But ITTL Austria has already reasserted itself as the strongest German power, and has reclaimed Silesia. Do they really need to go searching for more territories to annex which might upset the princes and cause instability in the empire?
How much instability would come of consolidating Further Austria into a land corridor to the Austrian Netherlands?
How much instability would come of consolidating Further Austria into a land corridor to the Austrian Netherlands?
Ask Napoleon how Europe responds to a major power eating her neighbors. Austria will be lucky to take over Venice TTL, let alone big swathes of Germany. The only way it would make sense would be as part of a broader horse-trading deal (the Bavaria-for-Belgium trade or the Partitions of Poland, or OTL Congress of Vienna) negotiated between the great powers.
I mean in this time frame "the Greeks" as a state project bound in 19th century romantic nationalism doesn't really exist and currently in the timeline Greek populations are not readily differentiable from Albanians, Bulgarians, Macedonians, Turks, Aromanians, etc.., etc... as such an exclusive nation-state. Such a state would only be established many years later after this project has succeeded in all those forced population expulsions of Greek Muslims and others and erasures of minority languages and cultures and etc.. and all that gross Balkans ultranationalist stuff.

If because of changes 'now' in the timeline, the Ottoman Empire is never in desperate enough circumstances that it needs to fund the massive expenditures servicing European debts and concessions unevenly industrializing the state with its acute needs for ever more railroad depots and cannon foundries to fight its chronic wars and it doesn't feel the need to do this by liquidating the old provincial elites that had buy-in into the Ottoman administration and trying to construct from the ground-up new model European-style state structures and institutions- that's already a huge motivation for nationalism greatly lessened.

And if instead they can more gradually bring those elites and notables into the project of industrialization and financialization a bit more cooperatively, much as 18th English and Scottish landlords and aristocrats transitioning into capitalism and the new industrialized form of commodity markets, then I think Greek nationalism would subsequently have far less of an dramatic break and be much more tied within the larger overall Ottoman system. However, Greco-Turkish students, sailors, and wage laborers newly alienated from traditional peasant communities, coming together and demanding real enfranchisement under real parliaments and participation in their own civic institutions? That's when things get spicy.
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So, I was playing Card Shark, and...

The Saxon Tyrant
The Saxon Tyrant


Archduke Franz Xaver, Prince of Saxony and Duke of Teschen

The events of 1764 had temporarily checked the ambitions of Pyotr III, Emperor of Russia. He had been forced to concede defeat to Denmark in the Schleswig War (notwithstanding a face-saving territorial exchange) and grudgingly accepted a continuation of the Wettin regime in Poland at the expense of his favored candidate, Prince Heinrich of Brandenburg. His position in St. Petersburg itself was shaken by a treasonous conspiracy among the Guards regiments masterminded by his wife, Katharina of Anhalt-Zerbst. Pyotr, however, had quickly regained his footing; his saber-rattling in response to the Sejm of 1766 had succeeded in reasserting Russian influence in Poland and forcing King Friedrich Christian to back away from his more far-reaching political reforms. From this point the Polish king’s energies would be focused primarily on the restoration of war-torn Saxony.[1]

From 1766 Polish affairs were left in the hands of a cadre of royal officials, including the king’s own brother Franz Xaver, who had a seat on the newly-created permanent governing council of the kingdom. Prince Xaver had commanded the Saxon army in the recent war and had once dreamed of receiving the Polish crown himself, on the (ultimately mistaken) assumption that his older brother would refuse it. Poland provided him with a place to exercise some autonomous authority, and there was still some chance that he would eventually get his chance, as Friedrich was eight years his senior and physically infirm.

Xaver’s main interest was in military affairs, and so his attention turned naturally to the small and rather useless Polish army. He organized a new and more efficient Military Department and expanded the kingdom’s army - at least on paper - to nearly 30,000 men, but his efforts were often frustrated by the council, which was compromised by magnates whose interests were not served by reform (or who were directly on the Russian payroll). To circumvent these issues, he turned to the recently-acquired territory of Ducal Prussia - that is, the province of East Prussia which had been seized from the Hohenzollerns at the conclusion of the last war. Xaver had faced the late Prussian king in battle and had great respect for his achievements, and convinced his brother to maintain what remained of the Hohenzollern military-administrative system in the conquered land.

Xaver’s attempts to (re)construct a “Prussian army” alarmed some very powerful men. The magnates saw it as a threat to their autonomy, as it seemed as though the prince was circumventing the apparatus of the Polish government to raise his own private force within the kingdom. Because this force was raised in East Prussia, it would also be principally Lutheran and German-speaking, which unnerved the Catholic Polish nobility. The Russians were also troubled by Xaver’s Habsburg connections. The Wettins, of course, were Habsburg allies, but Prince Xaver was also Archduke Xaver on account of his marriage to a daughter of the Empress-Queen.[A] It was all too easy to see him as an Austrian agent bent on undermining Russian influence within the Commonwealth.

This fear was not without some basis in fact. Traditionally the political and cultural counterweight to Russia within Poland had been France, but France had been discredited in the recent war and was no longer willing (nor indeed able) to lavish funds upon the anti-Russian faction. Austria, in contrast, appeared stronger than ever, and Xaver’s Habsburg connections and interest in reform had obvious appeal to anti-Russian Polish “patriots.” The hopes they placed in Austria were for the most part unrequited, as the Empress-Queen and her government were very wary of provoking Russia, but it seemed reasonable to assume that Xaver would not be undertaking such ventures unless both he and his reformist agenda had the support of Vienna.

With Russian approval, the magnates pushed back against Xaver’s “provocations.” In 1772, claiming that Xaver was attempting to destroy the liberties of the nobility and make himself a despot, pro-Russian nobles formed a confederation in opposition to the archduke - and notionally in support of King Friedrich Christian, whom they claimed was surely ignorant of his brother’s abuses. Prince Xaver made a show of defiance against these “rebels” and mustered his forces. Xaver’s faith that his brother and mother-in-law would support him, however, proved badly misplaced.

It was true that the empress and her advisors increasingly viewed Russia as a threat. The lesson which the Austrians had learned from the brief but disruptive reign of Friedrich the Bold was that preventing the emergence of a rival state within the Holy Roman Empire ought to be the first aim of Habsburg policy, but Pyotr seemed to be dead-set upon resurrecting the Prussian menace. He had supported a Hohenzollern candidate for the Polish crown in 1764, signed a “defensive” alliance with the elector in 1768, and mused openly about “revising” the treaties of 1760 with regards to Poland - to take more territory for himself, perhaps, but also to recover Prussia for his Hohenzollern allies.

Yet the empress also greatly feared the prospect of war with Russia, and despite Austria’s recent victory its financial situation remained precarious. Unlike previous wars, it was unlikely that either France or Britain would be interested in subsidizing Austrian armies in a contest with Russia; indeed, it was entirely possible that Britain might bankroll Pyotr instead. There were some suggestions within her cabinet that a relationship with the Ottomans might help meet the Russian threat, but Maria Theresa still saw the Turks as the “true enemy” of her house and could not contemplate anything so bold - and, for that matter, heretical - as an alliance. King Friedrich Christian, for his part, understood very well that he had no cards to play without Austrian support, and when the crisis arrived he folded. The king recalled his brother from Poland and accepted the demands of the confederates and Russians, which included disbanding Xaver’s Prussian forces.

Saxon humiliation, however, did not instantly bring peace to Poland. The reformists, thoroughly demoralized by the Austro-Saxon retreat, did not put up much of a fight, but the brief spasm of lawlessness had triggered an anti-Polish uprising in Right-Bank Ukraine among cossacks and peasants. Friedrich could only abase himself further by requesting Pyotr’s help to restore order. This was eventually accomplished, but this show of Russian force in Polish territory, combined with Pyotr’s high-handed treatment of the Wettins, unnerved Russia’s southern neighbor.


Sultan Mustafa III

Sultan Mustafa III was sanguine about his chances in a war with Russia and had been steadily gravitating towards the belief that such a war was necessary to check Russian influence in Poland and the Caucasus. He was egged on by the French and Austrian ambassadors, whose countries lacked the ability or interest to confront Russia directly but were more than happy to see the Turks and Russians bleed each other white. It was reported that Polish reformists, dismayed by Xaver’s removal, were even prepared to offer Polish territory to the Sultan in exchange for his help in purging their kingdom of Russian interlopers. In 1772, the Sublime Porte declared war on Russia.

This was, in retrospect, a terrible mistake. Despite some Russian successes in Crimea during the previous Russo-Turkish War (1736-39), it was generally assumed that the Russians and Turks were more or less military equals. Yet despite catching Pyotr completely by surprise, the Ottoman armies soon found that they were not facing the same old Russians. Military reforms and battlefield experience had vastly improved the Russian army over the past three decades, while the Ottoman forces had seen no combat in Europe since 1739 (and no major combat at all since the end of the last war with Persia in 1746). Despite their great size, the armies of the Sultan and his vassal, the Crimean Khan, suffered defeat after defeat at the hands of Pyotr’s generals.

The inevitability of a Russian victory was not immediately evident, however, and the Russians implemented a novel plan for a grand strategic diversion. Since the disastrous Battle of Rostock, Pyotr had been busily rebuilding his Baltic fleet, and the Turkish war provided a novel opportunity to exercise his sailors and recover the imperial navy’s honor. With encouragement and substantial material aid from the British, who were still seeking a Russian alliance, Pyotr and his admirals planned a naval operation in which a detachment of the Baltic fleet would cruise all the way to the Mediterranean and strike the Grand Turk at the very heart of his empire in the Aegean.

This operation, however, would not rely on Russian arms alone. Although if successful the expeditionary fleet might greatly inconvenience the commerce of the Turks in the Aegean, it was unlikely to force them to reallocate forces from the Balkan front unless the Russians could actually threaten to make landings and hold territory. The fleet’s own marines would certainly not be sufficient for this task. The Russians expected their co-religionist Greeks under Turkish rule to rise up and rally to their cause, but they also sent agents abroad into the Greek expatriate communities of Italy to recruit volunteers directly.

No such agents were dispatched to Corsica, but when Giorgio-Maria Stefanopoli became aware of the Russian approaches to the Greek communities of Italy he immediately perceived it as an opportunity - to consolidate his power among the Corsican Greeks, to burnish his standing in the kingdom, to gain political relevance, and perhaps even to save his community from their seemingly inexorable decline. Through his actions, the outbreak of hostilities in distant Ukraine would end up triggering events which would have significant political, military, and demographic consequences for the Corsican Kingdom, starting with the Archipelago Expedition and the saga of the Korsikanskiy legion.

[1] The period of postwar recovery in Saxony under Friedrich Christian, known as the “Saxon Rétablissement,” is generally regarded as highly successful. In contrast to the feckless and profligate administration of his father, Friedrich’s government steadily paid down Saxony’s war debt and introduced a stable paper currency. Towns were rebuilt, industries were encouraged, and new techniques of farming and animal husbandry were introduced. He is regarded with far less esteem in Poland, where - as we have seen, for reasons not entirely his fault - his reign was considerably less distinguished and effective.

Timeline Notes
[A] IOTL, Prince Franz Xaver of Saxony married morganatically. ITTL, however, Saxony’s political importance in the 1760s is far greater than it was IOTL; although despoiled by war, it is marginally larger than OTL (having annexed a few bits from Brandenburg) and relatively more consequential in Germany owing to Prussia’s defeat. Moreover, the Saxon elector still wears the crown of Poland, which vastly increases the importance of the Wettins in Habsburg foreign policy, which is increasingly concerned with checking the power of Russia. As a consequence, ITTL Franz Xaver is married to an Austrian princess to strengthen the Austro-Saxon alliance rather than permitted to go off and marry a minor noblewoman.
I wonder if the Russians might try to stir up trouble in Crete or the Morea. Of course absent thr Dardanelles, Russias ability to hold any colonies or clients in thr Mediterranean will be limited, but that doesn't mean they won't try.

Maybe a Neuhoff gets to be King of Candia?
I wonder if you were inspired by ~recent events~ or if it's just another case of life imitating art.

This is a work of historical fiction and any resemblance to current events is purely coincidental. (In fact this part of the TL was already planned before the invasion of Ukraine happened.)

So this is interesting? Basing the Russian Baltic fleet in a Corsican port so in can wreak havoc on the Turkish Aegean?

There is presently no such plan. For the moment (as we'll see in more detail in the next update) the Russians have no need for Corsican ports because they have the cooperation of the British, and thus access to Port Mahon, which is a far better naval base than anyplace in Corsica. (Ajaccio has a decent natural harbor which is certainly deep enough for warships, but a military fleet needs repair and maintenance infrastructure that just doesn't exist on Corsica, to say nothing of stocks of artillery, munitions, naval stores, provisions, etc.) That said, using Port Mahon is always contingent upon Britain's favor, which might not be permanent (and which did not last very long IOTL). If the Russians lose their access to Port Mahon, Corsica becomes a possible alternative, although the Corsican government might be vulnerable to pressure from other powers (the French, Austrians, Danes, etc) who would prefer to keep the Russians out of the Mediterranean.
This is a work of historical fiction and any resemblance to current events is purely coincidental. (In fact this part of the TL was already planned before the invasion of Ukraine happened.)
I know the feeling, I'm going to run into a similar problem in my timeline.