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Old January 14th, 2013, 01:12 AM
Westphalian Westphalian is offline
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1871 neutral and independent Alsace-Lorraine

Let's say that Bismarck comes to the conclusion that France has to be removed from the Rhine, but that directly annexing that territorry to Germany would be bad.
So in the peace treaty, France is forced to relinquish Alsace-Lorraine, which will constitute an sovereign and independent Grand Duchy under a constitutional ruler of the catholic denomination. Analogous to the Treaty of Londion 1839 concerning Belgium, this A-L will be perpetually neutral. The signatory powers are entitled to guard that neutrality in the event of invasion by another power. It is understood that the Grand Duchy will recieve a rather liberal constitution modeled after the Belgian one. Furthermore, the GD will be free to enter into alliance with Germany concerning trade, travel, tariffs, the navigation on the Rhine and similar issues.
The inhabitants have one year to decide if they want to remain French citizens and move to France or stay and become subjects of the Grand Duchy.

The shortlist of acceptable candidates for the grand ducal position is:
~ Grand Duke Ferdinand of Habsburg-Lorraine (b.1835), the deposed ruler of Tuscany
~ Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (b.1835) from the Southern German cadet branch of the Prussian royals
~ Prince Philippe of Belgium, Count of Flanders (b.1837), the brother of the Belgian king

Regardless who might become the new Grand Duke - what will the consequences be now that a cordon of neutral states runs from the North Sea via Belgium, Luxemburg, Alsace-Lorraine and Switzerland to the Alps?

(Yes, I am fully aware that the Belgian neutrality was broken in the end, but that in itself had major repercussions like the guaranteed British entry into WWI. So even if A-L will not be neutral forever, its existence will have significant effects.)
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Old January 14th, 2013, 02:56 AM
Will Kürlich Kerl Will Kürlich Kerl is offline
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Originally Posted by Westphalian View Post
Let's say that Bismarck comes to the conclusion that France has to be removed from the Rhine, but that directly annexing that territorry to Germany would be bad.
So in the peace treaty, France is forced to relinquish Alsace-Lorraine, which will constitute an sovereign and independent Grand Duchy under a constitutional ruler of the catholic denomination. Analogous to the Treaty of Londion 1839 concerning Belgium, this A-L will be perpetually neutral. The signatory powers are entitled to guard that neutrality in the event of invasion by another power. It is understood that the Grand Duchy will recieve a rather liberal constitution modeled after the Belgian one. Furthermore, the GD will be free to enter into alliance with Germany concerning trade, travel, tariffs, the navigation on the Rhine and similar issues.
The inhabitants have one year to decide if they want to remain French citizens and move to France or stay and become subjects of the Grand Duchy.

The shortlist of acceptable candidates for the grand ducal position is:
~ Grand Duke Ferdinand of Habsburg-Lorraine (b.1835), the deposed ruler of Tuscany
~ Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (b.1835) from the Southern German cadet branch of the Prussian royals
~ Prince Philippe of Belgium, Count of Flanders (b.1837), the brother of the Belgian king

Regardless who might become the new Grand Duke - what will the consequences be now that a cordon of neutral states runs from the North Sea via Belgium, Luxemburg, Alsace-Lorraine and Switzerland to the Alps?

(Yes, I am fully aware that the Belgian neutrality was broken in the end, but that in itself had major repercussions like the guaranteed British entry into WWI. So even if A-L will not be neutral forever, its existence will have significant effects.)
France will still be pissed at Germany.
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Old January 14th, 2013, 03:14 AM
Elfwine Elfwine is offline
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And Bismarck was opposed to taking Alsace-Lorraine OTL - Wilhelm I went with other advice.

So why would Wilhelm go with something that neither faction, let alone France, desires?
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Old January 14th, 2013, 10:38 AM
Major Major Major Major is offline
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Originally Posted by Elfwine View Post
And Bismarck was opposed to taking Alsace-Lorraine OTL - Wilhelm I went with other advice.

So why would Wilhelm go with something that neither faction, let alone France, desires?
Diplomacy: It displeases everyone more or less equally, and so nobody has an advantage.
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Old January 14th, 2013, 12:50 PM
Hörnla Hörnla is offline
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I have toyed with the idea before, but it is an incredibly optimistic one.

The advantage would be to have a sort of "cordon-sanitaire" between Germany and France, with neither nation understanding that it is an actual advantage saving them 80years of antagonism, millions of deaths and billions of Francs/Marks.

-another point: for such a weak and anyways un-defensible nation such as "Elsaß", it wouldn't be that important to get hold of the complete chain of fortreses, so it might have a border more closely based on the language, thus being closer or East of Metz.

-how about uniting the area with that other link between Germany and France: Luxemburg?

-weird idea out of thin air: would it be possible to turn it into a kind of economical hyperlink with favourable customs conditions to Germany AND France?

-in the end, alas, for the viability of such a buffer state see: Burgundy, see: Lotharii Regnum
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Old January 14th, 2013, 05:22 PM
Athelstane Athelstane is offline
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One thing to keep in mind:

The advantage of annexing Alsace-Lorraine was not merely that it pushed back the starting point of any French attack on Germany (as Kaiser Wilhelm put it to an outraged Empress Eugenie), but also that it made the political settlement of the new Empire considerably easier.

In short, by annexing this new territory, Berlin was able to avoid delicate negotiations with Baden and Bavaria on such matters as construction and control of new fortifications. And those South German principalities will fee more secure against a French attack, which had always traditionally come through their neck of the woods.

Now, it's possible that an independent Alsace-Lorraine might solve some of that problem - Baden and Bavaria would still no longer be sharing a border with France. But there would be concern about just how secure a buffer this would really provide, and defensive fortifications would still have to be built and manned in Baden and Rhenish Bavaria. It might only work if Alsace-Lorraine were made bigger, perhaps by including Nancy, Luneville, Belfort and even Toul.

I think a better, more likely option for Berlin would have been to annex the region, but make them fully-fledged, self-governing principalities. The more they feel like Alsatians and Lorrainers, the less they'll feel like Frenchmen.
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  #7  
Old January 14th, 2013, 07:09 PM
isabella isabella is offline
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Restoring the ancient Duchy of Lorraine to his legitimate heir (the Grand Duke of Tuscany) and put it again under the German sovereignty would be a smart move and likely in the end can be acceptable...
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Old January 15th, 2013, 06:48 AM
Hörnla Hörnla is offline
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I agree. Delaying complete Self-Governance decade by decade was plain wrong and not smart.
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Old January 15th, 2013, 09:37 AM
miguelrj miguelrj is offline
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Originally Posted by Hörnla View Post
-how about uniting the area with that other link between Germany and France: Luxemburg?
It'd be interesting but the GD of Luxembourg was the King of the Netherlands. Yet another grand-ducal crown on his head?

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Originally Posted by isabella View Post
Restoring the ancient Duchy of Lorraine to his legitimate heir (the Grand Duke of Tuscany) and put it again under the German sovereignty would be a smart move and likely in the end can be acceptable...
Wooo, never thought of that, I like.
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Old January 15th, 2013, 09:43 AM
Imladrik Imladrik is offline
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Not going to work. I already see the first bill of the new AL parliament : Dissolution of the state of AL and reunification with France. Alsatians (and Lorrains even more) considered themselves French for all the duration of the German Occupation and the highest level of independentism after WWI was something like 20%. You just created a nation where everyone in this nation is against it's existence. It is not going to work. Also putting a catholic monarch on the throne isn't going to work, as their was a lot of protestant in Bas-Rhin and they won't like having a catholic monarch.If this state is allowed to exist by an ASB, i don't see what would prevent it from reunifying with France.
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Old January 15th, 2013, 12:32 PM
Westphalian Westphalian is offline
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In OTL, many Belgians wished to unite their country with France, since even in Flanders the elites were completely Francophone. This always reminded me of A-L, and I thpught of this WI as a sort-of-parallel to Belgium. Was it mainly British threats that kept Belgium independent?
So Imladrik, you think that probably the grand ducal government would have to dissolve parliament very early and keep it suspended?
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