Look to the West: Definitive Version


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Look to the West

A Timeline

by Thomas W. Anderson, MSci, MA, BA (Cantab)



Here lies Fred,
Who was alive and is dead.

If it had been his father,
I would much rather;

If it had been his brother,
Still better than another;

If it had been his sister,
No one would have missed her;

If it had been the whole generation,
So much the better for the nation.

But as it's only Fred,
Who was alive and is dead,

Why there's no more to be said!

– Epigram of Prince Frederick Lewis of Wales (1707-1751), OTL​

Prologue: Across the Multiverse

18/04/2019. Temporary headquarters of TimeLine L Preliminary Exploration Team, location classified. Cpt. Christopher G. Nuttall, seconded from British SAS, commanding officer.

Addressed to Director Stephen Rogers of the Thande Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

The team has completed the preliminary one-month survey of the world that the Institute has designated 'TimeLine L'. We are, of course, aware that this report will be the primary basis for the International Oversight Committee's decision on whether TimeLine L is worth further exploration. As of now, sir, I must confess that my own opinions are still divided on this issue.

Perhaps, as I and my team set down what we have learned, we will make our own decisions, just as you will. The information we have obtained from TimeLine L is primarily in the form of local history books, and we have tried to gain these from several different sources to avoid making mistakes based on national bias. We have also used those basic information gathering techniques from the contemporary populace as recommended by the Institute, without provoking undue suspicion.

As you will know, sir, identifying the point at which another history diverged from our own - the so-called Point of Divergence - is often not so easy as the films would have us believe. Even chaos theory cannot be relied upon: individuals may be born after the PoD with different genes due to effects of random chance, but their names, temperaments and even destinies may still be identical to that of our history.

A note on terminology. Our own world's history, also sometimes called "TimeLine A", shall in this report be contracted to 'Our TimeLine' or OTL for short, as is the Institute policy. Comparisons to OTL are inevitable as we study TimeLine L (henceforth abbreviated to TLL, or This TimeLine, TTL) but it is my opinion that they should not be taken too far.

Let me use an example from the history of my own country. A Scot from a timeline where Scotland remained independent might well look upon the United Kingdom of OTL as being an English Empire in Scotland. But an Englishman from that history might be similarly appalled at the UK, because change always goes both ways. This is a paradigm which is all over TTL, as you will soon see.

Enough beating about the bush. The jury is still out on the PoD, but Dr Lombardi has the strongest theory so far.

It all begins in the year 1727, at an event that Dr Pylos insists on referring to as the Coronation of the Hun, when the axis of history began to spin the world towards a different fate altogether...

Part #1: The Coronation of the Hun

From "Nasty, Brutish, and Short - the Reign of King George II of the Kingdom of Great Britain". (1985, Northfire Press, Durham).

On the eleventh of June, 1727, a man of sixty-seven years suffered a stroke and died. And, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the world would not have marked such an event. But when the man was the King of Great Britain, the King of Ireland and the Elector of Hanover (though he himself had claimed its unrecognised Kingship), things were different indeed.

Three days after the death of King George I, the Privy Council convened to proclaim George's only son, also named George, as King George II. Many had looked forward to this event with some degree of dread. As it would later become well known among the English, the Hanoverians had a tradition of violent disagreements between father and son. While he had been Prince of Wales, George had done everything he could to undermine the rule and policies of his father. It was no secret that he wished to replace the popular and skilful Robert Walpole, first among the King's Ministers, with Sir Spencer Compton, a nonentity. This would be George's revenge for Walpole, a former supporter of his as Prince of Wales, having eventually joined one of his father's governments.

In the event, and probably better for the sake of England, George was persuaded by his wife, Queen Caroline, that Walpole must stay. This guaranteed the rise of the Whig Party, to the extent that they would dominate Parliament for the forseeable future. It was no secret that George disliked England, with its meddling politicans interfering with the divine right of Kings, and always considered himself a Hanoverian and a European first. This was an advantage in some ways for Walpole, as it let him draw more of the King's powers to himself and Parliament - thus becoming the first true Prime Minister - but also alarmed him, for Walpole intended to keep the Kingdom out of damaging European wars, and George felt quite the opposite.

All of these issues would eventually return throughout George's short reign, but none of them would ever eclipse that which plagued him all his life, for his best efforts. The curse of the Hanoverians reared its head once more: just as George had detested his father, so his son, Prince Frederick, detested him.

For all the accusations that have been levelled at him in latter ages, and as he has been darkened by the shadows of his more illustrious descendants, George II was not stupid. Reckless, yes, and careless of privilege. But not stupid. He did not want to repeat the mistakes of history. He would not let his son gather support against him as he had to his father. And George II had an idea. Prince Frederick would go, not back to Hanover (which in George's mind, if not Frederick's, would be a blessing) but to the godforsaken ends of the Earth.

To England's Colonies...

His wife, Queen Caroline, dissuaded him of this reckless course also[1], and in the end George went to be coronated in Westminster Abbey, on October 4th 1727, with his son Frederick by his side.

The coronation would, perhaps, have been remembered in any case, for the noted Hanoverian composer Handel had been brought in to write numerous new pieces of music. Perhaps the best known is 'Zadok the Priest', which remains performed at many coronations throughout the English-speaking world today. But the music of Handel, and indeed all else, would be overshadowed by the events that meant this date would live in infamy.

A confusion over arrangements meant that Handel's superb pieces were nonetheless played in the wrong order, which led to considerable flusterment on the part of many churchmen. It was, in fact, a particularly loud and unexpected note in Handel's "Grand Instrumental Procession", coupled with perhaps a rumple in the blue carpet, which led to the King, on the way to his throne beside the Queen, to stumble and fall before the great dignitaries there to pay homage to him.

A deathly silence descended, and indeed it might have ended there, for the assembled Lords Spiritual and Temporal knew better than to incur any royal wrath at this injuncture. The incident, they thought, as the king picked himself up with as much dignity as possible, would never be mentioned again.

The young Prince Frederick, twenty years old and retaining much of his teenage precociousness to go with the Hanoverian hatred, did not so such restraint. He let out a single 'Ha!' of delighted laughter, and with it, changed the world forever.

George was furious. Immediately after the coronation was complete, he told the Queen that he had elected to return to his original plan. Caroline agreed, almost equally upset at the Prince's behaviour.

The paperwork caused by the incident was, as is recorded in Robert Walpole's memoirs, immense. Nonetheless: Prince Frederick was, as the eldest son of the King of England, rightfully the Duke of Cornwall, a title that could not be Attainted. George did everything else he could, though. Frederick was banished to the American Colonies, to Virginia, indeed to the new town that had been named for him: Fredericksburg. A title was invented for him as a sinecure, that of Lord Deputy of the Colonies. What was at the time the work of a few strokes of a clerk's pen, would eventually become very important indeed...

George, meanwhile, calmly foisted the title of Prince of Wales on his younger son William Augustus, already the Duke of Cumberland at the age of six. No secret was made of the fact that William was now George's heir, and upon George's death would be coronated William IV.

And Frederick looked to the west, and to the future.

[1] In OTL, it ended there.
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Part #2: A Town Fit For A King

From - "Yankee Fred: The Story of the first Prince of North America", by Professor Ranulph Thorpe, Oxford University Press, 1979:

The Royal Colony of Virginia had a rich and long history by colonial standards, and despite the long and often treacherous sea voyage from England, had remained surprisingly closely affected by home affairs since its inception (as a Company) in 1607. When Prince Frederick finally arrived there in 1728, having been delayed by just one of those voyages as well as a series of futile attempts to change his father's mind before being forced to depart, he found the colony a mass of contradictions. On the one hand, the Virginians were proud of their land's status as the "Old Dominion", the land where the faithful Royalist supporters of the Stuarts had fled during Cromwell's tyranny, and this had been recognised by Charles II upon the Restoration. On the other, Virginia's equally proud tradition of limited self-rule, through the House of Burgesses, owed a lot to Cromwell's dispatching of more independent-minded governors during his brief rule.

It was the latter, based in the new capital of Williamsburg, that was the greatest surprise to Frederick. His father, as is well known, cared little for England and less for her colonies, and had left their governance to his ministers. What would his reaction have been, the Prince must have thought, had he known that England's "perfidious parliament" had spawned another, across thousands of miles of ocean? Perhaps the thought of his father's expression cheered the Prince. Certainly, he seemed to recover fairly quickly from his initial gloom at being exiled.

Williamsburg was the first city in Britain's North American colonies, having received a royal charter in 1722. A far more pleasant place than the older, mosquito-infested Jamestown, the House of Burgesses had decamped there with some relief several years before. The House was subordinated to the Governor's Council, an upper house loosely analogous to the British House of Lords, and ultimately the Governor himself. The powers of the Governor over the House had been increased by James I and Charles I, but then decreased again by Cromwell's envoys. As was then common in the North American colonies, the appointed Governor (then George Hamilton, the First Earl of Orkney) never visited his constituents, any more than the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was actually expected to be a Lancastrian anymore. The British political establishment saw no contradiction in this. Therefore, the real power lay in the hands of the Royal Lieutenant Governor, then known simply as William Gooch.

Gooch had taken over from his predecessor, Robert "King" Carter, only a year before, but was already making a name for himself with his energetic policies of promoting trade and encouraging westward settlement. Like his absentee superior Orkney, Gooch was a veteran of the First War of Supremacy[1], but he would eventually go on to fight in the Second[2]. People were already beginning to call him a worthy successor to the now retired Alexander Spotswood, unlike those that had gone between them.

Williamsburg would have been the obvious place for the exiled Prince to hold his court. After all, it was the home of the House of Burgesses and the capital of the Colony, and it was over these people - together with all the others in the Colonies - that Frederick was supposed to exercise his highly theoretical powers as the first Lord Deputy of the Colonies. It is surprising, therefore, that he instead elected to purchase an estate in the much newer town of Fredericksburg with the pension funds that his father had grudgingly allowed him.

To say Fredericksburg was new is an understatement. It had, in fact, only just been founded when the Prince groggily stepped off the deck of HMS Dartmouth at Williamsburg harbour (to be met by a puzzled crowd of local dignitaries). As noted above, travel between Britain and the Colonies was fraught with difficulties at the best of times and could take months, with the result that the stories of Frederick's disgrace had reached Virginia only in confused an incomplete forms. This was not helped by the fact that even the best-informed travellers from England had set off at a time when it still seemed as though King George might change his mind. Reports of the exile were dismissed as wild exaggerations. A possible future King of Great Britain and King of Ireland, here in Virginia? Surely not!

So it was that the new town on the Rappahannock River, though founded months after George's coronation and Frederick's disgrace, was still named for him as its fathers confidently believed he was still the Prince of Wales. It has borne that name ever since, for better or for worse. Frederick built himself a modest house with his pension on the new land. Of course, his choice of such accommodations may well have been influenced by his father's stinginess and the fact that Frederick needed permanent lodgings as soon as possible, and it is true that the house was much extended and grandified in later years. Nonetheless it endeared him, perhaps by accident, to the locals. The Virginians had grumbled for years about the overly extragavant Governor's House in Williamsburg, and Spotswood's own home in Germanna was nicknamed the 'Enchanted Castle'. They took great delight in discovering that a potential heir to the throne was living in humbler circumstances, making the self-righteous Governors seem stuffy by comparison. Frederick's house would eventually be nicknamed 'Little St. James', an epithet given by his supporters, who believed that he would one day reside in the real St. James' Palace in London as King of Great Britain and King of Ireland.

Frederick had other advantages. Though he had left Hanover at the age of seven, and did not identify with the German homeland as his father and grandfather did, German was nonetheless his birth tongue and he remained fluent in it. This was remarked upon by the colonists in general, who jokingly referred to him as the 'Third Wave of Germanna' - a reference to the fact that, not far from Fredericksburg, two groups of German religious refugees from the Rhineland and Palatinate had been allowed to settle in 1714 and 1717. The Germans were tolerated by the Virginians providing that they did not leave the boundaries of Spotsylvania County, named after Spotswood who had masterminded their settlement. But most English-speaking Virginians had little to do with their neighbours to the north, often seeing them merely as a useful barrier between them and the still-persistent Indian raids. Everyone remembered the massacre at the frontier town of Henricus many years before.

Frederick changed all that. He was one of the few notables in Virginia who spoke both English and German fluently, and though the Germanna settlers were mostly poor peasants (even by Virginian standards), he had quietly resolved to do anything he had to, to gain a shot at regaining his rightful place. So it was that it was Frederick, and a growing circle of admirers that included many of Virginia's notables, that began to break down the barriers between the Germanna and the English.

And he had no shortage of admirers. Many towns are named for royals, but few can boast that said royals actually live there. Little St. James was always busy with visitors, and Frederick's servants (mostly hired Germanna, eager to escape their often wretched agrarian Spotsylvanian existence) were called upon to produce many parties and banquets of state. For that was what they truly were. Frederick was holding court, more like a king of old, and it is in this only, perhaps, that Hanoverian taints of absolutist thinking crept in. Nonetheless, the Prince was perfectly aware that his position was tenuous and he could not afford to assume too many of his royal prerogatives. More by luck than judgement, he had begun to win the hearts of the people of Virginia, both common and noble. It opened a tiny window of hope that he could build a power base strong enough that he would one day to return to England in his rightful position as Prince of Wales, and then King.

Frederick's supporters thought that there was a better than even chance of him achieving this aim - if Prince William died without issue, then the succession would automatically revert to Frederick, for George II had no other male heirs and was not expected to produce any. So it was that ingratiating oneself with a man who was currently living humbly and wanting of favours, but might one day be one of the most powerful and wealthy men in the world, seemed like a very attractive proposition.

Before Frederick's exile, a number of North American colonials had been knighted and given titles by the Kings, but most of them immediately decamped to England in order to exercise their new influence in the Court of St. James. The Colonies lacked a native aristocracy, save perhaps Virginia with its old Company holdovers and its Planters. Just as Orkney never visited Virginia, most Governors treated their occupation as merely another title to go alongside their knighthoods and marquessates and earldoms. Once more, Frederick changed that.

London was still the place where a North American title-holder could exert the most influence and gather the most wealth, but many realised that they could gain favour with Frederick for future rewards with far less effort than they could gain favour with George for present ones. It was almost like a financial investment, literally in some cases. Frederick was soon involved with Gooch, and with the members of the House of Burgesses - including the by now venerable James Blair, the clergyman who had founded Williamsburg's William and Mary College, the second oldest university in the Americas. Frederick pledged, perhaps glibly at the time, to patronise the College if he ever became King. It was considered a wonder that the Prince could get on both with Blair and with the retired Spotswood (through his work with the Germanna), as in the prime of their careers they had been bitter political enemies.

Of course, Frederick did not lead a charmed life. He came close to losing everything he had built up more than once. Perhaps his greatest problem was also his greatest advantage: the fact that all but the titled Virginians were unaccustomed to meeting royalty. After he had made a few moves that were popular with the commoners, they began to see him as a paragon of kingly virtue, an image that came very close to being shattered in 1732, when he had at last began to feel that he was making a strong position for himself.

As well as mutual paternal dislike, Frederick inherited another of the Hanoverians' infamous habits - womanising. He was not such a terrible offender as his father, but nonetheless enjoyed a mistress or two. The problem was that the Virginian commoners, unlike their English contemporaries, had never experienced such royal depredations and, to put it mildly, did not recognise his Droit De Seigneur.

Things came to a head with a scandal in 1732 when Frederick was allegedly caught in bed with one Mildred Gregory by none other than Gooch himself, after the Governor had unwisely dashed into Little St. James' with an urgent political matter on which he thought Frederick's patronage would be of help. Here Frederick's at first accidental and then carefully cultivated informal style worked against him: his servants did not think to announce Gooch.

The Governor himself was persuaded to keep the matter secret - after all, Frederick's ruination would also destroy all the investments of favour made by Gooch and his fellow politicians - but it nonetheless leaked out. "They who have ears, let them hear," the Prince is thought to have ruefully quoted (in German). Mostly the story was dismissed as an attempt to blacken the Prince's name by those who retained a strong allegiance to George and thus Prince William. Only a few knew the truth of it. Unfortunately for Frederick, one of those few who found out was Augustine Washington, Mildred's sister. At the age of thirty-five, ten years older than Frederick, she had already outlived two husbands and had three daughters from her second marriage. As Gooch is reported to have remarked, "God only knows what he saw in her." Certainly, Frederick at first intended her to be merely another mistress. Augustine had other ideas.

The Washingtons were not rich, nor were they poor. Augustine owned a plantation at Popes Creek and was looking to expand. Royal patronage, even by the disgraced prince, would be useful, and he was persuaded by his new second wife Mary to cool down from his initial anger. Blackmail would be a more useful tool than simple revenge. However, he was still determined to see his little sister right, for Mildred had quietly informed him that she was pregnant.

With misgivings, Frederick agreed to meet the Washingtons at Little St. James' and was informed of Augustine's demands. The son of Lawrence Washington, a former burgess and sheriff, his family had come to Virginia after having their lands confiscated by Oliver Cromwell and failing to have them returned by the restored King Charles II. A great injustice, did the Prince not agree? The Prince did. Something that should surely be rectified, or at least compensated, if a more...reasonable Person should occupy the throne of England? Why, naturally.

It was the second part of Augustine's demands that appalled Frederick. It would be wrong to call the Washingtons simple, but they were stubborn colonial folk with a strong sense of Anglican morality. Frederick would have to do something about Mildred's pregnancy. Compensate her, leave her to raise an illegitimate royal son as so many Englishwomen had on his funds? No. Frederick was relieved, for despite his invieglement with the Virginian notables, his own funds remained limited. This relief did not last. No, he would not compensate Mildred. He would marry her.

Nothing the Prince could do could make Augustine budge. As well as fulfilling his sense of the correct restribution, he knew that this would be the ultimate way of forcing Frederick not to go back on any promises if he became King. Kings couldn't divorce, not without a host of scandals. Frederick protested that Mildred was an inappropriate wife, a widow with children from a previous marriage. That would not have been a problem if she had been titled, of course. Frederick had expected to be married off to a German princess, as George was already planning to do to Prince William. Well, Augustine pointed out, if he kept his promises, Mildred - and the rest of the family - would be titled.

Frederick was forced to bow to his logic, knowing that the Washingtons had connections and could easily ensure that the truth of the scandal got to prominent ears. That would finish him, unless he wanted to flee and try to start again somewhere else. He rejected that. After all, he had expected a loveless marriage anyway, and did it truly matter if it was to a common colonist rather than a German princess? All that mattered was that he would one day wear the crown, and who cared who sat beside him?

It is thus rather surprising that Frederick apparently did grow to possess some feelings for Mildred as the years went on, and in March 1733 she bore him a son, Prince George Augustine of Cornwall (called George FitzFrederick, in the illegitimate style, by the Williamite detractors who did not recognise the morganatic marriage). Nothing could have been calculated to make Frederick decide his marriage was, on balance, a good thing. It is thought that his choice of George for the name may even have been a deliberate swipe at his father's condemnation. On the other hand, some historians have argued that it has a rather different derivation. For, a month before the young prince's birth, Augustine Washington too had chosen to bestow the name upon his newborn son...

[1] The War of the Spanish Succession.

[2] The War of Jenkin's Ear/Austrian Succession.

Part #3: A Cornish Nasty for German George

From "A Political History of the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic Peoples", volume III, published by Cambridge University Press, 1971

There had never been any question of Prince Frederick simply lying down and accepting his exile. It is debatable whether even George II truly thought that merely sending his elder son several thousand miles away would stop him interfering in British politics. Certainly, Frederick's absence from the British political scene lasted only a few years. Though his body might remain in Fredericksburg, his political will, through his supporters, continued to stretch all the way across the Atlantic to Westminster.

In this, Frederick had several advantages. Firstly, his acquaintance with Lieutenant Governor Gooch meant that he was well aware of the latter's new policies towards Virginia's vitally important tobacco crop, long before most other investors. The Tobacco Inspection Act of 1730 required Virginian tobacco planters to bring their crops to public warehouses, where it was inspected and stored. This reduced fraud and improved the quality of the overall crop, and within a few years, 'Virginian tobacco' was renowned throughout Europe as a superior blend, coming into great demand.

Frederick had gambled on Gooch's scheme not backfiring, and had invested a large part of his still quite meagre funds in the tobacco business. In this he was later helped by his connections with the Washingtons, and some believe that he first encountered Mildred Washington Lewis Gregory due to his inquiries into the important tobacco planting families. Frederick borrowed money from the richer burgesses he had become acquainted with, as well. He was able to pay it back within a few years, as his investments more than matured thanks to Gooch's policies. Frederick is thus almost unique in British history as a royal who made his own fortune. This too may arguably have endeared him to the colonists' frontier spirit.

By March 1734, Frederick felt his position - both financial and political - was now secure enough to return to his major mission in life. It had been more than six years since his exile, and he was determined that his father would not rest on his laurels for much longer. Firstly, he would need more influence, and he found a good excuse to go searching for it. He had been given the invented post of Lord Deputy of the Colonies when he had been exiled, a post which technically gave him powers over all the Colonial Governors. Frederick had never used this power, though, recognising that he would not be taken seriously. He had instead relied upon suggestion and persuasion to inviegle himself with Gooch and the House of Burgesses. But Virginia, though one of the most populous and important of the British colonies in North America, was not the only one. It was time for Frederick to spread his wings.

In March, Mildred was pregnant again (with a daughter, eventually named Mildred after herself) and Frederick took the opportunity to leave her behind in Fredericksburg with young George and most of the servants. He embarked on what he called his 'Grand Tour', spending slightly more than a year travelling around the Colonies and trying to make at least one appearance in each colonial capital. Stories of him had, of course, already spread throughout North America, and some of the dignitaries of the other Colonies had already come to visit him in Fredericksburg. These men, who included Lieutenant Governor Patrick Gordon of Pennsylvania (who was not merely a political supporter but had become a genuine friend to Frederick on his rare visits), agreed to find the Prince accommodations for his stay in return for his patronage.

Much has been written about Frederick's tour, not least by Frederick himself, though he restricted himself to short pamphlets. Most of these at first seemed innocuous, with titles such as Travels in the Woods of Penn's Land or Instructive Innovations of Our Colonial Cousins. However, they always had a hidden meaning that attacked George's policies and person. It has been suggested by many historians that Frederick's works were mostly ghost-written by North American writers, given that he had no history of authorship before his exile and the fact that the writings are almost universally pro-colonial. Frederick did develop a general liking for the land of his exile, but not the love of a native that the pamphlets profess.

It is instructive to contrast Frederick's two longest stays in his tour, in Pennsylvania (May - June 1734) and New York (July - August). In the first province, he was already friendly with the Lieutenant Governor, Patrick Gordon, and appeared as a supporter of him in Philadelphia. It was in Pennsylvania that Frederick was first introduced to the Indians as anything more than a vague threat on the horizon - Pennsylvania was looking to expand at the expense of its Lenape Indian neighbours, potentially ruining the relatively good relationship they had had with them in previous years. Frederick also met with Pennsylvania's German population, much larger than that of Virginia, and was again popular with they as well.

New York was different in almost every way. The Governor was William Cosby, a new and oppressive ruler who disliked Frederick and was fiercely loyal to George II. Thus it was that in New York, it was with Cosby's enemies, the so-called Morrisite Party, that Frederick met, and enjoyed popularity with the people of New York because of it. When Cosby had arrived two years earlier, he had demanded half the pay of the acting governor, Van Dam, and had then fired Chief Justice Lewis Morris when he had declared the demand illegal. Frederick promised the Morrisites that he would have Cosby thrown out and replaced with one of their own, perhaps Morris himself, if he ever became King. So it was that he achieved more influence with those peers who identified with the Morrisite cause.

It was also whilst in New York that Frederick became involved with John Peter Zenger, a German immigrant who printed the Morrisites’ political paper, the New York Weekly Journal. Cosby had attempted to close the paper down several times, as it attacked his policies - his failure to defend against Iroquois raids, his suspected rigging of elections, and his permission for French ships to illegally dock in New York harbour. Frederick had made it a policy of his own to use his German language skills to become friendly with important or powerful German-speakers in the Colonies. Zenger was not rich, but his role as mouthpiece of the Morrisites meant that he could be very useful to Frederick indeed. The Prince later embarrassed Cosby on his way back to Virginia in winter 1734 - the Governor had attempted to have the Journal burned and Zenger arrested for sedition. Frederick used his influence to have the case thrown out[1] and a frustrated Cosby died just one year later. However, this was not the end of New York's problems, as his successor George Clarke was also a member of the 'Court' or Tory Party and continued to interfere with Van Dam's policies.

Frederick actually met Indians for the first time in New York, meeting with a delegation from the Iroquois Confederacy (or Six Nations) along with several senior Morrisites. Although the Morrisites had attacked Cosby for failing to respond effectively to Iroquois raids, they also acknowledged that at least some of those raids had been the result of Cosby's clumsy attempts to appropriate lawful Iroquois land. Frederick's chief contribution to the meeting was when he noticed that the Indians seemed to dislike being referred to as Iroquois. Via an interpreter, he asked them about this.

The Iroquois replied that the name was, in fact, an insulting epithet given to them by their Huron enemies, and meant Black Snakes. Few Englishmen had ever bothered to learn their true name, which was Haudenosaunee.

Frederick, to everyone's surprise, seemed delighted at this and even clapped his hands when the words were translated for him. He explained to the puzzled Iroquois about his own people, the Deutsche, who had resigned themselves to being referred to as 'Germans' by the English, who in turn gave the name Dutch inaccurately to the Nederlanders.[2] "Perhaps it is too late to undo that injustice," the Prince commented, "but I, for one, shall call you by your true name." In fact, Frederick's German accent meant that he had trouble pronouncing the word Haudenosaunee, but the Indians seemed to appreciate him making the effort. Their meeting would have much more important consequences in years to come, but Frederick is believed to have started a fashion for referring to the Iroquois as Haudenosaunee or just Hauden/Howden for short.

The rest of Frederick's tours in North America are less important, although it is said that he firmly believed that there was no real difference between any of the New England states, and the story of his meeting the young Benjamin Franklin in Boston is almost certainly apocryphal, although the two of them did work together in later years. Frederick more or less managed to fulfil his own target of speaking in every Colonial capital.

Frederick also visited the territory of Nova Scotia, recently (re-)conquered by British and colonial forces during the First War of Supremacy[3] and still occupied by French Acadian settlers who had been forced to swear an oath to the crown, but with the proviso that they would not be called upon to fight either French or Indian forces. It is not known precisely what first gave Frederick a dislike of the Acadians - possibly simply that their oath made them loyal to George - but one of his pamphlets, entitled The Horse of Troy, stated that "What advantage do we gain by possessing a land whose men have no obligation to serve the same duties as our true colonists? Nova Scotia is a British colony in the same sense that the wearer of our Crown is the King of France." This being a jab at the British King's absurd holdover claim from the Hundred Years' War to be the King of France, which George II had not abolished. The Prince's low opinion of the Acadians' loyalty would also have serious repercussions in years to come.

Frederick returned home to Virginia in early 1735, having missed the birth of his daughter Caroline. He remained there for six months, continuing to build up his position, and then toured the southern colonies in a much shorter trip. In the Carolinas, an intrigued Frederick also met with representatives of the Cherokee Indians, who had just concluded a treaty in which they agreed to be a protectorate of George II and halt their raids on Carolina.[4] Frederick promised to respect this treaty if he ever became King, whilst also meeting with Governor Robert Johnson and Carolina's own band of German settlers. Like the Virginians, the Carolinians saw these Calvinist refugees as a useful first line of defence against Indian raids, but unlike the Virginians there were serious accusations of the religious differences with the Anglican Carolinians causing potential civil problems. It was a complex situation that Frederick realised could one day go up like a powder keg.

He also briefly visited the newly created Proprietory Colony of Georgia, only just split off from Carolina. Georgia also had its Indian problems, in this case with the Creeks. It is thought that Frederick took a dislike to Georgia simply because it was named for his father, although his later actions towards the colony were certainly much more a direct response to events and not due to his holding a grudge.

Frederick returned to Virginia in late 1735 and remained in Fredericksburg until the Second War of Supremacy[5]. However, he was already being informed of the havoc his work was wreaking for his father back in England.

The political situation in Frederick's time was quite different to that today[6]. By the English Constitution of 1688 - a document that was referred to almost as holy writ by all politicians - each county more-or-less democratically elected two MPs. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge also elected two MPs each, and they had the most democratic system, with any matriculated Members of the University being able to vote. In addition to this, though, there were plenty of rotten boroughs and historical seats, meaning that tiny villages could elect more MPs than great towns. The most infamous example was Old Sarum, under the control of the Pitt family, which in the recent 1728 election had elected the candidate Colonel Harrison by a four to one margin - literally four votes to one. It would continue to return two MPs well into the nineteenth century, at one point ceasing to have any voters at all.

There was also the House of Lords, of course, which was to some extent influencable by the King as he created peerages. However, he also had to cope with the existing Lords created by his father or inherited from their predecessors, whose titles could only be Attainted in extraordinary circumstances.

Political parties meant little then. The old labels of Whig and Tory were still in use, but the official Tory party was a shattered rump at this point after supporting the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. Governments were not formed of exclusively Whigs or Tories, but generally of Whigs and perhaps one or two Tories who happened to support the King. The opposition was made up of the majority of the Tories and plenty of rebel Whigs. Also, precisely how the labels Tory and Whig were applied was often a matter of opinion. This situation did not significantly change until the nineteenth century.

Thus more informal groupings and coalitions fulfilled the roles of true parties. The loyalist Whigs of Robert Walpole continued to dominate the Commons, although their majority was reduced in the 1734 General Election after Walpole's attempt to introduce an unpopular customs and excise tax. A far more serious threat to Walpole and George II materialised soon after. Walpole had many enemies, including William Pulteney and the young, up and coming William Pitt and George Grenville. Previously they had not worked together as a united opposition, but Prince Frederick's influence from across the waves began to consolidate them into a single movement which he called the Patriot Boys.[7] As their name suggested, one of the Patriot Boys' tactics was attacking Walpole's policy of avoiding wars in the interests of trade. Though European wars were indeed unpopular, and Walpole had been praised for preventing George II intervening in the War of the Polish Succession (1733), Frederick knew that colonial interests would be served by them.

As well as North American born and influenced peers and MPs - of which there were quite a few - Frederick had the advantage of being Duke of Cornwall. Cornwall was an oddity, possessing many historical anachronisms as a result of the 1688 Constitution. It elected no fewer than 22 MPs, more than any other county despite being one of the smallest and least populous, and most of these constituencies were under the direct control of the Duke of Cornwall. Frederick also possessed some seats in Wales that still saw him, not William, as their rightful Prince, and he had achieved some level of support from Scottish peers such as Orkney (the technical Governor of Virginia) and Bute. It was this coalition that led to Walpole's loyalists sourly labelling the Patriot Boys as "A band of Scotch, Welch, Dutchmen and Colonials who think they can rule England."

Frederick clawed back surprising support, but the Patriot Boys (led by the rebel Whig Pulteney) never came close to unseating Walpole's Government. Nonetheless, they caused headaches for his father and ensured that the people of England didn't forget their absentee Prince. Frederick's plan was going as well as could be expected, but everyone's plans were thrown out when an unthinkable event happened: Walpole supported a war.

And it was a war that began in North America...

[1] Thus, unlike OTL, there was no extended Zenger case. One consequence of that is that there was no precedent set on the matter of libel, i.e. that a statement is not libellous if it is true, as was the case in OTL.

[2] This rather anachronistic statement - many Englishmen of the time referred to all Germans as Dutch - has persuaded some historians that this story may be a fabrication.

[3] War of the Spanish Succession / Queen Anne's War.

[4] At this time, North Carolina had just been split off and the remainder was referred to simply as 'Carolina', as it was the part most Europeans thought of when they heard the name. It eventually became known as South Carolina. Carolina had been a royal colony for some years at this point, but North Carolina had only just finished its period of proprietory (Company) rule.

[5] The War of the Austrian Succession / Jenkins' Ear.

[6] Or today in OTL for that matter.

[7] Existed in OTL but purely as an English phenomenon.

Part #4: The "Yes, but we've changed our minds now" War

"European wars do not have to have causes or explanations. It is the rare European peaces which must be explained and annotated to show why they came about."

- Voltaire[1]​


From "A Guide to the Second War of Supremacy" by Dr James Foster, Oxford University Press:

Robert Walpole had made a career of keeping Britain out of damaging wars, but both that policy and, latterly, his career were coming to an end. Lord Cobham is known to have remarked that Walpole was 'destroyed by the two Fredericks', an apt observation. The exiled Prince Frederick's Patriot Boys had been assailing Walpole's Whigs for years, but what sent him on the final path to ruin were the whims of another Frederick. King Frederick II of Prussia.

The legal cause for the war had its roots in events of decades earlier. After the First War of Supremacy,[2] Spain had come under a Bourbon dynasty and the Austrian Hapsburg empire had benefited from sweeping up several former Spanish possessions. These included the formerly Spanish and now Austrian Netherlands, greatly desired by France. More importantly, Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria, had no male heirs, possessing only a daughter, Maria Theresa. On his death, she would become Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, Archduchess of Austria, and Duchess of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla. The elective position of Holy Roman Emperor was separated from the Hapsburgs for the first time in centuries and awarded to her husband, Francis I the Duke of Lorraine.

Charles VI had been well aware that this would cause complications, and so he had made all the great powers agree to his Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, recognising Maria Theresa's inheritance. Unfortunately, Charles did not perhaps take enough lessons from history. The First War had also technically been unnecessary, as the fate of Spain had already been agreed some years earlier, but that didn't stop the European powers fighting over it anyway. The Second War was the same. As soon as Charles died in 1740, Maria Theresa ascended her thrones and most of the great powers decided that they'd had their fingers held behind their backs before. More to the point, Frederick II of Prussia pointed out that he had never been consulted on the Sanction in the first place, and suited actions to words by invading Austrian Silesia. France and Bavaria also decided to rescind their recognition of Maria Theresa's claim. By the attitudes of the time, it was thought that a mere woman would soon crumble beneath the pressure and the vast Hapsburg empire would be the allies' to dismember. Of course, it didn't work out quite like that.

Britain might never have got involved if the war had occurred in isolation: Walpole had already managed to dissuade George II from entering the War of the Polish Succession some years before. However, Britain was already engaged in a war from 1739 that eventually blended into the wider European war. This was originally called the War of Jenkins' Ear, and stemmed from the fact that, according to the 1729 Treaty of Seville, Britain was forbidden from trading with the Spanish colonies in America. The Spaniards were allowed by the Treaty to board and search British vessels in Spanish waters, but in 1731 a British captain, Robert Jenkins, claimed that a brutish Spanish officer had cut off his ear while performing the inspection. The rumour became reality when Jenkins exhibited his preserved and pickled ear to the House of Commons in 1738, and not even Walpole could restrain the outrage of the House. To much cheering, he finally gave in and declared war on Spain.

Britain's naval task force was commanded by Admiral Edward Vernon, known to his men as 'Old Grog'. Vernon's men and troops were often drawn from the Colonies, and included Lawrence Washington, Augustine Washington's eldest son by his first wife, as his Captain of Marines on his flagship. Vernon himself, though persuaded of Prince Frederick's qualities by Washington, remained personally loyal to George II and the Prince of Wales.

Vernon's first victory was in the first year of the war, when he captured the Spanish port of Porto Bello in Darien. His victory was so absolute that the Spanish changed their trading practices, no longer having a few very large and rich ports with enormous treasure fleets, instead splitting them between many smaller ports. Vernon briefly returned to England and was acclaimed by the English people for his victories, including the first ever performance of God Save King George (later God Save The King). However, the rest of the war went badly, with Vernon's attempted descent[3] of Cartagena-des-Indes in New Granada (1741) being embarrassingly repulsed by greatly outnumbered Spanish defenders under Sebastian de Eslava. 1742 saw Vernon occupy Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, temporarily renaming it Prince William's Bay[4], before being driven from Cuba by Spanish irregulars.

The Spanish did not fight a defensive war, either. A Spanish attack on Georgia in 1742 was repulsed at the Battle of Bloody Marsh, and the colonials attempted equally futile attacks on Spanish Florida at the same time. It was an indecisive war, one in which Vernon's early victory was eclipsed by his later defeats. Historically he is more remembered for the introduction of watered rum into the Royal Navy, affectionately nicknamed 'grog' in his memory. Lawrence Washington nevertheless remained an admirer of Vernon, and managed to persuade Prince Frederick not to launch savage attacks on him as a means of getting to his father.

It has been suggested that this otherwise desultory war was an awakening of national consciousness, for it was at this time that the term (North) American began to dominate over Colonial as a word to describe the British settlers in the Americas.

After 1742 the war merged into the greater European conflict when France joined Spain. It was at this time that Walpole's government first began exacting increased taxes on the Americans in order to pay for the war, a highly unpopular policy and one which Frederick, of course, capitalised upon. Frederick also witnessed one of the failed American attacks on San Agustin, Florida[5], although he did not participate, and it was here that he began to realise that these almost entirely colonial-based military ventures were creating a distinct American identity. This was a fact almost entirely missed by the British government.

In Europe, the war had spiralled out of control. France and Sweden had joined Prussia after Frederick's victory at Mollwitz in 1741, with France supporting Charles Albert of Bavaria's claims to Maria Theresa's titles. The alliance suffered a defeat when Russia knocked Sweden out of the war by 1743 and annexed most of Finland, though Russia withdrew from the war after this.

The Franco-Bavarian forces, under Marshal de Broglie and supported by Saxony, did not work at all well together. By the end of 1742 they had a tenuous grip on Bohemia, while Prussia controlled Silesia. The Peace of Breslau temporarily ended the Austrian-Prussian war, with Prussian Silesia acknowledged by Austria. Prince Charles of Lorraine's army was released by this peace and was able to mostly eject Broglie's forces from Bohemia. King Louis XV's ministers, realising they had an inadequate army in place, stripped more French forces from where they had been watching potentially hostile Hanover and threw them into the fight.

Britain's initial contributions were in the Mediterranean, where a British squadron forced French-allied Naples to keep its troops at home, and, due to some odd consequencies of the war declarations, Spain sent troops through France to fight Sardinia without Sardinia being at war with France.

1743 saw even greater losses for the French. Charles Albert had crowned himself Holy Roman Emperor in Prague, but now the Franco-Bavarians lost not only Prague but were also forced back through Bavaria as well, the Austrians augmented by enthusiastic Hungarian levies who supported Maria Theresa. It was at this point, with the Franco-Bavarians losing control of Germany, that George II went to the continent with Prince William and raised an army in Hanover. This would be a fateful decision for the future of Britain.

The Anglo-Hanoverian army, supported by the Austrians, met the French at the Battle of Dettingen on June 27th (by the Julian calendar which Britain still used). George, delegating his command to William, was outmanoeuvred by his superior French counterpart, the Duc de Noailles. However, the British still won the day, but at a terrible cost.

As George personally led his troops into battle on horseback, he was wounded in the shoulder by a French musket ball. The wound was not great, and George completed the battle with his shoulder bound up and Noailles forced to concede the field, withdrawing his army. It was at this point that Prince William became an admirer of Scotch troops, as the Royal Scotch Fusiliers had played an important role in the victory.

But George's wound became infected. Stricken by a fever, he died in Hanover on August 12th. Britain and the Colonies mourned when they heard the news, although Prince Frederick saw it as Step 1 for his return and is rumoured to have thrown a tasteless party.

The transition was surprisingly orderly. The new King William IV had always been George's favourite son and they thought much alike. After being defeated by Marshal Saxe at Fontenoy in 1745, William returned to Britain, putting down Charles Edward Stuart's Jacobite rebellion in 1745 with the Scotch troops he admired. George II's body was returned to England and buried in Westminster Abbey. The British army in Europe was delegated to other generals and continued to fight on alongside Charles of Austria. France entered the war directly, while fighting between Prussia and Austria over Silesia broke out once more. France abandoned Prussia and focused on the conquest of the Austrian Netherlands, which was a success. A complex conflict in Italy eventually left Austria as the dominant power in that theatre.

The war dragged on until October 1748. In India, it was known as the First Carnatic War, and French East India Company forces under Dupleix took Madras from their British counterparts. In the Colonies, though, American forces from New England successfully conquered the French fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island in 1745, a seemingly impossible task. And this time Frederick was there, fighting as a cavalryman and honourary lieutenant colonel. He did not seem bothered by the fact that his father had died in a similar role, rather noting with annoyance that he and William had won glory as a result of it. The operation was commanded by William Shirley, Governor of Massachusetts and another acquaintance of Frederick's. After fifty days of a land siege and far more of a naval blockade, the French surrendered. "This is a great Yankee victory," Frederick said, upon standing in the Catholic chapel of the fortress. The American operation had taken on the air of a crusade, and the troops took great delight on stripping the island of 'popery', particularly if it was gold and easy to carry.

The glory turned to disgust in 1748. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed to end the war. It was almost a treaty of status quo ante bellum, save that Prussia retained Silesia - France withdrew from the Austrian Netherlands in an amazingly unpopular move (a common saying at the time in France was 'as stupid as the peace') and King William IV agreed to return Louisbourg to the French in return for Madras. The move was just as unpopular with the Yankees who had bled and died to take Louisbourg as it was with the French who had bled and died to take the southern Netherlands. But the difference was that the Colonies were thousands of miles away across the ocean, and had a leader.

For Prince Frederick saw that this was his moment. The return of Louisbourg, though sourest in New England, had been condemned by all throughout the Colonies. He was on good terms with most of the colonial governors and legislatures, and those that were not owed their allegiance to George II, not William. So it was that at Fredericksburg, on February 4th 1748, the twelve governors and many other important dignitaries met with Frederick and signed the Declaration of Right, recognising Frederick as the rightful heir to the throne and William's claim void. The Prince had come into his element.

And the War of the British Succession had begun.

[1] Not an OTL quote.

[2] War of the Spanish Succession.

[3] Eighteenth century term for an amphibious invasion.

[4] In OTL he named it Cumberland Bay, for the same person.

[5] Which in OTL of course became St Augustine.

Part #5: How I Killed My Brother

Yankee Doodle won his war
By treachery and trick'ry
Pushed over a Frog's nest
And called it a great vict'ry

Yankee Doodle, run and fly,
Yankee Doodle yellow,
Go back to your golden fields
And grow your baccy mellow.

- Song of the Williamite troops, to the tune of "Lucky Locket" ; author unknown​


From "The War of the British Succession", by Dr Colin FitzGeorge, Frederick College Press, 1987 :

The War is one of the greatest 'what if's of history, oft quoted by the writers of speculative romances as they consider the knife edge on which our world has walked since the beginning of time. It was viewed with delight by Britain's continental enemies, who were willing to jump on any chance to take the country down a peg or two. However, with the customary luck that has beheld the country for hundreds of years, no great invasion materialised. Most of the European powers were busy building up for the next war, for the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle had solved no-one's grievances - even in Britain was the only power to actually fight a civil war over it. France, Austria, Prussia and Russia were caught up in an arms race for when the peace inevitably failed, while Spain was focusing on rebuilding its fleet and improving its methods of trade after its losses at Edward Vernon's hand.

Britain was divided in its loyalties, America much less so. Generally speaking, those who were on top now owed it to the patronage of George II or William, and so inevitably supported William, while those who had much to gain supported Frederick. Few in the Colonies, save some of the colonial officials, owed much to George and still less to William. After a few arrests and more fleeing the country, America stood square behind Frederick, 'our prince'.

Frederick's bid to gain the crown would have been impossible without America's support, but would inevitably fail if that was all he had. Fortunately, Britain had many supporters of Frederick as well. The Cornish and many of the Welsh, of course, were under his control through the rotten boroughs. England, as usual, was the most fiercely divided, with the Patriot Boys and their allies supporting Frederick and the current government supporting George. The distribution of MPs meant that Northumbria and Yorkshire had the greatest overall number of Patriots outside the South, which could not be readily divided on geographic grounds. London above all often had loyalties divided even within its families.

The political situation in Britain had changed little after George's death at Dettingen. Walpole had already finally been forced to step down in 1742 and had by now passed away. He had been replaced by his old rivals the Earl of Wilmington (titular Prime Minister) and John Carteret (eminence grise). Wilmington, by then old and ill, had died soon after taking office, and had in turn been succeeded by the pro-peace Henry Pelham, who had misgivings (to say the least) about this new conflict following on the tails of the old.

The Opposition was led by the Patriots under William Pulteney, after the death of Lord Cobham earlier that year. Although still not having achieved anything near a majority, they were a thorn in the side of Pelham and William IV. Perhaps their most significant asset was the silver tongue of William Pitt, who made several highly calculated attacks on William and praising Frederick, without ever technically denying William's right to the throne. That would open him to prosecution under the Treason Act of 1702, for which the penalty if found guilty was death. Pitt and the other Patriots merely argued that the legality of George II's disowning of Frederick ought to be examined, "in view of the extraordinary circumstances in Parliament at the time". This was still enough for William to become nervous, though, and he forced a reluctant Pelham to arrest and imprison several prominent Patriot MPs. Pitt, Grenville and Pulteney were all imprisoned in the Tower of London, albeit in relatively luxurious conditions, just as Robert Walpole had thirty years earlier.

Nothing could have been calculated to stir the British people's sense of injustice, of course, and popular feeling began to turn against William and therefore towards Frederick. The worst part for William and Pelham was that the imprisonment didn't even have that much effect - by some means, perhaps a sympathiser in the guards, the three Patriot prisoners managed to continue getting writings and pamphlets out into London.

Both Frederick and William realised that the war and dispute could be ended at a single stroke: one of them had to die. William had not yet married, negotiations with various German princesses having been interrupted by the Second War of Supremacy, and had no blood heir. Frederick did have children, but by Mildred, claimant Duchess of Cornwall, and the Williamites did not recognise the marriage and hence the legitimacy of George. Realistically, either of them being killed would end the problem, because their supporters would then have the unpalatable choice of either cleaving to the other or trying to find another claimant, possibly from Europe, and having the headaches of George I all over again.

William was always the more martial of the two, courageous if somewhat lacking in tact, and decided that the best way to settle the dispute quickly was to simply sail a grand fleet to America and give battle. The provisions of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle were still up in the air thanks to Frederick's forces refusal to withdraw from Louisbourg, and so the French had in turn refused to return Madras to the British East India Company. William realised that if his fleet could take Louisbourg quickly, then it could be immediately handed back to France and settle the disputes. Frederick could then be tackled later, assuming that his Yankee forces did not break and shatter immediately (the British soldiers of the period had a poor opinion of American fighting strength).

The King needed an Admiral, of course. He is reported to have inquired into the disgraced and retired Vernon returning to duty, but Vernon refused and is thought to have issued a warning that the Americans might be tougher than was believed. (This is often considered by historians to be a direct reference to Lawrence Washington). If Vernon did give a warning, it was unheeded. The fleet was placed under the command of Vice-Admiral John Byng[2], who had previously served as Governor of Newfoundland and thus knew the waters William's forces would be travelling through. Perhaps William also thought Byng might be able to rally the relatively few permanent residents of Newfoundland to the Williamite cause. If so, it was an unfounded hope; Byng had only served as Governor for less than a year in 1742.

The fleet sailed in April 1749. Frederick, meanwhile, had divined his brother's purpose and had repaired and reinforced Louisbourg. He issued orders (conveyed by the Governors or Lieutenant Governors-in-residence) that if colonial forces met William's, they were first to appeal to their reason and not to fire first. This was looked on by contemporary commentators as a benevolent gesture, but may have been more calculating: Frederick was willing to do anything that might blacken William's image by forcing him to resort to violence first. By standing on the defensive, he had already made William paint himself as the aggressor.

It is at this point that the speculative romantics become most excited, pointing out that if the war had dragged on, Frederick might have been reduced to merely leader of some rebel confederation of the Colonies, or William's forces might have come into direct conflict with the Yankees and driven a wedge between the Colonies and the homeland. In practice, fortune smiled upon the fate of England. Helped along a little by Frederick's lack of scruples.

On his grand tour a few years earlier, Frederick had been most impressed by the use of rifles in America, a weapon still scorned by most British and all European troops as being ungentlemanly. Longarms were almost always used by common soldiers, they argued. It was fine for them to blast away in musket line, where no-one could tell whose ball hit what, but to use an accurate weapon like a rifle, where a target - which might be an officer on horseback - was deliberately lined up and shot? Unthinkably vulgar!

If Frederick had ever had any appreciation for this kind of view - and this is debatable - it was ground out of him by his exile. Both his relentless mission to return, and perhaps also the frontier pragmatism of the Americans around him, convinced him to resort to almost any means to get his throne back. This did not extend to actual assassination by any means that might paint him as a blackguard, though. It had to look like an accident.

So, the would-be King decided on a grand gamble. He knew, or at least had was fairly certain, that Frederick would make an attack on Louisbourg, perhaps after watering in Newfoundland. He set things into motion.

Frederick assembled a fleet of his own. It was made up largely of converted fishing boats, with one or two sympathetic Royal Navy ships with largely American crews. It would be no match for Admiral Byng's force, but that wasn't the point. Frederick also chose one particular ship, a simple Boston fisherman, for his task. Fortunately for him, its captain and crew volunteered for what could easily have been a suicide mission, and he promised to reward them if they succeeded. They took with them ten men, mostly New England huntsmen, whom had been the winners of a grand tournament organised by Frederick a few months before. The competition had been to find the best and most accurate riflemen in the Colonies.

It is thought that Frederick prevented Major (raised unofficially to Colonel by Frederick) Washington's volunteering to join the mission. Augustine Washington had died five years earlier, leaving Lawrence as his heir, and Frederick did not want Lawrence's death to provoke the remaining Washingtons to release their blackmail. Not at the moment of his triumph.

Frederick sent out many other fishermen, their presence not unusual at all at a time when the fine fishing waters off Newfoundland were actually contested in war between Britain and France, and these were assigned to search for the Williamite fleet. Byng's force was first sighted on August 14th, 1749 by Captain William Folger, a Nantucket whaler, who was later knighted by Frederick. Under orders, Frederick's fishermen in turn allowed themselves to be boarded by Byng's ships, and Folger even had an audience with Byng himself. The admiral wanted intelligence on Frederick's movements, and the men fed him mostly accurate reports about Frederick's reinforcement of Louisbourg. However, this only redoubled William's determination to take the fortress.

Byng's fleet arrived at Louisbourg on August 28th and immediately began shelling the fort from a safe distance. Louisbourg's guns, which had been brought back into action by American smiths, kept up a halfhearted return fire, and it seemed that the stories of American cowardice were true.

But the fort nonetheless raised two great flags, flags which had been sewn for Frederick by Boston weavers just weeks before. One was a great Union Jack, while the second was a new flag, a flag that had been designed by a committee of Frederick, the Washingtons and some others of his allies. It was based on the Blue Ensign, but had a great red cross like the White - the red cross on blue being derived from the Royal Colonial Arms of Virginia - and in its lower right quadrant bore the symbol of the Dukes of Cornwall. Frederick had calculated that carefully and, just as he expected, William was roused to see this vulgar spectacle. His brother came out on deck, visible at a distance by other 'innocent fishing boats', which signalled with flags. Now Frederick's plan went into gear.

Another fishing boat appeared, a swift sailor, from out of the open ocean. In fact it had taken a looping course. The ship flew a flag of white cross on blue, the French merchant colours. Once more, this was no surprise, for the French fishermen contested these waters often, and France and Britain were now at a (provisional) peace. The ship sailed very close to Byng's fleet, not altering its course, and Byng questioned William whether he wanted it stopped and searched. William's thoughts were entirely on retaking Louisbourg and, hence, forcing the French to cleave to the Treaty. Anything they could use as an excuse to continue to dither had to be avoided. He told Byng to ignore it. The admiral complied, for after all, it was obvious that the ship carried no cannon.

So it was, at a distance of perhaps two hundred yards from Byng's 80-gun flagship HMS Devonshire, that Frederick's crack Riflemen emerged from under cover, took careful aim on William in his prominent marshal's uniform, and fired.

Of the twelve shots fired, Byng's steward records in the log book that four hit the King - three in the torso and one to the head - and this fourth one meant he died instantly. The other eight embedded themselves in masts, wounded two midshipmen, and pierced a hole through Byng's hat without him even noticing until much later.

All attention aboard the Devonshire was on the prone figure of the king, blood and brain splashed everywhere "in a most vulgar spectacle", as Byng recorded in his diary. Other ships in the fleet attempted to give chase to the fisherman, but Frederick had chosen a fast ship and the Williamites were unprepared. Given enough time, of course, they would have caught up, but to the bemusement of Byng and his captains, two frigates also flying Royal Navy ensigns appeared seemingly out of nowhere and raked the fishermen with cannon fire, then boarded her and set her alight.

The field of battle was in total confusion, with Byng, not the most commanding of Britain's admirals, uncertain of what to do. As Frederick had planned, this gave him an opening. One of the frigates - the other quietly evacuating the "prisoners" to shore where they would blend in with Frederick's army - approached the Devonshire and flew the flag of truce. Not having any other options, Byng took it, and he met with Frederick, Colonel Washington and Governors Gooch and Van Dam of Virginia and New York, promoted to full Governorship by Frederick.

Between them, they hammered out a deal. Having witnessed a dastardly French attack on the person of the King, it fell to Frederick to take the crown and avenge his brother. Such was only proper, just as William himself had on the fields of Dettingen. Of course William had been the true King, 'had been' being the operative word. Frederick had never been in rebellion, his position had been...misrepresented.

History was rewritten in the admiral's cabin of HMS Devonshire, and Byng acknowledged King Frederick I of Great Britain and Ireland. After watering at less forbidding American ports, the fleet would return to England with Frederick and his senior allies at their head, and the King would be coronated. This was only proper. And of course there would be no question of returning Louisbourg to the enemy, not after an act of treachery against the laws of war like this, no? No.

Some commentators record that Frederick was a changed man after the meeting, for he came upon the body of his dead brother, mutilated by the accurate rifle fire of the Americans. The last time he had seen William had been in 1728, when his brother was merely seven. Ever since then, Frederick had always painted him as a small-scale copy of his father, and due as much hatred. But it is said that when he saw him like this, he saw the little boy he vaguely remembered, and broke down. Many say that his coldblooded acts of deception in gaining the throne haunted him for the rest of his life, a latter day Richard III, or perhaps Henry VII is a less damning comparison.

The fleet wintered in America, the tensions between the British and colonials evaporating as William's former sailors and soldiers revelled with their colonial cousins, celebrating the warmest Christmas that most of them had ever known. Something else spread throughout the Colonies, as well: the flag that Frederick had commissioned. Known then as the Patriotic Banner of the Colonies, it would eventually become known as the Jack and George (Union Jack and St. George's Cross), symbol of Britain's American colonies forevermore.

When the fleet finally sailed in March 1750, though, together with Frederick, his important allies and his family, his trials were not over. He had won the throne back from William, but there was still another contender in the ring. In Ireland, and the Highlands of Scotland, decision between William and Frederick had never been a question worth asking. For there was another.

The Jacobites were rising once again...

[1] The song may have been around as early as the 1740s in OTL. Note the last line is a reference to the now universal praise for Virginia tobacco thanks to William Gooch's policies.

[2] In OTL Byng is best known for being controversially court-martialled and executed by firing squad for his actions at the Battle of Malta, leading to Voltaire's satirical phrase "The English occasionally feel the need to execute an admiral, to encourage the others."

Part #6: The Glorious Revolution (Take Two)

O'er the seas and o'er the land
To Ireland, Cornwall and England
King Fred commands, and we obey,
Over the seas and far away...

- Colonial marching song from the War of the British Succession [1]​

From "The Prodigal Son: King Frederick I" by Arthur Yeo (1959, Oxford University Press)

When William left Britain in 1748, the Jacobites had only recently suffered a catastrophic defeat in Scotland at his own hands. Bonnie Prince Charlie's Highland rebellion, which had at first seemed so close to success, had been crushed by William's forces. Nonetheless, Charles Edward Stuart remained undaunted by the humiliating manner of his escape[1] and plotted a new rebellion whenever the time was ripe. Not even he, though, had expected that it would come so soon.

Charles was the charismatic son of James Francis Edward Stuart, son of James II and claimant King James VII and III of Great Britain and of Ireland. James had remained in France after the failure of his own attempted rebellion in 1709 - at the hands, incidentally, of Admiral Sir George Byng, father of the man who led William's fleet. The '45 had also failed, but its initial successes convinced Charles that victory would eventually be his. The Stuarts all continued to ignore the fact that they had almost zero support in England, even from Catholics, and what little sympathy they had from the Episcopalian movement in '45 would have been quenched by the failure of that rebellion. There remained a Jacobite circle in London which had contact with Charles at this time, but they were adamant that Charles would only be accepted by them if he converted to Anglicanism.

The Kingdom of France continued to give the Stuarts asylum, but treated their ambitions as, at best, a minor distraction to their English enemy which might benefit France a little, and at worse merely a quixotic fancy to add colour to the French court. Notably Louis XIV had even permitted James to be crowned King of England at his court in the traditional way, including the defunct claim to be King of France. The fact that the real King of France permitted a pretender to be crowned King of France in his presence demonstrates the lack of seriousness with which the French took the Stuarts.

However, the French had also discovered that Charles had a strong will as well as the charismatic presence that had let him rally so many Highlanders to his doomed cause. Notably, he maintained to the French that he would have the crowns of all three kingdoms (England, Scotland and Ireland) or none. He would not merely be a French puppet in Scotland or Ireland.[2]

When William left, Charles immediately began making more plans for another rising, despite some misgivings among his supporters. The French Foreign Minister, the Vicomte de Puisieulx, warned Charles that no French troops would be guaranteed, as Louis XV was concentrating on his domestic affairs and reworking his army for the next round of battle in Europe. Charles famously remarked with some venom: "Odds fish![4] Three times I have been promised armies of France and three times none have come! Now that the Viscount has told me in no uncertain terms that no men can come, it will not surprise me if a vast legion appears to support our cause!" [5]

Although Charles was not willing merely for his father to become King of Ireland, he was persuaded by his supporters that an Irish rebellion might be a more successful way of starting, as Scotland was still locked down quite tight by what remained of William’s army. Accordingly, the Stuarts chartered a fleet that sailed from Nantes in April 1749 (just as they had five years earlier) and landed troops at Limerick. Charles' ragbag army numbered about 20,000, including a number of French Celtic troops whom Louis XV had reluctantly, unofficially, released. These included portions of the French Royal Scots and Irish Brigades, some of whom had fought in the '45.

Limerick was chosen for a variety of reasons. It was an important city, it was isolated from the major British garrisons in Ireland, it remained poorly fortified, and most importantly, it had a special place in the hearts of Jacobites and especially their Irish supporters. It was at the Siege of Limerick in 1691 that James II had finally fled, beginning the Jacobite exile, and the ensuing Treaty of Limerick had guaranteed civil rights for Irish Catholics - which had then been ignored by successive hostile British Parliaments. Not for nothing was the Irish Brigades' battle cry "Remember Limerick and Saxon Perfidy!"

Despite Charles' somewhat disorganised army, Limerick was taken in a week-long siege from its complacent British defenders. The city retained a large Protestant Irish minority, many of whom suffered revenge attacks either by the Jacobites or by their Catholic neighbours.[6]

News of Limerick's capture spread like wildfire through Ireland and, in a somewhat slower and more confused manner, to Britain. By the time that Prime Minister Henry Pelham was certain that the reports were more than rumours, the Jacobites had already sailed a part of their force to take Cork as well, and the Catholic interior of the isle was beginning to rise in support.

Pelham had been chosen as Prime Minister specifically because he was almost a nonentity, able to smooth things over in the fiercely divided Parliament of the late 1740s.[7] Admirable a peacetime PM as he might be, he was sorely unsuited to this crisis. By January 1750, the Patriot opposition (those who had not been locked up by William) were proposing votes of no confidence almost continuously. These failed, primarily because the Whigs remained fiercely divided themselves and no-one could agree on a non-Patriot replacement, hence the Whigs continued to support Pelham and his brother, the Duke of Newcastle, who shared his power.

The news out of Ireland continued to be discouraging. Though the British troops marching to meet Charles' forces were generally superior in training and equipment, most of the Irish countryside was against them and they found they had to live off the (poor) land, among other problems. Whatever the issues, a Jacobite army under the ageing Lord George Murray comprehensively defeated a Government army under Sir Robert Rich when some of Rich's own Royal Irish defected, or at least refused to fight. The scandal almost brought down the Government, but Pelham continued to cling onto power, while somewhat exaggerated rumours of the Jacobites storming Dublin circulated. Ulster dissolved into vicious partisan warfare between Irish Catholics and Protestants, and the remaining Government forces were pulled back to Dublin. It seemed, just as it had in ages past, that English power in Ireland was about to be reduced to the 'Pale' once more.

More seriously, scattered but nonetheless existent Jacobite risings began to occur in the Highlands, though most were immediately crushed by the large number of British troops still stationed there. The only persistent and organised rising was that of Lord Cosmo Gordon. London was in a panic, just as it had been in 1745, and there were demands that troops be pulled back to defend the capital in case the Jacobites appeared from nowhere.

Most historians today believe that Charles' mission, despite its surprising early successes, was ultimately doomed, just as the '45 had been. However, any eventual Government response was as nothing to the spectacular events which actually occurred.

With a sense of timing that would be considered outlandish even in a work of literature, the fleet of King Frederick returned from the American colonies on June 4th, 1750, and landed in Ireland. Frederick had heard from the occasional Atlantic fisherman of the troubles and he sensed an opportunity for glory. The former Williamite army, combined with the American forces, landed at Cork and quickly overran the Jacobites, who had not had sufficient troops to defend every town they took. An initial attack by an army under Colonel Washington failed to take Limerick, though the town was later abandoned by the Jacobites anyway.

Some historians and alienists[8] have speculated that Frederick may have wanted a decisive Jacobite battle just to have another opportunity to match his brother's achievements... "his Culloden". He certainly had that. Frederick's force met up with one of the shattered Government armies at Wexford and then crushed Charles Edward Stuart's force near Kilkenny on September 1st, 1750. The "Remember Kilkenny!" would in future times be as much of a rallying cry for Irish Catholics as "Remember Limerick!" had been in this war.

There would be no escape for Charles Edward Stuart this time, ignoble or otherwise. He was hit by a musket ball at the moment when the battle turned to rout, just as he had been on the verge of rallying his troops with his famous charisma. His last words are reported to be "Now and forever, my Father is King!" The body was witnessed by Frederick and several of his generals, but vanished some time after the King ordered it to be taken back to London. It is thought that it was stolen by Irish Jacobites, and there remain reports today of a secret shrine in a cave somewhere near the battlefield at Kilkenny, although none of the many adventurers who have gone looking has ever found it.

James Francis Edward remained titular James III in France, but the death of Bonnie Prince Charlie effectively ended the Jacobite cause. James' second son Henry Benedict Stuart was a cardinal in the Catholic Church, and thus would both never produce an heir and would never be recognised by almost everyone in England and indeed Scotland. Also, France, Spain and the Papal States ceased their charade and did not recognise Henry as Henry IX on James' sorrowful death three years later. Within a decade or two, Jacobitism was just a romantic legend.

After his triumph in Ireland, Frederick withdrew his army - Irish Catholic partisan warfare would continue for some years - and sailed for Penzance. His army marched through Cornwall, and Frederick was greeted with cheers by men and women who had always held fast to their Duke throughout the hard years of George and William. He bestowed many more favours and promises, his army picked up a number of new recruits, camp followers and wives, and they marched eastward.

On November 15th, 1750, Frederick's army entered London. There was talk of forming a civil militia to repel them, but by now Pelham's government was as paralysed as it could be. Just as Frederick had hoped, instead his homecoming was as a second Glorious Revolution, with people in the street cheering his victorious troops, the Irish victory still fresh in everyone's mind. The Jack and George was seen, and remarked upon, and the image of Lawrence Washington and his volunteers marching on horseback through the streets of London, bearing the new flag, was immortalised in Gainsborough's Stout Colonials.

Frederick entered the House of Commons whilst it was still in session, as no King had since Charles I, and waited patiently with his troops while Pelham blustered. Meanwhile, Washington's volunteers freed Pitt, Grenville and Pulteney from the Tower, as well as less prominent Patriots from house arrest, and these MPs converged on the Palace of Westminster. When all were assembled, Frederick spoke:

"I find the Government of these islands has suffered somewhat drastically in the absence of a strong guiding hand. Therefore, I present my own. Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense!"

It is probably apocryphal that both Pelhams fainted at this...probably.

Frederick was crowned on Christmas Day, 1750, at Westminster Abbey, evoking the coronation of William the Conqueror almost seven centuries earlier. His disgrace had begun with a coronation, that of his father, and now it ended with one. And Frederick took note of the debts he owed, though in his own words he knew he could never repay them all. So it was that, after taking the coronation oath, he adopted a new title:

Frederick the First, by the Grace of God King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Emperor of North America, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Frederick's first act as crowned King was to dissolve Parliament and call a general election, which the Patriots unsurprisingly won handily. In February 1751, William Pulteney became First Lord of the Treasury, with William Pitt as Secretary of State for the Southern Department and George Grenville as Secretary of State for the Northern Department. Among the new 'Patriotic Parliament' 's first bills to be passed were the infamous Act of Suppression, detailing new measures by which Ireland and the Scottish Highlands would be secured against further risings; the Act of Succession (1751) in which William was recognised as King William IV reigning 1743-1749, as Frederick had promised; and, perhaps most importantly for future generations, the Colonial Act (1751), in which the first seeds of federalism in Britain's North American colonies were laid, with the declaration of the Empire of North America.

Part of this Act was probably a calculated insult at the French and Spanish, as though the British colonies were very populous, they still only occupied the Cisappalachian region of the North American continent, whereas the French and Spanish claimed far more. Yet, as well as simply adding another title to that of the British monarch, the Act both increased the local powers of the elected American colonial assemblies - abolishing the post of Lieutenant Governor and forcing Governors to remain resident at their posts - and paved the way for a wider Parliamentary reform later on. Notably, with Frederick as King, the post of Lord Deputy of the Colonies was now vacant. Renamed Lord Deputy of North America, Frederick bestowed the post upon Lord Thomas Fairfax, the only British peer who had preferred to dwell in the Colonies even during William's reign, and an old acquaintance of the King's from his Virginian exile days.

Frederick liberally showered his American friends and supporters with peerages and jobs in thanks for their help returning him to his rightful place, and Lawrence Washington in particular was rewarded with the Washingtons' ancestral home, Sulgrave Manor, and a newly created peerage. It is said that Lawrence may have rejected Frederick's original choice of Marquess of Northampton, stating that, after all this time they had spent together, the King should understand his people more. There was a dead silence, among which Frederick's courtiers held their breath, and then the King grinned and agreed. So it was that Lawrence Washington was the first man to receive a hereditary peerage credited to a town outside England, Scotland or Ireland: he was made Sir Lawrence Washington, First Marquess of Fredericksburg.

The War of the British Succession was over. But the Age of Supremacy had just begun...

[1] The original Over the Hills and Far Away comes from the War of the Spanish Succession, aka the First War of Supremacy in OTL, and it has undergone many permutations for later wars in OTL, just as it has here in TTL.

[2] He escaped from Scotland, both in OTL and TTL, disguised as a lady's maid.

[3] In OTL Charles made this claim in 1759 after Choiseul approached him with a proposal to just make him King of Ireland, backed by a French invasion.

[4] This rather strange oath was a phrase of his great-uncle Charles II.

[5] Some French troops did support the '45, but they turned up late and in much smaller numbers than had been promised.

[6] As Terry Pratchett put it in OTL, "Remember the atrocity committed a long time ago which excuses the atrocity we're going to commit now! Hurrah!"

[7] In OTL, also TTL.

[8] Psychologists.

Interlude #1: The Age of Supremacy


Capt. Christopher Nuttall: Director, you may take issue with the means that this report has been constructed. I have been assured by Dr Pylos and Dr Lombardi that any other approach would be overly confusing. For clarification, I present their recommendations.

Dr Bruno Lombardi: Hello? Yes? Is this thing on? Thank you, Captain. Yes, indeed, it has been our understanding that-

Dr Thermos Pylos: -that the political and cultural landscape of the present day of TimeLine L is too alien, too different from our own world for a ready understanding, and that-

Dr Bruno Lombardi: -that incorrect snap judgements may be made if the mind is not prepared by tracing the changes in this world from their very beginning, and-

Capt. Christopher Nuttall: Gentlemen, could we get to the point?

Dr Bruno Lombardi: Of course.

Dr Thermos Pylos: Mm.

Dr Bruno Lombardi (after a pause) : Director, you may have been confused by the use of local terminology in a few cases.

Dr Thermos Pylos: To that end, we present this short excerpt from a book that I, personally, risked life and limb to get my hands on, for such works are restricted in the vicinity of-

Dr Bruno Lombardi: Yes, yes. The point is that the book is written from a different perspective to the British Whig histories we have previously drawn upon and thus may present a more balanced perspective.

Dr Thermos Pylos: I wouldn't say that - more imbalanced in a different direction...

Capt. Christopher Nuttall: Gentlemen?

Dr Bruno Lombardi (muttering) : Roll the tape.


“History is written by the victors.”

- George Spencer-Churchill V, On Empire (1947, Oxford University Press)​


From "Historiography: Overcoming a Barrier to Societal Unity" by Paolo Rodriguez (1962, Instituto Sanchez; English translation)

Wars of Supremacy. A concept developed by the English/West Indian Whig historian Thomas Maccauley as an underlying theme for the eighteenth century. Maccauley sought to place the largely meaningless clashes of that time into an ideological context, and emphasises the idea that the eighteenth century was effectively one long war with short breaks for regrouping. He did not class every eighteenth-century conflict as a War of Supremacy, however. Most notably, although Maccauley dates the start of his Age of Supremacy to 1688 with the flight of the Stuart dynasty from England, he does not consider the War of the Grand Alliance, of which that flight was a part, to be a War of Supremacy. Some successors in the same tradition, notably George Spencer-Churchill, have retroactively dubbed that conflict the 'Zeroth War of Supremacy'.

Maccauley and his successors defined a War of Supremacy as a global conflict, in which significant fighting occurred in at least three widely separated theatres. These are usually considered to be "Europe, the Americas, and India", although the latter is more negotiable. Supposedly the War of the Grand Alliance did not count, as while it had European and North American theatres, there was no conflict in India or another third area.

The term is often misunderstood. The "Supremacy" does not refer to military but cultural domination. It was a central thesis of Maccauley's that purely European conflicts usually had no long-standing impact, although his own narrow cultural background prevented him from following this through to its logical conclusion that the only solution was a correct Societal Unity.[1] Maccauley argued that only wider, colonial, Wars of Supremacy had long-term consequences. Many colonies trading around the world, their inhabitants speaking the language of their mother country and following their practices, would result in a very slow but sure cultural domination of the world by that country - in Maccauley's conception, which was contrary to the principles of Sanchez.

Similarly, the term 'Age of Supremacy' is misleading, as it refers to not a period in which one culture dominates the world, but a period in which the various cultures are contesting that domination. Age of War would be a more appropriate term.

Engaging in Wars of Supremacy might not bring gains in the short term, but looked at from the perspective of a historian, the victors in such wars would define not just what the future would look like, but how the inhabitants of that future would look back on their own history. Spencer-Churchill characterised this by the phrase "He who controls the present, controls the past."

From Maccauley's point of view, the victors of the Wars of Supremacy were England and to a lesser extent Spain, while the losers were France and Austria. Of course, any short-term impact of such wars will be negated in the long-run by the procedures of Unity.

Maccauley's definitions of the Wars of Supremacy and accompanying conflicts follow, with annotations for changes made by his successors.

1688-1697: The War of the Grand Alliance.
England, United Provinces of the Netherlands[2], the German Empire[3], Spain, Sweden and the Duchy of Savoy versus the First Kingdom of France and allied Scottish and Irish Jacobites. Indecisive result. Failed attempt by English colonists in North America to take French Quebec. Not considered to be a War of Supremacy by Maccauley but dubbed the 'Zeroth' by Spencer-Churchill.

1701-1714: The War of the Spanish Succession: The First War of Supremacy.
(Incorporating the Great Northern War between Sweden and the Ottoman Empire versus Russia, Saxony, Denmark-Norway and the Commonwealth, plus other German allies. )
Portugal, England/Great Britain, the German Empire, the United Provinces of the Netherlands and Spanish and Catalan Austriacistes versus Spain, the First Kingdom of France, and Wittelsbach Bavaria. Indecisive result in Europe, but Britain was ceded several parts of French Canada. It is this that appears to cause Mccauley to consider this a War of Supremacy, as there was no significant Indian theatre.

1733-1738: The War of the Polish Succession. Not a War of Supremacy, although it might well have been if George II's Britain had entered.

1740-1748: The War of the Austrian Succession: The Second War of Supremacy
Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland, German Empire or Austria, United Provinces of the Netherlands, Saxony, Sardinia and Russia versus First Kingdom of France, Spain, Prussia, Wittelsbach Bavaria and the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily.
This is indisputably a War of Supremacy as it incorporated both a North American theatre (Britain occupied, among other places, Fort Louisbourg) and an Indian one (French East India Company took Fort St George). According to Mccauley's notions, this resulted in a supremacist cultural victory of Britain in part of North America, and France in the Carnatic region of India. However, as with most other Wars of Supremacy, the European result was indecisive.

1748-51: The War of the British Succession. Not a War of Supremacy.
Britons were divided between the claims of claimant Kings William IV, Frederick IV and James III. No other powers officially entered the conflict, although there was some unofficial French support of the Jacobites.

1755-1759: The War of the Diplomatic Revolution: The Third War of Supremacy.
Great Britain, Ireland, the Empire of North America, Hanover, Prussia and minor German states versus the First Kingdom of France, Austria, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Saxony, Sardinia, Naples and Sicily.
Note that these are the dates used by Mccauley, and in Europe the war is usually considered to end in 1761.
Result: Decisive British cultural supremacist victory in North America, minor French victory in India, dismemberment of Prussia and Poland in Europe.

1760-63: The First Platinean War Not a War of Supremacy, but set the stage for one.
Spain fought Portugal and Britain. Result: Spanish victory in South America but defeat in Europe.

1778-1785: The Second Platinean War : The Fourth War of Supremacy: Britain, Portugal and the UPSA fought Spain and France. UPSA victory in South America. Indecisive results in Europe. British victory in India.

1794-1800 and 1807-09: The Fifth and Sixth Wars of Supremacy. Maccauley did not consider the Jacobin Wars to be Wars of Supremacy; these have been added by later historians due to the revisionism of the period by the British government in order to justify the return of hostilities, and which merely typifies their futile struggle to delay the inevitable march of Unity with the false promises of nationalism.


Dr Bruno Lombardi: Now that the stage has been set, we can move on. We have established how things begun to change in TimeLine L.

Dr Thermos Pulos: The start was in North America, and in Britain. The ends...the ends would affect everything and everyone.

[1]You can't spot the ideology of the writer at all, can you?

[2] There is a historiographical reason why a twentieth century Societista writer does not refer to the seventeenth century version as the Dutch Republic.

[3] i.e. the Holy Roman Empire.

Part #7: The Peace, Such as it Is...

From - "The Reign of King Frederick I" by Dr Daniel Clarke (1975, Northampton Press)

Frederick had won back his throne by a combination of valour and base cunning. But, as Shakespeare had said so many years before, uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. Having returned to his position partially by treachery, Frederick remained somewhat paranoid towards usurpers for the rest of his life. Of course, not all of this was delusion. From a modern perspective looking back, we can see that after 1751 the Jacobites were shattered and would never threaten the House of Hanover again. But Frederick and his ministers were always wary of another attempt, and took steps in order to guard against it.

More steps were taken to reinforce the guard on the Scottish Highlands, with a new road network being built specifically in order to move troops around easily, building upon similar provisions enacted by Marshal Wade after the earlier '15 rising. Colonel Edward Braddock, a Scot who had previously fought with King William IV's army in the Netherlands during the Second War of Supremacy, was promoted to major-general and given extraordinary powers over the portions of Scotland that possessed Jacobite sympathies. He became known as The Tanner by the Jacobites, a reference to the fact that they had called William IV The Butcher - they claimed that William had slaughtered the Scots and now Braddock was turning their skin into clothes, i.e. turning Scotsmen into little Englishmen.

Ireland was arguably a more difficult problem. Perhaps fortunately for Frederick, the Lord Lieutenant at the time of the Jacobite rising - his enemy Lord Carteret - had died in the struggle. Frederick was persuaded by his ministers not to appoint a hardliner who would only encourage further rebellions. Instead, the Duke of Dorset - a man who had previously served as Lord Lieutenant before falling afoul of the Pelhams' government - was reappointed to the post. Frederick was content with stationing increased numbers of British, American and German troops there. Mostly Protestants, of course, and this too increased resentment against the mainly Catholic Irish population. Under the laws passed in 1716, the Catholics had been disenfranchised from voting for the Irish Parliament, so while that institution was broadly democratic (by the standards of the day), the majority of the population was not eligible to vote. The Irish Protestants, of course, were themselves seeking vengeance after the Jacobite depredations, and continued to elect hardliners.

Frederick was a more dynamic and active monarch than his father or brother had been, but for the most part continued to let Parliament run things, acknowledging the established system of government. He only directly intervened when Parliament attempted to pass laws on subjects close to his heart, primarily the American colonies, and though he had left them behind forever, the Americans esteemed his name once more when he shot down or watered down several unpopular Bills. Almost alone among British lawmakers, Frederick had something of an understanding of the American mind - and he was at the top.

It was his long period of exile in Virginia, along with his friendship with slaveholding families such as the Washingtons, which has resulted in his often-attacked - then and now - relaxed attitude to slavery. His son, actually born and raised in Virginia, was even worse. Abolitionists were not censured in Frederick's day, but nor were they taken seriously. Though America and the West Indies remained the most common destination for black African slaves, it was a fashion among British ladies of the day to have black slave manservants, raising them from children. For the vast majority of the voting population, slavery was such an integral part of their lives that they could not conceive why anyone would want to abolish it. For the present, abolitionism remained merely another high-minded dream of the intelligentsia, along with political reform and freedom of religion.

Frederick had made some progress on the latter issue, at least in some ways. Knowing the bad blood between the German Calvinists and English Anglicans in Carolina, he supported laws passed by Pulteney's Parliament which, while acknowledging the supremacy of the established Anglican Church, began to return rights to other Protestants. This was not controversial in the Colonies, where the Anglican Church continued to have little temporal power and had no state authority, but was considered very radical in Britain. Frederick and his government thus enjoyed strong support from German Calvinists and Lutherans as well as French Huguenots, most of them exiles from oppression on the continent. A more complex question approached with the rise of the Wesleyan Revival, commonly called Methodism, which had come onto the scene while Frederick was in America. The Methodists were evangelical, frightening the staid Anglican establishment with their fervour, and they were also supporters of abolitionism. It is thus unsurprising that Frederick compromised with the Church on this issue, and Methodists remained subject to relatively mild repression well into the nineteenth century. Of course, this only made the movement more popular, as the Church always thrives under persecution. The Acts of Toleration (1752 and 1757) enacted these provisions.

The one area in which Frederick was certainly not going to increase religious freedoms was the Catholic Question. Catholic emancipation remained a romantic cause among intellectuals (and, obviously, Catholics), but was deeply unpopular elsewhere. Popery continued to be seen as an insidious threat to the country that would take over if the merest concessions were made to it, much like many popular views towards Societism today. In Ireland, Scotland, England and America as well (most obviously Acadia), Catholics remained disenfranchised, were not permitted to become officers in the Army or Navy[1], and were technically forbidden from possessing weapons, although this was rarely enforced.

The continued hostile approach to popery was not merely a reaction to the Jacobites, but also related to Frederick's icy foreign policy towards France and Spain, which was reciprocated in full by Louis XV and Ferdinand VI. Spain at this time was recovering from the Second War of Supremacy using internal reforms enacted by its supremely capable chief minister, Zenón de Somodevilla y Bengoechea, Marquis of Ensenada. Ensenada also softened Spain's policy of Bourbon absolutism, making it more paternal towards the Spanish people.

France, on the other hand, remained true to the original form, and indeed Louis XV lacked anything analogous to a chief minister, perhaps the closest being his mistress the Marquise de Pompadour. Louis was a relatively peaceful man, and would have preferred to reform his existing 'perfect hexagonal kingdom' than to try and win more territory through war, but nonetheless events conspired to lead France to war again and again. Reform, too, was a lost cause; with the help of Pompadour, Louis unsuccessfully tried to impose taxes on France's privileged classes from the provincial estates. The aristocratic Parlement de Paris spoke out against these reforms, labelling itself the defender of the fundamental laws of the kingdom against the arbitrary whims of a monarch. Louis had remained popular with the common people for these attempts, until he had handed back the Austrian Netherlands at the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle: at the time, people said 'as stupid as the peace'.

One piece of territory France had taken had not been returned. Quite understandably, after Frederick's Britain refused to ratify the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (due to the requirement of returning Fort Louisbourg), the French had in turn refused to withdraw from Fort St. George in the city of Madras in India. This meant that the French East India Company dominated the Carnatic, at the expense of their British rivals (who were therefore one of the relatively few groups of powerful people in England to absolutely detest Frederick). Under the able leadership of their Governor-General, Joseph François Dupleix, the French continued to extend their influence throughout southern India.

The French had taken many Britons prisoner when they had taken Fort St. George, and they were not released for many years later. Technically, as Frederick had refused to sign the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, Britain and France were still at war, although during the period between the Second and Third Wars of Supremacy, this was typically reduced to scattered skirmishes in India and on the frontiers of the Colonies. The war did not begin again in earnest until the Diplomatic Revolution of 1756. As the British prisoners languished in French captivity, many died - some from disease, some shot while escaping, and one actually committed suicide. His name was Robert Clive.

The British East India Company remained in power further north, in their Presidencies of Bengal and Calcutta, though relations with the Nawab of Bengal, Ali Vardi Khan, were sometimes strained. On the other hand, the French had equal problems. Dupleix's attempt to capture the British Fort St David at Cuddalore in 1747 had failed due to an attack by the British-allied Nawab of the Carnatic, Anwarooddin Mohammed Khan. The French had eventually patched over relations with the Nawab, but a second attempt to take Cuddalore before the Second War of Supremacy ended also failed. Dupleix held a grudge against the Nawab ever since, and as the Nawab continued to favour the British after the war officially ended (thanks to the fact that they now had less influence in the area, and were thus less likely to usurp him if he aided them). Thus, from 1749 to 1754 - in the period between the wars - Dupleix aided the usurper Chanda Sahib against first Anwarooddin Mohammed Khan, and then his son Mohammed Ali, supported by the British. Chanda Sahib and the French won a great victory at the battle of Arcot[2]. After this, British influence in the Carnatic remained patchy, and then almost nonexistent after Fort St David was finally taken by the French in 1757. The BEIC resorted to building up a new army in Bengal and Calcutta, which only alarmed their patron, the Nawab of Bengal.

Back in Europe, things were moving apace. Lawrence Washington returned to the Colonies in 1754, despite being a member of the Privy Council and now possessing lands in Britain and the right to sit in the House of Lords. At the age of 34, he was promoted to Major-General and effectively headed all the colonial militias of Virginia. He left his younger brother and protégé, George Augustine Washington, in Britain to be educated by the same royal tutors as his one year younger namesake and lifelong friend, George Augustine of Wales, a.k.a. the future King George III.

The European situation was changing. Austria and Britain had mutually decided that their alliance was unprofitable - Maria Theresa had been furious at having to withdraw from Italian territories due to William IV's demands to meet the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, and the fact that Frederick's Britain had then gone on to ignore the treaty was merely the icing on the cake. Equally, Prussia was becoming a more receptive potential ally for Britain. An agreement signed by 'Les Deux Frédérics', as the French called them, in 1754, stated that in exchange for Prussian defence of Hanover, the British would not assist Austria in regaining Silesia. This was a notion of Pulteney's government; Frederick was unpopular in Hanover for not having a particular fondness for the land where he had been born. He only visited it once, in 1753. Voltaire aptly remarked that Frederick was 'an Englishman to the Germans, an American to the English, and a German to the Americans'.

Another war was not merely likely, but a certainly. Europe had only paused to gather its strength again for yet another struggle. Despite the shifting alliances, though, few would have suspected that things would change so radically. The Third War of Supremacy would be no futile, deadlocked European war. It would have consequences that would go all around the world...

Any number of causes could be named - skirmishes in the Colonies or India, incidents between British and French ships at sea - but what clinched it was the 'Diplomatic Revolution', in which France and Austria matched the Anglo-Prussian agreement by burying their differences and forming an alliance of their own. At the signing of the First Treaty of Versailles in 1756 - which formalised the Franco-Austrian alliance - King Frederick I declared war on France, and King Frederick II invaded Saxony.

Once more, the world was flung into the fire, and who would have predicted what would result?

[1]Technically, they had to take an oath against the Pope. In practice there were plenty of Catholic officers who lied through their teeth, but these tended to be the sorts of people who would not betray their country on the grounds of their religion anyway.

[2]Due to the absence of Robert Clive. Yes, no matter how 'Great Man Theory of History' it might sound, the battle was won in OTL because the young Ensign Clive led a diversionary attack of 300 men that drew part of Chanda Sahib's army away from the battlefield.

Part #8: To Add Something More To This Wonderful Year

Come cheer up my lads, it's to glory we steer
To add something more to this wonderful year!
To honour we call you, as freemen not slaves -
For who are so free as the sons of the waves?

Heart of oak are our ships, jolly tars are our men -
We always are ready - steady, boys, steady!
We'll fight and we'll conquer again and again!

- "Heart of Oak", words by David Garrick, music by William Boyce (OTL)​


From - "The War of the Diplomatic Revolution", by Arnold Claythorn (1987, Boston Harvard Press)

At first, the war appeared to be nothing more than another of the largely futile struggles that the European powers had engaged in throughout the eighteenth century, and indeed the seventeenth before it. But the War of the Diplomatic Revolution, as it was called at the time, was truly a War of Supremacy greater than any before or, perhaps, even since. George Spencer-Churchill dubbed it 'Worldwide War Number Zero' and this description is apt. Earlier and later conflicts would also have fronts outside Europe, but none would match the Third War. In Maccauley's terms, it had a greater impact on whose culture, whose language would grow to dominate the world than any other.

The war formally started upon the signing of the First Treaty of Versailles by Louis XV's France and Maria Theresa's Austria in May 1756. Frederick of Prussia's forces crossed into Saxony, and the state of chilly almost-war that had existed between Britain and France since 1751 was ignited into a full-blown conflict.

In this struggle, King Frederick I remained a dynamic leader, but suffered the loss of his wife Mildred in December 1756 and never truly recovered. Despite the fact that the marriage had initially been forced on him, despite himself, Frederick had grown to genuinely love his American bride and refused to listen to timid proposals from Parliament about the possibility of him marrying a German princess for a dynastic alliance. At the same time, and possibly for that reason, Frederick drifted apart from his eldest son, George Augustine the Prince of Wales. George was the first Hanoverian firstborn not to hate his father's guts, a fact which many ascribe to his American blood, but he nonetheless had many disagreements with his father. The most significant was the fact that he wanted to fight in the war, and in America, the land of his birth. Frederick refused him permission, and this at a time when George's friend George Washington was also returning to serve under his uncle Lawrence as a captain of the Virginia militia.

With a mule-headedness that he could only have inherited from his father, Prince George vanished in early 1757 and, despite the best efforts of Frederick's agents, could not be found. Of course, he had gone to the Colonies, and once there he too bought himself a captain's commission in the name of Ralph Robinson.[1]

George was not the only child that Mildred had borne Frederick; there was also the second son, Frederick William, the young Duke of York, and little Princess Mildred, still a child and an object of controversy among the princes of Europe, who couldn't work out whether marrying into the royal line of powerful Britain was worth overcoming their revulsion to her half-commoner background. Still, George was Frederick's favourite, and his disappearance on top of Mildred the elder's death pushed the King into a depression.

However, Frederick was fortunate enough to have extremely capable ministers. William Pulteney remained Prime Minister, while William Pitt effectively managed most of the conduct of the war from his position as Secretary of the State for the Southern Department - which gave him authority for dealings with France, the Mediterranean, India, and the North American colonies. Grenville moved up to become Chancellor of the Exchequer, leaving the less important Northern Department to Henry Fox. The latter had been in government under George II and William IV, and thus it took a lot for Frederick to let him return. However, Fox was a skilled speaker, able to hold his own against even Pitt. Unfortunately, the reason everyone knew this was because he had been a great enemy of Pitt in the days of George II. Thus, there was some chilly friction in the Cabinet, but at least Frederick had the ablest of ministers on all sides.

The fact that Fox, as Secretary of State for the Northern Department, had anything at all to do in the war, reflected the number of enemies lining up to take a potshot at Britain and Prussia - both of which had acquitted themselves well in the Second War of Supremacy, and thus needed taking down a peg or two. As well as the Franco-Austrian alliance and their chief German ally Saxony, both Sweden and Russia entered the war on the same side against Prussia. The Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania, although neutral, was by this point suffering bureaucratic deadlock from its elective monarchy and recent wars, and allowed Russian troops to pass through its territory and attack the Prussians.

Against this mighty alliance stood only Britain, Prussia, and their dependencies - Ireland, Hanover, the new Empire of North America, and the minor German states of Hesse-Kassell and Brunswick. However, the Anglo-Prussian alliance embodied the two states with the greatest navy and army, respectively, in Europe. Britain had the advantage of being an island, and thus was only vulnerable to invasion if the inferior French navy managed to gain superiority in the Channel - quite unlikely. Prussia had no such guarantee, but nevertheless fought off simultaneous French, Austrian, Swedish and Russian invasions under the dynamic generalship of Frederick II. As Voltaire remarked, Prussia was an army that happened to possess a country, not the other way around.

Valour, revolutionary army drills and Frederick's leadership could not win the war alone for Prussia. The country was kept afloat by subsidies of five million pounds a year from Britain[2], jealously guarded by the thrifty Grenville and Pitt. Britain herself avoided continental conflict as much as possible thanks to the tactical doctrines of Pulteney and Pitt, which confined British land attacks to a series of descents[3] on the French coast, intending to tie up French troops without actually trying to seize or hold any territory. The one exception was the descent on the Isle d'Aix in September 1757, but the British rapidly found it was impossible to reinforce their occupying troops thanks to the shallow seas preventing any of their larger ships from approaching. The operation was an embarrassing washout, with Pitt being furious over the loss of a million pounds with nothing to show for it.

Frederick II, King in Prussia, continued to astound the world by defeating an Austrian army at Leuthen and a French one at Rossbach. Despite the fact that Maria Theresa had attempted to reform the Austrian army on Prussian lines, Frederick's forces continued to excel. However, the Austrians did manage to break Frederick's Siege of Prague in 1757.

The Mediterranean struggle focused on a French attack on Minorca (British since the First War of Supremacy) early in the war, in the year 1756. A British attempt under Admiral Edward Boscawen - a hero of Vernon's attack on Cartagena in the previous war - failed with a shocking defeat of the Royal Navy by the French fleet. Boscawen was disgraced, though he escaped a court-martial on the grounds that witnesses swore he had fought as hard as any man could be expected, and was sent off with a ragtag fleet to try and take the French sugar islands in the West Indies. Meanwhile, the British occupied France's colonies in Senegal, West Africa, in 1758.

The North American theatre was astonishing in its activity. From the farthest north of Canada to the balmy sugar islands of the West Indies, Briton and American fought Frenchman, while the Indians were divided, some owing allegiance to one side and others to the other. The French ostensibly laid claim to a vast territory called New France, from "Quebec" in Canada - one area which did have a large number of French settlers - throughout the entire Mississippi river, enforced by scattered fortresses, and down to La Nouvelle-Orléans at the swampy mouth of the river. The French Governor-Generals since 1749 had repeatedly tried to gain influence with the independent-minded Indian tribes of the Ohio Country, most of whom preferred to trade with the British. Despite the general lack of French success, this alarmed the Iroquois. Their leader, who went by the anglicised name 'Chief Hendrick', met with the then Governor of the Province of New York, the Duke of Portland (an appointment by Frederick), and appealed to the British to help block French expansion. Portland provisionally agreed to start trying to foil the French missions, though warned that for the moment the war must remain shadowy and unproveable. Frederick later concurred with his judgement when the matter came up.[4]

The Governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie[5], concurred and also worked to try and stop French expansion in the Ohio Country. American militiamen clashed with the French, and Indian allies on both sides. The French built forts in the land of Vandalia, claimed by Virginia, Fort Presque Isle and Fort Duquesne (named after the new Governor-General of New France, the Marquis de Duquesne). Dinwiddie attempted to take these forts in 1754, while Britain and France were technically at peace (although even more technically at war), but his attacks were repulsed.[6] The Ohio Company, later merged with several other ventures into the Grand Ohio Company, continued to thwart French ambitions in the region up until the outbreak of war.

British, American, German and Iroquois troops fought together against French, Hurons (the hereditary enemies of the Iroquois) and Algonquins. There were also some attacks from opportunistic members of the more independently-minded tribes, including the Lenape, the Susquehanna, and the Cherokee. As the British controlled Fort Louisbourg, the French would have found it very hard to reinforce their troops by sending ships down the St Lawrence. This is an entirely hypothetical question because the government of Louis XV, the Duc de Choiseul and the Marquise de Pompadour did not consider colonial conflicts to be that important and reserved troops for the European war. The French only did as well as they did in North America and India because they had some very able commanders capable of making a little go a long way. In North America, this was Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, while in India, Dupleix's star once again rose.

Montcalm's warfare in America was not unlike that of Frederick II in Europe; hopelessly outnumbered, he nonetheless astounded his foes by several early aggressive victories, but in the end the sheer numbers of his enemies wore him down. The French took several forts in New York in 1757, most notably Fort Frederick William, which eventually peacefully surrendered to Montcalm after its relief column failed to materialise. Montcalm was castigated for a 'massacre' of Britain's troops, which was in fact perpetrated by his Indian allies, whose own rules of war required plunder and slaves from defeated enemies and did not recognise the rules of European warfare. It is probable in reality that Montcalm attempted to stop the massacre, but did not have the capability.

The massacre did galvanise American public opinion against the French. Prior to this, New England in particular had been lukewarm towards the war. Notably, the Bostonian writer Ben Franklin - already famous for his Almanac - had created a political cartoon "UNITE, OR DIE", featuring a cut-up snake with the names of the colonies on each piece. At the time it was believed that a cut-up snake could come back to life if the pieces were rejoined. The cartoon captured the public imagination and Franklin is credited to the Empire of America being symbolised by a snake. Another interesting point is that in his cartoon, the New England colonies are represented as 'New England', not separately, reflecting Franklin's political beliefs that would become very important after the war.

The war in America was of course close to King Frederick's heart, and Pitt too thought it an important theatre. When Pulteney died in 1758, Pitt became Prime Minister (Fox taking over the Southern Department) and moved America up to top priority. Despite Montcalm's genius, Anglo-American and Iroquois armies, led by General James Wolfe ("he huffed and he puffed and he blew the French down") drove the French from vital strategic points such as Fort Niagara, and soon the French were fighting on their own soil, in Quebec. The cities of Quebec and Montreal fell in 1759, the Americans' Annus Mirabilis, and Montcalm was killed. British casualties in the operation were heavy, although Wolfe survived.[7] Most astonishingly of all, a Major Washington - the brother of General Lawrence Washington who commanded the American army now successfully driving the French from their Appalachian forts - came off the battlefield with a wounded comrade named Ralph Robinson, hit in the shoulder by a French musket ball. The world was astounded when this turned out to be none other than the Prince of Wales. Both Washington and the Prince had previously fought against the Hurons before being redeployed to Wolfe's army.

It was also at this time that the New Englanders perpetrated what later generations would call a 'racial purge'[8] against the Acadians in Nova Scotia. Refusing to fight the French and possibly even hindering the British forces stationed there, they were considered a threat. The British deported some of them back to France, but many of them - along with the Quebecois later on - fled to the remaining French holdouts on the Mississippi, swelling the population of Louisiana.

In India, the British East India Company had been building up a vast army in Calcutta with which to finally retake Madras from the French. This would have worked quite well, had it not been the fact that the Nawab of Bengal became convinced that the BEIC was plotting to seize his throne. Bengali forces took the British Fort William and the Nawab infamously locked hundreds of British troops in a tiny room, the 'Black Hole of Calcutta', in which most of them perished. Throughout the rest of the war, the British were forced to focus on fighting their former ally and reclaiming the territory they had already had. By 1759, the Nawab was dead and the BEIC had directly taken over Bengal through a half-dozen minor proxies, at the cost of the lives of many British (and Indian) troops. By contrast, the French under Dupleix had finally taken Cuddalore and Fort St David, and were beginning to expand their influence over the whole of South India - to the extent that it began to alarm Haidar Ali, effective King of Mysore. As well as grabbing back power in Bengal, the BEIC reverted to a more conservative policy, returning its focus to Bombay on the western coast and expanding power into the Peshwa-ruled hinterland. There were also suggestions that the BEIC ought to have another stab at trying to take the East Indies off the Dutch, which would cause friction later on.

Things began to turn against the Prussians in Europe in 1758 as the massive numerical advantage of Prussia's foes began to turn against Frederick. No amount of cash from Pitt could change that. The Austrians captured much of Prussia's artillery corps at the Battle of Hochkirk, and the next year - while it brought some miracles for the British, with the fall of Quebec, Montreal, Calcutta, Guadaloupe and the naval victory at Quiberon in just twelve months - was a disaster for the Prussians. Count Saltykov of Russia defeated one of Frederick's generals at Paltzig, while the Austrian General Daun forced an entire Prussian corps to surrender at Maxen. Furthermore, Hanover - whose army had been neglected by the policies of Frederick of England - failed to defeat a French invasion at Minden.

Even Pitt was beginning to consider a continental strategy at this point, as it seemed the only way to save Britain's European interests. At the Battle of Kunersdorf on 12th August, Frederick of Prussia stood his ground against a superior Austro-Russian force and watched as his army was annihilated. No longer caring for life, the King drew his epée and stood on a hill, determined to hold the line against the enemy all by himself or die trying. In the event, he died trying, although it is recorded that he slew an absurd number of Austrians and Russians before succumbing.[9]

Prussia literally collapsed without Frederick's leadership. The heir to the throne, Frederick William II, was only 15 years old and his father's brother and old sparring partner, Prince Henry, took over as regent. Henry was also a great general, but he believed the war was lost and Prussia would only lose more if it continued fighting. He made one direct plea to Pitt to send British forces directly to Prussia to fight, which was refused due to Swedish control of the Baltic and the French contesting Hanover. Henry approached the allies in November 1759 and sued for peace.

The peace was harsh, as might be expected. Silesia was returned to Austria, but also the southern half of Ducal Prussia was awarded to Poland-Lithuania (now firmly in the pocket of Tsaritsa Elizabeth's Russia) and the northern half to Sweden. Saxony received the Prussian enclave of Cottbus, plus the town of Liegnitz and the surrounding area. Prussia, in fact, was no longer worthy of the name, and Austria began to officially refer to it as the Electorate of Brandenburg again - though the Kings in Prussia, obviously, rejected this. France had been promised the Austrian Netherlands in exchange for her help, but in the event this failed to materialise (angering the people of France against Louis XV again). Prussia had been reduced from a major to a minor power again, while Russian influence in Poland was now contested only by Austria. And the Austrians were more concerned with exerting their will over a Holy Roman Empire that, with the dismemberment of Prussia, was now a lot easier to bring back under some semblance of imperial control.

Britain's own position was divided. King Frederick had fallen ill with a lung infection[10] and now rarely left St James' Palace, leaving Pitt to decide. The Prime Minister had already been on the verge of abandoning Prussia even before Frederick II's death. Now the only question was whether to continue with the war with France, given that it appeared that Portugal and Spain might enter the war sooner or later. Pitt decided to approach the French for a peace, and Choiseul was receptive.

The major provisions of the Treaty of Amsterdam (signed in the neutral United Netherlands) :
French control of Madras and Cuddalore to be recognised by Britain.
British control of Nova Scotia, Louisbourg, Quebec, Montreal and the Ohio Country to be recognised by France.
British control of Senegal to be recognised by France.
Hanover to be returned to Britain.
Guadaloupe to be returned to France.
The borders of French Louisiana to be defined and agreed upon.[11]
France recognises Frederick as legitimate King of Great Britain, and the status of the Empire of America.

Britain concluded a separate peace with Austria, Russia and Sweden, which she had barely fought against. The peace was honourable, and relatively amicable, though tensions remained over the French massacre at Fort Frederick William and the Acadian Expulsion by the British.

Frederick had demanded that Prince George return to answer for his crimes. The young prince did indeed return, along with Washington, in 1760 - by which time his father was on his deathbed with the infection. In a reportedly tearful scene, the King made up with his son before passing away. King Frederick I, King of Great Britain, King of Ireland, Elector of Hanover and Emperor of America, passed away on February 19th 1760. The nations mourned, the Colonies more than any other.

George Augustine became King George III. For the most part, he retained his father's ministers, but he nonetheless alarmed many British Parliamentarians. Far more so than his father had been, he was obsessed with American affairs, almost considered a colonial rustic ("Frontier George"[12]) and, while it would increase Parliament's powers to have a monarch disinterested in British affairs, George was no less dynamic and active a king than his father.

Which led to some problems later on. For the British dominions were at peace, and they had never been more warlike...

[1] The OTL version of George III used this as an alias for publishing pamphlets about agriculture and environmentalism.

[2] In OTL it was seven million. This Britain, lacking as many rich Indian possessions and therefore trade, has less to spare.

[3] Amphibious assaults.

[4] In OTL the Governor of New York was George Clinton, who as an ally of the Pelhams would never get near such a post under Frederick. Clinton failed to sufficiently reassure Hendrick and so the Covenant Chain between Britain and the Iroquois Confederacy was broken. In TTL the Anglo-Iroquois alliance remains fairly firm, and the Iroquois do not become divided in their allegiances.

[5] On the other hand I see no reason why Dinwiddie wouldn't get the job in TTL as well.

[6] George Washington is still in Britain in 1754 and is therefore not involved.

[7] In OTL Wolfe died of a combination of disease and wounds. The book from which this information comes does not see fit to inform us that one of the deaths was an obscure Royal Navy surveyor named James Cook.

[8] Ethnic cleansing.

[9] OTL Frederick was persuaded to retreat by a Captain Prittwitz and his cavalry squad, which didn't get through in TTL. Mind you, he considered suicide even after being rescued OTL as well.

[10] In OTL he died of this, years earlier in 1751, in combination with being hit on the head by a cricket ball, I kid you not.

[11] More or less the same as the Louisiana Territory Napoleon sold the US in OTL.

[12] In OTL our George III was nicknamed Farmer George.

Interlude #2: Away from the Wars

TimeLine L Expedition Mission Log

Dr Bruno Lombardi: However, it would be a mistake to assume that the eighteenth century of TimeLine L is one unrelenting series of wars.

Dr Thermos Pylos: How so?

L.: Er... (long pause) What I meant was, other things happened as well.

P.: Well, of course.


Capt. Christopher Nuttall:
Gentlemen, need I remind you that even the new disks have limited memory?

P.: (coughs) Err, yes. The eighteenth century was also noted for the rise of two closely related ideas, Linnaeanism and Racism...


It is not pleasing to me that I must place humans among the primates, but man is intimately familiar with himself. Let's not quibble over words. It will be the same to me whatever name is applied.

But I desperately seek from you and from the whole world a general difference between men and simians from the principles of Natural History. I certainly know of none. If only someone might tell me one! If I called man a simian or vice versa I would bring together all the theologians against me.

But perhaps I ought to, in accordance with the law of the discipline of Natural History.

- Karl von Linné, letter to Johann Georg Gmelin, dated February 1747​


Carolus Linnaeus - a great man of the sciences and incidentally also the creator of the second most destructive political ideology that has ever darkened the world. A fine example of why scientists should be on tap, not on top.

- George Spencer-Churchill, 1941 [1]​


From - "A Life in Life - the Biography of Carolus Linnaeus", by José Vivar (1971, Institut Sanchez) :

The man known to posterity as Karl von Linné or Carolus Linnaeus was born into a farming family in southern Sweden in 1707. It was an era in which Swedes did not commonly use surnames, and the surname Linnaeus was chosen by Carl's father when he went to university, being a Latinised form of the Swedish for 'lime-tree'. It would be an appropriate name for a man who would spend most of his life applying more concise names to every living thing in existence.

Linnaeus attended the University of Uppsala, and in 1732 received funding for a long-term botanical visit to Lapland in the frozen north. At this point, Sweden's economy was suffering, and one policy was the idea of finding valuable plants that would grow in cold Sweden, as the country lacked an East Indies trading company. Some wondered if strains of spice plants could be found that would grow in colder climes than their native ones. To do so, Swedes needed both to survey what currently grew in Lapland and also to make examinations of the economically valuable plants that grew elsewhere.[2] Linnaeus, as it turned out, achieved both in his lifetime.

His major early achievement was the creation of a new classification system that permitted plants to be classified by their flowers, and more specifically by the precise shapes of their stamens and pistils. In this he was influenced by Sebastien Vaillant's Sermo de Structura Florum, which he read in 1718. Linnaeus' approach was new in that it focused on sexual characteristics as a means of classification. This would have been vulgar enough only applied to plants, but it is genuinely accepted that Linnaeus had a cheerfully dirty mind and commonly applied Latin words for sexual organs even to asexual or unrelated organisms.[3]

Linnaeaus spent the years 1735-38 in the Netherlands, printing his seminal Systema Naturae, the first form of his system of classification. Linnaeus' approach was controversial as it ignored the Great Chain of Being and, almost as significantly, the approaches established by the Greek writers, who had based their groupings of organisms solely on gross external appearance. Linnaeus' approach focused more on shared ancestry (sex again...) and included data from dissections, comparing internal organs of animals as well as their outer appearance.

During this time, Linnaeus visited Britain and specifically Oxford University. He would return there again in the 1750s, after King Frederick had taken over. In 1737 Linnaeus was introduced to George Clifford, a wealthy Amsterdam banker who possessed a famous garden that included plants collected from all over the world, primarily via the Dutch trade from the East and West Indies. Linnaeus published the treatise Hortus Cliffortianus, a description of the plants in Clifford's garden. He also wrote a more general work, Classes Plantorum, which was published in Leiden in 1738. After that he returned to Sweden, marrying Sara Morea and helping to found the Royal Swedish Academy of the Sciences.

Linnaeus went on other field-trips around Sweden, helped inspire a younger generation of natural historians who made similarly extravagant trips around the world, and briefly returned to London in 1754, being presented to King Frederick. He met the by now ageing Stephen Hales, a great pioneer of plant and human physiology, and they discussed such matters as they applied to taxonomy. Perhaps his most significant meeting was with a young man, an English Dissenter named Joseph Priestley, who thanks to Frederick relaxing the restrictions on non-Anglicanism was now able to study natural history at the University of Cambridge.[4] Although Priestley was still a student, and the two of them met after he had attended a visiting lecture by Linnaeus, the young man nonetheless had a profound effect on the old Swede and persuaded him that his controversial ideas about humans being closely related to apes should not be silenced. Priestley cited the examples of Galileo, Copernicus and Paracelsus, and that the free thought of natural philosophy should not be constrained by the attitudes of the day.

It is perhaps the example of Copernicus that most appealed to Linnaeus, for he was careful to only produce his seminal Taxonomy of Man posthumously, in 1780. His work on humanity's possible relations with the animal world were taken up by later writers, including Priestley himself and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, a French Enlightenment philosopher and anti-clericalist. For the moment, Linnaeus' human studies focused on less controversial subjects, and it was from this that the ideology known as Racialism or Racism sprung.

Linnaeus was the first to give humans a Latin name, Homo sapiens (Thinking Man). However, he also added four lower-level taxae to divide humanity into subspecies. These consisted of Americanus rubenscens, Red Americans (Indians), who were said to be stubborn and angered easily; Asiaticus fucus, Sallow Asians (Chinese), who were said to be avaricious and easily distracted; Africanus negreus, Black Africans, who were said to be lazy and negligent; and Europeus albescens, White Europeans, who were said to be gentle and inventive. Obviously, the principles of Societal Unity enlighten us that this was merely an artificial division imposed to prevent humanity reaching its destiny of togetherness, and furthermore that Linnaeus' classifications were clearly biased in favour of Europeans.

The system was attacked in his own lifetime for failing to provide a classification for Indians, Turks and Semites. There was also a debate as to whether Slavs were European or something else. This ultimately spawned the far narrower and more chauvinistic theory known as Nationalist Racism, which is a tool that has been used by the ruling elites in many nations, enemies of Societal Unity, to keep their peoples apart. Nationalist Racism began in France, and stemmed from the ideas of Voltaire and other Enlightenment writers[5] who refined Linnaeus' ideas to impose divisions within the European Race, broadly defined as Latins, Germans and Celts (also sometimes Slavs).

The movement was approved of by the French court and the mostly ethnically "Latin" Catholic Church, which made it harder later for the clergy to go against Linnaeus' ideas of humans being related to apes. The French Nationalist Racists considered the Latin subrace to be superior, citing the Roman Empire as an example of Latin civilisation when Celts and Germans had still been barbarians, and the idea that the Latins had held true to the Catholic Church while the Germans had fallen into Protestant heresy. Of course one objection was that the Roman Empire had fallen to German invasions, but the French argued that modern European states - most obviously their own - were the result of German peoples becoming 'Latinised' in their thought patterns and thus civilised. After all, did not the confederacy of German states call itself after the Latin Roman Empire?

The movement was ridiculed in the "German" Protestant countries, not least because Linnaeus, the man who had started it all, was one of the French's inferior "Germans". In Britain and many other places, a rival movement sprang up. It was led by a number of British intellectuals, including the Earl of Chesterfield, ironically a man who was on speaking terms with Voltaire and the two of them seemed to treat the whole nationalistic fervour whipped up by their words as a kind of private joke. Chesterfield also funded Dr Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language[6], and as a condition of such, asked him to choose a form of English spelling that was more 'Germanicised' and to take out French-sounding spellings. Johnson himself disliked the Nationalist Racist movement, but was willing to accommodate Chesterfield's whims if his Dictionary could be published (although he added some whimsical definitions mocking the movement throughout the Dictionary). The anti-French spelling movement was not very successful, the English language generally being quite resistant to prescription, but did manage to make some long-lasting changes – picquet and racquet became picket and racket, for example.[7]

Linnaeus' controversial ideas about humanity's relationship with the animal world would not become public knowledge until 1780, when they sparked an enormous debate. One consequence of this was that everyone was desperate to get hold of Linnaeus' writings in the original Swedish, which resulted in a temporary boom for other Swedish writers, who had previously languished from writing in a language which few non-Swedes understood. One of the more famous was an apothecary named Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who was able to alert the world of natural philosophy to his discovery of several new chemicals in the late 1770s. He developed the notion that the atmosphere was composed of a mixture of the lufts elluftium and illuftium, which was an important foundation for the later work of Priestley and Lavoisier, as well as making several more important discoveries.[8]

The controversy raged on throughout the wars of the latter eighteenth century, and in particular, the one that would produce an idea far more influential even than Linnaeanism...the idea of Jacobin Republicanism.

[1] The Linnaean quote is real, while the 'scientists on tap' quote is from Winston Churchill in OTL.

[2] This may sound ASB-ish, but in fact it's entirely OTL.

[3] Again this is OTL.

[4] In OTL Priestley trained as a dissenting clergyman and only later became primarily a natural philosopher, although he had always had that inclination. Frederick's reforms make it possible for him to pursue that path earlier on.

[5] OTL Voltaire was a slave owner and notably contemptuous of black Africans in his writings; this has not changed here.

[6] Samuel Johnson failed to gain Chesterfield's patronage for his dictionary in OTL and had to look elsewhere.

[7] There was a minor anti-French, anti-Latin spelling "Back to Anglo-Saxon" movement in this time of OTL, which is somewhat more influential in TTL. One impact is that in TTL's English, spellings like Almanack and Physick remain in use to the present day. One will notice that that means all the excerpts of the books in this report have been changed into modern OTL English spelling by Nuttall's team.

[8] These are oxygen and nitrogen respectively, worn down from the Swedish eldluft and illaluktandeluft, 'fire air' and 'foul air'. Scheele made all these discoveries in OTL, as well as an early means of pasteurisation, an easy way of making phosphorus matches, chlorine, barium, tungsten, manganese, molybdenum, citric acid, glycerol, prussic acid, hydrogen fluoride AND hydrogen sulfide! And yet he received credit for little of it in OTL due to his works being published in Swedish, a language which few non-Swedes spoke. Thanks to the Linnaean controversy, though, Swedish-speaking British and French intellectuals learn of his discoveries and they are not lost. Note that the term 'luft' is that used for gas in TTL - our word gas is a peculiar spelling of the Flemish word for chaos, and before the nineteenth century gases were referred to as 'airs' in OTL.


Part #9: Sowing The Seeds I

"When considering the systems of government prevalent in the eighteenth century, Bourbon France and Romanov Russia are often compared on the basis of their absolutism. This is a gross mistake. The Bourbons had sat down and decided that what France most needed was an absolute monarchy. To the Romanovs, on the other hand, it had simply never occurred that there could be any other state of affairs."

- George Spencer-Churchill, "A Century of War" (1941, Oxford University Press)


From - "The Storm Before The Storm - Conflicts of the 1760s" by Daniel Harkness (1938, Holyrood Publishing) :

It might be expected that, after the worldwide and destructive Third War of Supremacy (1756-9), the nations of Europe would take the opportunity to rest in a few years of peace, or at least take the time to lick their wounds. No such luck for the people, the soldiers, or even the nobles and politicians, many of whom would have preferred to avoid such conflicts. Events conspired against them. Cultures and ambitions continued to clash, fuelled by jockeying for trade and influence.

If war had been predicted, few would have forecast that it would involve no clash between Britain and France. Relations between the new George III and Louis XV remained cold, but both had their own reasons to avoid another war. George was attempting to come to terms with a duty that he had previously only thought of in a vague, theoretical way, and tried to master the British Parliamentary system without becoming a slave to it. Meanwhile, Louis XV was aware of the alarming state of France's finances[1], and knew that another great naval war with Britain would only make things worse. He appointed the Basque-born Étienne de Silhouette as Comptroller-General of Finances, a capable economist inspired by the English practices of mercantilism and capitalism. His attempts to raise more funds by taxing the rich were not a success, for the same reasons as Louis' more personal approach had failed earlier, but Silhouette did manage to cut corruption in the French East India Company and ensure that more of the funds raised from the rich East India trade went into the French national purse. Although this made him somewhat popular at home, Joseph François Dupleix famously sourly remarked that the 'Shadow of Silhouette' (L'ombre de Silhouette) was hanging over everything he did in India, and this phrase entered the French vocabulary.

As it turned out, Britain and France both became involved in wars, but in a peripheral capacity, and in separate conflicts which did not touch the other. The first of these wars had been brewing for a long time, and stemmed from the failure of the old Spanish-Portuguese Treaty of Torsedillas to define reasonable spheres of influence and colonisation in the New World. It had rapidly become obvious that the original meridian, based on incomplete information at the time, allotted far too little territory to Portugal. In 1748, the Spanish and Portuguese governments took advantage of the temporary environment of peace to sign the Treaty of Madrid (1750).

This, also known as the Treaty of Limits, acknowledged Torsedillas and all other former border treaties to be null and void. It defined the new 'line in the sand' to be the 46th Meridian. It also attempted to resolve a dispute over Colonia del Sacramento (Sacramento Colony), a Portuguese town on the northern bank of the Rio de la Plata (Eng.: River Plate or River of Silver) which had been founded almost a century before and had been contested by the Spanish ever since. The Treaty held that Portugal should cede Sacramento to Spain, and in return Spain would give up the lands of seven Jesuit missions known as San Miguel, Santos Angeles, San Lorenzo Martir, San Nicolas, San Juan Bautista, San Luis Gonzaga, and San Francisco de Borja. These were all located on the east side of the Uruguay River, which according to the treaty was now Portuguese territory.

Although the Treaty had been formed with the best of intentions to preventing further Spanish-Portuguese wars, it did not pay much attention to the facts on the ground, and required both the costly translation of the missions to the Spanish side, and also the forced movement of several thousand Guarani Indians, who did not see eye to eye with the proposal (to put it mildly). The Jesuits themselves agreed to move by 1754, but the Guarani refused and this sparked an unusual, quixotic war in which Spanish and Portuguese forces fought on the same side against the Indians. The Guarani were defeated, but it was a hollow victory, as the whole affair cast a shadow over the Spanish-Portuguese deals and relations were beginning to break down for other reasons.

King Joseph I of Portugal had helped initiate the Treaty negotiations in the first place when he succeeded to the throne in 1750, but his capable Prime Minister, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo[2] was now beginning to have second thoughts. This had been sparked by the fact that Spain's King Ferdinand had died in the interval and been replaced by the drastically different Charles III in 1761[3]. Charles brought back the disgraced Zenón de Somodevilla y Bengoechea, Marquis of Ensenada, as effective Prime Minister, and his highly francophile and anglophobe attitudes clashed with Portugal's priorities. Also, Charles was very much an enthusiast of Bourbon enlightened absolutism, while in Portugal Carvalho had spent much of his ministry crushing the power of the Portuguese ruling classes and adopting relatively egalitarian policies, including the abolition of slavery in the Portuguese colonies in India. He had also been praised for his handling of the destructive Lisbon earthquake of 1755.

With George III's Britain publicly declaring its condemnation of the Seven Missions conflict and racial purging (a somewhat ironic complaint given its own guilt in shifting the Acadians just a few years before), Hispano-Portuguese relations soured and, in 1763, another border incident resulted in the outbreak of war.

The First Platinean War (1763-7) was for the most part desultory, but had several important ramifications. The Spanish Army in South America performed admirably, not only quickly taking back the territory of the former missions, but pushing forward and occupying the entire Rio Grand de Sul[4] region by summer 1765. An attempted Spanish descent on Isla Santa Catarina in 1766, though, was defeated by an Anglo-Portuguese squadron under Admiral Augustus Keppel. Overall, though, things at first went well for the Spanish in South America.

The same was not true in other theatres. American troops invaded Florida in 1764 and took the last holdouts, in San Agustín, at the end of 1766. More worryingly, after two Spanish invasions of Portugal failed in 1763 and 1764, a British descent on La Corunna was combined with a successful Portuguese occupation of Galicia. The best of Spain's army was engaged in South America and, while what remained in Spain managed to defeat Anglo-Portuguese siege attempts of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz (1765 and 1766), the Portuguese could not be dislodged from Galicia. Charles III had counted on French support, which had not come for a variety of reasons: firstly because Louis XV was attempting to stay out of all but the most essential costly wars, and also because Spain was not the only ally pestering him for support (more on that later). So the Bourbon Family Compact was not honoured, and Spain came to terms on March 17th, 1767.

One apparently inconsequential footnote to the war was the British occupation of Buenos Aires, in Spanish Rio de la Plata, 1765-67. The Spanish national armies were still engaged in Rio Grande de Sul, and no reinforcements came from an increasingly desperate Spain. However, the local colonial peoples formed militias and, despite the regulations against Creoles bearing weapons, successfully inflicted an embarrassing defeat on the British forces, mostly Royal Marines, at the city of Rosario in summer 1766. Although the ill-prepared British were not entirely dislodged by the time peace was signed, it was a great embarrassment for the Royal Navy (for the British Army had not been involved) and necessitated the court-martial and then, controversially, execution by firing squad of Admiral Marriott Arbuthnot, the commanding officer.

Nonetheless, the war was overall an Anglo-Portuguese victory. Spain was forced to accept status quo ante bellum borders, minus Florida which was annexed to the Empire of America, and also open up its colonies to British trade, a highly unpopular move among businessmen in the colonies. The Marquis of Ensenada, guilty of the terrible crime of being right about France, was exiled to Spanish America. He eventually gravitated to Buenos Aires, where the people were furious about their great victory being ignored by Spain, by the fact that they had to return the conquered lands in Rio Grande de Sul to Portugal, and that the new British trade would undercut their livelihoods. Ensenada was good at working with discontent, and he had the example of Prince Frederick, of course...

Afterwards, Spain focused on internal reform under the restored prime minister Richard Wall, an Irish exile, while Carvalho remained prime minister of Portugal until the death of Joseph in 1769[5], upon which the King's daughter Queen Maria I sent him too into exile. Carvalho had brought Portugal kicking and screaming into the modern world, curbing the powers of the nobility, suppressing the Jesuits and bringing in greater religious freedoms. And, inevitably, the people hated him for it - although perhaps more so for the 'reign of terror' he had imposed in view of the attempts on the King's life.

Carvalho went to Brazil, and it is perhaps inevitable that he eventually met up with his old enemy Ensenada in Buenos Aires. But it should have been known by now that if two such keen political minds could be persuaded to work for the same cause, then the foundations of the world would tremble...

[1] Though somewhat less bad than OTL due to the increased French East India trade.

[2] Note that in TTL he doesn't become Marquis of Pombal.

[3] 1759 OTL.

[4] OTL modern Uruguay.

[5] 1779 OTL. He suffered from a wound of an earlier assassination attempt in 1758 and I think he could have gone at any time.

Part #10: Pole to Pole (and Lithuanian)

From - "Born Under A Squandering Tsar: Monarchy in 18th Century Russia" by Dr Andrew Sanderson (1948, Edinburgh Press):

Many in Europe had viewed with relief the aftermath of the Third War of Supremacy, in which Prussia had been reduced from a budding European Great Power down to a mere regional power. It was true that the Prussian army was still one of the best, if not the best, trained in Europe - but the losses of the war, both in men and land, coupled to the death of the charismatic Frederick II, meant that any Prussian revival would be a long hard road. Unless the Franco-Austrian alliance broke down, many commentators opined, it would be impossible.

Events intervened, though, as they often do. In 1762, Empress Elizabeth of Russia died and was succeeded by her nephew as Peter III, Emperor of All the Russias. Peter was a quixotic figure, which was worrying in a role that still maintained absolute power over the country. Having been born in the Germanies himself, he was an unashamed Germanophile and had particularly admired Frederick II before his death. Some Prussian commentators even sourly remarked that, if his aunt had had the decent to die a few years earlier, he would have made Russia switch sides in the Third War.[1]

Frederick had also been succeeded by his nephew, who how reigned as Frederick William II, King in Prussia. Young and inexperienced, he relied heavily on advisers, most of whom were the surviving generals who had served under his father. Some counselled that attempting to regain Silesia from Austria should be Prussia's first priority, but the Franco-Austrian alliance - coupled with the fact that George III's Britain currently had problems of its own to deal with and would not be too receptive to an alliance anyway - meant that for the forseeable future, it remained an impossible dream.

Poland had been ruled since the War of the Polish Succession (in the 1730s) by Augustus III, better known as Frederick Augustus II of Saxony. Augustus cared little for Poland proper, seeing it merely as a way of gathering more power to himself in Saxony. Geographically isolated, the vast Commonwealth became paralysed with an indifferent elected king and a nobility (szlachta) unwilling to part with any of their power.

Augustus died in 1765, leaving Saxony to his son Frederick Christian, but Augustus’ unpopularity in Poland meant he was not the natural successor. Stanisław Leszczyński, a Swedish-imposed king who had ruled for two periods in the 1710s and 1730s and had eventually become Duke of Lorraine, died mere months after Augustus. The Polish system was not based on heredity, and even if it had been, he had left only two daughters - the younger of whom was Louis XV's queen consort, Maria Leszczyńska. The throne remained empty, the opposing factions deadlocked, no king elected. Civil war openly broke out in July 1766, and it became obvious that the great powers neighbouring Poland would intervene.

Austria produced the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand, second son of Maria Theresa (and generally known as Archduke Ferdinand after his elder brother Ferdinand Francis ascended to the throne) as their candidate for King of Poland. Maria Theresa's armies occupied the Krakow region, preparing to take Warsaw and attempt to impose Austrian-backed rule on the country, just as Sweden had fifty years earlier. However, a deal between Frederick William of Prussia and Peter of Russia emerged in 1767, with both states declaring war on Austria - though mysteriously they did not produce a candidate of their own.

Commentators who had expected the Prussians to drive mulishly for Silesia again were left gaping as Frederick William's forces invaded Polish Royal Prussia and then retook the Polish-occupied southern half of Ducal Prussia that they had lost in the Third War of Supremacy. The Swedish-occupied northern half was left untouched; it later emerged that Peter had, somewhat controversially, bought Sweden's neutrality by promising them Courland. The Prussians met up with the Russians and, in a crushing series of victories at Warsaw, Poznan and Breslau (finally entering Silesia), the Austrians were driven from Poland. The Poles themselves typically fought on both sides, as well as some szlachta maintaining private armies manoeuvring for the establishment of some other candidate as king. There was no unified resistance until it was too late.

The Treaty of Stockholm (1771) declared that:
Austria was to retain Silesia and the Krakow region, but renounce any and all claims to the Polish throne.
Royal Prussia and formerly Polish Ducal Prussia were to be annexed to Prussia.
Sweden was to retain northern Ducal Prussia and be awarded Courland as well.
Some eastern vojvodships of Poland (those with a Ruthenian majority) were to be directly annexed to Russia.
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was separated from the Commonwealth, with a Russian-imposed Grand Duke.
The remainder of Poland to be reorganised into a Kingdom of Poland in personal union with Prussia.
The territorial integrities of the resulting Polish and Lithuanian states to be guaranteed.

Peter appointed his son Paul, the Tsarevich, as Grand Duke of Lithuania. This post rapidly became accepted as the Russian equivalent to Britain's Prince of Wales or Spain's Prince of Asturias. There remained uprisings in the former Commonwealth against foreign occupiers, especially in the southeast where Polish lands had been directly annexed to Russia and the Orthodox religion imposed, but the situation eventually subsided to something not unlike how it had been during the reign of Augustus III. However, Frederick William was far more interested in his new (reduced) Polish domain than Augustus had been, to the extent that within a few years people spoke of "Prussia-Poland" or even "Brandenburg-Poland", as though Prussia described the whole area of both states.

Prussia had bounced back admirably from its humiliation, with Peter's alliance sometimes being called the 'Miracle of the House of Brandenburg'.[2] The Tsar's position was steadied at home, but a coup plot involving his strong-minded German wife Catherine emerged in 1772. Peter purged the Leib Guards, who had collaborated against him, and had Catherine exiled to the appropriately named Yekaterinburg, on the other side of the Urals.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Europe, a crisis of quite a different kind was taking shape...

[1] The Prussians were not being that serious, but in fact this happened in OTL - at least, Russia pulled out of the war, although it didn't switch sides, and the change was not Elizabeth dying earlier but the war lasting longer and Frederick surviving. This move made Peter very unpopular in Russia OTL as Russian troops had been occupying Berlin itself, and yet after the war Russia was not even invited to the negotiating table. Because of the lack of these events, in TTL Peter's position is a bit more assured.

[2] In OTL, this described Peter withdrawing Russia from the Seven Years' War.

Part #11: Don't Tread On Me

JOHN STUART, 3RD EARL OF BUTE (TORY, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION): Can the noble lord deny that the colonials enjoy the same comforts, the same benefits as true Englishmen? Can he deny that they have been defended against the rapacities of the French and protected from piracy by the Navy? Then why can he not see that it is only just that they pay their fair share of tax?

CHARLES WATSON-WENTWORTH, 2ND MARQUESS OF ROCKINGHAM (WHIG PATRIOT, PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY): Indeed, sir, I cannot. But why, then, I ask the noble lord, must his reasoning go only one way? The colonials - the Americans - have not stood idly by why our valiant forces defend them. They have bled and died alongside what the noble lord calls true Englishmen. Why, then, are they denied the liberties that we all agree are the birthright of every true Englishman? Can the noble lord answer me that?

- Exchange in the House of Lords, 5th October 1767, as reported in The Times


From - "The Making of a Nation", by Peter Arnold (1987, Harvard University Press) :

Many scholars have debated just when the awakening of a national consciousness can be said to have taken place in Britain's colonies on the North American continent. To be sure, there was some semblance of independence from the motherland almost since the colonies were founded: the isolation from England, the separation across a vast ocean, meant that this was unavoidable. When contact with the King was typically limited to him occasionally sending a new governor every few years and ultimately initiating some of the wars in which the colonials fought, the colonies were independent in name if not in fact. And they developed as such, creating their own means of governance, indeed effectively trialling many new ideas in different colonies. Many colonies had local parliaments elected on varying means, and, for reasons of historical accident, they lacked an established Church. Any attempt to impose Anglicanism on the colonies now would run into the problems of the numerous German Calvinists and Lutherans, to say nothing of the Presbyterian Scots and the (few) Catholics, who had settled there. Thus, America had always been a little different.

Prince Frederick's exile was an epiphany. The vast majority of the colonial Americans had never seen their monarch, even their future monarch, on anything except a coin or a print, much less in the flesh. When he was going up and down Cisappalachia, politicking with governors and occasionally solving disputes, suddenly the King was not just some vague figure over the horizon, but a man of flesh and blood who was at work in the world. It was, as the nineteenth-century commentator Thomas Hodges remarked dryly, as though America's Judaean concepts of monarchy had suddenly become those of Christendom.

Even after Frederick himself departed, the plans and promises he had set in motion meant that there were serious political upheavals. Tyrannical governors were no longer tolerated, and Frederick appointed more native-born Americans - for so they were now called - as governors. He was the first monarch to elevate significant numbers of Americans to the peerage, and many - including Lawrence Washington - elected not to take up their seats in the House of Lords, but to remain at home in the colonies where their titles at present meant little. It was an important message: Americans were not simply Englishmen who happened to be born abroad, and returned home when they became important and influential men. They identified more with their birthplace, the thin line of civilisation bordering the vast tracts of unexplored wilderness, than with the green fields and pleasant hills of England.

This awakening took some years in America, beginning in the 1730s and coming to a climax some thirty or forty years later. It took rather longer for most of the British to become aware of it, hence the relative surprise with which the Crisis of 1765 was held in many quarters.

It is impossible to cover all the aspects leading up to the situation, but the Crisis stemmed from the fact that the Third War of Supremacy had cost Britain dearly and, given that a great part of the war expenditure had been devoted to forcing the French from Quebec, many British politicians considered it only appropriate that the Americans should pay their fair share of the taxes levied to cover it. Furthermore, the colonies had always had extremely lenient tax regimes compared to the home country. That was one reason why the British colonies had grown in population so rapidly, while their French counterparts had floundered - French law was the same everywhere, so there was less reason for a Frenchman to move to a wild colony if he would have to pay the same taxes when he got there.

Nonetheless, it was clear that the situation was unsustainable. The Americans regardless were defiant on the subject, and a committee of their peers was formed to negotiate directly with the newly formed Department for Home and Colonial Affairs.[1] The committee was headed by Sir Benjamin Franklin, the celebrated natural philosopher and political writer who was respected on both sides of the Atlantic.[2] Franklin had, in recent years, provoked a stir in his native Massachusetts with the publishing of a short volume entitled Unite or Die: The Case For A New England Confederation. The title was a reference to his famous political cartoon representing the colonies as the parts of a snake that would have to come together to vanquish the French. Previously, the fiercely independent New England colonies had voiced much opposition to any sort of unified confederation, in particular James II's short-lived Dominion of New England that had also attempted to include New York.

But the situation had changed. In particular, there was a growing division between the colonies as a whole. They had originally been founded when the British believed that North America was much narrower than it is, and had envisaged there being only ten days' march between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Based on that assumption, the colonies' charters stated that their territory would go from the east coast westward until it reached the Pacific. As North America was wider than they had thought, this meant that if this was implemented, the British lands would look like a series of long stretched-out stripes stacked one on top of the other.

All fine and good; but, for the first time, the Third War of Supremacy meant that at least part of the dream could be realised. The French had been driven from Quebec, and more importantly from the point of view of the colonies, the Ohio Country, which was claimed under the old charters by Pennsylvania and Virginia. Similar claims were made by colonies further north and south, extending their theoretical borders westward into the wilderness that was now nominal British territory, though inhabited by many Indian nations. The problem was that some of the colonies were now surrounded on all sides by others, and simply had no westward frontier on the wilderness where they could expand. Maryland was one of them, as was South Carolina after the border had been fixed to leave no outlet north of Georgia, but New England was the worst. Rhode Island was unambiguously cut off, and some claims by New York might also cut off Masachusetts (except in their separated northern Maine territory) and Connecticut. Regardless of how much the New Englanders might dislike the idea of confederation, they began to realise that the alternative might be being reduced to small, plaintive, ignored voices in an Empire of North America that included vastly expanded colonies of Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania.

This was one of the problems. There were others. What to do with the Catholic French in Quebec, currently under the effective military dictatorship of James Wolfe[3], and certainly not an appropriate land for many of the principles of British government. What the rights of the Indians, both individual and states, should be (the Americans and some British armchair imperialists disagreed strongly on this). And, of course, the fact that 'representation' had become a clear, if vague, call in the colonies. If Americans were to pay taxes like Britons, then they ought to be able to vote like them, too.

The Americans might well have been doomed, had they not had the man at the top on their side. King George III had grown up in Virginia, indeed spoke with a rather strange hybrid German/Planter accent that was much ridiculed in continental Europe, and continued to defend the colonies' interests at court. Having said that, his quote "Born and raised in this country, I glory in the name of American" is most probably apocryphal.

The situation was not helped by the fact that, after the retirement of Fairfax in 1764, George had appointed the young but politically vigorous Lord William North[4] as Lord Deputy of North America. North had encouraged political debate on the subject and, in 1768, accepted a joint call from several significant American figures to call a new Albany Congress. The first, thirteen years before, had been called in the spirit of unity against the French and Indian enemies. Even then, Franklin had drafted an early plan of unifying the colonies under a strong executive, which had been largely ignored at the time, but had provoked further discussion.

Despite the long sea journey between Britain and America, some common interests began to emerge. George was helped in that, after Pitt died in 1766, he was replaced by the Marquess of Rockingham, a singularly capable manager of interests in the House and a steady hand at Government. Rockingham was, in particular, responsible for bringing Charles James Fox, third son of Henry and technically too young to be a Member, into the core of the Whigs. Fox was something of an enigma, being a political radical in almost every conceivable way, although he drew the line in some areas and criticised John Wilkes. Fox was a defender of colonial rights from the start, although he didn't get on with the King due to his staunch abolitionist views. This would cause problems later on.

By 1771, the North Commission, having exchanged members and had one or two die and be replaced, had settled on a rough arrangement that would eventually become the American Constitution of 1788 when ratified by all the colonies. The North Plan, as it was known, modified Franklin's original plan to take into account recent developments. Franklin had already acknowledged at the time that Delaware would have to be subsumed into another colony, as it practically was already, and he had not counted Georgia. This proved prophetic, as the young colonial administration faltered in the late 1760s and the territory was reabsorbed back into Carolina. However, the North Commission considerably expanded these ideas, and eventually developed the concept that became known as Five Confederations and One Empire.

Under this new and quite radical proposition, the original colonial charters would be modified and combined to produce five new units, all of which would have suitable outlets to the west for expansion into the new territories. The first of these was the Confederation of New England, formally formed in 1776 and incorporating Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nova Scotia (ostensibly including Newfoundland) and New Hampshire. The North System was based on North America receiving a parliamentary voting system like Britain's, but due to the wildly varying sizes and populations of the colonies - far more so even than Britain's counties - standardised voting 'provinces' or 'shires' were created. Typically, small colonies like Rhode Island consisted of one province, while larger and more populous ones were divided into several. The old colonial borders were retained for other administrative and traditional purposes, though.

Other confederations were more typically dominated by one state: the Confederation of Pennsylvania (including Delaware and half of New Jersey), the Confederation of New York (including the other half of New Jersey), the Confederation of Virginia (including Maryland), and the Confederation of Carolina (including both Carolinas and Georgia). A sixth Confederation, Canada (Quebec), was also posited, although never implemented. The new reorganisation was not exactly universally popular throughout the colonies, many of whom had populations proud of their histories and distinctive identities, but it did provide for equal and fair westward settlement. Furthermore, George had taken a hard line towards the Indians. Over the next few years, Indian nations were either asked to formally become British protectorates or else remove to the west. Some of the larger Indian nations, including the Cherokee and the Iroquois (Howden), agreed to the protectorate status, while some of the others fought, including the Creek and the Lapute. After some vicious fighting, the American colonial troops won, somewhat reassessing British home opinions of how seriously they needed to treat the Indian nations.

Taxes in America remained generally lower than those at home, though no longer by an enormous margin.[5] The first elected Yankee Parliament (officially known as the Continental Parliament) met at 1788 in Fredericksburg, which had been separated from Virginia by royal edict and made a neutral zone for the parliament. It was opened by George III himself, on a state visit, and it was also in this year that the Constitution was finally ratified by the last of the Confederations, Carolina. The date had been chosen purposefully, one hundred years to the day after the Glorious Revolution had created Britain's own constitution, which had provided much of the groundwork for the American version.

Taken from George III's Opening of the First American Parliament, 1788:

Let this new dominion, this proud Empire, show itself to the world and stand proud beside the home nations! Let it fulfil its clear purpose and destiny in spreading the Protestant religion and the liberty of England from sea to shining sea! And let it be the home to my people, and my heirs, from now unto the ending of the world.

But while the American crisis had been neatly averted, the politics of Ben Franklin, Lord North and George III were scarcely the only reason. Something came about in the intervening years, something which both reminded the Americans why they still needed defending, and reminded the British why it was imperative that they should do right by their colonial cousins.

In the year 1779, a Peruvian shot a Spanish governor and set the world down a track that would lead to rack and ruin for centuries to come...

[1] In OTL the Northern and Southern Departments were eventually turned into the Department for Home Affairs and the Department for Foreign and Colonial Affairs. In TTL the colonies are a little nearer to the government's heart, and furthermore the change happened rather later in OTL, AFTER the American colonies had broken away.

[2] Ben Franklin is NOT the first American to be really notable in Europe OTL, not after the War of the British Succession. Hence he is accepted more readily and there are no silly disputes over the best shape for a lightning conductor, etc.

[3] Who didn't die in TTL.

[4] More or less the same as OTL's Frederick North, except that being born in 1732, in TTL he was named after the new Prince of Wales and not Frederick. It may be news to some OTL Americans that North was actually an astute and capable politician, though one who consistently put local interests above the whole. This is still true in OTL, only this time, being Lord Deputy of the Colonies, he's being narrow-minded on America's side.

[5] In OTL American taxes rocketed after independence, but by that point rights matched demands...the same is true here.

Part #12: Sowing the Seeds II

"Ideology, the most insidious of evils. Those who yearn for freedom and liberty will soon find themselves enslaved by Freedom and Liberty." - George Spencer-Churchill


From - "Rise of a Nation" by William Rogers (1928, Oxford University Press) :

The causes of the Andean Revolts are too complex to be completely considered, even if they were entirely known. However, certain broad strokes can be discerned:

Spain's approach to colonialism had always been quite different to that of Britain and France. Partly, of course, this was because Spain had been a colonial power for far longer, indeed it may not be an exaggeration to say that she was the first colonial power in history. Thus, the government of the Spanish colonies in the Americas could be said to still be firmly rooted in the institutions of the Middle Ages, even feudalism. A careful hierarchy was in place by which the peninsulares, or those born in the Iberian homeland, were ranked above those pure-blood Europeans born in the colonies, criollos, who were in turn ranked above the mixed-blood mestizos, and so on for the native amerindians and with the African negros at the bottom. People with one parent from either of two castes were slotted into one of several intricately constructed half-way stages.

This system, which now seems to alien to the European mind, was aided and abetted by the popularity of the Linnaean Racist system in the mid to late eighteenth century. Existing convention was thus backed up with natural philosophy, and many Spanish and peninsulare writers of the period expounded on the natural virtues of the Casta system. Perhaps as a result of this, this same period coincided with a national awakening among the criollos of Spanish America, particularly in the south where the system was most rigid. Pamphlets arguing against the system were widely distributed, despite official attempts to crackdown. It is quite probable that this movement was quietly masterminded by the exiled Marquis of Ensenada, from his estate in Buenos Aires. Ensenada almost certainly saw the Criollistas as merely a means to an end to his return to power in the Peninsula (ironically), but events escaped his control.

The criollos were arguably primed for rebellion by the 1770s, as the excesses of the Casta system were combined with punishing new taxes from Spain's government under Charles III and his new Italian-born prime minister, Bernardo Tanucci, who had formerly headed affairs in Spain's Neapolitan possession. Tanucci was also a fervent anti-clericalist and his government had masterminded the crackdown on the Jesuits in Spain. Despite Ensenada's own anti-clericalist streak, the Criollista movement was generally quite pro-Jesuit, and despite the official pronouncements of the Jesuit missions in New Spain being dissolved in the late 1760s, the 'black-robes' continued to operate fairly openly in the Viceroyalty of Peru and the Captaincy-General of Chile.[1] The Jesuits' Reductions had played a large part in expanding Spanish control in South America, and were seen by many as an integral part of the colonies' cultural identity. However, while the people remained broadly in favour of the Society itself, they were quick to settle the now vacated Jesuit lands. For example, in Nueva Espana the northern city of Los Angeles was founded at this time.

However, the spark of rebellion came not from the Criollistas, but from the Indians. José Gabriel Condorcanqui, great-grandson of Tupac Amaru the last Sapa Inca of the Tahuantinsuyo and vice-governor of the province of Cusco, repeatedly petitioned the authorities in Lima to improve the lot of the native peoples - in particular conditions in the mines and textile mills. However, indifference on the part of the peninsulare authorities combined with the fact that Criollistas from as far away as Buenos Aires were also continually making petititons at Lima at this time to ensure that Condorcanqui was repeatedly rebuffed.

In response, Condorcanqui returned to his Indian roots and took the name Tupac Amaru II, organising the first serious rebellion against the Spanish colonial authorities in two centuries. With the execution of the tyrannical Spanish governor Antonio de Arriaga in 1779, the Great Andean Rebellion began.

The colonial authorities hastily organised a militia under Tiburcio Landa, which was sent out to fortify the town of Sangara. However, Tupac Amaru's forces caught the few hundred volunteers on the road to the town[2] and decimated them, despite the rebels having a shortage of muskets and powder and relying largely on more archaic weapons such as slingshots. Furthermore, Tupac Amaru had access to a number of Indians and a few sympathetic criollos who had served with the Spanish Army in the First Platinean War in the 1760s, and arguably possessed more trained veterans than the authorities in Cusco.

On the advice of Tupac Amaru's wife and fellow commander, Micaela Bastidas, the rebel army successfully captured Cusco on Christmas Day 1780. Another militia force, this time sent by the government in Lima, suffered losses from the winter and failed to retake the town in February 1781. It was at this time that the rebellion truly began to reach Spanish and other European ears, as well as those within Britain's Empire of North America.

The rebellion also inspired others. In Upper Peru, the Aymara rebellion of Tomas Katari had actually begun slightly before Tupac Amaru's, but it was Tupac Amaru's successes that whipped Katari's into a real fervour. However, the Indian forces failed to take La Paz in 1781 and Katari's army retreated to Cusco, combining with Tupac Amaru's. Parts of Upper Peru remained under Spanish control throughout the war, although often reduced to the fortifiable cities.

The loss of face to Spain was tremendous and so in 1781 a force sent from the homeland was united with colonial armies in New Granada. The war did not go entirely the rebels' way, but the Spanish were nonetheless unable to achieve a decisive victory. However, it is likely that the rebellions would have eventually been crushed, had it not been for the interference of other states.

For more than a century, one of France's chief foreign policy ambitions was that Spain's rich empire in the Americas should be transferred to French control, perhaps via the kind of Bourbon union that the War of the Spanish Succession had prevented, but might eventually become possible as Spain waned and France waxed. Now the young King Louis XVI, having inherited a state that was shaky but recovering, buoyed by the riches brought in from the Indian trading empire of Dupleix (now under the rule of Governor-General Rochambeau), saw that chance slipping through his fingers. Despite warnings from his Swiss-born Comptroller-General of Finances, Jacques Necker, that France's treasury could not sustain another great war, Louis thought that the only option.

However, he had two possible approaches. Firstly, renew the Bourbon Family Compact, help Spain quell the rebellion, and use this as a foothold towards drawing the Spanish Empire towards France. Secondly, support the rebels against Spain and gain influence over any succeeding rebel state. Both of these involved sending French troops to Spanish America, and so this order was proclaimed long before the indecisive Louis had made any clear decision on which option was to be taken - or, for that matter, informed the Spaniards.

It is hopeful but possibly incorrect that the resulting comedy of errors can no longer take place in our time, with our photelegraphy[3] and other innovations in the area of communications. In any case, in 1782 a French fleet under the Duc de Noailles and Admiral de Grasse was sent out from Quiberon, with the intention of landing troops "in the Viceroyalty of Peru, and linking up with our allies", orders which were understandably ambiguous in just who those allies would be, but were rather less excusably ambiguous in just where in Peru this was supposed to be.

This meant that in August 1782, owing to what we nowadays would call crossed wires, the French expeditionary force was under the impression that Spain was the enemy and the Indian rebels should be supported (this being the favoured option before the fleet left, but the King had changed his mind), while Louis' ministers had concluded a new Family Compact with Charles III and the Spanish Government believed that the French were their allies. The results were predictable. Repeating the British attempt of a generation earlier, Admiral de Grasse's fleet sailed up the Rio de la Plata and took Buenos Aires as a blow against Spain - at the same time that the Spanish colonial authorities in the region were trumpeting the invented successes of their French allies against Tupac Amaru II. Rumours of the French ravaging Buenos Aires, inflated from a few scattered incidents, served to unite the entire Criollista movement against France and in alliance with the Indians. The whole of the Plate region, supported by the Captaincy-General of Chile from early 1783, rose in revolt.

The rebellion could perhaps have been contained, but Britain and Portugal entered the war on the side of the rebels. Portuguese support was largely clandestine, with war being undeclared on the Iberian frontier, and was secured in return for the rebels promising to make several border adjustments favourable to Brazil. A British-American force under Admiral Howe defeated de Grasse's fleet at the mouth of the River Plate, then landed an army commanded by the American General George Augustine Washington. While the people of the Plate were still suspicious of the British from their experiences in the last war, after the British participated in the rebel capture of Cordoba, they were accepted.

Although the French remained in control of the city of Buenos Aires until the end of the war, they were unable to break out of their initial pockets of control. A joint Franco-Spanish fleet was assembled at Cadiz in late 1783, with the intention of punching through the Royal Navy blockade of South America and landing reinforcements to support the Duc de Noailles' army, but another British fleet under Admiral Augustus Keppel met them off Cape Trafalgar. The combat was a shock defeat for the British; although the Franco-Spanish fleet slightly outnumbered the Royal Navy ships, the British were accustomed to being able to fight above their weight at sea. The combat exposed serious flaws in how the Royal Navy had been handled after the Third War of Supremacy, eventually leading to a great shipbuilding programme under the latter half of the Marquess of Rockingham's tenure as Prime Minister, but for the moment tempers were salved with the court-martial and disgrace of Keppel.

While Trafalgar was a British defeat, Keppel's forces had managed to sink several Franco-Spanish transports and the fleet was forced to return to Cadiz. Also, the shock victory had convinced Louis XVI that now was the time to seize control of the English Channel and invade Britain herself, something which France's strained treasury was simply not capable of funding. The French forces were still moving into position at the time of the Treaty of London in 1785.

The Spanish had finally achieved a decisive victory over Tupac Amaru at the recapture of Lima in 1784, but by now Criollista rebel control over La Plata and Chile was virtually uncontested, and a relief army prevented the Spanish from pressing further into the Indian-held lands. The surrender of La Paz and Havana in 1785 marked the end of the war and the punishing Treaty of London, whose provisions went:

Spain to acknowledge the loss of Cuba and Falkland's Islands to Britain and of the entire Viceroyalty of Peru and Captaincy-General of Chile.

France to cede the northern hinterlands of Louisiana to the Empire of North America (an Anglo-American siege of New Orleans in 1784 was successfully resisted by the French).

Some lands in Upper Peru and La Plata to be ceded to Portuguese Brazil by the rebel authorities, which would become the United Provinces of South America (not established until the Convention of Cordoba in 1790).

Thanks to a Quebecois rebellion in support of France (1784-5), a second Great Expulsion would see all French-speaking peoples in British North America deported to French Louisiana or France. Practically empty Canada was opened to settlement from New England; protests from the other Confederations saw the eventual Act of Settlement (1794), by which New England ceded its claimed westward territories back, in return for Canada being opened up to settlement and added to New England.

The Treaty would cause several headaches later on, but for the moment, to say it was a shock to Spain was an understatement. The lands of the Spanish Empire had been granted by God, and if He were to take them away...

Charles III had already been forced to flee the country once thanks to food riots in 1766. Now he fled again, as street riots ruled Madrid and Tanucci was killed by a mob. Controversially, Britain supported his return to Spain, believing that the alternative might be Louis achieving his Franco-Spanish Union after all. However, Charles was forced to adopt far more liberal methods of government under the supremely capable José Moñino y Redondo, conde de Floridablanca, who had previously been known for assisting with the expulsion of the Jesuits and the reformation of the Spanish educational system. Under his ministry, the powers of the Spanish Cortes were somewhat extended and the Audiencias in Nueva Espana and Nueva Granada were reformed, giving them more independence lest Spain lose the rest of its American empire.

The young UPSA was characterised from the start by radical ideas, although they expressed themselves in odd ways. Possessing a population that was almost entirely strongly Catholic, the country nonetheless made a break with Rome, beginning rather unofficially in the 1790s thanks to Spanish domination of the Papacy, and becoming legal after the Dissolution of St Peter in 1802. Jansenist ideals were revived and became associated with the intellectual classes. Many radicals from other nations whose ideas were suppressed at home moved there, including the British republicans Thomas Paine and Joseph Priestley.

Also, the country's population was boosted by deserters from Noailles' army, including Noailles' own son, who had fled after his father's disgrace and suicide, and a young captain named Jean-Charles Pichegru, who eventually became Marshal-General of the Fuerzas Armadas de los Provincias Unidas. From the start, the UPSA was known to be a place where the usual laws did not apply, and a place where oppressed groups might be able to settle. The Casta was abolished, and certain areas were set aside for Indian or other non-European settlement, while others were reorganised and exploited. From the beginning, the government was republican, its Cortes Nacionales modelled on the Dutch Staten-Generaal (it was the Dutch United Provinces, and their rebellion against Spain, from which the country's name had taken inspiration). A directly elected President-General was also created, although at the time the role was poorly defined.

In days to come, the UPSA would make the world change by its own efforts, but for now, the republican example - and the expenses suffered in an attempt to prevent it from happening - would have dark consequences for the Bourbon Kingdom of France...

[1] In TTL Spain hasn't established a separate Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata, so those lands are still part of the Viceroyalty of Peru and ruled from Lima.

[2] OTL, Tupac Amaru won a similarly crushing victory, but in Sangara itself. This required burning Landa's forces out of a fortified church, which was successfully spun by propagandistas into painting black Tupac Amaru's rebellion as anti-Christian, turning the majority of the people against him. In TTL this doesn't happen.

[3] Radio.

Part 13: Before the Storm

From - "Exploration and Discovery in the late 18th Century" (English translation) by Francois Laforce, Nouvelle Université de Nantes, 1961.

The modern student of history, being unavoidably ideologically driven in these trying times, must feel the temptation to regard the second half of the eighteenth century as merely a time in which two radical revolutions occurred that would change the world - that of the United Provinces and that of France. To do so is disingenuous and misleading. Many other important breakthroughs and changes proceeded which have had an equal effect on shaping the modern world. The case of the often overlooked[1] constitutional foundations of the Empire of North America is by now well publicised, but what of the voyages of exploration and discovery that opened up the world to new vistas, scarcely less than in earlier ages did the journeys of Columbus and Magellan?

The official 'discovery' of the sixth continent in 1788 is a case in point. In fact the land then known as New Holland was already well known on maps of the period, its barren northern coast having been mapped by the Dutch more than a century earlier, but dismissed as holding no interest. It took a Frenchman, though, Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse, to discover the parts of 'New Holland' that were actually worth possessing. A remarkable Frenchman, indeed...

La Pérouse was already a respected naval war hero, which in pre-Bonaparte France were few and far between. He had defeated a British frigate in the West Indies during the Second Austrian War[2] and gone on to take part in the celebrated Franco-Spanish naval victory over Augustus Keppel's fleet at Cape Trafalgar in 1783. Having received a minor wound at that battle, La Pérouse did not take part in the rest of the conflict, though some writers of speculative romance[3] have argued that he might have turned the tide at later battles. It is debatable as to whether this is anything more than hero worship.

After the Treaty of London in 1785 and the end of the war, the chief issue at hand was the strain on the French treasury and the need for reform. However, La Pérouse succeeded in obtaining royal funding from Louis XVI on his voyage of discovery, which set out late in the year 1785. This consisted of his former task force from the war, four frigates led by his new flagship d'Estaing, named after the admiral who had commanded at Trafalgar, plus a single supply ship.

The intent of La Pérouse's voyage was to expand French knowledge of the Pacific, particularly the rich Asian markets, and perhaps to lay down trade. It certainly succeeded in the former aspect.

The fleet initially sailed to Buenos Aires, in which La Pérouse famously smoothed over relations between the newly independent state (not yet the UPSA) and France by throwing a grand banquet. Having made reports on the radical thoughts now sweeping the country's constitutional arguments - not dreaming of what effect these reports would have on his own mother country - La Pérouse proceeded around Cape Horn. He journeyed to the Galapagos Islands and Easter Island in 1786, making recommendations that they be suitable for whaling bases.

The d'Estaing's crew complement included one Pierre-Simon Laplace, a respected common-born natural philosopher who had elected to accompany this voyage in order to escape his angry peers at home, as well as the Catholic Church due to his controversial views. An astronomer, Laplace used the voyage to make the famous Laplacian Austral Catalogue of the stars of the southern night sky. He also collaborated with Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, a former soldier who had recently published several works on the flora of France and accompanied the mission due to its opportunities for research. Lamarck and Laplace's Observations on the Fauna of the Iles Galapagos was a seminal work in the history of Linnaeanism[4] and is credited with bringing back the debate in France, whereas previously Voltaire and other writers had mainly focused on the related Racialism movement brought about by Linnaeus' works on humans.

La Pérouse was rebuffed from Japan thanks to the latter’s isolationist policies, and his expedition to China was also a failure, with the Qing government being itself wracked with an internal dispute at the time. However, his voyages through the East Indies resulted in long-lasting changes both for France and the world.

He rediscovered the islands then called New Zealand by the Dutch, who had dismissed them as inhabited by savage natives. La Pérouse, though, was able to establish mostly peaceful relations with the Mauré natives,[5] and popularised Autiaraux, the native name for the islands. La Pérouse's voyage was responsible for an increased interest in the outside world by the Mauré, in particular because La Pérouse had introduced them to gunpowder. Though the French left behind only a few muskets, the Mauré managed to produce (inferior) duplicates and ammunition within a few years. This briefly changed the tribal balance of the islands, with those tribes being first to adopt firearms and equip themselves with them achieving an early dominance. This meant that, by the time European powers became interested in colonialism for colonialism's sake (the mid-1800s), the Mauré were one of the few classically 'native' peoples well prepared to resist.

More famously, La Pérouse mapped the southern coast of New Holland, discovering the more fertile lands there and planting the settlement of Nouvelle Albi, named after his birthplace.[6] He returned to France in 1789, a France by that time seething with unrest, but was nonetheless able to obtain more funding and ships to expand the colony. La Pérouse left again for Nouvelle Holland, increasingly now called 'Terre de la Pérouse', mere months before the flames of revolution would ignite in 1794...

[1]Outside the English-speaking world, that is.

[2]La Guerre Deuxiéme d'Autriche - the French term for the Third War of Supremacy, roughly equivalent to the Seven Years' War in OTL.

[3]The term for AH in this world.

[4]Approximately, this means evolutionism.

[5]As the term is spelled in TTL, with French influence.

[6]Near the site of OTL Sydney.

Part #14: A Man, a Plan, a Han, - Japan!

"Writers of speculative romance seem to my mind overly enamoured with the Japanese islands. To presuppose that this cultural backwater could ever fancifully produce a great imperialising power, as they apparently see it, I believe speaks for itself in its absurdity."
- Dr Sanjaï Mathieu, Université de Trivandum (English translation)


From - "Russian Expansion in the East, Volume II" (Oxford University Press, 1987)

After the Treaty of Stockholm in 1771, a new paradigm for Central and Eastern Europe had been introduced. Austria had been excluded from Polish affairs, save Galicia and the city of Krakow (German, Krakau). The old Commonwealth, noted for its unique governmental structure but having become sluggish and a puppet for outside powers, was ended. Poland was brought into personal union with Prussia, while the Grand Duke of Lithuania became an ally of Russia, its Grand Duke being a hereditary post occupied by the current Russian Tsarevich, much like the Principality of Wales in Britain. Sweden had been neutralised during the war by being promised Courland and the retention of northern Ducal Prussia, including the city of Königsburg, and this was confirmed by the Treaty.

Some commentators had predicted that this state of affairs was shaky and would only last a few years, until the inevitable next war. But events conspired against them. Poland was certainly suspicious of the relationship with Prussia, given the two states' history, and there were several uprisings until the end of the century, mainly over the privileges of the Polish nobility (szlachta). The final settlement was for the most senior members of the szlachta to be given the same rights as Prussian nobility. However, the unusual system in pre-partition Poland had meant that many even relatively poor people had szlachta status: fully ten percent of the population, in fact. The vast majority of these were excluded by necessity from the upper classes of the combined states, and remained a disenfranchised and restless minority for years to come.

If anything, Lithuania seemed an even more volatile proposition. Commentators' general position was that the Lithuanians would sweat under Russian bull-in-a-china-shop demands for a few years, rise up, be crushed and the country finally be directly annexed to Russia. This was not an unreasonable suggestion, based on previous history, but it failed to take into account just how seriously the Russian Tsarevich Paul (Pavel) took his new job as Grand Duke Povilas of Lithuania. Although his relationship with his father Tsar Peter III was relatively good, he continued to defend independent Lithuanian interests, promoting the Lithuanian language against the formerly prevalent Polish without trying to impose the Russian language, and limiting the activities of the Orthodox Church there. The Lithuanian people were pleasantly surprised. There were still some uprisings, of course, but on the whole it seemed that against all the odds, a Russian ruler gave Lithuania more independence than a Polish (or foreign, in the last few years) one had.

One of the most important projects begun during the 1780s was the construction of a Lithuanian navy, known as the Patriotic Fleet. The Commonwealth had previously been too consumed by its own internal strife to construct a Baltic navy, and had suffered somewhat for being unable to intercept raids from Sweden or other Baltic naval powers. Although Russia and Prussia had successfully bought off Sweden in the War of the Polish Partition, both governments, and particularly the Russians, were quite certain that this state of affairs was not sustainable. In particular, the Russians still had their eyes on Finland, which would eventually necessitate another war with Sweden. Sweden already had one of the largest and most powerful Baltic fleets, and the Swedish possession of the shipyards at Königsburg and Libau would only make this worse. Unless the Russians wanted to try and fight a war with Swedish troops able to land near St Petersburg with impunity, it was time to rectify the situation.

While Tsar Peter's own shipyards were simply expanded and the existing Russian Baltic fleet renovated, the situation was more difficult for Grand Duke Paul. Lithuania had not had a history of shipbuilding for some years, although the territorial revisions at the Treaty of Stockholm had awarded her the valuable port of Memel, renamed Klaipeda in Lithuanian. While vulnerable to Swedish attack from both north and south, Paul decided to build up Klaipeda into a major shipbuilding centre in order to give Lithuania a Baltic fleet of her own. This was both to supplement the Russian force and to create a patriotic project (hence the name) that would both create new jobs and reinforce the idea that Lithuania was an ally of Russia, not merely a puppet.

Just as Peter the Great had when Russia had built her first navy, Paul decided to look to more established shipbuilders, the Dutch. Rather than going to the Netherlands himself as his great-grandfather had, Paul simply brought in Dutch (and other) shipwrights, builders and sailors to expand Klaipeda and train his Lithuanian volunteers in shipbuilding and naval affairs. This ambitious project was surprisingly successful, although the Dutch would regret it in years to come.

In the event, the much-anticipated Baltic war was postponed. In Sweden, the Cap party was enjoying a long period of dominance at the Riksdag, with the Hats' policy of anti-Russian alignment and war largely discredited. Austria suffered financial crises in the 1770s and 80s and, when she finally recovered a few years before the French Revolution, now had a government more interested in expanding influence in Italy than having another stab at Poland. Prussia remained too weak and too consumed with holding down Poland to make another attempt at recovering Silesia from Austria. Tsar Peter opposed a war with the Ottomans or the annexation of the Crimean Khanate. So, the catalysts of war lay largely silent for many years, and Russia and Lithuania were left with shiny new fleets and nothing to do with them.

Being Baltic forces, these consisted of a large number of galleys, though these were finally becoming obsolete, and a smaller number of high seas vessels. From around 1784, the Patriotic Fleet adopted a policy of sending the latter on voyages around European ports, both to give their sailors more experience and to 'fly the flag' for Lithuania. These voyages succeeded in broadly changing foreign impressions that Lithuania was a puppet state of Russia, but were also expensive.One mission in 1788 even reached the Empire of North America, and carried a Lithuanian ambassador to attend the opening of the first Continental Parliament by George III.

That ambassador was named Móric Benyovszky, who has gone down in history by the Russified form of his name, Moritz Benyovsky. His actual ethnic background is fiercely debated, with everyone from Germans to Poles to Czechs trying to claim him, but the scholarly opinion suggests he identified primarily as a Hungarian. This enigmatic character is one of the most colourful in Russian history. Initially fighting for the Commonwealth against the Prussians during the War of the Polish Partition - commanding one of the few Commonwealth forces to achieve any coherent success during that conflict - he escaped from the Prussians and settled in Lithuania in 1772. He joined the new Lithuanian army and rose rapidly to the rank of colonel thanks to both the ramshackle nature of the makeshift army and his educated background. Possibly he initially intended to use this position of power to turn the army against the Russians in an uprising, but he caught the eye of Grand Duke Paul. Benyovsky entered the Lithuanian government, going from acting Minister for War to Foreign Minister and then leading the 1788 expedition to the Empire of North America.

However, Benyovsky's greatest achievements were yet to come. Since the 1770s, Tsar Peter had become paranoid about equalling the achievements of his namesake, Peter the Great, and had decided that, like his grandfather, he must expand Russian power and control in the Far East. He balked at an ambitious invasion of Outer Manchuria drawn up by his generals: at the time, Qing China, though leaning towards a path of isolationism and decay, was still a formidable military power. Furthermore, such a plan would destroy the careful trade system with China that Russia had set up a century earlier at the Treaty of Nerchinsk: it could only lose trade. Peter instead decided on a course of action probably just as ambitious - to attempt to open up Japan, closed to trade for a hundred and fifty years.

An expedition from Yakutsk led by Pavel Lebedev-Lastoschkin had already failed to establish trade links with Japan in 1774. The Japanese in Edzo[1], the Matsumae Han, had received him favourably but simply stated that they did not have the authority from the Shogun to trade. Japanese trade was restricted to two southern ports, one of which traded with China and the other with the Netherlands, Nagasaki - which was inconveniently far away from any Russian holdings.

Lebedev's disappointing report spurred the Russian government on to other approaches. Grand Duke Paul agreed to contribute three Lithuanian ships, his best crews, to add to four Russian vessels. These would set out from the Baltic with the supplies needed to expand the port at Okhotsk, and then would carry diplomats from both countries to attempt to establish trade links both at Matsumae town in Edzo and, if necessary, in Nagasaki or in the capital Edo itself. As a logical progression from the Lithuanian flag-flying missions around Europe, the ships carried a fair number of elite troops with the intention of impressing the Japanese authorities. Peter took the opportunity to get rid of numerous Leib Guards whose competence was unquestioned but whom he thought, quite possibly accurately, still supported his exiled wife Catherine.

The Russian mission was put under the command of Adam Laxman, a Finnish-born officer who had formerly served in the Swedish navy (using foreign-born emissaries was surprisingly common in eighteenth-century Russia). The Lithuanian portion could have no other leader but Benyovsky, and Paul was quietly relieved to have the man safely a long way away. He was supremely capable but also quite volatile. As the Japanese would learn...

The missions set sail in 1792 and, with the assistance of hired Dutch navigators, made the first recorded Russian and Lithuanian rounding of the Cape of Good Hope and passage of the Malacca straits. This was a new approach to the previous overland attempts at establishing trade with the East, although scarcely less inconvenient. After observing Nagasaki from a distance in late 1794, they proceeded to Okhotsk and began building up the port as ordered. By this point, the First Jacobin War had broken out in Europe, but in faraway Okhotsk, this was not known about until it was almost over five years later.

Laxman was dutiful, but Benyovsky became impatient with the preliminaries and sailed directly to Edzo in 1795 in an attempt to establish a trade mission. Blown off course and with his men unfamiliar with the waters, they couldn't find Matsumae town and Benyovsky ended up meeting the indigenous Aynyu[2] people of the island. He did manage to establish trade with them, mainly raw materials and food for Russian manufactured goods, including firearms...

[1]This is the Russian name for Ezo (Hokkaido) and it is the name by which the island is commonly known to international audiences in TTL.


Interlude #3: Sometimes, All I Need Is The Air That I Breathe

TimeLine L Expedition Mission Log

Dr Thermos Pylos: It is at this point that we must once again turn away from the general political upheavals of this period-

Dr Bruno Lombardi: -to concentrate on the scientific developments at hand.

P.: Strictly speaking, shouldn't you say 'natural philosophical' developments?

L.: No, Thermo. The term 'scientist is anachronous at this time, but not 'scientific'.

P.: How curious! I had assumed-

Capt. Christopher Nuttall: Gentlemen?

P./L: Sorry.


Man now stands like the worker in the mill who begins to realise how his work, his machine, relates to and fits in with the whole process of manufacture, in that case. Our understanding of how the universe is made - and for what purpose - is for ever increasing. We can only hope that the Creator is happier to see us do so than the mill owners.

- Joseph Priestley, 1807


From - "A History of Air" by Daniel Johnson, Oxford University Press, 1966

The discovery of illuftium[1] by Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1778 was enormously influential in how chemical theories developed from thereon. For some years, natural philosophers struggled with how to incorporate this new concept into the established phlogiston theory. As it was then seen, a burning object gave off phlogiston, which was visible as the flames themselves. Phlogiston's exact nature was imprecise and we should not confuse it with the modern conception of a substance with defined mass: that idea would have to wait for a few more years. Phlogiston was seen as more of a 'principle', like light and heat.

It fell to Joseph Priestley, a noted English Dissenting clergyman and political radical, to link the two ideas. Priestley drew heavily on the mid-century works of Stephen Hales, who published detailed accounts of the circulatory systems of plants and animals. As part of his conception of the Aerial Economy[2], Priestley developed the notion that air could be phlogisticated (by an item burning within it) or dephlogisticated. Dephlogisticated or 'fixed' air was vivifying when breathed. Priestley thus explained Hales' earlier observation that it was dangerous to breathe stale air: it was phlogisticated.

Scheele had made similar observations, and Priestley - who had learned Swedish due to youthful arguments about Linnaean Racialism - read his original works. Illuftium was identified with dephlogisticated air. But how did this relate directly to phlogiston?

Priestley made numerous experiments with sealed glass vessels. A mouse sealed in there alone would run out of air and die, but when a plant was also added, the mouse would live for much longer. Therefore, the plant was 'fixing' the stale air into the form that the mouse could breathe. But was the plant producing illuftium or absorbing phlogiston? It took Priestley some years, and several accidental observations, to realise that the answer was 'both'.

His work On the Nature of Phlogiston (1785) was controversial as it suggested that phlogiston, or phlogisticated air, was deadly to animal life - going against the largely philosophical arguments at the time. Priestley rapidly expanded the paradigm of the mouse and plant to envisage a great cycle of the world, with animals taking up illuftium and breathing out phlogiston, and plants taking up phlogiston and expelling illuftium. This, his 'Aerial Economy' (inspired in its terminology by Britain's eighteenth-century obsession with the stock market) purported to see a 'Necessary and Natural Union' between the different forms of life.

Priestley's major breakthrough at this stage was to use a burning glass,[3] then a new lab instrument, on a sample of calx of mercury.[4] He was able to reverse the combustion, leaving metallic mercury, and he proceeded to repeat this experiment with other calxes. At this same time, one of Priestley's lab assistants inadvertently performed the mouse-in-jar experiment when the jar was contaminated with a mixture of limestone powder and the caustic soda that Priestley used to clean his equipment. He discovered that the mouse lived for much longer than it should. After more experiments, Priestley eliminated the possibility that the chemical (soda lime) was giving off illuftium, and therefore it must instead be absorbing phlogiston. This was the first indication that the two processes could be decoupled, whereas before there was the possibility that phlogiston going from A to B was simply an artificial mathematical negative of illuftium going from B to A.

Priestley's discoveries were celebrated and debated both in Britain and on the continent, but it was at this time that French natural philosopher Charles-Augustin Coulomb threw a spanner in the works. Coulomb's major work was on quantifying things which had thought to be unquantifiable, for example human labour (slaves in the West Indies). To do this, he developed new ways of measurement, very precise torsion balances that let the tiny charge repulsion between two charged surfaces be measured in the form of a change in weight. While using this balance, Priestley's French rival Antoine Lavoisier discovered that after a substance was burned, the combined calxes actually GAINED weight, when they should have lost phlogiston.

Most of the contemporaries attempted to explain this by philosophical means, claiming that phlogiston was an abstract principle with negative or sub-air weight, but Priestley instead used his new theories to argue that phlogiston was simply lighter than illuftium, and the phlogiston given out by the burning substance was more than balanced by illuftium being absorbed. This was, in fact, inaccurate - phlogiston is heavier than illuftium, but there is less given out than illuftium absorbed. Priestley did not think in quantities and it fell to Lavoisier, with his Coulomb methods, to discover this later on. Between them, largely via a series of half-friendly, half-hostile letters, Priestley and Lavoisier developed the idea that animal life is fuelled by a very slow, controlled version of combustion, thus linking these new ideas to Priestley's earlier discovery of the Aerial Economy. This was not explicitly confirmed until the 1820s, when new techniques were developed.

Lavoisier and Priestley are both hotly debated by modern British and French scientists as the 'Father of Modern Chemistry'. It took, however, Priestley's successor Humphry Davy to work out the precise relationship between illuftium and phlogiston - that the act of burning incorporated illuftium into the substance that burnt, producing both the calx and phlogiston. Priestley did not need to know the exact nature of phlogiston in order to create a treatise on the Aerial Economy which found favour with King George III, a man who had grown up in rural Virginia and was choked by the smokes of industrial London.[5] Priestley argued that living in cities with their dephlogisticated air was bad for the human body and might even lead to a moral decline as the brains of men ceased to be fuelled correctly. He advocated the construction of many arboreal parks throughout towns in order to balance this out, and this was adopted by many British cities, most obviously London. As well as being chemically sensible, this was clearly also aesthetically pleasing.

Despite his good relationship with the King, Priestley's anarchist/republican leanings led to him being chased out of the country in 1791 by an angry mob, stoked by business interests Priestley had offended. He and his family emigrated to the United Provinces, which was experimenting with political liberalism, and Priestley took his final discovery with him: soda water, water impregnated with dephlogisticated air. Though the air itself might be harmful, water impregnated with the substance bubbled most delightfully and had medical applications. Thanks to Priestley, for the century to come it would be UPSA businesses that dominated the world soda water market, and all those that would be derived from it...


NOTE: This process illustrates what (in OTL) Thomas Kuhn describes as 'incommensurability' - scientific theories can never be directly compared, because what Newton called 'gravity', for example, is a different concept from what Einstein called 'gravity', using different units and underlying concepts. In OTL some theories are still in the abstract thought of as 'right' (Galileo's heliocentric solar system) even though they have very little in common with current theories (Galileo had perfectly circular orbits, and still had the fixed stars with the sun at the centre of the universe). Similarly, modern evolutionary theory is described as 'Darwinian', even though it has as little to do with Darwin as it has to do with Paley. In OTL phlogiston is described as an 'obsolete theory' but in TTL it has survived simply by changing what it means by phlogiston. Instead of an abstract concept, phlogiston has become a real substance - that which we call carbon dioxide.

If this sounds unlikely, you may be surprised to learn that exactly the same thing happened in OTL: - Scheele's work never spread, Lavoisier discovered oxygen, and regarded oxygen as an abstract principle, never identifying it with a specific element with weight and other defined properties. It was only his successors who changed the meaning of the term 'oxygen' so that it now means what it does today...so Lavoisier was 'right' in OTL and Priestley, with his phlogiston, was 'wrong'. If we just used the term phlogiston instead in OTL, then Priestley would be 'right' and Lavoisier would be 'wrong'. Such is science.

[1]Recall, oxygen.

[2]In OTL this is an archaic term specific to Priestley...in TTL it is still in use and means something like 'the carbon cycle'.

[3]Magnifying glass used with sunlight.

[4]"Calx of" is eighteenth century terminology for "oxide" and in TTL is still in use. A calx or oxide is what remains after a substance is burnt.

[5]In this respect TTL's George III is like OTL's.

Part #15: Two Great Men

"A disturbing number of the greatest Englishmen who ever lived were foreigners."​

- John Spencer-Churchill (in a speech from 1921)​


From - "England's Captain, France's Saviour" by Albert Harrison (Oxford University Press, 1940):

Having spent oceans of blood and failed to gain an inch of new territory in Europe in the 1740s and 50s - largely thanks to Louis XV's unpopular policies - it is perhaps appropriate that in the 1760s France gained considerable new lands with the death of only one man. When the Duke of Lorraine died without male heirs in 1765, his lands defaulted to France and were annexed to the Kingdom. These were the last remnants of the once-great state of Lotharingia, now reduced to a few scattered enclaves throughout the region. By assuming control over Lorraine, France completed the path that it had been originally set upon by Louis XIV, and now unquestionably dominated that region.

The impact upon history of the end of Lorraine was slight. Its only direct effect was to remove the Duke, a former King of Poland, from any consideration of restoration. This served to quicken the Russo-Prussian ambitions to divide the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the rest is history.

A far more influential acquisition by France was that of Corsica. The island was theoretically possessed by the Republic of Genoa, but in practice rebels had held the island since 1755. Corsica had become a republic in all but name, with the Virgin Mary as titular monarch of the presumed kingdom. Unlike the venerable republics of Genoa, Venice and the Netherlands, the new republic in Corsica was constructed on Enlightenment principles. Its leader was Filippo Antonio Pasquale de Paoli, who had served in the Neapolitan army and now commanded the rebel military forces as well as being effective head of state of the republic.

During the thirteen-year existence of the Republic, an Enlightenment constitution was drafted and the state received praise from contemporary thinkers such as Voltaire and Rousseau. James Boswell, a companion of Samuel Johnson, wrote an account of the Republic which made Paoli and the constitution famous or notorious throughout Europe in the 1760s. It was this account which helped inspire the revolution in La Plata twenty years later.

In 1767 the Genoese lost the island of Capraia to the Corsican republic and decided that they had little chance of ever subduing the rebels. Furthermore, the Genoese treasury was almost exhuasted. To that end, the Genoese signed the island over to France in exchange for financial reparations. The vast and experienced French army invaded in 1768. Paoli's republicans fought hard before being defeated in 1769. Paoli and numerous other republican leaders and soldiers fled to Britain, which was at the time thought of as the most liberal country in Europe. In the 1760s, radical republicans were treated as amusing and entertaining curiosities by the British government, which did not see them as a serious threat until later on, and the Corsican refugees formed a community in London not unlike the Huguenots before them.[1]

Among the Corsicans was Carlo Buonaparte, a young supporter of Paoli[2]. A law student prior to fleeing the island with his wife and two-year-old son Napoleone[3], he decided to complete his studies, switching to English law. Buonaparte converted to Anglicanism to escape the anti-Catholic laws and changed his name to the anglicised Charles Bone. He received his doctorate from the University of Cambridge in 1774 and eventually became well-known for his skilful seeking of loopholes in the anti-Catholic laws, getting many English Catholics out of legal trouble. Very few knew that he was himself Catholic in origin, though many made accusations (without evidence).

Bone became an enemy of the ultra-Tory faction opposed to Catholic rights, then, but he was popular with radicals who supported Catholic emancipation, including Charles James Fox who became a close friend. Bone would eventually become an MP towards the end of the century.[4]

Though an interesting character in and of himself, Charles Bone is necessarily overshadowed by his eldest son, Napoleone, known as the "less foreign sounding" Leo. Charles enrolled his son as a midshipman in the Royal Navy at the age of thirteen, as was customary at the time[5] and served on HMS Ardent from 1777 onwards.[6] Mister Leo Bone passed his lieutenant's examination in Malta in 1783. He was transferred to HMS Raisonnable, during which time he served alongside the slightly senior Lieutenant Horatio Nelson.

The Raisonnable scored several victories against the French and Spanish in the Second Platinean War, and the British losses at Trafalgar meant that several new captaincies were open: thus first Nelson and then Bone were made master and commander, with Bone taking over the almost obsolete 28-gun frigate HMS Coventry in 1786. He was noted for a concentration on rapid gunnery and weight of fire, a strategy that he had developed in connexion with Nelson[7], and grew to command a great loyalty from his men. Boswell met him in 1788 and Bone makes a then-overlooked, but today well known, brief appearance in one of his accounts. Boswell described him as being the epitome of the Royal Navy commander whose men will follow him into the jaws of hell rather than face the shame of being left behind.

Bone was made post in 1791, taking command of the newly built frigate HMS Diamond - taking a great deal of his former crew with him, as the now outdated Coventry was paid off - and immediately making a name for himself with an action against Algerine pirates off Malta in 1793. But it would be with the coming of war in 1795 that Bone's story becomes one not merely of history, but of legend...


From - "John Company: The Life of Pitt of India" by James Rawlings (University of Edinburgh, 1974)

In 1760 or so the situation in India looked bleak for Britain. The great French victories of the 1740s had been built on in the 1750s, with the British East India Company failing to retake any of their former strongholds in the Carnatic, and finally losing Cuddalore. A betrayal by the Nawab of Bengal had resulted in much of the BEIC's effort being focused on fighting the Bengalis and installing a more pliable nawab. This was eventually accomplished, and Britain kept the rich trading post of Bombay on India's western coast, but the south and much of the interior was closed to British influence.

In the Mysore-Haidarabad Wars of the 1770s and 80s, it was clear that the British had far less influence with Haidarabad than the French did with Mysore. This war did, however, result in the Nizam withdrawing the Circars from French control and the BEIC moved in to defend them from any FEIC attempt to retake them. A French siege of Masoolipatam, the chief town in the region, failed in 1786.

It is worth noting that the conflicts between the FEIC and BEIC often had little or nothing to do with the wider wars between Britain and France in Europe and the New World, and when Britain and France were supposedly at peace with each other, fighting continued in India.

The FEIC remained under the able leadership of Joseph François Dupleix until his death in 1770. The post of gouverneur général was taken up by Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, who lacked Dupleix's unique genius but was nonetheless competent and dutifully became versed in Indian matters.[8] The BEIC struggled to find one equally capable who could lead them back to a position of power. They would not find him for some years.

William Pitt had been an able Prime Minister to King Frederick I for many years and had led Britain through the Third War of Supremacy, but he had never managed his finances very well and when he died, he left his family in debt. Furthermore, in order to retain his image as the Great Commoner, he had never taken a title, limiting the income of his eldest son John.[9] John decided that in order to restore the family finances, he would have to imitate his great-grandfather, Thomas "Diamond" Pitt, who had made his fortune from the diamond trade in India. The elder Pitt had eventually become Governor-General of Madras, now lost to the French, and had once saved it by buying out the Nawab of the Carnatic...

John Pitt enlisted in the East India Company in 1773 and travelled to India. He became a cornet of cavalry, just as his father had started, but saw rather more frontline combat. He achieved a colonelcy by 1786 and fought at the Siege of Masoolipatam against the French (as well as in many earlier conflicts with native states). Pitt received a wound to the leg at the siege from a French musket ball, ending his career on the front line as it forced him to walk with a cane, but by this time, at the age of 30, he had already made his fortune and paid off his family's debts. Nonetheless, Pitt had developed a love of India and chose to remain. He became Governor-General of the Presidency of Calcutta in 1790, and so was the pre-eminent British official in India at the time of the greatest, most unpredictable upheaval since the fall of the Mughal Empire...

[1]More or less as OTL, but there are more Corsican refugees than OTL. This is because the French forces in Corsica were led by a different general to the OTL Comte de Vaux, who used harsher measures against the populace suspected of collaboration with the rebels.

[2]In OTL Buonaparte verbally attacked the French invasion early on but later switched sides; here he stayed with the rebels, again because the French invaders were seen as more ruthless compared to OTL.

[3]Not OTL Napoleone Buonaparte, but his elder brother. In OTL he died young and our Napoleone was named for him. In TTL he survives, and is in some ways similar to our Napoleone, but not all.

[4]In OTL Carlo Buonaparte died in his early forties, but in TTL he is able to live a richer lifestyle, avoids disease and lives longer.

[5](This is true in both OTL and TTL). Interestingly in OTL even the Carlo Buonaparte who stayed in Corsica wanted to enrol the (younger) Napoleon in the RN at one point.

[6]In OTL HMS Ardent was captured by the French in 1779 during the American Revolutionary War, which doesn't happen in TTL.

[7]Ironically, in OTL Nelson's tactics at sea are quite similar to those of Napoleon on land: emphasis on artillery, using concentrated, well-trained forces driven by personal charisma to overcome much larger but poorly motivated enemies, and the like.

[8]In OTL, Rochambeau's opponent in the American Revolutionary War, Lord Cornwallis, became Governor-General of (British) India: in TTL the situation is reversed.

[9]OTL William Pitt's eldest son was also called John, but this John Pitt was born a few years earlier and has some characteristics of our William Pitt the Younger. We now see direct changes from the POD: in OTL, Pitt the Elder spent many years working with Prince Frederick and so, as Frederick was in America all those years in TTL, his life is one of the most immediately changed by the POD. Therefore, his children are also different.

Part #16: The Last Roundup

From - "In The Eleventh Hour: The 1780s" by Professor Andrew Colquhoun (1971, University of Edinburgh)

Bavarian Question. A diplomatic triumph for the then-Archduchy of Austria towards the end of the eighteenth century, which in other circumstances might have spiralled out of control into yet another war.

In 1783, the last Wittelsbach Elector of Bavaria, Maximilian III, died without issue.[1] The important Duchy of Bavaria defaulted to the Sulzbach line, specifically Charles Theodore, Elector of the Rhine Palatinate. Charles Theodore was uninterested in ruling Bavaria and negotiated a deal with Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand IV, who by this time had also succeeded his mother Maria Theresa to become Archduke of Austria and ruler of the associated Hapsburg lands. Adding Bavaria to the Hapsburg domains would firmly establish Austrian supremacy in the Empire and put an end to any ideas of Prussian revival after the downfall of Frederick II's ambitions. While Prussia had not made further attempts to displace Austria as supreme power within the German states since the Third War of Supremacy, the Austrian defeat by the Prusso-Russian alliance in the War of the Polish Partition had been an embarrassment.

Ironically enough, it was this very victory that hamstrung any Prussian attempt to respond to the Bavarian crisis. Prussia was bogged down in suppressing a rebellion by disenfranchised Polish szlachta and King Frederick William II was unwilling to risk the Prussian army to try and dissuade the Austrians by force. Ultimately this rebellion would have another negative effect on Prussia's fortunes, for Prince Henry was killed by Polish partisans on the way to command the army based in Warsaw, and so the inexperienced Frederick William II was left without his chief advisor. Prussian retribution for the attack was savage, further poisoning relations with their supposedly equal co-kingdom, and further distracting Prussian policy within the Empire.

The late Maximilian III's consort, Maria Anna Sophia of Saxony, having failed to receive Prussian backing, next attempted to use her influence in her native Saxony to bring that state into opposition with Austria's plans. Predictably the Elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus III, refused. Saxony had grown considerably in power thanks to reaping the spoils of the Third War of Supremacy, but was in no state to face Austria alone. Furthermore - just as the negotiators who had ended the Third War of Supremacy had foreseen - many of Saxony's new territories existed purely at the sufferance of Austria, and the gains made in that war would rapidly be reversed if Saxony opposed Austria.

It is possible, of course, that France, Britain and Russia might also have seen fit to oppose the Austrian move, but all three were busy with their own conflicts - France and Britain with the Second Platinean War, Russia with preparations for the Baltic war with Sweden (that never, in the event, materialised). Therefore, Charles Theodore's deal went through with no attempts from the other powers to prevent it. As the rightful heir to the Duchy of Bavaria, he ceded it to the Austrian crown in exchange for the Austrian Netherlands, which were incorporated as the new Duchy of Flanders.[2]

Flanders was in personal union with Charles Theodore's original lands of the Rhine Palatinate, far separated by countless other German states, and Flanders herself was split in half by the prince-bishopric of Liège. Thus, the state could only function within the bounds of the Holy Roman Empire and on the Emperor's say-so, which suited Ferdinand IV down to the ground. Austria had had little real interest in the southern Netherlands since acquiring them from Spain in the War of the Spanish Succession, and providing they were denied to France, indifferent to their fate. The old Austro-Dutch treaties were renewed by Flanders, ensuring that the fortresses along the Flemish-French border were manned by Dutch troops.

Charles Theodore's new subjects had mixed feelings about him. Nearly all of them were happier to have a less distant ruler than Ferdinand IV, whose policies to centralise the Holy Roman Empire around Austria had left the southern Netherlands neglected and forgotten. Furthermore, Charles Theodore established a new academy of the sciences in the capital, Brussels, just as he had in the Palatinate years before. He was also a patron of the arts, promoting the works of Flemish artists, sculptors and composers in European nobility circles. However, some Flemings feared that, without the assured might of Austria directly behind them, the state would be easy pickings for the next time France decided to try a conquest, and who knew if the next Marshal Saxe would have his Louis XV to meekly trade it back again?

As for Bavaria itself, the Bavarian people rapidly grew to dislike Ferdinand IV's policies of centralisation, with Bavaria increasingly being treated as just another Austrian province. Some voices at the Emperor's court argued that the Bavarian army should be dismantled and incorporated directly into the Imperial forces, both to make matters more efficient and to make it more difficult for Bavaria to be detached again following a future Austrian defeat. In the event, though, these plans were not implemented, at least not in time to make any difference.

For a new power was arising in Europe. Unpredictably, inexorably, it would topple all the grand schemes and new orders of the nobility, leaving them to crash in flames. Everything it touched turned to dust.

In France, the Revolution had begun...

[1] In OTL he died in 1777.

[2] Of course the state also includes Wallonia, but Flanders was an accepted term for all OTL Belgium back then. Note that in OTL, Charles Theodore was only to cede some parts of Bavaria to Austria, but in TTL it is the entire Duchy.

Interlude 4: National Symbols

Dr Thermos Pylos: But before we depart for the first great tragedy of this world's history-

Dr Bruno Lombardi: -yes, we should cover one more area. Namely-

P.: -the national symbols of the Empire of North America-

L.: -lest these come as a surprise when we cover the entry of Imperial troops into-

Capt. Christopher Nuttall: Gentlemen?

P.: Er - yes. The national symbols of North America.


From "A History of North America" by Dr Paul Daycliffe (William and Mary, 1964)

The national symbols that we take for granted were not always with us, of course. It is probably true that the turkey would have come to symbolise North America even without its endorsement by Sir Benjamin Franklin, as it was thought of as a sign of the exotic and American in Europe long before that. Other symbols, however, could easily have been different.

There were many previous tunes associated with America long before an official national anthem was considered appropriate. "Hail, America"[1] served as a unifying national song for many years, though now it is forgotten save by patriotic orchestras. Each Confederation, and many provinces, also had their own songs and regiments called from these Confederations brought their music all over the world in the wars of the nineteenth century.

Furthermore, the Jack and George has not always been universally beloved by the people over whom it waves. Many in the northern Confederations objected to the clear Virginian influence behind the design, at least until the events of the 1840s altered the balance of power within the Empire. After the war, the Jack and George was, on the contrary, clung to as a memory of the national unity which now seemed to be slipping through Americans' fingers.

The maple remains a universally acknowledged symbol of North America, though this is sometimes objected to by Virginians (and Carolinians), as the tree does not grow in those Confederations. However, the maple is now inextricably linked with America in the minds of Europeans, and any attempts by those objectors to add southern trees such as the dogwood or palmetto are probably doomed to failure.

It is anachronistic, though, to claim that an American national identity existed before the end of the eighteenth century - just as it is anachronistic, in many ways, to claim a British one existed. It was in the crucible of a great war that the self-image of the two nations was fixed, a self-image that would persist long after the reality was different. The Jacobin Wars had a more obvious effect on France and continental Europe, but they also had profound consequences for Britain and the Empire of North America...


Excerpts from the Constitutional Acts of 1788

An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subjects of the Empire of North America, and the Manner of Government thereof.

WHEREAS in pursuance of His Majesty’s most gracious recommendation to the two Houses of Parliament in Great Britain, to consider of such measures as might best tend to strengthen and consolidate the connection between H.M.’s domains, the two Houses of the Parliament of Great Britain and the assembled delegates of the United American Assembly have severally agreed and resolved that, in order to promote and secure the essential interests of Great Britain and America, and to promote the Protestant religion and the liberties of England throughout the corners of H.M.’s domains, it will be advisable to concur in such measures as may best tend to allow H.M.’s subject within the Empire of North America coeval rights and liberties to those of his cousin residing in Great Britain, and on such terms and conditions, as may be established by the Acts of the respective Parliaments of Great Britain and of the Empire of North America.

And whereas, in furtherance of the said Resolution, both Houses of Parliament and the Assembly have likewise agreed upon certain Articles for effectuating and establishing the said purposes, in the tenor following:

Article First. That the said Empire of North America shall, upon the 1st day of January which shall be in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred eighty-eight, be recognized in law as a Dominion to which is granted the same Parliamentary rights as of Great Britain, or of Ireland, pursuant to the following terms and conditions…

Here follows the opening paragraphs of the American Constitution, whose drafting was approved by the above Act of the Westminster Parliament:

Constitution of the Empire of North America

We the appointed Representatives of the Subjects of His Imperial Majesty’s Empire of North America, in Order to form a more perfect Union, protect our Religion, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do propose this Constitution for the Empire of North America.

Bill of Rights

The following Declarations of the Rights and Liberties of all Royal subjects are made:

That the pretended power of suspending the laws, dispensing with laws, or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of the Continental Parliament is illegal;

That levying money for or to the use of the Crown or by the Westminster Parliament by pretence of prerogative, without grant of the Continental Parliament, for longer time, or in other manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal;

That it is the right of the American subjects to petition the King-Emperor, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal;

That the raising or keeping a standing army within the Empire in time of peace, unless it be with consent of the Continental Parliament, is illegal;

That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law;

That election of members of the Continental Parliament ought to be free to all Protestant freeholders;

That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in the Continental Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of the Continental Parliament;

That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted;

That jurors ought to be duly impanelled and returned, and jurors which pass upon men in trials for high treason ought to be freeholders;

That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons before conviction are illegal and void;

And that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening and preserving of the laws, Continental Parliaments ought to be held not less than every four years.

Article First
That a Continental Parliament be formed, under the Acknowledged Precepts of the Westminster Parliament as Established in the Constitution of 1688, Suitably Amended for the Differing Conditions of Colonial Existence;

Article Second
That this aforesaid Continental Parliament shall consist of two Houses, of Lords Spiritual and Temporal and of Commons, and that the Former shall be appointed by His Majesty the King-Emperor or his invested Lord Deputy, and that the Latter shall be Elected subject to the following Terms and Conditions;

Article Third
That the Commoners, styled Members of the Continental Parliament, shall be elected by the Free Vote of all Protestant Freeholders with residence in the Empire of North America, that One Member shall be elected by each Province, and further, that Additional Members be elected by those Towns and Cities granted the status of Borough by His Majesty the King-Emperor…


The American Constitution is notable for being a 'test bed' for many policies advocated by British radicals for adoption within the Westminster Parliament; for example, the holding of Parliaments every four years rather than seven and the implicit lack of rotten boroughs. As the conservatives initially ignored the American project, this meant they were unable to respond some years later when the successful trialling of these policies in America resulted in the radicals, led by Charles James Fox, tabling them as amendments to the British Constitution in the opening years of the 19th century.


[1]Approximately Hail, Columbia, but Columbus has no favourable mythos in TTL's anglophone world.

Part #17: Beaucoup de bruit et de chaleur, et qui ne signifie rien.

From - "FRANCE'S TRAGEDY: A History of the Revolution" by A.J. Galtier (Université Royale de Nantes, 1973)

Many have tried to describe the causes of the Revolution in France (for so we must append it, the oft-quoted title of Jacobin Revolution applying properly only to the latter stages). Many, too, have attempted to provide a conclusive linear history[1] of events leading up to the fateful incidents.

In truth, none of these attempts can end in anything other than failure, for the simple reason that no-one alive knows everything. Nor, indeed, did any one man in 1794. What records were made in those heady and brutish days, were oft burned almost immediately by the next phase of the Revolution as it acquired its own momentum and sought to dissociate itself with all that had gone before. Indeed, what we do know is often derived more from visitors to France than from French writers. Those visitors, of course, can only have presented biased accounts thanks to the very reasons they were in France: either pro-Revolutionary accounts from sympathisers such as Thomas Paine, or anti-Revolutionary accounts from the more numerous visitors whose business and contacts depended on the ancien regime.

So it is that it presents a challenge to any historian to recount any sort of coherent record of those days of infamy, much less attempt to explain why they came about. The fact that so many writers have not let ignorance of the facts stand in the way of their theories is doubtless all to their credit, but here stands an account that tries to be as neutral as possible in this Fallen world.

Many have noted the fact that France, historically, was particularly prone to peasant revolts of all stripes. The Jacquerie of the fourteenth century is an exemplar, and one which - for reasons that will become clear - was oft compared to the early phase of the Revolution. Further revolts proceeded throughout French history. No European state entirely escaped these, but France has seemed particularly unlucky by chance or design. Some took the form of religious wars, resulting in the fateful flight of many Huguenots to Britain, but the majority were simple peasant revolts precipitated by famine. The policies of the King and the nobility-dominated Estates-General were blamed, whether by creating wars that resulted in the suffering of the people, or else simply drawing more riches to themselves at the expense of the peasantry.

The centralisation and Absolutist policies of the seventeenth and eighteenth century were in part an attempt to prevent this state of affairs. The original Jacquerie had been caused, in part, by an Estates-General that was paralysed between different interests. By effectively eliminating the Estates-General by simply never calling it, and centralising power in the hands of the King and his chief ministers, the French hoped to achieve a more coherent and equitable policy. The former goal was achieved, at least to some extent; the latter, however, only became harder to reach.

Louis XV's reign was one of paradoxes. The King was known to be a relative friend to France's poor, but his attempts at reform were continually blocked by the nobility and clergy who had the most to lose. While the Estates-General no longer met, the Estates-Provincial and the local Parlements conspired to provide the very roadblock to reform that the Absolutist thinkers had hoped to remove. This failure, coupled with his ill-judged return of the Austrian Netherlands after the Second War of Supremacy, served to make Louis XV a highly unpopular man at his death in 1772.

His successor, Louis XVI[2] at first seemed like an improvement. He was cultured and educated, disliking the usual 'kingly' pursuits of hunting and balls, and was also keenly interested in military affairs. He had previously fallen out with his father after making a rash charge at a battle during the Second War of Supremacy, and while he had been kept out of the front line since then, he had remained interested in the theory of war. When he became King of France and Navarre in 1772, Louis gave patronage to several writers advocating radical reforms to the army. He also revived the work on Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot's Fardier à vapeur, an early steam-tractor, which had previously been cancelled due to several accidents. In this way, then, all modern motor vehicles ultimately owe a debt to Louis (and Cugnot).

The reforms of the French army typically focused on the artillery, using newer breakthroughs in mathematics to improve accuracy. Cugnot's Fardier's primary use was also as an alternative means of towing artillery. Although this was generally more troublesome than using horses (particularly since the army's logistics were already in place to support horses, not steam wagons), some improvements in overall speed were noted when towing artillery on flat ground and good roads over long distances. Fardiers were later commonly used in the triumphal displays characteristic of the Republic between the wars, towing huge siege guns through the wider streets of the new Paris.

The French infantry benefited rather less from Louis' reforms, although Louis was persuaded to adopt the rifle on an experimental basis. Unlike Britain and the Empire of North America, no dedicated Rifle regiments were formed, but some elite skirmishers of conventional musket regiments were trained in the longer-ranged, more accurate weapon. This would be considered both a blessing and a curse by many in Europe, later on.

Unfortunately for Louis, the one war in which he led France into was something of a disaster. The Second Platinean War was, necessarily, fought mainly at sea, and he had neglected the French navy. Nonetheless, thanks to some excellent officers, mistakes by the British and the assistance of the Spanish fleet, victories were won at sea. However, the French army in the Plate was cut off from resupply and eventually was forced into a humiliating surrender. Many deserted and joined the Platinean republic, while others brought back new radical ideas, sowing the seeds for what was to follow.

Another contributor was the acquisition of Corsica, in the last years of Louis XV's reign. France might have obtained a strategically important island and gained more influence over Genoa, but the revolutionary ideas of the Corsican republic also filtered back to France.

There was no coherent response to Bourbon absolutism. Cartier has described the undercurrent of feeling in the early stages of the Revolution as a simple, unanimous, animalistic "NON!" The difference to the former revolts, all the way back to the Jacquerie, was that ideology was finally beginning to make itself known, albeit in a disjointed fashion. The Enlightenment ideals of Voltaire were intermixed with more radical notions from LaPlata and, especially, Corsica. Britain was seen variously, and simultaneously, as admirable democracy and perfidious reactionary. The same was true of the Empire of North America, though even revolutionary France suffered a certain chauvinism towards any ideas from the New World, notwithstanding the clear influence of the LaPlata revolt on French thinking.

Some Counter-Societist philosophers of the Russian school have described the notion that an initial, pure, proletarian rebellion must inevitably fall prey to what they describe as 'ideological poisoning'. The starving man in the street wants only to gorge himself, take back what he believes to be rightfully his, punish those who took it from him, and perhaps destroy the signs of the former state of affairs, taking delight in the animalistic notion of pure destruction. However, "then what?" The rule, throughout history (and particularly in England) is that the rebellion peters out and the ancien regime returns to power, savagely extinguishing any signs of the rebels. The printing press changed this to some extent, and the Enlightenment sealed it. Suddenly there were educated men who could ride the crest of a rebellion and steer it into a true revolution, remaking an entire state in their own image.

The most dangerous men in the world.

It is a question oft asked of the schoolroom tutor, to the extent that he finds it tiresome. "Why did the French people support a revolution that would end up being far more cruel to them than the ancien regime it replaced?" The tutor might be tempted simply to point out that such comments are easy to make with hindsight, and the French people had no such notion of the future, indeed how could they have had? The truth is somewhat more complex. The Revolution in France, more so than any since, is a clear example of a series of transformations. Each one seemed reasonable enough at the time, and yet to make the leap from the first to the last it seemed inconceivable that any sane man would choose to.

A humorous exercise in logic from England is illustrative. A piece of paper is an ink-lined plane; an inclined plane is a slope up; a slow pup is a lazy dog; Therefore: a piece of paper is a lazy dog. An absurd leap, yet each step makes sense. So too, the Revolution.

Early Revolutionary leaders were far more idealistic, the exemplar being the man who gave the early Revolution its name as the Second Jacquerie: Jacques Tisserant, known reverentially as "Le Diamant" for his image of incorruptibility. Tisserant was a labourer who worked variously for Parisian opticians and Flemish cartographers, but he gained an education of sorts and worked his way into a position of power. The skills he had learned resulted in the publication of the most celebrated document of the Revolution, though original copies are now very rare thanks to the later phases ordering them to be burnt. This was La Carte de la France.

Unlike the name suggests, it was not simply a map of France. Rather, it was a symbolic map, not unlike the humorous maps popular in the eighteenth century - the "Drunkard's Atlas", containing only those countries producing wine, and the "Map of Matrimony", describing the journey of man and woman through the lands of Happiness while avoiding the dark vistas of Loneliness.[3] It was the latter that most inspired Tisserant. Instead of the paths of lovers through time, he showed the path of France, describing that France under the ancien regime would eventually, inevitably, decline to the shadowy countries of Irrelevance and Tyranny. He presented a second path, a path of Reform and of Equity, which would restore France to its place as a proud nation and a happy people.

The Carte was banned by Louis XVI's ministers, probably their first wrongfooted step. Matters were not assisted by the Great Famine of 1789 and the rumours that a comet would strike France in 1791, which threw the peasantry into a panic. The Royal French East India Company continued to bring riches to the home country from its trading possessions in southern India, but these inevitably failed to trickle down to the lower classes. Revolution was in the air.

Le Diamant created a proletarian movement known as the Sans-Culottes, the Men Without Trousers, so called because they scorned the use of the fashionable knee-breeches of the upper classes. Sans-Culottes wore long pants instead, but Le Diamant was noted for wearing nothing below the waist at all, supposedly due to his commitment to equal treatment for all classes rather than simple revenge on the aristocrats. Equity! was always the battle cry of the Sans-Culottes.

Things came to a head in February 1794. Having had their petitions continuously rejected by the Estates-Provincial and the Parlements, the Sans-Culottes marched on the Palais de Versailles and demanded the restoration of the Estates-General, with a dramatic expansion of both the Estates' powers and the size of the Third Estate, making it more representative of the population of a whole of France. The march caught the palace guard by surprise, and many of the lower-born infantry sympathised. Le Diamant famously walked forward, alone, into their midst, and made a speech of which no full record survives, but is believed to contain the phrase "Will one man who grew up in a gutter shoot another on the whim of a man who cares not one jot for either of them?" and, more spuriously perhaps, "You wouldn't shoot a man not wearing pants, would you?"

It was not, as many feared in Europe, a bloody revolution. Louis XVI had been, deliberately to some extent, isolated from the news sweeping France by his ministers. He was surprised and willingly heard Le Diamant's grievances, agreeing to recall the Estates-General.

That was the beginning. It seemed so hopeful, and that is what the tutors must tell their schoolboys. It was that hope that makes its dashing so poignant, so terrible, so tragic.

The Tragedy of France.


[2]Not 'our' Louis XVI, but Louis XV's son Louis-Ferdinand who in OTL died before his father, much like Prince Frederick in OTL in fact.

[3]Both of these are real OTL publications.​


Part #18: The Betrayal of the Revolution

From - "FRANCE'S TRAGEDY: A History of the Revolution" by A.J. Galtier (Université Royale de Nantes, 1973)

Who would have thought, as the question is oft asked, that such an auspicious beginning of the Reform of France - as it was, at first, so innocuously named - could have resulted in the bloodshed and misery that resulted?

Things happened one step at a time. As noted previously, every one of them seemed logical enough at the time, and yet...

In a tragic irony, the Revolution could never have got as far as it did without its charismatic, popular leader Jacques Tisserant, Le Diamant, and yet it was that popular support that was used to destroy everything Le Diamant stood for.

Le Diamant persuaded King Louis XVI to recall, for the first time in centuries, the Estates-General in February 1794. It was also at this time that, recognising the vast gulf between the Third Estate (around 25 million peasants and bourgeoisie) and the few hundred clergy and nobles in the Second and First, the number of representatives of the Third Estate were tripled. However, the Second and First Estates used every political trick they could find to reduce the impact of this.

Louis wished the Estates-General to focus on the tax reforms that his father had always failed to implement, but this was a forlorn hope. The Third Estate, revelling in its newfound power, sought to reorganise and strictly define its powers, a Constitutionalist faction growing as nebulous political parties began to form. The British Houses of Parliament - and often their more modernised counterpart in the Empire of North America - were initial inspirations in this period, and the Third Estate renamed itself the Communes (House of Commons).

While the Second and First Estates looked upon this development with some alarm, they nonetheless generally participated in and encouraged the Communes' internal debates, not least because it meant that Louis' tax plans were shelved, and it was the members of the Second and First Estates that would have the most to lose from those.

By July 1794, a consensus was reached that the existing mediaeval system was inadequate. Louis XVI had some misgivings, but Le Diamant's moderating influence again resulted in a compromise. The National Constitutional Convention of August-December 1794, somewhat inspired by that of the United Provinces of South America a few years earlier, abolished the Estates-General and created a new National Legislative Assembly to replace it. This was a unicameral chamber in which the First and Second Estate representatives were appointed, as were one-third of the Third Estate (Communes), but the other two-thirds would be elected by universal householder suffrage. Louis XVI's title was altered from King of France and Navarre to "King of the French People of the Latin Race". This was an early sign of the Linnaean Racialist policies which would later characterise the Revolutionary state.

The Constitution was unpopular with both supporters of Bourbon absolutism and with those in Provincial Estates (most notably Brittany, but also in généralities to the southeast such as Burgundy). The new centralised state took away a lot of the autonomy that these so-called Pays d'État had formerly enjoyed, and laid the foundations for the later insurrections.

Nevertheless, the Constitution was implemented, with the first elections due to take place in 1799, the NLA existing on a five-year term basis. At this point, it is worth examining foreign reactions to the Revolution thus far. Britain , North America and the UPSA all saw nothing but positive events - Charles James Fox went so far as to openly praise the Revolution as a repeat of Britain's Glorious Revolution of a century before. In fact, what criticism did exist in Britain was largely that of those who combined patriotism with intellectual musings on political systems - if constitutional parliamentary monarchy was really the motor that had driven Britain to successes in America and, to a lesser extent, India - then the last thing they wanted was the French getting hold of it!

In the event, that, at least, was not something that Britain had to worry about. Would it be that it could have been!

The more conservative nations of Europe, on the other hand - in particular absolutist and Catholic Austria and Spain - viewed these events with alarm. Spain, after all, also had a Bourbon king, and the last thing Charles IV wanted was for his own "mob" to get any funny ideas. Particularly considering that his predecessors had already been forced to flee into exile and return twice.

Once again, this worry was unfounded: the Spanish people remained reasonably francophobic and this would only intensify as time went on. And once again, would that this be the least of their worries!

The comte de Mirabeau, a moderate member of the First Estate, became Chief Minister and struggled to implement the new constitutional monarchy amid sniping from all sides. Conservative absolutists attacked the constitution, allied to the provincial interests, and on the other side a new radical force was growing. Aside, and apart from, Le Diamant's Sans-Culottes, the faction that would eventually be known as the Jacobins, after their political club, was created. These were not proletarians with legitimate grievances as the Sans-Culottes were; for the most part, they were bourgeoisie more interested in applying abstract Enlightenment concepts to the government of the state than they were in any real problems. In that, they were no different from any of the great statesmen who had served in Iberia and indeed France itself throughout the past century - but now that the old system had been overturned, there were no checks and balances to prevent them gaining absolute power.

Things came to a head on 2nd April, 1795, when the death of Mirabeau of natural causes paralysed the NLA and allowed the coherent Jacobin faction to gain momentum. The moderates, led by the Marquis de Condorcet, advocated that Louis XVI's Swiss-born finance minister Jacques Necker should replace Mirabeau as chief minister, while the Jacobins put forward the relatively unknown lawyer Jean-Baptiste Robespierre, of the Généralite of Lille. This was accompanied by savage attacks on Necker by the Linnaean Racialist faction within the Jacobins, who had begun to combine the existing French Enlightenment view of the superiority with the Latin race, with French nationalism as embodied in the French language. Either way, foreign-born officials were suspects. This was backed by an undercurrent of feeling in the more proletarian Sans-Culottes faction, though Le Diamant never spoke on the subject (and thus his supporters have ever since argued over it). It was particularly ironic given that one of the Jacobins' own leaders, Jean-Paul Marat, was also Swiss-born (though he took some pains to conceal this).

As the legitimate political debate degenerated into ever more savage verbal - and not just verbal - attacks, with rival political gangs fighting in the streets of Paris and a nervous Louis XVI ordering regiments to be recalled from the frontiers to Paris in an attempt to keep the peace. In practice this only resulted in the regiments being seen as tools of the king and resulted in numerous attacks on soldiers by the fierier political radicals. This rarely succeeded in accomplishing anything per se, but it significantly reduced the popularity of both the king and the army.

The atmosphere in Paris, indeed throughout much of France, was tense. Everyone knew that, metaphorically speaking, one dropped matchstick could ignite the country into the inferno of civil war. Even Charles James Fox began to moderate his praise of the revolution as reports of political violence in the cities of France crept out.

Despite being somewhat insulated from the events on the streets by what remained of the royal trappings, Louis XVI decided something must be done to relieve the tension. A figure that everyone could agree on must be made chief minister...a man who had become the national hero of France.

Jacques Tisserant.

It was after a month of unrest that, on the 3rd of May 1795, Louis XVI summoned Le Diamant into his presence to discuss the possibility. Unfortunately, the King was just enough insulated from what was going on for a fatal mistake to be made. Le Diamant arrived with four loyal Sans-Culottes armed with muskets as bodyguards, a common sight by now on the wartorn streets of Paris. The captain of the royal guard asked Louis if he wanted Le Diamant's guards to be disarmed, and Louis replied "Of course!"

But the Royal soldiers on the ground were nervous, after so many attacks, and demanded that Le Diamant's guards give up their weapons while they were still more than half a mile from the gates of the Palais de Versailles. The bodyguards refused, on the grounds that there was too much of a risk and that - frankly - they did not trust the royal soldiers with Le Diamant's life.

Le Diamant himself attempted to smooth things over, but it was already too late. As he and his bodyguards faced the soldiers and came to a halt, a crowd began to gather around them, made up mostly of Jacobin sympathisers. The crowd chanted anti-Royal slogans, jeered at the royal guards and, infamously, one voice suggested that Le Diamant was being taken away to be executed.

That ignited the tension. The bodyguards refused to leave Le Diamant's side or give up their weapons, the soldiers insisted, someone fired the first shot - quite possibly someone in the crowd - and all hell broke loose.

A few minutes later, seventeen men were dead. Among them was Le Diamant himself, the man who had led France's Revolution thus far, the man who had given it the momentum that would now be seized upon by others for their own ends.

Enough Jacobins had been present in that crowd, enough had escaped, for the "true" story to become official: Le Diamant had been murdered, on the King's orders, by Royal troops.

And France destroyed itself.

Part #19: Air and Fury

From - "FRANCE'S TRAGEDY: A History of the Revolution" by A.J. Galtier (Université Royale de Nantes, 1973)

It has often been suggested that the death of Le Diamant was the ultimate catalyst for the darkest phase of the Revolution and the rise of the Jacobins...while there is certainly some truth to this assertion, it is disingenuous to assume that these developments were inevitable. Indeed, to do so (in the fashion of the Montevideo school of Societist thought) leads to the dangerous intellectual fallacy of absolving those who committed atrocity of their crimes, as they were simply "a historical inevitability". Small comfort to the thousands who died with their lungs phlogisticated or their heads rolling on the ground...but I digress.

It is quite possible that, if the National Legislative Assembly had possessed more moderate and pragmatist members, the incident could have been smoothed over, even worked to a Liberal advantage by using it as an excuse to reduce royal powers further, towards a "British-style" (as it would have then been termed) constitutional monarchy.

But cooler heads did not prevail. Once more those of the Montevideo school would argue that the lack of such cooler heads is another historical inevitability, that Louis XVI[1] paid for the fact that he and his predecessors had allowed absolutism to continue so mercilessly for so long, putting off reform until it was required to avert economic collapse. If the Bourbons had reformed more gradually, the Societists argue, they might have eventually had a more moderate National Legislative Assembly and not suffered such terrible losses and tragedies. But to make such an argument is not to abrogate the NLA of its crimes.

Riding a wave of public anger at the death of Le Diamant, the Jacobins - already the largest faction within the NLA as a whole, if barely - seized the instruments of power. Their former candidate for chief minister, Jean-Baptiste Robespierre[2] began issuing orders as though he had indeed been approved by the King. Louis XVI was not a stupid man but once more he paid for being so insulated from real events. The King did not hear of the Jacobins' actions until fully two days after Le Diamant's body had hit the cobbles, and then waited three hours before issuing orders to the troops to keep the peace, agonising about whether it would inflame the situation. By then, it was too late.

A large percentage of the royal troops deserted, often defecting straight to the Jacobins. Many of them were Parisians who could not stand the shame of the people of Paris hurling jeers and stones at them and accusing them of murdering the popular Le Diamant. Thus the majority of the Gardes Françaises were lost. Others, those from the Gardes Suisses and regiments brought in from other provinces and generalities, simply retreated in the face of public anger, not having clear orders from royal authority as to whether they were supposed to fire on civilians or not. Paris was ruled by the mob, and the mob was controlled by Robespierre.

Yet many troops remained fiercely loyal to the King, even in the absence of coherent orders from His Most Christian Majesty. Several loyal companies of the Gardes Françaises were rallied together with outside troops by Phillipe Henri, the Marquis de Ségur, one of the Marshals of France and the only one present in Paris during the crisis of Le Diamant's death. Ségur believed that the chaos, along with the revolution as a whole, was a transient fad and could be weathered if the military would clamp down on strongpoints and stand fast as the waves of disorganised public opposition beat uselessly against them like water on cliffs. "What the shopkeeper or the farmer or the peasant wants more than anything is not liberty or rights or even riches, but simply the knowledge that tomorrow will be much like today."[3]

Unfortunately for Ségur, there were two fatal flaws to his plan. Firstly, since the logistics and communications apparatus had broken down along with the rest of military discipline across much of Paris, he was simply unaware that the vast majority of the forces stationed in Paris had deserted or defected. Either that, or else he dismissed such reports as Jacobin propaganda. Secondly, the mob he faced was not disorganised, but ideologically fed and led by the Jacobins. And, in a moment of irony, it was Ségur himself who would give the Jacobins the mythic image they needed to cement their hold on France...

Ségur realised that the most important point to be held in Paris, except the Palais de Versailles itself, was the Bastille Saint-Antoine. Originally built as a defensive fort, much like England's Tower of London it had gradually become both a prison and an arsenal. Thus, it was both a defensive position and an endless store of ammunition and supplies for any army that sought to hold it. In addition to this, the Bastille was seen in the popular imagination as a symbol of royal power, and so if Ségur's forces could hold the fort against Jacobin attacks, it would be a potent symbol that the monarchy would withstand the Revolution.

All of which was true, but it also meant that the reverse result would also create an equally potent symbol. And this was in fact what occurred.

Ségur's forces first moved into the the Bastille on the evening of the 4th of May 1795, quickly turning it back into a fortress. While industry and discipline held sway in the Bastille, at the same time most of the rest of the military forces in Paris were disintegrating, unbeknownst to Ségur. It was not until the afternoon of the 5th that Ségur heard that Versailles was threatened and considered sending forces to escort the King to the Bastille. By that point, the Jacobin-inspired mob had already managed to overwhelm the royal guard and seize the palace. What resulted was what a German writer described as "the New Barbarism", even though it would rapidly be overshadowed by later developments. The palace was ransacked, with countless valuable paintings and tapestries looted or destroyed, and soon the furniture of kings could be found in common houses and hovels scattered all over Paris.

The royal family themselves were not harmed. At this point the majority of the mob still had the inbuilt fear and respect for the royals, a relic of the ancien regime they had been raised under. The King in his person, as opposed to as a symbol of royal power, attracted more curiosity than hostility from the common people. They had captured the King and Queen, the Comte de Provence, the Duc d'Orleans and Maria Antonia of Austria (Marie-Antoinette), the wife of the Dauphin[4]. The Dauphin himself was not present, though; Louis, technically re-titled "Prince of Royal Blood of Latin France" by the NLA's early reforms, had been sent to Navarre for discussions as to whether Navarre would be directly incorporated into the new French state or would remain separate, perhaps with himself as its king.

The royal family was swiftly placed under arrest by Robespierre and the Jacobin-dominated NLA. At the same time, Robespierre's fiery lieutenant Georges Hébert ordered the expected attack on the Bastille by the mob, supported by those troops who had defected to the Jacobin side. Because they still wore the same uniforms as the loyalist troops on the other side, those troops discarded their shakoes and instead marched bare-headed or with cloth caps designed to represent the Phrygian cap of liberty. On this day, May 7th 1795 (or 18th Flóreal of the year -1 as it would later be known), the dreaded uniform of the Revolutionary soldier would start to come into being. Before the week (or décade for that matter) was out, it would be completed.

The first attack on the Bastille was, predictably, bloodily repulsed by Ségur's professional troops. Grapeshot ripped the still largely undisciplined mob to shreds. It is no exaggeration to say that the streets ran with blood like water, flooded even. After the first two frontal attacks were both reduced to bloody rags filling the streets around the Bastille, Ségur ordered his troops to hoist the royal flag, a white banner with the countless golden fleur-de-lys of France Ancient, to mock the Jacobins. Give up your futile struggle! was his message.

But the Jacobins did not give up. Their commanders knew that the revolutionary fervour of the people would eventually run out. To that end, on the 6th of May, yet another frontal attack was launched, with no further success, while sappers concealed themselves in the mess of bodies on the streets and used the distraction to plant gunpowder explosives beneath weak points of the Bastille wall. At midnight, when the majority of Ségur's garrison was asleep, the fuses were lit and the old fortifications relented to the modern techniques devised by Vauban and his successors.

Ségur's troops were still disciplined and immediately attempted to plug the gap, before being hit by grapeshot from guns that the Revolutionaries had brought up in the night. The mob cheered as the troops got a taste of their own medicine, and then charged through the breach.

Despite most of the troops being hastily awakened and the rest being killed by the grapeshot, the Revolutionaries still suffered heavy casualties. But by the time Ségur was apprised of the events, it was already too late to do anything about it. The old Marshal went down fighting, both of his pistols fired mere seconds before the butcher's knife of a Sans-Culotte sliced through his heart. In later times, Ségur would become a hero, a martyr, of French Royalism. For now, he would be used for the Jacobins' own purposes.

As the crowd cheered and looted the Bastille, releasing the few prisoners from the dark fort (the Jacobins immediately began to claim that it was this act of liberty that had motivated the attack, not getting hold of the arsenal there), one man, a soldier who had gone over to the Jacobins, came to the fore. His name is not recorded in history. Like Le Diamant, he became a legend, L'Épurateur , the Purifier, a name given to him by Robespierre. He had only defected the day before, but in that time his ears had been filled with the revolutionary message the Jacobins preached. There is no fierier zealot than a convert.

L'Épurateur was already covered in blood, like most of the survivors, from the battle. Now, he took out his sabre and cut the head from Ségur's corpse, working meticulously. He took the head to the largest flagpole, where his fellow Jacobins had brought down the Royal flag and had been about to tear it to pieces, but L'Épurateur shook his head. "Non." It was not enough for the flag simply to fall. The people must see what that flag had stood for.

He took the flag and smeared it all over with Ségur's blood, dying the pristine noble white with the shed blood of the people. Then he turned it upside down and it was raised once more, the fleur-de-lys turned over, the monarchy overthrown by the blood that had been shed by the revolutionary fighters.

And thus the symbols of the Revolution were complete. The crowds saw L'Épurateur standing on the battlements of the Bastille in the moonlight, the white parts of his blue uniform stained red by the blood of the battle, wearing the Phrygian cap, his white Bourbon cockade dyed bloodred, and the red flag flying above him.

Vive la Révolution!

Et mort au roi !

[1] Recall that this is not our Louis XVI but a slightly ATLised version of the man who in OTL died while he was still the Dauphin, the son of Louis XV.

[2] Not the same as OTL Maximilien Robespierre 'but worryingly similar'.

[3] Ségur channelling Lord Vetinari there...

[4] OTL Louis XVI, or his ATL "brother" equivalent.

Part #20: Cette obscurité glorieuse

From - "FRANCE'S TRAGEDY: A History of the Revolution" by A.J. Galtier (Université Royale de Nantes, 1973)

It all happened so rapidly. Indeed in many ways, for many years to come in France everything would seem to come in a rush. The new powerful men of France knew that their position was tenuous. They did not have the luxury of the Bourbon kings who had come before them, when it had taken centuries for discontent to coalesce into an organised and intellectual-backed revolution instead of ineffective peasant revolts. No; the Revolutionary genie was out of the bottle, and they risked it turning against them. The solution was to keep the people so occupied that they did not have the chance to do so.

Even as the royal family were placed in a mean common jail by the Jacobins, the NLA began to issue "reforms" at a bewildering rate. It was not merely a case that a man could wake up in a different state to the one that he had fallen asleep in; France changed by the hour. This also meant that foreign commentators in Madrid, London and Vienna barely had a chance to absorb the information of the earlier, more benign stages of the Revolution before the news of Le Diamant's death and what came after fell upon them. When moderate figures there were being assailed by the confusing shift of the Revolution, only two groups held firm - ultraconservatives who would always condemn anything associated with the Revolution no matter how reasonable, and radicals who would praise any such thing no matter how horrific. The Revolution was not merely the death of moderation in France, but elsewhere also.

The unknown soldier known as l'Épurateur was never seen again after that fateful night, when he raised the Bloody Flag above the Bastille. What happened to him has been the subject of many theories then and since. The most likely possibility is that he was simply killed later that night in the fighting still raging throughout Paris between the Jacobins and Sans-Culottes and the royalists. However, some have suggested that L'Épurateur simply faded into obscurity and died in a later battle. Most controversially the Royalist historian Pierre Beauchamp has claimed that l'Épurateur disowned his "drunken" antics on the Bastille and later returned to the Royalist side.

No-one will ever truly know, but Hébert, who had witnessed the event, was swift to capitalise on it. L'Épurateur became a mythic figure, emblematic of the new France[1] and thence a martyr, stabbed in the back by a Royalist assassin for his act of courage. A large number of French people, even some historians, still believe that l'Épurateur was purely an invention of Hébert and there was never such a living, breathing person. Whatever the truth, the Jacobins and their Sans-Culotte allies were driven to new strengths by the great symbol they had been gifted with.

By the hour and the day, the NLA was "reformed". Moderate 'Mirabeauistes'[2] still in favour of a constitutional monarchy were shouted down and even attacked in the street. Those genuine royalists among the Third Estate's deputies fled, or claimed a conversion to Jacobinism - L'Épurateur made this sufficiently plausible that a number of royalists either fearful of their lives, or believing that their cause was lost, were able to switch sides.

The deputies of the First and Second Estates were sidelined as those Estates were effectively disenfranchised, all in the name of liberty. In less than one week, all titles of the nobility were abolished, the Catholic Church was effectively "nationalised" and turned into an arm of the government, with priests having to swear allegiance to the Revolution, and land ownership was revoked. The Revolutionaries sought to usurp the Great Chain of Being itself, so that all men would be equal - and death to those that disagreed.

In those early, heady days, the revolution was pure, if nonetheless horrific. Slavery was abolished and women were emancipated, as defenders of Revolutionary thought have cited ever since (particularly those of the San Francisco school). Freedom of religion was guaranteed, which in Britain both intrigued the large Huguenot-descended population and was used by the Radical Party as an argument for Catholic emancipation at home.

Robespierre, still acting as de facto chief minister in a government that had imprisoned its own king, argued for "la rupture tranquille" (a clean break) with the past, adding "In ten years' time, we should not be able to recognise France". These two innocuous sentences would come to drip with blood in years to come...

The policy was implemented in numerous ways. Initially, the NLA severed all links with the Estates-General that had preceded it, incorporating or ejecting all the members of the First and Second Estates. The democratic constitution adopted the previous year was reformed entirely: democracy remained the central pillar of the constitution, although a quiet provision for the suspension of elections "in times of emergency" would cause troubles in years to come. In addition, the English-born radical Thomas Paine co-authored his "Declaration of Human Rights"[3] which would be the French constitution's answer to the English Bill of Rights. The Declaration embodied the rights to representation, to be tried by a jury of peers, and to freedom of worship.

At the same time, Jacobin thinkers were devising new ways of measuring the world, known as the Rational System.[4] Decimalisation was applied to measurements of length, weight, even time. A new calendar with purely descriptive titles of months was implemented. This is illustrative of another feature of the Revolution: while initially there was some identification with the Athenian democracy of the ancient world and therefore other classical culture, this was swiftly rejected by mainstream Jacobin opinion as characteristic of the aristocratic culture they sought to abolish.[5]

The NLA rejected a presidential system like that of the United Provinces, which was otherwise regarded as the only halfway pure republican influence in the world, with the Dutch, Genoese and Venetians being merely merchant oligarchies. The French people remained wary of concentrating all power in one man after their experiences with Bourbon absolutism. What emerged was closer to the British parliamentary system but perhaps also showed some influence from Rome, despite the supposed rejection of classicism. A three-man Consulate was elected by the NLA, which would collectively possess presidential powers but all three members must agree in order for decisions to take place. This was widely referred to as the Triumvirate in the English-speaking world.

Although the Consulate was intended to moderate and provide checks and balances on power, in practice the large radical Jacobin majority meant that Robespierre was able to manipulate the NLA into electing those of his choice: himself, of course, plus Hébert and Jean Marat. Other radical Jacobins remained in positions of power, such as Georges Danton and the then relatively obscure Jean de Lisieux. Moderate voices were shouted down. A Revolutionary Tribunal was established to try 'enemies of the revolution', a category which seemed to swell day by day in an attempt to implement Robespierre's "clean break" - and his paranoia at the revolutionary genie turning against him.

At the same time, voices in the NLA who supported Paine's Human Rights advocated that a more humane means of execution be devised, arguing that capital punishment should be seen mainly as a means of removing criminals from society rather than actually inflicting pain. Accordingly, breaking on the wheel and execution by axe and sword were both abolished. The invention of "Le Chirurgien" has never been accurately credited to any one man, although it clearly showed influence from existing 'humane gibbets' such as the Scottish Maiden. While similar devices had existed for a long time, they had never been used so extensively before. Le Chirurgien's first patients were minor nobility and royal ministers who had been unable to flee or convincingly convert to the revolutionary cause. On trumped-up charges, the king's own surgeon, Antoine Louis, was ironically among them.

However, another range of opinion in the NLA argued instead that there should be a "Scientific" method of execution. Hébert approved the creation of the "Chambre Phlogistique" (later “Phlogisticateur”), in which the corruption of the criminal would be visited back unto him by means of phlogisticated air. Thus the humanitarian work of Joseph Priestley on the Aerial Economy was turned to darkness, and the Revolution forced Antoine Lavoisier and his assistants to build the machine. It took the form of a large glass room, like a bottle, entirely airtight. Large enough for a human to stand inside. And then a powerful air-pump could be applied to remove all the air, or to be less "seventeenth-century", burning glasses would be directed on the Chambre. They could be used either to attempt to ignite the clothes of the victim, or merely to burn fuels placed inside, creating phlogiston with no need for a naked flame. Thus the hands-off means of execution was created, in which the sun itself made the killing blow instead of any human.

The first "criminal" to be subject to the Chambre was Citoyen Louis Capet, as the revolutionaries mockingly titled their former King. Louis XVI's quiet defence, self-delivered, remained a rallying cry to French Royalists ever afterwards. In its most momentous exchange, the fiery Danton accused "Capet" of treason against the state, and Louis simply quoted his great-great-grandfather in response: "I am the state."

It made no difference, of course. Louis XVI was led out to the first Chambre, in Paris' Place du Louis XV, now renamed Place de la Révolution. In a grim irony, the Chambre stood on a stage not far from where nobles and bourgeoisie had once watched convicted criminals being dismembered alive. The Revolutionaries were fortunate in that the 15th of May was a hot, sunny day. "Citoyen Capet" gave his last words, clearly inspired by those of Charles Stuart one and a half centuries earlier, at a time when the last Stuart heir would soon go to a Chambre himself, as a Catholic cardinal. "Remember this day," he said. "One day, not too long from now, you will look back on the darkest and hardest days of my reign with envy."

Prophetic words, but they made no impression on a crowd that was baying for blood. "Capet" was sealed inside the Chambre and the great burning glasses were directed against the sawdust piled on the floor of the glass room. The sun set the dust alight and smoke began to rise. Unlike later victims, "Capet" did not try to beat out the flames or otherwise prolong his death. Ten agonising minutes later, he succumbed to asphyxiation from the phlogisticated air.

And as the crowd cheered, the Chambre was opened, the smoke billowed out over the Place, and the glasses began to burn the corpse also, in its simple prisoner's garments. Royalists have claimed ever since that a white dove rose with that smoke, taking the king's blameless soul to heaven where he would look down on what became of his nation, and wept.

That night, Antoine Lavoisier took his own life, swallowing a fatal dose of an arsenic compound he was studying. But the Revolutionaries had enough clever artisans to duplicate the design now it had been built once.

The blades of the Chiurgiens hissed and the Chambres burned, and war rumbled on the horizon.

[1] i.e. roughly equivalent to Marianne, but a more martial and populist figure.

[2] More or less like OTL's Girondist faction but they're not so associated with the deputies of one region, hence the alternative name.

[3] The title is more influenced by French usage in TTL as it's more aimed at the French than at the English. This also sounds more modernistic of course.

[4] This is a bit like the OTL metric system, but is combined with other initiatives such as the republican calendar - it's more organised top-down than OTL and is seen as an all-or-nothing affair.

[5] Major difference to the OTL revolution, perhaps indicating the more continuing populist input by Le Diamant's supporters.

Part #21: L'Étrangerie

From - "Foreign Reactions to the Jacobin Revolution" (Dr Jacques Desaix, Université de Toulon) :

The Revolution in France can always only be truly understood in a wider European, even global, context. In the most obvious instance, the Revolution took much of its inspiration from other foreign republics derived partially from Enlightenment principles, such as Paoli's Corsica and the United Provinces. Both of these had had French troops serving against them at some point, and it is unsurprising that ideas were brought back to France. However, most writers focus on the intellectuals among those troops, primarily the officers, who wrote those ideas down and went on to organise the Armée de la République. While their influence is unchallenged, we cannot ignore the enlisted soldiers, either - had they not been exposed to an actual Enlightenment republic while serving in Corsica and South America, it is unlikely that there would have been such support for the Revolution in the Royal Army.

The Navy had always been less keen - after all, the French Navy's conduct in the Second Platinean War had firstly been at sea, away from the South American revolutionaries, and secondly the Navy had enjoyed several victories over the British under de Grasse and Picquet de la Motte. Unlike the Royal Army, humiliated by the surrender on the River Plate to U.P. and British forces, then, the Navy had little reason to resent the ancien régime and what it stood for. The Navy also had more obvious aristocrats in positions of power. This would have important consequences a little later on, but for now, let us return to the foreign reactions to the Revolution.

At first, perhaps unsurprisingly, the import of the Revolution was not completely understood in other European countries and Britain. The British in particular tended to view the Revolution as a logical consequence of the failure of Bourbon absolutism, and according to the Whig interpretation of history, France would now slide towards a constitutional monarchy of the British model. Indeed, British opposition to the Revolution in its earliest form was simply an alarmed national chauvinism that the French might acquire the same 'state of perfect government' as Britain was thought to enjoy under the 1688 settlement, with a comparable boost in military fortunes. In particular, Britain's large Huguenot-descended population wondered if the Revolution, with its attacks on Catholicism, would finally begin using the resource of French Protestants rather than condemning them. The quite different character of the Revolution would not become apparent to the British until mid-1795.

Spain, which accepted Louis the Dauphin into asylum after the execution of the French royal family, initially viewed the Revolution as just another peasant revolt. Spain herself had suffered similar outpourings of the popular will, mainly rooted in francophobia, against the attempts by her own Bourbon kings to introduce reforms or fashions perceived as French. Given that the French Revolution incorporated a certain element of ultra-Linnaean xenophobia and Racist nationalism, this was perhaps an understandable assumption. The Spanish government, led by Floridablanca (who had continued to serve under Charles IV's successor Philip VI[1]) believed the revolutionaries to be absent an ideology and that the "revolt" would soon be crushed. Floridablanca publicly condemned the violence; as a great supporter of liberal ideas himself, he argued that the Revolutionaries had squandered their capital and missed the chance for a stable constitutional monarchy by reverting to barbarism. In this, the official Spanish response was ironically not unlike the British, though approached from the other direction.

Austria was the greatest source of opposition to the Revolution from the start. This opposition stemmed from many roots: Ferdinand IV[2] ruled over a massive, mutli-ethnic empire and Linnaean Racist nationalism of the type growing in France could only undermine that; Marie-Antoinette, the Dauphin's consort, was Ferdinand IV's aunt Maria Antonia of Austria; and the Revolution's nationalisation of and attacks on the Catholic Church also sent shockwaves throughout the Holy Roman Empire. Great swathes of land were still under ecclesiastical authority, and the French idea of the Church becoming subordinate to the State would lead to chaos if it spread to the Empire, with every prince and duke and landgrave squabbling to carve up those Church lands. In summary, it was obvious from the start that it was in Austrian interests to oppose the Jacobin Revolution at every turn.

Speculative romantics[3] have suggested that, had Louis XVI called for Austrian military assistance at an earlier stage, the Revolution could have been crushed - though doubtless the resentment of a king kept in power by foreign forces would have continued to simmer. In any case the question is academic: insulated from current affairs by his entourage of hommes d'oui and the Palais de Versailles, Louis had been unaware of the scale of the situation until it was too late. Thus Ferdinand IV, though gathering an army, was unable to act until a suitable casus belli - the death by phlogistication of Marie-Antoinette on August 12th 1795. Then, an imperial proclamation was issued 'in support of the rightful King of France' - Austrian refusal to recognise the Revolutionary government meant that no declaration of war could be legally possible - and Austrian troops began to move into France from Baden and the Duchy of Flanders, first crossing the Rubicon (as latter historians would put it) on the 3rd of September.

Further abroad the French Revolution as yet had little effect. Russia would not hear of the full import of the Revolution until the end of that year, although by then it would lend a distinctive character to the Russian Civil War, already rumbling on the horizon as the aged Peter III, having survived innumerable assassination attempts, finally fell into a terminal decline.

Just as the UPSA had inspired the Jacobins, so the reverse now took place, with Jacobin ideas driving more radical notions in the UPSA. Egalitarian notions, which had originally mainly focused on equality between peninsulares and criollos, now began to spread to questioning the basis of the blood caste system as a whole. One import of much broader character was an increase in calls for the abolition of the slave trade and slavery itself, everywhere from the UPSA to the Empire of North America to Portugal to Britain. In practice, though, this probably harmed the abolitionist cause in the long run - as the greater excesses of the Revolutionaries became known, it was easy for those with vested interests in the slave trade to tar their opponents with the brush of Jacobinism.

And what of France herself? As the Jacobin-dominated NLA meeting in the old Palais de Tuileries continued to make ever more radical reforms and changes, these spread out across France in waves. Before people in Lyon or Bordeaux had even heard of Le Diamant's death, Louis XVI had gone to the chambre phlogistique, and similar situations prevailed in this age before rapid communication. It could have so easily slipped into chaos, and yet in an ultimate irony, the Jacobins were assisted by the very Bourbon absolutism they had overthrown. The centralisation of the French state, proceeding in several stages since the end of the Hundred Years' War and most prominently under Louis XIV, had focused power in Paris as much as the person of the king. Thus, what came out of Paris was generally accepted, no matter how shrill its tone. The exception was in those provinces which retained feudal privileges of autonomy, had held onto them stubbornly throughout centuries of centralisation, and weren't about to let go of them now. Brittany would be the exemplar, yet it would not become apparent for some time to come.

Realising the import of the Austrian invasion (together with some Spanish inroads, possibly aimed at trying to reclaim Navarre with the tacit consent of the Dauphin), the NLA immediately shifted to a war footing. The Consulate understood that an external war would give them carte blanche to push through further reforms and it would provide a rallying call for the French people. Though the Jacobins were still busy purging or attainting aristocrats from the Royal Army, vast numbers of Sans-Culottes (the so-called Légion du Diamant) volunteered as recruits. Thus the character of the Revolutionary Army, of overwhelming numbers but of poorly trained soldiers, came to pass.

Initially the old royal regimental flags were simply turned upside down. However, realising that the men needed a truly Revolutionary symbol to fight for (and it giving him an excuse for another attack on the symbols of the Church, as the old flags bore white crosses), Hébert designed a new series of regimental flags, based on squares of white cloth that were dyed reddish-brown. The legend was that the 'dye' was in fact the blood of executed nobles from the chirurgien and/or the blood of the martyrs before the Bastille, although historians have continued to debate whether this was really the case. The new flags bore simple designs, usually either one or more inverted fleur-de-lys to symbolise the downfall of the ancien régime, or else rerpresentations of Le Diamant or L'Épurateur. They also always bore words, usually illegible in battle, which spelled out Revolutionary slogans. Finally, a new finial, based on a representation of a Phrygian cap in bronze, was added.

The new colours were 'blessed' by NLA vote, and the Revolutionary armies marched forth to meet the Austrians for the first time. They wore the same uniform that L'Épurateur had 'created', albeit for the moment somewhat haphazardly adopted: the same blue and white uniforms as their Royal predecessors, but with all the white parts dyed red, and their shakoes replaced with a standardised Phrygian cap. They bore the white cockade of the Bourbons also dyed revolutionary red. It was not surprising that they soon received the nickname of Les bleus et les rouges (which became a nostalgic phrase after the blue parts of the uniform were changed to black under the later Administration).

Meanwhile, quite a different situation was occuring with the French Navy in Toulon, as a certain British captain named Leo Bone[4] would soon discover...

[1] Unlike OTL Carlos' eldest son Felipe is not mentally retarded and is thus not excluded from the succession (genetic lottery from butterflies). In character he is less assertive than his younger brother Charles, who is King of the Two Sicilies in TTL rather that Charles IV of Spain, and has left Floridablanca and his faction in charge of the government.

[2] Francis II died in infancy and so Leopold II's second son becomes Emperor.

[3] Alternate Historians.

[4] Recall, an anglicised version of Napoleone Buonaparte.

Part #22: The Making of a Legend

"...always be wary of telling lies, especially when they turn out to be the truth."

- Leo Bone, Captain, RN​

From - "The Man With Three Names - A Life and Times of Napoleone Buonaparte" (Dr Henri Pelletier, University of Nantes Press, 1962) :

The Toulon incident was at first overlooked in the broader chaos of the dawning wars of the Revolution, but from our perspective, with the benefit of sitting atop more than a century of comfortable distance from these events, it was as important as the Battle of Saint-Quentin or the Flight from Fleurus. It sealed the fate of naval affairs in Revolutionary France, leading to some obvious consequences and some that were anything but.

By the time of October 3rd 1795, when a small Royal Navy force under Captain Leo Bone ventured into the Rade d'Hyeres, several of those northern battles had already been won and lost. News of this filtered very sporadically down to Provence, though, which by now had broken with Paris. Ostensibly this break was due to the Jacobins' perversion of the Revolutionary sentiment, but if there had been any truth to this, in any case the Royalists soon seized power from the Mirabeauists. The bulk of the French Mediterranean fleet - which until the mid 18th century had been an entirely separate force from the blue-water navy - was in harbour at Toulon, and this gave whoever held Toulon a major bargaining chip.

The fleet in question was under the command of the Comte d'Estaing, Jean-Baptiste Charles Henri Hector. While d'Estaing had scored a rather filmish[1] if minor victory over the British at the Battle of Bermuda, during the Second Platinean War, he was an indecisive commander. In particular, at the present the revolution presented a dilemma to him. He had supported the reforms of the Diamant period, but had remained loyal to the Royal Family and was unable to countenance their executions. But, without any orders from above, he could not decide what course to take in this new, ugly era. His best hope was that the Dauphin would return from Spain with new orders.

At the same time, the Jacobins in Paris had heard of the breakaway of Toulon and Robespierre flew into a rage, ordering the raising of another new regiment, and its immediate dispatch to "purge" the city. This was not the wisest choice considering the rumours coming out of Flanders and Picardy of a general Austrian victory, but nonetheless the orders were obeyed. This reflects the centralisation of power in the Consulate even by this early stage, in which the NLA were dragged along. It was also the first use of conscription in the Revolutionary army, which had previously relied on the existing large Royalist armies (suitably 'purified') augmented by the volunteers of the Legion du Diamant.

Unsurprisingly, the resulting force was less than professional, but as usual with Revolutionary armies in this period, its overwhelming numbers were a quality of their own kind. The army was under the command of the attainted Comte de Custine, Adam Philippe, who had escaped the chirurgien or chambre phlogistique because Robespierre had taken a liking to him. More importantly, unlike the vast majority of the overpromoted Revolutionary generals at this point, Custine had genuine military experience, having served in the Platinean conflict. It was there, after Noailles' army had surrendered to the Platineans, that Custine had first become familiar with the revolutionary ideals that would soon sweep over his own country.

Thus, in Custine the army had a competent commander, but in practice his task was not unakin to herding cats. The vast number of Sans-Culotte volunteers and the new conscripts simply overwhelmed the existing logistical system, with the result that the army turned to "foraging" across the countryside - la maraude, as it was later infamously called. Custine's army was scarcely unique in this, and the resulting resentment by the French peasantry only served to justify Robespierre's paranoia that 'there is an enemy of the Revolution behind every door!'

The army reached Toulon on September 17th and Custine called a truce, meeting with d'Estaing on his flagship Améthyste. Custine defended the latest depradations of the Consulate and argued that d'Estaing's oaths were to France, not the royal family, and that France now needed his ships to safeguard the ideals of the Revolution.

If Custine had got there a week earlier, it is quite likely that the dithering d'Estaing would have been persuaded, but by now he had become emotionally invested in the defences of Toulon that he and the few royal officers in the town had been putting together. The town was quite a defensible position from the land, providing that the besieged town could be resupplied by sea. D'Estaing did just that, sending Custine back to his army with all the chivalry as though he were an enemy general which, d'Estaing slowly becan to realise, was in fact the case.

D'Estaing ordered that elements of the fleet make a voyage to Corsica and return with powder, shot, food and preferably some of the troops still stationed there. Those ships reappeared on the 1st of October, or some of them did: news of the Revolution was spreading throughout the lower decks, and some crews had successfully risen up in mutiny. D'Estaing was appalled to learn that some of his frigates had apparently taken up 'democratic piracy', while others had simply beached their vessels on Corsica and fled there. This is probably the means by which the news of the Revolution in turn spread to Corsica so rapidly.

While d'Estaing's gamble did little to relieve the Siege of Toulon, it did serve to intrigue a British captain named Leo Bone and his small force of HMS Diamond and two smaller frigates. Since being assigned to the Mediterranean, Bone had already unofficially visited Corsica several times, curious about the land of his birth he barely remembered. He justified these to the Board of the Admiralty as 'exploratory operations'.[2]

While there under an alias, he learned of d'Estaing's ships being present and even witnessed a shootout in Aiacciu between the officers and men of one of those ships, as Revolutionary sentiment grew too strong. Bone had of course heard of the Revolution by this point, but as with practically all Britons his information was sketchy and incomplete. Intrigued, he bought drinks for one of the less wounded Revolutionary crewmen and got a clearer account (at least, at first). He then supplemented this with an account from one of the officers of another ship, over a game of Vingt-et-un in an inn in Bastia.

By the time the remaining ships of d'Estaing returned, Bone had as clear a picture of the Revolution as anyone in Toulon, and this gave him an idea. An audacious, unimaginably brash idea, but one that suited the highly ambitious captain down to the ground. His father Charles Bone had passed on some of his political ideas, and the younger Bone wondered whether, on the back of triumphs at sea, he could enter Parliament and eventually become Prime Minister. The minister who finally presided over the passing of Catholic emancipation...that would be the way to make Charles proud.

So it was on 3rd October that Bone's trio of ships shadowed d'Estaing's back into the Rade d'Hyeres. By this point d'Estaing was despairing and barely acknowledged the foreign, possibly hostile ships. Custine's army had begun to overwhelm the fewer and scarcely more disciplined defenders of Toulon. However, the heart of the city was still held by the Royalists with resupply by d'Estaing's ships. Realising this, Custine found several good sites for his heavy artillery and, using the new Cugnot-wagons, towed them into position.

Bone claimed in later accounts to be unflustered by the guns apparently moving by themselves, though his subordinates at the time recorded that he was anything but. Many have ascribed his later opposition to steam power to the shock of this incident. In any case, slowly but steadily the guns rose to the summits of the hills and ridges that Custine and his artillery commander had chosen. Briefly they were hidden by clouds of steam, but then the Cugnot-wagons were dampened and the guns rotated. Then Custine spelt out a simple message on the ridge of l'Evescat in white shirts held down by stones, visible to everyone on the French ships who could read: SURRENDER OR DIE.

Not a minute later, the first guns began to fire, tearing through the ships at close range and wreaking horrible casualties. Custine had sited his guns well and d'Estaing's attempt to silence the guns by counterbattery fire failed. Soon there were more mutinies on nearby ships, with revolutionary crewmen hastily raising the red flag in a bid to escape. Other ships began to retreat and flee, abandoning Toulon. And, inevitably, d'Estaing was indecisive.

That indecision could have killed him, and perhaps France, but for the audacity of Leo Bone. He himself spoke fair French, his father having told him to 'know the enemy' and, inevitably in the national mix that was the average Royal Navy crew, he had several more fluent speakers. Bone seized the day and brought a boat out to the Améthyste, even while Custine's roundshot was splashing huge waterspouts up all around him. D'Estaing was startled out of his funk by the appearance of this rowing boat, flying a flag of truce, calmly appearing amid the destruction. He quickly received the short but energetic British captain, who told him in schoolboy French that the Dauphin had made a treaty on behalf of 'true France' with the British, and that the loyal French forces here were to retreat to a safe British port and await further orders.

D'Estaing must have realised that Bone's supposed "envoys from the Dauphin" (his French-speaking crewmen) were anything but, but at this stage he was willing to cling to any straw. Quickly, essentially just repeating what Bone 'advised' him to do, he ordered that the remaining ships were to rescue as many royalist fighters from Toulon as possible and then follow the Diamond into retreat. The coincidental name of the British ship resonated throughout the French crews, and soon there was the rumour that the Dauphin had accepted Le Diamant's reforms but continued to oppose the Consulate. This largely prevented any further mutinies. Two more ships were lost while evacuating men from Toulon - not least because women and civilians tried to pile on board - but a significant number of royalist troops, irregulars and ammunition were saved.

As the 3rd of October 1795 drew to a close, the remains of the Toulon Fleet followed HMS Diamond to Malta, even as the Revolutionary army of Custine finally fell upon the city as a whole and subjected it to what became a legendary night of rape and pillage. Custine's own attempts to hold back his disorganised army were ineffectual.

When news of the incident got back to Paris, some deputies wanted Custine's head, but Robespierre defended him once more. A large part of the fleet had been destroyed or captured, after all, and more importantly in Robespierre's estimation, Toulon had certainly been 'purified'.

Current historians put the figures at eight ships destroyed by Custine's artillery, six lost to mutiny between Corsica and Toulon (some of whom became pirates), eleven captured by the Revolutionaries...but twenty-two, including four first-rate ships of the line, were brought out of Toulon and followed Bone to the promised land.

But there was an unpleasant surprise for Leo Bone when they reached Malta. He had planned to keep up his audacious subterfuge and con d'Estaing into turning his ships over to the Royal Navy a bit at a time, resulting in the most bloodless addition to the fleet by capture in history. But now, he was learning, his lie had become the truth...


[2]18th/early 19th century euphemism for spying.

Part #23: History Repeats Itself

“Can it truly be conceived that this nation would take up arms against this new beacon of liberty, born of the tongue which gave us, via the bequest of de Montfort, our parlement?”

“I understand that the honourable gentleman has apparently failed to understand that the present unpleasantness in France has been an undermining of the aforesaid parlements. We should not seek to compare the acts of barbarism in the south to our own revolution, whereby we received our perfect Constitution by approval of the sitting Parliament. We should not imply any continuity between the lawful Estates of the King of France and this self-appointed ministry of murder.”

– Charles James Fox and Edmund Burke, debate in the British House of Commons on ‘Response to the Revolution in France’, July 30th 1795


From – “The Jacobin Wars” by E.G. Christie (Hetherington Publishing House, 1926)

The response of Great Britain and her sister nations to the Jacobin Revolution was always confused and divided, even from the start. The political landscape had by this point settled into a more or less stable pattern compared to the unrest of the mid-eighteenth century. The Parliament elected in 1791 reflected this. Political parties at the time were far more fluxional and notional than nowadays, but broad divisions can be discerned.

Officially, the party labels remained Whig and Tory, though the relevance of those names had ceased with the decisive final defeat of the Jacobites in the aftermath of the War of the British Succession. Only a small rump of declared Tories remained in Parliament, largely from Scottish constituencies. The vast majority of MPs claimed to be Whigs of some stripe or another, but it is a mistake to assume any kind of unity from this. Labels overlapped, but a continuity can be traced from the ministry of Pitt[1] (1758-1766) and the first Rockingham ministry (1766-1782) through to the government party of 1795, who were most commonly termed Liberal Whigs (or simply Liberals). Although competent and reasonably popular, Rockingham had been forced to resign in 1782 due to the Africa Bubble scandal[2]. His government had, however, survived almost intact and the inoffensive Duke of Portland[3] was appointed titular Prime Minister[4] while Edmund Burke, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, became the real power behind the throne.

The largest opposition party was that of Charles James Fox, usually referred to as the Radical Whigs or simply Radicals (although there were also unaffiliated, more extreme groups describing themselves as Radicals, who had no Parliamentary representation). The Radicals advocated the abolition of the slave trade, Catholic relief and Parliamentary reform; the third course was by far the most popular among other groups in Parliament and the general public. Prior to the Jacobin Revolution, the Radicals had pointed to the new system of parliament in the Empire of North America as a model for reform in Great Britain, as well as expressing admiration for the republican Cortes Nacionales of the UPSA. However, Fox’s support for the Jacobins typically broke any link in the public imagination between the Radicals and the Americans, who were later more identified with the Liberal Whigs of the government.

As well as these broad divisions, there was also the inevitable distinction between the Court and Country parties, the latter being MPs from rural constituencies and Lords from rural estate who would typically vote against any given ministry unless placated, usually by bribery. MPs elected from rotten boroughs were common, even among the Radicals who advocated the abolition of such boroughs. This perceived hypocrisy did nothing to help their cause.

The Revolutionary sentiment in France initially drew broad approval from the Parliament of Great Britain (in that of Ireland, as we shall see later, the situation was somewhat more complex). As news of Revolutionary atrocities filtered down, however, Parliamentary support fell away until only the core of Foxite Radicals was left, continuing to argue that any unfortunate incidents in Republican France were excusable compared to the centuries of absolutist repression that had precipitated them.

The Liberal government, however, turned against the Revolution. Edmund Burke drew a sharp line between the Whiggish conception of the growth of liberty across history and the Jacobins’ violent revolutions. He also rejected comparisons of republican France with republican South America, arguing that while both were born of war, the UPSA had never turned on its own people with such viciousness, not even those who had been Spanish loyalists.

Nonetheless, even the government was divided on the question of what the response of the Department for Foreign Affairs should be. The situation was not without precedent: when England had briefly become a republic in the previous century, several European powers had continued to recognise the Kingdom of England, even when it was reduced to merely the Isles of Scilly. Conservative Whigs and most Tories argued that Britain should recognise the Dauphin as King Louis XVII and that any French government formed without his approval should be considered illegal and to have no authority. Burke was leaning towards this view and it was likely that such an act would have been passed even in the absence of provocation from Republican France. In practice, however, the decision was made for him.

The Revolution had been accompanied by a general campaign of anti-foreigner violence on the part of the mob. This has been common to most proletarian revolutions throughout history (for example, the Peasants’ Revolt in England in 1381 was accompanied by attacks on Flemish weavers in London) but the Jacobin Revolution was the first to place such violence within a coherent ideological framework. This was prior to the publishing of de Lisieux’s seminal work Les Races, however, and thus cannot be understood through the usual prism which modern commentators associate with the Linnaean-Racialism of Revolutionary France. This is however beside the point. As well as attacks on foreign-born soldiers and merchants, an admixture of the anti-establishment tone of the Revolution meant that foreign dignitaries were not spared. Most ambassadors to France managed to escape the tides of violence, having seen what was coming, but the rose-tinted vision of the Revolution early on in the British Parliament had evidently spread to its representatives in Paris, and it was not until the phlogistication of Louis XVI that the British and American ambassadors attempted to leave.

(It should be noted at this juncture the remarkable nature of the presence of an American ambassador. This was a notion that had only arisen a few years previously, in 1790, as one of the earliest acts of the Parliament of North America. It had been a point of argument by the autonomist and radical Constitutional Party there that America should have equal representation overseas. In practice, both the North American and British parliaments watered down the proposals sufficiently that only those nations with colonies bordering North America were given American representatives – primarily France and Spain – and that these were officially referred to merely as consuls, although in practice they were commonly termed ambassadors. The American ‘ambassador’ in Paris at the time was Thomas Jefferson, a prominent member of the Constitutional Party whose appointment there had largely been a way that Lord Hamilton’s[5] moderate ministry could keep this brilliant orator safely a long way away. At the time there was debate, as part of the Irish parliamentary reform argument, that the Kingdom of Ireland should also appoint its own ambassadors, and it is interesting to speculate how different the Parliament of Ireland’s response might have been if a hypothetical ambassador had been present alongside Frederick Grenville and Thomas Jefferson).

It remains a sore point of debate even today whether the attack on Grenville and Jefferson was officially directed by any order from the NLA or whether it was a simple act of mob violence. In any case, even if the records had survived the de Lisieux era, it is not a distinction that is readily made. By this stage, and particularly later on, fear of the Consulate was such that any confident con man could gain anything he wanted by claiming authority from Robespierre. The new and frequently contradictory pronouncements coming out of the Tuileries daily only served to reinforce such an idea. In the end it is perhaps enough that the NLA did not denounce the attacks on the ambassadors, or even acknowledge them.

Grenville escaped with a severe bullet wound to his right arm, forcing its amputation while he lay in a fever, hiding out in Calais. However, he survived to give a moving if chilling testimony of events to the British Parliament in September. Jefferson was not so lucky: his own personal sympathies to the Revolutionary sentiment meant nothing to the mob, and his body was never found. When Thomas Paine attacked this monstrous act in the NLA, he was removed by the Consulate, imprisoned and then chirurgiend early in the following year. The Reign of Terror had begun in earnest.

This, accompanied by reports of several more minor attacks on British and American sailors in French ports fallen to the Revolutionaries, served to turn most of Parliamentary and public opinion in Great Britain against the Revolution. By mid-August the conservative option had won out, and Parliament officially recognised King Louis XVII and declared the Consulate and NLA illegal. On September 2nd, 1795, the British Parliament voted 385 to 164 in favour of a declaration of war on the Republic of the French People of the Latin Race—only just beating the NLA’s own declaration. By the time the news reached America in November, the story had if anything grown to more mythic proportions, and the Parliament of North America voted almost unanimously in favour of the war.

It would not be for many more months that the news reached other potential theatres, some of which would become highly important: India, the West Indies and La Perouse. But for the Consulate and the people of Republican France, Britain remained a distant noise. Though Spanish troops moved into Navarre, it was Austria that was the greatest threat to the Republic, and even now the ramshackle Revolutionary armies were moving to face the forces of Emperor Ferdinand IV…

[1]William Pitt the Elder; in TTL there is no William Pitt the Younger, so ‘Pitt’ is an unambiguous term for this writer.

[2]In OTL the Royal Africa Company (aka the African Company and the Royal African Company) was a chartered company that traded with West Africa, mainly in slaves, and repeatedly went bankrupt and had to be reformed. In TTL rather than several minor crashes and reforms, the Company’s stock inflated alarmingly in 1781 on rumours of a profitable reform and the resulting losses were comparable to the South Sea Bubble of sixty years before. The Marquess of Rockingham, as Prime Minister, was the effective scapegoat for the recriminations following this and was forced to resign. The Company itself was rebuilt from the groundwork up and turned over to two former BEIC directors, Arthur Filling and Thomas Space, of which more q.v.

[3] William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland.

[4]At this point the title Prime Minister is still unofficial and largely mocking. Portland’s official title was First Lord of the Treasury. Typically in this era those Prime Ministers with real power also held the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer, effectively making them Lord High Treasurer; the fact that Portland did not is a sign that he was only the titular head of the government.

[5]Alexander Hamilton was made First Baron Hamilton by George III in 1785 during his tenure as Governor of the then-Province of New York, and by 1795 had become Lord President of the Imperial American Privy Council, the approximate equivalent post of Prime Minister in the Empire.

Part #24: A Revolutionary War

Wars are always good for science, and science is always good for wars.

- John Farman (OTL)​


From – “A Societist Study of Revolutions, Volume III” by Juan Lopez (1959, Instituto Sanchez; English translation)

Thinkers throughout the world, both Societist and nationalistically blinded, have debated the import of the Revolution in France almost since the day Le Diamant was killed. One particular topic of interest is the spread of the revolution, and what consequences the character of the revolution had on that spread.

It is unsurprising that it was the immediate neighbours of what was then only vaguely considered “France” who were first to experience Revolutionary ideals. The notions of the revolution spread by a variety of means, and depending on whether the speaker was a true believer or a person fleeing the perceived oppression of the revolution, would necessarily determine the character of the revolution envisaged by those who listened.

Furthermore, it is impossible to ignore, however much we might want to, the effects of the vile poison of Linnaean Racialism within the Revolution, here taking the form of Panlatinism. This variant, unlike many others, is now universally condemned even within the nationalistically blinded geographic regions. The Panlatinist character of the Revolution – or perhaps simply Latinist is a more accurate term in its early days, before the revolutionaries’ twisted notion of unionism took hold – further determined which states would be primarily exposed to revolutionary ideas.

Notably the Italies, Spain and Portugal were strongly evangelised to in the early days of the Revolution. The latter two regions of considered statehood easily cracked down on the scattered outbreaks of revolution within their own borders, aided by the fact that the strongly anti-Catholic character of the revolution turned large portions of their own devout populations against it. The Italies arguably had the same advantage but their own regions of considered statehood were too small and ineffective to present such a strong response. Thus, we may see the vindication of two Societist teachings: that the larger and more unified the state, the stronger it is – to infinity; and that an avowedly atheist universal movement will indeed successfully unite the world, but only against itself.

These teachings are arguably further supported by the eventual fates of the small republics in the Italies, notably the Latin Republic of Liguria (formerly Genoa) and the Latin Republic of Lucca (formerly Tuscany, after forcing Grand Duke Charles[1] to flee into exile). However, that is not a matter for this early history.

At this point we should consider the views of the Noveltist school of Reactionary thought among the Tory interpretation of history, no matter how repugnant we may find them for other reasons. The Noveltists argue from the results of the ‘revolutionary halo’, as they term it, that ultimately what many of the people of France and other revolutionary areas wanted was a sense of newness, toppling the old order, rather than any specific change.

The Noveltist writer Sir George Smith-Stanley pointed out that this may explain some of the otherwise inexplicable and nihilistic aspects of the revolution, changing not only those aspects of society which were objectively in need of reform (such as royal France using at least six different systems of measurement), but also petty and unimportant items simply for the sake of change. Smith-Stanley[2] argues that the fossilised Italies, like France itself, were ripe for the spirit of this revolution. Flanders, by contrast, had had a major change in its constitution and rule only recently and that this, together with the fact that Charles Theodore I was reasonably popular[3], explains why the revolution never got very far in Flanders. The Prince-Bishopric of Liège, however, saw what turned out to be a strategically important outbreak of revolution after the initial indecisive battles of late 1795, when revolutionary ideas had had a chance to leak in from France. The fact that Liège was francophone must also be considered.

Of course, we need not consider the alarming conclusions that Noveltist writers draw from their arguments, and the lavishing praise they and their Whig counterparts place upon the British parliamentary system as supposedly the most resistant to revolution.

Ultimately, however, the spread of the revolution cannot be fully understood, alas, by considering the vulgar results of the concomitant military action…


From – “Revolutionary Ideas in Warfare” by Peter William Courtenay, 4th Baron Congleton (Vandalia-shire, Virginia), 1925

While it should be obvious to any gentleman, I am forced to issue the disclaimer that an admiration for any Revolutionary idea in warfare does, clearly, not constitute an endorsement or admiration for Revolutionary ideas in general.

The Flemish War (1795-7) was indecisive in its early stages, but is notable for the use of several revolutionary tactics and weapons by the then-ramshackle French Republican Army. It can be argued that it was these novelties that allowed the French to hold off the more disciplined Austrians for long enough to ensure the eventual reorganisation of the army into a more effective fighting force.

The Austrian Army of Flanders was under the command of General Johannes Mozart[4], who understood that he was fighting an idea and that decisive tactical victories, to sap enemy morale, would be more important than attempting to destroy altogether the vast armies he was facing. This also meant it was rather difficult to predict the fighting strength of any given French force, as whether they were veterans or new recruits was often hard to discern until they were in combat. The new recruits, particularly the Legion du Diamant, were notoriously erratic and tended to fight quite acceptably when morale was high but otherwise were prone to desertion when they saw what war was truly like. Mozart’s strategy exploited this.

The situation in Lorraine was quite different, in which Austrian troops were welcomed as liberators by the population. Much like the people of Brittany and Navarre, the Lorrainers – whose former ducal lands had been added to the French crown only a few years before – didn’t like the sound of the rhetoric coming out of Paris, about one state, one racially and linguistically French state. However, the Lorraine front was relatively unimportant for the war as a whole and was fought almost exclusively with conventional methods. While the defence of the Col de Saverne by Colonel Ney may have been undoubtedly filmish[5] its tactics and weaponry were not revolutionary.

The French generals in the Flanders theatre were a motley crew of former royal officers and those who had risen to the top under the revolutionary reforms. Some of the latter were exceptional soldiers, while the vast majority were anything but. The most famous of the exceptional soldiers was Pierre Boulanger, who requires no introduction. It was Boulanger who was the first to realise the value of the revolutionary weapons already within the army’s arsenal, and to halt Mozart’s slow and steady advance through northern France.

Most French generals were sceptical of the Cugnot-wagon steam tractors that their artillery had been equipped with, back at the tail end of the royalist era. Many simply used them as they would horses, while complaining that finding coal was much more difficult than allowing horses to forage. Boulanger quickly saw, however, that the wagons could be started and stopped more rapidly than horses could be unlimbered and hitched up again to field pieces. The Cugnot-wagons could also typically tow pieces that would have required a full team of horses, although they needed time to build up a sufficient head of steam. Finally, the Cugnot-wagons were almost silent, save for the occasional whistle of escaping steam. Boulanger used all of these to his advantage at the decisive Battle of Lille (actually taking place some distance from the city).

Boulanger, along with other French generals, swiftly saw that the best thing to do with a large number of nervous but willing recruits was to make them attack in column. This exploited the fact that few needed to have good performance with a musket, as only those around the outside could actually fire, and the compact mass of men meant that none could flee in the heat of battle. Furthermore, it lent courage to them. It was not an attack of the column itself, but the psychological power of the vast mass of men heading towards the thin enemy lines, that lent the formation its usefulness. Furthermore, after a column had driven back the enemy a few times, its men had gained sufficiently in courage and morale that they could be trusted to deploy in line.

A column could be smashed easily enough by either enemy artillery or sufficiently well-trained and disciplined troops fighting in line. After a few reverses, Mozart was able to use these tactics to destroy most of a French army at Laon. Those Sans-Culottes who survived the artillery bombardment decided to stage a little revolution, execute their own general, elect a new one from among themselves, and flee. This story has been repeatedly told and exaggerated over the years, notably after being lampooned in several Gillray caricatures.

Boulanger finally met Mozart’s main force at Lille on November 4th, 1795, near the end of the campaigning season. So far, things had gone badly for the French. An attempted attack on the Dutch-staffed forts on the Flemish border had been repulsed, and the Austrians had managed to win three of Mozart’s desired decisive battles, Laon being the crowning glory. Another part of Mozart’s army was besieging nearby Maubeuge, demonstrating that its Vauban-era fortifications were now somewhat outdated, and unless Boulanger won this battle, the town would be forced to surrender.

Understanding the danger of a French relief of Maubeuge, Mozart took the greater part of his army to meet Boulanger’s some way east of Maubeuge, along the course of the Sambre and closer to Lille (hence the name of the battle). The Austrian army, which was in fact slightly numerically inferior to the French force, but had a larger percentage of veterans, encamped in a strong position and blocked Boulanger’s route, forcing him to make the attack.

Boulanger rapidly concocted a plan based on the fact that the battlefield was typically Low-Countries flat, and the Sambre was forded a short distance behind the Austrian lines. Guns placed on the far bank would be able to keep up a withering enfilading fire on the Austrian lines, and if the ford were defended by a force of veterans, it would be very difficult for the Austrians to attack the guns. The problem was that the ford was of course behind the enemy lines. But Boulanger had a way around that…

Both armies encamped for the night, and as was common had sentries out. Attacks at night were not unknown. But before the sun dipped below the horizon, Boulanger’s exploring officers told him that there was a small gap in the Austrian lines. There was no way that a regular artillery team could be sneaked through there, even under cover of darkness – but a Cugnot-wagon team, as quiet as the grave…?

The plan was audaciously risky in retrospect, and we can only wonder whether the then unreliable Cugnot fardiers à vapeur let off whistles of escaping steam. We can only conclude that the Austrian sentries had no notion what these sounds were, never having heard them before on a battlefield, and must have considered them to be the call of a strange bird or somesuch. Nonetheless, by dawn the French guns were assembled on the far bank, the veterans were arrayed on the ford, and the main force of Boulanger’s army attacked in column. Mozart arrayed his own troops in line to meet them, but then Boulanger played his trump card: unlike most French generals at the time, he had successfully scraped together a cavalry force. While his cavalry was undeniably inferior to the Austrians’, it fulfilled its requirement: the Austrian troops, seeing French cavalry about to attack, formed square. The dense formation made them invulnerable to cavalry attack, but sitting ducks for artillery bombardment. Which now commenced.

The battle lasted perhaps three hours, with Mozart soon realising the source of the roundshots murdering his men, and making two unsuccessful attempts to break the French veterans on the ford before giving up. The Austrian troops milled desperately between a line formation to escape the artillery and a square to defend against the French cavalry, with the result that all discipline was lost. Rather than see his army slaughtered, Mozart ordered a withdrawal, with his own cavalry covering the retreat and preventing the French cavalry from attacking. He lost perhaps a fifth of his troops, but knew that the real loss was far worse. The French could relieve Maubeuge, and more importantly they had a legend: a legend of victory.

And Joseph Cugnot himself, who had found himself locked up by the Revolutionaries along with most other scientists and engineers known to have worked for the ancien regime, was suddenly released and ordered to work with a much larger budget…

[1]OTL’s Archduke Charles of Austria and Count of Teschen – recall that all the Hapsburgs moved up one because OTL’s Francis II died in infancy.

[2]In common with most foreigners living in republics, both OTL and ATL, Lopez doesn’t realise that you’re supposed to refer to knights as ‘Sir Firstname’ even in a formal setting.

[3]Recall that the Hapsburgs managed, in TTL, to switch Bavaria for Flanders and Charles Theodore rules Flanders and the Palatinate. He is considerably more popular there than in Bavaria OTL, which he never really wanted to rule.

[4]Inspired by something in one of Boris Akunin’s books, I admit… :rolleyes:


Part #25: The Baltic Crisis

“Our victory is ultimately assured: though the nationalistically blinded powers may form temporary alliances and coalitions against us, history teaches us that all we have to do is survive, and they will eventually turn on and destroy each other for us.”

– Enrique Salvador Lopez, speech to the Global Assembly, 1957​


From – “A History of Scandinavia” by Adolf Ohlmarks:

The revival of Danish power in the late 18th century is a topic much debated among historians, both of the Baltic and elsewhere; but some conclusions may be drawn.

Certainly, a turning point most beloved of those speculative romantics (most often hailing from across the Øresund) who yearn for a less fortunate Denmark, was the death of Crown Prince Frederik, who would have succeeded King Christian VI as Frederik V, in a riding accident in 1743. Frederik was widely considered to be his father in miniature and his death resulted in the quickening of Christian VI’s own demise in 1745. This plunged Denmark into something of a governmental crisis in the middle of the Second War of Supremacy [War of the Austrian Succession], but this was not a great problem, as policy under Christian VI’s capable minister Adam Moltke was to carefully steer Denmark out of European wars. Although Sweden, Prussia and Russia were by that point engaged in war in Poland, Denmark remained in a state of careful armed neutrality.

Christian’s second son, of the same name, could not have been more different. Rejecting his father’s unpopular pietism and conservatism, Christian VII would go down in history as a dynamic and effective, if impulsive, ruler. He shocked the Christiansborg Palace court by summarily dismissing Moltke and several more of his father’s experienced ministers, bringing in his own untested favourites. There was method in his madness, however: he wished to bring about a radical shift in Danish foreign policy, and significant changes in domestic policy – and quite correctly suspected that Moltke would block him at every turn.

As a populist measure, Christian reversed his father’s introduction of adscription, serfdom by any other name. He then reconvened the Danish Diet, which had lain dormant for over a century since absolutism had come into fashion. Most biographers believe that Christian himself was, in fact, a believer in absolutism and he did not bring back the Diet for altruistic purposes. Its powers were severely limited and it was intended mainly as a foil for the powerful Danish aristocracy, which had to be curbed at every step for the King to remain an effective ruler. Poland-Lithuania was a damning example of what happened when this failed.

Christian VII’s other great early move was one which surprised commentators throughout Europe. Since the War of the British Succession and Great Britain’s Prince Frederick successfully retaking his throne from an American base, a new interest in the Americas had been sparked throughout many European courts. This encouraged the existing colonial powers to take more interest in their colonies – fatally in Spain’s case – and those without colonies to consider founding some, for prestige if no other reason. In practice, most of these schemes came to nothing, as the eastern coast of the Americas was by now almost completely settled by the Spanish, British and French, but eyebrows were nonetheless raised when Christian VII decided to sell Denmark’s own colonial possessions.

Denmark and her trading companies retained the profitable trading outposts in India, but the slave depots on the Gold Coast of Africa, along with the Virgin Islands in the West Indies with their plantations, were sold on to the Netherlands for a considerable sum. Christian and his ministers previously considered Courland, which was interested in regaining West Indian possessions after the loss of Tobago, but the somewhat impoverished Duchy was unable to match the Dutch bid. Abolitionists then and now praised Christian for this move, even though it was born purely of pragmatism.

Denmark’s North Atlantic possessions – Greenland, Iceland, and the Faeroes – were sold to Great Britain. Iceland had declined over the past few centuries since its mother country Norway had gone to the Danish crown, for the Icelandic exports of fish and wool were far less valuable to Denmark than they had been to Norway. Danish policy on protectionist trade and absolutism, removing the Icelanders’ cherished right to assembly, had also contributed to this decline. Britain, under King Frederick I and Prime Minister William Pulteney, annexed the Faeroes to the kingdom (being considered part of the Scottish islands) while the status of Iceland and Greenland remained constitutionally unclear for some years.

Iceland was eventually granted the status of a full kingdom, like Ireland and Hanover (the latter not being recognised by any other European state), and its parliament or ‘Thing’ was restored. The Icelandic economy somewhat recovered thanks to the free-trade policies of the British Whig governments, with Icelandic fish particularly being in demand in Ireland, though Iceland had problems with the North American market thanks to New England’s vast fleet of fishing boats. Greenland was the odd one out: under Christian VI it had been re-explored for the first time in an attempt to find the original settlements and convert the natives to Lutheranism. With the decline of Christian VI’s Pietism, this fell in priority and few in Denmark resisted the sale of Greenland to Britain. The British eventually transferred it to the Confederacy of New England, which established a few settlements. It was a Nantucketer explorer, George Folger, who gave the natives their modern name of ‘Enwickers’.[1]

These moves on Christian VII’s part were part of a grander strategy to focus Danish power in Europe and, more specifically, the Baltic. A Russo-Danish alliance against Sweden was his major goal, but this was not realised in Christian’s lifetime. The major problem was that Peter III of Russia was also one of the dukes of Holstein-Gottorp, a traditional Danish enemy and Swedish ally. However, it was apparent to many eyes that the current Prusso-Russian policy of buying Swedish neutrality with land was purely a stopgap measure and would have to be reversed eventually. Christian prepared Denmark to take advantage of that eventuality, building up and modernising a Baltic fleet of both galleys and line ships, while retaining his father’s policy of scrupulous neutrality with mainland European wars.

Christian was also Duke of Oldenburg, though much like his father’s the German state was low down on his list of priorities. Nonetheless, the greater focus on Denmark as a European power naturally meant that Oldenburg made a slightly larger intrusion on royal policy, which would be significant later on.

Christian VII died at the age of sixty-three in 1787, leaving behind a heavily armed state in which challengers to royal authority had been carefully twisted back onto themselves, with the Diet and the aristocracy squabbling among themselves. He had also restored some of the faith of the Danish peasantry in the monarchy, which had slipped under Christian VI’s adscription and Pietism. He was succeeded by his son, Johannes II, breaking the chain of alternating Frederiks and Christians, and named for the last Danish monarch to rule the Union of Kalmar...


“My people, before the new century is upon us, I shall make my namesake no more than a forgotten oriental soldier, we shall eclipse all his triumphs!”

– Aleksandr Grigorovich Potemkin, speech in Moscow’s Red Square, February 15th 1796​


From – “War on the Steppes” by Henry Abikoff (published by Royal Bostonian House, 1948)

The Russian Civil War was arguably preordained by Emperor Peter III’s decision in 1772 simply to exile his Empress Consort Catherine for masterminding an attempt on his life, rather than executing her. In retrospect this may have seemed a poor idea, but in practice it was unlikely that Peter would have been able to get away with such a deed. At this stage, Catherine was still very popular with the Russian public and it was all Peter dared to execute Grigory Orlov and those Leib Guards implicated in the conspiracy. Later, Catherine’s exile in Yekaterinburg meant that the fickle Muscovites and Petersburgers may have forgotten her, but Peter still did not act. It fit with his decision to release the deposed Emperor Ivan VI from prison, considering that this poor man who had been locked up and isolated since childhood was no threat. In that case, he turned out to be right, but in the other was anything but.

He was fortunate enough to outlive Catherine, who died in 1792, but she had put her twenty years of exile to good use. Catherine brought with her numerous favourites, and other Russian potentates found excuses to travel through the region. Ironically, Peter’s own interest in the colonisation of Siberia, and the Yakutsk-bound missions of Lebedev and Benyovsky, helped disguise the suspiciously increased traffic going eastward from European Russia. Catherine, who remained a powerful presence, took many lovers from among the Russian nobility and plotted a new way to unseat Peter. Several more assassination attempts failed, Peter having replaced the Leib Guards with new forces recruited from Prussia, but none were ever traced back to Catherine.

Catherine’s longest dalliance was with Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin, a Leib Guard who had escaped Peter’s purge and had been in on her coup attempt from the start. Potemkin, descended from a family of Muscovite diplomats, followed Catherine into exile and soon became the effective prime minister of Catherine’s Uralic domain. Potemkin played a double game, working his way back into St Petersburg under an assumed name and securing the responsibility for one of Peter’s colonisation projects. He proceeded to ensure that numerous settlers bound for Siberia were redirected to the environs of Yekaterinburg. Towards the end of Peter III’s life, it was questionable whether he truly ruled any of the Russian domains east of the Urals, such was Potemkin’s skill.

Potemkin himself died in 1791. He was far from Catherine’s only lover, as she had used her incomparable “charms” to secure the general Sergei Vasilievich Saltykov and many others also, but he was the only man to father children by her (including, some tongues wagged, Peter himself). Potemkin’s two sons by Catherine were Aleksandr, born 1773, and Ivan, born 1775. Though still in their teens throughout the 1780s and 90s, the boys proved to have inherited much of their parents’ ability – Aleksandr, Catherine’s ruthless ambition, and Ivan, Potemkin’s talent for organisation. After their parents’ deaths, Aleksandr effectively inherited Catherine’s position over many older men: the Urals had truly become a state.

Many people have pondered whether Peter III’s slow death from illness and old age in 1795 was, in fact, the result of a poison plot finally going right for Catherine’s forces. In truth this is probably unlikely – the Potemkin brothers were only twenty-two and twenty years old respectively, and it is likely they would have wanted to wait longer and build up more support, Aleksandr wanting to appear a more realistic contender for the crown. However, events forced their hands. Their father had set up an elaborate spy network, with the result that they learned of Peter’s death only days after Peter’s heir Paul, who was at this point Grand Duke of Lithuania.

The Lithuanian people and szlachta, on the most part fairly content with the status quo, were alarmed by this development and hushed discussions took place across the Grand Duchy. There was the possibility that Paul would continue as Grand Duke as he took the throne of Russia, neglecting Lithuania as so many other rulers with other domains had, or even create a Russo-Lithuanian union. While the szlachta believed this might be tolerable under Paul and his son Peter (Petras), who had grown up in Lithuania, Peter’s own heir would presumably be raised in Russia and it was probable that, a few decades down the line, a Russian Emperor would try to impose Orthodoxy and Russian law on Lithuania. To avoid this eventuality, the Lithuanians entered into secret talks with the Poles, who were plotting a revolt of their own as soon as Frederick William II of Prussia died. There was talk of restoring the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but there was always the nagging question “Then what?” A shaky, hastily restored Commonwealth could not resist counter-invasions by Prussia and Russia. The Poles argued for an alliance with Austria, but the Lithuanians were dubious about the prospect, and besides, Austria had had no compunctions about annexing Krakow after the War of the Polish Partition.

In the end, the talks broke down when Paul announced that he was stepping down as Grand Duke Povilas I, in favour of his eighteen-year-old son Peter as Grand Duke Petras I. This was met with much relief throughout Lithuania, as Petras had grown up there, spoke fluent Lithuanian and could be relied upon to defend the Grand Duchy’s interests against those of Russia. The Lithuanian szlachta quietly withdrew their support from the planning of the Polish rebellion, and historians have cited this as the moment when the idea of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth truly breathed its last.

Paul immediately left for St Petersburg and on January 1st 1796 (Russian calendar) was crowned Pavel I, Emperor of All the Russias and Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. His coronation celebrations, however, were interrupted by shocking reports from the east. The Potemkin brothers had assembled an army under General Saltykov and had marched on Moscow, taking the city and declaring it capital of Russia once more. Aleksandr was crowned Alexander I in St Basil’s Cathedral, and made the claim that Paul was illegitimate. In truth Paul’s own claim to the throne was somewhat shaky thanks to the meandering of the Romanov dynasty throughout the previous century. Despite Aleksandr and Ivan sharing a (German) mother with Paul, it was the boys who first founded the idea of Slavism in Russia. They used as propaganda the fact that there was not one drop of Slavic blood in Paul, and portrayed his supporters as a German conspiracy – a thread always guaranteed to resonate with the resentful Russian peasantry.

Of course, Paul was not willing to give up without a fight. He assembled his army, ironically under General Nikolai Saltykov, a distant relative of his opposite number, and marched to meet the Potemkin brothers’ forces at Smolensk.

The Russian Civil War had begun…

[1]The singular of Inuit is Inuk, which an Englishman or Nantucketer might spell Enwick, which sounds more like the name of a place, and so the mistaken belief arose that Enwick was a chief native town in Greenland and its inhabitants were called Enwickers – which was then generalised as the names of all Greenland natives.

Part #26: Devil’s Bargain

From – “A New History of the Low Countries” by Dr Jan van der Proost, English translation –

The winter of 1795 was a decisive moment in the history of the Jacobin Revolution and what it held for greater Europe. Many pro-Austrian commentators have presented the opening stages of the Flemish campaign as a series of victories for Ferdinand IV and conservative forces, but the truth is far from that rosy image. While the professional Austrian armies had indeed usually defeated the inexperienced and untried French conscripts at most engagements, they had failed to achieve a decisive battle of the type Mozart knew he needed, for purposes of morale. General Boulanger’s victory at Lille put paid to even a vague Austrian advance, and as the armies retired to winter quarters, the Austrians were left holding only scraps of northern France.

The Holy Roman Empire had lost its opportunity to strangle the revolution in its cradle. During that fateful winter, Pierre Boulanger was feted through the streets of Paris in recognition of his decisive victory – the first of any Revolutionary force, and now irretrievably linked with Cugnot’s steam technology in the public imagination – and the ideals of the Republic were consolidated. Failed generals were forced to resign, sometimes even executed, more often pensioned off, and the conscript armies were ruthlessly reorganised and trained according to Boulanger’s recommendations. The general was a new Revolutionary hero, an icon who joined Le Diamant and L'Épurateur in the pantheon (literally, under Hébert’s quasi-atheistic new pagan religion) as a symbol. The difference was, he was still alive and talking – and this presented a problem to the paranoid Robespierre, who saw everything as an attempt to undermine him. Not even an assassination of Boulanger and blaming it on the Austrians was politically possible at this stage.

In truth, Boulanger may actually have caused damage to the French war effort in some areas. He was, after all, of little military experience himself, being one of the Revolution’s children, a baker’s son risen to high command. He had a talent for warfare which, as many Revolutionary apologists have pointed out, would doubtless have never been allowed to surface under the ancien regime – but it was an savant’s talent, instinctive, difficult or impossible to teach to others. French tactics and infantry training techniques took on an almost artistic air that lent the Revolution some of its intellectual admirers abroad, but may have not been the best use of an inexperienced conscript army – at least not those with a charismatic figure like Boulanger at its head.

It is believed by some that Jean de Lisieux first met Boulanger on the direct orders of Robespierre. Lisieux was seen by Robespierre as his natural lieutenant, another as ‘Incorruptible’ as he, one who would send his own brother to the phlogisticateur if the purity of the Revolution demanded it. He was one of the few who Robespierre never saw as a threat to himself, ironically.

Lisieux and Boulanger first met with Cugnot himself in one of the taverns of Paris, away from the usual sounding boards of the Jacobin Club, and the three discussed their ideas for the use of Cugnot’s steam technologies. Lisieux realised how great a propaganda tool they could be if handled correctly, while Boulanger was interested in further military applications. Later they were joined by Robert Surcouf, one of France’s more brilliant sailors and a man who specialised in privateering. Surcouf recognised that France’s navy would always be a secondary force to its army, second in all considerations of training and funding whether under the ancien regime or the new Republic, and could thus never have much hope of defeating Britain’s Royal Navy even before the losses of the Marseilles and Quiberon mutinies. Therefore, he advocated the development of new tactics with small ships, and in discussion with the Boulanger-Cugnot-Lisieux triad, realised that the Cugnot steam technology could also be a new and unpredictable force at sea…

Much of the fate of the world was decided in those few, brief meetings. Boulanger was called away to his winter quarters in Saint-Quentin (soon to be renamed the more Revolutionarily proper Diamantbourg), a move welcomed by Robespierre. It emerged that Revolutionary ideas had been flowing across the border with Flanders even in the winter, brought by travellers, merchants and some French deserters. While the Flemings themselves remained fairly well-off, the Prince-Bishop of Liège played second fiddle to Charles Theodore, and francophone Liège was also more susceptible to French ideas straight from the horse’s mouth. Liège had also been a centre of French Enlightenment ideas in the decades preceding the Revolution, and so could be said to be ‘primed’ to follow France down the red path.

During the coldest and most deprived part of the winter, Revolutionary sentiment was ignited and the people rose up, overthrowing the Prince-Bishop and a popular council requested entry to the French Republic. This naturally provoked alarm in the Holy Roman Empire, and Mozart gave siege to Liège. The city held, but was already low on supplies and had been weakened by the damages of its private revolution. Boulanger’s deputy in Saint-Quentin, Thibault Leroux, immediately brought part of the French army out of winter quarters and marched to relieve the siege. The army was joined by Boulanger midway, the general perhaps forgetting about the cosy meetings he had taken part in in Paris.

Jean de Lisieux had not forgotten. It was at this time that he published La Vapeur est Républicaine (“Steam is Republican”), a pamphlet which used the Revolutionary ideology to promote Cugnot’s steam engines as being fundamentally Revolutionary in character. “The aristocrat…possesses a horse, and thus must possess the land and feed and servants to maintain that horse, and so the people know that he wishes to be known as rich and…superior…however, a Cugnot wagon cares not whether the man at the wheel was born in Versailles or the banlieue?” Thus, steam was ideologically correct, and steam was The Thing. In addition to Cugnot receiving additional funding, intrigued French and even foreign artisans and inventors begged apprenticeship, and soon many applications for steam engines were developed. Some of this got back, belatedly, to Britain and the Germanies, where steam engines existed but were still mainly used for stationary applications, such as pumping water out of mines. In Britain, the new applications were masterminded by James Watt and John Wilkinson, while the young Richard Trevithick remained in the mine, but began to wonder if the Cugnot wagon concept could also be applied to a mine wagon on rails…

But steam played little part in Boulanger’s relief of the Siege of Liège. In the end, the Austrian army, having outrun its supply lines, was forced to withdraw. Boulanger had scraped together some cavalry while in Paris – riding, of course, those very improper horses – and overcame his earlier problem, harrying Mozart as he retreated. The frustrated Austrian and Imperial forces, who had been hoping for plunder, pillaged the hinterland of the Prince-Bishopric as they withdrew, and continued doing so even after crossing into Flanders proper. Mozart may have been a fine general in many ways but he could not control his men’s marauding. It is ironic that at this stage such behaviour actually worked in favour of Revolutionary France.

Flanders began to seethe with resentment at the Imperial presence. Duke Charles Theodore and his chief minister, Emmanuel Grosch, were sensitive to these undercurrents and knew that their position was tenuous. Charles Theodore had only gained Flanders a few years before thanks to the Austrian land exchange, and while he was fairly well liked, the murmured incidents of Austrian pillaging and other destructive incidents served to remind people of his origins – installed by the Holy Roman Emperor. Ferdinand IV’s name was openly defamed in the street.

And yet the Flemings were not receptive to the Revolutionary ideals pouring over the border, at least not save a few francophones[1]. Perhaps it was simply the notion that one France is as bad as another, and memories of Marshal Saxe. Perhaps, as the Noveltist Tories in Britain argue, that Charles Theodore’s very sense of newness saved him from the Revolution, in contrast to the never-ending line of Louises in France. But for whatever reason, Charles Theodore knew he and his fragile young country were being squeezed in a vise. If the French won the spring campaign, all was lost. And if they lost, then Flanders would be forced to supply the vast Austrian army, which might spark public feeling into an attempted coup. The example of Liège was there, though its specific sentiments perhaps not widely shared.

Grosch had visited the battlefield of Liège and knew that Boulanger was honourable, whatever his proletarian origins. He advised Charles Theodore that here was a man they could negotiate with. Boulanger, for his part, was nervous. He was confident that his newly reformed French armies could blunt the spearhead of the Austrian advance, but for once the Austrians had managed to pull most of the powerful states within the Empire into the war. Conservatism had finally, shakily united Saxony and what was left of Brandenburg with the Austrians, who now also commanded the former Bavarian army, and Badenese and Württemberger forces were marching into Lorraine, despite now-General Ney’s best efforts. With the Austrians also allied with the Kingdom of Sardinia, France was fighting a war on too many fronts. They were only fortunate that the Spanish advance had glided to an unenthusiastic halt after the seizing of Navarre. Boulanger knew they needed to reduce the number of contact points with the enemy, to give France to expand its army and concentrate it where it was needed best. So Grosch’s proposal came heaven-sent to him, or whatever proper Revolutionaries were supposed to believe in this week.

The winter of 1795 also saw the development of many classically Revolutionary ideas, such as the decimalised calendar and Thouret’s departmental system, but the Boulanger-Grosch agreement was perhaps the most significant. Strangely, at first glance at least, Robespierre approved the deal. It may seem contradictory with his own ideas about spreading the Revolution, but he saw it as a way of undermining Boulanger – which, in the short term, it did…

The spring 1796 campaign included the deployment of a small number of British troops to Flanders under Prince Frederick the Prince of Wales, while both Britain and North America continued to raise and train new regiments for the coming war. Ironically perhaps, it was the Americans who had more skilled troops on hand, if not for this kind of warfare. Since 1759, America had fought several wars of expansion with the Indians on its borders: the Iroquois and the Cherokee had remained allied with the Empire, but the Lenapa, Creek and many others had been driven westward or even wiped out. Notably, the French-backed Huron were decisively smashed by an American army and only two remnant groups survived. One petitioned for entry into their old enemies the Iroquois Confederacy as a Seventh Nation, and was eventually accepted with reduced rights. The second fled westward, but remained a more coherent group than most, and would eventually cause problems for the Superians. But that is another aside.

In spring 1796, Mozart decided to leave a small besieging force at Liège and press on into France, trying once more for his decisive battle. The French remained spread out, forcing Mozart’s armies to match them, but Boulanger implemented a new strategy of pinprick raids by Cugnot artillery supported by cavalry. Mozart brought his army back together in reaction and was faced by a far larger French army under Boulanger at Cambrai. Mozart won a pyrrhic victory, proving that the old-fashioned Austrian deep line tactics could still triumph against the conscript columns and Cugnot artillery. However, the Austrian army had lost sufficient numbers and supplies that the cautious Mozart decided to retreat back to Flanders in order to bring up the numbers from newly arrived Bavarian troops. And this was when Grosch’s plan came into play.

Duke Charles Theodore, speaking in Brussels’ Grand Place to the people in the Revolutionary manner, made a public declaration of independence from the Holy Roman Empire. “The destiny of the Low Countries lies not with the Empire, nor with the Republic, but with our own path.” He barred the entry of armed forces loyal to either the Consulate or the Emperor to Flemish territory and those forces already there were asked to leave. It was a ridiculous boast in the abstract, for Flanders’ own army remained small, but Grosch’s trump card was a shock declaration of support for Charles Theodore from the Flemings’ traditional enemy, the Stadtholder-General of the United Netherlands, William V of Orange. William knew that, to the French Revolutionaries, oligarchic republics like his own (and Genoa was a telling example) were as bad as, if not worse than, the absolute monarchies. There was a strong undercurrent of Revolutionary sentiment among the Dutch, who typically did not equate this with French conquest as the Flemings did, and William was aware his position was tenuous.

Despite rivalries between the two halves of the Low Countries since the Eighty Years’ War, the Dutch already had some agreements with the Flemings, such as using their troops to man the border forts, and it was primarily Dutchmen who fired the warning shots to repel Mozart’s army when he attempted to retreat into Flanders. Likewise, the Dutch Navy – second in Europe only to Britain’s – offered to transport Prince Frederick’s untried little army back to Britain free of charge, and warned that any attempt to prosecute the war further would result in naval clashes. This was shamefacedly accepted by the Duke of Portland’s government, and was one reason behind its fall in July 1796.

The more important reason was that Edmund Burke had died the week before, and without his eminence grise, Portland had no hope of continuing to have the House’s confidence. Portland resigned, but George III asked the Marquess of Rockingham to form a new right-wing Whig government with court party support. Rockingham was still unpopular over the Africa Bubble scandal, but he was known to have experience as a wartime Prime Minister during the Second Platinean War, and was therefore broadly welcomed. The new Rockinghamite government advocated the prosecution of a naval war and supported rapproachment with the Dauphin’s exiled government. However, it shed supporters as the war went on with little progress in sight. One of them was Richard Burke, Edmund’s son,[2] who rejected the pragmatic Rockinghamite approach (“how can this situation benefit Britain?”) and essentially argued that an ideological problem (the French Revolution) required an ideological solution. It is notable that Burke, though considered too young to be a minister at the time, was commonly to be seen in Blanche’s, a new London club opened for exiled French royalists to congregate, speaking with the Dauphin himself…

As for Mozart’s army, after failing to force one of the Dutch border forts and being repulsed by French-held Liège, it was led on a long southern retreat down to the border of Trier, where the remnants of the army could finally cross back into the Empire. All along the way it was harried by French Cugnot-artillery, cavalry and even peasant partisans. Though Mozart had won a victory, by the time his tired army glimpsed Trier’s cathedral, it was a shadow of its former self. Meanwhile, the Bavarian army in Flanders had been defeated by the Dutch and turncoat Flemish and had also retreated into the Empire. Bavaria was still unenthusiastic about Austrian rule and its troops remained low on morale in such a conflict, in which their homeland was clearly not threatened (yet).

So it was that Grosch’s and Charles Theodore’s shocking gamble paid off, astonishing the world. By the Treaty of Liège, the Republic of France kept that city but Flanders took the northern hinterland, helping to join up Charles Theodore’s scattered territories. The Netherlands signed a formal treaty with Flanders on 4th August 1796, the treaty that became the Maastricht Pact. Some minor territorial exchanges were carried out for similar reasons, and the Dutch recognised the Flemish claim to Trier, which Charles Theodore could use to combine Flanders and his Palatinate into a single functioning state. In turn, Flemish forces helped crush an attempted Dutch revolution in Amsterdam and Den Haag around October 1796, with the result that William V kept his position as Stadtholder, and his head. The Dutch Navy continued to be enough warning to prevent Britain from intervening, while the Austrians soon had too much on their plate to pay back the Flemings for their betrayal…just as Boulanger had planned.

[1]NB in TTL Flanders is the name of what we would term all of Belgium, so ‘Flemings’ encompasses both what we would call Flemings and Walloons.

[2]In OTL Richard Burke failed to live up to his father’s talents, though he remained beloved and it was his early death that drove the elder Burke to his grave. In TTL he’s more of a clone of the elder.


Interlude #5: World News Roundup

Dr Bruno Lombardi: We now come to a stage where it is perhaps worth examining those divergences from our own timeline outside the Western world and those areas immediately affected by it.

Dr Thermos Pylos: You will understand that many of these changes may not be referenced in source material –

Dr Bruno Lombardi: A historian limited to his own timeline cannot write that a civil war hasn’t happened, for example.

Dr Thermos Pylos: Quite so.

Dr Bruno Lombardi: Therefore, though it is not a method which I personally favour, being open to misinterpretation and subjectional colouring –

Captain Christopher Nuttall: Gentlemen, please just get on with it.

Dr Thermos Pylos: Very well. Let us begin with the Middle East…

Captain Christopher Nuttall: Oh goody!

Dr Bruno Lombardi: Pardon?

Captain Christopher Nuttall: Nothing. I didn’t say anything.


Summary of Divergences, notes by Dr Bruno Lombardi:

Oman: As in OTL, Persia was driven from Oman in 1744 and Ahmed ibn Sayyid As-Sayyid was elected Imam. However, unlike OTL, the Qais branch of the As-Sayyid family was essentially strangled at birth…it remains unclear as to whether this was due to the deaths of important figures or simply historical ‘butterflies’ in schemes during the period of Ahmed As-Sayyid’s rule…however, what is clear is that the entire nation passed peacefully into the hands of Ahmed’s son Sayyid ibn Ahmed As-Sayyid and there was no division as OTL into Muscat and Oman. Two important consequences of this are that united Oman further cultivated its East African trading colonies relative to OTL, and that the port of Gwadar in Baluchistan was not ceded to the ruler of Muscat (as there was none) by the Khan of Kalat. This reduced Omani interest and influence in India relative to OTL…

Persia: Unlike OTL, Abol Fath Khan was a worthy successor to his father Karim Khan, and led Zand Persia in a successful crushing of the Qajar rebellion in Mazanderan – with the death of the Qajar leader Agha Mohammed Khan. The Zand dynasty continued to rule over an expanded but largely peaceful domain. The later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were a golden age for Persia, as the Ottomans remained focused on Europe and Europeans penetrated far more slowly into the neighbouring Indian states relative to OTL. Abol Fath Khan maintained his father’s title of Vakilol Ro'aya, Advocate of the People, rather than Shah, although that remained in informal use.

As with Mysore (q.v.), Persia was one of the few non-European states to take an interest in the development of the French Revolution, and some Revolutionary ideas were experimented with. Mohammed ar-Ramadi, a merchant and natural philosopher at the royal court in Shiraz, developed a new decimalised system of measurements that managed to incorporate the customary units mentioned in the Koran, but fitted them into a more rational framework.[1]

Under the Zands, Persia retained greater territories in, and influence over the remainder of, Mesopotamia than the Ottomans relative to OTL. Some new European-inspired weapons and tactics were incorporated into the Persian army, though to a lesser extent than occurred in some of the states of India (who were witnessing the importance of those tactics themselves). Portugal remained Persia’s major European trading partner, and Portugal’s unofficial alignment with the United Provinces of South American meant that U.P. ships were soon commonly seen trading in Persian ports also. It was a U.P. navigator, José Rodriguez-Decampo, who made the first scientific survey and sounding of the Shatt al-Arab in 1803, under commission by Sadiq Khan.[2]

Japan: Is difficult to judge, as few records of the relevant period survive for comparison with OTL, for reasons that will become clear…

Corea: Remained isolationist until events in China meant that the status quo was no longer tenable – once more, records of the relevant period are sketchy. There appear to have been no significant changes in rulers or policy relative to OTL throughout much of the eighteenth century. This changed, however, in 1770… (q.v.)

China and Burma: During the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor, his favourite son, Hongli, the Prince Bao (who in OTL became the Qianlong Emperor) drowned in a river in 1733. This was a dramatic shock to both Yongzheng and Chinese political culture in general, as everyone had expected Hongli to become Emperor and he had been beloved of both Yongzheng and his predecessor, the illustrious Kangxi Emperor. Foul play by siblings was suspected, as Yongzheng had himself risen to his position by defeating his brothers and been frustrated in his ambitions ever since. Yongzheng fell into a long fevered illness as a result, but recovered and, unlike OTL, lived until 1754 rather than 1735. Possibly he realised that he needed to create a clear new line of succession before his death, else China fall back into a warlord period with no obvious candidate for Emperor.

Although suspicious that he had, in fact, been responsible for Hongli’s death, Yongzheng eventually settled on his elder brother Hongshi, favoured by Yongzheng’s minister Yinsi the Prince Lian. Hongshi adopted the name Prince Zhong, which evoked the idea that he would be a bridge between a glorious past and a glorious future. When Yongzheng did die, Hongshi/Zhong ascended to the Dragon Throne in a fairly peaceable manner, with only desultory attempts from other candidates. He took the era name Daguo or Great Nation, with overtones of a strong fortress. This reflected his policies as Son of Heaven: due to his father’s own lack of success in combating the Dzungars on the steppes, he decided that it was not possible for the Chinese army to beat the nomads on their own turf,[3] and instead adopted a more conservative, defensive policy. Daguo created what was known poetically as Xin Chengchang, the New Great Wall, on China’s eastern frontier with the Dzungars – in practice this was more of a series of fortified towns and military outpost than a ‘wall’ in the literal sense of the original. While Dzungaria proper was not brought under Chinese rule, the Dzungars were defeated twice during attempted invasions and eventually paid at least token homage to the Daguo Emperor.

During Daguo’s reign, the Dzungars seemed a decidedly minor threat compared to expansionist Konbaung Dynasty Burma, which successfully conquered the Mon kingdom of Pegu and the Siamese kingdom of Ayutthaya. Burmese power and influence was beginning to extend into Chinese areas, which was unacceptable. In the 1760s, General Myat Htun seized the capital Ava and attempted to establish a renewed Toungoo Dynasty, overthrowing King Naungdawgyi of the Konbaung. However, Naungdawgyi assembled his own army and gave siege. It was at this point that the British East India Company offered to support the royal forces in return for greater trading rights, and Naungdawgyi accepted.[4]

Myat Htun fled with his army when he heard of this, having learned of the power that the EIC could call upon during one of his western campaigns, and sought exile in China. The Daguo Emperor’s ministers realised that this could be used as a weapon against expansionist Burma, and sent Myat Htun back with a Qing army to “restore the native dynasty” – this being a little hypocritical considering the Qing’s own origins.

Naungdawgyi had ruled Burma unopposed, with extensive East India trade, from 1760 to 1768, when the Chinese invaded. By this point, only token EIC forces remained in Burma, and Naungdawgyi was defeated by the Qing.[5] The Kingdom crumbled after the Chinese took Ava and Myat Htun installed Mahadammayaza as restored Tougou Dynasty King. The new state, which extended little beyond Ava, was firmly in China’s pocket and closed to British trade, as were the “freed” states of Pegu and Ayutthaya. Naungdawgyi’s brother Minhkaung Nawrahta, the Viceroy of Tougou (the city, no present connection to the dynasty) established his own state, which continued trade with Britain and requested EIC assistance against further Chinese expansion. In truth, though, Daguo was content to have smashed any semblance of a united, powerful Burmese state, and did not seek further control among the remnants.

More importantly in the long run, Hsinbyushin, another brother of Naungdawgyi, fled south and west with much of what remained of the Burmese army, abandoning Ava. A charismatic leader, Hsinbyushin managed to inspire even this dispirited remnant to overrun and seize the kingdom of Arakan, which had already been weakened by several Burmese attempts in recent years. After defeating the Arakanese army, Hsinbyushin established his seat of power in the Arakanese capital Mraukou and continued to exercise control over the south and west of what had been the Burmese kingdom. During his reign the Arakanese language was suppressed in favour of Burman, and direct contact with the British in Bengal was made.

Having secured a position of power in the south and defended against the Dzungars in the east, China remained oblivious to what was happening on its northern frontier until 1799…

[1]Similar to the system used in the modern People’s Republic of China, in which traditional names for units are used but they correspond to new metric lengths.

[2]This Sadiq Khan is Abol Fath Khan’s son named for Karim Khan’s brother, who does not become Shah in TTL.

[3]Inaccurately, as the Qianlong Emperor’s forces managed it in OTL.

[4]In OTL the Burmese massacred some Britons in 1759 and the EIC, after briefly attempting to secure reparations and an apology and then continue trade, decided it wasn’t worth it, as they were no longer competing with the French for Burmese trade anyway. In TTL French power in India is anything but crushed, there was no massacre and the EIC greatly desires the superior trading position with Burma.

[5]In OTL Naungdawgyi died young and was succeeded by his brother Hsingbyushin, who successfully defeated several Chinese invasions with some able generals – as Naungdawgyi did not exactly inspire loyalty in OTL, with many more rebellions and breakaway generals than Hsingbyushin, I am assuming that any Burmese response to the Chinese invasion in TTL will be much less coherent and decisive, and the state will crumble rapidly.

Part #27: New Worlds

“…there is no better example than America, when one considers the notion that our actions have consequences far removed from the present. Groups have gone into that wilderness and been swallowed like a black star[1], only to re-emerge as strange tribes or nations centuries later. It is a furnace and a forge, which takes up raw material and spits it out against as strange tools indeed…”

– private journal of Prime Minister Henry Starling, on the election of Andrew Everett as President of Superia (1994)​


From - Annum Septentrionalium: A History of North America, by Paul Withers (1978) -

Although the Continental Parliament of the Empire of North America was not truly instated until 1788, it had been known by all that this was inevitable since the (oftsince exaggerated) protests of the 1760s and the Pitt Ministry in London had begun the constitutional process, despite opposition from the Tories. Indeed, it was Pitt’s position which had brought a large number of Radical Whigs into the succeeding First Rockingham Ministry, when (as a study of the second ministry will show) Rockingham was hardly a man to attract men of such political persuasion in the abstract.

The British Radicals approved of the Continental Parliament, both on principle and because it allowed them to ‘test’ more revolutionary political ideas which would never be accepted at home, at least not yet. In fact some British Radicals took the opportunity in the 1760s to move across the Atlantic and gain residency in American provinces so they might run as MCPs (or Parliamentarians as the preferred American phrase was). This did not meet with much success, however. The American people had been used to more minor parliamentary institutions, such as the Virginian House of Burgesses, for many years, and typically had a stronger preference for electing local men than the British, who were willing to tolerate absentee MPs providing they defended local interests. Only three of the hopeful Radical statesmen were elected, all of them in borough constituencies,[2] and the vast majority eventually returned home and re-engaged with British politics. It is interesting to speculate on the consequences if more of them had been elected, as the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century was a time of conservatism in America and radicalism in Britain – it could easily have been reversed.

It is also, then, not a surprise that the Continental Parliament began business almost immediately, and outstanding issues considered universal by the confederations were dealt with first. While there was a general disagreement on how much power the federal Continental Parliament should have vis-à-vis the confederal assemblies (broadly speaking, the sentiment became less federal and more confederal as one moved south), some areas were considered important enough by all the confederacies to move on regardless of constitutional questions. Arguably, this set the scene for the general federal consensus that persisted for some decades, as this became ‘the way things are done, the way that we know works’. It is generally considered that the Constitutional Party would have been instituted a more confederal consensus stance if they had had a majority in the first parliament, but by the time they achieved power, moderate federalism had become the accepted status quo.

Some of the areas in which the Continental Parliament was most active in the early days were: transfer of control of all but military-based taxation from London to Fredericksburg; agreement on the settlement lines for the different Confederations and the territories assigned to the allied Indian nations (only the Iroquois were actually consulted on this); the issue of American stamps and the establishment of an Imperial Mint so that the American economy would not rely chiefly on Spanish dollars (the first gold ‘Emperors’, equivalent to Britain’s Sovereign, were minted in 1794) and, most significantly perhaps in the long run, the closing of all Confederate lands to transportation.

Britain had been using the American colonies as a dumping ground for convicts since time immemorial, a policy that was (understandably) rather unpopular with the colonists who had settled there by choice. In 1789 the Continental Parliament passed the Anti-Transportation Act, signed into law by Lord Deputy William North, which made transportation to the Empire illegal unless specific permission was granted by confederal legislatures (a sop to the more confederal sympathies in the Constitutionalist Party). The bill had been passed overwhelmingly, and North advised the King in a letter that American feeling on the issue was too strong to ignore. In this he was supported by Prince Frederick the Prince of Wales, who was touring the colonies at the time. George III and Edmund Burke (the real power behind the nominal Prime Minister Lord Portland) took this advice seriously and, despite strong protests from some landed interests at Westminster, an accompanying Anti-Transportation (North America) Act was far more narrowly passed by the Liberal Whig government. Transportation to Imperial lands became illegal, although it still continued to a lesser extent by privateering transporters who sold out their services to corrupt magistrates, usually in British seaports.

This arguably led to the creation of the American Preventive Cutter Service[3] in 1796 to take action against illegal transportation and smuggling, one of the two geneses of the Imperial Navy (see also: HMS Enterprize). The British had no intention of ceasing the highly effective punishment that transportation represented, so a new location for a penal colony was required. In reality several were used, and it is simply that Susan-Mary was the largest and most infamous.

Initially, it appeared Newfoundland would be the new choice. It was easily accessible from the Atlantic, was isolated and an island, thus making escape difficult, and the British interests who supported its use believed the existing population was too small to matter. However, this proved an incorrect assumption when, in 1803, the Newfoundland colonists petitioned to join the Confederation of New England as a province, disliking the establishment of the Cloudborough penal colony on the island’s northwest coast. Although arms were twisted and only the free-settled half of the island was actually accepted as a province, this effectively ended the use of the island as a dumping ground.

Some convicts were sent to West Africa, for which see The Space-Filling Empire for a more detailed history.

However, certainly the most infamous penal colony was that of Susan-Mary. At first its location may seem rather nonsensical, even paradoxical, and some have theorised that its choice was deliberately forced by idealistic parliamentary Radicals who wanted to discourage the practice of transportation by making it more difficult. In practice, however, it appears that this was primarily a Wolfeian policy[4]. As a result of the Treaty of London (1785) which ended the Second Platinean War, Britain and latterly the Empire had gained control over much of the hinterland of the former French Louisiana territory, though France had retained New Orleans and some of the surrounding lands. While the newly-won Louisiana territory was mostly unsettled, the northern lands around Lake Michigan had a sizeable French presence dating back to the seventeenth century. This was considered dangerous by both London and Fredericksburg; few doubted that yet another war with France was shortly around the corner (although few could have predicted the form it would take) and there was always the possibility that the French colonists centred around Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit might be able to stab the Empire in the back, particularly if they could threaten New Yorker traffic on the Great Lakes.

An agreement signed in 1794 killed two birds with one stone. The British would create a new penal colony out of Michigan and pursue Wolfeian policies there to ‘dilute out’, as it was euphemistically put, the French population. At the same time, New York and New England would create a Great Lakes Patrol which, though far less ambitious in scope than the later, Atlantic coastal American Preventive Cutter Service, would serve to prevent prisoner escape (at least by a water route) and guard against any attempt by the French colonists to build a fleet. In truth these ideas were largely borne of American paranoia, the remaining French being too few and in no position to threaten anyone, but it sold the idea to the American public.

The first survey of the region was conducted in 1796 by HMS Marlborough, whose crew included the naturalist Erasmus Darwin (jr.), who published a series of articles on the flora and fauna of the Great Lakes. The Marlborough’s Captain Paul Wilkinson recommended the use of the small French city of Sault-Ste-Marie as the centre of the new colony, rather than Fort Pontchartrain as had been initially assumed. Wilkinson argued that Pontchartrain was unsuitable for a variety of reasons and that the fort would have to be demolished or re-manned for safety. By contrast, Sault-Ste-Marie was a major population centre by Michiganian standards and most urgently required a ‘Wolfeian Dilution’.

The First Fleet of convicts left Britain on May 15th, 1801, and arrived at its destination (sailing up the St Lawrence) on November 12th. The early history of the colony has much been attested to in its harshness, of cruel treatment of both the British convicts and French colonists by the military regime in place there. The colony swiftly became a dumping ground for incompetent and cruel British military officers as much as it was for the convicts themselves. The official name of Marlborough Colony was soon forgotten, and it was a crude convict anglicisation of the French name…Sault-Ste-Marie becoming Soo San Maree and then Susan-Mary…that would be the name the colony would be known by in the eyes of history. A history written in letters of blood, a history that would play out while the eyes of the world, even the eyes of North America, were turned elsewhere…

[1]Alternative term for black hole from OTL, used as the primary one in TTL.

[2]The American electoral system is based on the British one here, with some refinements as it has been implemented from scratch rather than slowly developing over time. Each province or ‘shire’ within the confederations elect one MP, like the counties of England (sometimes rising to two MPs, or four for Yorkshire in England, depending on the population). In addition to this, any city recognised as a Borough by royal charter elects one or two MPs, again depending on population. So, for example, the Confederation of New England as of 1788 elects 8 MPs: one each for the provinces of Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New Connecticut, South Massachusetts, North Massachusetts and New Scotland, and one more for the city of Boston, which is the only one with Borough status at that time.

[3]In OTL His Majesty’s Coast Guard was implemented under the name Preventive Water Guard in 1809, while the U.S. Coast Guard was created under the name Revenue Cutter Service in 1790. Here the usage is a hybrid of the two, particularly as the primary objective here is the prevention of smuggling and illegal transportation rather than enforcing tariff revenue as with the American version in OTL.

[4]A term based on the policies of the first Governor-General of Canada, James Wolfe, who in TTL did not die in the hour of his triumph. Wolfe oversaw the de-francisation of Québec (generally just called Canada in TTL), a policy which met with mixed feelings in British circles, outrage in France of course and approval in the Empire. By the 1790s, Québec City had been renamed Wolfesburg, while Montréal had been anglicised to Mount Royal, and the French colonial population had been outnumbered by immigrants from New England, it being agreed that the territory would eventually become a series of New Englander provinces. Many canadiens emigrated from Canada to Louisiana, the last French possession in continental North America, where they became the source of its ‘Canajun’ subculture.

Part #28: The Trident

La terreur n'est autre chose que la justice du Peuple.
Terror is nothing more than the People’s justice.

–Jean-Baptiste Robespierre​


From – “France Under the Consulate” by Étienne Jacquard, 1925:

Scholars debate upon when to say that Robespierre’s Reign of Terror truly began. Some date it truly from the start of the Consulate, when Robespierre became First Consul and cowed the National Legislative Assembly. However, though the chirurgien and the phlogisticateur were both in bloody action from that day, it is possible to argue that in the early days of Robespierre’s reign, such measures were at least aimed at men and women who had been privileged under the ancien régime, sometimes even having committed directly attributable crimes.

As 1795 wore on, though, and all such people were either executed or fled the country, any hope that the killing machines would slow proved a vain one. Robespierre believed first and foremost in the ‘purity’ of the Revolutionary French state. Though he supported the idea of exporting the revolution eventually, this would have to wait until France herself was free from any reactionary elements. Reactionary elements were essentially determined as those who did not agree with Robespierre.

March 1796 saw the events from which many historians draw the start of the Terror. A group of Parisian counter-revolutionaries, their cell having been discovered, were attacked by Sans-Culotte irregulars led by Georges Hébert himself, who took delight in personally supervising the destruction of churches and other symbols of the ancien régime by the mob. Notre Dame herself had been reduced to merely a warehouse for storing power and shot. Thus, when the counter-revolutionaries took refuge in one of Paris’ few surviving church buildings, Hébert was determined to see their defeat with his own eyes. He ordered them to be burned out. A mistake.

As soon as the first Sans-Culotte had dropped his smoking carcass[1] through the church window, it exploded. Hébert had been wrong – he and his men had already done this one, and the counter-revolutionaries had known it. They sacrificed their own lives to take the others with them, blowing the huge powder store that the Revolutionaries had kept here for dealing with just this sort of incident.

The explosion was sufficiently powerful to devastate a large chunk of the surrounding streets, with hurled fragments of statue and gargoyle landing as far away as Versailles. A fire started and destroyed perhaps one-sixth of the city before it was put out. Hébert himself, of course, and all the Sans-Culottes were virtually vaporised. Nothing was ever found, and when there is no body, anyone can claim to be acting in his name. That was as true under the Consulate, with its power concentrated in three men, as it had been under any decadent kingdom with pretenders to the throne, a point which many Royalist writers have made.

It never took much for Paris to erupt into mob violence, and the church explosion was a trigger. Counter-revolutionaries fought the new Garde Nationale, commanded by Jean de Lisieux, which absorbed or destroyed all remaining Parisian Sans-Culotte militias in the process. Lisieux was aided by his contacts in the “Boulangerie” or “Steam Circle”, as the group of technological and military thinkers working on Cugnot’s technology were known. Lisieux, who was known for his grandstanding, used some of the new Cugnot applications to the full. One of Cugnot’s latest works was a huge armoured steam-wagon with holes in the sides for musketeers within to shoot out. He called it “La Tortue”, the Tortoise. Experiments had shown it was too slow and cumbersome to be of much use in the field, but it worked well enough on the wider of Paris’ streets. After the Tortues had cleared the mob from the Champs-Élysées, Lisieux stood atop the flat roof of one of the Tortues and waved the Bloody Flag, accompanied by cheers from his followers.

The counter-revolutionary rising was short and rapidly cracked down on, but it had two important consequences. One was that Robespierre, having lost his chief lieutenant Hébert, degenerated further into paranoia. Of course, the fact that the counter-revolutionaries had come seemingly from nowhere only fed his belief that ‘impurity’ was lurking everywhere around. The second was that Jean de Lisieux was catapulted into a new position of power, effectively having assimilated the Paris mob into his Garde Nationale. He who controlled the mob ruled Paris, and Robespierre knew it.

Hébert was quickly declared dead by the National Legislative Assembly, although it did not stop some impostors making further comeback attempts – most celebrated of which was the case of Josué Dechardin, who fooled the people of distant Gascony that he was Hébert sent on a special mission for a full year, extracting money, women and privileges from the terrified Gascon locals, until the fate of the real Hébert was published and he high-tailed it out of town with the more portable part of Bordeaux’s treasury. This case too is often quoted by Royalist writers.

Robespierre unilaterally chose Lisieux as the new Consul, realising that he had no real choice lest he provoke the Paris mob. However, this enraged both the Mirabeauiste faction of the NLA, which still believed that the Revolution was a force for democracy, and Danton’s splinter faction of the majority Jacobins, as Danton had saw himself as the next Consul-in-line. Robespierre reacted predictably, hauling off about a third of the NLA to be summarily executed as enemies of the People, including Danton, and then reducing the suffrage to Sans-Culottes only[2]. Lisieux’s power grew, eclipsing the resentful third consul Jean Marat, and Robespierre continued to sign so many death warrants that he barely had enough time to consider any other state business. Part of this upsurge of the Terror was also an attempt to undermine Lisieux’s support, as Robespierre saw how powerful he was becoming, but this largely failed – not least because it was men loyal to Lisieux who actually ran the chirurgiens and phlogisticateurs. And while Robespierre was consumed with the Terror, Lisieux was quietly taking over much of the day-to-day state business…


From – “The Jacobin Wars – the Italo-German Front” by Joshua H. Calhoun (University of New York Press, 1946) -

The early stages of the Franco-Austrian war had been indecisive, with Boulanger stopping the Austrian thrust through Flanders first through battles and then through diplomacy. 1796 ended with no real change from 1794, with France holding a few towns in Savoy and Austria a few in Lorraine, but none of the decisive action that people had expected from either side. That now changed. Both sides had built up their forces and prepared for a war-winning action.

Ferdinand IV’s Austria focused on calling more German states to their side: the loss of Flanders had been a bitter betrayal after Austria had placed Charles Theodore on his throne. Saxony, the most powerful German state after Austria[3], entered the war when Flemish troops occupied Saxon Trier in what was called ‘Charles Theodore’s Road’, connecting Flanders with the Palatinate so that both could be held against attack. Sardinia was already at war with France, but had suffered losses in the 1796 campaigning season as the people of Genoa overthrew their ancient Republic and were occupied by French forces under General Lazare Hoche, giving France a dagger pointed at the heart of Piedmont.

France, meanwhile, focused on training their existing troops according to Boulanger’s ideas and in recruiting more men for the army and the Garde Nationale, whose secondary role was to repulse foreign invasions and organise resistance against occupiers. Ironically, Robespierre’s Terror actually helped recruitment, as young Frenchmen decided that they were less likely to be killed if they went to a foreign field and were shot at by Germans, as opposed to staying at home quietly and waiting for their name to come up on Robespierre’s list of enemies of the people. Technically conscription was already in force, but at this stage it was difficult to enforce outside the Ile-de-France where the Revolutionaries exerted absolute power. As before, their looser control over wider France was essentially a relic of the Bourbons’ centralising policies, in which it was customary to do whatever Paris said. The exception was western France, but the Revolutionaries did not realise that their power over those regions was only theoretical until later on…

During the winter of 1796, the “Boulangerie” became effectively France’s high command in all but name. Far from being disgraced as Robespierre had planned, Boulanger was now deciding the strategic battle plan for all France’s armies. His eventual plan for the 1797 campaigning season was called Poséidon. The code name was chosen to confuse British agents into thinking it was a naval plan, perhaps making them believe that Britain was in danger of being invaded (which, as over half the French fleet had been destroyed or gone over to the exiled Dauphin, was simply not the case). In truth the plan was so-named because of Poseidon’s trident: it was a three-bladed stroke.

Although modern writers think of Poséidon as being a great triumph of strategic thinking, in fact it was largely a compromise between conflicting interests. General Ney favoured a head-on blow against the Austrians in Lorraine, arguing that they had no other choice lest the Austrians break through, take Nancy and be in a position to march on Paris. General Hoche argued that they should build on his successes in Piedmont and attack the Austrians through Northern Italy and the Alps. In the end Boulanger, taking advantage of his army’s great numbers, decided to do both. The central stroke, at Switzerland, was a hasty late addition once French agents there reported the populace were ready to rise in the name of the Republic. This was, in fact, a complete fiction (possibly at Robespierre’s orders as he tried to undermine Lisieux’s plans) but Switzerland was unable to put up much resistance in the event.

Of course, the plan incorporated some of Cugnot’s new inventions, primarily improved steam artillery carriages: most of the more ambitious ones remained on the drawing board. However, in April 1797 Surcouf demonstrated the first steam-powered ship, an ugly-looking tug that wallowed drunkenly, low in the water. Its great strength was that it could tow larger ships far more effectively than the existing methods of letting down the small rowboats to tow or, on smaller frigates, using the emergency oars. Surcouf successfully towed the French frigate Cap-de-Mort from Toulon Harbour out into the Mediterranean and back on a calm day when no British ships were able to come near, demonstrating the fact that steam could free a ship from its reliance on the winds and tides. The Vápeur-Remorqueur saw a great deal of work in Cugnot’s secondary workshops around Toulon, with Surcouf and his engineers improving on the design, trying to make it suitable at first for the Mediterranean and then for the high seas. Surcouf also envisaged a Vápeur-Galère, a steam-galley which would have the same advantages as an ordinary war galley (freedom from the wind), but lacking oars would not have its fragility, and would be able to fight on the rough Atlantic seas…like La Manche for example.

For the moment, though, steam remained largely a tool of the artillery and occasionally self-propelled carriages for the Revolutionary elite and some generals in the field. They were far from stealthy, though, as the steam plumes were visible from miles away, especially on a cold day.

Another important innovation in the field of battle was the war-balloon, invented by Jean-Pierre Blanchard improving on early experiments by the Montgolfier brothers. France had already led the world in aeronautical experiments under the ancien regime, and this was continued under the Revolution – they smacked of the same revolutionary novelty as steam engines. Balloons were so far subject to the whim of the wind (although after Blanchard joined the ‘Boulangerie’ and after drinking most of a dead aristocrat’s confiscated wine-cellar, the innovators briefly planned to try and mount a steam engine on there) so they were typically fixed to the ground by ropes and observers were sent up before a battle to survey the land. Between battles the deflated balloons were carried on more Cugnot steam carriages. Some generals, including Boulanger’s deputy Thibault Leroux, tried keeping the balloon up there throughout the battle and having the observers signal down with flags, but the limited nature of what signals could be sent meant that this was not as useful as it might have been.

Leroux was given command of the thrust into Switzerland, the middle prong of Poséidon, while Ney took command of the left wing into Lorraine and Hoche into Savoy. 1797 was the year of breakthrough for the French. Mozart could have stopped them, perhaps, but he had been disgraced after Boulanger’s diplomatic coup and was cooling his heels from Vienna at the time, his command given to an inferior man.

Ney’s task was the most difficult, as the Austrians had concentrated their own forces, the Saxons and the Hessians on that front. Despite the French still possessing a slight numerical superiority, the Austrians beat Ney at the Battle of Saint-Dié and went on to occupy Nancy, as Ney had feared. However, France was saved when a messenger brought the word that Saxony had a new Elector who had changed policies, withdrawing from the war with France due to a war breaking out with Brandenburg, and the Saxon troops returned to Germany, leaving the Austrians outnumbered. The Austrians’ General, a native Lorrainer named Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser, still might have had a reasonable chance at shattering the Republic if he marched on Paris. Yet he was cautious, and remained entrenched at Nancy, penetrating no further and waiting for reinforcements that did not come. Austria was too busy fighting on other fronts.

Leroux successfully smashed the Swiss militias and occupied the whole country by the end of 1797. A political plan by Robespierre and Lisieux meant that a new Swiss Republic was established under the leadership of an exiled Jean Marat, who had been sidelined by the other two Consuls. He was replaced by Boulanger, revealing firstly how the Constitution was now worth less than the paper it was written on – Boulanger was not even an elected deputy – and secondly how much influence Lisieux now wielded over Robespierre, who hated and feared Boulanger.

Hoche, displaying a brilliance that made him perhaps the finest of France’s generals, fought a celebrated campaign through Piedmont, at one point successfully dividing his own force to take on two different – and superior – Austrian armies closing on him at Vercelli from north and south. Hoche’s risky gamble blunted the nose of the two armies sufficiently for the northern one under the Hungarian General József Alvinczi to pause at Omegna, expecting Hoche’s small thrust to be the vanguard of his full army. Alvinczi prepared to give battle, while Hoche wheeled, recombined all his forces and then smashed the southern Austrian army of Paul Davidovich. Two months later, he finally met Alvinczi at Milan and won a less dramatic but no less convincing victory. By the end of the 1797 campaign season, Hoche had driven the Hapsburgs from much of Northern Italy. The autumn of 1797 saw a small thrust against Parma, successfully capturing the Spanish possession and striking a blow against a power that, so far, Revolutionary France had been forced to give ground to.

1797 ended with Austria having an army in a precarious but potential position in Nancy that might be the core for a march on Paris. Many speculative romantics have argued that if the Austrians had reinforced that army and attacked Paris, the Revolution would have crumbled, being so centralised. Who can say? As it was, Ferdinand IV was too concerned about the French gains in Switzerland and Italy, which put them uncomfortably close to Austria proper. The Emperor withdrew Wurmser’s army from Nancy and prepared to move against French-occupied Switzerland and Piedmont in 1798.

But 1798 was also the year in which any attempt by Ferdinand IV at a united German front crumbled irreparably…for it was the year when the Russian Civil War expanded to encompass all the Baltic states.

[1]A term meaning a burning sack of straw etc. used by sappers, not as in a corpse.

[2]May sound mad but also happened in OTL, all in the name of liberty.

[3]Recall that the Saxons have been expanding at the expense of Prussia due to the different outcome of wars in TTL.

Part #29: Furore Normannorum

From George Spencer-Churchill’s ‘A History of Modern Warfare, Vol. III’ (1953)

What is generally termed ‘the Baltic War’ of the late 1790s and early 1800s was in fact a convergence of several overlapping conflicts, even as the Baltic War itself overlapped with the wider Jacobin Wars by its effects on the Germanies. Most scholars would state that the core of the Baltic War was the Russian Civil War between Paul Romanov of Lithuania and the brothers Potemkin. But it was the entry of other nations into the war that changed the makeup of the conflict from Russian Civil War to the War of the Russian Succession, and that entry had its own deep roots, going back to the War of the Polish Partition or even before.

The situation set up by the Treaty of Stockholm (1771)[1] envisaged peace kept by a Russo-Prussian alliance that would dominate Eastern Europe, with Lithuania dynastically linked to Russia and Poland dismembered, with some parts annexed to Prussia and the the remainder placed in personal union with it. Swedish neutrality in the war had been bought by the cession of Courland to the Swedish monarchy and the guarantee of existing Swedish possessions in Northeast Prussia, Finland and Pomerania. However, at the time, most had imagined that a renewed war would come soon enough between the Russo-Prussian alliance and Sweden for control of the Baltic. Many speculative romantics [alternate historians] have considered the possibility, but in fact what occurred was far from that possibility. The casus belli persistently failed to materialise, as Sweden enjoyed a period of peaceful and prosperous rule under King Charles XIII[2] and the Cap Party. Prussia continued to look northward to the Baltic, but Russia was increasingly distracted by eastward expansion and the occasional skirmish with the Ottomans in Moldavia. For more than twenty years, the precarious situation set up by the Treaty held, longer than most of its own writers had thought possible.

It was in April 1796 (Russian calendar) that this status quo began to crumble. Though the eyes of the world were on Revolutionary France as it degenerated into a charnelhouse, not a few of those eyes kept flicking nervous glances back to Russia. Whether the Romanovs or Potemkins triumphed in the civil war would decide many nations’ policy towards Russia. Paul was known to favour a Baltic focus and was not particularly aggressive, while the Potemkins advocated the outright annexation of Lithuania as part of their propaganda against Paul. As if there could have been any more pressure upon the armies of both Generals Saltykov…

The armies of the two Russias met at Smolensk on April 14th, with Paul having beaten the Potemkins to the city and holding it against siege. However, the Potemkinite army had been reinforced by fresh troops raised in Moscow, and outnumbered the Romanovians by three to two. The Potemkins gave siege and, by using hot-shot artillery to set parts of the mostly wooden city on fire, forced Paul’s army to retreat. While the retreat was in good order, this was a huge blow to the Romanov army’s morale, and ricocheted around Europe. Statesmen began to plan for a Potemkin victory. This was not good news for Lithuania or the Ottoman Empire, but it was known that the Potemkins would probably have less of a Baltic focus than Peter and Paul had.

The Swedes knew that here was an opportunity to be seized, lest it slip by. Though Charles XIII was a well-liked and decent ruler, he had failed to produce an heir. Sweden had already gone through one unhappy period not long ago under a foreign (Hessian) king brought in, and any possible claims after Charles’ death were so tenuous that they would almost certainly result in a civil war – a civil war that the Danes and the Russians would doubtless intervene in and weaken the Swedish state.

Therefore, to buy time to sort out their dynastic crisis, the Riksdag moved to intervene in the Russian Civil War before the Russians could return the compliment. The aggressive Hat Party was returned to power for the first time since the 1760s, and the long-prepared Baltic fleet was assembled, both sailships and Baltic galleys.

Meanwhile, Paul’s retreating army was attacked by a secondary Potemkinite force led by General Suvorov[4] on May 14th, near Vitebsk. Suvorov employed aggressive and ground-breaking tactics which divided Paul’s force in three and then proceeded to virtually destroy one-third of the army while holding off the rest. It is possible that Suvorov could have broken Paul’s army altogether, but for the fact that he was killed at the height of the battle by a stray roundshot and his lieutenants were unable to maintain his intricate battleplan. The majority of Paul’s army escaped, and Nikolai Saltykov rallied sufficient forces to rout what remained of Suvorov’s smaller force, but the overall effect resounded clearly around Europe. As far as most people were concerned – including Russians – the Potemkins had won. St Petersburg remained in Romanov hands, but for how long?

The remainder of Paul’s army retreated to Vilnius, while the Potemkins set about consolidating their power. Alexander and Sergei Saltykov secured what remained of Smolensk and prepared a march on St Petersburg, while Ivan returned to Moscow and began a purge of the existing civil service, reversing many of Peter’s reforms. It was at this point that he was contacted by the Swedish consul, Ingvar Horn, who had a proposal…

To surprise from some quarters, the Potemkinite attack on St Petersburg, in August, failed. A Romanov army led by Mikhail Kamenski defeated Saltykov’s force near Novgorod; though it was not a convincing victory in and of itself, Kamenski attacked the Potemkinites’ siege train and successfully captured or spiked much of their siege artillery. Deprived of this, there was no chance that Saltykov could force the well-defended city, and after a brief, half-hearted siege, the Potemkinites retreated. By autumn 1796, the situation seemed to be going the way of the Potemkinites, with them holding almost all Russia by default – but the repulse from St Petersburg revealed that the Romanovs were still in the game.

The overall impression seen from abroad was that Russia was tearing itself apart, and showed no sign of stopping anytime soon. Policy in neighbouring countries was adjusted accordingly. The Ottoman Empire, under the rule of the cautious and philosophical Sultan Abdulhamid II[5] did not directly take a position on the war, but took the opportunity of a distracted and fragmented Russia to quietly re-exert more direct control over neighbouring provinces. Moldavia and Bessarabia, which had been unofficially going back and forth between Turkey and Russia for decades, were brought fully back under the rule of the Sublime Porte. Turkish troops were stationed in the Khanate of the Crimea to ‘discourage’ the state’s current alignment with Russia, and both the Ottomans and Zand Persia were able to expand their influence considerably into the Caucasus, with the Persians extending a protectorate over all Azerbaijan and the Ottomans to the border of Georgia.

Though the treaty was secretly signed in November 1796, after the defeat at St Petersburg had become apparent, it was not publicly announced until April 1797, when campaigning began in earnest again. The Kingdom of Sweden officially recognised Alexander Potemkin as legitimate Emperor of all the Russias, and Alexander, in turn, ceded various territories in Finland and Estonia to the Swedes. Alexander also legally annexed Lithuania to the Russian crown and then turned it over to Sweden, effectively allowing Sweden free reign to attack the Romanovs there.

Europe watched to see if Prussia would honour her unofficial alliance with Russia made by Peter III and Frederick William II by declaring war on Sweden. However, it was at about this time that Frederick William II himself died after a long illness, and even as his young son succeeded the throne as Frederick William III, the Poles took this as a signal to revolt. A rebellion led by the professional soldier Kazimierz Pulaski seized control of Warsaw and successfully defeated the first token attempt by Prussia to put down the revolt – which was far more serious than previous outbreaks had been. This encouraged the Poles to rise up in several other cities, with much of the interior of the rump Poland soon under patriotic control. Prussia was far from defeated, but it was clear that there was no way the Prussians would be directly intervening in the Baltic war anytime soon.

Denmark, though, was another matter. Christian VII had spent much of his life rebuilding Danish power in Europe, and now it was time to put that power to use. The Swedes could not be allowed to gain supremacy over the Baltic, as they doubtless would if Lithuania and Estonia succeeded to Swedish rule. Denmark declared war on Sweden and the Potemkins in May 1797, and it was at this point that the Russian Civil War became the Great Baltic War…

[1]See Part #10.

[2]In TTL this is Adolf Frederick’s son, rather than Gustav III

[3]Recall that the Potemkins’ army is led by Sergei Saltykov while Paul’s is led by a distant relative, Nikolai Saltykov.

[4]As there have been fewer Russo-Turkish and –Polish wars than OTL to distinguish himself in, Suvorov is not such a legendary figure, merely a competent general now approaching the end of his career.

[5]A son of Abdulhamid I. All Mustafa III’s sons predeceased Abdulhamid I so his own son inherited the sultanate.

Part #30: Indian Summer

You say that you are our father and I am your son...
...We will not be like Father and Son, but like Brothers.

– from the Iroquois-American Covenant Chain, signed in 1692 between the Iroquois Grand Council and representatives of the Province of New York​


From - Annum Septentrionalium: A History of North America, by Paul Withers (1978) -

Long before the founding of the Continental Parliament of North America, or even the Empire itself, what was generally known as the Indian Question had been hanging over the heads of its inhabitants. America was known to have produced great civilisations: no map of the New World was complete without illustrations of the great cities of Tenochtitlan and Cusco. But the British and German settlers who became Americans were not there to spread the Catholic faith and hunt for treasure as the Spanish conquistadores had been, those same Spaniards who now ruled in Tenochtitlan, renamed Ciudad Mejico (though the UPSA now controlled Cusco, through their Inca allies).

No, the Americans had come to grow tobacco, to escape religious persecution and, ultimately, to spread a belt of colonies across the continent to reach the Pacific and the rich trade that went with it. That goal had become increasingly harder as it emerged that the North American continent was much wider than it had at first been thought – when the colonies had first been laid down in the seventeenth century, most mapmakers had thought that the Pacific coast was only about a dozen days’ march to the west of the Atlantic coast. One relic of that belief was the fact that the colonies were entitled to strips of land going westward from their settlements on the east coast, which had intended to be neat rectangles but swiftly became ridiculous narrow stripes going across the larger continent. In the words of one contemporary historian, the colonies – and then the Confederations - had become like medieval villeins ploughing their little strips of private land. The solution was the same as it had been to that situation, too: land reform and common holdings.

This began with New England giving up its westward claims in exchange for Canada being opened up to New Englander settlement. The other Confederations, though, were forced to face the Indian Question. How were they to continue westward settlements when there were Indian tribes in the way, some of them quite advanced and allied to Britain, entirely capable of opposing that settlement with force?

The solutions adopted were different in different Confederations. Generally speaking, Carolina and New York were considered the most enlightened in their dealings with the Indians, probably because said Indians were among the most powerful of all those in North America – the Cherokee Nation and the Six Nations, the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee Confederacy, respectively. In both cases, dealings with the Indians were made on a discreet and quite respectful basis. The Confederal parliament of New York (still known as the Provincial Assembly for historical reasons) appointed a Special Commissioner for Indian Affairs, Albert Gallatin[1], who handled all direct negotiations with the Iroquois Grand Council. Gallatin was able to negotiate a relatively equitable settlement with the Iroquois, although he constantly butted heads with the Governor of New York, Aaron Burr, a confirmed Constitutionalist and political enemy of Lord Hamilton. The Constitutionalist Party generally favoured a more hawkish attitude to the Indians, as much of their support came from the ‘pro-settler vote’, while the ruling Patriots advocated a more measured response.

The ‘Gallatin Accord’, as it was known among Anglophones (otherwise, the ‘Renewal of the Covenant Chain’, after the original treaty signed between colonial New York and the Iroquois in 1692[2]), secured a path for westward expansion for New York, removing a strip of land from the south of the Confederacy in exchange for new Iroquois lands granted on the north side of the St Lawrence, in Niagara. This was supported by five of the six nations, the dissenters being the Seneca, who lost the most land, but were voted down at the Grand Council. The new lands were allocated between the Six accordingly, with the settlement being judged by the neutral Gallatin. And the Confederation of New York kept the rest of Niagara and was now capable of expanding into the Ohio Country, frustrating the ambitions of Pennsylvanians who wanted to establish ports on the shores of Lake Michigan…

Carolina had a more mixed history of Indian relations than New York’s century-old alliance with the Iroquois. The Carolinians had previously allied with the Yamasee tribe against the Tuscoara, successfully expelling the latter from the Carolinian hinterland in the 1710s (the Tuscoara then migrated north and became the Sixth Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy). The Cherokee entered the war on the side of Carolina in 1714, at the urging of two Carolinians who had no real backing from the colonial government to conduct negotiations, and helped defeat first the Tuscoara and then the Yuchi. When the Yamasee turned on the Carolinians afterwards, the Cherokee hedged their bets, theoretically remaining part of the pan-Indian alliance against the colonists, but deciding that the Carolinian militia was too strong to be worth challenging. The Cherokee were divided on whether to pursue an active alliance with the Carolinians against their traditional Creek enemies, but any doubts as to the power of Carolina were dismissed when the Carolinians defeated their former Yamasee allies and forced them to relocate to then-Spanish Florida, proceeding to settle their former lands.[3]

In the 1730s the Cherokee politically unified, with the pro-British Chief of Tellico, Moytoy II, becoming Emperor of the Cherokee Empire, recognising George II as Protector. British representation to the Cherokee was provided by Sir Alexander Cuming and then, after the War of the British Succession restored Prince Frederick to the throne, by his political ally Sir Michael McAllister. Carolinian treaties with the Cherokee for land were typically lower-scale than those conducted by New York with the Iroquois, largely because the Empire was at first a fairly ceremonial government, with many affairs still conducted on the township basis. Over time, though, this began to change.[4] Many Cherokee political leaders visited England, Moytoy’s envoys having signed the Treaty of Westminster with the British Government in 1730, and this was far from the last time. The state visits are thought to have impressed upon the Cherokee both the importance of an effective central executive, and the fact that a war with the Carolinian settlers might not stay restricted to America, as the colonies could call upon their distant motherland for more hardened soldiers if necessary.[5]

During the Third War of Supremacy, the Creek and Choctaw allied with the French in Louisiana against the Cherokee, their Chickasaw allies and the British/Americans. After the French were driven from all lands east of the Mississippi in 1759, the Creek and Choctaw alone were destroyed in a long ‘war to the knife’ that lasted well into the 1760s. Eventually the power of those two nations was broken as the Cherokee focused their warriors into cohesive armies, and the Carolinian militia was backed up by both British regulars and new regiments raised in America for the late war. The Tennessee War, as it was known (after the river and the Cherokee town of Tanasi on it) was the greatest shift in the Indian nations since the Tuscoara and Yamasee had been expelled, again by Carolinian and Cherokee power, a half-century before. The shattered remnants of the Creek fled westward and south into Florida, while almost nothing remained of the smaller Choctaw nation. The newly vacated lands were divided between the Cherokee (who had by this point practically absorbed the Chickasaw as a protectorate) and the Carolinian settlers in an equitable treaty signed by McAllister in 1766. As with the Iroquois, some existing Cherokee land was transferred to Carolinian in return for greater concessions elsewhere, allowing for Carolinian control of of the Gulf of Mexico coast. The Carolinians also claimed Florida, which had been won mainly by their troops during the campaign of 1766 against Spain in the First Platinean War, but the status of Florida remained up in the air for some years afterwards.

It was this feat, fighting alongside British soldiers and Indians alike, which earned Carolina its Confederal motto after 1788: FIDELIS ET VERAX, Faithful and True. When the American colonies were suffused by the ‘Summer of Discontent’ in the late 1760s and 1770s, when greater representation and less meddling from London were demanded, the Carolinas were the colonies who remained the most peaceful and loyal, with none of the radical mutterings that briefly emerged in New England and New York. This was rather ironic, considering the latter history of Carolina…

The other British colonies, and then Confederations, took a less enlightened view of Indian relations. Often ‘their’ Indian nations were less powerful, and also more prone to breaking treaties and raiding settled land, not least because they tended not to be politically unified and thus a treaty signed by one chief might not be upheld by another. The Pennsylvanian militia, backed up eventually by the Royal Pennsylvania Rifles and the King’s Own Philadelphian Dragoons, all but destroyed the Lenape people, while the Virginians bulldozed the Shawnee through both warfare and persistent settlement, just as they had to the Powhatan years before – the same ‘dilution’ policy that was pursued on an official level by the Empire against French colonists in Canada.

It soon became obvious to all well-informed Indians that the Empire was now powerful and populous enough to defeat any single Indian nation, even ones as great as the Iroquois and the Cherokee, and that began to inform Indian ideas of, for want of a better word, foreign policy…


Roots have spread out from the Tree of the Great Peace, one to the north, one to the east, one to the south and one to the west. The name of these roots is The Great White Roots and their nature is Peace and Strength.

If any man or any nation outside the Five Nations shall obey the laws of the Great Peace and make known their disposition to the Lords of the Confederacy, they may trace the Roots to the Tree, and if their minds are clean and they are obedient and promise to obey the wishes of the Confederate Council, they shall be welcomed to take shelter beneath the Tree of the Long Leaves.

– from the Gayanashagowa, the Great Law of Peace which forms the basis of the Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy​


The Indians of America were much like the Indians of India in some ways: both of them conducted wars in alliance with France or Britain regardless of whether Britain and France themselves were at war at the time. President-Governor John Pitt of Calcutta once commented that ‘I have fought more French soldiers while our countries were at peace than I have when we were at war!’ Those soldiers were, legally, in the service of the Tippoo of Mysore (in Pitt’s case), or in America, allied to the Indian nations that the French supported there, such as the Ojibwa and the Algonquins.

So it was that, while the Tennessee War overlapped with the wider First Platinean War in the 1760s, the Ohio War overlapped with both the Second Platinean War in the 1780s and then the Jacobin Wars in the 1790s. The Ohio War was fought between an alliance of the Iroquois Confederacy on one side, backed up by New York and Pennsylvania, and the tribes who had formerly received French support – and still occupied the Ohio Country and the lands around the Great Lakes – on the other. The war was instrumental in establishing American control of the Great Lakes, allowing the formation of the Susan-Mary penal colony a few years later. The Ottawa tribe north of the St Lawrence survived but were forced to migrate westward, to the lands north of Lake Huron. The powerful Hurons, on the other hand, allied to the Lenape, were finally broken by their longstanding Iroquois enemies.[6]

The Hurons had dominated both the Ohio Country and parts of Canada for so long that their defeat and fragmentation was another major event in Indian politics. Pennsylvania and New York expanded and settled westward into the Ohio Country, while New York, the Iroquois and New England occupied the lands freed up in Canada. The Hurons lost their political unity and fragmented back into their constitutent nations, being a confederacy not unlike the Iroquois. What was left of the Arendarhonon and Attigneenongnahac nations moved westward and northward, where they would eventually join the Lakota Confederation of Seven Fires.[7] The Attignawantan nation migrated more to the west and south, eventually reaching the northern border of French Louisiana.[8] The possibility of the Attignawantan settling within French territory was rejected, as the displaced Canajuns from former French America had already resulted in the land becoming quite densely populated; however, the Attignawantan were permitted to settle north of the border and received French colonial assistance in return for providing a buffer state against other Indians. The Attignawantan were technically occupying British/Imperial land, but as almost no-one had even explored it yet, they had years in which to recover and rebuild their strength before any Virginian colonists arrived.

It was the final Huron nation, the Tahontaenrat, who were destined to make history, when under the visionary chief Rontondee (War Pole), they approached the Iroquois with a view to being accepted into the Confederacy. The Tahontaenrat had not been at the forefront of the recent fighting, but their lands were now subject to being swallowed up to Pennsylvanian settlement otherwise. The situation was not unprecedented. The Iroquois had previously absorbed a Huron people, the neutralist and separated Attawandaron, some years before – however, the Attawandaron were not acknowledged as a nation in the Confederacy. However, after the Tuscoara had been expelled from Carolina, the Iroquois had accepted them as the Sixth Nation, increased from the ancestral five, though the Tuscoara had fewer voting rights than them. After consideration, the Iroquois Grand Council agreed to accept the Tahontaenrat (and more importantly, their lands) into the Confederacy. Anything that would stave off the day when the Confederacy was surrounded by densely settled American country, forced back into the relationship of father and son rather than brothers…



(as of 1800)

SENECA or ONONDOWAHGAH, the People of the Great Hill

CAYUGA or GUYOHKOHNYOH, the People of the Great Swamp

ONONDAGA or ONUNDAGAONO, the People of the Hills

ONEIDA or ONAYOTEKAONO, the People of Upright Stone

MOHAWK or KANIENKEHAKA, the People of the Flint

TUSCOARA or SKARUHREH, the Shirt-wearing People


[1]In OTL Gallatin, a Swiss-American, pursued the study of the Cherokee people after his retirement from politics, so the precedent is there.

[2]Because Prince Frederick stopped George Clinton becoming Governor of New York, the Covenant Chain wasn’t broken back in the 1750s like OTL, the Iroquois Confederacy didn’t fragment and all six nations remain firm allies of New York.

[3]All of this is OTL history (before the POD in 1727).

[4]In OTL centralisation stalled, British interest lapsed after Cuming’s mission, and the Cherokee fell out with the treaty-breaking governors of the Carolinas by the 1760s. TTL, Frederick’s American focus keeps the alliance strong and the Cherokee are more influenced by British and American ideas.

[5]Only the first visit happened in OTL.

[6]Note: Huron and Lenape are also called Wyandot and Delaware, respectively – the same peoples but given different names by English and French explorers.

[7]The easternmost of the Sioux states.

[8]Recall that this was reduced to only slightly more than the area of the modern state of Louisiana, as the British annexed the hinterland after the Second Platinean War.

Interlude #6: State of the Empire

A summary of the Continental Parliament of North America as of 1800, including the number of MPs elected by each Confederation.

Confederation of New England

Province of Connecticut: 2 MPs
Province of Rhode Island: 1 MP
Province of South Massachusetts: 2 MPs
Province of North Massachusetts: 1 MP
Province of New Hampshire: 1 MP
Province of New Connecticut: 1 MP
Province of New Scotland: 2 MPs
Province of Wolfe: 1 MP
Province of Mount Royal: 1 MP
Province of Newfoundland: 1 MP
Borough of Boston: 2 MPs

Total: 15 MPs

Confederation of New York

Province of Amsterdam: 2 MPs
Province of Albany: 2 MPs
Province of East Jersey: 1 MP
Province of Niagara: 1 MP
Province of Portland: 1 MP
Borough of New York: 2 MPs

Total: 9 MPs

Confederation of Pennsylvania

Province of Philadelphia: 2 MPs
Province of West Jersey: 1 MP
Province of Delaware: 1 MP
Province of Pittsylvania: 1 MP
Province of Ohio: 1 MP
Province of Chichago: 1 MP
Borough of Philadelphia: 2 MPs

Total: 9 MPs

Confederation of Virginia
Province of Richmond: 2 MPs
Province of Williamsburgh: 2 MPs
Province of Maryland: 2 MPs
Province of Vandalia: 1 MP
Province of Transylvania: 1 MP
Province of Washington: 1 MP
Borough of Richmond: 1 MP
Borough of Williamsburgh: 1 MP

Total: 11 MPs

Confederation of Carolina

Province of North Carolina: 2 MPs
Province of South Carolina: 2 MPs
Province of Georgia: 2 MPs
Province of West Florida: 1 MP
Province of East Florida: 1 MP
Province of Franklin: 1 MP
Province of Tennessee: 1 MP
Borough of Charleston: 1 MP

Total: 11 MPs

Total number of MPs in the Continental Parliament as of 1800 = 55

33 Patriots (governing party, majority of 5)
18 Constitutionalists
4 Radicals

The American House of Lords has 26 members as of 1800, the majority of whom are either Patriots or crossbenchers.

Part #31: Enter the Bald Impostor

From George Spencer-Churchill’s ‘A History of Modern Warfare, Vol. III’ (1953)

The Great Baltic War was a milestone in many ways. It was the last war at sea to be fought primarily with oared galleys. It decided the fate of the governance of Russia, between European-looking progressives and and Asian-looking autocrats. It decided who would dominate Scandinavia out of Sweden and Denmark, both having risen from low points in the early 18th century to new zeniths of power at its end. And ultimately, perhaps, it decided the fate of the Ottoman Empire. The speculative romantics have often pointed out how different our world would be today if Emperor Peter III had simply executed Catherine on her coup attempt, rather than allowing her to plot and produce heirs (allegedly, at least) in Yekaterinburg. But the truth was that that would have been politically impossible. Throughout Peter’s reign, Catherine retained many supporters, indeed otherwise the brothers Potemkin, with their decidedly flimsy claim to the throne, would have got nowhere when they launched their bid.

Our tale so far stands at May 1797, when all the players in the war – save one – were committed. The brothers Potemkin had defeated Paul Romanov, though hardly decisively, at Smolensk and Vitebsk, and the Romanovians had retreated into Lithuania, which Paul had ruled as Grand Duke Povilas I for years and was now under the rule of his son Peter as Petras I. The Potemkinites held Moscow, Vitebsk and everything in between, though they had failed to take St Petersburg after their siege train was torn up by General Mikhail Kamenski. The Russian possessions in Ruthenia[1] had yet to be decided one way or the other, though it was assumed that they would eventually fall in line with whichever house could convincingly claim victory.

Sweden, seeing the Potemkinites on the up but not yet in place to win a decisive victory, declared war on the Romanovians and Lithuania. The Hat Party hoped to expand Sweden’s Baltic power and to subordinate or at least seriously weaken Russia, avoiding the nightmare of a war with both Russia and Denmark at the same time. However, this hope was dashed when Denmark proceeded to declare war in May. Prussia was busy putting down a Polish revolt which soon expanded into a wider war, and so was not directly involved with the Great Baltic War – contrary to all the Prusso-Russian friendship treaties of the mid-18th century.

So in May 1797 things looked bleak, though not yet hopeless, for the Romanovians. Peter and Paul raised a new army in Lithuania under General Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly, a Scottish-Lithuanian who had previously taken Russian service and fought the Turks. European commentators – or, at least, those not consumed with covering the far more urgent Jacobin Wars – compared the act to that of Maria Theresa raising Hungarian levies during the Second War of Supremacy, which had perhaps prevented Austria from going under in that war.

The war for control of the Baltic was now met in earnest. The vast bulk of the Royal Swedish Navy had been dispatched to defeat the smaller Lithuanian fleet and seize control of the Baltic ports, leaving Sweden herself with only secondary forces when Denmark unexpectedly declared war. The first victory in the naval war, therefore, was an easy one for the Romanovian allies, as the Danes defeated the Swedes at the Battle of Anholt (in reality taking place in the sea fairly distant from the island) and seizing control of the Kattegat. A second Swedish fleet remained in port at Malmö, their admiral being too canny to risk his small force in direct combat with the full power of the Royal Danish Navy, but by being able to sortie at any time, created headaches for the Danes’ plans to land troops in Scania across the Oresund. Despite an early dramatic victory, the Danes’ war plans stalled.

Meanwhile, on June 7th 1797 the Swedes made a descent[2] upon Klaipeda[3] in an attempt to seize the port and burn the Ducal Lithuanian Navy’s fleet in harbour. The Swedes’ descent in itself was remarkably successful, with Klaipeda being crushed between the marines from the north and the regular Swedish army moving in from Swedish Prussia to the south. The town was immediately renamed once more, to Karlsborg (after King Charles XIII). However, the Lithuanian fleet sortied under Admiral Vatsunyas Radziwiłł and escaped the ship-burners. The main Swedish fleet, led by Admiral Carl August Ehrensvärd in his flagship HMS Kristersson, were blockading the port, so it seemed as though the Lithuanians would be trapped.

Radziwiłł, however, proceeded to create a tactic which has been debated by naval historians ever since, and would come to greater prominence with the invention of the steam-galley by Surcouf and Cugnot a few years later in France. The admiral made the decision to sacrifice his slow-moving galleys that made up perhaps a quarter of the fleet, as they would be unable to keep up with the sailships anyway. The galleys, capable of moving independently without the wind, were used to hammer a gap in the Swedish line along an angle which the Lithuanians, sailing to the east away from Klaipeda, would be able to have the wind abaft the beam, while the Swedes would be forced to tack. Ehrensvärd had of course anticipated this and made his blockade strongest in that area, but Radziwiłł’s sacrifice of his galleys – which went down but took a number of Swedish men-o’-war with them – meant that the bulk of the Lithuanian fleet was able to escape.

Radziwiłł led the fleet to St Petersburg. Paul by now had heard of the heroic defence of the capital by Kamenski and had both promoted him and made Prince Alexander Kurakin, a long-held Petersburger ally and correspondent of his, the new Governor of the city. Paul’s emissaries, along with Kamenski and Kurakin, had succeeded in achieving total control over the Russian Navy in port there, purging all suspected Potemkin sympathisers. In truth the Petersburgers were quite disposed to be loyal to Paul in any case, having had the city’s importance increase further under Paul’s father Peter, who – like his namesake Peter the Great – wanted Russia to have a European face, and that face was St Petersburg. For much the same reason, the former capital Moscow tended to support the Potemkins even before they marched into the city.

Thus the initial engagements were somewhat misleading. The Danes had beaten the Swedes in home waters, but were unable to capitalise on that victory, while the Swedes had failed their objective of actually destroying the Lithuanian fleet, yet still had the immediate dominance they required to shift armies into their Baltic possessions. Troops flowed from Swedish Courland and Prussia, but rather than aiming straight for Vilnius, the Swedes instead turned northward in an attempt to regain Livonia, which they had lost to the Russians after the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. This, more than anything, illustrated how the Swedes did not so much favour the Potemkins or disfavour the Romanovs, as want to regain as much power over Russia by whatever means necessary.

It was also perhaps a mistake, giving the Lithuanians enough time to organise their new levies under Barclay and integrate them with the Russian remnant army led by Nikolai Saltykov. The Russo-Lithuanians defeated three Swedish armies in quick succession at Seinai, Alytus and Trakai, expelling the Swedes from the Trakų Vaivadija (Vojvodship of Trakai) but leaving them in undisputed control of Žemaičių seniūnija (the Eldership of Samogita), which lay between the Swedes’ holdings of Courland and Northeast Prussia. Nonetheless, this repulsion of the too-thinly-spread Swedish forces encouraged the Swedish army to focus on regaining Livonia rather than attacking Lithuania. The Swedes were unable to commit as many troops as they would have liked, as a large part of the army was either slowly pushing east from Finland or holding the frontier in the west against any Danish attack from Norway.

By August 1797 the war had almost stagnated, with the Romanovians having built up a new army but, with the Swedes hanging over their heads, unwilling to commit it to regaining most of Russia from the Potemkinites. Meanwhile, the Potemkinites were unwilling to move against Lithuania until they had taken St Petersburg, and were gearing up for another attempt. The war still hung in the balance, but what tilted it came not from any of the current players, but quite another source…

One interesting feature of Peter III’s reign was that, given his Germanophilia, he had encouraged the settlement of Germans in Russian territory. In some ways this was akin to how the British American colonists worked, accepting German refugees fleeing religious persecution but then promptly putting them down on a frontier between British (or in this case Russian) colonists and some dangerous natives. The Caucasus was a particularly common area for Germans, often Prussians, to migrate to (another common area was the Volga, where German farmers were used as a buffer against the eastern khanates).[4]

The story has been told so many times after the event that, by now, it can only be regarded as a legend. Nonetheless, the story goes that one of the German families who made the decision to move to the northern Caucasus were a Herr and Frau Kautzman, who made the journey early in Peter’s reign, in 1764. The Kautzmans had a child, a son, only months after settling on a farm near Stavropol. However, barely three years later, the farm was attacked by (as they thought at the time) nomads, and their son Heinrich vanished, presumably lost. The Kautzmans grieved for many years, but went on to have other children and vanished from history.

However, the attack on the farm had in fact been the work of rogue Don Cossacks, who supplemented their official employment with the Tsar with the occasional raid, particularly on the German settlers who often had no way to report the attacks. Peter III’s reign had been a relatively peaceful one, good for many Russians but not for the Cossack mercenaries. Heinrich had not been killed, but carried away by a Cossack who thought that the little boy ‘had spirit’ when he protested loudly in broken Russian about the Cossacks’ attack on the house and attempted to kick the Cossack in the ankle. That Cossack was named Yemelyan Ivanovich Pugachev, and he adopted the young Heinrich Kautzman.

Though the boy initially sulked and tried to escape, he was raised in the Cossack fashion, taking the second name Ivan after Pugachev’s father, and eventually fought beside them in wars against the Turks and (undeclared) conflicts with the Crimeans. Ivan née Heinrich became a huge, powerful figure who shaved his head in the Cossack fashion, yet his German blood still showed in his bright blue eyes, for which he was nicknamed ‘the Bald Impostor’. Under Peter III Pugachev rose to become leader of the Don Cossacks.

When the Civil War broke out, the people of southern Russia eventually hedged their bets, waiting to see which side would come out on top before backing it. Heinrich, however, advocated supporting Paul from the start, arguing that the Potemkins would do to the Don and Caucasus just what they had to Yekaterinburg, filling it full of their favourites and ending the (relative) peace between the peoples there. Pugachev agreed, but was unwilling to commit his forces just yet. Heinrich stormed off and journeyed south, perhaps in search of his real parents at last, though if so he never found them.

What he found instead was a man of fine Georgian dress, who despite his two bodyguards was being overpowered by a gang of Russian bandits. Heinrich went into action and sabred down three of the bandits in the Cossack fashion before the rest could even react, then fleeing. One of the Georgian bodyguards died of his wounds, but the other and his master survived, and introduced himself as Prince Piotr Bagration, a scion of the Georgians’ ancient and sprawling royal family. He had been sent to the north from King George XII, who had signed a treaty placing Georgia under Russian protection back in the 1780s, but yet now Georgia was threatened by Ottoman encroachment[5] and the Russians did nothing. Bagration had not even heard that Russia was deep in a civil war until a few days before.

His words gave Heinrich a wild idea, and he brought Bagration back to Pugachev. Together they hatched a plan, a plan not unlike the one that had been concocted in the court of King Charles XIII in Stockholm. They would assist one of the two sides, and be in a position to make the demands all of them shared at the end of it. The Ottomans were beginning to make threatening moves towards Georgia, but Abdulhamid II remained a cautious ruler and would not commit to a direct invasion. On Bagration’s advice, George XII thus agreed to all the Turks’ demands for vassalage at the time, committing the Georgian army to the north. The Georgians wintered in Rostov-on-Don, where they met up with Pugachev’s Cossack forces and Russian peasant levies who supported Paul. The new army was powerful, yet fragmented, and the Georgians would not submit to any other than Bagration, while the Cossacks said the same for Pugachev. In the end, then the solution was simple. The young Heinrich, the Bald Impostor, respected by all and yet not of any of the kindreds, led the army into battle.

In March 1798, Kiev fell to the new Romanovian army, followed by Voronezh and then Kazan in July, as Pugachev bit deeply into the heart of the Potemkinites’ natural territory. At the same time, the Russo-Lithuanian fleet met the Swedes at the Battle of the Irbe Strait, and won a Pyrrhic victory, defeating Ehrensvärd at the cost of most of their own ships. Nonetheless, this was the signal for the Danes to step up their own efforts. With no longer need to watch the Baltic for the return of the Swedes, the Danes left a squadron to bottle up the remaining Swedish naval forces in Malmö and deployed the rest of their fleet to a descent on Swedish Pomerania, conquering the German province and adding it to the Danish crown. The Swedes successfully defeated the small Danish force in Norway and besieged Christiania[6], but at this point the Danes finally made a landing in Scania. King Johannes II and the Diet proclaimed the return of the lands lost to Sweden in 1690 to Denmark, and the Swedes withdrew forces from Norway and Finland to prevent the Danes breaking out farther.

The Swedes continued to control Livonia, but their discomfiture elsewhere persuaded Paul to risk his Russo-Lithuanian army further east. Vitebsk was retaken in August against only a token Potemkinite force, but it was once more near the ruins of Smolensk that the main Potemkinite army met the Romanovians. The battle lasted three days, and was fiercer and more bloody than any other in that war. Finally, on the last day, the Potemkinites had broken the Romanovian line in two and a cavalry charge led by Alexander Potemkin himself had encircled Barclay’s command staff, when rumours came from the rear that the forces of the mysterious Bald Impostor had taken, and were sacking, Moscow. The rumours were exaggerated, though indeed the Cossack and Georgian forces were moving into the region around September. The rumours spread through the Potemkinite army and morale collapsed. Many of the Potemkins’ soldiers were Muscovites recruited there after their initial triumphant entry, and the knowledge that their city and families were under threat caused the whole of the Potemkins’ Muscovite-manned left wing collapsed. Barclay escaped, and the Lithuanians swept around and then it was the turn of Alexander to be trapped. Ivan Potemkin and Sergei Saltykov escaped with the bulk of the army, but the brash young claimant emperor was in enemy hands.

Paul’s decision has been cited by many as questionable, and perhaps not unlike his father’s to exile Catherine to Yekaterinburg, but rather than summarily executing Alexander Potemkin for treason, he offered him the Duchy of Courland if he would call off his forces. This was a rather ambitious offer, given that Courland had been Swedish before the war and was now deep in Swedish-controlled territory. Potemkin accepted, giving up his claim to the throne. It seems likely that at the time he viewed this as his only choice, and intended to go back on his word later, but that was unimportant.

By the early months of 1799, the Potemkinite army was shattered. Moscow indeed was held by the Bald Impostor’s forces, while Kamenski and Kurakin successfully held the Swedes and then threw them back into Finland, as forces were stripped from that army to hold back the Danes in Scania. Paul realised that the great strength of the Potemkins was in their partnership, and so separated the two, exiling Ivan and Sergei Saltykov to Yakutsk with the orders for them to develop the area as they had Yekaterinburg. Saltykov was originally planned to be executed, but the sentence was reduced to exile after his relative Nikolai Saltykov spoke in his defence to the Emperor. Paul re-entered Moscow himself in May 1799 and met with the Bald Impostor, who gave certain demands: liberty for the Cossacks, support for the Georgians against the Turks, and the emancipation of the serfs. Paul argued and negotiated for days, but in the end a settlement was hammered out. Otherwise, it was unspoken but known, the Bald Impostor would have held the city and fought Paul for it.

It was the end of 1799 before Sweden left the war, the Russo-Lithuanians having retaken Livonia and invading Courland and Swedish-Prussia. In truth Sweden was still in a relatively strong position, having held back the Danes and almost flung them back into the Baltic, but Stockholm was paralysed by a constitutional crisis. Charles XIII was assassinated by a madman on October 30th and he left no heir, threatening to plunge Sweden into a civil war or a war of succession. The Danish Diet entered into hurried, secret negotiations with the Swedish Riksdag, and a treaty was quickly agreed. The Swedes would accept Johannes II of Denmark as King, re-creating the Union of Kalmar. In exchange, the Danes would only annex the southern coast of Scania which was still most culturally Danish, and would ensure that the Swedes retained Finland (which the Russians were not yet in a position to invade). The Swedes had already lost Pomerania, Swedish Northeast Prussia and Courland, but this was the best settlement they would get while in such a weak constitutional position. The Riksdag agreed.

The Danes thus made peace with Sweden on December 4th, and warned the Russians that Sweden, and hence Finland, was now a direct possession of King Johannes II (as John IV of Sweden). The Russians were in no position to dispute this, and so the Treaty of Klaipeda (restored, of course, to Lithuania) ended the war on the last day of the 18th century, December 31st 1799 (Russian style) –

Courland to become an independent duchy once more, under Alexander Potemkin.

Swedish Northeast Prussia to be transferred to Lithuania (Prussia protested at this, seeing the territory as rightfully theirs, but was in no position to enforce this protest with arms).

Livonia remains an integral part of Russia.

Peter son of Paul is Grand Duke Petras I of Lithuania.

Paul is Emperor Paul I of Russia.

Johannes II of Denmark is also John IV of Sweden, including Finland.

Swedish Pomerania transferred to Denmark.

Emancipation of the serfs in Russia’s southern provinces only (later expanded in 1805 to include the provinces east of the Urals, to encourage settlement of the ‘Japan Road’)

Liberty for Cossacks, and the protectorate status of Georgia to be enforced.

So the Great Baltic War ended, and like all wars, sowed the seeds for the next.

[1]Ruthenia is the name commonly used in TTL for the Russian (and formerly Polish-Lithuanian, in the west) north of what we would call Ukraine. The south of OTL Ukraine is still the Khanate of Crimea and is thought of as an ‘Asian’ state.

[2]Contemporary term for an amphibious assault.

[3]Memel was transferred from Prussia to Lithuania (rather than Sweden, like the rest of Northeast Prussia) at the Treaty of Stockholm, and renamed Klaipeda.

[4]OTL Catherine the Great also did this, but I suspect Peter III’s well-recorded Germanophilia would result in an even greater scale of German immigration.

[5]OTL Qajar Persia was the main threat to Georgia in this era, but TTL Persia is still under the control of the Zands.

[6]Old name of Oslo.

Part #32: Three Lions and One Tiger

“Folly awaits the man who seeks to conquer the heart of India. Indeed, he should consider himself fortunate if India does not conquer his heart.”

– John Pitt, Governor-General of British India​


From “India in the Age of Revolution” by Dr Anders Ohlmarks (English translation)

Ever since the sixteenth century, India had been considered ‘elsewhere’ by European powers, more so even than the Americas. A war might be declared in Europe yet its participants amiably work alongside each other in India, or – more commonly – the reverse. Certainly, it was difficult to tell what constituted a war between Europeans in India, as the wars in question were usually, at least on some level, a conflict between rival Indian nations each backed by a European trading company.

Initially the Portuguese and Dutch had dominated the India trade, but by the eighteenth century they had been sidelined by the British and French. Just as they had in America, the two great powers of the century fought their Wars of Supremacy (as the English have it) in India, with the French generally allied to the Marathas and the Keralan states, and the British to the Nizam of Haidarabad, the Nawab of the Carnatic and the Nawab of Bengal. This situation changed as the century rolled on. First the French took Madras in the War of the Austrian Succession and proceeded to conquer British Cuddalore as well, reducing the Nawab of the Carnatic to a French puppet.

The French East India Company, under Dupleix and then Rochambeau, moved its headquarters from the old French trading post of Pondicherry to the far better equipped former British Fort St George at Madras. The British withdrew from southern India altogether, save for the Northern Circars (which they ran on behalf of the Nizam of Haidarabad) and fought a war against the treacherous Nawab of Bengal, eventually unseating him and replacing him with six invented principalities in the pocket of the Company. Aside from capturing French Chandranagore in the process (and thus ejecting French influence from Bengal) this had so consumed British efforts in India that the French had crept further ahead, despite the FEIC’s relative dearth of funding from Paris compared to the BEIC’s. Dupleix in particular was a genius at running colonies and trade agreements with no help whatsoever from home, and the systems he set up would go on to serve French India well.

By the 1780s, the Maratha Empire had collapsed after defeat by the Afghans and allied Indian Mussulmen in the 1760s, after the Marathas’ Rajasthani allies deserted them at the last minute at the Third Battle of Panipat. The Empire had been reorganised as a looser Confederacy, with the Peshwas losing their former power. French influence declined among the Marathas as their previously universal treaties and trade agreements were vetoed by the new local rulers. Instead, the French under Rochambeau focused on expanding their influence into southern India, cementing an alliance with the Kingdoms of Mysore, and Travancore. Travancore’s coastal neighbour Cochin allied with the British during the War of the Austrian Succession, and in the aftermath of the British defeat was largely absorbed by French-backed Mysore.

Mysore at that time was under the rule of the Hindoo Wodeyar dynasty, but during the 1760s a Mussulman soldier, Haidar Ali, rose to prominence after heroic deeds during the Mysorean invasion and conquest of Bangalore. Haidar Ali became effective chief minister of the King and soon usurped most of his power. He formed a strategic alliance with the French against British-backed Haidarabad, and went on to mostly win the Mysore-Haidarabad Wars of the 1770s and 80s. Mysore had become the most powerful state in India, with the Marathas decaying into ineffectiveness and Haidarabad on the back foot. Haidar Ali’s son Tippoo Sultan, who first rose to prominence as a general of the Mysorean army, was a remarkable visionary. Noting Travancore’s successful expulsion of the Dutch East India Company, he foresaw a time when India could be entirely free of the European trading companies – under Mysorean leadership, naturally. But the Tippoo ably understood the problems of ruling over Mysore’s new empire in southern India, with the mish-mash of peoples, languages and religions. Kerala alone included Portuguese Catholics, Jews, Thomasite Syrian Orthodox Christians and some Protestants in addition to the more common religions of southern India such as Sunni Islam, Hindooism and Jainism. To that end, the Tippoo (though a devout Mussulman himself) allowed the building of churches and Hindoo shrines in Mysorean cities.

The Tippoo was a realistic thinker and decided that the path to being free of European interference was to first assist the French in ejecting the British from southern India, and then to turn on them. It was hardly a remarkable event in India, which had weathered and absorbed countless waves of invaders since the time of Ashoka, turning them against each other. By 1790, he judged, the British had ceased to be a serious threat south of Masulipatam, and all that remained was to wait until the French became vulnerable. He did not have long to wait…

News of the French Revolution was slow to reach around the world, despite the importance of the event. The reason for this was chiefly that, thanks to Leo Bone’s trickery at Toulon and mutinies in Quiberon and Marseilles, most of the former Royal French Navy was out of the Revolutionary government’s hands. The government of the Marquess of Rockingham allowed the relatively large number of ships to dock in British ports, resulting in riots in Portsmouth and Chatham due to fights between British and French sailors who had been shooting at each other only about eight years previously. Therefore, the Rockingham ministry removed the French ships from the major English ports and instead commissioned the Royal Engineers to expand secondary ports, such as Liverpool, Kingston-upon-Hull and Lowestoft. This was a significant event in those towns’ histories, paving the way for their later importance as trading ports in the nineteenth century, and signs of it remain in the French names of some of the streets laid down at the time. Some of the French Royal Navy eventually removed to Louisiana, but the majority remained under the direct control of the Dauphin in London, who hoped that it might be used for a seaborne invasion to support a rising of royalists in France.

In any case, it meant that the Revolutionaries had few ships to spare and the British, with their great numerical superiority, were capable of blockading French ports. The Revolutionaries did send ships out to bring news of the Revolution to the French colonies, but few of these got through the blockade. Some did, but typically only after several years of unsuccessful attempts, after managing to leave while inclement weather disabled the British blockade. So it was that by the time L’Épurateur, a second-rate ship of the line of seventy guns (formerly the Bordeaux) reached Madras in May 1798, confused reports of the French Revolution had already been filtering through India for years. Some of these came from Zand Persia, which retained extensive trading links with much of India, and had enthusiastically embraced discussion of Revolutionary principles and adoption of some of them in a milder form. Other reports, usually rather biased, came from East Indiamen and Royal Naval ships calling in to Indian ports after hearing the news from Britain.

Therefore, when the Revolutionary envoy René Leclerc presented himself to Governor-General Rochambeau and demanded his oath to the Revolutionary government and to attaint himself of his countship, the Governor-General already knew something of what he spoke of. Enough, though it might come from British sources, to know that he wanted no truck with any of it. Quite apart from loyalty to the Crown and his own Catholicism, Rochambeau saw that Linnaean Racist ideas unleashed on India would make the storm of the old Goanese Inquisition look like an overcast evening. To that end, Rochambeau politely rejected Leclerc and had the frothing envoy dragged from his presence by Arcotian bodyguards.

Rochambeau, though, being a gentleman and not considering them a threat, did not impound Leclerc or L’Épurateur, which he would later regret. Whilst plotting how to have his revenge for the ‘infringement of his human rights’, as he termed it in his journal, Leclerc was approached by a messenger from Tippoo Sultan. The Tippoo had become intrigued by the tales of the French Revolution and wanted to know more, inviting L’Épurateur’s crew to Mysore. Leclerc agreed and the ship docked at the great port of Cochin, now controlled by Mysore.

Leclerc and his assistants were received at the court of the Tippoo in Mysore city by a salute of twenty rockets, which startled and astonished the French. Rockets were largely unknown as weapons in Europe at the time, but had been introduced to India by the Nawab of the Carnatic, and Tippoo Sultan had become enamoured of them while serving as a soldier. Therefore, just as Haidarabad was famous for its great artillery – the ‘Nizam’s Beautiful Daughters’ – Mysore was legendary for its rocket brigades, or cushoons. The rockets were greatly inaccurate, but fired in large numbers, and often equipped with either exploding tips or long knives attached to the head, which would scythe in a deadly fashion among massed infantry as the rocket spun drunkenly around in midair. Another use for rockets was to drop them in a confined space filled by the enemy, such as a breach in a wall, and they would bounce around off the walls trailing fire, burning the troops.

René Leclerc was a man who enthusiastically embraced the view of Lisieux, that Revolutionary political thought must go hand in hand with Revolutionary innovations in military technology and tactics, was greatly impressed by the rockets. In turn, he instructed the Tippoo in the details of the Revolution, and the Tippoo proved to already be better informed than most in India, having questioned traders and received copies of Revolutionary texts from Persia. The Tippoo’s family were of Persian blood and he still read Farsi as well as the Arabic which a devout Mussulman must.

The Tippoo, like the Zand Shahs, embraced some Revolutionary ideas, partly for genuinely idealistic reasons and partly to fit his own ends. Leclerc gave the Tippoo plenty of information about the FEIC which the Revolutionaries had derived from the archives in Paris, allowing the Mysoreans to exploit Rochambeau’s weaknesses, and also gave the Tippoo some Revolutionary innovations. These included Gribeauval artillery (actually invented some years before the Revolution, but associated with it in the public mind), the Cugnot steam wagon (an early model was carried along on L’Épurateur) and the standardised Moiselle Rifle that had been adopted by elite Tirailleur skirmishers under the late ancien regime and was now being revived thanks to Boulanger’s reforms de-emphasising that the army should be republican and treat all soldiers the same.[1]

Though the Tippoo preferred his rockets to even the efficient Gribeauval system, he enthusiastically adopted the steam wagon and the chirurgien, and had already been using rifles (of the more hand-made Indian type, used mainly for hunting) for years. The Tippoo organised a sharpshooting competition among his cushoons (regiments) and picked ‘those men with the Eye of the Tiger’ to form the core of his own Tirailleurs. The Tippoo had an obsession with the Tiger as a symbol of Mysorean power, India and himself. Leclerc made him an official Citizen of the French Republic.[2]

Leclerc stayed with the Tippoo for a year and a half. Then, in October 1799, the chance came that he had been waiting for. The King of Travancore, Dharma Raja Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (known as Dharma Raja) died after a long reign and his seventeen-year-old son, Balarama Varma, became King. The Tippoo, who by this point had sidelined the Wodeyars and claimed royal power for himself, declared that Balarama Varma was too young and also illegitimate, claiming that Dharma Raja had been too old at the time to truly sire him. Flimsy though this claim was, it was largely just a casus belli. Travancore, alone, could not hope to resist Mysorean annexation, and then the Tippoo would rule unopposed over all of Kerala, as well as Bangalore and Mysore proper. Of course, Travancore had a treaty with the FEIC, who would be obliged to either turn on their former ally Mysore, or back down and demonstrate that the Tippoo was the real power there.

Which was exactly the confrontation that the Tippoo wanted. And Leclerc would sign up to anything that would hurt Rochambeau and the royalist FEIC, even if privately he worried what the Linnaean policies of the Revolutionary government towards a situation like this would be. Still, Robespierre was far away, and he wanted revenge on Rochambeau for his humiliation.

The plan of Leclerc and the Tippoo was put into place. It was an excellent plan, and by rights should have worked. The FEIC was not powerful enough, without support from Paris that would never come, to directly challenge Mysore. Rochambeau would have to back down before a power that was aligned with the Revolutionary government, which would be the start of an inevitably slide towards the Royalist Carnatic shifting to the Republicans as well. For the FEIC to triumph, it would have to be aided by other Indian great powers, and the only ones capable of doing so – now the Marathas were no longer an option – were the FEIC’s deadliest foes. It seemed an impossibility.

Unfortunately for the Tippoo, though, in Calcutta’s Fort William was a man whose most famous quote would one day be: “Impossible is only a word…”

[1]OTL the French did not much use the rifle and Napoleon in particular was opposed to it. TTL, thanks to the Americans using rifles so much and American troops serving in British armies elsewhere in the world, the French and the rest of Europe have decided that rifles may be the way forward after all.

[2]Unbelievably, this bit actually happened in OTL. People’s Republics run by absolute monarchs were not an invention of the Soviets.

Part #33: Alea iacta est

“The tactical doctrine of the Yapontsi[1]…a much neglected subject in western military schools…states that wars might be won by a Kantai Kessen, a single decisive engagement. In the real world, of course, the majority of conflicts do not work that way…but there is the well-known counter-example of Pierre Boulanger and the Rubicon Offensive…

- Peter William Courtenay, 4th Baron Congleton (Vandalia-shire, Virginia)​


From – “The Jacobin Wars – the Italo-German Front” by Joshua H. Calhoun (University of New York Press, 1946) -

The 1797 campaigning season had seen the launch of the Poséidon Offensive, the first real success by French Revolutionary troops in not only holding back their Austrian foe, but in putting the Austrians on the defensive. After the withdrawal of Wurmser’s army from Nancy, the Austrians held no French territory and were on the back foot in Italy and Switzerland. However, Wurmser’s dynamic thrust into Lorraine had blunted the left-hand prong of Poséidon. The French were much more successful in the centre, with Switzerland falling to Leroux’s army in days and Hoche’s brilliant outmanoeuvring of Alvinczi, no mean general himself, in the Italian campaign. As the troops retired to their winter quarters at Christmas 1797 (not that that existed in France thanks to Hébert’s promotion of deistic atheism), France was left in a better position than most of its generals had dared hope a year earlier.

However, a successful defence, even a proactive one, was not the same as a victory. In this Boulanger, Lisieux and Robespierre were, for once, in full agreement. The three Consuls agreed to continue to make the war against Austria the top priority, though Robespierre feared an invasion by Britain in the west. “Without a respectable fleet to shield us,” he wrote, “we run the risk of presenting our proud Republican face to the quailing Germans, while the mongrel shopkeepers stab us in our proud Republican arse.”

Nonetheless, even with conscription, French troops were too few to spare any reasonable number of serious soldiers for the west, not without impairing the war effort against Austria. Instead, Boulanger suggested that raw recruits be paraded through the western lands (as yet not yet reorganised into départements) and this show display hopefully put off any British spies, while also giving the troops some experience at battle-marching. Robespierre agreed, and thus signed up to a plan that, though sensible-sounding at the time, would eventually prove to be his downfall…

The Austrians were in even worse straits, however. Ever since Prussia had been damaged so badly in the Third War of Supremacy, the Holy Roman Emperors had become accustomed to resuming a fraction of their old authority within the boundaries of the Empire. There had been few wars between German states since the 1760s, and for this war against Revolutionary France – which had united Europe against it, at least in theory – the Austrians had marched to battle with the armies of the two most powerful German states, Brandenburg and Saxony, at their side.

But this did not last. Events spilling over from the Russian Civil War in the East served to break up the unity of the pan-German force, incidentally creating an exemplar that Sanchez would get so much mileage out of years later. Frederick William II of Prussia died merely two months before Frederick Christian II of Saxony,[2] but they were two extremely eventful months. The death of the King in Prussia[3] was the signal for a long planned for Polish uprising to begin, calling itself the Confederation of Lublin.[4] This was far better organised than the previous chaotic attempts which had been easily put down, even by a Prussian army that had found itself limited by treaties and the loss of land (and therefore soldier-producing families) to Austria and Sweden. The Poles seized control of Lublin, Warsaw and Bielsk within the first week of the rebellion and declared a restored Commonwealth of Poland. The absence of the modifier was significant, as the Lithuanian szlachta had refused to join with their former comrades in rebellion, although they certainly did not do anything to hinder them, either.

After some consultation among themselves, the Polish szlachta decided that electing a king from among their own number would not be a winning strategy. The Prussians were disorganised at the moment from their shift in kingship and the suddenness of the rebellion, but there were enough cool heads at the top of the Confederation to realise that, given time to reorganise and withdraw their troops from the pan-German anti-French force, they would easily crush the ragtag Polish soldiers. Therefore, the nascent new Poland required allies, and the best way to guarantee such allies was to offer them the kingship, which was not the position of absolute power it might be in other monarchies.

There were some suggestions of appealing to Emperor Ferdinand IV to either become King of Poland himself, in addition to his other titles, or send someone from one of the Hapsburg cadet lines. However, this seemed a questionable strategy, given that Ferdinand IV was determined to hold the pan-German alliance together and would not move against the Prussians. In any case, it was voted down when a far more attractive option presented itself. Frederick Christian I of Saxony had failed to be elected King of Poland on the death of his father, Frederick Augustus II, who had also been Augustus III of Poland. His own son Frederick Christian II had been an even less likely candidate for King of Poland had Poland still existed: he was concerned mainly with expanding Saxon power throughout all the Germanies, investing heavily in developing the western enclaves Saxony had acquired from Prussia after the Third War of Supremacy. This policy would prove to be of questionable value in the years immediately following.

Two months after the death of Frederick William II of Prussia, Frederick Christian II of Saxony died of an illness and without issue. The throne passed to his brother, who became Elector John George V. A more contrasting sibling it is hard to imagine. John George was both more dynamic than his brother and concerned with establishing Saxony as a power full stop, not merely one within the Holy Roman Empire. After all, Prussia had risen to such heights (before crashing down again) by building power in Poland, outside the borders of the Empire. When the newly-called Polish Sejm offered him the crown of Poland, barely after he had accepted that of Saxony, with the tendency for audacious gambling that would characterise him in later life, he immediately accepted.

The Saxon army was withdrawn almost at the same time as the Prussian messengers (who had had further to go) got through and recalled their own army to help put down the Polish rebellion. Ironically, the Saxons did not know why they had been recalled, and the Prussians had not yet heard that Saxony had declared war on Prussia, so the two armies camped together on the way back east before returning to their homeland and learning they were to fight each other. This rather surreal image has also been quoted by the disciples of Sanchez as support for their ideologies.

Losing one of their allies at such a critical time would have been bad for Austria; losing both was a disaster. Furthermore, the image of pan-German cooperation shattered along with it, and the more minor German states began to hesitate and pull back their own armies, alarmed at the prospect of a Prusso-Saxon war spilling over their own borders (as such wars invariably did). The withdrawal of the Hessian and Thuringian states was a domino effect, with each worrying about the armies of their neighbours being at home when they were still abroad. Soon, only the Austrian army and those of other Hapsburg-ruled and strongly tied states were in play – as well as those of the states directly threatened by the encroaching French. The Hanoverian army remained in place, on the direct orders of George III, but fought rather half-heartedly, more concerned about reports of Dutch and Danish activity worryingly close to their home electorate.

Thus, the Rubicon Offensive can be thought of as not merely a triumph for Revolutionary France but also a disaster for Austria, that was already unfolding before the first Revolutionary soldier walked out of his barracks in Spring 1798. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that, as with Poséidon (which the Allies had thought was a sea operation, presumably aimed at Britain), the code name fooled the Austrians, who thought that it must literally refer to a further French offensive in northern Italy, as Caesar’s had been. However, Boulanger (or more likely one of his subordinates, as he did not have a classical education) was simply referring to the idea of a single decisive throw. Rubicon was certainly that.

Aside from garrison troops, French forces were steadily withdrawn from Switzerland over the winter of 1797. Robespierre ordered the burning of the Habichtsburg, the ancestral Hapsburg castle in Aargau, as a symbolic spite to Ferdinand IV. The French were able to hold down the rebellious Swiss effectively enough, but gave ground to the Austrians when they attacked in the spring of 1798. However, even a small number of troops could slow down an enemy offensive in Switzerland’s Alpine terrain, and the Austrian advance was itself half-hearted. Hoping to match Wurmser’s success the previous year, the Austrians focused on Italy, believing it would be where the French massed their army. This miscalculation would cost them a lot.

The Austrian army in Italy was placed under the command of Archduke Ferdinand, a younger brother of Ferdinand IV’s who was also the Duke of Krakau (and hence the most likely candidate to be suggested as King of Poland if the Poles had succeeded in getting Austrian support for their rebellion). Ferdinand had not received his position purely through family connections; he was genuinely one of Austria’s best generals. He demonstrated this throughout the 1798 campaigning season as he fought Hoche’s mercurial brilliance with a more stolid, logistically-based but no less effective style. When Ferdinand led his army from Hapsburg Tyrol, through the Venetian Terraferma and into French-occupied Mantua and Milan, Hoche struggled to repel him. The French general had not expected such a large Austrian army so soon, and a third of his own force was away south, pacifying Spanish Parma.

Hoche, for one of the few times in his career, hesitated. There was the possibility of withdrawing his own forces to Parma in order to then give the Austrians battle with his full force, but that would put the French army in a sticky position. Hapsburg Tuscany lay to the south, a potential threat, and the Austrians could easily bottle him up in Parma and cut off the French army from its supply chain. Hoche decided against such a strategy. He sent messengers to his forces in Parma, telling them to regroup and then cause as much trouble for the Austrians as possible, then led his men on a retreat westward, back into French-occupied Piedmont. Hoche intended to resupply his army and hopefully rest his men in the newly set up Revolutionary depots at Turin, before the tired Austrians would then attack him on a battlefield of his own choosing – and lose.

All but the most disciplined armies find it difficult to sustain morale on a retreat, seeing the places they have already seen before, heading back the way they came. Hoche’s charisma helped to some extent, but his men almost mutinied nonetheless when his plan was scuppered. A second Austrian army under Wurmser came down over the Alps through Graubünden and blocked his retreat. Once more Hoche hesitated. Wurmser’s army could, in his estimation, be defeated, but to do so would give Ferdinand enough time to catch up.

He then considered turning south and heading for Genoa, but Ferdinand anticipated this and divided his army into two parts, the larger blocking the road south. Hoche seized even this tiny opportunity, though, turned around and attacked the smaller portion of Ferdinand’s army, the one that remained in pursuit. Despite the French’s troubled situation, Hoche’s audacious attack stunned the Austrians and Hoche managed to win a victory at Pavia, at the cost of a fifth of his army and half his artillery. The other half was abandoned days later to speed up the pace of the march, as Hoche’s wounded and tired men fled the other two Austrian armies.

Hoche found there was only one realistic destination his men could make while avoiding Hapsburg forces: Venice. Even the tired and wounded French easily defeated the inexperienced army of the Republic at Padua and then fell upon Venice the city. Such was the Rape of Venice, as is lamented in song. The relief of Hoche’s men at the end of the great race, at escaping their captors, was such that they gave themselves over to a spree of looting, rape and arson. It is certainly true that we only know what the original St Mark’s Square looked like from old illustrations…

The end of the Republic of Venice’s thousand-year history, significant though it was, was ultimately overshadowed by events further to the north. Ferdinand was preparing to besiege Hoche in Venice when an urgent recall came to him from Tyrol. Rubicon had not been aimed at Italy, after all, but through Lorraine…

The hammer blow that Boulanger assembled consisted of two great armies under Ney and Leroux, intended to sweep around to the north and south and pocket any Austrian defenders between them. The free city of Strassburg was taken in March and annexed to the French Latin Republic as Strasbourg; the Austrians were ejected from Haguenau mere days later. The rapidity of the French advance outdid even Hoche’s stunning manoeuvres in Italy, and illustrated two important innovations by the French Revolutionary Army: the Cugnot steam wagons for transport of artillery and important supplies, and also a slimmed-down supply chain, with troops encouraged to live off the land. This did not endear them to the locals, but meant they could move further and faster, not having to worry about outrunning their own rations.

On April 1st 1798, the northern army under Ney took Karlsruhe, capital of the Margraviate of Baden. The French advance had been so rapid that the Badenese army had literally been overtaken and the people of the city were unaware they were in danger until the first Bloody Flags were seen on the horizon. The Margrave and his family were captured by the French and, on Robespierre’s orders, publicly executed by chirurgien in the market square. The Schloss was then taken over by French troops and a military administration imposed. However, the bulk of the army was still moving forward. It was what the Germans would call Blitzkrieg, the War of Lightning. The name was so apt that the French soldiers soon adopted it themselves in translation, naming Boulanger’s mode of warfare the Guerre-éclair.

Ney’s forces were in Stuttgart a month later, though the Duke of Württemberg had the sense to flee before their advance. It was not a case of the French defeating the Austrian and local Swabian armies sent against them, but simply manoeuvring around them. The Austrians were forced to keep withdrawing as cities even deeper into the Germanies were threatened. In the few battles that took place, the Austrians were generally disorganised enough to suffer defeat. Also, as they were now out of the mountainous regions of Lorraine, the Cugnot steam-wagons could be used to full effect. The Austrian tactics of fighting in line collapsed when hit with the French columns and the steam artillery trundling along beside them, moving into positions where they could enfilade the thick Austrian lines. Battle after battle was lost for the Austrians as France focused her full might on this new breakthrough. The Austrian armies continued to reconquer France’s previous gains in Italy and Switzerland, but what was that compared to the double-edged sword driving straight for the heart of Germany?

As Ney’s army reached Franconia and brushed up against the neutral Palatinate, Boulanger ordered that the forces be divided, with Leroux continuing eastward and Ney’s army spreading out to hold down the vast swathe of territory that had been gained. An Austrian army was pocketed near Hechingen but managed to fight its way through Ney’s thinly spread forces to rejoin the rest of the Austrian force regrouping in Bavaria. This illustrated the effect of panic that made Guerre-éclair so effective – if the Austrians had continued fighting instead of retreating, Ney’s forces were too thinly spread to stop them, and all the French’s gains could have collapsed. But they did not, for the speed of the French advance meant that no-one would have been surprised to learn that Leroux was in Warsaw by next Sunday.

In truth, the French invasion slowed. Even with Boulanger’s ruthless approach to supply trains, Leroux was outrunning his essential supplies and ammunition, and also was away from the coal depots that had been set up to fuel his Cugnot-wagons. Germany’s own coal supplies mainly lay to the north, out of French reach for the moment, and so Leroux paused lest his army reach Vienna only to be without artillery. This was the moment in which the French invasion could have faltered, if the Austrians had delivered a decisive hammer blow to the French flank, now that there was only one French spear rather than two driving eastward. But the only Austrian general with the skill and temperament for that was Archduke Ferdinand, and he was still obliviously chasing Hoche around Italy.

After the fall of Ulm in July, Ferdinand IV desperately reinstated the formerly disgraced General Mozart as head of Austria’s armies, but by that point not even Mozart could entirely salvage the situation. Having stared at a map for an hour, Mozart simply told the Emperor pointedly that Vienna, perhaps, could be defended againstthe French onslaught – but only if they pulled everything back now.

Ferdinand IV was appalled by this pessimism on behalf of his Salzburger general, but a few days later was forced to agree. Davidovich had scraped an army together and attempted to blunt Leroux’s march at Burgau. The battle, fought on 2nd August, saw the almost total annihilation of the Austrian forces as Leroux used his Cugnot-artillery in Boulanger’s patent style, positioning them on flat ridges adjoining the battlefield and moving them around so as to direct plunging fire down onto Davidovich’s lines. Mozart warned that now the task was even greater. With a heavy heart, Ferdinand IV gave the order and then left for Regensburg, calling what would be the last Reichstag of the Holy Roman Empire…

[1]Japanese (the Russian name for Japanese)

[2]In TTL Frederick Christian I is succeeded by Frederick Christian II, an entirely different character to OTL’s Frederick Augustus III, and he dies notably younger, from disease, without issue.

[3]TTL the Hohenzollerns haven’t felt confident enough about their position since the 1760s to claim the title ‘King of Prussia’.

[4]Note that the fortress town of Bar, which gave its name to the OTL earlier Confederation of Bar, is now in Russia, as the Russians annexed the Ruthenian vojvodships of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after the War of the Polish Partition.

Part #34: Eire and Water

“Just because a man is born in a stable does not make him the Lord.”

– Richard Wesley, 2nd Earl of Mornington​


From – “The Jacobin Wars” by E.G. Christie (Hetherington Publishing House, 1926)

Ireland. The Emerald Isle, Hibernia, the nation that had saved the English from the Vikings in the year 873 and had regretted it ever since. Though scenic, it had never been a particularly good place to live even before the anything-but-Glorious Revolution disenfranchised most of its population: wet, swampy, unable to support many people before the introduction of the potato. Ireland might be poetically green, but only because of all the rain. And since 1689, thunder and lightning had been added to that rain. Oh, the English had sought to expand power in Ireland ever sincec the Norman Conquest, but the rules of the game had changed since William III had become King of England. Once upon a time, to the English, Ireland had been that wild island full of cannibal barbarians, while now it was that desolate island full of priest-ridden traitors.

The intervening century had only served to deepen the divisions in Ireland between the relatively prosperous Protestants – concentrated in the old Plantations in Ulster – and the Catholics, who had been poor enough to begin with and suffered under a great deal of discriminatory laws. With each rising – Ireland had been a front in the Glorious Revolution and the Third Jacobite Rebellion – the situation got worse. Even when reform-minded Englishmen sought to end Catholic suffering in Ireland, they were angrily opposed by the Protestant Irish, who feared the fact that they were in a minority.

It was fairly obvious to any objective commentator what had to happen. The Catholic Irish would rise again at some point. The last Jacobite rebellion had been cut down in 1750, almost fifty years ago, allowing plenty of time for angry young men to grow up and for old men to forget the sorrows of what had followed the past risings. All they required was something to distract the British, and that something was the Jacobin Wars with France.

Except. And it was a big except. Many historians believe that the Catholics would have risen in their old manner, given a few more years as their organisations planned patiently, but…

Except the Protestants rebelled first.

On the face of it this was madness. Irish Protestants had a uniquely privileged position under the order imposed after the Williamite War and the following conflicts. They could both vote and serve in Parliament, enjoyed a disproportionate fraction of the island’s scant wealth, and could go off to Britain and have more distinguished political careers there – as many did, not least Edmund Burke. To do anything to jeopardise that, to bite the hand that fed them, was inconceivable. But then so were many things that spun off the jagged wheel of Revolution.

Many Protestant Irish, especially the most politically active Presbyterians in Ulster, resented the fact that their parliament had little power compared to the one in London, which could go head-to-head with the King and win (and often did). By contrast, the Lord Lieutenants in Dublin, though often quite competent men, remained in an old-boy’s-club network with the Irish parliamentarians and little ever really got accomplished. Those Protestants seeking reform initially cast themselves as Liberals, aping the moderate path that Burke had carved out in England (Burke himself speaking of the miserable situation of Irish politics, but not doing much himself about it). Many of them hesitated at the question of Catholic emancipation, though. Even the most open-minded Irish Protestants were concerned at the thought of being out-voted by at least three to one, by men they considered to be ill-educated, superstitious and priest-ridden. They could not be expected to understand modern enlightened politics.

The Revolution changed all that. France was undeniably a Catholic country and yet had launched the most radical political force ever witnessed in Europe. Revolutionary principles were far more popular in discussion in political circles in Scotland and Protestant Ireland than they were in England, not least because of the influence of Burke’s bald condemnation. Scotland had also suffered in the Jacobite Rebellions and had had a new road network built in King Frederick’s reign specifically to move British troops around more easily, putting down any future rebellions. However, these roads also meant that trade between Scottish cities picked up throughout the latter half of the eighteenth century, and by the late 1790s, Edinburgh and the newly industrialising Glasgow had as much of a trading class as London. And such men both have the money to exert a sizeable political influence as a whole, and are singularly hostile to anything that constitutes a change in policy, much less a revolution. It might endanger their profits, after all. So in Scotland French Revolutionary ideas remained just idle talk.

Not so Ireland. Despite the Third Jacobite Rebellion, British attempts to build a new road network there had stalled, partly because of the more difficult terrain and partly because of the intricate land-ownership laws that meant getting permission from fifty landlords to build a mile of road. Ireland remained a backwater relative to Britain, sleepy, impoverished, and with more grudges than you could shake the proverbial stick at. Ireland was ripe for revolution.

And yet among the Catholics who had the most grudges to hold, French ideas took little root. Partly it was simply that Protestant propaganda was not entirely a lie: many Catholics were illiterate and poorly-informed, and only heard about the Revolution through their village priests, who naturally took the Pope’s orders and condemned the Revolution. However, there were also plenty of Catholics well-informed enough to make their own decision, and the vast majority rejected the Revolution. No-one with anything more than the most desultory belief in his own identifier would be anything but horrified by the treatment of Catholicism under Hébert and Robespierre. The vast majority of Catholics who would ignore such things in favour of Revolutionary fervour had, naturally, already converted to Anglicanism in order to gain greater powers and freedoms. Those that were left mostly truly believed, and that was incompatible with the ruthlessness of the Jacobins.

So it was that while the nascent United Society of Equals was theoretically a joint Catholic, Presbyterian and Anglican organisation (ethnically speaking), the membership was made up almost entirely of Presbyterians and Anglicans. A few unorthodox Catholic priests and others did join up, but more for symbolic reasons than anything. The Society was led by Tom Russell,[1] who notably said that “Religion has led to so many divisions, so many wars, on our island this last century…the only solution for peace is to do away with it.” And like all atheist movements, they succeeded in uniting the isle – against themselves.

Although rumours of the USE were flying as early as 1795, they did not emerge truly until the summer of 1798. At that point, Robespierre in Paris was becoming increasingly paranoid about the possibility of a British invasion on the western coast of France, attacking the poorly defended lands while all France’s armies were committed to the invasion of Germany and Italy. As well as fatefully suggesting his strategy of marching raw recruits up and down the coast to persuade the British that there were troops there, Boulanger stated that the best way to avoid a British intervention would be to give les rosbifs something to chew on closer to home. A naval attack, even a feint, was simply impossible for what was left of the Republican French Navy, which would be annihilated in combat with the Royal Navy even if the Royal French Navy stood aside rather than fighting their former comrades. That left stirring up trouble.

Lisieux had been using the ‘Boulangerie’ to build an intelligence network separate to (and superior to, as it did not rely on flaming ideologues) Robespierre’s. He now learned of the activity of the Society, and how they wanted a united republican Ireland without state religion and fully independent of Britain, with a proper parliament. Robespierre signed up readily enough to the notion of spreading the revolution, his particular ambition, and was enthusiastic enough not to think to question where the information had come from.

Privately, though, Lisieux and Boulanger were certain that any rebellion launched by the Society would fail and they had no intention of supporting them any more than they had to. The important thing was that it would alarm the British and force them to divert troops to Ireland to put down the rebellion, discouraging or delaying any planned offensive moves. Support for the USE could be made with just a few smuggled shipments of weapons and propaganda pamphlets. Lisieux consulted the Boulangerie, and after patiently rejecting a helpful suggestion by Jean-Pierre Blanchard that they fly the supplies to Ireland in a fleet of balloons, secured the contacts they needed to effect the plan. It was almost impossible for French ships to sneak past the British blockade, at least in any numbers (isolated ships, as with L’Épurateur and Le Rédacteur, did manage to make it through on missions to the colonies).

Therefore, Lisieux co-opted Breton smugglers, little realising the import of his own actions at the time. But then how was he to know that one crate of pamphlets would be mistakenly left behind, opened by the Bretons’ curious relatives, and then taken to Nantes for translation as few of them spoke good French?

The Society was contacted and, in October 1798, an already planned rebellion was amplified by the French assistance. The French also sent some elite troops as a token help and General O’Neill, a politically suspect ancien regime Irish-exile general who had previously fought in Ireland during the Third Jacobite Rebellion. What the British later referred to as the Great Ulster Scare exploded into existence with the USE seizing control of much of Ulster and parts of Leinster in the early days of its action. The French documents had included plans for chirurgiens and they were put to work, executing British- and Irish Parliament-appointed officials all across the province. Belfast was made the capital of the new Revolutionary Irish Republic, but already USE forces were moving on Dublin. The relative speed of their offensive (and the fact that communications in Ireland rarely moved faster than an army) meant that a large number of Irish MPs and Lords were in session in Parliament when the city fell to the USE and the building was burned down – with the lawmakers still inside it.

The British garrisons in Dublin and Belfast both fought hard, but had been cut back severely in recent years as London had moved more troops back to the South Coast in fear of an invasion (the Admiralty’s estimates of Republican fleet strength were considerably exaggerated), and eventually succumbed to the USE. Worst of all, and widely reported by Liberal newspapers in England, was the fact that the USE fought harder and more skilfully than previous Irish rebellions. Why? Because so many of its members were veterans of Britain’s wars in India and America. Protestant Irish could serve in the British Army, after all. This wasn’t peasants with pitchforks territory anymore.

The problem for Britain was that news of the rebellion did not reach London until it had already exploded out of any ability to be contained. Also, naturally the news reports got longer with the telling. Before long men were seriously telling the ailing Marquess of Rockingham that Dublin had been burnt to the ground. And invariably confused reports led to anti-Catholic riots in London.

The British were in a quandary. By the time it became clear that the USE rebellion was too serious to ignore, they already held much of Ulster and Leinster, including the entire east coast. The old British strategy of working with the Protestant Irish and raising local militias could not succeed, partly because it was clear the Protestants could not longer be trusted, and partly because the main Protestant lands were already under USE control. Reports of the burning of churches of all denominations by the more radical wing of the USE served to inflame political passions in London. It was intolerable that Britain could allow French ideas to run riot over Ireland. Something had to be done, but what?

Rockingham’s government had been considering an invasion of northwest France since 1796, and when the tide of war turned against Austria, preparations were stepped up so that the invasion could be launched in time to relieve the pressure on Austria before it was too late. Robespierre’s paranoia had not been entirely unjustified. Now, though, Britain could hardly send those troops to France and ignore the rebels in Ireland, but sending a big part of the army over the Irish Sea would inevitably end up delaying the operation against France – possibly fatally for the Allies, given Austria’s rapidly deteriorating situation.

It was not an easy decision, but in the end Rockingham’s mind was made up by reports coming out of Galway. One of the few Irish parliamentarians who had not been present at the Battle of Dublin – and was thus still alive – was Richard Wesley, the second Earl of Mornington.[2] The Earl had fought in Bengal against Burmese-Arakan and in Haidarabad against Mysore, before returning to Ireland in 1793 on the death of his father and assuming the Earldom. Wesley was a hard-headed Anglican and ultra-conservative, who nonetheless believed that Catholics should have equal rights. He fiercely rejected anything that smacked of French republicanism, though, even if the USE hadn’t had him on its list of ‘to be executed’.

Wesley is widely credited with diffusing the situation in Limerick, always the city that had been most resentful under Protestant rule, and whose Catholic population was ready to take advantage of the USE in order to rise up, even if they did not agree with its aims. Wesley put on his old East India Company colonel’s uniform and ordered the British garrison to stand down and come out of their fortified places, then successfully bribed the city’s innkeepers into providing a week-long ‘celebration’. By the end of it, the British soldiers and the Protestant and Catholic townspeople were, if not old friends, good enough for government work. Wesley used similar tactics elsewhere and by the end of the year was effectively king of Munster, also providing a rallying point for the people of Galway. The half of Ireland not occupied by the USE looked to one of their last surviving Parliamentarians for leadership, and Wesley had already proved himself to be more than the usual corrupt old landowners who had dominated the Dublin Parliament before going up in smoke.

He was also a soldier, and a soldier of India no less, used to the idea that London ever providing British regulars to a trouble spot would be helpful but rather unlikely. Therefore, and in direct violation of the British Constitution (which banned Catholics from owning firearms), Wesley raised an army from the strange, ramshackle realm he effectively ruled, with his younger brothers as lieutenants. The British regulars already there, cut off from orders, he used as the core of his force, training new recruits. Both the Catholic and Protestant Irish grew to equally despise their British taskmasters, and shared hatred is always only one step away from comradeship. Perhaps Wesley even planned it that way.

So it was that when the USE went on the offensive again in early 1799, Wesley successfully held them back at Roscommon and the historically important Kilkenny, where Prince Frederick had defeated Bonnie Prince Charlie. He requested assistance from London, and Rockingham decided he could spare three regiments from the planned invasion of France – which had become unavoidable due to the Austrian collapse. As the Seigneur Offensive left Chatham, Portsmouth, Plymouth and Lowestoft, then, what Royal Navy ships remained were transporting those three regiments (the 23rd, the Royal Welch Fusiliers; the 58th (West Essex) Regiment of Foot[3], and the 79th (New York) Regiment of Foot). Ironically, no loyalist Irish units could be spared as they were all assigned to either the West Indies or the Mediterranean garrison at that time.

The Welsh, Essexmen and New Yorkers all landed at Limerick in March 1799 after a particularly choppy crossing, just as Prince Frederick had almost exactly fifty years earlier. By that point, Wesley’s forces were confident enough with their string of victories and fighting retreats against the USE that they were able to view the pale, seasick redcoats with an air of superiority and contempt. Yet they were soon grateful enough. The British and Americans had also brought food supplies, desperately needed given Wesley’s strategy of not living off the land in order to gain the favour of the people who lived there, and they brought artillery companies. Most of the Royal Irish Artillery, based in Dublin, had been captured by the USE when they took the city, and though the USE had few trained artillerymen to use the guns, Wesley’s army had had little choice but to retreat whenever they were confronted by artillery they could not reply to.

The two armies met in their first truly decisive engagement near Carlow in May. They were both heterogenous forces, and both had some men in red uniforms (the USE’s former soldiers had kept theirs) and some in civilian clothes. Therefore, they both adopted the old Civil War-era measure of wearing some brightly coloured token to identify them to their friends: the USE used an orange ribbon and Wesley’s army a blue. The use by the USE of orange (also used in their flag, based on the French Bloody Flag but orange rather than red and with an inverted Leinster harp rather than a fleur-de-lys) illustrates the Protestant majority that affected their thinking and traditions without them even realising it.

The USE forces fought hard, but Wesley’s new superiority in artillery was telling. The loyalist forces were not, perhaps, as effective as they might have been, however, as the British and American colonels of the three new regiments were all sceptical about treating Wesley – a former East India colonel, not even a proper one – as their general, and failed to take orders as automatically as they might have done. This perhaps contributed to the fact that a large part of the USE army was able to make a successful retreat under O’Neill. Still, the battle was remembered for the poetic way that the Royal Welch’s grenadier company marched stolidly into the face of withering USE fire, flanked by Wesley’s Irishmen, to the ironic strains of ‘British Grenadiers’.[4]

Though the Battle of Carlow was not as great a victory for the loyalists as it could have been, it effectively ended the USE’s winning streak and their supporters began to melt back into the woodwork as Wesley took Kildare and the West Essex, supported by Irish under Wesley’s younger brother George, secured Wicklow. In doing so they bypassed a small USE army in the south of Leinster, which congregated on Wexford and then dissolved in panic from the news from the north, most of its members eventually escaping to France or the UPSA.

The USE’s armies regrouped to defend Dublin, which was bloodily fought over throughout September as Wesley laid siege. In the end, the city’s walls were successfully escaladed by the New Yorkers, as is told in Tekakwitha’s epic True Liberty, with so many good men being shot down from their ladders by USE sharpshooters. Yet the New Yorkers did it, and one of their number – a certain James Roosevelt – had his revenge by gunning down General O’Neill with his Ferguson rifle.[5]

Wesley’s army was initially consumed by the usual rapine fervour for looting and burning that flows forth when an army takes a fiercely defended city (and after all, even his Irish troops were mostly recruited from distant Munster and Connaught) but they sobered when they saw the burned-out wreck that was all that remained of the Irish Parliament. Some men even swore that the horrible roast-pork smell of burnt human flesh clung to it forever.

The defeat of the USE did not come until Christmas, though Belfast was the last city they truly fought to defend. Wesley’s army was not so restrained this time and angry reports of rape and murder against the locals circulated throughout Britain and Ireland. Russell took poison rather than fall into British hands and be executed for treason. Many men of the USE escaped or faded back into Irish society as a whole. Being ‘accused of Equalitarian leanings’ was for time a witch-hunt accusation in Ireland, levelled against many inoffensive men against whom their accuser had a grudge.

The situation in Ireland did not stabilise for a long time. London, busy with the war with France, did not have much time to consider what to do next, and order and communications were not restored until mid-1800. By that point, of course, Wesley had his own ideas about the island’s future course…

[1]Note the pointed absence of Theobald Wolfe Tone, for which there is a reason…

[2]The Wellesleys were called Wesley before changing it to sound more English, which hasn’t happened in TTL. TTL’s Richard is essentially an amalgam of OTL’s Arthur and Richard.

[3]OTL all the regiments moved down two places after the British disbanded the two American regiments, the 50th and 51st, after the Seven Years’ War, i.e. the 58th became the 56th – TTL that hasn’t happened.

[4]In OTL the Royal Welch did this during the American Revolutionary War.

[5]The Ferguson breech-loading rifle has still been invented in TTL’s 1770s. Much like OTL, the British military establishment is still dubious about it, but it has enjoyed much popularity as a hunting weapon in the Empire of North America, and New York regiments in particular have adopted it as the weapon of choice for their Rifle skirmisher companies.

Part#35: The Empire Spreads Her Wings

“In 1751, we won our independence as the Empire. In 1788, we won the right to elect our own representatives to our own Parliament. But it was in 1796 that North America, her own house put in order, first began to reach out to the world…”

– introduction to a North American history textbook, 1892​


From "A History of North America" by Dr Paul Daycliffe (William and Mary, 1964):

In reaction to the mob attacks on the British and American ministers in Paris, on September 2nd, 1795, the British Parliament voted 385 to 164 in favour of a declaration of war against Revolutionary France. This was matched in November 14th by a vote of 46-9 in the Continental Parliament, which was particularly outraged by the treatment of Thomas Jefferson, and this swung over many Constitutionalists who would otherwise have sympathised with the motives of the Revolution.

Almost immediately thereafter, commentators in both countries began to consider by what mode the war against France would take. The Admiralty and Horse Guards had, of course, made considerable plans for a future war with France, as this seemed to be a rather predictable occurrence every two decades or so during the Age of Supremacy. However, such plans revolved around the geopolitical situation remaining more or less as it had been since the First War of Supremacy.[1] British European policy was largely aimed at attacking France via continental proxies such as Austria or Prussia, paid off with British funds and backed by British-controlled Hanover and British-influenced Brunswick. The main thrust of Britain’s own war effort would be outside Europe, taking more colonies from France (with the assistance of North America) and undermining French influence in independent states.

These plans all went up in smoke when the Burke Strategy, as it was later called, was implemented in 1795. Against the views of opportunists, who initially included the Prime Minister Lord Rockingham himself, Parliament voted not to take advantage of the French Revolution in order to sweep up French colonies around the world, but on the contrary to make sure as many of them as possible stayed French and declared loyalty to the Dauphin, now King Louis XVII in British eyes. This ideologically-based rather than opportunistic approach shocked the British public establishment and reflected the brief but intense feeling of outrage that the attacks on Jefferson and Grenville had caused. The French Republic was too dangerous to allow to exist, even if it had led to the downfall of Britain’s old enemy, the Bourbon monarchy. “Better the devil you know than the Jacobin you also know all too well,” as the Marquess of Bute[2] said in his famously mangled quote.

The new war plan resulted in much head-scratching at the Admiralty and Horse Guards, and not merely of the crusty conservatives who were unable to contemplate an alliance with any kind of France on principle. Britain’s strategy had always been primarily naval, and various mutinies and Leo Bone’s trick at Toulon meant that Revolutionary France was unlikely to attempt a naval invasion of Britain or any major sea operations at all. Additionally, with the Royal French Navy loyal to the Dauphin (Louis XVII), the combined forces easily had enough ships to blockade all the French ports and sweep the seas for any Revolutionary ships that did get out. This overwhelming superiority was, paradoxically, met with depression from the Royal Navy, whose captains disliked the prospect of a war filled with dull blockade and convoy duty and little chance of taking prizes.

The British Army, on the other hand, faced the opposite problem. It had always been very small by continental standards and rarely fought alone, always backed up by big forces from the German states. The Army was professional enough but lacked the European armies’ experience of fighting on modern battlefields – it was more used to lending a regiment or two to a skirmish in America, India or elsewhere, participating with local forces. And given the Armée républicaine françaises’s gradually increasing successes in the war with Austria, it looked as though the British Army would eventually have to send forces to assist the Austrians or even (as the war wore on) to prevent Hanover and the allied states from falling to French invasion.

The solution was to increase recruitment, which always caused headaches at Horse Guards. The British people remained violently opposed to the idea of a large standing army: memories of Cromwell ran deep. The creation of any standing army, except by the express consent of Parliament, was specifically forbidden in the British Constitution. Even considering the current situation, Horse Guards had to tread very carefully in a call for increased recruitment. It was true that the country was ripe to give up a larger number of suitable recruits than the past, though. Britain’s Army had always recruited down-on-their-luck petty criminals or simply those out of luck, and the burgeoning Industrial Revolution was producing plenty of those, as people moved to the industrialising cities to find jobs and often found poverty and starvation instead. Also, the Navy’s lack of need for recruitment above peace levels meant that the Naval press-gangs were not out, freeing up more men of the right age for army service instead. The recruiting sergeants spun tales of rich plunder to be had in the Germanies, and the young men signed up, apparently not wondering that if there was indeed such rich plunder, why the same sergeants were still sergeants.

Yet the numbers raised still did not come close to Horse Guards’ most conservative estimates for a force required to defend Hanover and support Austria. Reports of both Boulanger’s new tactics and the superiority of French artillery (both in the Gribeauval system and the Cugnot steam tractors) were at first exaggerated in Britain, and Horse Guards generally considered that the only immediate response would be to try and achieve numerical superiority over any French army faced in the field. Given the vastness of Boulanger’s conscript armies, this seemed futile, but of course instituting conscription in Britain would be seen as utter madness and would doubtless lead to the downfall of the Government.

Therefore, Horse Guards turned to rather unorthodox solutions. The organisation, originally very conservative (even compared to the Navy) had been severely purged by King Frederick after the Second Glorious Revolution[3] to weed out anyone who might 1) disagree with his right to the throne and 2) have the power to raise an army. An unintended consequence of this was that Horse Guards had become far more open to new ideas, particularly since Frederick had introduced a number of American military veterans to positions of power and this had continued, particularly since there were now a reasonable number of American regiments on the lists.

The Commander-in-Chief of the British Army at that point was Jeffrey Amherst, 1st Viscount Amherst.[4] Although a Kentish Man born and bred, he had served for most of his career in North America, fighting the French in the Third War of Supremacy under Wolfe, and had served as military governor of Michigan immediately after the war.[5] Amherst’s own detailed notes and explorations of the region were used extensively by the Michigan Commission, the body which planted what would become the Susan-Mary Penal Colony some years after Amherst’s death. Amherst was considered ‘more than half a Jonathon’ by some of the more fossilised parts of the Army bureaucracy (even though he himself was in his eighties), and had overseen several appointments of senior American officers to Horse Guards posts.

One of these was General Sir Fairfax Washington, second son of the by now deceased Lawrence Washington and brother of James Washington, 2nd Marquess of Fredericksburg.[6] Sir Fairfax had cut his military teeth as a young lieutenant of the Virginia militia in the Indian wars, then had served as a captain of the newly created 63rd (Virginia) Regiment of Foot, which had fought under his uncle General George Washington in the Plate during the Second Platinean War. He had risen to become colonel of the regiment, then had in 1791 become Master General of the Ordnance. Sir Fairfax’s tenure was noted for his support for Henry Shrapnel’s development of a case shot, a hollow cannonball filled with musket balls and gunpowder, which exploded in midair (in theory) and had the same bloody effect as canister on close-packed enemy troops, but at a much greater range. The Shrapnel case shot was later one of the British Army’s best weapons against the close-packed French columns they faced.

However, Sir Fairfax is best remembered for his participation in the recruitment crisis of 1795 and 1796. He suggested to Amherst that they increase recruitment in the Empire of North America, at which Amherst was sceptical: he pointed out that America’s open expanses of new land to be settled meant that there was less chance of producing the down-on-their-luck young men that the British Army relied on for its recruitment. Sir Fairfax countered that settlement had largely stalled in some of the Confederations, such as Carolina and New York, and even in those still opened up to settlement, not all young men could afford to buy their own land. The promise of plunder in a European war to finance their plans might be very attractive…

Amherst agreed and put the proposal to King George, who accepted readily. Parliament was less enthusiastic, though a majority favoured the proposals. However, Sir Fairfax realised that the practice of having to appeal to Parliament to raise each new regiment would hamstring and slow down the programme too much. Together with Amherst, and with Royal backing from the King, they launched the American Regiments Bill, which sought to transfer the responsibility for raising American regiments from Westminster to Fredericksburg. This was considered greatly controversial in the British political scene, but happily for Sir Fairfax, coincided with the reports of Boulanger’s shock defeat of Mozart in November. As usual a week is a long time in politics, and for that week the chattering classes were consumed with the certainty that the French Revolutionary forces would carry all before them and that the Hanoverian Dominions needed all the regiments they could get. It did not matter that in a week or two, when reports of Ney’s retreat from Lorraine emerged, they became equally certain that the French Revolutionary armies were doomed, because it was during that week that the American Regiments Act (1795) was passed.

The Act was somewhat watered down by the House of Lords, but passed in its original spirit. It was joined in February 1796 by the Shipping Act (1796) which, among other things, increased the power of American dockyards to build ships to a Royal Naval standard. However, the Admiralty remained unified and based in London, it being assumed at this point that any American contribution to the naval war effort would be minor and superfluous, given British and Royal French overwhelming numerical superiority.

The grandly named Commission for Continental Regiments was created by an act of the Continental Parliament in April 1796 and took up office in the Cornubia Palace, a building originally intended for King Frederick’s royal residency in America but in practice usually empty, as when the royals visited America they usually travelled between the colonies and stayed as the guests of the local nobles. The Palace was large enough to be filled out with several other newly created Continental Commissions (essentially the American version of departments of State) as the war wore on. In order that Westminster might be able to demand accountability of American actions, a further Act was passed in 1797 which saw a Special Commissioner for Home Affairs appointed, essentially an American minister to Britain in all but name, mirroring the Lord Deputy. The first of these was Albert Gallatin of New York, appointed by his key political ally Lord Hamilton the Lord President. As Gallatin's and Hamilton's great political enemy, Governor Aaron Burr of New York (and a noted anglophobe) remarked sourly, 'Well, he has managed to gain profitable relations with the savages of the forests and rivers to the west; now let him attempt it with those on the foggy island to the east.'

At the founding of the CCR, only eight American regiments actually existed: the 80th Royal Pennsylvania Rifles, the 14th King’s Own Philadelphian Dragoons, the 63rd (Virginia) Foot, the 79th (New York) Foot, the Royal American Company of Artillery (not numbered, and recruited from all over), the 84th (Carolina) Foot, the 78th New England Rifles, and the 83rd (New England) Foot. The first new regiment to be formed was the 99th (Pennsylvania) Foot, that Confederation originally having preferred to rely on its own militia than form a regiment of the Line, but the lessons learned from the Lenape War showing the folly of that approach. Five new regiments were formed between May 1796 and September 1798, when the ‘Seigneur Offensive’, the invasion of the western coast of France, was launched. The vast majority of their men were still green by that point, despite having been drilled by veteran American sergeants from the Second Platinean War. However, even those that were not fit to fight in France were still useful: assigned to the frontier forts, they filled the boots of the more competent troops who had originally been stuck there, freeing them up for France while still warning off Indian raids. Ironically, this was the same tactic, on Robespierre’s part, which was responsible for the immediate success of ‘Seigneur’…

The American regiments taking part in the invasion of France were the 80th, the 84th and the 78th Rifles, while the 79th New Yorkers were busy assisting Lord Mornington in quelling the USE rebellion in Ireland. Generally speaking, however, throughout the course of the war, the greatest contributions to the army came from New York and Carolina. These were the two Confederations least concerned with westward settlement, Carolina’s way mostly blocked by the Cherokee and Royal-French Louisiana, New York’s by the Great Lakes and the Iroquois. Pennsylvania was also a fairly large contributor but remained concerned with securing its newly won western lands from the Indians. Virginia and New England did contribute forces, but not in proportion to their population, and the reason for this was that they (specifically Boston and Norfolk) were centres for the new American shipbuilding programme permitted by the Shipping Act. Although the captains acceded through the usual precedence on the post-lists, the crews were often drawn locally, and thus fewer recruits were available for the Army regiments.

And of course it was one of the Boston dockyards that built the most famous American ship of them all, HIMS Enterprize

[1]War of the Spanish Succession.

[2]John Stuart, 4th Earl of Bute, 2nd Marquess of Bute (in TTL the 3rd Earl was made Marquess as he remained in opposition and never became the unpopular Prime Minister he was OTL).

[3]Frederick’s triumphant return in 1750.

[4]As in OTL, although OTL he was only a Baron.

[5]OTL Amherst was governor of Canada and then of Virginia – TTL Wolfe is governor of Canada and Virginia now gets native-born Americans appointed as governors.

[6]OTL, before his death from tuberculosis at a young age, Lawrence Washington had four children, none of which survived beyond youth, and TTL’s names are adapted from theirs.


Part #36: Cross of Fire, Heart of Blood

Dieu, et mon droit.”

– Louis XVII’s first words upon setting foot on the soil of Brittany​


From – “The Jacobin Wars” by E.G. Christie (Hetherington Publishing House, 1926)

Looking back on the issue, many historians have found it rather strange that the French Republican government under Robespierre had not foreseen the fact that Brittany and the Vendée would be trouble spots for the Revolution. Both areas had benefited under the same quirks of the ancien regime that the urbanite supporters of the Revolution had hated. In the words of Arthur Spencer, “no farmer has ever complained about a law that makes it more difficult for him to pay taxes to the government”. As a Duchy, Brittany continued to enjoy special privileges and autonomy under the Kingdom of France, including its own relatively powerful parlement.

The Vendée, though having no such special constitutional status, possessed a nobility that was more down-to-earth and less divided from commoners than that in Paris, and the excesses of the Revolution against the First Estate shocked Vendean public opinion. But it was those against the Second Estate that really clinched it. Perhaps because it had been a battleground between Protestant Huguenots and Catholics two centuries before, the Vendeans were some of the more fiercely devout Catholics in all France. Anti-clerical measures on the part of the Revolution – both relatively passive ones such as stopping clerical privileges, and active ones such as Hébert’s pogroms – served to further align Vendean feeling against the Republican government.

The strange part was that there was no rebellion for the first three years of the Republic’s existence. This was simply because, to oversimplify somewhat, no-one had ever been sent from Paris to check that the western provinces remained loyal to Paris. The idea that to possess the capital city is to possess the state was a cornerstone of Revolutionary thinking, and the Republicans’ possession of Paris did serve to turn much undecided French public opinion to their side in the early days. However, Brittany in particular had been largely unaffected even by the trend towards centralisation during the days of Bourbon absolutism. It was not a case of rebellion in the years between the King’s phlogistication and 1798: simply that Vendean and Breton officials ignored any pronouncements coming out of Paris. Even though Robespierre feared a British invasion of the western coast of France, the Republican government did not try to enforce its authority there simply because it was focused entirely on defeating Austria.

This changed in 1798. At a meeting between the three Consuls (Jean-Baptiste Robespierre, Pierre Boulanger and Jean de Lisieux) in Christmas 1797 (a.k.a. Chien Nivôse de l’an Deux), Robespierre voiced his fear of a British invasion, noting that no real troops could be spared from the planned invasion of Germany, the Rubicon Offensive. Boulanger had suggested that the Armée républicaine françaises (ARF) instead use the western coastlands as training ground for raw recruits, marching them up and down to provide a convincing military presence for any British spies. Robespierre had agreed, noting that this would also help extend governmental control into an area that had (vaguely) been reported to be…difficult.

Ironically, it was this move that first sparked rebellion in the west. The first French recruits left their barracks in March 1798, at around the same time as the launching of Rubicon in the east. Initially Boulanger’s plan worked, with overly nervous British agents reporting that the French were moving troops in to secure the west, and that the British government’s planned Seigneur Offensive would have to be cancelled. However, even as the doddering Marquess of Rockingham hesitated, things came to a head. The recruits were drawn from all over France, practically foreigners to many of the locals, and they were led by drill sergeants often considered too undisciplined to be serving against Austria. And one of the things the troops practiced was Boulanger’s strategy of living off the land…the result was a reign of terror against the local people, with looting and confiscation rife. The troops were used to a world, by now, where you could get away with anything if you could bluff the other person into thinking you had sanction from Robespierre. The Vendeans…were not.

Historians are divided on what incident first sparked off the Chouannerie, just as they are on the causes of the Jacobin Revolution. Many people have drawn attention to a particular crime, the rape of a mother superior, the burning down of a noble’s house with his family still inside, the desecration of a church. It is quite probable that we will never know for sure. What is known that, in an action similar to that of the Polish rebellion raging at the same time in Eastern Europe, many quietly organised rebel groups sprang into life on the same day: October 9th, the day of St Denis, patron saint of France. That day, Sarrasin Vendémiaire de l’an Trois, was also a day of celebration for the Republicans, at least before they heard about what was happening in the west. It was on this day that the French armies took Regensburg and the Holy Roman Empire breathed its last (details of which, see later chapters).

Yet victory in the east came together with crisis in the west. The rebels, who called themselves chouans after their owl-call recognition signal, conducted a surprisingly organised counter-revolutionary campaign in the first few days of their existence. Drunken recruits, fat from eating off the backs of the Vendean people, had their throats cut. Captured Republican officers were executed by the same chirurgiens they had unleashed on the local nobles. Bloody Flags were burned, Temples of Reason blown up. The white flag of the monarchy came up, and with it was another: a red cross and heart on a white field, accompanied with the words Dieu le Roi – the Holy Heart of the Vendée.[1] The people had issued a challenge to the Revolution, the first serious one it had had since Toulon.

The Vendeans were joined by the Bretons, who raised an army under Charles Armand Tuffin, the Marquis of Rouërie (or Rogery, as it was literally and amusingly translated by English journalists). Armand[2] was a veteran of the Second Platinean War[3] and was generally liked by the Breton people, who saw him as one of them. The Bretons added the Vendean heart to their own ermine flag and joined the Vendeans in their campaign against the terrorising troops. By November, the Revolutionary presence in the two provinces had been virtually wiped out. Royal France was no longer merely an outre-mer idea, a government in exile with some colonies. If l’état c’est moi, then Louis XVII was back.

The Chouannerie consumed the attention of both the British and French press in the winter of 1798, despite Robespierre’s attempts to gag the latter. Equally, both nations’ politicians began to demand intervention. In Westminster, when Charles James Fox attempted to condemn the Chouans for ‘backsliding against the cause of liberty’, he was booed down. It was at this point that Richard Burke, the still young son of Edmund, tabled his first Parliamentary motion by asking for British intervention on the side of the Chouans. Meanwhile in Paris, even the cowed rubber-stamp that Robespierre had reduced the National Legislative Assembly to nonetheless managed to pluck up the courage to insist on action.

It was not as though Robespierre himself disagreed, though. He had always considered Britain to be a dangerous enemy to have at your back, and now was a blatant opportunity for the British to attack. The Consuls recognised that this would have to be some sort of seaborne invasion, so one mode of action would be to attempt to intercept the British forces in the Channel (La Manche). However, when Lisieux asked Surcouf to consider a plan for such an eventuality, the pioneering sailor simply stared incredulously at him for half a minute before replying that it would be nothing more than a waste of lives. Republican France had only perhaps a third of the navy that pre-Revolutionary France had, and that of suspect loyalty and training. Too many good sailors had left with Leo Bone and joined the Dauphin in Britain. Surcouf suggested that either the Dutch or Spanish Navies could at least give the Royal Navy pause, though, if there were some way that they could be drawn into the war diplomatically.

This exchange is often used to illustrate the difference between Lisieux and Robespierre. Upon hearing this, and informing Surcouf that it was extremely unlikely that the services of the Dutch or Spanish could be acquired, Lisieux simply rejected the idea that the Republic could mount a serious challenge to Britain’s forces enroute. They would simply have to find a way to defeat them on land. Robespierre, however, dismissed this opinion (and indeed Lisieux had to talk him out of sentencing Surcouf to a summary trial and execution for faint-heartedness). Having been told by one sailor that it was impossible, Robespierre simply asked another and another until he got the right answer. This came from Charles Villeneuve, a character who was afterwards considered a lunatic by both French sides, but bizarrely was quite popular among the British, who have always appreciated a really dramatic futile gesture, and he was referred to respectfully in the British press as ‘Mr Newton’, the direct translation of his name.

Villeneuve argued that much of the Royal Navy was dispersed around the world and that the home fleet would lack experience (not being aware of the Royal Navy’s practice of rotating ships between fleets fairly often). More sensibly, he pointed out the example of the Battle of Trafalgar[4] in 1783: the British had lost to the Franco-Spanish forces, but had nonetheless achieved much of their objective (to stop the allies resupplying their forces in South America) as they had sunk many of the troop transport ships and forced others to turn back. Villeneuve suggested that the small French Republican Navy could force a similar Pyrrhic victory on the British invasion force here.

Aside from the questionable wisdom of a course of action that was assumed to end in the near-destruction of the French fleet even if it succeeded, Villeneuve’s plan fell short in other ways. Seigneur, as the British operation to cross the Channel and support the Chouans was called, was a far cry from the Second Platinean War operation. The Franco-Spanish in that conflict had been trying to support troops thousands of miles away, across a vast ocean. The Channel, no matter how much some among the British thought it was, was anything but. The French would have a very narrow window of opportunity to attack the British fleet, and furthermore if a British troopship was damaged, it might well be able to return to port, be repaired and out again within a day or two.

Nonetheless, Robespierre seized on the plan and ordered it approved. Lisieux reluctantly consented, but he and Boulanger privately assumed it was unlikely to work, and began withdrawing forces from Germany to build up new armies to use against the Chouans. This is sometimes cited by historians as being the reason behind Mozart’s victory at the Siege of Vienna in March 1799, but in truth the effects of the shift of troops did not really emerge until midsummer of that year. It was simply that Leroux’s army had finally outrun its supply lines, despite Ney’s efforts, and that the French Revolutionary armies’ tactic of living off the land did not work very well when it came to besieging a city for months (for more, see later chapters).

The British launched Seigneur in February. The political side of the plan was the brainchild of Richard Burke and the Dauphin, who had cooperated while the latter had been staying in London and raising support among French exiles there. Their political alliance and friendship meant that Louis XVII was exposed to the political system of the British Parliament, and recorded in his diary that it was: “…certainly not without its flaws…but, much like the table they keep, the constitution the British maintain is devoted to a solid, stodgy sense of stability…and in the aftermath of what we have witnessed, perhaps France needs such a monastic Diet for some time…”[5]

Seigneur was deployed from then four ports of Chatham, Portsmouth, Plymouth and Lowestoft. The first three consisted of mainly British troopships carrying British or American troops and supported by British warships, while the Lowestoft fleet was a motley collection of borrowed troopships (some of them converted former slave-ships, a fact which the Revolutionary propagandists had much fun with), carrying the Most Catholic and Christian Royal Army of the King[6] and supported by the French Royal Naval ships that Leo Bone had ‘rescued’ from Toulon. The French force was commanded by the indecisive Admiral the Comte d’Estaing and his more competent subordinate Captain Etienne Lucas. The British Channel Squadron was under the overall command of Admiral Sir William Byng, the son of John Byng the hero of the Second Glorious Revolution. Under that, the Plymouth fleet was commanded by Commodore Horatio Nelson, the Portsmouth fleet by Commodore Leo Bone, and the Chatham fleet by Rear-Admiral Adam Duncan, a senior veteran. Each force consisted of about a dozen ships of the line and twenty frigates, protecting around fifteen transports of various sizes carrying infantry, cavalry and artillery.

Against these four forces – which only represented part of Britain’s worldwide naval strength – Villeneuve had twenty ships of the line and eighteen frigates (most of the Republic’s frigates had already been sent off by Surcouf on raiding or messenger missions). The British were aware, by their spy network (augmented by the fact that the Dauphin could call upon secret loyalists in France) that Villeneuve was concentrating his forces in Dieppe in order to raid any Channel-crossing force. However, British opinions of Villeneuve’s capabilities were low. “The French spend more time repainting their ships than they do rolling out their guns,” sneered Commodore Nelson in his diary, a reference to the new red-and-black Revolutionary chequer pattern that the Republican Navy had adopted.[7] The British made no serious attempts to harry Villeneuve’s ships as they gathered from other French ports.

Seigneur was launched on 14th February, St Valentine’s Day. Villeneuve was kept well informed by his own intelligence network, a series of disguised fishing boats that communicated over the horizon using flags, and was informed of the launch bare hours later. He had more time to prepare because the British did not go straight across the Channel, instead forming up the four fleets to swing around Finisterre to the west and launch a concerted descent on Quiberon. Villeneuve launched on short notice: despite Nelson’s scepticism, he had drilled his men well and they fought as well as could be expected considering the disadvantages they faced. Villeneuve was determined to intercept one of the British fleets before they combined: like Hoche in Italy, he believed that success might be grasped if he could divide the enemy and hit each portion with his whole force.

The wind was with Villeneuve and one of his ships, the Égalité, sighted the Chatham fleet before Admiral Duncan had joined the others. It was just as possible that Villeneuve could have found the Royal French fleet that was travelling through the same waters, and some speculative romantics have considered the consequences of what might have happened if Villeneuve had managed to sink the Dauphin’s ship.

But no: Villeneuve attacked Duncan with the strategy he had developed. The French ships of the line formed the usual line against their British counterparts, tying them down, while the frigates ignored their British counterparts and engaged the transports directly, suffering damage as their did so. Villeneuve’s aggressive action was surprisingly successful: though the French lost eight ships of the line and ten frigates (to ten and three British, respectively), the French frigates managed to sink half the British transports before the others’ captains, deciding that their own escorts were not doing their job, gybed and returned to port. Villeneuve, his objective completed, ordered a withdrawal and regrouping. This required leaving some damaged French ships behind, but Duncan was unable to pursue. French gunnery tactics focused on attacking the masts, sails and rigging, with the result that many British ships were left only lightly damaged but disabled. Duncan’s remaining movement-capable forces, mostly frigates, were not enough to challenge even Villeneuve’s wounded fleet. Two frigates tried and were hulled at long range by French stern chasers before they could reply.

Villeneuve’s attack had been remarkably successful, though he had lost much of his own forces. Deciding that today was his day of luck, he decided to find another British force, but soon his scouts reported that the two remaining British fleets and the Royal French had successfully amalgamated off Portland and, having waited for a day for Duncan, had given up and set sail for Finisterre.

The French Admiral pursued, setting a course for destiny…

[1]Coeur sacré is commonly translated Sacred Heart in English, but I think Holy Heart is more accurate.

[2]I have referred to him as Armand as this is how most OTL Americans know him.

[3]In OTL he fought in the American Revolutionary War.

[4]Recall that in TTL, Trafalgar was a 1783 battle between the Franco-Spanish and British during the Second Platinean War, and the British lost.

[5]Note the pun.

[6]I know it sounds a bit redundant but this is based on the actual names of some OTL loyalist French armies.

[7]This is an irony because in OTL it was Nelson who popularised a (yellow and black) chequer pattern on royal Navy ships.

Part #37: And Charlemagne Wept

“The Holy Roman Empire is neither holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire”
– Voltaire​

From – “The Jacobin Wars – the Italo-German Front” by Joshua H. Calhoun (University of New York Press, 1946) -

Not since the Third War of Supremacy had Austrian forces been so dominated. Forty years later, history repeated itself as battle after battle went the way of the enemy. Thibault Leroux was no Frederick II of Prussia, but he did not need to be.[1] Unlike the Prussians, the French were not fighting with outnumbered forces against two or three powerful foes at once. With the increasing withdrawal of the German states’ armies to defend their own frontiers, the forces that Vienna could bring to bear were sloughing off thousands daily without ever meeting the enemy.

The chaos of the unilateral withdrawals also served to hurt the Austrian war effort, as Ferdinand IV’s ministers would assume a town defended by loyal Hessian or Saxon troops, only to learn days later that they had abandoned it to the French. Sometimes an Austrian army under a good commander would make a stand and hold back one of Leroux’s armies, only to have to withdraw anyway, as the French had almost surrounded them by occupying areas that had been abandoned by Austrian allies. Such was the terrible beauty of the War of Lightning strategy: the French’s rapid advance had been the cause of the withdrawals in the first place, as the German states looked nervously at the fate of Baden and Württemburg; and now those withdrawals only aided the speed of the French drive to the east. It was a vicious circle, ever decreasing in diameter, and Austria’s survival sat at its heart.

Only Brunswicker and Hanoverian troops, backed by token British forces, continued to fight on, but they were too small in number to provide much help to the Austrians. Matters worsened as the Second War of the Polish Succession heated up, threatening to spill over into states bordering Saxony and Prussia, and states such as Mecklenburg – which had previously left their armies in place, considering their home territories not threatened by the French – joined the general withdrawal. The pan-German alliance, the attempt to rebuild the Holy Empire in spirit as well as name, had crumbled long before the French reached Regensburg.

The total defeat of Davidovich at Burgau in August 1798 resounded throughout all of Germany. Davidovich’s army had been Austria’s last hope of stopping the French advance before it entered Bavaria – which was now part of Austria’s core territory, since the land exchange in 1783. The Bavarian army was as yet not integrated with its Austrian counterpart, and many Bavarians were unenthusiastic about being part of Austria. Ferdinand IV feared that the French might find willing collaborators in the country, which would be both a disaster for Austria in general and sound the death knell for his attempts to reunite Germany.[2] The current withdrawals were helping the French indirectly, but if Germans turned to the Revolution and fought other Germans, then all was lost.

Leroux’s advance stalled somewhat throughout September. The War of Lightning was not about taking and holding territory; that was the task of follow-up operations, such as those that Ney was now pursuing in Swabia, having made his base of operations at Stuttgart. No, the goal for Leroux was simply to remain on the offensive, aggressively attacking along a narrow axis of advance aimed at Regensburg, and then Vienna. The Revolutionary doctrine of to possess the capital is to possess the country was about to be tested.[3]

But Leroux realised that the Austrians would fight tooth and nail here, and if they remained on the defensive, the French could easily expend themselves and achieve nothing. Things were fragile. French victory rested on, not solid strength, but an idea, the idea among the Germans that their invincible armies could be anywhere, everywhere, and were backed up by a horde who devastated the countries in their wake. If Leroux was routed at Regensburg, that image would collapse. Ney’s position was still delicate, and if the Badenese and Württembergers rose up in combination with a renewed Austrian offensive, the French position in Germany could collapse. Determined to avoid that nightmare scenario, Leroux allowed the advance to slow while he built up his forces, waiting for the ammunition steam-wagons to catch up and for Ney to send reinforcements through.

This gave the Germans a few weeks to prepare. Mozart had been placed in command by Ferdinand IV, and he withdrew the majority of the Austrian armies to Lower Austria itself. Mozart, an insightful general, had discerned the French strategy of aiming at possession of the capital. Therefore, he reasoned, if the French could be defeated at Vienna then their whole plan would come apart and Austria might be saved. He knew that they would first aim for Regensburg, but believed that there was simply not enough time to reinforce the Holy Roman capital, and that to do so would only fruitlessly throw away men that woul be needed to defend Vienna. He authorised only a single army under Alvinczi as a delaying force, then began to bring in troops from all across the Empire.

Archduke Ferdinand’s army came up through the Brenner Pass, leaving a guard to prevent Hoche’s force from following. Using the Alpine terrain against the French just as Marat’s Swiss Republic forces had against them the previous year, the Austrians were able to wear down Hoche’s already depleted forces enough that even that dynamic general gave up and retreated to Venice. Officials and garrison troops sent from Paris were already converting Venetia into an integral part of Hoche’s invented Italian Republic, which also encompassed Piedmont, Modena, Parma, and Milan.

Also, echoing Maria Theresa’s efforts of fifty years before, Mozart called up levies from the Austrian possessions in the east: Hungarians, Croats and Transylvanians. An attempt to levy troops from Krakau failed, with the city practically in revolt due to the war in Poland next door. However, these forces served to bolster the Austrians massing in Lower Austria. Mozart ordered the building of new defensive fortifications, mostly makeshift, knowing that he had little time. Vienna had resisted two sieges from the Turks, from the east, but could it survive this outbreak of new barbarism from the west?

Meanwhile, Ferdinand IV arrived in Regensburg to address the Reichstag. The Emperor, it was universally agreed by eye-witnesses, was not a well man. He had spent the past three years pacing up and down the Schönbrunn Palace, being fed gradually worsening news from messengers from the front. Perhaps even more damaging to him than the stories of defeats and reversals were those that told him that he was betrayed, that his great dream to create a Holy Roman Empire worthy of the name was dead forever. He first began to visibly sicken upon hearing of Charles Theodore’s betrayal and non-aggression treaty with France, and had rapidly worsened after the successes of the Poséidon and Rubicon offensives.

Now, on October 9th, he addressed the Reichstag in the city hall of Regensburg, where it had been meeting permanently for the last century and a half. Representatives of all the German states were there, though most of those states had practically withdrawn unto themselves and now remained in isolation, hoping that the French would pass over them like the angel of death if they made no aggressive moves. The Reichstag was a strange organisation. Ever since it had settled down in Regensburg, it had become gradually more and more divorced from real events in wider Germany, and had produced an elite ruling class of politicians and civil servants who had more in common with each other than either had with the states they were supposed to be representing. Even now, the Saxon and Brandenburger (Prussian) representatives discussed matters cordially, while their homelands fought a vicious, bloody war over the fate of Poland. It had an air of unreality, otherworldliness, as though concerns of the outside world could never come here.

But that was a lie. Even as Ferdinand IV stood up to address the Reichstag, the first distant rumbles began to sound on the horizon. Not thunder, something far worse. Leroux was on the move, his Cugnot-propelled heavy artillery in the lead, blasting a path through Alvinczi’s lines west of the city.

Despite this distraction, Ferdinand IV commanded the whole attention of the Reichstag. His eyes wild and staring, dead with hopelessness, the Emperor gave his infamous Dissolution Speech, culminating in:

“We are betrayed. The Empire is no more. I have failed as Emperor, and let that name die with me. The French are coming, and you must look to yourselves…as you already have. No more shall come from Vienna. I am the new Romulus Augustulus, and behold, my Odoacer comes out of Gallia! It is finished. Go! Take your fools’ baubles, and beg the Lord for mercy!”

By the end of his speech, the Emperor was having to shout, both over the words of outrage from the Reichstag and the thunder of the French guns from outside, as Alvinczi’s army was crushed. Ferdinand IV became red in the face with the effort, after he had remained in the Schönbrunn Palace and weakened for so long, and bare seconds after getting out the word ‘mercy’, he collapsed. The Reichstag descended into chaos, and it did not take long for the rumour to emerge – the rumour that was the truth. Emperor Ferdinand IV, Joseph the Last, had died from a heart attack.

The Holy Roman Empire was unique in its own way. Though the Empire had been made hereditary centuries ago, Joseph’s heir the young Archduke Francis would only become King of the Romans on his death. It was required that the Council of Electors confirm him before he become Emperor Francis II, and now the Council of Electors fled from the Regensburg city hall, followed by the Council of Princes and the Council of Cities. Legend says, though it has not been backed up by any historian, that the first one out of the door was the representative of Charles Theodore of Flanders and the Palatinate, the first Prince-Elector to betray Joseph, and he was followed by those of the Margrave of Brandenburg and the Duke of Saxony. But all the participants fled the city. They had all heard of the rumours from the west, of how the wild Sans-Culottes troops would lock all the nobles of a town in the city hall and then burn it down, capering and whooping as the sick stink of burning flesh wafted over the countryside.

Once the Reichstag had fled, the collapse at Regensburg was swiftly precipitated. Although Alvinczi himself escaped with a portion of his army, the French rolled over the city and burned down the city hall, even though no-one remained within. Both the Protestant mayor of Regensburg and the Roman Catholic archbishop – Regensburg was technically five states in the Reichstag, with the Protestant Imperial City and the Catholic archbishopric and three monasteries – attempted to surrender the city to the French, only to be cut down by the raging Sans-Culottes. Despite Leroux’s efforts to moderate the slaughter, the French armies were out of control and the sack of the city culminated in a fire that destroyed large portions of it. The monasteries were ‘requisitioned’, with the monks thrown out and the buildings used as arsenals.

Leroux was furious, both because the sack had destroyed much of the supplies he had hoped to obtain from the city, and because he had lost much of his chance for gaining support from the people of Bavaria. He pressed on regardless, reassembling the army, bringing it back under control. Regensburg was possessed by the forces of Revolutionary France. All that remained now was to take Vienna.

And yet, on the same day, the Vendeans and Bretons rose up in the Chouannerie, and in the darkest hour of Germany, a faint hope began to bloom that the Revolution’s hellish triumphs would one day come to an end…

[1] NB in TTL he is not Frederick the Great, because Prussia lost the war badly in the end, despite his early victories.

[2]Since Prussia’s weakening relative to OTL, the Austrians have been pursuing a moderately successful policy of trying to rebuild German unity since the 1760s, which is now crumbling.

[3] Of course this is before the Chouannerie, which starts in October 1798.

Part #38: Confrontations

“The great Chinese writer Sun Tsuy[1] writes that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles; whereas if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win only half the time. This is unsurprising, as any politicially aware individual will know that half the real enemies lie within…”

– General Pavel Alexandrovich Andreyev, 1924​


From – “The Sons of George III and I”, by Philip Hittle, University of Philadelphia Press (1948) –

After his father’s unconventional marriage, the British establishment was desperate to return to a policy of dynastic alliances with George III. British attempts to form alliances with the royal houses of Germany – marrying off daughters and granddaughters of George I to the rulers of Denmark, Prussia, the Netherlands and many more – had stalled with the Second Glorious Revolution, for Frederick I had become estranged from most of his sisters and aunts. British influence in the Germanies waned, and was only slightly restored when Frederick’s only daughter Princess Mildred was married to King Johannes II of Denmark.

From the perspective of the establishment, it would be better to walk before one could run. Hanover itself had grown gradually more distant from Britain over the years, the branches of the House of Hanover still living there mostly having preferred William IV to Frederick and being suspicious about the manner of his death. The governments of Rockingham and Portland (in truth, Burke) were determined to rebuild the bridge between Britain and Hanover, by ties of blood. To that end, George III married his cousin Princess Sophia of Hanover, the daughter of Frederick’s sister Princess Amelia Sophia.[2]

The marriage, though not as violent perhaps as that of his grandfather George II, was certainly loveless and it is generally acknowledged that George III maintained an American mistress. However, as it often paradoxically the case, it produced a large issue, whereas Frederick’s had only led to three surviving children – George III, Frederick William the Duke of York, and Princess Mildred, who became Queen of Denmark. George III, by contrast, was father to Prince Frederick George the Prince of Wales, his heir (born in 1765), Princess Carolina (born 1767), who became the Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel; then a gap due to two sons dying in infancy; then Princess Amelia (born 1770), who became the Duchess of Brunswick after marrying her cousin the Duke, sealing one of the rifts Frederick I had opened up; then Prince Henry William, the Duke of Cambridge (born 1771) and finally Princess Augusta (born 1772), who never married.

Prince Frederick George was a dashing and popular heir, generally agreed to embody many of the best traits of his namesake grandfather. He joined the British Army, serving in America against the Indians and then leading an army to Flanders during the early stages of the Jacobin Wars. Although that incident ended with an embarrassing withdrawal due to Charles Theodore’s declaration of neutrality, most men believed that Frederick William was a decent commander, and not so arrogant that he did not delegate to more experienced lieutenants. When he was placed in command of the Seigneur Offensive, the invasion of western France to support the Chouannerie in February 1799, these men included General Sir Ralph Abercromby, Colonel Sir Thomas Græme and Colonel Sir John Moore, resulting in the Register’s well-known cartoon depicting the French Revolutionaries fleeing from an army of men in full mediaeval battle-armour from the waist up, but kilts from the waist down, i.e., an Army of Scottish Knights.[3]

His younger brother Prince Henry William could not have been more of a contrast. An intellectual, he preferred discussing art over the dinner table to the foxhunt, and took a proactive part in political debates, somewhat alarming the establishment, which felt that royals doing so was in violation of the British Constitution. Like most of the descendants of Frederick I, he travelled extensively to the Empire of North America and liked the country – mainly for its fauna and flora, on such a larger scale than those of Europe. Henry William sponsored the further expeditions of Erasmus Darwin (II) to the Susan-Mary region, and patronised the creation of the Royal and Imperial Museum of Natural History when it was separated from the British Museum in 1793. But, unlike his father and grandfather, Henry William was horrified by what he saw of the institution of slavery in the American colonies, and wrote extensive pamphlets on the subject, irritating many established business interests who thought that royalty should be above such things. It was inevitable that Henry William should become part of the Radical-leaning Whig movement led by Charles James Fox, which sought extensive political reforms.

The majority of Britons, therefore, were considerably relieved when Prince Frederick’s wife Princess Charlotte of Ansbach conceived in the winter of 1798, just before Frederick left for France. Anything to avoid such a dangerous individual as Henry William sitting on the throne of Great Britain…


From – “The Jacobin Wars” by E.G. Christie (Hetherington Publishing House, 1926)

After Admiral Villeneuve’s effective if Pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Wight[4] the Frenchman was unsatisfied. He knew that he had to inflict as much damage as possible on the combined fleet, to sink as many troopships as he could: each would make the job of the overstretched French land armies just a little easier, and the Republic could afford to lose ships more than she could afford to lose soldiers, for the war would be won or lost on land. Villeneuve had a cold appreciation of all this, and was willing to give his life – and all those of his men, of course… - to ensure it.

To that end, Villeneuve paused only to make cursory repairs, to run up new sails and to swab out all of his guns. It was at this point that his ships of the line successfully sunk two pursuing frigates of Duncan at extreme range with their stern chasers, providing a boost of morale to the Republican sailors. Villeneuve seized the moment and sent out his famous message in flags: “Allons, enfants de la patrie! Qu'un sang impur colore la Manche du rouge républicain!

Possibly the message would have been more effective if the Revolutionary naval ministry had not changed the flag codes eight times in the past month in an attempt to find the most ‘rational’ one; as it was, only about half of Villeneuve’s ships worked it out, but it was nonetheless an historic moment. The Republican fleet pressed on westwards, but their damaged sails and hulls meant that they only slowly closed the distance with the combined Allied fleet, even though the latter was hampered by their sluggish transports.

The Allied fleet had formed up off Portsmouth the day before. It was organised to place the Royal French forces in the centre, with Nelson’s forces taking the van and Bone’s guarding the rear. The British were determined to protect the Royal French at all costs, being a valuable propaganda tool that turned this war ideological – liberal monarchists united against violent republicans – rather than being yet another futile round of Anglo-French war. The latter would be useless, as France had no possessions left that Britain wanted, save in India, and the results of wars in Europe had little impact on what happened in India. The French retained Louisiana and Haiti in the New World, but both possessed so many French colonists – Louisiana had been a sinkhole for all those the British had ejected from Acadia, Canada, the Ohio Country and Susan-Mary – that trying to assimilate them would be futile. In order for Britain to be able to achieve a continental victory, they had to have support from some of the people of France, and to do that they needed the King of France.

Villeneuve realised all this as much as the British. He received good intelligence from co-opted fishing boats that spied on the Allied fleet as it moved slowly around Finisterre. He correctly guessed that they were aiming at Quiberon – though it was still possessed fortifications held by besieged Republican troops, the British had previously fought there in 1759 and many of their older commanders would remember the layout of the bay from their service their as young midshipmen as lieutenants. So, for that matter, would the Royal French, many of whom had fought in the same battle on the opposite side. An advantage like that in intelligence could be significant.

The Republican Admiral decided, then, that the only target worth going for was the Dauphin’s ship, the Royal flagship – the Améthyste. Sacrificing all his ships in a quixotic attack would be worth it, because the death of the Dauphin should result in a collapse of any coherency among the Chouannerie and Britain losing the ideological character of its war. To that end, Villeneuve drew up an attack of startling aggressiveness, which featured a feint on Bone’s guarded transports followed by a rapid push through to attack the Améthyste when Bone broke away from the main fleet to form his line of battle. It would almost certainly result in the destruction of the Republican fleet, but if Louis XVII was cut in half by a cannonball then nothing else would matter. Villeneuve issued the orders. Blood would turn the Channel red indeed…


From - "The Man With Three Names - A Life and Times of Napoleone Buonaparte" (Dr Henri Pelletier, University of Nantes Press, 1962) :

Commodore Leo Bone had served in several actions after his great coup of ‘seizing’ the French fleet from Toulon. The Admiralty had moved him out of the Mediterranean, perhaps fearing the little man’s burning ambition – if he could con an entire fleet into leaving the Republicans, what more might his charisma do? Bone had served on dull blockade and convoy escort duty for years, but had successfully taken two Republican prizes that had been attempting to reach the West Indies, and the prize-money served to grease the rails of his ascent to commodore. He had left the Diamond, not without emotion for the tough little frigate that had been the scene of his greatest act of tactical audacity, and had been given the second-rate ship of the line HMS Lewisborough.[6]

Command of the rear of the Seigneur Offensive was his greatest responsibility yet. Like his friend Nelson (now in command of the first-rate HMS Mirabilis[7]), he had been chosen over the heads of many senior commanders because of his youth, vigour, and unorthodox tactical ideas. The strategy that Admiral Charles Villeneuve adopted against him at the Battle of Penmarc’h might have worked on one of the crusty, conservative British Admirals mostly now consigned to blockade and convoy escort duties, though it would still have cost him most of his ships. It would not work on Leo Bone.

When Villeneuve attacked Bone’s transports with his fleet’s bow chasers as a challenge, Bone did not form the line of battle as Villeneuve had expected. Instead, Bone told off his frigates and arranged them into lines of attack, a strategy which he had developed together with Nelson. Villeneuve initially assumed that the frigates were going to engage that part of his fleet attacking the transports, and thus ordered the rest to push through the remainder of Bone’s force and towards the Royal French.

However, when the Republicans (who had the wind gauge) advanced, Bone’s frigates snapped into their lines and drove a three-pronged thrust through the mass of Republican ships, blasting away with their broadsides almost below the waterline of Villeneuve’s first-rate monsters. The French guns were, as usual, elevated to target the masts and rigging of other ships of the line, and so the Republican response was ineffective. Only a few of Villeneuve’s ships reacted fast enough, and Bone lost just three frigates. The others turned, tacked and began attacking Villeneuve’s rear.

Villeneuve recognised Bone’s strategy too late, and saw that all he could do was to push through as fast as possible. However, he realised that Bone was the most dangerous man in the tactical sense, even if the Dauphin’s death was his strategic goal, and thus while the bulk of Villeneuve’s fleet was sent through to attack the Royal French, Villeneuve’s own flagship Egalité and one other first-rate, the Jacobin, targeted the Lewisborough and attempted to pound the smaller British ship to smithereens before Bone could react, trapping it in a crossfire.

Bone, however, trusted his captains, having drilled them beforehand, and thus saw he could use Villeneuve’s move against him. The Lewisborough hoisted her royals and her skys’ls and fled, using the southerly wind to cut around the main fleet and make for the French coast. Villeneuve knew that a man like Bone could not simply be making a cowardly run for it, and thus became convinced that it must be part of a grand strategy. As his frigates were now fully engaged with Bone’s remaining ships of the line and the Royal French – who put up a harder fight than Villeneuve had hoped – all Villeneuve had to pursue the Lewisborough with was the Egalité and the Jacobin. Making a snap decision, he ordered that the Jacobin pursue, while he drove the Egalité deeper into the battle and, even as his masts crumbled before the terrific hammering of both British and French gunnery, gave the order to engage the Améthyste at point-blank range, and to prepare a boarding party.

Leo Bone’s strategy had worked less well than he had hoped, but he had drawn off one Republican ship. In order to keep the pursuit, he ordered that sails be hauled down in time with the Jacobin’s volleys, as though they were being shot down. The Jacobin finally caught up off the Île de Yeu, about a day later, and the two engaged in a terrific battle. The Jacobin’s captain, François Barral, was a disciple of Surcouf and used an unorthodox strategy by French naval standards, hitting the Lewisborough with plunging shell fire from howitzers, not usually carried on board ship. Although Bone’s carronades smashed a hole in the side of the Jacobin at point-blank range and the Republican ship sank soon afterwards (though Barral and his officers escaped by boat), the damage was done. One of the Jacobin’s shells blasted the poop deck of the Lewisborough, and as well as killing twenty sailors and smashing all the windows in the officers’ cabins, the shockwave caused the planks of the hull to part near the keel. The Lewisborough began taking on water faster than the pumps could drive it out. Bone ordered that they drive for the French coast, hopefully to take some little-defended harbour and then lay up there and repair the damage. He considered throwing his guns overboard to save weight and thus buy them more time, as was Royal Naval practice; however, in the end he decided that they were not too far from the coast and that the guns might be needed later. Thus Leo Bone was saved from sinking into obscurity, and the slowly sinking Lewisborough sailed for Saint-Hilaire, and destiny…

Meanwhile, at the Battle of Quiberon (as the whole engagement was called), Villeneuve himself led the boarding party onto the Améthyste, realising that it was an all-or-nothing affair. Villeneuve himself shot Admiral d’Estaing as his opposite number rallied his sailors, but was then knocked unconscious by a blow to the head by Captain Lucas. When he awoke, it was in the Améthyste’s brig. He did not learn until later that his fleet had lost half its remaining strength before surrendering, and though several troopships had been sunk and Leo Bone had vanished, he had failed in his mission. The Dauphin lived; indeed, he came to visit him at one point, and Villeneuve’s later memoirs record his shock at the incident. Louis XVII was quite unlike what he had expected, having been influenced by Richard Burke’s ideas and already being liberal by French royal standards even before the Revolution. “Must Frenchman slay Frenchman in the name of liberty, while genuine tyrants profit from our division?” the Dauphin asked Villeneuve, and the admiral had no answer.

The Allied fleet attacked Quiberon, as had been planned. The Republicans still held the fortifications that the French had built on the peninsula after the British victory in 1759, and hot shot ripped through the Allied fleet, sinking ten British and French ships. But a swift action by British and American Marines, spearheaded by Lieutenant Alexander Cochrane[8], seized the fortress from the land side and the great guns fell silent. Cochrane was promoted to captain, as he had led the Forlorn Hope that escaladed the walls of the Quiberon fort. The British and Royal French finally fell on the city, the transports disgorging their troops and the Breton locals mostly welcoming them as liberators, at least before they drunk all the taverns dry. Louis XVII took his first steps on the soil of France for more than three years, and standing beside the Prince of Wales, spoke his famous words: “By God and my right, I reclaim my birthright.”

The war had entered quite a different phase…

[1]Russified transliteration of Sun Tzu.

[2]Who in OTL died without issue, but in TTL married within Hanover.

[3]In OTL the Daily Universal Register soon renamed itself The Times, which is what it remains to this day. In TTL it’s just been shortened to The Register.

[4]The name given to his engagement with Admiral Duncan, the Isle of Wight being the nearest point of land.

[5]“Onward, children of the Fatherland! May their impure blood turn the Channel a Republican red!” Of course, this evokes the Marseillaise, which was written in a modified form in TTL but has remained only a popular marching song, not an official anthem.

[6]Named for Prince Frederick’s victory over the French in 1759. Not the most politic name when escorting a fleet of allied French, of course.

[7]This is the ATL equivalent of HMS Victory, laid down in 1760. Both were named after 1759, the Annus Mirabilis, the Wonderful Year of Victories.

[8]Closer to OTL’s Thomas Cochrane, but has entered the Army rather than the Navy.

Part #39: This Means Nothing to Me, O Vienna


- inscription on triple monument to Niklas Salm, Johann Sobieski and Wolfgang Mozart, Stephansplatz, Vienna​


From – “The Jacobin Wars – the Italo-German Front” by Joshua H. Calhoun (University of New York Press, 1946) -

Some contemporary commentators attributed the stalling of the French advance into Germany, after the battle of Regensburg in October 1798, to the fact that Robespierre ordered the withdrawal of forces from the German front in order to repel the Anglo-Royal French Seigneur offensive in February 1799. Even the disparity in dates suggests the unlikelihood of this oft-stated assumption. While it is true that the French armies in Italy and Germany did not receive many reinforcements after February – all new troops being diverted to the Vendean front – this did not take effect until the start of Spring 1799.

It is more accurate to say that the French armies in Germany had simply reached their limits. Leroux’s Guerre-éclair strategy had arguably been self-defeating by its own successes. The Revolutionary forces had, like Britain’s Duke of Marlborough and Frederick II of Prussia before them, proved capable of moving faster into Germany than the Austrians had thought possible. Yet, though their ‘maraude’ practices meant they could live off the land effectively without much of a supply train – at the expense of stirring up resentment among the locals against them – the French still needed a ready supply of powder, shot and cartridges to fight battles, and these could not be so easily stripped from occupied country. Ironically, the superiority of French Gribeauval artillery (coming mostly from ancien régime programmes originally, but the popular eye has always associated them with the Revolution) caused problems when maraudeurs tried to use captured Austrian ammunition to restock their supplies. The new French cannon had been built to a slightly different calibre to their Austrian counterparts, with the result that the Austrian roundshot were too large. Leroux found himself being forced to order the drilling out of several cannon in order to use the captured shot, and such thinned weapons had a tendency to burst after prolongued use, killing their crews.

And, though the conscripted French armies were larger than the forces the Austrians could bring to bear against them, they were of course greatly outnumbered by the increasingly resentful civilian population. There was a limit to how much territory the French could hold down with the number of men they had, especially when Leroux needed to retain a large enough fighting force to continue the offensive. While Ney successfully built his authority in Swabia, creating the puppet state La République Germanique Souabe (the Swabian Germanic Republic), Leroux was plagued continuously by bandits attacking his supply train even before the instigation of the formal Kleinkrieg. He was placed in a difficult quandary: if he stripped more troops from his van to guard his rear, he lessened his chances of victory in any engagement, but if he did nothing, then his larger van might not get the supplies it needed to fight at all.

The spring of 1799 arguably marks the start of a breakdown between the various Republics, though this was of course not formalised until the Double Revolution. Ney refused to send more forces out of Swabia to guard Leroux’s supply lines, claiming that his dispersed troops were already hard-pressed in preventing a rising by Württemberger irregulars (almost certainly an exaggeration). And away to the south in Italy, Hoche reacted unfavourably upon hearing that Robespierre had diverted his precious reinforcements away to the Vendean front. This meant that Hoche’s Army of Italy could not try to force the Brenner Pass against Archduke Ferdinand’s rearguard, and it also meant that a pre-emptive expedition against the Hapsburg forces in Tuscany would be too much of an overstretch. Hoche was often impulsive enough to order offensives against the odds, but even he could recognise the situation. Without reinforcements, he only had sufficient forces to hold down the large arc of territory he had conquered from Savoy to Venice. The Italian Latin Republic, which was largely synonymous with the person of Lazare Hoche, began to realise that it was on its own. Only the Swiss Republic, or at least the French army holding it down and Jean-Paul Marat, its exiled leader, remained fully linked to Paris.

This background serves to explain why Leroux’s advance after the Sack of Regensburg began to stumble. The French took far longer to advance the two hundred and fifty miles from Regensburg to Vienna than they had in their lightning push over the similar distance from Haguenau to Regensburg. Despite Leroux’s difficulties, General Mozart – now in supreme command of Austria’s armies, marshal in all but name – held firm and refused to authorise an attack on the army as it slowly ground closer to the capital. An independent Austrian army pushing down from the north under Quosdanovich gave battle at Linz, together with local militia forces who feared the same fate as their neighbours to the east, but despite holding a strongly defensive position, the Austrians were decisively defeated by Leroux’s force, which was comparable in number. Mozart’s caution, previously derided as cowardice by many armchair generals, suddenly seemed like the only course distinct from suicide.

Archduke Francis, now King of the Romans and uncrowned Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, supported Mozart wholeheartedly, believing the general to be Austria’s best hope at weathering the French attack. Francis’ support meant that many of Mozart’s more radical proposals were pushed through in time to do some good. Despite the many conflicts in Germany during the eighteenth century, Vienna itself had not been threatened since the Ottoman siege of 1683, and the two situations, more than a century apart, were painfully similar in many respects. Vienna’s fortifications were outdated and it sprawled comfortably beyond them, safe in the knowledge that it lay at the core of a vast and powerful Empire. The main city wall, the Linienwall, was almost a hundred years old and unsuited to face modern artillery. It was now faced by a war far more earnest and vicious than the usual territorial conflicts between the German states. In 1683 that had been a holy war between Christianity and Islam; in 1799 it was one between Christianity and the French’s deistic-atheism, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say between monarchism and republicanism. Either way, ideology and religion lent a sharper edge to the conflict. The horror stories coming out of Swabia and Bavaria reinforced the idea that this was all or nothing. If Mozart lost, the whole world as Germans knew it might fall with him.

So, Mozart’s ruthless ideas took shape. Taking inspiration from 1683, he had all the houses built outside the Linienwall razed, providing a plain suitable for an artillery killing field. New temporary forts with modern, Vaubanised star bastions, were constructed around the Linienwall. The hasty nature of these meant that they would probably not be as durable as Mozart would like, but he believed the important thing was to delay the French, rather than attempt to defeat them. “A siege can break the most invincible army,” he wrote in his diary. “Not merely roundshot and canister from our walls, but also sickness and starvation; they hurt the besiegers as much as, if not more, than the besieged. A Turkish army outnumbering the defenders twenty to one failed to take this city by siege. The French are far fewer in number. Let us hope and pray that the same strategy will be successful”.

Francis, meanwhile, made several public speeches to rally the people of Vienna. He was a skilled orator, more so than his father, and made the firm link in their minds between the Turkish sieges of 1529 and 1683 and the present invasion. “This is the third time the forces of barbarism have tried to topple civilisation,” he said. “This time, the barbarians come from the west rather than the east; but they shall be no more successful this time.”

Those confident words were not backed up by events, up until March 1799. Leroux’s army besieged the city starting from the third of that month, successfully repulsing attempts by Hungarian and Croatian cavalry to harry them as they dug in. Leroux was, like Boulanger, from a fairly humble background, and he invested direct command of the operation in the experienced Colonel Lucien Cougnon, an officer who had previously made sieges under the ancien régime. It bespoke of Cougnon’s value that he had managed to retain his position through the worst of Robespierre’s purges.

Cougnon’s approach was fairly straightforward; to demolish five of Mozart’s new forts, opening a gap large enough to bring the whole army through without its flanks being enfiladed, and then to make a frontal assault on the outdated Linienwall. He was confident that the modern French artillery could make sufficient breaches that the Austrians would be unable to effectively defend them all. Leroux endorsed the plan and the French steam-driven artillery began pounding Mozart’s forts from March 17th. The fragility of the hastily built fortifications swiftly proved itself, with two of the forts being battered down after only two days of bombardment. They were then taken by small forces of elite grenadiers without many losses on the French side. The mood in Vienna was one of a gloom of inevitability. Just as the Revolutionaries had defeated every general sent to stop them since Wurmser withdrew from Nancy, now Mozart too could not stop them.

Vienna was arguably saved by a night attack led by Istvan Mihály[2] on the 21st. The Hungarian cavalry under Mihály were this time able to break through the complacent French sentries and raid the artillery positioned against the three other forts Cougnon sought to destroy. The Hungarians wrought havoc before a counter-attack led personally by Leroux forced them to withdraw. Mihály had specifically equipped his men for sabotaging guns, and when the light of day dawned, Leroux found that – as well as a large number of his artillerymen being sabred down, some in their sleep – the vast majority of the guns had been spiked. Most of the damage was not irrepairable, as Mihály’s forces had had limited time and had wanted to remain stealthy, so could not try something more permanent and spectacular like forcing the guns to burst, but it would take time to repair – and those artillerymen could not be replaced. In one stroke, Austria’s forces had made their foe’s job significantly harder.

The two artillery companies directed against the now-destroyed forts had survived, and Cougnon redirected them against the remaining forts, while Leroux ordered repair work to commence. However, perhaps emboldened by the French setback, those three forts fought considerably harder and inflicted bloody casualties when they were stormed by Leroux’s grenadiers. The French lost several grenadier companies, significantly blunting what Cougnon had wanted to use as the vanguard for assaulting the breaches he planned to make in the Linienwall.

The forts were finally secured on April 2nd. Leroux ordered the advance and the remaining guns began pounding the Linienwall on April 6th. Cougnon’s prediction about the wall’s ineffectiveness had proved accurate, and several breaches were rapidly made. Mozart quickly made a decision. Just as Cougnon had thought, the breaches were too many to be defensible. Mozart gave the order that he had long dreaded: the bulk of the armies focused in Vienna were to sortie forth and engage Leroux’s army on the killing field cleared of houses, hopefully keeping the French in place where the guns on the Linienwall could continue to wreak casualties on them. Only a skeleton force was left defending the breaches. It was a desperate gamble, and a sign that Austria had truly reached the end of its tether.

The Battle of Vienna was epic, a defining moment in German history. The Austrians outnumbered the French by a little more than three to two, but Mozart had still yet to find an effective defence against the Revolutionary tactics introduced by Boulanger. Leroux, taking over command again from Cougnon as the siege shifted to a battle, hammered Mozart’s deep lines with his columns again and again, while the steam-driven Cugnot artillery trundled left and right across the treacherously flat killing field, enfilading the Austrian lines as quickly as they redeployed. Twenty-pound roundshot continued to plunge from the walls and kill dozens of Frenchmen in the compact columns at a time, but many of the Austrian guns were unseated by return fire from Leroux’s siege guns. If Mihály had not succeeded, the French would have been even more successful; as it was, Leroux was forced to divide his remaining artillery between enfilading the Austrian troops and unseating the guns on the Linienwall, with the result that neither task received as much focused bombardment as he would have liked.

Still, it seems clear that Mozart would have been defeated, had it not been for the Miracle on the Danube. As the sixth of April drew closer to night, with Mozart’s forces close to breaking, the people of Vienna heard the sound of a distant trumpet. Archduke Ferdinand and General Wurmser had returned from Italy, bringing their armies with them. Though the body of the Hapsburg armies were spread out along the road for miles behind, having made forced marches to return in time, Wurmser’s large force of Croatian cavalry marched in the vanguard of his army. Seeing the situation, the general immediately ordered that they charge the flank of the compact French army aimed at the Linienwall.

On the brink of victory, the French were nonetheless vulnerable. Mozart’s defence had been effective enough that Leroux had been forced to send forward some of the reserves guarding his flanks in order to keep up the pressure on the Austrian lines. He had gambled that the Austrians had already committed all their forces and they had no reserves with which to take advantage of this weakness. This had been an accurate guess…until now.

The Croats hit the French rear with such suddenness that the Revolutionaries – made up mostly of Sans-Culottes, enthusiastic but inexperienced about fighting in any manner beyond that which they had been taught – had no time to form square. Leroux hesitated, considering if there was any way the Croats could be repulsed without giving Mozart the breathing space to regroup. As he paused, a roundshot from the walls removed his head.

Without their commander, French morale crumbled. Cougnon took command and ordered a fighting retreat. He aimed the small force of Revolutionary cavalry straight at the centre of Mozart’s lines in an attempt to hold back the main Austrian army, then shifted his most experienced troops – ancien régime veterans – to face the Croats in square. The Sans-Culottes Revolutionary rabble were evacuated swiftly westward. A fire-breathing Jacobin, Major Fabien Lascelles, effectively seized command of those troops, the bulk of the French army.

Cougnon successfully repulsed the Croats and retreated after the Sans-Culottes. His quixotic cavalry attack, though of course demolished by the overwhelming numbers of the Austrian troops, was more successful than he had hoped; the cavalrymen, armed with rifles[3], managed to target and shoot down several Austrian officers in their prominent uniforms – including Wolfgang Mozart. The general sustained a wound in his shoulder which immediately took him out of the fighting. This meant that the Austrians held under cautious lieutenants, rather than pursuing – where they might have routed the disorganised French.

Vienna had repulsed its third siege, and the bulk of Ferdinand and Wurmser’s armies paraded through the Graben to cheers and fanfares when they arrived a week later. However, Mozart’s wound became gangrenous, and he died on the 21st. His last words, spoken to Francis, were reportedly (on speaking of his great public acclaim among the people for his victory) ‘It means nothing to me, O Vienna’. There is some evidence that Mozart believed he had only snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by an act of Providence, and went to his grave still believing he had somehow failed Austria. This belief was not shared by the Hapsburgs and their people, who erected many statues to the general over the years. A symphony by Beethoven, Vittoria, was dedicated to Mozart and largely drew on his actions in the Battle of Vienna, focusing on martial, clashing harmonies.[4]

It was a turning point. Vienna marked the most eastward advance of French Revolutionary armies. The army formerly belonging to Leroux retreated to Linz, at which point a brief civil war was fought, with the fanatical Lascelles (who despised all associated with the ancien régime, had Cougnon assassinated and then scattered his veteran troops. Lascelles further organised a retreat to Regensburg, his intention being to set up a Bavarian Germanic Republic. Cougnon’s troops remained as a coherent force under Major Phillipe Saint-Julien and turned northward, seizing the Bohemian town of Budweis[5] and establishing it as a minor military fiefdom, with only a passing sheen of Republican ideology. The Austrian failure to respond to this occupation is often cited as the reason behind the growth of the Bohemian national consciousness in the first part of the nineteenth century, just as the Spanish failure to respond to the British occupation of Buenos Aires in the First Platinean War had contributed to the idea of a Platinean national consciousness.

Austria had been set back on its heels, but the time was ripe for a counterattack. The country retained able generals such as Archduke Ferdinand, Wurmser and Alvinczi. Austria still had plenty of armies and could call upon more levies from Hungary or Croatia. The French occupation of Swabia was thin and new, that of Bavaria even more so. A decisive attack could shatter it and undo all the gains of the Rubicon Offensive.

But fate did not smile upon Vienna a second time. Since Hoche had sacked and occupied Venice, ending the ancient mercantile republic, the fate of the Venetian possessions in Dalmatia had been up in the air. The land was ethnically mostly Croatian, suggesting an Austrian claim, but this was opposed by the Ottoman Empire. November 1798 had seen the death of Sultan Abdulhamid II and he was succeeded by a dynamic nephew, who became Murad V. Murad and his vizier, Mehmed Ali Pasha, saw the fall of Venice as a significant opportunity. The Ottomans had focused on internal reorganisation under the cautious Abdulhamid’s reign, and response to the Russian Civil War had chiefly been the soft expansion of power, for example by increasing Ottoman influence in the Khanate of the Crimea, the Caucasus and the Romanian principalities, displacing the existing Russian puppets in those states’ governments. However, now Murad discerned that the Russians’ internal struggle meant that a war over Dalmatia would be restricted to conflict with the already weakened Austria. The Austrian ambassador to the Sublime Porte was summoned on 15th May 1799 and informed that a state of war now existed between Constantinople and Vienna. An Ottoman army under Damat Melek Pasha, a Bosniak, crossed over into the formerly Venetian Dalmatia on the 26th of May.

Francis was in an unenviable position. Without the legitimacy of confirmation by the Prince-Electors, he had diminished authority, and having defeated one great invasion, Austria now apparently faced a second – though the Ottomans’ declaration of war was largely a simple consequence of their desired annexation of Dalmatia. There were little signs that the Sublime Porte wished to attempt another invasion of the Hapsburg dominions themselves, but nonetheless Austria could hardly pursue an offensive war against the French occupying Swabia and Bavaria with the Turks sweeping up through the Balkans.

Thus history was decided. Austrian armies were shifted south to defend Hapsburg Croatia, while Lascelles was able to escape unharried to Regensburg, and the Cougnonistes to Budweis. The German front, which had been so bitterly fought for so long, descended into an almost sinister silence – at least until the beginning of the Kleinkrieg.

The situation in Paris was almost comically similar to that in Vienna. The great enemy had been defeated, but an older, more traditional one had reared its ugly head. General Boulanger wanted to lead the scraped-together Revolutionary armies personally against the British and Royal French, but Jean de Lisieux dissuaded him. He would be needed here, he claimed mysteriously…he did, however, ensure Boulanger arranged matters so that most of the troops going to the Chouan-held lands would be made up of Sans-Culotte volunteers.

The Spanish were also a worry. Spain had been one of the first monarchist powers to declare war after the phlogistication of Louis XVI, and had been the first port of call for the Dauphin when he fled the country. Yet the Spanish prosecution of the war had been unenthusiastic. King Philip VI had always tried to steer the country through a path of peace since the disastrous Second Platinean War, focusing on colonial reorganisation to prevent a second breakaway and reforming finances in the Peninsula. His chief minister, the able Conde de Floridablanca, had favoured such policies even before Philip became King, and together they had prevented Revolutionary ideas from gaining much purchase in Spain, even though the country had itself had several popular rebellions against the unpopular Charles III in recent history. Floridablanca’s propaganda emphasised the Revolution’s atheistic and French-supremacist principles, successfully inflaming popular (though not necessarily noble) opposition. After all, the rebellions against Charles III had partly been sparked by him being too close to France.

Therefore, in the five years since the start of the war, the Spanish armies had not advanced a great deal. Under the competent but overly cautious General Fernando de Cuesta[6], Spain occupied those regions of French territory (and Andorra) to which it had a historic claim, such as Rousillon (French Catalonia) and Labourd (a heavily Basque part of Aquitaine). The Spanish were sometimes welcomed as liberators, particularly in those lands which had been Spanish prior to the Franco-Spanish wars of the seventeenth century, but were more often sullenly opposed by the locals. Revolutionary sentiment in the southwest of France was only moderate, but the Spanish troops did not behave particularly well and it was obvious to everyone that Spain was there for realpolitick reasons rather than some sort of altruistic restoration of their fellow Bourbon monarchy. A march by Spanish troops to Paris was inconceivable, not necessarily because of the state of the Spanish Army (which was already undergoing reorganisation after the lessons of the Second Platinean War) but because the Cortes refused to release the funding. No-one forgot that the French Revolution had ultimately been sparked by the expenditure of a century of war emptying the French treasury. Spain’s economy was already shaky enough after the loss of a third of the New World empire without such risky military adventures.

The Spanish offensive did pick up after Hoche moved into Spanish Parma in October 1797 as part of his Italian campaign. Public outrage at news of French atrocities was enough to spur Floridablanca into recommending a new offensive, if only for the sake of appearances. Cuesta therefore attacked into Gascony, laying siege to Bordeaux in an operation supported by amphibious descents by the Spanish Navy – the Revolution’s lack of naval force meant that the Spanish could operate almost with impunity. However, the siege was broken in July 1798 when a small French force under Custine – the victor at Toulon – was augmented by local militiamen and managed to defeat Cuesta’s army, which was already suffering from disease. The Spanish retreated into Labourd, with the French pursuing, but a shock victory was won over Custine at the Battle of Bayonne, when an outnumbered portion of the Spanish army defeated the French. The Spanish were led by a young major of Irish descent, Joaquín Blake y Joyes, who would go on to have a very interesting career…

French attempts to drive the Spanish back any further failed, as the French armies facing the Spanish were simply too few with the demands of the Italian, German, and then Vendean fronts. However, the bloody nose at Bordeaux meant that Spanish policy reverted to a cautious consolidation of their historical claims. The final showdown there would have to wait until the fate of the Chouannerie was decided…

[1] “Three heroes, three saviours, three martyrs.” Count Niklas Salm and Johan Sobieski (King John III of Poland) were the most prominent commanders in the repulsions of the Turks from Vienna in 1529 and 1683 respectively.

[2] The grandson of Kováts Mihály (Michael de Kovats), who in OTL founded the United States Cavalry during the ARW. In TTL he remained loyal to the Hapsburgs all his life and his son and grandson (not born OTL) have followed him into the cavalry.

[3]Recall that the assassination of William IV by Frederick’s Americans sparked a new interest in the rifle as a weapon of war in Europe, and it is much more common in armies of the period in TTL than it was in OTL.

[4]More like the 1812 Overture than anything OTL’s Beethoven composed.

[5]The German name; České Budějovice in Czech.

[6]An ATL ‘brother’ of Gregorio García de Cuesta.

Part #40: The Double Revolution

From – “The Seigneur Offensive” by Philip Rathbone (Collins and Wilston of Albany, 1972)

Jean-Baptiste Robespierre had been paranoid about the prospect of a British invasion of western France for many months before the Seigneur offensive was actually launched. Although Robespierre had pushed hard for the prosecution of war against Austria, as the successes of the Poséidon and Rubicon offensives led French armies ever deeper into Germany and Italy, he began to fear the possibility of an underdefended France falling to attack from the west.

Other historians, more pro-Administration, have argued that Robespierre’s fear was not for the Republic but for his own position. Robespierre had masterminded the Terror for several years, and seemed unable to learn that it was impossible to kill all the enemies of the state (i.e., himself; Louis XIV would have approved), because every chirurgeoning or phlogistication only served to turn more people’s hearts against him. Enthusiasm for the Republic itself still ran high in France, but Robespierre was becoming an ever more isolated figure. His power was only the shadow of the tiger.[1] While he might be able to intimidate the masses, there remained men in France powerful enough to oppose him, men whose power lay in different arenas, who could not be cowed through the emasculated National Legislative Assembly. To keep those men on side, Robespierre had to continue the idea that French was perpetually under threat and that any word raised against his Terror was tantamount to collaboration. To that end, as Leroux, Ney and Hoche effectively removed the immediate threat from Austria, Robespierre’s propagandists talked up the threat from Spain. Some historians have even suggested that Robespierre deliberately permitted the Spanish to remain in possession of French land (until Bordeaux was attacked) in order to use that as part of his propaganda.

But the real threat to the Republic now came not from Spain, but from Britain – Britain and Royal French exiles joining up with the Chouan rebels in Brittany and the Vendée. After the defeat of Villeneuve, who had weakened the allied force, but not fatally so, the British took the Republican-held fortress of Quiberon and marched into Brittany with their Royal French allies at the head. The British commander, Frederick George the Prince of Wales, understood his own limitations as a battlefield general, but on the other hand was skilled as spinning the invasion as a liberation. He kept his men under control, ensuring the provosts made sure that they paid for everything they requisitioned from the locals, and hanged a couple of looters as an example. The Prince also sought out Catholic troops in his army and arranged them into small elite forces which he used when securing potentially sensitive sites, such as churches. Frederick was aware that the Chouannerie was partly ultra-Catholic in character, and knew that he had to make sure no accusations of Protestant atrocities were made. Technically, there should have been no Catholics in his army due to the Test Acts, but in practice there were always ways around these. In any case, the British opinion of Catholics was slowly improving as more accurate reports of Wesley’s successes in Ireland began to leak out. This did, however, alienate the Huguenots who had joined the British Army, who saw it as a disgusting suck-up to the same forces who had led to their ancestors fleeing the country a hundred years before. Brittany and the Vendée still had one of the largest Huguenot populations in France – perhaps why the Catholic majority was so fervent, with an opposition to press against – and many Huguenot-descended British officers wrote hotly on the Chouans’ treatment of French Protestants.

Of course, this was irrelevant in the face of the big picture. Everyone knew that the alliance was uneasy. England, and then Britain, had fought Bourbon France almost continuously for a hundred years, and had a long history of conflict stretching back before that. The alliance rested on the Royal French seeing the British as the lesser of two evils, and Britain putting one foot wrong could change their minds, reducing the war to another of the futile Anglo-French conflicts that had made the world ring like a bell so many times. Prince Frederick was willing to do anything to prevent that.

In Paris, Robespierre ordered the immediate assembly of new armies to ‘throw the English and the impure traitors back into the sea’. In a meeting with the two other Consuls, Boulanger opened his mouth to protest, only to find Lisieux’s foot pressing down on his. Lisieux quickly spoke up and said that of course it would be done.

Boulanger said nothing at the time, but after reading the operational plans that Lisieux drew up, he confronted his fellow Consul at the tavern which the ‘Boulangerie’ used as their usual meeting place. While Jean-Pierre Blanchard argued with Robert Surcouf about the possibility of flying balloons off the deck of a ship, Boulanger met Lisieux in an upper room. The exact content of the conversation is not known. Michel Chanson, Boulanger’s onetime adjutant, later claimed that the General confided in him the words that were spoken, though there is no way verify this allegation. According to Chanson, the conversation ran…

BOULANGER. Jean, my friend, are you mad?[2] I have read your orders. They are a recipe for slaughter, nothing less!

LISIEUX. You are right, of course. We could try to prevent Jean-Baptiste’s insane plans this time. We have succeeded before. But how long will it be before our constructive criticism becomes a sign that we are irredeemably ‘impure’ and ‘treacherous’ and we are looking at the inside of a phlogistication chamber?

BOULANGER. Jean – you cannot be saying this.

LISIEUX. Perhaps we may even share the same phlogistication chamber.

BOULANGER. You know that…that it is…it cannot be said!

LISIEUX. Precisely, old friend. It cannot be said. Friend Robespierre had spies everywhere. Is this the Republic we all sought to build when we pulled down the old regime? Is this liberty?

BOULANGER. I – I cannot say.

LISIEUX. You have commanded vast armies in the face of cannonballs flying everywhere, yet you fear to say it. Such is the hold his Terror has on all of us. We must break it, for the sake of France. If Jean-Baptiste continues in his destructive regime, men will begin to think of him and the Republic as one. Then when he falls – for he must, before he reduces himself to the last man in France, everyone else executed as ‘impure’ – the Republic will fall with him. We cannot allow that.

BOULANGER. (Long pause) No. We cannot…what do you intend to gain by this madness?

LISIEUX. You will note that the new armies are drawn largely from the remaining Sans-Culotte militias.

BOULANGER. Those not yet part of your Gardes Nationales, of course…ah. You seek to…?

LISIEUX. Quite so. A new era is about to dawn, Pierre. We do not belong in the shadows.

It is not the place of the author to speak of the plausibility of this account. In any case, Boulanger approved Lisieux’s plans, and new armies were formed up, drawn almost entirely from the Sans-Culottes and with inexperienced generals in command. They marched out of Paris in May 1799 and divided into two main forces, under Paul Vignon and Jacques Pallière. Vignon’s northern army assembled at Le Mans and then marched westward into Brittany, while Pallière’s southern force was sent on to Poitiers and then wheeled to enter the Vendée.

By the time the two Republican armies attacked, at the end of June, the British were well established. The remaining Republican holdouts at Lannion and Cherbourg were taken by British amphibious descents, securing control over all Brittany. A force moved into the Vendée under Sir Thomas Græme – though the politically aware Prince Frederick made sure to give it a Catholic and French vanguard – and cleared out the remaining Revolutionary strongholds that the Chouans had been unable to take, lacking artillery. All of the province of Brittany, and the western half of Poitou (which consisted of the Vendée) were now under Allied control. The Dauphin went to Nantes and was hailed as Louis XVII. He was blessed by the Bishop of Nantes (who had escaped the purge of the Second Estate) in his Cathedral, one step short of a full coronation. The two regions had almost no support for the Revolution, as those who had supported it had fled eastward when the Chouannerie threw out the Republican occupiers.

Against this background, the two Republican forces attacked. Vignon’s army met the main Anglo-French force, with Prince Frederick and Louis XVII present, near Laval. The Republicans were outnumbered and inexperienced, and were slaughtered by the Royalists and their British allies. Tellingly, the Republicans had also lacked any of the Cugnot toys that had been so useful against Austria. This was not because they did not exist. But Boulanger and Lisieux controlled their supply through the Boulangerie, and had ensured that none would be supplied. They wouldn’t want that large group of Sans-Culottes to win, after all…

The southern battle, at Cholet, was less decisive. Græme met Pallière with a force only two-thirds as large, and part of that made up of Royal French, less reliable without their King their to steady them. The fact that it was Frenchman fighting Frenchman was never far away from the minds of either side. Nonetheless, Lisieux and Boulanger had not failed there, either. Though Græme did not actually destroy Pallière’s army as Vignon’s was at Laval, Riflemen skirmishers attached to the 69th (South Lincolnshire) Foot did manage to kill Pallière himself. With little of a trained officer corps in command, the army simply disintegrated. The contrast with the orderly withdrawal of Leroux’s army from Vienna after his death is telling. Boulanger had ensured that the best of the Republic’s army had gone into Germany. He now deliberately sent its worst against the British.

Pallière’s army scattered over the countryside, some fleeing to Anjou and Aunice provinces. Their maraude only served to turn more undecided locals to the Royalist cause. In truth, though, a bigger surge of support was the two handy victories. The Republic, seemingly invincible for so long, now appeared anything but.

Which was, of course, exactly what Lisieux had wanted…


From – “The Double Revolution” by Daniel Dutourd (Université de Nantes Press, 1964) -

When the news of the defeats at Cholet and Laval, Paris began buzzing with discontent. It came on the back of the news of the defeat at Vienna. The Revolution was imperilled once again, and a scapegoat was needed, someone to be burned in L’Épurateur’s flame of liberty. Robespierre had had no trouble finding them in the past. Now, having left a trail of corpses longer than that of any king, he was struck down by his own success: with no credible political opponents left, only one man could be responsible for the defeats.

Traitor. Impure…

Paris had seen several uprisings in recent years, this one no less confused than those that had preceded it. Chroniclers report that, despite the purges after Hébert’s death, part of the uprising was Royalist and Catholic in character, spurred on by the Royal successes in the Vendée. More of it, though, was made up of Republicans who sought to overthrow Robespierre and elect a new leader – for at this point most of them still thought of elections.

Both risings were held back by Lisieux’s loyal Garde Nationale. Lisieux advised Robespierre that it would be best if he remained in a secure area until the rebellion was put down. Robespierre argued, saying that he would not be seen to be hiding from his enemies. Lisieux…insisted. And Boulanger ‘happened’ to recommend the old Château de Versailles, now long since looted-out and used for storage of ammunition and troops’ rations. Robespierre, realising he was being forced, attempted to call upon the Sans-Culottes, over whom he had always held supreme authority. His great political act had been to skilfully slip into the shoes of Le Diamant, a man who would almost certainly have found him repugnant if they had ever met, and control Le Diamant’s powerful supporters. Now, though, those supporters had been sent away: the competent to Germany, the incompetent to the west. Robespierre found himself without allies. He submitted.

The morning of July 31st, 1799 (Abricot Thermidor of the year 5) dawned with the news – not whispered, but shouted from the rooftops and trumpeted in the state-controlled newspapers – that Jean-Baptiste Robespierre was dead. He had hanged himself while hiding in Versailles, the editorials (controlled by Lisieux) said. The implication was clear, that Robespierre had begun to see himself as the very thing he had sought to destroy. A suicide note supposedly found on his body showed that he had literally signed his own death warrant, declaring himself an Enemy of the People, before summarily carrying out his own execution.

The vast majority of commentators, then and now, believe that Robespierre was murdered by Lisieux’s men and the death disguised as a suicide. Some modern revisionist historians have suggested that Robespierre’s suicide might in fact have been genuine – there had long been rumours that he kept a signed copy of his own death warrant about his person in case he ever found an impure thought entering his mind, and the depression on realising he had lost power might have pushed him over the edge. Whether Lisieux’s hand slayed him, though, it is definite that Lisieux had planned to do so, and whether Robespierre pre-empted him is unimportant.

Almost from the first day, proclamations began flying out. Lisieux had already been the Republic’s main writer of pamphlets and propagandists, and now he turned them out for himself. The ‘erring’ period of Robespierre was over, it said. The corrupt Consulate was dissolved and the National Legislative Assembly would convene after fresh elections to confirm a new constitution. Until that time, that constitution would take temporary effect. Who, exactly, had drawn up this constitution and when was never quite stated.

In any case, the constitution of the ‘Apricot Revolution’, as it was termed, reorganised the Republic considerably. Instead of a three-person Consulate, it saw a single ruler given the deliberately lowly-sounding title of ‘Administrateur’. The Republic was then divided into départements according to a system that had been drawn up by Jacques-Guillaume Thouret. Thouret, a Norman, was a great Rationalist who had been instrumental in the creation of the metric system. He was one of the few members of the National Legislative Assembly who had not been cowed by Robespierre. His new division of France ignored the existing provincial boundaries and, indeed, geography – he simply divided France into squares based on lines of latitude and longitude. These square départements were named after the Revolutionary calendar’s days – Paris was assigned as Abricot, of course… - and would each be ruled by a Modérateur, a theoretically locally-elected official somewhere between an old mayor and duke.

The Thouret plan was an attempt to balance the local privileges of the ancien régime, whose loss had been part of the reason behind the Breton rising, with the strongly centralised structure of the existing Republic. The Rationalist squares spoke of Lisieux’s philosophy that Revolutionary ideals could not be softened by compromise. “If we let the status quo affect our principles,” he wrote, “our principles will be worn down…but if we stand firm, we will sculpt the world until it is fit for the Revolutionary system.” Some less well educated Revolutionaries apparently thought this was literal, and there were rumours that Lisieux planned, after the conquest of Britain, to cut up the island and use its parts to build up all the partial départements along the coasts to perfect squares. Lisieux’s control of propaganda was such that an impression soon emerged that there was nothing he could not do.

Lisieux’s first act as Administrateur was to complete the crackdown on the Paris rising, now useless to him, by his loyal Garde Nationale. He then appointed Boulanger as First Marshal of the Army, a new post which would give the former general enough independence to form a more coherent response to the British invasion. Lisieux picked out those competent but awkward members of the NLA and other politicians – usually Robespierre loyalists – and made them Modérateurs of départements. This was central to Lisieux’s political philosophy. “The former regime,” he wrote, speaking of Robespierre, “thought that the wheels of revolution must be lubricated by the oil of sacrifice. Such a view ignores the fact that the ‘oil’ is in fact made of destroyed wheels. If it had been allowed to continue, soon we would have a great deal of oil and no wheels to lubricate…the correct view must be that men are a resource, just like wheat or iron or coal[3], and should not be wasted. It is a gross irresponsibility not to extract their usefulness, whatever the circumstances.”

These relatively mild words presaged a terror in some ways worse than Robespierre’s, but for now Lisieux remained focused on the British problem. In August, the main Anglo-French army invaded Normandy. Support for the Royalists was more lukewarm there, as Normandy had had no particular special status before the Revolution as Brittany had, but the majority of Normans saw which way the wind was blowing and supported the King. Lisieux demanded a response from Boulanger, knowing that many more Royal successes could tip the balance of the mood of Paris towards royalism. He, more than anyone, knew how fickle the mob could be, and how fragile his position was.

Boulanger was worried that his friend was heading towards becoming another Robespierre, with such demands, but agreed that something had to be done. He had assembled another army, one as capable as the ones operating in Germany, made up mostly of troops who should be going as reinforcements to Leroux and Hoche. Lacking an experienced command general, Boulanger went himself, in the face of Lisieux’s protests.

As Lisieux built his power in Paris, Boulanger’s army moved into Normandy, occupying Évreux and easily defeating a small Anglo-Royal French force that had been sent ahead. The bulk of the Allied army was in Caen, having taken the city from loyal Revolutionaries at the end of September. Boulanger fought another small, filmish [cinematic] action near the town of Lisieux, Jean de Lisieux’s home town – with which the propagandists, not least Lisieux himself, had much fun. Rather than trying to hold the damaged city against siege, the Prince of Wales ordered that the British army decamp and meet Boulanger on the field of battle. The British had not fought Cugnot engines before. They would soon find out what it was like, to their cost. Sir Ralph Abercromby held to traditional strategy of holding high ground and letting the enemy approach over a flat plain, a killing field. Just as Mozart had learned a few months before, this was not the winning tactic it had been before.

According to Michel Chanson, Boulanger called Caen ‘my second Lille’, referring to the victory he had won there, the first victory of the Jacobin Wars, by his use of the Cugnot-wagons. Now he had access to far more advanced Cugnot engines: Cugnot, Surcouf and the others had been working feverishly, spurred on by unlimited funding and the fear of failure.

Boulanger had many of the old-style wagons, essentially just steam-driven alternatives to the horse, which could tow guns into position and then unlimber to allow them to fire. But now he had what Cugnot called his char de tir, gun-chariot. These were larger, more cumbersome Cugnot-wagons that, rather than simply towing an ordinary gun, were actually built around large pieces of artillery (six- to twenty-four-pounders) and consisted of a large flatbed on tall wheels. Chars with trained crews could fire their gun whilst moving, a truly revolutionary development – though dealing with the recoil remained a problem, as the chars had a tendency to flip over. Cugnot’s experiments with rotating cannon had been disastrous; in order to take the recoil, the wheels had to be aligned with the axis of the gun, allowing the wagon to roll backwards. Thus, Boulanger’s chars had only fixed-focus guns, but it was enough.

It was the novelty, the unknown of the Republican weapons more than their effectiveness which intimidated the Allied forces. Abercromby remarked “Have the Jacobins placed mills on wheels?” The French bombardment was no greater than many the veteran British and Royal French troops had weathered before, but the fact that it came from moving cannon was unnerving. It also meant that the British artillery found it harder to reply to the guns. Abercromby ordered the cavalry to sweep in and take the chars, if they could. Boulanger was reliably informed of all this, as he had a Blanchard observation balloon floating over the battlefield and signalling to him by flags, giving him an intelligence advantage over his opponents.

The British and Royal French cavalry did succeed in destroying several of the chars, though they were hampered by the sheer size of them (“Like trying to sabre down sailors standing on the deck when you are on the pier below” recalled one cavalryman, a native of Portsmouth). More were immobilised by lucky shots from British galloper guns, one-pounder cannons that could be shifted around the battlefield even more rapidly by being hitched up to fast horses. The chars were fragile in places, in particular vulnerable to having their steam-boilers punctured by roundshot, which could potentially spray their crews with boiling water.

But Boulanger had anticipated this. Behind and among the chars rolled the tortues, the same vehicles Lisieux had used to crush the uprising after Hébert’s death. They were armoured carriages, somewhat inspired by those developed by the Bohemians during the Thirty Years’ War, but were driven by steam engines. Inside were troops with muskets and rifles firing through slits, protected by the armour from anything but a direct hit by a cannonball. The tortues were slow and cumbersome, of little use as a real weapon of war, but the Allied cavalry did not realise what they were until it was too late. Countless British and Royal French cavalrymen were volleyed down, the Republicans holding their fire until the last moment. Then, unable to reply to this unseen assault, the cavalry fled.

This started a panic through the Allied ranks. Men who would stolidly march against armies five times their size did not know how to react to these new terrors. Privates became newly nervous when they realised their sergeants and officers had no more idea of what was happening when they did.

The irony was that Boulanger’s vehicles could certainly not have climbed the high ground that Abercromby held. Yet the cautious Scottish general ordered a fighting retreat, while he worked out how to defeat the Republicans’ new war machines. Despite the anxiety in the ranks, the British and Royal French (the latter led by Colonel Grouchy, an exile ally of Louis XVII) made an orderly withdrawal from the ridge and retreated westward.

Boulanger could not believe his luck. His infantry, marching in columns behind the vehicles, quickly seized the ridge and then unlimbered their conventional artillery, those towed by horses capable of climbing the ridge. The Republicans directed a withering fire against the Allies as they withdrew, killing dozens of men with each plunging cannonball. If Boulanger had had cavalry of his own, the retreat might have become a rout – but the Revolution still had trouble recruiting trained horsemen, given its stance on aristocrats.

Nonetheless, the engagement might never have been so well known if one of the last cannonballs fired had not come down in the middle of the British command. Ironically, it was not the ball that killed him; it struck the ground before his horse, toppling it over on top of him, and broke his neck. In the confusion of the battle, few except General Abercromby and his aides noticed, but Prince Frederick George had just ignominiously died.

The incident would have shockwaves far greater than Boulanger’s successful repulsion of the Allies from Normandy. In Britain, King George collapsed upon being informed of his favourite son’s death, and fell into an illness from which he never recovered. This came at the worst possible time, as Britain entered a constitutional crisis. The Marquess of Rockingham’s government had shed support throughout the war, with the old marquess now holding only the slimmest majority in the Commons. Liberal and Radical Whigs who supported the Revolution found themselves strange bedfellows with conservative Tories who opposed the alliance with Catholic France, but nonetheless much of the Commons was united in opposition. The victories in France were swiftly followed by the defeat at Caen, and Rockingham worked frantically to prevent his government losing its majority. Too frantically; he worked himself to death, at a time when George III was beginning to lose lucidity, consumed by the death of his son.

London held its breath. The British Constitution relied on a balance of power between monarch and Parliament, but now Parliament had lost its Prime Minister and the King was in no state to perform his functions. There was talk of appointing a regent, but the authorisation for such an act would require a coherent government, which did not exist – and could not exist until a King or Regent asked someone to form one. The British political system was trapped in a vicious circle. The crisis was such that the previous topic of debate, whether Richard Wesley’s calls for Catholic emancipation in Ireland should be granted (opposed by the King, who saw it a violation of his coronation oath to defend the Protestant faith), was temporarily forgotten.

From the chaos, Charles James Fox emerged. Leader of the parliamentary Radical faction among the Whigs, and a strong supporter of Revolutionary ideals, he spoke in favour of Lisieux and said that the excesses of the Robespierre period were now over. “We have fought the tyranny of the Bourbons for decades,” he said in a speech to the divided Parliament. “Now shall we side with them against the liberty that we have been so rightfully proud of for so long? I say no!”

Fox’s radical wing would normally not have received much support, but he was one of the few great orators in Parliament after Rockingham’s death, and a natural leader. Liberal Whigs who had defected from Rockingham saw him as the lesser of two evils, and thought Tories despised him, their desire to end the war was such that they temporarily supported him. The Whigs struggled to find a credible candidate for prime minister to oppose Fox, but could not. Richard Burke was too young and too Liberal, though he fiercely opposed the French Revolution as his father had. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Thomas Townshend, was politically suited but lacked charisma, having failed to come out of Rockingham’s shadow. There was even talk about rallying around Frederick Grenville, the ambassador who had escaped from the Republican French mob (his American colleague Thomas Jefferson not being so fortunate) and was now an MP, as a leader. But though Grenville had both charisma and a burning desire to oppose the Republic, he could not match Fox’s oratory or easy political skill. Parliament remained paralysed, as news of further victories by Boulanger poured in.

The deadlock was broken on November 9th, coming on the same day as the news that Boulanger’s lightning advance into Brittany had been halted by the combined British and Royal French forces near Mayenne. Boulanger, like Leroux in Germany, had outrun his supply lines and his army had become too dispersed. For example, he no longer had access to observation balloons, their transports being too large and cumbersome to move at his army’s marching speed. The Royal French had scored a propaganda victory by managing to capture several of Boulanger’s steam engines, and the French columns had for the first time come up against well-drilled British infantry under Colonel Sir John Moore. British Riflemen picked off French officers as they tried to rally their men, and the machine-like volleying of the redcoats – twice as fast as any continental army, thanks to the British Army budgeting for them to train with real cartridges – had ground down the columns until even their well-trained soldiers turned and fled. It was far from a rout, but Boulanger was forced to retreat. The war remained to be decided. On that day, George III finally slipped from life. His last words were reported to be “I am and always will be a Virginian, and let no man speak ill of that.”

Meanwhile, down in Saint-Hilaire, the legend of Leo Bone was being quietly made, overshadowed by greater events, but that does not enter into our tale.

Upon George III’s death, the automatic succession laws kicked in and Prince Henry William, despite the reservations of large parts of British society, became King Henry IX. He was crowned in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1799, as the war in France ground to a halt and the armies retreated to their winter quarters. It seemed symbolic that a new century would begin with Henry IX’s reign, for novelty abounded in the young, unexpected king’s ideas.

Henry had always been aligned with Charles James Fox’s Radicals, and it was no surprise that he asked Fox to form a government on January 14th 1800. Fox achieved a narrow majority in the Commons, part of his support coming from conservative Tories who wanted to see the war ended at any cost and ‘court party’ MPs in the pocket of whoever sat upon the throne, while he always struggled in the Lords. Fox formed his “New Cabinet” and immediately sent out peace feelers to Lisieux’s new Administration.

The positions of the two states were almost comically similar. Both thought they were in a weaker position than they were, but would not admit it. Lisieux was certain that if Boulanger had not achieved total victory now, he never would, not without the unavailable armies stuck in Germany and Italy, while the British could easily reinforce across the Channel. He also knew that the republics in Italy, Swabia and Switzerland were creations of Robespierre and might not support him. The British, on the other hand, thought that they had only barely held on against Boulanger’s new machines of war, and it would take years of study in peacetime to figure out means of taking on the Revolutionary technology and tactics. “If the Jacobins throw us back into the sea, who is to say that Boulanger cannot conjure up a bridge of steam and send his troops into England?” wrote the Marquess of Stafford, a leading Tory thinker. He jested somewhat, but was in other ways remarkably prophetic. “We need time to understand that these new marvels are not magical but simply the product of man’s ingenuity…time which we will not have unless this war is brought to a close.”

Therefore, when Fox’s government approached Lisieux’s, the Peace of Caen was signed only weeks later, on 4th March 1800. The shock of the end of the war resounded in Britain, but much less so in France. Lisieux had already taken control of the press and was forming it into the legendary propaganda machine it would become. The French papers said that Boulanger had thrown the English into the sea, and that the rebel areas would remain under special military administration until they were purified enough to be integrated back into the Republic. Until that time, the French people were forbidden to travel into those regions, lest they become ‘infected’ by impure ideas. Lisieux borrowed heavily from Robespierre’s language, but all of this was simply to conceal the fact that the areas were still rebel. As part of the peace treaty, Lisieux agreed to allow a rump Royal France consisting of Brittany and the Vendée, but no more. Louis XVII, appalled at the British betrayal, was forced to consent to this. He returned to Nantes and formed his capital there.

No-one thought the Peace of Mayenne (as it was called) would last for long. For both sides, it was a time for rebuilding. Fox might be naïve enough to think the Republic could be courted, but the majority of people knew the war would begin again one day.

For now, though, Britain returned to its domestic affairs and putting down the last vestiges of the USE rebellion in Ireland, while the Republic turned its attention to Spain. This was the Double Revolution, Lisieux coming to power in France and Henry IX and Fox in Britain. In North America, though, it is known as the Treble Revolution. American fervour for the war had died away slowly as Jefferson’s death had faded into the imagination, and Lisieux was wise enough to publicly apologise for the incident. Some parts of the Empire, notably Carolina, disliked the alliance with Royal France as they coveted expansion into the remaining French colonies in America, which as yet remained loyal to the King. So, in July 1799, when a new general election was called, James Monroe’s Constitutionalist Party won a majority of seats in the Continental Parliament, unseating Lord Hamilton’s Patriots.

The Lord Deputy, the Duke of Grafton, formally asked Monroe to form a government and Monroe became America’s third Lord President. He was the first not to in fact be a peer, refusing the offer and preferring to focus in the Commons – like William Pitt, he believed that that was where power had shifted in this age. The Constitutionalists immediately formally ended the war with France, which had technically continued past the British peace due to Albert Gallatin, the American representative there, lacking the powers to sign the treaty. This was a problem which Monroe rectified with the upgrade of Gallatin’s status to Lord Representative; later, he replaced Gallatin with a political ally, James Madison. Gallatin returned to New York to continue his work with maintaining peace and cooperation with the Iroquois, while Madison almost became a member of Fox’s cabinet, his own radical sympathies lying well with the new British government’s.

So four nations – Great Britain, Ireland, North America and France – had now been placed on wildly different courses. This did not mean, of course, that those courses would never again collide…

[1]The phrase ‘the emperor’s new clothes’ dates from a Hans Christian Andersen story published in 1837, long after the POD so therefore does not exist in TTL. The phrase ‘the shadow of the tiger’, meaning the same thing, comes from an animal story by Georges Gallet, a sort of French analogue of Rudyard Kipling who lived in Kérala, in which a crafty civet-cat intimidated a nest of snakes by simulating the shadow of a tiger, before one of the snakes saw through the illusion and ate him.

[2]Boulanger is using tu rather than vous, reflecting their close political relationship over the past few years.

[3]Lisieux’s naming of coal as a resource reflects how steam engines are growing in importance across the slowly industrialising republic. Of course, the fact that he was strongly involved in Cugnot’s operations means he is somewhat ahead of the rest of France in this respect.

Part #41: The Space-Filling Empire

Capt. Christopher Nuttall: As we move away from Europe for a moment, a brief note should be made that most African names have been altered to their OTL spellings to avoid confusion, though often different and less French-influenced transliterations are the norm in this timeline. (Pause) I apologise for the absence of Drs Pylos and Lombardi, but I fear they had a somewhat heated argument over the nature of Societist doctrine (indistinctly) where did I put those bandages?


“If you wish to win, first you must lose, and understand why you lost”

– Michael Olesogun, Prime Minister of West Africa (1942-1946)​


From “A History of West Africa” by Lancelot Grieves (1964, Mancunium House Publishing)

Prior to the Royal Africa Bubble scandal of 1782, West Africa was a largely unknown land to most Europeans. Many powers – England and then Britain, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark – had maintained trading posts along the coastline since the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but there was little penetration into the interior. Those trading posts dealt in African commodities such as ivory, gold – and slaves. Slavery was, in fact, the major motor of trade with West Africa throughout most of the eighteenth century. A ‘triangular trade’ was practiced, with manufactured goods going from Europe to Africa, slaves from Africa to American colonies, and raw materials going from America to Europe. This status quo was not actively challenged until the second half of the eighteenth century.

Opposition to African slavery began as early as 1727,[1] when the Quaker Church of Great Britain (the Society of Friends) made it doctrine to oppose the practice. The Quakers in America took somewhat longer to cleave to this, perhaps because slavery was all around them and vital for the economy of areas of the colonies, but the movement was given a big boost when William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, had a change of heart and freed his slaves, thereafter supporting abolitionism. Court cases in the 1760s and 70s over slaves brought to Britain were reviewed in the House of Lords, and it was judged that the abolition of (white) slavery made in 1101 by the Normans continued to apply. Slavery itself was therefore illegal in Britain, and any slaves brought into the country automatically became freemen, although this was not necessarily enforced. The slave trade was, however, violently defended by established business interests in the face of opposition by a growing abolitionist movement.

Elsewhere in Europe, opposition to slavery was initially slow to arise. The biggest move in the arena outside Britain was in Denmark, when King Christian VII abolished the slave trade as part of his moves to withdraw Danish trade from Africa in order to focus on building power in the Baltic. By this point, the trade was becoming less profitable in any case, so Christian’s appealing to abolitionist sentiment was largely a calculated political move – but the fact that such a move was seen as holding any weight was an indication of how the subject was spreading through the intellectual classes in Europe. France and Portugal were the nations most hostile to the idea of abolishing slavery, both because their colonies depended heavily on the slave trade and because the French intellectual scene was dominated by pro-slavery thinkers such as Voltaire. Linnaean Racism, nowhere more enthusiastically embraced than France, also got in the way: it was easy to justify slavery on the grounds that Africans were incapable of success without white guidance. Of course, such theories were usually thought up by armchair philosophers who had not travelled to West Africa itself and found that slaves were bought by European traders from quite sophisticated native states…

The first nation in the world to abolish slavery was the proto-United Provinces of South America, in 1784. Though even the country’s name had not been thought of that point, the initially unofficial move was a ploy to gain wider support and an attempt to unite the people of Rio de la Plata behind the rebel government. Negro slaves were promised their freedom if they fought for the rebels. It fitted nicely into the general ideology of abolishing the casta system that powered the rebellion. Although after the war, the promises were not always entirely lived up to (if slavery in name was banned, indentured servitude often remained) it was an important exemplar for other countries.

The northern Confederations of the Empire of North America, and the colonies that had preceded them, drifted away from slavery throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The General Assembly of New England passed a law calling for the gradual abolition of slavery in 1789, with the result that no-one would be born into slavery after that date within the Confederal boundaries (although the living slaves were unaffected). Pennsylvania, initially more hostile to the idea, was gradually won over by the actions of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, backed by the influential Benjamin Franklin. In 1795 the Pennsylvanian Confederal Assembly narrowly passed a law which included manumission similar to New England’s, but – importantly for American history – also banned the transport of slaves into Pennsylvania. This meant it was almost impossible to import slaves into New York or New England from the southern Confederations, except by ship. New York itself still had long memories of the Negro Uprising of 1741 (which Prince Frederick had used in propaganda to attack Governor Cosby), but surrounded by “free” Confederations and with a growing abolitionist movement of its own, relented. The New York Assembly’s law, passed in 1803, was a watered-down version of the other confederations’ laws and did not apply to unincorporated territories or the Iroquois protectorate. However, it set another important precedent.

All of this background serves to explain why the West Africa trade was slowing down throughout the second half of the eighteenth century. America and the West Indies also, by now, had enough of a black population to produce enough slaves by natural breeding, largely making new imports uneconomical. The triangular trade was impaired by this bottleneck, and Britain’s Royal Africa Company was beset by economic difficulty, even though it itself had abandoned the slave trade after losing its monopoly in 1731. The last Director, David Andrews – who was later tried and sentenced to life imprisonment by the House of Lords – attempted to conceal the extent of the Company’s debts, with the result that the Bubble wiped thousands of pounds off the New Jonathan’s Stock Exchange when it broke in 1782. It was not, in fact, an economic bubble in the usual sense, but was so named because it reminded many commentators of the South Sea Bubble fifty years previously. That meltdown had paralysed the British government and led to the creation of the (still unofficial) office of Prime Minister. This one would be no less influential.

The Prime Minister, the Marquess of Rockingham, was forced to resign over the scandal (though he would later return upon the collapse of Portland’s government in the face of Robespierre’s France). The new government, led by the Duke of Portland but masterminded by Edmund Burke, immediately distanced itself from the failures of the previous Ministry and decided to reform the Company considerably.

The Royal Africa Company had had an unhappy history thus far. Quite apart from being an organisation founded to trade inhumanely in human lives, it had been set up by James, the Duke of York in the seventeenth century – the same man who had later become the definition of evil to all non-Jacobite Britons as James II. It had already had several minor collapses and reinstatements throughout the eighteenth century, suffering from the loss of its slave monopoly and then refocusing on the gold dust and ivory trade. It had also been officially renamed so many times that any number of the names were in common circulation, and considered interchangeable – the Royal Africa Company, the African Company, the Guinea Company, the Negroland Company, and many more.

The Company’s organisation was in a sad state, and the Portland Ministry decided that the best way to rejuvenate it would be to bring in talent from its far more successful sister organisation, the East India Company. Despite facing hard competition from its French rival, the EIC’s trade had brought great wealth to Britain, while the RAC was struggling even to keep itself afloat.

Thus, the new Board of Directors set up for the RAC was made up partly of men brought over from the EIC. The two most prominent – and famous – of these were Arthur Filling and Thomas Space, two junior EIC directors who could not have been more different. Filling was a dour Scotsman who had joined the Company’s military and served in the Indian wars, losing an eye during the war with the last Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-Daulah. He also had a keen acumen for business, and had found his way to his current position partly through careful investments with a fortune he had taken during the sack of Calcutta. Space, on the other hand, was an idealistic Englishman from a privileged background, who had joined the Company mainly in order to visit exotic climes and learn about new peoples and languages. He was a strong opponent of slavery, being a member of Frederick Wilberforce’s Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, and importantly through that membership was on speaking terms with several of the most prominent among Britain’s West African community. These included Olaudah Equiano, an escaped slave who had become a respected writer. There was thus Anglo-African participation in the Company’s philosophy from the start.

The challenge facing Filling and Space, as well as the other directors, was vast. The Company had singularly failed to find a new profitable trade niche since the loss of its slavery monopoly, and it was competing with both independent British traders and other European outposts along the West African coast – the French and the Portuguese, the Danes and the Dutch, though the Danish outposts were gradually turned over to the Dutch thanks to Christian VII’s policies. After initially despairing of the difficulty of their task, Space claimed to have had a vision come to him in his sleep, along with a message: look to the east.

The implication was clear – after all, the Prime Minister had brought them in to make the RAC more like the EIC. And the EIC’s current success was based on a more interventionist strategy, pushing influence deep into the hinterland while accepting natives into positions within the Company. The EIC had not been much more than a trading company while it was limited to outposts on the fringes of the Mughal Empire, but now it was so much more. Could the RAC copy that success? There was only one way to find out.

The partnership of Filling and Space meant that the philosophy of the New Company was both profit-driven and yet possessing a moral aspect. After all, slavery was commonly practiced in the African states themselves, usually captives captured in war. “Once upon our time, our ancestors did the same,” Space wrote in a letter to Filling. “Your grandfather many times removed may have captured and enslaved mine…” a reference to the fact that Space was from Northumberland, and the Scottish slave raids into English territory during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. “Yet I can now be assured of even travelling to Edinburgh itself with no fear of being clapped in irons and forced to work the fields…do not our fellow human beings who happen to have been born in a distant land not deserve that same assurance?”

With that in mind, the New Company’s directors cooperated with a contemporary group, the African Association,[2] made up of natural philosophers and dedicated to the exploration of the West African interior. The Association included such luminaries as Joseph Banks, who had become famous publishing works on the fauna and flora of Canada, Newfoundland and the new western territories of the North American Empire[3]; John Ledyard, a New Englander who had joined the Association after failing to convince the British Government to finance a rival fur-trading company to oppose the Russians’ efforts in Alaska; and Daniel Houghton, a veteran and the group’s leader, who was determined to find the exact location of the fabled Malinese city of Timbucktoo. It was obvious to Filling that such men could be of use to a Company searching for a new area in which to trade. Banks could identify economically important plants and animals using Linnaean techniques, Ledyard could figure out how to market them, and Houghton could help explore the interior. In return, having Company-subsidised access to a new land was an enheartening prospect to them.

The Company also soon became caught up with the Colonisation Movement, a loose alliance of societies operating both in Britain and America, dedicated to re-settling black freemen in West Africa. The Movement’s motives ranged from the belief that blacks could never live a normal life surrounded by white society, the idea that blacks who had been raised in such a society could go on to ‘civilise’ the natives, and the notion that moving former slaves back across the Atlantic was a restitution for the horrors of the slave trade in the past. The Company was approached by Equiano, one of the few Africans actually involved in the Movement’s activities, with the idea of providing transport. This solved a problem Filling had noticed. His great idea was to change the direction of the triangular trade. Instead of raw materials going from America to Britain, they could go from Africa to Britain (once the Company located such materials that would be economically valuable). British goods could still be shipped profitably to America, as Britain had begun to industrialise but America, hampered by the vast distances between its cities, had lagged behind. The problem was that he needed some commodity to go from America to Africa to complete the triangle. Freed slaves paying their way to found new colonies filled that gap, as well as providing a pleasing symmetry for more idealistic individuals such as Thomas Space.

The Company had earned enough in its first five years’ worth of operations to sell off its outdated fleet – some of which were badly constructed former slaveships – and purchase new ships, often from the new dockyards in New England. The new fleet was more like the EIC’s East Indiamen, larger, more sturdy and with at least a desultory load of defensive armament. Like the EIC, the RAC did not so much have a trading fleet as a navy, suited to Filling and Space’s ambitions.

The RAC sent numerous expeditions into the African hinterland, many of which did not return or returned with fewer men, but a picture was gradually built up. Filling knew how valuable the EIC found those (usually white) men who had a clear and concise knowledge of Indian affairs, and was trying to build up a similar cadre for West Africa.

The hinterland of what Europeans called the Gold Coast was ruled by the Ashanti Empire, a powerful and increasingly centralising confederation. Ashanti was ruled from the city-state of Kumasi by the Ashantehene, or King of all Ashanti. Thomas Space, upon visiting the area himself and recording his thoughts, compared the system of government to that of England under the Anglo-Saxons: the King enjoyed considerable power, but was elected by a council of the powerful rather than automatically inheriting his post. The Ashanti used a crude form of bicameral legislature (or advisory board), with most of the power held by a gerontrocracy of the oldest and most powerful chiefs, but this was balanced by a second body, the Nmerante, made up of younger men. The King’s authority was symbolised by his throne, a golden stool said to have descended from the heavens to the founder of Ashanti, Osei Tutu I, and was partly religious in character. The Ashanti religion, which focused heavily on various taboos, infused government to the point where it could be called a theocracy. The current King at the time of the Company’s penetration was Otumfuo Nana Osei Kwame Panyin, who was seen as a stabilising influence after years of jockeying between the Oyoko Abohyen (his own) and the Beretuo dynasties. The Ashanti were the hereditary enemies of the Fanti Confederacy, another powerful state which already traded with Britain and the Netherlands. This was of interest to Filling, who knew from his EIC history that divisions and power struggles were open doors to have the boot of influence and trade wedged into them.

Further eastward, the area known as the Slave Coast was better known, due to the fact that its local states had extensive slave-trade contacts with the Europeans there. Settlements by Britain and the Netherlands were joined by the small outpost of Whydah, which had been a Prussian venture ceded to the Saxons after the Third War of Supremacy. The Saxons, with no interest in African trade, had let it lapse, and the Company unilaterally seized the settlement, despite protests from the Dutch (who’d had the same idea). Whydah had formerly been part of the Kingdom of Savi, which had been conquered by the Kingdom of Dahomey in 1727. Dahomey in turn though, despite being one of the most powerful and warlike states in the region, had been conquered and vassalised in 1730 by the cavalry-using Yoruba empire of Oyo. The Dahomeyans had lost the war despite their King Agadja having invested heavily in European firearms. Now, though, the country was chafing under being forced to pay tribute to Oyo, and it was obvious that breaking free was on the mind of the current King, Kpengla. Kpengla was interested in buying more modern flintlock muskets for his troops, recognising that Agadja’s failure had been partly due to having bought obsolete, unreliable matchlocks from the Danes. Filling could see another opportunity there – or two.

The Dahomeyan army included an elite corps of female warriors known as the ‘Amazons’ to Europeans, who made the connection with the Greek myth. The victory over Savi was considered to have been partly due to the shock deployment of the Amazons. The idea was exotic enough that, when the Company’s agents published articles about it in the Register, British intellectual interest in West Africa was sparked and even threatened to equal the orientalists fascinated by India and China. Dahomey also had an elective monarchy, though the King had to prove his descent from their legendary founder, but its voodoo religion required annual human sacrifices, and this pushed Space into describing the people as savages. It also explained why the Dahomeyans were so enthusiastic about selling even their own people into the slave trade, given that their culture meant they placed a low value on human life (or more accurately saw this world as only the surface of a much more fundamental one, and life or death was not a particularly important distinction). This did not stop Filling investing heavily in trade missions to the capital, Abomey, of course. On the other side of Oyo itself was Benin, barely yet breached by European traders but an important market in palm oil. The Company was ready to change that.

Further west, Britain’s acquisition of the French posts in Senegal after the Third War of Supremacy now paid dividends. Senegal had an existing colonial apparatus compared to the British one in Calcutta, with half-bloods (Métis, in French), filling many administrative positions and contributing largely to the area’s culture. The former French colony was centred around Fort St. Louis and the island of Gorée, both of which were considered part of the capital of Dakar. Gorée had previously been English, as well as Dutch, so while the French had held the area for about eighty years prior to losing it, in many way the change in ownership had been accepted with a shrug by the locals. However, it is unlikely that Britain would have been so successful in the transfer of power if she had not appointed John Graves Simcoe (later knighted) as Governor of the conquered territory after a period of mismanagement and corruption throughout the 1760s. Simcoe was a veteran of the Second Platinean War, who had observed the Platineans raising a regiment of freed black slaves and had even had his life saved by one such soldier. He thus had more enlightened views about what black Africans could achieve than many Britons or Americans.

Upon taking command in Dakar, Simcoe was quick to take action against corruption and root out several organisations still trading illegally with the French. Until the late 1780s, though, his grand designs could not be matched by reality, as he had little resources to work with. While Simcoe despised slavery, he recognised that Senegal’s economy was dependent on it and that taking direct action against it, with no thought for the consequences, might do more harm than good.

This changed when the new Royal Africa Company moved in to Dakar, which had been included in its revised charter. Simcoe was innately suspicious of all merchants and speculators, but the fact that the RAC did not deal in slaves made a favourable impression, and Arthur Filling discussed with him his plans for running British possessions in West Africa in a more East India-like manner. Simcoe, who had only served in America prior to this, was unaware of the details of this, and Filling spoke at length on the subject. It was the idea of sepoy regiments that stuck in Simcoe’s head, more even than Space’s plan to try and broaden Senegalese trade to the point where slavery might be wound down. This was the germ of what would become the Company’s African equivalent of sepoys, native troopers trained and equipped in the British fashion, intended to exert the Company’s will on, and in alliance with, native states. Although they were first raised by Simcoe in Senegal, the term that eventually stuck was ‘Jagun’, from the Yoruba word for a soldier, ologunomo ogunjagunjagun. This can perhaps be attributed to the fact that it sounds similar to jäger or ‘hunter’, the name used by various German armies for an elite skirmisher, and that the Company employed some German veterans from Hanover, Hesse and Brunswick to help train its sepoys.

Simcoe soon needed such troops, because Equiano and Space approached him with the idea of founding a black freedman colony in the region, to the south of Senegal proper. Simcoe agreed with the idea, partly because he thought such an example might eventually lead to a decline in slavery elsewhere in the region. Coastal land around St George’s Bay was purchased by the Company from the Kingdom of Koya, a local power that had had extensive diplomatic contacts with Britain and the French and recognised, from the changing of hands of Senegal, that Britain was now gaining supremacy in the region. Koya signed over the little-settled land in exchange for British help in a war against their neighbours, the Susu. Company troops, consisting largely of hired Hessian and Scottish mercenaries paired with Simcoe’s first cohort of native soldiers, assisted the Koya and forced a Susu defeat in a war which ended in 1793. Koya then vassalised Susu and thus gained overall from the deal, at least in the short term.

The new colony was supported by the Colonisation Movement, and was named Freedonia, with the inhabitants being known as Freedes and the adjective being Freedish.[4] The capital, overlooking St George’s Bay, was called Liberty.[5] The colonists who arrived in that first decade were a very diverse crew, from many places and many classes. Some were educated, such as Equiano, who became the first Lieutenant-Governor. There were many ‘Black Poor’, as the blacks of London who had become stranded there after being press-ganged into the Royal Navy were called, and some of them brought white English wives with them. Many freed blacks from the northern Confederations of North America, and the West Indies, came also. This vast range meant that mutual communication was often difficult, and a simplified version of English known as ‘Freedic’ or the ‘Tongue of Liberty’ became the common language.

Freedonia was at first under serious risk of attack from native powers – Koya and Susu were only two among many – and bandits, including slavers. Because of this, Equiano raised militia regiments from the colonists, sharing resources with Simcoe’s sepoys, and this was the start of a close cooperation between the Freedes and the Company. Filling had envisaged an EIC-like bureaucracy consisting of (visibly) natives who spoke English and understood British methods of government; the Freedes were a pool of just such people, and ones who passed on their ideas to genuine natives as the colony grew.

Yet all of what the Company achieved would have been impossible, or at least very difficult, without the work performed by James Edward Smith. Smith was a natural philosopher and Linnaean, who ignored Linnaeus’ racial theories and worked on what Linnaeus had seen as the far more important work, his classification of animals and plants. Originally Linnaeus’ intention had been to find economically important plants that could be grown back in Europe. In this he had never succeeded much himself, but Smith eventually did so. In this he was assisted by Alexander von Humboldt, a Dutch natural scientist of Prussian birth[6]. Humboldt originally approached the British after failing to sell his new idea to the Dutch, in 1800. While based in Africa, he had travelled to Dutch Suriname three years before and then made an expedition down into Platinean Peru. Humboldt’s writings are now keenly studied by those who can see, in his incidental descriptions of the country and its people, the seeds of resentment and rebellion against the regime in Cordova, which had taken power away from conservative Lima and ended its casta system.

But Humboldt was mainly interested in the fauna and flora of the region, and in particular the cinchona tree – the source of quinine or ‘Jesuit’s bark’, a remedy for malaria that had been known of since the seventeenth century, yet had not been widely adopted. “It almost goes without saying,” he wrote, “that among Protestant physicians, hatred of the Jesuits and religious intolerance lie at the bottom of the long conflict over the good or harm effected by Peruvian Bark.” Perhaps this, or simply the fact that it was such a pie-in-the-sky idea, led to the Dutch VOC rejecting his notion based on this. The RAC, however, had Smith, who listened to Humboldt’s idea and then recommended it to Filling and Space.

It was certainly a bold idea. Humboldt advocated the planting of new plantations of cinchona trees in West Africa, thus providing a ready supply of quinine to combat the endemic local malaria, which had so far killed many whites who settled and traded there – along with some of the re-settled blacks.[7] The prevalent theory that black resistance to malaria was intrinsic and not due simply to growing up in the region turned out to be wrong, which was serious, as part of the Company’s economic policy (rely on educated British black colonists as administrators) rested on it.

After some hesitation, Filling invested in the idea. A fleet of Company ships travelled to Peru in 1805 – just in time – and returned bearing transplanted trees, seeds and also a great deal of the dried bark itself. It returned at a crucial time, as the Company’s chief scout Daniel Houghton was dying of the disease. His dramatic cure by the bark, witnessed by the King of Dahomey (who he had been visiting at the time) served to convince the local Africans of quinine’s efficacy more easily than might otherwise have been expected.

The plantations were not all successful, but Smith and Humboldt used Linnaean principles to deduce the right climate, building variedly-heated sheds and considering which plants survived. The Company continued to import quinine from Peru for years afterwards before becoming self-sufficient, and malaria was far from the only deadly disease plaguing the region, but nonetheless, Humboldt’s cinchona plantations served to work a remarkable transformation on West Africa…

[1]Which is, of course, the year of this timeline’s POD.

[2]Founded 1788 OTL; I have butterflied it a little earlier to make this work.

[3]OTL of course he accompanied Cook to Australia. Banks’ work here is a bit less eye-catching so he’s not a Sir (yet).

[4]I know it sounds a bit mad, but these were actually terms considered for the USA in OTL, and given that Sierra Leone was originally called the Province of Freedom, I don’t think it’s that far a leap.

[5]Built on the site of OTL Freetown.

[6]Due to Prussia being reduced to a rump in TTL, Humboldt went to the Netherlands instead to get his university education, and then joined the Dutch East India Company in order to study new animals and plants in exotic climes.

[7]OTL, a British expedition in 1860 led by Clements Markham did the same for Ceylon/Sri Lanka, which is now a big producer of quinine.

Part #42: Jiyendo

From – “IMPERIUM ORIENTALE: The Rise of the Russo-Lithuanian Pacific Company” by Brivibas Goštautas (Royal Livonian Press, 1956) :

An oft-stated apparent ‘historical paradox’ is that many of the strokes that led to Russian dominance in the East were made at a time when Russia herself was convulsed by civil war. In fact this simply illustrates that – even before the formal founding of the Company – the Pacific expansion was as remote and separated from St Petersburg as the British and French East India Companies were from London and Paris. Just as French East India remained loyal to the Dauphin even while there was no Royal France, the Russians and Lithuanians in the Far East continued with their operations without even knowing about the Russian Civil War until late 1798. This was probably just as well, as the First Fleet included a number of politically suspect Leib Guards who Peter III had deliberately exiled, suspecting them of supporting Catherine. Had news of the Civil War reached Okhotsk earlier, it is likely that the ‘Japanese venture’ would have torn itself apart. As it was, by the time any potential Potemkinites were aware of the situation further west, things were too hectic for any disunion to arise…

Let us recall that in early 1795, the mercurial Lithuanian expedition leader Moritz Benyovsky[1], impatient with Pavel Lebedev-Lastoschkin’s progress in expanding the Okhotsk colony, decided to unilaterally launch an expedition to Edzo[2] in order to establish trade relations with the Matsumae Han who ruled there. However, being unfamiliar with the waters, Benyovsky’s ships were blown off course in a storm and they landed in the north of the island, in the area still inhabited by the indigenous Aynyu people.

Benyovsky was adamant that the expedition sail again as soon as possible, but was beset by two problems: firstly, both his ships had been damaged by striking rocks off the coast and were taking on water, their pumps not capable of keeping the level steady for a long voyage; and secondly, they still had no clue where they were or how to get to Matsumae-town. At this point, Benyovsky’s second-in-command, Jonas Raudauskas, suggested that it might be best to return to Okhotsk for repairs and make a later attempt, as that was the port that the ships had the best chance of being able to find, and within the range that their leaking hulls permitted. Benyovsky vetoed this: according to his logbook, because he thought it would still be too far for the pumps to keep the ships afloat. In practice, almost all historians believe he rejected it simply because he was unwilling to swallow his pride and return to Lebedev with his tail between his legs.

Instead, Benyovsky ordered a landfall at the nearest natural harbour that could be found, and that the ships be beached for repairs. This was perhaps overly ambitious, particularly for the young and still fairly inexperienced Lithuanian navy, but the beaching operation was accomplished satisfactorily. However, Benyovsky’s carpenter, Antanas Vaitkus, claimed that the trees visible from the harbour were unsuitable for plankage. Benyovsky threw a fit and threatened to have Vaitkus hanged from the yardarm, but at that point was interrupted by Raudauskas informing him that the Aynyu natives had been sighted, watching the beached ships curiously from a distance.

Benyovsky was never one to miss an opportunity like this. Most captains would have assumed that any native activity was likely to be hostile, and prepared to defend their ships. Instead, he immediately ordered that both ships’ crews be scoured for any speakers of the Aynyu language. Two were found; a Nivkh and a Russian out of Yakutsk who had previously dealt with the Nivkhs.[3] Benyovsky sent them, along with his captain of marines, Ulrich von Münchhausen[4], to treat with the Aynyu.

The natives turned out to be surprisingly hospitable. Although conversation was slow and halting at first, Benyovsky himself learned the language quickly[5] and a relationship was soon established. The Aynyu contacted their chieftains and, in exchange for part of Benyovsky’s trade goods, agreed to find the appropriate timber Vaitkus required and bring it to the Lithuanians. Of course, Benyovsky’s trade goods had been intended for the Japanese, not tribal peoples like the Aynyu. European naval explorers who expected to encounter the latter commonly brought things like jewellery, fine steel blades and so forth. Benyovsky had planned to trade with the Japanese, an advanced and civilised people about which one fact in Russia was particularly known, via the Dutch: the Japanese had banned firearms back in the days of firelock muskets. Benyovsky had thought that they might change their mind when they saw the latest rifled products out of European gunsmiths. In the end, though, he mostly ended up trading them to Aynyu hunters…or at least they claimed to be hunters…

Of course, Benyovsky was not stupid. He realised that trading weapons to a people surrounding his stricken ships was not necessarily the best idea in the world. To that end, he tasked Münchhausen – who was quite an accomplished spy and tracker – to tail those Aynyu buying the most rifles and find out if they were planning an attack on the Lithuanian ships. What Münchhausen found, though, was even more extraordinary: the Aynyu were indeed planning an attack, but on someone else entirely.

It was not until one of Lebedev’s ships, the Zhemchug, finally found the beached Lithuanians six months later (still with no sign of the promised timber from the Aynyu) that Benyovsky learned the name of the place where his ships had landed – Shiretoko Hanto


The Aynyu rebellion of 1797 was an event difficult to predict.[6] Tension had certainly been rising for a long time, with the Matsumae Han slowly changing trade rules over time to favour Japanese interests over the Aynyu, and occasionally engaging in land displacement and resettlement. The Daimyo of Matsumae had begun to interpret his Shogunal grant for trade with the Aynyu as a license to rule over them. But the particular catalyst could have been anything. In this case, it was an accusation that the Japanese had attempted to deliberately poison Aynu chieftains at a trade meeting. Whether this claim had any accuracy to it was irrelevant: it was enough to unite many disparate Aynu tribes under a charismatic leader, who called himself Aynoyna, after the first man in the Aynu religious tradition.

It is likely that, without Benyovsky and Lebedev, the rebellion would have gone the same way as that of Shakushain a century earlier: the Aynyu might have scored some early victories, but as soon as they inflicted a serious defeat on the Matsumae, it would be enough to make the Shogunate concerned enough to send forces to restore order there. The Matsumae enjoyed many special privileges, such as being exempt from the sankin kotai[7], precisely because they were seen as no real threat to the Tokugawa.

This time, however, things were different. Some of the Aynyu – not many, but enough – were armed with European weapons. It was sufficient to result in the complete rolling-back of all Matsumae settlements north of the Ishikari plain. By 1799, the situation in Matsumae-town was of panic. The Daimyo of Matsumae decided to send a call for help to Edo, only to be assassinated by one of his lieutenants, who feared a purge like the one after the Shakushain Revolt – when, for a generation afterwards, the Tokugawa had imposed their own men on the Matsumae, throwing out all existing Matsumae ministers and generals. The Han descended into chaos, with only vague reports of the situation reaching Niphon.[8]

By 1800, things had stabilised, apparently. The new Daimyo, Matsumae Hidoshi – barely more than a boy – sent a representative to the newly rebuilt Shogunal palace in Edo, who reported that the situation was under control and the Aynyu had been defeated once again. Hidoshi apologised that he could not come himself at the present, as tradition demanded, as matters were still too volatile at home. Emperor Tenmei[9] and the Shogun, Tokugawa Iemochi[10], were relieved to hear the news, as the country was still recovering from a succession of natural disasters that had hit in 1772, including a great fire in Edo, destructive typhoons, volcanoes and earthquakes, and authorising a military expedition against the Aynyu would have made already strained finances creak alarmingly. Later Japanese chroniclers would record this as a warning or prophecy to both Court and Bakufu. If so, it was not heeded. Matsumae had always looked after itself, and no-one thought to send an envoy to check that the representative was telling the truth.

In reality, the Aynyu won – at least in the short term. It was likely that their dominance would not have lasted long, as their temporary, artificial unity began to break up as the tribes re-asserted themselves. But Benyovsky had had another of what Lebedev described sourly as ‘his great ideas, of which he has fifty in a day, perhaps three of which will not result in us being killed by the end of that day’. From his talks with the Aynyu, and later some Japanese as he visited the lands conquered by the Aynyu, Benyovsky had built up a picture of Japanese society – stratified and built strongly on tradition and history. He knew that, no matter how optimistic Lebedev might be, there was no way that the Shogun would permit Russian and Lithuanian trade through Edzo. It was simply against the rules.

That, of course, assumed that the Shogun knew about that trade…

The strategy Benyovsky adopted was similar to those sometimes used in Germany, Mughal India, the Ottoman Empire, and even his native Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth before its dissolution. If the system was just that stratified, the way to deal with it was not to try and work around it, but just to play it. The fact that most foreign trade was forbidden under the Tokugawa was irrelevant if the Japanese didn’t realise it was foreign trade.

Therefore, the Russo-Lithuanian forces co-opted the dead Matsumae Daimyo’s third son, Hidoshi, who had been dismissed from the succession in most Japanese’s minds as his elder brothers fought in the burning house of the Aynyu revolt. Münchhausen was made the boy’s bodyguard and filled him with tall tales of Europe, Russia and the adventures of himself and his father. It was obvious to the Shogun in Edo that such a young Daimyo must have a regent of some kind, but he never dreamed that it might be a round-eyed barbarian.

The Russians and Lithuanians, the latter now with repaired ships, descended upon Matsumae town in August 1799, just as the Aynyu had drawn off most of the Matsumae’s remaining army. Once upon a time, two hundred years before, Japan had had one of the largest and most powerful navies in the world, but under the Tokugawa sakoku system of isolationism, the very construction of oceangoing ships was forbidden. With no ships and no cannon – also banned – the Matsumae were effectively defenceless against the descent.

Led by Peter’s suspect Leib Guards, the Russo-Lithuanian forces took the city and broke into the castle, using European cannon taken from the Lithuanian ships to batter down the mediaeval walls. After a brief struggle which culminated in the deaths of the two elder Matsumae brothers, things were secured. Benyovsky’s wild gamble had worked, to Lebedev’s not-so-private amazement. Of course, things were helped by the fact that the Matsumae’s influential family surgeon, Sugimura Goro, had fallen from grace during the dead brothers’ power struggle and was willing to help Hidoshi and the Russians establish themselves in return for regaining his former prominence. It was primarily Sugimura who helped the Russians and Lithuanians first insinuate their way into Japanese society – a fact which means Yamato nationalists ever since have equated his name with Judas.

By 1801, then, when news of the now-finished Civil War was just breaking in Okhotsk, Benyovsky and Lebedev were finally established. Under the guise of internal Japanese trade quietly continuing with a Han that had always been a little…edgy, a little odd…and so it was not entirely a surprise to find some unusual new goods included there…Europeans other than the Dutch had finally broken into Tokugawa’s closed market. Sakoku had been breached.

Things were looking up for the venturers, at least for the present. But back in Okhotsk, people were getting careless. As soon as Emperor Paul heard of the successes, he sent more men and more supplies to expand the colony and the trade. The correct response, perhaps, but it meant a lot more trade going through the Amur region…a region whose precise status had been left carefully undefined for a long time, and a very good reason.

Japan had been a surprisingly easy nut to crack, though few men would have had the daring to accomplish it. China…China was a different story…

[1] Remember this is a Russified form of Móric Beňovský.

[2] Before the Meiji Restoration in OTL, Hokkaido was called Ezo (or Edzo in Russified form).

[3] The Nivkhs are the native people of Sakhalin, who before this point acted as intermediaries between the Russians, Japanese, Chinese and Aynyu (what little contact there was).

[4] Anglophones may not realise it, but Baron (Karl Friedrich Hieronymus) von Münchhausen was a real person, a German who was page to Anthony Ulrich, Regent of Russia, and then joined the Russian Army and served in the Russian Army. In TTL he has had a similar career, but also fought in the War of the Polish Partition and married a Lithuanian. His son (OTL he did not have children) Ulrich (named after his old master) has joined the Lithuanian navy as a marine.

[5] As he did Malagasy in OTL.

[6] OTL there was a more minor rebellion in 1789 – this, on the other hand, is as big as the 17th-century Shakushain’s Revolt.

[7] A system by which the Shogun essentially took members of the various Hans’ daimyo hostage in Edo, to guard against potential betrayal and factionalism.

[8] Niphon (not Nippon) is an archaic name for Honshu.

[9] In TTL Emperor Emperor Go-Momozono had a son, who became Emperor Tenmei, and did instead marry his daughter to a royal from a distant branch of the family (who in OTL became Emperor Kokaku). Tenmei’s name means ‘dawn’ and reflects a hope for a bright future after the disasters of the 1770s. A forlorn hope.

[10] Not the later OTL one – a butterflied ATL ‘brother’.

Part #43: Hounded by the Afghans

“I forget the throne of Delhi when I remember the mountain tops of my Afghan land. If I must choose between the world and you, I shall not hesitate to claim your barren deserts as my own.”

– Ahmad Shah Durrani​


From – “A History of Northern India”, by Philippe Desaix (1954) -

The eighteenth century was a turbulent time for warfare and politics, to the extent that some have theorised that worldwide crises might have been precipitated by unusual shifts in climate or the coronal energy from the sun. But this lies beyond the scope of the conventional historian’s work. Suffice to say that Europe was far from alone in seeing turmoil and rapid changes in that era, though in Europe the chaos of the eighteenth century soon faded into memory beside the viciousness of the early nineteenth.

Persia suffered a series of civil wars throughout the century. The long-standing Safavid dynasty was brought down by a weak Shah, Soltan Hossein, and invasions by rebellious Ghilzai Afghans out of Kandahar. The Ghilzais, led by Mir Mahmud Hotaki, killed Soltan Hossein’s brother the Persian governor of Kandahar and then attacked Persia proper in 1722. The Safavid response was muted, hampered by the fact that Soltan Hossein’s corrupt court did not see fit to inform him of the invasion until the capital, Isfahan, was already under siege. The Afghans starved the city out, deposed Soltan Hossein and forced him to crown Mir Mahmud as Shah of Persia.

However, the Persian armies did not recognise this coronation, and remained hostile to the Afghans. Soltain Hossein’s son, Tahmasp, fled to the Qajar tribe of the north and established a government-in-exile in Tabriz. He declared himself Shah and was recognised by the Ottoman Sultan, Ahmed III, and the Emperor of all the Russias, Peter the Great. The Ottomans and the Russians were both cheerfully using Persia’s difficulties to expand their own influence in disputed regions such as Mesopotamia and the Caucasus; however, both Constantinople and St Petersburg feared the other gaining too much influence over Persia as a whole, and so both backed Tahmasp as the rightful ruler.

Meanwhile, the Persian general Nadir Shah Afshar pretended to submit to the Afghan ruler of occupied Mashhad, Malek Mahmud, but then escaped and began building up his own army. Mashhad was a holy city and one of great symbolic importance to the Persian nation, so the Afghan occupation was more important than the city’s strategic value alone. Tahmasp II and the Qajar leader, Fath Ali Khan, asked Nadir Shah to join them. He agreed and soon halted the Afghan advance, then began to drive them back. He discovered that Fath Ali Khan was in treacherous contact with Malek Mahmud and revealed this to Tahmasp, who executed Fath Ali Khan and made Nadir chief of his army instead. He took the title ‘Tahmasp Qoli’ (servant of Tahmasp) and began increasing his personal power through his army command. His success in retaking Mashhad in 1726 made him a legendary figure, a Persian Alexander as many would later call him.

Nadir decided not to directly attack occupied Isfahan, but instead invaded Herat, which was controlled by the Abdali tribe of Afghans. He defeated them and many joined his army, adding valuable cavalry strength. The Abdalis assisted Nadir Shah in two epic victories against the new Ghilzai leader, Ashraf, who then fled and abandoned the city of Isfahan to the Persians in 1729. After Tahmasp made his triumphal entry into the city, Nadir then pursued Ashraf back into Khorasan. Ashraf was eventually murdered by some of his own soldiers.

The Ottomans’ gains during the civil war were largely undone by Nadir’s campaign in 1730, though he was hampered by a rebellion by the Abdalis, who briefly seized Isfahan and had to be put down. The Ottoman general Topaz Osman Pasha also foiled his plans at Baghdad, one of his few defeats. However, Nadir was now sufficiently powerful that he was able to force Tahmasp to advocate in favour of his baby son Abbas III, to whom Nadir became regent. In all but name, he had become Shah himself.

Nadir’s reign had considerable consequences for Persia itself, both his attempted reforms and his unashamed barbarism towards opposition – he idolised Tamerlane. After his assassination in 1747, Persia descended into a second civil war, a three-way conflict between the Qajars, Nadir’s nephew Adil Shah and a new Zand dynasty founded by Karim Khan. In the end, the Zands won, but by this time, much of Nadir’s territorial gains had been undone.[1]

But, in the long run, Nadir’s reign was perhaps even more influential for Afghanistan and the north of India. As part of his campaign against the Ghilzais, he conquered Kandahar in 1737 and founded a new city near it, named Nadirabad after himself – part of the Alexandrian legend. As part of this conquest, he freed numerous prisoners of the Ghilzais, important hostages from the ruling lines of the other Afghan tribes. Among these was Ahmad Khan Abdali and his brother Zulfikar Khan Abdali, sons of the Abdali chief. Nadir took a liking to Ahmad Khan, calling him ‘Dur-i-Durrani’ (“Pearl of Pearls”) and making him head of his Abdali cavalry.

Ahmad Khan then participated in Nadir Shah’s invasion of the Mughal Empire. That once-powerful state had declined since the days of Aurangzeb, and its current ruler, Mohammed Shah, was unable to prevent encroachments by the growing Maratha Empire from the south. Nadir continued his conquest of Afghanistan, taking Kabul and Ghazni, then – using the pretext of pursuing enemy Afghans over the border – conquered Lahore and crossed the Indus. With assistance from the Durranis, he defeated the Mughals at the Battle of Karnal in 1739. Mohammed Shah bought off Nadir’s army with almost his entire treasury; the Persians withdrew, but took with them the Peacock Throne, symbol of the Mughal Emperors, and the Koh-i-Noor and Darya-ye Noor diamonds, along with much other booty. Such was the loot, in fact, that Nadir was able to halt taxation in Persia for three years upon his triumphal return, increasing his popularity.

Upon Nadir’s assassination, Ahmad Khan accused Adil Shah of having a hand in his uncle’ murder, and withdrew his Abdali forces from the Persian army, fighting their way through Adil Shah’s forces back to Kandahar. The Abdali chiefs then called a Loya Jirga to choose a new leader in 1747; after nine days’ worth of indecisive squabbling – in which Ahmad Khan remained silent – Sabir Shah Abdali, a respected holy man, spoke up and declared that, despite his youth, Ahmad Khan was the only one he saw with the qualities to take up the burden of rule. The chiefs agreed and Ahmad Khan Abdali became Ahmad Shah Durrani, changing the name of the Abdali tribe to the Durranis in honour of Nadir’s nickname for him.

Under Ahmad Shah’s rule, the new Durranis immediately began consolidating their power over all Afghanistan. Ghazni was taken from the Ghilzais and Kabul from its own ruler. Not recognising any of the claimants as legitimate Shah of Persia, he did not limit his campaigns to Afghanistan, taking Herat and Mashhad in 1750-51. But the main force of his will was directed at India. Rather than his hero Nadir’s brief, Alexandrian push, Ahmad Shah was able to achieve lasting success against the still-divided Mughals. After three separate invasions of the Punjab, the Mughal Emperor, Ahmad Shah Bahadur, was forced to concede all of the Sindh and Kashmir, and most of the Punjab itself to Ahmad Shah.

Ahmad Shah was occupied for some years as the rebellious Sikhs of the Punjab rose up against his forces, ejecting them from Lahore briefly before Ahmad Shah returned with the bulk of the army to reconquer the city. In 1756, he attacked the Mughals once again and besieged Delhi, overthrowing Ahmad Shah Bahadur and installing a puppet emperor, Alamgir II. He married his second son Nadir to Alamgir’s daughter[2] to cement his control, and Nadir mostly remained in Delhi while his father continued to campaign with his elder son Timur.

Ahmad Shah and Timur returned to Afghanistan in 1757, pausing on the way back to sack the Sikh holy city of Amritsar and defile its Golden Temple, increasing the bitterness between Sikh and Afghan. Ahmad Shah did not remain in Afghanistan for long; the Indian situation soon began to fall apart, as the vigorous Maratha Empire continued to attack the Mughals and drove the Afghans out of the Punjab. Ahmad Shah returned and led his army to a crushing, epic victory at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, which saw the Marathas smashed so utterly that their empire broke apart into a loose, disunited confederacy. This bought time for the Mughals to reform and regroup; Ahmad Shah assisted his son Nadir in seizing control of the empire on the death of Alamgir. Nadir’s son Ibrahim Shah, out of Alamgir’s daughter, would have a legitimacy to rule the empire afterwards.

The Durranis controlled northern India, and the Marathas were too disunited to pose a serious threat again, but the Sikhs continued to stubbornly rebel every year or two, forcing Ahmad Shah to continuously return to India to put down their rebellions. The constant travel weakened his health and he died of cancer in 1773. Upon his death, his first son Timur brought most of the Durrani army back to Afghanistan and called a Loya Jirga which elected him new leader, while Nadir remained in Delhi and successfully put down an attempted rebellion led by the brilliant Mughal general Mirza Najaf Khan. After Nadir held on, Mirza Najaf retreated to Oudh, whose Nawab was married to his sister, and focused on reforming the Oudhi army. In doing so, he extensively studied the infantry tactics and technology of the British East India Company, which held Bengal and made Oudh a protectorate.

After a hesitation that could have turned into civil war, the sons of Ahmad Shah Durrani came to an agreement to divide their father’s empire. Both agreed that the sheer size of the Durrani state was too large and needed too much attention for any one man to rule. Timur took the Afghan territories – which were too threatened by a newly resurgent Zand Persia for him to worry about India anyway – and Nadir, of course, continued to rule from Delhi. Sindh and Rajputana went to Nadir, Kashmir to Timur. Neither could agree about the Punjab; in any case, the situation was taken out of their hands when the Sikhs rebelled once more in 1781 and neither Nadir nor Timur could spare the forces to put down the rebellion. An independent Sikh Confederacy sandwiched between the two halves of the Durrani Empire was thus quietly allowed to remain, so long as it did not attempt to expand.

The Durranis of Afghanistan lost some lands to the Zands, including Mashhad and Nishapur, but successfully retained Herat. However, Timur did subdue Kafiristan, an area which proved to be at least as troublesome as the Sikhs had been. Timur’s son Ahmad Shah (II) went on to conquer the northern part of Baluchistan.

But in India, the Durranis of Delhi (often known as the Neo-Moguls to European writers) began to reform and centralise the old empire, assisted by the fact that most of the Empire’s enemies were too busy fighting each other to threaten Nadir’s throne. His reign was focused on strengthening the power of the imperial institutions, knowing that new threats would soon arise.

And this was the situation that greeted the impact of the War of the Ferengi Alliance, as the combined forces of Britain, Royal France and Haidarabad marched upon Tippoo Sultan’s Mysore…

[1]Up till this point this is all OTL. In TTL the Zands won, or rather stayed dominant rather than briefly holding power and then being defeated by the Qajars.

[2]A POD. OTL, it was his first son, Timur. Both Timur and Nadir are different to OTL – Timur was a bit of a Richard Cromwell figure in OTL.


Part #44: I Really Love Your Tiger Light

“Tippoo Sultan…a perfect exemplar for demonstrating the fact that any atrocity is excusable by intellectual society, if it be hidden beneath a veneer of progressive thought.”

– George Spencer-Churchill​


From “India in the Age of Revolution” by Dr Anders Ohlmarks (English translation)

The scene was set for a confrontation.[1] The Tippoo Sultan, aided and abbetted by the Republican French mission led by René Leclerc, saw an opportunity in Travancore, as the old king died and was succeeded by his young son Balarama Varma. The Tippoo claimed the succession was illegitimate and invaded, ignoring the French East India Company’s treaty with the Kingdom of Travancore. On October 15th 1799 the Mysorean army, headed by the Tippoo’s new Cugnot-wagons (carrying his famed rockets) crossed over from Dindigool – which the Tippoo had conquered during one of the Mysore-Haidarabad Wars of the 1770s – and into Travancore.

Travancore was a small state, that had no real chance of defeating Mysore in the long run, but nonetheless had a capable army made up mostly of Hindoos of the Nayar martial caste. Unfortunately for the Travancoreans, the state was in such turmoil at the time that this army suffered from the lack of an effective chain of command, and thus did not delay the Mysorean onslaught as much as it might have done. Balarama Varma might be young, but he had already learned the ruthlessness any ruler in chaotic Kerala needed to control his fractious, divided subjects. Almost as soon as his accession to the throne, he had his father’s old Dalawa[2], Raja Kesavadas, assassinated. He then elevated his corrupt favourite, Jayanthan Sankaran Nampoothiri, to the position of Dalawa. Nampoothiri soon proved to be an unpopular minister, ordering the tahsildars[3] to exact illegal levels of taxes, most of which went into his own pocket. By extension, Balarama Varma himself became seen as ineffective and despotic in the eyes of the Travancorean people.

Thus there was plenty of division for Tippoo Sultan to exploit. Two powerful relatives of the murdered Raja Kesavadas, Chempakaraman Kumaran Pillai and Erayiman Pillai, had a grudge against both Balarama Varma and Nampoothiri. In addition to this, one of Nampoothiri’s own tahsildar, Velu Thampi, went rogue and fancied himself as a better Dalawa than his master. Travancore was already struggling with these problems even before the Mysoreans crossed the border.

The conquest of Mysore was thus brief. The panicky Balarama Varma sent his entire Nayar army out of the capital Trivandum. They were to to meet the Mysoreans at Colachel, site of the famous Travancorean victory over the Dutch East India Company in the 1740s, that had kept European influence out of Kerala for another two generations. This time, though, the Travancoreans were routed. The Tippoo’s army, swelled by levies from the lands acquired in the Mysore-Haidarabad wars, was large enough to defeat the Travancoreans by conventional combat. However, the screaming Mysorean rocket barrages, fired from carriages that moved without horses and belched clouds of steam, were enough to put the fear of God (or Allah) into even the most hardened Nayars. The remnants of the army, led by Krishna Pillai, withdrew to Nagercoil in the south, which had been bypassed by the Mysorean invasion, and fortified their position.

Meanwhile, the rebel tahsildar Velu Thampi had attacked undefended Trivandum, sufficiently intimidating Balarama Varma into forcing him to order the execution of Nampoothiri. Velu Thampi then became the new Dalawa, but did not have long to savour his position. The Mysoreans attacked Trivandum on December 3rd 1799, and the undefended city was swiftly surrendered by Velu Thampi, always quick to look after number one. Tippoo Sultan, who led his army personally, had Balarama Varma beheaded by a portable chirurgien that had been brought on campaign by René Leclerc. “It is gratifying to see the instrument of liberty dispose of tyrants so far from home,” Leclerc wrote in his diary, apparently without irony.

Although the Tippoo did not trust Velu Thampi, he left him as regional governor of Travancore, which was now directly annexed to Mysore as a province. The Tippoo’s ideas were indeed revolutionary; usually even the European trading companies tried to work within the established Mughal system, subverting rather than overturning it. But with one stroke, Tippoo Sultan overturned the long-standing Kingdom of Travancore, just as he had done to Cochin in 1789.

With the capture of Trivandum, the emissaries from the FEIC there – around fifty French factors led by Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne[4] – were turned over by Velu Thampi to the Tippoo. Leclerc, still smarting from his humiliation at Rochambeau’s hands, insisted that the FEIC men should be immediately chirurgiend as traitors. Instead, the Tippoo left them unharmed at first, but brought them back to Mysore and had them paraded triumphantly through the streets of Mysore city. The factors were then interrogated and some were indeed executed, mostly by being thrown to the Tippoo’s menagerie of tigers rather than by the chirurgien, a practice which Leclerc thought barbaric. D’Auvergne, to Leclerc’s outrage (being an aristocrat) was allowed to survive. After gleaning all he could from the defiant Company men, the Tippoo had them thrown in the dungeons of his fortress at Seringapatam, where several more died of ill-treatment.

Southern India now held its breath. The Tippoo, knowing that the FEIC could expect no help from home, had gambled with his audacious move. He hoped either to force Rochambeau to back down, or else to trigger a war which Mysore would win. The FEIC had plenty of firepower and sepoys in its Carnatic heartland, but Mysore’s expansion since the 1750s had eclipsed this, and the Tippoo’s enthusiasm for adopting European weapons had more than erased the technological disparity. He waited to see which way Rochambeau would jump, while readying his army for a second invasion if it came to war.

What did emerge was nothing that the Tippoo could have predicted. More emissaries than Leclerc had come from Europe, and not all of them served Republican France. Louis XVII realised that he had to ensure the loyalty of all his colonies lest they be subverted by Revolutionaries – which would be all the excuse Britain needed to move in and grab them for herself. A joint British and Royal French mission had thus been sent to Madras at about the same time as Leclerc and L’Épurateur. This mission, consisting of the three ships of the line Toulon, Fougueux and HMS Majestic, arrived at Madras barely a month after Leclerc was sent away, and later called in at Calcutta. They brought news of the formal alliance between Britain and the Bourbons (at this point, the situation was still confused enough that many thought the alliance really had been engineered by Captain Leo Bone).

Sir John Pitt, the Governor-General of British India, was in a quandary. His instincts told him that now was the time to hit the (Royal) French colonies and factories with everything he had, taking advantage of their weakness, isolation, and the Mysorean aggression. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” had always been the modus operandi in India, both among the European trading companies and the native country powers.

On the other hand…ever since Dupleix, the FEIC had been forced by necessity to fight on its own, with little support from an introverted Versailles disinterested in knowing where the money paying for its balls and banquets was coming from. The Tippoo’s subversion of the pattern of native alliances had undone some of the FEIC’s fighting strength, but not all. Pitt knew he could only get away with such a bald disobeying of orders if he delivered an indubitable triumph, and that was far from certain.

The Royal French would be an ally, then, but a decidedly subordinate one. Here was a chance for Britain to overturn the pattern of French dominance in southern India, not by outright conflict but by manipulation. How appropriate, given the region…

The “Pitt-Rochambeau Accord” is often cited (inaccurately) as the name of the general Anglo-Royal French alliance, demonstrating how significant it was. The meeting of the old French veteran and the young, vigorous Englishman at Cuddalore produced a general agreement. The British and French would cooperate against Mysore, with the results being divvied up between them. Haidarabad also entered the war, albeit unenthusiastically, based on the promise of the return of Mysorean-conquered territories such as Carnool and Guntoor. The Nizam of Haidarabad’s main contribution to the war effort was from his celebrated heavy artillery, the ‘Nizam’s beautiful daughters’.

When the Tippoo heard the news, he had the first three messengers thrown to his tigers, convinced they could only be enemy agents spreading amateurish fear-mongering. It was not until the British portion of the ‘Ferengi Alliance’ moved into Carnool that he realised the reports had been true. Meanwhile, French sepoys led by Rochambeau’s deputy, Colonel Julien de Champard, attacked Baba Mahal, another region that had only been conquered by Mysore during the recent wars. The French at first enjoyed remarkable success against the cursory Mysore troops stationed there, but the Tippoo then readied his army and shifted east into the country, meeting the French at Jalarpet. Once more the Tippoo’s blazing rockets worked their terrifying magic, backed up by his cavalry and sharpshooting riflemen, and the French retreated – though they were not routed.

A secondary, southern French army led by Jean-Paul du Tourd was more successful. Tourd’s force crossed from Tinnevelly into southern Travancore and attacked Nagercoil, defeating the besieging Mysorean army and allowing the remnants of the Travancorean army, led by Krishna Pillai, to escape. After securing their supply trains – armies in India were dependent on oxen above all else – the French and Travancoreans then moved north in June and July of 1800. The Tippoo had left only a small force garrisoning Trivandum, not expecting this, and Trivandum fell once again in August 1800. Velu Thampi attempted to flee but was cut down by a mob before any soldiers could even get there. Tourd and Krishna Pillai installed Chempakaraman Kumaran Pillai, a relative of the executed Raja Kesavedas, as Dalawa. The throne, however, remained empty – no-one from the former royal line survived, and this prove an increasingly knotty problem.

The French had engaged the Tippoo and neatly undone his provocative invasion – thus fulfilling their defensive pact with Travancore and increasing their popularity in southern India. It was the British, however, who delivered the real hammer blow. After reclaiming Carnool and Guntoor for the Nizam – Carnool went back to Haidarabad proper, while Guntoor was rejoined to the Circars that were Haidarabadi in name but administered by the BEIC – the British and Haidarabadi army moved into northern Mysore itself. After taking Kolar, the British met their first serious challenge with a Mysorean army led by Yaar Mohammed at Bangalore in August. Although the Tippoo had the majority of his kingdom’s forces with himself facing the French, Mysore was large enough to field enough troops to at least stand on the defensive against multiple enemies at once. The battle at Bangalore at first went badly for the British, with the Tippoo’s rockets wreaking as much havoc on the experienced veterans of the BEIC as they did on anyone.

What saved the day was that the Mysorean army included portions of unreliable infantry recruited from Malabar, which had only been conquered by Mysore a few years ago, and these broke when the British tried a desperate cavalry charge led by Major Henry Paget. This sufficiently rallied the morale of the British army in the face of the screaming rockets, and the loud booms of the Nizam’s artillery replying served to strengthen the hearts of both regular and sepoy troopers. Brilliantly executing a moving square in the face of the rocket bombardment – correctly calculating that the inaccurate rockets would be less effective against the packed square than conventional artillery was – the 77th Highlanders led the attack on the Mysorean lines. The Mysorean army crumbled in the face of the assault, Yaar Mohammed withdrawing with his remaining troops, and Bangalore fell to the BEIC.

Recognising that the British were now a more direct threat to his centre of power than the French, the Tippoo decided to cut his losses and retreat to Mysore city. His hope was to withstand a siege at his fortress city of Seringapatam, while the strange bedfellows of the Ferengi Alliance quarrelled with each other and their alignment crumbled. Furthermore, a long siege could be as weakening for the besiegers as it could the besieged, and Seringapatam was well equipped to withstand such.

However, the Tippoo had reckoned without the British and French having access to the Nizam’s beautiful daughters. The Mysorean army remained strong enough to turn north and engage the British at Charmapatna in September, forcing them back briefly, as Champard’s northern French army pushed westward in the face of retreating Mysorean opposition.

By the 14th of November 1800, the stage was set; the Mysoreans had abandoned the field, save for occasional raids, in favour of digging in at Seringapatam. The French successfully took Mysore city unopposed, while the British opened up the siege. Rockets and rifles from the walls cut bloodily into the British ranks, but those were swelled when they were joined by more French troops out of the Carnatic on 13th January. The Tippoo attempted to lure the allies into a trap, leaking information through spies that part of Seringapatam’s walls was weak and required rebuilding. In fact a second, stronger wall had already been built behind it, and the killing field between the two had been mined with gunpowder and more rockets, which would bounce around in the confined space and burn any Forlorn Hope to a crisp. A bloody nose, the Tippoo hoped, might weaken the Allies enough to force a retreat, or at least leave them more vulnerable to a sally from the gates.

After more than a month’s worth of siege, the Allies took the bait and battered down the weak wall with the guns of Haidarabad. The attack, which would be joint Anglo-French, was staged on 21st January 1801. The Tippoo waited near the trap, desiring to light the long fuse himself.

The attack went in at night, silently, with no preceding artillery barrage to give it away. The first Forlorn Hope was made up of the Scots from the 78th, the second by French soldiers of the FEIC. The space between the walls rapidly filled up with confused soldiers and sepoys, throwing burning carcasses around to light up the area, uncertain when confronted by the second wall before them. The Tippoo lit the fuse…and nothing happened.

Historians have mused on the question as to whether the Tippoo ever knew that he had been betrayed by his minister Mir Sadiq, who had dealed with the French in exchange for a powerful position in postwar Mysore. Mir Sadiq had sabotaged the trap by secretly having an underground channel dug from Seringapatam’s moat into the dead space between the walls, soaking the gunpowder and fuses with water. Only a few rockets went off, triggered by the burning carcasses rather than the Tippoo. Though slowed down by the second wall, the British and French brought this down with sappers and then clambered over the second breach. After that, it was city fighting.

Tippoo Sultan went down with a rifle in one hand and a sabre in the other, finally killed by French sepoy Ali Sayyid with a pistol. His heroic stand was immortalised in the poem Le Tigre by Besson, and was generally praised even by his enemies, who were more used to Indian rulers fleeing and switching sides in the noxious political climate of the time. His general Yaar Mohammed, consumed by guilt at his failure to protect his sovereign, fled north and eventually entered the court of the Durrani Mughal Emperor, incidentally bringing news of both the fall of Mysore and new European innovations to the north of India. Mir Sadiq was indeed rewarded with the chief ministry of (a much reduced) Kingdom of Mysore, and the French restored the former Hindoo Wodeyar dynasty – whose members the Tippoo had kept unharmed, though imprisoned, to avoid antagonising his own Hindoo populace – to the throne. Leclerc, on capture by the Royalists, turned his pistol on himself rather be humiliated by Rochambeau again.

What to do with the rest of the Mysorean empire, as Tippoo had predicted, antagonised the temporary Franco-British alliance. The French were unquestionably in the weaker position for the first time in fifty years, but were not so weak that they could be ignored or forced into a humiliating position. The situation was perhaps helped by the death of Rochambeau of natural causes in March 1801, not long after hearing of the victory at Seringapatam. As no new Governor-General could be appointed due to the hectic situation back in Europe, Champard took the position by default. He was assisted by Tourd and by Henri d'Auvergne, who had been freed from the Tippoo’s dungeons with his remaining men – weakened but alive. Champard was a vigorous negotiator capable of keeping up with Britain’s Pitt, and between them the two hashed out a treaty which was, if not equitable, at least stopped the two old enemies from decaying back into open warfare.

Based on this, France received Baba Mahal, Dindigool, Cochin and Travancore. As the latter two kingdoms had no royal claimants left, they were formally annexed to the dominions of the Nawab of Arcot, who by this point was merely a French client. D’Auvergne was appointed resident in both Cochin and Travancore, while Tourd was made resident of Mysore. Britain, in addition to having effective control over Guntoor as noted before, was awarded Coorg, Malabar and Mangalore. Parts of Malabar were taken over by the Dutch East India Company operating from Calicut as Mysorean power collapsed, and this was not seriously contested by the British. The idea behind Pitt’s strategy was to concede French control of southern India, but block off their direct land access to the north of India, allowing its untapped treasures to be the property of the BEIC alone.

One immediate impact from the War of the Ferengi Alliance was a new perception in Indian thought, that the French were pro-Hindoo and the British were pro-Mussulman. This was derived from the fact that the French had restored the Wodeyars, while the British worked closely with Haidarabad. Although based in little fact, it proved increasingly influential, and ultimately undermined the carefully neutral position that the two Companies had spent so long trying to protect, unlike their Portuguese counterpart with its active missionary activity. This went on to have interesting consequences with respect to European relations with the two major warring powers of northern India, the Durrani Neo-Mughal Empire and the Maratha Confederacy…

[1] See part#32, Three Lions and One Tiger, for a recap.

[2] Dalawa is the Keralan form of the title Dewan (Divan), which signifies ‘taxmaster’ in the original Persian/Mughal…however, in the Indian states of this era, it had taken on a greater significance, meaning something more like prime minister.

[3] District (tahsil) tax collectors.

[4] Third son of Godefroy Charles Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, the 6th Duke of Bouillon. As the Duke died in the early stages of the Revolution and the Revolutionaries have killed his two elder sons, Henri is now the Duke, although neither he nor anyone else nearby knows this. He went east to seek his fortune after his father squandered a large part of the ancestral Bouillon fortune on entertainments for his mistress, thus following a similar career path to Britain’s John Pitt.

Part #45: Silver and Fire

From – “That Brief Interlude: The Americas between the wars” by Felipe de Herrera (English translation)

When the former Spanish colonies won their independence in 1785 (not to become the United Provinces of South America until the Convention of Cordoba five years later), most experienced commentators considered the situation to be unstable. The Spanish defeat had caused as many problems for Cordoba as it had for Madrid. The postwar United Provinces did not merely include those colonies which had risen in rebellion against Spain in the first place – the Plate, Chile and Upper Peru – but also occupied Lower Peru, whose population was strongly loyalist in character. Lima in particular, having been the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru, resented being turned into a frontier backwater by the upstart Cordoba. The United Provinces helped maintain order by their alliances with the successful Indian states which had risen from the earlier phase of the rebellion: Tupac Amaru II’s Tahuantinsuyo, ruled from Cusco, and Tomas Katari’s Aymara, ruled from Chuqiyapu (La Paz). Three uprisings in Lima, mostly led by the Peninsulare elite, were crushed between 1785 and 1805 by U.P. and Indian soldiers, only increasing the local resentment every time, of course.

The United Provinces itself developed as a conservative republic on Dutch lines, quite naturally as the Constitution drawn up at the Convention of Cordoba had been largely inspired by the previous revolt of the Dutch United Provinces from Spain (hence the name of the country). In place of a Stadtholder, the U.P. Constitution created the office of a President-General. Like the Dutch Stadtholder, the U.P. President-General was elected for life, but the UPSA had a more democratic means of election which was not limited to a few powerful long-standing families.[1] This was primarily simply because the UPSA was frontier country rather than a European state, rather than due to any ideological stance. Also, in the colonial period the would-be United Provinces had been politically dominated by Peninsulares, those born in Spain, and thus the new nativist, Criollo-dominated regime installed by the revolution frowned upon recruiting from the former important families – though of course they could not afford to disenfranchise them altogether.

In any case many Peninsulare families fled the United Provinces of their own accord, particularly those whose businesses or political contacts were strongly tied to Spain and the Spanish Crown. Among them was Ambrosio O’Higgins, an Irish exile who had remained loyal to Spain in his capacity as commanding general of the force fighting against the Mapuche Indians in southern Chile. When his lieutenants approached him in 1783 and declared that the army would return to Santiago to fight against the Spaniards, whether O’Higgins wanted it or not, he swiftly made his escape. O’Higgins hid out in Valdivia for the remainder of the war, and then took ship under an assumed name after the Peace of London. He rejoined the Spanish Imperial Service in San Francisco (then a newly founded frontier town) and served in various capacities before being reassigned as field-marshal of the army of New Granada in 1792. O’Higgins’ background was in military engineering, which he combined with his experience fighting the Mapuche in unconventional combat, recognising that European-style warfare was of limited use in New Granada’s difficult terrain. To O’Higgins, only one enemy was possible, of course – the United Provinces who had set back his career and humiliated him by forcing him to hide in Valdivia for two years.

Based on these assumptions, he remodelled the army and militia of New Granada. Although many of the more traditionalist officers under his command were aghast at O’Higgins’ unconventional style, the Viceroy of New Granada, Antonio Caballero y Góngora, approved. Caballero had become Viceroy himself for his service in the 1780s when New Granada, like the Plate, had threatened to rise up in rebellion. The rebels, calling themselves Comuneros after the sixteenth-century Spanish people’s revolt, had been motivated by less dramatic circumstances than the Platineans – primarily it was a revolt by Criollos in response to increased taxation – but it had nonetheless threatened to result in the loss of all the Spanish colonies in South America. Caballero had successfully defused the situation with diplomacy, in a tried-and-tested method that had been used by many leaders throughout history to put down such mass revolts, such as the English Kings Richard II and Henry VIII. He persuaded the Audiencia to agree to all the rebels’ demands, wait for them to disperse and return to their homes, and then simply repudiate the agreement. Such a strategy worked because the Comuneros were by now too dispersed and confused to rise again effectively, and the loyalist forces were able to capture and execute the rebel leaders.

For this success, Caballero had eventually been elevated to Viceroy. He now suspected the United Provinces of fanning the remaining embers of Comunero sympathy in New Granada. The United Provinces had yet to develop formalised political parties, but there was a de facto divison in the Cortes Nacionales between those who believed that the UPSA had reached its natural borders – perhaps even exceeded them – and that they should focus in building a new national identity and developing the country, lest it fragment from being too diverse and unconnected; and those who, on the contrary, thought that the United Provinces’ liberty should be spread to all the Spanish-speaking peoples of the Americas, and perhaps even beyond. This spread of liberty would, naturally, be accomplished by the conquest and annexation of the remaining ‘unfree’ lands into the UPSA…the two unofficial groupings would eventually be the genesis of the Partido Amarillo and the Partido Colorado (the Yellow and Red Parties) respectively.

For now, the division between the future parties was held in abeyance by the President-General, Simón Riquelme de la Barrera Goycochea. Riquelme was a Chilean, descended from a family that had moved to Chile in the sixteenth century, and thus was arguably a perfect candidate to balance U.P. interests – the political culture at the time was dominated by Platineans, making a Chilean a neutral arbiter, and his provable ancestry meant that he suited the nativist sensibilities of the post-revolutionary United Provinces.[2] But Riquelme was in his seventies, and his death in 1794 – the year of the French Revolution – prompted a dramatic reshuffling of interests.

A new election in the Cortes Nacionales to appoint a new President-General provoked a more vicious contest than before: previously the Spanish had been a sufficient bogeyman to force all U.P. politicians to work together regardless of views. This was no longer the case. In the end, the Cortes narrowly declared for Miguel de Azcuénaga, a young hero of the never-ending battles with the Mapuche like Ambrosio O’Higgins before him. Unlike O’Higgins, Azcuénaga was a fervent United Provinces patriot, but he was politically conservative and did not support expansionism, for two reasons. Firstly, his experiences with the Mapuche and the Llano had persuaded him that the United Provinces needed to put their own house in order before adopting a foreign policy of any kind, never mind some hare-brained war of liberation to the north. Secondly, he argued that the United Provinces was presently in a very good position with respect to foreign relations. The UPSA enjoyed full free trade rights with both the Portuguese Empire and the British possessions, and this trade – particularly the renewed interest in Peruvian quinine provoked by Britain’s expansion into Guinea – supported an economic boom.

In his inaugural speech, Azcuénaga dismissed those who would throw away such a potential golden age for more resentful far-flung territories. “Have any of those deputies [who favour expansion] even visited Lima?” he asked rhetorically in a 1796 speech. “Imagine two, three, ten more Limas, scattered across northern provinces which suck in men and money like a drain, spitting out only trouble in return. That is what they would have – assuming of course we did not lose, stabbed in the back by restless natives, our fair ports bombarded once more, our precious and hard-won independence lost. Madness. Nothing less.” But he was increasingly a voice in the wilderness. As more news of the French Revolution filtered down with the trade from Europe, Azcuénaga’s enemies grew restless. Even Azcuénaga’s conservative supporters trumpeted the birth of liberty in one politically stagnant Catholic nation, with the obvious hope that Spain would soon follow. Some of the conservatives had schemes in mind just as crazy as their expansionist counterparts, imagining a huge commonwealth of Spanish-speaking republics in which Spain herself would be equal to the UPSA or what was presently the loyalist colonies.

The United Provinces also had a relatively large French-speaking population, originating from the troops of the Duc de Noailles from the Second Platinean War who had deserted in favour of building a better life in the UPSA. Among them was the Duc de Noailles’ own son Jean-Louis-Paul-François, who became a fervent believer in Platinean liberty. He gave up his own noble title – the dukedom passing to his younger brother Antoine in France, who would meet the phlogisticateur in 1799. Although initially serving as a soldier in the Fuerzas Armadas de los Provincias Unidas (the U.P. army), he swiftly turned back to his first love – chemistry – and worked alongside Joseph Priestley when he fled to the UPSA in 1796, condemned at home for supporting the French Revolution. Between them, they both put the UPSA on the map of science by making discoveries comparable with those of Davy in Britain (Republican France did not make many chemical discoveries in the 1790s, partly due to Lisieux’s focus on those sciences useful in war, partly because they kept executing their existing chemists). They also developed immense personal fortunes from Priestley’s invention of carbonated water – the secret remained safe for twenty years, at the end of which the UPSA had a secure position as the largest supplier. Noailles’ son Henri (Enrique) hit upon the idea of adding quinine to make a health tonic. This sold millions of bottles both in South America itself, and in the British, Dutch and Portuguese possessions in Africa and India. The quinine dependence also meant that the UPSA remained the sole supplier after the secret of carbonated water got out.

More importantly from a political point of view, there was Jean-Charles Pichegru, who had started out as a captain in the Duc de Noailles’ army. Like Noailles’ son, he had joined the Fuerzas Armadas after defecting, but unlike Noailles’ son he decided to stay there. He rose through the ranks until by 1798 he was the commanding general against the Mapuche, like Azcuénaga before him. Pichegru, like many of the French in the U.P., supported the French Revolution and by extension argued for military action to spread liberty further around the world, just as France was doing in the Germanies and Italy. Pichegru’s similar age and background to Azcuénaga gave him a certain authority, undermining Azcuénaga’s position when Pichegru opposed the conclusions Azcuénaga had drawn from the same service against the Indians. Pichegru became a deputy in 1799 without leaving the army, and supported Juan José Castelli, possibly the greatest orator in the Cortes and leader of the radical revolutionary expansionist party, usually called the Partido Solidaridad (Party of Solidarity, with France and other Revolutionary governments). Castelli argued that now was the time to strike, while the forces of reaction were on the back foot all over the world.

1801 came and the United Provinces held a general election. The French Revolution had caught the imagination of the population, both the liberal intellectuals drawn from Criollo and Peninsulare backgrounds, and the poor from what used to be the lower castas. The electorate returned a Cortes dominated by pro-revolutionary and expansionist deputies, many of whom looked to the Partido Solidaridad for leadership. However, this was not enough to reach the position that Castelli wanted. By the Cordoban Constitution, only the President-General had the power to declare war, and Presidents-General were elected for life. Azcuénaga was still a young man and there was no way to legally impeach him (such a provision would eventually be added to the Constitution by an amendment).

The assassination of Azcuénaga in February 1802 has been debated ever since its occurrence, hardly less hotly now than then. Many people believe that Azcuénaga was assassinated on Castelli’s orders, in order to force a new presidential election. On the other hand, the official explanation is not implausible, either – that Azcuénaga was shot by a Spanish loyalist from Lima. It could either have been a random attack or a deliberate attempt by the loyalist movements to put the expansionists in power – they, too, wanted war and the chance for liberation.

If so, it worked. The U.P. population was outraged by the audacity of the attack, and a new crackdown was launched in Peru. After a month of official mourning, a new presidential election was called. Castelli stood against Juan Andrés, a conservative deputy who was also a Jesuit.[3] Andrés received more votes than the political situation a few months ago had suggested, both due to sympathy with Azcuénaga’s views after his assassination and due to the remaining general respect for the Jesuits among the people of the UPSA, especially the lower classes. However, Castelli nonetheless won the contest by a significant margin, and was sworn in by the Archbishop of Cordoba[4] on 16th April 1802. He immediately began placing his own men into positions of power – Pichegru was made Marshal-General of the Fuerzas Armadas – and preparing the country for a war of liberation.

Meanwhile, in New Granada, Ambrosio O’Higgins had been made Viceroy in 1797 after the retirement of Caballero, and had received the title Marquis of Caracas from the Spanish Crown. He died in 1801, but his son Bernardo[5] was a colonel in the army and commanded some of the respect of his father. The younger O’Higgins was as certain as his father that it was only a matter of time before there was open war between the United Provinces and the Spanish Empire. All that was needed was a trigger to ignite the tension.

A trigger that would come, though neither side would realise it for a while, in 1804…

[1] The President-General is elected by the Cortes Nacionales, whose members were in turn elected by local constituencies. The suffrage is fairly democratic for the time, about the same as in the Empire of North America – the most important rebel issue was that Criollos would have the same rights as Peninsulares, with the old limpieza table abolished. However, blacks and full-blooded Indians tend to be denied the vote by default, at least at the moment, though this is not actually enshrined in law.

[2]OTL, Riquelme’s daughter Isabella gave birth to Ambrosio O’Higgins’ illegitimate son Bernardo, but in TTL they have never met, as Ambrosio O’Higgins did not take quite the same path in the Spanish Imperial Service.

[3]OTL Andrés was a compiler of European literature who settled in Naples after the Jesuits were expelled from Spain. TTL, he is more interested in collecting native American Indian mythology and folk tales, and moved to the UPSA instead.

[4]A note on religion in the UPSA. The UPSA is avowedly Catholic, but the Papacy is in the pocket of Spain and thus the Pope refuses to appoint or recognise the local bishops. For that reason, the UPSA has a national catholic church not unlike Henry VIII’s regime in England, which theoretically recognises the Pope’s authority but then ignores him. Jansenism has a significant and growing following in U.P. religious thinking.

[5]Not OTL’s Bernardo O’Higgins. Same name, but born by a legitimate marriage to a Peninsulare lady of Caracas.

Part #46: The Unsinkable Lusitania

“With the example of the Portuguese phoenix before us, it is small wonder that the gentlemen in question hold such theories; but we should be careful not to confuse human activity with natural processes, as the two run on decidedly different physical laws.”

– Frederick Paley, in a lecture attacking Catastrophism at the Royal Society (1825)​


From – “A History of Portugal” by Giuseppe Scappaticci, Royal Palermo Press (1942, English translation) –

In many ways, the Great Earthquake of 1755 was the central event in Portuguese history, more important, perhaps, even than the Reconquista. The earthquake came at a decisive moment, disastrously so in many ways. Among speculative romantics [alternate historians] hailing from that country, musing on the possibility of the earthquake never happening is by far the most common scenario for tales, no matter what our determinist geologists might say about the unlikelihood of such a notion. But this is forgiveable. The earthquake was one of the greatest in European history, reaching far beyond Portugal – where it did by far the most damage – to be felt as far away as Finland, to topple buildings in western Ireland. To a Europe that was catching its breath in the dark valley between the War of the Austrian Succession and the War of the Diplomatic Revolution, this natural disaster was unexpected and catastrophic.[1] Many pondered the possibility of it being a punishment from God for human activities, an idea that appeared (in a less coherent fashion) among Enlightenment thinkers’ circles as readily as it did those of priests and peasants.

Regardless of the cause, the earthquake devastated Portugal. King Joseph I and the royal family were fortunate enough to have been taking mass outside Lisbon when the earthquake struck, but witnessed the devastation that killed hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed countless artworks, libraries and examples of fine architecture. The quake did not spare Portugal’s other cities, though Lisbon was perhaps the hardest hit. Portuguese history itself was going up in smoke before the King’s eyes, and his own royal Ribeira Palace joined the list of buildings destroyed. It was a chaotic scene that could have destroyed a nation, particularly considering Spain was becoming more hostile over the unsatisfactory outcome to the Guarani War in South America. This would eventually lead to the First Platinean War just a few years later, illustrating how desperate Portugal’s situation could have been.

Fortuitously, Joseph I’s Prime Minister, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo[2] rose to the challenge of dealing with the earthquake: while many panicked or despaired, not least the royal family, he simply came out with his famous quote: “What to do now? Bury the dead and feed the living.” He organised rescue efforts and the construction of tent cities to house refugees, while also sending survey teams around the country to learn what the signs immediately preceding the earthquake had been. Troops from the Portuguese Army were called in to feed the people and keep the peace, publicly hanging looters so the rest got the message quickly. It was essential that such an event never be allowed to happen again: earthquakes might not be preventable as such, but their damage could be limited. Carvalho took a personal hand in the reconstruction of Lisbon, laying out buildings structured to better resist seismic shock, and wider streets than in the old city, the mottos. “One day they will seem small,” he said, presciently given the coming age of Cugnot steam wagons.

Carvalho had long opposed the entrenched powers of the Portuguese nobility, considering them reactionary, out-of-touch and ineffective. His masterful handling of the earthquake boosted his own popularity with the Portuguese people, as well as that of the King, and he used the opportunity to secure his hold on power. In 1758 a plot by the powerful Távora and Aveiro families against the King – possibly concocted by Carvalho himself, though scholars are divided – gave him the excuse to execute most of their members and annex their lands to the Crown. As well as eliminating his enemies, the Portuguese treasury needed every peso it could get. Carvalho’s rebuilding plans were grand and well-reasoned, but expensive.

The Prime Minister effectively ran the country, successfully leading the damaged country through the First Platinean War, until Joseph I’s death in 1769.[3] At this point, the crown passed to his eldest daughter, now Maria I, as queen regnant and co-monarch with her uncle and husband Peter III. One of Maria’s first acts was to remove Carvalho from his post and banish him from the country to Brazil, having singularly opposed his policies throughout his premiership.[4] Of course, Carvalho soon crossed into what was then the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru[5] and eventually joined political forces with his old sparring partner and fellow exile, the former Prime Minister of Spain the Marquis of Ensenada.

Although the two influential political thinkers died before the Second Platinean War, their writings and their making Buenos Aires a hotbed of radical thinking doubtless helped inspire the Platinean Revolution and the creation of the United Provinces of South America. That could be considered revenge on Ensenada’s part over Spain, but for Carvalho – for no matter how power-seeking he was, he remained a Portuguese patriot who wanted the best for his country – it was a last laugh. Under Maria and Peter, Portugal’s economy had slumped due to their appointments of incompetent favourites as ministers, and the recovery from the earthquake damage had stalled. But the creation of the UPSA, and Portugal’s role as undeclared ally during the war, meant that free trade was now opened up between the Portuguese colonies and the UPSA, just as it was between the UPSA and Britain. The Spanish-imposed trade monopoly in the Americas was crumbling rapidly. Brazil was now able to trade openly with the government in Cordoba, and the colony’s economy boomed. In addition, many Portuguese dispossessed by the earthquake damage (many were still living in temporary accommodations fifteen years later) took the opportunity to emigrate to Brazil, seeking their fortunes as news of new opportunities filtered across the Atlantic. Not all of those stories were true, and not all emigrants found restitution – but enough did to encourage yet more.

Portugal was rocked by the news of Peter III’s death in 1786 in a hunting “accident”, in which he was shot down in front of the Queen. Accusations of foul play were never proven, although a plot backed by the spiritual successors of Carvalho in the Portuguese court was suspected. In any case, the King’s death before her eyes sent the Queen into a manic depression from which she never recovered.[6] After a few months of deadlocked crisis in the Portuguese court, the Queen was declared unfit to rule and her son, Peter, Prince of Brazil[7] acceeded to the throne at the age of 25 as King Peter IV. The former Queen retired to a convent until her death in 1795.

In the first few months of Peter’s reign, a sour saying began circulating in conservative circles: “Are we certain that he is his father’s son, and not Carvalho’s?” Peter was a dynamic ruler who brought an air of hands-on determination to the Portuguese monarchy that it had not had for many years. He kept on the by now aged Prime Minister Martinho de Melo e Castro, one of his mother’s more reasonable choices for the job. Melo died two years later, but Peter’s freer hand gave him time to implement some of his more ambitious policies, which had been shot down by Queen Maria’s more conservative regime. Melo had grand ideas for Brazil as the jewel of the Portuguese Empire, using the new influx of colonists to develop and further colonise the land, building trade links with the new UPSA and blocking the Spanish out of most of South America. Peter granted him these policies if Melo would give him his support – by now quite strong in the court – for radical domestic upheavals.

After Melo’s death in 1788, Peter appointed his like-minded son Jaime as Viceroy of Brazil, to continue the development of the colony’s relations with the UPSA.[8] He worked with the Captain General of the frontier province of Rio Grande do Sul, Jorge de Sepúlveda, who had been exiled from Joseph I’s court for fighting a duel with the British ambassador years before. Sepúlveda knew the situation on the ground better than Melo the younger and was able to help turn the Viceroy’s dreams into reality; in return, Melo backed Sepúlveda’s policy of firmly enforcing the vaguely defined Brazilian/U.P. border and driving out any Indians who straddled the border – as well as increasing direct control over the border regions, this meant that trade between the UPSA and Brazil was more tightly controlled, and customs and taxation raised more funds for the treasury.

Peter then appointed the Duke of Cadaval, Nuno Caetano Álvares Pereira de Melo, as Prime Minister. Although a capable politician and astute at manipulating the court, in terms of ideas and policies Cadaval was a nonentity – which was exactly what Peter wanted. Murmured accusations of Bourbon-style absolutism came from the more conservative elements of the court (those that had survived Carvalho’s purges) as Peter centralised power and laid forth his policies. Melo and his son could have Brazil: it was the rest of the Portuguese colonial empire Peter was interested in.

Plenty of colonial enthusiasts in Portugal had torn their hair out after the earthquake and the damage it had cost, complaining that Portugal would spend the next hundred years trying to repair the damage, and missing countless opportunities for colonisation and trade to the east and south. The country had already suffered from one hiatus in its colonial programme, during the neglect of the personal union with Spain in the seventeenth century. A second could kill the empire, which was already struggling (along with its traditional rival, the Dutch) to keep up with the emerging powers of Britain and France. In particular, the Portuguese East India Company’s trading operations in India were being threatened by the constantly changing situation there, not least because of the actions of the increasingly bullish British and French East India Companies. Both seemed more interested in gaining a monopoly through force than in trade itself, these days.

But Peter argued that those pessimists had it the wrong way around. The damage to Lisbon and the other cities was indeed something that could take generations to rebuild and millions to finance. The response to that should not be to neglect the empire and focus on that rebuilding, but to the turn the empire into more of a cash generator and let the reconstruction handle itself. Furthermore, more developed colonies – as with Brazil – would let dispossessed people emigrate as colonists, relieving the housing pressures at home. Many people were sceptical of the young, vigorous king’s forceful dream, and a plot led by the Duchess of Lafões to have Peter assassinated, and return the mad Maria to the throne, was uncovered in 1789. Once more the taunt about Peter being Carvalho’s spiritual son went around, as the conspirators were mostly executed and had their lands seized by the crown. Power continued to centralise, but Peter took a leaf out of Christian VII of Denmark’s book and revived the Portuguese Cortes as a way of playing off the commoners against the nobles and the Church. This move is probably what saved his kingdom from much revolutionary sentiment in the late 1790s, an impressive achievement considering the fact that many people still lacked proper housing and recovery from the earthquake was still slow.

Peter appointed new viceroys and governors to the Portuguese colonies in Africa and India. Perhaps the most prominent of these was João Pareiras da Silva, called ‘the Portugee Pitt’ by English admirers, who was appointed governor of Goa and Viceroy of Portuguese India. Elsewhere too Peter’s investment (in the navy, the East India Company, and in colonial development) yielded results. The Portuguese were fortunate in that they made considerable financial gains off the back of other nations’ expansion – the British stabilising Guinea and the Dutch in the Cape meant that the Portuguese possessions at Bissau, Angola and Mozambique had new trade opportunities opened up to them. But Pareiras did not sit idle and wait for wealth to come to him – he went out and sought it.

The Portuguese in India had made much capital (political and literal) off their good relations with the Maratha Empire for the last century or so. Goanese soldiers and especially artillery were loaned to Indian princes in their own battles, and the Portuguese East India Company continued to dominate the trade of western India, their only serious rival the Dutch in Calicut. However, matters were changing. The decisive defeat of the Marathas by the Afghan Durranis at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 shattered the Maratha Empire into a looser Confederacy plagued with infighting. Furthermore, British and French incursions into the interior of India – culminating in the joint intervention into Mysore in 1801 – threatened to shake the Portuguese trading near-monopoly. Both Britain and France had large numbers of both European and sepoy troops on the ground, and the Portuguese could not back up their negotiating position without the same. Peter increased recruitment for the Army and introduced the policy of bringing Brazilian-recruited troops out of the country and deploying them into other theatres – probably inspired by the British use of American troops abroad in the War of the British Succession and thereafter.

Pareiras received the army he needed to enforce his will, and by 1794 the Portuguese were on firmer ground in India. The Marathas were disintegrating, Berar having become a British protectorate while the House of Scindia fought a bitter war for leadership over the remnants with the House of Holkar.[9] At this point Pareiras pulled off a diplomatic coup. The Peshwas, theoretically the leaders of the Empire, had been reduced to ruling the land of Konkan from their capital at Pune, not far from British (and once-Portuguese) Bombay. Furthermore, their power had been further reduced by a series of coups and assassinations from Ragunathrao, brother of the Peshwa to have been killed at Panipat and perpetual regent and attempted assassin towards his ruling nephews.

By the 1790s, the young Madhavarao Narayan, son of one of the nephews, was Peshwa, but all his matters of state were handled by his able chief minister, Nana Fadnavis. Respected by the leaders of the European trading companies, Fadnavis was the sole reason for the survival of the Peshwa’s domain in the face of pressure from all sides. His assassination in 1795 – coincidentally on the same day as Louis XV’s execution in Paris, and probably committed by former Ragunathrao supporters – triggered open warfare. Madhavarao struggled to hold on to his throne as a pretender, Raosaheb (claiming to be the son of Ragunathrao) arose in the east. With backing from the Nizam of Haidarabad, he marched on Pune. Madhavarao’s control over his army started to disintegrate without the authority of Fadnavis, and he abandoned the city, fleeding to Raigad near British Bombay. It was obviously his hope to appeal for help from the British, but the British Governor-General of Bombay was not the most capable of men and could not have helped him even if he was. In recent years, as military intervention became more important, Bombay had decidedly slipped down the ranks of importance among British Indian cities, for all the effort that had been put into acquriring it from the Portuguese in the first place a hundred and fifty years earlier. The Governor-General of Calcutta was already de facto ruler of all British India, a fact that would be formalised a few years later, and John Pitt was too busy with the events leading up to the War of the Ferengi Alliance to intervene in this dispute on the other side of the country.

However, Pareiras offered his services instead. The Portuguese continued to be viewed with more suspicion than the British and French in India thanks to their efforts with the Inquisition in earlier years, but the desperate Madhavarao was willing to take anything he could get. Knowing perfectly well what he was letting himself in for, he accepted.

The pretender Raosaheb, having sacked Pune, retreated from the city in the face of the Portuguese and Goanese army. A cautious and realistic general, he decided that the best way to defeat such a force was to starve it out. To that end, he ordered his own army to retreat to the fortress city of Gawhilghoor to the east, while maintaining a scorched-earth policy to try and deny the Portuguese provender. However, in the process he lost a large part of his own army, mercenaries who deserted once the chance of plunder was lost in the face of a siege.

Raosaheb’s strategy was sensible enough. Gawhilghoor was a legendary fortress in that part of India, thought to be impenetrable. Situated in the mountains north of the Deccan Plateau, it was known as the Fortress of the Skies and was defended both by strong walls and a ravine forming a natural defence between the walls. By this point Raosaheb’s army had shrunk to only around four thousand, but even that many men could hold the fortress against a much larger army.

It was difficult to bring the Goanese guns up the mountain to blow a breach in the walls, and they failed to make much impression once they were there. After a failed frontal assault against the main gate that suffered heavy casualties, Pareiras adopted a different approach. A second frontal attack was implemented by sepoys as a diversion, while his Portuguese soldiers stood by with ladders to attempt an escalade of the walls near the gatehouse. The daring plan was supported by Cazadores (Riflemen)[10] stationed higher on a mountain ledge, who could accurately shoot down enemy soldiers on the walls who would try to throw back the ladders and fight the escalading troops. In the event most records of the battle suggest it was the Cazadores who turned the tide, as otherwise Raosaheb’s men would have been able to defeat the escalade. With the accurate bullets raining down from above, though, the Marathas retreated and the Portuguese were able to capture the gatehouse, opening the door to their main army. The rebels were defeated, and Raosaheb brought back to Pune for a public execution.

The brief Peshwa’s War served to place Portugal in a firm position of influence over the Peshwa’s domains in Konkan, vassalising Madhavarao. Working on the British model, Pareiras appointed a ‘resident’ at Pune whose real job was to inform the Peshwa what foreign policy he should set if he knew what was good for him. Ironically enough this involved shutting out British Bombay to some trade, just under the level of provocation that would get the British angry enough to intervene. Although Peter IV pursued the renewal of the old Anglo-Portuguese Alliance in American and African waters, India – as always – was another question.

Similar Portuguese interventions took place elsewhere, with renewed tinkering in spheres of influence that had previously been tacitly ceded to the Dutch: Portuguese ambassadors were sent to the anti-Dutch Kingdom of Kandy that ruled the interior of Ceylon, and (with less success, due to the tight Dutch system of control) several Javanese states. These were mostly due to Pareiras’ influence: due to his victory at Gawhilghoor in 1796, he received greater favours, a vice-countship and more powers from the King. He sought to establish a single policy for all Portuguese colonial and imperial activity in the Indian Ocean, which he saw as his rightful domain.

Possibly Pareiras’ greatest achievement was his alliance with Zand Persia. The Zand dynasty had proved to be relatively non-belligerent by Persian standards, but wars persisted in coming their way. In particular, a near-continuous battle with the Durranis of Khorasan had persisted ever since Ahmad Shah Durrani’s death, in which by the 1790s the Persians were starting to gain the upper hand. The Persians were also concerned about the Ottomans, both as a source of direct aggression, that their activities in the Crimea might drag Russia into intervention (particularly given Persia had taken the opportunity of the Russian Civil War to annex all of Azerbaijan) and the fact that Ottoman, and Ottoman-backed Omani, trade usurped traditional Persian-influenced lands in East Africa. Zanzibar, the great trading city whose name was Persian for ‘land of the blacks’, had become first Portuguese and now Omani (since 1698). The Zands were better informed about European philosophies than most Persian dynasties, obvious given their interest in the French Revolution (whereas the Ottomans dismissed it as ‘a Christian affair’) and so it is perhaps not surprising that Advocate Ali Zand Shah[11] is known to have quoted ‘if you would seek peace, prepare for war’…

Historically Portuguse-Persian relations had been fairly hostile, but the more moderate Zands could recognise the importance of an alliance. The Zand leadership was tolerant enough to allow a few trade posts full of Catholics on the Persian coast – though the Persian people sometimes disagreed, persecuting their own Assyrian Christians in response – and, in exchange for this opening of trade, the Portuguese trained elements of the Persian army in European warfare, though other elements were kept traditional: the Zands were hedging their bets.

The full import of the Portuguese-Persian alliance, of course, would not come into play until the start of the Time of Troubles, after the early stages of the Jacobin Wars…

[1]A British historian would probably call these the Second and Third Wars of Supremacy. Recall that the War of the Diplomatic Revolution is the alternate (curtailed) Seven Years’ War.

[2]Remember he never becomes the Marquis of Pombal in TTL.

[3]Ten years earlier than OTL; as he died of the aftereffects of a wound from an old, failed assassination attempt, it’s reasonable that he could have died at any time from the stress of the earthquake, the rebuilding efforts and the Távora plot.

[4]Such as ejecting the Jesuits from Portugal and abolishing slavery in Portuguese India. OTL, ten years later, Maria just put Carvalho (Pombal) under house arrest; TTL she’s younger and more inexperienced, with different advisors, and sends him further away.

[5]TTL the Spanish never created a Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata, one reason why the people in the region are so resentful, and it’s all still part of the Viceroyalty of Peru up until the Second Platinean War.

[6]Maria was known as Maria the Mad in OTL and suffered the same syndrome some years later, in 1799. Some historians claim porphyria, but that’s their catch-all excuse for all royal madness.

[7]Maria’s children are different to OTL. The eldest, born in 1761, is Prince Peter (Pedro).

[8]Of course the in-timeline author cannot note this, but Jaime de Melo el Castro’s enlightened policies also help dampen the independence sentiment in Brazil at the time, although this is already different to OTL due to the fact that the great independence of the 1780s happened right next door, in Rio de la Plata, rather than up in North America – i.e. both the good and bad parts of the revolution are on display to the Brazilian people, rather than just rumours and propaganda. The UP revolution was clearly justified due to the mismanagement of Spanish rule and the French free rein over the land, but the Brazilians generally consider that they do not want to join the UPSA in breaking away without an equally good reason.

[9]The Scindias rule Gwalior and Ujjain, while the Holkars rule Indore and Malwa. The other Maratha states have their own ruling dynasties.

[10]Remember that most European states have experimented with rifles earlier, after the well-publicised incident of William IV of Great Britain’s assassination with the weapons.

[11]Recall that the Zands call their Shahs ‘Advocate of the People’ instead.

Part #47: Finisterre

“While we waited at the bottom of the world, someone turned it upside down…”

- Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse (private journal)​


From - "Exploration and Discovery in the late 18th Century" (English translation) by Francois Laforce, Nouvelle Université de Nantes, 1961.

We have already covered the first two voyages of La Pérouse. The first, led by his flagship d’Estaing and accompanied by four frigates and a supply ship, was an arguably successful mapping mission that dramatically expanded French knowledge of the Pacific region, at a time when British investment in South Sea exploration had reached a low ebb.[1] The second part of the mission, to establish new trade contacts, was less successful. Both Qing China and Japan were in highly isolationist moves and refused any attempts to expand trade.

Corea, under the ageing King Hyojang[2], was more open to trade than it had been in the past, but was more interested in an exchange of ideas than the bread-and-butter trade which was what the emptying French treasury of the 1780s desperately needed. Nonetheless, La Pérouse allowed his two chief natural philosophers, the astronomer Laplace and the natural historian Lamarck, as well as the other scientific gentlemen among his crew, to trade ideas with the Coreans. La Pérouse’s account of Corea was of great interest in Europe, which had been out of touch with the country since King Yeongjo cracked down on Catholic missionaries in the 1750s. The European reading audience discovered that Hyojang, on his accession in 1770, had reversed this decision and tolerated Catholicism. This was thought partly to be due to Hyojang’s favouring the Silhak Movement, a Neo-Confucian school of thought which sought reforms to the corrupt Corean system of government of the eighteenth century.

The leader of the current ‘Third Wave’ of the Silhak Movement was Jeong Yak-yong, who had written a manifesto (the Mongmin Shimsu) whilst under house arrest by Yeongjo for his Catholic beliefs and his controversial reform ideas. Jeong’s ideas are comparable with those taking shape at the same time in Zand Persia, that the state must be headed by a King, but that the rights of common people must be inalienable, and they must be given a voice in the running of the state. He also favoured a utilitarian approach to philosophy and technology, and poured scorn on the Corean status quo which saw more interest in obscure poetry and etymology than things which would actually be of use to Corea lifting itself out of its subordinate position to China – unlike most Corean political thinkers, Jeong did not believe this was an inevitability of history and geography.[3] Hyojang released Jeong from prison and used him as an advisor; he, and other prominent Silhak thinkers such as Pak Je-ga – who criticised the Chinese-style system of examination for civil service posts, arguing that this supposedly meritocratic approach had become corrupt and led to incompetents in positions of power – clashed with more traditional Confucianists in open debates in the court. The Silhak, although in the minority, won several political victories from the fact that their opponents had grown comfortable and complacent from having no opposition under Yeongjo’s authoritarian rule.

Like Zand ideas, Silhak writings were transmitted back to Europe (in this case via La Pérouse) and may have influenced the French Revolution, English Reformism, and other European radical movements of the period, much as the French Revolution influenced Persia in turn. The Coreans also acquired some European military technology from the French, primarily artillery, which in the eastern school of warfare was still held to be paramount. Although the Corean infantry would suffer from using outdated muskets for some years to come, this was nonetheless a significant advantage compared to other armies in the region – the Chinese having failed in their attempts to acquire superior European artillery from both the Swedes and the Russians.[4] Additionally, Jeong’s position of power, together with his former career masterminding the construction of fortresses for the Corean government (before converting to Catholicism and developing radical political ideas) meant that Hyojang embarked upon a campaign of fortress-building along the border with China and elsewhere. This was partly in key with the Silhak idea that Corea should be able to stand up to China one day, rather than forever being a vassal, and partly because Hyojang wanted a series of royal strongpoints that could be held against rebellious nobles who objected to Silhak action against their corruption, and granting more power to their peasants. However, the nobles and traditional Confucians retained enough power at court to successfully shoot down a Silhak plan to collectivise farming on a village basis.[5] They won some other victories, but the Silhak were more successful than most had predicted, and Jeong’s blend of Catholicism with Neo-Confucianism (inherited from the seventeenth-century missionary to China Matteo Ricci) became Corea’s most influential, if not most popular, religion/ideology.

Corea was, of course, only one of the places that La Pérouse visited on his first voyage. His ships explored the South Sea Islands, the Iles Galapogos (whose fauna Lamarck would use to argue for his ideas of spontaneous evolution), and the long-forgotten Dutch discovery of New Zealand, which the French renamed Autiaraux after the name given to it by its Mauré natives. La Pérouse’s supplying of some Mauré tribes with muskets in return for supplies dramatically upset the balance of power in Autiaraux for many years to come.

After exploring the unexpectedly fertile south coast of New Holland (as it was then called), the fleet returned to France in 1793. Despite the deepening economic crisis, La Pérouse and his scientific allies were so popular and influential that they received enough ships and funds to return to New Holland (or La Pérouse’s Land as it was renamed) and plant a colony. Possibly Louis XVI believed that such a colony would make a good prestige project to help re-inspire public faith in his government, replacing the losses in the wars in America. That proved to be inaccurate, but by the time the French Revolution broke out, the bigger fleet was already rounding the Cape.

The next six years have been celebrated in countless, mostly French-penned, novels and films. La Pérouse returned to the site he had named Albi after his hometown[6] and established a full-blown colony on the site of their former temporary camp. His scientific men – Lamarck and Laplace now joined by others such as Jacques-Julien Houtou de Labillardière, a botanist, and C.F Beautemps-Beaupré, a hydrographical engineer who mapped the approaches to Albi bay, and many others, in such detail that the colony suffered fewer accidents in that regard than any other colony in unknown lands in history. Lamarck was impatient to learn more about the fauna of the new continent (and Labillardière, of course, thought the same about the flora) and advocated that La Pérouse plant other outposts so that their hinterlands could be explored in detail, with the outposts as bases for resupply. La Pérouse was extremely doubtful about whether this was a good idea, only about eight months after Albi was established (as it was when Lamarck suggested it) but, on the other hand, his success in this country had been and would be partly due to what worth the natural philosophers could extract from it. He beat Lamarck’s ambitious ideas down to one further outpost colony, which Beautemps-Beaupré was asked to site. The engineer, after surveying several bays along the coast north of Albi, chose one whose country – and afterwards the city placed there – was named Bieraroun after the native name.[7]

The colony cities, Albi and smaller Bieraroun, came into existence with relatively large populations, not least because Louis XVI had taken a leaf out of Britain’s book and given La Pérouse all the most politically awkward people he could find, those he wanted to get rid of, as colonists. This meant that the colonist population was somewhat sullen and resentful, but La Pérouse was helped by the fact that the rather barren terrain behind the colonies, filled with natives (whom the French somewhat inaccurately called indiens[8]) who were not unreasonably resentful at all these mysterious white strangers appearing on their land. This meant the colonists had to stick together, no matter how awkward they were, or die.

They nearly died anyway. Lamarck had overestimated the farming potential of New Gascony[9] and the colonies proved unable to feed themselves. Trade with the Indiens proved unhelpful due to the wider difference in mindset than even that between Europeans and the Mauré, and also because the natives had little to trade. Only around Bieraroun was a lasting relationship achieved with the local Ouarandjeré people, although European diseases worked their toll even with that agreement.

To prevent starvation, La Pérouse decided to return to Autiaraux and trade with the Mauré for staple crops, and perhaps farming advice in these climes (although the climates of La Pérouse’s Land and Autiaraux proved different enough for this not to be of much use). At the same time, he sent his second-in-command, Captain Philippe Durand, with his Émeraude to try the same mission with the Dutch East India Company and the South Sea islands. Durand was arguably more successful in terms of getting food and local crop seeds with which to improve the colony’s supply situation, but La Pérouse’s voyage was, inevitably, more colourful.

Less than ten years since he had first visited Autiaraux, he returned to find that the Mauré iwi (tribe) he had traded with, the Egnaté Raucaoua[10], had been busy. They were part of a tribal confederacy or ouaca[11] with three other tribes, called the Tainui, and had taken the opportunity afforded by La Pérouse’s gifts to embark on an expansionist phase. The Tainui had managed to defeat the iwis of Tetaitocquerau[12], demolishing their pa fortresses after winning key open battles thanks to La Pérouse’s muskets. The Tainui control of Tetaitocquerau was particularly significant because, according to Mauré legend, it was where their race first arrived in the islands in a fleet from Polynesia, and possessed a certain mythic aspect. Both because of this, and simply because of the Tainui absorbing the iwis there, the inland Egnaté Touaritaux formed an alliance with the Egné Touaux of the eastern coast to resist the Tainui aggression.[13] By autumn 1795, when La Pérouse arrived, the Tainui offensive had largely petered out anyway, as they had run out of ammunition for their muskets.

La Pérouse’s return was welcomed by the Tainui, who had seen the advantages of trading with him before, and were willing to do so again – but this time with a little more cunning. The Tainui’s chief negotiator, Huiwai, offered as much supplies and expertise to La Pérouse as the Tainui could spare – if La Pérouse gave them not just more ammunition and weapons, but also the secret of how gunpowder was made. La Pérouse hesitated, knowing that the long-term impact of this would be great. He was persuaded not simply by necessity but also by Lamarck, who noted that this would be a useful example to study of how important such weapons were in deciding the balance between peoples, and how this fitted into Linnaean Racialism. La Pérouse was unmoved by this cold and cynical maneouvre, but Lamarck had a powerful position and so he agreed. In the coming years, the Tainui would resume their offensive, failing to conquer the Touaritaux-Touaux alliance, but did achieve domination over the Taranacquie[14] peoples of the south.

This meant that the Tainui-led ‘empire of the musket’ now extended over almost half of the Ile du Nord.[15] The other half consisted of the Touaritaux-Touaux alliance and the nonaligned iwis, most of whom began to side with the Touaritaux-Touaux. The latter managed to gain the secret of gunpowder from the Tainui by espionage around 1803, shifting the balance again. However the Tainui still had the advantage of having most of the muskets, Maori metallurgy not yet being up to making new guns. The main reason why the Tainui did not expand further was that their leadership had trouble holding down the resentful new peoples they had added to their domain, and guns made little difference to that, a point which Lamarck noted in his log. The new discoveries took a longer time to filter down to the Ile du Sud, which had a far smaller population and was dominated by the Quai Taioux[16]. Generally speaking, the stage was set for the two major power groups to divide the Ile du Nord between them; what would happen next was anyone’s guess.

La Pérouse’s (and Durand’s) assistance helped the colonies survive 1795 and 1796. It was at this point that the frigate Richelieu, attached to La Pérouse’s force, encountered its British counterpart, HMS Lively, while on a voyage of exploration around the barren north of La Pérouse’s Land and New Guinea. The British opened fire without warning, fortunately at long range. The Richelieu’s captain, Paul de Rossel, decided to flee as his men were unprepared and he had let fighting drills lapse due to the fleet’s exile at the end of the world. The Lively gave chase, but a lucky shot from one of the Richelieu’s stern guns brought down her foremast, and the Richelieu was able to hide in a sheltered New Guinea bay that de Rossel had just mapped before the Lively could catch sight of them again. A disappointed Captain Cooke[17] returned to Calcutta with a confused sighting of a French ship far from all regular shipping lanes.

Meanwhile de Rossel did the same to La Pérouse at Albi. La Pérouse held a meeting of his officers and the colonial leaders, along with the important natural philosophers. It was obvious that Britain and France had come to war in the time while La Pérouse’s men had been cut off down in the south. La Pérouse was in a quandary: he couldn’t find out exactly what was happening without sending a ship where it was vulnerable to being intercepted. He could send enough of his fleet to give any British attacker pause, but that would leave the colony underdefended. In the end he decided to send just one ship, the Émeraude under Captain Durand. The Émeraude never reached Madras, its intended destination. It is generally thought that the ship must have run aground in the Dutch East Indies, or been caught in a tropical storm, as no British records suggest it was ever intercepted by a Royal Naval vessel. In any case, this is considered one of the great ‘what ifs’ of speculative romantics, as Durand was perhaps the most fervent royalist and believer in absolutism among La Pérouse’s crew. If he had reached Madras and participated in the Pitt-Rochambeau accord, it is likely that the colony in La Pérouse’s Land would have looked towards Royal France. But it was not to be…

After the loss of the Émeraude, which of course he could not guess until two years had passed without word, La Pérouse insisted on waiting for definite confirmation the war was over before leaving. This came quite early, in March 1800, when the news was passed by a Dutch merchantman that the Richelieu encountered near Java. La Pérouse left most of his fleet to guard the colony, but took the D’Estaing and three frigates home to France. Lamarck and Laplace came also, both having made several copies of their work for each ship, to ensure that at least one reached France.

The four ships reached France in early November 1800. Again, history might have been different if they had landed in Nantes, which according to the official government line was a ‘special administrations area’ but was, in fact, the capital of Royal France. But La Pérouse landed in Bordeaux, held by the Republicans, and he and his men reported to Paris. They had heard confused rumours of the Revolution, mostly welcomed by La Pérouse’s left-leaning crew of idealists and philosophers. The wilder stories been dismissed as Royalist or British propaganda. They rapidly learned this was not the case when they reached Paris, and found – by the order of Jean de Lisieux, the Administrateur – the old streets being torn up one house at a time and replaced with wide boulevards in the neo-classical style. La Pérouse caused a stir, as no-one had openly declared a title of nobility for years. He was arrested and a court almost sent him to the phlogisticateur, but Lamarck spoke up for him and he was released. Lamarck in particular became a celebrity as his writings about the fauna of La Pérouse’s Land were incorporated into Lisieux’s theories of racial supremacy. Lamarck’s idea that the harsh environment of La Pérouse’s Land had bred the large number of dangerous (poisonous, venomous, etc.) animals and plants there, an early example of environmental breeding[18], was used by Lisieux to advocate a harsh training regime for French soldiers (and as an excuse to crack down domestically).

La Pérouse was forced to renounce his title, but we shall continue to call him that, as history does. Lisieux was undecided on what to do with the colony. What France needed was trade and money, just as she had twenty years before. La Pérouse’s Land could not supply that, and Autiaraux was not profitable enough for the commodities that would make money. France needed India, which she had lost to the Royalists, or the East Indies, which were Dutch. It was the latter which persuaded Surcouf, one of Lisieux’s inner circle, to suggest a new plan. Surcouf had become bored of his project to weaponise Cugnot’s steam engine on ships, and wanted to return to his privateering days. Although France was still at war with Spain and the Spanish fleet at this point, the specific situation meant that France could afford to spare some frigates for such a venture. Surcouf’s idea was to raid Dutch shipping from the East Indies under a neutral flag, or ‘pulling an Englishman’, as he called it (in reference to Francis Drake and the Spanish). If the Dutch protested, what could they do? Even with the Flemish alliance, the Stadtholder would be a fool to tangle with Revolutionary France in war, especially since his own position looked ever more precarious. Lisieux ordered his agents to stoke the fires of revolution in the Netherlands and Flanders as a distraction, then approved the plan. Surcouf, the natural philosophers, and a shaken La Pérouse returned to the fleet, expanded by seven new frigates and three ships of the line, and the fleet set off for La Pérouse’s Land to begin their new commerce raiding mission. They arrived in Albi in February 1802 to learn that the colony had suffered an Indien attack, but had successfully beaten the natives back.

Immediately after returning, La Pérouse took a sloop on a trading mission to the Mauré and never came back. What happened was never proven, but it is considered highly likely that he and his men, mostly the more Royalist in sympathy among the crew, sold their services to the Mauré in exchange for protection and a hiding place from the Republicans. La Pérouse had been profoundly affected by the terror of the phlogisticateur and wanted nothing more to do with Republican France. The fact that the Tainui did not make much headway against the eastern alliance, but both planted new colonies in the Ile du Sud using improved canoes with European designs, suggesting that La Pérouse’s men sought refuge with both Mauré powers…

[1]Partly a Great Man effect, as James Cook died at the Battle of Quebec, and partly a more general trend – the existence of America and the new Guinea project, plus the smaller and less profitable possessions in India compared to OTL, have expanded British exploration of other areas at the expense of the Pacific.

[2]This is not the same Hyojang as OTL. OTL’s Hyojang was King Yeongjo’s firstborn son, who died young in 1728 – and also in TTL, because this is too early for butterflies according to my conservative interpretation. This Hyojang is Yeongjo’s third son, named in honour of the first. The second son, Prince Sado, was disqualified and forced to commit suicide due to being mentally unstable and a murderer.

[3]All of this is OTL.

[4]This part is OTL.

[5]An OTL proposal by Jeong.

[6]OTL Sydney.

[7]This is the site of OTL Melbourne, in OTL not founded until many years later. Bieraroun is my French transliteration of Birrarung, which is the OTL English transliteration of the name for the place by the native Wurundjeri tribe (spelled Ouarandjeré by the French here).

[8]Don’t laugh, the Aborigines were called Indians for a while by the British colonists in OTL as well.

[9]French name for the whole fertile south coast of Australia. Essentially New South Wales.

[10]The Ngāti Raukawa in English transliteration.

[11] waka in English transliteration. It literally means ‘canoe’, reflecting the fact that the Maori confederacies basically existed as cooperative ventures to colonise new lands via canoe.

[12] Te Tai-tokerau in English transliteration; the Northland region of New Zealand.

[13] Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Ngai Tuhoe respectively in English transliteration.

[14]Taranaki in English transliteration.

[15]North Island; the French do not use the Maori term here as it would be rather awkward-sounding in French (Te Ika-a-Māui)

[16] Kāi Tahu.

[17] No, not that one, although it is an irony. This is John Cooke, or his analogue, who in OTL was killed at Trafalgar.

[18] Environmental breeding = natural selection.

Part #48: Old Delicious and the Awkward Squad

1. The Great Cleansing
2. The War of Lightning
3. To Hold the Heart

– chapter headings in A.V. de la Costa’s seminal The Pyrenean War (1924)​


From the above work:

April 1800, it can be argued, was perhaps one of the most decisive months – and this is one title hotly competed for – of the Jacobin Wars. March had seen peace between Britain and Republican France, with a rump Royal France in Brittany and the Vendée being tolerated (for the moment) by the new regime of ‘Administrateur’ Jean de Lisieux, whom the British satirical press immediately nicknamed Old Delicious. Lisieux was certainly unamused by this portrayal, although the authenticity of his alleged diary in which he makes chilling remarks on the subject has never been proven. However, his mention of the English Germanic Republic, in relation to which authorities would one day phlogisticate these violators of his human rights, has led most scholars to believe that the document is a forgery, unless Lisieux was uncharacteristically prophetic.

April saw what can, possibly, be termed the first cabinet meetings of Lisieux’s regime. In truth, though no-one in Republican France would dare make the comparison, they were more in the spirit of an absolute monarch consulting with advisors before making his own unilateral decision. What checks remained on Lisieux’s power remained not with any official elected body, but with the ‘Boulangerie’, the informal group of innovative thinkers who directed French military policy, and were increasingly taking over control of civil policy as well.
Thouret, who masterminded Lisieux’s scheme to cut up France into perfectly square départements each run by a (supposedly) elected Modérateur, swiftly became an integral part of the Boulangerie, and it was by this means that his Rationalist views became official policy.

Although Republican Paris had long since been putting out new ideas about metric measuring systems for length, distance and time, it was not until now that they were actually enforced. Draconian laws which punished people simply for saying the old names of the days of the week – which was often unavoidable even by the most strong-minded revolutionary, just out of habit – were enacted. It was all part of Lisieux’s general idea that the people must be treated harshly if the spirit of revolution were to remain pure – if compromise was attempted, that could only pollute the spirit and necessitate a second, bloodier corrective revolution. Lisieux believed in the value of human life, at least his definition thereof, and claimed never to permit legal punishments that would impair a felon’s ability to work afterwards. He believed that, if Robespierre had been allowed to continue with his endless purges of the ‘impure’, eventually France would have been an empty hexagon of untended land with one man at its centre – Robespierre – finally driving a knife into his own throat as he concluded that not even he lived up to his own ideals of purity. Lisieux, on the other hand, advocated the notion that revolutionary purity could be gained and lost – he rejected the former “original sin” approach, as it was nicknamed by some. Of course, in order to create revolutionary purity in the impure, methods somewhat…drastic were often required.

Initially, though, Lisieux’s focus was on France’s political and military situation rather than his own vision for what the Republic would become. Boulanger’s brilliant campaign in Normandy in 1799 had ended what could have been a Royalist counter-revolution. The Republicans had been unable to throw the Royalists into the sea, but the peace with Britain was nonetheless a chance that could not be missed. Lisieux was loathe to tolerate the claimant King sitting on Brittany and the Vendée, but recognised that for the moment there was no alternative. If he were to go back on his word and invade, once a new army was assembled, then the fragile Fox government in Britain would fall and be replaced by more warmongerers who would simply start the conflict again. No; he was convinced the correct approach was to allow the Fox government to settle in place, to attempt to drive a wedge between London and Nantes (the de facto capital of Royal France), and to undermine Royal French interests around the world with everything short of war. Not only was Royal France’s existence an affront to the Revolution – and the man who believed he personified it – but it gave credibility to the Royalist governors-general of French America and French India. Although Republicans had mostly failed to convince those lands to go over to the Republican line even when there had been no Royal France as such, the existence of Royal France certainly made that task much harder.

However, now the Royal Navy was no longer hostile, not there to swipe nine out of every ten ships with emissaries out of the ocean, and Paris could begin openly sending ships to stir up trouble for the Royalists in their colonies. Lisieux immediately began this with what few ships remained after Villeneuve’s Pyrrhic attacks on the ‘Seigneur’ fleets. Villeneuve himself was a difficult figure. The Royal French had traded him back in a prisoner exchange after the peace, and Republican opinion of the man was mixed. He had certainly fought bravely enough, but it was a question of whether the British ships he had sunk had significantly reduced the Anglo-Royal French invasion that eventually produced Royal France, enough to justify losing virtually the whole remaining Republican fleet. Lisieux’s private opinion was no, but recognising the man’s tarnished hero status, he sent him on a supposedly ‘flag-flying’ mission around the world, starting in August 1800 after the shipyards had turned out some more ships of the line. The Republicans also bought some frigates from the Russians and the Danes, who sold off parts of the Swedish fleet that had come into their hands after the end of the Baltic War. Lisieux was more willing to engage with ‘reactionary states’ than Robespierre had been, less afraid of being ‘contaminated’ by the contact. “Their fall is assured, so why should they not be permitted to grease the downward steps themselves?” he wrote.

In truth, of course, Villeneuve’s ‘flag-flying’ mission carried weapons, pamphlets and professional terrorists to be let loose on the Royalist regimes in the French colonies. His fleet’s first stop was the West Indies, and of that incident much more can be read in other scholarly works. [Or later chapters]

It is perhaps surprising that Villeneuve was ever allowed to return by the Royalists, but even at that early stage, one cannot underestimate the influence of one man who had been favourably impressed by Villeneuve, in the enduringly British manner of respect for an enemy – the inimitable Leo Bone…


From - "The Man With Three Names - A Life and Times of Napoleone Buonaparte" (Dr Henri Pelletier, University of Nantes Press, 1962) :

For Commodore Leo Bone, the aftermath of the Battle of Quiberon looked bleak. After having successfully drawn off the superior ship Jacobin, the two had fought near the Isle of Yeu and, though the Lewisborough had successfully sank its enemy with its carronades, the Lewisborough had taken enough damage that her pumps were unable to prevent the water rising in her well – her own doom was only a matter of time. With a heavy heart, and a fateful indecision over whether to throw the guns overboard for more speed – he decided against it – he set sail for the nearest land, which by this point was the Vendean coast, and trusted to luck and God that he and his men would get out of this alive. And if there were any rumours that the God ‘Old Boney’ prayed to preferred his worshippers to speak in Latin and work rosary beads, his men did not think less of him on that account. Thus was the charisma that this remarkable man held over his mostly English sailors, men from a nation whose hatred of Catholicism could sometimes be regarded as an integral part of the national identity.

The Lewisborough, very low in the water by this time, was successfully and professionally beached near the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, in the south of the Vendée. Bone’s carpenter and bosun looked at the damage to the stern and shook their heads. If the ship could be repaired – which was not a given, it could end up like another horrible old Lorient – it could only be done in a proper shipyard, Portsmouth or Chatham.[1] Bone’s heart sank, but he did not allow his face to show his dismay. Instead he rallied and roused his men, praising them for bringing the ship in safely. They were tired and miserable after this anticlimax to their battle, but Bone managed to keep them lively. He had a plan, a wild and dangerous plan – the kind of plan that he and his friend Horatio Nelson did best. A plan that could not only lead to their survival, but perhaps avoid the catastrophe they were facing. Bone knew that rescue was not unlikely sooner or later, but without a functional ship, he could end up on half-pay for years – especially since the Republican naval threat was obviously dying out there in Quiberon at that time – while his men would be even worse off, suddenly ashore with no trade to work. Again like Nelson, he knew the importance of working the media to his advantage, and decided that the only way to escape such an obscure fate was to achieve some sort of filmish [cinematic] victory. Given that he was a naval captain and his ship had just been hulled, it could be argued that this was perhaps a rather ambitious plan. But for Bone, it was hardly out of the ordinary.

The Lewisborough’s crew, under Bone’s directions, removed most of the guns from the ship by means of pulleys, singing The Drunken Sailor.[2] With the last ‘way, hay, up she rises’, Bone was no longer in quite such an impossible situation. The Lewisborough had been a sixty-five gun ship, which meant Bone now had the equivalent of a sizeable artillery brigade under his command, including carronades and howitzers. His men were unaccustomed to land warfare, of course, but could at least keep up a rapid rate of fire if they had a position to hold. It was a daring, almost insane plan, but Bone was quite certain that he had a destiny to fulfil, and it would not abandon him to die ignominiously in such an engagement. In this he was hardly unique – such men can, perhaps, be found three to a street – but his men believed in it too, and that made all the difference.

Bone’s first act was to bring his crew to Saint-Hilaire itself, led by his Marine company under Major Rupert FitzRoy[3] to discourage any opportunists who thought this strange artillery column looked vulnerable. The red-coated Marines bore American rifles and hard expressions: though this part of the Vendée had slipped into anarchy, no-one bothered Leo Bone’s men. Saint-Hilaire was sufficiently distant from the heart of the counter-revolution that while the local Royalists had defeated and overthrown their Republican rulers, the countryside retained some Republican sympathisers and these continued to strike as partisans or bandits. Saint-Hilaire was a city under virtual siege when Bone arrived. With the Royalist mayor killed by Republicans, and his unofficial successor a nonentity, there was a power vacuum – a vacuum which Leo Bone was only happy enough to fill.

He called himself ‘Napoléon Bonaparte’, in the French style, and was thankful that he had learned French at the school to which his father had sent him, even if he pronounced it atrociously. Before the people of Saint-Hilaire knew what was happening, Bone had virtually taken over the town, billeting his troops there and already preparing for drills. Some equipment and ammunition had been left on the beach, Bone lacking the men to carry it all, and he somehow dragooned the natives into assisting. By the third day, it was hard to remember that Saint-Hilaire had not always been the personal fiefdom of Leo Bone, or Napoléon Bonaparte. Either way, he had come a long way from the Napoleone Buonaparte, son of a minor Corsican noble, that he had been born as…

Lest the people of Saint-Hilaire think him some boorish warlord, Bone proved his right to act in such a way mere days later. He himself went out ‘hunting’ with FitzRoy’s men. FitzRoy was himself an avid foxhunter, a sport which Bone himself had never felt an attraction for, and proved his eye when he shot seven Republican partisans dead at long range, in the middle of supposed cover. That was only the start of it. The virtual war against the local sympathisers continued for three weeks: the final confrontation saw the rebels hole up in a local stately home, an eminently defendable position against infantry assault. Recognising this, Bone simply revealed his artillery and pounded the place to dust. Although upsetting some of the locals with this act of absent vandalism, generally speaking the people of Saint-Hilaire, indeed the whole southern Vendée, praised his name for acting against the Republicans.

Bone’s first victory against regular Republican troops, rather than partisans, came in August 1799. General Pallière’s army had been crushed, but not actually destroyed, by General Græme at Cholet. Some of the remnants of the leaderless army fled into Anjou, while others came into the southern Vendée, feeding themselves by their customary maraude. Recognising how unpopular this made them with the locals, Bone saw another opportunity to act. By this point he had recruited something of a small army from the local French, using his Marines as a hard core for training purposes. He took many men who wanted to fight the Republicans for Louis XVII, but were afraid of leaving their homes to fight elsewhere, and possibly leave their families vulnerable to attack. Bone built a locally-based army that fought for local concerns, albeit in the name of the new King.

After some early skirmishes, the Pallière remnant – their leader’s name is not by this point recorded – were pinned down west of La Roche-sur-Yon by Bone’s forces. Having trapped the disorganised Republicans between two inferior forces, but ones which could stand their ground, he then unleashed his artillery. His sailors had been training as much as they could, and by now they fought as well as any landsman in the role. The Republicans’ column tactics made them easy targets for artillery, even more so when they formed square – and Bone managed to scrape together enough cavalry from local sources to force them into that formation for defence. The army, now barely worthy of the name, was virtually annihilated, and the legend of Leo Bone grew. By now, he was in touch with important locals, men who could send his reports back to England to be published in the Gazette, so that all would know of his exploits. It was a tactic that had worked well for Julius Caesar millennia before, and it would work just as much for Leo Bone. Indeed, the popular adventures of the son were one reason why his father, the MP Charles Bone, was given a cabinet position (Paymaster of the Forces) by the Fox government at home.

In the latter stages of the war, Bone brought his new army north on the Dauphin’s request. While Boulanger conquered in Normandy, ‘General Bonaparte’ held Angers against one of Boulanger’s armies, using a convent for cover (and incidentally capitalising on the fury that the Republicans’ attacking of such a site roused in the conservative Vendeans). He made sure that this incident was just as publicised, in the French as well as the British media. When the war came to an end, the Dauphin sent for him and ennobled him, creating the Vicomté d’Angers. (The British satirical press inevitably dubbed him ‘General Angry’, after this, to go with his existing nickname of Old Boney). Bone’s ramshackle army was officially made a new Royalist regiment, the Régiment du Vendée du Sud, aka the South Vendeans in British sources.

Once more, his path resembled that of his old friend Horatio Nelson, and indeed the two met in a café in Nantes to discuss their futures together, once the peace was signed with the new Lisieux regime. Nelson spoke baldly of the lack of prospects in the postwar Royal Navy, of ships laid up, crews disbanded, officers stuck ashore on half-pay for years. Bone had similar thoughts. Both men, although they loved the sea, loved power even more. Both recognised that power was no longer to be found in the Royal Navy. Though Nelson had his Mirabilis still, and his rank, all that awaited him was a stuffy desk job with a guaranteed pension – something which some men would kill for, but which was unsuited to this strange and mercurial officer. Bone told his friend of his own intentions, to resign his commission in order to become an important person in this Royal France. He believed that the Royalists would eventually take back all of France, and thus becoming a big fish in a little pond at this point would pay high dividends later. Nelson considered this, before departing for his new Mediterranean command, thoughtful ramblings filling his diaries all the way to Malta…


From - “The Pyrenean War” by A.V. de la Costa (1924) :

…Lisieux’s problem was not control over France, which was rapidly becoming absolute, but control over France’s satellite states. Currently in existence were Ney’s Swabian Germanic Republic, Marat’s Swiss Republic (which did not fit neatly into one of Lisieux’s racial categories) and Hoche’s Italian Latin Republic. In addition to this, the deceased Leroux’s subordinate, Fabien Lascelles, had seized control of much of Leroux’s army and now claimed a Bavarian Germanic Republic ruled from Regensburg. Those who had opposed Lascelles, led by Phillipe St-Julien (and called the Cougnonistes after their first leader) were holed up in the Bohemian city of Budweis, but had made no attempt to set up a Bohemian republic. They struggled hard enough just to survive and beat off local militia attacks, Austria being unable to spare any regular troops for this theatre thanks to the Ottoman invasion of Dalmatia.

Most of these ‘republics’ were simply military dictatorships, whose role would be determined solely by the man in charge. Lascelles, of course, was a fanatical Robespierre supporter and immediately dismissed Lisieux’s regime as illegitimate and ‘crypto-Royalist’, then claimed his own supposed Bavarian Germanic Republic was the only remaining example of true revolutionary republicanism. To prove it, he immediately embarked on a Terror of purges quite equal to anything his hero Robespierre had ever done. Which would, of course, have quite infamous consequences, but that is outside the scope of this work.

Meanwhile, Ney – after some consideration – accepted Lisieux’s legitimacy. He had appointed himself First Consul of his Republic, and his second-in-command General Nicolas Ranier as the second, but made a local sympathiser, Christoph Friedrich von Schiller[4] as Third. Schiller, a man of the liberal Enlightenment both politically and artistically, had enjoyed patronage under the previous Duke before the current one, Karl II Ludwig, had succeeded and dismissed him from court. Ney also created a National Legislative Assembly of local Badenese, Württembergers and others: in reality it had little power, but its existence helped smooth and placate local opinion – an example much quoted by the later school of Tory Appeasement thought.

Hoche rejected Lisieux utterly, not on principle as Lascelles did, but because he saw this as his moment to achieve his own personal kingdom, fully independent from France. Although more of a megalomaniac than Ney, he also created new institutions in Italy, trying to centralise powers and to create an identity out of formerly disparate states. This would have important consequences later on.

Lisieux hesitated over what to do with the truculent republics. His Robespierriste leanings told him that conflicting Revolutionary messages must be purged to leave only the true one. On the other hand, he was loath to spill the blood of fellow Republicans, while reactionaries prospered from the dispute. While agonising over the question with the Boulangerie, it was decided for him. On hearing of Robespierre’s death, the Swiss rose up and overthrew Marat. It is said that the Consul of the Republic was assassinated out of the blue, as he was walking down the Aarstrasse of Bern with an armed guard, when two men in a nearby house threw a tin bath out of the upper window, which hit Marat a sharp blow on the head and plunged him into a coma from which he never awoke. The Swiss rising was well coordinated, with Republican troops being divided, isolated and hammered by Swiss irregulars. Confusion prevailed in the aftermath, though – the French had executed so many important men of the old Confederation, and the rebel leaders had no real vision for a Switzerland after the French. The united front swiftly collapsed.

This was, of course, a disaster for Lisieux – holding Switzerland was vital to the French position in Germany. It was, therefore, that he grudgingly accepted Boulanger’s advice to engage with Hoche. By the Treaty of Savoy, France, Swabia and Italy divided Switzerland between them roughly on linguistic lines (thanks to Lisieux’s racial policies). Hoche still refused to acknowledge Lisieux, but sent in his troops, and Lisieux bought his services for future operations with supplies and ammunition, treating him as a mercenary. The more loyal Ney was ordered to continue offensive operations against minor German states from his power base in Swabia. Although Ney was concerned about overstretch, as he struggled to administer German-speaking Switzerland as well as his existing lands, he obeyed. Franco-Swabian troops wheeled around the neutral Palatinate – Lisieux unwilling to venture war with Charles Theodore of Flanders – and overran much of Ansbach and Würzburger Mainz, before being halted by a joint Hessian-Würzburger army at Erbuch. Ney was forced to retreat from all Würzburger lands and signed the Treaty of Stuttgart in November 1801, which set down firm boundaries for the Swabian Republic. One consequence of this affair was that the Hessians and Würzburgers, along with Nassau, formed a united front in the ensuing chaos of the Mediatisation, in which they opposed the Dutch-Flemish and the Saxons and broadly supported the Hapsburgs.

With the situation stabilised in the Germanies, priority number one for France was Spain. Aside from Royal France, the only foreign troops still standing on French soil were Spanish. Although General Custine had ejected the Spanish General Cuesta (two similar names which have confused generations of schoolboys) from Bordeaux in 1799, the French army in the south had been too poorly supplied, too low priority, to beat the Spanish back any further. What reinforcements had been earmarked for it had instead gone to attack the British and Royal French as that front opened up. But now that theatre too was quiet, and the full might of Republican France was turned on the Spanish.

Lisieux let Boulanger mastermind the attacks, with some political provisos. Firstly, that what Sans-Culottes regiments remained in France (most were with Lascelles in Bavaria) should form the core of the attacks and be at the forefront. Secondly that new regiments from Sans-Culottes backgrounds should be raised, by deliberate skewing of the conscription process if necessary. Boulanger was too used to Lisieux by now to ask why. He defined his plan as having three broad stages: to cleanse the Spanish from France herself; to use the War of Lightning strategy once more in an invasion; and to hold Madrid, to bring Spain to terms. Both men were sceptical about the possibility of a Spanish Latin Republic, but Spain must be brought under some sort of control or influence if France was to prosper. Boulanger said that each point required one year’s campaign season.

Lisieux gave him everything he asked for. All the Republic’s best innovations, the Cugnot steam tractors, the chars and the tortues, balloons and vast conscript armies, were focused in the south, at Bordeaux and Montpellier. Both cities had been taken by the Spanish, only for them to be ejected. Yet the Spanish held on doggedly to the south of France throughout the campaign season of 1799. This only changed when Boulanger launched his offensive, in 1800.

Cuesta’s armies suffered three major defeats, at the Siege of Toulouse, the Battle of Pau and the Battle of Carcassonne (the latter actually fought quite a long distance away from the town of Carcassonne). The Spanish, like the British before them, struggled to counter the French’s revolutionary new war machines and tactics, and their morale was not high. The war aims of the conflict had always been vague – initially some sort of hotblooded revenge for the King’s execution and anti-Catholic policies, thrown into confusion by the establishment of Royal France and open negotiations with the Republicans; then an attempt to annex historically Spanish lands, confused and discredited as Cuesta tried to hold onto lands far beyond those with any possible claim.

There was no secret that King Philip VI was ill, though whether from a simple fever or syphilis depended on which faction at court you asked. His capable prime minister, the conde de Floridablanca, had died just two years before, and been succeeded by Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis, who had fought in the Second Platinean War[5] and been finance minister for some years, as well as serving as governor of several of the American possessions in turn. But Saavedra, though a worthy successor to Floridablanca, had only been in the job for two years, and only for six months before the King began to fall ill. His position at court looked ever shakier, and he was opposed by the Prince of Asturias, Charles, who had support from Saavedra’s political enemy, Miguel Pedro Alcántara Abarca de Bolea[6], the Count of Aranda. The situation was such that the Spanish government was paralysed and unable to respond as Boulanger and his lieutenants coolly rolled up Cuesta’s army in the autumn of 1800.

What would follow would determine the fates, not merely of France and Spain, but of the whole world…

[1] In OTL there was ‘the horrible old Leopard’, which was theoretically repaired after a major disaster but never regained her old maneouvrability, and every Royal Naval captain feared having to command her. ATL a ship in a similar situation was HMS Lorient (originally the French L’Órient, captured during the Second Platinean War).

[2] This sea shanty dates from long after the POD, and this version is not quite the same, but I think it quite likely that a similar one would develop. The same factors were there – the original, Irish tune, brought there by Irish sailors, and the suitability of the rhythm to the task of hoisting sails or yanking on ropes.

[3] Third son of the Duke of Grafton, the Lord Deputy for North America. Went into the Marines rather than the regular British Army partly because his American childhood friends regaled him with stories of the heroic Lawrence Washington (later Lord Fredericksburg) during the Second War of Supremacy.

[4] ATL ‘brother’ of OTL’s Friedrich Schiller, more of a political figure than OTL.

[5] OTL he fought in the American Revolutionary War.

[6] Unlike OTL, Pedro Pablo Alcántara Abarca de Bolea had a son.

Part #49: La Disparition de l’Espagne

Tall ships and tall Dons,
Three times three,
What brought they from the conquered land
To the New World over the Sea?
Five crowns and five kings
and one hope for the free.

– Johannes Reuel Tollkühn, Der Untergang von Spanien, 1941​


From - “The Pyrenean War” by A.V. de la Costa (1924) :

The campaign season of 1800 saw French forces push the Spanish armies back close to the border, although the only place the French actually crossed the border was at the far eastern end, taking Llançà in Catalonia. Although one of Boulanger’s armies attempted to force the pass of Col d’Ares, the Spanish successfully repulsed the attack. Although the armies of Generals Cuesta and Blake were pressed back against the Pyrenees, the Spanish entrenched themselves in defensive positions over the winter and prepared to fight off a French mass attack. Although the Spanish government remained paralysed due to Philip VI’s illness, there remained a general determination to keep hold of the formerly French Navarre, and the troop deployments reflected that.

The campaign of 1800 provided important lessons for the French side. Boulanger had lost most of his most skilled generals in the previous few years’ worth of fighting: Leroux had been slain before Vienna, Hoche had gone rogue, Ney was busy pacifying Swabia, Vignon and Pallière had been killed during the response to the Seigneur offensive. The war against Spain now demonstrated those commanders who deserved promotion, and Boulanger, as Marshal of the Republican Army, enacted such promotions and weeded out the less capable generals. In accordance with Lisieux’s “No wasteful killing” policy, less competent but loyal generals were usually relegated to garrison duty, although some of them ended up in more dangerous areas such as French-Switzerland or Swabia.

Some of the men Boulanger promoted are household names even to those ignorant of history: Claude Drouet, Etienne Devilliers, Olivier Bourcier. Some were from formerly aristocratic backgrounds, Lisieux being more amenable to accepting them than Robespierre had been, while others were commoners like Boulanger himself. While the Spanish dug in over the winter of 1800, Boulanger was, typically, planning a yet more ambitious offensive. It was at this time that Hoche began publishing self-aggrandising accounts of his own battles, easy considering the Italian university cities with their printing presses that he occupied. Lisieux quickly banned them in France, but Boulanger was able to obtain a copy illegally and spent some time studying them, reading between the biased lines to extract useful information. He travelled up and down the whole border, studying the problem his men had to face, and also read the accounts of the generals from the campaign of a century earlier, during the War of the Spanish Succession.

In January 1801, Boulanger returned to Paris to discuss the forthcoming campaign with Lisieux and the Boulangerie. He learned of the interest that the return of La Pérouse had sparked, and how Lisieux was writing propaganda day and night to incorporate Lamarck’s ideas of environmental breeding into Linnaean Racism. He was disappointed to learn that Vice-Admiral Surcouf was committed to privateering against the Dutch, but also found out that Surcouf had promoted one of his subordinates, Fabien Lepelley, to counter-admiral and had turned over control of the Cugnot ship project to him. Lepelley was just as enthusiastic as Surcouf for the new innovations, which suited Boulanger fine…

It was some time before Lisieux could spare a few hours to talk over the campaign. Michel Chanson, Boulanger’s adjutant, records that Boulanger spoke of Lisieux looking tired and having visibly aged. He cloistered himself in his room for hours at a time, continuously writing pamphlets and propaganda. He barely went out to look at the Republic he ruled, instead using his pen and ink to scratch at the paper as though gradually wearing down reality until it resembled what he believed it should look like.

Boulanger put forward his conclusions to Lisieux and the Boulangerie, as well as a few members of the National Legislative Assembly. He said that trying to force the Pyrenean passes would be unlikely to succeed. The Spanish were well entrenched, the passes were defended, and the terrain was difficult. Lisieux asked for the alternative, and Boulanger replied with Lisieux’s own maxim that to hold the heart – the capital – of a nation is to hold the whole nation. It did not matter how that heart was approached, only that it was held, and then everything else would collapse.

The Marshal outlined another strategy, pointing out the fact that the French held Llançà. Troops could be slowly moved down there to support the attack, he added. It did not matter that the Spanish held the Pyrenees if Madrid was conquered.

Georges Besoin, a member of the NLA, objected that to try and conquer Spain while Spanish forces still occupied French soil was the heart of foolhardiness. Lisieux did not uphold his point, recognising Boulanger’s argument that anything else Spain did would be irrelevant if Madrid was held. But Lisieux did argue that the Spanish were not fools, and that they would surely be shifting their own troops to drive the French out of Llançà. Boulanger agreed: his agents confirmed that the Spanish had moved an army under General Fernando Ballesteros to take back Llançà in the spring, an army that outnumbered the French occupiers three to one.

But that was all part of Boulanger’s strategy.

Drawing frantically on a new-fangled blackboard, Boulanger explained that he would assemble the bulk of his army in Leucate, then bring in a fleet from Toulon to transport them down to Spain. They would land in the Catalan town of Roses, on the southern side of the Cap de Creus, and thus trap Ballesteros’ army between two French forces, crushing it.

Quite understandably, Besoin was sceptical. “And what precisely is the Spanish Mediterranean Fleet, which thanks to d’Estaing’s treachery is several times the size of our own, doing in all this?” he asked sarcastically.

Boulanger smiled, and replied: “Lying in port, of course, for it is a windless day.”

Lisieux was the first to realise what Boulanger meant. Seeing an immediate application for one of his pet projects, he almost immediately approved the offensive, with one proviso. Boulanger wanted to make only desultory attacks against Cuesta and Blake’s armies in the Pyrenees, just enough to stop the Spanish shifting those troops away. Lisieux wanted a stronger attack, commanded by General Philippe Eustache and made up largely of Sans-Culotte levies. Eustache was himself of suspected loyalty, being a Jacobin fire-breather much like Lascelles in Bavaria, and a vocal supporter of Robespierre. But unlike Robespierre himself, Lisieux would not simply have him plucked from his command and phlogisticated. Every man that France had must be used to further her cause, though the means might vary…

The two offensives were termed Assaut-du-Sud and Tire-Bouchon (Southern Onslaught and Corkscrew) ; Lisieux’s military policies tended to increase paperwork and counter-espionage, hence the explosion of the use of code names. Assaut-du-Sud was launched under Eustache in March, taking back Tarbe and Montrejou before stalling. Eustache himself was killed by a Spanish counterattack from Lourdes, led by the vigorous Irishman Joaquin Blake, who successfully took back Tarbes shortly afterwards and threatened Pau. However, this only worked to the advantage of Boulanger’s strategy. The Spanish government, led erratically by Saavedra, was convinced that the French hammer blows would come in the west, and while they left Ballesteros’ army to threaten Llançà, it was not reinforced. At the same time, the French moved down enough forces overland until the French army in Llançà was of almost equal numbers to Ballesteros’, and it was placed under the command of Drouet.

In May, Ballesteros assaulted Llançà and pushed Drouet out, who then shifted his army to the west. Ballesteros pursued, leaving his army somewhat strung out behind him. On the 16th-19th, the calm days that they had been waiting for, Counter-Admiral Lepelley’s men struck. Just as Boulanger had planned, Surcouf and Cugnot’s ‘little toys’ pulled out of their port at Toulon and steamed southwards to Leucate, where Devilliers and Bourcier were waiting with the bulk of the army (including Cugnot-wagons and other innovations). The French fleet was impressive in its novelty and in its numbers. The transports tended to be merchant craft or converted warships, pulled by steam tugs, their useless masts torn out to provide more deck space. Surrounding them were Cugnot’s steam-galleys, some equipped with paddlewheels, others with screws – the argument over which method was more powerful had become heated enough down at the manufactory in Toulon to result in several yeux noirs. Also accompanying the French fleet were a number of conventional galleys, some dating from the pre-Revolutionary fleet, others bought from the Kingdom of Denmark after the conclusion of the Great Baltic War. French use of galleys had lapsed during Robespierre’s consulship thanks to the abolition of slavery, but Lisieux’s policies provided plenty of political prisoners to replace the former galley-slaves. Why simply execute such men, when they can still serve their country…

The French fleet was large enough to discourage casual attacks, but it was nonetheless met by a force of six startled Spanish galleys out of Cadaqués on the 18th. Although outnumbered, the Spanish were not struggling with the problems of new technology and inexperience as the French were, and managed to sink eight French ships and damage three others before succumbing to the French steam-galleys’ powerful bow chasers. Fortunately for the French, the Spanish galleys were prevented from drawing close enough to the converted transports to damage them and drown any troops – all the French losses were of their own galleys, steam and manual.

Lepelley dispatched one transport and escorts, under Bourcier, to take Cadaqués after the defeat of the galleys. Bourcier stormed the town and captured the two Spanish frigates and a brig that had been stationed there, helpless without wind. However, there was also an eighth galley, which made a desperate and quixotic attack on the French transport’s steam tug, the Palmipède.[1] The galley’s bow chaser fired a badly-timed blow as the Palmipède rose up on a crashing wave as the tide came in, meaning the cannonball only struck a glancing blow off the Palmipède’s screw, she being one of the screw-based steamers in the mixed fleet. To everyone’s astonishment, as they learned after the battle, the damaged screw actually performed better than it had before the attack – by chance, the cannonball had created something similar in shape to a modern propeller. Once demonstrated to Cugnot and Jouffroy in Toulon, this spelt the end for an intriguing ‘what-if’ of history, the romantic-looking but inefficient paddlewheel-based steamship. Screws immediately became dominant.

Meanwhile, the major force under Devilliers descended upon Roses and, as Boulanger had planned, Ballesteros’ army was crushed between the two French forces and forced to surrender. Immediately afterwards, Drouet attacked south into Catalonia, using the War of Lightning strategy pioneered by Boulanger and Leroux. Barcelona fell in August, the Spanish garrison there being surprised by the unexpected assault – Drouet had successfully outrun the news. All of Catalonia was in French hands by September, and Lisieux declared the annexation of the country to France – having been persuaded of the Catalans’ supposed French descent on linguistic grounds.

Madrid heard of the fall of Barcelona at about this time, but this was also the time when matters came to a head in the governmental crisis. Philip VI died on September 3rd, but by this point he had been driven insane by his disease, and his last words were a screaming declaration to disinherit his first son, Charles, Prince of Asturias. The King had become convinced that he had been poisoned by Charles’ favourite, the Duke of Aranda, and demanded Aranda’s execution before mercifully succumbing. The Kingdom was thus plunged into a constitutional crisis: Saavedra quickly issued declarations in the King’s name claiming the legality of Philip’s last order, while Aranda and the horrified Charles responded with legal judgements claiming the King had been insane and thus his orders should not be carried out. Saavedra quickly made an alliance with the Infante Philip, Philip’s second son, and ordered that he be crowned King of the Spains in order to ensure a strong, united government in order to repel the French.

A virtual civil war erupted in Madrid between the Felipistas and Carlistas, sourly remembered by the Spanish writer Félix Ximinez as ‘pausing in a burning house to fight over who shall rescue the silver’. The royal palace, built forty years before to replace one that had burned down, was promptly subjected to the indignity of history repeating itself. The loss of such a potent royal symbol undermined the credibility of the winner in the dispute, no matter who it was. In the end, by the end of November, the Felipistas and Saavedra had triumphed, while Aranda and the Carlistas, including Charles himself, fled to the northwest, where he still enjoyed the most popularity. The Carlista army, commanded by General Javier Castaños, went with him. José de Palafox, then a young lieutenant, was also a part of the Carlista force…

By the time Saavedra had seized power and Philip had been crowned as Philip VII, the French had overran all of Aragon and forced three more Spanish armies to surrender. Belatedly, Madrid ordered the withdrawal of Cuesta and Blake from the south of France, bringing their armies back over the Pyrenees, piecemeal, to protect Castile. However, Devilliers successfully led a force west from Catalonia that managed to seize three of the major passes, while Boulanger coordinated an attack by the remnants of Eustache’s Sans-Culottes to press the retreating army of Blake back against the mountains. A large Spanish Army was thus pounded to pieces a little at a time, the mountains meaning that it could not concentrate its forces against the French. Once more, the Republic’s Gribeauval artillery and the steam tractors that pulled it served it well. Cuesta’s army survived, but the bombastic Cuesta was by this point convinced that the ‘traitorous’ Carlistas were more of a threat than the French, ignored orders from Madrid and moved west to attack Asturias.

Thus it was that Spain was chronically underdefended in the campaign season of 1802. By this point France had moved almost her entire army into Aragon, which now swept westward along a broad front, with a single central spearhead aimed at Madrid. Although Spain retained some good generals fighting for Philip VII and Saavedra, she lacked the manpower to resist France’s giant conscript armies. There were moments of glory for Spain, such as the Felipista general Bernardo de Gálvez’s[2] epic victory at Granada, driving back a French force under Drouet that drastically outnumbered his own. But no matter how many songworthy individual actions the Spanish warriors accomplished, the march of the French columns westward was like an unstoppable tide. Madrid, damaged by years of civil war, was indefensible. Philip VII and Saavedra abandoned it for Cordoba, then Seville, and finally Cadiz as the French closed in towards the end of 1802. At the same time, Charles, Aranda and Castaños managed to defeat Cuesta, with the only real winner being the French. Navarre was finally swallowed up once more by the Republican armies, a fact that was celebrated with parades in Paris. Lisieux sensed the mood of euphoria and shifted his plans into high gear…

The scale of the Spanish defeat provoked alarm in many circles. The King of Naples and Sicily, Charles VIII and VI, was descended from Charles III of Spain and the struggles of his fellow Bourbons created further interest in Spain in the two Kingdoms, whose navy and even army was currently being reformed by a British ex-Admiral with an axe to grind, a man named Horatio Nelson. British political circles mumbled confusedly over the impact of the French victory, the Foxites cheering on the forces of radicalism as they overthrew another fossilised absolutist state, the Tories joining them due to the defeat of an old British enemy, while the moderate Burkeans reacted with alarm at the spread of the Revolution.

But perhaps the most significant response was in Lisbon. The Portuguese court was understandably alarmed at the rapid downfall of Spain and the thought that they could be next. Portugal and Republican France were not at war, but this had not stopped the French advance through Germany cutting across many neutral states and often executing their royal families. Although Portugal was no German statelet, and her army had undergone considerable reforms since the lessons of the First Platinean War with Spain, the prospect of a war with the whole might of France – and perhaps a co-opted Spain – was enough to make another Lisbon earthquake seem trivial by comparison.

But, of course, Portugal had King Peter IV, who did not let himself be daunted by such minor issues as the impending destruction of his country. He called his ministers and the Cortes, including his chief minister the Duke of Cadaval, to a meeting in January 1803 in order to discuss their response to the French invasion of Spain. There were several views expressed, including those who argued that the best response was to pursue a policy of highly visible neutrality and sign treaties with France, as Flanders had. Peter scoffed at that, calling those who held that view ‘tortoises’, who thought they were safe if they hid from the world inside their shells. No, the only solution was a pre-emptive attack.

The King’s ministers gaped at this, a piece of madness that seemed equal to anything his mother Maria had ever come out with. But Peter explained the method behind his shock pronouncement. If France co-opted Spain, they would have the same advantages that Spain always had in their wars with Portugal. But right now Spain was weak and reeling, struggling to respond. Now was the time for Portugal to occupy all the strongpoints first, and then hold them against any French attack, creating buffer zones against future attack.

Most of the King’s ministers still thought this was quite crazy, but a refinement to the plan by Cadaval convinced most of them. The Portuguese foreign ministry approached Charles, who was still hiding out in Asturias, and offered to recognise him as King if he would consent to giving Portugal free rein in Spain. After some agonising, Charles agreed. After the Portuguese envoy left, he turned to Aranda and started enthusiastically declaring his ideas for how they would retake Madrid with Portuguese help and drive out the French. Aranda shook his head sadly and said that it was impossible – Portugal would be crushed as easily as Spain had been, he said. No, Charles had done the right thing, undermined his brother, gained some legitimacy, but there was no victory to be had here. The only option was to flee the country, then return when the situation was different. The French had other enemies. They might withdraw their troops to the other end of Europe, and then it would be time to return in glory, just as King Sebastian of Portugal would according to the old legend.

Charles was doubtful of this, but his mind was changed in March 1803 when the French finally took Cadiz and Philip VII surrendered to them. To the surprise of some commentators, the French did not immediately execute Philip VII. Lisieux and Boulanger had already agreed that a Spanish Latin Republic was not likely at present, and would have to wait until later. Spain did not have many centralised institutions – remove the monarchy and it would fragment, and it would no longer be the case that to hold the capital was to hold the nation.

The revolution could wait.

The peace was not, in fact, all that punishing, at least on paper. France annexed all of the Basque lands, Catalonia, and a wide strip of territory in between, resulting in a definitive French control of the Pyrenees. Andorra was also abolished and annexed to France. France also took Minorca from Spain and turned it into a naval base for its new steam fleet. However, the deeper strictures of the peace were not written down. Philip VII was virtually reduced to a French puppet, Saavedra quietly met with a ‘Carlist assassin’ in the night, and it was French ‘advisors’ who really set Spanish policy.

In April, just after Saavedra’s assassination, Philip VII issued death warrants on all the other infantes of Spain, a clumsy French policy aimed at ensuring there were no other claimants. Many of the other four – Philip VI had produced six sons but no daughters – were already turning towards Charles after Philip VII’s humilitation, but now the Infantes Antonio, Ferdinand, John and Gabriel hastily high-tailed it for Asturias. By now, Charles recognised the truth of Aranda’s argument, as French and Felipist armies formed up to invade the Carlist-held lands. With a heavy heart, he gave the order.

Charles had nine ships of the Spanish Navy loyal to him waiting in Corunna. Portugal gave him several more in return for his blessing for their annexation of Galicia – not a policy he would have countenanced in any situation less desperate, of course. Sickened by the Portuguese taking advantage of his weak position, he later bitterly remarked ‘I am surprised Pedro did not ask for Torsedillas to be moved so that our rightful lands now extend from ten degrees west of Madrid to ten degrees east!’[3]

It is the nine Spanish ships that are remembered, though. On them, they carried the last hope for a free Spain, the five Infantes, including the man who claimed to be King Charles IV of Spain. But each and every one of those five Infantes would one day be a King in his own right. For the fleet of Spain fled westwards from the ruin of their nation, westwards along the path that Columbus had traced more than three hundred years before, into the lands of the Indies…

[1] Named after an earlier French attempt at a steamboat by Claude de Jouffroy. Jouffroy himself was imprisoned during Robespierre’s tenure, but was then released by Lisieux and is working with Cugnot in Toulon.

[2] TTL neither his father nor he became Viceroy of New Spain, and his career has mainly focused on European conflicts, except a brief foray into Peru during the Second Platinean War.

[3] Of course, the Spanish in this time use their own capital to define the meridian, like every other major power.

Part #50: A Vision of the World

The South Seas—the last unexplored frontier. This, then, will be the voyage of His Majesty’s Ship Enterprize. Our three-year mission: to explore strange new lands, to seek out new peoples and new kingdoms…to tread, bravely, where no Englishman, where no American, has set foot.”

– Captain the Honourable George North, private journal​

From – “A History of the Imperial Navy” by Sir Augustus Vanburen:

Many men have tried to claim a conclusive date for the foundation of the Imperial Navy. Few save the credulous and the schoolboy will attempt to claim that the Imperial Navy truly came into being only on the day when it was legally founded, in the fires of war of the Thirsty Thirties. Indeed, how could such an organisation have moved smoothly into action if it had not been acting independently for years before, waiting only for officialdom to catch up with reality (as is so often the case?)

No, the true date of the Imperial Navy’s genesis must lie by definition earlier. Some have given it, perhaps with some justification, as 1796, the year that the American Preventive Cutter Service was founded. They argue that this was the first truly American manifestation of the British naval service – certainly the first with ‘American’ in the title – and thus qualifies as the spiritual ancestor of the Imperial Navy. However, this assumption fails on two counts. The Preventive Cutter Service, though officially an Imperial[1] organisation, was in practice the responsibility of Confederal or even provincial authorities, and lacked any single unified military command. Its officers were not considered part of the Royal Navy, and with good reason: they were as to trained fighting sailors as militiamen were to regulars on land. This was not usually a problem, as the PCS’ main role was to deter smugglers and illegal transporters[2], but it certainly illustrates that the PCS cannot credibly be claimed to be a precursor to the Imperial Navy. Besides, ex-RN ships under American command had been stationed in provincial ports ever since the 1760s, though under not even a theoretical unified command, and the PCS simply represented a refinement of this.

It may be that we cannot, in fact, simply point to a single date at which the IN came into existence, but one highly iconic moment was certainly the launch of HMS Enterprize (later retroactively altered to HIMS). Some scholars have scoffed at the populist sentiment surrounding the ‘myth’ of the Enterprize, but to do so is to miss the point. We are not Rationalists and this is not a Rational world. It matters little that a thousand tiny changes in law and alterations in naval policy contributed far more to the foundation of the IN than did one ship. It is what people remember that defines our past, and by extension, our future.

Enterprize’s own history is certainly worth examining. The first HMS Enterprize was a captured French craft, and thence descends the name, as do so many with a rich, incongruously British, history. L’Entreprise, a sixth-rate jackass frigate, was taken from her French captain by HMS Tryton in 1705, during the First War of Supremacy.[3] Renamed HMS Enterprize, she only survived for two years under the command of Captain Paul before being wrecked off the English coast, but the Royal Navy, in its fickle way, remembered the name. In 1709, a newly constructed British frigate, a fifth-rate, was given the name Enterprize. And a legend began.

Three more Enterprizes followed, each with its own log of adventures as thick as that of any Royal Navy ship. One was a captured Spanish craft, while the other two were British-built. The fifth HMS Enterprize was one of the Rifleman class of 28-gun sixth-rate frigates[4] and fought in the Second Platinean War under Captain Humphry Pellew, a Cornishman.[5] This Enterprize fought in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1783 and acquitted herself well, to the extent that the Gazette decided to focus on Pellew’s crew’s heroism rather than dwelling on the overall embarrassing tactical defeat for the Royal Navy. After minor repairs at the Gosport Shipyard[6] in Virginia, Enterprize was then reassigned for escort convoy duty for the transports carrying American troops down to fight in the Plate. Pellew chafed at this inglorious duty, and was relieved in late 1784 when he was released for freelance commerce raiding. In the latter stages of the Second Platinean War, it is considered that Pellew and his crew wrought sufficient havoc on the Franco-Spanish attempts to reinforce their troops by convoy that they may have shortened the war by months. For better or for worse.

But Pellew’s Enterprize is of course best known for the Battle of Falkland’s Islands (known as Batalla de las Islas Malvinas in the UPSA). In February 1785, months before the war’s end, a Franco-Spanish force commanded by Admiral Pierre André de Suffren de Saint Tropez successfully trapped Pellew near the leeward shores of the islands. Refusing all calls to surrender, Pellew and his crew fought on, outnumbered, against two French ships of the line, a Spanish frigate and another Spanish ship of the line. In the end the Enterprize was sunk, but not before she took down both the Spanish frigate and the French flagship by an astonishingly foolhardy boarding action. Before being captured by the French marines, Pellew managed to shoot Suffren himself at long range with a rifled pistol, killing one of France’s most gifted admirals. Many speculative romantics of the French persuasion have mused on how things would have turned out differently later if Royal France had had a man of his calibre rather than the dithering d’Estaing.

A new Enterprize was not launched for a number of years. Perhaps the Royal Navy thought that the name was unlucky after the vessel’s destruction, or perhaps that Pellew’s gallant last stand was too legendary to live up to. In any case, the name disappeared from the Royal Navy lists for over a decade, not surfacing even in the frantic shipbuilding period of 1785-1794 as the RN struggled to recover from its shock defeats in the Second Platinean War.

In truth, the circumstances of the French Revolution and the loss of much of the former French fleet to the Dauphin meant that Britain and the RN had little to fear, navally, from the Latin Republic – in the short term at least. However, shipbuilding continued right up to the signing of the Treaty of Caen with Republican France after the Seigneur campaign. At this point, the new Fox ministry cancelled many of the shipbuilding contracts, alienating elements within the Royal Navy but saving considerable funds for a populist campaign of cutting taxes and reducing the national debt. This, however, opened up a vacuum in the Royal Navy’s distribution.

Over the course of the eighteenth century, it had become apparent to the Lords of the Admiralty that the Royal Navy had to become a truly global force. Traditionally, the RN’s role was to dominate the English Channel and, to a lesser extent, the Atlantic coastal waters of France, Spain, and the British Isles themselves. A safeguard against invasion by the continental powers with their huge armies, as it had been since before 1588. However, as the century wore on, it soon became evident that naval warfare was just as important in other theatres of the world, and the Wars of Supremacy necessitated a greater Royal Navy presence elsewhere. Furthermore, William Pitt’s policies of merely holding back France in Europe – by paying the Austrians and Prussians to do it for the British and Hanoverians – was based on the idea of seeking to win longer-term colonial victories over the French and the Spanish. In India of course this was ultimately unsuccessful[7], because the battles were mostly fought on land rather than sea, and the French presence there was largely self-sustaining. However, in North America a powerful British naval presence was necessary to prevent French raids and to protect the valuable colonies in the West Indies, as well as to take French and Spanish islands there from their owners.

Given the economic value of the West Indies, it is unsurprising that the first British naval force to be explicitly stationed somewhere other than Britain herself was the West Indian Squadron, based in Jamaica. The Squadron’s duties were multiple: to combat piracy, to defend the British plantations, to warn off the Spanish attempts to prevent British trade with their own colonies, and, in the event of war, to transport redcoats to the Spanish- and French-held islands in order to take them away.

The Treaty of Amsterdam, which ended the Third War of Supremacy in 1759, saw those same valuable islands (such as Guadaloupe) returned to France after having been British-occupied during the war. Yet this was not such an unpopular diplomatic decision as had King William IV’s to return Louisbourg at the end of the Second War of Supremacy (which was one of the catalysts for the War of the British Succession). Everyone understood that, ultimately, it mattered little if France possessed those sugar plantations, if Britain’s Navy could cut her off from them whenever it pleased. The Royal French Navy, though respectable, had no bases outside Europe and lacked the Royal Navy’s long-range power-projection capabilities.

The West Indian Squadron was boosted by the creation of the American Squadron in 1780, a response to Franco-Spanish activity near the American Atlantic seaboard at a time when most of the Royal Navy was engaged in the South Atlantic or guarding against invasion at home. The American Squadron was based at Williamsburgh, the capital of Virginia, and soon royal charters were granted to open up subsidiary bases and shipyards in Boston and Charleston. Lewisborough in New Scotland was also converted into a base.[8] Most importantly, American shipyards were in 1789 granted the right to build new warships for the RN as well as merchantmen. The Royal Navy even placed a permanent admiralty post in each base comparable to the big British base at Malta, capable of giving new (American) recruits officer training and setting lieutenancy examinations.

Ultimately, the purpose of this plan was to support the Royal Navy’s painful rebirth in the wake of the defeats in the Second Platinean War. Letting the Americans look after themselves meant that the RN could focus on its primary objective of defending Britain. With the advent of the Jacobin Wars, this policy was altered somewhat. American shipbuilding was increased, with the intention of withdrawing fleet elements from the West Indian and American Squadrons and adjoining them to the Mediterranean Squadron and the Channel Fleet. This dated from a time when it was considered likely that the whole French Royal Navy would turn its colours and join the Revolutionaries. Due to the time it took for orders to cross the Atlantic, the plan was obsoleted almost by the time the Americans were reading it, but like all plans in such a crusty and conservative organisation as the RN, it soon had a momentum all of its own. Thus it was that, despite the fact that no ships were in fact removed from the American and West Indian fleets, and peace was signed in 1800, the American shipyards were still going at full capacity as late as 1805. The Royal Navy would eventually come to be thankful for this, but at present it was largely a piece of politics on the part of the ruling Constitutionalist Party, which favoured a more independent American foreign policy and saw – with more perspicacity than usual – that the American Squadron might one day signify control as well as geography.

However, this meant that at present, the Americans had more ships than they knew what to do with. Fortuitously, this came at the same time as a deepening crisis. In 1799, another ‘Jenkin’s Ear’ incident startled newspapers in London and especially Fredericksburg, despite the ongoing war with the Republic. Despite being allies, or at least cobelligerents, Britain and Spain were clashing in the Oregon Country in the north-west of North America, south of the Russian outposts in Alaska.[9] A small colony of British adventurers led by John Goodman had colonised Noochaland[10] in order to set up a new fur trade. That was the primary source of Russian interest in Alaska, and Noochaland was just as rich in that regard. Goodman’s men traded with the native Noochanoolth and Salish Indians, mainly for food, in exchange for the usual European trade goods. Their furs were mainly sold on via the Pacific islands, in which Goodman had a number of connections, having traded at the court of King Kamehameha of Kohala, who was seeking to unite the Hawaiian Islands under his rule at the tim. Kamehameha essentially served as an intermediary for Goodman’s goods to be passed on to the other islands, and ultimately to Europeans (via the Dutch and Portuguese in the East Indies and the Spanish in the Philippines). This helped finance Kamehameha’s own wars of unification, leading to the creation of a single Kingdom of Hawaii by 1804, and also sparked renewed interest in the central to north Pacific among several states. Not all of them were European: down in Autiaraux, the Mauré began to look back at the islands from which they can originally came, and pondered…

But Goodman’s activities also alerted the Spanish. The Viceroy of New Spain, Martín de Gálvez, was alarmed by British interest in a territory which was claimed by Spain according to the old treaties, even if it had never been colonised. He sent a mission under Admiral Juan Esteban Rodriguez, which arrested Goodman and occupied his colony. The Spanish authorities had always had problems distinguishing between official British actions and those of individual British citizens, unsurprising considering the fact that the British government unofficially sanctioned a lot of privateers and secret missions against Spanish rule in the Americas. Thus, even as the Republican French fought both countries, a crisis grew in North America.

The Rockingham Ministry was unwilling to act too strongly against Spain at a time when both countries were aligned against the Republicans. Thus it ultimately fell to the Americans to stake their own claim to the region. Britain had records of Sir Francis Drake possibly exploring the same earlier in the 16th century, having named it New Albion, but a ship needed to be sent to examine the territory in order to plausibly confirm this. It was also diplomats acting on behalf of the Duke of Grafton and James Monroe who eventually secured Goodman’s release, negotiating directly with Martínez. This diplomatic traffic between Fredericksburg and Mexico City was a sign of things to come, with London and Madrid being only peripherally involved. Goodman was released, but the Spanish remained in occupation of Noochaland and warned that British interference would not be tolerated. In response, the Americans – with the tacit assent of London – launched the mission of HMS Enterprize.

This sixth Enterprize was an American-built ship, from the same shipyard which had repaired her predecessor. Her construction incorporated many new innovations which might not have been approved by the more conservative Royal Navy establishment back in Britain. A fifth-rate, 36-gun frigate, she incorporated four of the new short-range carronades as well as a new design of bow-chaser with a rifled barrel, developed by the American gunsmith James Murray-Pulteney, a relative of Patrick Ferguson of the breech-loading rifle. She carried a crew of 247 men, under the command of Captain the Honourable George North, second son of the late Lord North, the former Lord Deputy of North America. George North had mostly grown up in Fredericksburg and thought of himself as a Virginian, and the rest of his crew was also largely American, although like any Royal Navy crew it had its share of eclectic personnel. We know from the detailed records surrounding the voyage that the Enterprize carried a Malay, a Chinese, three Guineans, two black freedmen from Pennsylvania, thirty-nine Britons, three Frenchmen, two Spaniards, five Indians of the American variety and two of the Indian. The penultimate was perhaps the most significant. Among the five Indians was John Vann, the son of the influential Cherokee leader James Vann, who was himself a cousin of the current Cherokee Emperor Moytoy IV Attaculla and essentially the Emperor’s chief minister.[11] The elder Vann, who like many Cherokee leaders had part-European ancestry, wanted his son to see more of the world and to learn about naval practice. Also, just as the Americans had a secret motive for wanting to learn more about the Oregon country, so did Vann and the Emperor of the Cherokee…

The Enterprize left Gosport Yard in April 1801. She carried aboard her the naturalist Andrew Sibthorpe, a rival of Erasmus Darwin II who had achieved fame for his exploration of the flora and fauna of the Great Lakes a few years before. Sibthorpe was determined to find even more extraordinary creatures and plants to present to the Royal Society.

Captain North proposed a leisurely course that would allow the Enterprize to ‘fly the flag’ for America in various ports – contrary to regulations, along with the White Ensign she flew the Jack and George. To that end, the Enterprize sailed pointedly through the Spanish parts of the West Indies, pausing in Havana in order to take on supplies. Sibthorpe, a noted Linnaean, wrote much-debated musings on how the new Carolinian colonists of Cuba were treating both the black slaves and the established Spanish hierarchy there, and how this fitted into Racialist philosophy, if at all.

The Enterprize crossed the Atlantic to briefly call in on the trade posts of the newly reinvigorated Royal Africa Company, in which Sibthorpe met Joseph Banks and discussed the prospect of a truly universal system of classification. The ship then moved on, spent a week in the friendly port of Buenos Aires in the UPSA, and finally rounded the Horn through the Straits of Magellan. It was only on the return voyage, contrary to what many textbooks state, that the ship landed on Tierra del Fuego and Sibthorpe wrote about the natives.

Finally, the Enterprize sailed north through the Pacific. The hostile policies of the Spanish Empire meant that she could not call in at those ports enroute, but that was no great hardship for a vessel commanded by Nantucket whalers who knew these waters like the back of their hand. The Enterprize called in at Lahaina, the capital of what would become the Kingdom of Hawaii, in which North met Goodman, who had made his way here after finally being released by the Spanish. Goodman was notably and vocally disappointed by North’s refusal to give a definitive answer on whether Britain would stake a claim to the region and restore him to his colony. It is for that reason, many historians believe, that Goodman and his compatriots (not all of whom were British) gave up on attempting to gain British or American backing for their trade project, and instead turned their attention to other sponsors…

[1] ‘Imperial’ in this sense has a similar meaning to ‘federal’ in the OTL USA, i.e. a national organisation defined and controlled by the central government. The counterpart is ‘Confederal’, referring to issues controlled by the governments of the Five Confederations.

[2] Illegal transporters = people who smuggle transported British convicts into the Empire, which has been illegal since the 1780s. Paid for by corrupt British justices of the peace who pocket the money from the Crown set aside for paying for the convicts’ official transport to one of the authorised penal colonies.

[3] The War of the Spanish Succession. Identical to OTL of course because it is before the POD, but is usually referred to by this different name in TTL.

[4] OTL this class, or its close analogue, was named for the Enterprize herself. Butterflies have resulted in the names reshuffling. Rifleman here is a reference to the Americans’ famed skill with the rifled musket.

[5] ATL ‘cousin’ of Edward Pellew…approximately. Note the Cornish spelling of Humphry.

[6] In OTL this was later renamed the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. It was established in 1767 in both timelines.

[7] But not in OTL.

[8] The former Louisbourg. In TTL there is no Halifax, as the French abandoned any attempt to put bases in Nova Scotia (New Scotland) as the Americans have put more effort into holding and colonising it relative to OTL. Although parts of the naval base mentioned here are actually closer to the site of OTL Halifax, the whole area is referred to vaguely as ‘Lewisborough’ by the RN.

[9] Increased Russian interest in its far eastern possessions in general, due to Lebedev and Benyovsky, means that the small Alaskan outposts are considerably larger and more developed by this point than OTL.

[10] TTL’s name for Vancouver Island. Note that the Noochanoolth are only one of several tribes there, but as usual they were the first one to be met by Europeans (in this case Goodman) and so the whole place gets named for them.

[11] Recall in TTL that the British attempt to set up a single Cherokee Emperor and unify the tribes (in order to use them more effectively against the French and Spanish, and so treaties signed with a single leader are honoured) has been markedly more successful, due to colonial governments not changing policy so often. However, this is rather more London’s definition of success than Charleston’s, as the Carolinians would have preferred more disunited Indians that they could easily push aside in order to settle their lands. As it is, the fact that the Cherokee are much more united in TTL gives even the most fiery filibusterer pause.

Interlude #7: Chauvinism 101

Captain Christopher Nuttall: Now that you two have rejoined us, perhaps we may move on to other matters.

Dr Bruno Lombardi (somewhat indistinctly): Eb, bir. We have the shpecial rebort to considber…

Dr Thermos Pylos: It is simply an illustration of how relatively minor alterations to our own timeline may –

Dr Bruno Lombardi: - in fact truly result in bajor rebercussions a few years down de line…dough I disagree wid my colleague’s obinion of de so-called ‘butterfly ebbect’…

Dr Thermos Pylos: Be quiet, or I’ll break your nose again.

Captain Christopher Nuttall (pointedly): Gentlemen...

Dr Thermos Pylos: Very well. Let us consider the life of one General Anthony St. Leger…


From – “A History of Doncaster” by Dr Stephen Utterthwaite (1963):

Anthony St. Leger was an Irishman, born in County Kildare in 1731 to a family of old Anglo-Norman extraction. As the fourth son and freed from responsibilities of being heir to the family lands, or being expected to enter the Church, he chose to join the Army after his education at Eton School and Peterhouse College, Cambridge. Towards the end of his Cambridge tenure, in 1752, St. Leger witnessed a parade through the streets of the university city by some of the American troops who had recently been instrumental in restoring King Frederick to his rightful place on the throne of Great Britain.

The parade was led by Sir William Pepperrell Bt., a man of Massachussetts who had commanded the successful siege of Lewisborough (then Louisbourg, a French fortress) in the American theatre of the Second War of Supremacy. It was this victory that had invested Frederick with the tide of public feeling he needed to launch his bid for power, as the exiled prince had capitalised on American outrage when King William handed the fortress back to France at the Peace of Aix-la-Chappelle. Pepperrell had then fought in Ireland against the Jacobites, and was by 1752 one of the King’s most trusted confidantes.

Pepperrell’s teenage son, also called William,[1] was a colour ensign in the informal regiment, which would eventually become the 51st (Massachussetts) Foot.[2] As they paraded down Trumpington Street, Pepperrell the Younger tripped on a cobblestone and dropped the King’s Colour he had been carrying. The embarrassment at such a potent image of Frederick’s somewhat illegitimate taking of the throne could have been tremendous. It is not hard to consider how the story could have spread and become a rallying cry for Williamites and Jacobites alike.

But the flag was snatched from the air by one of the countless students lining the street, a certain Anthony St. Leger, and quickly handed back to Ensign Pepperrell as he recovered. With a nod of thanks at a crisis averted, the ensign began a friendship that would change history…

After the parade, St. Leger met with young William Pepperrell in the Eagle and Child pub on Bene’t Street, the ensign buying him a drink in thanks. This meeting developed into a wider conversation, with some of the older and more experienced officers in the regiment – whether American-, Irish- or British-born, they had all fought in America – joining in. They filled St. Leger’s head with tales of the extraordinary things to be seen in the New World, and while he had already been considering the Army as a career, this sealed his decision.

St. Leger signed up to the 51st a year later, not long before the regiment was due to be shipped back to America. The failure to ratify the Treaty of Aix-la-Chappelle had resulted in icy relations between London and Paris, and the Diplomatic Revolution with Austria was looming on the horizon. Everyone knew that another war was only a matter of time, and Anthony St. Leger did not want to miss it. He entered the regiment as an Ensign, but immediately bought himself a promotion to lieutenant with his share of the St. Leger land rents. By this point William Pepperrell the younger had also risen to that rank, and the two of them served under Captain Timothy Bush, a man of Connecticut and commander of the Light Company.[3]

The 51st fought in the Third War of Supremacy in America, taking considerable losses: Bush was killed in the Battle of Fort Niagara in 1759[4] and St. Leger was promoted to replace him. Pepperrell the younger was also promoted, commanding the Second Company. The war came to an end in that year with the capture of Quebec and the Treaty of Amsterdam, but peace did not remain for long. When the First Platinean War broke out in 1763, St. Leger and the rest of the 51st were sent to assist the Georgian militiamen and British regulars in the conquest of Florida. By this point he had married Caroline Phipps, the daughter of Sir Spencer Phipps, William Shirley’s lieutenant-governor in Massachussetts, and she was with child. The campaign itself went fairly smoothly, but yellow fever and malaria cut swathes through the army, and though St. Leger himself survived, his pregnant wife fell victim to the fever and died in 1764.

Distraught and possessed with an inchoate fury at the world, St. Leger threw himself into his work with a fey vigour. When he learned that the 51st were to remain in Florida on occupation duty, he transferred out of the regiment to the first one which he knew would be sent to a war theatre: the 33rd Regiment of Foot (1st West Riding of Yorkshire Regiment)[5]. The 33rd was a bit of an enigma: having fought hard and won a battle honour on the field at Dettingen, the battle where King George II had been killed and Prince William had found himself William IV, it was suspected of Williamite sympathies. On the other hand, it was too well-organised and professional for King Frederick to think about disbanding it lightly: it was known as ‘the Pattern’ among army reformers for its men’s discipline, a model regiment for the others to copy. These two features, political unreliability and battlefield strength, were doubtless the major factors that resulted in the 33rd being sent to fight on the Portuguese front in 1765.

St. Leger arrived too late to participate in the unsuccessful Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, but fought at Badajoz the year later. Although that siege was also a failure for the Anglo-Portuguese forces, he distinguished himself, slaying seven Spanish cavalrymen from atop a heap of his dead privates, firing off their loaded muskets one at a time, before finally clubbing the last man to death with the butt of an unloaded musket. It was this act of mindless violence that seemed to bring St. Leger back to himself and burn away a little of his fey battle-madness. He fought more sobrely the year later in Galicia, being promoted to Major and third-in-command of the 33rd, which was reduced by battlefield casualties.

At the end of the war, a still saddened but thoughtful St. Leger returned to England with the 33rd. He could not bring himself to ever look upon America again, associating it with the bittersweet loss of his wife, and had no desire to go back to Ireland. Instead, he settled down in the 33rd’s own home territory, the West Riding of Yorkshire, and eventually bought the Park Hill Estate at Firbeck, near Rotherham. There, he retired from the Army and spent his half-pay on his new hobby, horse-breeding. Having mostly lost his appetite for blood after Badajoz, he found this a new obsession to throw himself into to recover from the pain of his wife’s death. Despite not starting from particularly strong financial territory, by 1770 or so St. Leger was renowned for breeding some of the fastest three-year-old colts in the riding, the county – perhaps even the country.

St. Leger was fortunate in retrospect that in the 1770s the Kingdom of Great Britain’s Prime Minister, Charles Watson-Wentworth the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, was himself a son of the southern West Riding, his family owning the Wentworth Woodhouse estate not far from St. Leger’s. Whenever he tore himself away from the Westminster political scene, Rockingham would return to his northern home, and was interested in horse racing. Yorkshire lacked its own major sweepstakes, but St. Leger was nonetheless making money travelling the country in order to show off his colts. He became known as the “Irish Magician”, with satirists in the Yorkshire newspapers presenting him as a fay capable of enchanting his horses with fairy powers.

Lord Rockingham met St. Leger in 1772 and persuaded him to stand for Parliament as a Patriot Whig. St. Leger’s money and popularity meant that he easily topped the vote and was elected MP for Pontefract in the 1774 general election. St. Leger supported the policies of the Rockinghamite government and was also an advocate of granting greater powers to the Empire of North America. He was one of several British parliamentarians to participate in the direct negotiations that followed the Troubles of the 1760s, but unlike the majority was a moderate rather than a radical. St. Leger was instrumental in convincing the Parliament of Great Britain that the New Englanders would accept a single unitary confderacy; most MPs had thought this was not an option after the failure of such a venture under James II a century before.

However, St. Leger was arguably even more influential for Parliament when he was outside it. In 1776 he, Rockingham, and several other Yorkshiremen of influence met in the upper room of the Red Lion pub in Doncaster and proposed a new Yorkshire racing stakes to be based in the town, for three-year-old colts. Named the Rockingham Stakes[6] after the man who financed it, the race attracted a great deal of interest from all over the country, and eventually even farther afield. One of St. Leger’s horses predictably won the first Stakes, but soon he was facing stiff competition from breeders from every part of Great Britain, along with Ireland, France, and in 1782 he was surprised to be visited by Colonel Sir William Pepperrell the Younger, his former colleague in the 51st. Pepperrell, whose father had died in the 1760s, was now head of the regiment and offered St. Leger the lieutenant-colonelcy.

Although Pepperrell had brought a horse of his own to enter, by the 1780s the initial spark of interest in the race had waned, and St. Leger was becoming bored. He had finally married again in 1779, to Emily Lennox, the daughter of the Duke of Richmond. The Duke shared much with St. Leger, being a former Colonel of the 33rd, a Rockinghamite in Parliament, and supporting the parliamentary rights of the American Imperials. Although Emily gave St. Leger an heir, Charles St. Leger, and cemented the alliance between the families, St. Leger never truly loved her and was unable to let go of his longing for Caroline Phipps. He therefore experienced tension at home. For this reason, he jumped at Pepperrell’s offer.

When the Second Platinean War broke out, the 51st was shipped to the Plate and fought under General Sir George Washington, later 1st Baron Washington. St. Leger distinguished himself once more, winning himself a knighthood, and, unlike some of the British officers of his age stationed there, had not fought in the Plate on the wrong side a generation earlier. For that reason, he was often chosen as a representative to the Platinean revolutionaries. Both on the battlefield and in Buenos Aires, he learned that the Platineans were also interested in horse breeding, at least as much as the Americans: like the Americans, they possessed a country with grassy plains on which cavalry was king and the natives were restless. Thus, it is perhaps inevitable that when the war ended, Sir Anthony St. Leger returned to Britain with a cometary trail of intrigued Platineans in tow.

The new bloodlines from South America breathed new life into the Rockingham Stakes, even though Lord Rockingham himself had since fallen from grace thanks to the Royal Africa Bubble, and the amounts staked on the races rose dramatically as the rich and powerful entered their own colts. St. Leger was made a baronet in 1786, in recognition of how his work had made the Doncastrian economy boom and put both the town and the West Riding on the map.

He died in 1789, but what he left behind would change the world. For among those rich and powerful were, of course, many politicians: Rockingham’s name and interest drew in even more than would have come simply for the Stakes themselves. This only intensified when the aged Rockingham was called back to be Prime Minister once more in 1796, and it was in the 1790s that the fear of invasion ran high once more among the British people. Even though Revolutionary France had lost most of her fleet, the fear remained: men worried that the fleets of the Netherlands or Spain could fall into French hands if those nations were defeated by French armies on land. The latter prophecy came true, at least in part, after Rockingham’s death and peace had been made under Charles James Fox. Though the peace remained, few doubted it would last forever, and the idea of the Spanish fleet bringing the hardened French Republican hordes to British shores was not an idea that bore thinking about.

Thus, slowly, quietly, the Government – not Fox himself, who saw Lisieux’s France through rose-tinted spectacles, but the moderate Whigs and hardline Tories who provided his majority – began to invest in a new Army depot in the southern part of the North of England, near the geographic centre of the country. On paper, at least, it was simply an Army depot. In reality, it had rather more buildings than a mere military base would require, rather more investment, more defences for a place in the middle of the country…

There was a reason for all of this, of course. No matter what Fox thought, a French invasion was a real possibility, one day sooner or later. And if the French landed, they might well succeed in taking London. And if they took London, then Parliament and the King would need a secure place to decamp to while they continued to prosecute the war effort. A place far from the coast, so that in the nightmare scenario of the French ruling the seas, they could not land troops directly. Not a major city, but one with excellent transport links for communicating with the armies. A place which plenty of MPs knew well enough from their excursions north for the sweepstakes…

Thus, in the first decade of the nineteenth century, the village of Finningley, a few miles from Doncaster and just over the border with Nottinghamshire, played host to the construction of Fort Rockingham, named for the former Prime Minister. A fort designed not merely for recruitment and supply, but to serve – in time of the nation’s greatest peril – as an alternative seat of government… [7]

[1] OTL Pepperrell did not marry or have any children. That he did in TTL can be considered a butterfly of Prince Frederick’s activities in America upsetting the OTL political and economic tides.

[2] Called ‘Pepperrell’s Regiment’, this existed in OTL in the Seven Years’ War, not being formed until a few years after this. Like the other American regiment, Shirley’s 50th, it lost many men in the Seven Years’ War and was disbanded afterwards, somewhat upsetting the Americans. In TTL the prestige is such (and the war is shorter) that the two regiments survived, but are eventually renamed after the regions in which they were raised (Massachussetts and New Hampshire) in line with the county system used in the rest of the British Army.

[3] An ancestor of the OTL Bush political family, who in TTL joined the army raised by Frederick to prosecute his return to Britain.

[4] OTL Pepperrell’s Regiment had mostly been killed or captured by the French in a separate battle at this point; TTL, of course, the pattern of warfare is somewhat shifted.

[5] It wasn’t officially linked to the West Riding until the 1780s, but the writer is being a little anachronistic. In any case, the 33rd recruited mainly from the region long before this was officially recognised.

[6] In OTL of course it was simply called the St. Leger; they wanted to name it after Rockingham, but he refused, saying that although he had funded it, it was St. Leger’s idea. In TTL Rockingham is still Prime Minister at this point (in OTL he was in opposition) so not calling it after him is not really an option, prestige-wise.

[7] In the OTL Napoleonic Wars, this was based at Weedon in Northamptonshire. The more northerly location essentially reflects the paranoia of British parliamentarians about the unknown capabilities of French wonder weapons and whether they could overrun the South of England faster than they think. Well, that and the title of this interlude.




When I was a little boy,
I wondered ‘what is Revolution’?

For all the children in the park
spoke of nothing else.

I asked my father and he said
“Revolution is an affront to human nature, a challenge to God and Kings!”

I asked my mother and she said
“Revolution is a sad tale of blood and suffering.”

I asked my brother and he said
“Revolution is the glorious overthrow of everything in the world that oppresses us!”

I asked my sister and she said
“Revolution will set us free.”

I was very confused
so I got out the big dictionary from over the fireplace

And I looked it up.

It said:

Revolution. Noun.
‘To go round in circles’.”

– Anonymous​

Part #51: Viennese Waltz

Mediatisation. Reorganisation. Call it what you will. For those of us who still remember those times, no sweet-sounding word could ever justify it. The days when an insane Empire turned on itself and opened the doors to the most barbarous work of conquest and force since the death of Tamerlane. Did Leroux truly lose at the gates of Vienna? It might have been better for the Empire if he had won.

– Pascal Schmidt, in an 1829 speech​

From – “Austria in the Jacobin Wars” by V.A. Rostopshchin (English translation)

Austria’s position for the campaign season of 1800 was an unenviable one. The nineteenth century dawned inauspiciously for the Hapsburg monarchy, which had already seen so many ups and downs throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth. From the humiliation at the hands of the Swedes in the Thirty Years’ War, to the successes of the War of the Spanish Succession, to the rise of Prussia in the War of the Austrian Succession, to the collapse of Prussia and the temporary restoration of a Holy Roman Empire worthy of the name after the War of the Diplomatic Revolution – Austria’s fate seemed impossible to predict from one moment to the next, though of course it did not prevent commentators from trying.[1]

Even within the Jacobin Wars, Hapsburg fortunes had risen and fallen with dizzying speed. After the limited successes of Mozart and Wurmser in the opening phases of the war, the defeats in Italy by Hoche, and then the unexpected unleashing of the War of Lightning under Leroux and Ney, anything seemed possible. When Mozart, to the cost of his own life, managed to stop Leroux’s army before the gates of Vienna, he secured the survival of the Hapsburg monarchy if nothing else.

Some speculative romantics may have written reams on the subject of what might have happened if the claimant Emperor Francis II had turned the full force of his remaining armies on the disintegrating French position in Germany; but let us not indulge ourselves in the pursuit of the ‘what-if’, thankless as it so often is. In any case, regardless of how dark Austria’s position had been prior to the Battle of Vienna, Republican France was still a new and strange enemy to face. Turkey, though…existing as a bulwark against Turkey was in many ways Austria’s raison d’être. The Hapsburgs defined themselves by opposition to the Ottoman Empire: everything else, whether Protestant rebellions in the Thirty Years’ War or the rise of Jacobinism, no matter how objectively serious a threat to Austria, could only be perceived as a sideshow to the court in Vienna.

Thus, when Sultan Murad V and his Grand Vizier Mehmet Ali Pasha sent troops into Austrian-held Bosnia as a demonstration of Constantinople’s might, to warn the Austrians off interfering as the Ottomans occupied the former Venetian Dalmatian territories, Vienna predictably overreacted. Emperor Francis II proceeded to undermine his own claim to his title by concentrating his armies on repelling the Turks, sending only desultory forces after the retreating French – which was, to put it mildly, not a popular decision among the people of the southern German states.

After Leroux’s death, the French army had split into two factions – the main body under the crazed radical Jacobin Lascelles, who retreated to Regensburg and declared a Bavarian Germanic Republic with himself at its head, and a smaller faction, mostly professional soldiers whose service dated from the ancien régime, northwards into Bohemia. The latter, known as the Cougnonistes after its former leader, Colonel Cougnon (treacherously slain by Lascelles) was now led by Major St-Julien, who upgraded himself to general and took command of the army.

The Cougnonistes occupied the town of Budweis and ran it as their personal fief throughout the winter of 1799, subjecting the local Czechs and Germans to military rule. St-Julien recognised Lisieux’s new regime once word of it reached his ears, but the Cougnonistes were too isolated either to help Paris’ agenda or be helped by it. Thus St-Julien contented himself with raiding the Bohemian countryside to feed his men, at first convincing himself that he was helping the overall war effort by harming Hapsburg possessions, but soon becoming disinclined to participate in the war at all, an opinion shared by his men. Some took local wives and settled down, losing their fighting edge as discipline broke down.

Others continued to raid. The Bohemian peasantry were terrified of the Cougnonistes, who were liable to turn up without warning and requisition their year’s harvest, leaving them to starve. However, no Austrian troops were sent to Bohemia – those which Francis did send to the German front were mostly focused on liberating the occupied parts of the Archduchy of Austria. The Diet in Prague, concerned about what had happened repeatedly in the past in Bohemia when the people became angered, hastily assembled a Czech militia and attacked Budweis in May 1800. The attack failed. St-Julien’s troops might have lost some of their fighting fitness, but barely-trained militiamen were no match for them. The Bohemian regiments of the Austrian army, ironically, were at that moment fighting for their lives against the Turks in the defence of Sarajevo, and were in no position to even desert and return home.

In the wake of that defeat, the Diet convened once more to discuss their options. The debate was hampered by the lack of a strong central authority. Empress Maria Theresa had, in 1749, undertaken reforms that had merged the Bohemian Chancellery with that of the Archduchy of Austria, appealing to the Hapsburg centralising instincts that had repeatedly provoked Bohemia into rebellion since the sixteenth century. Although the Diet had been left in place, its authority had been sapped, and without any royal ministers in place, there was no single executive to make decisions.

Eventually the Diet rallied around Jan Miler (also known by the German name Johannes Müller), who advocated a policy of appeasement. Essentially St-Julien and his men were paid off to restrict themselves to Budweis and not to raid any Bohemian lands – the payments were dubbed ‘Frankgeld’ by the more intellectual side of the British satirical press. The agreement was made in July and after that time the Cougnonistes only raided lands outside the kingdom, especially Saxony, as the Saxon army was fully engaged in the Second War of the Polish Succession against Prussia and its border with Bohemia remained undefended. This situation would continue for several years. Eventually, the Cougnonistes’ early rapacity was forgotten by the Bohemians, who for long afterwards viewed St-Julien through romantic eyes, as his men’s Saxon plunder ultimately made Budweis very rich. In any case, from the beginning, the Bohemian people were more angry with Vienna for failing to defend them than with the French for attacking them in the first place.

To the south, Lascelles’ still-disorganised forces were driven back by an Austrian army under Wurmser towards the end of 1799. By the turn of the century, Wurmser had liberated the prince-bishopric of Salzburg, which had been occupied by the French during the war. Just as the moderate Leroux had been unable to restrain his men when it came to the taking of Regensburg, so here part of the city of Salzburg had been burnt and the prince-bishop had been publicly executed by the chirurgien. At this point came Emperor Francis’ second great mistake, if his failure to respond effectively to the Cougnonistes was his first. Although 1799 had been the year of Austria being saved from what looked like certain destruction, it had also been a year of defeats on almost all fronts. He had sent Archduke Ferdinand’s army straight to Zagreb, ignoring his uncle’s protests that his men needed time to rest, recruit and recuperate after their march from Italy, and the battered veterans had failed to stop the Turks from taking Sarajevo. Desperate to stop his rule crumbling at this crucial stage, Francis searched for any positive news he could use to boost public morale. As well as sending troops under General Quasdanovich to occupy the northern parts of the former Venetian Dalmatia (unopposed) which the Turks had not yet reached, Francis declared the annexation of Salzburg to the Archduchy of Austria, purporting this as some sort of territorial gain and therefore victory.

This was almost universally acknowledged as a dangerous mistake even then, and much more so in retrospect. Any gain Francis made by trumpeting this as a minor victory was outweighed a thousand times by the blow he had dealt to the Imperial system. It had been worrying enough for the countless small states that made up the Empire that the Hapsburgs had been on the back foot and unable to defend them against the French hordes. Now, it seemed that even the Imperials had turned against the system of peace and stability they had long protected. Showing their true features. And if not even the Emperor saw anything wrong with snatching minor states and adding them to his personal domain, why should anyone else bother with any moral qualms?

This was the beginning of what was later termed the Mediatisation of Germany, a curiously bloodless term for what amounted to the half-dozen or so most powerful states tearing into their weaker neighbours and conquering them, always claiming that they did it ‘only to help protect them’. In truth the mediatisation proceeded in lands far away from any possible threat from the French. The Dutch and Flemish, who had begun occupying neighbouring Hapsburg territories and Imperial free cities long before this time in order to prevent the French legally sending armies into the midst of their separated lands, began officially annexing them. Charles Theodore of Flanders and the Palatinate proclaimed a single united state (usually called Flanders, though it had a more complex title) that included the former territories of the prince-bishoprics of Liège and Trier and the Free City of Cologne. He titled himself King of this state, finally stripping away any acknowledgement of the authority of the Holy Roman Emperor.

His ally to the north, Stadtholder William V, approached John George V of Saxony with a proposal. The Saxons were still fighting tooth and nail with the Prussians at the time, while the armies of the Dutch Republic were poised to take over the Saxon possessions in the Rhineland.[2] The Saxons and Dutch avoided war by hammering out the Treaty of Minden, which was signed in August of 1800. This transferred East Frisia and Cleves, the two Saxon territories which the Dutch most coveted, to the United Netherlands as provinces. In exchange, the other Saxon territories of Minden, Lingen, Mark and Dortmund were left untouched. The treaty also divided the Rhineland into spheres of influence, with the Saxons having influence over the eastern independent territories of Paderborn, Lippe and Westphalia, while the Dutch extended their influence over Bistum, Osnabruck and Münster. These lands were not annexed, but they were intimidated into customs unions and other subservient policies.

The Treaty of Minden was strongly opposed by the ‘Mittelbund’, the alliance of the Hessian states, Nassau and Würzberg, which soon became a rallying call for other small states throughout the Germanies. Although the Mittelbund could not take any direct action against the Dutch and Flemish due to the fact that it was fighting against Ney’s armies at the time, its protests did attract new members, including Waldeck, Wittgen and Eichsfeld.

The Flemish and Dutch actions also alarmed Britain, or at least that small part of British political society that actually remembered that the crown possessions still included Hanover. With a Prime Minister who openly endorsed the French Revolution and a King who had never even been to Hanover, the prospects of gaining direct British help did not look bright for the electorate. George II, or perhaps William IV, had been the last king to really defend Hanoverian interests at the Court of St. James, and things had gone from bad to worse for Hanover since the Second Glorious Revolution. The defeat of Prussia, Britain’s ally, in the War of the Diplomatic Revolution had resulted in Hanover being partly occupied by French troops, and these were only ejected at the Peace of Amsterdam when Britain traded back the French West Indian possessions. Another attempted French invasion during the Second Platinean War only failed because of the general state of disorganisation at the French high command in that era. Hanover’s army and institutions had been neglected by Britain’s King and Parliament both, and it showed.

Thus it was that during the Jacobin Wars Hanover was essentially ruled in all but name by William FitzGeorge (or Wilhelm FitzGeorg as he was often known), the Duke of Cambridge. He was the son of George FitzGeorge, an illegitimate son of King George II by a Hanoverian mistress, and had followed his father in pursuing a career in the Hanoverian army, eventually rising to the rank of general. Neither he nor his father had ever seemed a likely enough candidate to the throne of Great Britain to be worthy of forming a Williamite resistance around after Frederick won the War of the British Succession. George FitzGeorge had been born while King George had been on one of his many campaigns in Germany, and neither he nor his son spoke English very well.

Nonetheless, when the Treaty of Minden was signed, the British government was sufficiently roused to adopt its usual policy in such times – find the strongest state in Germany and pay it to beat all the others up until Hanover’s position was secure. This was more problematic than usual, however, as the two choices of the past, Prussia and Austria, were both beset by increasing difficulties. Saxony was on the rise but was embroiled in a war, and of course the British could hardly appeal to the Dutch and Flemish to defend against themselves. Eventually Fox’s foreign secretary, Richard Sheridan, appealed to Denmark. The Danes were attractive to Britain for the same reason as Prussia had in the 1750s: they appeared to be rising to a position of prominence, having defeated Sweden and restored a Scandinavian union as well as gaining more territory in Germany. Denmark had transferred Swedish Pomerania to its own control and had, as part of the price for assisting Russia in the Great Baltic War, acquired control over all the dukedoms of Oldenburg. Oldenburg, though technically separate from the crown of Denmark, then achieved a status similar to that of Schleswig and Holstein within the Danish monarchy.

The British move was calculated, but Sheridan failed to realise that the Danes were out for territorial aggrandisement in Germany themselves. William FitzGeorge could have told him, but communications between he and the British government had been even frostier than usual since the Double Revolution. King Johannes II was concerned that his acquisition of Sweden might stir resentment in Schleswig and Holstein against being part of some primarily Scandinavian empire. Johannes and his government thus wanted to gain more German lands, not out of simple greed, but in order to try and balance the numbers of German-speakers with those of Scandinavian languages and prevent dissent. They were not concerns that would have occurred to many European monarchs even twenty years before, but the French Revolution had opened the Pandora’s box that was linguistic and ethnic nationalism, and now no-one could close it.

Thus, Copenhagen accepted London’s cavalry of St George[3], nodded and smiled, and then turned around and began threatening the Mecklenburgs. As well as the other reasons, the Danes coveted ever greater control over the Baltic. Ultimately Johannes’ vision was for the Russians to be excluded from it totally, even driven from St Petersburg, and the sea to become a ‘Danish lake’, even as the Mediterranean had once been a Roman lake. This somewhat crazy dream could only lie years in the future, but the acquisition of Mecklenburg’s coast was a first step.

The two Mecklenburg states – Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz – rejected the crude Danish demands in October 1800. The Mittelbund proclaimed its support of Mecklenburger territorial integrity, though it could do little in practice if Denmark invaded.

In the end, the crisis was resolved at the Conference of Hagenow, when the Saxons, Mecklenburgers and Danes reached an agreement, of which more is told elsewhere. But the Hanoverians were appalled at the backfire of Britain’s foreign policy, and in the end William FitzGeorge began acting wholly independently, without recourse to either the British Government or King Henry IX (Elector Heinrich I of Hanover). He formed his own defensive league, the Alliance of Hildesheim, named after that prince-bishopric in which the treaty was signed. The Alliance was composed of Hanover, Brunswick, Hildesheim, Bremen and the Schaumburgs, and was closely allied with the Mittelbund. If William had dared, he would probably have formally joined the electorate and its allies to that entity in the first place, for the alliance between Hanover and Hesse-Kassel went back a long way. The Alliance and the Mittelbund worked together to resist further encroachment by other powers, whether they be the Danes, the Dutch or the Flemish. The fact that most such powers (except the Austrians and Saxons) were primarily non-German and their capitals lay outside the boundary of the Empire tended to associate the Mittelbund-Alliance with German patriotism, and ultimately German unificationism. After all, Pascal Schmidt began his career as a soldier in the Hessian army.

It seems astonishing to us now that the Austrians virtually ignored these dramatic developments, focusing on the Balkan front. After the failures of the last part of 1799, the campaign season of 1800 saw the built-up Austrian armies repel Dalmat Melek Pasha’s forces from the siege of Zagreb, but the Turks were left in possession of Bosnia and the vast majority of Dalmatia. Only Istria remained out of Constantinople’s reach, and even that was contested instead by part of Lazare Hoche’s new Italian Patriotic Army.

For 1801, desperate to break the stalemate, Emperor Francis ordered General Alvinczi to shift his army to Transylvania and attack Wallachia over the border. At first this may seem a quixotic move, but it was calculated to try and drag Russia into the war. The Russians were still recovering from their recent civil war, but Francis guessed that no Russian tsar could resist the opportunity to sweep in and take back Bessarabia and Moldavia if the Austrians moved into Wallachia.

Unfortunately for the Austrians, Emperor Paul had already decided on a more leisurely strategy for regaining Russian power in the regions that Sultan Abdulhamid II had extended Turkish influence into during the Russian Civil War. He had concluded that open warfare at this stage would only undermine his rule. He needed some years to cement it first before attempting anything ambitious. The Turks, of course, did not know this (though they suspected) and thus Paul’s ministers were able to wring a number of concessions out of the Ottomans in exchange for remaining neutral. The chief of these was a withdrawal of Turkish troops and influence from Georgia: this act repaid Paul’s debt to Bagration. For the present the Russians conceded the Ottoman presence in Armenia and in the Khanate of the Crimea. That could wait for another day.

His plan having failed, 1801 ended badly for Emperor Francis. The Turkish armies had ground to a halt, but they had already taken more than Sultan Murad had expected. Alvinczi’s army had occupied the northern half of Wallachia, but Alexandru Morusi, the Prince of Wallachia and Moldavia, had raised an army and fought back with Turkish assistance.

And for the Germans living under the Bavarian Germanic Republic, the future looked bleak. Lascelles was a man whose conception of revolutionary thought had not got past the part about watering the soul with impure blood. The rapacities of the Cougnonistes were mild in comparison to what was inflicted and unleashed upon the people of Bavaria, the Upper Palatinate and those parts of the Archduchy of Austria which were still occupied by the French. Lascelles’ men murdered without compunction anyone suspected of having any noble blood – and in the Holy Roman Empire, scarce less than in Poland, that could be almost anyone. Desperate to escape such a fate themselves, the Germans turned on each other, claiming their neighbours were the illegitimate great-great-grandnephew of a ritter born in 1621. Some said (in hushed voices) that the drains of Munich saw more blood than water drain through them in those dark years. And Lascelles took racialist theories to even greater depths than Lisieux, who he rejected, arguing that the Germanic races were sub-human and it was the task of the Latins to reverse the mistakes of history (i.e. the Germanic invasions of the Roman Empire) and reduce them back to their ‘correct’ state of barbarism.

Such a murderous regime could not last forever, not even if its populace had been thoroughly cowed. Rebellion was inevitable.

And so we come to the man remembered by history, simply, as Der Führer…

[1] The Russian writer Rostopshchin, of course, does not use the English ‘war of supremacy’ terminology coined by George Spencer-Churchill.

[2] Acquired from Prussia after the War of the Diplomatic Revolution.

[3] A poetic term for the gold guineas that Britain supplied as payment to its continental allies, because the coins bore the image of St George slaying the dragon.

Part #52: The Arandite Plan

From – “And the Sun shall Rise in the West” by P. D. de Veers (1951):

When the man who was named – depending on whom you asked – the Infante Charles, King Charles IV of Spain, or Traitor – fled into the west from Corunna, his initial plans were relatively simple. As his chief minister Miguel Pedro Alcántara Abarca de Bolea, the Duke of Aranda, had advised him, there was the possibility of gathering forces in Spain’s New World colonies in order to attempt a reconquista at a later date. Trying to stand against the French at the present, it was clear, was suicide. Not only was Jean de Lisieux’s France a far greater military power than Spain – Spain, the old decaying former superpower halfway through military reforms and muddled all the more because of it – but only half of Spain, at best, would fight for Charles. Though pockets of Carlistas remained and some of these remnants allied with Portugal, the bulk of Spain supported the claimant King Philip VII, and French troops were there to make sure they stayed supporting him.

Some historians have claimed that Charles IV or Aranda had the same perceptive insight into Lisieux that is often attributed to Peter IV of Portugal. This is questionable. Peter’s information on Lisieux ultimately came from the Portuguese spy network in Paris, which was second to none – after all, Portugal, distant, not too powerful, and not really a traditional enemy of France, was low down on the list of the Garde Nationale’s list of countries to watch out for. While even skilful British or Austrian spies were uncovered and tortured by the Garde (along with many innocent Frenchmen and foreigners alike), the Portuguese were often capable of slipping by. Peter’s source is sometimes said to be François Bleuel, one of Lisieux’s secretaries, who was supposedly blackmailed by a Portuguese controller after his unnatural sexual activities were uncovered. This would have been a particularly deadly revelation in Lisieux’s France, in which anything that impeded reproduction of the pure Latin race required, in Lisieux’s bloodless term, revision.

Regardless of this, it seems doubtful that Peter would share much of his knowledge of Lisieux with Charles. The two never met, their emissaries spoke only briefly and Peter did not see Charles so much as an ally as an opportunity. Supporting the Carlistas in Spain would help provide a buffer against a French attack on Portugal, but it would also weaken Spain herself: both were in Portugal’s national interests.

So it seems to be simply a lucky accident that Charles’ plan was less hopeless than it at first seemed. It was not until September 1803, two months after Charles’ fleet sailed from Corunna, that Lisieux published his Nouvelle Carte in the wake of La Nuit Macabre. Charles could not have known that French interest in Iberia would not be permanent. Regardless of all this, his fleet arrived, at last, in the port of Veracruz in October. It had been a peaceful crossing and all the ships had remained together, yet morale had dropped into the bilges. The men knew that they were coming to Mexico not as conquistadors, as Cortes had almost three centuries earlier, but as the remnants of a defeated army.[1] Charles was well aware of this and did his best to counteract it: as soon as they had reached Veracruz and been welcomed by the local alcalde[2] he declared a day of feasting to celebrate their triumph over adversity, comparing it to the escape of Pelagius of Asturias from the Battle of Guadalete. This was the battle of unnumbered tears, the defeat of the Visigothic rulers of Spain and the death of King Roderick that had ushered in centuries of Muslim rule. Yet Pelagius had escaped, Charles reminded his men, founded a Christian kingdom in Asturias, and ultimately begun the long reconquista of Iberia.

Of course, that reconquista had taken seven hundred years. It was to be hoped that this one might be a little more rapid.

The alcalde of Veracruz was rather relieved when Charles declared his intention to go to the City of Mexico as soon as possible. As with all sailors released from routine and duty after a long voyage, the crews of Charles’ nine ships had wreaked havoc on Veracruz’s port districts and some way beyond. While Veracruz repaired itself, Charles and Aranda led their men on an overland march to the City. They marched at a leisurely pace, wanting for word of their coming to spread before they arrived. While they did so, and when they commandeered villages and towns to rest in along the way, Charles took counsel with Aranda and his brothers.

For all four of the other Infantes had thrown their lots in with Charles, some of them early on, others later when Philip declared all his brothers enemies of the state. Antonio, Ferdinand, John and Gabriel all had ideas of their own about what to do, and Charles knew he had to give them a voice in his notions if he were to retain their support. Possessing it would grant him a powerful tool of legitimacy against Philip, and besides, some of his brothers had talents worth having. Gabriel, despite being the youngest at the age of just twenty-six, had commanded troops during Cuesta’s abortive invasion of France and was an outspoken proponent of the slow and much-debated military reforms in Spain. Antonio had always had a grand if somewhat mad scheme for a great North African crusade, complete with plans from Ferdinand and Isabella’s book about how to rule over Morocco and Algiers by swamping them with Spanish settlers. It is suggested that he was inspired by the Anglo-American “policy of dilution” adopted in New Scotland and Canada. John was considered the best orator of the family, while Ferdinand was a quiet, hard-working prince who would probably have been better off if he had been born as a civil service bureaucrat.

However, none of the royals’ ideas could compare to those of the Duke of Aranda. His father had ultimately played a part in them, but Aranda took them further. Neither of the two had ever actually been to Spain’s colonies in the New World – those that had, like Saavedra, sometimes pointed out flaws in their plans for the region. But sometimes courageous plans born of ignorance of the facts can triumph over the predictions of the informed and the rational. If this were not the case, war and politics would have no excitement.

Charles’ host finally arrived in the City of Mexico in early December, as the people of the City celebrated the Feast of St Nicholas. Charles encamped his men outside the City and went in to meet the Viceroy, Martín de Gálvez. Gálvez was a competent administrator, but one who had gotten used to having his own way in a big part of the world due to being the uncontradictable lieutenant of an absolute monarch who was conveniently never there to watch what he was doing. The Viceroyalty of New Spain, as it was termed in those days, essentially also ruled over the captaincies-general of Guatemala, Yucatán, and the Philippines. It could be considered that Gálvez, despite being only a viceroy, was one of the more wide-ranging rulers in the world.

He was also one used to things staying the same and remaining in comfortable rows of figures. Gálvez had been credited for his cool-headed response to the encroachment of the British adventurer John Goodman in Spanish-claimed territory in Noochaland. As usual he had taken matters into his own hands, dispatching Admiral Rodriguez to arrest Goodman and negotiating directly with Fredericksburg without getting either London or Madrid directly involved. That coup had been four years ago and it had, most thought, ensured that Gálvez would remain in his position until his death.

Now, however, Gálvez’ comfortable world was crashing down around him. Charles, whom he acknowledged as the legitimate heir of Spain, had fled the country. The country was conquered in all but name. As with the rest of the Spanish Empire, the elite of the City of Mexico was composed chiefly of peninsulares, men born in the Peninsula[3], and this shock resounded throughout all Spanish America as soon as the news got out.

It was also heard far beyond, in America that had never been Spanish, and in America that had been Spanish until recently. In the latter, in particular, it was considered highly…interesting.

The Viceroy did not disagree with anything the man he acknowledged as his rightful King said. He concurred with the idea that Spain must be reconquered, and he accepted that it was a good idea to recruit a new army in the colonies. He assented that he would do everything in his power to aid this goal. He went on agreeing with everything right up until the moment when the King informed him that his office was to be abolished.

That got Gálvez’ attention. But before he could protest, the Duke of Aranda explained: this was a perfect time to reform the colonial administration, which was in many ways still stuck in the sixteenth century from which it had been born. The previous reforms after the Second Platinean War were too limited, too cautious. A bold plan was needed. And the scheme of the Duke of Aranda and his father – as it soon became known, the “Arandite Plan” – was that plan.

Hours later, the three of them emerged from the Palacio de Virrey[4] with the bolder strokes of the scheme agreed upon. In truth only Gálvez’ inherent cautious conservatism stopped him from endorsing the plan more wholeheartedly. After all, he would no longer be Viceroy under the new regime, but he would have a better title: that of Secretario Imperial de Estado de Nueva España

The plan was reworked upon consultation with the other Infantes and with certain important political and church figures from the colonies, in particular the Captains-General of the other lands ruled from the City. Some of the latter, in particular, were unhappy with Aranda’s ideas, but were placated with being given more impressive roles and titles in place of their existing ones. The Captain-General of the Philippines demanded a fuller status than his domain eventually received, to which Aranda replied sweetly that such status would be entirely forthcoming if only the captain-general agreed to dwell in Manila.

He withdrew his objection.

Though wild rumours spread throughout the viceroyalty of the earnest talks being held in the Palacio de Virrey, the people of the City were not informed of their content until December 26th, the Feast of St Stephen, which was ever afterwards the national day. On the day before, the people had celebrated Christmas, with King Charles taking Mass in the Cathedral Metripolitana in the Plaza de Armas, the main city square (Plaza Mayor). Now, a gathering of a more secular kind was held in the Plaza, though many eyewitnesses said afterwards that its undertones had such sacred moment in the history of the land that they might as well be religious.

A platform, in a part of the square later known as ‘the plinth’ (El Zócalo) was erected, and the Viceroy stood atop it with the King, the four Infantes and the Duke of Aranda. Before him stood the wealthy and important, yet beyond them were the great masses of the people, all eager to catch a glimpse of King Charles. It was the first time in history that a King of Spain had actually visited his New World possessions. The drastic circumstances of that visit were, at least temporarily, ignored.

Gálvez gave an introductory address that was not especially well-managed or –remembered, then gave way for King Charles, the Duke of Aranda and the Infante John, who spoke in turn. The words they said would have repercussions far beyond the Americans.

The Arandite Plan, which was given the name “Imperial Constitution”, was expounded to the people of the land which had, until that moment, been known as the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Yet that name had fallen out of popular use, forgotten as vague and undefined, and most of the people called their country Mexico.[5]

Now, King Charles declared the abolition of the Viceroyalty and all the Captaincies-General, and the people stared, as dumbstruck as Gálvez had been. The Infante John explained. He spoke of the great pride that the King held in his loyal Colonies, of the need to pull together in the great cause of liberating the motherland, and the bestowing of a blessing upon the New World in recognition of its faithfulness in the face of temptation. He compared the loyal colonies with the temptations of Christ, with the UPSA cast in the role of Satan, and then linked the UPSA ideologically to the Republican French who had conquered Spain. It was a masterful speech and touched most of those who heard it, raising their blood.

Aranda handled the details of the plan that had, in its basics, originated in his father’s head. A new state would emerge, an Empire of the Indies (later to become the Empire of New Spain out of common usage) which would cover all Spanish lands in the New World. This state would be held to be coeval with the Kingdom of Spain herself, or nearly so. In addition to his title of King of Spain, Charles took the title of Emperor of the Indies. So far, one might say that he was influenced mainly by Frederick of Britain.[6]

Yet he went further, pointing out that the new Empire was far too large for a single centralised administration to properly govern it all. Thus the Empire was divided into three parts: the Kingdom of Mexico, extending from the claimed lands in Noochaland down to San Cristobal; the Kingdom of Guatemala, from there to Panama and including the Philippines and the remains of the Spanish West Indies; and the Kingdom of New Granada, covering all the remaining loyal lands in South America. Charles appointed three of his brothers to be the first Kings of these new kingdoms: Antonio for Mexico, Ferdinand for Guatemala, and John for New Granada. Gabriel was left without a throne, but Charles declared him Generalissimo of the Nuevo Ejército, the ‘New Army’ which would retake Spain from the French using reformed training and new ideas.

It is difficult in retrospect to consider what the immediate response to the speeches were, given the mythic proportions that day has grown to in the New Spanish national consciousness. Indeed perhaps there were many who could not see what good the reforms did for them, and the conservatives who saw only dangerous change. Yet the people lifted their voices in acclamation: both those who loved their King for what he was, and the liberal forces who praised his reforms and feared the dark side of the popular revolution that would be the only other way to get a more equitable land to live in.

And so on that day, on December 26th 1803, the colonies of Spain in the “Indies” of Columbus ceased to exist. The empire had become its own Empire, with its own Emperor and kings, and made it clear that it owed no allegiance to the pretender sitting in Madrid with a French bayonet at his throat. God had granted the New World to Spain in gratitude for the Reconquista, it was said: now the New World would have to repay that debt by performing the Reconquista once more.

Indeed that prophecy was entirely true – but it was not the kind of Reconquista they were expecting…

As soon as the news reached Cordoba, plans were already being drawn up to take advantage of it. This was an opportunity which President-General Castelli had been dreaming of. The Partido Solidaridad’s dominance of the Cortes Nacionales was such that there would be no holding back. Castelli took time to prepare, of course, but on July 24th 1804, the United Provinces of South America declared war on the ‘unrecognised regime’ to her north.

It was time, as Castelli put it in a fiery speech, to free the brothers in bondage from the shackles of the King.

No-one could know the outcome of this clash between two very different ideologies for reforming the governance of the New World.

In a certain philosophical way, in the long run, they both won.

In the more immediate way that is of relevance to the people of the world, somebody lost.

[1] The use of “Mexico” here is somewhat of an anachronism by the author.

[2] Mayor.

[3] Though less so than OTL. Spain increased the powers of the Audiencias and relaxed the casta system after the Second Platinean War, essentially an appeasement to discourage still-loyal colonies from joining the UPSA in rebellion.

[4] OTL this is now the National Palace of Mexico. The present building dates from the 1690s.

[5] A bit of an exaggeration on the part of the author.

[6] But inaccurately – the Arandite Plan is one indeed drawn up by the Count of Aranda (who in our timeline did not have any children) in OTL.

Part #53: Three Stripes of Neapolitan

“Tactics? I say damn the tactics, sir! FULL SPEED AHEAD!”

- Admiral Horatio Nelson​


From – “MIDDLE SEA: A History of the Mediterranean – Volume VI: The Jacobin Wars” (Oxford University Press, 1976):

Horatio Nelson first came to Naples in 1789, when he was still first lieutenant of HMS Raisonnable – though he would soon be made post and given the new fourth-rate frigate Habana. The Raisonnable had been patrolling the Mediterranean, guarding British shipping around Malta from Algerine piracy and sending a signal to Britain’s then enemies, Bourbon France and Spain. Although the cause of the Platinean rebels had emerged triumphant from the Second Platinean War with British help, the shock defeat of the Royal Navy at Trafalgar by the Franco-Spanish fleet weighed heavily on everyone’s minds. The Portland-Burke Ministry had reacted by ordering fleets of new and improved ships from the shipyards of Chatham, Blackwall and Portsmouth, but for the present the Admiralty was determined to recover the honour of the Navy by waving the flag in the enemy’s face.

So it was that when the Raisonnable called into Naples the city on August 15th, politics was always present behind the appearances. The Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, ruled by Charles VI and VIII (the second son of Charles III of Spain)[1] were no less Bourbon than France or Spain. However, Naples had chosen to remain neutral in the recent conflicts – wisely considering how many times it had changed hands since the start of the century – and Sir Richard Hamilton, the British minister to the Neapolitan court, was doing his best to steer the kingdoms into a more anglophile policy. Splitting off Naples from France and Spain would be a British foreign policy coup and would significantly relieve the pressure on the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet. The loss of Minorca during the Third War of Supremacy was still acutely felt: Malta was now the RN’s only major base in the Mediterranean.

The task of Captain Robert Brathwaite was to use his ship of the line to impress upon the minds of the Neapolitans that Britain was still the predominant naval power. In this he was partially successful, but the Raisonnable had another effect: perceiving that Naples’ own navy was somewhat outdated and outclassed by the larger and heavier-gunned ships of Spain, Britain and France, King Charles decided to implement a naval renewal programme. In this he might have been unsuccessful, save for the fact that his formerly domineering wife, Maria Luisa of Parma, had died two years earlier.[2]

Charles was well aware that Naples did not have the resources or manpower to truly match the great powers’ navies, but his thought was that at least a few large sail ships of the line, as opposed to the present force which relied mainly on galleys, might be enough to persuade the great powers that attacking Naples was slightly more trouble than it was worth. He was determined to continue his policy of neutrality, safeguarding his throne from any future Austrian intervention – as had happened during the First War of Supremacy, and the kingdom had been an Imperial possession until the First War of the Polish Succession, twenty years later. By focusing solely on Italy, he hoped to advance foreign-policy goals that centred around minimising the influence of expansionist Piedmont, the transfer of Parma from Spain to Naples, and eventually ejecting the Hapsburgs from Tuscany. Of course, in the event all these plans were rudely defenestrated by the intervention of the French Revolution a few years later.

However, it was on this trip that Nelson first entered the city of Naples and encountered Sir John Acton. He was a fellow Englishman and a fellow sailor, but had spent most of his life fighting under the flags of France, Spain or Tuscany against the Barbary pirates. Acton had distinguished himself in an attack on Algiers in 1775 – though, as with all such successful attacks, the pirates seemed to rise from the ashes and resume their own raids a few years later. The operation had earned him a privileged place, and eventually Charles had tempted him away from Tuscany in order to engage in reorganising the Neapolitan navy. Nelson was at first repelled by the idea that such a fighting Englishman would spend his time with foreigners rather than serving his country in a time of war, but was soon won over by Acton’s tales of his battles and, in particular, his monologues on galley warfare. This was one area in particular in which Nelson had had problems since arriving in the Mediterranean, but based on Acton’s knowledge – conveyed over a table at a court dinner in the Caserta Palace – soon led to Lieutenant Nelson’s keen mind proposing new ideas and tactics to tackle the piracy. Acton was impressed, and attempted to lure Nelson away from the Royal Navy with promises of a highly paid career, but the stubborn patriot was offended and decamped from the city soon afterwards.

Nelson was soon to return though, initially in 1792 aboard his new command Habana. On this visit, as well as reaching a rapproachment with Acton – who was by now de facto prime minister under Charles – he became acquainted with Charles’ daughter Princess Carlotta, who remained unwed: her father was still considering his options in a diplomatic marriage. Just what passed between the princess and Nelson remains debated, but it is certain that she began to argue his corner in the court.

By the year 1800, in which Nelson resigned from the peacetime Royal Navy and finally came to Naples to take Acton up on his offer, the kingdom’s navy had been considerably improved. As well as the ships of the line that had been built, the fleet had been swelled by a number of galleys and galliots from the navy of the Republic of Venice, which had fled the rape of its home port and mostly ended up in Neapolitan Bari.[3] The Venetian commander, Admiral Grimani, had pledged the support of his ships to Naples if Charles promised to fight to liberate Venice. Although Charles liked to entertain the idea of doing so (and then, of course, keeping the Terrafirma on a tight lead as a puppet state) Naples was in no position to consider such a thing. Though still protected behind the Papal States and Tuscany at this point, the kingdom and its people knew their number was up. Lazare Hoche’s Italian Republic, after chasing the Austrian army of Archduke Ferdinand all the way to the Brenner Pass, had turned its attention once more to the south.

Grand Duke Carlo of Tuscany, in support of his fellow Hapsburgs, had sent an army that liberated Lucca, Modena and Mantua from Hoche’s rule while the latter’s army was engaged in the north. That could not be tolerated. Starting in August 1800, Hoche attacked the Tuscan-occupied regions and, by the end of the 1800 campaign season, had driven the Tuscans from them. However, in the process he had sustained considerable casualties, and thus 1801 was the first year to see newly raised Italian regiments fighting alongside his French veterans. The Italians bore a green version of the Bloody Flag with an inverted fasces, and soon the flag of the Italian Republic became a red-green vertical bicolour in recognition of this.

The Tuscans appealed for help from Naples, and Charles hesitated. On the one hand, fighting in someone else’s country was always better than fighting in your own, as would assuredly happen if Tuscany was conquered; on the other, the last thing he wanted was for his own army to become trapped and encircled in Tuscany, leaving Naples itself undefended.

In the end he chose the latter option, and Tuscany faced the Neapolitans alone. The Tuscans fought hard, knowing the fate of Piedmont and Venice, but in the end succumbed. By August 1801, Hoche was standing in the Palazzo Vecchio of Florence and being acknowledged as rightful ruler of Tuscany. The conquest of the southern half of the country followed more slowly, as the Tuscan army faced more and more of Hoche’s Italian recruits, who were green in more ways than one. Yet the idea of a united republican Italy was nonetheless a rallying cry, for all the darkness of Venice. The fact that Hoche had distanced himself from the excesses of Robespierre and Lisieux also helped. Girolamo Acciaioli, a veteran in Hoche’s Italian brigades, later reflected: “It was not truly for a cause that we fought, or at least none save the wide-eyed idealists. But nor was it for the cynical things, pay, loot, women. It was for Hoche. His charisma…it was like a shared delusion, you felt that you could march anywhere. To Calabria. To Paris. To the moon.”

By the start of 1802, the Tuscan army and their Grand Duke had retreated to the port of Follonica, and were pocketed there by Hoche’s Franco-Italian armies, which laid siege to the town. To their backs was the sea. The Tuscan fleet remained loyal and fought a pitched battle, the Battle of Elba, with Hoche’s own ships, which were mostly drawn from what had been the Republic of Genoa. The Tuscans emerged victorious, but it was a Pyrrhic victory, with too few undamaged ships to evacuate much of the trapped army.

It was at this point that Naples intervened, partly on Nelson’s insistence. His patronage by Princess Carlotta had helped him reach a high position in the court’s favour, and indeed it could be said that in truth the Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily were now run by three Englishmen: Acton, Hamilton and Nelson. Native Neapolitan politicians, jealous of this favour, attempted to whip up popular sentiment against three foreign heretics being endowed with such power. In this, however, they were largely unsuccessful: Naples’ own political elite were mostly disciples of Bernardo Tanucci, strong Enlightenment anti-clericalists whose ideas were unpopular with the common people.

Nelson argued that the Tuscan army could supplement Neapolitan fighting force like the Venetian fleet had. Acton agreed and persuaded King Charles to authorise it. On 4th February 1802, the Neapolitan fleet under Nelson sailed unopposed into the battered harbours of Follonica and evacuated what remained of the Tuscan army, including Grand Duke Carlo. Hoche’s forces, who had half suspected something like this, tried to drive off Nelson’s force using shore batteries armed with hot shot. Although two Neapolitan galleys were burned, Nelson’s Siracusa was able to silence the batteries by a swift descent upon the cove and an attack by marines – one of Acton’s introductions to the Neapolitan navy which Nelson had then refined. The result was both that most of the Tuscan army was successfully brought back to Naples, and that Nelson’s reputation was cemented into popular imagination. His ego doubtless helped. Here was a man who could challenge Lazare Hoche on his own ground.

Uncharacteristically, Hoche used 1802 as an opportunity to ask for assistance from Paris. Although he still officially refused to recognise Lisieux’s regime, the Italian and French Republics had been growing closer together once more since the Treaty of Savoy and the partition of Switzerland. Hoche demanded new, trained French troops, arguing that he was expecting a renewed attack from Austria and needed additional troops to both defend against it and to hold down the rebellious countryside. Lisieux was suspicious of Hoche’s intentions, but recognised that a collapse of the Italian Republic would remove a useful buffer state for his plan to isolate France from the rest of Europe, and so sent Hoche perhaps a third of what he had asked for.

It transpired that Hoche had, of course, been lying through his teeth. Although an Austrian attack did come over the Brenner Pass in 1802, it was a decidedly half-hearted affair and easily beaten back by some of Hoche’s more experienced Italian troops. Just as well, for that was all that he had left in Tyrol. The bulk of his army, both his French veterans, his Italian recruits, and the new troops from Lisieux, was assembling in Tuscany.

Ready for a thrust against the Papal States.

The resulting war could fill a book by itself, for all its brevity; Rome burned in November. Hoche had surmised that his Italian troops might be reluctant to attack papal institutions, and so had requested troops from Lisieux. He knew – though he had not foreseen La Nuit Macabre – that Lisieux was trying to get rid of his Sans-Culottes, and thus the troops he had received were among the most fanatical Jacobins there were, on a part with Lascelles’ army in Bavaria. They would have no compunctions against attacking the Church; indeed, they would revel in it.

Hoche’s argument was perfectly accurate, but he had perhaps not thought through the consequences. Contrary to the usual more civilised way of war in verdant Italy, the new Jacobin troops practiced la maraude and terrorised the countryside. Churches and town halls were burnt, with priests and local mayors and nobles hanged or beheaded in the street.

In a move that has been later criticised, King Charles again hesitated and did not intervene in the war until Ancona and Civitavecchia had already been taken. Neapolitan-Tuscan forces marched to war in October, but it was already too late; by the time they entered Latina and glimpsed the spires of the Eternal City in the distance, they were on fire.

Indeed Hoche’s Jacobin horde had torched the city of Rome rather than attempting to besiege it. Hoche himself was, at the time, in Bologna, supervising the new Italian regiments coming down from the former Venetian Terrafirma, and did not witness the atrocities. It is certain that he would have been there if he could have been, for such a politically and strategically important phase of the war, but he had underestimated just how fast the Jacobins, using their War of Lightning doctrine, could go.

Facing the destruction of all he held dear, the aged Pope Benedict XV attempted to flee the city, but was recognised in the street. The Jacobins fought a pitched street battle in the burning ruins of Rome with the Swiss Guard, and finally emerged triumphant. Benedict XV was beheaded beneath the pillars of what was left of the Temple of Vespasian in the Forum, mere hours before that too crumbled before the flames sweeping through the city. Perhaps one-third of the College of Cardinals escaped the conflagration: the Church lost not only its leader, but a large part of its administrative apparatus. In the resulting confusion, Jansenist movements such as the one in the UPSA profited from the lack of a central directing voice.

Hoche was furious when he learned of the holocaust. Nothing could have been calculated better to provoke outrage against him from all Italians and Catholics, including those in his own army. Always paranoid, he even suspected Lisieux of having engineered this on purpose. Yet, though Hoche’s army was undoubtedly weakened by the defection or desertion of parts of his Italian regiments after the Rape of Rome, we should not thus undervalue the courage of the Neapolitan-Tuscan army. Starting with the Battle of Frosinone in February 1803, the Republican armies were halted, and then driven back. An attempt by Hoche himself to drive into Neapolitan territory was defeated at Teramo, though when the Neapolitan general attempted to press his advantage, Hoche successfully withdrew his army and held his position against attack at Ascoli Piceno. He remained perhaps the finest general of his generation, even when his political position was wobbling dangerously.

Nelson approved of Hoche’s difficulties, but now had a warning for the court in Caserta. He pointed out that the French had taken Minorca from Spain under the conditions of the Peace of Cadiz, and that the steam fleet of Admiral Lepelley was in dock at the base there. Though the Neapolitans were slowly grinding on in the north, their whole army (and that of Tuscany in exile) was committed. If the French used their steam navy to transfer troops from Spain and land in Calabria or descend on Salerno, the Neapolitans would have little to stand in their way.

Nelson further pointed out that there was a way around this. The French fleet at Minorca must be…neutralised.

On the face of it, it was an absurd suggestion, even for him. The Neapolitan fleet had so far managed to remain almost undamaged throughout the Wars, but despite Nelson’s training improving the standard of the crews, it could still not stand up to the revolutionary new tactics that the French’s steam engines allowed. He would not have wanted to try that with the finest crews of the Royal Navy itself.

However, Naples did have one advantage. While the French had used their fleet to bypass the Spanish and land troops in Catalonia, they had not pressed south along the coast. Thus the Spanish fleet in Valencia had survived, and elements of it had fled upon the signing of the Peace of Cadiz. Some ships belatedly went through the Pillars of Hercules and followed Infante Charles into American exile, but others came to fellow-Bourbon Naples. They were swiftly incorporated into Nelson’s navy, but one ship in particular had caught his eye. Her name was Cacafuego, a classically scatological Catalan name, and she was an experimental ship.[4] Her designer and captain, a Catalan who had served in the Portuguese East India Company, was named Josep Casanova i Llussà. He had been impressed by the use of war rockets by Mysore and Arcot, and upon returning home to Spain had petitioned the Spanish Admiralty to consider a new design of warship capable of firing rockets. Although the Spanish Admiralty was even more conservative than its British counterpart, Casanova was able to obtain some funding due to his family connections, and the result was the Cacafuego.

She was based on the design of a fifth-rate frigate, but with the mizzenmast removed to allow space for the launch assembly. This was a block of parallel iron tubes, made like thin cannon barrels, with the fuses attached to a complex system that Casanova had designed himself, allowing the rockets to be fired individually or together. The rocket storage and the launcher were mounted in a segregated area of the deck, surrounded by metal and asbestos for fire safety.[5] The ship retained a gun deck, and its conventional armament was chiefly carronades for short-range defence. The ship’s intended use meant that it should only be engaging the enemy at a very long distance, and such weapons would only be used if things went badly wrong.

Though Nelson was sceptical of new technology, he had been impressed when Casanova demonstrated the rockets against an old hulk in Salerno harbour; though erratic in flight, the very unpredictability of the rockets made them an effective terror weapon, and their gunpowder warheads meant they were incendiary against the sails and varnished wood of a ship’s deck – in a way which ordinary roundshot, except hot shot, was not.

The plan was almost outrageously bold – after all, Naples was not yet actually at war with France, though they were fighting French Jacobins under Lisieux’s command. It was eventually approved reluctantly by Charles for two reasons – Nelson having the favour of his daughter, and the rumour – helped along by the Englishman himself – that if he was not given approval, he would do it anyway.

On the night 15th of June 1803, most of the Neapolitan fleet approached the Balearic Islands. Though Nelson did not know it, the people there were generally Carlista in their sympathy and resented both Philip’s victory in the civil war and the presence of the French. In any case, this helped, for the Majorcan fishing boats that spotted the Neapolitans on the horizon were not too inclined to let the authorities know anything about it.

Thus it was that when the Cacafuego approached Mahon, site of the French naval base, the French remained blissfully unaware. Many of the steamships’ crews were ashore, enjoying the attractions of the island just as the British had a couple of generations before. Lepelley himself was in Ciutadella, on the other side of the island, for a romantic rendezvous. It was sloppy but understandable – the French had defeated Spain and scattered its fleet, and were no longer at war with Britain or Royal France. The Algerines would certainly not attack a harbour these days. Who did that leave?

It turned out that it left the Neapolitans. Nelson ordered the rockets fired after his jolly-boat scouts had confirmed the position of local landmarks: Nelson, with the command of geometry common to all British high-seas sailors, calculated the optimum position in his head based on Casanova’s information. Casanova himself personally lit the fuses, and the rockets screamed out into the night.

Perhaps a quarter of them exploded in midair – one dangerously close to the Cacafuego’s own sails – but the rest all hit somewhere near the harbour, and with the density of French ships there, ‘somewhere near the harbour’ was almost certain to be a target. Before they knew what was happening, the French were faced with whining bolts from heaven cascading down from above, striking their ships and setting them on fire.

Only a few crews were ready to respond. In any case, Nelson did not simply sit back and let them. Giving his famous command, he took the Siracusa into Mahon harbour itself and blasted broadsides into steamship after steamship – the small size of the Neapolitan frigate now helped it, for she did not tower uselessly over the steam-galleys as some of the Spanish ships of the line had. Nelson finally faced one of the steamships that had an alert crew and – after suffering the disablement of his left arm after a shard from a mast hit by a cannonball scored across it – led the boarding operation to take the ship. He had hoped to return it as a prize, but had no-one who understood how to operate the steam engines, and so scuttled the ship.

By the time the Neapolitan fleet – having suffered some losses, but not grievous ones – retreated from Mahon on the morning of the 16th, the position had radically changed. Admiral Lepelley’s invincible fleet was mostly lying on the bottom of the harbour, reduced to scorched timbers and melted boilers. French dominance of the Mediterranean was no longer assured.

Admiral Nelson was feted as a hero in Naples the city, and Acton pressed the conduct of the war against Hoche all the more earnestly, knowing there was no possibility of a stab in the back anymore.

Nelson had saved his adoptive country but, unbeknownst to him, he had doomed his own.

[1] In OTL, due to Charles III’s elder brother Philip being disqualified from the succession for being mentally disabled, Charles’ second son Charles became Charles IV of Spain, and his third son Ferdinand became Ferdinand III and IV of Naples and Sicily. In TTL, Philip is normal and became King Philip VI of Spain, while Charles became Charles VI and VIII of Naples and Sicily.

[2] Not until 1812 in OTL.

[3] The Venetian navy is somewhat larger than OTL’s, mainly due to butterflies.

[4] The name is usually rendered euphemistically into English as ‘Spitfire’. It actually means ‘Fire Shitter’.

[5] Though not widely used at this point except in mining, asbestos’ fire-retardant properties were already well known.

Part #54: Der Führer und der Kleinkrieg

From – “French Strategy in the Jacobin Wars” by Åke Comstedt (1974) -

In April of 1802, Jean de Lisieux wrote a monograph. This in itself was not a remarkable occurrence, for L’Administrateur spent most of his time writing monographs. When he was not writing himself, he was dictating to his most trusted secretaries, ever paranoid about the possibility of his words being intercepted and twisted between himself and his people. Given the tone of some of his later writings, some men suggested that Lisieux even wanted not to look upon his Republic until his declarations had converted it into the state he desired. A joke sprung up in some of the regiments – the ones farthest away from Paris and informers – to parody the old Catholic liturgy declaring Christ would come again at the end of the world, replacing his name with that of Lisieux. He was certainly rarely seen outside his own unprepossessing apartments, except on the occasions when he visited the National Legislative Assembly to perpetuate the illusion that that body still had any power.

But this monograph had a significance which outweighed most of Lisieux’s often nit-picking and self-contradictory pronouncements on the future of France. In it, he openly declared his intentions for foreign and domestic policy. The document became known as “the 25 Years paper” in reference to the most prominent date contained within it. Lisieux stated that, for the present, exporting the Revolution to other states was meaningless, counterproductive and indeed wasteful of human lives (for he always remained conscious of their value, albeit in a clinical and mathematical way). He wrote that it was absurd to do so when the Revolution had not yet produced the perfect state at home: “It is the role of the superior Latin race, and of the purest strain within that race – the French – to create the true Utopia. Only once this is complete may that Utopia be replicated elsewhere. It must also be adapted to the different and inferior characteristics of the other races upon which it is imposed. This cannot come until after the first and highest Republic has reached its truest and purest form.”

Lisieux was vague upon the subject of precisely how this truest Republic would come about, but he was clear on the requirements for this. To do so, he declared that France would require 25 years of peace to reorder herself. This would in turn require that France’s borders be secured beyond all possibility of incursion. So far, France had neutralised a number of its neighbouring regions – Spain, Swabia, and to some extent Piedmont, although Hoche could no longer be counted upon as an ally. The chief frontier that remained was that of Flanders, which had remained at peace with France since June of 1796. That had been a necessary strategy on the part of Pierre Boulanger to help preserve the young republic in its war with, at that point, practically all of Europe. Now, however, the situation had changed.

Flanders and her ally, the Dutch Republic, would not be a pushover. Not for nothing had royalist France tried and failed to conquer then-Spanish or Austrian Flanders multiple times throughout the last two centuries. And the French Republican fleet could not stand up to that of the Dutch. To that end, Lisieux pursued a strategy on several fronts. Surcouf took his frigates to La Pérouse’s Land and used it as a base to raid Dutch shipping as a privateer, attempting to goad the Dutch into a unilateral declaration of war on France. In 1800, Lisieux ordered Ney, in Swabia, to attack northwards in an attempt to establish a French presence in the Rhineland and Westphalia. The idea was to be able to invade the Dutch Republic from the east, thus avoiding both the Dutch system of flood-based defensive lines aimed at invaders from the south-west, and also war with Flanders. If the Dutch and the Flemings could be handled one at a time, the conquest would be much easier: and attacking the Flemings first would almost force a Dutch intervention on their side, whereas the reverse was not necessarily true.

Ney’s war was largely unsuccessful, securing Ansbach, Bayreuth and Nuremberg for the Swabian Germanic Republic by 1802, but ultimately failing to penetrate into the northern Rhineland and being held back by the Mainz Pact states, which eventually renamed themselves the Mittelbund or Central League. This consisted of all the various Hessian states, Würzburg and Nassau. Ney’s aggression had inadvertently triggered the formation of this alliance of small states, which provided a new rallying point for Germany in the face of French dominance, Prusso-Saxon conflict and Austrian incompetence and distraction.

The effects of the Mittelbund would not be glimpsed farther east for a while, though. For the present, Lisieux revised his plans and his “25 Years paper” instead favoured a strike from Bayreuth up through the weak and divided small Saxon duchies of Thuringia, ending up in Anhalt. Lisieux envisaged that this position could then be turned into either an encirclement of the Mittelbund, an eastward attack on the Dutch (who had occupied the imperial bishoprics between the Ems and the Weser as a pre-emptive move against the Hapsburgs, back in 1797) or an attack on Hanover if a casus belli was needed against Britain. The Republican army, and Marshal Boulanger in particular, viewed this plan with extreme scepticism. Lisieux would be sending French armies deep into territory with Saxony in the east and the Mittelbund in the west. A Prussian or Austrian revival could also not be ruled out at that stage, and sending troops through Bayreuth might bring France into conflict with Lascelles’ alleged Bavarian Germanic Republic in the Upper Palatinate – a move which Ney had so far carefully avoided. Although even at this stage Lisieux was beginning to turn into a similar figure as Robespierre, with few daring to publicly contradict him, Boulanger did manage to persuade the Administrateur that the plan was too ambitious and should at least be postponed. He noted that it would certainly require more troops than France had in the region. Lisieux responded to this by stepping up his timetable for the withdrawal of French troops from Spain, rather premature as in April 1802 they had not yet even entered Madrid and begun their occupation yet. It was this continuous urge to pull troops out and focus on Germany that dogged Republican France’s attempts to hold down Spain from the start.

Of course, there was also another frontier to consider, one which Lisieux almost deliberately forced himself to forget about most of the time. In the north-west of France, hanging insolently over Lisieux’s great Republic, was the restored remnant of the Bourbon monarchy, under the formally undeclared King Louis XVII. That would have to be dealt with eventually.

Problem: even under Charles James Fox, Britain would almost certainly respond with war if the Republic attacked Royal France. Britain, therefore, would also have to be neutralised, and that required considerable planning. This, however, was stepped up in priority after Horatio Nelson’s Neapolitan raid on Minorca in summer 1803. Lisieux and Boulanger were both landsmen by thinking and had not considered the frontiers of France that they could not control – those which looked out on the seas. Lisieux considered simply separating the coastlines of France from the Republic and turning them into a military regime, thus ensuring the Republic inside could remained unmolested. However, judging this to be an unacceptable solution – as it forced thousands of Frenchmen to live apart from their pure Republic – a different path was settled on.

Britain and Naples had both proved themselves to be capable of harrassing France from the sea. Therefore, both would have to be eliminated. And, Lisieux wrote secretly, Britain was an island. It was not like dealing with Austria or even Naples, which could be allowed to remain in a weakened state, as the French knew that they could easily send an army over land to kick them down again if they became belligerent. Britain could be defeated, yet La Manche would be a powerful guarantor against such a punitive expedition if she decided to break the terms of a treaty. Therefore, French troops must already be in Britain, as they were in Spain. Therefore, Britain must actually be conquered rather than merely neutralised by being forced to the negotiating table. Another headache, another grand aim which the Bourbons had tried and failed to do for centuries. But then the Republic was not the Bourbons…


From – “Herz aus Eisen: Der Führer” by Joachim Lübke (1959)

It is a strange and compelling fact that many national heroes were not, in fact, born in the nations that they eventually grew to symbolise. Simon de Montfort was no more English than Jean-Charles Pichegru was Meridian.[1] And then there is the man whom history knows as Der Führer: national hero of Bavaria, yet born in Austria.

There is no denying the fact, of course, that Michael Hiedler’s family was in origins a Bavarian one: the vast majority of Hiedlers (or Hittels, or Hitlers) can still be found around Munich. But as the third son in his family, Michael had not inherited much of his father’s wealth, and had thus sought his fortune elsewhere. He moved to Lower Austria in 1785 and married into money, then joined the Austrian army and served as a cavalryman in a desultory campaign against Wallachia in 1791. During that brief and pointless war he was wounded in the leg, giving him a slight limp, and commended for bravery in the face of the enemy. He was pensioned off and given the minor title of Edler von Strones, the name of a nearby village to his home arbitrarily being picked.

Hiedler lived comfortably and unremarkably enough for the next decade, fathering a son and daughter with his wife Maria Margaretha, and it seems likely that under other circumstances he would have been unremembered by history. Events conspired, however, to turn this man into the pivot of destiny – but at a terrible cost.

Bavaria and Lower Austria were overrun by the French army of Thibault Leroux in 1798 and 1799 as part of his War of Lightning strategy against the Austrians. Initially, the country around Strones, the Waldviertel, escaped much attention by the French, who were still focused on Vienna. Hiedler recorded in his diary that a French army was seen passing through the country, but at a distance from the village, heading for Vienna. Rumours of the rapacity of la maraude circulated, but Hiedler believed that the best way to escape such damage was to keep your head down and wait for the war to blow over.

It soon became apparent, however, that this was no ordinary war. Leroux was, at the last, defeated by Mozart before the gates of Vienna in April 1799, being killed in the process. His army broke up into two main factions: the Cougnonistes under St-Julien, who were mostly professional veterans of the ancien regime army, and who retreated into Bohemia to the north; and the larger group under Major Fabien Lascelles, who despite his low rank managed to dominate the troops. They were mostly Sans-Culotte conscripts, and Lascelles was a dynamic and manaiacal orator capable of whipping them up into an ideological frenzy. Lascelles drove off or killed all other surviving officers higher in rank than himself, then declared a Bavarian Germanic Republic and appointed himself as sole Consul. His bloodthirsty assistant and former sergeant, Nicolas Cavaignac, he appointed as Grand Marshal.

Lascelles’ Republic did not exist in any technical sense, but this was not to say that it was a paper tiger. Although the Austrians were mainly concerned with the new conflict with the Ottoman Empire that blew up in May, the new claimant Holy Roman Emperor Francis II did send some strikes into Lower Austria in an attempt to drive back Lascelles’ army, which was encamped on the Enns, near Admont. The outnumbered Austrians were bloodily repulsed: the French had regrouped and rallied around their new leader, and had regained their discipline. One Austrian officer later likened the Republic to one of the old nomad khanates that had once ruled over Asia (of whom the Khanate of the Crimea was the last remnant in Europe).[2] The army was the country, much as Voltaire had said about Prussia.

Of course, it was inconceivable that the French could be allowed simply to retain Lower Austria, and in October 1799 a new Austrian army was drawn up under General Giuseppe Bolognesi to drive Lascelles from spitting distance of Vienna. This also meant that the Austrian armies fighting desperately in Bosnia and on the Mureş lacked reinforcements, further hampering Francis’ erratic attempts to fight a war on two fronts. Bolognesi was, however, successful: Lascelles chose not to give battle against the more numerous Austrians, but initially retreated. In the process, his armies passed through the Waldviertel. As usual, they had their standing orders to practice la maraude to feed themselves, and Lascelles ordered them to stock up as much as possible due to the possible long retreat. Furthermore, he hoped to lay waste to Lower Austria’s food supplies and thus hamper Bolognesi’s pursuit, giving him time to set up a stronger defensive position elsewhere. This was considered by the Jacobin Sans-Culottes as a licence to let all hell break loose.

Michael Hiedler was one of thousands to suffer as a result of Lascelles’ bloody retreat through Lower Austria. However, his fate was particularly cruel. Using their War of Lightning rapid marching, the French fell on the Waldviertel so quickly that they were in and out inside a couple of hours.