For the love of a father, a nation will rise

For a love of a father, a nation will rise

AKA "What if Napoleon from Elba will turns towards Italy"

Portoferraio, Island of Elba, May 1814

Napoleon Bonaparte, Former Emperor of the French and King of Italy, established few days ago its quarters in Villa dei Mulini, a Medician mansion towering the town of Portoferraio, his new "capital".

Napoleon, despite the bad turn of the events of the last months (the failure of the campaign of Russia, the defeat of Leipzig, the abdication, the exile, and lastly his separation from his wife Marie Louise and his son Napoleon Francois brought to Wien), decided to not succumb into a state of inertia and decided with energy to reorganize the entire island. Elba was a little island, but was a sort of conforting place for Napoleon, because from there could saw his Corsican homeland and the Italian coast which was theatre of his first successes. And also, despite the vigilance of the English stationed between the island and Livorno, Elba was enough near to the European continent and allow him to keep contact with people still loyal to him and distasteful of the process of restructuration of Europe the anti-French coalized powers were going to build in Wien.

In fact, just few days since his arrival on Elba, Napoleon received a group of Italian patriots asking him to return in the peninsula and attempt to incite a revolt, as the Austrian return in North Italy was far from being consolidated to the point the occupants were attempting to concede some form of lenience to the adminstrators of the dismantled Kingdom of Italy.

Among this group was present Ugo Foscolo, Venetian patriot and poet, who failed to build a resistance around the Viceroy Eugene Behaurnais in Milan before the Austrian arrival. Despite his failure, the Austrians were willing to ask his services in their attempt to restore their control over Lombardy; but Foscolo hesitated and decided to roam across Italy, deciding to point towards Elba when the news of the arrival of Napoleon came to him.

Napoleon hesitated. He was sure, or believed, that at the opportune moment wherever he returns in Italy or in France, the populace will rise and rally among him against the reactionary forces just returned, being the Bourbons or the Hapsburg; but he believed also to have more chances of success in France, whereas Italy was too fragmented and the patriot movement too weak to have a chance against the Austrians.

But the Corse was taunted by another fear... what if he failed. It's not that the definitive loss of any form of power anguished him much, but more the fact he could risks to not see anymore his wife, and above all, his son.

His son...

Napoleon feared that his son in hand of his enemies would be a powerful asset against him. He believed that Francois's life would be enough secure, being the nephew of the Austrian Emperor, but even if Napoleon will triumph, his son wouldn't be keep reclused in Wien and ostracized for being the son of the "Corsian Ogre?".

No, he needed to adopt another strategy. He needed to retrieve his son back, at any cost. Truth to be told, he hoped initially to convince his wife to return or to be returned as well, but after a deep thought, he doubted that Marie Louise, even in the case her father would allow here to rejoin her husband, would accept to live in Elba. Even if their relation was cordial and both arrived to respect each other, Napoleon knew that Marie Louise grew with a distorted idea of him and was still an Hapsburg in the end, so she would never lower herself now that he was in his lowest point. He doubted even if she really loved motherly Francois, having more the impression she gave birth to him more to comply her marriage duties than other else; the fact she tried to save the Imperial throne for Francois didn't reassured much Napoleon, as he suspected she only did it to become regent and rule alone over France.

So in the end Napoleon matured the convinction Marie Louise didn't want to return with him, even if she does have the chance, so that's it. But he wasn't intentioned to give up over Francois.

Napoleon stalled for the moment any project with the Italian patriots, as a more slow reconstruction of their network would be more proficient than an immediate attempt to return into Italy. Still, the meeting with them wasn't a complete waste: the Emperor had the occasion to talk various times with Foscolo and, in the end, a sort of friendship and cooperation was reached between the two men, as Foscolo managed to came over the only lingering reason of tension with the Corse - the (even if temporary) cession of Venice to the Austrians as the treaty of Campoformido recognized.

It was during those meetings with Foscolo that Napoleon started to develop a certain plan - he needed to negotiate with his father-in-law Francis II, in some way. But he realized also giving his current conditions to achieve his objective he needed to negotiate with all his enemies, from the restored Louis XVIII to Alexander I, because he realized to win their trust at the moment.

Even at cost to repeal back his father.

So, towards the end of May, Napoleon called Foscolo to ask him to become the ambassador of the Principate of Elba, with the duty to move towards Wien and negotiate with the various delegations which were gathering for the start of October. The Corse decided to appoint Foscolo to that position because aside from the recent gained trust, he had still connections with the Austrian which would allow him to move with a certain freedom across North Italy and Austria. Plus his being a rather used man of culture, would be useful to negotiate with the various diplomats.

Napoleon believed to be in his own right to send an embassy as Elba was de facto a sovereign country due by his same forced and yet recognized settlement.

Foscolo, as he wrote later in his memories, was initially left struck by the intentions of Napoleon after hearing them, but them, he affirmed, "I saw from the first time the man behind the emperor; I was moved and I accepted to serve him". Besides the mission received gave an unexpected sparkle to a man renown for his cyclical bouts of depression. Foscolo was deterred to not fail.

And so, after some last days of work, at the start of July Ugo Foscolo, ambassador of "Napoleone I Bonaparte, prince of Elba", left Portoferraio in direction of Wien...

((Hi to everyone. This is my new attempt of a timeline and, whoever knows me, knows this would be an Italiancentric TL. It's a way for me to came out my long hiatus and, despite this prologue, I am intentioned to write short updates a la Blunted Sickle format, also to allow me to write something whenever and whatever I want and can. Albeit I have a first horizon to reach here in this story, I am still vague over certain directions the TL will take in the middle term and outside the Italian scenery, so not only comments, but also suggestions would be largely appreciated!))
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That's an interesting and I think novel approach, very intriguing to see Foscolo in an openly political role.
It is also an extremely difficult TL to succeed (even more than my Muratian Naples...), as I suppose any attempt to conquer Italy would bring on Napoleon the wrath of coalition after coalition, and Italy is much weaker than France, but I am sure you have found some workaround to it, and I am eager to read how this TL will develop.

I imagine that some understanding with the Habsburgs will have to be found, maybe the King of Rome will one day be able to rule, with the placet of the Austrian emperor? With no 100 days there will be consequences on the Congress of Wien, even a war on the Saxon question might be in the cards...
That's an interesting and I think novel approach, very intriguing to see Foscolo in an openly political role.
It is also an extremely difficult TL to succeed (even more than my Muratian Naples...), as I suppose any attempt to conquer Italy would bring on Napoleon the wrath of coalition after coalition, and Italy is much weaker than France, but I am sure you have found some workaround to it, and I am eager to read how this TL will develop.

I imagine that some understanding with the Habsburgs will have to be found, maybe the King of Rome will one day be able to rule, with the placet of the Austrian emperor? With no 100 days there will be consequences on the Congress of Wien, even a war on the Saxon question might be in the cards...

Well the point is, the entire project is still in motion in my head! The thing I almost sure and I can spoil is OTL Congress of Wien will be rather lively...
I don't even know what you're trying to do here.

What is Napoleon's plan?

Essentially, to don't rush things this time. Even at cost to stomp over his pride.

Let's say this is a Napoleon which during the Elban period was more crossed by doubts and was more in search of a new internal balance, so less impulsive and willing to risk what he has still, which is few but still valuable.

Naturally, there would be other events which would help his position to improve gradually...
South Germany, early June 1814

Alexander I Romanov, Tzar of Russia, was in an uplifted mood since ages. His tour across Germany was a continue triumph, acclaimed everywhere to his passage.

He had reasons for being happy - the restored French kingdom just signed the peace treaty mere days ago in Paris, so finally ending the war across Europe. The revolutionary flame was finally extinguished, and the "Antichrist" was exiled and humbled to reign in a small Italian island.

Honestly, he pitied Napoleon: he may have been the Antichrist, as he or to better say the Russian propaganda claimed, but regardless was a formidable foe and a talented organizator; it was bad in some way his skills were wasted in that way.

Alexander remembered the meeting of 1807: even if he was a parvenu, even if he put chaos all across Europe, he worked well with him. Maybe, if the Russian nobility wasn't so hostile towards him, if the British accepted to reach an agreement with him at the time, the Empire wouldn't have benefit of a friendship with Imperial France? Who cares if France was the the nest of the revolution, if the Russian autocracy was preserved?

There was a period where Alexander had dreams to bring the Russian eagle towards South. All because of the past actions of Napoleon. When he invaded Egypt, he didn't give a blow to the Ottomans nobody managed in ages? The Empire of the Turks wasn't eventually weaker than as it seemed? The Tzar imagined with an enduration of the peace in Europe, it didn't matter if guaranteed by Napoleon, the possibility to take advantage, and great ones, from a war against the Ottomans. To free the Romanians principates, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Constantinople! The Mediterranean opened to the Russian ships, the Orthodox peoples of the Balkans liberated and under the banner of the Romanov, how glorious his reign could be...!

And, even if history took a different path from the one he planned, he was still intentioned to achieve that dream.

But, to achieve that dream, Alexander realized there would be a not negligible obstacle: Austria. After 1839, the Austrians weren't interested to put further under risk Hungary for freeding the South Balkans... and certainly were more than happy of the current status quo with the Turks. Besides, why caring of the Orthodox peoples of the South?

Alexander was enough sure the Austrians would not like a Russian penetration in the region and see Hungary surrounded by Russian satellites... especially when the Russian armies definitely roamed across Poland. Or more precisely about the country that was called by Napoleon "Granduchy of Warsaw", created from the territories previously given to Prussia and Austria at the time of the third partition. The Tzar was intentioned however to keep those lands as warprize... and was intentioned to claim more for Russia, if not now, surely in the future, even at cost to openly match Austria when the time comes. And to doing so, he needed to undermine the Austrian power the most possible during the incoming works of the congress called in Wien. Alexander didn't know how could manage that, but he hoped a divine assistance in any form would arrive to him soon or later.

Because God was to his side.
Munchen, Kingdom of Bavaria, mid June 1814

Maxilimian I Joseph, first king of Bavaria, had another discussion between his first son Ludwig and his son-in-law Eugene de Beauharnais, which managed to refuge in Bavaria after the disastrous fall of the Kingdom of Italy by him governed. The atmosphere was rather gloomy, considering from Paris arrived the news the ratification of the treaty where Tyrol will be ceded to Austria, but even if the status of Kingdom will be preserved for Bavaria, Maximilian was rather sure Metternich will ask for more at the congress called for October in the Austrian capital, and all the bets were pointed over Salzburg.

Maxilimian was intentioned to go to Wien for negotiating the more lenient terms possible for Bavaria, reassured by the fact if the anti-French coalition were merciful with him after Leipzig, he wouldn't be still on his throne following the fate of Napoleon.

Plus, he wasn't the only "ally" of Napoleon which was recognized by the forces which were supposed to impose back the pre-revolutionary regimes across Europe - After all, Bernadotte will be the future king of Sweden and Murat was recognized (albeit despite malicious murmurs from the Borbonic houses) king of Naples... Enough to concede him enough margin of diplomatic movement, at least to attempt to keep at bay the Austrians the most possible.

Or so he believed Beauharnais. The son of Josephine indeed was still rather bitter towards the Austrians (in part for the Italian demise, in part for their role in the affaire of the divorce between her mother and Napoleon) and advocated a more "aggressive" stance in the diplomatic rounds to be held in Wien; whereas Ludwig was more for a more assertive stance towards the Austrians and to fold over further request.

It was a rather tense situation in the court and Maxilimian was rather indecided for days, but in the end a compromise was reached: While Ludwig will be stay in Bavaria as regent, Maximilian will go to Wien with Eugene (considering the Beauharnais had still valuable diplomatic connections), who believed that Bavaria could form an axis with some countries across Germany and Italy (he was thinking of Naples but he didn't disperate to reach some form of cooperation with the Papal delegation, as well) to contain the inevitable Austrian expansionism. Even if pratically on the losing side, the Bavarian delegation was determined to limit where possible the inevitable damage coming from a new Austrian hegemony.

Naturally, both Maximilian and Eugene weren't aware of the diplomatic initiatives Napoleon was intentioned to promote in the meanwhile...
Brunswick, late August 1814

In the small German principate of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel, the recently restored Duke Frederick William was talking with his sister, Caroline, princess of Wales.

Frederick heard with attention the latest misadventures of her sister, forced to leave Britain in a de facto exile after the progressive deterioration of the marriage with George Augustus, prince of Wales and current British regent, culminated in a series of humilation for her.

Frederick William was rather sympathetic towards her. Even if being a minor German noble family, he could hardly tolerate such acts of humiliation from his brother-in-law, even towards his niece and future heir Charlotte. He promised to help Caroline, in a way or another.

Besides, Frederick had reasons to grow wary of George, being also the overlord of Hanover; and despite the destruction of the Kingdom of Westfalia, Napoleon irrimediabely sweeped the balance of the north-western German counties, and a new order in the region needed to be discussed in Wien.

Frederick was sure that George was looking towards the fractured lands of Luneburg, from the moment the various branches of the house of Brunswick progressively disappeared from the scene; but Frederick after all was the principal heir of the house... and was determined to fight for his rights. If successful, the little principate of Brunswick could become a rather sizeable German country and effectively count on the German theatre; but if he would fail, Brunswick will remain a negligible, fractured state between British and Prussian interests.

However, Frederick was more pro-Prussian than pro-Hanoverian, and he counted over the support of Berlin to have a diplomatic leverage towards the British; he was also in friendly terms with the Austrians. Plus, the duke was a sort of local hero in the Rhenish lands, being commander of one of the most fierce German regiments by him founded, the Black Brunswickers; if he used well his cards, Frederick would have a realistic chance in fulfilling his dream of a reunion between Brunswick and Luneburg.

However, Frederick asked Caroline to not remain in his domains further, especially during his absence as he was intentioned to go to Wien. Brunswick was still too near from Hanover, so too much near from George's domains. A vacation in a more southern country would be more appropriate for her until better times will come; hence, few days later Caroline decided to depart in direction of Italy.

She would never imagined her Italian tour will take later an unexpected path...
Suspense! I wonder what Napoleon has in his mind...

Probably that's not the direction you are taking, but I find that a Napoleonic microstate of Elba would be really cool, it would be nice to see it surviving till the present time...
Naples, late August 1814

A feverish movement of nobles, generals, clergymen crossed without interruption the doors of the Royal Palace of Naples, where Joachim Murat, king of the country, along with his wife Caroline Bonaparte, established his quarters.

Joachim was rather tormented. The various meetings he was helding with the main exponents of the Neapolitan society partly reassured him about the confirmation of a general cohesion around him, while the pro-Borbonic opposition seemed to be enough quiet. It will not be from the internal side he would risk to lose his throne.

His concerns regarded entirely the international situation: just few months ago he was forced to evacuate Umbria and Marche to return those territories to the Pope and allowing the Austrian forces - not so much, in truth - to guard over those territories. What else he could did? He was already lucky to have preserved his throne
(due to treason)​
so far and couldn't certainly stir a fuss over those territories. However he still faced the British diffidence and the hate of the Borbouns, both of Sicily and of France, and knew they were trying to keep the Neapolitans out from the decisions of the Council of Wien.

Joachim feared the worse, about the possibility the French court - and seemed that damn Talleyrand
(another traitor)

was so near to allow France to the table of the negotiations - would convince the Austrians to abide the treaties he reached with him and favour a possible Borbonic restauration in Naples... Then, he would be able to save his kingdom from an invasion?

Caroline was more calm. She was sure after so long years of war, nor the Austrians or the British will not involve themselves in another conflict. She was honestly elated of the current situation, truth be told. Of all the Bonaparte brothers, she was still the only one

(Napoleon didn't count)

To wear a crown, and the only sister

(the less considered by the Imperial brother)

of three to be on a position of power: Elisa was imprisoned in Triest

(even if she betrayed Napoleon as well, even if she was the most respected by him)

And Paoline decided suddenly to stay in Elba with the dethroned brother.

(If she wanted so, fine)

Caroline looked ahead to the future, to seek a suitable engagement for her sons, to futher stabilize their rule, albeit she recognized Naples needed to break a diplomatic isolation for first. However, she was sure she would be the legacy of her family for the next generations to come

(Because, Napoleon is a finished man! And her other brothers are a bunch of incompetent people.

Not like her.)

and that exalted her greatly.

After a long talk, a rather simple situation was found. Even if the French would succeed to keep Naples out of the works of the Congress, regardless the Austrians wouldn't never refuse the establishment of an official Neapolitan embassy in Wien. Through a work done in the sidelines, in that way the Neapolitans could reach a stable agreement with the Austrians, to circumvent the French treachery and at least assuage their positions with the British and the Papacy.

Joachim so appointed Guglielmo Pepe, one of his most trusting lieutenants and a respected Neapolitan anti-Borbonic patriot, ambassador in Wien, with the duty to allow the confirmation of the current treaties.

As Joachim felt a bit reassured at the sight of the departure of the Neapolitan embassy, still wasn't in peace with his conscience. After all, despite the deterioration of the relations of his brother-in-law from 1813 to the start of 1814, Napoleon was the man who allowed him to rule over South Italy, and in the end betrayed him. He was well aware of the voices which ran around him across the street of Naples

(He was the worst of all the traitors of Napoleon, a modern Judas)

And he didn't do nothing to stop them.

(With the great irritation of Caroline)

He was thinking several times if that was the legacy he wanted for himself, even more than for his sons...

(Caroline doesn't mind much if not at all.

But him, yes)
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I always love your stuff.

nice thread. followed.

Nice one. Looking forwards to the updates.

Well thanks to everyone!

Suspense! I wonder what Napoleon has in his mind...

Probably that's not the direction you are taking, but I find that a Napoleonic microstate of Elba would be really cool, it would be nice to see it surviving till the present time...

I don't deny it would be a rather interesting subject, the point is I am still "sailing at sight" in the sense this TL is building day by day, and the variables I am considering are still many... Well that the Principate of Elba would live more than OTL is indeed plausible, but how much? I don't know even I at the full extent of my current intentions.
((small note: it is possible, as in this case and giving the format, I will post updates about events happening before the latest update))

Milan, mid July 1814

Foscolo returned in Milan for having preliminary contacts with the Austrians. Cautiously he didn't proclaim to be ambassador for Napoleon in Wien - also to avoid the risk to stay blockaded in Italy by long controls, while he pointed to declare his role publically only when arriving in the Austrian capital - but he asked for the necessary vistas to travel towards Austria. After all, Lombardy and Venetia were lands under occupation, but already on the path to be reassorbed into the Hapsburg domains. Besides Foscolo was technically subject of the Emperor now, and the Austrian establishment in the city asked months ago for his cooperation, so in the end he shouldn't have problems to move freely towards Wien.

However Foscolo caught the occasion to stay in Milan longer to see the possibility to seek possible allies to build a network favorable or at least supportive towards Napoleon, and however not pro-Austrians. His main target was Francesco Melzi d'Eril, the former vice-president of the Italian Republic, and later bland antagonist of Napoleon vouching for a major Italian autonomy from France. Anyway was still even after the fall of the Italic Kingdom one of the most respected person in all Milan, to the moment the Austrians without avail asked to him to be involved into the new administration of the region.

Foscolo was rather candid with d'Eril, telling that Napoleon would have supported a movement for the indipendence of Italy and eventually caving over the institution of a real democratic asset, at condition that the Corse would have assumed again the title of King; but that was necessary a long preparation and certain assurances and above all a perfect occasion to strike.

Eril was conflicted; he wasn't elated to support Napoleon again, but if this time he would have worked for the Italian cause, and only for that... the Milanese politician knew that Napoleon to have even a chance to obtain support in the city and eventually from all of Lombardy, he have to won back the support of the Milanese elites; at the same time, any anti-Austrian opposition would never succeed without a charismatic leadership and Napoleon would be the only one in all of Italy (because he had large doubts over Murat as possible promoter of an Italian indipendence) to coalesce around this opposition. Also, Eril was already in an advanced age and to be honest, he would like to live enough to see again Lombardy free from foreign influence. He didn't knew how much time had still left but he would have helped as far as he could.

So, Eril accepted to support Foscolo. But he suggested him to search other allies in Milan, and the politician suggested the name of Federico Confalonieri. He was one of the hardest oppositors of the Napoleonic regime, he was the one which leaded the insurrection in Milan while Eugene Beauharnais was attempting to stop the Austrian advance, leading to a series of events which brought the lynching of Giuseppe Prina, minister of the finances; but Confalonieri was also a heated supporter of the preservation of the indipendence of the Italic Kingdom and surely wasn't warm towards the Austrians as well.

However, Confalonieri was out of Milan at the moment, as he was returning from Paris after an unfruitful as pitiful attempt to safeguard the indipendence of the Kingdom of Italy. Because Foscolo couldn't wait his return, Eril would talk with him and convince Confalonieri to put aside his anti-bonapartism for a common front.

Foscolo had soon other encounters with various Milanese burghers and nobles anti-Austrians and not hostile to back again Napoleon, as Eril's backing surely opened unexpected doors, but, as the poet wrote back to the Prince of Elba, "it was necessary to establish again contacts with the various freemason guilds of the city and of Italy". In fact various of those potential supporters were still affiliated with the Italian freemasonry which, initially incensing towards Napoleon at the time of the Republic, later like Eril became progressively disillusioned towards him due to the progressive spoliations of Italian authonomy.

Napoleon, who received the first letters of Foscolo in mid June (various precautions were made to avoid the interceptation of that correspondance, at cost to cause inevitable delays), caved in, because albeit not certainly estatic of the Italian freemasonry he recognized its underground network would be useful, so starting to work for the realization of a freemason guild in Portoferraio and later partecipating to various meetings. For the Corse, it was quite the loss of time as he would spent it working over new decisions or resting, but he needed to warm again guild adherents currently cold towards him. And besides, the reunions of Portoferraio were another occasion to keep him busy in that restrictive exile from the continent...

One of the last meetings of Foscolo with the Milanese elite was with Giulia Beccaria, daughter of Cesare Beccaria, and so involved with the intellectuals of the city. Anticonformist woman, was still rather respected in the cultural circles of Milan, which besides respected Foscolo for his literary works. Having the support of Giulia would have been for Napoleon having a possible leverage towards the Milanese intellectuals in a later moment. With Giulia, Foscolo had the occasion to meet her son, Alessandro Manzoni, along with his wife Enrichetta Blondel; talking with him, Foscolo had occasion to recognize the artistic talent of Manzoni, reading by person the first works of the "Inni Sacri", a series of religious poems wrote under the pressure of the reapproachment of Manzoni to the Catholic Church after a youth of disillusion towards Catholicism.

As Manzoni remembered later, the praises of Foscolo gave him a great impulse to complete the cycle of twelve poems in the successive years as he initially planned but was rather desperate to continue.(1)

Albeit certain malicious voices and historians later claimed Foscolo praised Manzoni only to obtain better the support of him and his family, nevertheless hima and his mother, which among various others remained conflicted over the judgement towards Napoleon, but above all Alessandro was willing to concede him a second chance if proving to be worthy, in the end they would accept to eventually back the Corse in the future. With their support Napoleon would have in dowry a potential contact with certain ambients of the Italian Giansenism, another front where the former Emperor through the contacts his special ambassadors started to build in Milan had to work hard to gain some trust back...

(1) OTL Manzoni wrote only five poems of the cycle of the "Inni Sacri".
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