Byzantine Survival With the Least Butterflies?

As the title states, is it possible for a Byzantine or Byzantine successor state to persist in some form to at least the 20th century with as few effects on history as possible?

Really the only way I can think of with as few changes to history as possible is if Demetrios Palaiologos accepts vassalization (since he was really pro-Ottoman) and given some Aegean island like Samothrace, Imbros or Lemnos for his family to rule over as puppets for the next couple hundred years. It’s not impossible, considering Mehmet gave Demetrios land to rule over after the fall of the Morea IOTL, but it is difficult to imagine the status quo continuing for that long. Maybe something involving the Venetians rather than the Ottomans?

Assuming this state of affairs continues and history plays out normally, the Despotate or whatever it’s called could attain independence sometime during the early 20th century and you’d have a surviving Roman Empire to the modern day- technically, but I’m not sure what changes a surviving Byzantium, even if only reduced to one island and Ottoman vassalage would cause.
 
Last edited:
That’s a bit cheating though, isn’t it? It’s not really Byzantium if it’s just a rump state that happens to share the same ruling family. By that margin, Byzantium still exists in Mount Athos.

Controversially, a Byzantium which fulfills the same geopolitical role as the Ottomans could be the one that presents the least butterflies in terms of the European state system.
 
That’s a bit cheating though, isn’t it? It’s not really Byzantium if it’s just a rump state that happens to share the same ruling family. By that margin, Byzantium still exists in Mount Athos.

Controversially, a Byzantium which fulfills the same geopolitical role as the Ottomans could be the one that presents the least butterflies in terms of the European state system.
I feel like if you don’t have the Ottomans in some way shape or form then our world is pretty much unrecognizable. It’s difficult to imagine how radically different the Balkans, for example would be without the Ottoman rule, never mind that of Egypt or Hungary.
 
I feel like if you don’t have the Ottomans in some way shape or form then our world is pretty much unrecognizable. It’s difficult to imagine how radically different the Balkans, for example would be without the Ottoman rule, never mind that of Egypt or Hungary.
Indeed, which is why you need Byzantium to play a similar role. It will be very different, of course, but it will be the most similar to OTL if there is a powerful empire dominating these cultures and then only declining in the age of nationalism.
 

Deleted member 114175

Assuming this state of affairs continues and history plays out normally, the Despotate of Lemnos or whatever it’s called could attain independence sometime during the early 20th century and you’d have a surviving Roman Empire to the modern day- technically, but I’m not sure what changes a surviving Byzantium, even if only reduced to one island and Ottoman vassalage would cause.
Well, even if the empire is just a tiny island, the Ottoman-Venetian Wars could play out differently, with propaganda focused on that island. The Ottomans have the vassalized Byzantine prince to support their rule in Greece like the Ecumenical Patriarch, while Venetians probably declare a de jure Roman restoration if they can get a pretender to side with them or capture the island.

Controversially, a Byzantium which fulfills the same geopolitical role as the Ottomans could be the one that presents the least butterflies in terms of the European state system.
It's an interesting point. It would be easy enough to make a surviving Byzantium have the same shape on the map as the Ottomans for a while -- but it's almost impossible that its relations with its neighboring states, vassals, and population will be exactly the same as the Ottomans.

The Byzantines would simultaneously have to seem like an existential threat to the Holy Roman Empire and much of the rest of Europe, and also seem like a tolerable overlord to the Islamic Middle East west of Persia. Additionally other factors, like commercial links with the Barbary states or Arab traders in the Indian Ocean would not transfer over as easily.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
No, in the fifteen century it is not possible. Even if Mehmed is magnanimous and accepts the existence for an undetermined period of a Byzantine rump state (but not in Lemnos as the island is strategically significant), his succesors would prefer to annex the territory. Any Christian ruler is a wild card which can backfire in a favourable setting. Look at the princes of Walachia and Moldavia tightly controlled by the Turks but who always cooperated with the cristians when the context permitted. Also Islam theoretically permits only a limited time in which a christian ruler might maintain Its autonomy. In the end all the states must be subsummed in Dar-al-Islam.

A byzantine survival is possible with a POD around 1290-1300 with the potential dissaperance of the ottoman power, I have seen a couple of interesting scenarios with a succesful coup of Alexios Philantropenos. Although it would not be a Mediteranean superpower but at most a regional power clinging precariously to life
 
Indeed, which is why you need Byzantium to play a similar role. It will be very different, of course, but it will be the most similar to OTL if there is a powerful empire dominating these cultures and then only declining in the age of nationalism.
Assuming the notion of nations and nationalism still becomes a thing.
 
Even if you just replaced the OE with Byzantium on the map and kept everything else the same borders-wise and geopolitically (not hard to imagine, if you squint, several Byzantine-Venetian Wars replacing the Ottoman-Venetian ones of OTL) you'd need a world where Orthodox Christianity is regarded as much of an existential threat as Islam in order to minimize the butterflies in your hypothetical.

Not to mention in a world where Russia isn't the sole (major) Orthodox power that's a whole 'nother set of butterflies as well.
 
I think a vassalized Byzantine mini state would eventually be annexed by the Ottomans, an independent Constantinople would be also be targeted by them (it was the city of the world's desire anyways) and a Byzantine Empire taking the role of the Ottomans makes so many butterflies it would make any head spin.

What you could have, I guess, is a Byzantine dynasty in exile that doesn't sell their titles though it's hard to see how that would work for half a millenium.
 
As people have stated, a surviving Orthodox state with similar borders to the Ottomans will be treated quite differently by Europe and also have a very different relationship with the Middle East and Indian Ocean periphery. Things will necessarily diverge quite a lot when AH and Russia can not liberate Christians and when Egypt and Mesopotamia are under the rule of someone with no claim to the caliphate.

I think what you actually need is a converted empire. You need an Islamic dynasty, that maintains the structure of the empire and provides a continuity of government. Whether that can be a Greek dynasty that converts or a Turkish dynasty that adopts Greek as a ruling language you need to unite the two sides in a way that is still terrifying to Europe and palatable to the Islamic world.
 
That’s a bit cheating though, isn’t it? It’s not really Byzantium if it’s just a rump state that happens to share the same ruling family. By that margin, Byzantium still exists in Mount Athos.

Controversially, a Byzantium which fulfills the same geopolitical role as the Ottomans could be the one that presents the least butterflies in terms of the European state system.
But how would that be possible? The byzantines had enough problems to deal with in the east, why would they push westward? The reason for the ottoman empire wanting to expand in europe was religion and a lack of enemies to the east after the fall of the mamluks. Besides that, I don't even see how the byzantines would survive, they were already a power in decline by the 1000's, how would they survive 1000 more years? If it weren't the turkish, the egyptians, arabs, or even other european powers would try to conquer the eastern romans
 
But how would that be possible? The byzantines had enough problems to deal with in the east, why would they push westward? The reason for the ottoman empire wanting to expand in europe was religion and a lack of enemies to the east after the fall of the mamluks. Besides that, I don't even see how the byzantines would survive, they were already a power in decline by the 1000's, how would they survive 1000 more years? If it weren't the turkish, the egyptians, arabs, or even other european powers would try to conquer the eastern romans
It’s an exaggeration to say that Byzantium was in perpetual decline. There were periods of rise and decline. But I get your meaning. The thing is: what made the Ottomans successful? They started off smaller and weaker than the compact Nicaean Empire. What are the ingredients of their success? Once identified, can they be replicated by Byzantium? If it’s only a matter of access to material resources and external factors such as lack of competitive enemies, there is no reason to believe a lucky Byzantine streak like the lucky Ottoman streak couldn’t recreate something similar. So what were the internal factors?
 
But how would that be possible? The byzantines had enough problems to deal with in the east, why would they push westward? The reason for the ottoman empire wanting to expand in europe was religion and a lack of enemies to the east after the fall of the mamluks. Besides that, I don't even see how the byzantines would survive, they were already a power in decline by the 1000's, how would they survive 1000 more years? If it weren't the turkish, the egyptians, arabs, or even other european powers would try to conquer the eastern romans
The decline of the 11th century and post manzikert could be turned around with a more successful kommenian restoration as late as the 12th century one could do this just have manuel not waste his time and stike at the turks .

As for arabs last times i checked after the 13th century all Muslim most of not all major Muslims powers were turkish as the arabs became their subjects , as the egyptians now here is complicated because there could be a powerful egyptian state or we can get something as bad as the mameluks or worse
 
simple really simple, for a Byzantine Successor state to exist in the 20th Century. No butterflies needed.
Just have the Ottoman Empire call themselves a Successor to the Byzantine Empire. (which they did)
 
It’s an exaggeration to say that Byzantium was in perpetual decline. There were periods of rise and decline. But I get your meaning. The thing is: what made the Ottomans successful? They started off smaller and weaker than the compact Nicaean Empire. What are the ingredients of their success? Once identified, can they be replicated by Byzantium? If it’s only a matter of access to material resources and external factors such as lack of competitive enemies, there is no reason to believe a lucky Byzantine streak like the lucky Ottoman streak couldn’t recreate something similar. So what were the internal factors?
The thing that kept the ottomans from falling apart was morale,and after manzinkert byzantine morale was pretty low. Not to mention that byzantine nobles were very cutthroat, and the empire had many civil wars even before manzinkert. All of that combined with the fact that the empire had been unable to reconquer a significant portion of the roman empire since justinian, made many of the foreign empires see the byzantines as an easy target. Compare that to the ottomans, who had a lot of victories since their birth as an empire, and had more loyal nobility, and you have byzantine troops with very low morale. Not to mention that the ottomans came from the steppes, and nomads were very powerful forces in the ln the late medieval world.
So, for a surviving byzantine empire you would have to consistently maintain byzantine morale high, since it would prevent so much political instability, and even that would give you an eastern rome that controls greece and the coast of anatolia only
 
The decline of the 11th century and post manzikert could be turned around with a more successful kommenian restoration as late as the 12th century one could do this just have manuel not waste his time and stike at the turks .

As for arabs last times i checked after the 13th century all Muslim most of not all major Muslims powers were turkish as the arabs became their subjects , as the egyptians now here is complicated because there could be a powerful egyptian state or we can get something as bad as the mameluks or worse
Well, to have the byzantine survive more efficiently you would need to make the turks settle elsewhere, since empires from the steppes were very powerful back then, that's why an arab empire trying to conquer the byzantines isn't so far-fetched.
Also, what do you mean by a more successful kommenian restoration? More successful how? Is the government more centralized or more descentrantralized? Because either way, political instability, low morale and foreign invasions are still going to plague the country
 
The thing that kept the ottomans from falling apart was morale,and after manzinkert byzantine morale was pretty low. Not to mention that byzantine nobles were very cutthroat, and the empire had many civil wars even before manzinkert. All of that combined with the fact that the empire had been unable to reconquer a significant portion of the roman empire since justinian, made many of the foreign empires see the byzantines as an easy target. Compare that to the ottomans, who had a lot of victories since their birth as an empire, and had more loyal nobility, and you have byzantine troops with very low morale. Not to mention that the ottomans came from the steppes, and nomads were very powerful forces in the ln the late medieval world.
So, for a surviving byzantine empire you would have to consistently maintain byzantine morale high, since it would prevent so much political instability, and even that would give you an eastern rome that controls greece and the coast of anatolia only
You could argue that Byzantine morale after the Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople was utterly annihilated. However, the period between 1212 and 1258 comprised one of the most successful comebacks in history. How do you explain that? The Nicaean Empire consolidated a strong economy, reformed the state administration, achieved incredible military victories over the Turks (Battle of Antioch on the Meander, 1212) and the Latins (Battle of Poimamenon, 1225) and recovered nearly all territories that had been lost in the Partition of the Roman Empire. As they say, failures are great teachers. People adapt to catastrophe and grow comfortable with prosperity. I don't see how your "low morale" argument can sustain itself based on the amazing Nicaean recovery, or the earlier Komnenid restoration. Indeed, the Nicaean period was a time of optimism in Byzantine intellectual circles after the initial shock of 1204 dissipated. Byzantine thinkers, such as Emperor Theodore II himself, emphasized the Anatolian heartland as a holy land, as a type of Garden of Eden, which laid to the east in the biblical tale (just as Anatolia laid to the east of Constantinople). At the face of adversity, old pillars are constantly redefined.
 
Well, to have the byzantine survive more efficiently you would need to make the turks settle elsewhere, since empires from the steppes were very powerful back then, that's why an arab empire trying to conquer the byzantines isn't so far-fetched.
Also, what do you mean by a more successful kommenian restoration? More successful how? Is the government more centralized or more descentrantralized? Because either way, political instability, low morale and foreign invasions are still going to plague the country
No , no you don't even after the awful heirs basil II
And the system been rotten
romanos could have and mostly likely would have forced Alp arslan to flee ( had he not been betrayed ) and after all manzikert would have been seen as smaller victory had it not been for the civil wars
As for the late 11th and 12th centuries
Alexios kommenos marching to antioch would mean that he would have done what Jonh kommenos did but earlier leaving Jonh a stronger empire .

Or you can have Jonh kommenos not die in 1143
Or like i said have manuel not mess around and strike the turks while they were down or have better scouts and avoid the battle of Battle of Myriokephalon
There i gave examples on how to have a more successful kommenian restoration.
Also explian low morale ? How would they have a lower morale with a bigger and more successful restauration.
You don't need to have the turks move somewhere you just have to keep the byzantines stable till gunpowder makes step nomads obsolete .
 
The thing that kept the ottomans from falling apart was morale,and after manzinkert byzantine morale was pretty low. Not to mention that byzantine nobles were very cutthroat, and the empire had many civil wars even before manzinkert. All of that combined with the fact that the empire had been unable to reconquer a significant portion of the roman empire since justinian, made many of the foreign empires see the byzantines as an easy target. Compare that to the ottomans, who had a lot of victories since their birth as an empire, and had more loyal nobility, and you have byzantine troops with very low morale. Not to mention that the ottomans came from the steppes, and nomads were very powerful forces in the ln the late medieval world.
So, for a surviving byzantine empire you would have to consistently maintain byzantine morale high, since it would prevent so much political instability, and even that would give you an eastern rome that controls greece and the coast of anatolia only
Yeah this had more to with basil II stupid heirs rather than a systematic failure of the byzantine system for example the 1066 Revolt against heavy taxation , also define significant?

The Roman empire was like this in 717
descarga (43).jpeg


And here it was in 1025
images - 2021-03-11T153725.158.jpeg

The Byzantines got armenia , the north of the levant the whole of anatolia crete , Cyprus , the whole of the Balkans , and southern italy reconquered since took power in fact for these 150 or so years from Basil I to Basil II the Romans were the ones on the ofensive

Even with some of basil II bad heirs they still manged to expand no one in the late 10th or even to the mid 11th century would see the Roman empire as an easy target ( despite its bad emeperors)

But then again you can have a pod were you give basil not great but acceptable heirs or like i said mroe successful kommenian restoration as for the turks been steppe nomads ? So what there not invincible or not prone to figthing as seen by the division of the seljuks empire .
 
Last edited:
Top