A good update of France there with there still being a few cracks in the Napoleonic Dynasty that don't seem to have healed over very well just yet. Seeing as France now looks to really stretch its wings against China, along with its technological development, it could see itself being the premier world power, should things go right. Although the last portion indicated that things could go really wrong for it, especially if the vineyards are lost.
If anybody's wondering what OTL's Louis Philippe and Napoleon III are doing ITTL, I promise I'll get to them in future updates.

France is prospering as much as the U.K. Even the tailors have survived—the good ones, anyway. Thanks to the Thimmonier machine, they can take on more of the customers who want to show off their wealth with a genuine tailored suit or dress made from American cotton, Egyptian cotton, or Korean silk (the finest silk in the world—just ask the Koreans).

Having tried his hand at real war and found he wasn’t half bad at it, Napoleon II has returned to Paris to get about the business of governing, make sure he hasn’t been sidelined politically, and make some more babies with his beautiful bride. Which is as good an excuse as any to talk about his sex life.

That’s going to be harder than it sounds. We need to start with Napoleon’s marriage to the late Adélaïde-Louise Davout. When they were wed, he was eighteen, she had only just turned fourteen, and neither of them had been given a lot of choice. It was very much a marriage of state, designed to bring about an heir as quickly as possible and strengthen the Bonaparte dynasty’s national credentials, not to mention the position of men like Davout who had made good in the new France. But while Napoleon wasn’t strongly attracted to his wife, he did grow to care very much for her… just in time to lose her to childbed fever. He mourned her for well over a year, and he did partly blame himself and the people who pushed them together, even though they tried to explain to him that this sort of tragedy was always a calculated risk.

This convinced Napoleon never to put his boner part in anything that was still in mid-puberty. After a few brief affairs, he met the fiery young Eléonore Juillet-Lorrain du Motier de la Fayette, with whom he had an even bigger age gap, but who was at least full-grown. More to the point, while poor little Adélaïde-Louise had been completely overawed by him, Eléonore was bold and radical enough to treat him as an equal. He was surprised at how much this turned him on.

But then it came time to choose an actual queen, and this time Napoleon wanted a foreign noblewoman, to prove that the Bonaparte line was one European dynasty among many, and as good as any other. There wasn’t an actual bride show, but there was a tour of Italy which happened to include the Diocese of Rome. There he met Donna Ippolita, younger daughter[1] of the elderly Don Lorenzo dei Principi Ruspoli[2], surviving uncle of the actually-important Princes Ruspoli.

In Ippolita, Napoleon found exactly what he was looking for—someone young but not too young, attractive[3], educated, cultured[4], and pious yet comfortable with modernity. It wasn’t love at first sight, but he knew from experience that love can grow in a marriage formed for other purposes. And she, tired of being the baby of the family and more ambitious than anyone realized (even herself) was quite happy to accept his proposal.

That’s the thing. She wanted to be empress, she’s glad he chose her, and she even gets along well with nine-year-old Princess Adelaide. Most of all, she wants to do all the duties of the empress and do them well, including giving birth to the next Napoleon and keeping this one happy. She goes to his bed willingly, with full agency, meeting every possible definition of consent that anyone could ever codify. She just… isn’t horny. At all.

And no matter how hard she tries to fake it, Napoleon can tell. Most people would look at either the dashing young emperor, the lovely young Empress Hippolyte (as she is now known), or possibly both, say “You have to have sex with that? You poor thing,” and insert a picture of a tardigrade playing the violin. But the key words there are “have to,” and those words apply equally to both of them. There are men in this world who’d be more than satisfied to have a beautiful woman lying back and thinking of the Franco-Italian alliance, but thanks to Eléonore, Napoleon knows what it is to actually be desired and delighted in.

He’s not angry at Hippolyte. Although this world is a long way from a proper understanding of asexuality, the priest he’s talked to has told him that his wife’s lack of carnal appetite is a sign that she is a virtuous woman. But he’s never known virtue to be so depressing.[5] That’s why he’s started sneaking off to see Eléonore on the side.

The Emperor isn’t the only French political figure feeling profoundly unsatisfied. After 17 years, Jacques-Charles Dupont de l’Eure is still president of the Chamber of Peers. Some of the Liberal Party’s brightest and most ambitious people are leaving to join the opposition, not so much out of conviction as because hope for advancement basically involves waiting for people not much older than themselves to retire.

One of these people is François Guizot, the new leader of the Conservative Party, under whom the party is hard at work reinventing itself for the 1840s. He’s quite clear—complaining about freethinkers, immigrants, Jews, and women working outside the home does get you a certain number of votes. It doesn’t get you a majority, and a majority is what the Party needs. Best to concentrate on bread-and-butter issues and bringing prosperity to all parts of France, not just the capital and the other big cities. Above all, royalists and crypto-royalists are not to be tolerated. They are to be ratted out without shame and exiled to North Africa. (Jacobins who let themselves get provocateured into plots to overthrow the government get an arguably worse deal—exile to the Desolation Islands[6].)

And yet… it sounds cool to say “you can’t kill an idea” until it’s an idea you really want to see the last of. But French royalism survived the Revolution, the Terror, the Directory, Napoleon, and the Constitution. When Louis XVIII died in Marseille from bad weather and worse medical care, they thought it surely had to be dead… and then the ’29 rebellion happened. That rebellion was crushed, and the authorities thought, “Okay, now it’s dead.”

And in many places—Paris, Anvers, Lyon, Strasbourg—they’re right. In Paris, a young philosophy student from le pouce mayençais named Johann Feuerbach was deeply shaken when he heard that a homeless beggar of his acquaintance had frozen to death in an alley one cold night last week. Feuerbach—who is personally feeling guilty about not having made an effort to keep track of the poor man on that night—sees this as a sign of profound societal failure on the part of modern France. A man died because in a city of 1.4 million[7], many of them with hot food and warm beds to spare, no one saw it as their job (much less their duty) to save him. If that can happen, modern liberal society must be missing something crucial. But if you asked him if the ancien régime could have done a better job of protecting such people, he’d tell you the Bourbons were famous for failing in precisely this area. He’s no royalist. He’s… something else. The old dynasty just happens to be something he agrees with his peers on.

And yet, if you walk down a back alley in Marseille, Toulouse, or Bordeaux, or a smaller town in the Vendée or Poitou, you stand a chance of seeing a royalist message scrawled on a wall in chalk or charcoal. It’s usually just a “19” or an “XIX” with the Xs made to look as much like fleurs-de-lys as the artist can manage, referring to the regnal number of a theoretical future King Louis (deliberately ambiguous as to whether they mean Louis-Philippe in London or the king of Moldavia and Wallachia). Normally this would be dismissed as a few dumb young épateurs trying to shock their elders, and that’s probably all it is, but there’s a new wrinkle.

Until the past couple of years, the main counterargument to royalism (aside from “shut up or we’ll imprison you/fine you a large percentage of your net worth”) was that the last few French kings were completely worthless, every good decision they ever made was at the behest of some minister or other, and France still has plenty of ministers who can make decisions of equal or greater value without the king getting in the way. But if you look at the various younger French Bourbons, it seems like being dethroned and occasionally decapitated has knocked some sense into them.[8] By all reports, Louis-Philippe is a good teacher, his son Ferdinand d’Orleans is a good colonel, his other son Louis d’Orleans is a good captain, and François died like a hero. No one can say how Louis-Philippe or one of his surviving sons would do as kings… which is less than we can say about the Orleanist claimant and his brother. More on them later, but suffice to say the Orleanists are feeling very smug. (In secret, of course.)

Nobody can do anything about this. Royalist propaganda is as illegal as ever, but news from Louisiana or eastern Europe is perfectly legal. Guizot hates it more than anybody—the last thing he needs is for the rest of France to think they’re all still closet royalists.

Jacobin Party head François Arago, on the other hand, feels like this is exactly what he needs. Not only are they the smallest party, but they’re in danger of splitting on all sorts of issues. Working conditions. The right to organize. The right to education—which you wouldn’t think would be controversial, since secular education is one of the things Jacobins like best about modern France. It’s just that too many parents seem to want their children in those schools, not in the factories and mines. Their chief spokesperson is the radical Louis August Blanqui, brother to Dupont de l’Eure’s interior minister, Jérôme-Adolphe Blanqui.

A split would be deadly for the Jacobins. The party gets its brawling strength from the working men and its money (and votes in the electoral system) from the wealthy traders and factory owners, and it needs both. But these days it seems like every issue pits the poor Jacobins against the rich. The way the system is set up, the rich Jacobins don’t need the votes of the poor, but as the rebellion ten years ago showed, you never know when you might need their muscle. And without the rich behind them, all those strong working men concentrated at the nerve centers of industry and power have no recourse but violence. And this isn’t even getting into the Dutch-speaking Jacobins in the north, the German-speaking Jacobins in Alsace and le pouce mayençais, and the Polish and Hungarian immigrants in the big cities, many of whom are actually very conservative in their views but support the Jacobins because they don’t feel like anybody else is willing to represent them.

The good news is that against royalism, the whole party stands united. Against the overweening demands of priests and nobles, likewise. Against what the Moniteur calls “antijudaism[9]”—hey, some of our best friends are Jews, and boy are we proud of it! Against increases in the price of bread… well, the poor Jacobins need to eat and the rich ones remember their history.

So this is definitely feeding the party. Whether it’s nourishment or empty calories, only history will be able to say.

If the parties in Paris are united on anything, it’s the war against China. Conservatives are aghast that those heathens would dare attack good Frenchmen, Liberals are aghast that anyone would dare get in the way of French commerce, and Jacobins never miss a chance to give a decrepit monarchy a good kick to the groin. This is an even worthier cause than keeping the Russians out of the Mediterranean and making friends in Macedonia.

Plus, all this will give the French armed forces a chance to see how good their navy really is, which is important. The British swear their mobile batteries are strictly defensive weapons, but the French can’t help but notice that they put a lot more British firepower in the Sleeve, where so much French commerce passes through. What makes it worse is that, with the advent of the screw propeller, the paddle-powered warships France worked so hard to build are now more or less obsolete. The only advantage of the paddles is that they let a ship turn in place, and that isn’t something you want to do on a regular basis—it puts enormous strain on the paddles, the engines, and the whole frame of the ship.

Luckily they already have engines. Refitting them for screws, while a nuisance, is not impossible, and removing the wheels will free up more room on board for the lovely new guns M. Paixhans has finally perfected.[10] And they know those guns work, because while the eyes of all Europe and the Near East were focused on the banks of the Danube this summer, a French warship equipped with a Paixhans bow chaser was escorting a merchantman when they were accosted by an Acehnese pirate fleet. One of the pirate ships was permitted to flee home and inform their brethren that French-flagged ships were henceforth to be avoided at all costs. Anyone shot at by a Paixhans gun will wish they were facing an American columbiad. Briefly.

Yes, in all fields and all aspects of science—theories, discoveries, practical applications—France is either leading the way or at least keeping pace with Britain and Hanover. One of the more jaw-dropping discoveries of the last five years came when scholars, after much debate, finally concluded that the fossils found in the Engis caves of northern France could only belong to an entirely new species of human—Homo engiensis[11], or Engis man. Extinct or not, that’s kind of a big deal.

Meanwhile, Évariste Galois has the whole French mathematical establishment exploring the possibilities of group theory, with help from the École Polytechnique’s new difference engine, while he himself maintains a long-range rivalry with the Norwegian-born mathematician Niels Henrik Abel in Hannover[12]. France is still the biggest producer of white phosphorus, although you do not want to see what happens to some of the people who make it—not every factory takes as many precautions as the Stablers’ plant in Martinsburg. On a somewhat safer note, Paris’s theaters have learned the use of limelight from London’s. Argentography is a new fad. Galvanized ironwork, shining silver instead of black, has become a status symbol on homes in the better neighborhoods of Paris and Anvers, and inside those houses are bespoke tapestries, drapes, curtains, and carpets woven by programmed looms. The telegraph grid has spread north to the coast and Waal and as far as Caen, Orleans, and Luxembourg, and in another few years it will, like the railroads, reach every corner of France.

But not every scientific discovery is wholeheartedly accepted. Young Richard Colin has come back to Bordeaux, and he’s come with a warning. He’s been to the Frescobaldi vineyards of Virginia, and he’s seen what happens when you try to grow French or Italian vinestock in New World soil. What happens is, they wither and die. The culprit, he’s found, is an insect almost too small to see, which he has given the name of Ampeloctona rhizepimola[13], the vine-murderer that invades the root.

There are ways around this. You can hybridize Vitis vinifera with the more resistant New World species. Grafting vinifera vines onto native rootstock works even better. The one thing that no one must ever, ever do is import vines from the New World, at least without carefully inspecting them for ampeloctona eggs.

So he’s been writing letters to everybody he can think of who might have some influence—the papers in every port city starting with Bordeaux itself, vine-growers, wine sellers, wine brokers, scientific journals, government officials in charge of imports, his Representative, even the Emperor himself. Some of these people have actually noticed, but not, curiously, the scientific establishment. Colin’s teachers remember him as a bright but argumentative young man who thought his own prosaic observations made him smarter than the great Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck. Even at this early stage, where scientists are just starting to call themselves “scientists” instead of “natural philosophers,” when you meet a self-proclaimed scientist who thinks he knows better than the entire scientific community, there’s about a 90% chance he’s a crank. Sad to see a bright boy go down that road so early in his career, but he is only 21. There’s still time for him to make some real contributions, once he swallows his pride and admits how much he still has to learn.

But Colin keeps at it, because this is important. His family’s way of life and one of France’s most iconic and beloved industries are at stake. He has no way of knowing that he’s already too late.

[1] Her sister Agnese is seven years older and already married.
[2] Specifically, he was 62 years older than her and 35 years older than her mother, and her sister was seven years older and married several years ago.
[3] You can get a general idea of her appearance from the women in this painting.
[4] Among other things, Napoleon wants his dynasty to be patrons of the arts in France, so he needed somebody who knew at least as much about art and music as he did, and preferably more. Ippolita qualifies—she was sad when Green went home, cried literal tears when Paganini died, and is still hoping she can coax Rossini out of retirement.
[5] And why do I keep centering his feelings? Because he’s the emperor, that’s why.
[6] The Kerguelen Islands IOTL
[7] About half again as many as Paris IOTL. This France has a stronger economy.
[8] To Elmar’s way of thinking, of course, this just proves the Revolution and even the Terror were good for everyone, including the people they tried to kill.
[9] Which will end up being TTL’s official term for anti-Semitism
[10] IOTL the biggest problem Paixhans had was enough quality iron to build reliable guns. This is one more place where it helps TTL’s France to have OTL’s Belgium and its industry.
[11] Homo neanderthalensis IOTL
[12] Who also died young IOTL, although from tuberculosis rather than a duel
[13] IOTL it was first described as Phylloxera vastatrix
It arguably took 30 years for the European Wine industry to recover from Phylloxera vastatrix iOTL. "already too late" may indicate that the European grape vine may functionally go extinct...
It arguably took 30 years for the European Wine industry to recover from Phylloxera vastatrix iOTL. "already too late" may indicate that the European grape vine may functionally go extinct...
They recovered with grafts onto American vines, which were said to subtly change the taste. Pure European vines are extinct iOTL.
They recovered with grafts onto American vines, which were said to subtly change the taste. Pure European vines are extinct iOTL.
Yes, I know. Basically they use American rootstock and transplant the vines onto the rootstock. The vines aren't extinct, See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phylloxera#Aftermath and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phylloxera#Vines_that_survived_phylloxera . Volcanic soils and/or sandy soils can help as can unusually acidic soils which is enough to screw up the life cycle (Which is *truly* bizarre and part of the reason that stopping it is so difficult) and there are other small parcels that have survived. But it was a close thing. The idea of Pure European vines being extinct in this TL is quite posssible.
Note, the issue of changing tastes based on using American (or hybrid) rootstocks is an ongoing one and the argument over this (going back to the 19th century) would probably be used as a model for usenet flame-wars.
And as for the European opinion on the native North American grape species, I honestly expect that France and Italy would treat US exports of wines made from Concord Grapes as a war crime.
Interlude: December 23, 1839 (5)
I've pretty much given up trying to be consistent in following any kind of rule when it comes to calling people by the version of their name in their own/their country's/what they want to be their country's language. Sorry.

Northern Europe
So, who got to be king of the Netherlands? Louis or William?

Neither one. There was no way to split the throne between the two contenders or the Powers backing them, so the Treaty of St. James simply got rid of the throne.

As of the end of 1839, the Second Dutch Republic is on. The provisional government in Amsterdam is organizing nationwide elections for a unicameral legislature with a fairly low property requirement for voting. (This, by the way, was yet another point of contention between the Chartists and the rest of the Whigs—it seemed to Burdett and others that Brougham was trying to suppress real freedom for the Dutch. In fact, it was all Palmerston could do to get the Prussians to agree to any kind of elections at all. And in Amsterdam itself, there is no property requirement for voting in city elections—an effect of the lower-class component in the revolution in that city.) Unfortunately, the new government will not be completely free to make up its own mind about everything. The Treaty of St. James requires that the Netherlands be neutral in any conflict involving Britain, France, or Prussia, unless directly attacked. Of course, this still leaves room for things like trade agreements and such.

And there are two gentlemen living just over the border who will almost certainly be exercising outsized influence on the future of the Netherlands. They are Mr. Willem van Oranje-Nassau[1] of Duisburg and Mr. Lodewijk Bonaparte of Anvers. Both of them have sort of shelved their claims to the throne for the moment, but neither of them has explicitly renounced it, and they both have large followings among those who plan on becoming big deals in the Netherlands. They also plan on serving as a channel for the interests of their respective host nations—Bonaparte of course represents France, while van Oranje-Nassau represents the Anglo-Prussian alliance… at least as long as it stays an alliance.

This in itself is not a popular arrangement. A big chunk of Dutch politics is defined by the Treaty of St. James. One side accepts that the Netherlands is a small nation stuck between big strong ones, this is the best deal they could ever hope to get, and they should do what they can with it. The other side resents the fact that the Powers are now playing for influence inside their capital. During the negotiations, Bonaparte sort of floated the idea that he might be able to talk France in allowing plebiscites in, say, the Brabant area. This didn’t impress the Dutch that much and made a lot of people in Paris very angry—they really like having that good defensive line on their northern border.

Meanwhile, Van Oranje-Nassau’s most hardcore supporters are trying to capitalize on the discontent, saying, in effect: was it worth all we lost to overthrow the king? We’re still missing everything south of the Waal, now our foreign policy has been decided for us by a treaty made in London, and we’re supposed to be okay with all this because Orange man bad? (To which people generally respond that yes, the Orange man was actually bad.) This gets van Oranje-Nassau a lot of angry letters from London and Berlin. The British are still cooperating with the French in the Balkans, and now in the Far East (and North Africa, but people have gotten used to that by now) and don’t want anything that could lead to war with them. The Prussians are still none too confident of their ability to fight France head-on, especially now that Napoleon has proven that he knows what he’s doing on a battlefield. Jena, Auerstädt, Lützen, Bautzen, and Velaine still haunt the nightmares of a generation. And at 69, the king of Prussia is getting too old for this.

And the status quo isn’t so bad. In spite of the king’s dreadful policies and the fact that their best talent keeps leaving for Hanover or the U.S., Prussia is starting to see better days, especially in the west. They’ve learned from the War of 1837 just how important a good railroad grid is to national defense, so they’re building railroads according to a standard 4.5-Fuß[2] gauge (it helps that Berlin and the Rhineland agree on the exact length of a Fuß[3], or foot), which most of the Nordzollverein has agreed to comply with. Alas, Hesse has chosen to build its own gauge according to its own unique and special 10-inch foot and is, well, throwing a Hesse fit over the suggestion that they should try to get on the same page as Prussia.

This matters because some engineers tried to build a train that could handle both gauges. It worked… right up until November 27 of this year, when it hit a poorly aligned junction at Offenbach and violently derailed. Many passengers were injured and several were killed, including Wilhelm, younger brother to Charles Duke of Brunswick, in town visiting a mistress[4]. This has only served to make the Duke of Brunswick even angrier than usual.

Which is saying a lot. Duke Charles is acutely aware that the only thing keeping him on his ducal throne is the Prussian army. Brunswick is a hotbed of unrest, and the most restless people keep sneaking into Hanoverian territory where his agents have no authority to pursue them. Relations with Hanover are a constant source of friction, to the point where the duke has come to personally detest King Victor. (The Duke will sue the pants off anybody who even hints that this might be frustrated sexual desire. Handsome young King Victor is generally known to swing both ways, but hasn’t swung his cousin’s way at all. In fact, there are rumors that they both pursued the same cute twink of a noble student in Göttingen last year, and Victor came away the winner.)

Yes, King Victor’s court is packed with drama and titillating scandal. The Danish Prince Christian is a frequent guest, but recently he and and the king have had a falling-out—and not over the same woman. (Or man. Christian has no inclinations in that direction.) It’s partly because Victor has been trying to get Christian to marry his first cousin Amelia, mostly so he himself won’t have to. But Christian wants no part of any British or Prussian princess who might tie him down to one of the Powers. Also, Christian has been spending a lot of time with Victor’s 18-year-old half-niece Augusta Adelaide Fitzclarence, who is beautiful and charming, but whose name might as well be Maria Fitzherbert as far as his father and the rest of the court in Copenhagen are concerned. Victor thinks of Augusta as a sister (she’s about the only pretty girl in Hannover he doesn’t want to have sex with) and won’t have anyone toying with her affections. Arthur Schopenhauer, who breeds poodles to support himself while writing, would say that Victor and Christian should[5] try to work things out in a way rooted in compassion, but they haven’t asked him. Meanwhile, the king of Denmark is almost 72 and not in great health.[6]

This is also a big problem for Charlotte and Leopold. They really want Amelia to make a royal match, but King Victor isn’t ready to settle down and Prince Christian has said no. As for Mr. van Oranje-Nassau’s son, he isn’t a prince any more, and marrying Amelia to him would have sent a message that Britain didn’t take the Treaty of St. James seriously at all. Amelia herself has shown interest in a certain prince, who I’ll get to in a future update.

To the people in Hanover, King Victor is a celebrity, but they don’t think of him as exactly a leader yet. He spends too much time with poetry and romantic entanglements, and he still has his rich and powerful half-brother George Fitzclarence and his grumpy uncle Ernest Augustus looking out for him. Everyone knows the real power in the land is Prime Minister Carl Hecker, an immigrant from West Prussia himself, under whose governance Hanover has become even more attractive to people from all parts of Germany.

Not that being an immigrant is easy anywhere. Wilhelm Weitling, a journeyman tailor from Magdeburg who’s been all over Prussia, Saxony, and Austria, came to the city of Hannover two years ago looking for work… only to find a city full of cheap suits and dresses made by women in sweatshops hunched over thimmoniers. Still, he’s scraping by making hats for women. In a similar vein, French expat Pierre-Joseph Proudhon is getting by as a proofreader, and Max Stirner is managing a cheese shop, although it’s not much of a cheese shop. Because by now Hanoverians take it for granted that even people who call for the overthrow of state, property, and society still need to participate in society while they’re at it.

But the people who are most threatening to the normies aren’t necessarily the most radical. Nobody actually thinks everybody’s going to start holding property in common or just grabbing everybody else’s stuff. But four years ago when David Strauss down at Göttingen came out with a book, A Reconsideration of the Life of Jesus, which called into question not only the miracles of Jesus but a lot of what was taken to be historical fact about him, that set off condemnations from almost every established Christian church on Earth. Then of course there’s Schopenhauer’s own writings, in which he seeks to rebuild all of ethics on a new foundation, in the process attacking Christian teachings and Kant’s philosophy—and in the Germanies, it’s hard to say which is the bigger deal. With books like these around, the claim by French scientists that there was once a species of human the Book of Genesis never mentioned doesn’t seem so out there.

In the scientific community itself, the biggest controversy is who gets to use the handful of difference engines available, and for what. Not everyone in Europe is convinced yet of the Americans’ claim to have discovered a new planet, but Niels Abel has confirmed Strong’s calculations are correct, and he’s convinced that if he’d had access to an engine sooner, he could’ve done them first. Anyway, some time next year—maybe as early as April 2, during the new moon, if the skies are clear—the astronomers of Europe will point their best telescopes at Capricornus, and then everyone will know for sure.

But a lot of people would rather see their engines used for more practical ends. The Earl and Countess of Lovelace are currently watching the construction of the new suspension bridge across the Weser at Bremen[7], with the cables made from Wilhelm Albert’s wire rope. The two of them came to Hanover as consultants on building and operating difference engines, but William King-Noel, count of Lovelace, will be the first to admit his wife Ada did all the work in calculating the number, spacing, and thickness of the cables needed to hold the bridge together. Ada is all about finding practical uses for this technology, and would like to help Charles Babbage take this technology even further once they’re back in London.

Of course, some problems still have to be solved the hard way. Creating a set of equations to describe the motion of a propeller and calculate the most efficient shape proved too much even for Hanover’s techbros and resident techsis Ada. Hydrodynamics isn’t rocket science—it’s harder.[8] Bremen and Bremerhaven have taken to hosting annual races and competitions where boatbuilders can show off their vessels’ speed and hauling power.

And what news from the North? Zoologist and explorer Sven Ludvig Lovén has pulled into Narvik, having completed a very successful study of the west coast of Greenland. He found Baffin Bay was unusually open this year, and he made use of this to not only venture all the way up the coast, but to chart the coastline of a new island[9]—or at least enough of that coastline to confirm that it’s likely to be an island, not part of some other landmass. He wanted to name it Karl Jan Land, but when the legislatures of Sweden and Norway (who don’t want to glorify His Majesty more than they can help) next meet, they will propose that it be called “Lovénland” and added to the empire. The question is how the British will feel about some Swede getting his colonialist boots and foreign name all over one of their islands—even one they weren’t sure existed.

But Lovén is planning more Arctic voyages, and there’s at least one person in Stockholm who’d like to join him—and not out of a sense of adventure. Magnus Jacob Crusenstolpe is out of favor with the king on account of his connection to those Icelandic malcontents. Going to Iceland and Svalbard with Lovén might be a better deal than being banished there. And every explorer needs a chronicler, after all.

[1] Not the former King Willem I, who’s in Berlin, but his son.
[2] 55.62”/1.412 m
[3] Prussia hasn’t yet done a nationwide standardization of its measurements.
[4] IOTL William (who became Duke after his brother was deposed) left no legitimate descendants, but many illegitimate ones.
[5] If you asked Schopenhauer why he’s even talking about “should” when he doesn’t believe in free will and considers human behavior to be compelled by its motivations, he’d tell you he just can’t help saying it.
[6] He died in December 1839 IOTL.
[7] This isn’t exactly the invention of the suspension bridge. Chain bridges have been known for decades, and metal wire has been used in smaller bridges.
[8] Seriously.
[9] OTL’s Ellesmere Island.
Last edited:
And the status quo isn’t so bad. In spite of the king’s dreadful policies and the fact that their best talent keeps leaving for Hanover or the U.S., Prussia is starting to see better days, especially in the west. They’ve learned from the War of 1837 just how important a good railroad grid is to national defense, so they’re building railroads according to a standard 4.5-Fuß[2] gauge (it helps that Berlin and the Rhineland agree on the exact length of a Fuß[3], or foot), which most of the Nordzollverein has agreed to comply with. Alas, Hesse has chosen to build its own gauge according to its own unique and special 10-inch foot and is, well, throwing a Hesse fit over the suggestion that they should try to get on the same page as Prussia.

I wish I could commission Herr Weitling to make me a hat, so that I could take it off to you.
As a lover of puns, I did so enjoy the Hesse fit, but the Oranje man bad was also a delight.
I laughed at both of those too.

This could be interesting. You know what they say about the best compromise leaving no one saisfied? This whole "Second Dutch Republic" is a perfect example of that. If the continent goes to war again, I don't think this neutrality is going to be respected - if not directly, than by one of the would-be kings trying something.

As for Prussia, well, the king might not be popular, but he's "supposed" to die next year. (Otl's FW4 is still next in line, right?) Wonder how that'll shake out. I seem to recall there being mention of some sort of major conflict in the Germanies in the near term, though that might be less "great power war" and more like an analog of OTL's 1848...
Looking forward to more alt-ideologies except for the two that have been foreshadowed.
So far we have Stirner still being an anarchist, presumably opposed to statist Elmarists. The statist meritocratic Elmarists who want a capitalism totally shorn of any feudal remnants. And the Romanticist Aristists who want a compromise between industrialization and feudal social relations.
Interlude: December 23, 1839 (6)
Southern Europe
Portugal has had to do some major housecleaning. King Pedro[1] has dismissed some of his ministers who were selling state assets and pocketing the money[2]. Even with the improving economy, the kingdom can’t afford that. There’s a war on, schools to build, and colonies in Africa to expand. At least the slave traders have been driven out of the Tangerian ports again, although that does mean less money to tax.

Portuguese liberals didn’t rest on their laurels after Miguel was overthrown. The nation, like Britain and France, is facing demands for an expanded franchise and more direct means of elections. King Pedro’s approach to this has been to go full steam ahead on reform, increasing the franchise as much as the Cortes will tolerate.

He’s doing this because he knows he’s running out of time. His health is failing[3], and he doesn’t know how long he has left. His heir, Maria, just turned seventeen. The Cortes has already declared her majority, just to be on the safe side, but everyone’s thinking about the trouble her older brother is having in Brazil. They don’t want that here. Maria is understandably frightened at the prospect of possibly losing her father and having to lead the nation before long, but she’s determined to do the best she can.

The good news is, she has a husband. She married him this year. He’s fourteen years her senior, but compared to the king and his wife next door in Spain, this relationship looks downright healthy. He holds no official position in the realm, but he has lots of helpful suggestions. He is none other than Charles-Louis Napoléon Bonaparte of France, nephew to Napoleon the Great[4]. If this doesn’t normalize the Bonaparte dynasty in the eyes of Europe, nothing will. And Maria doesn’t know it yet, but she’s pregnant.

The other royal María of the Iberian Peninsula isn’t pregnant at the moment, which is a great relief to her. The poor woman has been through six pregnancies in the past five years, with nothing to show for it but three miscarriages, two stillbirths, and one… they couldn’t really tell if it was a son or daughter. Whatever it was, it only lived three days. The doctors are adamant that she needs another few months of rest and recovery from the last failed pregnancy before she tries again, and she very much agrees with that. She looks and feels a lot older than her twenty-one years. What youth and strength she ever had has been spent in failed attempts to give her husband (uncle/great-uncle/etc.) a son.

And yes, Carlos still wants a son. (Besides, of course, the son he’s already got, who turned twenty this year and is an officer in the army engineering corps in South America and regular correspondent with the Infante Sebastian.) He wants a son to inherit the throne of Spain. But he really is starting to wonder if that’s God’s plan, or if he should start putting his hopes in his daughter (his daughter, his, and don’t you DARE suggest otherwise) the six-year-old Miraculous Princess Isabella Luísa. She’s barely been sick a day in her life so far, and is well ahead of her reading level. Her tutors are comparing her favorably to the young Charles III.

Another thing on Carlos’ mind is that just when it seemed like all democratic impulses in his kingdom had been snuffed out and Spain was as close to being a proper absolutist monarchy as the 19th century and its expectations would allow, his own Tradition Party had to go and split right in two. It was the issue of fuero reform that did it. The previous government’s heavy-handed abolition of the fueros made them more popular in the Tradition Party, but too many of the rising industrialists funding that party are tired of local legal quirks and somebody’s obscure centuries-old privileges getting in the way of them making money—especially since they had a taste of life without the fueros under Constitutionist governance. His own War Minister, José Ramón Rodil, left the government over this issue back in October. Rodil and a young firebrand named Luis González Bravo are now writing the platform of the new Centrist Party, to which many of the more moderate (or just more tired of political impotence) Constitutionists are flocking. There’ll be elections next year.

The Diocese of Rome is a year into the papacy of Pius X, formerly known as Cardinal Bartolomeo Pacca. Pius is a conservative, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to reverse everything the Roman Catholic Church has done in the past forty years or so. Instead, he’s… well, conserving what he’s got. Where the Church is tolerated, it will do nothing to antagonize the authorities; where it has granted official status, power, and authority, it will accept these things with both hands. He’s also patching up relations with Austria, whose government has long since gotten used to the idea that they don’t get a say in who is or is not pope. There’s talk of creating a Pontifical Commission to govern the city of Rome, but Pacca would rather leave things in the hands of Mayor Carlo Armellini.

By comparison, politics in the United Kingdoms of Italy and Sardinia are downright byzantine. You’d think that after twenty years or so the parties would have sorted themselves out into some single-digit number—conservative, Christian-liberal, secular-liberal, centralist, federalist, etc. Instead, each city or region has its own set of parties. At the national level, Italy has major coalitions rather than major parties—coalitions which change with every new issue.

There are several reasons for this:
• The War of Italian Unification didn’t get rid of the various regional rivalries, not only between north and south but between the cities of northern Italy. The worst is Pisa versus Livorno, but there’s also Milan versus Genoa, Genoa versus Venice, Venice versus Milan, and Florence versus Siena. An effect of this is that the two largest parties both represent southern Italy—the Neapolitan Conservative party represents the landowners of the south, and the Popular Party of Naples represents the middle-class of the city itself.
• When representatives from, say, Lombardy, Lazio, and Apulia get together and try to talk about their issues, a lot of times it’s like they’re not even speaking the same language… because they aren’t. Italy was politically fragmented for a very long time, and this is reflected in the many local dialects. The more educated Italians can speak Tuscan, which is sort of the official version of Italian because all the best literature was written in it. But unification, the downfall of the Hapsburgs and Bourbons, and the later addition of Sicily and Sardinia destabilized the establishment to the point where Italy still doesn’t have a recognizable governing class the way Britain does—at least, not one that has a monopoly on power. There are many more representatives who not only speak for the lower classes, but are from the lower classes, and only know the Italian they learned at home, which might or might not be comprehensible to the rest of the country.
• Italy has a large parliament of 805 members, and until three years ago the Italian Forum[5] wasn’t finished. Parliament had to meet at the Anfiteatro Fausto, the old Roman amphitheater, which was open to the sky and created a risk of important votes being delayed on account of rain. They didn’t spend more time there than they could help, preferring to meet in groups in smaller venues throughout the City of Love and Steel (which has become Terni’s official nickname) before assembling in the Fausto. This made smaller party delegations easier to manager than large ones.

But now the Forum is built and in use, a symphony in marble with a copper dome 40 meters wide[6] over its central amphitheater. So at least one of the problems has been taken care of. And Pepe’s new foreign minister, Massimo d’Azeglio (back from the U.S. where he was serving as ambassador[7]) has been trying to build a truly national liberal party. One thing helping him is that the various small rivalries have been somewhat dampened in the wake of the War of the Sardinian Succession, when soldiers from all parts of Italy fought side by side in the same units. One of D’Azeglio’s greatest allies is the young Tuscan politician and winemaker Bettino Ricasoli, who devotes as much efforts to finding the most agreeable factions as he does to finding the best grape cultivars for the Chianti vineyards of the Antinori family. (Those vineyards have recently received a gift of living Yadkin grapevines, which their North Carolina cousins brought with great care and expense from Wilmington to Livorno. The expense will turn out to be greater than they ever imagined.)

Also, the Popular Party of Naples is considering joining him—his platform looks good, especially the part about adjusting voting-district borders to reflect changes in population. In spite of cholera and malaria[8], Naples is a growing city, especially with the danger of piracy gone and the need of a good shipyard to refit the fleet for screws. They’d like their delegation to grow accordingly.

All this is happening behind the scenes. Most Italians would say the biggest political event of the year was the failed assassination attempt on King Achille in June. He and his family[9] headed up to Lake Como (the Villa d’Este, in fact, Queen Caroline’s old estate) to spend the hottest part of the summer with Camillo Benso and his new bride Allegra Byron Benso and a few other friends and their families. They stopped in Arezzo, both to transfer from the railroad (still under construction further north) and to take in the city’s traditional Saracen Joust.

The would-be assassin was a 38-year-old Lucchesi named Pieri[10], who went by both Giovanni and Giuseppe and spelled his surname with either one or two Rs over the course of an itinerant life of petty crime. Pieri had apparently become a fanatical Republican while hiding out in San Marino last year. He pushed his way to the front of the crowd at the station and pulled out a Francotte revolver just as the king was getting off the train.

Giuseppe Marco Fieschi[11], a Corsican bodyguard who had served the family since he fought by King Gioacchino’s side in 1815, tackled Pieri and stopped the bullet with his own torso, dying in the process.

Pieri would have been lynched on the spot if Achille hadn’t personally demanded that justice be allowed to work its course. As it was, he was disarmed, beaten bloody, and dragged to the nearest jail by the angry mob. Within a month, he died by guillotine. Fieschi (who in life had been a very hard man to like and probably the least popular person in the Palazzo San Valentino) got a hero’s funeral. King Carlos finds it mildly amusing that the king targeted for assassination by a Republican was possibly the most benign in all Europe.

Before we move on, let us have a moment of silence for all the future history students who are somehow going to have to keep Queen Maria of Italy, Queen María of Spain, and Queen Maria of Portugal straight.

[1] I had to do some major housecleaning, or at least retconning, when I realized that, by completely losing track of what I’d done with the Braganzas, Brazil, and Portugal, I’d managed to land Pedro Junior in Lisbon and Rio at the same time. As always, I made the choice that would lead to the least rewriting. So basically Pedro made a grand gesture of turning his back on his homeland forever, and the minute he found out his dumbass reactionary brother was about to become king instead of his son, he was like “You know what? Never mind,” and people in Portugal decided to file the whole “I shall stay” thing under “youthful indiscretion,” because he was still the lesser of two evils. Deal with it.
[2] IOTL this was such a problem in Portugal after the Liberal Wars that they called it devorismo-“devourism.”
[3] IOTL he had been dead for five years at this point.
[4] The French have mostly stopped trying to make “Saint-Napoléon” happen, so this is now his official moniker… at least in France itself.
[5] Centered more or less on the site of OTL’s Hotel Valentino.
[6] Slightly smaller than the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. This was a deliberate gesture of respect.
[7] The current ambassador to the U.S. is the 35-year-old Venetian Daniele Manin.
[8] The worst area for malaria is actually along the Lazio coast.
[9] As of the end of 1839, Achille and Maria have two living children, 7-year-old Prince Achille Gioacchino Napoleone and 3-year-old Princess Carolina Maria Anna. Also, the queen is pregnant again.
[10] IOTL one of Orsini’s accomplices in his assassination attempt on Napoleon III.
[11] IOTL Fieschi tried to kill Louis-Philippe with a homemade volley gun.
I sense a potential succession crisis once the Spanish king dies...

(The current king is this guy right? If so, he lasted until 1855 OTL...)

Wait, could this explain why the Viceroyalty of South America is (1) an independent sovereign state and (2) considered its own power by the 20th century? The king's existing son holding on over there while "his" daughter is able to take control of metropolitan Spain? Hmmm...