Now We Are Free:
A map based on the ending to the Ridley Scott movie Gladiator. For the record I dislike this movie for the whole “Rome will be a Republic again” thing. There are so many ways for that to go wrong and so I shall portray one of them and take it to the dawn of the 20th Century.
So in this time-line the events and characters of Gladiator are real. The Emperor Commodus is slain by disgraced general and gladiator Maximus and a revolutionary group re-establish the Roman Republic as per the wishes of the dying hero and the previous emperor Marcus Aurelius. Civil war immediately breaks out as rival generals begin a bid for the throne whilst the supporters of the fledgling republic fight to keep order. Time and again warlords declare themselves emperor and carve out dominions from the crumbling empire only to be defeated by their rivals or the Republicans. New nations rise and fall, barbarians invade, the Persians grab what they can and the Empire bleeds out profusely in the anarchy. Eventually things settle down when a strongman is able to carve off Northern Africa as his own empire and even reclaim Egypt and Judea from the Persians. The Roman Republic reforms around the northern half of the Mediterranean with Britannia, Germania and Northern Gaul constantly swimming in and out of Roman control over the centuries. In the East a Greek speaking 'Roman' Empire emerges from the chaos and holds out against the Persians.
Christianity fails to get a foothold in chaotic Europe and is forced east. In Persia, the popularity of religions developed from an ATL Manicheanism push them further into Asia. Christianity eventually finds a home in the nomadic tribes of Central and Northern Asia. It also proves as popular in Northern India as Islam did OTL. In Roman Europe the worship of deities such as Mithras, Sol Invictus and Isis evolve and spread whilst offshoots of Wodenism take over Northern Europe. Judaism suffers in this more polytheistic world as the more inclusive and accepting faiths slowly assimilate many of the Jewish diaspora.
The migration period happens on schedule but the make-up of the tribes and the directions they take are different. Europe gets shaken up ethnically and linguistically, the lack of Christianity and a strong Roman identity means that Europe is even more divided than before. However the barbarians do pick up a number of things such as some technology and the various faiths of the Romans. A rump Roman Republic rallies in Spain and even retakes Italy. The African Empire is invaded by the Berbers but does a better job of beating and then assimilating their barbarians than their cousins across the sea. The Persian Empire waxes and wanes whilst the Arabs, converted to Manicheanism and hemmed in by powerful neighbours on all other fronts, head down the East African Coast and set up numerous trading posts that eventually form into wealthy city states. In Europe the various Latin, Germanic, Slavic and Hunnic states eventually begin to form their own cohesive superstates. All of this happens just in time for the Tartars to ride in and tear it all down again.
In this time-line the Tartars beat the Mongols and the Turks as the ultimate steppe tribe and under the leadership of a mighty Khagan, go on a rampage of conquest. Their conversion to Christianity adds another element to their conquests as they attempt to convert the people they invade. In this world it is the Tartars who develop the Crusader ideal that by killing an infidel you are absolving yourself of sin. Whilst failing to maintain their continental empire and also being less destructive in their conquest, the Tartars are thankfully able to hold the core of their empire together. The Grand Khaganate waxed and waned and has ultimately shrunk in size as its more culturally distinctive regions break off but they have survived. Tartary is now a very culturally diverse nation as culture from across their empire is mixed together in the diverse and cosmopolitan cities. The Khagan still rules with absolute power but control over his court has slipped regularly. Politics in Tartary are cut-throat and dirty to a level that would make the underbelly of Kings Landing seem civil by comparison. High society is often dangerous especially with the divide between the cosmopolitan urbanites and the more conservative rural lords but the rewards for the successful and powerful are immense. Behind all of this, the bureaucracy shuffles on keeping the peace and order and snickering at the ruling classes.
Europe has recovered somewhat from the destructive Middle Ages and new states have emerged from the chaos. The Mediterranean was spared the worst of the Tartars and has like before, managed to recover around their shared Latin culture and heritage.
The Roman Republic (or the 4th to call itself that) is once again a democratic state. Despite periods of monarchism and dictatorship, the core of the Republic in Spain has always managed to preserve the ideals of democracy and self determination. However unlike OTL republics, it is a very stratified and elitist system. Educational and income standards exist and are necessary in order to run for a government position. Suffrage is universal (to men) however and smaller scale local administration is far more inclusive. The Republic has like several of its neighbours, begun to invest in some overseas territory. The Republic previously had an empire in Central America but the colony rebelled nearly a century ago.
The Despotism of Mexica is an imperialistic theocracy. The Roman Republic first established their early colonies in the Caribbean and began to trade with the indigenous kingdoms and city states of OTL Mexico. After diseases had ravaged the natives, the Romans eventually invaded and colonised the region during one of their more expansionist phases. Roman rule lasted until around OTL 1780 AD. The natives and creole colonists overthrew the Roman governor and after a short and brutal war achieved independence. Mexica incorporated the religion of Sol Invictus into their indigenous sun worshipping, human sacrifice now only takes place every equinox and the partial eating of the body is no longer a practice. The Despotism is ruled by a God King who theoretically represents the Sun God on Earth but in practice is little more than a puppet for the clergy. Mexican culture is a mix of Latin and Amerindian with a very flamboyantly macabre aesthetic. They have recently begun to import scientists and philosophers from overseas in order to modernise the nation in order to protect themselves and maybe even expand further.
The Empire of Africa, represents the most successful of the Roman successor states. They have suffered from invasions by Berbers and were at one point conquered by the Republic and even the Egyptians but have always bounced back. Africa is at its height at this point. During the initial period of colonial expansion, they took control of the main slavers routes, fought off the pirates and established a monopoly over the oceanic slave trade. Though the practice has declined, they still provide a dialled down service to numerous nations. Africa is a bureaucratic monarchy with the absolute power of the Emperor now confined by tradition and miles of red tape and protocol. This has seen the original nobility be replaced by the powerful mercantile class who have managed to work their way into dominant positions in the entire government. The army and navy no longer accept bought commissions and even dark skinned subjects can reach into the upper echelons of government if they speak Latin (with a lot of Berber mixed in) and have enough money. Africa has either colonised or puppetized West Africa but has begun to spread its influence even further. As their technological level increases and new medical techniques emerge they have pushed further and further into the interior.
A different approach to colonialism (and an inferior technological package) allowed several Amerindian cultures to survive in the face of the European arrivals. Diseases thinned out the population but a few significant states have emerged. Various horselord state dominate the Great Plains, Sino-Amerindian city states run along the West Coast and the Andes are dominated by sun worshipping the Empire of Himui. Himui developed from one of the indigenous city states that came into contact with the Chinese. After the arrival of various forms of technology, the Amerindians also picked up some parts of Chinese culture. These changes were exacerbated by the arrival of the various Europeans. The Himui Emperor is a physical god but is constrained by a vast bureaucracy and a selectively deaf court who pull the strings of society. The Himui have also begun their own phase of conquest and forced conversion which has seen many neighbouring states overrun.
After the expansion and contraction of Tartary, there was an influx of refugees from Persia and Central Asia into India. One of these groups managed to carve their own state out of the northern portion fo the subcontinent. Though they were eventually assimilated by the locals, they did leave one lasting impression, their faith. The Empire of Rajastrha is the largest and most powerful of the local Indian powers. They are Christian (with a few local elements and philosophies mixed in) and also followers of the Crusader variant created by the Tartars. Rajastrha has managed to successfully adapt to the advances of the world and kept foreign invasion away from their territory and their vassals. However as more advanced powers begin to burrow heir claws into the subcontinent, Rajastrha's days may be numbered.
Huan China is the most recent incarnation of the Chinese state. The Chinese have been a more innovative nation than OTL and proved to be somewhat more inquisitive under the rule of some more outward looking Emperors. Since breaking off from the Tartars, they have also looked to South and East across the sea where many Chinese had previously sought refuge. This small diaspora provided the stepping stones for the great age of Chinese expansion and exploration. China has been more of a cultural influence rather than a colonial one overseas due to several reasons (many of them cultural). It is possible to find some Chinese minorities across the Arabian and Swahili states of East and South Africa. China has begun to be overtaken by the Mediterranean states in terms of technological innovation but the Emperor is still confidant in his empire and its might.
A few other minor empires exist here and there. Albaland is a very odd nation combining features from Latin, Germanic and Nordic culture and follows a complex pantheon of deities incorporating gods from many of their conquerors. They have managed to take over many of the “Viking” states that formed in North America and built up an empire in eastern north America with a few small outposts here and there. However their reach is very limited and both the Africans and the Tartars are reaching out to them for alliances. Persia has recovered from their period of Tartar rule that ended in the 17th Century. They are now violent Manicheanists and constantly broadcast their intentions to invade either Central Asia or North India. Bod developed a more militant and conversion based form of Buddhism and have since become a regional power with their sea port in Bengal providing a lot of revenue and reach.
Technology is at OTL levels (by 1900 standards) but is distributed differently. East Asia and Southern Europe are the most advanced portions of the planet and have industrialised. The most rapidly developing portions of the world are Central America and the British Isles. Colonialism is not as advanced as OTL but now as technology makes transportation easier, the nations of the world are preparing to move further into Africa. Colonialism has also been approached in a slower and more permanent settler-based manner. Racism was not as prevalent or systematised as OTL due to every continent developing at least one advanced state. Science and religion are more closely linked than OTL and most faiths agree that scientific discoveries are all a part of their respective god's plans. This has also made religion far more significant in societies across the world. Religions are often split between a east-west divide with the west being more commonly polytheistic and the east having mostly monotheistic faiths.
Credit to B.Munro/Quantumbranching for several points on the history that formed Europe, Tartary, the Great plains Empire, the Maori Empire and the outlines for the uninhabited regions.