If the Byzantine Empire would have survived up to the present-day, what it look like right now?

Mar 2016
1,199
Australia
#41
Yes, but didn't Europeans like to think they were more civilized than the rest of the world?
In a lot of ways they were, specifically in the Industrial Era and beyond. I know it's popular to toe the line of "hur dur evil European imperialists looking down on other cultures!!" but from a ton of metrics many European countries were more sophisticated, advanced and progressive than many other countries throughout the world. The modern world as we know it developed out of European innovations, advancements and developments in the late 18th and the 19th centuries. Only in the 20th century did a major non-European country surpass them - the US - and even then they are a heavily European-inspired country, relative to the rest of the world.

And ideas of cultural superiority were certainly not unique to Europeans. Most even vaguely sophisticated countries held similar views at various points throughout history. The Chinese were notable in this - the Qing dynasty viewed anyone outside of China as being barbarians, even the British of the 1840s and 1850s, despite the latter's dramatic superiority in technology and industrialization. In the pre-modern world, countries did not have the luxury of Googling about the cultures of other lands to make more informed judgments of them - their beliefs were developed by what they saw and heard on a daily basis, mostly from the confines of their own countries. It's foolish to criticise people from the past for not having the same globalist worldview that we have now, when the utilities and developments necessary for such a thing simply did not exist back then.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,843
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#42
The Byzantine Empire would first have had to defeat the Crusaders who established the Latin Empire and then the Turks. It would then occupy the territories more or less held by the Ottomans in reality. As a "Greater Greece" with its capital in Constantinople it would survive until WWI as a declining Christian power in the modern world. Postwar it would follow the fate of Turkey, and survive as a Christian power in Anatolia . As such it would have had different relations with Europe but not much different. It still would be competing with Rome and there would be similar wars as those with the Ottomans. Europe's love of warfare would not be much different.
Why do you say a surviving "Byzantine" empire would first have to defeat the Crusaders and then the Turks? The point of departure is not specified by the OP. Therefore the point of departure can be as early as possible, and to make the survival of the "Byzantine" empire as plausible as possible, it should be as early as possible.

So suppose that the Oghuz Turks convert to Buddhism or Christianity instead of Islam, and maybe never invade the Middle east. Thus they will never fight the "Byzantine" empire in the name of Islam, and might possibly under some circumstances fight various Islamic states as allies of the "Byzantine" empire.

Without the Seljuk Turkish invasion and conquest of most of Asia Minor, Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (who probably would never have reigned) would never ask for military assistance from western Europe. That request was one of two or three factors which caused the first Crusade to be called. Without it, the First Crusade and later crusades might not have been called, and then there never would have been a Fourth Crusade to fight.

So the "Byzantine" empire would have remained at more or less the size it had after 1018 for decades longer, and then might have contracted or expanded due to various wars with various states. And if it expanded more, and more often, than it shrank, It might still exist and be a major power today.

Or suppose that the Avars suffered from an epidemic of human or animal disease and never moved west into what is now Hungary. Then the Lombards would probably not leave Hungary and migrate into Italy. So the "Byzantine" empire would probably never lose control of Italy and Rome. So there goes any chance of your statement "It would still be competing with Rome" ever coming true. Without the Avars migrating to Hungary, there wouldn't have been Avar and Slav raids in the Balkans. So Slavs would never have conquered and settled in the Balkans and taken control of most of them away from the 'Byzantine" empire. Without the Avar-Slav raids and invasions, Emperor Maurice would never have ordered his army to spend the winter north of the Danube, and that army would never have mutinied and overthrown Maurice, and King of Kings Khusraw II would never have started the Roman-Persian War of 602-628. At first Khusraw II's goal was to put the alleged son of Maurice on the "Byzantine" throne, and it took him years to change his war goals and try to conquer the "Byzantine" empire.

So without the overthrow of Maurice, the war wouldn't have started in 602. It might have started in 612 or 622 or some other year, or maybe never started at all. So the war would have caused less devastation, especially if it never happened. If the Roman and Persian empires were stronger in the 630s when the Arabs started invading they might have defeated the Arab invasions and both empires might have remained strong to the present. Without successful Arab i invasions, the "Byzantine" empire would not have lost Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa. Thus it might have continued to expand in the west, and eventually reconquered Spain, Gaul, and Britain.

Or suppose that the great plague in the reign of Justinian never happened. The population and economy of the empire would have been able to sustain the reconquest of the rest of the western Empire, especially if Totila never led the Ostrogoths in a long resistance to the reconquest of Italy, and If Khusraw I never attacked in the east. Then Justinian would have reconquered Spain, Gaul, and Britain.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,322
Las Vegas, NV USA
#43
There are usually any number of scenarios for these. I try to minimize by altering history with the fewest changes I can think of consistent with the OP. Yes there are reasons the Byzantine Empire didn't. survive. An alternative history can imagine a stronger leadership.
 
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MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,843
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#44
There are usually any number of scenarios for these. I try to minimize by altering history with the fewest changes I can think of consistent with the OP. Yes there are reasons the Byzantine Empire didn't. survive. An alternative history can imagine a stronger leadership.
If someone asks for an alternate history where the "Byzantine" empire survives to this day, I prefer to make the change as early as possible and thus as big as possible in order that the "Byzantine" empire has the greatest probability of surviving various chance historical events to the present.

But doing it your way with the change as recent and as small as possible, perhaps the Crusade of Nicepolis in 1396 is much more successful than in real life, and the Ottomans are defeated. Bayezid I and one or more of his sons may be killed, and the Ottomans agree to cede a lot of their European possessions. The "Byzantine" empire regains a lot of territory in Europe. Bulgaria survives as two weak states ruled by rival emperors and is no longer any threat to the "Byzantine" empire. Bayezid or his successor still gets in a dispute with Tamerlane who still invades in 1402. The Ottomans are defeated much as in our history, but more soldiers and Ottoman princes are killed and captured. Unlike in our history, the "Byzantines" and western Europeans don't agree to ferry Ottoman troops and princes across to Europe, and Tamerlane defeats the Ottoman remnants in Asia Minor, killing or capturing all the princes, ending the Ottoman state.

The Turkish emirates in Asia Minor are all restored, and after Tamerlane leaves the "Byzantine" empire reconquers the remaining Turkish possessions in Europe and reconquers a lot of European territory from weak divided Bulgaria and divided Serbia, perhaps restoring the empire in Europe to its size in the Comnenian dynasty or a big part of it.

And then, if the "Byzantine" empire expands more often than it shirks in later centuries, it may last until the present.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,322
Las Vegas, NV USA
#45
If someone asks for an alternate history where the "Byzantine" empire survives to this day, I prefer to make the change as early as possible and thus as big as possible in order that the "Byzantine" empire has the greatest probability of surviving various chance historical events to the present.

But doing it your way with the change as recent and as small as possible, perhaps the Crusade of Nicepolis in 1396 is much more successful than in real life, and the Ottomans are defeated. Bayezid I and one or more of his sons may be killed, and the Ottomans agree to cede a lot of their European possessions. The "Byzantine" empire regains a lot of territory in Europe. Bulgaria survives as two weak states ruled by rival emperors and is no longer any threat to the "Byzantine" empire. Bayezid or his successor still gets in a dispute with Tamerlane who still invades in 1402. The Ottomans are defeated much as in our history, but more soldiers and Ottoman princes are killed and captured. Unlike in our history, the "Byzantines" and western Europeans don't agree to ferry Ottoman troops and princes across to Europe, and Tamerlane defeats the Ottoman remnants in Asia Minor, killing or capturing all the princes, ending the Ottoman state.

The Turkish emirates in Asia Minor are all restored, and after Tamerlane leaves the "Byzantine" empire reconquers the remaining Turkish possessions in Europe and reconquers a lot of European territory from weak divided Bulgaria and divided Serbia, perhaps restoring the empire in Europe to its size in the Comnenian dynasty or a big part of it.

And then, if the "Byzantine" empire expands more often than it shirks in later centuries, it may last until the present.
In my scenario the Byzantine "Empire" survives as a modern Orthodox Christian alternative to Turkey based on the main assumption it that it could have survived if it were better led, like the the Ottomans actually were. There are no empires in a classical sense now although Japan is still styled as one. Like the actual Ottoman Empire, it meets its end after WWI. IMO the more you have to change history, the less interesting it is as an alternative.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
19,933
SoCal
#46
In a lot of ways they were, specifically in the Industrial Era and beyond. I know it's popular to toe the line of "hur dur evil European imperialists looking down on other cultures!!" but from a ton of metrics many European countries were more sophisticated, advanced and progressive than many other countries throughout the world. The modern world as we know it developed out of European innovations, advancements and developments in the late 18th and the 19th centuries. Only in the 20th century did a major non-European country surpass them - the US - and even then they are a heavily European-inspired country, relative to the rest of the world.
Yeah--something like 88% of the US's total population was Non-Hispanic White back in 1940. That's certainly a very heavily European country.

And ideas of cultural superiority were certainly not unique to Europeans. Most even vaguely sophisticated countries held similar views at various points throughout history. The Chinese were notable in this - the Qing dynasty viewed anyone outside of China as being barbarians, even the British of the 1840s and 1850s, despite the latter's dramatic superiority in technology and industrialization. In the pre-modern world, countries did not have the luxury of Googling about the cultures of other lands to make more informed judgments of them - their beliefs were developed by what they saw and heard on a daily basis, mostly from the confines of their own countries. It's foolish to criticise people from the past for not having the same globalist worldview that we have now, when the utilities and developments necessary for such a thing simply did not exist back then.
Completely agreed. Also, wasn't such sentiments likewise widespread in the Muslim world--as in, the feeling that Muslims are superior to non-Muslims?

BTW, I certainly think that even nowadays some cultures are certainly superior. For instance, countries outside of the West and perhaps East Asia are generally very backwards in regards to issues such as gay rights even nowadays. :( When exactly do you think that we'll see Islamabad's or Riyadh's or Kampala's first gay pride parade? Probably not for an extremely long time! :(
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,063
Republika Srpska
#47
The Turkish emirates in Asia Minor are all restored, and after Tamerlane leaves the "Byzantine" empire reconquers the remaining Turkish possessions in Europe and reconquers a lot of European territory from weak divided Bulgaria and divided Serbia, perhaps restoring the empire in Europe to its size in the Comnenian dynasty or a big part of it.
What makes you think the Byzantine Empire was capable of this in 1402? By that point, it was already pretty much a city-state that consisted of Constantinople with surroundings, Thessalonika and parts of Peloponnese.
 
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
19,933
SoCal
#48
What makes you think the Byzantine Empire was capable of this in 1402? By that point, it was already pretty much a city-state that consisted of Constantinople with surroundings, Thessalonika and parts of Peloponnese.
An alliance or a union with Trebizond would have given the Byzantines some additional power projection, no?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
19,933
SoCal
#50
Perhaps but still would mainly manifest in Asia Minor. I just don't see the Byzantines being able to retake the Balkans.
Well, maybe if English King Henry V sends his forces there instead of to France. Of course, that would require him to have Crusading fever that would overpower his claims to the French throne.