Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Anaxagoras, Feb 13, 2006.
I take it that Flanders will revolt in time?
James Watt's steam engine was still in the early stages of development during this time. I'm trying to see how the changes in the timeline might have affected it.
Economically, France has the wealth from the colonies which, IOTL, went to Britain. But if Britain still has the edge on steam technology, things could change. And by having France take in Flanders, you not only have more French exposure to industrial changes, but a larger pool of experienced economists and bankers (the French didn't do finance very well until Napoleon came along).
They can identify more easily with the French than with the Austrians, but we'll see what happens.
I quite like the way things are shaping up in this TL.
A comment: in OTL, France had the largest population in Europe by the end of the 18th century, leading to a land shortage that historians agree was one factor (among others) leading to the revolution, as well as a condition for Napoleon's military adventures. So there's definitely a sizeable population pool to draw from in order to populate France's overseas possessions, if the government can provide the appropriate incentives to overcome the average French person's reluctance to move to new places (when you live in France, you usually want to stay there ).
True. What I was thinking though was that the French might try and suppress Flemish (as they have had a tendency to do with regional languages), thus sparking trouble.
True, but the way they do it isn't by force, just by making everything official in french only. Thus, french is the language of the town and cities, the aristocracy and bourgeois as well as everyone ambitious. It trickle from there in the countryside and the rest of society ( that' why you still have regional languages spoken in France ). That hasn't led to any trouble in OTL at least until the XXth century ( in which, BTW, they went to a more forceful approach, no coincidence, here ).
Given that OTL, Fflemish nearly gave way to french before enjoying a renaissance ( in the XIXth century, half the population of Antwerpen was french -speking ), I don't think language is going to cause trouble.
I agree with what you say but I think Flemish would nonetheless have made a comeback even under French control. After all, Catalans, Bretons, Alsatians et al don't have a big brother speaking the same language as Flanders does. Remember how apeshit the Flemings eventually went in OTL when French was the only official language (Belgian Civil Code wasn't translated into Flemish till 1960). As the influence of the Church wanes, the Flamingant cause will still begin to surface.
I thought France was already undergoing the demographic transition by this point? (The two aren't exclusive, of course).
Indeed they aren't. Population growth rates in France stabilized in the first half of the 19th century, at a time when the rest of Europe was still in "breed 'em as fast as you can" mode, but the transition had begun a couple of generations earlier. The same lag is seen nowadays in Third World countries. The point is, between the late 18th and the early 19th century, France had more people than it could support at that time. In OTL the problem was "solved" by the revolution and the Napoleonic wars: when the dust settled the excess population had been pretty much killed off. In this TL one could instead see sustained migration to French colonies in the Americas.
In India, about half of the French governmental establishment is made up of former employees of the British East India Company, many of whom have never even been to England. This does not overly bother the French, particularly as many marriages are now taking place between French and British families. Profits continue to be large, and French political control of Bengal and South India are absolute. Every year, more and more Indian princes are signing treaties with the French, surrendering autonomy in exchange for protection from their enemies.
In Scotland, the steam engines of James Watt are becoming increasingly efficient. Nothing nearly as sophisticated exists in France.
La Perouse returns to France and is hailed as a national hero. Louis XVI is fascinated by the accounts of his voyage, and commissions new exploratory ventures to the Pacific. Some are to explore New Zealand and Australia in order to ascertain their suitability for French colonization. Others are to search for the much-discusses Northwest Passage. La Perouse himself is to attempt to open diplomatic and trade relations with the Chinese Empire.
Britain, increasingly uneasy at the expansion of French power and determined to restore its former power, decides to attempt to circumvent the Treaty of London by creating shipbuilding facilities in the colonies (at Boston and Philadelphia) to construct warships. It is hoped that this can be done without the French fully realizing it, so as to restore the naval balance between the two sides.
A daughter, Princess Maria Joaquina, is born to Prince Charles IV of Spain, heir apparent to the throne of France.
France offers to establish a demilitarized zone in Flanders and generous trade concessions in India if the Dutch sign a treaty of friendship and understanding. The Dutch respond that they will study the proposals.
Movements are beginning to sprout up calling for reforms of the French governmental system. While wealth continues to flow in from the colonies and times are good for the upper and middle classes, most of the population continues to live in poverty. Continued caricatures of corrupt government officials are spread by a vast underground press, fueling resentment against the ruling class (though respect for the monarchy remains high).
The French government are attempting to establish Flanders (the former Austrian Netherlands) as a French province no different from any other, but many in Flanders want some sort of special status to be recognized, if not outright independence. At the same time, Flanders has experienced strong economic growth since the transfer from Austria to France, and Flemish participation in the French East India Company is disproportionately high.
Vergennes, working through the political officials of the Papal States, begins to encourage Italian states to join the Holy Alliance, which causes great concern in Austria.
At the annual meeting of the Committee on Inter-Colonial Defense, the delegates study the British proposals to construct warships in American waters. They are of the opinion that such a program could not escape the notice of the French, who have numerous spies throughout the colonies, and they fear that such activities could provide the French with an excuse to attack the colonies. They send Parliament a report of their findings, which does not go over well in London.
In a parliamentary debate over foreign policy, numerous references are made to Spain being a “French puppet” and the need to treat France and Spain as if there are a single power. Fears are particularly expressed that the union of all-Bourbon ruled states could one day create a super-state that would completely destroy the balance of power in the world.
These fears are given renewed emphasis when the Kingdom of Naples joins the Holy Alliance later in the year. In response, Austria enters into secret discussions with Great Britain and the Netherlands about a military alliance should either of them be attacked by the Holy Alliance. Russia also views the expansion of the alliance with concern.
A man named Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, who had taken holy orders before giving up on a church career, enters the French Foreign Ministry and very quickly becomes a trusted confidante of Vergennes. In particular, Talleyrand encourages Vergennes to seek the expansion of French influence through diplomacy rather than force.
As news of French explorations of the Pacific continues to be the talk of Europe, Britain sends out its own expedition, under the command of Captain William Bligh, to explore the western coast of Australia (since French attention seems focused on the eastern coast). If possible, he is to venture south to ascertain whether or not the hypothesized “Southern Continent” exists.
The British explorers have a strong advantage over their French counterparts, in that accurate chronometers have now been invented, allowing British navigators to determine their longitude with relative ease. Their design becomes a closely guarded secret, as the British wish to maintain their advantage as long as possible.
In India, French political control of the interior continues to expand, and a permanent representative of the French government is now installed at the Mughal court as an “advisor” to the Emperor. In New France, the population growth continues, particularly as locals have begun buying increasingly large numbers of land plots from their aristocratic owners. Some French fur trappers are beginning to venture west of the Mississippi into the immense plains beyond.
Talleyrand is named as French ambassador to Britain. Almost overnight, he becomes a social sensation, throwing immense parties which become the talk of the upper class. While he enjoys the parties immensely, Talleyrand also has a specific motive in that he wishes to court the influential men of Britain so as to prevent another war from breaking out between Britain and France.
The Netherlands suggests to the French government that Flanders could possibly become an independent duchy under the rule of Louis XVI, but not an integral part of France. This would ease tensions considerably, they argue, and relieve both of the immense expense of maintaining fortresses and military forces along their border. Louis XVI does not like the idea, and Vergennes feels the same way. Talleyrand writes from England, encouraging them to accept the idea, but it is eventually rejected.
A slave revolt in South Carolina is crushed by the colonial militia, although not without some difficulty and only after several people had been killed. Colonial leaders are happy to have been able to deal with the threat on their own, but chaff at the possibility that European political issues prevent the British government from being allowed to station regular troops in the colonies.
Are you sure about that?
Remember, this is a France with a substantial colonial empire (Santo Domingo is valuable on its own, of course, and you have India), and a large merchant marine.
Meanwhile, England has suffered a French invasion. This can't be good for their industrial growth.
Ah; I was about to ask about Antwerp, actually.
I was going to say it was weird for the Flemish to demand special rights, but then I remembered the aberration that was the United States of Belgium, so it seems plausible to me.
Hmm. I wonder if Tipu in Mysore might not be more successful, in this TL.
Mysore is the chief French ally in India, as indicated earlier in the timeline.
I think the unique intellectual climate of Enlightenment Scotland- the amazing sysnthesis of the theoretical with the practical- was what brought forth the genius of men like James Watt. That wouldn't have been disrupted by the French invasion. In fact, it might have further spurned it, as the 45 Rebellion did. Similar conditions did not exist in France- not yet, at least.
But should he be?
Remember, he was an ally with the French in an India where the British dominated. If the French are the ones in charge...
He's only just become the ruler of Mysore (1782). I believe, however, that his attraction to the rench was more than merely expedient. He actually joined the Jacobite Club, for example, and I think he was a genuine Francophile. But, above all, he was a nationalist, so we'll see what happens.
I'd like to point out that if his goal was to get the help of a French Republic, then joining a Jacobin Club makes a great deal of sense.
ARe you so sure about Alsatian?
I could have sworn there was a nation east of France which spoke something.
And, in my experience, there's more differences between flemish ( as spoken in Antwerpen, for exemple ) and Dutch as spoken in the netherlands ( i.e. not algeemen ) than between Alsatian and Bavarian ( which is a bit different from hochdeutsch ).
As the influance of the Church wanes, you may be quite right. However, I think you underestimate the power of religious difference. Remember that, in the XIXth century, when belgium separated from Netherland, the Vlaams ( with the exception of Maastricht ) went with the french-speaking catholics rather than with the dutch-speaking protestant.
Yes, you're very right, I agree with that. I think I'm jumping in too early with the idea-but let's see how Anaxagoras's timeline pans out. I think eventually (1900ish as in OTL) it will all go off.
As for Alsatian- didn't the Germans ban Alsatian 1870-1918 and 1940-1945? At least that's what I've read.
They did in 40-45. I don't think they did in 70-14, though they definitely banned french.
It doesn't change that bavarian is nearer to alsatian than either is to hochdeutsch; As late as the 1960s, there were remote village in Bavaria which understood people from Alsace but didn't understand people from Berlin.
French colonial authorities in New France send a strong recommendation to Paris that relations with the Indians be foot on a more secure footing. With the continuing expansion of the French population (which passes the one million mark in 1788), the Indians are becoming increasingly concerned about encroachments on their land. The colonial governor recommends creating a system of association with the tribes, recognizing their rights while having the Indians become “associated tribes” of New France.
In the Pacific, French expeditions are carefully mapping New Zealand and the eastern coast of Australia, while the British are taking the lead in exploring the western Australian coast. Meanwhile, French ships are scouring the coast of North America in the search for the Northwest Passage (having the advantage of being able to resupply at Spanish ports in Mexico).
La Perouse, after a great deal of difficulty, gains an audience with the Chinese Emperor. Unlike other Europeans, the French are not particularly bothered by the traditional requirements of kowtowing before the Emperor. Still, La Perouse does not achieve his objective, being told by the Chinese that they have no need of European goods. The best he can get is an agreement by the Chinese to allow the French to open a trading post in Canton in order to buy Chinese products, but only if they are paid directly with gold or silver.
In London, Talleyrand is anxious that the expansion of the Holy Alliance and potential colonial altercations not spark a conflict between France and Britain. Above all, he wants the status quo to be maintained as long as possible, though he recognizes that another conflict is only a matter of time. Among the agreements he is able to arrange is a treaty by which neither side will sell weapons to Native Americans within the other’s territory.
The Committee for Inter-Colonial Defense petitions the British Parliament to abolish the Navigation Acts. Parliament responds by asking why they are making recommendations on matters beyond the purview of their committee. This leads to a series of newspaper articles throughout the colonies expressing confusion over exactly what their political relationship with Great Britain is. No question of independence is raised, particularly as they need the power of Britain to defend against the French threat. But there is clearly a desire for a more appropriate constitutional framework.
In India, Tippu Sultan of Mysore renews his alliance with the French by signing another treaty of friendship and commerce. But he insists that French troops not be stationed within his territory itself, and that Mysore receive a proportionate amount of profits from the territories where it has committed troops on behalf of the French. He recognizes that the French need the alliance as much as he does, for without his troops they would be unable to mount the punitive expeditions which are becoming a general part of the political process. He is determined to use this as leverage and not to become a mere puppet of the French.
In addition, Tippu sends large numbers of young Mysorean boys to be educated in European schools, particularly in technical fields with military applications.
On opposite sides of Australia, two colonizing fleets arrive. The French settle an excellent bay on the southeastern coast, creating a colony called Vergennes (ironically, on the same day the colony is established, the old statesman died in Paris). On the western coast, the British establish a colony of roughly similar size, naming it New Edinburgh. The distances between the two colonies are so vast that there is no contact between them.
Upon the death of Comte de Vergennes, Talleyrand is appointed by King Louis XVI to replace him as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He returns to Paris and immediately celebrates his new position with a massive (and massively expensive) soiree.
A joint appeal is made by the colonial assemblies to the British Parliament, asking for a clarification of their constitutional relationships to one another and to Great Britain itself. In London, the decision is made to form a committee to investigate the matter, and invitations to various colonial leaders go out to come to London and hammer out the issue. News of this development is give to Benjamin Franklin shortly before his death.
Talleyrand reasons that Britain will not risk another war with France unless it was strong enough, by itself or through alliances, to have a realistic chance of success. Therefore, the best way to prevent another war with Britain would be to diplomatically isolate Britain, while somehow convincing Britain that it has nothing to fear from France.
Talleyrand therefore convinces King Louis XVI to accept the earlier Dutch proposal to make Flanders an independent duchy and a demilitarized area, which will alleviate tensions with both Britain and the Netherlands. He area will remain a de facto part of France, and he will be allowed to add “Duke of Flanders” to his list of titles. In addition, it might help appease the developing nationalist movement within Flanders, which could conceivably cause trouble in the future.
In September, France and the Netherlands signs the Treaty of Calais, setting out the new arrangement. Talleyrand took the opportunity to settle several other issues, which he feared might eventually lead to problems down the road, although he also took care to protect the interests of French colonial merchants, who were paying Talleyrand hefty bribes.
Flanders is recognized as an independent duchy rather than being an integral part of France, with King Louis XVI recognized as the Duke of Flanders.
French military forces shall not be stationed in Flanders and French fortifications there shall be demolished.
The Netherlands shall not enter into any alliance directed against France, and shall withdraw from any such alliance it is already party to.
French merchants in India and other parts of Asia shall be allowed free access to Dutch territories, and Dutch merchants shall have similar access to French territories.
With the stroke of a pen, Talleyrand pulled the Dutch away from the British and drew them into the French orbit. The British are aghast at the treaty, but are powerless to prevent it.
In New France, numerous tribes sign necessary treaties with the French in order to be recognized as “associated tribes.” From the French point of view, this legally makes the Indians French subjects, though the Indians themselves didn’t particularly understand this concept and wouldn’t have cared if they did. The agreements require France to protect the tribes in the event of an attack by the British or another tribe. If two associated tribes come into conflict, the authorities in New France are expected to mediate the dispute. It encourages trade and respects Indian land, with the Indians understanding that certain areas (such as St. Louis and Montcalm) are to be colonized by the French themselves.
At the same time, with a booming population and the possibility of new territory being acquired to the West, it is recognized in Paris that New France is simply too big to be governed as one entity. It is therefore split into two colonies, Canada being ruled from Quebec and Louisiana being ruled from New Orleans. “New France” simply becomes a general term for the French North American colonies.
In London, British politicians and colonial leaders attempt to work out a new constitutional framework for the American colonies. The colonial leaders are lead by Massachusetts lawyer John Adams, who alternately amazes everyone with his intelligence and irritates everyone with his stubbornness and lack of tact. The work continues throughout the year.
The British are particularly anxious to create a constitutional framework that will allow the colonies to function more effectively while remaining solidly within the British Empire. It is felt that doing so will strengthen their power in the face of the collapse of the Dutch alliance.
In America, a new style of architecture, based on the Neoclassical and Palladian schools, is being pioneered by Thomas Jefferson, a sometime lawyer and member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. The “Jeffersonian” style of architecture becomes representative of Enlightenment ideals in America.
Talleyrand, having diplomatically isolated Britain, now wishes to alleviate Austrian apprehensions of French expansion. The center to this problem is Italy, where France and Austria have conflicting interests. Talleyrand’s solution to this problem is to attempt to shift Austria’s attention to the east and he begins to calculate how he might engineer a conflict between the Austrians and the Turks.
French merchants in Canton are now regularly purchasing Chinese goods, paying only in specie, and shipping them back to France. About a quarter of the products are re-exported to other European countries, adding to France’s already immense reputation as the cultural center of Europe. The French are still endeavoring to open up China as a market for French exports, but utterly without success.
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