The 15th century is characterised by deep-reaching social change. In the industrial societies, wage labour finally sets an end to the patriarchal familia. In Atlantis, Caribia, Africa and Australia, the isolation of thousands of indigenous groups ends as the continents` more remote heartlands are now made accessible through railroad and telegraph technologies and their treasures of the soil are exploited.
Han suprematist and absolutist Jian China, allied with a Bangladesh-led alliance of communist Indianised states in Eastern and South-East Asia and Tawantinsuyu in Caribia, contends for world power with the liberal-conservative Roman and Celtic Empires, Western Indian empires and Caribian polities like Chimor and Muisca Zipa. In Eurasia, Iran knits an alliance with Türkestan, which is forced to make peace with Great Perm. Together, these three manage to maintain their independence in spite of pressure from both the West, where a unified Slavonia attempts to expand, and East, where Indian Empires and Jian China attempt to cut large chunks out of Siberia.
In Atlantis, Jian China annexes more and more territory in the West, while the Celtic and Roman Empires exert more and more direct control over various East Coast polities in order to be able to access their ressources at profitable conditions. Celtic and Roman colonies increase in size, too, and more troops are stationed in Atlantis. In the heartland, the Mississippi Alliance is worn down by constant warfare against its enemies in the North and South.
Gao conquers significant portions of Eastern Caribia, while Tawantinsuyu, allied with Jian China, conquers almost a third of the continent.
Back home, women`s liberation is under way. In Jian China and Bangladesh, this proceeds relatively smoothly: women are gradually allowed more freedom and greater responsibilities in a generally highly controlled society. The world`s leader in feminism is Eran, where women enjoy equal rights with men, and a number of feminist religious movements revitalises Zoroastrianism/Mazdakism - the sect with the most enduring influence would be Lysianism. In Mahaaryabhata, the Roman and Celtic Empires and their Germanic and Slavic fringes, though, gender conflicts are unmitigated. Political elites are unwilling to grant women equal rights. Industrialisation had provided women with job opportunities, which they had not had in the age of exclusively male collegia and societates liberorum. More and more women decide to live a family-less life - a situation deemed very dangerous in a geopolitical climate of imperialist warfare, where sinking birth rates mean less soldiers in the future.
In the absence of financial capitalism, which in this timeline perishes together with the Silk Road for more than seven centuries during the Black Decades of the 11th century, industrial development is slower than in OTL. In India as well as in the Celtic and Roman Empires and on their Northern Europen fringes, craftsmen`s collegia, guilds, shreni etc. still hold out and put up resistance to the industrial production of cheap low-quality products, now increasingly also arguing with the ecological side-effects of industrial production. In the Roman Empire as well as in China, the world`s two leading powers, the rural population is far from being poor, still living in the long-established instiutions of societates liberorum (co-operatives) or jun-tian bao-jia (neighborhoods organised along the equal field policy), and herbal contraceptives have brought birth rates down, so population growth can`t fuel the industrial monster either. About 80 % of the world`s industrial output (not considering small-scale production by cooperatives) is produced by no more than 100 huge companies, most of which are Celtic-, Roman-, Iranian- or Indian-based. They face little competition, and while credit is globally available in the usual private quantities, provided by mutual credit networks, the huge sums necessary for major investments are hard to come by. Throughout this century, though, the power of the old collegia and societates wanes as industrial output increases at a marginally faster rate, politically supported by women, who are still barred from entering the regulated male economic cartels.
Factors that do contribute to a (albeit slower) ongoing industrial development are continuous improvements in railroad infrastructure, which brings people and resources in most regions of Europe, India, China and parts of Africa closer to each other. Colonial powers also build railroads in Atlantis, employing a large number of local indigenous wage labourers. The vast resources of Atlantis become accessible to exploitation thus, and they fuel the industries of the developed societies. Towards the end of the century, the assembly line and with it, the modern industrial factory is invented almost simultaneously in Roman Dalmatia and in Jian China.