A Prussian on the Spanish Throne (my first TL)

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Tocomocho, Apr 20, 2007.

  1. Tocomocho My other car is a steam tank.

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    Prologue, Part I - The Kingdom with no King.

    What the fuck?! Finding a democratic king in Europe is more difficult than finding an Atheist in Heaven!

    Juan Prim, the veteran rebellious General and spirit of the Revolution of 1868 was getting nervous in his office when he remembered that his secretary was transcribing his declarations. Immediately, Prim ordered him to erase the first of the two last sentences.

    The search for a new king was being more difficult than expected. When the whole country rebelled in 1868, tired of the grotesque rule of the capricious Queen Isabella II, the people agreed only in that they didn’t want Isabella anymore. A coalition government of almost all tendencies was formed, and soon its members began the discussions about the nature of the future regiment. Some bourgeois, mostly in Catalonia, wanted a Republic, but the rest considered that idea ridiculous. Through negotiations and debates, all parts agreed to support the establishment of a constitutional Monarchy modelled on the British example, in which the universal (male) suffrage would freely decide the next government independently of the personal tastes of whoever seized the Crown. Everybody remembered how in the last part of the reign of Isabella, the almost only requisite to achieved the Presidency [1] was to conquer the Queen’s bed in the first place. Something that Paquita (as was widely known the Consort Prince Francisco de Asís) never opposed, probably because he was more interested in young boys than in whatever was his wife “discussing” with her generals.

    For the first time in Spanish History, every man over the age of 25 was allowed to vote in the General Elections of 1869, thing that the 70% did. The Progresist Party won 159 seats of the Parliament, the Democrats 20, the Unionists 69, the Republican Federalists 69, the Unitarians 2, the old fashioned Carlists 18 and the Moderate Liberals (most of them former Isabellists) 14. The results proved the general support to Prim’s plans, who was the head of the Progresists. General Francisco Serrano, the President of the transitional government since the <<Glorious Revolution>> and considered by some as the real father of Isabella’ son Alfonso, ceded his seat to Juan Prim. In 6 June, 1869, the new government approved a new liberal constitution heavily modelled on the 1812 one; like the historic accord written while the bombs of Napoleon where falling over Cádiz, the new Constitution of 1869 recognized the equality of all Spanish subjects, the National Sovereignty through the Cortes, the division between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial powers, the freedom of speech, press, reunion and association, the right of suffrage to all men over the age of 25, the inviolability of personal property and postal affairs, and (most revolutionarily) the freedom of education and religion. Despite the demands of the most liberal segments, however, the new Constitution wasn’t fully laic as Catholicism was declared the traditional religion of the State. As for the form of government, the Constitutional Monarchy was ratified. The last element in the gear was to find a new king, someone who accepted the democratic form of the Government and, as the conservative elements demanded, was of Catholic faith. Meanwhile, Serrano would be the official Regent of the Kingdom of Spain.

    However, as Prim lamented, this was being more difficult than initially expected. All the possible candidates were being rejected one by one.

    [1] The head of the Spanish government was known then as Presidente del Consejo de Ministros (President of the Ministers Council), though in English-speaking countries its figure would most likely be called Prime Minister.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2007
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  2. Grey Wolf Writer, Poet, Publisher, Cat-sitter

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    Prim is not being very 'prim' in his outburst !

    A democratic king is an interesting idea, I guess you mean someone willing to become king in a constitutional monarchy ?

    How difficult was it really, I don't actually know. I know they ended up with Amedeo after having gone through the whole Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen thing, the Southern Catholic branch of the family

    I'm intrigued as to how you're going to get round the religious problem as as far as I recall all of the Prussian branch were Protestant. I do recall, though, that Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia married a Catholic Bavarian and they got on OK together, using a double ceremony. Of course, the best thing to do would be to find a Prussian Hohenzollern who either is secretly a Catholic, is close enough to one that converting is easy, or who would convert in order to receive a crown

    Best Regards
    Grey Wolf
     
  3. Max Sinister Retired Myriad Club Member Kicked

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    "or who would convert in order to receive a crown"

    This should be the easiest.
     
  4. Mark AH Well-Known Member

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    The Spanish did offer the throne to German (Catholic) prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. Which had the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 as a result.
     
  5. Max Sinister Retired Myriad Club Member Kicked

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    Not directly, since he forfeited. But it made the French angry, and Bismarck was willing to provoke them a bit to make them declare war, so indirectly one could say you're right.
     
  6. Mark AH Well-Known Member

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    Sure it wasn’t the only and most important reason to start the war, but many wars were started with a ridicules event as the reason, remember the American War of Independence, the Crimean War, World War One……
     
  7. Philip One L only

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    There certainly should be a German to fit this bill. There never seemed to be a problem when looking for one to convert to Anglicanism or Orthodoxy.
     
  8. Susano Banned

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    The Kings of Prussia are of the protestant Franconian branch.
    Hohenzollenr-Sigmaringen is of the catholic Swabian branch, though ;)
     
  9. Homer Comicbookman

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    Yes, but even a swabian Hohenzollern on the Spanish throne would be quite "unpleasant" for Napoleon III. Maybe ITTL the French-German war really starts only because of Spain - with Spain joining in?

    And then Germany could buy some Spanish colonies - for example Hawaii, Philippines, Cuba, Sahara, Equatoria...
    IOTL they tried to do so in some cases. but Spain declined and lost everything to the US without getting some money back...
     
  10. Neroon Banned

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    What about a Wittelsbacher?
     
  11. Max Sinister Retired Myriad Club Member Kicked

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    Hawaii wasn't Spanish (only in one of my TLs).
     
  12. Philip One L only

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    A good choice. Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria was the heir apparent to the Spanish throne before his death in 1699.
     
  13. Tocomocho My other car is a steam tank.

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    Yes, constitutional, but these aren't my words. "Democratic king" (or, well... rey democrático), were the actual ones that Prim used in a real sentence recorded in 1869. Needless to say, the other doesn't appear in written sources. :D
     
  14. Tocomocho My other car is a steam tank.

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    Prologue, Part 2 - The candidates

    At first, nobody though to look for a king very far from Spain itself. The Portuguese Monarchy was the first source in which the parliamentary tried to find their new king, and many though that the perfect candidate was Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg, the father of Louis I of Portugal. However, Ferdinand refused to accept the Crown unless his acceptation excluded a possible union in the future between Portugal and Spain, which he feared. Needless to say, this was a major reason in the turn out of his candidature.

    There were also candidates inside Spain. The noisiest was Antoine d’Orleans, the exiled son of former King Louis Philippe of France and husband of Isabella’ sister María Luisa. It wasn’t a secret that Antoine had financed part of the 1868 revolution which condemned his sister-in-law to exile and that he ambitioned the Crown for himself. He had also the firm support of some important revolutionary figures, like the Admiral Juan Bautista Topete, Commander in Chief of the Spanish fleet and right hand of Juan Prim in the government. However, he was widely seen as an arrogant aristocrat and utterly disliked by most figures. In March, 1870, he made the fatal error of killing a noble and political enemy in a duel outside of Madrid, and the resulting condemn to exile destroyed his aspirations. Barely better was the position of Carlos de Borbón, as he has the support of the perennial Carlist warmongers, but he thrown all his possibilities through the window when he refused to support any form of liberal Monarchy. Oh, for God’ sake, he wanted to be a real king! He didn’t take the claims of his grandfather only to be the puppet of the parliament, in his own words. There were even some that, tired of remembering the historical succession of inept Monarchs from foreign families, suggested the crowning of an authentic Spanish hero and starting a proper new dynasty. Following this request, Prim visited the old General Baldomero Espartero in his retirement home at Logroño and offered him the Crown, only to see how – as he expected – the veteran officer refused.

    So it was clear that a searching outside of the Peninsula was necessary. The most likely next destine was Italy, where the Savoys were ruling. The most leftist elements liked specially the idea of a king from a dynasty which was regarded as democratic, liberal and –especially- anti-church, seeing how they had recently beaten the bunch of decadent noble families in the ancient Italian states and were even menacing the Papal rule over Rome. King Victor Emmanuel II liked the idea and appointed his second son, Amedeo, as possible candidate, though the prince wasn’t really interested and delayed his formal candidature. Then, the envoys travelled to Central Europe. Most of the Southern minor German states were skipped by some reason or other, the Bavarian royal family was found simply mad and the utterly conservative and super-Catholic Austro-Hungarian Habsburgs were placed under a ticket reading “Never!”. The quasi-medieval speech of Emperor Franz Joseph was particularly disliked by the radical progressist President of the House of Deputies, Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla, who had travelled with Prim himself in order to study the possible candidates. “God, God, and again God… Where was God when the Prussians kicked your butt four years ago?”

    That’s it! The Prussians! Everybody knew the many recent successes of Prussia in the economic, political and military areas. The only problem was that the Prussian Hohenzollerns were Protestant, and the most conservative elements wouldn’t support ever a Protestant King, even in the case that he agreed to baptize again as Catholic. But, wait for a moment… not every member of the House of Hohenzollern was Protestant…

    The Hohenzollerns were actually native to Southern Germany, where a Catholic branch, the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringens, had been ruled a small princedom near Württemberg till they sold their rights to their Prussian relatives in 1849, in the aftermath of the liberal revolutions that shook Europe the year before. The last prince, Karl Anton, was still living in Prussia as a Prussian citizen, as were doing also his sons. They had not lost their experience with government issues; Karl Anton had been Prime Minister of Prussia between 1850 and 1862, and his second son Karl was elected Prince of Romania in 1866. So, why not ask his elder son Leopold to be King of Spain, also? He even was married to a Portuguese princess, so he wasn’t not-so-far from the Iberian issues, after all.

    Leopold had his doubts, however, as had the King Wilhelm I of Prussia. But other man was strongly interested in the possibility of placing a direct ally in Spain: the master of political strategy in Europe, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Under a series of pressures, Bismarck finally convinced both Wilhelm and Leopold of the great opportunities that the candidature and eventual election would have for Prussia, and Leopold declared that he would seize the Spanish Crown if the Parliament though that he was the ideal candidate. When the Spanish delegation returned to Madrid in April with the approval signed by Leopold, many Prussian agents chosen by Bismarck himself travelled with them. The note reached the Parliament without problem and the Cortes could study the Prussian candidature along the other finalists. In June 21, 1870, Wilhelm himself signed his support to Leopold’s candidature.
     
  15. Analytical Engine Monarchist Collectivist Federalist

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    Isn't Napoleon III going to scream at this point? :D
     
  16. Tocomocho My other car is a steam tank.

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    He would do soon. ;)
     
  17. Tocomocho My other car is a steam tank.

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    A sentence to change History

    The Prussians were not the only secret agents operating in Madrid. France, or better said, the President-Emperor Napoleon III saw the situation of Spain with a blend of interest and distrust, and had sent their own covered agents to contemplate and tell about all possible events. In essence, this policy was nothing different from the periodical interventions that the II Empire had been doing on its weaker southern neighbour since the 1850s, but now there was a little difference. Growing errors in the foreign imperial policy had isolated France from almost all the world: The initial bringing with Russia was destroyed when France supported a Polish uprising in 1863, the lack of French support to Austria in the Seven Weeks War had offended the Austrians, the French support to the Pope’s position in Rome had angered the initially friendly Italians, and in America, the United States had not forgot yet the Imperial adventure in Mexico and its flirtations with the Confederates during the recent civil war. In Central Europe, the ineffective French policy had favoured largely the growing of Prussia, who had now “eaten” all the other northern German lesser states and was a real contender for dominance over the continent. Only Britain and Spain remained particularly friendly to the French, but Britain was concentrated in her rule over the waves and avoided direct implications in the mainland affairs, and Spain was searching a new head after an unexpected revolution. From a personal point of view, Napoleon especially disliked the possibility that Antoine d’Orleans, Duke of Montpensier, could seize the Crown. That catastrophe would not only complete the French isolation in Europe, but, being Antoine also the Orleanist claimant to the throne of France, would be a direct threat to the own position of Napoleon III as Emperor of France in a time that he was facing a domestic problem after other in his own country.

    Both the negotiations and candidatures were secret, but the French agents with the Ambassador Mercier de l’Ostende as their leader knew how to play their cards (or at least they though that). After the return of the legations in April the French began to press different figures for informal meetings over trivial issues, while they paid observers at the same time. This actions, however, where largely un-effective due to the lack of Spanish cooperation, though it is possible that Bismarck’ spies, which were more experienced that their French counterparts, could undermine at least some of them. Finally, in late June L’Ostende achieved an strategic meeting with Ruiz Zorrilla, the president of the Cortes and part of the “Search Tour” over Mittleuropa.

    The informal meeting between the Spanish politician and the French ambassador started as a simple conversation about trivial affairs during the dinner. They talked about the weather, the service, their lives and jobs and the differences between Madrid and Paris, cities that both known. When L’Ostende though that the way was enough prepared, he touched the succession question in disguise. His clever inquiries soon trapped the deputy and forced him to talk about the issue. When L’Ostende mentioned Antoine d’Orleans, he got a clear answer:

    -Montpensier is a buffoon. We didn’t turn upside the whole country two years ago to place such an idiot over our shoulders.
    -But I though that Antoine had friends in the Parliament, didn’t he? I had heard about his contacts with the Unión Liberal [1].
    -Well, that it just the Unión Liberal. But I doubt that he has real support even inside the Unión, excluding Topete and few more.
    -So, Don’t you think that Montpensier has a chance?
    -Of course not.
    -And who has, then?

    Zorrilla raised an eyebrow. That innocent conversation had turned into an uncomfortable questioning without adverting it before.

    -That’s the decision of the Parliament.
    -Of course, of course. But, just for curiosity… What would be a good election in your opinion, Monsieur Ruiz?
    -I like that Italian Prince, Amedeo.
    -Does Prim like him as well?

    Another unexpected punch. Zorrilla remembered how excited was Prim when he met Leopold of Hohenzollern in Sigmaringen Castle some months before. The idea of a Prussian king on the Spanish throne made him as happy as a kid with a new expensive toy. But for some reason he decided to not say that to this French who was starting to be unbearable.[2]

    -The President likes the Italian as well.

    The meeting ended shortly after, and L’Ostende returned to his home. That night he sent an urgent letter to Paris in which he clearly stated that there was no problem regarding Spanish question. No Orleans. No anybody worse. The next king of Spain would be probably an Italian Prince, the second son of Victor Emmanuel II.


    [1] Coalition Party of moderate conservatives and progresists.
    [2] This is the POD. In OTL Zorrilla made a brief mention to Leopold of Hohenzollern, starting the whole mess. The proper TL begins now.
     
  18. Grey Wolf Writer, Poet, Publisher, Cat-sitter

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    Ah, very clever, I see what you have done ! The French not learning of Leopold's candidature means they can't complain about it at the time that they did. Very nice :)

    Best Regards
    Grey Wolf
     
  19. Tocomocho My other car is a steam tank.

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    Votes and Bullets

    The first week of July was a time of hard work in the Spanish Parliament. The definitive candidates were presented, discussed and finally voted. The results, communicated in July 10, were the following:

    Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen 140
    Amedeo de Savoy 64
    Republic 62
    Antoine d’Orleans 22
    Baldomero Espartero [1] 8
    Alfonso, son of Isabella [2] 2
    Infanta Luisa Fernanda [3] 1
    Blank 15
    Absent deputies [4] 32

    The election caught the French off the guard and in the time that Paris was informed and the first letter of protest reached Madrid, Leopold had been designated King of Spain by the Spanish Cortes. Napoleon was totally furious; he had sent observers to Madrid in order to have him informed about the possible threat of an Orleanist elected, only to discover that the Prussians had smuggled a candidate in his back. France was not only isolated now… it was corralled by the Germans! And he almost discovered this disaster after reading it in the newspapers!
    He wouldn’t tolerate that insult, as wouldn’t the French people. The protest letters were followed by threats of war and finally a war declaration without attending to other reasons. There had been enough Prussian insults in the last years. It was the time for Napoleon and the French Army to teach the Prussians what was their proper place.

    The news caused a mix of fear, indignation and fury when they reached Berlin. Both Leopold and Wilhelm though to write a declaration renouncing to the Crown if that would stop the war, but the unacceptable attitude of the French and the manipulative actions of Bismarck destroyed this possibility. The Iron Chancellor was especially pleased with the situation: the Spanish cape had provoked the French Bull, and now it was running blind and unprepared to a sure defeat. Even before the French Army started to concentrate near the Rhine, the princes of Baden, Württemberg and Bavaria sided with Prussia and the North German Confederation against what they saw as the revived Napoleonic invasions of 60 years before. The French diplomatic efforts also failed to convince Denmark, Austria and Italy to join their side, as they were pissed off for a reason or another with Napoleon III.

    Meanwhile, the events caused a great impact in Spain as well. Nobody expected an international crisis for a simple election and Prim himself though for a moment in his demission. What the hell was going to happen? Would the French invade Spain as well? The situation was too much fast to understand it well, but they hoped that the answer was “no”. Spain and France were allies after all, and this was just a decision made by the Spanish people through their representatives… no, there must not be an aggression… fortunately, the British Government (annoyed by the French attitude, but mostly because the declarations of Napoleon III about a possible French annexation of Belgium in 1866, which were strategically released to the German press by Otto von Bismarck) declared that any French intervention in Spain would be a unacceptable violation of the Quadruple Alliance of 1835. This permitted the representatives to breath with relief. They opted then to declare that Spain lamented the events and decided to wait and watch. If France won, the Prussians would be forced to announce the “repulse” of Leopold to his new Crown, on the case that he didn’t renounce first. If Prussia won, it wouldn’t be necessary any declaration and Leopold would be crowned as expected. The situation was enough, however, to convince the republicans to make some noise and there were a few leftist disturbances in Aragon, Catalonia and Andalusia, but all could be controlled by the police without real problems.

    At the beginning of August a French army occupied Saarbrüken in the Prussian Rhineland, but after more resistance than expected. It was the first clue that the war would not be as easy as expected. Avoiding Saarbrücken, the Prussians and their southern allies massed their armies on Baden and counter-attacked at Wissembourg, achieving the first of a quick succession of Prussian victories and humiliating French defeats which reached their pike at the end of the month, when the Napoleon himself and his best forces were encircled, defeated and captured near Vouziers, while they were en route to help the forces of Bazaine besieged at Metz. The Republicans reacted to this events overthrowing the imperial government in Paris and forming a transitional one leaded by Jules Trochu. Bismarck offered then peace in exchange of some populations in Alsace, but the new government refused and the war continued. Metz and Strassburg fell before the end of October and Paris itself was put under siege, shortly after the transitional government fled to Bourdeaux. Forces from all of France, Algeria and Rome were recalled to defend the capital of the country, but they weren’t enough. Paris finally fell to the Germans in January 6, 1871, after an heroic resistance leaded mostly by armed civilians. In January 10 – “the Day when France was humiliated” – Bismarck proclaimed King Wilhelm the first emperor of the new German Empire in the halls of the Tuileries Palace. The French, who had not accept the idea of a German king being crowned King of Spain in Madrid, now saw how another German king was crowned Emperor of the Germans in their own capital. What a terrible joke!

    Gambetta tried to lead a last attack around Orleans but failed, and finally the French Government was forced to ask for peace terms. The Peace of Frankfurt, signed in May, recognized the union of the Northern Confederation and the southern German states into the German Empire, ceded Alsace and Mosselle to Germany along 5 million Francs of war reparations, and recognized as well Leopold’s rights to take over the Spanish throne.

    [1] Against his desire.
    [2] Considered nules.
    [3] Cousin of Isabella. Same.
    [4] Many of them supporters of the Carlist claimant.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2007
  20. wiking The One and Only

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    Nice. Do we now Spain in WW1? Also a nitpick, I believe that France paid 5 billion, not million franks. Maybe we see some colonies, the philipines perhaps, sold to Germany. No spainish-american war? Keep writing.