First of all, what is IB? It stands for Ill Bethisad (lit., the Baptized), an "alternate-time-line" of historical developments on Earth. The main point of departure, as I understand it, is that the Romans never abandoned Britain, which meant that the Saxons met with greater resistance and managed to occupy a much smaller portion of the island, while in the remainder, Celto-Romance languages and culture continued to thrive. The many ramifications of this led to alternate developments in Europe and the Americas. Asia was ignored for a while, but a while back I threw my hat into the ring and "took over" the Indonesian area.

There is a great deal of information on Ill Bethisad, principally in the Conculture list. There is a wiki devoted to it-- I have no link, but I believe it can be found by googling; one should also google for Brithenig, the principal language of Britain, a brilliantly created Romance language with (if I'm not mistaken) Welsh-like sound changes and orthography.


A few centuries before the beginning of the C.E. traders from both north and south India had established contacts throughout mainland and insular SE Asia. Over time, they introduced their concepts of Indian state-craft, as well as their religions, both Hindu and Buddhist. By around 400 CE, a native Indianized state had arisen in southern Sumatra-- Srivijaya--which apparently controlled the all-important Straits of Malacca as well as much of the Indonesian archipelago, in particular the Moluccas, the source of valuable spices.

*Here*, Srivijaya went into decline after a few centuries-- possibly due to increasing competition from rising statelets in Java; ultimately it was supplanted by a Javanese empire called Majapahit. Majapahit in turn declined and was replaced by another Javanese empire, Mataram, which in its turn was in decline at the time the Dutch arrived in the early 1600s. Meanwhile, the Spanish and Portuguese had reached, a century before, eastern Indonesia and the Philippines-- possibly their interference in the spice trade was a factor in the decline of Mataram. Another factor may have been religious strife-- through Arab and Moslem Indians, Islam had reached the archipelago, and by the 1400s was gaining converts all over.

*There*, however, Srivijaya did not decline; but Majapahit did arise and captured the Molucca-Java leg of the spice trade. After a pointless war or two between the two near-equals (perhaps with "assistance" from the rising Angkorean state or Malayic Champa in Vietnam), the two states reached an accomodation, whereby Srivijaya was able to continue handling the trade through the Straits of Malacca on to India. Since both states (now Buddhist) retained power, and took a dim view of the arrival of Islamic missionaries, these were eventually confined to a limited area at first land-fall, the northern tip of Sumatra-- Atjeh-- which had been settled by refugees from the turmoil and constant warfare between Angkor and Champa. In addition, the Chinese engaged far more actively in the SE Asian trade, developed a powerful navy, incidentally discovering that their gunpowder was useful for more than fireworks. Most importantly, China did not abandon its sea power toward the end of the Ming Dynasty.

When the Spanish/Portuguese arrived in the late 15th Century, they managed to occupy the Philippines, some of northern Borneo, and the northern arm of Sulawesi (relatively isolated areas which neither the Chinese nor Majapahit considered worth fighting over), and managed to wrest the Moluccas and southern islands away from Majapahit. For that to have happened, it must be that Majapahit was distracted by (unknown) events closer to home; or perhaps their fire-power at the time was inferior to that of the Spaniards; or perhaps, too, the Moluccan peoples were tired of Javanese domination and willing to take their chances with a new colonial master.

Even so, having captured the Source of All Spices, the Spaniards must have quickly discovered how un-economical it was to ship across the Pacific, trans-ship across Mexico, then onward to Europe. So they too must have reached a accomodation with Majapahit/Srivijaya, and allowed the spices to be shipped along the already familiar and probably faster route through Java/Malacca/India/Arabia, thence to Europe.

By the time the Dutch arrived in the early 1600s, the trade routes were sewn up, two strong native states were in existence and controlled the Straits of Malacca, and there was Chinese and Spanish back-up. As a result, they managed only to establish a trading center at Banda Atjeh. Thus, they never occupied the entire Indonesian archipelago, and may have been only a very minor player in East Asian trade; they may never have reached Japan, whose limited trade with Europe would have been handled by the Spanish or Portuguese for a considerable time.

Here, then, is a tentative map of Indonesia/SE Asia as it might have appeared in the mid-17th Century.

SEAsia map

This more recent (October 2004) map shows the modern-day state of affairs in Asia and SE Asia. As we can see, the boundaries of Srivijaya and Majapahit are practically unchanged; they remain Buddhist states, with some areas of local Hinduism; the now-independent Philippines include Brunei and North Sulawesi; while Maluku is an ecotopian republic whose many islands remain the source of "Authentic Spice Islands Spices" and have become popular with tourists from all over the world.

Click here for the modern map.


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