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"Abrittus" in a nutshell
At 250 CE, much of the civilized world of Antiquity shared a space of peace and engaged freely in trade - from Britannia to the Easternmost reaches of the Indian world. Yet, the downfall of this civilization of antiquity was nigh. The Roman Empire was at its greatest expansion, and in its deepest political crisis. Technology and infrastructure were at a level Europe would not reach again for at least a millennium, yet its relations of production (latifundia owned by a tiny elite and worked by coloni) blocked further progress in productivity. Augusti and caesares were to be treated with utmost veneration and submission, yet those who fought for the offices or obtained them lacked any respect for them. Mediterranean cities other than Rome were larger than they would be for more than twelve centuries, with a relatively skilled workforce who spoke a limited number of linguae francae, but they were utterly marginalised in imperial politics. Rome's military power was unparalleled - it was so strong that it permanently turned against itself. Christianity was persecuted but on the rise, attracting followers among all those who saw no future for the corrupt worldly system - and was just a few decades away from merging with this very same system. Both at its borders and within, more new players prepared to join the game - more than the game could accommodate. A moment of great problems and great potential. A historical threshold. One battle with a different outcome, one emperor holding on for a few more years, one leader of a growing religious group adopting a new strategy - it would not have taken a lot, and the Crisis of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century (here is Prof. Wikipedia's perspective on it) might have taken a very different turn.
As it is, the Roman system continued its decay, and its "restoration" under Diocletian and Constantine merely set the course for the dark Middle Ages.
This timeline aims to experiment with Rome developing and influencing the world as a democratic republic, a large non-slave-owning market economy and a fountain of various cultural, philosophical and religious trends and ideas, all competing against each other.
I've always loved timelines where Rome survives the Germanic invasions and the Huns and continues into the present. After I've read Ætas ab Brian and Superpowers, two timelines that I absolutely love and recommend and whose quality standards I can't hope to achieve, I've wanted to see a Rome that doesn't conquer half the world with its legions and whose influence is felt stronger in other domains, too.
Can you imagine a world without the close European ties between church and state, without feudalist Middle Ages and absolutist routes into a modernity dominated by a colonialist Europe?
If you're interested, read on, or contribute your own ideas!
So far, all the content in this timeline has been created by me (salvador79). It's all still mostly rough sketches, and some of the already more elaborate pages may need re-editing to restore coherence and enhance plausibility. I enjoy conceptualising all the different aspects and relations, and I've tried to put as much time as I can into writing on this timeline, but I have a family and a full-time job, so progress can not be very fast. If you prefer to read perfect timelines, you may have to wait a little. (A couple of years maybe ... )
But if you like a work in progress and find the general ideas or any particular aspects of my timeline interesting, I'm very glad to read your feedback and ideas.
If someone should really be interested in jumping in, changing or adjusting the timeline, taking over a specific topic or anything else, I'd feel very flattered and I'm open for co-operation. I consider new perspectives to be enriching, and I'd love to discuss the effects this or that change might have. Be warned, though, that I'm still rather new to althist and I've never co-operated in a TL. (Oh, and I'm not a native speaker of English, as you have surely noticed.)
Point of Divergence
Moesia: 251 AD.
Climatic changes, diseases or other reasons we do not know of have caused massive migratory movements in barbarian Europe in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. This threatened especially Rome's most endangered imperial border in the lower Danube region. Barbarian newcomers come into conflict with tribes that had lived in the Dacian and Pontic space before. Toward the middle of the 3rd century, the problem takes on dimensions which the Roman Empire can no longer handle - a great coalition of barbarians attacks the Empire's North-Eastern flank both on land and sea.
Decius, a barracks emperor, who tries to stabilise the institutions of the Roman Empire and persecutes the Christians because they refuse to observe his decree to bring sacrifices to the Roman state deities "pro imperatore", is faced with a simultaneous invasion of Moesia and Dacia by a smaller group of Carpi and also by a larger coalition led by Gothic King Cniva. Defeated at Augusta Traiana, the Romans are unable to defend Philippolis. But the Gothic troops are weakened and seek to negotiate an organised retreat. Decius turns down the offer and chases the Goths back North.
Cniva separates his troops. The Roman legions confront the Goths near Abrittus, Although Decius' son, Herennius, is killed by a Gothic spear, the battle generally seems to go well for the Romans. Decius' general, Trebonianus Gallus, wants to pursue the retreating Goths, but Decius is wary (in contrast to OTL). He orders looking for the rest of Cniva's troops and learns that they are less than two miles away, awaiting a Roman advance into the marshland. Decius reorganises his own troops to skirt the swamps and attack the Goths from behind.
Instead of dying in the battle, as in OTL, Decius celebrates a glorious success at Abrittus, driving the Goths into the bog and annihilating Cniva's troops completely.
After that, he rides North with his legions to deal with the rest of the Barbarian nuisance. The news of the resounding Roman victory at Abrittus travel fast. When Decius finally confronts the retreating Carpi at Romula, they quickly capitulate From these Carpian captives, Decius learns a lot about the reasons behind the frequent barbarian incursions. As always, he sees a strengthening and deepening of the imperial order as the answer. Merely fending off the immediate invaders has, in Decius' view, never solved the problem.
Thus, Decius sends out Carpian envoys to the Roxolani, Costoboci, Bastarnae and other tribes who had come under pressure by the Goths and Gepids and had, prior to the defeat at Abrittus, decided to ally themselves with the latter. The message was sharp and clear: Rome will go to war against the trans-Danubian barbarians, you are either with us or against us. If you are with us, we will integrate you into our imperial system; if you are against us, we will either kill or enslave you.
Decius' campaign ends with a thorough victory (see timeline 251-300). He has secured Dacia and the Danube for the next decades. Upon his triumphant return to Rome, he continues and intensifies his political agenda:
- He founds the "Academia Martiana", a university dedicated not so much to grammar and rhetoric, but to military strategy, because he deems superior military strategy crucial for Rome's future. With this move, he lays the foundation for important military successes in the next decades and centuries, which save the Roman Empire and restore the Pax Romana, as well as for the later de-aristocratisation of the military in the Second Republic.
- He begins a restoration of Rome's decaying institutions, especially allowing the Senate to elect a Censor who conducts a new and more exhaustive census, which was aimed at improving imperial taxation as well as gathering information about religious affiliations, etc. In spite of manifold dangers, Decius invests a lot of energy into this empowerment of the state. Although the new census stirs unrest, it lays the groundwork for the reforms of the early republic, when this office is strengthened even more.
- He orders his administration to take drastic measures to stop the spreading of the highly fatal smallpox pandemia. His measures find a mixed echo, but they improve the situation temporarily before everything finally falls apart after his assassination.
- He continues to impose Roman culture even in the remote regions of the empire, persecuting especially Christians, who refuse to venerate Roman gods and sacrifice for the emperor, to a point where the episcopal church breaks apart. His brutal policies radicalise the Christians, some of which follow militant leaders and take to the arms (not unlike Jews 180, 140 and 120 years earlier, but spread all across the Empire instead of concentrated in Iudaea).
Decius is finally killed in a Christian suicide attack. From the years of revolutionary anarchy and social, political and military chaos following his death, a shrunk Second Roman Republic emerges, where slaves become free Roman citizens and the state is neutral against all religious creeds. Secured against threats from the North, this Roman Republic manages to stabilise itself.
Overviews of OTL vs ATL differences
Six Words Which Shed Some Light
Societas: Neither the Italian allies of the First Roman Republic, nor the universal OTL term "society", "societas" or traditionally "societas liberorum", denotes the predominant socio-economic structure of the rural countryside of the Roman Republic after coloni took over most Roman manors in the Revolution of the 260s. The closest OTL equivalent is "co-operative". Societates liberorum were the backbone of the Second Roman Republic and embodied the break with oligarchical traditions. Innovations in milling, mining, tilling and crop sequences occurred here, invented to ease daily work. Wherever Romans settled in foreign environments, they founded societates: versatile, defiant, able to subsist but oriented on production for the market. Societates completed the inner conquest of the Roman Empire, being copied even in the remotest regions. The model was so attractive that Celtic Bagaudae and Iranian Mazdakists fought against their own land-owning oligarchies and brought down the Gallo-Roman and Sassanid Empires. For a millennium, it stabilised the town-countryside population ratio, and increasingly, became a force against social and cultural change, even slowing down industrialisation. They still shape the countryside of Europe, Northern and Western Africa, the Middle East and East Coast Atlantis: villages, where everyone (from tractor drivers and vine dressers over mining engineers and sculptors to lawyers and accountants) works for the same commonly owned enterprise, which often even entertains its own school and kindergarten.
Societates not only prevented OTL`s disintegration of the Roman "world market", but also the rise of feudalism coupled with monarchist rule, and thus the Middle Ages.
Civitas: The Roman Revolution of the 260s reunited the two notions of the term - "citizenship", as in "civitas Romana", and "settlement / administrational unit", which had become separate due to Rome`s expansion, which brought the downfall of the institution and spirit behind it in OTL.
A different Late Antiquity: Comparison of the two Roman Empires 100 years after the secession (257-357)
The Empires develop and resist invasions from the steppe: Abridged comparison of OTL and ATL developments in the first 500 years after PoD (251-750)
One result: No migration period. That means different developments in Slavia and Germania Magna 251-750 OTL vs. ATL and no Viking Age.
Other different historical political structures.
Different historical wars and conflicts.
Global differences between our present and the present of the Abrittus timeline
Differences in architecture and infrastructure.
Other global cultural differences.
251-300 - Imperial Crisis and Second Roman Republic
300-399 - Waterwheels and Defeated Huns: European Power
400-499 - Rome's Three Neighbors at Their Imperial Peak - and at the Verge of Crisis
500-599 - Mazdakists, Göktürks and Marine Innovations
600-699 - Learning from China
700-799 - The Bridge Between West and East
800-899 - Guns Appear
900-999 - The Last Golden Days of City-States
1000-1099 - Black Death
1100-1199 - Age of Explorers and Atheists
1200-1299 - Building Up Steam (and Bourgeois Society)
1300-1399 - Railroads, Steamboats and Class Wars
1400-1499 - Empires Reach Into the Hearts of Continents
1500-1599 - Imperialist Wars and the Electric Revolution
1600-1699 - Climate Catastrophe
1700-1799: Painful Conversion
1800-1899: The Global Village
1900-2014: The Quest for Social Healing
Nations of Europe
In OTL, Germanic tribes conquered most of the Roman Empire and adapted the Christian state religion, the proto-feudal socioeconomic structure and the monarchic-aristocratic structures of Late Roman Antiquity. In the East, the autocratic Byzantine monarchy fought for its survival and contributed little to political, economic or technological development. In the last third of the first milennium, Franks, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and the Eastern Slavic Kievan Rus' became new centres of power, situated to the North of the Mediterranean, far away from the ancient cradles of civilization. Throughout long Middle Ages, theology-based philosophy, crafts, weaponry, large national kingdoms and prospering Italian city states developed in the relative isolation of a Christian Europe cut off from the rest of the world by the hegemony of Islamic states to its South and East. Having recovered from the Mongol invasion and recurring pandemics caused by viruses of Asian descent, expansion-oriented proto-capitalist monarchic nation states (primarily Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain and France) began to conquer and colonise much of the rest of the world, exporting the Protestant and Catholic Christian confessions, capitalism, Germanic and Romance languages, the Latin alphabet and the model of culturally homogeneous states to North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. In OTL, economic, political and social controversies across the world have become limited, to a great extent, to the choice among several options, all of which are of European descent.
In this timeline, "Europe" does not become a dominant way of framing geopolitical spaces. The Roman Empireremains a major source of philosophical, scientific, political, technological and cultural development, but it stretches across three continents and its centres lie in Greece, Asia and Egypt. Together with the Celtic Empire, which outlasts the crisis of the 3rd century to become a large power in Western Europe, but which culturally and politically still follows Roman models, Rome has dominated and pacified, but also defended and modernised the continent without having to conquer much territory.
Uninterrupted excellent trade relations have enabled Mediterranean Europe, India and China to learn from each other, so that all three of them experience much faster technological progress than in OTL.
Without rivaling absolutist feudal monarchies, Europeans still "discover" other continents, but they never become world-dominating colonial powers. European (i.e. Roman) soft power is strong - it has brought the world ideas and innovations like democracy, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, the steam engine, railroads...
Yet, the world's major economic innovations and philosophies develop in China and in the city states along the Silk Road, not in Europe. The Roman and Celtic Empires are global superpowers, but the world's undisputed number one most powerful state in this timeline is China.
The societies outside the two empires, mostly to their North, have only played peripheral roles in history. They are inhabited by Germanic, Slavic, Baltic and Ugro-Finnic nations, who have followed the Roman model throughout much of their history, although at different paces at first. Germanic-speaking nations are Saxony, Burgundy, Franconia, Alemannia, Frisia, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. In Corvatia, Slavonia and Venedia, Slavic languages are spoken. A number of small Baltic republics united in the Baltic Treaty Union. In the vast lands of Northern Europe, stretching to the Volga, Kama and Ural Mountains, the Republic of Great Perm unites a great variety of Ugro-Finnic peoples, while a few smaller Finnic nations were established in the 18th century only after long struggles for independence from Swedish hegemony: Suomi, Vessia, Karia, Wotia, Setoa and Livonia. Sapmi gained its independence from Norway earlier.
Several islands in the Atlantic Ocean feature independent states confederated in the Ostrogothic Commonwealth, the titular nation being Judaic and Greek-speaking.
Nations of Africa
Africa is not only humankind's birthplace, it is also home to one of the world's oldest civilizations. The geographical barriers of the Sahara and the tropical rainforest have limited the dissemination of innovations for a long time.
In OTL, influential innovative cultures after 251 were the efficiently administrated empires of the Western Sahel, the political-religious model of the Luba, who shaped many Bantu kingdoms, and the economically thriving Swahili culture on the East coast. With increasing Arabian and especially modern colonial European involvement, the indigenous societies were faced with slave trade, firearms and enforced religious conversion to the two scriptural monotheistic religions. Socially, economically and culturally disintegrated, a great number of African kingdoms arose, imitating the belligerent behaviour of the newcomers. When European colonisation set in on a large scale, comparatively late, they stood no chance against industrialised world powers, who reshaped the continent in an almost arbitrary manner.
In this timeline, slavery is outlawed in the Roman and Celtic Empires, in Sabaean Arabia and Persia by the time when these states engage in large-scale interaction with African societies, and it is never introduced in the Indian and Chinese states which also interact with Africa to a greater extent than in OTL. Superpowers from other continents establish trading posts and naval bases along the continent's coasts and exert a certain amount of influence on its internal developments, but they never colonise the continent on a large scale. Interaction remains focused on the trade of goods. Those African societies who participate most actively in it develop fastest: Aksum, the Swahili coast, Liberia, the Western Sahel, the Edo, Yoruba and Igbo.
The most influential factors in Africa's development are
- the Berbers of the Sahara, who bring Agonstic Christianity to the societies of the Sahel and beyond, and whose descendents have come to call themselves the Imaziyen, a stable, egalitarian and relatively stateless society. Heavily influenced by them - and emerged as a breakaway of early expansive Berber commonwealths - is the Gao Federation, one of the largest states of Africa, who in turn transmitted the impulses from the North further into Central Africa. The Berber influence proceeds in a similar way and reaches similarly far as that of Arabs and Arabised Berbers who spread Islam in OTL Africa; the starkest difference from OTL being the egalitarian outlook and strict anti-slavery policies of the Agonistici, which prevented the massive disruption caused by Arab (and later European) slavery to African societies.
- Aksum. Not being cut off from Europe and Arabia, it has developed a powerful empire controlling most of North-Eastern Africa from the Great Lakes to the borders of Roman Egypt, from the Sahara on the Western banks of the Nile to the Horn of Africa. It has brought its own, comparatively conservative type of Christianity to many Cushitic, Nilotic and Bantu peoples. Over time and under the influence of the Roman Republic, with which it entertained mixed relations, Aksum developed into a parliamentary monarchy.
- the independent wealthy city states of the Indian Ocean coast, who developed close contacts with the Romans, with Sabaean Arabia, Persia, and India. They influenced their hinterland up to the Great African Rift and as far South as the Highveld with their multicultural, polyethnic, urban and economically dynamic model of society. Among the nations in this part of Africa are the Kirinyaga Alliance and the Watu Confederacy. The latter stretches across all of central-Southern and Southern Africa. Small indigenous Khoisan communities live in reservations scattered across the South-West.
- More directly influenced by Ostrogothic, Roman and Celtic contacts are West Coast states like Jolof, Benin, Yoruba and Nri, regardless of whether the latter attempted to copy the Liberian model or pursue the exact opposite of it.
On Madagascar, Persians have established a radical Mazdakist society, which has included the various indigenous peoples, too.
While the northern half of the continent is more or less Christian, the southern half has remained mostly animist.
Nations of Asia
Asia is the geographically and culturally most diverse continent and home of the world's four most widespread religions (in order of number of followers): Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism. South and East Asian nations rival the two European empires in political, social and economic development. Because of a greater strength and co-operation of the empires at its shores, invasions from the Central Asian steppe have not been able to overthrow Eurasian order to the extent that they did in OTL. Instead, the Central Asian steppe has been the object of imperialist control and international co-operation to keep trade routes open. Along the most important of these - the Silk Road - modern capitalism develops in the last third of the 1st millennium in Sogdian-dominated oasis city-states (instead of Italian city-states in OTL).
In Western Asia (i.e. the Middle East), four old Christian kingdoms are caught between the Roman and the Persian Republics: Sheba, a very wealthy constitutional monarchy controlling the Arabian peninsula, which has long profited from its huge oil deposits and now, after the global climate crisis, houses the world's largest solar power plants, Armenia, Lasika, and Iberia, the latter three nestled in the valleys and mountains of the Caucasus. Caught between the Roman Republic, Sheba, Armenia and Eran is the small republic of Assyria.
Its equally wealthy and industrially developed eastern neighbour is Eran, successor state to the Sassanid Empire, which for a while united the Middle East and India and brought forth the proto-Communist, emancipatory movement of the Mazdakists, who influenced philosophy and politics toward egalitarianism from the Celtic West to Nihon in East Asia and across Eastern Africa, too, as well as of the Lysianist philosophy, which has become an overarching framework under which all sorts of Zoroastrianisms, Germanic, Slavic, Celtic and Baltic cults have become integrated and modernised, and which played a vital role in providing solutions for the escalated gender conflicts of the 15th century. Eran still perceives itself as an economic and cultural bridge between the Mediterranean and East Asia and between Northern Asia and the Indian Ocean. It is considerably larger than OTL Iran and comprises Choresmia and Bactria, too (OTL Turkmenistan and Afghanistan). To its North lie Sogdia, a federal democratic republic, and Türkestan, which controls Northern Asia and counts the largest number of indigenous populations in Asia.
The world's most populous and most powerful country is China. Many economic innovations and inventions, political philosophies and principles of state organisation stem from here. China's leading role in world politics has developed from the times of the Sui dynasty and has been undisputed ever since China's pivotal role in finding a way out of the intertwined dilemma of the global climate crisis and chaos in Caribia in the 15th and 16th centuries. China is a constitutional monarchy with a very powerful bureaucracy, regulated economy, ample welfare state and comprehensive, universal and secular education system. Buddhism as well as Daoism and folk religions have become marginal phenomena, like all other religious groups. China exports its extremely diversified economic products all over the globe. The size of the Chinese Empire is much larger than OTL´s People's Republic: it comprises the Far East of OTL Russia, coastal Alaska and the entire West Coast of Atlantis (OTL North America) down to OTL Mexico as well as parts of Papua, the Eastern half of OTL Australia and OTL New Zealand. The Antarctis has also been discovered by Chinese explorers, who named the continent Bingguo ("land of ice", hence its Latinised name, Bingo). In a World Council decision accepted by China, Bingo has been declared extraterritorial to all states, with no human settlements and economic activities allowed, except for scientific purposes.
Close, but not always friendly ties exist between China and its Eastern (Baekje and Nihon) and Western neighbors (Tibet and Minyak). All four are deeply influenced by different Buddhist schools of thought, mixed with local (often animinist) traditions, and generally culturally more conservative than China.
China's cultural, political and economic influence is also felt in the (predominantly Buddhist; mostly republican) countries of south-east Asia (Vietnam, Kambuja, Muan Thai, Dvaravati and the Pyu Federation). The largest and most powerful country in this region is the federal and democratic Republic of Nusantara, which stretches from the Malakka mainland in the West to Mindanao in the East.
The Indian subcontinent is the source of Buddhism and Hinduism. Influenced by the Sassanid rule over its Western third in the 3rd-6th centuries and never cut off from trade with Europe, India has undergone deep-reaching change and development based on a mix of its own cultural, political and philosophical traditions with those imported from Europe and from the 7th century on also from China. India has in turn exerted a great influence on South-East Asia. India's numerous competing and warring principalities, kingdoms and empires gave way to a myriad of small republics and petty kingdoms in the late 1st and early 2nd millennium AD, which were connected with each other in manifold cross-cutting alliances. This network was torn apart in the extreme social conflicts caused by the industrial revolution, out of which have emerged the states of Mahagandhara in the North-West, Aryabhata in the North, Kannada in the West, Tamilakam in the South, Telangan and Kalinga in the South-East, Sinhala on OTL Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh in the East) and a number of small kingdoms in the valleys of the Himalaya, which lie between the Indian and the Tibetan cultural sphere (Mun Tan, Thak, Nepal, Bhutan, Ladakh, Guge, Zhang Zhung) . India still suffers a lot from the ecological consequences of industrialisation, especially global warming, which aggravated aridity in central India.
Nations of Atlantis
Atlantis (OTL: North America) has been discovered by Europeans as early as the 9th century. Contacts began slowly and not as intense as in OTL. There was no competition for colonial expansion - the Celtic and Roman Empire peacefully agreed on a division of spheres of influences: a Celtic sphere North of the parallel of the Fretum Gaditanum (OTL Gibraltar Strait) and a Roman sphere South of this parallel. At first, there was little economic interest in what Atlantis had to offer.
Imported diseases and technologies disrupted indigenous societies from the North to the South. After the first shockwaves, several power blocs formed, subdued and integrated the other groups and conducted war against each other. When the industrial revolution turned the attention of European, African (Liberia) and Asian (mostly China) powers toward Atlantis in the 13th and especially in the 14th and 15th centuries, neither empire was able to expand very far beyond the coasts, where Celts, Romans and Chinese had already established both colonies and puppet regimes. In the woods, on the plains and along the great rivers of the Atlantic heartland, the foreign powers encountered economically underdeveloped and military inferior, but relentlessly defiant states and confederacies. After the age of imperialism, the confederacies of the Atlantic heartland began to suffer a plundering of their natural resources and increased exploitation as wage labourers of foreign companies. Under the influence of the "unhot'a" philosophy, they have united in the Union of Atlantic Nations to improve their bargaining position and end internal strife. The UAN has become a major geopolitical factor and absorbed countless tribes which had struggled for independence from China, the Celtic or Roman Empire. (While China still holds most of its coastal possessions and has Sinicised their inhabitants thoroughly, most of the formerly Celtic and Roman possessions on the East Coast have joined the UAN.)
In OTL Mesoamerica, already much further developed societies underwent almost permanent internal warfare between the 10th and the early 13th centuries, when foreign influence was infrequent and co-operative, although pernicious, bringing pandemics which killed half of the population. Increased foreign machinations finally tipped the balance in favour of the isolationist forces, who managed to modernise their societies in their own ways, subjecting tropical mainland South Atlantis to a highly militarised policy. This isolationist course is still pursued by the Mexican Confederacy. Its opponents, which were open to foreign trade, chiefly among them the Maya, were forced to accept Roman protectorate status. Mayapan has regained its independence, and so has the republic of Taguzgalpa.
Nations of Caribia
Caribia (OTL South America) is dominated by its two major powers: Chimor on the West Coast and Tawantinsuyu in the centre. The East has long been held as colonies of Liberia and other African countries and thus features a mixed Tupi-African population. It has gained its full independence as late as the 20th century as the Federal Republic of Tupigê. In the South, the Mapuche have established a republic.
Nations of Asambadha Anuttara
The continent known in OTL as Australia was discovered earlier by civilizations in this timeline - namely by Indians and China in the 10th century. The island is divided into a Western half, which has been culturally and politically influenced by and allied with India, but gained independence as Asambadha Anuttara, and an Eastern (Guangguonan) half, which belongs to China. OTL New Zealand is also a part of the Chinese Empire (Gengjiuyunguo).
Nations of the Taipingyang
The huge Taipingyang (OTL Pacific Ocean) and its various islands is entirely and exclusively controlled by the Chinese Empire. Numerous indigenous tribes and civilizations have all become Sinicised to some degree, but many have retained some features of their traditional lifestyles.