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No Gunpowder by QuantumBranching No Gunpowder by QuantumBranching
OK, a map based on an old alt.history.what-if scenario pointed out by OttoVonSuds. In this world neither Europe nor China developed gunpowder, kicking off various butterflies.

Technology is basically on an 1820s level, although early industrial technology is more widespread than OTL. Steam ships and locomotives have as not yet been developed. Germ theory and basic sanitation are spreading, which is both good and bad: good that it will lower the very high mortality rate, bad in that it will lower the very high mortality rate (Europe has been scraping against the Malthusian limit for a while in spite of the development of double cropping and other advances in agricultural technique: fewer children dying of disease will just make things worse). Asia too is getting overly crowded; the import of American crops such as potatoes having given some room for further expansion, but things going forward look a bit worrysome. Only in Africa and the Americas is there still a fair degree of room for growth. 

With no cannon to knock down their fortresses or massed ranks of gunpowder troops to minimize the necessary skill level of soldiers, the European nobility has remained more powerful, although through means more subtle than “level their castles” most European monarchies have been able to establish their superiority to their noble subordinates. (France has had a hard time, and if it hadn’t been for the fecklessness of the great nobles France might have done better at standing up to the Holy Roman Empire). 

Capitalism is underdeveloped by our standards, and old-style mercantilism remains the norm. Banking is fairly limited. Industrialization is taking off in a number of countries, but tends to be dominated by the nobility, which control the towns in which new industry develops, although usually working through commoner merchant intermediaries to avoid getting their fingers dirty with actual commercial dealings. The Holy Roman Empire is unusual in the number of industrial centers controlled directly by mercantile elites, thanks to the Hansa and their lack of feudal overlords save the Emperor himself. 

Politics are regressive, with some Amerindian states being probably the closest things to republics in this world: enlightened absolutism is about as “liberal” as it usually gets, and the mercantile non-nobles only powerful in a few countries, more through bribery or alliance with kings and emperors than through institutional means: parliaments, where they exist, are weak. The wealthy commoner classes are further weakened politically by the tendency of their members to buy their way into the nobility. Serfdom remains widespread, and slavery is legal pretty much everywhere, although the much more limited presence of Europeans in tropical America means that the Atlantic slave trade is a smaller-scale affair than OTL. 

Humanist thinking was weakened by a slowed transfer of Greco-Roman cultural heritage from Byzantium (the takeover of Constantinople by fellow Orthodox Bulgars led to a greatly reduced diasporah of Greeks to the west) and the Renaissance was a rather more subdued affair, intellectually speaking.

The great Ottoman success was butterflied, and instead the Karamanid Turks dominated everything between Libya and Iran for a while, although they never succeeded in taking Constantinople. 

With weaker European navies (no cannon) and less effective armies, Europe never was really able to impose its will on the Asian mainland, so India remains under the rule of local princes and potentates. 

The discovery of the Americas was a much slower process, with a number of intermittent contacts over two and a half centuries before regular travel and colonization began in the 18th century, giving Amerindian societies more time to adapt and early exposure to diseases and iron, pigs and horses. Native states still dominate in much of the Americas, most notably the Tlaxcala, who have used European wars and mutual distractions to establish themselves as masters of the Caribbean. 

Catholicism remains supreme in Europe and the Papacy is immensely powerful, although the Popes have had sufficient lack of faith in their successors that they’ve stayed away from any declarations of Papal Infallibility. Heresy still flourishes and religious oddity is almost the norm in the *Americas, where a somewhat indirect transfer of Christianity to the locals has led to several variant Christianities at odds with Rome. (Quite a few European religious oddballs head out to the *American frontier, where they obtain glory through either successful conversions or through martyrdom at the hands of the locals). 

Japan is about 50% Christian, divided into Catholics and odd local variants. Concern about their possible role as agents for a foreign power (the Papacy) so far keeps Catholics out of the top government jobs. Jews, seen as having a distinct role in the Apocalypse, are under the protection of the Catholic Church in Europe, and anti-Semitic dialogue is reduced to a low background hum throughout Europe, not yet having married itself to ethnic nationalism, scientific racism, and backlash from modernization.

The military is less Nobleman-dominated than before, pike squares, longbows, sophisticated crossbows, etc. all having eroded the primacy of the Man in Armor on Horseback model. Steam power promises such exciting developments as the Steam-Powered Ballista or catapult. Guns based on compressed air have been developed, although the need for frantic pumping between shots somewhat limits its utility. Distilling has led to the development of a sort of Molotov Cocktail, mostly used for Applied Arson, and a form of Greek Fire has been redeveloped. In the meantime, the infant science of chemistry struggles along: in a few decades, they will make some bangs which will be heard around the world...
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:iconmiscreant74:
Miscreant74 Featured By Owner Edited Sep 13, 2014
I think you have over looked a few things. Europe army mass musket firing lines was based on archer and crossbow techniques. The Asians had repeating crossbows. Also Crossbows were more accurate and quicker firing than early Matchlock BP firearms. also Ballista had the range of early cannon. Military tactics would only be mildly effected in the early European formation. Invaders like the Moors would have overrun southern Europe with out the early cannons of the time. Asia would have expanded west. In the western hemisphere some of the Native people had already developed bronze smithing and crude Iron working as well as some had small but better built sailing ships.
As with any large Populations as you described Disease would have wiped out large areas in Europe. Even in the early 1900s Flu has killed 100s of millions and Europe was hard hit even with modern medicine.
With all this Europe and Catholicism would have Been hard pressed to keep control of its Close holdings.
This map is really a best case and cool all the same Great Job.
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:iconkraut007:
Kraut007 Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2014
Awesome. 
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:iconquantumbranching:
QuantumBranching Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2014
Thanks.
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:iconkraut007:
Kraut007 Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2014
I mean, the whole slavery/feudalism thing sucks for the people, of course.
But the idea of the native African/American/Asian people carving out empires of their own is always fascinating. 
Also a German wank, which isn´t about the Kaiserreich or the damn nazis, but the Holy Roman Empire. To imagine this multi-ethnical colossus as global power...
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:iconottovonsuds:
OttoVonSuds Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2014
This is great.
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:iconquantumbranching:
QuantumBranching Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2014
Thankee.
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:iconsingle-leg:
single-leg Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2014
I wonder if they would have developed pneumatic air weapons/guns?  Very interesting scenario!
Without gunpowder, nomadic peoples of Asia and America would have maintained their control on their territories.
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:icontedshatner10:
TedShatner10 Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2014
It's implied that the development of real gunpowder has been delayed rather erased, with the gap filled with more mechanised/pressurised artillery and napalm instead (blunting the effectiveness of armies and navies in comparison to the OTL).
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:iconloscaleb:
LosCaleb Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2014
love it
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