Here's something to get myself back into mapmaking again: a follow-up map profile to my old Dutch Far East map ([link]
). It's essentially set in the same continuity but focuses on Europe instead.
Also please keep in mind that this is an alternate history and work of fiction. It's not meant to revise what really happened or serve some political or ideological purpose other than a curious story premise. Still, hope you enjoy!
If one were to ask an educated man how he would describe Europe, no doubt it would focus on its culture and diversity. He would also mention the glories that at times went hand in hand with generations of strife. Indeed, since the days of the Roman Empire few other places on Earth could compare to the complex, constrained and confrontational nature of the Continent. Yet in one of those peculiarities in history, talk has been made lately of Empire and Solidarity. Peace is the order of the day…though much remains beneath the surface.
While the mighty and increasingly progressive British Empire rules the waves, it has increasingly distanced itself from much of Continental affairs, except when it comes to its historic rivals France and Spain. Since the 17th Century, the Spanish Crown had not only guaranteed its country’s continued prosperity but has also managed a successful campaign to integrate Portugal into its “United Iberia” ideology; it is only a matter of time before the Portuguese are pushed into an outright referendum. Meanwhile, after violent revolts and constantly shifting governments, the French have emerged as a major powerhouse in Western Europe, more than ready to spread their ideals of “Nationalist Republicanism” around the world, beginning with their neighbors to the south. Open conflict has been avoided so far mainly due to the British serving as opportunistic “middlemen;” so long as the two squabbling powers were not aiming their sights at London, Her Majesty has been more than supportive on maintaining the status quo.
Across the North Sea, Scandinavia stands united over one of the most stable regions in the world. After the Binding of Crowns in 1835, the constituent Nordic kingdoms seemed content at first with simply making themselves a beacon of social unity and civilization. More recently though, their sights have been set on “liberating” the Grand Duchy of Finland from Russian rule. Neither the Finns nor Swedes had forgotten what the Tsars had done in the Baltic conflicts of the 18th Century, especially the humiliating fall of Helsinki in 1754. So far, it has mostly been wishful sentiment, although rumors abound of rebels being armed with weapons almost magically out of the blue.
Central and Eastern Europe meanwhile has in one form or another been dominated for centuries by the “Three Eagles:” the (Prussian) German Empire, an expansionist Russia and Habsburg Austria-Hungary. Formerly the domain of both the Holy Roman Empire and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the region has stayed largely the same throughout the 19th Century. The ruling powers are more content with professing culture than outright fighting each other, although there are tensions with the German Nationalism of Berlin and the multiethnic Austro-Hungarians. Increasingly however, Bavaria-based Southern Germany is becoming a major power in its own right, its Habsburg and Swiss ties bringing it on a collision course with their Prussian neighbors. All while Serbia plots schemes to hold back the Habsburgs and the Poles in Russia geow restless for autonomy if not outright independence
Further south, the United Italian League hold increasing sway over the Mediterranean. Formed from a patchwork alliance of city-states, kingdoms and princely fiefs, it at first glance seems to be an unlikely candidate for a rising power, if not for lofty desires that go far beyond unifying every single inch of Italian land. Nobility and commoner alike style themselves a new Roman Empire. But even before the Papal Compromise of 1875, they had succeeded in making a colony of Tunisia and building up a decent industrial network whose reach stretches to Ottoman Constantinople and even as far as the Pacific. Despite this however, the Austrians in Venice as well as the similarly ambitious Greeks tend to wave them off as being delusional upstarts. Although following the Tripolitania Incident in 1892, many are beginning to take Italy seriously.
Amidst all this simmering tension, the Greater Netherlands has stayed fairly quiet as a symbol for Europe’s new age of peace and solidarity. A people more inclined to trade and civilized pursuits, the Dutch have largely stayed out of the wider Continent, their colonial realms more than compensating for their long-time status as a buffer between the French and Germans. But with the unification with Flanders in 1817 and Luxembourg’s “integration” in 1844, the Kingdom has increasingly become “Europe’s Marketplace.” And in more ways than one: the country is also home to Japanese, East Indies and Indian immigrants, rivaling the Habsburg realms in multiculturalism. Yet few are naïve to think that they would stay out of the limelight forever. When even their traditional British allies have shown some reluctance to support them, some have begun making plans to build a network of canals and trenches around the borders to deter foreign invaders. Most still hope however that this era would truly last. After all, it is the dawn of a new century. How could it possibly get any worse?