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AHC: First 'New England' Endures

SinghSong

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After losing the Battle of Hastings to the Normans, a few Anglo-Saxon warlords escaped in exile, led by the Earl of Gloucester, in 200+ ships from England on an epic journey to Constantinople, where their veteran Huscarls served with distinction in the legendary Varangian Guard of Byzantium- and from whence, they continued onward to establish the first English colony, on the Crimean peninsula, the original 'New England'. So then, for a alternate history challenge, how long could this first 'New England' potentially endure? And could there be any way for Crimea to conceivably remain part of the cultural 'Anglosphere' all the way to the present day?
 

Gary Oswald

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It's an interesting one certainly. Our main problem is our sources on what exactly was happening in the crimea are so scarce.

We have the reports of a settlement in the 11th century, a few place names of english origin, some traveller accounts of wars between 'tartars' and 'saxi' in the 13th century and some reports than the varangian guard were still speaking english in the 14th century which indicates some cultural continuity. Historians argue over whether it even existed, and while I think the evidence that it did is pretty strong, we don't know anything about how it operated or how big it was or when it was destroyed.

So in terms of how it could survive, well I don't know why it didn't survive, I don't know what it did right or what did it wrong. It's hard to know.

Two obvious things come to mind, first of all it's success is tied to that to the Byzantines so well, I'll let @heraclius and the like explain what was going on there but a stronger eastern roman empire probably helps.

And two you need more exiles. So more unstable Britain maybe? Earlier Anarchy?
 

SenatorChickpea

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To get more exiles, perhaps a POD during the First Crusade? Some Earl joins Raymond and Bohemond et al, and then ends up getting diverted across the Black Sea when they get to Constantinople for some reason. 'Heathens' threatening Byzantium's flank, or just the lord deciding the Crusade is doomed and cutting his losses and pursuing some private end for some reason.

Crucially, that could give you an injection of younger sons only twenty years or so after the initial exile.
 

Edmund

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A very real OTL possibility is that the Crimean Goths were in part the descendants of the English settlers. De Busbecq was split on whether the people he encountered were Goths or Saxons, the language shows signs of West Germanic influence, and Johannes de Galonifontibus tells us of "Goths", but Goths who "can claim to be descended from the Scots and speak like the English".
 
There was a real life emigre Anglo-Saxon military regiment from England, stated as being post-1066 exiles, who ended up fighting in the Byzantine army for the new emperor Alexius I Comnenus at the battle of Dyracchium/ Durazzo in Epirus (modern S Albania) against invading Normans from Naples/ Sicily (then ruled by count Robert 'Guiscard', ie 'The Cunning') in 1081. Alexius had taken over power in Constantinople by a coup from the junta of aristocratic generals, led by the aged and son-less Nicephorus Botaneites (Emp Nicephorus III) who had deposed the legitimate but incompetent young Emperor Michael Ducas in 1078 as the Seljuk Turks overran Asia Minor, and a pretender claiming to be Michael had turned up in S Italy to ask Robert for help to get his empire back - or so opportunistic Robert claimed. R then invaded Epirus to try to take it and Greece from the preoccupied Byzantines, and possibly to seize the entire Empire.

Alexius left the advancing Turks alone with a truce to take his main army off to Epirus but was defeated by Robert at Durazzo and the English regiment, fighting on foot with axes like Harold II's 'Housecarls' at Hastings in 1066, was defeated and mostly killed by the Norman cavalry. But thanks in part to their help, Robert had too heavy losses to advance quickly as Alexius fled E over the Pindus mountains to Thessalonica, and A was able to hold out with reinforcements when Robert eventually did attack Macedonia and Thessaly; the invasion stalled and Robert had to go home to help Pope Gregory resist a German invasion of Rome. When Robert returned to Greece in 1085, aged c. 70, he then died on Corfu and the invasion ended . (Details in the 'Alexiad', biography of Alexius and how he saved the Empire from Turks, Crusaders, and Normans, by his daughter Anna Comnena, pioneering Byz woman historian: I studied this for my History degree which is how I remember such a lot of it.)

It is not clear if the English were a coherent band of soldiers (plus families) from Harold's army in 1066 who fled London after William the Conqueror took it, and made their way to Constantinople - where many English and Danes and Norwegians (and to confuse matters 'English' from E England who were descended from C9th Viking invaders and who still spoke Danish and had a Danish culture in the C11th) were already in the 'Varangian Guard' regiment. One of the latter's top officers in the 1030s had been the man who Harold II defeated at Stamford Bridge (Yorks) before Hastings as he invaded England, king Harald 'Hardrada' of Norway. The 'Varangians' were originally Russian mercenaries in Byz, loaned to the Empire by their new ally grand duke Vladimir of Kiev (of Viking descent like many of his elite) after their peace-treaty in 988, but a lot of them by the 1080s were English or Danes. The English exiles may have come to Byz directly via the Meditt, or via Russia along the trade-routes down the Dnieper -or have left England after 1066, after the failure of the 1069-70 revolts against King William (which had been helped by king Swein Estrithson of Denmark, Harold II's cousin). If they had survived the battle of Durazzo or even won it, and/ or had more soldiers available from a larger exodus from England, then I can see Alexius sending them off to the Crimea as a garrison to keep it loyal while most of his men were fighting the Normans and Turks in the 1080s.

The southern Crimea (ie the coast S of the mountains, especially the coastal towns led by the capital, 'Cherson' near modern Sevastopol) had been a Byz province since the C5th AD, inherited from the Roman Empire - which had taken it over from the indepedennt Greek settler state of the 'Bosporan Kingdom', which was a series of very ancient Greek colonial trading-cities dating back to the C6th to C3rd BC. (Urbanization in this part of Ukraine/ Russia is thus older than in the UK.) The inland part of Crimea was a tribal area, usually inhabited by the same nomads as the Ukraine steppes until the Goths , moving Westward towards the Roman Empire in the C4th AD, settled it; they then took refuge here in the late C4th and C5th from the nomad Asiatic Huns (who conquered the Gothic kingdom on the steppes after a victory in 376). The Gothic kingdom then merged with the Byz province, and a 'Gothic' ethnic and cultural/ linguistic presence seems to have lasted into the Middle Ages and been noticed by passing European merchants. The Byz-Gothic province of 'Cherson' lasted as a Byz province until probably shortly before the Crusader conquest of the Byz capital in 1204, except for a brief Russian takeover in 988 led by grand duke Vladimir - the first Russian conquest of the Crimea, cf the claim of another Russian ruler called Vladimir in 2014! The Crimea then transferred to the Byz successor state of the empire of Trebizond (aka modern Trabzon, on the SE side of the Black Sea) which ruled the Black Sea area, and later to the incoming Genoese merchants and navy in the C14th; and was taken over by the inland Khanate of the Crimea (part of the nomad Mongol successor states) in 1475 as they evicted the Genoese.

I can see a stronger and coherent 'English' military exiles' colony, set up by Alexius I to bolster the Byz army there in the 1080s, lasting merged with the Byz/ Gothic presence as far as 1475, from 1204 as an ally or vassal of Trebizond - which unlike the central Byz empire pre-1204 would lack the large army needed to conquer any local rebellion. But the stronger Crimean Khans, backed by steppe Mongols, would then probably have the means to subdue it, and to blockade any coastal towns with better artillery into submission long-term - unless there is no Ottoman state ruling all of the Greco-Anatolian region to assist the Khans (their OTl vassals) with their fleet and instead there is a surviving Byz state in Constantinople or a navally powerful Christian Trebizond state . Once the Russians take over the Ukraine steppes (Peter the Great tried this in 1711 and Catherine the Great succeeded in the 1770s) Cherson is easy prey for Russia - but the Anglo-Greek-Gothic community can survive as Russian subjects, used as propaganda for a Greek Orthodox 'Crusade' mission by Catherine as she attacks the Turks.
 

TR1996

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It'd be really cool if you could get Edgar the Atheling involved somehow. He supposedly ventured east at some point around the turn of the century IOTL, though the details are fuzzy.
 

Ricardolindo

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It'd be really cool if you could get Edgar the Atheling involved somehow. He supposedly ventured east at some point around the turn of the century IOTL, though the details are fuzzy.
It was his father Eadweard the Exile and his uncle Eadmund who ventured east. They were sent by Canute to Sweden where he hoped Olaf would kill them but he sent them to Russia, where they stayed for several years, before leaving for Hungary. At some point, Eadweard married the mysterious Agatha and had his children, including Edgar. Eadmund died some time after arriving in Hungary but their uncle Eadweard the Confessor was able to get Eadweard the Exile back to England.
 

Charles EP M.

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but the Anglo-Greek-Gothic community can survive as Russian subjects, used as propaganda for a Greek Orthodox 'Crusade' mission by Catherine as she attacks the Turks.
I don't see the 'Anglo-Gothic' community having a fun time in Russia during the Crimean War! Not unless they agree to be a lot less Anglo as the Russians glare suspiciously at them
 

TR1996

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It was his father Eadweard the Exile and his uncle Eadmund who ventured east. They were sent by Canute to Sweden where he hoped Olaf would kill them but he sent them to Russia, where they stayed for several years, before leaving for Hungary. At some point, Eadweard married the mysterious Agatha and had his children, including Edgar. Eadmund died some time after arriving in Hungary but their uncle Eadweard the Confessor was able to get Eadweard the Exile back to England.
Edgar himself is also reputed to have gone east around the turn of the century- one account has him leading an English fleet into the First Crusade in 1098 (which is generally rejected because of timeline issues re: him fighting in Scotland for his nephew in 1097), another that he went to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage in 1102.
 
The source for the story of Edgar Atheling being with the 'English' fleet as it arrived in Syria to join the Crusaders besieging the Turks in Antioch, ie in spring 1098, and then taking the port of Lattakieh down the coast (either from the Turks or from a Byzantine garrison left over from the overrun Byz province of coastal Syria) is the English historian Orderic Vitalis (mixed-ethnic Anglo-Norman, from the Welsh Marches, living in N France as Norman cleric by the time he wrote book ). Orderic, 'Ecclesiastical History' ,volume 11, book 10 : modern edition pub by Oxford UP, edited Marjorie Chibnall, 6 vols, 1969-80. Some analysts even argue for the 'English' expedition by sea to Syria in spring 1098 being an official Byz one by the Anglo-Saxon exiles in the Varangian Guard for Alexius I, sent from Constantinople, as the VG was by then largely English - and any additional 'English' participation direct from England being small , not 'official', and separate from the Anglo-Norman 'official' contingent led by King William's brother Duke Robert of Normandy. The latter was definitely in southern Italy already by late 1097 - though Edgar could have come out from Scotland/ England to join either expedition in the Mediterranean in autumn 1097 if the weather was adequate for sea crossings. He knew Duke Robert of Normandy (r 1087 - 1106), William II's brother, from the 1070s when he was exiled from England by R's father William I.

Also see discussion of the whereabouts of Edgar in 1097-8 , his Scots expedition in 1097 (to put his late sister St/ Queen Margaret's son Edgar on the throne of Scotland for his ally King William II 'Rufus' of England) and when he came out to Syria in Steven Runciman, 'History of the Crusades; Vol 1: The First Crusade', pp 228 and 255. Edgar is said by some authorities to have been back in Normandy in 1101 as he joined his friend and patron Duke Robert in invading England in July that year; whether or not he was in Syria or Palestine in 1102 he was in Normandy in 1106 as he then helped Robert against his invading brother, King Henry I of England, and was then captured in battle at Tinchebrai.

The whole shadowy later career of Edgar is muddled and fascinating - and he ended up surviving to at least 1125, thus living to the age of over 70 as the oldest surviving male of the Anglo-Saxon royal house. There's another long-term Alt Hist topic (and real life mystery) over how it was that almost all the AS royal males of the C10th and C11th, except for Edward the Confessor, ended up dying youngish - apparently naturally - and how this affected English and British history. Even in an era of poor medical knowledge there is a chain of early deaths longer than in most then royal houses; too many for coincidence? Most of the reigning Carolingians and Capetians in Francia (and emperor Otto the Great of Germany) lasted to their 50s, or even 70s in a few cases (Charlemagne to his mid-late 60s, one of his grandsons to around 70); several Scots kings lasted to their 70s, and one or two of them (Constantine I, d 952, and Malcolm II, d 1034) and a couple of Welsh kings to around 80. A couple of Norwegian and Danish kings in the C10th last to their 70s. In England, Alfred the Great is supposedly chronically unhealthy (reasons unclear) and dies at c. 50 in 899, his elder brothers kings Aethelbald and Aethelbert die in their 20s or early 30s, Athelstan (the second king of unified England, d 939) dies at around 45, his brother Eadred at c. 34, Edwy at c. 18, and Edgar at probably 32 - and all of these cases caused major political and military upsets.

Edgar Atheling's father Edward the Exile dies at around 40/42 , just after arriving in London from Hungary, and so misses out on succeeding Edward the Confessor and probably preventing the 1066 crisis - though there was suspicion that he was poisoned. So do we have some hereditary genetic weakness in the royal family impacting all of British history at the time?
 

TR1996

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In England, Alfred the Great is supposedly chronically unhealthy (reasons unclear) and dies at c. 50 in 899, his elder brothers kings Aethelbald and Aethelbert die in their 20s or early 30s, Athelstan (the second king of unified England, d 939) dies at around 45, his brother Eadred at c. 34, Edwy at c. 18, and Edgar at probably 32 - and all of these cases caused major political and military upsets.

Edgar Atheling's father Edward the Exile dies at around 40/42 , just after arriving in London from Hungary, and so misses out on succeeding Edward the Confessor and probably preventing the 1066 crisis - though there was suspicion that he was poisoned. So do we have some hereditary genetic weakness in the royal family impacting all of British history at the time?
Unlucky that Ethelred ended up being one of the longest-lived members of the family.
 
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