Anime

Izetta’s Alternate History

I plan to do a review on Izetta: The Last Witch when I finish watching it, as the series from this recent fall season I thought looked most interesting to me, I am a few episodes from the end, and I realised I wanted to do a post talking about the alternate history presented in the world of Izetta. Because for the most part it presents a World War II that has some remarkable similarities to real life, except that all of the countries are named slightly differently and there are differences in governmental structure, for instance, notGermany, Germania, is still a monarchy. And of course, Liechtenstein now has a lot of Western Austria and is now called Eylstadt, where the heroes of the anime live. This will be mostly a bit of wondering and talking about the possibilities that led to this alternate world.

It’s most probable that for a large part of the history of Izetta’s world, it went along the same lines as our own world. Relatively speaking that is. For a situation to arise in 1939 that is remarkably similar to our own World War II you could say that the diverging date is rather close to the modern day but I’m going to ignore that. The different names and the existence of the earlier witches for the White Witch legend both point to a much earlier divergent date and so I’m going to say the new World War II is a literary convenience that it happened in a similar way. Also, there’s no reference or sign that a World War I has happened, and in fact, with the exception of one sign, I’d say it’s more likely that it has not happened.

If we look at how each country got its name, that would give us an idea of the divergent date. There are many different names, Britannia for the UK, Germania for Germany, Thermidor for France, Atlanta for America, Romulus for Italy, Westria for Switzerland, Nord for Norway, Volga for Russia, but I think the key one is Livonia for Poland.

As most people noticed when discussing the alternate names, Livonia, unlike the rest of the alternate names, that are rooted in the traditions of the country they have replaced, Livonia was an actual nation. Located in present-day Latvia during the Middle Ages, it’s largely known for being a branch of the Teutonic Order and eventually fell to the Poland-Lithuanian Commonwealth. So it being the name of 20th century Poland is very strange. It would be like if Britain was now called Leinster. Or Germany was now called Prussia – which I’m slightly surprised they didn’t do.

Let’s rationalise this though, I’d say the medieval period is the earliest we can say for a divergent date as otherwise a different ancient world would have given an unrecognisable political situation. Medieval countries and regions were often named after a tribe that settled there. The Burgundians and the Franks originated in Germany yet now give their name to a region of France and France respectively. Later, Hungarian nomads crossed into what was previously the Pannonian plain and ended up giving their name to that region. What I’m hypothesising here is that Livonians in this reality were far more powerful and numerous and instead of stopping their migration in the Baltic, came down further into Europe, and gave their name to the region east of Germany instead of the tribe of Polans. That’s one divergent point, and it would have had to happen at the latest around 1000, when migrations generally stopped happening on as big a scale and before Poland could have gotten powerful enough to permanently put their name on the region.

But I’m going to take it further. There’s almost no indication of religion in Izetta, and as it has played a huge part in the history of our world then it needs to be talked about. I had floated the possibility that Islam never rose as there seems to be no major power in the area of Turkey (and the Middle East is referred to as colonies, meaning there’s no real powers there at all), but given that Gibraltar and Malta have the same names, particularly Gibraltar, an Arabic derived name, I think the Arab conquests still have to have happened. But they did not impact the Christian world after this. I think the divergent point is that the pagan Livonians were far more of a threat to the medieval Christian Europe… because they had witches, and therefore probably conquered well into Germany. The many Latin-derived names of the other nations indicates that Christianity, at least Catholicism survived, but there was no Reformation and after the original Livonian invasion, a way for the religions to coexist was found (with the real power of the witches, fervour in Christianity fell). Because of this, Crusades to the Holy Land never set off, Constantinople never fell to the Ottomans and we end up with a world much less defined by religion.

After this original Livonian invasion, there would have been some centuries of the witches striking fear into the hearts of medieval peasants, but as time went on, they dwindled and were reduced to enough numbers that a duke of Eylstadt around the 15th century (perhaps) could take part in a legend about a White Witch. By that time there were probably far less witches in the world.

So, the other nations. Volga is interesting because it means that the state in place of Russia is named after, probably, Volga Bulgaria rather than Rus, meaning they probably conquered Rus instead of dying to the Mongols when they arrived, meaning that possibly they had witches as well. It adds another bit of credibility to my divergent date of c. 1000, as a date set too much later would have created a Russia rather than a Volga. Means some really interesting manoeuvring was going on in that area of the world, I’d love to know how the political situation in Asia is shaping up, Izetta gives no indication on that.

Romulus is difficult to pinpoint. It is Italy, but it’s clearly named after Rome in some fashion. With respect to the actual founder of Rome. Therefore, my theory, fitting with the fact that we don’t see any indication of the Ottomans or a Turkish state existing in Turkey, is that Constantinople managed to reconquer the warring Italian city states and that is how Italy was formed, the Roman Empire still exists. Granted, probably only Italy and Greece but it still exists. Byzantium changed their name to Romulus in honour of the original founder of Rome and kept their legitimacy alive as the true Roman Empire.

France evidently suffered a revolution at some date. Similar to our revolution, the revolutionaries created a new calendar to wipe out the old order and something went down in the month of Thermidor, to remove a Robespierre like figure, but the Thermidorian Reactionaries kept that name for the country, no Napoleon figure emerges and France remains a republic named after the word for heat. There would have to have been some serious political change for the name to stick this far so I will have to assume that the revolution happened much earlier than the 18th century, with less faith placed in the French monarchy after witches could be shown to outmatch a divinely ordained monarch. As there are virtually no other republics or revolutionary movements against hereditary monarchies shown outside of Atlanta (particularly among our main characters *cough cough*), I have to assume this change and doubting of legitimacy was a problem endemic to the French monarchs so they were probably a weaker line than our kingdom. Incidentally, there is no sign of Marxism or Leninism. Or any political ideology aside from the Thermidoreans.

Then, Britannia and Germania are kingdoms. I don’t think much different would need to be done for Britannia, although to have that name rather than Britain Latin would still need to be the dominant lingua franca, which seems believable with no Reformation and a sense of ‘it has always been that way so why change it’. Which means all these diplomatic scenes in the anime are in Latin. Nord, I’m not so up on the twists and turns of Norwegian history but most names for Norway are some form of ‘north way’ (one of the more common names for Norway by the Norwegians themselves is Norge, through Bokmal if I’m not mistaken) and maybe the way just got dropped and that was the form that got used.

Germania probably had some problems with the Holy Roman Empire and witches harming its legitimacy, but there doesn’t seem to be a problem with most of its history proceeding as planned. The makeup of individual HRE princes was probably different, Westria, similar to Austria in real life was probably the western part of a bigger kingdom like Austria (unnamed in the anime so I’m going to assume same name as in real life) was the eastern part of Bavaria and maintained a lot more autonomy until it was an independent state. Eylstadt likely gained independence following Westrian and Italian departure from the HRE, as the gap through the Alps to Italy, why it’s so important in the anime. Like Belgium. Or Holland. Which, while unnamed, seem to exist in their own configuration. Eylstadt would not have been under Austria as… I don’t know, possibly Austria could not concentrate on its Tyrolian region or perhaps the Hapsburgs never came to power and so power for the HRE was always concentrated in the north of the empire, meaning Eylstadt was separate and free to have an archduchy of its own, probably in rivalry with the Archduchy of Austria until that one got anschlussed a year or two before the war started.

Eylstadt’s name, I don’t know, Stadt is city, what ‘Eyl’ could mean is a mystery. Landsbruck is probably based on the real-life city of Innsbruck, the biggest city in Tyrolia, even the towers look similar. I can’t find any close analogues for the other Eylstadtian cities at a quick glance.

Germania did not lose or at least did not suffer as badly due to WW1 as it did in real life, should WW1 have happened at all, as there is still a monarchy and the people are beholden to him. The one indication is that Livonia, like Poland, has access to the sea through a part of Germany, a real life concession from Germany after WW1. It could have been a chronologically earlier war of course, one probably not even involving enough powers to call it a World War, where that territory was lost, one that did not come at a time when people were thinking of removing monarchies.

Atlanta is easy, America was just not named after Amerigo Vespucci, but rather the more natural name of ‘that place across the Atlantic’. In fact, whoever discovered America probably thought they had found Atlantis, in a world where magic and witches really existed, that might have been a likely thought.

Izetta may not be a perfect anime, I’m going to go over that in my actual review of it that I’ll do as soon as I finish it, merely two episodes away from the end now, but I definitely consider it worthwhile for giving me an untapped alternate history to theorise about. I’d be interested to know if my theories are close at all to the intent of the authors, or if they even thought up this much backstory.

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