Alternate History

Caliphate (The Kalmar Union)

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The Caliphate
Timeline: The Kalmar Union
Flag of Cyrenaica No coa
Flag Coat of Arms
(and largest city)
Language Arabic
Caliph Al-Mustakfi IV
Population 238,372,000 (est.) 
Independence 1354 (refounding)
Currency KFD

The Caliphate, خِلافة, al-Khilafah is a huge theocratic monarchy covering a considerable portion of Africa and Asia. In Africa it borders Granada, Fulo, Songhay, Bornu, Darfur and Sennar. In Asia it borders the Byzantine Empire, various semi-recognised Transcausasian countries, Vladimir, Bukhara, Khoqand, Afghanistan and India. It has an estimated population of around 238 million and the capital is Baghdad.

The Head of State is Caliph Al-Mustakfi IV.

The official language is Arabic however various others are widely used.

The currency is the Caliphate Dinar (KFD).


After the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 his successors (the Rashidun Caliphs) and their armies exploded out of Arabia conquering huge areas of Asia, Africa and even Europe, where they were turned back by the Franks at the Battle of Tours a century later in 732. The first caliphs were nominated, however the fifth, Muawiyah, created the Umayyad dynasty, turning the title of Caliph into a hereditary office. The Umayyads were supplanted by the Abbasids ruling from Baghdad and under their rule the Caliphate reached from the Pyrenees to the Indus Valley, pacifying the Middle East which had previous suffered thanks the Persian-Byzantine struggle. Culturally the Arab world was at its height, far more advanced than the Dark Age European states. Advances in mathematics and astronomy kept ancient Greek knowledge alive while it was forgotten in the West and it transmitted technologies such as paper and the windmill which would transform industry and agriculture. Its currency, especially the golden Dinars, have been found in buried caches dating in the lands of the Kievan Rus', Scandinavia, and even early Vinlandic burial sites, a testament to the trading power and cultural reach of the Caliphate.

Abbasid authority did not go unchallenged however; by 909 the Fatamid dynasty was proclaiming a rival Caliphate in Egypt, meanwhile the Umayyads' rule continued unabated in Córdoba. The Fatamids would in time be defeated and the Abbasid's loyal troops, the Mamluks, came to power in Egypt. When Baghdad fell to the Mongols in 1258 the Abbasid Caliphate officially ceased to exist. However the Mamluks adopted the title and with Byzantine assistance would eventually destroy the Mongol Ilkhanate, retaking Baghdad in 1354. This would be then followed with a huge campaign to curb the seemingly indestructible Timurid Empire, a period which saw Baghdad seized twice and the unfortunate population slaughtered to a man. It also saw the westernmost provinces in Morocco declare their independence. From the recapture of Baghdad until around 1600 the Caliphate was in a state of near-constant civil war as factions fought for the dominance of Cairo or Baghdad, or the independence of their regions. Meanwhile they held off the advances of the Byzantines seeking a direct route to the Indian Ocean, or opportunistic and wildly over-optimistic 'crusades' launched by the Christian nations from the North shore of the Mediterranean. The disruption caused by the wars essentially barred European merchants from using the Caliphate as a staging post to reach the riches of the East. While Jewish merchants continued their Mediterranean trade almost unabated the more enterprising nations of Europe soon bypassed the Caliphate completely, sending their merchant ships around the coast of Africa to directly trade with India and China.

From 1643 to 1714 the Caliph's attentions were taken up by the War of the Mediterranean which saw a massively expanded Caliphate fleet challenge Venice, Aragon and Granada for mastery of the Sea. Crete was seized from Venice in 1701-3 after a horrifically bloody series of sieges: the first expansion in the west in almost a millennium, though it lost this to Byzantium in 1709. Other North African ports were lost to Portugal and Castille. The war only petered to a unsatisfactory conclusion that year as once again Cairo revolted and attentions were refocused eastwards toward the Mughal Empire.

During the Iberian Revolution the Army of Andalucia advanced from Ceuta to the gates of Alexandria nominally to conquer the North African ports under Royalist Portuguese control. Faced with the imminent collapse of Egypt the Caliphate soon had no option but to join the broad anti-Hispania coalition and in a rare moment of co-operation allowed the Byzantine army to bolster the defense of Alexandria. Egypt however rose in rebellion due to the extraordinary taxes being levied and it would not be part of the slow roll back of the Hispanic forces to the Straits of Gibraltar, though it successfully hampered del Olmo's fleet's conduct in the Indian Ocean.

As Baghdad struggled to quash the Egyptian revolt, then a uprising in Persia, its northern neighbours began a proxy war, funding various local rulers in the Transcausus region to undermine the Caliphate's, and each other's, authority. This led to the declaration of independence from various countries during the late 19th century. The Caliphate has not suffered major civil unrest since 1900, largely by devolving powers to the peripheries. Agreements with Vladimir and China over Central Asia (chiefly not to ally with one another against a third) have kept the peace there, though it still embarks on occasional forays into Afghanistan. A major war with the ‌Indian Maratha Empire in 1974-1978 merely highlighted the structural weaknesses of both decentralised states and led to a reported palace coup, though Al-Qa'im III kept his throne.

Despite its size the Caliphate is not the homogeneous monolith its detractors like to paint it as. Rather than all laws emanating from Baghdad the Caliphs have found it politically expedient to allow the regions to govern themselves, often under local dynasties or strongmen. While significantly reducing the frequency of revolt and civil war it has allowed the autonomous regions and their leaders to build up political power bases which often exclude central government. This manifests itself most notably in the failure of large engineering projects to get off the ground. The oft-wished for canal linking the Mediterranean with the Red Sea has been repeatedly scuppered by hostility from the governors of Alexandria for instance. Meanwhile the grand Tangiers-to-Tashkent Railway, although backed with Luxembourgois engineering know how and capital has yet to see a single sleeper laid. Even laying telegraph and telephone lines took years as the local emirs resisted Baghdad 'snooping' on their activities.

Freedom of religion is practised and indeed enshrined in law with Chistianity, Judaism, Druze, Yazdânism, Yazidi, Zorastrianism, Buddhism well as the various sects of Islam all practiced. Many rulers in the past cultivated non-Muslim communities as it allowed them to tax the 'unbelievers' with the jizyah, a tax which in historical times made up a considerable proportion of state income. Likewise although Arabic is the official language of government the inhabitants of most large towns and cities can be found speaking a bewildering amount of languages and dialects.

The economy of much of the regions has long been based on agriculture and entrepot trading, however mining has slowly grown in importance as European nations demand more and more resources to power their economies. This has increased what Baghdad regards as European meddling in the more autonomous areas and laws banning what foreigners can own in Caliphate lands are being slowly rolled out to combat this. Various areas have been shown to have large reserves of oil and gas which are greatly desired and as they are developed have the potential to either turn the Caliphate into a fully fledged economic powerhouse or alternatively acerbate its internal divisions.


Whilst effective government is parcelled out to the regions a central council operates in Baghdad. This in theory governs the armed forces, sets foreign policy and in practice runs the affairs of Irāq, Sūriyā and western Arabia. The regions themselves are mostly ruled as autocratic monarchies (whether elected or inherited).

The current Caliph, or Amir al-Mu'minin, is Al-Mustakfi IV. The Caliphs theoretically have absolute rule, however their actions are guided and implemented by a veritable army of state bureaucrats.

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