Viabilities of small/medium-sized countries in Eurasia

Aug 2013
613
Pomerium
Many small countries and enclaves have survived amid imperialist/expansionist powers in Western Europe: Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, San Marino, etc.

In Eastern Europe, the once mighty Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (area around 1,000,000 km²) was partitioned among Austria, Prussia, and Russia; while in Western Europe, the forces of Austria, Prussia, and Russia twice entered Paris to decapitate the First French Empire, they didn't partition France Proper (area around 500,000 km²).

In the Far East, imperialist/expansionist powers there had normally wanted nothing less than complete annexation: in China Proper, six of the Seven Warring States (on average each around the size of France or larger) were annihilated; so were two of the Three Kingdoms (on average each around the size of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth). Relatively, island countries and peninsular countries were more likely to survive.
 
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Dec 2014
1,082
Europe
I guess it also helps if you can secure the backing of a powerful nation. I know this isn't a Eurasia example but Lesotho managed to maintain autonomy and not be absorbed in to the Boer territories because it became a protectorate of the British Empire.

The Khanate of Khiva and the Emirate of Bukhara also managed to maintain at least nominal independence (even if they had to follow Russia's orders) by being Russian protectorates. Kokand had this situation as well, but they were eventually annexed due to internal unrest and a somewhat anti-Russian leader which gave the Russians an excuse to come in and "restore order" by making Kokand people "Russian subjects."

So I guess in that situation you've got to keep a fine balance between maintaining your own internal independence while at the same time not acting too contrary to your "protector" to give them an excuse to come in and annex you.
 

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,775
UK
France wasn't as multi-ethnic.

Chinese emperors thought that all under heaven were supposed to be under their power. In Europe, provided one wasn't a threat, I doubt the Kaisers cared if Lichtenstein wasn't part of the Reich.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,810
France wasn't as multi-ethnic.
Are you familiar with the classic historical work "Peasants into Frenchmen"?

The tricky bit, if France wasn't multi-ethnic, becomes explaining how only 20% of the population of France spoke actual French around the year 1800.
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
Are you familiar with the classic historical work "Peasants into Frenchmen"?

The tricky bit, if France wasn't multi-ethnic, becomes explaining how only 20% of the population of France spoke actual French around the year 1800.
What did the other 80% speak then?
 

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,775
UK
Are you familiar with the classic historical work "Peasants into Frenchmen"?

The tricky bit, if France wasn't multi-ethnic, becomes explaining how only 20% of the population of France spoke actual French around the year 1800.
Compared to Eastern Europe, not so much. Occitan, Picardy, and Norman were/are similar to Standard French. Hence why
 
Mar 2014
8,881
Canterbury
My history specialty is a small state, the 'Lordship of the Isles,' which is pretty much unique in appearing and expanding during an era of established national consolidation. Technically part of Scotland, it was de facto largely-independent and at its peak about the size of Albania:



The ultimate key to its success was geography: it was an island-kingdom, and had a powerful navy whereas Scotland (its de jure ruler) barely had one at all. As the Scots navy improved and its own faltered, the power of the Isles became diluted then withered away entirely as it lost the naval arms race. Much like the USSR in the Cold War, it couldn't match its rivals' military production. The root cause of that was a lack of trees, and its own increasing focus on the mainland (which, as you can tell from the map, the 'Lords of the Isles' ruled quite a lot of).

However, it also enjoyed a break-down in crown authority over the 14th century, and the backing of a nearby major power: England. And it didn't try too hard to assert its de facto statehood at Scotland's expense, when internally-divided. The one time it did that - coincidentally, on abandonment by England - caused its collapse.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,777
Cornwall
What did the other 80% speak then?
Interested by this little question, I had a quick look. Wiki reckons (though obviously needs verifying by somebody):

"Through the Académie, public education, centuries of official control and the role of media, a unified official French language has been forged, but there remains a great deal of diversity today in terms of regional accents and words. For some critics, the "best" pronunciation of the French language is considered to be the one used in Touraine (around Tours and the Loire valley), but such value judgments are fraught with problems, and with the ever increasing loss of lifelong attachments to a specific region and the growing importance of the national media, the future of specific "regional" accents is often difficult to predict. The French nation-state, which appeared after the 1789 French Revolution and Napoleon's empire, unified the French people in particular through the consolidation of the use of the French language. Hence, according to historian Eric Hobsbawm, "the French language has been essential to the concept of 'France', although in 1789 50% of the French people did not speak it at all, and only 12 to 13% spoke it 'fairly' – in fact, even in oïl language zones, out of a central region, it was not usually spoken except in cities, and, even there, not always in the faubourgs [approximatively translatable to "suburbs"]. In the North as in the South of France, almost nobody spoke French."[27] Hobsbawm highlighted the role of conscription, invented by Napoleon, and of the 1880s public instruction laws, which allowed to mix the various groups of France into a nationalist mold which created the French citizen and his consciousness of membership to a common nation, while the various "patois" were progressively eradicated"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_French
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,810
What did the other 80% speak then?
Occitan, Breton, Basque, Catalan, Lothringian/Alsatian, Francique, Flemish, Franco-provençal... with a dozen or so major dialects of the "langue d'oïl", more or less deviating from standard French to boot.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,810
Compared to Eastern Europe, not so much. Occitan, Picardy, and Norman were/are similar to Standard French. Hence why
Hardly. Occitan is very much closer to Catalan (or even north Italian dialects) than to French, so you might have to consider Barcelona "French" by such a standard. Picardy and Normandy are a mere two langue-d'oïl-provinces, which does not a full set make.

Occitan example:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zkuQkvz544

Academic take on the thing, from Yale in 2008:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEBaGmF9ocA
 
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