Baltic Blunder: Europe at war in 1727 (the 2nd Edition)

Would the UK be willing to back the Ottomans in this scenario? especially if all it is is keeping Austria out?
“Backing the Ottomans” in a land-based war how exactly? By sending them the good wishes and assuring of the “moral support”? 😂
 
There are two problems:

1st with the Poles - they could not rally anything of a substance because the modern armies were not growing on the trees and the PLC had only (very few) thousands of those while an extremely low value of the “traditional” Polish armies had been proved beyond any reasonable doubts during the GNW. Besides, while Leschinski had support of the powerful Potocki family, the Lithuanians had been generally pro-Russian and decision of the convocation Sejm which would exclude all foreigners did not get a required consensus. The same goes for the election Sejm: Leschinsky got a majority but not a consensus and minority immediately complained about violation of liberum veto and elected Frederic August.
Situation was so obviously lousy that four days after election Lechinsky “retreated” to Danzig. Probably it should be telling that Lacy with a small army (12,000 at Danzig) crossed all PLC without any noticeable problems and that later Munnich was able to bring additional troops there (and the Saxons - train of a heavy artillery) without facing any military opposition worth noticing. Sweden, of course, could and did send some volunteers (under 200, IIRC) but a great commitment, even under a guise of the mercenaries could easily create problems to which Sweden was not ready (in your TL even less ready than in OTL). Anyway, 10-15,000 troops of any composition against 60,000 Russians at Danzig only does not look very encouraging. And in your TL it is much worse than in OTL psychologically and otherwise because, unlike the OTL, the Russians already have a terrifying military reputation on the European scale while one of the French is more or less along the “embarrassing” lines.


2nd, the Ottoman card. Probably in the Versailles this schema looked meaningful but in a reality it was not. To start with, just at that time the Ottomans are at war with Persia (1730-35) and, while in 1733 the Ottomans temporarily got an upper hand, in 1734-35 they kept being beaten. But this is a side show. The main problem with the schema is that at that time the Ottomans can’t attack Russia in any meaningful way … thanks to the Treaty of Prut: the border region between Russia and Crimea is turned into no man land and the Ottomans do not have a common border with Russia. Theoretically, they can launch an attack either from Crimea and/or from the low Dniester/Bug region (base in Ochakov) passing through the Sich territory and then crossing the Dnieper. They can also march from Moldavia through the PLC territory (surely, the Poles will be ecstatic 😜) into Ukraine. In all these cases their logistics becomes unsustainable well before they reach anything of any importance in Russia. Look at Munnich’s baggage train during his Crimean campaign and multiply it, optimistically, by 2. Plus, the Ottomans are going to carry with themselves enormous numbers of the extremaly heavy guns (which, admittedly, provided their victory at Prut: 400+ pieces vs. 130), which means that there is, besides an enormous number of oxen who ate a lot of forage, an extremely slow march with crossing of even the minor rivers turning into a very serious problem. And the Janissary most probably are not fancying an opportunity to spend a cold winter outside their barracks so the campaign may end very soon after it starts.
What they could do and what they were usually doing, was to order a major Crimean raid into Ukraine (joined by some Ottoman troops with artillery). But these raids were just the raids and, while devastating to the local population (not that the government excessively cared), they were reasonably short termed and to one degree or another contained by the landsmilitia, the Cossacks and the locally placed units of a regular army. Plus, the Kalmuks could be reasonably easily persuaded to attack the Nogai Horde.
Lacy's invasion of Poland consisted of 30,000-40,000 men. Most of those men ended up garrisoning Lithuania, around 3,000-6,000 were stationed at Warsaw, the remaining 12,000 went to Danzig. So Russia did bring a larger army and did use that army to ensure the security of its supply lines and lines of communication, which is one of the reasons why the Poles could threaten Russia's supply situation. However, it should be noted that 30,000 men was barely a tenth of Russia's military might. Certainly, the 30,000 men under Lacy were among Russia's best soldiers, but still, they are just a fraction of Russia's military strength. It should be noted that the Russians, Austrians, and Saxons did encounter some resistance in the form magnates private armies and local resistance. But as you say, it's hard to call that resistance a true army. They were privately raised forces that were not properly trained and underequipped, which is why the Russians, Austrians, and Saxons had little trouble sweeping up that resistance in Poland.

By the latter end of 1733, the Ottomans had lost the upper hand but they had signed a truce with Nader Shah (or more specifically an Ottoman governor had signed a truce, which gave away more than the central government had wanted). So I believed it was during that truce that the French approached the Ottomans and received a qualified but positive answer. When the French failed to agree to the terms of that qualified answer, the Ottomans ended up turning their attention back to Nader Shah and ultimately lost even harder. It's quite possible that if the Ottomans were to be convinced by the French to launch a war against the Russians then the Persians might jump in on Russia's side and then the Ottomans may face a horrific defeat.

The French proposals were for the Ottomans to either go via Crimea with Tatars or through Poland with the Ottoman army. The French were fond of the idea of 200,000 Turks in Poland. I can't say that the Poles were as fond of the idea. Stanislaus might tolerate a Turkish presence just to prevent a Russian occupation. The nobility and peasants of course would abhor the idea of Turks in Poland. But Fleury didn't really think about that when he drew up that plan. The option that wasn't discussed was the Ottomans going through Ochakov, oddly enough. In the end, it seems like the French didn't understand what the Ottomans were capable because they were asking for 200,000 soldiers in Poland.

In the end, Stanislaus will need a combination of things to go right for him to keep the throne including foreign military support such as a French or French-funded army in Poland, a still recalcitrant Poland, a more distracted Austria and Saxony, and a very distracted Russia. If the French can drop at 10,000 men at Danzig either by themselves or through Baltic mercenaries then they can hold Danzig against Lacy's original army. But then they need the Russians to not send any reinforcements at all (which would really only happen if Russia wanted to go on the offensive against the Ottomans rather than Russia just beating back whatever force the Ottomans sent) and the French might still need to send more troops. Even if Lacy can't take Danzig and even if the French give enough support that Lacy has to give up Warsaw, there are enough Wettin supporters in Poland enough Russian soldiers in Lithuania that it's unlikely that the French and Stanislaus can push the Russians out. And this is probably the best case scenario. There was at least one instance during the war that Empress Anna considered allowing Stanislaus to keep the throne if some border adjustments in the east were agreed to (because Austria had strictly prohibited any adjustments in the Wettin alliance). Fleury didn't agree, I think because he was concerned about looking like he selling out Poland (which he did anyways). However, if Stanislaus' position is more stable then it's conceivable that Louis XV personally intervenes in foreign affairs policy to support his father-in-law. So best-case scenario for Stanislaus, he would still need to make major concessions to the Russians to have a chance of keeping his throne. This also assumes that the Russians would be willing to make this offer in TTL, which they might not. Osterman encountered more competition during Anna's rule than during Peter II's rule because Anna herself was more concerned with the direction of Russia. This proposal might have come from Anna rather than Osterman who during the lead up to the war seemed more attached to supporting the Austrian candidates than designing a Russian-specific policy (Osterman was the local reason behind Prince Manuel of Portugal's visit to Russia). Without a ruler who cares on top, which Peter II might not be, Osterman would have greater independence to pursue his foreign policy which leaned in favor of Austrian interests.

Would the UK be willing to back the Ottomans in this scenario? especially if all it is is keeping Austria out?
“Backing the Ottomans” in a land-based war how exactly? By sending them the good wishes and assuring of the “moral support”? 😂
Assuming the Anglo-French alliance holds then yes Britain might support the Ottomans via the French connection. However, as Alex says that support will mainly be well wishes. Britain doesn't want to send a naval squadron that deep and it can't provide any soldiers that far. I guess Britain could provide loans but it seems unlikely in this age.
 
[snip]
I quite agree with you on the subject of Ostermann and his policies but, as far as the Ottomans are involved you are seemingly (at least judging by hat is written so far) falling into the same trap as the French of LXV. The Ottomans could raise a big army on paper. For example, an army which was supposed to be 400,000 (or at least did cost to the Sultan as such), would be most probably slightly over 100,000 and most of these troops would be a complete rabble hastily haired by the numerous “enterpreneurs” when the war was declared. The timar system was already falling apart and even the Janissary corps was arbitrarily “expanded” when the war started.

I’m going to provide a more complete description in a TL on which I’m presently working but, to make a long story short, the only part of the Ottoman army that could move to a meaningful distance beyond the border where the Crimeans. Who, by various estimates, could raise between 26 and 40,000 out of which only 2,000 of the Khan’s guards had the firearms and most of the rest did not even have the normal lances, just the sharpened stick with the horse bone tied to it. This force could be strengthened by few thousands Ottomans, some Old Believers Cossacks (Nekrasovtsy) who fled to the Ottoman territory and that would be pretty much it. Perhaps few “camel cannons” of a pathetic calibers: what was passing for the field artillery were mostly the huge cannons shooting the stone balls weighting 30-70kg so you can imagine their weight and problems with their transportation.

So the Vizier could take the French or British money but he could not reciprocate with raising a serious fighting force. In OTL the Ottomans did not even seriously objected against the Russian invasion of the Crimea until the Russians started taking the Ottoman-held cities on its territory and the Black Sea coast.
 
[snip]
I quite agree with you on the subject of Ostermann and his policies but, as far as the Ottomans are involved you are seemingly (at least judging by hat is written so far) falling into the same trap as the French of LXV. The Ottomans could raise a big army on paper. For example, an army which was supposed to be 400,000 (or at least did cost to the Sultan as such), would be most probably slightly over 100,000 and most of these troops would be a complete rabble hastily haired by the numerous “enterpreneurs” when the war was declared. The timar system was already falling apart and even the Janissary corps was arbitrarily “expanded” when the war started.

I’m going to provide a more complete description in a TL on which I’m presently working but, to make a long story short, the only part of the Ottoman army that could move to a meaningful distance beyond the border where the Crimeans. Who, by various estimates, could raise between 26 and 40,000 out of which only 2,000 of the Khan’s guards had the firearms and most of the rest did not even have the normal lances, just the sharpened stick with the horse bone tied to it. This force could be strengthened by few thousands Ottomans, some Old Believers Cossacks (Nekrasovtsy) who fled to the Ottoman territory and that would be pretty much it. Perhaps few “camel cannons” of a pathetic calibers: what was passing for the field artillery were mostly the huge cannons shooting the stone balls weighting 30-70kg so you can imagine their weight and problems with their transportation.

So the Vizier could take the French or British money but he could not reciprocate with raising a serious fighting force. In OTL the Ottomans did not even seriously objected against the Russian invasion of the Crimea until the Russians started taking the Ottoman-held cities on its territory and the Black Sea coast.
To clarify, I'm not saying that the Ottomans actually can launch the grand attack that the French would want them to do (even if they say they can). I'm saying that the only scenario in which Stanislaus has a chance of not being swamped by Russians is if the Ottomans do initiate a war and then the Russians decide that they would rather conquer Moldavia and Crimea than prop up Augustus III for nothing. This scenario isn't likely in my opinion so long as Osterman is the sole responsible member in the government, because Osterman valued the Austrian relationship so much and would want to continue to support Austrian interests by supporting Austria's candidate in Poland. If someone besides Osterman is on top of foreign policy or if there is a strong monarch like Anna who will at times overrule Osterman then there is the possibility that Russia accepts the French suggestion that Russia consent to Stanislaus as King of Poland in return for a border adjustment. The pressure for accepting this deal would have to be a war with the Ottomans that Russia wants to focus on because otherwise, the Russians are more likely to prefer someone besides Stanislaus than a few voivodes.

In either case, I do not think the Turks will win or do serious damage to Russia in a war. In fact, this situation would be better than the Russo-Austro-Ottoman War because Russian victories are in no way watered down by Austrian disasters and also because presumably, Osterman is not as influential. I see this war probably being a major Ottoman defeat. It's just that to accomplish that major defeat, Russia has had to turn away from Poland. But again this scenario is not guaranteed and it requires more than one thing to occur.
 
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29: Don Carlos Arrives in Italy
29: Don Carlos Arrives in Italy
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Tommaso Russo elected as Pope Clement XII in 1731

On March 1, 1730, Rear Admiral Charles Stewart led a British fleet of more than 30 warships into Seville [1]. The presence of these ships in the waters of the Guadalquivir was not meant as an act of war nor of compellence. Instead, for the first time since the Bourbons had inherited the throne of Spain, the British arrived as friends and allies of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty. Unlike Spain's Bourbon cousins in France, Perfidious Albion had chosen to follow through on the promises and obligations it had signed into force with the Treaty of Madrid. Whereas France did not move a single soldier nor ship to aid Spain, Britain had prepared a full war fleet and was in the process of outfitting an army too, all just to support Spain and enforce the Treaty of Madrid's terms. This unusual development was celebrated throughout Spain and thousands flocked to towns on the Guadalquivir and to Seville itself to welcome the British sailors to Spain. Fruits, wine, and cheese were offered up to the British who had descended from the Downs just to defend Spain's honor. The spectacle was a display of the strength of the Anglo-Spanish alliance that had been formed just one year prior.

The evidence of Britain and Spain's friendship grew further when King Felipe V and Queen Isabel invited Rear Admiral Stewart and his officers to their palace in Seville to dine with them and all the greatest grandees of Spain [2]. Many of Stewart's officers had not even had the honor of dining with their own king, so to them, this reception was a remarkable and unforgettable experience. Among the guests at this dinner were Don Carlos, the promised prince of Parma for whom the British were instructed to fight in the name of, and Jose Patino, the leader of Spain's government and the man responsible for rebuilding Spain's navy from the tragedy of Cape Passaro. Patino remarked favorably on the British and their behavior but was even more impressed by their ships sitting down below in the port of Seville. Although Patino had impressively completely rebuilt Spain's navy in just a decade, he was still overwhelmed by just how superior the British ships were to his own [3]. The excellence of the British ships made Patino question just how the Russians had been able to manage to withstand the British at Osel and whip them at Kymmenedalen. Either the British were sorely lacking in good heirs to Viscount Torrington or the Russians must be something else. The most notable of absences from the event was the Prince of Asturias, Fernando, and his wife, Barbara of Portugal [4]. Fernando and Barbara had declined to come to Seville because of Fernando's stance against Spain's edging toward war with the Hapsburgs. In Fernando's opinion, Spain needed to focus on fixing its problems at home before it could turn its attention back to Europe, especially if turning that attention meant fighting for someone else's gain and not Spain's own gain. That same opinion is also why he would have found no welcome party in Seville, from his stepmother and even from his father.

Following the ceremony and pageantry at Seville, Stewart and his fleet turned about and sailed out of the Guadalquivir and into the Atlantic. From there, Stewart and the Royal Navy were to sail to Barcelona where Spain's army was gathering for the oncoming war against the Hapsburgs. As Stewart sailed to Barcelona, he sailed past the Rock of Gibraltar. Once Britain's outpost at the tip of Spain, the Rock now flew the red and yellow of Spain instead of the red, blue, and white of Britain. In a mark of the times, when the British sailed by they did not stop to resupply and instead traded salutes with Spanish guns. Stewart remarked to his officers that the loss of Gibraltar was regrettable. From a military perspective, Gibraltar was a defensible waypoint that Britain could use to send supplies to Port Mahon. At the same time, Gibraltar acted as a chokepoint where the British fleet could safely gather if it wanted to close the gateway between the Mediterranean and Atlantic to any one nation. However, along military lines, the loss of Gibraltar was not completely devastating. Although Gibraltar was a good base, it did have problems with fresh water and with the land access to Spain. Port Mahon was a much greater base with greater anchorage, local and native supplies, and separated by tens of miles of water from mainland Spain. Still, losing Gibraltar was a hard hit to the pride of Britain and its Royal Navy and seeing it fly foreign colors was tough for Stewart and his men to swallow.

At the same time that the British sailed to Barcelona, Don Carlos rode there. The Infante that Spain had designated as Parma's heir could barely have been better suited for his role. Even though Don Carlos was born in Spain and had lived all his life his Spain, he seemed far more like an Italian than a Spaniard. Besides Spanish, Carlos had learned Italian, Latin, German, and French so that he might converse fluently with his Italian subjects, Papal legates, Imperial overlords, and Bourbon family. Carlos' education like that of many Italians in the age had contained only a surface-level covering of military and naval matters. And, of course, like any good Italian, Carlos was a good Catholic who had been tutored by priests and Jesuits. Don Carlos even looked the part of an Italian, he was not tall like a Scandinavian nor burly like a Russian or broad-shouldered like a German. Instead, Don Carlos was short and slim with a prediction to slouch. Carlos was made to look even more Italian by his large, Roman nose and his tan skin. However, a life outside of Italy and its hedonistic proclivities had made Carlos into a man less willing to partake in those activities. Instead of gambling and women, Carlos took hunting, fishing, billiards, and carpentry as his hobbies. And above all, Carlos had a reverence to God that was deeper and more authentic than that held by most Italians. Most important of all of Carlos' traits, however, was his eternal reverence to his parents more akin to the filial piety of the east than the respect one paid to their parents in the west [5].

Ultimately, by the time that Stewart and Don Carlos both reached Barcelona, the war that had seemed so imminent at Seville was evaporating quickly before their eyes. The arrival of Stewart's fleet and the news of Britain's army mobilization had been enough to shake the resolve of the Hapsburgs and reopen the negotiations for peace. Although Isabel tried to stop this peace and ignite a conflict so that Don Carlos could conquer Naples and Sicily, Walpole's earnest desire for peace won out. Isabel's efforts to engineer a different peace that involved Don Carlos marrying Maria Theresa and gaining Naples and Sicily as her dowry also failed. Instead, the peace that Walpole's agent, James Waldegrave, designed was the one that Britain, the Hapsburgs, and Spain all ended up consenting to. While the final terms of that treaty were being hammered out and the ratifications were being deliberated, Patino chose against wasting any additional money on a war that seemed more unlikely to happen with each passing day. Accordingly, Patino ordered the bulk of the Spanish army at Barcelona to be dispersed and recalled the Count de Montemar [6]. All that Patino left standing was the 12,000 men that Spain was obliged to raise by the Treaty of Madrid. Under Patino's direction and with the approval of Walpole, those 12,000 men and Don Carlos were transported to Spanish-held Sardinia.

When the Spanish army arrived on Sardinia, its Manuel d'Orléans, count of Charny, put it to work instilling order on the island, which was still growing used to the return of Spanish rule. Although the Spaniards had a number of supporters among the natives there were also many Austracists or supporters of the Hapsburgs on the island. During Spain's previous invasion, these pro-Hapsburg forces had not strongly resisted the Spaniards due to the Spanish-Hapsburg alliance. However, with that alliance broken the Austracistas had become a nuisance that needed to be handled firmly to ensure the stability of Spanish rule over Sardinia [7]. The process of pacifying the Austracistas involved the movement of hundreds of Spanish soldiers toward the northern end of Sardinia. This movement alarmed the British who were worried that Spain meant to use the left-over parts of its army to invade Corsica and support the rebellion against Genoa. Even though the British had no strong feelings of animosity toward the rebels nor sympathy toward Genoa, Walpole was strongly against the idea of the Spanish gaining Corsica [8]. A Spanish Corsica paired with a Spanish Sardinia would give the Spaniards far too much power over the waters surrounding Menorca. For this reason, the British Admiralty ordered Stewart to prevent any major Spanish crossing into Corsica despite the Anglo-Spanish alliance. In the end, the Spanish never made an effort to support the Corsicans. Whether this was due to British pressure or a lack of Spanish interest is uncertain [9].

After weeks of waiting on Sardinia, the Anglo-Spanish force finally received the news that the Treaty of Vienna of 1730 had received all the necessary ratifications and with that news came the authorizations from Walpole's government and Felipe V for Don Carlos to land in Italy. In July 1730, Don Carlos landed at Livorno with 6,000 Spanish soldiers. Within Don Carlos' retinue were Manuel de Benavides y Aragón, Count de San Esteban, former tutor of Don Carlos, chief steward of Don Carlos' household, and Felipe V's official agent in Italy; Bartolomeo Corsini, nephew of the Florentine Cardinal Lorenzo Corsini and chief equerry for Don Carlos; Giovanni Andrea Mariano Doria, Duke of Tursi and grand chamberlain; José Joaquín, Marquis de Montealegre and secretary for despatches; José Fernández-Miranda Ponce de León, first gentleman-in-waiting and officer for Don Carlos' military; Giovanni Fogliani Sforza d'Aragona, a gentleman of the chamber; and finally, Don Lelio Carafa, brother of Duke Marzio Domenico IV Carafa of Maddaloni and captain of Don Carlos' bodyguard. Together this group of handpicked Spaniards and Italians was supposed to form the nucleus of Don Carlos' Italian household and government [10].

From Livorno, Don Carlos and his retinue traveled to Florence, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, an Italian demense that the Treaty of Madrid and Treaty of Vienna of 1730 had also designated him as the heir of. In the meantime, the Count of Charny led the Spanish army to Parma to install the garrison. At Florence, Carlos was greeted by a salute of cannons and thousands of Tuscans lining the streets and cheering him on. As Carlos rode through the streets of Florence, Te Deum was sung by eight choirs consisting of 300 musicians and the salutes continued to blast in the background [11]. Finally, Carlos reached the Medici royal residence, the Pitti Palace, where quarters had been prepared for him. At the palace, Carlos was welcomed by the Spanish minister to Tuscany, Father Ascanio, and the British diplomats, Francis Colman and Brinley Skinner [12]. They congratulated him on his succession to Parma and then gave him the necessary advice before he met with the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Gian Gastone, and separately with Electress Anna Maria, the Grand Duke's sister. Don Carlos was supposed to be the heirs to these two final scions of the House of Medici and the diplomats wanted to ensure that no mishap occurred during Don Carlos' first encounter with each of them .

When Don Carlos met Gian Gastone, he found the Grand Duke to be an ill-fit, obese, mess of a man whose appearance was not at all hidden by his extravagant clothing and massive wig. The Grand Duke did not even rise from his bed to welcome Carlos into his quarters and his realm. Despite the oddities of Gian Gastone, Don Carlos treated him with every possible sign of respect and did not skip a single formality [13]. The Grand Duke took a quick liking to the boy even if his presence was a sad reminder of the failure of all three of Cosimo III's children to produce a single offspring. Out of a desire to keep Tuscany out of Hapsburg hands and due to the confidence that this Spanish-born but Italian-bred prince inspired, Gian Gastone signed a last will and testament that designated Don Carlos as the heir to the House of Medici and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Gian Gastone also showered Carlos with gifts and began to speak to him as if he was Gian Gastone's son [14].

For the following three days and nights, the whole of Florence was the site of a jubilant celebration. During the days, the Tuscan military paraded and bands and orchestras played, all in the squares of Tuscany. Don Carlos was drafted into these parades, even if these gatherings seemed to be too much for the Spanish infante who had been used to the rigidity of the Spanish court and not this spontaneous and free-spirited partying that the Italians were fond of. Still a boy, Carlos did his best to sneak away and hunt in the local countryside. During the evening, Carlos was invited to observe the opera at Pergola Theatre. Carlos had little interest in music but he still quietly endured at least an act of the opera before he retreated to Pitti Palace. However, even in the palace, Carlos did not find peace. Outside, Carlos could see the whole of Florence lit up by lights hanging in the streets and fireworks shot off from the Palazzo Vecchio while the citizens loudly danced, drank, and celebrated. Within the palace, Gian Gastone's debauchery left Carlos with few places to find peace and quiet.

Kept up at night and wanting something to do, Carlos took up using his bow and arrow against the tapestries in his room and shot at the animals within those tapestries. Carlos' years of hunting in Spain had given him plenty of experience and within a few days, he was able to shoot at the eyes of the birds on these tapestries. The ruining of this valuable artwork upset Gian Gastone when he paused his own debauchery enough to inquire after Carlos' activities. Gian Gastone ended up having the tapestries removed from Carlos' room when the Hereditary Prince of Tuscany went out to hunt real animals. Although Carlos was disappointed to see his home entertainment taken away, he could not argue with Gian Gastone who told him that the warm weather made such tapestries unnecessary and even unhealthy to have in the room. News of the incident did confuse the Tuscans who wondered why Carlos needed such entertainment at all when Florence offered more than enough parties to entertain the prince. However, their confusion did not turn into resentment as Carlos' inherent geniality and generosity led to the incident quickly being forgotten [15].

Gian Gastone more than made up for taking away Carlos' tapestries when he presented Carlos to the Tuscan Senate. Under Gian Gastone's recommendation, the Tuscan Senate approved of Carlos as the heir to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and officially named him the Hereditary Prince of Tuscany. Afterward, the nobles and senators of Tuscany had their banners carried and dipped before Carlos a symbol of their homage to the next Grand Duke of Tuscany. This ceremony allowed the Tuscans to engage in even more celebrations. It had been rare for the Tuscans to have this many days of celebration and pageantry due to Cosimo III's distaste for it and Gian Gastone's content with keeping his parties limited to Pitti Palace. The Hapsburgs were less satisfied by the chain of events. Even though the Hapsburgs had agreed to Carlos' succession to Tuscany, they had still wanted it to go through them rather than the Tuscan Senate. In the eyes of Hapsburgs, the Tuscan Senate should have nominated Carlos as the heir and then presented him to them for their own approval. Only once Carlos had been approved and invested by the Hapsburgs should he have been given the title of Hereditary Prince. However, with the Count of Charny's army still entrenched in Parma and the Tuscans, not at all friendly to the interests of the Hapsburgs, no military action resulted from the perceived sleight. The Hapsburgs issued their protest but nothing more came out of it, not even when the Tuscan Senate failed to retract its entitlement of Don Carlos [16].

After spending nearly half a year in Tuscany, Don Carlos traveled to the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza where he was once again greeted by celebrations. Don Carlos had already grown tired of the celebrations but tolerated them as he had tolerated the Tuscan ones and the Spanish ones before he left. These celebrations included yet another trip to the theatre. Carlos was taken to the Teatro Farnese to listen to "The Arrival of Ascanius in Italy", which featured sixteen horsemen singing verses written by Frugoni. Later, Carlos' grandmother, Dorothea Sophie of the Palatinate, presented him with a medal that was embossed with a lady with a lily in her hand and had Spes publica engraved on it. The medal was meant to commemorate Carlos' succession. Finally, under the instructions of Isabel Farnese, a banner bearing the words Parma Resurget was unfurled at the front of the Palazzo Farnese. These words added to the Hapsburg consternation about a Spanish prince and a son of Isabel Farnese in Parma just miles away from Hapsburg-held Milan, but again the Hapsburgs were warded off from military action by the Count of Charny. As the peace held, Don Carlos and his Spanish army were able to celebrate Christmas in Parma. In the following spring, Carlos continued his education under the tutelage of a variety of Italian tutors while Dorothea Sophie focused on governing the duchy for her grandson [17].

Another major event in Italy during the March of 1731 was the death of Pope Benedict XIII [18]. Following his death, the work to elect a new pope began almost immediately, even though the real conclave was weeks away as cardinals from other countries still needed to arrive. Indeed, Antonio Rambaldo, Count of Collalto and Hapsburg minister to the Papacy, and Cardinal Juan Álvaro Cienfuegos Villazón, a representative of Hapsburg interests, called for an official stay of the first vote until the rest of the Imperial cardinals could arrive. Ahead of the conclave five factions emerged, the French faction, representing France and its interests and led by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni; the Clementines, made up of cardinals raised by Clement XI and chief among them Annibale Albani; the Imperial faction, which supported Hapsburg interests and was led by Cardinal Cienfuegos; the Savoyard faction, representing Savoy's interests and led by Annibale's brother, Alessandro Albani; and finally the Zelanti, or non-secular party. The Spaniards did not have a party due to the split among the pro-Spanish cardinals, Cornelio Bentivoglio and Luis Antonio de Belluga and Moncada [19].

The first vote in May, more than ten candidates received votes with Cardinal Giuseppe Renato Imperiali, a favorite of the Imperials, receiving the most. However, once Imperali was one vote away from election, Bentivoglio issued Spain's veto against him. However, this veto was more than ten years old and was signed by Spain's secretary of state rather than the king as required. Since Belluga refused to back up Bentivoglio on this veto, the conclave had to wait until Isidro Casado de Acevedo, Marquis de Monteleone, could arrive with an updated veto signed by Felipe V. The reason for Spain's veto had less to do with Imperiali being an Imperial candidate and more to do with him having tried to arrest Cardinal Alberoni, former prime minister of Spain [20]. Once Imperiali's candidature was verified as dead, Cardinal Ottoboni, Cardinal Bentivoglio, and the Savoyard faction came together to propose their own candidate Tommaso Ruffo. However, dissension within the French faction and resistance from the Clementines meant that Ruffo did not get the necessary votes. When it became obvious that Ruffo did not have the necessary support, the conclave moved with the French and Clementines rallying around one of their own, Lorenzo Corsini. Backed by Medici money, Corsini looked like a strong candidate and he even got the approval of Bentivoglio and the Zelanti but the vote came Cardinal Cienfuegos vetoed Corsini's candidacy because the Hapsburgs were worried about Lorenzo's nephew and his place in Don Carlos' household [21].

With the first three major candidates all cut down, more popped up. Annibale Albani tried to push the candidacy of Pico della Mirandola, but it went nowhere. Next, the Imperial faction finally settled on a new candidate, Gianantonio Davia. However, Davia could not break through the threshold for votes, and instead, Cardinal Pietro Corradini emerged as a candidate for the French and Clementines. Even though Corradini received more votes than Davia, he also could not break through the threshold. To further discourage his election, Bentivoglio threatened to get Spain's veto. However, Alberoni, Belluga, and the Spanish representative, the Marquis of Monteleone, all cast doubt on that potential for a veto. Instead, Corradini's candidature was ended by the threat of an Imperial veto. Following Corradini's failure, Antonio Banchieri was proposed by everyone but the French rejected him. Two other candidates, Cardinal Fabio Olivieri, a candidate for the Spanish, and Antonio Felice Zondadari, a candidate for the French, successively failed. Olivieri could not overcome the resistance of the Imperial faction and Zondadari was vetoed by Bentivoglio and Belluga who recalled Zondadari's conflict with Felipe V. By this point, weeks had passed without a Pope elected and so the Clementines went back to suggesting Corsini, but Cienfuegos informed that the Hapsburgs had no intention of lifting their veto.

After five-long months, no pope had been elected and the seat of Saint Peter remained empty. Deadlock reined as the successive ballots continued to fail to produce a winning candidate. Worse yet, the major courts of Europe refused to back down on their vetoes and when Olivieri finally began to gain some momentum, the Imperials squashed it with a veto [22]. With all these vetoes holding, there were some more attempts at electing a non-offensive candidate like Banchieri or Mirandola, but they could not find any momentum. Instead, through attrition and round after round of bartering, the decision came down to either Ruffo or Corradini. Ultimately, the Spanish and Imperial resistance to Corradini remained while the French opposition to Ruffo softened [23]. As a consequence, Tommaso Ruffo was elected as the next pope and took Clement XII for his name, in honor of the pope who had raised him to his position as cardinal.

[1] In OTL, when Admiral Wager's fleet visited Spain, it went to Seville. There are no conceivable military reasons, so I assume that political reasons motivated this visit. In TTL, Stewart's visit Seville for the political reasons of proving to Spain that Britain is a good ally with a good navy. This is display is made even more important by the British naval defeats during Empress Catherine's War.
[2] In OTL, Wager was invited to dine with Felipe V and Isabel. In TTL, Felipe V decides to show the same hospitality.
[3] In OTL, Patino was amazed by the British navy when it visited. In TTL, despite the recent British naval victories, Patino is still amazed, which creates a question of how Britain could have lost.
[4] There is no record I can find of Fernando and Barbara attending this dinner but there is explicit mention of Don Carlos being there. I believe that Fernando and Barbara were probably not at the dinner since they stayed in Madrid when the court moved south and there is no record of them making a visit to Seville. In OTL, the cracks between Felipe V and Fernando showed as soon as Fernando got married and began to express his opinions. In TTL, the cracks have also begun to show.
[5] This description of Don Carlos is based on Harold Acton's description of him.
[6] Patino was fairly practical and money-conscious. If war is not on the horizon, I see him dispersing the army sooner rather than later.
[7] The Austracists remained a powerful faction on Sardinia after the Hapsburgs gave up the island in the War of the Quadruple Alliance.
[8] I cannot see Walpole favoring a Spanish presence in Corsica.
[9] In OTL, few powers actively supported the Corsican rebellion during its early years. Indeed, several of them professed they would not intervene. Spain was friendly with the rebellion but never acted on that friendliness to provide material support to the rebellion. In TTL, Spain has other interests right now, so it will also avoid supporting the rebellion for now.
[10] This is Don Carlos' OTL retinue. I see no reason to change it.
[11] In OTL, Don Carlos was greeted by intense celebration due to him representing the continued independence of Tuscany from the Hapsburgs. That sentiment is the same TTL.
[12] Only Skinner is recorded as meeting Don Carlos in OTL, but the British resident in 1731 and also 1730 is Colman. I assume that Skinner is remembered due to his peculiar appearance. In TTL, I make sure to mention that both British diplomats meet Don Carlos.
[13] By this point, in OTL, Gian Gastone was pretty much bed-ridden but Don Carlos still treated him respectfully.
[14] Gian Gastone approved of Don Carlos' succession in OTL because he liked Don Carlos and appreciated the Spanish guarantee of Tuscan independence from the Hapsburgs. In TTL, those reasons remain.
[15] These episodes are the same as OTL.
[16] In OTL, Gian Gastone had Don Carlos named as the official heir of Tuscany fairly early on despite the expectation of Hapsburg opposition. In TTL, the Treaty of Vienna even more strongly supports the Bourbon succession to Tuscany so Gian Gastone will feel even more confident having Don Carlos recognized as heir. In OTL, the Hapsburgs issued a protest because they wanted it to go through them and TTL they still want the succession to flow through them as a means of shoring up Imperial authority so they will still be upset.
[17] This is also the same as OTL. Parma celebrated Don Carlos like Tuscany and Isabel Farnese engaged in a number of acts that the Hapsburgs found unsatisfactory because she felt strong.
[18] Benedict XIII died in OTL in 1730 during an epidemic in Rome. In TTL, with all the movement of soldiers and armies during the late 1720s, that epidemic does not strike in 1730 and instead Benedict XIII dies of old age in 1731.
[19] These factions are the same as OTL because influence in the church was not really affected by Empress Catherine's War. Also as far as I am aware, the Spanish split was due to personal differences, which will not be impacted by the war.
[20] In OTL, Imperali was vetoed for this reason and I think this reason will still exist in TTL.
[21] In OTL, Corsini's early candidacy was rejected because the Tuscan succession was unsettled. In TTL, it is settled already and settled in Don Carlos' favor. Also, in OTL Corsini's nephew had not joined Don Carlos' retinue by the time of the election. In TTL, the nephew has joined Don Carlos. As a consequence in TTL, Corsini looks like much more of a potentially pro-Spanish candidate, so the Hapsburgs veto him. As a consequence, the OTL Clement XII is blocked from becoming Pope.
[22] Olivieri was regarded as very pro-Bourbon in 1724 and publically denounced by the Imperial ambassador, so I cannot see the Imperials tolerating him in 1731 in TTL.
[23] Corradini was the more controversial of the two candidates so I think Russo is more likely to be elected based on being the less disliked candidate.

Word Count: 4669
 
30: The Prussian Bachelorette
30: The Prussian Bachelorette
255px-Wilhelmine_von_Bayreuth1.jpg

Princess Friederike Sophie Wilhelmine of Prussia

In December of 1730, Wilhelm of Hesse-Kassel and Friedrich II of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg completed their mediation of the Clamei Crisis and released their ruling, which both George II's Brunswick-Luneburg and Friedrich Wilhelm's Prussia were expected to follow. By this ruling, Brunswick-Luneburg would have to pay an almost negligible sum to compensate for the theft of hay from Clamei and "other damages". In the future, the hay of Clamei was to be split evenly between villagers from both sides of the border, but the disputed nature of Clamei itself went unresolved. Regarding diplomatic matters, it was decided that George II and future Electors of Brunswick-Luneburg were under no obligation to inform the court of Potsdam of their arrival in Germany, but the King in Prussia also had no obligation to provide post-horses to the Elector of Brunswick-Luneburg if he should need to pass through Hohenzollern territories to reach his own Hanoverian territories [1]. Overall, the mediation did little to address the main flashpoint of the crisis which was Prussian recruiting and Brunswick-Luneburger retaliation, but the mediation did just enough to cool the tensions between George II and Friedrich Wilhelm so that war could be avoided.

With peace at hand for Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm turned his mind back to domestic affairs. Specifically, Friedrich Wilhelm looked to marry off his eldest daughter Wilhelmine who had become an almost unbearable presence in Friedrich Wilhelm's household. Her behavior, her support for her effeminate brother, her scheming with her mother, everything about her annoyed Friedrich Wilhelm to no end and he just wanted to be rid of her one way or another [2]. For this reason, Friedrich Wilhelm presented two choices for Wilhelmine's husband, Margrave Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg-Schwedt or Prince Johann Adolf of Saxe-Weissenfels [3]. Neither of these choices was remotely acceptable to Sophia Dorothea. The first match was a minor secondary prince within Prussia who would never be anything more than a vassal of Prussia. The second was a landless officer in the Saxon army bound to inherit the considerable Duchy of Saxe-Weissenfels and its even more considerable debt. Not to mention that the Prince was a 45-year-old widower. In comparison to the marriage that Sophia Dorothea had planned for Wilhelmine since her birth, a marriage to the future King of Great Britain and Ireland, these proposed husbands were beyond disappointing. For that reason, Sophia Dorothea declined to accept either match for her daughter and instead brought back the idea of marrying Wilhelmine and Prince Frederick of Brunswick-Luneburg [4].

Friedrich Wilhelm was not sure how to respond to Sophia Dorothea's counterproposal. Friedrich Wilhelm and George I had been on the verge of completing a double marriage between the heirs of Prussia and Great Britain and two Princesses of each nation to seal the Anglo-Prussian alliance where George I had dropped dead in Brunswick-Luneburg. Since then Friedrich Wilhelm had been given little opportunity to explore the project again due to the Empress Catherine's War, the Parmese Crisis, and the Clamei Crisis, all of found Prussia aligned against Britain and Brunswick-Luneburg. Friedrich Wilhelm had entertained the idea of marrying Wilhelmine and Prince Frederick during the one moment of genuine peace that Prussia and Britain had, but in the end, no marriage came out of it. George II refused to use Prince Frederick's personal negotiations as a launching point for serious marriage talks and instead embarrassed Friedrich Wilhelm by calling out his subversion of George II's familial affairs. The experience had left a bad taste in Friedrich Wilhelm's mouth and made him uneasy about resuming talks with George II over any marriages [5]. Furthermore, after the most recent confrontation with George II over Clamei there remained no love between the brothers-in-law. They despised each other almost as much they despised their sons.

On the other hand, Friedrich Wilhelm recognized the advantages of a marriage between Wilhelmine and Prince Frederick. First, through that marriage, Friedrich Wilhelm would be well rid of Wilhelmine who would be hundreds of miles away from him. She might still scheme in her letters home but at the least Friedrich Wilhelm would not have to set eyes on her ugly and rude face. Second, the marriage gave Friedrich Wilhelm some leverage in his relations with the Holy Roman Emperor. Although Friedrich Wilhelm had a sense of loyalty to the Emperor that loyalty was weighed against Friedrich Wilhelm's own desire to empower Prussia and live a pious and just life. Friedrich Wilhelm considered Julich and Berg to be his by right and the Emperor had agreed with Friedrich Wilhelm. However, the Emperor had done nothing to prove his support for Friedrich Wilhelm's claims. There was no Imperial edict nor ruling from the Aulic Court. There was nothing out in the open to bind Charles VI to support Friedrich Wilhelm's claims to Julich and Berg and that concerned him. If Friedrich Wilhelm could marry one of his daughters to Britain's heir and gain Britain's backing for his claims then it would put pressure on the Emperor to finally come through [6]. The third reason for supporting the marriage was that it would force the Hanoverian dynasty to acknowledge the equality of the Hohenzollern dynasty. Too many times in the past had the British slighted Friedrich Wilhelm over their perceived superiority to his kingdom.

Due to these conflicting feelings, Friedrich Wilhelm did not reject Sophia Dorothea's proposal straight away but he also refused to initiate resumed talks himself. Friedrich Wilhelm was tired of Britain's insults, if they wanted one of his daughters then they needed to come to him. In the meantime, Friedrich Wilhelm continued to explore the two options he had presented to Sophia Dorothea so that he could prove the worth of each match. For this reason, Friedrich Wilhelm visited the Margrave of Schwedt's mother, Johanna Charlotte von Anhalt-Dessau, to discuss the marriage. Before Friedrich Wilhelm could arrive at her estate at Schwedt, Sophia Dorothea informed Johanna Charlotte of both her and Wilhelmine's adamant opposition to the match. Thus, when Friedrich Wilhelm brought up the marriage to Johanna Charlotte, she accused on account of Sophia Dorothea and Wilhelmine's resistance. Johanna Charlotte told Friedrich Wilhelm that she would not wed her son to an unwilling wife. This answer upset Friedrich Wilhelm because it suggested the interference of his wife. In reality, Joanna Charlotte was just using Sophia Dorothea as an excuse for her real reasons for rejecting the match. Those reasons were that Friedrich Wilhelm was offering a ridiculously small dowry of 30,000 crowns for his eldest daughter, that Joanna Charlotte expected her son to become an even more restrained vassal of Prussia if he was married to its eldest princess, and finally that she worried what would happen to her son after Friedrich Wilhelm died. Everyone understood that Wilhelmine and Prince Fritz were tightly knit and to pain one was to pain the other [7].

Rejected by the mother, Friedrich Wilhelm turned to the uncle of the Margrave of Schwedt, Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau. The Prince had been an integral part of Friedrich Wilhelm's army for years and was a close friend of his, so Friedrich Wilhelm expected that the Prince would be grateful that his nephew was marrying such a prestigious bride. However, Prince Leopold shared the same viewpoints as Joanna Charlotte. Furthermore, Prince Leopold had received letters directly from Prince Fritz that promised the prince incredible rewards to both him and his family, so long as he avoided the marriage of Wilhelmine and the Margrave [8]. For this reason, when Friedrich Wilhelm approached him Prince Leopold gently but sternly refused to endorse the match. This response displeased Friedrich Wilhelm but he respected Prince Leopold too much to take out his emotions on him.

The mood of Friedrich Wilhelm soon improved when the Prince of Saxe-Weissenfels wrote that he had no qualms about marrying Wilhelmine. Indeed, despite the meager dowry, Prince Johann Adolf was ready and excited to marry Wilhelmine. On that note, Friedrich Wilhelm invited Johann Adolf to Potsdam to see Wilhelmine in person and sign the engagement papers before he could change his mind. When Johann Adolf did come in March 1731, Queen Sophia Dorothea refused to treat him with the respect being his rank and renown. She did not even speak to the man nor did she allow Wilhelmine to speak to him. Only Friedrich Wilhelm's desire to be courteous and respectful in front of his daughter's future husband prevented him from attacking Sophia Dorothea at that moment. However, the red in Friedrich Wilhelm's face and heavy breathing did little to hide his anger. Friedrich Wilhelm's frustration ultimately forced the King in Prussia to leave Johann Adolf's side for some time as he attempted to cool off and regain his composure [9].

In the absence of the King, one of Sophia Dorothea's allies at court, Count Albrecht Konrad Finck von Finckenstein approached Johann Adolf and made clear to him that Sophia Dorothea would never approve Wilhelmine's marriage to him and would do everything in her power to stop it. If Johann Adolf continued to pursue this marriage then he would just cause more conflict within the Hohenzollern family and that he would not make Wilhelmine a happy woman. However, if Johann Adolf should abandon marriage then Sophia Dorothea would reward him greatly. Count Finck also pointed out that Prince Frederick of Brunswick-Luneburg was seeking a match with Wilhelmine, so if he stole Wilhelmine away from him then he would be insulting the future King of Great Britain and Ireland. Johann Adolf took heed of Count Finck's meaning and told him to tell the Queen that he would abandon the match and that he would tell the King just as much. Once the king rejoined him, Johann Adolf did as he promised. Johann Adolf told Friedrich Wilhelm that since both Wilhelmine and her mother were opposed to the match that he could accept it. However, Johann Adolf added that if the plans for Wilhelmine and Prince Frederick's marriage fell through and no other proposals between Wilhelmine and other kings or their heirs arise that he would willingly accept a marriage to her [10]. This sudden change of heart by Johann Adolf took Friedrich Wilhelm by surprise and left him on the verge of an outburst. Through discipline and willpower, Friedrich Wilhelm avoided an incident and said he understood Johann Adolf's predicament before once again leaving Johann Adolf's side.

This time Friedrich Wilhelm went to Sophia Dorothea and kindly and respectfully asked that she give her approval to Johann Adolf. Friedrich Wilhelm discussed the merits of the match and of the man who was a fine soldier and an heir, but Sophia Dorothea did not budge. Once Sophia Dorothea's obstinance became clear to Friedrich Wilhelm his mood became angry and vicious. He told that if she wanted Wilhelmine to marry Prince Frederick then she could, but Sophia Dorothea would have to write to them and get the Hanoverians to ask for Wilhelmine's hand themselves. He was not going to beg or barter for this marriage, he had seen his fill of Hanoverian nonsense already. Yet if the Hanoverians did not reply in a positive manner, if they delayed or equivocated, if they made demands of Friedrich Wilhelm, then that would be the end of it. The marriage would happen or it would not. Friedrich Wilhelm wanted certainty and immediacy and would take nothing less. To this Sophia Dorothea, promised that she would secure the Hanoverians' approval for the match. However, Friedrich Wilhelm was not done yet. He went on to say that he would not consent to any match for Fritz and none of those proud and haughty Hanoverian princesses. He was not going to bring another Hanoverian into his household as Sophia Dorothea had shown just how disagreeable and mischievous they can be. Fritz would be tamed and subjugated long before he could ever be married [11].

Immediately, Sophia Dorothea got to work crafting a letter to her brother and her sister-in-law to beg that they restart talks for Wilhelmine and Prince Frederick's marriage. However, Sophia Dorothea knew for a fact that George II was more concerned about marrying off his daughters than his son and wanted to marry one of them to Fritz, which Friedrich Wilhelm had specifically said he would never agree to. Faced with this contrast between Hanoverian and Hohenzollern desires, Sophia Dorothea felt that a double marriage was impossible and she could not have the Hanoverians tie Wilhelmine and Fritz's fates together. When Sophia Dorothea presented this predicament to Fritz and Wilhelmine they both cast their doubts on the scheme, which shocked and horrified the Queen. Wilhelmine was so doubtful about the match succeeding that she went so far as to suggest that the Prince of Saxe-Weissenfels was not a terrible prospect. This suggestion absolutely terrified Sophia Dorothea and she threatened to kill herself and Wilhelmine before ever allowing that marriage and stormed out of the room. Once again, Count Finck came to the rescue by reassuring Wilhelmine and calming down Sophia Dorothea. Together, the group came up with the plan of Fritz writing to his aunt that he would promise to marry one of their daughters and no one else but only if they consented to Wilhelmine and Prince Frederick's marriage [12]. Additionally, Fritz and Wilhelmine were to write to Prince Frederick to get him involved in this effort. Perhaps Prince Frederick could similarly promise that he would only marry Wilhelmine and no one else.

Griff wrote back to Fritz and Wilhelmine within a week. He was dismayed by their misfortune and promised to his utmost to achieve the approval of a double marriage. Griff's parents were less quick with their response. Only after a month did Queen Caroline write back to Sophia Dorothea and the answer that her letter carried was less than favorable. Although Caroline pressed Sophia Dorothea to resist an unwanted and unequal marriage and stated her own earnest desire for a double match between their children, Caroline offered nothing more. No formal proposal for either marriage was included in her proposal. Instead, Caroline claimed that George II could not make any moves on the marriage without first discussing the matter with Parliament [13]. This claim was, of course, a lie. Had George II presented Parliament with either marriage then they would have ecstatically celebrated the end of Anglo-Prussian hostility and the end of the Prussian threat to Brunswick-Luneburg. So no, domestic politics were not in the way of a marriage. Personal sentiments are better explanations. Even though logically Britain and Brunswick-Luneburg would greatly benefit from Prussia's friendship, George II was still hot over the Clamei Crisis and was uneager to offer up his heir to a Prussian princess. George II disdained Prussia and Friedrich Wilhelm too much for that. George II also had too little love for his son to want to fulfill his stated desire of marrying Wilhelmine. Besides these personal sentiments, there was also an element of greed in George II's reluctance to propose either marriage. Firstly, George II had major expenses, which he justified through the size of his family. Losing one of his family members through marriage jeopardized the unpopular monarch's incredibly bloated Civil List. Secondly, within that Civil List, George II had taken every single penny of his son, Prince Frederick's, allotted 100,000 pounds and used it on himself. If Griff was married and thus began to establish a household of his own then George II would be obliged or even forced to part with some of all of those stolen funds. Neither situation suited the avaricious King of Great Britain one bit.

Friedrich Wilhelm took no pride in Sophia Dorothea's defeat. On one hand, Caroline's response just proved all the unpleasant conceptions that Friedrich Wilhelm held about the Hanoverians, Britain, and their perceptions of an Anglo-Prussian alliance. If the Hanoverian dynasty was not willing to take the necessary steps to reconcile with Prussia and open the doors of friendship then Prussia would have to remain beholden to the Emperor and his generosity. The thought unsettled Friedrich Wilhelm because it made him feel helpless. On another hand, both the Margrave of Schwedt and the Prince of Saxe-Weissenfels, the two prospects that Friedrich Wilhelm had in mind for Wilhelmine's husband, had already refused to accept Wilhelmine's hand. Both of them feared the consequences of entering into a forced marriage with the beloved sister of the future King in Prussia and neither was willing to risk Fritz's wrath in future for Friedrich Wilhelm's gratitude in the present. Friedrich Wilhelm did not know what other husbands were out there for Wilhelmine. The children of the Elector of Saxony, King of Finland, Duke of Bremen-Verden, and the Prince of Hesse-Kassel were all too young, the Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin only had a daughter, and the heirs to Saxe-Merseburg and Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg were both already married. Friedrich Wilhelm was running out of places to settle Wilhelmine and he was not ready to send her to the Church. Due to these problems, Friedrich Wilhelm rather surprisingly told Sophia Dorothea to try again and press the Hanoverians harder this time [14]. He wanted an answer, a real one, whether it be yes or no.

Once again Sophia Dorothea wrote to Caroline asking after the result of George II's discussions with Parliament and beseeching Caroline to realize the benefits of marrying Prince Frederick and Wilhelmine. Meanwhile, Fritz doubled down on his promise to marry no but a Princess of Britain and offered the hand of any of them if doing so would secure Wilhelmine's marriage to Frederick. This time the Hanoverians took even longer to respond and went they did their answer was one that Sophia Dorothea knew Friedrich Wilhelm would have no patience for. Caroline stated that George II and the Parliament were willing to accept Wilhelmine as their daughter-in-law but required that Fritz and Princess Amelia be married at the same time [15]. As could be expected, Friedrich Wilhelm refused to accept that condition and reminded Sophia Dorothea that he had no intention of wedding Fritz off until Fritz could be disciplined into a real man. Since the Hanoverians had hesitated and now made demands of him, Friedrich Wilhelm stood firm on his previous threat and proclaimed that the Hanoverian match, any Hanoverian match was now unacceptable to him. Neither Wilhelmine nor Fritz nor any of his other children would receive Hanoverian spouses and any further discussion of that idea would be met with the strongest rebuke [16]. Friedrich Wilhelm would find another husband for Wilhelmine whoever it might be.

Even if Friedrich Wilhelm had determined that an Anglo-Prussian match was off the table, Sophia Dorothea was not so certain. No matter what she would not let her beloved Wilhelmine the victim of marriage to either the Margrave of Schwedt or the Prince of Saxe-Weissenfels [17]. Unfortunately for Sophia Dorothea, she was quickly running out of time to either design some means of accomplishing the Hanoverian marriage or conjuring up some alternative prince who suited both her tastes and expectations for her firstborn. Friedrich Wilhelm was eager to get rid of Wilhelmine and end all these shenanigans related to her marriage. He even went so far as to assert that by the year's end he would have Wilhelmine's future sorted out whether Sophia Dorothea approved of that future or not. The only item in Sophia Dorothea's favor was that Friedrich Wilhelm was about to travel to the Electorate of Saxony on a diplomatic visit. With him, he was taking much of Prussia's court including both Sophia Dorothea's favorite son, Fritz, and the malicious influence who condemned Sophia Dorothea daily, Friedrich Wilhelm von Grumbkow. While they were gone discussing European affairs and coordinating policies with the King of Poland, Sophia Dorothea would be left alone and unsupervised. This was Sophia Dorothea's opportunity to negotiate with the Hanoverians herself to save that match. Little did Sophia Dorothea know what misery was about to befall her and all her dreams.

[1] I do not have any details on the OTL mediation result but I assume that it was a non-result and mainly symbolic, which is the type of mediation result I tried to go for here.
[2] Friedrich Wilhelm grew to detest Wilhelmine, his once-favorite daughter, for reasons such as these in OTL. In TTL, the degree of hatred is slightly less than OTL because of the time Friedrich Wilhelm got to spend away from the family while at war, but the hatred is still present. Also, in TTL, I imagine that Friedrich Wilhelm hates Fritz even more than OTL. In TTL, Friedrich Wilhelm has seen Fritz act like the man he has conceptualized he should be through his heroics during the war. But after the war, Fritz still continues to enjoy music and clothing and other things that Friedrich Wilhelm finds disagreeable. So there is a sentiment of being conned, which in OTL Friedrich Wilhelm absolutely abhorred.
[3] These are the OTL husbands proposed by Friedrich Wilhelm. In OTL, Friedrich Wilhelm proposed Schwedt as a way to control Schwedt. This reason remains in TTL. In OTL, Friedrich Wilhelm proposed Saxe-Weissenfels because he personally respected him as a solider from my perspective. In TTL, that respect is even higher due to the two of them fighting in Empress Catherine's War together.
[4] In OTL, Friedrich Wilhelm's efforts to marry Wilhelmine stagnated after George I's death because that is when the double marriage idea began to die. Under George II's talks were slow to resume and only really got serious when Friedrich Wilhelm was on the verge of marrying Wilhelmine to someone else in early 1730. In TTL, George I's death and Empress Catherine's War ended the original double marriage talks and since then Anglo-Prussians relations have been so fraught that the marriage talks have yet to resume even though some persons like Frederick of Wales and Sophia Dorothea have never stopped wanting the double marriages.
[5] Friedrich Wilhelm's degree of frustration over the Hanoverian matches right here is not as high as it got in OTL, because in OTL Friedrich Wilhelm got jerked around by the British repeatedly over the course of three years. Friedrich Wilhelm is still frustrated but less so than OTL.
[6] Friedrich Wilhelm in OTL remained loyal to the Emperor out of necessity. He was very distrustful of the Emperor and often felt misused or cheated, but he never felt like he had a legitimate option to oppose the Emperor once the Russians allied with the Emperor. In OTL, he explored using the British as a counterweight and a bargaining chip against the Emperor. This is all the same TTL.
[7] These are the OTL reasons for Schwedt's reluctance to agree to the marriage and I believe they hold TTL.
[8] Similarly, these are the OTL reasons for the Dessauer's reluctance to agree to the marriage and I believe they hold TTL.
[9] In OTL, Sophia Dorothea was similarly rude. In TTL, the match is still just as bad in Sophia Dorothea's eyes despite Saxe-Weissenfels having some more military accolades.
[10] In OTL, Count von Finck did pull Saxe-Weissenfels aside to ward him off from agreeing to the marriage and Saxe-Weissenfels agreed. In TTL, I do not see Saxe-Weissenfels making a different decision.
[11] This is similar to Friedrich Wilhelm's OTL response to Sophia Dorothea's interference. Also, in OTL, Friedrich Wilhelm opposed Fritz's marriage to Amelia intermittently.
[12] This is the OTL chain of events that transpired after Friedrich Wilhelm consented to a reopening of the Anglo-British marriage idea. In Wilhelmine's memoirs she takes full credit for the idea of Fritz's promises, but I find that somewhat suspect and believe that an experience courtier like von Finck or her mother is the more likely originator of the scheme.
[13] In OTL, George II and Caroline hid behind a number of excuses to delay serious talks. I believe that this unwillingness to seriously negotiate is in part due to their inherent flaws in their personalities and also due to their reluctance to see Frederick of Wales being given a wife. Neither of these reasons are different in TTL.
[14] Again, Friedrich Wilhelm has been jerked around by the Hanoverians less than OTL so he is slightly more supportive of continued negotiation than OTL.
[15] One excuse that George II and Caroline hid behind was making demands they knew could not be met such as the immediate double marriage when it well known that Friedrich Wilhelm only wanted one.
[16] This is where Friedrich Wilhelm's patience runs out and he puts an end to the matter.
[17] Sophia Dorothea did not give up on the marriage to Frederick of Wales until the day that Wilhelmine was married.

Word Count: 4109
 
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I'm definitely following this.
I've been doing a timeline about an alternate War of the Austrian Succession in which the daughters of Emperor Joseph I carve up the Hapsburg Monarchy among them because they were overlooked by Charles VI's Pragmatic Sanction which passed them over for his daughter Maria Theresa. I'm currently at the point in which the OTL French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars are taking place, so I'm looking forward to seeing how those events are possibly affected by this atl-war.
 
31: The Spectacle at Muhlberg
31: The Spectacle at Muhlberg
615px-Lager_bei_Zeithain_1730_von_Alexander_Thiele.jpg

The Saxon army parading at Muhlberg

Everything was set for Friedrich Wilhelm, Fritz, and the rest of their company to leave Potsdam for Saxony. At long last, Sophia Dorothea and Wilhelmine would have some peace and calm without the brutish Friedrich Wilhelm lording over them. But the night before the King was set to depart, an ominous knock was heard at Wilhelmine's door. Almost immediately she cowered before her bed out of the fear that her father had come to unleash one last torrent of abuse before going. Instead, Fritz entered. He was almost unrecognizable. Rather than wearing the typical austere soldier's uniform that their father forced him to wear, Fritz was wearing an extravagant and vibrant set of French clothing. Rather than the dour and resigned face he usually wore, Fritz was smiling, he was beaming with joy and excitement. This sudden and odd transformation frightened Wilhelmine and left her almost speechless. The next words that Fritz spoke would turn that fright into terror and that almost into completely. That night, Fritz revealed that he had finally had enough of their father's criticisms, punches, glares. Fritz had endured his father's bullying and torture for too long and he would withstand no more. This was the final goodbye he would offer to Wilhelmine before he made his run for it during the trip to Saxony [1].

As Wilhelmine stood stunned by those words, Fritz tried to reassure her that their father had given him no choice and that this decision was one he had given great thought to. Fritz revealed that he had wanted to run since 1727, before the war [2]. But that war for an actual period of time rather than a brief set of days, Friedrich Wilhelm had smiled upon Fritz and welcomed him as his son. Friedrich Wilhelm had celebrated Fritz as a soldier, as a man, and as his heir. Fritz had been given hope that he and his father might reconcile after all those years. Instead, even before the war was over, Friedrich Wilhelm had returned to his former villainous self. At Herrenhausen when Fritz tried to enjoy the music, the culture, the clothes, and even the women, Friedrich Wilhelm had reprimanded Fritz for being a dandy who had no right to call himself the Crown Prince of Prussia [3]. He beat Friedrich Wilhelm mercilessly for associating with Anna Karolina, Countess Orzelska. Ever since then Fritz had not been allowed to enjoy so much as a single day of his life. No music, no clothing, nothing that Fritz actually wanted was permitted to him. Their father had even had a girl whipped for playing the flute to Fritz.

Fritz had thought about running away once the war was over and he was away from all the watchful eyes of the Prussian army. However, when he wrote to Griff asking for safe harbor in Brunswick-Luneburg, Griff revealed that he no longer held such power in Brunswick-Luneburg. Griff worried that George II would not give Fritz the sanctuary he sought because he could risk a Prussian invasion of Brunswick-Luneburg so soon after Empress Catherine's War. Meanwhile, the French ambassador to Prussia, Conrad-Alexandre de Rothenbourg, was not of much more help. He said that France understood the pain but recommended that Fritz remained in Prussia and not jeopardize his future [4]. So Fritz stayed and tried to shake off his father's daily torments. Fritz tried his best, but every day he wished to escape. When the Parmese Crisis and Clamei Crisis emerged Fritz had thought of running then, under the cover of war. Neither war ever came and Fritz never got the chance to escape. He was growing more desperate and depressed by the day and the only reason he had stayed these past months was because of the possibility of an Anglo-Prussian marriage for either himself or for Wilhelmine. If he could marry a British princess then Fritz could have some reprieve and distance from his father. Or if Wilhelmine could marry Griff then she could get out of Prussia and be safe, so Wilhelmine would not be in danger when Fritz did run [5].

In the end, the Anglo-Prussian marriages never culminated in anything. In fact, the hesitancy of George II and Caroline to say anything real or meaningful left Fritz even more hopeless of some peaceful escape in the future. With no marriage for Fritz to escape with, he would have to escape with his own feet [6]. Although Fritz was terrified of what might happen to Wilhelmine he left he promised that eventually, he would make his way to London. Once he was there he would throw himself at the feet of George II and Caroline and tell them in person about all the horrors that Friedrich Wilhelm had imposed on them. With him showing his scars and telling stories in person, there was no way that they would not seek to save Wilhelmine. Fritz was confident about it. If he escaped then he could find the help Wilhelmine needed to escape as well. She would be safe that was Fritz's promise. All he asked was that she tell no one about his plans, especially not their mother who would say the wrong thing to the wrong person and put everything at risk. Fritz would save them, he would [7].

Immediately, Wilhelmine doubted that Fritz's plan would succeed. Firstly, Fritz had revealed all of this in front of Wilhelmine's lady-in-waiting, Madame de Sonsfeldt [8]. Fritz lacked the necessary discretion to escape without alarming anyone. He would quickly be caught if he was not caught before he even escaped. Secondly, Fritz had no friends in Saxony. He had met some soldiers during the war but none who would assist him in this scheme. At least, none that Wilhelmine had heard of. And where was Fritz supposed to go? Saxony was in the heart of Europe, Fritz would have to cross hundreds of miles before he reached France and the Channel before he reached Britain. Even if either of those states was willing to give asylum to Fritz, there were dozens of German principalities separating them from Saxony and Wilhelmine was sure that these states would not let a wayward prince ride freely through their lands. No one would want to incur the wrath of Friedrich Wilhelm and the second-largest army in Germany. Fritz's escape was ludicrous if not completely impossible. Desperately, Wilhelmine tried to relay this message to Fritz and Madame de Sonsfeldt did as well. By the time he left Wilhelmine's chambers, Fritz had given her his promise that he would not run but Wilhelmine could not be so certain [9]. The next day, once more attired in a Prussian soldier's uniform, Fritz departed from Potsdam with his father.

Friedrich Wilhelm's trip to Saxony was necessitated by the ever-changing political landscape of Europe. Barely two years removed from the end of Empress Catherine's War and the geography of Europe was already completely different. In the west, Spain was no longer the enemy of Britain and the ally of the Hapsburgs but instead the reverse. Also, Spain now found itself aligned with Britain's ally Portugal through a double marriage of their heirs. France and Britain's stalwart alliance was faltering and to replace it, France had begun to steal away loyal subjects of the Emperor. First, France had tried to gain the Wittelsbach Union's members with British subsidies but British reluctance had left that effort floundering. Next, France had turned to the King of Poland and Elector Saxony, Augustus the Strong, and through promises of Frederick Augustus' election and hints at an unquestionably hereditary succession in Poland and Lithuania for the Wettins had purchased his allegiance [10]. Thus Saxony had flipped from being one of the leaders of the Emperor's forces to being a dagger held at his prized possession of Bohemia. That reverse in Saxon policy is why Friedrich Wilhelm was riding to Saxony. Augustus II understood that he could not withstand both the Emperor and Prussia, so he needed Prussia's alliance if he was to continue his friendship with France. On the other side, Friedrich Wilhelm thought the Emperor was insufficiently supportive during the spate over Clamei and also felt that the Emperor was being insincere over Julich-Berg. Britain might be unwilling to give Friedrich Wilhelm the support he needed to force the Emperor to respect him but Saxony was. On a side note, Friedrich Wilhelm did wonder if the Viennese Alliance still stood at all with Russia's new Emperor and the downfall of Menshikov. From what the Prussian agents in Russia were saying, the new Russian regime was an unstable mess that provided nowhere near the same threat as Catherine and Menshikov's had.

When Friedrich Wilhelm reached Mulhberg he was welcomed by a sight that called back to Henry VIII's Field of Gold or Friedrich Barbarossa's Mainz Tournament [11]. Over an expanse of ten square miles of cleanly cut grass stood a neatly organized city of lumber and bright green silk. Glittering throughout the city were golden knobs, staffs, and banners. Throughout the city were signs decorated in gold. that described what lay below. Towering over all of these structures was a painted pavilion that was gilded with gold and even had balconies on it. And behind the city on the hill of Radewitz an entire garden had been built from scratch. However, the most eye-catching item of all for Friedrich Wilhelm was the 30,000 strong Saxon army that was assembled in front of the camp. All of them were standing in formation adorned with new uniforms and muskets. The artillery fired a welcoming salute to Friedrich Wilhelm and the cavalry held their sabers in front of their faces. This formidable-looking army brought a smile to Friedrich Wilhelm's face and many complements when Augustus II rode up to greet him.

The notable persons at Mulhberg matched its splendor. The Prussians themselves had brought the bulk of their military and noble leadership including Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau, General Friedrich Wilhelm von Grumbkow, General Wilhelm Dietrich von Buddenbrock, Prince Friedrich Wilhelm II of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck, and Prince Christian August of Anhalt-Zerbst. The Saxons had brought practically every Saxon Duke and prince there was including Duke Frederick II of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, Duke Moritz Wilhelm of Sachsen-Merseburg, Duke Karl Friedrich of Sachsen-Meiningen, Duke Ernst August I of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, and Prince Johann Adolf of Saxe-Weissenfels. Besides the Germans, King Augustus II had brought his Polish entourage including the Lubomirskis and Czartoryskis. Beyond these subjects of Friedrich Wilhelm or Augustus II, there were several foreign rulers. The Duke of Bremen-Verden, Charles Augustus, and his wife, Tsarevna Elizabeth, had come to represent the interests of the Holstein-Gottorps. The recently restored Duke Karl Leopold of Mecklenburg-Schwerin had come to seek the support of Prussia and Saxony in his never-ending struggle against the knights of his duchy. Finally, Duke Maurice of Courland and his wife, Tsarevna Anna, had come so that Maurice could introduce his son to his father [12].

In spite of all these wondrous sights and esteemed company including the beautiful Anna Karolina, Fritz was looked sad and unhappy. He said little to anyone beyond the required formalities and he failed to join in the antics of Muhlberg including its heavy drinking. Friedrich Wilhelm felt like Fritz was being a bad guest and when he responded non-energetically to Friedrich Wilhelm's demand that he behave more appropriately, Friedrich Wilhelm began to remonstrate him loudly and publically. Throughout the next few days, Fritz's behavior failed to improve and Friedrich Wilhelm's frustration with him steadily grew until finally Friedrich Wilhelm reared up his cane and began to bash Fritz in front of a group of Prussian and Saxon officers and notables. No one dared to intervene. The Prussians because they knew better and the Saxons because they were willing to call it an internal family matter. After Friedrich Wilhelm tired himself out, he looked down on Fritz and saw him bleeding but saw no tears, no emotion at all behind his eyes. The sight disgusted Friedrich Wilhelm who loudly shouted that "Had I been treated so by my father, I would have blown my brains out: but you have no honor, you take all that comes!" Fritz's mute expression caused Friedrich Wilhelm to shake his head before storming off and leaving his son in a disheveled heap [13].

The next day, Friedrich Wilhelm and Augustus II spent the whole day discussing the friendship of their nations and the possibility of an anti-Hapsburg alliance. Augustus II was interested in securing Prussian support against the Polish nobility who would likely oppose any effort by Augustus II to change the constitution so that future elections would be restricted to his family and none others. Friedrich Wilhelm was willing to provide the necessary troops but asked in return for two things, one was that Augustus II's Poland should cede to Prussia the land between Ducal Prussia and the Electorate of Brandenburg. The other item that Friedrich Wilhelm requested was Augustus II's unwavering support for Prussia to inherit both Julich and Berg. Although Augustus II was quite willing to discuss the cession of some Polish districts, he worried that accepting Friedrich Wilhelm's demands for Julich-Berg would lock Augustus II out of gaining the friendship of the Wittelsbachs, who were on the other side of the Julich-Berg dispute. But Augustus II knew that Prussia's support was necessary and more important than the Wittelsbachs, so he tried to find a compromise that left room for a settlement with the Wittelsbachs. Augustus II dreamed of assembling a coalition of Electors against the Hapsburgs so that he could connect his own German electorate, Saxony, with Poland via Silesia. One possible means of compromise was a marriage between Friedrich Wilhelm's eldest daughter and Augustus II's grandson, Joseph Augustus [14]. This idea did receive some thought from Friedrich Wilhelm who thought it was a prestigious match and a good means of ridding himself of Wilhelmine, but Friedrich Wilhelm hesitated over committing to the match.

While Friedrich Wilhelm and Augustus II negotiated, Fritz approached one of Augustus II's Saxon ministers, Karl Heinrich von Hoym, and asked if Count Hoym would part with some Saxon horses so that Fritz could travel to Leipzig and see the great city for himself while there were no duties for him to attend to at Muhlberg. Count Hoym had seen the abuses that Friedrich Wilhelm inflicted on Fritz daily and could see Fritz's eyes that the boy was up to something. Smartly, Count Hoym declined Fritz's request with the excuse that Saxony is very particular about granting permissions. If Fritz wanted to see Leipzig then he should ask for horses and permission from his father and the Prussian army first. Quietly, Fritz nodded left Count Hoym company. He never did ask for permission from his father. Fritz knew what the outcome would be and his body carried too many bruises for him to want to incur more. Count Hoym also failed to inform his own monarch or the Prussians of the incident [15]. As one of the major proponents of the Franco-Saxon alliance, Count Hoym wanted to avoid any personal controversy while Saxony tried to add Prussia to this alliance. Count Hoym already had enough Imperial agents and allies trying to take him down. He did not need to be tied to Fritz and a possible escape attempt.

As these events transpired in Saxony, Sophia Dorothea carried out her own plan to revitalize the Anglo-Prussian double marriage scheme. Sophia Dorothea envisioned the immediate marriage of Wilhelmine and Prince Frederick and suggested that the two of them be made regents of Brunswick-Luneburg in George II's absence. Fritz's own marriage would be off for a few years but the engagement would be made at the same time as Wilhelmine's. Through this compromise, she hoped to get Wilhelmine the husband Sophia Dorothea had long planned for, and to keep Fritz's own future intact. She sent this arrangement to Caroline and hoped that Caroline would see the reason in it. At the same time, Sophia Dorothea wrote to Prince Frederick and suggested that he make a visit to Potsdam so that he could see Wilhelmine once more. Through this meeting, Sophia Dorothea hoped to solidify Prince Frederick's commitment to Wilhelmine and develop a commitment of Wilhelmine to Prince Frederick. Although Wilhelmine had found Prince Frederick tolerable at Herrenhausen, she had still been willing to contemplate marriage with the Prince of Saxe-Weissenfels. This attitude left Sophia Dorothea uneasy. She could not stand the idea of Wilhelmine married to such an old, fat, poor, and irrelevant prince when the heir to Great Britain and Ireland was pining over her.

Sophia Dorothea's characteristic indiscretion meant that she revealed this plan to one of her ladies-in-waiting, Madame de Ramen, who as it turns out was a spy for Friedrich Wilhelm [16]. Madame de Ramen immediately wrote to Friedrich Wilhelm of Sophia Dorothea's plan and when he saw it he immediately assumed that Fritz had been involved and had foreknowledge of it. As a consequence, Friedrich Wilhelm stormed over to Fritz's quarters and beat him viciously with his fists and his boots before dragging Fritz into the streets by his hair. Throughout the beating, Fritz only protested meekly and never once threw a punch back. This weak and submissive behavior just made Friedrich Wilhelm hit Fritz even harder. He wanted his son to fight back and show that he was a man but Fritz just took it all. Finally, Friedrich Wilhelm called over one of his officers and asked for a pistol. The officer hesitated because unwilling to be part of what he thought was about to be the murder of Fritz. The officer was wrong about Friedrich Wilhelm's intentions. After Friedrich Wilhelm took the gun off of the officer he presented it to Fritz and said, "Take it and shoot me as I know you want to, or shoot yourself just like the coward you are." When Fritz refused, Friedrich Wilhelm whipped him across the face with the pistol and threw it at the ground before walking away. As Friedrich Wilhelm's back was turned, Fritz for second reached out toward the pistol but the officer immediately stepped on it and picked up. Afterward, the officer helped Fritz to his feet and then went to grab one of the Prussian doctors [17].

As the meeting at Muhlberg drew to its close what was supposed to be its central spectacle, a full-scale mock battle took place. One army was by Johann Adolf of Saxe-Weissenfels and the other by Joseph Anton Gabaleon von Wackerbarth-Salmour. The battle began with the firing of tens of cannons, which were soon followed by the charging of cavalry. From the pavilion, Friedrich Wilhelm and Augustus II watched the battle unfold according to the plan drawn up by Augustus himself. Amidst all the smoke and commotion, Fritz slinked off and found his way to the camps set up behind both sides of the battlefield. Once there, he exchanged his Prussian uniform for a Saxon one before wandering toward the battlefield stables where he asked for a horse under the name of one of the Saxon officers he had encountered during Empress Catherine's War. The soldier in charge of the horses was suspicious as to why this Saxon officer before him was carrying as much gear as he was. But as the bridges over the Elbe were blown up and soldiers began to storm the trenches, there was all too much going on for the soldier to seriously question Fritz at the moment. So against his better judgment, the soldier allowed Fritz to take a horse and ride off into the smoke.

Once Fritz cleared the stables, he swung toward the west and began riding as hard as he could to create distance between himself and Muhlberg [18]. Fritz knew that by dinner, his father would discover his absence and send a search party after him. Fritz was hoping by then to halfway to Leipzig. With a day's lead, Fritz hoped he could stay just out of reach of his father and whoever he sent after him. However, Fritz would not even get that much time. Only an hour after Fritz had left the pavilion, one of his keepers, Colonel Friedrich Wilhelm von Rochow, found his prolonged absence strange and went to look for him. After failing to find him, Colonel von Rochow informed Friedrich Wilhelm and the Prussian entourage began to search the camp for Fritz. Also, soon after Fritz had ridden off the soldier found someone to inquire about the Saxon officer and his odd behavior. From there, it was discovered that the officer who Fritz claimed to be had been out in the mock battle all day. At once, the Saxons informed the Prussians who immediately figured out what Fritz had done. At moment, Count Hoym noted that Fritz had inquired about Leipzig previously. Thus, within a few hours, both Fritz's escape and the direction of his escape had been uncovered.

Immediately, Friedrich Wilhelm began to put together a search party of Prussians to go after Fritz and he also turned to Augustus II to ask for some horses and men to assist him. Augustus II offered Friedrich Wilhelm the services of his entire army because he recognized how severe Fritz's transgression was and how dangerous Count Hoym's failure to mention his encounter with Fritz was for Prusso-Saxon relations [19]. Additionally, Augustus II hoped to gain more favor with Friedrich Wilhelm to secure his adherence to the Franco-Saxon alliance. Together, the Saxons and Prussians began their search for Fritz. While some soldiers fanned out to the east in case of some duplicity by the Fritz, the rest all began to ride and march out to the west to scour the roads in between Muhlberg and Leipzig for signs of Fritz. Augustus II also sent his fastest riders to Leipzig, Meissen, and Wittenberg to put the cities on alert and have them send out their garrisons to catch Fritz.

Even though Fritz was a competent horseman, he was no expert. Nor was the Prussian prince knowledgeable of Saxony and how to get around it. All he had was a single set of maps detailing the best route from Leipzig to Frankfurt [20]. Fritz's situation was made worse by the fact that he had little money on him and few supplies. Only through the good fortune of Fritz being tired had he left the road to find someplace to rest did he avoid being noticed by the messengers riding from Muhlberg to Leipzig. Another stroke of good fortune saw Fritz find a shed to sleep that night. This was the last piece of good fortune that Fritz would have. The next day, after Fritz spotted some Saxon horsemen on the horizon, he abandoned his Saxon coat and the road to avoid being seen. The only reason that Fritz made it through the next two days without being found by the thousands of roaming Saxon soldiers was that Fritz got lost trying to find the road. When Fritz found it again, he did so outside of Grimma and did so while stumbling into a troop of Saxon cavalry. Although Fritz tried to turn and gallop away, the Saxon horses had been better rested and better fed and they caught up Fritz's exhausted horse.

The cavalrymen brought Fritz to their commander, Count Friedrich August of Rutowski, who recognized Fritz from their encounters at Herrenhausen and Muhlberg and verified that the captured boy was in fact the escaped prince. Desperately, Fritz begged Friedrich August to let him go. Fritz talked all the abuses he suffered and pointed that Friedrich August had seen the abuse with his own eyes. If Friedrich August had any mercy then he would not take Fritz back to Friedrich Wilhelm, he would not take Fritz to be beaten senselessly. These pleas failed to move Friedrich August who said that his father's orders were to bring Fritz back to Muhlberg immediately upon capture and Friedrich August would not disobey his father. In one last attempt, Fritz claimed that he would be killed by his father for trying to escape, but Friedrich August was incredulous at the thought of a German King killing his own son. The Germans were not brutes like the Russians, they would never stoop to that barbarity. Fritz resigned himself to his fate as he said that Friedrich August did not know his father. Then with a glint in his eyes, Fritz smiled and said that he hoped Friedrich August was right because if Fritz did survive then he would ensure that Friedrich August and Saxony were destroyed for their role in his capture. Fritz would burn Dresden to the ground once he was King in Prussia and Friedrich August would live the rest of his days knowing that he could have stopped the obliteration of his country if only he had shown mercy to an abused boy. The Count of Rutowski brushed these threats away and took Fritz back to Muhlberg.

When Fritz was returned to Muhlberg, everyone could see that Friedrich Wilhelm was seething with anger and his knuckles were wrapped so tight around his cane that they were white. Everyone knew what was about to happen but few wished to admit it. However, as soon as Fritz was taken his horse by the Count of Rutowski's troopers, Friedrich Wilhelm did exactly as expected and charged toward Fritz with his cane. No one stopped Friedrich Wilhelm from laying down the first blow nor the several that followed. However, when he seemed to reach for his sword, General von Buddenbrock, Colonel von Rochow, and Colonel von Dershau all jumped forward to themselves in between Friedrich Wilhelm and Fritz [21]. However, the interference of these officers only infuriated Friedrich Wilhelm more as they demanded that they step back and when they did not he threatened to strike them. The scene of a king and a father on the verge of murdering his heir and son in public was beyond appalling to the guests of Muhlberg. Augustus II was personally horrified by the scene and felt so unwell that he retired to his quarters.

Friedrich Wilhelm also retired to his quarters while his men took Fritz to General von Buddenbrock's. Fritz's own quarters had been thoroughly turned out when the Prussians were investigating Fritz's disappearance. Later that night, once Friedrich Wilhelm had calmed himself down he had Fritz questioned as to his intentions. Rather liberally Fritz admitted that his plan had been to escape to Alsace and go to the residence of Count de Rothenbourg, the former French ambassador to Prussia whom Fritz had made a friend of. At Strasbourg, Fritz was going to meet his friend Peter Karl Christoph von Keith, a lieutenant with the garrison at Wesel [22]. To Friedrich Wilhelm, this was a confession of desertion and accordingly, Friedrich Wilhelm had every intention of charging Fritz with that crime. However, Friedrich Wilhelm could sense that Augustus II wanted no part in Fritz's fate and wanted to have this whole affair taken away from his extravagant maneuvers and party. Friedrich Wilhelm decided to oblige Augustus II by leaving Muhlberg earlier than expected and without having concluded any new agreement with Saxony. Friedrich Wilhelm could be bothered to think about an alliance with France and Saxony, not when his son had just betrayed him. So Friedrich Wilhelm and the Prussian party departed from Muhlberg and returned to Brandenburg with Fritz in tow, and in chains [23].

[1] In OTL, Fritz's escape attempt was made in Saxony. In TTL, Fritz is also going to use the Saxon trip as the cover for his escape, because he cannot escape while in Brandenburg and while surrounded by Prussian soldiers.
[2] Fritz's desire to escape emerged before the POD.
[3] Fritz is able to get close to reconciling with his faith because he does as he is told while he is soldiering and acts like a man in Friedrich Wilhelm's eyes. However, once Fritz has an opportunity to enjoy culture and music, he does, which proves to Friedrich Wilhelm that Fritz has not changed. As a result, the abuse returns and no reconciliation occurs.
[4] In OTL, France did want to be involved in Fritz's escape attempts so Rothenburg rejected Fritz's requests for help. In TTL, I do not see any reason for France to change its stance.
[5] The Anglo-British marriages were the only thing that Fritz really regarded as avenues of escape besides actually escaping.
[6] Different from OTL, Anglo-British marriage negotiations did not get very serious. In OTL, Britain sent an envoy extraordinary, Charles Hotham, to negotiate the marriage and ultimately the negotiations failed. In TTL, Britain has not sent anyone and as of yet has not shown interest in the marriage. The end result is that Fritz does not believe the marriage will happen when he is about to leave for Saxony. In OTL, the envoy extraordinary went with the Prussians to Saxony as negotiations were still ongoing. Fritz still had an escape attempt but it was half-hearted. I assume Fritz would have tried harder had he been hopeless. In OTL, Fritz made his more serious escape attempts after the envoy extraordinary was insulted and negotiations are broken off.
[7] In OTL, Fritz promised he could save Wilhelmine after he escaped, which seems very unlikely to me. Either Fritz was lying to himself or to Wilhelmine.
[8] In OTL, Fritz did reveal his plan in front of Sonsfeldt. In TTL, I imagine his desperation means that he is still indiscrete.
[9] In OTL, Wilhelmine did get Fritz to promise not to run. However, Fritz did try, so it was a lie. In TTL, I imagine Fritz will make the same false promise just to calm Wilhelmine's nerves.
[10] In OTL, Augustus II was never a firm ally of the Emperor and did switch to the Anglo-French side of European affairs. In TTL, I imagine Augustus II can be convinced to do the same because he is an opportunist by nature. One major chip the French have in negotiations is their ability to promise to prevent Stanislaus Leszczynski's election and return to Poland because he is a guest of France and the father-in-law of Louis XV. For France, after facing a united Germany in Empress Catherine's War, France's diplomats would be working hard to break up the Emperor's coalition.
[11] Descriptions of Muhlberg and its activities are based on Thomas Carlyle's account of the OTL Muhlberg event. In TTL, the reason that this event is happening is that Augustus II wanted to show off his power and wealth similarly to OTL. Augustus II is also thinking about trying to match the glory of other European rulers who did well during Empress Catherine's War. This event is delayed a year from OTL due to the time needed to prepare it and fund it, which could only begin after the war's end in 1729.
[12] In OTL, the event was attended by many ruling princes of Europe including Karl Leopold of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. In TTL, Charles Agustus of Bremen-Verden comes because he does not trust the new Russian government and wants to ensure the protection of his state against Denmark-Norway through securing German support. In OTL, Maurice of Saxony came as his father's guest. In TTL, he comes again because is Augustus II's son. Also, as an important note, Maurice of Saxony does have a legitimate son.
[13] In OTL, the presence of all these notable people did nothing to stop Friedrich Wilhelm from beating Fritz in public. His personality is no different in TTL and his relationship with Fritz is even worse, so he also beats Fritz in public. In OTL, Friedrich Wilhelm also called out Fritz for not resisting and told him that he would have killed himself if the same had happened to him.
[14] In OTL, Augustus II did offer parts of Poland in return for Prussian military support in imposing a hereditary succession in Poland. These negotiations were ongoing when Augustus II. In TTL, these negotiations begin earlier because Saxony has reneged on its promise to guarantee the Pragmatic Sanction, which was a term of the Treaty of Vienna of 1729, and thus feels more at danger in its relations with the Emperor. There were also sporadic discussions of an Anglo-Saxon marriage but they never got serious. Here they are more serious because of the danger Saxony perceives.
[15] In OTL, Fritz did approach Count Hoym for horses to visit Leipzig. This request made up his Saxon escape attempt. Count Hoym refused Fritz's request and did not share the knowledge. I am not sure why Fritz asked Count Hoym rather than one of Saxony's generals or stewards, so I have kept this as OTL.
[16] Sophia Dorothea's household in OTL and TTL was filled with spies for Friedrich Wilhelm including Madame de Ramen.
[17] This event is not based on OTL except for the personalities of Fritz and Friedrich Wilhelm. What we see here is that Friedrich Wilhelm has been given another triggering event and has taken it out on Fritz as he usually did. As a sign of the escalating and worsening relations between father and son, Friedrich Wilhelm follows through on his previous statement and hints that Fritz should kill himself.
[18] In OTL, Fritz did not make a second attempt at escaping from Muhlberg. In TTL, he does because he has suffered more abuse at Muhlberg and because he has less hope of an Anglo-British match.
[19] I do not know how a monarch is supposed to react to a foreign prince running away in his state. There is one analogous event which is Tsarevitch Alexei running from Emperor Peter, but I do not think is comparable because Alexei ran to Italy away from his father's allies. Also, Friedrich Wilhelm is right there with Augustus II, so I feel like Augustus will be under a lot of pressure to provide support.
[20] While preparing to escape in OTL, Fritz had a map to Frankfurt drawn up for him, so I imagine that is the waypoint he would pick in TTL.
[21] In OTL, Friedrich Wilhelm was so mad that he drew his sword at Fritz. In TTL, Fritz has eluded Friedrich Wilhelm for days, so he is even angrier than OTL. Thus, Friedrich Wilhelm does draw sword and does so in public, in front of foreign dignitaries.
[22] Notice there is no Katte involved. In TTL, Katte's service during Empress Catherine's War saw him promoted in such a way that he avoided getting acquainted with Fritz.
[23] In OTL, Fritz was arrested in Prussia's western territories and held there for some time before being transferred to Kustrin. In TTL, Fritz has been arrested in Saxony where he cannot be held for an extended period of time. Thus, right away Fritz is being taken back to Brandenburg.

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Reading the recent posts makes me sad about Fritz and the rest of the Hohenzollern family. I didn't even know that Fritz tried to escape during this time (I assume that this was the same incident as the one with Katte according to the footnotes). This time, he is very likely to bear the full brunt of his father's assault thanks to his frantic escape attempts and his previous effeminate offenses.

I definitely fear the worst when it comes to Friedrich Wilhelm and Sophia has every right to be worried about what comes next.
 
32: Prince Friedrich's Judgment
32: Prince Friedrich's Judgment
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Arrest of Lieutenant Von Spaen

As soon as the Prussian party had crossed the Saxon border with Brandenburg, Friedrich Wilhelm ordered that the questioning of Fritz resume. In this second period of questioning, Fritz stuck his story of running to France. This time, Fritz revealed to Colonel von Dershau that he intended to go to the French-held Fortress of Landau first before visiting the Count of Rothenbourg at Strasbourg. At Strasbourg, Fritz and his comrade Peter Karl Christoph von Keith would meet and travel to Paris where they would arrange travel to Italy so that they might take up service in the army of one of the northern Italian princes. While in Italian service, Fritz claimed he would seek to act bravely and earn honors so that he could regain his father's affection and earn a pardon [1]. As for the reason for Fritz's escape, Fritz reminded von Dershau of all the times he had seen Friedrich Wilhelm hit and beat Fritz. For both his own safety and honor, Fritz had needed to escape as this Saxon trip highlighted [2]. This whole story had been relayed with an aura of confidence and almost dismissive pleasure from Fritz to von Dershau's disconcertion [3]. What Fritz was not aware of as he weaved this tale was that the lies and cover-ups within his story had already been uncovered or were quickly being uncovered.

In Leipzig, just a day after Fritz's escape, Lieutenant Johann Heinrich Friedrich von Spaen was arrested by the Saxon garrison. Von Spaen was a known friend of Fritz and Colonel von Rochow suspected that von Spaen's presence in Leipzig during Fritz's escape attempt was not by mere chance. Von Rochow's suspicions were rewarded when the Saxons found von Spaen with a carriage, a map from Leipzig to Frankfurt am Main, supplies, French clothing, and most importantly a cache of letters [4]. While the Saxons searched for Fritz, King Friedrich Wilhelm, General Friedrich Wilhelm von Grumbkow, and General Wilhelm Dietrich von Buddenbrock interrogated von Spaen. The lieutenant conceded that he had purchased the carriage at Fritz's orders and with money given to him by Fritz, that the map had been specifically requested by Fritz, and that the letters were given to him by Fritz. Von Spaen also gave up that he was supposed to drive the carriage for Fritz. The mere discovery of a character who Fritz had completely neglected to mention already cast doubt on his story, but the letters were damning evidence [5].

Within this collection of papers, letters from his sister, the Prince of Brunswick-Luneburg, the Count of Rothenbourg, and the French and British ambassadors to Prussia were found. In each of these letters laid proof that these individuals were well aware of Fritz's intention to run. Certainly, Wilhelmine, Prince Frederick, and Brigadier Dubourgay had all tried to dissuade Fritz from running, but the fact remained that they knew about the scheme and they had said nothing to Friedrich Wilhelm. Just as Friedrich Wilhelm would have expected, Wilhelmine was involved, but for Prince Frederick and the British to also sit by silently was not a crime that he would forgive or forget [6]. In contrast to these efforts of dissuasion, the Count of Rothenbourg letter extended an invitation to Fritz for him to say at his estate in Alsace. Although Friedrich Wilhelm was displeased that a former diplomat to Prussia with who Friedrich Wilhelm had never had any quarrels was now a part of his son's desertion, Friedrich Wilhelm was much more upset by the letters he read from the current French ambassador, Sauveterre. In these letters, Friedrich Wilhelm saw France offer asylum to Fritz and promise not to extradite him [7]. This was undeniable complicity and Friedrich Wilhelm was going to punish France for it. For Fritz, the problem with these letters was not that they took away from his main story of going to France. The letters already confirmed that story. Instead, the issue with these letters is that their language revealed that this escape was not some decision taken on a whim but rather one that had been discussed long in advance. Also, the letters revealed Wilhelmine's role in the plot, which Fritz had failed to inform Friedrich Wilhelm of [8].

The involvement of Wilhelmine and France led Friedrich Wilhelm to think that something greater than desertion was afoot. Rather than Fritz's plan just being to run away and regain his honor, Friedrich Wilhelm thought that Fritz's plan involved escaping the country ahead of some French effort to kill Friedrich Wilhelm. Perhaps the French or even Wilhelmine meant to poison Friedrich Wilhelm so that Fritz could inherit before his time [9]. The thought of murder was the reason that once the Prussian party returned to Brandenburg that Friedrich Wilhelm ordered Fritz be conveyed to the distant Fortress of Kustrin rather than returned to Potsdam, which Friedrich Wilhelm eared might be a hotbed of betrayal and deceit. Only Friedrich Wilhelm and his trusted officers such as General Friedrich Wilhelm von Grumbkow and General Wilhelm Dietrich von Buddenbrock went on to Potsdam.

During Fritz's escapade and subsequent return to Brandenburg in chains, Potsdam was not left unaware of the situation. In fact, Friedrich Wilhelm himself wrote to some members of the court and his wife, Sophia Dorothea, of Fritz's desertion and arrest. For many, this news created concern and trepidation that they might be punished for whatever minor kindnesses they had shown Fritz. For Wilhelmine, this news was a tragedy as she immediately worried that her foreknowledge of the event would be used to persecute her. This fear is why Wilhelmine thought she had stumbled upon a miracle when Countess von Finck secretly brought a chest of letters of Fritz's into the palace so that Wilhelmine might be able to examine it and determine what to do with it. With the help of her mother, Countess von Finck, and Madame de Sonsfelt, Wilhelmine opened the chest and burned hundreds of letters bearing incriminating words. Some of the letters discussed frustration with the King, strong support for the Anglo-Prussian marriage, and some even mentioned and hinted at the possibility of escape. After these letters were destroyed, the four women did their best to refill the chest with forged letters of a more calm disposition. However, as morning approached they had only written between 500 and 700 letters, but the chest had contained well over a thousand. The group felt that they needed to return the chest to its original location and prepare for their regular appearances at court to avoid being caught, so they decided to fill the remaining space in the chest with trinkets. Through this deception, Wilhelmine thought that she could avoid the worst of her father's anger over Fritz's escape [10].

Wilhelmine's thoughts proved to be wrong and her hopes to be misplaced. When Friedrich Wilhelm returned to Potsdam and Wilhelmine dared to show her face, he immediately set upon her and struck her in the face, which knocked her to the floor [11]. The courtiers tried to set in but Friedrich Wilhelm just grabbed Wilhelmine by the hair and demanded to know where Fritz's chest of letters was. Sophia Dorothea spurted out its location without thinking about what her knowledge of it might suggest. This answer did get Friedrich Wilhelm to release his grip on Wilhelmine as Sophia Dorothea had hoped. Instead, Friedrich Wilhelm began to march toward the chest's location with his hand finally holding on to Wilhelmine's hair and dragging her in its direction. Again, the courtiers tried to stop Friedrich Wilhelm from treating his daughter in this manner and this time when they tried to get in his way, he just struck them down too [12]. Incapable of laying their own hands on the sovereign, the courtiers meekly retreated from Friedrich Wilhelm's space and just used their voices to try to shake Friedrich Wilhelm's grasp. No words moved Friedrich Wilhelm's fingers and the only movement he made was his march to the chest. Once he found it, he threw it on the ground to break it open, and out of it cascaded the letters and trinkets. Friedrich Wilhelm demanded to know if he would find any evidence of Wilhelmine's role in Fritz's escape in those letters. When Wilhelmine claimed no because she knew nothing, Friedrich Wilhelm roared with a burst of vicious laughter and told her that her role had already been revealed. If Friedrich Wilhelm did not find any letters in that chest to indicate Wilhelmine's role then he would know that she had tampered with the chest. Next, Friedrich Wilhelm turned to Sophia Dorothea to ask why she knew when the chest was. Her answer of just knowing the chest's location and not its contents only left Friedrich Wilhelm shaking his head in disagreement. Sophia Dorothea tried to plead her innocence but all Friedrich Wilhelm said before marching off was that the courts would decide that [13].

General Grumbkow was given the responsibility of overseeing the reading and review of the letters. As Wilhelmine said, nothing incriminating against her was found. However, Friedrich Wilhelm did not buy Wilhelmine's lies that she had not done anything to the chest or its contents. Accordingly, Friedrich Wilhelm sent a letter to Colonel von Dershau to inform Fritz that his chest had been found and that the King wanted Fritz to honestly describe all its contents. Fritz was concerned by this question and smartly tried to say as little as possible. So Fritz admitted that the chest was filled with letters, but did not describe their number, their contents, nor their correspondents. However, when von Dershau pressed Fritz to admit if anything else besides the letters was in the box, he stood firm and said that there was nothing but letters. Thus, Fritz unwittingly betrayed Wilhelmine because he made no mention of trinkets. This was taken as firm evidence that Wilhelmine and perhaps even Sophia Dorothea had opened the chest and replaced its contents [14]. As a result, Friedrich Wilhelm refused to admit any of the letters as evidence. For the next several days, Friedrich Wilhelm did not speak to either his wife or his eldest daughter. While Sophia Dorothea was allowed the freedom to roam the palace, Wilhelmine was restricted to her chambers under an armed guard.

The first setback for Friedrich Wilhelm's investigation came when Sauveterre guessed that the Prussians were aware of his and France's role in the affair and he exited the country while his diplomatic papers were still good. An even bigger setback came in the form of Peter Karl Christoph von Keith escaping his regiment at Wesel. Ironically, he did so under the guise of pursuing a desert, which is exactly what Keith ended up being when he illegally crossed the Prussian border with the Dutch Republic and sought asylum there [15]. The poor Prusso-Dutch relations led to that asylum being granted initially. However, the Prussian ambassador to the States-General and Grand Pensionary, Meinertshagen, was able to secure permission to extradite Keith after revealing the extent of Keith's role in Fritz's escape attempt. This came too late as, by this point, Keith had already gone to the British ambassador, Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, and secured permission to go to Britain. Meinertshagen was unable to convince the Dutch to intervene and the new Prussian ambassador to Britain, Christoph Martin von Degenfeld-Schonburg, had no better luck with getting the British to agree to extradition. Thus, one sponsor of the plant, one member of the plot, and the information they carried eluded Prussian agents [16].

Friedrich Wilhelm did not let these setbacks deter him from seeking the justice he wanted. If he could not get the information from Sauveterre and Keith then he would get it from Von Spaen and Fritz. Friedrich Wilhelm even considered using torture to ensure that von Spaen had revealed all he had to tell. Only Grumbkow of all people stopped Friedrich Wilhelm because even he understood that torture was a step too far. Under further questioning, von Spaen did not reveal much more except that von Spaen had no intention of going any further than Frankfurt nor of joining a different army. This supposed loyalty to Prussia did not earn von Spaen any sympathy from Friedrich Wilhelm who instinctively felt like von Spaen was lying. For Fritz, torture was not considered. Even if Friedrich Wilhelm had ceased to call him Crown Prince in all his orders regarding Fritz, the fact of the matter was that Fritz was the Crown Prince and no one would have dared to torture him. Instead, Generals Grumbkow and Caspar Otto von Glasenapp, Colonel Egidius Ehrentreich von Sydow, and two auditors, Mylius and Gerbett, questioned Fritz. Still unaware of von Spaen's capture or the seizure of his letters, Fritz approached this set of questions playfully and tried to speak fast to give pain to the recorder.

With the newest questionings of von Spaen and Fritz having failed to reveal the wanted incriminating evidence of a plot by Fritz against Friedrich Wilhelm, the King ordered Mylius to assemble a more rigorous set of questions numbering almost 200. This way every detail of the plot, the Anglo-Prussian marriages, and the last few years could be covered, and there would be plenty of opportunities for Fritz to split up and reveal himself. To Mylius' questions, Friedrich Wilhelm attached five of his own. Their tenor did suit Mylius and he tried in vain to get Friedrich Wilhelm to retract them. When the King refused, Mylius instead got the king to put into writing that these questions were his own and that Mylius was merely acting as a messenger and would take responsibility for these questions. Once again, Fritz showed himself to be a very intelligent youth who could withstand these questions and answer them all appropriately. Even when Fritz got to the King's questions, he answered well. When asked what he thought he deserved, Fritz submitted to the will of King. When asked about his desertion, he claimed that he did not believe he had truly deserted. When asked if he should be the next king, he said that no man can judge his own worth as a king. When asked if his life should be spared, he again submitted to the will of the king. Only when the last question came did Fritz seem to stumble. The last question asserted that Fritz was no fit heir and asked if he would renounce his succession to preserve his life. This question, especially the part about preserving his life, troubled Fritz and gave him pause for a second. In time, he answered that he did hold life that dearly but thought that the King would not actually use such methods. Death or renunciation, that was a serious matter much more serious than Fritz had thought his punishment would be. Finally, Fritz admitted that he had done wrong and asked for clemency [17].

Fritz's anxiety only grew after the examination when new protocols were put into place for his imprisonment at Kustrin. Under the instructions of Friedrich Wilhelm, Fritz's cell gained two new heavy locks, which only Kustrin's commander, General Otto Gustav von Lepel, had the keys to. At eight each day, two captains opened the gate and riffled through Fritz's belongings to ensure that nothing was amiss while Fritz was given a single glass of water to drink and a basin of water to wash himself. In under 4 minutes, the captains were gone and the door was shut. At noon, the door opened again and a plate of pre-cut food and more water was brought to Fritz while the glass and basin from the morning were removed. Fritz was given no utensils and forced to eat with his bare hands. At six in the afternoon, the door opened for the final time each day. Again, Fritz was given a plate of pre-cut food and a new glass while his plate and glass from lunch were removed. The next morning at eight the plate and glass from supper would be exchanged for a new basin and glass. At no point did anyone talk to Fritz no matter what he said. The soldiers barely even looked at him, and every time they were in and out in under 4 minutes. It was mechanical clockwork and it had the effect of making Fritz feel more and more comfortable with each passing day [18].

Based on the answers that Fritz had given during his examination, numerous people were punished for their association with Fritz. The prisoner revealed that in Potsdam he had met a girl, Elizabeth Ritter, the daughter of a church cantor, and had frequented her house. When they were together, they played music with a harpsichord and a flute. Fritz had even given her money and a dress. This behavior immediately conjured the idea that she might have been having an affair with Fritz, but a midwife and surgeon found that the girl was still a virgin. Nevertheless, the girl was punished by having her whipped and then sent to prison in Spandau. Her father went unpunished because the visits always happened while he was away and his protestations of innocence were believed. In contrast, the officer who accompanied Fritz on these trips, Lieutenant Johann Ludwig von Ingersleben, was placed under arrest and investigate for his knowledge of Fritz's escape attempt. Von Ingersleben had the good fortune of not knowing anything but he remained imprisoned until judgment could be passed on his misdemeanor. Others did not have to wait to receive their punishment, Fritz's old tutor, Duhan, and the keeper of Fritz's private library, Jacques, were exiled to Memel. Regarding the private library, its books were sent to Hamburg to be sold off much like other unwelcome possessions of Fritz's [19].

Ultimately, Fritz's desperation for human interaction led him to tell the guards during one of their visits that he had more to say to the examiners. The guards passed the message along and the examiners did return. However, it became obvious that Fritz had nothing to say, he just wanted to have the opportunity to talk and have people talk back. When the examiners were ready to leave, Fritz stopped them by asking if his choices were really just between life imprisonment and death to which Grumbkow said he did not recall discussing life imprisonment. This statement left Fritz fearing for his life and he offered to renounce his rights and his throne if only to have the opportunity to continue to live. The examiners promised to pass on the message to Friedrich Wilhelm. Having grabbed their attention, Fritz asked if he might also have his uniform returned to him and how his family was doing. At this point, the examiners revealed that Wilhelmine was imprisoned but they lied and said that Sophia Dorothea wanted nothing to do with him. To that Fritz tried to gin Friedrich Wilhelm's favor by pleading for Friedrich Wilhelm to reconcile mother and son. Out of all this Fritz only got a short written reply from his father, "You removed your uniform by your own volition. You have made it clear that you want no place in my army and I have no place for you" [20].

As Fritz remained imprisoned in Kustrin and all his friends were either exiled, imprisoned, or on the run, the whole of Europe began to think that Friedrich Wilhelm meant to execute his son. In Potsdam, courtiers were begging Friedrich Wilhelm to show Fritz mercy and reminded him of how poorly Europe had looked upon Felipe II and Peter I after the deaths of Don Carlos and Tsarevitch Alexei. Whether Friedrich Wilhelm let Fritz die in prison or took his head with his own saber, Europe would not look kindly upon him, and neither would God. Of Felipe II's many sons, only a single one had survived and of Peter I's sons, none lived. God had shown he did not condone a father's killing of one's son. Beyond Potsdam, the courts of Sweden, Britain, the Dutch Republic, Russia, the Holy Roman Emperor, and even Saxony all pleaded the case of Fritz as a youthful indiscretion that should be forgiven and forgotten. These letters only served to anger Friedrich Wilhelm as he saw them as yet further unwanted interferences in his familial affairs [21]. If anything, the letters and supplications only made Friedrich Wilhelm contemplate the execution of his son more. Someone needed to pay for the embarrassment that Friedrich Wilhelm had suffered.

Friedrich Wilhelm was unwilling to condemn his son alone. Instead, he called for a court-martial of his son, von Keith, von Spaen, and von Ingersleben. Since every officer tried to recuse himself from the trial, Friedrich Wilhelm had lots drawn to choose the officers for the trial. In total, three captains, majors, lieutenant-colonels, colonels, and major-generals were to sit on the council and make a judgment with Lieutenant General Achaz von der Schulenburg acting as their president. Each rank would have a single vote and so too would the president [22]. The council deliberated on the easiest case first, von Keith's. Von Keith had actually successfully deserted the Prussian army and fled to Britain. He was well and truly a deserter of the Prussian military and thus would be subject to death if he was in Prussian custody. Since he was not, all the officers agreed that he should be burned in effigy. The next case the officers turned to was von Ingersleben's. As far as they could tell he was not involved in the escape plan and only involved in this incident with the girl. Thus, all the officers felt a light sentence was in order ranging from two to four months imprisonment [23].

Von Spaen's case was more complicated [24]. From all the evidence and testimony before them it was obvious that von Spaen had a key role in Fritz's desertion effort, but von Spaen himself seemed to indicate that he did not want to desert. If they accepted that von Spaen did not want to desert and was merely facilitating Fritz then the judgment of von Spaen in term became an issue of judging Fritz. Instead, if the officers claimed that von Spaen had intended to desert despite his testimony then they could judge von Spaen on the merits of his actions alone. The captains considered if Fritz would have been willing to undertake any action without such a willing companion and also pointed out that von Spaen had sought leave from the camp at Muhlberg under false pretense. Additionally, since von Spaen meant to leave Leipzig with Fritz, he would have been absent without leave for long enough to have been no better than a desert. Accordingly, the captains condemned von Spaen to death. The majors also came to the conclusion that von Spaen's actions were in essence desertion and also put weight on his possession of letters bearing foreign involvement in the escape, so they too declared von Spaen guilty and recommended his punishment as death. The lieutenant-colonels reached a similar conclusion while placing their emphasis on the fact that von Spaen had a responsibility to inform the King and dissuade Fritz, neither of which he had performed. Thus they too condemned von Spaen to death. The judgment of the colonels was only slightly different in that they pointed to von Spaen's legitimate remorse over his role in the plot and his cooperation during the investigation by surrendering all the letters. Thus, the colonels suggest life imprisonment was a suitable punishment. Of all the officers only the major-generals, all three of whom were familiar with von Spaen's father, thought that von Spaen had no intention to desert himself. For that reason as well as von Spaen's cooperation, the major-generals concluded that life imprisonment should be von Spaen's punishment.

While most of the officers had been willing to push the limits of the evidence against von Spaen and suggest a harsh punishment, the officers went the opposite direction with Fritz's case. The captains refused to denounce Fritz's action as a desertion because they put it, Fritz was in Saxony on a diplomatic trip and thus was in Saxony as the Crown Prince. The captains could make no judgment on what Fritz did as crown prince, only what he did as an officer. Thus, the captains as vassals of Prussia could make no judgment. The majors similarly hid behind Fritz's place as crown prince by saying that only royal judgment could be passed against Fritz and that if the majors passed any judgment then it would have been a usurpation of royal power. The lieutenant colonels were willing to condemn the actions of Fritz but again had no judgment to pass as they found no laws under which they could act. The colonels similarly said that they had no place to judge a Crown Prince on the manner of a "retreat" for they dared not call it desertion. The colonels offered their apologies for their incompetence but gave Friedrich Wilhelm no more. Finally, the major-generals condemned the misbehavior of the Crown Prince but begged for pardon without saying what punishment he should be pardoned from [25].

All of these judgments were combined and reviewed by General von der Schulenburg who as the president of the court-martial would make the final recommendations to King Friedrich Wilhelm. For Keith, von der Schulenburg made no changes to the judgment and condemned the officer to death and burning in effigy in his absence. For von Ingersleben, von der Schulenburg went with the more harsh punishment of 4 months, because he could sense Friedrich Wilhelm's own feelings. However, for von Spaen, von der Schulenberg actually recommended life imprisonment rather than death. Even though the general knew that Friedrich Wilhelm would have preferred a death sentence, von der Schulenberg could not bring himself to issue one. Finally, regarding the prince, von der Schulenberg declared himself and his council to be incompetent. When this set of judgments was passed on to Friedrich Wilhelm he refused to accept it. Although nothing could be done about Keith, Friedrich Wilhelm felt that von Ingersleben had been more involved than the council admitted, that von Spaen deserved death, and that the prince needed to be judged. However, when Friedrich Wilhelm demanded the court revise its judgments it courageously refused to budge. Instead, standing behind biblical passages that enumerated their incompetence to judge the prince, they remained defiant [26].

After being refused by the court-martial, Friedrich Wilhelm decided to issue his final judgments. Friedrich consented to the punishment of Keith and even of von Ingersleben. However, Friedrich Wilhelm condemned von Spaen to death in contrast to the final judgment of von der Schulenberg. Friedrich Wilhelm admitted the unusualness of a king increasing a sentence rather than commuting one but stated Fiat justitiu et pereut mundus, let justice be done, though the world perish. In other words, Friedrich Wilhelm felt that despite the court-martial that justice above all needed to be instituted and that was the justice that Friedrich Wilhelm perceived. This defiance of the court-martial made many fear for the life or succession of Fritz. Those fears only grew after Friedrich Wilhelm refused the pleas of Lieutenant von Spaen's father, Major-General Alexander Bernhard von Spaen, to show mercy to his son. In late October, von Spaen was conveyed to Kustrin without informing Fritz of his arrival. The young man was given a last meal and a chance to pray and then one last night of rest. The next morning, on October 29, 1731, von Spaen was marched to the courtyard below the window of Fritz while guards entered Fritz's room at an irregular time and directed him to the window. When Fritz saw his comrade von Spaen below he immediately perceived what was happened and begged that von Spaen be shown mercy. He was only trying to help Fritz and Fritz had ordered him to do so. However, no one responded to Fritz's pleas for mercy. Von Spaen himself had already come to accept the fate over the days before so he did not cry out for help nor toss blame the way of Fritz. Instead, von Spaen rather stoically saluted Fritz and asked that his prince do what was necessary to avenge him and provide for his sister. Fritz apologized for involving him in all this and von Spaen only nodded. Moments later after the priest had issued one final prayer, the executioner drew his sword and Fritz had to watch as one of his friends and comrades was decapitated in front of his own eyes [27].

In the days that followed von Spaen's execution, everyone expected Fritz to follow shortly after, even Fritz himself thought so. For this reason, Wilhelmine offered to marry any man of her father's choosing so long as Fritz's life was spared. Friedrich Wilhelm told her that the man would be the Prince of Saxe-Weissenfels and that they would be married before the year's end and then asked if she stood by her statement [28]. When she said yes, Friedrich Wilhelm informed her that he would provide her with no dowry at all and that she would not have a new dress, at least not one he paid for. Again, Wilhelmine said she would marry him. Friedrich Wilhelm smiled and thanked her for finally seeing reason and sent her off. This was the first smile that Wilhelmine had received from her father in years and marked a mild reconciliation between them, but the incident also marked the end of Wilhelmine's friendship with her mother. Once her mother found out about Wilhelmine's decision, she screamed and railed against her and begged her to change her mind, but Wilhelmine did not. Wilhelmine thought that this was the only way to save Fritz and she was willing to make that sacrifice. Sophia Dorothea, however, could not accept that answer and she refused to talk with Wilhelmine afterward.

Two months later just as promised, Wilhelmine married Prince Johann Adolf of Saxe-Weissenfels before being sent off to Saxony. Fritz suffered no harm in the period in between von Spaen's execution and Wilhelmine's marriage and no harm afterward. However, what Wilhelmine had not known when she rode off with Prince Johann Adolf was that her father had abandoned the thought of killing or even disinheriting Fritz even before he had von Spaen executed. Grumbkow for once had taken the side of Fritz and had talked with Friedrich Wilhelm endlessly about the difficulties in executing Fritz. Grumbkow pointed out that as an heir to an electorate that Fritz was not just the son of Friedrich Wilhelm nor a subject of Prussia but a subject of the Holy Roman Emperor and without his approval and the approval of the Imperial Aulic Court, an execution impossible. Once Friedrich Wilhelm was brought to understand that death was impossible he quickly agreed on his own terms that disinheritance did not make sense. Friedrich Wilhelm did not believe that Fritz was genuine when he offered to renounce his throne and if there were doubts about Fritz's renunciation then he would become a destabilizing threat to his brother, August Wilhelm's, reign. In that way, disinheriting Fritz might be even more harmful than letting the dandy inherit the throne. Even if Fritz was inclined toward effeminate predilections, he had shown he was a decent soldier. Perhaps with the right behind him, he would not doom Friedrich Wilhelm's Prussia [29]. For that reason, following the execution of von Spaen, Friedrich Wilhelm had kept von Spaen's priest at Kustrin to rectify the immorality of the prince. Wilhelmine's sacrifice made no impact on Friedrich Wilhelm's treatment of Fritz. Instead, it was only through the positive reports of that priest that Fritz slowly earned the rights to better found and pen and paper.

In the wake of Fritz's abortive escape attempt, the Crown Prince of Prussia had been imprisoned in Kustrin and remained there as 1732 arrived, his eldest sister had been married to a man far below her in status and in rank, and her mother had lost all her influence at court. Fritz's escape and judgment also seriously affected the relations of Prussia with other states. Friedrich Wilhelm was sincerely thankful for the role that Saxony had played in capturing Fritz and even their later interference in Friedrich Wilhelm's handling of Fritz did not wash away that gratitude. However, Fritz's escape had disrupted Prusso-Saxony negotiations and led to Friedrich Wilhelm focusing on dealing with Fritz rather than signing a new Prusso-Saxon alliance at Muhlburg. Later on, the evidence of France's role in Fritz's escape had seriously damaged Prusso-French relations and forced a change of French ambassadors with Sauveterre being exchanged for Jacques-Joachim Trotti, Marquis de La Chétardie [30]. However, even Sauveterre's dismissal and subsequent punishment in France did not allow for Versailles' approval of Fritz's asylum request to be forgotten. Instead, Friedrich Wilhelm viewed the French with even more suspicion and thus could not look kindly upon the Franco-Saxon alliance. However, at the same time, Friedrich Wilhelm's relationships with Britain and the Holy Roman Emperor were also no better. Britain's failure to inform Friedrich Wilhelm of Fritz's plans left him disgruntled and disdainful toward Britain while the Holy Roman Emperor's refusal to back Friedrich Wilhelm on a more serious punishment for Fritz left a bad taste in Friedrich Wilhelm's mouth. Overall, stories of Friedrich Wilhelm's brutal treatment of Fritz at Muhlberg and Wilhelmine at Potsdam had caused many European leaders to look down upon Friedrich Wilhelm with some sense of moral superiority. In the end, Friedrich Wilhelm exited this whole episode even more isolated than before and so he would have to look for new and different friends among the courts of Europe.

[1] This is the same claim that Fritz come up with in OTL.
[2] This is the same reason Fritz gave in OTL, because the reason is the same in TTL.
[3] For some reason, Fritz did not take his arrest very seriously at first and entered his interrogations confidently.
[4] Von Spaen in OTL was a friend of Fritz's. I am not sure when that friendship was formed so I have kept him as a friend TTL. In OTL, von Spaen was part of Fritz's Saxon escape attempt and had a carriage ready in Leipzig. I assume that von Spaen would be willing to do the same in TTL, especially considering the treatment of Fritz that he saw early on during the Muhlberg event.
[5] In OTL, Fritz's valet had possession of his letters and burned them. In TTL, Fritz would not leave his letters behind at his quarters in Muhlberg and I assume he would not carry them himself for risk of being caught with them. Instead, he gives them to von Spaen who is going ahead to Leipzig. Von Spaen does not have time to burn them because he is arrested before Fritz is caught. This is a major difference from OTL and will factor into certain people's fates.
[6] In OTL, Friedrich Wilhelm found out that Britain had paid off Fritz's debts, which fueled his suspicion of them. In TTL, they have not paid off those debts, so the only charge is that they failed to inform Friedrich Wilhelm of Fritz's escape plans. This is a diplomatic breach rather than a subversion.
[7] In OTL, Friedrich Wilhelm suspected France of being more involved but found no evidence. In OTL, the French actually were more involved in that Rothenbourg had drawn up some plans of a coup, which were never advanced and Sauveterre had secured Fritz a promise of asylum. In TTL, the French promise of asylum has been found, which will affect the Franco-Prussian relationship.
[8] In OTL, Friedrich Wilhelm knew that Wilhelmine had played a role but never could prove it. In TTL, he can.
[9] This was an OTL concern of Friedrich Wilhelm for the same reasons.
[10] In OTL the same episode occurred. I have kept it in TTL because of Countess von Finck's friendship with Sophia Dorothea and Wilhelmine.
[11] In OTL, Friedrich Wilhelm attacked Wilhelmine upon returning to Potsdam. In TTL, with proof of her involvement, he attacks also and does so more severely.
[12] In OTL, Friedrich Wilhelm was calmed down once he took Wilhelmine to the floor. In TTL, he is far more furious, so he does not calm down.
[13] In OTL, the blame fell mainly on Wilhelmine and Fritz. In TTL, due to the greater humiliation suffered by Friedrich Wilhelm with Fritz actually escaping, he is going to seek to blame more people.
[14] In OTL, Grumbkow also figured out that the contents of the chest had been tampered with because Fritz did not recognize the trinkets.
[15] In OTL, Keith barely escaped but in TTL by the virtue of Fritz being arrested in Saxony, Keith has more time to escape and does so with more comfort.
[16] In OTL, the British gave safe harbor to Keith. In TTL, with worse Anglo-Prussian relations they will do the same.
[17] The five questions and answers are based on the OTL questions and answers.
[18] This strict solitary confinement is also based on Fritz's OTL treatment.
[19] The involvement and punishment of these individuals are mostly the same as OTL. The only difference is that von Ingersleben is less involved in Fritz's escape attempt than OTL because von Ingersleben only got involved with the second escape attempt at Ansbach in OTL and barely got involved. To me, that means that Fritz did not trust von Ingersleben to the extent to make him a full part of the escape attempt in TTL.
[20] In OTL, Fritz did not actually successfully escape. In TTL, he did and he switched his uniform to do so. So in TTL, Friedrich Wilhelm is placing the blame on Fritz and saying that he did this to himself whereas, in OTL, Friedrich Wilhelm simply stated that Fritz was a bad person and he wanted nothing to do with him.
[21] Supplications were not seen to have much influence on Friedrich Wilhelm in OTL and do not in TTL.
[22] This is the same court-martial setup as in OTL.
[23] Keith suffers the same punishment as OTL because like in OTL he does desert, but von Ingersleben is given a slightly lighter judgment than OTL where he was sentenced to 6 months because he is not at all involved in the escape attempt.
[24] In OTL, the officers had similar difficulties judging Katte's case, but importantly Katte actually said he would have deserted had Fritz deserted. Von Spaen is saying that he would not have. He merely would have gone AWOL, because I have never seen anything saying that von Spaen was going to go to France. Just Keith, Katte, and Fritz. Nevertheless, an extended AWOL is desertion typically and he did assist Fritz in accomplishing desertion like Katte did.
[25] In OTL, the officers also felt this was not their place and in TTL there is no reason for them to feel differently. They just use slightly different arguments than OTL since in TTL Fritz did actually desert.
[26] In OTL, Friedrich Wilhelm also pushed for the court to issue revised punishments to no avail.
[27] Whether you think Katte was Fritz's lover or not, the fact of the matter was that he was a much closer friend of Fritz than von Spaen. So in TTL rather than Fritz losing a best friend/lover he is losing a good friend but more so a brother in arms than anything else. There is a possibility that von Spaen was gay as he died unmarried, but I am not going to make that assumption. I have von Spaen dying like a soldier because his career suggested that he dedicated to the army.
[28] In OTL, Wilhelmine insincerely made this offer but as soon as Friedrich Wilhelm firmly said she would marry the Prince of Saxe-Weissenfels she began to backtrack. In TTL, with Fritz having committed a more serious crime, it looks more like Fritz might suffer a real punishment. For this reason, Wilhelmine does actually agree to marry Saxe-Weissenfels.
[29] In OTL, Friedrich Wilhelm abandoned thoughts of execution to disinheritance for similar arguments that still stand in OTL, even if Friedrich Wilhelm is more furious in TTL than OTL.
[30] Sauveterre was never more than a temporary placement. He was just a lawyer without any diplomatic experience. In OTL, Sauveterre was replaced by Le Chetardie in the wake of Sauveterre's role in Fritz's Ansbach escape attempt. I have kept Le Chetardie because he is an interesting figure and he was already destined for a diplomatic career.

Word Count: 6776
 
33: Russia without Menshikov
33: Russia without Menshikov
192px-Natalia_Alexeevna_of_Russia_by_I.Nikitin_%281720-30s%2C_Hermitage%29.jpg

Tsarevna Natalya Alexeyevna

In the wake of Prince Aleksander Menshikov's fall from grace, two clans stepped forward to try and fill the shoes left behind by the great man. One family, the Golitsyns were among the most ancient and honored families in Russia, and among their number they counted the esteemed Prince Dmitry Mikhailovich Golitsyn, member of the Supreme Privy Council, and Marshal Mikhail Mikhailovich Golitsyn, a familiar military hero who had won Russia victories from the Battle of Lesnaya to the conquest of Finland. The other family was slightly less old and less prestigious but still one of Russia's more revered clans, the Dolgorukovs. The Dolgorukovs were led by another member of the Supreme Privy Council, Vasily Lukich Dolgorukov, and they also carried a Marshal, Vasily Vladimirovich Dolgorukov. However, Marshal Vasily Vladimirovich was far less willing to cooperate with Vasily Lukich than Mikhail Mikhailovich was with Dmitry Mikhailovich. In general, Marshal Dolgorukov viewed the actions of his family as dangerous and edging on usurpation [1]. For that reason, Vasily Vladimirovich's far less renowned and less capable cousins, Alexey Grigorievich Dolgorukov and Sergei Grigorievich Dolgorukov were Vasily Lukich's main partners in the effort to install the Dolgorukovs as the right-hand men of Emperor Peter II.

The struggle between the Golitsyns and Dolgorukovs for power in Russia was quiet, quick, and harmless. Peter II did not appreciate the stiff arrogance of the Golitsyns. Even if the Golitsyns had a right to that trait from the family's long history at the center of Russian politics and success, Peter II did not care for it at all. Also, Peter II was inclined to think of the Golitsyns as willing collaborators of Menshikov. Dmitry Mikhailovich had done little to stop Menshikov's domestic programs, but in truth no one had. Meanwhile, Marshal Golitsyn had fought directly alongside Menshikov during Empress Catherine's War and his army had allowed Finland to be turned over the Holstein-Gottorps. Even though Marshal Dolgorukov was staying above this court feud, he still had the benefit of being left at home during the war and getting to avoid such an association with Menshikov. The rest of the Dolgorukovs were in simple terms more amenable to the tastes of Peter II than the Golitsyns. Rather than acting better than or more educated than Peter II, they pandered to him and flattered him. Additionally, Peter II's closest friend, Ivan Alekseevich Dolgorukov, played a large role in promoting the interests of his family by encouraging Peter II to favor his family over the Golitsyns. Thus, the sycophants beat out the revered [2].

Once accepted as among Peter II's closest advisers, the Dolgorukovs turned on Peter's closest adviser and governor, Andrei Osterman. At dinners with Peter II, the Dolgorukovs would take to mocking and belittling Osterman, even discrediting his diplomatic record. They pointed out how Osterman had lost Finland twice, once at Nystad and again at Vienna. They also called out that Osterman's direction of foreign policy meant that to this day, Russia was providing security for the Holstein-Gottorp rulers of Bremen-Verden and Finland while at the same time paying the King of Finland 50,000 pounds. To them, it seemed inconceivable that Russia should both guard Finland pay for the right to do so. Peter II joined in these jokes about Osterman and applauded these criticisms. However, whenever, Peter II dined with Osterman he mocked the Dolgorukovs and discussed their flaws [3]. These exchanges went to show how even though Peter II had let the Dolgorukovs take a step closer to power, he had no intention of giving himself and his power fully over to them. Peter II was the Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia and he understood that title carried with it an absolute power that was his to have. Still, Osterman did lose his influence over Peter II who had overgrown the German diplomat and his overbearance.

In an example of Peter II's independence from the Dolgorukovs and of anyone else, he stubbornly refused entreaties from the Dolgorukovs to break his marriage with Maria Menshikova. The Dolgorukovs had insisted that Maria was not at all fit to be the wife of an Emperor. Her father was of low birth even if he had an Imperial title and at that point, her father was a corrupt criminal. They argued that Peter II should get rid of the woman by having her tonsured. In her place, they offered up one of their own Ekaterina Alekseevna Dolgorukova. She was no prettier than Maria, no more intelligent, and only a year younger than her. In other words, there was nothing about Ekaterina to recommend her over Maria besides her last name [4]. For this reason, alone Peter II would have been justified in not abandoning his wife. However, the primary reason behind Peter II's obstinance was that he did not appreciate the Dolgorukovs interfering just like Menshikov had before them [5]. Menshikov's interference in the familial affairs of Peter II had been his downfall and Peter II made clear to the Dolgorukovs that if they kept pushing him that it would be their downfall as well. As Peter II put it, what was done was done and he would stay true to his word.

One area where the Dolgorukovs did succeed, with help from Prince Golitsyn, was in convincing Peter II to quit Saint Petersburg. They called Saint Petersburg a gangrenous limb that drew Russia away from itself and forced it to rely on the friendship of Finland and the strength of its navy to defend itself. However, again, Peter II's own opinion mattered most. Peter II himself also had a poor view of Saint Petersburg, which he viewed as a cramped and damp town. Saint Petersburg was a military camp that faced nasty saltwater on one side and cold countryside on the other in the mind of Peter II. For Peter II, Saint Petersburg was a desolate, isolated military outpost better suited for exile than a residence. Furthermore, Peter II found the forest of masts in the docks to be an abominable reminder of the great waste of money that was Russia's navy. For these reasons rather than those offered up by the Dolgorukovs and Prince Golitsyn, Peter II consented to leave Saint Petersburg and descend to Moscow. However, Peter II did not rush to change the official capital from Saint Petersburg to Moscow. As much of Peter II abhorred Saint Petersburg, Moscow was still very much foreign to him and wished to learn the city before electing it as his new capital [6].

As the court traveled from Saint Petersburg to Moscow, the Dolgorukovs tried to place a regent over Peter II by freeing Eudoxia Lopukhina from her convent and introducing her to her grandson. The plan did concern former supporters of Peter I who had all played their role in either tearing Eudoxia down or keeping her and her name suppressed. Even Osterman felt the need to write a letter to Eudoxia ensuring her of his support and calling out the Dolgorukovs as miscreants bent on taking advantage of her. In the end, Eudoxia was no threat at all to anyone. Her meeting with Peter II went poorly at best. Apparently, years sequestered to a convent with nothing to do but pray had allowed Eudoxia's wits to dull and her political savviness to evaporate. She had no plans to gain control over her grandson and of Russia nor would she have had the strength of mind necessary to master her grandson. In her meeting with Peter II, the two treated each other with all due respect but without the warmth that would be expected of grandmother and her grandson. They were strangers and for Peter II that was all they ever would be [7]. Afterward, Peter II moved on. He had a large pension of 60,000 rubles assigned to Eudoxia and sent her a few letters, but otherwise left her to the monasteries.

Upon reaching Moscow and getting to truly live it rather than just visit it as he had during his coronation, Peter II quickly fell in love with the city. Moscow was a sprawling city with much more interesting and gentle architecture than Saint Petersburg. It was a city that was alive and vibrant in contrast to the working nature of Saint Petersburg. Surrounding all sides of the city were beautiful plains and forests that were filled with game to hurt. And in general, the climate of the city was far more pleasant than that of the bog of Saint Petersburg [8]. The first weeks saw Peter II forget about Saint Petersburg entirely as he took to hunting, riding, and hawking each day. He did not even bother attending any of Osterman's lectures anymore, which turned Osterman's title of governor into a symbolic position. Peter II also failed to visit a single meeting of the Supreme Privy Council nor go to Osterman's office to discuss foreign affairs during their first weeks. It was not until Osterman brought Saint Petersburg back up by asking when Peter II intended on returning that the boy revealed he never would. Afterward, he banned the mention of Saint Petersburg in his presence and gave approval for the State Ministries, Archives, and Mint to all be moved from Saint Petersburg to Moscow. These orders in effect restored Moscow to its place as Russia's capital and saw hundreds of courtiers and their servants return to Moscow.

For a time being this proved to be the only act of governance that Peter II took. In many ways, the new Emperor was like his grandfather. Peter II was a stubborn autocrat who did not stand for opposition nor criticism of himself. He would not change his mind even if even was proven wrong and was especially annoyed by lengthy, time-consuming debates. Besides those traits, Peter II was exceptionally tall and very strong for his age. He had a good face and quickly developing muscles. In these ways, Peter II was similar to his grandfather. Unfortunately, unlike his grandfather, Peter II did not have the drive to govern. He was allowed to and enjoyed spending all his time on recreation rather than on studying and involving himself in the government. He was reserved to the point of being unreachable at times, which prevented his courtiers from getting to know him and his officials from getting him to govern. Even though Peter II disdained heavy drinking and preferred to be up early, the time he saved from partying and sleeping was just spent on other recreations that were equally wasteful. He run around all day from one activity to the next but rarely stopped to do the one activity that his country needed him to do most, govern. And because Peter II was a stubborn tyrant, he also disdained the idea of letting someone govern in his place, even his Dolgorukov friends [9].

The only one who was allowed to govern in any real way was Osterman. Peter II still trusted Osterman despite breaking free of Osterman's paternal influence. For Peter II, Osterman remained a man who could be trusted to oversee Russian foreign affairs. Osterman's sin had been interfering in Peter II's personal life, not in mismanaging Russia's foreign relations. For this reason, Russia continued its alliance with the Hapsburgs and Prussia while Osterman authorized the distribution of funds in Stockholm to create a Riksdag more friendly toward Russia. However, Peter II did make a major interruption in Osterman's continuation of Peter I's Baltic Diplomacy. In regards to the Holstein-Gottorps, Peter II ordered those relations be severed. Charles Augustus of Bremen-Verden and Charles Frederick of Finland should be viewed as rivals, not allies of Russia [10]. On that same note, Peter II ordered the termination of the annual payments to Charles Frederick of 50,000 pounds. Although Osterman had desperately tried to dissuade Peter II from this course of action, Peter II forced Osterman to go through it. In turn, Charles Frederick denied the Russian army its passports in Finland and demanded that the Russian army to evacuate from Finland. Osterman feared that Peter II might retaliate by ordering the Russian army to stand their ground and conquer Finland, but Peter II did not seem disposed to such action. Instead, Peter II merely stripped Charles Frederick of his place on the Supreme Privy Council and awarded it to Marshal Dolgorukov. For Peter II, leaving Finland to fend for itself and humiliating Charles Frederick was enough, war was unnecessary. This rupture in Russo-Finnish relations saw the court at Turku become a welcome refuge for any generals or officials who found themselves displaced from Russia's court or the favor of the Emperor. Additionally, to promote the protection of the Holstein-Gottorp rulers, Charles Augustus traveled to Muhlburg to negotiate with both the Prussians and Saxons for alliances and guarantees of security. Thus, the Holstein-Gottorps seemed to hedge on both linkages to Russia and security from Germany.

In other places, Peter II made no impact on Osterman's policy. Peter II did not discuss the Russo-Mecklenburg-Schwerin relationship with Osterman nor did he try to establish a Russian alliance with Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel, which was now ruled by his maternal grandfather, Ludwig Rudolf. However, Peter II did mess with Osterman's diplomatic strategy severely when he wrote a personal letter to King Friedrich Wilhelm in Prussia over the treatment of his son, Prince Friedrich. Recalling the stories of his own father and his death at the hands of Peter I, the youthful Peter II admonished Friedrich Wilhelm for imprisoning his son and called out Friedrich Wilhelm for the public beatings that he had given to the crown prince at Muhlberg. Despite being many years younger than Friedrich Wilhelm and having no children of his own yet, Peter II called Friedrich Wilhelm out as an abusive tyrant who had no business treating his children in such a fashion and even hinted that the whole affair was Friedrich Wilhelm's fault. Also, within this letter Peter II seemingly derided Friedrich Wilhelm's royal title while emphasizing his own.

Naturally, Friedrich Wilhelm was furious at this invective letter and wrote one back of his own that ridiculed Peter II as a foolish boy who did nothing but hunt and allowed his country to waste away. Whereas before Friedrich Wilhelm had stood in awe and fear of Russia under Peter I and Menshikov, now Friedrich Wilhelm saw Peter II's Russia as a paper bear. Russia might have an army twice the size of Prussia's but Friedrich Wilhelm doubted that Peter II could defeat Prussia with ten times its soldiers. The barbs and insults that Friedrich Wilhelm had thrown back at Peter II proved to be too much for the boy who in his cruel and indicative nature ordered the Prussian ambassador, Axel von Mardefeld, to be thrown out of Russia immediately. Only at this point did Osterman become aware of all that transpired and quickly went to work trying to amend Peter II's transgression. Through great difficulty and not without begging from Peter II's sister, Natalya, Peter II agreed to retract his order for Mardefeld's expulsion. Although Peter II refused to apologize to Friedrich Wilhelm, Osterman did hesitate to humble himself in letters to Friedrich Wilhelm. Through a series of letters, Osterman ensured that the Prusso-Russian alliance remained officially intact, but at the same time, Osterman knew that politics was as much personal as it was national. Friedrich Wilhelm and Peter II did not like each other nor did they trust each other and if Russian and Prussia found themselves fighting alongside each other then their personal grievances with one another would rise again and complicate matters.

When Osterman was not involved, domestic and military affairs, he could do nothing to remedy the misfortunes of Peter II's misgovernance. Regarding the navy and army, Peter II damaged both of them by refusing to approve their continued bloated budgets. Peter II told the Supreme Privy Council to cut costs and left them to figure out how. For the navy, this meant that hundreds of sailors were left without work as their ships were laid up in Saint Petersburg and left to rot. Less than half a decade had passed since the Russians had held the British at Osel and beat them at Kymmenedalen, yet now their active navy numbered just a few ships and of those, the only ships-of-the-line were the British ones. These ones were saved from an inglorious and slow death in the docks through the sheer will and perseverance of the Russian Admiralty that sacrificed everything to hold on to their British prizes. The army too decayed as thousands of soldiers were released from service because Peter II saw no point in approving an army of more than 200,000 for a country at peace [11].

Only through the individual action of certain commanders were key elements of the Russian army kept together. Through his position as a Major General and the Governor-General of Estland, Peter Lacy his influence to prevent his army of 30,000 elite Russian veterans from being broken up. For a decade, this army had been Russia's first army always ready to strike against any threat that arose in the Baltic and had Russia lost it then it would have seen its capabilities in the Baltic decline. On the other end of the empire, Major General Vasily Yakovlevich Levashov did the same to hold on to his garrison of 30,000 men for the Caspian and Caucasus region. Whereas Peter Lacy's army got to act as an army-in-being for the most part, Levashov's army was an army-at-war in everything but name. Daily, Levashov's soldiers had to deal with a restless population and the potential of attacks from the Ottomans or the resurgent Persians under an Afghan by the name of Nader. Had Levashov lost his army then Russia would have been forced to concede the Caspian coast. Honestly, several in Russia were inclined toward that idea but Osterman was too busy with other affairs and the rest were too disinterested to actually act on the thought of returning the Caspian provinces to Persia. Altogether, Russia was in the midst of one of the most dramatic and sudden declines in history for its military and even diplomatic reach due to Peter II's reluctance to govern and even greater reluctance to let someone govern in his place.

The plot to detach Peter II and Maria Menshikov came to an end when Maria became pregnant in mid-1731. At that point, Peter II began to show genuine interest and warmth toward her. The shows of public affection that followed the news of Maria's pregnancy made it clear that Peter II would no longer oppose a divorce merely on the grounds of hating interference in his life. At the same time, people feared that the pregnancy might mean the return of Menshikov to power. However, Peter II made it clear that Menshikov was unwelcome at court when he refused to grant Menshikov permission to come to Moscow and celebrate Maria's pregnancy. Peter II went further by telling Menshikov that he would also not be permitted to attend the child's birth and if he did then he would be punished for it. Given that Peter II was most likely unavailable as a husband for Ekaterina, the Dolgorukovs switched their plan from marrying Peter II and Ekaterina to wedding Peter's sister, Natalya, to Ivan Alekseevich Dolgorukov.

In general, the question of Natalya's future loomed large over Russia once the court had finished settling down at Moscow and Maria had proven herself fertile enough to grow pregnant. From across Europe, Osterman received requests for Natalya's hand. The Saxons, Bavarians, British, Parmese, and even Prussians all sought the hand of Natalya despite her being older than the prospective husbands. Augustus II requested Natalya's marriage to his grandson, Joseph Augustus, with the idea of shoring up the promised Russian support for a Wettin succession to Poland. Charles Albert of Bavaria offered his nephew Maximilian Joseph Franz with the hopes of turning Peter II's Russia away from the Hapsburgs to permit a Wittelsbach succession to the title of Holy Roman Emperor. George II and Caroline still disdainful of their exiled son, Prince Frederick, asked if Natalya would marry their younger son, William Augustus. Sophia Dorothea, the regent of Parma, and Elizabeth Farnese, Queen of Spain, investigated the possibility of Duke Carlo of Parma replacing the Archduchess that the Hapsburgs had denied him with a Tsarevna. Finally, Friedrich Wilhelm considered the possibility of marrying his second son August Wilhelm to Natalya to give August Wilhelm a prestigious marriage and connection to the Emperors of Russia and the Holy Roman Empire in case Fritz embarrassed Friedrich Wilhelm again.

None of these international and foreign marriages suited Peter II as he had no desire to part with Natalya. Although he wanted a good marriage for Natalya, he also wanted her to remain in Russia [12]. For this reason, the Saxon, British, Parmese, and Prussian schemes all fell through. The Bavarian scheme, however, continued because Charles Albert and his brother, Ferdinand Maria Innocenz, were both willing to send Maximilian Joseph Franz to Russia if it meant making him the husband of the Tsarevna. On a similar note, this requirement from Peter II opened up the possibility for a lesser European prince but prestigious one nonetheless, the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel to offer his grandson, Anton Ulrich of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel, who would willing to migrate to Russia to marry Natalya. However, Peter II rejected this marriage on account of Anton Ulrich and Natalya being cousins. However, close relations had not stopped Peter II from previously pining for his aunt Duchess Elizabeth of Bremen-Verden. Thus, the only marriage that remained was the Bavarian one until a message from Vienna came presenting Infante Manuel of Portugal as another option. Infante Manuel was the brother of King Joao V of Portugal and cousin of Emperor Charles VI and thus would have been a prestigious match for Natalya. However, the Hapsburgs were not willing to part with Manuel permanently as they plans for the prince and on this note, Peter II refused the Portuguese match.

Up against only this Bavarian match, the Dolgorukovs felt that they had a chance to put forth Ivan as an alternative. Despite Marshal Dolgorukov calling out the plan as dangerous folly that treaded on the same path that Menshikov had trodden before, Vasily Lukich pushed forward and submitted the idea to Peter II. Surprisingly, Peter II did not reject the offer of a subject to marry a Tsarevna immediately. These marriages in past had rarely been allowed and instead, Tsarevnas were more often sent to convents than wed to subjects. However, the marriage of a Tsarevna to a subject was not entirely unheard of in recent times. Tsarevna Praskovya Ivanovna, daughter of Ivan V, had married Ivan Ilyich Dmitriev-Mamonov, a Russian general, and they even had a son, Pyotr. Still, a marriage of a Tsarevna and a subject was uncommon and typically unwelcome. Yet Peter II did not approach it in that fashion and refused that same argument when Alexey Dmitrievich tried to oppose the marriage on such terms. Instead, Peter II allowed himself to be worked over by Vasily Lukich and the goom, Ivan Alekseevich, slowly but surely. Natalya also failed to oppose the marriage because she knew Ivan Alekseevish and did not find him completely reprehensible. Ivan Alekseevich was a silly man but a kind one, he would treat Natalya well. Furthermore, through marriage to Peter's best friend, Natalya might regain the influence that she had steadily lost with her brother. Through the marriage, she thought she could help right the ship of the Russian state that currently was adrift without a pilot. Ultimately, Peter II's own affection for Ivan Alekseevich and Natalya's willingness to accept him allowed for their engagement to be contracted in late 1731. This action brought Peter II the disdain of the Golitsyns. However, Peter II cared little for their approval, and even as an absent ruler he remained unchallenged in his power. However, as an absent and unchallenged ruler, Peter II was allowing Russia to stagnate in some areas and decline in others. In no place, did Russia advance.

[1] Marshal Dolgorukov is often described as a sober and practical man who refused to join in on his family's plots to marry Peter II to one of their own in OTL. In TTL, this same personality will see Marshal Dolgorukov avoid getting mixed up in his family's schemes.
[2] In OTL, Peter II favored the Dolgorukovs over the Golitsyns for what seems to be personal preference. The same preference leads to the same decision in TTL.
[3] This exact behavior was recorded of Peter II in OTL.
[4] In OTL, it is hypothesized that Peter II only married Ekaterina because he had an affair with her and felt honor-bound to marry her, because in the lead up to the marriage he showed Ekaterina even less regard and respect than he had shown to Maria Menshikova during their engagement.
[5] The main reason that Peter II says no has nothing to do with his loyalty toward Maria and everything to do with his disdain for interference in his life.
[6] Peter II's distaste for Saint Petersburg is taken from OTL. Also in OTL, he was initially taken to Moscow for his coronation and just stayed there. In TTL, he has already been coronated so the Dolgorukovs use a more direct argument but still succeed due to Peter II's hate for Saint Petersburg.
[7] In OTL, plots to get Peter II to reconnect with grandmother went no more due to his apathy toward her.
[8] These are the same attributes that made Peter II fall in love with Moscow in OTL.
[9] This personality for Peter II is taken from OTL because Peter II's childhood was not dramatically different and certainly not different enough to make major divergences in his personality.
[10] In OTL, Peter II did not pursue such actions against the Holstein-Gottorps but I see him doing so in TTL for two reasons. First, Russia has done a lot for the Holstein-Gottorps in TTL, which makes all the extra help they are giving to the Holstein-Gottorps in TTL much more distasteful than in OTL. Second, Charles Augustus took Elizabeth away, a woman who it seems like Peter II was seriously infatuated with in OTL. Thus, Peter II is taking his revenge on the Holstein-Gottorps for taking away Elizabeth and also feels that is unfair to be giving so much support to the Holstein-Gottorps after making one of them a king.
[11] In OTL, Peter II's reign saw a similar degradation of the Russian armed forces because he disdained his grandfather's navy and bloated army.
[12] Peter II seemed to be dependent on his sister in many ways, so I can see him parting with her.

Word Count: 4466
 
Does it mean that St. Petersburg will remain a glorified port and no more? Or a future Czar will make it a capital again?
 
Does it mean that St. Petersburg will remain a glorified port and no more? Or a future Czar will make it a capital again?
Under Peter II, Saint Petersburg will definitely decline. Whether or not a future Emperor changes that as happened in OTL when Anna returned the capital to Saint Petersburg is up in the air.
 
34: Resilience of Raynham
34: Resilience of Raynham
381px-Charles_Townshend%2C_2nd_Viscount_Townshend_by_Sir_Godfrey_Kneller%2C_Bt_%282%29.jpg

Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend

Many in Britain were never comfortable with the Anglo-French alliance that James Stanhope negotiated in 1716 as a member of Viscount Charles Townshend's ministry. The issue was not the terms of the alliance but the idea of the alliance itself. Certainly, many realized that the French were for the time being weak, insecure, and pliable. Meanwhile, as Townshend pointed out the Hapsburgs were using their triumphs over the Ottomans and French to act domineering and abusive within Europe's politics. However, the new alliance ran counter to decades of repetitive war with Louis XIV's France from 1678 until 1714 and decades of intermittent alliance with the Hapsburgs. As it stood, the British were distrustful of France, even if that was France lacking Europe's would-be hegemon, Louis XIV, and commanded by a number of more pacifistic men. Still, when Townshend's ministry was usurped in 1717 it was replaced by one dominated by James Stanhope, so the leading Whigs continues to hold to their French alliance. This commitment was rewarded with a victory over Spain but all the while the Hapsburgs grew stronger, which seemed to lend credence to Stanhope's alliance and Townshend's fears and so the alliance shakily continued on.

In 1725, the alliance reached its zenith when it grew to include Prussia while a proclaimed lover of peace, Cardinal Fleury, became the primary minister in France. At the same time, France broke off its alliance with Spain and seemed forced to tighten its bonds with Britain. But just two years later when Spain attacked Britain, France refused to back Britain up, and immediately accusations of treachery and betrayal began to fly. When Britain asked for soldiers and ships, France offers diplomats. Fleury's love for peace was no longer as appealing as it once was for Britain. Only when the Russians came after Britain too did the French allow themselves to be forced into war. Even then the French only mustered a meager army to stumble through Spain ineffectually and a toothless army to be ejected from the Rhine, which left the British army to be mauled by the Russians on its lonesome. By the war's end, Townshend's vision of antagonistic Hapsburgs was validated as the Hapsburgs and Russians redesigned northern Germany to the detriment of Britain and Brunswick-Luneburg. However, Stanhope's French alliance, now championed by Horatio Walpole, had failed to demonstrate its worth [1]. One issue of particular note was the lack of any French fleet actions to support British operations in either the Baltic or at Gibraltar.

This less than pleasant experience left many doubtful of France's alliance but Sir Robert Walpole promised that the alliance was still to Britain's benefit [2]. The reasoning now was that Britain's new friend Spain, who every single man in Britain cherished the trade of, was a tighter friend of their Bourbon relatives in France. If Britain wanted to maintain its alliance with Spain and preserve its trade with Spain then Britain needed to also maintain its alliance with France. Many in the British parliament disagreed with that opinion and thought that Britain could form its own relationship with Spain without depending on France. These British politicians never got the chance to prove their point because Fleury's France did it for them. When the Hapsburgs violated the terms of the Treaty of the Quadruple Alliance and the Treaty of Madrid, the French once again refused to offer their army or navy to preserve the legality of two treaties they were signatories to, the latter of which required that France enforce its terms with force if necessary. Instead, France tried to talk its way out of the situation, which included talking more to the enemy than to its supposed allies in Britain and Spain. Ultimately, Britain's army and navy alongside Spain's army were able to coerce the Hapsburgs into accepting the terms of Madrid without France's help. In fact, Britain and Spain found success despite French efforts to sabotage the two. In the end, Spain seemed resolved to improve its relationship with Britain further and focus on its alliance with Britain rather than France.

The latest episode of French bystanding led to a powerful Opposition attack on the French alliance in 1731. In February 1731 as the Parliament opened, the Tory leader, Sir William Wyndham, delivered a salvo against Walpole and Townshend's ministry and their French alliance. In particular, Wyndham called out the ongoing French restoration of Dunkirk's harbor. In 1725, 1727, 1728, 1729, and 1730, the French had done restoration work on Dunkirk in clear violation of the Treaty of Utrecht and the Treaty of the Hague (1717). This restoration would allow Dunkirk to hold large ships, including warships. Previously, Wyndham and others had attacked the French rebuilding of Dunkirk and the ministry's failure to stop it, but in 1731, Wyndham went so far as to describe Walpole's actions as failing to protect national interests. Thus, Wyndham called for a full examination of the state of the nation, which Britain had not undergone since 1714 when the Hanoverians came to power. Wyndham's powerful and loud speech led to chaos in Parliament as supporters of the government and opposition loudly shouted over one another. The ministry was barely able to lay out any of their evidence against the threat of the restoration. All they did get across was Horatio Walpole's report that the port had become accessible due to the tides and unauthorized labor, which the opposition called out as ludicrous. The following day, Wyndham also submitted a bill asking George II to release all the diplomatic correspondence on Dunkirk. Walpole was only able to secure a two-week hiatus until the bill would be debated [3].

The seriousness of the Dunkirk debate cannot be understated. During the opening talks of the issue, many members of the government had failed to raise their voices against Wyndham because they shared his opinion. The greatest evidence of the threat faced by Walpole's ministry was that the government was defeated on a smaller, domestic bill shortly after the Dunkirk issue was raised. The reason for the defeat was that hundreds of government members of parliament had abstained from the vote and some had even voted against the government. This defeat immediately caused speculation that the government was teetering on collapse and that the government would not be able to survive the Dunkirk disclosure debate. Even Walpole feared his government was nearing its end so he and the Secretary for the Southern Department, Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of Newcastle, put John Armstrong, British military representative to France, under incredible pressure to get something done about Dunkirk. Armstrong went to Fleury directly and secured the official assurance that any and all work on Dunkirk had been done without the proper authorization and that King Louis XV was ordering the demolition of these unauthorized improvements [4].

This official assurance was presented to Parliament when the Dunkirk debate resumed. However, Wyndham was quick to point out the unlikelihood of the government of France failing to notice unauthorized work on Dunkirk for six years. Furthermore, Wyndham delivered evidence of even newer additions to Dunkirk in contrast to Fleury's assurances. This argument and that evidence proved to be insufficient as the Dunkirk disclosure bill was voted down and a counter-legislation to formally thank His Majesty for providing for national security in the case of Dunkirk was passed instead. The vote was not as clean as Walpole would have liked being only 259 to 154 [5]. For the second time in recent times, the opposition secured more than 150 votes while Walpole's majority was barely over a hundred. Still, the vote was enough of victory for Walpole and his allies Newcastle and Charles Delafaye to act as if the crisis was over. Indeed, it was. A subsequent opposition attack against France and the government over Britain and France's disputed ownership of Saint Lucia failed to make much headway [6]. Still, the government majority was hovering just above a hundred at 105, which left the opposition thinking that they could threaten the government.

After failing to find a victory over the Anglo-French alliance, the Opposition tried to move against the Anglo-Spanish alliance. William Pulteney led this attack by pointing out numerous failures of Spain to fulfill or abide by the terms of the Treaty of Madrid. The Spanish guardacostas were still capturing British merchant ships and Spain had yet to pay for all the damages and stalled payments from Empress Catherine's War. The bill through which Pulteney chose to make his fight was through a demand for the disclosure of all secret articles of the Treaty of Madrid and all correspondence between the government and the negotiators of the Treaty of Madrid. Pulteney was hoping to find anything amongst those papers that could be used to claim negligence or corruption on the part of Walpole. However, Pulteney did not even get the chance to look at the papers as Walpole was able to throw off this attack with a vote of 186 to 80 [7]. Again, the majority was small but the opposition vote was even smaller, so in a way, this was the strongest government victory of the session yet.

This was not the last challenge to the government's foreign policy. After the opposition could not overcome the government's alliance, it chose to attack the government over one of Brunswick-Luneburg's alliances. Since 1726, Brunswick-Luneburg had been in a contract with Hesse-Kassel for the right to first hire on 12,000 Hessian soldiers. This retainer of 125,000 pounds was funded not by Brunswick-Luneburg but by Britain. For this reason, the contract was made a British issue and was attacked in 1727 as using British funds to pay for Brunswick-Luneburg's security. During that vote, Walpole defeated the opposition 191 to 98. Since 1727, the contract had gone without significant attacks because the contract was in an active state between 1727 and 1729. Then in early 1730, the prospect of war with the Holy Roman Emperor over Italian affairs rather than German ones prevented the opposition from criticizing Britain's right to hire 12,000 soldiers that might be able to threaten the Holy Roman Emperor and could serve as substitutes for 12,000 British soldiers defending Brunswick-Luneburg against the Emperor.

In 1731 with no war on the horizon, the issue of the Hessian contract became a subject of government debate again. The Opposition attacked the Hessian contract from a number of angles. One attack claimed that the contract meant an outflow of British gold to Hesse-Kassel that was not balanced out through trade, especially because the retainer was now twice the price it was in 1726, nearing 250,000 pounds [8]. Given the debts faced by Britain from Empress Catherine's War, this outflow could not be tolerated. One MP even calculated the Hessian contract as being one-fourth of the pound in the land tax. Another angle of attack was provided by William Shippen, an outright Jacobite MP, who claimed that the Hessian contract served only to defend George II's foreign dominions and not to defend Britain or any of its allies. George Heathcote took this angle a few steps further in a speech that reminded Parliament that George II's succession was based on a contract, the Ace of Succession, by which George II had consented that Britain would not have to provide undue funds for Brunswick-Luneburg's defense. The Hessian contract represented a violation of the succession contract and thus if George II supported the Hessian contract then his rights to the throne were canceled out. Robert Vyner added this argument by saying that a vote for the Hessian contract was an act of treason against Britain and its people [9].

The ministry tried to defend this contract on the terms that the Hessians were not meant to defend Brunswick-Luneburg but instead to defend the Dutch Republic. The Dutch Republic's Barrier Fortresses served as a defense against France but its eastern perimeter remained exposed to the Emperor and the Prussians. The Hessians provided for the security of that eastern perimeter. Without this security, the Dutch Republic would have no choice but to subject itself to the tyranny of the Emperor and the Prussians. To this, Viscount Perceval, a usual support of the government, inquired whether or not the actions of the Hessian mercenaries during Empress Catherine's War constituted the defense of the Dutch Republic or the Electorate of Brunswick-Luneburg. Walpole's response was to ask if the Dutch Republic had ever been attacked during Empress Catherine's War. When his supporters cried out no, Walpole continued by saying then there is the answer. The defense of Brunswick-Luneburg is the defense of the Dutch Republic [10]. For a second, Walpole thought he had won but then the opposition began to ask for the disclosure of British instructions to the Hessian mercenaries during Empress Catherine's War. When Walpole hesitated, William Wyndham asked if there were instructions at all or had the orders for the Hessian mercenaries come from Brunswick-Luneburg instead. Once more Walpole had to retreat and ask for a delay in the debate. Even if Walpole had not been a part of the government during Empress Catherine's War, he already knew that Wyndham's guess was correct and that any disclosure of orders would have shown no regard for the Dutch Republic. Additionally, Walpole knew that even if he had not been the one to allow such illegal orders to be written that it would be his government that fell because of it.

During the break between debates, the tensions between Walpole and Townshend came to a scolding boil after four years of simmering. For the past four years, Walpole and Townshend's relationship had been in a poor state. When George I died and Walpole still thought he had some chance of retaining his control over the government he had thought of replacing Townshend. The Viscount repaid Walpole's uncertainty over Townshend's place in his government by failing to protect Walpole from falling out of government. Townshend proceeded to join Spencer Compton's government in what Walpole viewed as an obvious betrayal. Only Compton's obvious inadequacies led to Townshend and Walpole making a half-reconciliation as they figured the two of them were better off working together than letting someone like Compton lead Britain's government. That functional relationship ultimately led to Townshend and Walpole collaborating to achieve approval of the Treaty of Vienna and then Walpole's return to his post as First Lord of the Treasury.

Since the beginning of the second Walpole-Townshend ministry, Walpole found Townshend acting even more independently than he had under their previous joint ministry. Townshend's independent foreign policy, personal conversations with George II, and private communications with British diplomats made Walpole feel cut out of the Northern Department's policies. Walpole in turn encouraged the Secretary for the Southern Department, Newcastle, to act independently of Townshend. Despite Townshend being widely recognized as the senior Secretary of State, Newcastle acted without consulting him and even conducted his own private communications with diplomats in his office. Townshend responded by interfering in Newcastle's policies and sending secret messages to ministers and ambassadors within Newcastle's office without Newcastle's approval or knowledge. When Newcastle found out he tried to make an issue of it, but George II backed Townshend on the issue and revealed to Walpole that he had approved Townshend's actions in advance. Thus, it became apparent that Townshend had used his own more direct connection to George II to usurp Newcastle's responsibilities.

These previous clashes combined with Townshend's ongoing demands that Newcastle be replaced by one of Townshend's men, Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, or Sir Paul Methuen led to a heated exchange when the ministry met to discuss the Hessian contract. Walpole tried to place the place firmly on Townshend for allowing George II to use the Hessians as mercenaries for Brunswick-Luneburg rather than for Britain. Townshend refused this charge and pointed out that military strategy was not part of his jurisdiction. This mention of jurisdiction led to Walpole attacking Townshend for infringing on the Southern Department's jurisdiction. Townshend's defense was that Newcastle was not fit for the position as could be seen by the fact that he had retained control of the Southern Department under Compton and had failed remarkably to motivate significant French military action. Newcastle's own defense tried to cast blame on Horatio Walpole, which irritated Sir Robert Walpole. Even if Walpole disagreed with his brother's unwavering support for the French alliance, Sir Walpole would not see his brother scapegoated. The meeting shortly afterward with everyone's relationships frayed [11].

When the day came for the debate, Walpole did his best to defend the government's policy and the Hessian contract because he understand if the bill failed that either parliament would depose him or the King would. Ultimately, despite the opposition efforts, the contract was renewed but only by a vote of 222 to 174, this was the smallest majority that Walpole had yet seen on a major piece of legislation. The bill on the vote to disclose the orders distributed to the Hessian mercenaries was defeated by the government with an even smaller majority of just 209 to 178 [12]. Many foreign ambassadors and domestic critics called these votes the beginning of the end of Walpole's return to government. These assertions did not end up proving true as Walpole's majority rebounded on some later pieces of legislation. However, the two votes combined with earlier ones cast serious doubt on Walpole's supremacy and led to George II making two significant changes to Walpole's government. First, George II dismissed John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, as the Master-General of the Ordnance, which in essence made him the scapegoat for any misuse of the Hessian mercenaries. In his place, George II chose someone who was entirely removed from the war, John Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu. The promotion was in some ways meant to compensate Montagu for failing to support his attempts to colonize Saint Lucia. The second change was that George II asked Newcastle to resign. The duke complied with His Majesty's request and in his place, George II told Walpole to pick between Chesterfield and Methuen, Townshend's nominees. Walpole selected Methuen because he knew that Chesterfield was closer to Townshend. Still, it was obvious that Methuen would pay his homage to Townshend rather than Walpole, which indicated that the government in the future would see a more balanced share of power between Walpole and Townshend [13].

The debate over the Hessian contracts was the last major, formal Opposition challenge over foreign policy. Despite how close the Opposition how come to knocking down Walpole's reign, they lacked any issues as significant or as close to home as Dunkirk and the Hessian contract. The fact that the government had not fallen on the Hessian contract meant that the Opposition had no better arguments with which to attack the government. When the escape of Fritz occurred just a few weeks later and the British government was implicated, the Opposition chose against making an issue of it. Instead, what they chose to discuss was the missing Prince of Wales. For the Opposition, this was not a challenge designed at overturning government but rather just giving them an avenue of criticism to occupy themselves and also a way to show their support for the Prince of Wales ahead of what they thought to be his inevitable arrival in Britain. Once he did arrive the Opposition hoped that debates like these would make him a champion of their causes. If anything this debate was fought more between the Opposition and Crown than between the Opposition and Walpole. In the end, George II ended the debate by promising to bring his son to Britain after his next trip to Brunswick-Luneburg. This promise both provided a satisfactory answer to the Opposition's beckons for the Prince of Wales and forced the Parliament to swallow the idea of George II returning to Brunswick-Luneburg in 1732. Further talks about whether George II had any intention to find a wife for the Prince of Wales and ensure the continuance of Britain's royal family were quieted by George II's requests to delay such talk until the Prince was in England.

After months of repetitive attacks against the government and its policies, it was finally handed a clear victory when Archbishop Leopold Anton von Firmian of Salzburg issued an order for the 20,000 secret Protestant residents of his bishopric to leave their homes. This attack on Protestantism by an Imperial Prince-Bishop was not only allowed or approved by the Holy Roman Emperor but it was enforced by 6,000 of his soldiers who marched into Salzburg to impose the will of the Archbishop and champion the Counter-Reformation. Or at least that is how the British press and Townshend painted the incident. The fact that Emperor Charles VI had felt that the Archbishop had gone too far and that those soldiers were meant not just to discipline the Protestants but also the Archbishop went unnoticed. The fact that Charles VI later forced the Archbishop to amend the terms of that expulsion so that the Protestant families could leave with their movable property, sell their immovable property, and take their children with them also went unnoticed. Instead, the eyes of Britain focused on the fact that thousands of landless Protestants had already been evicted and that thousands more were being given just 8 days to leave rather than the 3 years accorded to them by the Peace of Westphalia. To Britain, this event was viewed as a clear violation of the Peace of Westphalia and a violation that the Hapsburgs not only failed to stop as was their duty under the Peace of Westphalia but also one that they took a part in. In an address to Parliament, Paul Methuen, as a mouthpiece for Townshend, described what had happened in Salzburg as a practical declaration of war against the Protestant world including Britain and Brunswick-Luneburg by the Hapsburg tyrants of Vienna. Methuen condemned the Hapsburg actions as being the start of a second wave of the Counter-Reformation that would see all of Europe subjugated to their malevolent Catholic oppression. Methuen pointed to Electoral Palatinate and the impending Catholic succession in Wurttemberg as examples of this Hapsburg plot. This address was received with roaring applause from hundreds of members of Parliament [14]. On this happy note, Walpole concluded 1731's parliamentary meetings.

[1] Horatio Walpole as the British ambassador to France became the main advocate of the Anglo-French alliance after James Stanhope's death.
[2] Despite claims that Robert Walpole wanted to switch to an Austrian alliance for years, there is minimal evidence that Robert Walpole took any action to that effect. Instead, Robert Walpole defended the French alliance in parliamentary sessions in OTL.
[3] This Tory attack on the government over the Dunkirk restoration is based on an OTL attack. In TTL, this attack is delayed because of the war making parliament more willing to turn a blind eye to French military actions.
[4] In OTL, the French bent as soon as the British applied serious pressure. In TTL, I see the French similarly being unwilling to blatantly defy their British allies on a matter of national security.
[5] The opposition vote fairs better than OTL because Walpole is not viewed as invincible like he was in OTL. He has also lost power to Compton, which has shaken confidence in his leadership. Additionally, parliament, in general, is warier of government policies after the disasters of the war.
[6] Saint Lucia is not a critical issue for most of the parliament so it does not become a major platform to criticize the government.
[7] As it stands, Spain's demonstrated military might combined with the value of its trade are going to prevent efforts to disrupt that alliance.
[8] In OTL, the Hessian contract doubled in price for reasons I am unsure of. I have kept that price doubling in TTL, because I do not see any reason why the Hessians would not be able to force George II to accept a more expensive contract.
[9] These types of arguments were used in OTL to attack the Hessian contracts.
[10] In OTL, this is the argument that the government used to defend the Hessian contract.
[11] In OTL, Townshend and Walpole began to clash under George II. Walpole was letting Newcastle act independently and Townshend wanted to replace Newcastle. During this dispute, Townshend often had the support of George II but Townshend ultimately resigned due to health issues. In TTL, Townshend avoided his 1727 illness and is thus able to defend his political power more energetically. The dispute between Walpole and Townshend still breaks out and in much the same way as OTL, but it does not end with Townshend just giving up.
[12] These majorities are very narrow because the Hessian contracts have become national security/succession contract issues much more so than in OTL. The fact that the Hessian contract has actually been activated and that the Hessians were seen defending Brunswick-Luneburg very clearly makes the Hessian contract a lot harder to defend under false pretenses. The only reason that the Hessian contract is still approved is because of George II's strong preference toward the Hessian contract.
[13] These narrow majorities are close to a government defeat and do force a slight shake-up in the government similar to how Walpole's defeat over the Excise issue in OTL forced a shakeup. The TTL shakeup is smaller because the scale of defeat is less.
[14] The Salzburg expulsion still occurs in TTL because its root causes are unaffected by the changes in Europe and in TTL it is a much bigger issue in Britain because the Hapsburgs are still an enemy rather than an ally. Thus, instead of the government playing damage control, they are using the expulsion as a springboard for an attack on the Hapsburgs. This will produce a worse British opinion of the Hapsburgs.

Word Count: 4308
 
35: The Polish Succession
35: The Polish Succession
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Augustus II, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, and Elector of Saxony

When Empress Catherine's War was winding down and its leaders Russia and the Holy Roman Emperor were trying to forge a peace with Britain and France, King Augustus II "the Strong" of Poland demanded that his contribution to the Viennese Alliance's success be compensated with the entirety of Brunswick-Luneburg. This demand was obviously extreme, but it also made it clear to the Russian and Hapsburg governments that Augustus II wanted a significant reward for his role in the war. Augustus II was certainly entitled to one as more than a third of the army that fought the war's primary battles in Brunswick-Luneburg had been Augustus II's army and of the army that occupied the Electorate after its conquest, almost all of it was Augustus II's Saxon soldiers. Augustus II had given the Viennese Alliance his whole army and he was looking for just recompense. Of course, Augustus II could not possibly receive all of Brunswick-Luneburg because the territory was too large to be considered equivalent to Augustus II's efforts and also because Brunswick-Luneburg encapsulated an Electorate. No Emperor, not even one as adventurous as Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI had considered allowing a single man to hold multiple electorates since the times of Emperor Sigismund, and if Augustus II was given Brunswick-Luneburg then he would have both its vote and Saxony's vote in his hands. In other words, Augustus II would become in political terms the second most important individual in the Holy Roman Empire.

But again, Augustus II could not possibly have thought that receiving all of Brunswick-Luneburg was within reach. However, to the Imperial representative who Augustus II communicated that demand, Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorff, it seemed quite plausible that Augustus II would demand all of the technically non-Electoral portions of Brunswick-Luneburg including the massive expanse of the Principality of Celle. Since Celle had come into Brunswick-Luneburg's possession more than a decade after the process to elevate Brunswick-Luneburg to the electoral dignity began, it could be argued that Celle was not an indivisible part of the Electorate [1]. Yet Seckendorff, an experienced diplomat and soldier within the Imperial sphere knew that Hanoverians well enough to know that they would not view Celle in the same light. King George II as the son of only offspring of the last Prince of Celle would never part with Celle, especially not after Seckendorff had already given the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel the impression that he would be awarded the Principality of Calenburg west of the Leine. By giving away Calenburg, Seckendorff was already playing a dangerous game with Imperial law, because Calenburg unlike Celle had been a part of Brunswick-Luneburg when the elevation process began. The only reason that Seckendroff thought he could get away with what probably was a violation of the Imperial constitution was that he intended to leave the bulk of the Brunswick-Luneburg in the hands of George II. If Seckendorff tried to strip away too much from Brunswick-Luneburg then the Imperial Aulic Court might be forced to abandon its typical stance of supporting the Emperor and his machinations. Thus, Seckendorff viewed even giving away Celle as a political impossibility.

Since he was unable to give Augustus II an adequate reward, Seckendorff was risking driving Augustus II straight into the arms of the enemy. Maybe in the future or even at that very moment. Again, Saxony's soldiers, not the Emperor's occupied Brunswick-Luneburg. If Augustus II chose to he could return it right back to George II for some other reward or he could just refuse to leave and ignore the lack of Imperial approval for his occupation of Brunswick-Luneburg. Augustus II would not be the first Imperial prince to operate an illegal occupation of another Imperial principality, but him doing so in direct opposition to the Emperor would be a political catastrophe that could plummet the Empire into civil war as other Imperial princes became emboldened by Augustus II's defiance. The Wittelsbach Union of Bavaria, the Palatinate, Trier, and Cologne was not to be trusted, and already their forces were in possession of the Southern Netherlands and made up a good portion of Prince Eugene of Savoy's army on the Rhine. The only prince that Seckendorff thought would not blatantly betray the Emperor if given the chance was the King in Prussia, and King Friedrich Wilhelm was certainly strong enough to defeat the Saxons and reimpose order in the Empire. However, Friedrich Wilhelm would not act in such a fashion free of charge. He would make many demands of the Emperor before he moved a single soldier and after Friedrich Wilhelm was done, he would be too powerful for Charles VI to continue to play his game of making unfulfilled promises to Friedrich Wilhelm. So just as much as giving away Celle was impossible so too was failing to compensate Augustus II.

In this moment, Seckendorff Russian partner, Alexei Petrovich Bestuzhev-Ryumin offered a solution. To Bestuzhev, it was obvious why Augustus II was making such grand claims. The king was a man in ill health as all could see and the recent months spent completing an arduous campaign and spent away from the comforts of Dresden and Warsaw had not been kind to him. When Augustus II died, his son, Frederick Augustus would inherit the Electorate of Saxony, but he was not guaranteed the same right in Poland and Lithuania. Instead, Poland and Lithuania as their constitution dictated would elect their next king without any restrictions on their choice. There was nothing to hold them to electing Augustus II's son and in fact, the Polish and Lithuanian magnates had not elected a son of a king since 1632. The last time they even elected a relative, a brother, it turned into an absolute and utter disaster for the Commonwealth. Augustus II was mildly tolerable within the Commonwealth but he knew many of his subjects had grown to abhor his Saxon retinue and they were looking among their own for their next king. To add to Augustus II's woes, since the marriage of Marie Leszczynska to Louis XV of France there had been much discussion of returning Marie's father, Stanislaus Leszczynski to the throne after Augustus II's inevitable death. For this reason, Augustus II had come to doubt his own family's succession in Poland-Lithuania but he still wanted to keep his Saxony as the powerful and relatively independent state it had been while united with the Commonwealth. For that purpose, Augustus II needed to greatly augment Saxony's territories to provide it with additional people, revenues, and strength.

The reasoning behind Augustus II's demands was also clear to Seckendorff so he asked Bestuzhev want he proposed they do differently. At which point, Bestuzhev revealed that they needed to remove Augustus II's motivation for German annexations. By that, Bestuzhev meant that they needed to make Augustus II think that a Wettin succession in Poland-Lithuania could be made possible by Hapsburg and Russian influence. In Bestuzhev's eyes, if Augustus thought he could have Poland-Lithuania then he would not need Brunswick-Luneburg. However, Seckendorff thought this promise was even more impossible because that would involve the Emperor prolonging the independent and royal status of Saxony. This was a situation that Charles VI was only reluctantly enduring already and could barely be expected to endure for another set of decades until Frederick Augustus's death. However, Bestuzhev assured him that Russia could control Poland-Lithuania as it had been doing for years and that Poland-Lithuania would be no threat to the Hapsburgs. Still, Seckendorff thought that Charles VI would never accept the arrangement and also worried that a guarantee of Saxony's succession to a royal crown would make the demands of other Imperial allies even more severe. What would Prussia demand if Saxony got Poland? Bestuzhev's own response was the question of what else can we give Augustus II?

Eventually, Seckendorff came to realize that there was nothing else and that all he had were impossible options. If he denied Augustus II anything of significance then he risked war now and precipitated war in the future. If he gave Celle to Augustus II then George II would never make peace and the Emperor would be forced to take extreme measures to resolve an Electoral prince's unending defiance. An Imperial ban might have to be imposed. If he gave Poland to Augustus II then rather than alienating Augustus II, Seckendorff alienated the even more powerful Friedrich Wilhelm. Ultimately, Bestuzhev raised the thought of just using the typical vagueries of Emperor Charles VI to offer the Polish crown without guaranteeing it, to treat with Augustus II without signing a treaty with him, to promise without any true meaning. This idea carried some merit because the exclusion of Poland's crown from an official treaty would give him time to manipulate Prussia, but Seckendorff doubted Augustus II would be so easily misled. Nevertheless, with no better options, he was willing to try. To the happy surprise of Seckendorff, the sudden and unexpected thought of a crown for his son left Augustus II so tantalized that he failed to realize the fragility and ambiguity of the offer. Augustus II accepted the vague promise of Poland-Lithuania for his son and Seckendorff and Bestuzhev were able to continue to design the German elements of the peace. The courts of the Hapsburgs and Russia were shocked at the promise made by their diplomats, especially it ran counter to one of the terms of Russia's 1726 treaty with Prussia. According to that treaty, Frederick Augustus and Stanislaus Leszczynski were both explicitly excluded from the Polish succession, and Russia had unsuccessfully attempted to gain the Hapsburgs adherence to those restrictions. In Saint Petersburg, once Bestuzhev made clear to Ostermanthe complications related to Augustus II's demands, Russia recognized the necessity of ignoring the old treaty to provide space to forge a new peace for Europe. Meanwhile, in Vienna, Prince Eugene and Charles VI viewed the promise as a realistic means to drive a wedge between Prussia and Russia and bring both Russia and Saxony closer to the Hapsburgs. Thus, the governments in Saint Petersburg and Vienna confirmed the promises of their diplomats and left Augustus II under the impression that the next election in the Commonwealth would go to his son.

As time progressed and Augustus II became further removed from his meetings with Seckendorff in Herrenhausen he began to realize just how weak the promises made to him were. Even more worryingly, nothing had been put into official signed and ratified documentation. For Imperial support, Augustus II was relying on the mere word of Seckendorff and Emperor Charles VI, neither of whom had a reputation for incredible honesty. This seed of doubt in Augustus II's mind slowly grew as one thing after another seemed to indicate that Augustus II could not rely on the Imperial promises made at Herrenhausen. In the spring of 1730, just a year after Seckendorff purchased Augustus II's acceptance of peace, Emperor Charles VI rather blatantly breached the terms of the Treaty of the Quadruple Alliance. This settlement unlike the Treaty of Madrid was one that the Emperor was a signatory to and more worryingly the Treaty of the Quadruple Alliance was in many ways a revision of the Peace of Utrecht. If Charles VI was willing to trample over his own ratified signature and on the foundations which determined much of Europe's current borders and politics then why would he not turn a blind eye to the whispers of a winter promise? Augustus II's lack of faith in the Emperor only grew when Friedrich Wilhelm relayed how poorly Charles VI had supported Prussia in the Clamei dispute when Friedrich Wilhelm asked for Saxony's support against Brunswick-Luneburg. Rather than back up Prussia as Charles VI had promised, Charles VI tried to stay on the sidelines and later on tried to act as a neutral party that was friendly to both Prussia and Britain. If Charles VI would mistreat his strongest elector then what would stop him from doing the same to Augustus II?

Despite all of Charles VI's misdeeds, Augustus II was not yet ready to lose all hope and instead remained affiliated with the Viennese Alliance and remained publically loyal to the Emperor. The reason for this continued deference had less to do with Charles VI each day and became more about the Russian element of the alliance. Even if Charles VI was not to be trusted, he was not the only man to have promised Augustus II's son the crown of Poland. Bestuzhev as a representative of Russia and the indomitable Prince Aleksander Menshikov had made the same promise. Even if the Hapsburgs broke their promise, so long as the Russians kept theirs then the Wettin succession was secure. It would be Russia's armies, not the Hapsburg armies that would march into Poland if necessary to dictate its politics. The Russians had done so before. In fact, the Russians had been the ones who had reinstated Augustus II after Stanislaus' usurpation. Thus, the Russians mattered much more than the Hapsburgs and for the time it looked as if they would hold true even if the Hapsburgs did not. Under Menshikov and Osterman, they kept Augustus II's illegitimate son, Maurice, in power as the Duke of Courland, they continued Peter I's Baltic diplomacy, and they held true to their other alliances despite the passing of Catherine I of Russia. Within this framework, Augustus II believed that the Wettin succession was also included and also protected.

Whether Augustus II was right or wrong about Menshikov mattered not because, in the winter of 1730, the politics and dynamics of Russia became suddenly unclear when Menshikov retired to Ukraine. Anxiously Augustus II asked the Saxon ambassador, Jean Lefort, to clarify this situation. All Lefort's ever got was an unending torrent of confusion, which was to be the new way of the Russian court. The only thing that Lefort was certain of was that Peter II did not consider himself beholden to the policies of his predecessors and that he would act as he felt right. Although this statement was not specific to Augustus II's case, it seemed to serve as a sufficient answer to Augustus II's inquiries. From that point onward, he believed that Russia no longer could be expected to uphold its promise to achieve Frederick Augustus' election. Although Augustus II did not rule out the possibility that the Russians might consider it or might go through with it, Augustus II could not hold on solely to that flimsy possibility any longer. Augustus II had to treat the Russo-Hapsburg promise of Poland's crown as dead. At the same time, Augustus II had already missed out on his chance to gain more from Brunswick-Luneburg during either Empress Catherine's War or the agitations over Clamei, which left his son with only Saxony as his inheritance. Augustus II's only option to keep his family's legacy and power intact was a succession in Poland and Lithuania. Thus, Augustus II began to look elsewhere for the firm support of his son that he desperately wanted.

Augustus II found that support in an unlikely source, France. Despite the fact that Louis XV's father-in-law, Stanislaus Leszczynski, seemed to be a favored candidate in the next Polish-Lithuanian election, France seemed incredibly amenable to the idea of Frederick Augustus being the next King of Poland. Although the dynastic connection to Stanislaus mattered to many French high-ups, they were willing to ignore the many benefits from restoring the King's father-in-law to a royal crown for the political benefits of an alliance with Saxony. At the top of France's political society was Cardinal Fleury. For Cardinal Fleury, Empress Catherine's War had been a nightmare. Out of all the electoral princes in the Holy Roman Empire, only a single one did not contribute soldiers to the armies of the Viennese Alliance, that single stand out was, of course, George II as Elector Brunswick-Luneburg. Everyone else had raised their arms in support of the Emperor and against France. Even when Louis XIV had been in control of France, the Empire had never been so united against France. Yet somehow despite the goals of Fleury's policies specifically being to improve relations with the German princes, Fleury had in many ways made things worse. Louis XIV had avoided such a united front against him and had repeatedly enticed neutrality or even desertion among the Imperial princes through the strength of his France and his willingness to engage meaningfully with the Imperial princes. Thus, even as a hostile actor Louis XIV was able to bully or buy the submission or loyalty of many Imperial princes. By contrast, Fleury's restraint had allowed him to be outmaneuvered by the Holy Roman Emperor and had been taken as a sign of weakness and unreliability by the Imperial princes. Only through the disappointing performance of France's military was Fleury brought to understand that at least some of his approach to Imperial politics was flawed.

Once Fleury began to understand that his previous approach had failed miserably because of its own inadequacies he changed course somewhat, albeit not nearly as much as the new leader of the war party in France, Marshal Claude Louis Hector de Villars, thought necessary. The first evidence of this change in approach was found in Fleury's serious approach toward the Wittelsbach Union with the idea of an alliance against the Hapsburgs. These negotiations initially were carried out as part of the efforts to connect the British with the Wittelsbachs in opposition to the Prussians. Even though those first negotiations went poorly due to British areas of conflict with the Wittelsbachs and the Wittelsbachs refusal to strongly back Hanoverian schemes in the Empire, France continued the Wittelsbach negotiations on their own but could not get very far without Britain's support and potential subsidies. Although the Wittelsbachs were very willing to consider an alliance with France, they had a price in both land and money that Cardinal Fleury was hardly willing to pay. Without the ability to rely on the Wittelsbach Union that Max II Emanuel, former champion of French interests in Germany, had formed in his waning days, France had to look somewhere else and somewhere new for German support against the Emperor.

Although there was some discussion of the possibility of engaging with Prussia, Cardinal Fleury dismissed that approach as impossible given the Anglo-Prussian rivalry. Thus, the only other secular elector's alliance that could be pursued was Saxony's, Augustus II's Saxony. Through Count Karl Heinrich von Hoym, the Saxon ambassador to France, Fleury opened discussions of what a Franco-Saxon alliance would mean and look like [2]. The primary topic in these discussions was Augustus II's request for support in securing the crown of Poland for his son. Fleury and many others in France were willing to accept this request because they thought the benefits from having a Saxon ally directly north of Bohemia and also in control of Poland to the east of Silesia would outweigh the benefits provided by isolated King Stanislaus of Poland. Furthermore, Augustus II's friendly relations with Friedrich Wilhelm could provide the avenue for resolving the issues between Friedrich Wilhelm, George II, and France. Finally, if France got one of the electoral princes to abandon the side of the Emperor then they expected more, specifically the Wittelsbachs, would follow. Thus, Fleury agreed to the idea of providing the security and funds needed to elect Frederick Augustus to the Polish throne while also promising to hold Stanislaus in France. Without Stanislaus returning to Poland, his chances of being elected as the successor to Augustus II dramatically declined. In return, Augustus II asked for no subsidies and offered his army to France [3]. This agreement was memorialized in the secret Treaty of Dresden. Saxony had quietly turned its back on the Emperor but in doing so had regained the succession to the Polish throne, which gave comfort to the aging Augustus II who could feel his death approaching.

[1] Legally speaking, electorates are supposed to be indivisible but that has not stopped emperors from taking land or trading land between electorates multiple times.
[2] Hoym was the Saxon individual in OTL responsible for the Franco-Saxon alliance. He was described as pro-French in general, so I assume that in TTL he will also be an advocate for a Franco-Saxon alliance.
[3] Augustus II is desperate for support and negotiations are proceeding more rapidly than in OTL because Augustus II has wasted some time relying on Hapsburg-Russian support. For this reason, he goes without subsidies, which he has heard sunk Franco-Wittelsbach negotiations.

Most of this is just a review a look into the Wettin perspective. The purpose is to serve as a recap and a setup for future items.

Word Count: 3421
 
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Succession seems secure now unless there's a breakdown that brings Stanisław back into play or somehow the Portuguese candidate gets sudden backing.

Might save a war. Unless the French alliance flips the calculus around if it comes out.
 
I don't know if Austria & Russia would be happy about the potential of Poland being allied to France. Poland publicly seeking to maintain its alliance with Russia/Austria may not matter if news of secret agreements with France leaked. Their trust in Augustus II would be undermined and they may give serious thought to opposing his son's candidacy. The problem would be finding a good candidate for the two Black Eagles to impose as a pretext for intervention.
 
I don't know if Austria & Russia would be happy about the potential of Poland being allied to France. Poland publicly seeking to maintain its alliance with Russia/Austria may not matter if news of secret agreements with France leaked. Their trust in Augustus II would be undermined and they may give serious thought to opposing his son's candidacy. The problem would be finding a good candidate for the two Black Eagles to impose as a pretext for intervention.
They would be “opposite to happy” by two main reasons:

1, Pro-French PLC means that it is not going to be anti-Ottoman in the case of a future war. Not that the Poles at that time mattered too much in a purely military sense but the Russian operations against the Ottomans (not to be confused with those against the Khanate) involved passage through the Polish territory and getting food from the Polish territories.

2. By that time Russia already considered the PLC as its de facto vassal and the French (or any third party’s) appearance on the scene was not going to be welcomed. There were always enough of the pro-Russian magnates to screw the “wrong” election by proclaiming an alternative candidate. Of course, there can be alt-PII who is trying to get into a full-scale isolationist policy but for this he would need much more brains and will power than 15 years old boy could have (even if he was not interested exclusively in hunting, drinking and dancing) and on the top of it, support of the influential isolationist faction (good luck with finding it). It should be kept in mind that in this specific time a ruler had very little in the terms of “sanctity” of the title. PII was bypassed when it was politically expedient, placed upon the throne when it became politically expedient and could be quietly removed and replaced with a member of either Ivan’s or Peter’s line at any moment if he became inconvenient: he is too young and too stupid to survive on his own.

Suitable candidate for the PLC throne is not a problem if there is Russian-Austrian consensus: just pick up a member of the influential magnate family, provide funds for the bribes and, if and when needed, send some troops.
 
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