The New Kratocracy: A Boulanger Coup TL

Impressive update!

On the foreign affairs front: well, a Germano-british rapprochement (if not necessarily a formal alliance) were probably unavoidable in these circumstances. For the future, I believe a lot will hinge on France's attitude... which, I am afraid, will not be the most constructive? Speaking franco-german relations, I believe I understand there is no strong german irredentism around Saarland - nothing comparable to OTL french irredentism on Alsace-Lorraine?
On the domestic front: wow, Caprivi can't be accused of slacking. He seems to have been able to amend most of the faults of the OTL Reich, with the exception of the role & state of mind of the army. Will the refoundation of the Heer see a renewal in the upper echelons such as to avoid OTL idiots coming into power?

Overall... Some here were reading this as a Francewank. Now we have Germany steaming towards social democracy & industrialisation at full speed and looking like it's going to be able to avoid the catastrophes of the XXth century; meanwhile France is locked under a depressing, stagnant and overall ridiculous dictatorship. From OTL, I think the brains of Boulanger & Philippe VII could be transplanted in Caprivi's skull and leave spare room. I suppose you want to avoid spoilers, but I really can see France heading towards 1870 redux, complete with a monarch trying to shore up its prestige and a head of government sleepwalking towards disaster.
I’m really enjoying this! As someone writing a TL set roughly in the same time period (and featuring many of the same protagonists, albeit with an earlier POD) it’s interesting to see the different directions you’re taking things and all the substantive research you’re doing.

Very well done!
France historically had a fraught relationship with Britain in the latter Belle Epoque... that's going to be worse here with the much more sanguine foreign policy and mercurial and incompetent leadership (the Quay d'Orsay knew its business, Boulanger likely sacked the lot of them to France's loss). For all her present francophilia turn of the century Italy will not tread on Britain's toes unless forced; if the Fashoda Incident or something comparable occurs they won't stick their neck out for France any more than they would for Germany. On the contrary a more belligerent and arrogant France would aggravate Italian feelings of inferiority and strain that relationship unnecessarily- perhaps leading to a more assertive policy in Africa (Ethiopia or Eretria, but also perhaps something with Morocco, Libya, or even Albania?). British mediation and leverage can paper over Italian tensions with Austria if necessary, and a belligerent Russia does Italy no favors either vis a vis the Balkans.

Something like the Russo Japanese War could trigger a confrontation if the war somehow is delayed beyond 1900, and TTL I imagine both Britain and Germany likely to intervene... not likely to go well for France or Russia. A little surprised that Russia didn't make demands of the Turks here. This is roughly around the Russo-Turkish War, after all.

The Saarland is fairly significant as an annexation, much like AL it was a major source of coal and iron- and also a strategic salient. France has a much more defensible frontier, but also one well suited to attack into the Rhineland. Germany won't get over the loss so easily.
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The Saarland is fairly significant as an annexation, much like AL it was a major source of coal and iron- and also a strategic salient. France has a much more defensible frontier, but also one well suited to attack into the Rhineland. Germany won't get over the loss so easily.
Indeed, I remember reading recently about how the « polishing » of the border by the victors in 1815 amputated France of strategic springboards to the Rhineland - which the author counted as one more reason for the failure of 1870’s offensive plans. TTL, possession of the Sarre might make the French more tempted to adopt an offensive strategy against Germany again - especially if they face the prospect of a drawn-out war against it and Britain. Whether they would have the military capacity necessary to pull it off is another question entirely - in a ca. 1900 war scenario, it would take wizardry on the part of the French plus serious german blunders to make even an invasion of the Rhineland in one campaign work, let alone getting the reich out of the war quickly.
question with the French victory will we have a babyboom or a revival of the French birth rate?
I was expecting the French birth rate and population today to be marginally higher than OTL but nothing too significant. The war only lasted just under a year, so my presumption was any boom would be no where near as significant as say after a four year war.
I was expecting the French birth rate and population today to be marginally higher than OTL but nothing too significant. The war only lasted just under a year, so my presumption was any boom would be no where near as significant as say after a four year war.

Thank you :)
hope very much that this story will resume so in the meantime here are some ideas

For the outbreak of the Great War I imagine for example Belgium with France claiming Wallonia and Germany wanting Belgium as a protectorate or a colonial dispute between France and England (ex Egypt)
I also imagine Morocco becoming a Franco-Spanish Condominium to avoid Germany or England getting it.

Maybe also a help from France during the 1905 war.

On the other hand the boxer uprising will be a big mess

Just an update, no I am not dead, but I am afraid I haven't had a huge amount of time to write the past few months. I am definitely planning to carry on this TL as I have a lot planned out for it, however I am thinking of maybe converting it into a visual map and graphic TL, as opposed to a written one (though of course writing little blurbs to everything I post). To be honest, whilst I enjoy the writing, it takes years for me to post anything and I find it fairly heavy going - maps and flags are much more my thing.

So yeah, updates will be coming (maybe with a new clean thread?), but this time probably as maps. Will also post a full bulleted timeline to go along with that.

(Edit: Also might change the name of the TL since I've always found the 'New Kratocracy' somewhat OTT and vague. Anyone have any ideas?)
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good luck will you post on this page for your cards or will you do it elsewhere otherwise for the name I suggest: "La nouvelle France" la réussite de Boulanger
good luck will you post on this page for your cards or will you do it elsewhere otherwise for the name I suggest: "La nouvelle France" la réussite de Boulanger
I’ll probs set up a new clean thread, but link to this. And yeah that’s a great suggestion.
The View from Whitehall New

“Our policy is to float lazily downstream, putting out the occasional diplomatic boathook”
~ Lord Salisbury, circa. 1889

British foreign policy in the early-1890s is almost remarkable for its constancy. Lesser, more jingoistic men might easily have found themselves whipped up in the fast-moving torrents of continental turmoil - but alas, Great Britain, and her steadfast Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, remained ever aloof of these lurid back and forths. Splendid Isolation [1], as it had come to be known, represented a doctrine of rationality and level-headedness far detached from the oft-frenetic vitriol of Britain’s continental rivals.

Of course, this is not to say that Whitehall was not alarmed at these European developments; certainly they were. The re-emergence of France as a militaristic power, in particular raised nightmares of the past century of conflict, and the near thousand years of altercations before that. In Boulanger, was seen another Napoleon - a jumped up French showman determined to upend the balance of power to disastrous effect. The decisive defeat of Germany by France in 1889 only cemented this perception, as did the “Black Marshal’s” [2] rabid rhetoric since.

Far more alarming however, was France’s growing amity with the Russian Tsardom. In this, the true nightmare of the Foreign Office was realised. The formalisation of the Franco-Russian Alliance by treaty in January 1891 [3], represented a concerted and worrying threat to British geopolitical interests across the globe. In Africa, French colonial expeditions were drawing ever closer to threatening the Congo, the Nile, Egypt, and Suez Canal beyond. In Eurasia, Russian forces in Turkestan loomed large over British India and Persia. Even in China, French efforts to extract their share from the crumbling Qing, increasingly undermined the British monopoly on oriental trade. And of course on the continent, their nascent axis threatened to singularly dominate - a metric whose avoidance had been the cornerstone of British foreign policy since time immemorial.

Seeing such great looming challenges then, one would expect a similarly sweeping response. A retreat from Splendid Isolation for example, was argued by many at the time, asserting that it left Britain dangerously exposed to the growing forces against her. More radical hawks similarly demanded that Britain impose everything from a trade embargo to an outright armed blockade on French and Russian ports, contending that their nascent concord must be strangled at birth. Prime Minister Salisbury however, was far more measured than such men. Instead his response to this growing unease was tempered, moderate, and several fold - such was his aversion to sweeping manifestos or bold bombasities.

First and foremost to these myriad of measures, was Salisbury’s policy of self-strengthening - militarily securing the home isles and empire beyond from any French or Tsarist interference. The French obliteration of the Kaiserliche Marine in the Wadden Sea for example, reiterated Salisbury’s tacit support of the so-called "Two-Power Standard", the objective of maintaining a Royal Navy equal in size to the next two largest combined (conveniently being France and Russia). Over the next five years, Salisbury’s Ministry oversaw the construction of ten new battleships, thirty-eight new cruisers, eighteen torpedo boats and four fast gunboats [4] - an unprecedented level of naval expansion that assured Britain’s supremacy on the seas for many years to come.

Armed and secured at home, Salisbury similarly diverted energies towards securing Britain’s interests afar, away from the clutches of Franco-Russian meddling. Safeguarding the route to India, the lynchpin and commercial jewel of the empire, of course proved the most pivotal policy towards this. In accordance, 1892 heralded many agreements with the so-called Trucial States, Oman and the various small Emirates of the Gulf [5] - securing these regions as exclusive protectorates of Great Britain, and therein asserting British supremacy over the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea beyond. Simultaneous efforts were similarly made to entrench British control over Somaliland and the Horn of Africa, thereby fortifying Aden and its strategic preeminence over the critical approaches to and from the Suez Canal.

However it would be in Africa, where the greatest challenges lay in securing these vital routes to the Raj. Egypt, which had been under British occupation since 1882, remained dangerously vulnerable to assault from the South and the White Nile beyond. Whichever power held the Nile, held Egypt, and thus the various desperate attempts by British expeditionaries to secure the river’s source, well reflect such growing consternations in this period. Salisbury’s solution to this issue was characteristically twofold, albeit somewhat peripheral. The Anglo-German Agreements of 1890 [6], first and foremost assured British control over Lake Victoria (the presumed “source” of the River Nile) and East Africa more broadly, but also secondly placated what could easily have become another hostile rival in an imperial scramble Britain could little afford. Satisfying German ambitions in East Africa, would hence allow overstretched British forces to focus solely on the French menace, wherever and whenever they might encroach in Egypt or the Soudan.

Negating colonial rivals in Africa would similarly prove important for the Salisbury Ministry to achieve in the Southern tip of the continent. Whilst these territories did not represent a significant defensive garrison of the Nile, Suez Canal or India beyond, South Africa remained a vital and similarly vulnerable far-flung outpost of the empire. To the East lay the Boer states of Kruger and Reitz [7], (whose relations with the Anglo settlers had become soured with spite and distrust), and to the North lay great uncharted lands bountiful both in resource-prey and predators from Portuguese, French and Belgian explorers. These regions North of the Zambezi River [8] were rich in Gold, Copper and Diamonds, and would undoubtedly prove a priceless bounty for whichever power that could successfully secure them. Nonetheless, Britain remained cautious. Salisbury was a man of prudence, not one of great action. To him, these lands represented only a sordid mess of blood and conflict, not worth the efforts of British subjugation where other more pliable powers could take the strain [9]. Portugal in particular, seemed prime to this strategy. Having claimed these lands from Angola to Mozambique at the Berlin Conference of 1885, and bound in treaty to an alliance with Great Britain, they appeared a valuable buffer to shore up against the French and their Belgian protégés to the North.

To achieve such efforts, however, first they would have to overcome the vitriolic opposition of a single man - Cecil Rhodes. The blustering Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, mining magnate, and arch-industrialist of Africa, argued against nearly every pertinent detail of Salisbury’s fledgling policy. Rhodes' lust for gold exceeded all measure, to him such lands were British, and he was damned if any pansy politician in London could stop him. Time and time again, Rhodes ignored warnings from Governor Loch [10], and repeated diktats from Whitehall - his British South Africa Company pushed ever further Northwards into these virgin lands. By early-1891, his expedition under the command of Sir Henry Hamilton Johnston had at last reached the Zambezi Valley, ready to secure native cooperation, against all caution, and by force if necessary.

Of course this was not at all the first British expedition to this region - dozens of intrepid missionaries had disseminated into the valley across the past decade, whilst Johnston’s own 1889 explorations, similarly under orders from Rhodes, had already tentatively claimed so-called Nyasaland to little effect. However it would be, this, his 1891 expedition, which would become his most infamous - marking the downfall of his career, as well as that of his overzealous employer.

On 21st March 1891, Johnston, together with 150 British officers, 200 Sikhs and 200 African riflemen approached Karonga, on the Western shores of Lake Nyasa. There they hoped to secure a protectorate over the tribal lands of chief Mlozi [11], a mercurial man known to have previously had dealings with the British African Lakes Company. To their horror, Alexandre de Serpa Pinto [12] and a large contingent of Portuguese troops had already arrived a week previously - with their promise of support for MIozi in his war against the Henga (in exchange for protection) readily established. Johnston had previously met Pinto in 1889, and after several frequent clashes, the men had developed a tense rivalry. Though the exact details of the ensuing confrontation are disputed to this day, it is recorded that Johnston demanded Pinto and his forces immediately withdraw East of the Ruo River, despite their previously established agreement. To this Pinto of course refused, and within the eve, both forces were locked in a tense stand-off. This fleeting stalemate proved short lived however. Whether by happenstance or genuine intention, the accidental firing of a rifle shot by an unknown African militiaman soon led to Johnston’s efforts to surmount a Swahili battlement, ultimately spiralling into a dramatic escalation of hostilities. 22 dead later, and by the days end Johnston was harassed into a humiliating retreat - his party soon totally evicted from the Shire Highlands by the Portuguese and their new tribal allies.

The reaction in Whitehall was unsurprisingly one of indescribable fury. Rhodes and Johnston had acted against explicit orders, encroaching against a foreign power closely allied to the United Kingdom. Not only this, but their abject failure humiliated not just themselves, but also British efforts in the region more generally. Within days, the escapades of the British South Africa Company had been totally disowned as the whims of a private venture wholly unaffiliated to the government in London, and Johnston himself soon chastened to retreat back to Natal. Within yet further weeks, the ever-spiralling scandal would see even Rhodes reluctantly tender his resignation as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, unable to maintain his already-tenuous position in parliament. Though this was not the end of Rhodes’s exploits in South Africa, it marked the final stage of his formal political career [13].

Alternatively back in London, repairing relations over this inadvertent scandal, forced Salisbury to once again revert to his textbook repertoire - compromise, and territorial negotiation. In this, the September 1891 Anglo-Portuguese Agreements [14] represent a remarkable improvement in affairs from just a few bloody months beforehand. In exchange for a British guarantee of the Zambezi River as the northernmost border of the South African colonies, Portugal in turn agreed the transfer of the entirety of Delagoa Bay [15] to the Colony of Natal. In this, both sides satisfied decades long objectives - Portugal had at last brought to fruition its dream of the so-called “Pink Map”, a colony stretching continuously from Angola to Mozambique [16], yet simultaneously Britain had finally secured the last remaining neutral port of entry to the Boer states, totally boxing them in. Moreover in this, Britain had also gained another swathe of territory to add to the “informal empire”, able to economically exploit at will, and without any costs of upkeep. Thanks to years of such lasting indemnities, Portugal remained utterly financially dependent on the United Kingdom, and over the coming decades, seemingly endless economic concessions would ensure Central Africa remained a British fiefdom in all but name.

Salisbury’s agreements with the Portuguese would go so far, that by late 1891, cordiality between the two powers was such that a joint expedition to seize Katanga was soon organised. Rather ironically, it was Alexandre de Serpa Pinto who was chosen to lead this expedition, joined together by Alfred Sharpe and Joseph Thomson - both past protégés of Johnston and Rhodes alike. In Katanga, was seen the true jewel of Central Africa, a resource rich hub at the terminus of both the Congo and Zambezi river basins. Securing this rich territory would undoubtedly prove a hotly contested race, and in this, the Sharpe-Thomson-Pinto Expedition faced close competition from a rival Belgian initiative under the command of fellow British mercenary, Captain William Stairs. Though each party would face great challenges in their journey to this remote region, ultimately it would be the Anglo-Portugese expedition which would triumph - successfully leveraging the Portuguese wife of local tribal King Msiri, to secure a lasting protectorate [17].

For all these successes at home and abroad, Salisbury was rewarded with an enduring reputation of foreign policy acumen, almost unrivalled by the contemporaries of his time. Moreover domestically, Salisbury’s apparent reinforcement of the empire, and strength on defence from the burgeoning Franco-Russian menace, was further rewarded with a second successive general election victory. The election of July 1892, would see Salisbury’s Conservative & Unionists retain 356 seats in the House of Commons, against 242 [18] for Gladstone’s Liberals - a reflection of the widespread popularity of Salisbury’s brand of stoic conservatism in this period.

[1] "Splendid Isolation", the 19th Century policy of keeping Britain detached from the various continental alliances and treaties, to instead focus more solely on the security of Britain’s imperial interests abroad.
[2] In between mocking Boulanger as a wannabe-Napoleon, the British tabloid press had also come to refer to him as the “Black Marshal” when genuinely fear mongering. The term is a combination of Boulanger’s title as Marshal of France, and his ubiquitous depiction with his beloved black horse.
[3] Rather than the Franco-Russian Alliance being signed in July 1891 as OTL, it is instead agreed 7 months earlier in January the same year. This is thanks to warmer Russo-Franco cooperation in the war against Germany in 1889, but also a reaction to Caprivi’s rekindling of the Austro-German Dual Alliance in December 1890.
[4] This is identical to OTL. The Royal Navy was unsurprisingly keen to retain its global supremacy.
[5] Similarly identical to OTL. These were all governed as part of the Persian Gulf Residency of the British Raj.
[6] See previous chapter: “Die Weltzerfallen”.
[7] Paul Kruger and Francis William Reitz, the then-presidents of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.
[8] Modern day Zambia and Malawi.
[9] Early British policy in OTL. Salisbury was far more focused on securing South Africa from the Boers, than expanding to the North. Generally he wanted the region North of the Zambezi governed by a neutral power similar to the Congo (a la NOT France or Germany). It was only thanks to Rhodes’s risky gambles that Portugal lost out on this chance.
[10] Governor of the Cape Colony, Lord Henry Loch. Though he privately supported Rhodes’s Cape to Suez escapades, he mostly just followed convention.
[11] Broadly, MIozi was the chief of a Swahili tribe who had come to dominate the region of Lake Nyasa around Karonga. For several years, MIozi fought the so called Karonga War against the Henga peoples (allied with the financially-troubled British African Lakes Company), frequently enslaving those captured. The success of MIozi against these early British efforts, initially persuaded Lord Salisbury to steer clear of the region altogether, something which only changed later on in OTL due to Rhodes gambling it and luckily not getting slapped down. The main change here, is that the Portuguese are slightly faster and more determined to move in, with the aim of securing a better negotiating hand (the British seen as in a conciliatory mood, thanks to the French threat, and recent deals with the Germans). When Rhodes does risk it in this TL, the Portuguese are already there and chaos inevitably ensues.
[12] Pinto was Lisbon’s favoured African expeditionary, and had trekked across Southern and Central Africa throughout the 1880s.
[13] At least from my understanding, it’s a miracle one of Rhodes’s many gambles didn’t blow up in his face earlier. The OTL Jameson Raid and scandal after, was just one of many that could have ruined his career.
[14] This of course butterflies the 1890 British Ultimatum and some of the chaos following, allowing Portugal to get that sweet sweet Pink Map.
[15] In Salisbury’s eyes, securing the South African colonies from the Boer threat, was far more important than expansionist ventures to the North. Control of Delagoa Bay meant the Boers were now totally dependent on British ports for trade, giving London an effective stranglehold on their economies.
[16] These colonies were soon renamed as Portuguese New Lusitania, with the various provinces merged into a single administration.
[17] In OTL the Belgian Stairs Expedition fairly controversially executed King Msiri, and seized Katanga for Leopold’s Congo Free State. In this Msiri lives, and Katanga is instead gained by Portugal.
[18] In reality, Salisbury’s Tories won only 314 seats, too few to govern with a majority. As such this led to Gladstone’s Liberals entering an awkward minority coalition with the Irish Nationalists. Alternatively in this TL, I feel the counter-reaction to French radicalism and revanchism, and the Tories comparative strength on defence, would naturally boost their vote share.
A chapter? A chapter!? A CHAPTER!!! great, very interesting, can't wait to see what happens next and what is Egypt's relationship with France?
Took me a while lol...

Fairly similar to OTL, the Khedive of Egypt is personally more pro-French than English, but in an official capacity recognises the importance of Britain as Egypt’s financier and protector against Ottoman suppression.
Took me a while lol...

Fairly similar to OTL, the Khedive of Egypt is personally more pro-French than English, but in an official capacity recognises the importance of Britain as Egypt’s financier and protector against Ottoman suppression.

ok and good for the nex chapter

a French or Russian point of view can be :)