In this alternate history, Europeans arrived and found an abandoned New World. What we call South and North America were devoid of humans, though ruins and remains were common. All showed signs of violence, including deep scratches in stonework. Europeans settled the continents, which they named Hesperia (for South America) and Vesperia (for North America). Eventually they learned that the event that cleared the New World of people had occurred no more than 50 years before the first permanent European settlements were established.
The situation in the New World had subtle but profound effects on the Old World which over time snowballed to produce a very different global power balance. The joint Kingdom of Poland-Lithuania dominates central and eastern Europe and much of Asia. France dominates western Europe; a new political philosophy, Uniformitarianism, has taken root at home and abroad. The English Empire is even larger than the British Empire of our time. Spain and Portugal withdrew early from New World settlement, but dominate Japan and Indonesia.
The French Vesperian colony - the Uniformity - has declared its independence, as have the old British Isthmus Company settlements. France does not acknowledge that its colony has become autonomous because there is no room in Uniformitarianism for Uniformitarian states that are not centrally ruled from Paris. England has accepted the independence of the United States of Vesperia and is extending to its predominantly white colonies around the world greater autonomy.
The Dutch colony in Vesperia is ruled from Paris and the English see the Swedish colony as a buffer. The English drew their monarchs from Sweden following the collapse of the Commonwealth in 1701 and soon came to dominate Scandinavia, which traded independence for protection from Poland-Lithuania. The current English Emperor is Christian IV.