I asked about this here, and got lots of nice discussion about where I was failing at history, but very little on the part of what I was asking that really *was* a little detail. So, I figured I'd try again, *just* asking that part.
I'm toying with a story idea, and rather than either set it in an entirely fictional world, or set it in the real world and pretend the presence of magic wouldn't alter history in a lot of different ways, I figure I'd kind of aim for "obviously this world, but different"--for example, I was thinking of having the major language and dominant country of the British Isles be named after the Saxons instead of the Angles (that is, Saxon and Saxony instead of English and England)
I'm not sure how to search this, it... relies a lot on what people would find plausible and/or recognize, rather than on objective fact.
The hard, absolute difference between that world and this is the presence of magic--specifically, magical items of varying descriptions that are made from living people (the process kills them, it's generally done on those who were dying anyways for whatever reason), as well as a fraction of the population (probably in the neighborhood of 1%) who can both make such items, and recognize the general nature of any that exist.
The story will probably be set somewhere in the neighborhood of the Enlightenment or the early industrial revolution, in part because I didn't want to do Yet Another Vaguely Medieval Fantasy Story.
There may or may not be some difference in how Christianity took over Europe (I still think it's likely that there were a few pockets of "paganism" that there weren't in our own timeline), but the general arc of history (Roman empire, dark ages, Renaissance, and so on) were about the same. But there would be a lot of one-off differences between our timeline and theirs in terms of who won a particular battle, who had what children, and so on.
Any thoughts for specific, concrete, simple little things that might plausibly be different between this world and our own at the same point in history? I'm thinking things like different (but recognizable) names for the nations/regions/cities/etc (a la my England/Saxony example), differences in national/empiric boundaries (for example, might Scotland still be an entirely separate country?), and the like. Also, any that you think might be "attractive" to me but strike you as completely improbable would be good, so I know what to avoid. I don't want to throw my readers out of the story...
- Touchpoints for somewhat nonspecific alternate history, redux?