Down the Parallel Road: An Afsharid Persia Timeline

I can't imagine Britain is terribly pleased about this. IOTL they were terrified of France (or any other major power) possessing the Belgian ports, and therefore the capability to invade Britain.
 
Even a lack of revolution isn't enough to stop France from expanding.
France must grow larger.
Only a fool would let the largest population of any state in Western Europe go to waste ;). Realistically though, France's acquisitions were only possible due to the rather unique political situation Europe was in, and any attempt to expand now would likely provoke a general European war against her, which would be less likely to end in victory than Revolutionary France's wars against the Coalitions did in OTL.
I can't imagine Britain is terribly pleased about this. IOTL they were terrified of France (or any other major power) possessing the Belgian ports, and therefore the capability to invade Britain.
Britain will likely throw her weight behind any challenge to France in the future, and will certainly fight any attempt to move beyond the Rhine which will be troublesome for France in the future. The problem is that Austria is the only power in Central Europe capable of standing up to the French, and she has to contend with the Russians to the West and with the Ottomans to the South, though the latter are less of a threat. Expect a very active colonial competition between Britain and France, and a continuation of 18th century relations on the European continent in regards to Britain and France.
Caught up to this after a long hiatus. Still as interesting as ever.
Great update. Keep them coming.
Great to hear that. Things ought to get even more interesting as we go into the 19th century!
 
Persia in the Early 19th Century
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In the Shadows of the Shahs: Persia in the Islamic Period to the Modern Day


The Reigns of Shah Abbas and Hassan

The Great Shia rebellion had been a traumatic event for Persia. Hundreds of thousands were killed in the bloody campaign, and the victory of the government had done little to address the factors that had led to the rebellion. The formerly dominant Shia population was still marginalised, and control of discourse in Qom became more of a government priority. Alongside this, Abbas placed additional emphasis on the Sunni Jafari’ madhab, establishing a university in the city of Hamadan to encourage Islamic learning in the city that was approved by the government. Through these means the Shah hoped to weaken the Shia population of Persia and reduce the chances of rebellion. However, the Ayatollahs in Qom continued to hold sway over a small but devoted set of worshippers, concentrated mainly in the cities of Qom, Mashhad and Rey, as well as other areas such as Southern Iraq and Bamiyan in Eastern Persia.


The internal disquiet following the Great Shia rebellion ensured that Shah Abbas would not be able to embark on the great foreign policy that he had envisioned as crown prince. India slipped further from his grasp, with a Sikh coup-de-tat in the Punjab removing the last elements of Persian control in the Indo-Gangetic Valley. Likewise, Persia proved to be uninterested in the plight of the Ottomans during their great war with the Russians in 1809-10. If few enough previously had entertained Persian claims to primacy in the Islamic world, it had become a particularly hollow claim by now. Persia’s influence outside her own borders became curbed as the army became increasingly obsolete and internal issues became more pressing for her rulers. The age of the great empire envisioned by the founder of the dynasty, Nader Shah, had truly come to an end in less than a century.


However, as Persia’s eyes were turned inward, those of other nations now became fixed on Persia. Russia’s attempts to expand Westwards in Europe had been checked, and to compensate she looked south to her Muslim neighbours. The Ottomans had been defeated in the war of 1809-10, in which she had lost the remains of her empire on the north shore of the Black Sea. Buoyed by her success against the Ottomans, the Russians now began to look toward the Persians, whose Caucasian Empire blocked Russia’s ambitions in the Middle East. The new Tsar Paul desired a great achievement to emulate his father’s victory over the Turks, and by 1819 had become convinced that Persia was the ideal avenue for Russian expansion. The death of Abbas and the rise of the weak Hassan had only encouraged Russia in her expansionistic ambitions, and in 1820, Russia received her casus belli.


Georgia possessed an illustrious history as a Christian Kingdom in the midst of largely Muslim neighbours, but since the 16th century she had been dominated by her larger Muslim neighbours, the Ottoman Empire and Persia. After a brief spell of freedom during the fall of the Safavid Empire, Nader Shah had once again enforced Persian control in Georgia, this controlling the Caucasian mountain range and its passes from the steppe in to the Middle East. However, the increasing internal conflicts within Persia had given heart to the Georgian Prince, Alexander. With a message of Russian support sent in 1820, he felt confident enough to rise in rebellion against the Persian king. Georgia ejected its Persian garrisons and made a formal appeal to Russia to intervene on her behalf, with Russia enthusiastically responded to, declaring war on Persia on the 5th of April 1820. Russia dispatched around 5 army corps to the theatre of war, the largest effort Russia had mustered in Asia, which would combine with a Georgian army of around 30,000.


Against this large force, Persia could muster a force of only 100,000. Since the days of Nader Shah, the Persian army had increased its reliance on mass musketry, with much of her army made up of Persian conscripts wielding Jazāyer muskets. They were supported by largely non-Persian cavalry, drawn from the Pashtun and Turkmen peoples of the empire. These cavalry were mainly armed with lances, as with the spread of musketry, horse archery had become a far less effective tactic. The Jazāyer muskets had an advantage in accuracy and range over the Russian firearms (with the exception of rifle-armed skirmishers) but this was more or less the only advantage that the Persians had. The Russian infantry were armed with bayonets, which enabled them to mount a defence against cavalry attacks, and their muskets were far easier to reload, giving them a greater rate of fire.


It was not just this area in which the Russians had an advantage. In the European wars from 1791 to 1814, there had been a number of tactical and organizational innovations in Europe. Whereas military science in Persia had been largely static since the Sino-Persian war of the mid-18th century, Europe had established itself as cutting edge in military matters, having absorbed lessons at home and in places such as India. The Persians had some early success at Tbilisi, capturing the city after a short siege, but their forces were not quick enough to close off the Caucasus passes to the Russians. The Russian II Corps encountered a Persian force at Tskhinvali, killing and capturing 10,000 Persians to about 2,000 Russian casualties. Just a few days afterwards, the Persians were alerted to another Russian attack in Dagestan, and within a month the Russian forces had advanced to Tarki, capturing the city, which was the gateway to Trans-Caucasian Persia.


The strategic picture looked bleak for the Persians, and under their leader, Jafar Qoli, the Persian army retreated to regroup at Yerevan. By July, the Russian had advanced on Baku and Ganja, threatening to cut off the Persian army from the Persian core lands, which encouraged Jafar Qoli to march out to confront the Russians. At Karakilisa, the Persian army clashed with the Russian III and IV Corps, and seemed to have some success early in the day. An attempt on the part of Cossack Cavalry units to ride down the Persian Musketeers failed in the light of withering fire from the Persians. However, the superior artillery of the Russians rescued the day, and eventually pounded the Persians out of their positions, leaving them exposed. Jafar Qoli surrendered his army, leaving Persia defenceless.


The peace that Russia presented to the Persians was a harsh one. The Persians would forever lose their vassal in Georgia, and would be forced to cede hard-won Dagestan to the Russians. The Persians were forbidden from building military vessels on the Caspian Sea, and had to renounce the Treaty of Constantinople signed by Nader Shah with the Ottoman Sultan. This last stipulation was the final blow to any claim of Iranian primacy over the Muslim world, yet it was not as damaging as the 40 million Toman indemnity that the Russians demanded from Iran. Harsh as these demands were, without an army to oppose the Russians, the Persian Shah was forced to agree to the Russian demands.


Hassan had never been a particularly popular Shah. The religious elite of Hamadan and Qom both criticised aspects of his personal life (his alcoholism was at odds with the increasingly anti-alcohol teachings of religious clerics). Merchants and guilds despised him for his inability to keep the peace, and for the high inflation seen in his reign. The nobility thought him foolish and inept, and thus his bases of power had all been further eroded by the defeat in the Russo-Persian war. The rise in taxation in the mid-1820s further added to his unpopularity, and with the famine of 1826, the camel’s back was broken. The palace guards conspired to assassinate Hassan, and were able to do so, stabbing him to death while he was bathing. Hassan’s young brother, Tahmasp was crowned as Shah, promising a period of peace and prosperity for Persia.

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The Persian Economy in the Early 19th Century

When European visitors to Persia increased in numbers following the peace of 1814, their impressions of the country were quiet varied. Some noted approvingly of the seemingly thriving cities and countryside, others remarked more negatively on the country. The methods of production were increasingly backward, with European style manufactories seen only in the cities of Isfahan and Tabriz. Persia’s thriving textile and carpet making industries were still largely cottage affairs, with women often taking a lead in the production of these goods. However, mechanization was nowhere to be found, and the instruments of production were primitive indeed which reduced the efficiency of Persian workers. This allowed textile products produced in areas such as Lancashire to be viable in the Iranian market, and British industrial products were an increasingly common sight in ports such as Batumi and Bushehr.


Agriculturally, there had been enormous changes in the 18th century, and agricultural production was fairly advanced. On the Caspian Sea coast, much of Persia’s rice was farmed, owing much to the heavy rainfall of the area and the advanced system of irrigation in the area. It was this area of the country that was the most productive agriculturally, and was able to supply much of the rest of Northern Persia’s demand for rice (the south of course, importing its rice from the Indian Subcontinent). In Western-Central Persia, a great amount of wheat and other crops were grown, fed by the winter rains. This was augmented by pastureland in areas unsuited for arable agriculture, and it was in these areas where most of Persia’s shrinking number of nomads could be found.


However, in the earlier part of the 19th century, much of this agricultural growth began to stagnate as fertile lands were farmed, and only desert remained. This led to increased emigration to the lightly-populated lands of Central Asia, which along the Amu Darya River and in the fertile Fergana valleys, saw increasing numbers of settlers from “Old Persia”. By 1830, the ethnic composition of these two areas was roughly 60% Persian and 40% Turkic. This was a testament to the incredible movement of people, which mirrored that of Han Chinese into Manchuria or Europeans into the Americas. However, by the 1830s the free fertile land of these regions had been settled, leading to a population too large for the land available.


At this point however, there was little in the way of emigration outside Persia’s borders. In the entire period from 1800 to 1830, an estimated 20,000 Persians left Persia never to return, settling across the Muslim world in places as diverse as East Africa and the East Indies. Instead, many landless peasants began moving to cities, only to find that there was little in the way of work available for them. In many of Persia’s cities, slums began to grow in size, and the great quantities of labour in the cities led to a general decline in urban wages in Persia, compounding the problems of increased European competition.


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A meaningful coal industry in Persia only started to emerge in the early 1800s. The deforestation that had accompanied population growth in the latter half of the 18th century had led to a number of growing ecological problems such as soil erosion. Following the seizure of all forested land in 1798, Persians could no longer rely on wood as a fuel in the home. In rural areas, the population increasingly turned to animal dung as a source of fuel, though this was much harder to come by in the larger cities of Persia. This demand for fuel began to increase the price of coal, which could be found in many areas of Northern Persia, particularly the west around Tabriz, in the Alborz mountains, and in Khorasan. A small amount of coal had been mined since the 11th century, though with the increase in demand, the intensiveness of coal mining now began to increase.


From around 7000 tonnes of coal mined annually in Persia in 1750, coal production increased to 30,000 tonnes in 1800, and around 80,000 by 1830. While significant within a Persian context, this increase in production paled when compared to European figures. By 1800 for example, Britain was producing over 10 million tonnes of coal a year. In addition to this, Iran’s coal was not used to power machinery as was the case in industrialising England, but was almost all used for domestic purposes, usually heating during winter. There would be no steam engines in Persia with which coal could be used to power until later on in the 19th century, which limited the demand for coal and correspondingly, its production. In other areas of Persia, such as the East and the South, coal was still completely absent which reduced the familiarity of many Persians with coal as an energy source.

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Author's Notes - The era of Persian decline has now officially set in, even if her economy is thriving like never before. Although Persia is likely to suffer further losses vis-a-vis the Europeans, the fact that rather than the semi-nomadic Persia of 6 million in OTL, we have a prosperous Persia of around 30 million is going to change a whole lot, especially in the Indian Ocean and beyond. It looks deceptively like the OTL 19th century so far, but don't count on the state of affairs lasting.

Incidentally, it was interesting to find out that as in the UK, in Northern Iran coal could actually be found almost at ground level. Traditionally the problem for coal as a heating resource in Iran was the cost of transport however, as mountainous Iran is notoriously difficult. Nevertheless, I thought with increased population densities and a better system of roads, the growth of a small coal industry was not too out of bounds. Still, don't expect industrialisation any time soon as Iran lacks other elements necessary.
 
I have some questions about the state sponsored branch of islam that Persia has in your TL.
Did I understand it correctly that it is a sort of "merger" between the sunni and shii'te doctrines?
And the q'uran, is that still solely written in Arabic, or will there be some developments here? Perhaps Arabic on one page and Persian on the other, or maybe just the local language?

If I remember correctly from high school, islam specifies that Arabic is a holy language, and the q'urans should therefore not be written in any other language, is this right?

Also, the second paragraph of author's notes I think was sort of a giveaway. I feel you are hinting that the 5 times larger Persian population will become very relevant in certain aspects:
* The Great Game interrupted; Persia playing off both sides, resulting in an expansion... northwards
By staking their claims and being able to fight, defeat and bring more men to the fray than the other players, I expect some territorial expansion coupled with buffer-states. Although it would be quite a snub for the Ottomans to see Persia being the liberator and/or guarantor of Turkic states' Security.

* Large Persian trading/immigrant communities around the world; Singapore, Mumbai, London, in the realm of the Fulani
The demographic explosion is coming, and with industrialization, increased medical standards and societal norms pro-large family; Persians will have to move.
Some will move north(if I'm right about the expansion), but many will also form trading communities around the world's trade hubs. Little Persia in New York? Maybe

What are the cultural butterflies an ascendant Persian empire will have on the modern world?
In a purely Western-centric view, I'd imagine that the reverence of the ancient Greeks might be extended to the Persians as well?
Couple this with a larger presence of Persians globally, both in soft-power, hard-power and in trading/immigrant communities; might a melting-pot of a country such as the U.S, not only absorb St. Patrick's day but also Nowruz?

Maps are always cool. Keep up this wonderful TL, and I wish you a very happy new year!
 
Great Update! Looking forward to how things progress in the 19th century.
The 19th century is one of my favourite centuries at any rate, so it will be quite a challenge to keep things as interesting as they were in OTL.
I have some questions about the state sponsored branch of islam that Persia has in your TL.
Did I understand it correctly that it is a sort of "merger" between the sunni and shii'te doctrines?
And the q'uran, is that still solely written in Arabic, or will there be some developments here? Perhaps Arabic on one page and Persian on the other, or maybe just the local language?

If I remember correctly from high school, islam specifies that Arabic is a holy language, and the q'urans should therefore not be written in any other language, is this right?
Historically the Jafari' Madhab of Sunni Islam never really got off the ground, and was likely a political ploy to mollify religious differences within Nader Shah's Army. However, in this TL it has been able to grow into a more developed belief system. It is still very distinct from the other Sunni Madhabs (particularly in the lack of belief in predestination, as well as a more organized clergy) though other differences noted in OTL, such as in methods of prayer, have been eliminated. The Jafari' school in particular adopts the conventional Sunni approach on the First Finta and the Rashidun Caliphs, rather than rejecting all accept the Ahl-al-Bayt (the family of the Prophet) as worth of leading the Muslim community. Likewise, pilgrimage to Najaf and Karbala are no longer practiced. And in regards to translations of the Quran, the majority of opinion among most of the scholars I've heard is that translations would not get across the real meaning of the Quran. Of course, this should be kept in the context that even amongst Arabic speakers there are disagreements regarding the meaning of some words in the Quran, so it's a rather sticky subject. I think it's an area I'd like to look into more deeply in a later update perhaps, though hopefully this gives a bit of an impression as to how things a
Also, the second paragraph of author's notes I think was sort of a giveaway. I feel you are hinting that the 5 times larger Persian population will become very relevant in certain aspects:
* The Great Game interrupted; Persia playing off both sides, resulting in an expansion... northwards
By staking their claims and being able to fight, defeat and bring more men to the fray than the other players, I expect some territorial expansion coupled with buffer-states. Although it would be quite a snub for the Ottomans to see Persia being the liberator and/or guarantor of Turkic states' Security.

* Large Persian trading/immigrant communities around the world; Singapore, Mumbai, London, in the realm of the Fulani
The demographic explosion is coming, and with industrialization, increased medical standards and societal norms pro-large family; Persians will have to move.
Some will move north(if I'm right about the expansion), but many will also form trading communities around the world's trade hubs. Little Persia in New York? Maybe

What are the cultural butterflies an ascendant Persian empire will have on the modern world?
In a purely Western-centric view, I'd imagine that the reverence of the ancient Greeks might be extended to the Persians as well?
Couple this with a larger presence of Persians globally, both in soft-power, hard-power and in trading/immigrant communities; might a melting-pot of a country such as the U.S, not only absorb St. Patrick's day but also Nowruz?

Maps are always cool. Keep up this wonderful TL, and I wish you a very happy new year!
At least earlier on in the 19th century, without the total erosion of Persian Power, the "Great Game" will for all intents and purposes be off. If Afghanistan was a bridge too far for the British and the Russians, then a much larger Empire in the same area will be far too much. What I think is more likely are attempts to gain advantage by both the Russians and the British. The British for the moment have their hands full in attempting to build their influence in India, but if they manage to establish some kind of hegemony there, they will likely be looking further afield to ensure that their domination is not challenged.

Persians will certainly set themselves up as traders. As of the 1800s, they are already making their presence felt as far away as the East Indies and East Africa, though as with the Arabs in the 19th century, their presence is likely to be challenged by Industrial Europe. Singapore is less interesting than OTL so far, as it remains a part of Johor so far. The British have a presence in Malacca following the Netherland's disastrous loss against France, and without Penang, she may desire an island base in the region, if only to keep a watch on the French.

I think by the 20th century, the butterflies will be enormous. Not quite "no concept of the west" but many Western nations, including the area of OTL's US are likely to be rather unrecognizable to us. What place the Muslim world takes, and how the world is organized is likely to be very different, so I guess let's enjoy the ride!
 
The Middle East - Early 19th Century
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Gerhard Schneider; Osman's Children - A History of the Ottoman Empire


The Unravelling of the Empire? The Effects of the Russo-Turkish War and the Wars in the Balkans

The defeat suffered in 1809-10 shook the Ottoman Empire to its very core. There were no mitigating factors, no aspects in which the stain of defeat could in some way be lessened. This was the worst defeat the Ottoman Empire had ever suffered against a Christian power, and it was this that provided the trigger for the “Reform Era” of the Ottoman Empire. With the defeat, the Western-Minded Osman now had sufficient political capital to enact a program of reform known as the “Porte Reforms” after the Edict of the Porte. Increased focus was to be made on the rationalization of the administration, the provision of education and the development of the economy. The Sultan travelled incognito to Western Europe in 1814, and came back with a more refined vision of building a modern country along Western lines, including in areas of industrial development. In the capital, the Sultan built a textiles manufactory for the production of the Fez [1], a newly introduced head wear intended to introduce equality of dress (though the ulema were excused from wearing the new head-gear).


However, although Osman was keen on embarking into a brave new world of modernization, he would be confronted with the contradictions of the Ottoman Empire. In the Balkans, disquiet with the Ottoman regime had increased with both the victories of Christian powers against the Ottomans, as well as the rising taxes and repression that Balkan Christians suffered from. There had been previous rebellions against the Ottoman Empire amongst the Christians of the Balkan provinces, though the Greek Rebellion of 1815 was different. These rebels were far better organized than previous rebels had been, and took propaganda as a more important element than previous rebellions had done. To the Greeks of the Ottoman Empire and abroad, support both physically and monetary was sought by the promise of the restoration of Byzantine glories. In Europe, the glory of Ancient Greece was invoked, and particularly among romantic poets, artists and indeed, politician, support for the Greek cause steadily grew.


The war itself was a savage one, with Christian inhabitants of many war-torn areas facing massacres from the Ottoman forces, and the Muslim inhabitants facing the same from the rebels. All in all, the population of Greece was reduced by about a quarter in the course of the fighting, and the tales of atrocities served to heighten public opinion on both sides. The real turning point of the war however was the capture of Athens by the rebels in 1818. This was a seismic event in terms of symbolic value, and almost immediately after the news arrived in Belgrade, the Serbs began to rise up in rebellion to the Ottoman Empire now. The Serb rebellion evoked much in the way of sympathy from the Russians, who supplied arms and money to their Slavic Orthodox brothers. This move increased the stakes in the Balkans, as a proxy war now took hold. The British, nervous of Russian intentions provided increased amounts of aid to the Greek rebels, and the French, wary of both, aided the ailing Ottomans.


Ottoman attempts at hemming in the rebellions were scuttled when the Bulgarians joined the other Christian Balkan peoples in rebellion in 1820, adding another threat to the Ottomans. By now, the forces of the Balkan nations were almost equivalent to those of the Ottoman Empire, threatening a stalemate that would continue until a compromise was found. However, Ottoman success in an offensive against the Bulgarian rebels, and subsequent reports of atrocities against Bulgarian civilians, finally encouraged direct intervention from the Russians. Russian forces moved into Silistra in 1821 in order to stop atrocities, but her real goal was to tie the emerging Balkan nations closer to herself, and aid their wars of independence. After initial Russian victories at Mangalia and Varna, they were halted at Karnobat, and forced back. Supported with French loans, the Ottomans increased the size of their army and attempted to curb the gains of the Balkan nations. When the Russians threatened to send more troops to the Balkans, Austria mobilized part of her army and occupied the Danubian principalities, threatening to cut off Russia’s armies if she escalated the conflict.


This would be the last decisive phase of the conflict. The war itself lasted another three terrible years, until the European powers agreed to the “Treaty of Athens”, which guaranteed independence for Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria. Britain was recognized as the “Protector” of Greece, and Russia the protector of Serbia and Bulgaria. For her part, Austria had managed to confirm her occupation of the Danubian principalities in perpetuity, arguing that she would be a disinterested player in maintaining peace in the Balkans. The Ottomans had fought for ten years in vain to stop some of her most valuable provinces from slipping away from her fingers, and her reform project had been ruined by the costs of the war.


Osman’s ambitions for the Ottoman Empire were promptly scaled back. Despite his best efforts, the Ottoman Empire was vulnerable to predication by the European powers, as well as to the desires of his own people. In order to reduce dissatisfaction within the Empire, an edict for the equality of Christian and Jewish subjects of the Empire was promulgated in 1827, followed by the introduction of a civil law code in 1829. However, it was as of yet unclear just how much of an impact that these reforms could make on the increase of nationalist feeling within the empire.

[1] - Not too plausible, I know, but I don't think I could imagine a world without the Fez. I mean, it was around as a hat long before it was introduced as a national headwear of the Ottoman Empire, so I don't know...

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Khulood al-Shuwaikh; The Story of the Arab People

A Golden Age? Mamluk Egypt in the early 19th Century


Egypt’s Mamluk rulers seemed to be the great expansionist force in the Middle East and North Africa in the early 19th century. Her relatively decentralised political system gave the great landholding Beys the ability to have their own private armies of Mamluk warriors. However, as the slave trade from the Caucasus was steadily curbed, the Mamluk warriors were in increasingly short supply. Thus, a number of Beys began recruiting peasants into their armies. These Egyptian Fellaheen were often coerced or simply stolen, and by all accounts the life of an Egyptian solider in the period was a uniquely frightful one. Nevertheless, with this army the Egyptians launched an invasion of Cyrenaica in 1808, conquering Benghazi and the rest of the area from the Bey of Tripoli.


By now, Egyptian expansionism had gained the attention of Europeans. The British Consul in Cairo recommended in 1808 that the new Egypt Sultan, Qaem, seemed every bit as keen on expansion as his predecessor, and may be a useful ally in the Mediterranean against the French. The Russians likewise saw Egypt as a possible ally against the Ottoman Turks, though Sultan Qaem was not interested in pursuing wars against the modernizing Ottomans. Indeed, Egypt’s priorities during the reign of Sultan Qaem were in places little-known by Europeans such as the Sudan and Arabia, and were more motivated by finding new sources of slaves and protecting the Holy Cities than by playing the role of a great power in Europe. Thus, most of the efforts of the Europeans to convert the Egyptian Sultanate into an ally in the region came to naught, and the Egyptians continued to play their role in the world independently. With tensions high in Europe, there was little prospect of Egypt being brought into the European sphere.


The Egypt invasion of Funj in 1816 was launched, like so many others, largely by the initiative of individual Mamluk nobles rather than the Sultan. Ali Khan Pasha, a Circassian Mamluk with significant holdings in the Nile Delta marched with 2,000 men south of Aswan towards the city of Sennar. However, he underestimated the amount of resistance that he would face, and after a month, was forced back to Aswan with a small fraction of his force remaining. The Sultan of Funj, Agban, now led a retaliatory force into Egypt, taking the town of Aswan and burning it to the ground. This of course, proved to be the trigger for greater Egyptian involvement in the conflict. Sultan Qaem assembled an army of around 50,000 men and marched south into what the Egyptians termed “Bilad al-Sudan”, or the Land of the Blacks.


However, Agban was a canny general, and rather than confronting the larger and better-armed Egyptian force, pulled his own forces down the Nile, allowing his enemy’s army to be weakened by dysentery. Finally, after months of withdrawal, he clashed with the Egyptian army near the village of Omdurman. The battle itself was inconclusive, though the Egyptians did worse out of the battle than the Funj army, and now it began to make its way back to a fort it had built near the confluence of the River Nile. There, trapped in a stalemate, the two sides agreed to a ceasefire, with Egypt gaining much of Northern Sudan. The result was a disappointing one for the Egyptians, who would be little better placed for control of the slave markets than they were before. The one important side effect of the war would be the curbing of the rights of the Mamluk nobility, taking away much of their scope for independent action, and limiting the amount of armed men they were allowed to maintain to a mere 500.


After a period of internal consolidation following the Funj War, Sultan Qaem now looked toward Arabia as an area that needed his attention. In Arabia itself, the Saudi allied tribes, fired up with the teachings of a puritanical reformer known as Muhammad Ibn Abd-al Wahhab, had begun threatening both the Shia Emirs of the East Coast of Arabia, as well as the Egyptian-ruled Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina. Two Saudi attempts to take Mecca were beaten back in 1809 and 1816, leading to a great deal of concern even beyond Egypt. As the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Sultan Qaem had a religious obligation to protect both Masjid al-Haram and an-Nabawi. The increased garrisons seemed to head off the Saudi threat, though Sultan Qaem decided to launch an invasion of Najd in Arabia in 1820 to end the Saudi threat once and for all. In a four year campaign, the Egyptians built a number of forts at the oases of Central Arabia, ensuring that survival in the desert could only be done under the watchful eyes of the Egyptian garrisons.


The conquest of the Najd was to be the last great conquest of the Mamluk Sultans of Egypt. Sultan Qaem’s health had begun to decline following the invasion of Sudan, in an illness which his French Physician identified as Malaria. For the last two years of his life, his increasingly unstable physical and mental condition took him largely out of public life until his death in 1826. Qaem had been one of the most dynamic Sultans of Mamluk Egypt, having expanded the state to its territorial zenith and done much to curb the power of the over-mighty Mamluk nobility. However, Egypt itself was still something of an economic backwater. The population of the Nile Valley itself had grown to around 4 million, though with a total population of some 7 million, the Egyptian state, though expanding, was a pygmy in terms of its population and economic clout. As the military revolution spread more thoroughly to the Middle East in the 19th century, it would be Egypt that was the most unsuited state.

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Nathaniel McGinn; Clash of Civilizations - A Study of Imperialism in the 19th Century

The British Conquest of Algeria

The establishment of British hegemony in Algeria was an event that should have been seen as a watershed in the Muslim World, but was for the most part, ignored. The British conquest was begun in 1807, when the Dey of Algeria had refused to return British citizens who had been captured as Slaves. This was initially just a raid in which the British hoped to capture the palace and negotiate a settlement with the Algerians. However, the Dey escaped into the interior of the country, and began raising an army to retake Algiers. The British evacuated the city the following year due to commitments in her war against her colonies in North America, but following the peace of 1808, the British now redoubled her efforts in Algeria.


An army of 15,000 men was landed at Oran, and swiftly captured the city after putting the local garrison to flight. The army marched into the interior, defeating 20,000 of the Dey’s forces at the Battle of Sig, and almost capturing him. The British renewed their offer of peace, promising to leave the country if the Dey would return European slaves and pay an indemnity of 10 million Pounds Stirling. Once again, the Dey refused, retreating and attempting to build up his armies. The British Commander, Thomas Paget, Earl of Uxbridge, now requested reinforcements from London. He promised to banish slavery from Algeria and ensure that Algeria could become the home of free trade in North Africa. This lead to 20,000 more men being dispatched, most of them veterans of the war in America. These were hardened veterans, capable of operating in difficult terrain, and many of them armed with rifled muskets, more suited to the style of warfare found in Algeria.


The British army sized Algiers once again in 1811, with the Dey once again avoiding capture. Uxbridge now found a brother of the Dey who was willing to act as a British puppet to place on the throne. This puppet, an indolent man by the name of Abdulaziz Ben Muhammad, declared Algeria’s independence from the Ottoman Empire under pressure from the British, and also issued proclamations banning slavery. The British, satisfied that they had found a compliant puppet in the person of Abdulaziz Dey, now began their slow conquest of the Algerian interior. Progress was slow, due to the tenacious resistance of the Algerians. Annaba was conquered by 1818, and Constantine fell in 1820. By 1825, much of the country had been pacified, and the former Dey was finally captured by British forces, and executed in Algiers by his brother. With the conquest of Algeria, the British had established a secure foothold in the Mediterranean to keep watch on French Ambitions in the region. She had also boosted her own prestige among the Christian nations of the Mediterranean, who appreciated the threat of Barbary piracy being curbed.

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Author's Notes - A look at the rest of the Muslim world, India excluded (it gets its own update). With the exception of the "Inner Muslim World", Muslim power in a lot of parts of the world is now in retreat. There is nothing quite as violent as the shock of Napoleon's OTL invasion of Egypt, but nevertheless Muslims in other areas of the world are taking note of European power. Probably sooner rather than later, there will come thinkers who will seriously begin thinking about the bases of European power and whether or not they can be replicated at home.
 
I am honestly wondering if the AFsharid Persia will go through a similar period that Siam did in OTL when Europeans showed up.

Also that mention of a Sikh Coup in Punjab means that a lot of big stuff is happening in the subcontinent.
 
Lots of changes now evident!
British Algeria.
Surviving Egyptian Sultanate (perhaps later declaring itself a Caliphate since it holds Mecca and Medina?)
I do wonder if changes to Persia in this time are mirroring OTL Russia albeit on a smaller scale. If so a Persian USSR could be very interesting ;)
 
I guess we're heading towards a renewal of the old French-Ottoman alliance from the days of Francis I. I understand why Dutch Indies could have been targeted due to the value of their exports, but if France was after bases in the region, why not targeting Annam or Siam like IOTL?

Also, I didn't remember if you had Ceylon and South Africa remaining Dutch into 19th century.
 
At least earlier on in the 19th century, without the total erosion of Persian Power, the "Great Game" will for all intents and purposes be off. If Afghanistan was a bridge too far for the British and the Russians, then a much larger Empire in the same area will be far too much. What I think is more likely are attempts to gain advantage by both the Russians and the British. The British for the moment have their hands full in attempting to build their influence in India, but if they manage to establish some kind of hegemony there, they will likely be looking further afield to ensure that their domination is not challenged.

I expect the British to only gain hegemony over the Deccan Plateau since they have cities of Surat and Mumbai alongside the Madras Presidency to to invade the Maratha Empire in the future, the Indo-Gangetic Plain on the other hand will be out of their reach without controlling East India. So it could be divided and disputed by a resurgent Bengal state and a emerging Sikh Empire, each of which back by European Powers like Russia for access of the Indus River and France to Bengal.
 
That East Prussia border doesn't make sense.
Noted. I've corrected the border in the 1829 map I'm working on. Thanks for the heads up!
Another terrific update. When will we revisit North America?
I'm planning an update for North America not too far into the future. Probably another week or two.
Is there a map for reference?
I've got one that's just about ready, but I'm not sure about posting it, for fear of spoiling things going on elsewhere in the world, or something along those lines. It might be worthwhile to release a series of regional maps.
British Algeria? Well, that's new.
Got to have some kind of base in the Mediterranean for the Royal Navy. For the British, it makes sense as she tries to assert her leading naval role, in this instance by fighting the scourge of Barbary Piracy, which while not as significant as it had been in its height, was quite a problem for the inhabitants of some European nations in the Mediterranean and beyond.
I am honestly wondering if the AFsharid Persia will go through a similar period that Siam did in OTL when Europeans showed up.

Also that mention of a Sikh Coup in Punjab means that a lot of big stuff is happening in the subcontinent.
Well, if only due to her larger size, Afsharid Persia may have a harder or easier job at doing that. At this point, Afsharid Persia still has a higher population than a number of European countries including the UK, Austria and any of the smaller European states, whereas Siam had a rather small population and limited resources. Much depends on the political situation in Europe as well as the caliber of leaders that Persia gets.

There are some pretty big events happening in the Subcontinent in the absence of a dominating Raj. India's update should be a good'un.
Lots of changes now evident!
British Algeria.
Surviving Egyptian Sultanate (perhaps later declaring itself a Caliphate since it holds Mecca and Medina?)
I do wonder if changes to Persia in this time are mirroring OTL Russia albeit on a smaller scale. If so a Persian USSR could be very interesting ;)
The religious situation surrounding the Caliph is an interesting one, and the Ottomans continue to hold the office out of tradition more than anything. Persia is the largest Muslim state in the world, and the Egyptian Sultan is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The 19th century is going to bring a lot of changes for Islamic thought, with both political changes as well as the existence of the Jafari' Madhhab of Sunni Islam doing at least something to open the gates of Ijtihad in some areas of the Muslim world. While this happened somewhat in OTL with figures such as Rashid Ridha calling for a re-examination of established Islamic Law (not to mention the fact that Shia Islam, at least in Iran and its neighbours, has never closed the gates of Ijtihad).

Well, that depends on whether Karl Marx still gets put up by some German with factories in Manchester so he can write a book. I do feel that ideologies, especially in the absence of the French Revolution, have changed enough to warrant some examination on their own, and I do hope to cover this fairly soon.
I expect the British to only gain hegemony over the Deccan Plateau since they have cities of Surat and Mumbai alongside the Madras Presidency to to invade the Maratha Empire in the future, the Indo-Gangetic Plain on the other hand will be out of their reach without controlling East India. So it could be divided and disputed by a resurgent Bengal state and a emerging Sikh Empire, each of which back by European Powers like Russia for access of the Indus River and France to Bengal.
Historically, the foundation of Britain's power in India was Bengal. Without Bengal, she doesn't have the resources to establish a dominant India. She will be lucky if she can control the lion's share of trade within the continent, which will be hard to do with the French breathing down her neck. The question of course is which European powers will be involved in India, as at the moment only the British and the French have any serious power projection outside of Europe.
 
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