Hi, it’s me again!
History buffs: What do you think of this?
Demons (more monster- than villain-like) have made sparse attacks on humanity since forever, and all cultures have had mages to defend themselves. However, in the thirteenth century, there was a massive surge of demons all over the globe, killing off about half the human population before human mages eventually got the situation under control.
I’m thinking that after this, various cultures and societies would have become a bit more similar than they were in the real world, due to having survived the same kind of catastrophe and threat, through the same means, at the same time. One effect of this would be that Europe didn’t get the chance to colonize large parts of the world.
The story is fairly limited in scope, takes place over a few months in a single European city, so I don’t have to figure out everything about world history to tell it – but this is one difference from the real world which I think makes sense. Does it?
Hey Dvärghundspossen, great to hear from you again!
The short answer is yes. I think that makes total sense as an explanation for why Europe wouldn’t have colonized the rest of the world in your alternate history. A powerful, non-human threat is also just the sort of thing that would get our fractious human societies to put aside their difference and work together.
The longer answer is that it doesn’t actually take much to alter history so Europeans never went out colonizing. We have to remember that colonization was a gradual process, and any number of factors might have put Europe on a different path.
History is a labyrinthine, ever-changing mess where it’s impossible to say with 100% certainty why things happened, and so audiences are usually happy to accept whatever offer you have for why an alternate timeline happened. Like, maybe Justinian’s reconquest set the stage for a resurgent Roman Empire in your setting. Rome was all about conquest, but they had a very different view of it than later European empires. Distant colonies scattered all over the world? No thanks!
Or maybe the Roman Empire never formed in the first place, leaving Europe without the founding political institutions from which many imperial powers drew their identities. Again, that would handily put a stop to colonization. This is before you even consider magic. A little anti-disease magic in the Americas after 1492 would have made it effectively impossible for Europeans to settle the continent like they historically did.
My point is just that if your main goal is to explain why European colonization never happened, you don’t need to reach for extreme options like massive demon attacks. On the other hand, if the demon attacks are already an important part of your story, then go ahead and use them as the explanation for why white people kept their colonial hands off the rest of the world. Few will question it.
The one thing I’d recommend caution on is the idea of different cultures being “more similar” in this setting. Whatever the historic context, modern audiences from marginalized groups are often very sensitive to being lumped together or otherwise homogenized/absorbed. So while it’s perfectly reasonable to say that the Aniyunwiya and Haudenosaunee people allied with Europeans to defeat the demons, you don’t want to make it sound like those identities have merged together.
Hope that answers your question!