Successful Boulangist coup 1889

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by ebb2k98, Jul 28, 2019.

  1. ebb2k98 Banned

    Apr 17, 2019
    If Georges Boulanger had launched a successful coup d'etat against the French government in 1889, what would be the impact? What happens next?
  2. wwbgdiaslt Well-Known Member

    Feb 9, 2018
    Do you go down the route that he was a Republican using the Monarchists to get power, or a Monarchist using the Republicans to do the same.

    Either way, he wanted to he a leader rather than a King. But the Monarchist backers might mean that he would need to install some sort of constitutional monarch on the throne and this meant Philippe, Count of Paris.

    President Boulanger, and King Philippe VII, in other words. Might Boulanger have given himself some other title?
    King_Arthur and galileo-034 like this.
  3. VVD0D95 Lemmy is God.

    Mar 15, 2015
    Birmingham, UK
    Don’t tbink he can be president if there’s a king over him
  4. ebb2k98 Banned

    Apr 17, 2019
    Maybe King Philippe VII and Prime Minister Boulanger would be the two dictators of France. Once this is achieved, Boulanger might build up the French army and reach an agreement with Russia in order to get revenge on the Germans.
    UCB79 likes this.
  5. Jackson Lennock Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2017
    In an old thread, somebody by the username Titus_Pullo wrote the following, which seems fairly convincing to me. I bolded some choice bits.

    I think we'd probably see a Constitutional Monarchy in France in which Boulanger is the all-powerful one and the monarch mostly a figurehead. Many Republicans were fine with this notion. A monarchist France would have an opening to cut a deal with Russia, since Russia wouldn't be as opposed to a Royal France compared to a Republican France. Diplomatically, this is a big plus for France at a time when Russo-German relations were getting testy.

    Boulanger's title could be Prime Minister, it could be First Minister (like Richeleu and Mazarin), or perhaps it could be Marshal (as in Marshal of France).

    War would likely happen in 1889. Either the Germans will go after France preemptively, or France will try to preempt the Germans. The Germans were absolutely terrified of the notion of a Boulanger regime and would take action ASAP. Based on the comparison of the French and German militaries (see below) I think France would win quite handily. They'd have Naval Supremacy, better organization, more heavy artillery, improved military infrastructure relative to 1870, and a superior/more modern general staff.

    The author below envisions a big French-Danish-Russian ganging up on Germany. I'm not sure how plausible that is. Denmark had mostly resigned itself to its smaller size following its defeat by Germany, no? Maybe I'm wrong. If the French were to land on the German North Sea Coast, perhaps that would bring the Danes in. Denmark could reclaim Schleswig, but I do not think Holstein would be on the menu.

    France could probably seize Alsace-Lorraine and the Rhineland south of the Moselle. I'm not sure if they'd really be able to get across the Rhineland.

    Perhaps Russia would get opportunistic and see an opportunity to grab some Polish lands. However, I think if the Germans see the Russians mobilizing they'd try to cut a deal with Boulanger ASAP.

    In 1889 there was also a military staredown in Samoa between the United States and Germany. The US could opportunistically join the French in attacking Germany. Alternatively, the Germans in Samoa might hear they're at war but make the wrong assumption of who they're at war with. Or the Germans abandon Samoa and the US seizes the whole archipelago. Or the Germans screw up in their movements and get fired upon by the Americans. There are lots of scenarios to think about.

  6. Ismaili777 Well-Known Member

    Apr 29, 2019
    This sounds like it would make a nice timeline.
  7. Exvio74 New Member

    Jul 13, 2019
    Is there any possibility of a British intervention in such a war to maintain the balance of power? Considering how tetchy the UK was about revanchist Napoleon III, I would assume they’d be horrified at the French seizing the Rhineland.
  8. Ismaili777 Well-Known Member

    Apr 29, 2019
    In a war, assuming France emerges victorious, would German colonies be seized? Also any ideas on how France might be administrated? Frances industrial capacity at times in history WAS boosted by several periods, I feel like a resurgent France would also experience an economic boom.
  9. Jackson Lennock Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2017
    I imagine the British would try to at least be the ones hosting the peace conference in order to marginalize damage to the balance of power. The threat of British and perhaps Austrian entry would likely force the belligerent parties to the table. I also think Germany will start calling for a peace conference as soon as they notice Russian troops moving around east of Prussia.

    Whether or not Denmark joins the war, I imagine they'd get an invite to the peace conference. The British could probably offer them Heligoland to take the British/German side in limiting how much France gets.

    France cannot get all of the Rhineland, but at the least I imagine they are getting Saarland. I also don't think it'd be impractical for them to get Palatinate or all of the Southern Rhenish Triangle.

    If France is sitting in the northern Rhineland, maybe the Germans are made to cede colonies in exchange for regaining North Rhineland.

    German Colonies in 1889
    • German East Afrika (including Wituland and Jubaland)
    • German Kamerun
    • German Southwest Afrika
    • German Togoland
    • Marshall Islands
    • Nauru
    • German New Guinea (including North Solomon Islands)

    I can see the French just occupying the bulk or all of Germany's overseas colonies. They'd have more men in the colonies and have a tougher Navy. Taking Kamerun and Togoland would be a matter of walking.

    With regards to industry, France has reclaimed Alsace-Lorraine, taken the Saarland at the least, and the southern Rhineland at the most. The coal of Saarland and the Iron of Lorraine (both the reclaimed German bit and the iron mines of Briey-Longwy) are in one country and very approximate to one another... possibly creating a French answer to the German Ruhr. I expect a much more industrious France due to Saarland alone. Having the Rhenish Triangle would be a perk, as France has more agricultural space and more defensive buffer for its industry.

    Meanwhile more industry = more urbanization = higher short-term fertility rates (if one goes off the assumption that it was French land inheritance policies that dampened population growth). Plus I imagine France will want to bring in workers to settle in the German lands they've claimed, to work in their bigger industrial center, and to work in the mines of Saarland.

    OTL the lands France has claimed in this war (Alsace-Lorraine, Saarland, southern Rhineland) had about 5 million people come 1910. Here France will have 44 million people (not accounting for immigration and increased fertility). German had 56.4, but here it would have 51.4 (or less if you subtract Schleswig).
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  10. Tibi088 Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2013
    You might be right about the state of the militaries but I have my doubts - especially in the case of France managing to launch a completly surprise attack.

    But the diplomatic situation is pictured completly wrong - for 1 all the alliances of Germany are ignored for example as he is attacked in your scenario. That would bring Austria and Italy in the war on the side of Germany. But even if Germany would be the agressor its hard to see that a Russian attack wouldnt bring in at least Austria. It also completly ignores Britain who at this point is likely more sympathetic to Germany than France (colonial fonflicts and the french being the main naval rivals at the time, also tradition) and might not be willing to tolerate to many french gains.

    I also think that a monarchist France would be much less stable than a republican France. Reasons:
    1. Paris is the heart of France and though the majority is monarchist Paris is not - see the Empire for what you can expect.
    2. Though the majority is monarchist it was different kind of monarchist - meaning they couldnt agree on which family should rule from the 3 candidates. The supporters of each preferred the republic to a monarchy ruled by the 'wrong' family which actually lent stability to the republic.

    This might be owercome by a war against the hated germans and a victory might legitimize the new regime - but its still hard to see how this could be a surprise attack.
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  11. Jackson Lennock Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2017

    You're probably right, for the most part.

    Boulanger wouldn't just have Monarchist support, he'd have Republican support. A great many Republicans were fine with a constitutional monarchy - and I assume this would be especially true if Boulanger is the power behind (or, more accurately, in front of) the throne. Looking at Wikipedia, in 1888 Boulanger met with Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte II in Switzerland - the Bonapartists (or at least the American Bonapartes) proceeded to support Boulanger. Furthermore, the Comte de Paris had also encouraged his supporters to back Boulanger. Boulanger thus would have the Bonapartists, the Orleanists, and a large chunk of the Republicans behind him.
    How this would translate into a government, I am not sure. Perhaps the House of Orleans gets the throne, but the ban on Bonapartes being in France is lifted and the family is allowed to involve themselves in French politics so long as they don't try to revive the Empire.​

    You are correct on the alliances. I did not think of that sufficiently. I'm really not sure who would start the conflict, but my inclination is that Germany would mobilize as soon as Boulanger takes power - either to take action against France or to prepare for French action. In light of that, I think Britain will force a peace conference should it become apparent that Russia, Austria, Italy, or some combination thereof could/would get involved. Considering the ongoing Samoa Crisis, perhaps even the Americans would be invited to a peace conference.
    I think it'd be a fait accompli by the time of any conference that Alsace-Lorraine is again French. The question then becomes - what of any other territory France manages to seize? Maybe a reversion to the borders of 1814, with France regaining Saarlouis and Landau, could occur? I think the French would desire a boundary on the Saar-Nahe Hills or the Moselle, but they could perhaps be forced to settle for less. If France occupies too much territory for Britain and Co to tolerate, I'm thinking France gets German colonial territory in lieu of lands in Europe.​
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2019
  12. Jackson Lennock Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2017
    Separate point: What would immigration be like under Boulanger?

    In @EdT's Fight and Be Right Boulanger has a program in which France pretty much has open borders to European and Eastern Christian immigration so that France could balance Germany in terms of population. Was this something Boulanger had contemplated OTL (either the specific policy idea or the general concern about something needing to be done about population imbalance) or was just something EdT came up with?
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  13. Bear Flag Oligarch Well-Known Member

    Mar 13, 2008
    France encouraged immigration IOTL for exactly the same reason. A France with Alsace-Lorraine and possibly other industrial regions will probably have higher immigration though.
    Jackson Lennock likes this.
  14. Wendell Wendell

    Jun 8, 2005
    Lost in what might have been
    Perhaps Boulanger appoints himself regent of the Kingdom of France similarly to some fascistic or similar movements in the twentieth century.
    Rich Mullins likes this.
  15. Bear Flag Oligarch Well-Known Member

    Mar 13, 2008
    He could be Marshal General of France and prime minister so as to exercise control over military and civilian affairs. If he doesn't consolidate his power in one office it'd be interesting to see what his successors do.
  16. Janprimus Well-Known Member

    Mar 13, 2010
    North Brabant, The Netherlands
    Why? Really? He could make sure that the monarch was all but a figurehead, who might grow in his role after Boulanger himself dies, but before that not likely.
  17. Kurt_Steiner That's a years supply!

    Oct 18, 2004
    Barcelona, Catalunya
    Boulanger as a French prime minister (or "regent" a là Franco in Spain) and Kaiser Wilhelm II in Germany... this could be highly volatile.
    Rich Mullins likes this.
  18. Hawkeye Source?

    Nov 12, 2007
    Bismarck in an alt 1889:
  19. Icedaemon Well-Known Member

    Jul 5, 2016
    I too am in the 'Germany would not be alone' camp. They would definitely back down and if necessary cede their interests in Samoa to the USA to guarantee their neutrality. Austria would definitely back the Germans against the tsar, if not be able to help against France. The UK would likely start off playing friendly neutral towards the Germans, but if British merchant ships start getting interdicted or sunk, the RN may well come out to play and make sure the MN has a bad day or ten.
  20. Bear Flag Oligarch Well-Known Member

    Mar 13, 2008
    What will Italy do? They stand to gain territory if they side with either Germany or France, if Austria-Hungary gets involved.

    If France wins how will that affect military developments?