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Alternate History of England

    • 80 posts
    April 27, 2012 12:36 PM EDT

    Last night, I dreamed that the Norman invasion of England failed in 1066. As a result, the English language never got any french in it, and remained the germanic language of Alfred the Great. However, the British Empire never really happened. Canada was French, Florida was Spanish, India was Dutch, and Australia was never colonized.  The USA never really got started.  These were all consequences of the Normans not lumping England in with Normandy and Aquitaine in 1066.  

    Thoughts?  What would British history look like if the Normans had lost in 1066?

    • 966 posts
    April 27, 2012 1:41 PM EDT

    England got saved by invasions several times, this being to most important, i think they might have been conquered by France or they might be changed to a whole other country, or they might even have been way stronger.

    And like i said, this is not the only time England was actually saved by invasion. In 1688 The Netherlands invaded England and took over all of the British isles, the Dutch trade Capital was moved from Amsterdam to London, and in time, the Dutch became a beta world power instead of and alpha world power, and England became an alpha world power instead of beta, if this had not happend they might have been conquered or simply never have become a major world power.

    But what i think would happen is this (have not really thought about it so my awnser will likely change ;):
    England would be quite poor, seeing how the Normans improved taxation and such, they would have been far less advanced, they could be invaded by any major power, wich one i do not know, maybe one that does not exist now bacause of England. I have to think about it ;)

    Oh, and don't worry about Australia, the Dutch were 150 years earlier then the English anyway

    • 133 posts
    April 27, 2012 2:33 PM EDT

    Normans bhrought british isles to the mainstream of european civilization. Without Wilhelm's way of thinking, focused on continental issues, probably British would have been still more insulated than it has, and would have produced a culture more of a nordic kind, much diferent from France and Germany and, in multiple aspects, weaker and less mature. Of course England would have remained a major player in european geopolitics, but probably not so much in word terms. If you like alternate history I would reccomend to follow Eric Flint's series 1632, about an alternate course to european history since the middle of the 30 years war. I read all books released up to the moment and some of them are really good.

    • 80 posts
    April 28, 2012 10:23 AM EDT

    I did not know that about 1688.  That's fascinating and I will have to read up on that.

    Regarding Australia, I know the Dutch discovered it far earlier, but they did not bother to colonize it.  The British began arriving in the late 1700's.  If the British hadn't colonized Australia, I just wonder if anyone would have.  I can't imagine that an entire continent would have made it to the 20th Century without some European power showing up, but who and why?

    • 80 posts
    April 28, 2012 10:33 AM EDT

    Thanks Ricardo.  I may check that series out.  

    Regarding Britain, certainly, the Normans pulled Britain into Europe, by establishing all the connections to Normandy and Aquitaine.  This arguably put Britain onto the path that led to world Empire.

    On the other hand, the Normans also suppressed the local English and their language for a hundred and fifty years or so, during which all politics and government were conducted in french or latin.  Prior to that, there were histories and bibles being produced in English.  I wonder what cultural strengths were given up in favor of the political strength that was gained?

    • 133 posts
    April 28, 2012 10:41 AM EDT

    I would say english people made a good bargain on the long term. The universitary tradition was dependent on classical culture, which were based and expressed in books written on latin and greek, and this allowed for the trade of techniques and knowledge that were limited in the nordic/saxon culture oriented Britain. So, not only political power was gained, but also integration with europpean universitary tradition, which was later the main source of english innovation and its technological edge.

    • 966 posts
    April 28, 2012 11:45 AM EDT

    Well, the Dutch did not colonise it because they believed it would not be profitable, but others would, the spanish, french, portuguese or maybe asian nations would colonise it. Spain would just want the land and whatever recources they could find, especialy gold, seeing how bad inflation was.

    Edit: About 1688:

    • 966 posts
    October 21, 2012 12:53 PM EDT

    *random ressurection*

    This could be an intresting discussion, too bad almost no one got involved.

    • 952 posts
    October 21, 2012 2:35 PM EDT

    I guess it the Normans had lost it would be far less advanced and would have lost a lot of wars pretty soon. Probarly against France which is very near to them and probarly would have invaded them and won. Not much else to tell really.

    • 966 posts
    October 21, 2012 2:39 PM EDT

    This shouldn't be locked to England. What if Rome lost the wars against Carthage? Or if the eighty years war never happend?

    • 952 posts
    October 21, 2012 2:52 PM EDT

    In those cases we'd be screwed. What if, France would have given Leopold II of Saksen-Coburg-Gotha their support in his plan to invade the Netherlands and he would have succeeded, which was with his plan and gathered intelligence the most probarble outcome.

    • 966 posts
    October 21, 2012 2:59 PM EDT

    Depends, wich year was this?

    • 952 posts
    October 21, 2012 3:02 PM EDT

    Around 1854.

    This is from wikipedia, sorry it's in Dutch but this information isn't on the English page.

    Plannen voor een aanval op Nederland

    De Vlaamse journalist Kris Clerckx onderzocht documenten uit het huisarchief van de koning waaruit bleek dat kroonprins Leopold II vergevorderde plannen had om Nederland binnen te vallen. Hij wilde op deze wijze toegang krijgen tot koloniën (hij had eerder gepoogd om het verlieslatende Borneo te verwerven) en bovendien vond hij (net als zijn vader) dat Limburg, Noord-Brabant en Luxemburg tot België behoorden. Een uitgebreide Belgische spionagemissie uit 1854 (met schetsen van alle belangrijke Nederlandse vestingen) meldde dat het Nederlandse leger veel zwakker en kleiner was dan het Belgische en er bovendien veel minder in werd geïnvesteerd, waarbij een deel van het geld ook nog opging aan de marine (die in België geen rol van betekenis speelde), die bij een invasie over land nutteloos zou zijn geweest. Wel had Nederland sterke verdedigingslinies langs de rivieren (vooral de Hollandse Waterlinie was goed onderhouden) en werd verwacht dat de vaderlandslievende bevolking massaal in opstand zou komen. Een aanvalsplan voorzag in een oproer in katholiek Nederland als aanleiding (er woonden volgens spionagegegevens in 1854 ongeveer 1,2 miljoen katholieken en 1,7 miljoen gereformeerden in Nederland) en vanuit die hoek verwachtte de koning dan ook steun voor zijn aanval. De aanval zou op dezelfde wijze moeten plaatsvinden als de Fransen hun aanval inzetten in 1795: over de Waal gevolgd door een verrassingsaanval op Amsterdam. Onderweg terug (de 'omval') zouden de gevreesde verdedigingslinies bij Utrecht in de rug worden aangevallen. Bij de aanval moest de Nederlandse koning worden afgezet en het volk zou vervolgens besluiten over het lot van de katholieken. Het einddoel was namelijk alle katholieke gebieden tot aan de rivieren 'onder één kroon te verenigen'. Tijdens de aanval zou dan blijken welke provincies zich wel en welke zich niet bij België wilden aansluiten.

    Het plan ging uiteindelijk niet door omdat de toen nog regerende Leopold I het plan veel te riskant vond. Bovendien bleef steun van Frankrijk uit. Gehoopt werd vooraf op inactiviteit van Franse zijde (stilzwijgende steun); Pruisen zou dan ook inactief blijven en Engeland had het in die tijd waarschijnlijk te druk met de oorlog met Rusland. Leopolds hoogste Franse diplomaat in Frankrijk (de prins van Chimay) zag echter weinig realisme in het plan en stribbelde tegen. Toen kroonprins Leopold uiteindelijk toch aan tafel kwam te zitten met een oom van keizer Napoleon III moet deze hem duidelijk hebben gemaakt dat de invasie niet zou worden gesteund (er zijn geen documenten over gevonden), want de aanvalsplannen verdwenen daarna in de ijskast.[2].

    • 966 posts
    October 21, 2012 3:21 PM EDT

    The invasion in the first place may well succeed, but it is highly unlikely that Belgium would hold the conquered territories longer than a year. And the Netherlands would be able to fight a war through the colonies for quite some time.

    It would be a major economic blow to the whole world as Dutch were still one of the most important trading countries of the world.

    Mainly the german states would suffer since the Netherlands then, and now, is the most important country in trade in the Germanic lands.

    Other countries would come to Dutch aid. But the biggest thing would be that the Dutch people would rebel alot, the Belgian and French troops would be driven out with or without foreign support.

    • 952 posts
    October 21, 2012 4:52 PM EDT

    Well, the catholics would probarly have supported Leopold II, the colonies didn't have the leadership and facilities the Netherlands had on mainland Europe so they probarly would be helpless, offcourse Belgium would have taken over many of the trade, and we did have a lot of trade goods since we occupied the largest or one of the largest colonies in Africa, and rebellions could occur, but again, the catholics wouldn't support rebellions and many people wouldn't dare to fight a professional land army.

    All I'm saying is that this probarly would have succeeded mostly if the French had given us a green light.

    • 966 posts
    October 21, 2012 5:00 PM EDT

    I doubt the catholics would do that. The thing with the Netherlands was that the country was more important than religion, mainly because of the tolerance to other beliefs.

    And Belgium couldn't take over Dutch trade since that would require a huge trading fleet, and Belgium didn't have that. The Dutch navy was still not something to be ignored, any trade ships the Belgians did have would be sunk fast. And ofcourse they would fight a professional land army, I see no reason why not, they've done so before.

    But the Dutch colonies were in fact well governed and organized, wich allows for effective ressistance. Not to mention the troops that were still deployed in the colonies.

    Obviously, the Dutch golden age was long gone, but they were still a country to be reckond with on a global scale.

    • 952 posts
    October 21, 2012 5:08 PM EDT

    Different times, Catholics and Protestants got along nowhere, and tolerance? The Catholics hated the Protestants for destroying the churches and church art. Support from them was something guaranteed.

    If the Netherlands would be defeated, the remains of the militairy, so the navy in this case, would probarbly surrender and part would desert.

    Rebellion against a professional army almost never happened, and if they did, they usually got punished after they got defeated, if they would have won, only more soldiers would have been sent.

    Colonies where well organised yes, but if they king would be taken prisoner or killed, and they wouldn't have acces to the funding from the Netherlands they probarly wouldn't be able to strike back.

    This is something Leopold II could have won, it was well organised and backed up by lots of information from spies. I think they understood how to do these things better back then, than we understand now. After all, they lived in their time and we only look back at the past which is just different from what we are used to.

    • 966 posts
    October 21, 2012 5:16 PM EDT

    Catholics and Protestants got along fine in the Netherlands. Thats one of the rare thing about the Dutch at that time, their nationality came before their religion.

    They wouldn't surrender, the Dutch had several backup plans would they lose everything in Europe, they reconized this was possible. Besides, we lost Europe in the second world war but we continued fighting from the colonies.

    The king would flee to another country or to the colonies, the Belgian and French forces would never be able to get to Amsterdam *Or whatever palace he was in* before he gets away.

    We destroyed several Spanish regiments with ''angry mobs'' didn't we?

    You'd be supprised how much money was still over at the colonies at that time, it would still be enough to maintain the navy and whatever land forces would be left.

    But conquering the Netherlands is never as simple as it seems. Hitler wanted to capture it in 2 days. They were way more powerfull in terms of military than Belgium and France combined, not to mention they were also right at the border.

    Like I think you know it didn't take 2 days but 5 and the Dutch defense was still not broken, we stopped the blitzkrieg at 3 different locations. We did surrender after they threatend to bomb Rotterdam, though.

    • 952 posts
    October 21, 2012 5:21 PM EDT

    Plan or not, with the homeland lost, not enough is left to strike back, not with the colonies you had. And WW2 is something completely different, that a century later and the only country that was dissapointing to me there was France. So big and yet it was taken in no time, even though they knew the Germans where about to invade them and had time to set up a defense.

    • 966 posts
    October 21, 2012 5:25 PM EDT

    Why not exactly? We had Suriname, Dutch Antilles, South Africa, Indonesia and several other minor trade ports.

    And France mostly had WW1 tanks and defense.

    They simply weren't at all ready for a second world war. *Although most countries weren't*

    • 952 posts
    October 21, 2012 5:29 PM EDT

    Because the amount of soldiers in colonies that where profesionally trained wasn't big enough to do a naval landing on a prepared country. The would first have to gather somewhere, which can be quite difficult, they would need provisions which is harder when operating from colonies since those where mainly used for the exploitation of valuable resources but food wasn't something the produced a lot.

    • 966 posts
    October 21, 2012 5:40 PM EDT

    They weren't going to just try and take it back right away.

    They would wait and see what happens first, they wouldn't give Belgium a chance to set up overseas trade, it would only be a matter of time before Belgium would have to go back out of war exhaustion. The Dutch were on the forefront of the food trade too, alot of the worlds food in the western world came from the Netherlands, and since that would not be exported, exept maybe very little in Europe, that and other things would impact the entire world. Eventually the Belgians had to pull back and other European countries would involved for sure. France isn't a big godlike shield, France also was reasonable terms with the Netherlands and also needed Dutch trade.

    GB would eventually force the hand Belgium if it wasn't enough. Not too mention all other countries affected and pissed by this sudden change.

    • 952 posts
    October 21, 2012 5:47 PM EDT

    Again, France didn't approve is this plan, that's why it didn't go through. But if they did Prussia probarly wouldn't have acted against it and neither would GB have done so.

    • 966 posts
    October 21, 2012 5:53 PM EDT

    They would in time, their economy would take quite a blow if Dutch trade were to just disapear like that.

    • 162 posts
    October 22, 2012 3:34 AM EDT

    You two give nice history lessons btw .

    A nice piece about that Belgium "plan" to conquer The Netherlands. I doubt its succes though, even with French support. Prussia would never allow growing French influence along its Western boarder.

    Another what/if idea:

    What would have become of the "United Kingdom of The Netherlands", if French was excepted as second language, Catholicism was seen as equal to Protestantism, and a proportional amount of Southern people were taken into its government? Would The Netherlands and Belgium still form one country or would it fall apart anyway?