The Sword of Nemesis (3)
This particular historian has a penchant for purple prose, but I think you'll agree this is the right occasion for it.

For most of the year, the winds in the Bosporus area blow out of the north by northeast. Because these winds are strongest in the summer, that was when the Sultan intended to launch his naval expedition to the Adriatic coast. His plan was to bypass the dangerous mountain passes of Greece and Albania, reinforce his remaining garrisons in the area and strike at the very heart of rebel-controlled territory. To this end, by the end of March he had assembled in the Golden Horn sixteen ships of the line (the main strength of the Ottoman fleet) and thirty merchant vessels intended to serve as troop transports. This was a force easily capable of overwhelming what passed for a Greek navy (a handful of converted merchant vessels) and knocking down any coastal fortress Ypsilanti or Tependelenle Ali could possibly have built.

But during the spring, as Boreas and Notus wrestle for control of the air, the winds are less reliable. Sometimes warm, moist winds blow out of the southwest, carrying the breath of the Aegean through the city, speeding northbound ships on their way into the Black Sea while sailing ships bound for the south and west must abide in port. Such was the case that year through the month of March, as the winds shifted unpredictably back and forth. Making a virtue of necessity, the Turk was taking advantage of the delay to increase their preparation for war.

Imagine the Golden Horn as it must have been after midnight, in the early hours of April 1, 1822. The chill of the night had turned the humid air to heavy curtains of mist which clouded and blinded the city, hanging thickest over the harbor. Only the lightest of breezes blew from the northeast to stir the fog. The crews of the warships stationed near the mouth of the Horn could barely see the ships closest to them, and had no chance to see what was coming from the darkness to the north.

A half-dozen small vessels, their sails tied in place to catch the wind and let it carry them, slowly but inexorably, from the Bosporus into the Horn and into the very teeth of the sleeping fleet. They carried no arms, but were loaded with barrels of rancid oil and tallow, and each held a store of gunpowder in the stern. No one saw the crews of these boats jump over the sides and swim for the shore, but just before they did so they must have set small fires on board.

The sailboats approached the fleet, silent as ghosts. Imagine a sailor or soldier, standing guard on deck that night, staring out into utter darkness for no other reason than to observe the forms of duty, with no expectation of seeing anything out of the ordinary — or indeed anything at all. Perhaps he catches a glimpse of sailcloth in the light of the waxing moon, and leans over to see better. Perhaps he sees the growing flicker of light from within the hold of one of the boats. Perhaps he catches the scent of burning oil. And then the night is made hideous as the first of the ships explodes — erupting from within, sending barrels wrapped in oil-soaked cloth flying into the air like rockets to shatter against the sides and decks of the warships, spreading burning tallow over the seasoned timbers of the fleet, or else to burst as the incendiary within boils and expands, setting the very air ablaze with oily mist.

The merchant vessels, further up the Horn, were safe; but the ships of the line assigned to protect them were all but doomed, for the wind was not strong enough to allow them to move away in time. The crews of three of the vessels were able to save them only by quickly casting all sails, rigging and gunpowder into the Horn and pouring buckets of seawater over the decks and hull. The rest could only flee in terror, swimming to safety as the pride of the Turkish fleet burned and exploded behind them.

It was a terrible blow. Fifty-two years after the holocaust at Chesma, history had repeated itself. The Sword of Nemesis had struck again — and this time he had shaken the Turkish state to its very foundations. Muhammad Ali Pasha of Egypt, whose fleet was safe in Alexandria, was now at least as strong at sea as the Sultan himself.

Arthur Christopher Swinburne, Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know: The Life, Loves and Adventures of Lord Byron
Very awesome. The 'purple prose' is indeed very fitting. It sets exactly the right tone for both the event and its orchestrator. :D


Great use of Swinburne's name, in this instance, and:

Sometimes warm, moist winds blow out of the southwest, carrying the breath of the Aegean through the city, speeding northbound ships on their way into the Black Sea while sailing ships bound for the south and west must abide in port.
...nice reference to Bulwer-Lytton. ;)
Last edited:
Mars Ascendant (1)
To Boyer, Santo Domingo represented a chance not only to increase the territory of his tiny state, but to secure its future as a free nation — poor and despised, perhaps, but undeniably free. With the eastern half of the island in Spanish hands, Spain or any other power could gradually amass a huge army there until it was prepared to strike. If Haiti held all Hispaniola, it would be much harder to invade.

To Riego, on the other hand, Santo Domingo might as well have been the nameless “little patch of ground/That hath in it no profit but the name” fought over by Denmark and Poland in Hamlet. It was being contested entirely for reasons of national prestige — or rather, to extirpate national shame. Since he had come to power, Spain had conceded the loss of New Granada and La Plata, and the lion’s share of the remaining empire was now in the hands of the king’s brothers — at least one of whom was a known foe of constitutional government. With this added to the inevitable public backlash in parts of Spain from the abolition of the fueros, the popularity of Riego and his Constitutional Party had sharply diminished. If he was to have any hope of surviving the next election, at the very least he could not suffer the humiliation of defeat at the hands of such an enemy as Haiti.

So he sent another 20,000 men to Hispaniola. If these men, schooled in the Peninsular War, were more familiar with the realities of this sort of warfare than the Frenchmen who had followed the hapless Leclerc twenty years earlier, they were no more immune to yellow fever and malaria…

One of the few things that Simón Bolívar and Prince-Viceroy Carlos had in common was their attitude toward the peace between Gran Colombia and the Spanish Empire. Both had been pressured towards it by their own exhausted governments, and each man had acceded to it in the belief that time was on his side. Bolívar saw in the Viceroyalty little more than a halfhearted attempt to make Spanish rule bearable, and one that would surely fall victim either to the sloth and ineptitude of the old guard or the revolutionary fury of the people. Then the war could resume, and this time it would not end until all the Americas were free.

To Carlos, it was the government in Bogotá that was doomed. It was a coalition of the aggrieved and the power-hungry presided over by a Caesar without the legitimacy of a king. Only the fear of reconquista was holding it together, and that had already failed in Argentina. Let the republic fall apart as it must, and Spain could pick up the pieces at leisure. (It is important to remember that holding political views which were considered passé even in his own time did not make Carlos a fool. Nor, contrary to what Virreinatan state propaganda may claim, can he be considered a clerical aristist ahead of his time. To him, Bolívar was no Hero or Great Man, but a dismally successful traitor and bandit.)

And, ironically enough, in 1822 neither man was particularly inclined to go to war over Santo Domingo — but for opposite reasons. Bolívar was genuinely anguished by the position he was in, torn between his old comradeship with the Haitian people and his anger over the crushing of the Spanish rebels on Hispaniola by those same people. His many appeals to Boyer in their correspondence were met with refusal after refusal… Carlos, on the other hand, was sublimely indifferent to the matter. This was Riego’s war — let him and his precious Cortes fight it. If they succeeded, Spain would have regained a colony, but not one valuable enough to gain them any glory. If they failed, blame would fall precisely where it belonged.

So both of them waited until the end of the year, when a hotheaded young adventurer came out of nowhere and changed the game completely.

--Dennis Lincoln, A History of the Caribbean (Vol. 2)
Last edited:
Very exciting! The hints about illness as a risk factor for the Spanish seem like an omen of independence for Haiti... but then there's the unexpected 'adventurer'. :cool:

Let's see how this plays out.


Who might this adventurer be...? Way too soon for William Walker, but that's who my brain goes to when I think to adventurers in the Caribbean. ;)
Mars Ascendant (2)
Dupuis’ next great opportunity would come in March of 1822, as a result of the increasing echthrophrenia[1] of Lord Castlereagh. Ironically, no one alive — not Brougham, not Wilberforce, not even (as of yet) Her Highness — had struck greater or more effective blows against the slave trade than Castlereagh had at Vienna. But as fear and suspicion grew ever greater in his mind, he came to see the abolitionist movement as part and parcel of the vast Radical/French conspiracy against the Crown. It was largely for this reason that Sir Charles MacCarthy, the abolitionist and correspondent of Wilberforce who had governed Senegal[2], Gorée and the West African forts since the end of the war, was recalled to London for questioning. He would ultimately be exonerated, but it would not be until 1825 that he would receive a new posting.[3]

Joseph Dupuis was dispatched in his place. His first task, as he saw it, was to repair relations with the Ashanti, which since the rejection of the treaty had deteriorated to the point where Osei Bonsu had ordered his subjects to refuse trade with the British and to trade with the Dutch and Danes instead.[4]

Lewis Page, Joseph of Oran: A Biography

[1] ITTL, “paranoia” is a general term for delusional thinking associated with mental illness. “Echthrophrenia” refers specifically to delusions of persecution.
[2] Not returned to France at the end of the war. The last map should have reflected this. Sorry.
[3] McCarthy doesn’t know how lucky he is — IOTL he was killed in a war with the Ashanti and his skull was gilded and made into a drinking-cup. ITTL that whole war never happens.
[4] This was a treaty Dupuis, as consul at Kumasi, had signed with Osei Bonsu in 1820, but which the authorities had not ratified. He’d gone back to London to try to straighten things out, but as you’ll recall, the Foreign Office had had other things on its mind that year.


So, MacArthur's son doesn't wind up adopted by his uncle the Marquis, then? Wonder what butterflies that branches off...
Mars Ascendant (3)
Those rebellions going on in the Balkans? Turns out those aren't even the Ottoman Empire's biggest problems. There's a whole war going on in the east that I forgot to mention earlier:rolleyes:.

Until mid-1822 it seemed nothing could stop the advance of the princes of Persia. At Sorbulak[1] on October 20, 1821, Abbas Mirza and his 30,000 men defeated an Ottoman army of 50,000. A month later, his older half-brother took Baghdad and had the hapless governor Dawud Pasha put to the sword.[2] Erzerum and Mosul had fallen by the end of the year. It was at this point that the Sultan called upon the governor of Egypt for assistance.

Doing so obviously cost Mahmud a good deal of face. Muhammad Ali’s personal ambition, and his contempt for the empire he officially served, were the worst-kept secret in the Near East. But when the Sultan commanded, the self-declared Khedive could either obey or rebel, and he was not yet prepared to rebel. Not out of fear (even at this stage he would almost certainly have won), but due to his own self-image and the nature of his ambition. He did not wish to be seen as a bandit taking advantage of the empire’s weakness. When he made his move, it would be to restore order in Dar al-Islam, not to undermine it.

With Tusun Pasha[3] preoccupied with a rebellion in the Hejaz, the younger son Ibrahim was given his chance. Even as much of the Turkish navy was burning in the Golden Horn, destroyed by the British adventurer Lord Byron, the Egyptian fleet was preparing to embark for the Levant to offer logistical support to Ibrahim’s army.

Northeast of Aleppo on July 10, 1822, under a blazing sun, Ibrahim’s army met Abbas Mirza’s and defeated it, although casualties were heavy on both sides. He pursued the Persians east, but was forced to turn south and meet Dowlatshah’s army coming up the Euphrates. He defeated this army at ar-Raqqah — but again, the battle was costly and the enemy was able to retreat…

The great irony is that, although the Persians’ primary casus belli in 1821 was the granting of shelter to Azeri rebels by the Ottoman Empire, a secondary cause was the inability of Dawud Pasha to protect the Shi’a under his dominion from attacks by the radical Wahhabis attacking out of the Nejd. With Ottomans and Persians alike busy to the north, the Shi’a in the delta of the Tigris and Euphrates had no defense at all. In the worst of the resulting attacks, virtually the entire Shi’a population of the city of Zubayr was massacred during Ramadan. On hearing this, Ibrahim is reported to have said, "Now I know who to deal with next."

Kemal Demirci, The Cardboard Lion: The Last Years of the Ottoman Empire

[1] IOTL, this battle happened at Erzerum, but it went pretty much the same way.
[2] IOTL, the siege of Baghdad was brought to a halt by an outbreak of cholera, and Dawud Pasha got to live somewhat longer.
[3] IOTL he died in 1816. Here he is governing the Hejaz, officially on behalf of the Sublime Porte but really on behalf of Dad.
Some Operas
Before the next big update, which I don't want to be on the bottom of the page, let's have some foreshadowing: the Operas of J.F.F. Green.

Compared to OTL's Verdi, "Jeff" Green composed more symphonies, concertos and various other instrumental pieces and fewer operas. But the fourteen operas he did compose are considered among the best in the world, and certainly the best operas ever written in English.

So, without further ado…

Green operas.png


...Poe is a librettist, now? One hopes one of those operas is an adaptation of Arthur Gordon Pym... :D

(Or, hell, something like his Politian!)

Shame that Victor Hugo probably doesn't write Le roi s'amuse ITTL; otherwise, we'd probably still get some form of Rigoletto from "Green".