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India as a Roman successor state

Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
#1
A possibly truly mad challenge. Would it be possible to have a unified/semi-unified Indian empire of some kind that also views itself as a Roman successor state, at least to the degree the Ottoman empire did? Any POD is welcome, except maybe ones involving Alexandrian India.
 

Md139115

You have not even begun to grasp the madness
#4
This is, of course, the rub. There's a pretty big cultural sphere between India and Rome that Rome never made any serious attempt at conquering and at best just sort of neutralized. So any scenario that posits a Romanized India would actually be more about a Romanized Iran or Central Asia.
Well it is mentioned that Trajan wanted to climb aboard a ship that was leaving somewhere around present-day Basra for points east, so I guess one could have the Romans try to cut out the whole mountainous middle with all it's nasty Parthians behind every rock, and just sail straight at the rich parts.
 

Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
#5
Well it is mentioned that Trajan wanted to climb aboard a ship that was leaving somewhere around present-day Basra for points east, so I guess one could have the Romans try to cut out the whole mountainous middle with all it's nasty Parthians behind every rock, and just sail straight at the rich parts.
I really don't buy a direct Roman conquest of India per se. However...

Trajan gets established among Roman/Romanized trading communities in south India, somehow becomes some sort of warlord/local dynast there, though alliance rather than conquest. This I think we could swing.

However, even if there's a Trajanid dynasty in South India, there are two really big problems:

1) How does this dynasty think it's Rome? Trajan is a Principate era ruler, and Rome is not the emperor. Unless there's some sort of strong enduring connection between Trajan's India and the motherland, such that India becomes a province and then splits away in a civil war while insisting it has the right to name emperors, that's not possible. And that is really Dominate era thinking and a stretch at that point.

2) Every large Indian empire has been based on the Ganges plain and not the south. Trajanid India would at very very best be a Vijaynagara, not an Gupta or Mughal type empire.

EDIT: I guess we could have Trajan get started in Gujarat instead of the south. Still a massive stretch.
 

Artaxerxes

Through the cucking glass
#6
The survivors of Crassus defeat serve on the Indian borders and manage to lead a disturbingly successful rebellion, taking over (idk...) Bactria. The Romsn empire makes deep inroads to the middle east eventually thanks to Antony's campaign east and reinforce them.

The empire splits in half several hundred years earlier but does consist of most of the middle east at this point. Hindu religion goes fucking nuts at some point and eventually conquers the eastern empire.
 
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Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
#7
The survivors of Crassus defeat serve on the Indian borders and manage to lead a disturbingly successful rebellion, taking over (idk...) Bactria. The Romsn empire makes deep inroads to the middle east eventually thanks to Antony's campaign east and reinforce them.

The empire splits in half several hundred years earlier but does consist of most of the middle east at this point. Hindu reliving goes fucking nuts at some point and eventually conquers the eastern empire.
I sort of thought of doing this a bit later, with Dominate Romans somehow picking up the pieces of the Parthian collapse instead of the Sassanians. It wouldn't last long, but long enough to get the idea of "Roman Emperor" to the Indus.
 

Md139115

You have not even begun to grasp the madness
#8
I really don't buy a direct Roman conquest of India per se. However...

Trajan gets established among Roman/Romanized trading communities in south India, somehow becomes some sort of warlord/local dynast there, though alliance rather than conquest. This I think we could swing.

However, even if there's a Trajanid dynasty in South India, there are two really big problems:

1) How does this dynasty think it's Rome? Trajan is a Principate era ruler, and Rome is not the emperor. Unless there's some sort of strong enduring connection between Trajan's India and the motherland, such that India becomes a province and then splits away in a civil war while insisting it has the right to name emperors, that's not possible. And that is really Dominate era thinking and a stretch at that point.

2) Every large Indian empire has been based on the Ganges plain and not the south. Trajanid India would at very very best be a Vijaynagara, not an Gupta or Mughal type empire.

EDIT: I guess we could have Trajan get started in Gujarat instead of the south. Still a massive stretch.
I know that, but here’s the issue: if we are attempting to make a history that even remotely corresponds with OTL, Trajan (or his successor if not Hadrian) is the last emperor you can do this push for India under. Once the Antonine Plague hits, Rome won’t be able to expand unless it already has a foothold.
 

Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
#9
I know that, but here’s the issue: if we are attempting to make a history that even remotely corresponds with OTL, Trajan (or his successor if not Hadrian) is the last emperor you can do this push for India under. Once the Antonine Plague hits, Rome won’t be able to expand unless it already has a foothold.
Good call. Maybe you could have the actual Dominate connection with India be the result of Trajan's foothold there?
 

Md139115

You have not even begun to grasp the madness
#10
Good call. Maybe you could have the actual Dominate connection with India be the result of Trajan's foothold there?
As in Trajan nabs a petty kingdom, makes a few deals, then goes home, outpost is abandoned under Hadrian, then later, someone decides to invade to reclaim it and winds up taking a good chunk of Gujarat?

Actually an interesting idea, definitely reminiscent of Claudius taking Britannia because of Caesar, and much easier to justify financially. The issue is going to be getting there. Mesopotamia was not an easily held province, so while Trajan may be able to do it from there, any subsequent movement would have to be based from Egypt, and require a couple heavily defended fortress harbors in Arabia Felix (modern day Yemen). There’s also pirates and the monsoons to contend with.
 

Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
#11
As in Trajan nabs a petty kingdom, makes a few deals, then goes home, outpost is abandoned under Hadrian, then later, someone decides to invade to reclaim it and winds up taking a good chunk of Gujarat?

Actually an interesting idea, definitely reminiscent of Claudius taking Britannia because of Caesar, and much easier to justify financially. The issue is going to be getting there. Mesopotamia was not an easily held province, so while Trajan may be able to do it from there, any subsequent movement would have to be based from Egypt, and require a couple heavily defended fortress harbors in Arabia Felix (modern day Yemen). There’s also pirates and the monsoons to contend with.
I think an enduring Roman presence in Mesopotamia is necessary to make the Gujarat/Britain analogy work, but excellent thinking otherwise.
 

Md139115

You have not even begun to grasp the madness
#12
One thing that might be of interest is this TL in the other place:

https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/hadrians-consolidation-reboot.388488/

No Indian invasion, but the author has the Romans learn how to use cavalry, resulting in them kicking Parthian behind so thoroughly that their empire collapses into warlordism and the Antonine Plague never makes it through their lands to Roman lands.

Pages 18-24 specifically are of relevance.
 

Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
#13
One thing that might be of interest is this TL in the other place:

https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/hadrians-consolidation-reboot.388488/

No Indian invasion, but the author has the Romans learn how to use cavalry, resulting in them kicking Parthian behind so thoroughly that their empire collapses into warlordism and the Antonine Plague never makes it through their lands to Roman lands.

Pages 18-24 specifically are of relevance.
I'll give it a look. I think the plague is inevitable, though.
 

Indicus

Active member
#15
Sort of iffy. The Roman Empire expanding into India is basically akin to Nazi Germany expanding into the US. But sure, I'll try it out.

So, let's say the Crisis of the Third Century ends with Rome collapsing, and a successor state in Mesopotamia expands into Persia because reasons. Then we see some sort of Indo-Sassanid equivalent state emerge as a vassal of this empire, and then eventually this state breaks away and unifies India. This is contrived for sure, and by the time this empire gets into India I'm not too sure if it would even view itself as a Roman successor (IOTL, the Indo-Sassanids went as far as to stamp their coins with Oesho, a sort of proto-Shiva popular among the Kushan they conquered, showing how far they went native), but Indians did know of the existence of the Roman Empire, and surely this empire would too.
 

Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
#16
Sort of iffy. The Roman Empire expanding into India is basically akin to Nazi Germany expanding into the US. But sure, I'll try it out.

So, let's say the Crisis of the Third Century ends with Rome collapsing, and a successor state in Mesopotamia expands into Persia because reasons. Then we see some sort of Indo-Sassanid equivalent state emerge as a vassal of this empire, and then eventually this state breaks away and unifies India. This is contrived for sure, and by the time this empire gets into India I'm not too sure if it would even view itself as a Roman successor (IOTL, the Indo-Sassanids went as far as to stamp their coins with Oesho, a sort of proto-Shiva popular among the Kushan they conquered, showing how far they went native), but Indians did know of the existence of the Roman Empire, and surely this empire would too.
I'm not really asking about a Roman Empire expanding into India. That's probably the most challenging way to do this. I think your suggestion is actually the most doable. Palmyra for cool points?
 

Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
#17
Okay, so I think Trajan isn't actually going to be able to make it to India. Without getting too into the weeds, let's say Roman control of Mesopotamia is less ephemeral.
The Crisis of the Third Century leads to total collapse. Palmyra (including all of Mesopotamia) lasts long enough to hand the claim to be "Roman Emperor" down through a couple heirs. Maybe you have Shapur I conquer Palmyra entirely and claiming the title of Roman Emperor somehow, if just as an insult to the squabbling lesser kings of West Rome. Having that Persian/Roman claim move on to India is easy then.
The Roman control of Mesopotamia isn't really necessary besides maybe making Rome a bit more well known in India.
 

Aznavour

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#18
Some European Royal Houses have claims to the Throne of Jerusalem and shit. Maybe a world with a longer-lived but still falling Rome could see dynastic shenanigans between Indian and post-Roman Royal Houses, so that eventually the Nizam of Hyderabad can technically claim the Throne of Rome, just like the Bourbons claim Jerusalem and Naples through the Anjous or whatever.

Alternatively, a Lest Darkness Falls type of scenario in which a surviving Ostrogothic Kingdom keeps Italy from being depopulated, overtaken by the ERE and eventually turned into a collection of squabbling City-states. With time, a post-Ostrogothic Italian state can claim the legacy of Rome and start a colonial Empire that circumnavigates the globe and gets to India, much like Portugal, Holland, France and the UK did. So the Emperor of Rome can be King of India ala Queen Victoria and you go from there, or the Indian Independence movement appropiates Roman history and mythology for whatever reason.

Related to the above: the actual Indian Independence Movement goes tits up, one of the many successor states is run by a crazy general with a Julius Caesar fetish who goes the Idi Amin way.

Finally, there's the religious path, which would involve a Roman Mesopotamia, increased trade between India and Rome and a Christian Roman Diaspora that becomes culturally significant in Southern India.

Or perhaps Rome is overrun in the 8th Century and the Christian Diaspora eventually makes it to/becomes an important demographic in India, and with them they bring the idea of restoring Rome, or recreating it in Gujarat or the Ganges.
 

Indicus

Active member
#19
Speaking of Hyderabad, there was some intermarriage between the Nizam dynasty and the Ottomans. I’ve read in a number of dubious sources that he wanted to be Caliph after the Ottomans fell, but I doubt them. He wanted to be Sultan, but not Caliph. My thoughts are that with Caliph may come other Ottoman titles such as Emperor of Rome

If we make Hyderabad seem independent, I strongly suspect it may have more legitimacy in the eyes of the Islamic world, enough it may think of taking Ottoman titles for itself in an Ottoman collapse scenario. So let’s say that Britain’s influence is enormously weakened, say Siraj-ud-Daulah kicks them out of Bengal and France takes South India. In such a scenario, Hyderabad would still be a British ally, but with Britain’s influence far diminished this would make it seem more independent. This would also mean the secession of the Northern Circars to Britain wouldn’t happen, resulting in a naval presence further giving Hyderabad legitimacy. In such a scenario, it would clearly be one of the strongest Muslim states in the world. Assuming the Ottomans collapse in a time when Muslim internationalism is a big thing (as with OTL), and assuming that the same dynastic links exist and that the Nizam is married to a suitably close princess, there is a possibility that he takes Ottoman titles, including Emperor of Rome, for himself.
 

Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
#20
Speaking of Hyderabad, there was some intermarriage between the Nizam dynasty and the Ottomans. I’ve read in a number of dubious sources that he wanted to be Caliph after the Ottomans fell, but I doubt them. He wanted to be Sultan, but not Caliph. My thoughts are that with Caliph may come other Ottoman titles such as Emperor of Rome

If we make Hyderabad seem independent, I strongly suspect it may have more legitimacy in the eyes of the Islamic world, enough it may think of taking Ottoman titles for itself in an Ottoman collapse scenario. So let’s say that Britain’s influence is enormously weakened, say Siraj-ud-Daulah kicks them out of Bengal and France takes South India. In such a scenario, Hyderabad would still be a British ally, but with Britain’s influence far diminished this would make it seem more independent. This would also mean the secession of the Northern Circars to Britain wouldn’t happen, resulting in a naval presence further giving Hyderabad legitimacy. In such a scenario, it would clearly be one of the strongest Muslim states in the world. Assuming the Ottomans collapse in a time when Muslim internationalism is a big thing (as with OTL), and assuming that the same dynastic links exist and that the Nizam is married to a suitably close princess, there is a possibility that he takes Ottoman titles, including Emperor of Rome, for himself.
That actually is the most plausible way of meeting the requirements I've heard yet. An Indian prince telling European powers to bow down to him as Emperor of Rome tickles me just right.