The Diplomatic War

Last week I thought about some Alternate History scenarios that might get China to discover America before Europe gets a chance.

I did not stop thinking about it.

Step 1) Hulagu Khan challenges the election of  Kublai Khan, causing a civil war that splits the Mongol Empire in two. Hulagu relocates from Baghdad to Lin’an (now Hangzhou), bringing a whole bunch of Muslims with them.

2) In the following centuries, the Hulagids drift from the Muslim mainstream, rejecting the primacy of Arabic and favoring Shia just to be contrary. The old Shia emphasis on egalitarianism gets turned on its head, with each successive Emperor claiming to be the Imam and Mahdi.

3) Arab Muslims respond by sending missionaries to convert the people out from under the Hulagid government. The Emperor-Imam responds with even more elaborate missions in the Middle East (the so-called “Holy Pavilions”), so well-funded they are almost little cities unto themselves.

4) To fund this activity, the Hulagids step up trading and exploration, and treasure-barges extend down to the Cape of Good Hope in the west and Australia in the East. The Hulagid capitol of Lin’an becomes a global trade-post, kicking off a revolution of art and science.

5) When the Holy Pavilion at Mecca is burned, the Imam-Emperor closes borders with the West. This sparks a popular revolt in Hulagid lands, which is brutally crushed. The survivors flee west, spreading Chinese Sunni and Twelver Shia communities across north India and Central Asia.

6) The Indian ocean explodes with violence and piracy. Hulagid missions and trading posts now become “peace-keeping stations,” and the Imam-Emperor’s control tightens over Southeast Asia, India, and the Swahili Coast of Africa. Sunni/Arab control of the Middle East proves impossible to crack, however, and Hulagid treasure-barges start to look to the Pacific for alternate routes for the all-important pilgrimage to Mecca…

The Story I wrote based on this scenario, TREASURE FLEET, is available now from Inklings Press in the Tales of Alternate Earths anthology.

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