1871 neutral and independent Alsace-Lorraine

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Westphalian, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. Westphalian Well-Known Member

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    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.)
     
  2. Will Kürlich Kerl Banned

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    France will still be pissed at Germany.
     
  3. Elfwine Byzantophilic Brony

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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?
     
  4. Major Major Tired Old Man

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    Diplomacy: It displeases everyone more or less equally, and so nobody has an advantage.
     
  5. Hörnla Well-Known Member

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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
     
  6. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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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.
     
  7. isabella Well-Known Member

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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...
     
  8. Hörnla Well-Known Member

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    I agree. Delaying complete Self-Governance decade by decade was plain wrong and not smart.
     
  9. miguelrj Cadáver adiado que procria

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    It'd be interesting but the GD of Luxembourg was the King of the Netherlands. Yet another grand-ducal crown on his head?

    Wooo, never thought of that, I like.
     
  10. Imladrik àbatter d'r Gambrinüs

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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.
     
  11. Westphalian Well-Known Member

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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?