The 11th century AD is marked by an almost global outbreak of the Black Death between 1030 and 1070, which kills almost a quarter of the population of Europe, Africa and Asia.
The pandemia breaks out in Türkestan in 1030. Along the Silk Route, it quickly spreads to China, India, Persia and the Eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. From there, it travels in the fleas of ship rats to Western and Northern Europe, South-East Asia, Arabia and Eastern Africa. On land, it spreads across all but the Northernmost regions of Europe.
The pandemia disrupts the order of many nations. Developed nations which manage to maintain social order and strict hygienics protect their urban populations, but cannot find ways to help their rural citizens, who inevitably live together with rodents and fleas. Global trade and communication break down for half a century.
The European settlers in Atlantis cut off all contacts with Europe in the successful attempt to prevent the pandemia´s spreading to their new continent. This has far-reaching consequences for the development of Atlantis: in the North, a handful of Celtic settlers is forced to intensify its cooperation with various native tribes, whereas the (already mixed) Taino-Ostrogothic societies of the islands extend their trade relations to the civilizations of southern Atlantis selectively, looking for high long-term profits.
The pandemia contributes to a revival of all sorts of religions in Europe and the Middle East and to the establishment of a strictly literalist Christian sect, Lukianism. In competition to religious healers, medical schools and hospitals also work feverishly towards discovering the source of the problem and finding ways of combating it. As the latter finally succeed in identifying the Yersinia pestis bacterium in rats, fleas and infected humans` secretions, and manage to contain the pandemia not through religious rituals and appeal to the gods, but through the use of barium carbonate as a rodenticide, arsenic and other insecticides against fleas, and paper face masks against the spreading of the pulmonary variety, several traditional cults descend into a severe crisis, and the social prestige of medics and chemists increases dramatically.
The last decades of the century are characterised by reconstruction efforts.
Economy & Technology
Due to the outbreak of the Black Death, no significant technological advances are made in this century. Economically, the pandemic causes a severe setback.
After the cause of the pandemic is identified and its transmission can be traced to human and rat fleas, several drastic measures are taken to combat the bubonic plague in the developed states:
- In towns and cities, all garbage must be placed in large containers, which are collected and burned by public workers.
- The streets of towns and cities are no longer only swept, but also endowed with water cleaning connected on the source side to the aquaeduct system and on the target side to new and improved canalisation systems leading to the urban cloacs. In smaller towns and those with less water supply, citizens are obligated to clean the streets in front of their houses themselves.
- Urban citizens who illegally deposit garbage or do not protect their edible stock or do not clean their street are fined severely and often imprisoned.
- The Black Death interrupts armed conflicts across Europe, Africa and Asia.
- Several Mesoamerican city states acquire horses and firearms from Taino-Ostrogothic merchants. Wars between cities intensify and bring forth centralising effects.
Philosophy / Science
- The first bacterium is identified as the cause of a disease (Yersinia pestis) by Egyptian medical researchers.
- In Norway, a radically Bible-literalist branch of Christianity, Olavism (after its founding father, a former monk from one of the many Celtic Church monasteries which have turned Norway`s sparse population mostly Christian), develops. They blame moral corruption and Celtic Church "heresies" for the Black Death. Most of its adherents are peasants and petty craftsmen. In the aftermath of the plague, which ravages Norway`s coasts in an especially fierce way and destroys public order, Olavist groups all across Norway rise in the St Paul`s Day revolution and establish a fundamentalist theocracy in Norway.
- In Asia Minor, Lukianos Pamphyilos, the son of a milling engineer, founds another radically Bible-literalist branch of Christianity, named Lukianism. He declares that the apocalypse has finally come and preaches moral purification and a "last minute return to God" lest it be too late...
- Traditional state cults are revived for several decades in the Roman and Celtic Empire in desperate attempts to stop the Black Death. After the chemical solution to the pandemia is found, the backlash hits both cults hard, undermining much of their reputation.
- In Persia, India, China, Türkestan and eastern Asia generally, various shortlived mysticist apocalyptic salvation cults appear during the plague. Although none of them survives the century, they create a cultural and spiritual atmosphere of uncertainty, relativism and experimentalism, which paves the way for the philosophical paradigm shifts of the 12th century, including Zhu Wang`s school of thought.
Nations of Europe
A plague epidemics in 1031-1037 kills 10-15% of Europe`s population, another one in 1040-1044 kills 5%. From 1044 to 1067, various local outbreaks are contained (in the empires better than in the North), but still manage to kill another 10% of Europe's population. Seven out of ten casualties in Europe live in rural areas.
Remote regions like the Caucasus and Great Perm, who had grown closer to Europe`s economic and political centre in the South over the last centuries, fall back into isolation.
On St Paul`s Day in 1061, Olavists all across Norway rise in a revolution. They oust most of the petty kings. Sørstad falls after a three-week siege. Olavists install a fundamentalist theocracy, abolish servitude outside of family farms and forcibly convert all Norwegians to Christianity. Celtic monasteries are destroyed and the monks sent into exile. The power base of the Olavists are petty craftsmen and peasants. Their fundamentalist government is coercive and violent, but also considered by some historians to be Norway`s first real democracy. In 1072, an Olavist Norwegian crusade against Denmark shatters. In 1078, an Olavist Norwegian crusade tries to conquer and convert the pagan Svear and Gautar, but is defeated in the battles of Halmstad and Linköping. Norway becomes internationally isolated.
The Conventum Romanum and the Celtic Council both pump enormous resources into researching the living conditions of bacteria and practical medical ways of containing and healing epidemics.
In Great Perm, rebellious peasants achieve corporation status for their villages, and a land reform, while the towns are weakened by the collapse of commerce. This model, which turns out as a historical compromise between the competing class aims of peasant republics and city oligarchies, inspires peasants in the Potamian Koina of the Borysthenes and the Tanais, too.
Nations of Asia
- As famines ravage the city states of Central Asia during the breakdown of Silk Road trade, the cities in the Tarim Basin, Dzungaria and Sogdia seek help from Sui and asylum. They accept Sui overlordship.
- The Uygur Khaganate collapses and disintegrates.
- The former Silk Road cities along the Oxus join Eran.
- In the situation of weakness and instability, a Mazdako-Tengrist movement comprising Khereid, Naimans, Oirats, but also Basmyls and other Turks, brings down the Uyghur Empire and destabilises Sui`s Mongol territories. They pursue an active anti-civilisationalist agenda and a return to nomadism, hunting and gathering and the removal of statehood.
Nations of Africa
- On Africa`s coasts, trade is interrupted as ships are sent into quarantine to prevent the spreading of the Black Death. Port towns and coastal nations are ravaged by the Black Death.
- In West Africa, cut off from Celtic military support, Djolof is conquered by the Gao Federation, which seeks an ocean port. The Gao conquest is facilitated by Wolof and Serer rebellions. Horon planters are expropriated and Horon trading societies banned as Djolof and its former colonies are incorporated into federal Gao structures
- In East Africa, the chaos and poverty give rise to a rogue Gathist named Mbegha, who seizes power in the Shambaa Kingdom and transforms the kingdom into an empire. Mbegha enforces a modernisation of the armed forces and the administration. He conquers dozens of Bantu tribes and kingdoms from the Great Lakes to the Zambezi and from the Copper Belt to the Indian Ocean. Instead of plundering the conquered lands, Mbegha coerces the population to build roads, expand salt and copper mines etc. His enforced internal modernisation and empire-building is combined with a rigorous isolation from foreign influences. No foreigners are allowed to set foot in the Watu Empire, the first Bantu empire in history. After Mbegha`s death, several contenders fight over his succession. During these fights, imperial structures break down and several successor states, kingdoms, city republics and paramountcies (re-)emerge. Altogether, the Watu Empire lasts 30-40 years.
- Only central Africa is mostly spared by the plague. In Kirinyaga and Yoruba, the pandemic induces xenophobic reactions. In Kirinyaga, the pro-African faction is strengthened again; a spiritualist breakaway faction of Gathism forms and persecutes Christians during the four years in which it gains power. In Yoruba, redemptory sects are strengthened, which undermine the kingdom`s cultural cohesion and trigger divisions which only break out later.
- The central African kingdoms repeatedly go to war against each other, sometimes occupy one another or regain independence from another. Aksum and Kirinyaga are still the two regional superpowers attempting to protect and expand their respective spheres of influence. Ankole and Burundi manage to expand to the South.
- After two decades of pandemics, inner conflicts and embarrassing defeats at the hands of an indigenous alliance of Khoikhoi and San in the South, the Empire of Mapungubwe re-emerges strengthened and more belligerent. With the help of Tamil specialists, it increases its iron ore extraction and steel and weaponry production. In return, Mapungubwe must contribute soldiers to Chola`s campaign to conquer Madagascar.
- A joint campaign of Chola and Mapungubwe to conquer Madagascar fails spectacularly. After two decades, the invaders are still unable to put an end to guerrilla warfare and the destruction of their coastal colonies. In the 1080s, the collapse of the Chola Empire brings the end of the futile campaign. Thousands of Tamils and Bantu surrender to the Mazdakist Madagasikarans and assimilate over time.
- Thirty-year-long war between Musanist Simonists (mostly Berbers) in the Sahara and Samailan Simonists (mostly Malinké, Hausa, Banza, Sao, Mossi) in the South. Towards the end of the century, the Samailans are united in the Gao Alliance.
Nations of Atlantis
- For a detailed outline, see When the Black Death Came to Celtic Atlantis. In order to protect themselves against the Black Death, Celtic settlements across Atlantis decide to quarantine arriving ships, of which there are fewer and fewer anyway. For almost four decades, Northern Atlantis is cut off from Europe. In order to substitute imports, Celtic settlers intensify the cooperation with several Algonquin-speaking native tribes in identifying and exploiting natural resources like ore and sulphur. This cooperation divides the native population into those who support the cooperation and those who oppose it. The cooperating side learns much about iron and acquires horses, but also contracts yet another epidemic wave of influenza. As Celtic ammunition runs out, decades of low-intensity warfare follow, in which Celtic villages come to see themselves more and more as parts of a native-led federation at war with another alliance. Among the Algonquin tribes, the two contrary "philosophies" of "riding the waves of the river" vs. "exorcising the deadly foreign demons" develop. When sulphur is found and domestic Atlantic ammunition production starts up, the anti-Celtic alliance is thoroughly defeated in 1063. Its remaining warriors seek refuge with the Haudenosaunee, where their ideas contribute to the development of the (much more moderate and adaptive, but very long-lived) concept of "unhot´a" (uniting notions of modern English words like "life", "health", "growth", "ecosystem" or "balance"), which would enliven anti-colonial resistance and independent native development efforts for centuries (and still plays a vital role in Atlantic political philosophy and state reason). When contact with Europe is reestablished in 1071, some settlers return to Europe. Those who remain become increasingly bilingual (Latin and Algonquin) and share a concept of a self-made (the natives would say: strong and incredibly fast changing) multi-ethnic nation.
- The Roman colonies remain isolated. To survive, they forge practical alliances with surrounding indigenous tribes, not unlike the development in Celtic Wabanakiacum. While this is a peaceful, local and stable process on Yara (Cuba), in OTL Georgia the Colonia Sabina and the naval base at Potomacum become entangled in internal conflicts between different "city states" of the mound-building polities.
- Taino-Ostrogoths manage to contain the epidemics by quarantining entire islands. The healthy islands are perhaps the best place in the developed world to spend the 1030-1060 decades: no plague, no famine, no collapse of the public order, even domestic ore, salis petrae and sulphur extraction continue to function and provide the islanders with ironware, fertilisers, ammunition and much more. But living standards sink considerably nevertheless. The islands´ economy, run in the typical Ostrogothic way, was heavily oriented towards export and foreign trade. With the total collapse of transatlantic trade, especially the wealthy elite among the Taino-Ostrogoth looked for other outlets for their sugar, rum, tobacco, etc. They began to intensify their trade with the natives of mainland Southern Atlantis. Whereas before the plague, trade involved small amounts of alcohol in exchange for native artefacts, now Taino Ostrogoths also sold agricultural produce as well as horses and wheeled carts to the Mayas of Tulum and agricultural produce plus horses plus firearms to Tollan.
- Tulum soon dominates all trade among the Maya and tries to regain control over Chicheniza, which had become tributary to Tollan.
- Tollan consolidates its empire and staves off the Chichimekai.
- In a first war of Tollan vs. Tulum over the control over Chicheniza and Western Maya cities in general, Tollan defeats Tulum due to its firearms, subjecting Tulum to tributary payments, too.
- Later, the Maya of Tulum also acquire firearms from Taino Ostrogothic trading partners. A second battle Tollan vs. Tulum ends with a temporary retreat of the Tolteks from Yucatan. A devastating smallpox epidemic then hits both empires and weakens them considerably, postponing a Toltek retaliation for many years.
- Attacks and attempted invasions of the Southern Taino islands by Caribs are staved off easily by the Ostrogoth-Taino`s use of firearms.
Nations of Asambadha Anuttara
Indian and Chinese contact with the few isolated outposts on the continent is interrupted during the Black Death. The colonists are mapping their continent in the meantime.