L’Aigle Triomphant: A Napoleonic Victory TL

The Aranjuez Crisis
The Aranjuez Crisis

“Of all the times we tried to make the Emperor listen, thank god it was at Bayonne he lent his ear to someone other himself…”

- Talleyrand


The two competing Spanish kings, father and son, came to Bayonne in a time of acute crisis and more than a little bashful. Infante Ferdinand had overthrown his father but two months earlier; five days prior, Madrid had violently risen up against French troops stationed there. Ferdinand anticipated a reprimand but little more; Charles IV hoped to be reinstated.

For two centuries, historians have debated how serious Napoleon’s plan to demand both of their abdication and install his brother Joseph in their stead was. Talleyrand’s diaries suggested such a move was imminent but for the intervention of General Junot, racing from Portugal to be present. Whatever changed the mercurial Emperor’s mind, on May 7th 1808 - at the apex of his powers - Napoleon demanded Ferdinand relinquish the throne back to his father.

The prince and brief pretender, having now unsuccessfully conspired against his father twice, agreed reluctantly to a quiet self-exile to Rome, where he intended to study and pray (and wait for the intrigues in his home country to pass); the move was of course received with alarm by Francophobes on the Spanish street and his supporters in Madrid, outraged that Godoy and Napoleon had won again…
 

Deleted member 143920

This may be the first chapter, but I'm already loving it!

The French Revolution and Napoleonic wars are both my greatest area of knowledge and my most favourite time periods in History, so I'm looking forward for this TL!
The Aranjuez Crisis

“Of all the times we tried to make the Emperor listen, thank god it was at Bayonne he lent his ear to someone other himself…”

- Talleyrand


The two competing Spanish kings, father and son, came to Bayonne in a time of acute crisis and more than a little bashful. Infante Ferdinand had overthrown his father but two months earlier; five days prior, Madrid had violently risen up against French troops stationed there. Ferdinand anticipated a reprimand but little more; Charles IV hoped to be reinstated.

For two centuries, historians have debated how serious Napoleon’s plan to demand both of their abdication and install his brother Joseph in their stead was. Talleyrand’s diaries suggested such a move was imminent but for the intervention of General Junot, racing from Portugal to be present. Whatever changed the mercurial Emperor’s mind, on May 7th 1808 - at the apex of his powers - Napoleon demanded Ferdinand relinquish the throne back to his father.

The prince and brief pretender, having now unsuccessfully conspired against his father twice, agreed reluctantly to a quiet self-exile to Rome, where he intended to study and pray (and wait for the intrigues in his home country to pass); the move was of course received with alarm by Francophobes on the Spanish street and his supporters in Madrid, outraged that Godoy and Napoleon had won again…
As suggested by the first chapter, the intervention in Spain is avoided, which would subsequently allow Junot and the French army to keep Portugal. This would avoid the Iberian peninsula being 'Napoleon's Vietnam' and allow him to more actively focus in Germany and Russia, so that will be interesting. I wonder how the Napoleonic wars will be different and if France and Spain remain allies.

Also, a little something I noticed is that you said "at the apex of his powers", which suggests that Napoleon's downfall still occurs. I wonder how that would occur differently?
 
The two competing Spanish kings, father and son, came to Bayonne in a time of acute crisis and more than a little bashful. Infante Ferdinand had overthrown his father but two months earlier; five days prior, Madrid had violently risen up against French troops stationed there. Ferdinand anticipated a reprimand but little more; Charles IV hoped to be reinstated.
I like the setup, but I feel like there's some room to improve here. Charles IV was basically overthrown in a popular revolt in favor of Ferdinand. Ferdinand even despite his reactionary and mercurial rule during the Bourbon Restoration, was still supported by a majority of the common people. Charles IV was hated because of his incompetence. He was so oblivious that it was an open secret that Godoy was cuckolding him by having an affair with his wife the Queen. I think this was part of the reason why Ferdinand hated Godoy so much as he humiliated the Spanish Crown. Ferdinand agreed to mediation with Napoleon partly because he wanted recognition from Napoleon.

One pod you might be able to work with is if say Ferdinand had a son. This way Napoleon could depose both while ruling through a "legitimate" Spanish King as opposed to his brother which was what most of the Spanish public took issue with. You could even have other more moderate Bourbons (Ferdinand's youngest brother) involved as well strengthening Napoleon's puppeteering of Spain under the guise of legitimism.

"at the apex of his powers", which suggests that Napoleon's downfall still occurs. I wonder how that would occur differently?
I mean the title of this tl is L'Aigle: Triomphant which suggests that Napoleon is ultimately victorious in tl.
 
I like the setup, but I feel like there's some room to improve here. Charles IV was basically overthrown in a popular revolt in favor of Ferdinand. Ferdinand even despite his reactionary and mercurial rule during the Bourbon Restoration, was still supported by a majority of the common people. Charles IV was hated because of his incompetence. He was so oblivious that it was an open secret that Godoy was cuckolding him by having an affair with his wife the Queen. I think this was part of the reason why Ferdinand hated Godoy so much as he humiliated the Spanish Crown. Ferdinand agreed to mediation with Napoleon partly because he wanted recognition from Napoleon.

One pod you might be able to work with is if say Ferdinand had a son. This way Napoleon could depose both while ruling through a "legitimate" Spanish King as opposed to his brother which was what most of the Spanish public took issue with. You could even have other more moderate Bourbons (Ferdinand's youngest brother) involved as well strengthening Napoleon's puppeteering of Spain under the guise of legitimism.


I mean the title of this tl is L'Aigle: Triomphant which suggests that Napoleon is ultimately victorious in tl.
Thank you!

Granted that I’m certainly no expert regarding this period, I wanted to avoid a “x has a kid” POD too early and find the best off ramp for the OTL Peninsular Wars. My thinking is that sticking the unpopular Charles back on the throne is still a bad idea that ignores the realities on the ground in Spain (Napoleon is still Napoleon after all) without being as massively stupid as appointing Joseph was. A good thought to utilize Infante Francisco a bit more, though

This alternate Bayonne Abdication is definitely not going to be an unmitigated success for France, by any means
 
Tensions on the Tagus
Tensions on the Tagus
"...oh, what foolish thing, what butchery!"

- General Junot


The Madrid that welcomed Charles IV back from Bayonne was not the same city that had lavishly greeted his son as a liberator but two months earlier; the reception he received, along with General Junot, was frosty if not deliberately hostile, occurring in the shadow of the violent response by Murat's men to the uprising that had occurred on May 2nd, to the point that evidence of the violence was still apparent everywhere he looked. His position of king was also substantially weakened; his own son had conspired against him twice, once successfully, and only the foreign intervention of France had kept him on his throne. What kind of Spanish King could rule Spain if he had to role at the end of a French musket? The only upside was that Godoy had not returned to Madrid with him; had the disgraced, violently unpopular deposed minister entered the city at that time with Charles IV, another uprising that would have seen them both hung and gibbeted may have occurred.

It fell to Junot, as was inevitable, to "take care" of the matter on the Emperor's behalf. Napoleon left Bayonne satisfied and with instructions to Charles to impose the terms of Fontainebleu on conquered Portugal, thus completing the domination of Europe from the Atlantic to the Russian frontier envisioned in Tilsit in the year before. The weak, unloved King found that his stature at home was so weak that he had to give instructions through his twenty year old son, Infante Carlos, and the paranoia that would cripple Charles for the rest of his life began in those tense months after Bayonne, where he would often retreat to El Escorial for weeks on end with few people seeing his face and an army of food tasters and bodyguards recruited to protect him against new intrigues. Junot, not even with a Marshal's baton, was left to make important decisions across Iberia, loosely aware that his every move was being watched by enemies both in Paris and abroad, from Talleyrand to the Tsar of Russia. Revolts in Portugal were put down violently; a loot train back to France was ambushed crossing into Spain and bloodily defended; Spanish anger over the violent response by Murat left Junot no choice but to desperately write to Napoleon to have the Duke of Berg removed back to Germany, where he "might serve better use," he diplomatically phrased, worried that Murat's continued presence and the deepening hostility between French soldiers in the cities and the Spanish street was threatening the whole of Iberia.

In Portugal, meanwhile, the question emerged of whether Napoleon would indeed pursue his planned dismantling of the state, and whether a man as thoroughly disgraced as Godoy could indeed take a princely throne in any of the surviving successor states...
 

Deleted member 143920

Great update so far!
Tensions on the Tagus
"...oh, what foolish thing, what butchery!"

- General Junot


The Madrid that welcomed Charles IV back from Bayonne was not the same city that had lavishly greeted his son as a liberator but two months earlier; the reception he received, along with General Junot, was frosty if not deliberately hostile, occurring in the shadow of the violent response by Murat's men to the uprising that had occurred on May 2nd, to the point that evidence of the violence was still apparent everywhere he looked.
It appears then that Junot is moved to Spain, but what occurs with Portugal?
His position of king was also substantially weakened; his own son had conspired against him twice, once successfully, and only the foreign intervention of France had kept him on his throne. What kind of Spanish King could rule Spain if he had to role at the end of a French musket? The only upside was that Godoy had not returned to Madrid with him; had the disgraced, violently unpopular deposed minister entered the city at that time with Charles IV, another uprising that would have seen them both hung and gibbeted may have occurred.
Charles 6th's position is weak, perhaps enough so that he could be replaced with the former King of Etruria (who sadly is still a child, but a Bourbon nevertheless), with Junot as regent as compensation if Portugal is not partitioned or given to them whole.
It fell to Junot, as was inevitable, to "take care" of the matter on the Emperor's behalf. Napoleon left Bayonne satisfied and with instructions to Charles to impose the terms of Fontainebleu on conquered Portugal, thus completing the domination of Europe from the Atlantic to the Russian frontier envisioned in Tilsit in the year before. The weak, unloved King found that his stature at home was so weak that he had to give instructions through his twenty year old son, Infante Carlos, and the paranoia that would cripple Charles for the rest of his life began in those tense months after Bayonne, where he would often retreat to El Escorial for weeks on end with few people seeing his face and an army of food tasters and bodyguards recruited to protect him against new intrigues. Junot, not even with a Marshal's baton, was left to make important decisions across Iberia, loosely aware that his every move was being watched by enemies both in Paris and abroad, from Talleyrand to the Tsar of Russia. Revolts in Portugal were put down violently; a loot train back to France was ambushed crossing into Spain and bloodily defended; Spanish anger over the violent response by Murat left Junot no choice but to desperately write to Napoleon to have the Duke of Berg removed back to Germany, where he "might serve better use," he diplomatically phrased, worried that Murat's continued presence and the deepening hostility between French soldiers in the cities and the Spanish street was threatening the whole of Iberia.
If Napoleon allowed Charles 6th back on the throne, then he is likely to remove Murat. However, if that's not the case, and another blunder occurs, then that could lead to an alternate French intervention in Spain.
In Portugal, meanwhile, the question emerged of whether Napoleon would indeed pursue his planned dismantling of the state, and whether a man as thoroughly disgraced as Godoy could indeed take a princely throne in any of the surviving successor states...
According to the Wikipedia page, and specifically historian Charles Oman, Napoleon never had an actual intention to divide Portugal. And such a division would be less practical if Godoy, who is supposed to be King of Algarves, can't take the throne. A logical solution would be to give all of Portugal to the former king of Etruria.


@alexmilman what do you think of this TL so far?
 
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Tensions on the Tagus
"...oh, what foolish thing, what butchery!"

- General Junot


The Madrid that welcomed Charles IV back from Bayonne was not the same city that had lavishly greeted his son as a liberator but two months earlier; the reception he received, along with General Junot, was frosty if not deliberately hostile, occurring in the shadow of the violent response by Murat's men to the uprising that had occurred on May 2nd, to the point that evidence of the violence was still apparent everywhere he looked. His position of king was also substantially weakened; his own son had conspired against him twice, once successfully, and only the foreign intervention of France had kept him on his throne. What kind of Spanish King could rule Spain if he had to role at the end of a French musket? The only upside was that Godoy had not returned to Madrid with him; had the disgraced, violently unpopular deposed minister entered the city at that time with Charles IV, another uprising that would have seen them both hung and gibbeted may have occurred.

It fell to Junot, as was inevitable, to "take care" of the matter on the Emperor's behalf. Napoleon left Bayonne satisfied and with instructions to Charles to impose the terms of Fontainebleu on conquered Portugal, thus completing the domination of Europe from the Atlantic to the Russian frontier envisioned in Tilsit in the year before. The weak, unloved King found that his stature at home was so weak that he had to give instructions through his twenty year old son, Infante Carlos, and the paranoia that would cripple Charles for the rest of his life began in those tense months after Bayonne, where he would often retreat to El Escorial for weeks on end with few people seeing his face and an army of food tasters and bodyguards recruited to protect him against new intrigues. Junot, not even with a Marshal's baton, was left to make important decisions across Iberia, loosely aware that his every move was being watched by enemies both in Paris and abroad, from Talleyrand to the Tsar of Russia. Revolts in Portugal were put down violently; a loot train back to France was ambushed crossing into Spain and bloodily defended; Spanish anger over the violent response by Murat left Junot no choice but to desperately write to Napoleon to have the Duke of Berg removed back to Germany, where he "might serve better use," he diplomatically phrased, worried that Murat's continued presence and the deepening hostility between French soldiers in the cities and the Spanish street was threatening the whole of Iberia.

In Portugal, meanwhile, the question emerged of whether Napoleon would indeed pursue his planned dismantling of the state, and whether a man as thoroughly disgraced as Godoy could indeed take a princely throne in any of the surviving successor states...
So, if Napoleon chooses Charles over Ferdinand (as one easier to manipulate) his main goal in Spain is to keep the regime reasonably stable. Of course, Charles is actively disliked but he is still a legitimate monarch and with the hated Godoy is out a lot of blame can be shifted on him, which was be a popular course of action throughout the history. If Napoleon removes Murat and the troops involved in the Madrid events, the irritation may eventually calm down to a manageable degree with the things getting back to the traditional conservative normal (as I understand, the OTL progressive reforms introduced by Joseph had been generally unpopular). The French are not liked after Madrid and Trafalgar but not hated on the OTL level. Especially if Napoleon manages to move his troops out of Spain and Portugal. Which, in turn, would produce a serious domino effect outside the Peninsula.

The obvious question is can he do this without a serious damage to his CS? Of course, if he managed to view the geopolitical situation objectively (fat chance), he would easily figure out that the whole thing did not work even in Holland ruled by his brother and that, while Alexander agreed to join the CS, he can’t stick to it for a long time without a serious risk to his health (I suspect that one of the saving factors was personality of the heir to the throne). The system, while being potentially beneficial for the continental Europe in a long run, was hurting everybody right now because France was simply unable to replace Britain as importer and exporter.

So, if Nappy removes his troops from the Peninsula, the relations with Spain are eventually getting to the acceptable normal level: the Brits are still the enemies of Spain hurting connections to the colonies and Trafalgar plus the earlier battles caused much greater damage than the events in Madrid. Even if eventually the Brits are landing in Portugal, where are they going to go from there if Spain is not sympathetic? BTW, can Nappy do something that the Spaniards would appreciate (besides getting the Hell out of their territory)? For example, a joined and successful siege of Gibraltar. Absence of a massive engagement in Spain makes 5th Coalition unlikely (with Nappy having extra 100-200,000 troops not engaged in Spain) and this course also makes the CS more or less “a paper tiger” causing much less irritation on the continent while still creating some inconveniences for Britain: permitting the trade by the 3rd party ships allows to keep European exports-imports close to the normal level but hurts the British shipment industry (to give an idea, Russian direct trade with Britain amounted to approximately 20-30% of the total but over 60% of the total volume had been carried by the British ships). Which means that, short of some other irritants, escalation of the tensions with Russia is not inevitable (especially if Alexander still have an excuse for war with Sweden and annexation of Finland) which butterflies 1812 and the 6th coalition.

Second option is pretty much OTL with the main difference that Charles is on the throne. The French troops are in Spain indefinitely, causing a lot of irritation and suffering losses. Sooner rather than later Nappy is going to figure out that having …er… “a limited contingent” (as the Soviets in Afghanistan) led by a mere general (and not the very best one, just personally loyal) solves nothing and marches there with a huge army and no clear idea on what to do. Charles’ prestige is going down the drain and there is an uprising, formally in favor of the exiled Ferdinand. AFAIK, in OTL most of the fighting in Spain was about getting the French out, not about getting Ferdinand in: most of the guerrilla fighters probably did not have any political program besides “kill the French”.
 
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So, if Napoleon chooses Charles over Ferdinand (as one easier to manipulate) his main goal in Spain is to keep the regime reasonably stable. Of course, Charles is actively disliked but he is still a legitimate monarch and with the hated Godoy is out a lot of blame can be shifted on him, which was be a popular course of action throughout the history. If Napoleon removes Murat and the troops involved in the Madrid events, the irritation may eventually calm down to a manageable degree with the things getting back to the traditional conservative normal (as I understand, the OTL progressive reforms introduced by Joseph had been generally unpopular). The French are not liked after Madrid and Trafalgar but not hated on the OTL level. Especially if Napoleon manages to move his troops out of Spain and Portugal. Which, in turn, would produce a serious domino effect outside the Peninsula.

The obvious question is can he do this without a serious damage to his CS? Of course, if he managed to view the geopolitical situation objectively (fat chance), he would easily figure out that the whole thing did not work even in Holland ruled by his brother and that, while Alexander agreed to join the CS, he can’t stick to it for a long time without a serious risk to his health (I suspect that one of the saving factors was personality of the heir to the throne). The system, while being potentially beneficial for the continental Europe in a long run, was hurting everybody right now because France was simply unable to replace Britain as importer and exporter.

So, if Nappy removes his troops from the Peninsula, the relations with Spain are eventually getting to the acceptable normal level: the Brits are still the enemies of Spain hurting connections to the colonies and Trafalgar plus the earlier battles caused much greater damage than the events in Madrid. Even if eventually the Brits are landing in Portugal, where are they going to go from there if Spain is not sympathetic? BTW, can Nappy do something that the Spaniards would appreciate (besides getting the Hell out of their territory)? For example, a joined and successful siege of Gibraltar. Absence of a massive engagement in Spain makes 5th Coalition unlikely (with Nappy having extra 100-200,000 troops not engaged in Spain) and this course also makes the CS more or less “a paper tiger” causing much less irritation on the continent while still creating some inconveniences for Britain: permitting the trade by the 3rd party ships allows to keep European exports-imports close to the normal level but hurts the British shipment industry (to give an idea, Russian direct trade with Britain amounted to approximately 20-30% of the total but over 60% of the total volume had been carried by the British ships). Which means that, short of some other irritants, escalation of the tensions with Russia is not inevitable (especially if Alexander still have an excuse for war with Sweden and annexation of Finland) which butterflies 1812 and the 6th coalition.

Second option is pretty much OTL with the main difference that Charles is on the throne. The French troops are in Spain indefinitely, causing a lot of irritation and suffering losses. Sooner rather than later Nappy is going to figure out that having …er… “a limited contingent” (as the Soviets in Afghanistan) led by a mere general (and not the very best one, just personally loyal) solves nothing and marches there with a huge army and no clear idea on what to do. Charles’ prestige is going down the drain and there is an uprising, formally in favor of the exiled Ferdinand. AFAIK, in OTL most of the fighting in Spain was about getting the French out, not about getting Ferdinand in: most of the guerrilla fighters probably did not have any political program besides “kill the French”.
This is an outstanding response and comment, thank you! Much to digest here. (More or less aligns with my thoughts as I sketch out what comes next, at least probabilities of what could come next)
 
The Guns Go Quiet
The Guns Go Quiet

"...such a strange time it is, that interval where on the Continent - most of the Continent, at least - the guns go quiet..."

- Lord Liverpool


The installation of Charles Louis of Bourbon-Parma as Carlos I of Portugal ended any thoughts that Napoleon may indeed divide up Portugal into minor vassals and carve out one state for the reviled Godoy, who for his part would live out the rest of his life at various estates in France, most commonly Compiegne and Aix, constructing around him a strange little court of eccentrics and sycophants, in addition to a revolving door of mistresses, living off of a modest state pension, his family incomes and the generosity of his hosts. An Italian Bourbon in Portugal, controlled tightly by Junot, who by mid-June was back in Portugal, was hoped to be a satisfactory conclusion to both the Portuguese street and the Spanish throne. Madrid complained little, especially as the troops in the city were drawn down and Murat sent to Denmark to prepare for the invasion of Sweden; Portugal's populace was somewhat more restive, and Queen Regent Maria Luisa proved problematic, with an independent streak, her sister having fled to Brazil as consort to Regent John, an eight-year old son she began raising to be skeptical of the Bonapartes, and an array of suitors who sought her hand with which she carefully began to asses for the best strategic advantage. Napoleon had treated an open enemy in the Braganzas for a quieter one in the Bourbon regency.

But for the rest of 1808, at least, the post-Tilsit European state of affairs was quiet, with the lone exception of Finland, where Russia's steady advance against Sweden continued. The Continental System remained full of holes and not nearly as effective against Britain as Napoleon had hoped, with London having ably replaced lost revenues in Europe with trade overseas, perhaps improving rather than harming its mastery of global trade, and smuggling operations increasing in lucrativeness and frequency. Austria was reforming her army but still licking her wounds from Pressburg; Prussia was no threat any longer on her own, and Russia at least seemed able to coexist as master of the East. In the fall, Napoleon and Alexander met at Erfurt, in Napoleon's personal control, to consolidate their new partnership, despite growing skepticism between both sides only a year after the Fourth Coalition had ended. Napoleon acquiesced to Russian desires over the whole of Finland and promised a land invasion of Scania the following spring to force an armistice; Alexander was already mulling plans to cross the sea ice on the Gulf of Bothnia to end the war, hoping he could complete the matter before Napoleon was involved, well aware that the expeditionary force led by France would expect the intact Russian fleet to clear the Kattegat of British and Swedish vessels for their invasion.

For the most part, though, the boiling waters of Iberia having been cooled to a mere simmer gave the French armies additional breathing room they had not enjoyed since the brief peace after Amiens; it gave time to the ennobled and titled Marshals to invest themselves more fully in their properties and endeavors, most prominently Murat in Berg. This was not to say that there were no tensions; Spanish anger, especially in Madrid, over the events of the 2nd of May still ran hot, and the presence of French troops in the citadels of Barcelona and Pamplona continued to be felt as closer to occupation than alliance. But bloodshed had been avoided, and the consolidation of Napoleonic control of the mainland could continue while Britain continued to harry and dominate the seas...
 
Damn if Carlos I both keeps his throne and lives to his OTL death he’d be the second longest reigning monarch of all time.
 

Deleted member 143920

The Guns Go Quiet

"...such a strange time it is, that interval where on the Continent - most of the Continent, at least - the guns go quiet..."

- Lord Liverpool


The installation of Charles Louis of Bourbon-Parma as Carlos I of Portugal ended any thoughts that Napoleon may indeed divide up Portugal into minor vassals and carve out one state for the reviled Godoy, who for his part would live out the rest of his life at various estates in France
As I had expected, Charles Louis of Etruria is compensated with Portugal. Hopefully he maintains peace there (which would only be possible if the Portuguese royal family are recognised as the rulers of an independent Brazil and admit to their loss of Portugal - which occurred IOTL, but I'm not sure if it had happened yet In TTL). Perhaps he pulls a Murat and betrays Napoleon should Russia, Austria, and Prussia go against Napoleon all together.
, most commonly Compiegne and Aix, constructing around him a strange little court of eccentrics and sycophants, in addition to a revolving door of mistresses, living off of a modest state pension, his family incomes and the generosity of his hosts.
At least Godoy isn't involved in European politics.
An Italian Bourbon in Portugal, controlled tightly by Junot, who by mid-June was back in Portugal, was hoped to be a satisfactory conclusion to both the Portuguese street and the Spanish throne. Madrid complained little, especially as the troops in the city were drawn down and Murat sent to Denmark to prepare for the invasion of Sweden; Portugal's populace was somewhat more restive,
Peace as been achieved in both Spain and Portugal while Murat is sent to Denmark. Although Portugal is slightly resentful. At least Charles Louis is a legitimate monarch and not one of Napoleon's brothers. As for Bernadotte, does he still become Crown Prince of Sweden? If not, then could the King of Denmark be (with pressure from Napoleon)?
and Queen Regent Maria Luisa proved problematic, with an independent streak, her sister having fled to Brazil as consort to Regent John, an eight-year old son she began raising to be skeptical of the Bonapartes, and an array of suitors who sought her hand with which she carefully began to asses for the best strategic advantage. Napoleon had treated an open enemy in the Braganzas for a quieter one in the Bourbon regency.
Again, this is intending that Charles Louis (with his mother's Regency), pulls a Murat and betrays Napoleon. Question is, when?
But for the rest of 1808, at least, the post-Tilsit European state of affairs was quiet, with the lone exception of Finland, where Russia's steady advance against Sweden continued. The Continental System remained full of holes and not nearly as effective against Britain as Napoleon had hoped, with London having ably replaced lost revenues in Europe with trade overseas, perhaps improving rather than harming its mastery of global trade, and smuggling operations increasing in lucrativeness and frequency.
With the Continental System failing, would Napoleon enforce it as IOTL, or offer to make peace with Britain by returning Hanover and endeding the blockade?
Austria was reforming her army but still licking her wounds from Pressburg; Prussia was no threat any longer on her own, and Russia at least seemed able to coexist as master of the East.
It appears that Napoleon's biggest enemies aren't an immediate threat any longer. With this situation in mind, would Britain bother fighting Napoleon on her own, or waiting for the next opportunity that Austria and/or Prussia are ready to strike? During this time, I assume there would be a 2-3 year period of peace as IOTL? Likely Napoleon still divorces Josephine, enforces the blockade if he doesn't want peace with Britain, etc.
In the fall, Napoleon and Alexander met at Erfurt, in Napoleon's personal control, to consolidate their new partnership, despite growing skepticism between both sides only a year after the Fourth Coalition had ended. Napoleon acquiesced to Russian desires over the whole of Finland and promised a land invasion of Scania the following spring to force an armistice; Alexander was already mulling plans to cross the sea ice on the Gulf of Bothnia to end the war, hoping he could complete the matter before Napoleon was involved, well aware that the expeditionary force led by France would expect the intact Russian fleet to clear the Kattegat of British and Swedish vessels for their invasion.
Considering this is still 1808, Napoleon could marry Alexander's second youngest sister, Catherine, who would be 20 by the time they meet in Erfurt.
For the most part, though, the boiling waters of Iberia having been cooled to a mere simmer gave the French armies additional breathing room they had not enjoyed since the brief peace after Amiens; it gave time to the ennobled and titled Marshals to invest themselves more fully in their properties and endeavors, most prominently Murat in Berg.
At least the Marshals finally get a rest 😂
This was not to say that there were no tensions; Spanish anger, especially in Madrid, over the events of the 2nd of May still ran hot, and the presence of French troops in the citadels of Barcelona and Pamplona continued to be felt as closer to occupation than alliance. But bloodshed had been avoided, and the consolidation of Napoleonic control of the mainland could continue while Britain continued to harry and dominate the seas...
Again, peace has been achieved in Iberia and Napoleon can focus on other issues, such as Britain; which you skillfully suggested that there wouldn't be peace with (unless it was unintentional).

I hope I'm not influencing your TL too much, especially since it's extremely fun to watch. But then again, suggesting a few ideas isn't committing a sin. Keep up with the excellent work!
 
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Napoleon would love marrying Catherine Pavlovna of Russia, but Alexander and their mother married her off while Napoleon was still divorcing EXACTLY for preventing such match
 

Deleted member 143920

Napoleon would love marrying Catherine Pavlovna of Russia, but Alexander and their mother married her off while Napoleon was still divorcing EXACTLY for preventing such match
Cathrine married IOTL in the summer of 1809, this is Autumn of 1808 so she isn't married yet. Assuming they agree that Alexander waits for Napoleon to divorce, then he could marry Catherine.

Also, as I just said, this is 1808, not 1812, so the effects of such an alliance haven't been seen yet and Russia is still in relatively good shape. In the initial years of the alliance from 1807-1809, both Napoleon and Alexander were keen in strengthening the alliance.
 
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Blood in the Baltic
Blood in the Baltic
"...what I'd give not even for a fleet but for a bridge! Such a narrow space of water, I could practically reach across and touch Sweden..."

- Napoleon I of France


The Opyt holding her own and fending off a much larger vessel at Nargen kept the Gulf of Finland open for the exit of the Russian Baltic Fleet from Kronstad; the campaign ahead that concluded both the Finnish War and the Anglo-Russian War moved rapidly and surprisingly unfavorably to the British position.

The Russian fleet's emergence into the Baltic - albeit slowly, and reluctantly, under instructions from Tsar Alexander - changed the equation for Admiral James Samuarez, who immediately linked up his most able vessels with the Swedish fleet. The Battle of Hanko proceeded shortly thereafter, with Russia's aim being to clear the Baltic archipelago of any threats to their campaigns in Finland. At Hanko, such a fight occurred; the evenly-matched fleets clashed for two days before the Swedes, having suffered grievous losses (four ships sunk or struck), were driven back into port. The British vessels, HMS Centaur and Implacable, retreated, leaving the Russian fleet with the Baltic largely at its mercy.

Samuarez was informed as the situation turned bleaker for the Royal Navy in the summer of 1808 that Napoleon was massing his forces in Denmark to threaten Sweden; if nothing else, the great army on the coast of the Oresund kept desperately needed Swedish forces out of Finland, where they could ward off the advancing Russians. Deducing that Russia was being nudged into the conflict continuously against her will, Samuarez decided on what he considered a great feint - to retreat through the Kattegat as a ruse, wait for Napoleon's forces to mass and request Russian assistance to cross to Scania, and then smash the invasion fleet and perhaps even the accompanying Russian vessels in those narrow waters. The Russian Baltic threat would be removed permanently, a Baltic Trafalgar; perhaps, even, it would end the war in Finland and create impetus for a Fifth Coalition. He set sail for Gothenburg posthaste.

The gambit was sensible - it was not unreasonable to suspect that Russia would provide some assistance to opening up not just the threat of a third front [1] in Scandinavia but a live one, an invasion into Sweden proper that would give their French post-Tilsit allies control over both sides of the entrance to the Baltic. To crush Napoleon's invasion - perhaps even with the Emperor aboard one of the ships! - would have made Samuarez a hero in London. But, the Admiral forgot one thing, and that was Napoleon's own penchant for innovation.

The British fleet, confident that no Danish vessels could molest it after the bombing of Copenhagen, moved into the Oresund, with a small Swedish contingent of three frigates traveling with them. The ambush laid by Napoleon was a stroke of brilliance; though he had no command of the sea the way the Royal Navy did, he did command the land, and with the armies routed north from Spain and kept ready in Denmark was much of the French artillery, now lined up along the coasts, as well as a small flotilla of Danish gunboats. The Battle of Oresund was known in later years as the "Gauntlet of Grapeshot;" the entire route from Amager to Helsingborg was lit up with cannon fire, cannonballs raining down on the fleet as the smaller but nonetheless daring Danish vessels formed a line at the northern mouth of the strait to create a temporary blockade. It was a bit of luck for Napoleon, who had not expected such a maneuver but upon hearing from scouting vessels two days before that Samuarez was bringing the weight of the Baltic Fleet with him, the move was obvious. That half of the Russian fleet was in pursuit was pure divine intervention, though they arrived days late. Of the vessels Samuarez tried to bring through the Oresund, three were sunk, and six so damaged they were forced to return to Britain for repairs; the Admiral himself was killed by a stray cannonball, and the surviving vessels holed up in Gothenburg before setting out over the North Sea home. The Russian fleet held the line to block a Swedish counterattack, with several vessels committing to a blockade of Swedish vessels in Karlskrona and Stockholm; Napoleon moved five thousand men across the Oresund in early September, establishing a small beachhead for a larger force. When winter came and Russians daringly marched across the frozen Gulf of Bothnia, the opportunity for more Frenchmen to cross emerged, and soon the bulk of his army was in Scania. King Gustaf IV was deposed by a cabal of Swedish nobles alarmed at the rapid advance of Napoleon in the south and Russia in the north; his uncle was proclaimed Charles XIII, with strictly limited powers, shortly thereafter...

[1] Bear in mind, Denmark can harry Sweden from Norway
 
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