I like this point being highlighted; I think there is a tendency in AH to fall back on a gradualist view of history that suggests country XYZ is doomed starting from an ineluctable trend of decline centuries ago, and you have to go back to a POD so early that the end result is unsatisfyingly unrecognisable--we want to see the Inca fight off Pizarro, not some vaguely related but totally different-looking native Peruvian state do it. But as you note here with Ethiopia, there is plenty of evidence that real history is more like punctuated equilibrium, and countries or groups can rise and fall far more sharply, with declines (or ascents) reversible. It's not quite the same as Great Man vs. Marxian tides of history, but I think that debate can somewhat obscure this one.It is entirely possible for this era of anarchy to continue for a few more decades and so for the Italian conquest to be successful. In that case I might well be writing an article arguing that the only way to save Ethiopia is for the civil war never to start in the 18th century.
Has anyone ever done a thing about Russian White emigrés helping Ethiopia in return for carving out a niche for themselves there? Seems like the sort of thing that could have happened.One thing which springs to mind with a Russian Djibouti colony- it feels like there might be a slim possibility that this port could actually end up falling to Ethiopia itself if Russia implodes, though likely it would still be in a poor position to bring in significant supplies.
In Male Rising, the Tsar sets up a court in exile in New Moscow in Eritrea as a guest of the Ethiopian Empire.Male Rising did that I think.
In Male Rising, the Tsar sets up a court in exile in New Moscow in Eritrea as a guest of the Ethiopian Empire.
I think Thande was thinking of something on a smaller scale, which did happen in OTL. In the 1920s Ethiopia recruited a whole bunch of officers who'd previously served in either the Russian Army or the Ottoman one but weren't welcome in the new regimes.
The most notable one on the russian side was Feodor Konovalov who remained in Ethiopia until the 1930s and gives an important first hand account of the second italian-ethiopian war (the version written in french anyway, the second draft was written in italian in order for feodor to win favour with Musoslini and is complete propaganda).
I think the "rivet counting" side of AH plays a big role with this type of thinking, as does an understandable sense of OTL results being inevitable. That a lot of the alternative results are indeed less-thought out country wanks doesn't help either.I like this point being highlighted; I think there is a tendency in AH to fall back on a gradualist view of history that suggests country XYZ is doomed starting from an ineluctable trend of decline centuries ago, and you have to go back to a POD so early that the end result is unsatisfyingly unrecognisable
As a general rule of thumb, I think that politics can change very quickly; society takes much longer. I am not, obviously, talking about the social changes brought about following political upheaval or after a major technological advance: but basic ideas about race, class, gender, sexuality and so on.I like this point being highlighted; I think there is a tendency in AH to fall back on a gradualist view of history that suggests country XYZ is doomed starting from an ineluctable trend of decline centuries ago, and you have to go back to a POD so early that the end result is unsatisfyingly unrecognisable.
Ethiopia works as a perfect example of that. Centuries of increasing disunity were reversed in three decades in a political sense but in a social sense the seperate identities still remained which is something the country has struggled with over the last 120 years.As a general rule of thumb, I think that politics can change very quickly; society takes much longer. I am not, obviously, talking about the social changes brought about following political upheaval or after a major technological advance: but basic ideas about race, class, gender, sexuality and so on.
Take that old chestnut of a CSA victory:
It's a gradualist rule of thumb that southern victory was impossible due to the sheer industrial and demographic imbalance of the war, and that any POD that would change that would be so far back to- as you say- make the scenario unsatisfying in its difference. That could very well be true, of course!
But I would accept- as a reader of fiction, and even as a historian- the premise that a series of catastrophic Union defeats combined with some sort of political and diplomatic disaster could eventually lead to some sort of negotiated end to the war.
If the question is framed as 'Could the CSA have used black troops en masse?' then the gradualists have the unimpeachable position: No, because that would require such a fundamental change to southern society first on an economic and political level but deeper still on the level of basic ideas of what humanity is et cetera... that it would not be the CSA. The question is as meaningless as asking 'What if the Nazis weren't antisemitic?,' or 'What if the British Empire was not exploitative of its colonial subjects?'
This makes me wonder what Ethiopia's situation would be like if the Era of Princes ended a couple of decades sooner. I'm only passingly familiar with the period , but from what I can tell, since it was essentially ended by one conqueror, maybe a different conqueror could have done it earlier.Ethiopia was so weak in 1868 because of centuries of decline caused by various factors including the Oromo migrations wherein the arrival of a new people into the old Kingdoms led to increased religious and ethnic strife. These internal troubles culminated in a long running civil war called the Era of Princes in which there was no effective central authority from around 1730 to the 1850s.
All of which were things the Ethiopians were trying to buy and struggled to get enough to compete, in particular they recruited black airmen who were british and american trained. The embargo certainly didn't help with that, it meant that had to compete against having to buy basic arms for their men, in terms of funds, but Ethiopia is a poorer country than Italy and even with an equal playing ground it would struggle to buy the same quality army. Especially since as @Death's Companion points out the Italians arguably couldn't really afford it themselves.Airpower, armor, and artillery.
Fun fact, someone with Ethiopian connections once wrote to Tolkien asking if that's where he'd got the name, and he wrote back saying it was a coincidence, as Gondor was originally called Ondor in early drafts before he added the G.So what if Gondar was more like the embattled but coherent and warlike kingdom of Gondor (as in Tolkien)? And Tewodros had more resources and loyal vassals to work with?
I'd argue that the idea of a European vs North African split, rather than Civilised Mediterranean vs. Barbarian North Europe and Rest of Africa, would probably be the single biggest culture-shock for some hypothetical Roman, Greek or Egyptian time-traveller going from the classical era to the Middle Ages.I'm much less of an expert of classical history than you @heraclius but certainly one of the interesting things about it is how important North Africa was compared to Northern Europe. Italy had far more economic interests in Egypt than Britain. It's really only the muslim conquests that reverses that. I think any POD pre Muhammad, such as your fascinating Cleopatra one, could easily see more of sub Saharan Africa, Ethiopia etc, dragged into that trading network an the concept of Christendom in the way Scandinavia and Ireland were rather than isolated. Which probably means nothing like the scramble ever happens.