America in the world of Roma Nova

Library of CongressIn summer 2015, I visited the USA and part of Canada. It was seven weeks of hectic fun. In Washington, one of the highlights was a visit to the Library of Congress, specifically the Jefferson Building. It was ‘all kinds of awesome’: the magnificent colourful entrance hall and sumptuous steps, Jefferson’s book collection, an original Gutenberg Bible, the incredible reading room which reminded me of my days using the British Library although the two buildings couldn’t be more different.

Library of Congress reading room





But one thing that always attracts me in such places is the map collection. Perhaps having a geography teacher mother influenced me, but I LOVE maps – they reveal so much not only about the place they represent, but also what people thought important, a place/nations’s history and development,  the attitude, knowledge and aspirations of the mapmakers and their paymasters.

Change fascinates me. The transit of a country from one stage of development to the next always sparks questions in my head – why, who, how, what if? In the hallowed hall of the Library of Congress, I searched for the ‘birth of a nation’ map of the US and found the EUS of my Roma Nova world.


Inset in the map “The United States according to the definitive treaty of peace signed at Paris Sept. 3d. 1783. William McMurray, Robert Scot”

Let me explain. In the alternate time line where Roma Nova exists, the ‘Eastern United States’ – the EUS – is only one nation in the North American continent: it was co-ruled by British and Dutch governors up to 1813 then solely by the British until 1867. We have Louisiane (never purchased and much larger than today’s state) and Québec (most of north east Canada) which belong to a France ruled by a constitutional monarch descended from Napoléon Bonaparte, then the Spanish imperial territories in the southwest which include our timeline’s Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, and the Indigenous Nations’ Western Territories in between. The boundaries are not fixed and they only form the background, in particular to INCEPTIO, but I had fun working it out.

Imagine the pleasure when I looked at McMurray’s map in the Library of Congress and found an inset with the territories more or less divided in the way they are in Roma Nova! Obviously, things have moved on since 1783, but it could still be like this today, but for chance factors like the odd revolution in our timeline.

You can find the full map with inset here:

Are you a map geek? Please tell me I am not alone in the world…


Update 2018:
Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO,  PERFIDITAS,  SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA,  INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO.  CARINA, a novella, is available now.  Audiobooks are available for the first four of the series.

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12 comments to America in the world of Roma Nova

  • I enjoyed the article a lot. Wouldn’t call myself a map geek, but I do like maps very much, especially the old ones. I like studying them when doing my historical novels, to remind myself where my characters are exactly.
    So I’m with you but in a milder form 🙂

    • Alison

      Maps really are a mine of information and the old ones carry a lot of symbolism as well as information. And, yes, essential to any historical novelist!

  • What an exciting journey, Alison.

    • Alison

      It was indeed! We went from East Coast (Washington, New York) via Denver where I chaired a panel at the HNS Conference to West Coast (Hollywood/Beverley Hills, Yosemite, San Francisco), then we to Toronto, Québec and Montreal before flying back home to France. We saw the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the breathtaking Chicago architecture, I swam in the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica and took in the innate Frenchness of Vieux Québec. Fab trip.

  • Jon

    Alison: I was and remain a map nerd. Like you I could and did spend hours with maps. I don’t know if you have kids of an age to enjoy being read-to, but see if you can call up the book Paddle to the Sea on Amazon and “look inside” through the pages. It has both wonderful illustrations and lots of little maps, chock full of information about Paddle’s Journey. I read and re-read the book and the maps. Also, I grew up when the National Geographic would publish about 4 maps a year as part of the magazine subscription. My imaginary room was to be wallpapered with nothing but maps. I’m married now, so this is a non-starter.

    Please note on the map in your blog that high up in the mythical extension of Louisiana there is a note which, I think, reads “Santa Fe pueblo.” Santa Fe was an outpost of the Spanish, travelling for as much as a year each way up from Mexico City, long before the pilgrims came to Plymouth. A fact which most Americans are blissfully unaware of.

    Action Heroines fan in GR

    • Alison

      Oh, I remember the National Geographic maps! My mother subscribed to the NG which was very expensive as then it was posted from the US, but what a fab magazine that was.
      If I remember correctly, James Mitchener in his book Centennial related the story of the hundreds of years of Spanish presence in North America amongst other strands and stories.

  • You’re not alone. I am a bit of a map geek, too. Even do jigsaws of them.
    Great article!

    • Alison

      Oooh! Map jigsaws – that takes me back. I remember having one of Europe when I was a kid. I adored it.
      Thanks for commenting, Christoph, and here’s to the map geeks of the world!

  • Liz

    Can we get a map of Roma Nova? I am curious to see which of today’s nations it covers since you compare the terrain to Slovenia and my ancestors are Croatian.

    • Alison

      Aha! Perhaps you are referring to this post where I admitted I used Slovenia as a geographical model for Roma Nova?

      I have to admit, I’m deliberately keeping it vague; Roma Nova is squashed in between the Italian Confederation (not including the Free City of Trieste) and New Austria. Bavaria is somewhere to the north and Hungary to the north east(ish).

      In the best traditions of other imaginary countries like Ruritania, I decided to give it a definite geography but a very loose position.

  • Elisabeth McKechnie

    Ah, then I can’t claim derivative Nova Roman citizenship! Drat.