Starting something new, I give you the first map in a new map/AH series: A Hen Watching the Wolf Pack. Partly inspired by the Leviathan series of alternate history novels, it is a post-1900 timeline that follows the exploits of a France that is determined not to be left in the dust on the world stage. Here is a map before the First Great War between the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente.
The day is December 25, and the year 1913. Christmas Day has dawned across Europe as millions wake from their beds to behold snowy mornings full of presents and warm food. For now, Europe is at rest, despite the recent troubles in the Balkans and the failed Young Turk Uprising 5 years before in Turkey. War looms on the horizon between the mighty Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy against the powerful Triple Entente of France, Britain, and Russia with their vast empires behind them. It is a war that is, for sure, to be terrible, but Europeans by and large have other matters on their minds and pay little attention to the dire news that surrounds them.
In France, the citizens are confident in their politicians, their army, and the spirit of their soldiers to protect them from any incursion, and Britain boasts that its economic policies and world trade have made war all but impossible. Indeed, Britain could almost be called as isolationist as the United States, who lazily slumbers across the sea. In Germany, the confidence is still in peace, but more of the citizens and politicians grow agitated for war. With Russia's modernization program moving ahead of schedule due to a much friendlier sultan in Turkey, it is feared that if war does not come soon, Russia will be impossible to defeat. Meanwhile, in Austria-Hungary, Franz Ferdinand and Franz Joseph butt heads over how the nation should be ruled and whether or not they should serve as Germany's lapdogs.
Christmas 1913 is a day of peace and goodwill, but it will be, alas, the last Christmas in a world without wars that span across the globe, wars that will engulf entire generations of men in the years to come. Few men, on this day, could have imagined that they may not live to see the next Christmas, or even the next fall, when war would come at last to Europe.
The only hope that Europe will have, once the great conflict begins, is for the victor to establish itself so firmly that a war as vast and terrible as the one about to explode into being will be the last of them. Unfortunately, wars and men do so rarely change.