Hitler...

While there is a small minority in the Americas that seek independence from England (Patrick Henry still demands "Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!" all he really got was ignored), but it would remain a constant issue for decades to come, and would always flare up when, despite the best efforts of the new colonial representatives, laws that are seen to negatively effect the colonies are still passed. Eventually a new movement arises for the American colonies to have their own Parliament separate from London, calling for "Local" or "Home Rule."

The colonies would continue to prosper, but now other issues besides taxes would become important. Settling the western frontier, long an important part of American History right up until the start of the 20th century, would still be a major issue. The British, in the Royal Proclamation of 1763, banned settling west of the Appalachian Mountains. I think eventually the British would relent, it would be a lot slower, and land could only be purchased from the Imperial government, land that the government would purchase from Native tribes.

Another fairly immediate consequence would be foreign affairs. When the Americans declared independence, King Louis XVI of France eventually sided with the colonists against arch enemy England, and the arrival of French help eventually forced the British to recognize the independence of the colonies. However, the cost of aiding the rebels was too much for France to handle. The King was forced to call the Estates General, the Parliament of France, to raise taxes, which eventually spiraled into the French Revolution, the rise and fall of Napoleon, and the Congress of Vienna that more or less defined Europe until the First World War. Now, I don't think the French Revolution would be postponed forever, and eventually a major, costly, and/or unpopular war could force the King to call the Estates General for money, and that could lead to an alternate, but no less bloody or revolutionary French Revolution.

And most likely still have some great time's cutting off the head's of kings.

Later Consequences

Back in North America, that Home Rule movement eventually leads to crisis in the 1810-20s, including several abortive rebellions in 1822-1824 the full breadth of the colonies. Without a Napoleonic style war (yet), the British eventually have to confront the issue, and eventually a new system is put together to give the colonies self-government. However, it was decided that they couldn't give all of the colonies in North America one single government. It was believed that not only was the land mass to big to have just one separate government, culture and economics would lead to political deadlock. And, well, they are right. All of the British colonies in North America, ranging from French and Catholic Quebec, the English and Protestant Ontario, the slavery holding South and Caribbean Islands, the mercantile New England colonies, and the native lands west of Appalachia and east of the Mississippi, all have their separate goals and desires, and usually they are incompatible with one another. 

So four separate "dominions" for the British-Americans are created: The Dominion of Canada, (Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland), the Dominion of New England (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, and New York), the Dominion of America (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland) and the Dominion of Virginia (Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia). Each country is given a separate Parliament, though a larger, American Parliament, is established for a wider, inter-Dominion issues, though it has little power. This system would be modified in the 1870s, with each Dominion being given nearly all the rights of an independent nation, with the last, that of foreign affairs and declaring war, being given in 1910 after the "Churchill Memorandum." Eventually, the land between Appalachia and the Mississippi would also be colonized, but serve merely as extensions to New England, America and Virginia. Rupert's Land, owned by the Hudson's Bay Company, is transferred to Canada in 1849. The Dominion of Oregon is created in the 1857, encompassing Oregon (IRL Washington State), British Columbia, Alaska (gained in a war with Russia similar to the Crimean War), and Northern California (IRL Oregon).

I had something clever to say about Alternate Historians changing names for everything, but I can't remember it. Here's The Four Lads with the only song anyone ever remember's they did.

But does this solve problems like slavery? Well... yes. No. Kinda. It's complicated. But when the British Empire banned slavery, an extremist government in the Dominion of Virginia sought to maintain the "peculiar institution," but a combined British/America/New England army smashed the rebellion in only a few months. Most slave owners were given restitution for the freed slaves except those that took up arms against the Empire, but full civil rights in the south would take until the mid 20th century to be fully implemented. So... no real civil war, but still some blood shed, and "Jim Crow" like laws show up.

What about the non-British Colonies? In the 1803, and with  support from the British, freedom seekers in the Viceroy of New Spain declares independence and begins a long, bloody war with the Spanish, eventually winning after 12 years of fighting. After a period of instability, a democratic constitution is adopted in 1822, and the United States of Mexico is established. While some British-Americans advocate for the annexation of the vast Southwest territory, no wars are waged, and with the wealth of the region, Mexico establishes itself as the largest, richest, and possibly the most powerful nation in Latin America, rivaled only by a dictatorial Brazil, with allies in the British American Dominions. Another nation, the Confederacy of the Plains, is formed in the Great Prairies by native tribes pushed over the Mississippi by settlers. While somewhat backwards, economically and militarily, few of the other nations in North America see much value in the Confederacy, but that is beginning to change with the discovery of oil.

Could have done a better map, had my procrastination not gotten in the way, hence why I'm doing this at 1 AM in the morning.

And the rest of the world? Well, after the mid 1800s, it could go anywhere. However, I have a few general ideas: if the French Revolution is delayed another 20-30 years, I think most of Europe's history would also be shifted to another generation. With massive holdings in North America, the British people's interest in Africa and India might be lesser, though not completely gone. With the British more focused on the Atlantic and the lack of a major American nation, the Japanese and Chinese would not have as much of a motivation to industrialize or have political upheavals. I don't think a "Cold War" situation would develop, with a battle between two major ideological powers. If anything, a continuation of the "Great Powers" system would continue on to the present, with ever shifting alliances keeping the peace.


When I started to write this, my idea was that in a scenario where the US never left the British Empire, then maybe what would have been the US would parallel Canadian history, from colony to self-governing to dominion to independent nation. However, there are a few things that in most "America stays British" TL's that I dislike. Namely in how the British Empire still becomes world conquering, even though they have a rather demanding colony just three thousand miles away across the Western Sea, and that the 13 Colonies becomes one massive country still (and possibly with the inclusion of Canada), reaching from Atlantic to Pacific. 

However, one thing I cannot argue against: the United States is, and always has been, one really lucky country, starting with how it was created. While many historians can point out the things that makes the American Revolution successful, they still won against the British, the most powerful military force of the period. Unlike the empires and nations in Europe and Asia that have, over time, become massive and all powerful, the US is in no immediate danger of military invasion, one of the biggest reasons why old nations eventually fall. They have a treasure trove of resources, over 300 million people in a land mass that could take millions more. And, as a general rule, every war the US has gotten into they have won. Well... Vietnam and Iraq v.2.0 may be the exceptions, but, considering that nations like France, Russia, China, and others were not always on the winning side and usually suffer massive upheavals when they lose, the US has never gone through that. And no, I don't think the political deadlock, the introduction of Obamacare, and the train-crash that is the Republican Presidential hopefuls means the US is going to collapse any time soon. It's going to take a lot more than disagreement, Donald Trump and a bit of socialism to topple the US.

Friday, September 18, 2015

AltHistory Scenario #8: What if the Commonwealth of England Didn’t Collapse?

The English Civil War, as are most civil wars, is really complicated and easily arouse opposing viewpoints and heated rhetoric. Actually three separate wars (1642-1646, 1648-1649, 1649-51), and involving King Charles II fighting against Parliament, while also leading England in a war against Scotland, which he was also the monarch of, and a lot of betrayal’s, backstabbing, beheading, defections, bloody battles, disease, religious intolerance, sieges, massacres, Short, Long and Rump Parliaments, and a tree. Yes, a tree.
This isn't the actual tree. But apparently it's a descendent of that tree. If you want to find out more, check the family... genealogical website. What did you think I was going to say?
However, today I’m not going to talk about changing the outcome of the Civil War. Parliament, also known as the “Roundheads,” defeated King Charles I and his supporters known as the “Cavaliers” - and cut off his head - and drove his son, later King Charles II out of England (with the help of that tree I mentioned), and established the Commonwealth of England. However, the Commonwealth soon became the “Protectorate,” with the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, one of the most successful of the New Model Army general’s, becoming a de-facto military dictator. But neither the Protectorate or the Commonwealth lasted long after Cromwell’s death, with his son Richard being Lord Protector for only a few months before being disposed and King Charles II being named King of England again by 1660.
So, what if the Commonwealth was never ended?
Point of Divergence
I’m going to have two POD’s for this scenario. First, King Charles II dies before 1660, either while hiding in that tree or while in exile in France. For the sake of this scenario, let’s say a Roundhead solider looks up in the tree and finds the King, and kills him, because otherwise it would have to be something bland, like King Charles II got dysentery in France.
Dysentery: a painful, miserable and embarrassing way to have to go. But enough about Oregon Trail.
 Second, the Richard Cromwell lays down the title of Lord Protector when the New Model Army refuses to support him after Oliver’s death, and the Commonwealth is restored. It’s not clear what Oliver Cromwell’s goals were when he made the Protectorate, if it was to be temporary or permanent, I can’t say. But, he’s dead, so let’s say his son, who is considered somewhat capable but unable to gain the confidence of the army that gave his dad the power, decides to undercut the New Model Army’s power by calling a new Parliament (later to be called the New Commonwealth Parliament), then laying down his position to have Parliament name a new Lord Protector.
Immediate Consequences
The New Model Army is not to happy with having lost it’s role as supporter of the Lord Protector. This military force, one of the first professional and standing armies to be maintained in English history, was known for it’s discipline, devout Puritan beliefs, and it’s separation from politics and religion, with none of the members being allowed to sit in the House of Commons or House of Lords. It was feared that the New Model Army may start fighting Parliament or it’s self, leading to yet another bout of Civil War.
And not the kind where everyone is nice to each other, is polite and everyone has a good time.
However, one of the New Model Army’s most powerful Generals, George Monck, a former royalist turned Parliamentarian and current Governor of Scotland, eventually announced his support to Parliament, and whomever Parliament chose to be the next Lord Protector, which meant a large chunk of the army would support Parliament, forcing the other units of the New Model Army and their officer’s to also swear their support. Three men, all Generals in the New Model Army, soon began to vie for the office: Monck, Charles Fleetwood, and John Lambert. The New Commonwealth Parliament overwhelmingly supported the moderate Monck, and he accepted the office.
Lord Protector Monck, who had the support of a majority of Parliament and a large chunk of the New Model Army, set to work on continuing the world of Cromwell, namely in healing and restoring England after decades of civil war. Flames of insurrection continued in Ireland and Scotland, and there was the ever constant threat of war on the continent. However, internal affairs dominated most of Monck’s time, who eventually established a committee to write a new constitution for the Commonwealth.
No, not THAT constitution...
This constitution established a system of checks and balances for the new Commonwealth of England. Parliament, divided between House of Commons and House of Lords, was to become the main lawmaking body, with the power to levy taxes to support the nation, while the Lord Protector, retaining the title Cromwell established for himself, was to become a life long executive position. However, it could not be hereditary; Parliament was given the power to elect the Lord Protector with at least two thirds of both Houses supporting the choice, and by the same margin to remove him. The Lord Protector would not have all the powers that the King of England had, but quite a few of them: he had the power to command the army and navy, engage in foreign policy, name members to the House of Lords, and serve as the highest level of law in the land. In the years to follow, an independent judiciary would be set up to exercise these powers.
Lord Protector Monck served until his death in 1670, by which time England was a long ways toward stability and peace. While Monck was under suspicion of being a Royalist through the entire time, and had many unfavorable mentions of gluttony and sloth, he served England to the best of his abilities, even leading military units in Ireland and Scotland. Under the Parliament’s Monck called, a remarkably liberal policy of religious liberty was enacted, as well as a minor changes to Common Law and, though the early Puritan dominated Commonwealth passed many restrictive laws to govern how people acted (such as the infamous banning of theaters), many of theses were repealed.
High schoolers across the English speaking world would have rejoiced from not having to learn about Shakespeare. Though I'm sure the Puritans would have banned iPhones in school anyway. Better luck next time!
The new Commonwealth didn’t go to war during Monck’s term as Lord Protector, instead staying on the sidelines, but secretly supporting Protestant causes throughout Europe, including the Huguenot’s in France and the Dutch in their fight against the Spanish. Colonization also fell by the wayside as all resources were devoted at home to repair and rebuild the damage of the Civil War. The Colonies in North America, namely Maryland, Virgina, Newfoundland and the Caribbean possessions were mostly  pro-Royalists, with Puritan New England supporting Cromwell. The Commonwealth had subdued them in the 1650s after the Civil War, but tensions were still high. The few colonial outposts in India, under the control of the East India Company, which was created by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600 and gained power under her successors, lost most of it’s holdings to the Dutch, and eventually the company faded from history.
Later Consequences
In 1673, a “civil war” broke out between the colonies when the pretender to the throne, the Duke of York, and called King James II, arrived in Maryland after a perilous sea voyage under an assumed name. The colonies rose in revolt, with Maryland and Virgina joining together to become the “Kingdom of English America,” later the Kingdom of America supporting the King against the Puritans, while New England supported the Commonwealth. Troops from England were sent to the colonies, but with native allies, the new Kingdom managed to defeat the New Model Army forces and the New England colonists and establishing themselves as independent. Eventually, by 1700, the colonies of the Commonwealth of England was mostly confined to Bermuda, Jamaica, Bahamas and other small islands in the Caribbean and the north-eastern Eastern Seaboard (united to form the Commonwealth of New England), surrounded by New France and Nova Scotia (also French) to the north and west, and New Netherlands and the Kingdom of America to the south. Eventually New England would be given independence, though maintaining close ties to the Commonwealth today.
And still maintaining a monopoly on beautiful autumn rural pictures.
Stymied in North America, the Commonwealth instead became a “northern Venice,” a major trading republic, gaining vast wealth, power and prestige trading over the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, and into the Baltic and Mediterranean. Despite the great wealth, Puritanism remained strong in England, with Presbyterian majority Scotland and Catholic Ireland becoming dynamic cultural and social centers of western Europe, while England and London remained a more reserved and morose place for decades, until Puritanism began to lose it’s grip by the 1700s. However, to this day, England is seen as a much more prudish and sombre place than lively Scotland and Ireland. In a reflection of the increasing power and prosperity of Scotland and Ireland, the Commonwealth of England eventually transforms into the Commonwealth of the British Isles, despite simmering tensions between Catholic Ireland and Protestant England and Scotland that continue to this day.
Without a massive empire to feed it resources or to sell goods to, the Industrial Revolution is slower to come to England, though it still happens there first thanks to the vast wealth from trading and plentiful iron and coal deposits. But other nations, namely France and the Netherlands, also begins to industrialize even quicker than the Commonwealth does.
Don't worry there! At least you won't have to work at a factory for 14 or more hours a day and be paid a fraction of the starvation wage your parent's will make
The Commonwealth retains the traditional English policy of “Continental watchdog,” where they don’t intervene in affairs in Europe unless it threatens the control of the English Channel and the North Sea. In the later 1600 and 1700s, the Commonwealth will be engaged, in different times, in alliances and wars against the Dutch, French, Spanish, Austrians, Prussians, Swedish and Russians, more often than not using a highly trained and well equipped army in the New Model Army style to fight, and winning more often than losing. However, by the mid 1700s, as muskets become cheaper and easier to use, the New Model Army that had long been the basis of English power falls short, and after a series of stunning defeats to the French in 1767 while fighting in the Netherlands, the New Model Army is finally relegated to the history books.
By the 1800s, without colonies of note except the nominally independent New England and a few sugar islands, the Commonwealth is increasingly marginalized in European affairs, despite a developing industrial economy. But the Republic survives, adapting and modernizing as time goes on; increasing suffrage, social welfare and liberal polices usually a few years ahead of the rest of Europe, and retaining a strong navy to defend itself, and supporting other republican and democratic movements in Europe and abroad. By the end of the 20th century, while having fought in devastating total wars that saw foreign invaders land in England, the Commonwealth retains it’s traditions and history as one of the longest lasting republics in world history.
But still with a flag that looks like a kindergarteners first time with crayons.

I think an English Republic is something that is one of the favorite ideas for an alternate historian, if for no other reason than the fact that, except for a few brief periods like the Commonwealth and Protectorate eras, England has had monarchs since the fall of the Roman Empire. The history of the monarch in England was at first similar to other nations, of how strong kings manage to expand their power against feudal nobles to centralize power. However, by the fourteenth and fifteenth century, this begins to change, as Parliament, at first just a group of nobles, then of nobles and gentry, then nobles and elected gentry, steadily gains power. By the time of Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, the clash of who really had the power, Parliament or Crown, reached it’s conclusion, and the answer was resounding: the Crown could not govern without Parliament, but Parliament could govern without the Crown.
Constitutional Monarchies are all around the world today, but the first true one was England after the tumult of the English Civil Wars. And for a brief period of time, only ten years between 1649 and 1659, there was no monarch at all. While it wasn’t the most stable time, nor the most peaceful, it is one of the most interesting. Had Cromwell chosen a better successor than his son, or had the heirs to the throne been killed, then it’s not hard to see England minus a monarch. Because it may well have happened.
God Save the Queen. From us Alternate Historians.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

AltHistory Scenario #7: What if Quebec Leaves Canada in 1980?

All these alternate history articles I’ve been doing, and not a single one on Canada. Well, then again, compared to most national histories, Canada’s history can be kinda dull, except for those exciting moments like when the British invaded New France in 1768, and both the French and British general’s died in the same battle.
But only Wolfe got a painting of a heroic death, which seems to have been a bit of a fetish among eighteenth century war heroes.

Then there was the brief invasion of Canada in the American Revolution, then the War of 1812, then Confederation, then the railroad, the Hudson’s Bay Company selling it’s land, the World Wars, the Cold War... then now. Not a lot of really exciting things happen in Canada, unless laying down a lot of steel over prairies and through mountains, mostly because of bribes and corruption, is exciting.
However, in 1980, Canada came very close to breaking in two, as Quebec tried for the first time to break away and leave Canada. Well, kinda. A “sovereignty-association,” where Quebec would be separate from Canada, but still have the same currency and an economic association. I like to call this “Nationalism Lite.” But whatever, I digress.
IRL, the election was 60-40 in favor of “No.” In 1995, the results were a lot closer, 51% to 49%. However, as I stated last Friday, I don’t like doing AltHistory scenarios that occurred in the last 30 years, so let’s go with the first date. What if Quebec voted to leave Canada?
Just for those people who may not have done well in geography, this is where Quebec is. 

And because this is an alternate history blog... FLAGS!!!
Point of Divergence
Perhaps the one thing that doomed the “Yes” side to victory was the question that was asked. Quebec Premier René Lévesque wanted to have a simple question to put to the voters, but, well, it didn’t work. Good lord, that question was confusing:
"The Government of Quebec has made public its proposal to negotiate a new agreement with the rest of Canada, based on the equality of nations; this agreement would enable Quebec to acquire the exclusive power to make its laws, levy its taxes and establish relations abroad — in other words, sovereignty — and at the same time to maintain with Canada an economic association including a common currency; any change in political status resulting from these negotiations will only be implemented with popular approval through another referendum; on these terms, do you give the Government of Quebec the mandate to negotiate the proposed agreement between Quebec and Canada?"

Wow. Talk about your legalese.
So, the POD is going to be if the question is simplified. Something along the lines of:
“The Government of Quebec wishes to renegotiate our position with the rest of Canada, primarily in seeking sovereignty and establishing an independent nation, with the possibility of continuing to use the Canadian currency and ties to the Canadian Economy. Do you give the Government of Quebec the mandate to negotiate sovereignty from Canada?”

Honestly, could have boiled it down to: “Do you want Quebec to be it’s own country? Yes or No?” But that might be too simple.
No election is that simple.
So the question is not as confusing, and even if Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau campaigned vigorously in support of the “No” side, the referendum results in May 20, 1980, showed that 60% of Quebec was in favor of “Yes” and 40% in favor of “No.” Quebec is now free!
Immediate Consequences
Well, not quite. Even though the “Yes” side won, it was really just so they could negotiate with the Federal Government to actually leave Canada, or rather, institute “sovereignty-association.”
So what does sovereignty-association mean? Basically Quebec would become an independent country: the Provincial government would become a new Federal government, able to raise it’s own military, collect taxes, make it’s own laws, have foreign relations with other countries, etc. However, Quebec wished to continue to use the Canadian Dollar, and possibly work with the Canadian military, but I’m unsure how Canada would respond to this. It’s the same issue as when Scotland voted for succession from the UK last year, and the UK government stated that they would refuse to let Scotland to continue to use the Pound.
They may take our lives, but they will never take our shared currency!
In this scenario, Canada does the same thing: No to a combined currency, and no to a combined military. Quebec is forced to accept, but later gets around this by pegging the new Quebec Dollar to the Canadian Dollar, unofficially having the same currency. The military decides to use the same equipment as the Canadian Army as well.
However, Canada agrees to the other Quebec suggestion of open borders. Due to the interconnected economy of pre-sovereignty Canada and Quebec, cutting all ties between Quebec and Canada would be ruinous to both economies.
Nothing is scarier than a jagged red line pointing down with green numbers and money in the background. BE AFRAID!!!
Which is great, because after Quebec voted to leave Canada, the Canadian economy went into a freefall. With the stability of Canada now in question, with one of the largest provinces in the nation with lots of natural resources and industries leaving, investors begin to withhold cash, prices rise, and soon recession hits both Canada and Quebec. Not to mention the political chaos Canada would be in: PM Trudeau would either resign or be forced out of office after Quebec leaves, and the Progressive Conservatives under Joe Clark, who was Prime Minister briefly before being voted out before the referendum (his budget failed to pass the House of Commons, and he wasn’t as willing as Trudeau and his Liberal Party to fight against a referendum), returns to power, and is in charge of the negotiations with René Lévesque. Eventually, by November 1980, the deal is mostly hammered out, and on December 6, 1980, the “Treaty of Quebec Sovereignty” is signed in Quebec City, the capital of the new Republic of Quebec.
And yes, Republic: Quebec was never a big supporter of Canada being part of the British Empire or the Commonwealth, partially because of the English-Canadians support of a monarchy on the other side of the Ocean. Quebec is to become a republic, with Lévesque becoming the temporary President, but Quebec will remain part of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
By the way, congrats your majesty on beating your great-great Grandmother as the longest reigning monarch in history!
Later Consequences
Canada is in turmoil after Quebec leaves. Even though one of the biggest issues in Canadian politics is now more or less solved (namely Quebec’s role in Canada), many more issues come up. The Liberal Party of Canada, which had based a lot of it’s support in Quebec and was strongly opposed to Quebec leaving Canada, was now a shell of it’s former self, and by the early 2000’s has been reduced to a third party. The Progressive-Conservatives, mainly in Western Canada, are now the “natural governing party” of Canada, partially due to their non-committal nature of Quebec sovereignty. Even when the PC’s introduce unpopular new policies such as the General Savings Tax (GST) and a Free Trade Agreement with the US, there isn’t a strong enough opposition to counter the PC’s: the New Democrat Party (NDP) becomes the new Opposition party by the mid 1990s, but it’s only in 2008 that Jack Layton becomes the first NDP Prime Minister of Canada, ending a 28 year Progressive Conservative reign. 
The long PC government is able to mollify the extreme feelings against Quebec, and presides over the Partition of the Constitution to Canada by 1985 (originally achieved by Trudeau in 1982), and a decentralization of powers to the provinces that remained in Confederation. The Maritime Provinces (Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick), separated from the rest of Canada, also have a growing sovereignty movement, unofficially supported by Quebec. The first referendum for the creation of a new “Maritime Nation” in 2003 was narrowly defeated, 51% opposed and 49% in favor, but independence parties in all four provinces is growing, and the next referendum might be a more clear “Yes.” Ontario and the Western Provinces are on nearly equal footing in the House of Commons, so neither part of the nation will likely separate any time soon.
Most of the prairies is still mostly a lot of Wild West towns with cows roaming the streets.
In Quebec, Rene Lévesque is elected the first President of Quebec in September 1981, but passes away on November 1, 1987, in the middle of his second four-year term as President. Inside Quebec, the provincial Liberal Party, which fought against succession, no longer exists and is replaced by a new, right wing party advocating for closer ties to Canada, especially as the Parti Québécois, the sovereigntist political party, goes further to the left, and tries to cut more and more ties to Canada. An “Economic Miracle” takes place between 1985 and 2000, in a small part due to the social-democratic policies put in place by the Parti Québecois, but more to an economic boom by selling natural resources to the US and a newly capitalist China in the mid 1980s. In comparison, the economic recovery of Canada is a lot slower, despite the Progressive Conservative parties low taxes and economic deregulation, similar to what Margret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the US undertake.
However, it’s not all fun and games in Quebec. While a plurality of people supported independence for Quebec, it was mostly Francophones that made up over 85% of Quebec’s population who voted “Yes.” English speakers, immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean are still opposed to Quebec sovereignty, especially when the Parti Québécois begins aggressively pushing French as the primary language in Quebec. Many Anglophones, many having lived Generations in Quebec, feel persecuted within a nation that long claimed to be persecuted by Canada, and many leave Quebec for Canada. The Parti Quebecois remain in power to this day, though an increasingly vocal opposition is mounting in the new Union Nationale, a recreation of a conservative party that achieved political domination of Quebec in the 1950s.
Today, Canada and Quebec are close partners, even after 2007 when Quebec Dollar was officially un-pegged from the Canadian Dollar. A member of the United Nations, NATO and other international organizations, (including sending a regiment of troops to Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks) Quebec has proven that a peaceful referendum can lead to sovereignty for nations that feel they are long suppressed. While Spain refuses to recognize the overwhelming support for an independent Basque nation, the successes in the establishment of Kurdistan in northern Iraq after the Iraq War in 2003 (which Canada supported in this TL, but Quebec did not), South Sudan, and Kosovo in the Balkans, as well as a “sovereignty in all but name” in Scotland, has given Quebec an outsized voice in the world, supporting many oppressed people throughout the world, in gaining national independence without resorting to force.
They may take our lives, but we will most likely never leave the UK, will we? Well Bollocks.
To be honest, I think 1995 would have been the better time to try a scenario like this. However, I feel that going back a bit further, to 1980, would be just as interesting. If anything, it would provide a very similar scenario either way, just with the dates being changed.

Could Quebec survive on it’s own? I think so. They have a strong culture, a diversified economy, and an active political system. I think the question would rather be could Canada survive without Quebec? That answer is a bit more hazy, but I think it would have to be only if Canada accepts the decision for Quebec to leave that will hold the rest of Canada together. Vocal and aggressive opposition that only inflames both sides of the issue would possibly see the entire nation fall apart, especially if a majority of people in Quebec vote for independence but it’s blocked by the House of Commons or another political body. I honestly think this is a big problem that could come up if another referendum is held... sometime. Might be another decade or more, but hopefully, even if Quebec does vote to leave, Canada could leave a positive impression on the world to allow such a thing to happen.
Okay, that blue and red just clash way too much... WAAAARRRRR!!!!!