I will be using RVBoMally's POD and [link]
may end up borrowing some of his historical changes but I intend to put a different spin on this scenario. In this time-line the Byzantine Empire wins the Battle of Manzikert, defeats the Seljuk Turks and restores Imperial rule in Anatolia. With no threat to their control the Byzantines never call for help from Latin Christendom and the relations between both Christendom continue to break down.
The victory at Manzikert leaves the Byzantines with more manpower to defend their empire and they even manage to place the Bulgars and some of the Rum Turks under their vassalage. With the Seljuk Turks forced back the Byzantine instead focus their energy against their rivals to the west such as the Sicilians and the Venetians. With no Crusade in the east the Church never finds itself militarising nor does it gain control of so much property and land that in OTL would be placed under their protection by people crusading in the Holy Land. Christendom' military energy is instead focused on Iberia and the Reconquista finds itself supported by thousands of spare noble sons seeking plunder and prestige. With more manpower and energy behind the Reconquista makes greater gains earlier and even makes footholds in North Africa. Sicily begins to establish trading posts, naval bases and puppet states across Tunisia.
The Muslim powers continue to fracture without the Crusades to provide a more centralising force for the emirates to unite around and with the Seljuks temporarily repulsed they instead focuses back towards the Middle East and cause a bit more chaos than OTL. The movement of some populations does lead to a bit more exposure to Christendom and some Muslim scholars and traders do find it a bit easier and safer to travel and work in in a Christian Europe that is not as religiously homogeneous. This in turn leads to an exchange of goods and ideas.
Without the power and prestige provided by the Crusades, the Catholic Church finds itself unable to properly combat the numerous heresies that emerge during the 10th and 11th Centuries. Southern France soon becomes a hotbed of heretical philosophy that mainly opposes the stifling clericalism of the Catholic Church. Attempts by local authorities to crack down on these popular religions only leads to unfortunately violent reactions from the heretics. Over the centuries these heresies continue to fester in corners of Europe until the advent of the printing press makes distributing copies of their works much easier and many discontent people across Christendom begin to follow them.
During the 16th Century a massive religious uprising begins in Southern France against a Papacy that at the time was attempting to centralise and regain control over Christian belief under a short series of more politically able Popes. The revolutionaries followed a more regional based and anti-clerical heresy that opposed the centralisation of the Papacy. These heresies evolved into a form of 'Protestantism'. This movement swept across France, Spain, northern Italy and portions of Germany and converted thousands as it went. Rome itself fell and the Papacy is forced to relocate itself in more friendly territory.
In the east the Byzantine Empire is again attacked by the Seljuks and overrun by them in the 14th Century. The Seljuks take Constantinople and move into Greece and Bulgaria. A Byzantine holdout fortifies itself in the Peloponnese and after a few centuries is able to slowly grind its way back up Greece as the Seljuk Empire decays. The Bulgarians make the most progress and soon enough the two nations join together through a personal union and retake the Balkan and Aegean territories of the Byzantine Empire. However the invasion and collapse of the Byzantine Empire did force a number of Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbians west into Europe. This brings the knowledge, philosophies and technology of the former Roman Empire back into Europe. The arrival of Greek Orthodox ideas also helped exacerbate the spread of heresies across Europe. The influx of Classical information does begin an earlier but also slower Renaissance that receives a boost with the invention of the printing press. One of the most interesting pieces of Classical information that is revived and distributed is the concept of Roman universal Democracy (universal of course being very subjective).
Eventually European explorers from Iberia discover a new continent in their attempt to circumvent the war torn Balkans by finding a route around Africa. Once the riches of the new continents become more apparent (they were able to subdue the Amerindian civilizations) the other powers of Europe that possessed an Atlantic coastline set out to carve their own colonial territories out of the New World. Due to slightly different political stances on the part of the colonising powers many more Amerindians survived and instead established protectorates over the larger native societies. Other colonists were content with simply converting the local populace to their personal Christian denominations which led to a larger percentage of creoles making up a lot of the population in these states.
With an earlier and more prolific Renaissance the industrial revolution happens earlier than OTL and is more widespread across Europe and their empires. Industrialisation leads to a new age of intellectual revolution and many new ideologies spread throughout the burgeoning working classes of the industrialised world. War industrialises as well and the horrors of mechanised warfare emerge in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Empires fall and governments change in the face of the rapid technological advances.
Democracy became a real political ideology on the world stage during the 20th Century as technology made it easier to rise up against backward old fashioned governments and unite their different groups together under one banner (sort of). However since the ideology has emerged in traditionally backward and authoritarian states, the revolutionaries have generally radicalised in response to the damages of revolution, the chaos that emerged from the state of civil war and the general backward nature of their nation states.
The Workers Republic of Democratic States is the largest and most successful of the Democratic nations that emerged in the 20th Century. The WRDS was born from the old Nueva Lusitanian Empire that collapsed into revolution after their last and abysmal participation in several colonial wars. Nueva Lusitania was overrun by the radical revolutionaries and even spread out into several neighbouring states and assimilated them. After that the new authoritarian government began a new phase of rapid force-draft industrialisation with a noticeable Stalinist flavour to it. The WRDS has successfully turned itself into a large and powerful industrialised state thanks to the resource base of the former Nueva Espagnia (OTL Argentina) which was assimilated by the revolution. Society is fairly authoritarian and repressed. Most time is dedicated to working to advance the state but there is clear time for leisure and relaxation. The government has attempted to place everything on a well organised and closely monitored schedule that is supposed to increase social and economic efficiency. The state security complex and the military complex are both huge and alongside the ancient and corrupt bureaucracy, cripple the WRDS' economy and prosperity. Secret police are everywhere and have happily embraced the new advent of digital technology. CCTV cameras and audio bugs are on every street and public centre and high rise. There is no personal internet system but the government has approved a series of publicly available information centres that distribute ideologically approved information and media. The education system indoctrinate children from their earliest grades and teach a harsh government approved curriculum. Officially the WRDS is atheistic which is made easier by their previously Protestant population but there are still large religious communities.
The WRDS' main partner and sometimes rival is the Democratic Federation of Austronesia. The Austronesian Archipelagos were colonised by the British and Germans and at first they attempted to convert them, forcibly sometimes. After these phases ended the industrialisation led to them trying to build up the industrial base of the islands. This of course led tot he revolutionary uprisings across the island. The groups were eventually united under a group of charismatic leaders that saw the movements across the island chains move in, more or less, the same direction. These leaders and their descendants were able to finish the jobs their former colonial overlords and industrialised their new nation at the expense of a few thousand of their citizens. Austronesia is a very oppressive police state with a massive and powerful state security force that monitors everything possible. The possible divisions caused by the separation of the islands that make up the Federation are solved by a rapid military response system that works to provide quick and easy connections between the islands for state forces and officials. Society is ideological, paranoid and fairly xenophobic (allies are the exceptions) and these attitudes are reinforced by the extensive propaganda machine. The Supreme Leader of Austronesia also has a mild cult of personality dedicated to him, his predecessors and possibly to his future replacements as well. Due to the difficult make-up of their nation, they have embraced a high degree of technocratic ideals in an attempt to develop technology that will ease the burdens of controlling and subjugating the nation.
These two nations have managed to rope together the other Democratic states into a loose alliance through intimidation, scaremongering and a “stand together or hang separately” attitude that they have promoted amongst their comrades. The main division in the Collective is largely based around which of the two powers gets to puppetise who. The degrees of authoritarianism vary from state to state but the state control over much of society and the economy is a given fact in all of them.
The main opponent of the Democratic Collective is the Alliance for Order and Righteousness. The Alliance is made up of the traditionally Catholic powers that have persisted through the centuries and risen to power largely due to the fact that they possessed the location, impetus and initiative for colonial expansion. Though not theocratic these powers do place a lot of significance on religious ideals and morals. Gender roles are still very important to the nations of the Alliance and while women can legally find work in traditionally male fields, it is frowned upon by many. Due to political realities many have embraced a more secular stance when concerning certain issues such as technology which has allowed them to keep up with their rivals and still present a position of power.
The symbolic leader of the Alliance is the Holy Roman Empire of the Germans, colloquially referred to as Germany. Without Crusaders giving their property to the Church the German Kings found it easier to slowly centralise the Holy Roman Empire. Germany did suffer from a significant Protestant uprising but was able to crush their indigenous movements and restored order. The Papacy then fled here after Rome fell and were given land within which to establish a new Papal State. Germany is still an elective monarchy but its government was reorganised and centralised, primarily by the Hohenstaufens. Emperors are commonly elected from three houses, the House of Hohenstaufen, the House of Wittelsbach and the House of Hapsburg. Votes are decided by the those members of society that can meet the standards required for the franchise which measn about 35-40% of the population. Germany has numerous autonomous territories that were granted to other less powerful dukes and princes as well as the autonomous Papal State. Germany has a militant legacy which is still very evident in their society. Everything is expected to be run smoothly and efficiently and hard work is expected of every member of the population. Germany embraced the industrial revolution primarily as a means of expanding their armed forces. Germany has abandoned most of their colonial territories but has worked hard to integrate and assimilate their more profitable remaining territory.
The British Isles were united in a different manner and underwent a series of dynastic changes. Over the centuries their on and off wars with France gained a new image as France fell to the Protestants. As an island they had an advantage in colonialism and established a decent empire once the Colonial Era began and expanded from there. The British Empire today is the single largest political entity in the Alliance and has worked for decades to industrialise their colonies. Though they have long ago abandoned their attempts to convert the people of their Asian territories, they continued their efforts in Africa for nearly a century longer. The British Isles are highly industrialised and urbanised with a higher population than OTL (thanks to Catholic attitudes concerning contraception and large families). Many of their more developed or more Christian colonies have been granted self-autonomy and home rule is often portrayed as a reward for successful economic and social development in the empire. The Empire's demographic and industrial centre shifted towards their territories in the New World and the capital and government has moved there as well. However they have experienced a lot of trouble from nationalist and extremist groups in several of their overseas territories. British society is trying to embrace a degree of multiculturalism as immigrants from the colonies arrive in larger numbers. There is a glass ceiling for non-Catholics but it is cracking with time and pressure. A lot of colonial subjects have been granted more and more powers in the overarching society of the empire as their power and prestige grows. The Indian Empire has been gaining more economic and demographic status and the rise of Indian elites (traditional and newly ennobled families) have also begun to have an affect on the empire through their lands economic and demographic might. Where this will lead the British is not yet known but a lot of different people are drawing plans in order to exploit the coming changes.
Most other states in the Alliance are Catholic but there are others that share their adoption of elitist monarchical societies and traditional ideals. Most do embrace modernisation and technology though there are a few states that refuse to acknowledge certain discoveries concerning geology and biology. They are in direct opposition to the Collective and have worked hard to pre-empt and defeat several Democratic uprisings in nations abroad.
The third power on the world stage is the (now) Federal Empire of Sibir. There was no Mongol Empire due to butterflies and thanks to that many of the civilizations of Central Asia survived A few khans and warlords did arise but none were ever able to build an empire even close to the magnitude of Temujin. Without the destruction of so many of their principalities, the Russians remained a fringe civilization on the edge of Europe. Orthodox missionaries from the Ukraine did succeed in converting many of the tribes of Siberia and eventually a mighty state of its own emerged in the region led by a Tsar of its own. The Sibirians then went on to conquer their own empire and overran the people of Central Asia, Kamchatka and even Russia.
Sibir did get involved with the Industrial Revolution and was able to weather the 20th Century in good order. The lost some territory to Democratic revolution and after that they reformed their empire into a more federal structure. Local rulers were granted autonomy and cultural and religious traditions were fully legalised. Sibir is not a democratic society but it is a meritocratic one and no longer discriminates against anyone based on their background. It is still a very sexist society and homosexuality is strictly illegal (they commit them these days rather than execute them however) but a citizens race and religion make no difference. Sibir's economy still relies primarily on the primary sector and their vast wealth of raw materials but a new generation of service based businesses is emerging. Sibir has a long rivalry with other powers over the Middle East and the Balkans and has traditionally lent support to those nations that are within its political camp or sphere of influence. Sibir's state security complex has also increased since the Democratic uprisings. Agents and terrorists from Turkmenistan continue to infiltrate the border and attempt to incite revolution amongst the populace. Sibir remains aloof of the other two power blocs struggle and has instead focused on internal matters which has yielded both benefits and costs as whilst their development and federalisation have held off further revolution at the same time they have also fallen behind the other superstates in terms of power and have found their new political arrangement has made government policy and decision making very difficult.
Though not a super power in the traditional sense, there is a fourth international bloc that exists. The Mediterranean League was created by Protestant nations originally as a form of solidarity and was then reinforced by their wars with the Catholic powers. Modern day Protestantism is very secular and anti-establishment. Religious citizens are expected to adhere to the Bible and its teachings but organize private Mass and prayer instead of adhering to an institution. This has led to a high degree of agnosticism and liberal religion.
France is the most prestigious of the Protestant states and has the largest population and industrial base as well as the most remaining territory. Most of the other Protestant states also share a Latin cultural and linguistic base. The Protestant states have traditionally been opposed to authoritarian governments and many have swung back and forth between being kingdoms or republics (in the only aristocrats can vote sense). However they do oppose the systematic organization of Democracy and agree with the Alliance in opposing the ideology. Since the Silent War began with the Collective, the League has been busy expanding their military and security forces. However this has raised a lot of controversy as these new organizations are beginning to infringe on certain rights of the individual. Most states of the League continue to possess highly stratified and elitist societies and attitudes and many have embraced technocratic principles. Scientific discovery is very important to the League and they like to believe they possess the most liberal attitudes on the planet. Age of consent is the lowest in the world and many mild narcotics are legal in the League as well as some very loose marriage laws. Homosexuality is (shock, horror) accepted in most of the League and many of the states have gay marriage. Sexism is still being eliminated but the glass ceilings in society are now almost completely shattered and many traditional gender roles and expectations are slowly being transformed by changing attitudes. Unfortunately the League also some of the highest crime rates in the world and a lot of bigoted ideas have emerged from counter-movements and progressives alike. These negative traits have grown large enough to be used as examples by their opponents as reasons why the League's attitudes are wrong/sinful/dysfunctional and should not be adopted.
The League has also been making overtures to many of the Islamic states. The Islamic world never suffered the Crusades and spent most of its time fighting itself as a result. The lack of a Mongol invasion extended this period but the status quo was messed up enough for change to take place. Like OTL the Turks and Egyptians rose to dominance as the Arabs of Iraq and Algeria fell by the wayside. Islam has done a better job of keeping up with technology and even participated in the industrial revolution. There are a large number of technocrats in the Middle East that combine a lot of traditional Islamic ideals with modern technology and theories. Egypt is the most powerful of the Islamic states now. They are a secular, meritocratic kingdom that is mostly governed by their massive and labyrinthine bureaucracy. Other states are in association with either the Collective or the Alliance (after they stopped trying to convert them) in order to gain protection. The states of the Middle East have made good use of their oil deposits and used them as a means of rapid economic development and the means to attain relative prosperity. However they have noticed that other people want the oil as well and as these reserves begin to disappear, they have begun to rethink their position in the world.
Technology is more advanced in this world. An earlier and more widespread Renaissance and Industrial Revolution has seen far more potential talent tapped by the rest of the world. More of the world is also industrialised and the world powers are working to make sure that the rest of their territories are also properly modernised. Medical technology is supplemented by cybernetic limbs, genetically adaptable antibiotics and even the first cloned organs and limbs that can provide easily accessible donors. Chemical warfare was developed earlier than OTL and led to a lot of wartime atrocities. However it was during the Somali Genocide where a number of British generals used nerve gas on the families and communities of suspected rebels that finally saw the world outlawing all of these weapons (the generals were discharged and many were executed for war crimes). There was a Space Race in the 20th Century and now three nations have placed men on the Moon, there is an international moon-base and the Italians (with British support) achieved the first human landing on Mars with an international team of cosmonauts. There are numerous satellites and space stations in orbit including the first private space station that works as a tourist attraction. Nuclear fusion has only just been discovered but many of the methods of containing and exploiting it are not viable and the costs far exceed the benefits. Nuclear proliferation is actually not as big of a problem with the major powers handling most of the arsenals and are working to make sure that other more (openly) hostile nations do not gain access to them and upset the status quo. However because the world is more industrialised, climate change is more advanced and resource peaks are far higher than OTL. The rise of technocratic sentiments has been largely in response to this and many nations and superstates are clamouring for solutions to the growing problems.