Baltic Blunder: Europe at war in 1727

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Archduke, Jun 4, 2019.

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  1. Archduke Well-Known Member

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    Jul 24, 2017
    Baltic Blunder
    An expanded Anglo-Spanish War of 1727 TL
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    Preface
    I find European history from the first half of the 18th century to be incredibly interesting. This period involved three major European wars, the War of the Spanish Succession, the Great Northern War, and the War of the Austrian Succession. All of these wars played critical roles in determining the fate of every European power such as Russia's ascendance, the demise of the Dutch Republic, the reorganization of Spanish politics, and more. Despite the major events and impacts of this time period it has often been overlooked. Instead, historians and enthusiasts alike have favored the wars that preceded such as the Great Turkish War or the wars that followed like the Seven Years' War. In an effort to bring more exposure to this time period and its significance I have decided to write timeline about the Anglo-Spanish War of 1727. This war historically was short and almost completely uneventful with only two minor military engagements. In this timeline, however, I am going to show how that war could have escalated and had significant repercussions on Europe and the world.

    Table of Contents (to be updated as I write):
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  2. Threadmarks: 1: Ripperda and the outbreak of war

    Archduke Well-Known Member

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    1: Ripperda and the outbreak of war
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    Juan Guillermo de Riperda

    The second half of the 17th century had seen the steady deterioration and diminishing of the Spanish empire as it was besieged by one opponent after another seeking a slice of Spain's domains. This lust for Spain's varied lands ultimately obstructed a peaceful passage of Spain's empire from Carlos II to his Bourbon heir, Felipe V, and provoked the long, hard War of the Spanish Succession. The war saw the Spanish monarchy attacked everywhere from the Americas to Sicily to the Spanish Netherlands. Even Spain itself was assailed as the Catalans fought against the crown in favor of the Hapsburg claimant, as the Rock of Gibraltar was lost, and as Madrid traded hands seven times. Eventually, in 1713, the war came to an end with the Treaty of Utrecht. This treaty effectively ended Spain's claim to greatness and removed it from the class of heavyweight European powers that Spain had been a part of since its inception. Soon after the rest of Europe began to look past and beyond Spain: Britain took to adventuring in the Baltic, Austria resumed its campaign against the Turk, and France attempted to inject life into its colonies.

    However, while the rest of the continent thought that Spain's power had been curtailed, the new Spanish king believed that he could resurrect the behemoth that once was Spain. As a consequence, Felipe V and his Cardinal Alberoni engaged in a series of plots and intrigues to destabilize and distract the guarantors of Utrecht so that Spain might steal back its lost provinces. These plots included efforts to unleash the Jacobites on Britain, take over the government of France, and fuel conflict between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Turkish Sultan. In the meantime, the armies of Spain swiftly conquered the islands of Sardinia and Sicily. This initial success, however, did not last. Soon the plots of Alberoni were exposed and defeated and soon after so were the soldiers of Spain. The resulting defeat only served to reconfirm the harsh reality of Utrecht: Spain had fallen. Thwarted and demoralized, King Felipe allowed his melancholy to get the best of him and abdicated in 1724. Unfortunately, the death of Felipe's successor, Luis, just months after forced Felipe to return to his miserable throne.

    When Felipe V's second reign began so too did the scheming to restore Spain's former glory. Having learned from the failed war against the Quadruple Alliance Felipe now sought to split up and befriend his enemies so that he might turn on just one of his enemies rather than all of them. At first, Felipe imagined that Spain's friend was to be France. However, the young French king Louis XV and his anti-Felipe advisers ultimately stymied that plan when they sent back the Spanish infanta meant to marry Louis XV. This act outraged the Spanish court and demonstrated that France cared more for Britain than for its family in Spain. With France having turned its back to Spain, Spain focused its efforts on the Holy Roman Emperor.

    The task of arranging an alliance between Spain and the Hapsburgs feel to the relatively minor character of Juan Guillermo de Riperda. Riperda was another of a long string of foreign adventurers who had come to the Spanish court to make their name and fortune. Despite not having done much to prove himself thus far, Riperda's knowledge of foreign languages and limited diplomatic experience was enough for King Felipe to appoint Riperda as his special envoy to the Emperor. The additional benefit of sending Riperda over a Spaniard was that if Riperda were to say something truly infuriating to the Emperor, Felipe could easily have Riperda disavowed and abandoned.

    The proposition which Riperda was sent to offer to Emperor Charles VI was in simple terms outrageous. Spain expected Charles VI to allow his daughter and heiress, Maria Theresa, to be married to Don Carlos of Spain who would gain the Hapsburg German lands and be named King of the Romans. Furthermore, Charles' second daughter would marry Don Felipe and Spain who would gain Milan, Sicily, and Naples from the Emperor. The Southern Netherlands were to be returned to Spain and Hapsburg aid was expected in regaining Sardinia, Minorca, and Gibraltar. In return, Spain would offer support to the Emperor against the Turks and opposition within the Holy Roman Empire, trade with the Spanish empire, help with the Ostend Company, and concessions regarding the Order of the Golden Fleece. Of course, Charles VI and his ministers rejected this imbalanced proposal. Even though this initial offer was declined, Emperor Charles did find the idea of a Spanish alliance appropriate and permitted Riperda to remain in Vienna and negotiate a more reasonable deal.

    The first arrangement that Riperda and the Hapsburgs came to only amounted to a defensive alliance in return for Spain giving the Hapsburgs and their Ostend Company commercial rights. This agreement would have woefully insufficient and outright rejected by the Spanish had it not been for Spain's falling out with France. Instead, Spain accepted and celebrated the Treaty of Vienna and the new alliance with the Hapsburgs. In spite of the limited range of this alliance it still concerned the government of Britain greatly. In Britain, there was even talk of returning Gibraltar to Spain if Spain would just void its treaty with the Hapsburgs. Yet this talk was quickly disregarded and in its place talk of a true military alliance with France occurred. France apparently shared Britain's concern for they signed the Treaty of Hanover, entering into an alliance with Britain and Prussia. However, the creation of this alliance only further encouraged the Hapsburgs to tie themselves to the Spanish. Within months, Riperda had signed a new treaty with the Emperor that arranged for two of the Emperor's daughters to marry Don Carlos and Don Felipe. Additionally, the Emperor would support Spain's quest to retake Gibraltar and Minorca in return for Spanish subsidies. The signing of the revised Treaty of Vienna began a series of negotiations between states of Europe that left aligned in two camps, that of Britain and France and that of Austria and Spain. The Hanoverian Alliance ultimately consisted of Britain, France, the Dutch Republic, Hanover, and Sardinia. The opposing Viennese Alliance consisted of Austria, Spain, Russia, Saxony, Bavaria, and Cologne. Prussia although one of the original signers of the Treaty of Hanover created uncertainty by entering into talks with the Emperor.

    With these two alliances dividing the continent it seemed war was on the horizon but first a political misstep ended Riperda's adventure. After returning from Vienna with the improved treaty, Riperda claimed that Charles VI wanted him to be Spain's prime minister. Felipe and the Spanish Court compiled with this demand out of fear of losing their Hapsburg benefactor. However, upon the arrival of the Hapsburg dignitary, Konigsegg, it was discovered that the Emperor was in no way inclined towards Riperda and that his claim was entirely false. What Konigsegg discovered for himself was that Spain had no money to supply the subsidies promised by Riperda. Still, the Hapsburgs favored amity with Spain and continued to remain supportive of Spain. As a result, in spite of the Treaty of Vienna's prime orchestrater falling and being imprisoned, the alliance remained intact and soon after optimistic Spain declared war on Perfidious Albion [1].

    [1] So far everything is still OTL.

    Word Count: 1238
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  3. Threadmarks: 2: Spain and Britain's war

    Archduke Well-Known Member

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    2: Spain and Britain's war
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    13th Siege of Gibraltar

    Although Spain had been the one to declare war in 1727 the first move had actually been taken by Britain. In the spring of 1726, the British parliament dispatched to the Caribbean a fleet of eleven ships-of-the-line, one frigate, two sloops, and one snow under the command of Rear-Admiral Francis Hosier. This fleet ultimately sailed on to Porto Bello, one of Spain's prime treasure ports, for the purpose of disrupting the flow of gold and silver to Spain. When the fleet they quickly managed to seize a number of Spanish ships. However, the Spanish treasure was safely unloaded and returned to the storehouses in the port. This initial success would not be replicated. Instead, the following months saw both the Spanish and British forces remain idle around Porto Bello. Of course, the British fleet being at sea suffered more than the Spaniards on land. Eventually, the combination of the tropics and constrained quarters culminated in an outbreak of yellow fever among the British fleet. With his fleet ravaged by disease, Hosier had no choice but to return to Jamaica and replenish his numbers. Without the British anchored off outside of Porto Bello, the Spanish were finally able to send their treasure fleet to Spain. The fleet's arrival in Spain was hailed a victory, which it doubtlessly was as Britain has wasted significant resources for the sole purpose of avoiding that exact outcome. Furthermore, the addition of 31 million pesos to the Spanish treasury quickly became an absolute necessity for the Spanish war effort.

    When Spain declared war on Britain, they did so with little preparation and a weak treasury. The reason Spain was willing to fight under such conditions was that they had been promised serious material aid from the Hapsburg monarchy. The Hapsburgs, however, became hesitant about fully committing themselves to the Spanish alliance when British diplomats suddenly began to act much more friendly than they had in the many months previous. Consequently, the Spanish army found itself dependent solely on itself to find a way towards victory. In spite of the odds, many commanders were still confident in Spain's ability to achieve success. These commanders, of course, had to call back to the memory of the Spanish empire of old rather than to the recent actions of the Spanish military to remind their soldiers of Spanish glory. Even though Spain had found some early wins in the previous War of the Quadruple Alliance the war had ended in a humiliating defeat for Spain.

    The main success which Spanish hoped to achieve was the capture of Gibraltar. In regards to accomplishing this feat, previously the Marquis de Villadarias noted that Gibraltar was unassailable without naval superiority, which the Spanish had lost the right to contest after their horrific defeat at Cape Passaro during the War of the Quadruple Alliance. Thus Villadarias assessment would have deemed a capture of the Rock to be impossible. Spain's current engineers, Jorge Prospero de Verboom, Francisco Monteagut, and Diego Bordick, were slightly more sanguine. The engineers thought that perhaps a diversionary attack combined with a quick naval assault against the southern approach of the Rock had a slim chance of success. Neither of these judgements pleased Felipe V in his quest for victory. Instead, the boast of Count de la Torres that he could take the fortress in six weeks is what garnered the most attention from Felipe and his court. As a result, de la Torres was named commander of the army destined for Gibraltar and the others were made his subordinates.

    The army of de la Torres consisted of thirty whole infantry battalions and six squadrons of horse. The artillery that complements this considerable force was made of seventy-two mortars and ninety-two cannon. In total, the Spanish army amounted to 12000 men on paper. Among these men were four Irish battalions, many of whom were Jacobite supporters who viewed this siege as an opportunity to strike a hard blow against the rising British empire. Opposing Spain's army was the much smaller garrison of Gibraltar. This garrison contained only the elements of four regiments which added up to just 1200 men. On top of this numerical disadvantage, both the Earl of Portmore and Brigadier General Jasper Clayton, respectively, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Gibraltar, were absent from the fortress when the Spanish army arrived across the isthmus. The responsibly of defending Gibraltar fell to a mere colonel, Richard Kane, and a garrison that was outnumbered 10 to 1. Despite the grim disparity in land forces, the British did have a major advantage in the strength of the Gibraltar and Menorca naval squadrons. This naval superiority guaranteed that Gibraltar would remain supplied with munitions and food throughout the siege despite the distance to Portsmouth.

    The siege officially began when the Spaniards occupied Devil's Tower and began to dig siege lines opposing Gibraltar on February 11th of 1727. The British defenders responded with a few warning shots but the angle depression made a heavy bombardment of the Spanish from Gibraltar unfavorable. Rather than depend on Gibraltar's guns to damage the Spaniards the British depended on their naval guns, which is fitting considering Britain's historical reliance on its navy. At first, these naval guns did take their toll on the Spanish besiegers by killing hundreds on them. However, once the Spanish constructed artillery batteries along the coast the British ships were forced to back down. Even though the British fleet's bombardment had ceased, the poor weather of February combined with the Britain Willis' battery hampered Spain's efforts to advance its siege lines. However, the discovery of a cave beneath Willis' battery offered the Spanish a chance to literally undermine the battery. Yet once became obvious that such a task would take several months, de la Torres abandoned the idea due to his foolish belief that he might actually win the siege in just six weeks. However, the problem with leaving Willis' battery standing was that Spain could not advance its siege lines much further for risk of the infantry being battered too heavily. The only option left to Spain was to depend on its cannons to hammer Gibraltar into submission.

    The true Spanish bombardment of Gibraltar began on March 24th and continued for ten days. The bombardment would have lasted longer, however, the rains began too heavy and the conditions too difficult. Nevertheless, the bombardment had met with a good degree of success. The northern fortifications and Villa Vieja neighborhood of Gibraltar had sustained harsh punishment. Indeed, in Villa Vieja, after the bombardment "a hundred houses were by that means laid in rubbish" according to a British defender. However, not all was well for the Spanish. Firstly, Gibraltar still stood defiant. Secondly, many Spanish soldiers had deserted or been taken out of action by disease. Additionally, the bad weather continued to hamper the Spanish siege. This weather hampered the Spanish so much that the British were able to reinforce Gibraltar unmolested first on April 7th and later on May 1st. These reinforcements brought the size of Gibraltar's garrison up to more than 5000. Also, among the reinforcements was Earl of Portmore, Governor of Gibraltar, an experienced general and leader. Overall, this reinforcing of Gibraltar significantly bolstered morale and confidence among the British defenders. Soon after they attempted a sortie, however, the British artillery fired early and alerted the Spaniards to the sortie attempt.

    On May 7th, the conditions finally allowed the Spanish to resume their bombardment of Gibraltar. For the next eight days, the Spanish rained fire and dropped thousands of cannonballs upon Gibraltar and its defenses. This bombardment killed many of the British defenders and harried the British batteries. On the Old Mole, sixteen of the twenty-four British cannon had been dismounted in a single day of Spanish bombardment. At Willis' battery, only two guns had been left mounted after the Spanish bombardment and the British artillery personnel was scared to return to their positions. The British had been so harassed that Portmore felt the need to significantly raise wages from eight pence a day to a full shilling a day. The Spanish also recognized their success. In fact, de la Torres sent a message to Portmore: "A Flag of Truce to the Governor With a Compliment to inform his Lordship that they have not begun the Siege, and that as yet they were only trying their ordinance, tho' they yesterday sent us, most part into the Town, 119 Bombs and near 1500 Balls and keep still a most dreadfull firing."

    Despite those eight days of success, Gibraltar still did not succumb. And after those eight days, the Spanish iron cannon broke from overuse and the Spanish brass cannon became ineffective due to overheating. Furthermore, the failure of the Hapsburgs to provide the material support meant that the Spanish supply situation was declining into a horrid state. The British soon enough began to remount their guns, reestablish their batteries, and return fire against their Spanish opponents. All in all, despite the damage the Spanish had done they were not actually close to taking Gibraltar and the defenders were still stalwart in their defense. The previous disagreements of the Spanish commanders over how to conduct a siege of Gibraltar boiled up into hostility. De Verboom, the engineer-in-chief of the siege was so discontented he returned to Madrid to file a complaint against de la Torres' conduction of the siege. When de la Torres arrived in Madrid, however, he found that the Spanish government's focus on turned to an entirely different place from Gibraltar, the Baltic [1].

    [1] Once again, this post is entirely OTL. I promise the next post will include the POD. This last line, obviously, hints at that POD: Shenanigans in the Baltic.

    Word Count: 1630
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
  4. Wendell Wendell

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    This looks fun. Subbed.
     
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  5. Southern pride Well-Known Member

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    Jul 13, 2017
    Looks very interesting hopefully Spain can win.
     
  6. Threadmarks: 3: Rally and Rage

    Archduke Well-Known Member

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    3: Rally and Rage
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    Empress Catherine I

    As the British found themselves at war with the Spanish in the Mediterranean they also were in the midst a crisis with the Russians in the Baltic. Ever since Russia's dramatic victory in the Great Northern War it had been the premier Baltic power. Since the rise of Russia had coincided with the ascendence of the German Hanoverians to the British throne, Russia being the Baltic power posed a grave threat to Britain's new Hanoverian realm. In particular, Russia's ardent support of the House of Holstein-Gottorp's claims against Denmark was considered fundamentally dangerous to the integrity of the Electorate of Brunswick-Luneburg. The reason being is that the Electorate's purchase of the province of Bremen-Verden from Denmark had been made alongside a promise for the House of Hanover to support Denmark in its dispute with Holstein. Alone, Holstein had not been able to act on its claims and find retribution for its grievances; however, with Russia's armies, Holstein could very well reclaim its lands and thus void Brunswick-Luneburg's right to Bremen Verden. As a result, Britain had spent the years after the Great Northern War to 1727 doing everything it could to oppose Russia in the Baltic and discourage it from amending Holstein's situation. This policy involved Britain deploying a fleet to the Baltic in 1721 and then again in 1726 to make a show of force and demonstrate Britain's resolve in opposing Holstein's claims. Although the latter fleet had successfully dissuaded a Russian attack on Denmark, it turned Russia's attention and ire towards Brunswick-Luneburg and Britain. Furious at Britain's interference with Russian policy, Russia placed itself in two alliances very much opposed to Britain. The first alliance is that of Austrians and Spaniards. Russia agreed to join in arms against Britain and all her allies by supplying 30000 soldiers for a direct assault on Hanover. The second alliance was one with the Jacobite claimants to the British throne. This second alliance, however, was only informal and no official treaty or proclamation was made. Altogether, these acts had more than frightened Britain.

    Britain acted on its fear like it always did by sending envoys and warships. In the spring of 1727, British envoys arrived in Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Cassel all for the sole purpose of gathering Britain allies to defend Hanover. In Copenhagen, the British restated their support for Denmark rather than Holstein and reminded Denmark of the hazard of Russia's power for Denmark. In Stockholm, the British offered a chance at redeeming the hard defeat of the Great Northern War. In Cassel, the British presented hard cash and promised more. In all three capitals, each government agreed to sign on to the Treaty of Hanover and join Britain's alliance. As British diplomats went about buying Britain an army to defend Brunswick-Luneburg, Britain's navy went about reminding the Baltic who was the superior naval power. Once again, a British fleet had entered the Baltic determined to show strength and force Russia to back down. Yet this time was different. In 1726, the Russians had stayed at port and abandoned their plans due to the threat of the British ships. in 1727, however, the Russians were of a different mind. Rather than once more allow the British to encroach in Russian waters and intrude in Russian affairs, this time Russia was determined to act. After hearing of Britain's fleet and of her new allies, Empress Catherine rallied with all her strength from a bout with illness and commanded Fyodor Apraksin and the Baltic fleet to answer Britain's show of force with one of its own. Shortly, afterward, however, the illness violently seized Catherine again. Catherine continued through the weeks of May [1].

    As Catherine had been battling with illness, General Admiral Apraksin did just as she ordered and challenged the British trespassers. After weeks of sailing, the Apraksin had located the British fleet, commanded by Admiral John Norris, on the 23rd of May, off the coast of Saaremaa. Upon sighting the British, Apraksin prepared his fleet for battle and sent orders to Saaremaa and Muhu for help from the coast. Despite his preparation, however, Apraksin did not wish to fight a real battle against the British. Although the numbers of each fleet were roughly equal, Apraksin still recognized the obvious superiority of the British. All Apraksin wished to do was demonstrate strength and fire some warning spots so that he could fulfill his orders and uphold Russia's honor. Admiral Norris, on the other hand, had no qualms about engaging the Russian fleet. Indeed, when Norris had first heard of the Russian fleet leaving port he had been surprised and also concerned. Previously, a Russian fleet had managed to reach the Hebrides unopposed. At this point, with Russia allied to the Spaniards and linked to the Jacobites Admiral Norris had to be uneasy. Perhaps the Russians were soon to be at war with Britain just as Spain already was or perhaps the Russians were dreaming up plans to a Jacobite army in Britain. In any case, Norris felt that the best course of action was to engage and defeat the Russian fleet. Consequently, Norris quickly organized his fleet and sailed straight at the Russians [2].

    In the ensuing battle, the superior British ships and seamanship hammered the Russians hard. Quickly Arpraksin ordered his fleet to retreat into the Vaike Strait. As the Russians pulled into the Vaike Strait along Saaremaa's coast, the British ships which chased after struggled. The British fleet although the better fleet overall was not better in every way. Throughout the 1720s the Russian Navy had gone from being a fleet filled with and commanded by foreigners to one which was decidedly Russian. As a result, the pilots, captains, and sailors were all extremely familiar with the shorelines of the Russian Empire and how to navigate them. Furthermore, the Russian fleet was a Baltic fleet whereas the British fleet was an Atlantic one. The small size of the Baltic Sea, its many islands, and its close quarters meant that heavy ships were not always superior. Although having the biggest ship and biggest guns can win a navy many battles in the open sea, the same can not be said when fighting in the cramped shorelines of the Baltic. The British navy's focus on blue water fighting rather than coastal fighting had previously resulted in several English defeats to the Dutch despite superior English numbers. At Saaremaa, decades later, the British were punished for failing to learn from their mistakes. In this tight strait, the British fleet's effectiveness diminished and the British soon found themselves harassed by Russian soldiers from the coast. Still, Admiral Norris pressed on, and as he pressed on Apraksin fell back. Then with a sudden, jarring, crash the HMS Britannica ran aground on a hidden shoal. The large size of the HMS Britannica meant that it running aground did not just take the Britannica out of battle but several of the ships behind it as well. Furthermore, the confined area of the strait and the coastal harassment made any attempt to unground the ship far less likely to succeed. With Norris' biggest ship effectively lost and his fleet divided, the admiral had no choice but to give up the chase and retreat. In this retreat, of course, the British were forced to abandon the Britannica. Despite the British retreating, the Russians did not chase after them. Actually, the Russians were incapable of chasing after the British because of the large amount of damage the Russian ships had sustained.

    When news of the Battle of Saaremaa reached St. Petersburg, it is said that Empress Catherine was so filled with an absolute white rage that she managed to immediately recover from her months-long illness, stand unaided, and loudly proclaim that she would destroy Hanover and crush Britain and all its allies. Whatever the truth of that, Catherine I did recover soon after the battle and had been enraged by the British attack against her fleet. In Catherine's eyes, Russia and Britain had been at peace then Britain attacked Russia without provocation while the Russian fleet was doing nothing more than protecting the sovereignty of Russian waters. Catherine called back to the Battle of Cape Passaro when the British attacked a Spanish fleet despite the state of peace between Spain and Britain. There is some truth to Catherine's analogy but overall it can be concluded that Catherine was simply fishing for an excuse to go to war with Britain and resolve the Holstein dispute once and for all [3]. Regarding the actual result of the battle: Russian fleet had lost 3 ships while the British had only lost the Britannica and twice as many Russian ships had been severely damaged. By strict definition, the battle was a British victory. Also, following the battle, the British fleet remained in the Baltic, which means that the Russians failed to achieve their strategic goal and thus the battle was also a strategic defeat. Yet the Russians went on to call it a victory. They proclaimed Apraksin a hero and called the battle their second Gangut. In Britain, on the other hand, the battle was considered a humiliation. The British navy had been given a bloody nose by a navy which was less than half a century old, led by Asiatic beasts, and consisting of inferior ships. Admiral Norris was vilified for his conduct and command during the battle. Norris was almost immediately replaced by Admiral Wager as commander of the Baltic Fleet due to the disgust at the result of the battle. Norris was even court-martialled but successfully defended himself before the tribunal. Something which further fueled these perspectives of the battle was the Russian refloating of the Britannica. After the battle, the Russians completely unloaded the warship and then successfully kedged it. Subsequently, the Russians repaired the Britannica and Empress Catherine personally renamed it Retribution to indicate her intent to use Britain's own ship to punish Britain and Brunswick-Luneburg.

    Regarding that punishment, the first move Catherine made was to inform her ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor that she was invoking the terms of their alliance and calling on the Hapsburgs to help Russia retaliate against this brazen British attack. At the time, Emperor Charles VI was engaged in negotiations with the British to abandon Spain and reestablish relations with Britain. Considering the lack of Spanish military success and the strength of the Hanoverian Alliance, Charles VI had been very inclined to accept Britain's offer. After the Battle of Saaremaa, however, the situation was drastically different. If Charles reconciled with the British now then he would not just betray the Spaniards but also the Russians. While the Hapsburgs might be able to survive without Spain, to give up an alliance with Russia would be far from wise. Still, Charles was very wary to throw his domain into a long, bloody war that there was no guarantee of victory in. For days, Charles and his council debated what action Austria should take while Russian and Spanish diplomats constantly bombarded the Hapsburgs with calls to arms. Finally, on June 29th, the Hapsburgs released answer and it was just as the Russians and Spaniards had prayed for, war.

    The decision of the Hapsburgs to declare war on Britain triggered the series of treaties between the various powers of Europe and turned what originally had been a limited war between Spain and Britain into a true continental conflict. Opposed by Russia, the Hapsburgs, and Spain, Britain requested France, Sardinia, the Dutch Republic, Denmark-Norway, Sweden, Hesse-Cassel, and Prussia fight along its side. Almost all of these states chose to fulfill their treaties with Britain and joined the war. The Dutch Republic, however, was quite slow in its reaction as its States General worried about the potential of French soldiers in the Austrian Netherlands. Meanwhile, Prussia was forced to reevaluate its situation. Prussia was a strong state in its own right, however, it was weaker than Austria and far far far quicker than the Russian Empire. To fight for Britain could easily mean the complete destruction of Prussia or at least significant harm being done it. Fighting for the Emperor, however, offered the chance to be in his good graces for succession disputes and most importantly meant avoiding Russian hordes overwhelming Prussia and Brandenburg. With this in mind, Prussia joined Bavaria, Cologne, and Saxony as allies of Russia, the Hapsburgs, and Spain. All in all, the stage was set was a spectacle of war between nearly all the relevant European states [4].

    [1] In OTL, Catherine I dies on May 16 of 1727. As a result of her death, there immediately is a (bloodless) struggle among the Russian nobility to select the next Russian ruler. As a result of this struggle, new people came into power and among their first actions was to recall the Russian Baltic fleet. Obviously, only recently having gained power the new government does not want to risk losing control or popularity due to war. TTL, Catherine does not die, the fleet is not recalled, and it ultimately ends up fighting the British.
    [2] British naval policy at this time was exceedingly aggressive and tensions with Russia were at a very high point.
    [3] Tensions were very high, all that was needed was a spark.
    [4] Alliances are all OTL and so its Prussia's loyalty to Austria and fear of Russia.

    Word Count: 2228
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019 at 5:54 PM
  7. God-Eater of the Marshes Wanted on Voyage

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    Very interesting timeline. Consider me subbed. So this is Britain, France, and Scandinavia versus Spain, Russia, and the Habsburgs? Quite a big war, indeed...
     
  8. Nmale Well-Known Member

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    May 3, 2018
    Great so far but wasn’t Charles VI the Emperor in 1727, not Joseph I?
     
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  9. Threadmarks: Map - 1727 Europe During Empress Catherine's War

    Archduke Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    Thought a map would help illuminate the situation. All thanks to Marc Pasquin for editing this map for me.
     
  10. God-Eater of the Marshes Wanted on Voyage

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    Thanks for the visuals!
     
  11. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    Apr 24, 2018

    Great visuals and interesting time line. As far as Russian part is involved, you’ll probably need to incorporate Menshikov into the story: Catherine was an empress but he was a true power behind the throne. And he wanted to became a generalissimo really badly. So as soon as the fun starts one can expect him to lead the Russian troops into Northern Germany where he already operated successfully during the GNW.

    At the time of Peter’s death size of the Russian army on paper was over 400k and realistically it could maintain 70 - 100K in the field. Menshikov was (at least when he was younger) an energetic and reasonably capable general (mostly but not always in charge of a cavalry). So most probably he would advocate a military action in Germany where the British naval advantages would not matter (and he would be most definitely jealous of Apraxin’s glory). Neutrality of the PLC would not beconsidered a major problem.

    And the Hapsburgs have a trump card called “Prince Eugene” so in the case of a land confrontation a lot depends on up to which degree France, as the main land power of the Hanoverian Alliance, is ready to be in such a war (Villars is still alive and active): except for a rather abstract notion of maintaining the power balance in Europe such a war would be mostly addressing the British interests in Germany unless it is going to end up as something totally unrelated to the claimed goal like happened in OTL with the War of the Polish Succession. But in such a scenario Prussia and Russia will have pretty much a free hand in the Northern Germany.

    Edit:
    As a side though, while there were the British dynastic interests in Germany there were also commercial interests related to the growing Russian trade which in OTL to a great degree neutralized the British activities on the Swedish side.
    Britain needed materials for building the ships and by the mid-XVIII It was buying more the 2/3rds of the Russian hemp exports and more than a half of the flax exports which by the late XVIII amounted to 75% of the British flax imports and 97 - 98% hemp imports. While there were alternative suppliers of the timber and iron, on hemp and flax Russia hold almost a monopoly. Of course, dependency was lower in the 1720s but not negligible. In 1711 - 20 exports from Riga amounted (in 1000 shiploads) to 9.5 flax and 20,1 hemp and in 1721 - 30: 19.1 flax and 55.8 hemp (and kept growing).

    These interests were not going away and sooner or later may start playing a role in the whole schema.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
  12. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    Well Menshikov may have been the dominant force in domestic politics, in international affairs, Osterman was supreme. The reason the narrative focused, however, on Catherine was due to her personal interest in helping reestablish Holstein, which was the only part of international affairs she ever really got involved with. This involvement led her to even name Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein, to her Supreme Privy Council, where he actually had some degree of influence surprisingly (not at all close to Menshikov or Osterman though). As the narrative of the war progresses I will get more involved with the details of Russian politics because of the large roles which several of the council members have in the actual war.

    Menshikov will focus on military matters closer to home such as Finland, while Russia will dispatch individuals such as Lacy and Charles Frederick towards Germany.

    Fortunately for the Hapsburgs, this is last decade in which Prince Eugene is still of sound mind. Villars will lead France's armies as this the last decade he is healthy in. Fleury would prefer the war limited, but he's surrounded by warmongers at home and abroad.
     
  13. Colonel flagg Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2019
    ottomans and Poland can make the difference if the support hanover or vienna
     
  14. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    The Ottomans will continue to enjoy the Tulip Peace

    Poland will remain at peace due to political divisions and the lack of incentive for war. Poland can't really gain anything as Russia, Austria, and Prussia are allied. Poland also would lose terribly if it fought against Russia, Austria, and Prussia.
     
  15. Colonel flagg Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2019
    what the economic situation of each country since Spain usually goes bankrupt
     
  16. Tarabas Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2018
    Subscribed. I am very interested in seeing where this goes.
     
  17. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    Well, Osterman was in charge of the foreign affairs (so he is arranging Austrian alluance as in OTL) but your scenario is leading to the war, which would be Menshikov’s domain. Anyway, as soon as there was a need to make any serious decision, Osterman was sick. As far as the military affairs are involved, the logical choice for Finland would be Micheal Golitsin who already defeated Swedes there during the GNW. Anybody but Menshikov as a supreme commander on a prestigious German front is unlikely because, as I said, he had an ambition to became a generalissimo and, for all practical purposes, was the most experienced commander available and already fought in that region. Lacy at that time was still only a Lieutenant General so he would be a subordinate commander and Charles Frederic did not have a record to qualify him for such an important command. Another military figure to keep in mind would be von Munnich who in 1726 already was a full general. All of them are outranked by Menshikov who is a filedmarshal. Munnich as a subordinate commander is an interesting scenario because he was extremely ambitious (and, while being not a very good field commander, he was consistently lucky).

    Now, on a broader scale, taking into an account that, IIRC, Hanover Alliance was a defensive treaty and the Brits started the hostilities, France may be formally off the hook. Unless, of course, it wants some rearrangements in Italy and/or on the Rhine.
     
  18. Archduke Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    Yes, regarding Osterman, I was strictly referring to the diplomacy leading up to the war rather than the war's proceedings itself.

    Golitsin will make a fine field commander and Menshikov will be Russia's supreme commander have no fear about that. With regards to Lacy and Charles, I am referring strictly to the opening moves of the war. Already, Lacy is in command of an army which is ready to move and Charles Frederick is going to join him, not as a true general but as an accompanying royal like George II at Dettingen. By matters at home, I mean Menshikov will be in charge of repelling any early attacks from Finland and putting together a large field army. Once that army is put together Menshikov will lead it and march towards his glory. Munnich so far has established himself as an intelligent engineer and that is the role he will play.

    France doesn't war but Fleury fears that neutrality would be a worse fate as will be explained.
     
  19. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    The main problem with Munnich is that he considered himself to be more than a competent engineer or even a military reformer: he wanted a battlefield glory and, short of some drastic measures, it would be rather difficult to keep him (a full General) busy with the canals construction: he could be very persuasive and extremely charming. :)

    As for Finland, this would be Golitsin’s domain: he already was its governor in 1714 - 21. By the same reason Menshikov is “doomed” to get command in Germany: during the GNW he already was in charge of an army operating in Pomerania and Holstein.

    Eagerly waiting for your next installment.
     
  20. Threadmarks: 4: Hanoverian Alliance Prepares for War

    Archduke Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    4: Hanoverian Alliance Prepares for War
    [​IMG]
    Prince Frederick in 1720

    As war seized Europe in the summer of 1727, the British led Hanoverian Alliance realized just how truly unprepared for a war they were. In Britain itself, the expansion of the Anglo-Spanish conflict into continental brawl came a particularly delicate time in British politics. Little over a week before the Hapsburg declaration of war, Britain's king, George I, suffered from a stroke and he died two days later. Upon hearing of his death, the British prime minister, Robert Walpole, rushed to the Prince of Wales and asked for instructions. After years of being opposed by Walpole, George Augustus bluntly replied that Walpole should go to Sir Spencer Compton and that he would give Walpole his instructions. This statement was effectively a dismissal of a man who had led Britain for the past six years and began a contest for the position of prime minister. This contest did not start immediately as the British court instead focused on establishing the new king, George II, in his palaces and set about organizing a funeral for the old king. Thus when news of war arrived in London it arrived to a leaderless parliament and a fresh king.

    The competition for prime minister mainly occurred between Walpole, the recently dismissed prime minister, Charles Townshend, Northern Secretary, and Spencer Compton, Paymaster of Forces. Walpole had not desired war in the slightest. As prime minister, he had done much to keep Britain out of conflict. The Treaty of Hanover, which Walpole blamed for escalating tensions and ultimately causing the war, had actually been negotiated entirely by Townshend without Walpole being informed until after the treaty was signed. Still, Walpole felt that he was the best possible prime minister and felt obligated to try to return to the office. Townshend originally did not have much interest in pursuing the premiership, however, with the outbreak of war in the Baltic many members of parliament felt that it was only right for the Northern Secretary to conduct that war. This pressure from below is what convinced Townshend to compete. Lastly, there was Compton. Compton was not viewed as a particularly adept politician and he had been prevented from having too much influence in politics by Walpole for the last several years. Despite those facts, Compton was noted as a man of great energy and will, which were viewed as extremely necessary and important traits in a prime minister for war. Consequently, several politicians offered their support to Compton. Whatever the opinions of the parliamentarians, however, the decision of who would lead Britain in war fell George II not them [1].

    During the days that followed, each man made it known to King George their interest in being his prime minister. All of them gave speeches about their experience and their skill but the main matter of importance was their plans for the war. Walpole, out of his reluctance for war, spoke of limited army operations to prevent the fall of Gibraltar and also defend against an attack on Brunswick-Luneburg. Navally, the British would focus on protecting their interests in the Caribbean and Baltic while also harassing Spanish and Austrian trade. Such a small scope, however, did not sit well with George, especially because of his deep attachment to Brunswick-Luneburg despite his fourteen-year-long absence from the electorate. Townshend spoke of a more serious British commitment to the war which combined his experience might have been enough to gain him the premiership had it not been for the fact that Townshend had arranged the Treaty of Hanover in close cooperation with George I, whom George II disdained. Ultimately, it was Compton's calls for large albeit unrealistic military commitments to the Low Lands and Hanover that won the position of prime minister [2].

    As prime minister, Compton's first move was to attempt to make good on his promise by requesting that parliament supply the funds to support an army of 70000 men. These soldiers were to fight across the Continent, in Gibraltar, Galicia, the Low Lands, and Brunswick-Luneburg. The Opposition and many of Compton's allies fiercely attacked the idea of such an army. Some pointed to the potential for tyranny, others simply spoke about the costs. Although many in Parliament were about the Russo-Austro-Spanish alliance they were concerned to the extent of 70000 men and four distinct campaigns. Instead, after much debate and compromise, the Parliament agreed to support a much smaller force of 46000 men. 20000 men were to be made available for the defense of Brunswick-Luneburg, 12000 men would be dispatched to the Netherlands, and a final 14000 men would be raised to defend the British Isles against any potential Jacobite attack. Despite the reduced size of the army, the army Britain began to assemble was still a considerable force. Still, some worried that it would not be enough.

    Across the English Channel in France, the Walpole's reluctance for war was shared by Cardinal Fleury, the leading man in Versailles. Unlike Walpole, Fleury would not lose his position over his reluctance. France had spent nearly a century in a constant state of war and it had paid price in blood and gold for it. Although, France had greatly been expanded under the reign of Louis XIV it had also been financially and politically exhausted. For this reason, Fleury and most of the French court were wary to dive deep into yet another European war. The only reason that Fleury had accepted the British call to arms was that he shared their fear of a Russo-Austrian alliance dominating Germany and threatening France's eastern flank. Still, Fleury's lack of enthusiasm was obvious and had a large impact on how France proceeded with its preparations for war. France decided to only raise 100000 soldiers. This army may be twice that of Britain's but France's population was more than three times the size of Britain's. In the high seas, Fleury ordered only an inexpensive and limited "guerre de course" or war against commerce [3].

    This disinclination for war in Britain and France was significant but it paled in comparison to the almost hostile stance the Dutch Republic took towards war. The Dutch had joined the Hanoverian Alliance out of irritation at the Hapsburg Ostend Company, which threatened to become a commercial rival of the republic. However, the Dutch had never expected a war to actually occur. They had expected, much like Townshend and Fleury, that the Hanoverian Alliance would overawe Austria and prevent entirely. To be clear, the alliance had managed to keep the Hapsburgs in check for half a year after Spain went to war. Russia and Britain's belligerence, however, had pushed the Hapsburgs and in turn the Dutch into war. Now, confronted with the reality of a continental war, the States General of the republic severely regretted the misfortunes that had brought them to this point. Many within the Republic also feared that fighting against the Hapsburgs would only serve to weaken the buffer between the Dutch and the French. Although, the French were friendly now many Dutch remembered the time when that was not the case. As a consequence, the Dutch deliberately undermined the war effort in a hope to avoid a French army in Brussels or turning the Austrian Netherlands into a perpetually hostile neighbor. For the sake of appearances, the Dutch were required to support an army of 30000, which they did but no more [4].

    In the south, the Savoyard Kingdom of Sardinia was much more willing to fight than its Atlantic allies. Victor Amadeus had spent decades attempting to turn their Italian duchy into a true European power. Savoy's victory in the War of the Spanish Succession marked the end of Savoy's subservience to France and Savoy's ascension to a royal title, the Kings of Sicily. Within a decade though Savoy found itself powerless as the Spaniards seized Sicily from them and excluded when the Quadruple Alliance gave Sicily to the Hapsburgs without so much as broaching the topic to the Savoyards. This war provided Victor Amadeus with the perfect opportunity to amend his situation. By fighting the Hapsburgs with Britain and France's help, Victor Amadeus thought it possible to not only recover Sicily but also to conquer Naples and Milan. If he succeeded in all these goals then he would become a truly powerful king whose rights and opinions had to be respected. For this reason, Victor Amadeus was more than happy to muster an army of 28000 men, which he prayed would carry him to glory.

    As the Atlantic members of the alliance hesitated and Sardinia was seized by lust for land and glory, the Baltic countries of Brunswick-Luneburg, Denmark-Norway, and Sweden had nothing but survival on their minds. In Brunswick-Luneburg, the very specific threat that the Russians had directed towards the electorate caused a state of panic. The recent death of the former elector, George I, did little to mollify this sentiment. Under these conditions, Brunswick-Luneburg needed a leader and they could not wait for London to choose one. Instead, the nobility of Brunswick-Luneburg turned to 20-year-old Prince Frederick, now heir to British and Brunswicker thrones [5]. Having he spent his whole life within the borders of the electorate, Frederick had a good deal of respect for it (not as much as he had for Britain, however) and had no desire to see it destroyed by the mighty hordes of Russia. With this thought hanging on his mind, Frederick accepted the pleas of the nobles and took command of preparing Brunswick-Luneburg for war, without consulting with Britain. In spite of Frederick's inexperience, he made a good leader for a country in crisis as his youthful energy allowed him to manage the various matters at hand. As the British parliament still debated, Frederick was already putting together an army of nearly 20000 to defend Brunswick-Luneburg. Joining this army were the 15000 Hessians which Britain had bought. When this news arrived in Britain, it certainly surprised the British and especially family. George II, in particular, was taken aback by his son seemingly usurping his position. However, Compton and Queen Caroline convinced George that Frederick meant no harm and that his leadership in Germany was actually quite necessary.

    To the north, in Denmark, the same panic felt by the Brunswickers was felt by the Danes. The Danish had for years managed to avoid an actual confrontation over the issue of Holstein due to Britain's interference in favor of Denmark-Norway. With the Battle of Saaremaa, things, of course, had changed. Denmark did not delay in reinforcing its garrisons in Holstein and raising more men to join them. Ultimately, the Danes expected to support a field army of 44000 men, which was quite large. However, many of the Danes feared that this would not be enough to stop the combined strength of Russia and Prussia. In Sweden, the politicians realized that they may have perhaps miscalculated by declaring war on Russia. Russia could easily support hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Sweden, on the other hand, was still reeling from the lost almost 250000 men in the Great Northern War. Now the Swedes would be fortunate to raise even 40000 men. Still, many hoped that a defensive strategy in Finland and Pomerania could hold back the Russians and Prussians until Sweden's allies won the elsewhere.

    With the Hanoverian Alliance in such apparently dire straits, it is important to understand two things. First, the importance of Prussia to the Hanoverian Alliance. One of the Treaty of Hanover's original signors had been the Kingdom of Prussia and up until Prussia's betrayal, the rest of alliance expected Prussia to fulfill its promises. Prussia switching to Russo-Austro-Spanish side completely ruined the strategic sense and planning of the Hanoverian Alliance. Firstly, without Prussia, the Hanoverian alliance was deprived of a field army of 65000 of the Continent's finer soldiers. Furthermore, those 65000 soldiers were now fighting for the enemy. Secondly, without Prussia a major the threat to the Hapsburgs in Germany was removed and instead the Hapsburgs would be allowed to focus on its western front while the Prussians and Russians destroyed the Hanoverian allies in the Baltic. To be honest, the British should have calculated for such a possibility. Prussia had long been a loyalist to the Emperor so to expect Prussia to actually wage war on the Emperor was a bit of a gamble. Additionally, Austria and Russia's combined land army presence in the region to far superior to anything the Hanoverian Alliance can produce. Thus if Prussia opposed Austria and Russia there is a good chance of severe damage or even defeat being dealt to Prussia. In particular, Ducal Prussia would undoubtedly be destroyed. Overall, Britain's failure to perceive the possibility of a Prussian betrayal gave Britain and its allies an aura of overconfidence which allowed them to drag themselves into war [6]. The other mistake of the Hanoverian Alliance was that each member overestimated their allies' strength and willingness to fight. In Britain, France, and the Dutch Republic severe reluctance had limited the size of their armies and the scope of their campaigns. Yet each of these countries had not expected this of the other power and instead had allowed themselves to believe that their allies would contribute more to the war. Now, they would feel the ramifications of their actions [7].

    [1] OTL the primary candidates were Walpole and Compton. TTL Townshend gets more of a chance because of his foreign affairs experience and personal creation of the Treaty of Hanover.
    [2] OTL Walpole won the prime ministership by offering George more money for his family without any political concessions. TTL Walpole's strong political ideas prevent him from reaching a favorable agreement with George and thus Walpole loses out to Compton.
    [3] Fleury, for the most part, was a man of peace. OTL he did seek to curb Hapsburg power a bit, which is why he is willing to fight the Hapsburgs. However, Fleury believes that he keep the war limited and win in this limited context, which is why he does not initially muster the full strength of France.
    [4] The Dutch during the Second Stadtholderless period really wanted to avoid any sort of war. Additionally, they were still distrustful of the French. Consequently, they do not do much to promote the war effort.
    [5] OTL Frederick was in Hanover until 1728.
    [6] Prussia was surprisingly strong at this point even without Frederick the Great, which is why Prussia was so vital to the Hanoverian Alliance.
    [7] All of this is simply based on an analysis of the Hanoverian Alliance and its members.

    Word Count: 2439
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019 at 4:28 PM
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