The Twin Eagles and the Lion

Here's the first chapter of a collaborative TL between me and General Zod. The premise is a different Congress of Berlin leading to different alliances, causing a lot of butterflies and loads of fun:p (warning longish post)



The Twin Eagles and the Lion





Chapter I: Setting the stage, 1878-1898



It was in 1878 that what was known as the tenth Russo-Turkish war ended. This war had its origins in Balkan nationalism as well as the Russian desire to regain territory lost in the Crimean war and more influence in the Black Sea and the strong pan-Slav lobby in the Russian court which saw it as Russia’s duty to liberate the Balkans from the Ottoman yoke. Following the Crimean war the situation for Christians had improved but they still had dhimmi status and their testimony was not evidence in court cases. Little diplomatic steps to avoid the war had been taken and the ones that had been taken failed. In 1876 Serbia and Montenegro declared war on the Ottomans for their massacre of the Bulgarians. The latter managed to defeat the Serbs and Montenegrins who pleaded for the European great powers to declare war. A one month cease fire was forced upon the conflicting parties. The peace conditions of the Porte were refused and hostilities continued. This invoked the anger of St. Petersburg which responded by partially mobilizing for war which led to the Sultan agreeing to the Russian demands for peace before the ultimatum expired. A conference was started in Constantinople. A compromise was reached by giving autonomy to Bosnia, Herzegovina and Bulgaria under joint control of the great powers. The proposal was discredited by the new Ottoman constitution which included equal rights for minorities. Things spiralled out of control. With tacit Austro-Hungarian approval the Russians declared war on the Ottomans in 1877.

The Turks were very passive and believed that the Russians wouldn’t bother to circumvent the Danube delta where the Ottomans had their strongest fortifications. The Russian strategy was much more aggressive and relied heavily on Turkish passiveness. The Russians made a crucial mistake by sending to few troops; an expeditionary force of 185.000 men crossed the Danube in June which is slightly less than the defending force of 200.000 men. After setbacks Russian generals saw that they didn’t have the resources to persecute the war properly and took up a defensive posture. The Russians couldn’t even blockade Plevna until August. The Ottomans had superior weapons such as German-made artillery and British and American-made rifles but were led by incompetents who made poor decisions. An aggressive Ottoman posture could have led to a Russian defeat. A counterattack at Plevna for example could have led to a Russian defeat but Oman Pasha stayed and followed his orders. The siege of Plevna was a victory for Russian and Romanian troops which had cut off supplies to the besieged fortress. A breakout attempt across the river Vit proved fruitless as the Russians had a 5:1 numerical advantage. Savage battles with bayonets in Russian trenches ensued. Osman surrendered and Ottoman wounded were massacred by the Bulgarians. The Ottomans made more critical mistakes by abandoning the Stara Planina mountain and the Shipka pass. The Ottomans huddled up in their fortresses. In 1878 the Turks sued for peace under British pressure.

The Russians imposed the Treaty of San Stefano on the Turks who were forced to recognize Romanian, Serbian and Montenegrin independence and Bulgarian autonomy. The great powers, unhappy with this Russian extension of power, intervened in an attempt to force moderation of the peace terms. Greater Bulgaria was awfully large (including the old principality, northern Thrace also known as Eastern Rumelia, Vardar Macedonia, and eastern Aegean Macedonia) and had direct access to the Aegean sea and was pro-Russian which would mean that Britain’s greatest nightmare would come true: Russian access to the Mediterranean sea which the British had tried to prevent for decades if not centuries. Secondly, this Greater Bulgaria was also a constant threat to the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, the access to the Black Sea.

It was at this time that Bismarck organized the Congress of Berlin to appear as a neutral mediator. Bismarck was a little confused as to which ally to support. Russia and Austria-Hungary were both friends and if he backed one, he would have to forsake the other. One way or the other he would likely lose an ally or at least alienate one. In a rare moment of epiphany he decided to favour Russian interests. The Russian bear was obviously a stronger ally than the rotting Habsburg corpse. The proud eagle that it presented itself as, was by now dying and vultures were flying overhead. Bismarck and the Russian chancellor Gorchakov met early on and agreed that they would demand nothing less than the recognition of the original Treaty of San Stefano. The Russo-German dictate did not go down well in London and Vienna. The British threatened war in no uncertain terms and Russia knew it did not have the finances for such a war even with full German support. The Russians and the Germans were left no other option but to bluff. Also Germany couldn’t denude the western border as it would incite French aggression which would mean that Russia would be left to its own means. Eventually an agreement was reached and a European general war was avoided. Disraeli and Andrassy met with Gorchakov who had Bismarck’s overt support. Russia had to concede a lot as they needed a compromise. Austro-Hungarian forces could easily dislodge them and a British reinforced Thrace and Constantinople would never fall. It was first of all agreed upon that Austria-Hungary displacing Russia as the paramount power in the Danube region would lead to a stabilizing influence. Also Russia would have to restore the occupied regions of Batumi, Kars and Ardahan to the Sublime Porte. In return Romanian, Serbian and Montenegrin independence would be recognized along with the autonomy of the rather large principality of Bulgaria (which included the old principality and Eastern Rumelia) which would remain under nominal Ottoman suzerainty. Romania, Serbia and Montenegro however came under Habsburg influence. Greece was allowed to annex most of Thessaly and the Arta prefecture in Epirus, even if its irredentist aims on Crete, the rest of Thessaly, and Epirus and Macedonia (which partially conflicted with the claims of Bulgaria over the same area) went frustrated. Germany and an exhausted Russia accepted the so-called Andrassy-Disraeli dictate grudgingly. This had several consequences in Europe and the alliances were formed.

Vienna and London were satisfied; Russian didn’t have access to the Mediterranean and Austria-Hungary now kept Russian ambitions in the Balkans at bay with Habsburgs on the Serbian and Romanian thrones and Habsburg control of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Russia was very angered about the Anglo-Austrian dictate and would not forgive nor forget this humiliation. The Russians now found themselves isolated from the rest of Europe with the Germans the only friendly power to turn to. Bismarck had intended this all along and welcomed the Russians with wide open arms. Emperor Wilhelm I and Tsar Alexander II met and with guidance from Bismarck agreed to an alliance. The Dual Alliance – commonly referred to as the twin eagles – was formed in 1879. The blatant support for Russia had alienated Austria-Hungary and this move enraged them. The Austro-Hungarians formally cancelled their alliances with both, leading to the dissolution of the Three Emperors’ League. As a result Bismarck’s carefully woven diplomatic web to isolate France came crashing down as Austria-Hungary strengthened ties with France. Furthermore the British concluded a secret alliance with the Sublime Porte in return for Cyprus. The agreement was predetermined due to the well-entrenched fear of Russia coming back for a second round. The alliance system which would later lead to a domino effect was now effectively in place with only a little tinkering necessary here and there. In 1883 France and Austria-Hungary made their alliance official to scare the Italians into reconsidering joining the Triple Alliance. It did quite the opposite and cemented relations between Rome, Berlin and St. Petersburg. The British at this time were still quite isolationist and decided not to commit to the Austro-French Entente.

Part 2

Italy was an interesting case as it could lead to the death sentence of Austria-Hungary. The Italians had fought three wars of independence, the last one in tandem with the Austro-Prussian war of 1866. This meant that there was quite a lot of pro-German sentiment in Rome. In spite of the Prussian-Italian victory several coveted regions, such as Italian-speaking Trento, remained under Habsburg rule. Many favoured joining the Dual Alliance and take part in the partition of the dual monarchy in the event of war. Among the coveted regions were – next to Trento – Gorizia and Gradisca, Istria, Dalmatia and Fiume which harboured large Italian minorities. The Italians wanted the Habsburgs to hand them over, which they bluntly refused, and more influence in the Balkans in general. There was another faction which also held influence in Rome. This faction wanted colonies in Africa like the other European great powers. The piece of Africa that Italy coveted most was Tunisia, where a sizable Italian immigrant community had settled. Therefore, French annexation of Tunisia angered Italian public opinion greatly and rendered any chance the French had of Italy joining the Entente an impossibility. Moreover, the Italians were also reminded that they had been reluctantly obliged to cede Nice and Savoy to France in 1860 as the price for getting the help and consent of Napoleon III to Italian unification, and they wished those lands back too, as well as Corsica, if not as ardently as Habsburg-held ones. The nationalists who wanted to unite all Italians prevailed and used their influence to swing the balance decisively in favour of the Dual Alliance. On March 12th 1881 the monarchs of these three powers – Umberto I, Wilhelm I and Alexander II – met with their Chancellors and Prime Ministers in neutral Sweden and signed the Treaty of Stockholm. Italy was the weakest link in the alliance from the very start but worried the French who were seeing enemy countries multiply at their borders and scared the Habsburgs who were getting encircled by the Triple Alliance. Both in return attempted to scare Italy into their camp even though it was bleatingly obvious that that would never happen; these attempts achieved only the opposite of what Paris and Vienna wanted, Italian entrenchment into the Alliance. France and Austria-Hungary in response signed the Treaty of Geneva in 1883.

Austria-Hungary was now effectively locked in a strategic vice with only its unwilling Romanian and Serbian puppets able to help directly in the event of war. France was now faced with a terribly strong enemy bloc on a long front and a far away ally which would be crushed within months, leaving France with little respite to prepare for the Russian-German-Italian onslaught. German military prowess combined with Russian resources and manpower and Italy waiting to stab France in the back, put France in a tenuous position even though their isolation was over. French public opinion was swept by waves of rage, fear, and frustration, as the dearly wished war of revenge against Germany appeared very risky with the formation of the Triple Alliance. This atmosphere created a good environment for extreme rightwing groups to thrive and expand their influence. Far right agitators such as Georges Ernest Boulanger gained a lot of popularity as fear of Germany grew.

Georges Boulanger began his career as an officer in the French Army during the Second Empire, distinguishing himself in several wars. After the establishment of the Third Republic, he became associated with the monarchist, conservative political faction, but continued his devoted service in the Army, winning a number of ranking honors and being made a general in 1880. In 1886, his political rise began when he was made Minister of War. He won quick acclaim for using his position as a pulpit for his monarchist and anti-German views; he wanted revenge on Germany and was nicknamed Générale Revanche. However, he backed them up with success abroad in expanding the colonial empire in the Sino-French War and at home, as a strikebreaker and pro-soldier reformer. However, after nearly instigating a war with Germany in early 1887, he was removed from office among throngs of tens of thousands of supporters.

Perhaps encouraged by this, Boulanger began to devote himself to his political persona. He established a conservative manifesto whose basic outlines were a constitutional revision, a restoration of the Bourbon monarchy, support for the Church and the temporal power of the Popes, and vengeance against the German Empire. Such was his persona that almost immediately the 'philosophy' that was named after him attracted thousands of followers, a number of prominent conservative politicians and nobility, and even the support of both the Bourbon and Bonaparte families. In July 1888 he illegally ran for the French legislature (due to him being a standing military officer, which was soon remedied by him being expelled from the Army), and won in a landslide. His popularity and influence continued to rise, eclipsing that of both President Sadi Carnot and Prime Minister Pierre Tirard. His oratory and public persona became even more flamboyant and appealing. Due to (likely more than) perceived manipulations that the legislature was running around him, Boulanger resigned, only to run for (and win by over two-thirds) a representative seat in Paris. He declared his intentions to run for President, and huge masses of his supporters filled the streets of Paris. The French government believed a coup imminent, as did many of his supporters, who on January 1889 organized a public pronouncement in Paris of Boulanger taking command of the nation, and preparing to back him in a confrontation with the authorities.

He took power in Paris and proclaimed himself President of the French Republic, by will of God and the people, to restore the national pride that the current republican governments were incapable or unwilling to handle. Support for him from the three major monarchist parties (the Bourbon Legitimists, the Bourbon Orléanists, and the Bonapartists), the Catholic Church, the Army, and the common people, swayed by his charisma and rhetoric, ensured the quick demise of the Third Republic which went out in a whisper instead of the expected bang from a clash with Germany. He was soon recognized throughout the country. Bloodshed or violent opposition was small in scale and short-lived. As promised, President Boulanger convened a Constitutional Convention. It established Catholicism as the state religion of France, a major point of contention for the right against the secularist Third Republic. State service, the electorate, and service in the military was restricted to Catholics. France was proclaimed a Kingdom, even if Boulanger deferred choosing among the three self-styled claimants to choose from: Charles XI (Legitimist), Philippe (Orleanist), and Napoleon V (Bonapartist). For a start, he wished to court favor as long as he could from all three monarchist factions. Moreover, he had spotted a possible opportunity to gain another ally and reap more power and influence in Europe without the risk of immediately making his boasted threats to Germany and Italy true. By chance, at the time, the Legitimist claimant at the throne of France also held the Carlist claim to the throne of Spain, and Boulanger planned to make true on that claim. Anyway, Boulanger would remain the strongman and true power behind the throne. He made himself Prime Minister, Minister of War, and General-in-Chief, and took the fancy titles of Captain-General, Protector of France, and Defender of the Faith. The new constitution concentrated power in the hands of the executive led by Boulanger. An oath of loyalty to the King and Boulanger was required from civil servants and the army. ‘Radical’ parties, unions, and organizations were outlawed, and a wide sweep of strategic arrests and exiles was done to silence opposition.

Part 3

To end France’s inferior position and reap more favour for his own regime Boulanger attempted to gain more allies and more power in Europe; he didn’t really care who. Any country could be of help against the Triple Alliance and whoever wanted to side with France and enlarge French power and influence was therefore welcome. Spain was just the easiest option to exploit, even if the regime exploited the propaganda opportunity offered by restoring another Catholic-reactionary monarchy and fulfilling the old Bourbon dream of a Franco-Spanish union. He started to lavishly finance the Carlists in Spain. This move was also widely supported by the Legitimists who supported the Spanish Bourbon line as heirs to the throne of France. The Orléanist and the Bonapartist claimants were angered and withdrew support to the new regime. Despite that, Orleanists and Bonapartists would still be called upon and encouraged to serve in the service of the new state. In 1890 the Fourth Carlist War erupted. It was typical to the previous three wars and started with a guerrilla campaign. Territory was acquired and the Carlists, funded by the French, were able to raise armies that were supported by French-paid mercenaries and Catholic-reactionary European volunteers. French weapons, ammunition and other equipment poured in and French military advisors were sent to aid the Carlist insurgents. It was before long that French forces joined in the fighting ‘to stabilize Spain, prevent further bloodshed and prevent the war from spilling over the border’. The young King Alfonso XIII and the Queen Regent, his mother Maria Cristina, were ousted, and in 1891 the Carlist pretender to the throne was crowned Carlos VII of Spain and Charles XI of France, uniting both in personal union and strengthening France. Spain automatically became member of the Entente, making it the Triple Entente.

Both sides had their strengths and weaknesses and attempted to correct these. Germany was the strongest and most industrialized of the Triple Alliance and attempted to modernize its Italian and Russian allies. They themselves gladly cooperated. Tsar Alexander II was a reformer. Much of that came out of necessity as he saw that Russia fell behind on the west. A liberal constitution patterned on the one of the German Empire was created and several novelties were introduced in Russia such as a very basic social welfare program. In spite of this Russia remained authoritarian; Russia turned into a bourgeois democracy much like Imperial Germany and Japan. The Duma could still be dismissed in the event of an emergency or crisis and the chancellor was responsible to the Tsar and not parliament. Also education until the age of twelve was made compulsory as Alexander strived for Russia to become as successful as Wilhelmine Germany. Bismarck negotiated commercial treaties with Russia and Italy and stimulated German companies such as Krupp, Daimler-Benz, Thyssen, and other large firms to invest in Russia with fairly good success. The combination of German technology, know-how, and capital and Russian manpower and resources gave a substantial stimulus to the economies of Germany and Russia, as well as advancing the development of industries and infrastructures in Russia itself considerably. Italian companies also invested in Russia for what they were worth. Italian economic structure was still rather backward in comparison to Germany but access to German and Russian markets, German capital, and Russian resources gave a remarkable impulse to the development of industry in northern and central Italy. Germany sent a legion of military advisors to Russia and Italy to train and organize the Russian and Italian army along Prussian lines. The Italians adopted the innovations eagerly. It served them good when the improved Italian military was able to crush Ethiopia in a quick and victorious colonial war in 1894 and establish it in a large colony spanning from Eritrea to Somalia. The Russian military leadership had been victorious not long ago and was somewhat more resistant to the changes. They mostly bought weapons, but still the German advisors were able to have some reforms enacted and improve the quality of the Russian military significantly.

Growing political links, military support, and economic development pleased the ruling elites and the majority of the public opinion in all three countries and strengthened the Triple Alliance. Military protocols were established and joint meetings between the military leaderships took place to come up with a common strategy in the event of a war with the Triple Entente. It was agreed that Germany and Italy would go on the defensive on their western borders, trying their best to stop a connection between France and Austria through southern Germany and northern Italy while all three countries would go on the offensive against Austria-Hungary. Russia would invade Galicia and attack Austrian puppet Romania in Moldavia, while Germany would attack Bohemia and Germany and Italy would make a combined offensive to link through Tyrol. Afterwards, Germany and Italy would invade Austria and Bohemia, taking Vienna and Prague, while Russia would force the Carpathians and invade Hungary, seizing Budapest and cutting off Transylvania. The quick collapse of A-H was expected at that point, allowing the Allies to overwhelm Serbia and Romania in short order. The Triple Alliance leaders were fairly confident that Bulgaria would join their side against Serbia and Romania. From that point, the Allies would concentrate their forces in Alsace-Lorraine and on the Alps and overrun the Franco-Spanish through overwhelming numerical advantage and combined offensives on both fronts. A hotly debated topic in the Allied military staff was whether to violate Belgian and Swiss neutrality during the final offensive against France. Exploiting Alliance numerical superiority to the fullest by extending the front was highly desirable, but it was also feared that this would ruin their reputation among neutrals and bring Britain in the war. Others retorted that France would likely invade the territory of Belgium or Switzerland on its own if her initial offensives in Alsace-Lorraine and he Alps were rebuffed, so the point would be moot. If any, Alliance planners would have to guard and prepare against such Entente flanking operations through neutral nations.

The Germans themselves started to build a grand navy under the leadership of Wilhelm II who succeeded his father Friedrich III after a rule of only 99 days in 1888. He wanted a maritime empire that could rival the British and French empires and a navy was part of this ambition to mark Germany as a great power. He intended to do for the navy what his grandfather had done for the army. The steadily increasing power of this Triple Alliance, as expressed by the new German naval power and Russian land power scared Britain. In 1898 the Germans passed a naval bill which authorized the building of nineteen battleships, eight armoured cruisers, twelve large cruisers and thirty light cruisers which were to be finished by 1904. This could match the French, Spanish and Austro-Hungarian navies but the Germans didn’t stop there. This proved to be one of the catalysts for Britain joining the Entente a few years later along with the Tsars’ aggressive expansion in Central Asia (the British and the Russians repeatedly quarrelled about each other’s encroachments into Persia and Afghanistan during the 1880s and 1890s). Wilhelm completely misjudged the British response; instead of cowering before Germany, Britain would eventually come out of its isolation. Bismarck instead held fewer illusions about the stance of Britain in the long term: he foresaw that alliance with Russia would cost Germany the friendship of Britain sooner or later, but he had long since come to regard St. Petersburg as the best alliance available. Therefore he appeased German imperialists by seeking African colonies in areas that would be profitable for Germany without neither excessive concern for nor purposeful harassment of British interests. He established German colonies in Cameroon, Togoland, Congo (voiding the dream of Belgian monarch Leopold II to build his own private empire in the Congo basin), and southwest Africa. He purposefully steered clear of British aims to build a continuous string of colonies from “Cape to Cairo”, although he supported Italian expansion in North-east Africa, and he failed to establish the territorial continuity of German colonies, owing to French expansion in Middle Congo and Gabon, and British expansion in Zambezia, which would later become a focus of conflict. A dent in Anglo-French relations caused by the Fashoda Incident couldn’t prevent eventual Franco-British detente as Boulanger quickly backed down as he wanted Britain for an ally. Britain would eventually come to fear the Russian-German compact so much that it would enter the Entente bloc, , making the Triple Entente a Quadruple Entente, with their Ottoman allies right behind them, making it a Quintuple Entente. It wasn’t time yet for that though in the late 19th century.

France also tried to modernize itself and its allies. Vast studies were conducted to research what had gone wrong in the Franco-Prussian war so that France would avoid making the same mistakes again. Also a two year, later three year, mandatory service in the army was introduced in France and Spain to make up for lack of numbers in the Entente. Several reforms were introduced and military experts were sent to Austria-Hungary and Spain to help them too. Joint meetings between the military leaderships took place to come up with a strategy in the event of a war with the Triple Alliance. They totally focused on such a war and quickly figured that only a quick victory could stave off defeat. A grand plan was devised involving France pushing into southern Germany from the west and Austro-Hungarian armies from the east. The Austro-Hungarians would start a delaying action on their eastern and southern borders. France would likewise take up a defensive posture in the Alps. Then France, Spain and Austria-Hungary would divide their attention between Russia and Italy which were expected to crumble quickly. If that would fail, an alternative route for linking the Entente armies was envisaged in a combined Franco-Austrian offensive in northern Italy, although the Alps barrier and the larger width of the Padan Plain made it a suboptimal option. Some even proposed to violate the neutrality of Switzerland as an alternative route to link the French and A-H armies, or of Belgium to cripple Germany with the invasion of Rhineland if the southern route would fail to be established, although those options were controversial since it was feared they might cause the hostile reaction of Britain. All in all, those were good plans considering the options but reality would prove that odds were against the Entente. Moderate emphasis was put on the navy after Wilhelm II’s coronation and the unveiling of his plan to create a navy. Initially emphasis was put on fast, light and manoeuvrable torpedo boats. The building of German battleships led to France and Spain doing the same. A building program of eleven battleships, six armoured cruisers, seven large cruisers and twenty-one light cruisers and was approved in 1895 to be finished by 1899. This was smaller than the German navy and a lot smaller than the British Royal Navy. France didn’t want to alienate the British.

Spain at this time had managed to steer clear of total bankruptcy thanks to lavish financial aid from France to stave off another revolution and help build up the obviously weaker half of the Franco-Spanish personal union. This led to a slight budget surplus by 1897 and a tentative military expansion. The Spanish army was sizable and was being aided by the French who supplied weapons and advisors. The navy had long since surpassed its peak and was left only some armoured cruisers and torpedo boats. A naval bill was passed which approved construction of three battleships, three armoured cruisers, two large cruisers, seven light cruisers and several dozen torpedo boats to be finished by 1900. These were built in Spain but with French sponsoring and were all French designs.

Spain was small and thus easy to build up unlike Russia which – in spite of over twenty years of German investments and liberalization – by 1900 still large backward regions and segments of the population living in poor conditions by western standards; remarkable improvements had been made though. Tsar Alexander II would be succeeded by his son Vladimir in 1894 after he suffered a fatal stroke at the exceptional age of 76. For a Russian monarch this was quite a remarkable age. He was less reactionary than his brother Alexander who had died that same year. It is said that he died out of sheer frustration for being kept off the throne. Vladimir had been groomed for succession for several years by his father and was crowned Tsar Vladimir III, Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias in a grand ceremony in the Moscow Kremlin’s Dormition Cathedral. He was wise to maintain relations with Berlin and Rome unlike his older Germanophobe brother who – fortunately for the Triple Alliance – died young. Although serious social problems remained and some subject nationalities (such as the Poles and Finns) remained restless; a generation of economic development, industrialization, and a liberal constitutions had significantly improved the stability of the Empire, and the Tsars and had built a working, if by no means idyllic, relationship with the Duma and its parties. The newfound strength and cohesion of the Empire was expressed by means of increased pressure for expansion in Central Asia and the Far East. The Empire had steadily annexed large tracts of both areas up the borders of Persia and Afghanistan, and had repeatedly skirmished with Britain for control of both areas. Similarly, Russia had been strongly interested into expansion in Manchuria and northern China. When Japan had decisively defeated China in 1894-1895 Sino-Japanese war, Russia had easily convinced Germany and Italy to join her into delivering the Triple Ultimatum, to Japan. It had forced Japan to relinquish all influence in Manchuria, so that Russia had been able to seize control of Port Arthur. However, this had not put an end to Japanese interest into Manchuria, nor Russian interest into Korea, so tensions slowly built.

To a degree, the political developments in the Russian Empire mirrored the ones that had occurred in its allies. In the German Empire, Bismarck had continued its exercise of equilibrium between the old landed elites, the new capitalist bourgeoisie, and new mass parties. Economic development had made the pressure for democratization impossible to deny completely, so the wily old statesman had been forced to concede the democratic reform of the Prussian electoral system, and to set up an informal system of “consultation” with Reichstag parties, which gave the seeming that the Chancellor was de facto responsive to the legislature’s wishes. The succession by Wilhelm II had created a crisis, and it seemed that Bismarck might be forced to resign for a moment, but then the Emperor had realized that the Russian allies put great trust and reliance in the leadership of Bismarck, so the young Emperor and the old statesman had been pressured to find an uneasy working relationship, which to the surprise of many, stayed stable until Bismarck’s death as a revered national hero in 1898. Bismarck had appeased the Emperor’s wishes by dropping the anti-socialist laws and seeking a detente with the Centre and Social Democrat parties, as well as by building up the navy and expanding the German colonial empire. However, he had been able to put his own spin to those developments, focusing German colonial expansion in central-southern Africa, and influencing the budding Pan-German movement so that it would focus its aims on the union of Austria and Bohemia-Moravia with the Reich, instead of expansion in areas that were owned by allies. To a degree, these efforts had been mirrored by the Russian government, which had exercised its patronage on the Pan-Slavic movement to focus its aims on the establishment of strong Croatian and Bulgarian states, mostly ignoring areas that were controlled or claimed by allies.

As it concerns Italy, it was still burdened by the backwardness if the southern regions and large segments of the population living in poor conditions but the growing economic links with Germany and Russia in the last twenty years had given a powerful stimulus to the industrial development of the northern and central regions, and emigration to those regions, Germany, and America, had significantly eased Italy’s social problems. A significant boost to the nation’s self-confidence had also been provided by the successful conquest of Ethiopia by the Italian Army, reformed along the German model. Italian nationalists now looked forward to expand Italian colonial empire in north and eastern Africa, starting with the seizure of Libya from the moribund Ottoman Empire. Italy had only come out with recognition of its possible expansion into Libya from the Congress of Berlin, and now the strengthened and emboldened young nation aimed to make true on that claim.

Part 4

The political situation was not as clear-cut in Austria-Hungary as it had been in the Alliance countries or its own Entente allies. Lavish French investments had provided a remarkable development of the Habsburg territories, especially in the Austria and Bohemia-Moravia areas of the Austrian half, and the western-central portions of the Kingdom of Hungary. This has somehow eased social tensions, but national problems had remained largely intractable. Large sections of the German, Italian, Ruthenian, and Croat communities had proved vulnerable to the irredentist, pan-German, and Pan-Slavic propaganda that was released by Germany, Russia and Italy, even if many Germans and Croats retained their old ties of loyalty to the Habsburg dynasty. The Polish community had mostly remained apathetic to such propaganda, since Germany and Russia suppressed any manifestation of Polish irredentism in their own land ruthlessly. But of late, a significant section of the Polish community in Austria-Hungary had become interested to the perspective of uniting almost all Poles under Russian rule.

The questionable loyalty of large sections of so many national communities in the Empire, had forced the Habsburg to rely more and more on the support of the Czechs (since it was clear to all that the dismantling of A-H would cause the annexation of Bohemia-Moravia by the German Empire, thus exchanging a relatively weak dynastic overlord for a much stronger nationalist one), and of the Magyars to administer the empire, which further alienated the Germans. The Hungarians rightly foresaw that the downfall of the Dual Monarchy would end their newfound privileged role as the ruling elite of the Empire, even if Alliance propaganda tried to counter this by reminding them that Austria-Hungary was doomed to fall anyway, and Hungarian interests would be better safeguarded by friendly relationships between an independent Hungary and the Alliance. As the effect of these national contrasts, however, the Dual Monarchy was wracked by barely contained political instability, and feared a general war in Europe as the source of its demise. Its rulers largely tried to rein in the wild revanchist-expansionist antics of the Boulangist regime, and to defuse further sources of nationalist tensions in the Empire by keeping a tight leash on its Serbian and Romanian satellites, whose public opinions it kept (barely) appeased by recurrent vague promises of future territorial expansions in Russian (Bessarabia, for Romania) and Ottoman land (Albania and Macedonia, for Serbia), despite the fact that both countries also held potential substantial irredentist claims over large tracts of Habsburg possessions (Transylvania, for Romania, and Bosnia, for Serbia). Probably the fact that the Triple Alliance gave little support to those latter claims (they had long since identified Bulgaria as their main client and proxy in the Balkans, as its expansion would provide far less conflict for the interests of the various Alliance powers) explained why they remained simmering. Habsburg policy in the Balkans wavered between trying to prop up the decaying Ottoman state, and supporting the claims of its own clients (Serbia, mostly) as a backup plan.

If the political pattern of the Habsburg Empire provided a patchwork of lights and shadows, the Ottoman one mostly looked like doom and gloom. The blunt Anglo-Austrian intervention at the Congress of Berlin had given the Ottoman Empire an artificial life extension, but such diplomatic support had not been followed by the substantial support to economic development and military modernization that nations like Russia, Italy, Spain, or Austria-Hungary had gotten. French, British, and Austrian investment had remained relatively scarce, and neither Britain nor Entente countries had been much willing to improve Ottoman military much, since they also had their own expansionistic aims on Ottoman land (Britain had made Egypt and Sudan a protectorate in 1885). In these conditions, diplomatic support by its great power patrons had proven not to be enough to keep the Ottoman Empire intact. Despite the provisions of the Berlin treaty to the contrary, Bulgaria had proclaimed its own full independence as a Kingdom in 1889, and Austria had not dared to provoke Russian and German reaction by a direct intervention. Serbia had attacked Bulgaria after the Austro-Hungarian promise of territorial gains, but had been swiftly defeated, forcing Britain to acquiesce too. Strong tensions lingered between Serbia and Bulgaria about future ownership of Macedonia, when Ottoman control of the area would lapse. Moreover, the ottomans had suffered a humiliating defeat in the Greco-Turkish War of 1894, about the ownership of Crete. Only the British intervention had forced Greece to limit its territorial gains to the Preveza prefecture and the rest of Thessaly, while Crete was set up as an autonomous Cretan state under Ottoman suzerainty, garrisoned by an international military force, with a High Commissioner, chosen by Greece.This angerednationalist Greek public opinion, and many voices were raised to abandon traditional British patronage and seek the Alliance powers as an alternative sponsor, even if others rightfully feared it would entail a territorial compromise with Bulgaria over Macedonia. However, it was plain to everyone that the Ottoman Empire was headed to dissolution under its own political and economic decay, and restiveness of its Christian subjects, heightened by the relentless irredentist pressure of Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia. The repeated intervention by Britain and Austria-Hungary, the conflicting claims of the would-be successor states, and rivalries of the great powers in the area, could only check the Ottoman decay for so long. Sooner or later, the Balkan states would temporarily put apart their rivalries, and then nothing short of a general war would be sufficient to stop the process, if anything. For this reason, Austria-Hungary and Britain wavered between propping up the Ottomans, and grooming their own clients in the region. For their own part, the Alliance powers had invested political and strategic efforts in the breakup and partition of the Ottomans between themselves and their own clients as heavily as they had in the perspective partition of the Habsburg Empire. Besides the possible compact of the Balkan powers against the Porte, another, closer menace loomed for the Ottoman Empire: Italy was making more and more clear its intention to seize Libya as a colony, like France has done with Tunisia and Britain with Egypt, and other great powers seemed largely acquiescent about the issue. It was questionable whether isolated resistance against a largely stronger Italy would do the Ottoman Empire much good, or further weaken it against other enemies.

The expected conflict with the Triple Alliance wouldn’t come as quick as was expected by Madrid, Paris and Vienna though, as the first major war for the Triple Entente materialized from an unexpected source. In 1898 Spanish-American tensions rose as the Cubans rebelled against Spanish rule. Governor and top dog in Cuba general Valeriano Weyler brutally suppressed the uprising. Hundreds of thousands of dissidents were locked in concentration camps which were cesspools of diseases. The general poor, inhumane conditions and Spanish harshness made the public in America favour the Cubans. Americans funded the Cuba Libre rebellion. Loyalists broke out of Havana, destroying three printing presses and there was fear for American lives although no American lives were lost. The casus belli was the sinking of the USS Maine, allegedly caused by Spanish mine. An ultimatum demanding a Spanish withdrawal was forwarded to Madrid. Spain broke off diplomatic relations and declared war on April 23rd 1898. The American leaders believed that this would be a quite quick war seeing how weak Spain was, still reeling from a civil war.

They had underestimated the importance of French aid. On April 25th Congress declared that a state of war had existed between America and Spain since April 20th. France sent an ultimatum to Washington demanding an immediate ceasefire. The Americans refused, calling French threats bluff. The ultimatum expired and France declared war on April 28th. The Austro-Hungarians bowed under heavy French pressure and reluctantly declared war on the United States on May 7th. They couldn’t afford to lose France as an ally and France implicitly threatened to leave them to their own devices. This was of course bluff as the French needed allies as much as Austria-Hungary. The Triple Entente-American war had begun.

EDIT: divided it into parts to make it more readable.
 
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First issue: Its to long to read in one sitting, as its over 6,700 words. either divide it into smaller posts, or shorten it.
 

General Zod

Banned
First issue: Its to long to read in one sitting, as its over 6,700 words. either divide it into smaller posts, or shorten it.
As far as I'm concerned, shortening it is not really an option, since little information provided is really redundant, but we could certainly split it in smaller posts. Hmm, maybe one post up to Boulanger's rise, another up to the point we start describing the modernization and strategic plans of the Entente ? OW?

Edit: Onkel Willie has already divided it into parts.

Now that IS a lot of fun! :D Can we have a map please? I do love maps...
Only if Onkel Willie has a good hand at maps, or someone else volunteers, since my map-making skills are quite poor. Minor editing of existing maps is the extent of my capabilities. :eek:
 
This is looking really good! I can't help but think that it's looking like a huge victory for the twin Eagles right now and time is definately on their side if the modernisation of Russia succeeds. Looking forward to the next installment.

Regards,
Rhysz
 
Very good start although I wonder if Germany and the rest would really have been so quiet regarding the take over in Spain.
 
im really enjoying this so far... just can imagine TR fighting those danm Spanish and French but to be serious i doubt that America at this point could take on France and Spain at the same time... so might we not see some support from the Germans and Russians.. making it the the Triple Eagles??
 

General Zod

Banned
im really enjoying this so far... just can imagine TR fighting those danm Spanish and French but to be serious i doubt that America at this point could take on France and Spain at the same time... so might we not see some support from the Germans and Russians.. making it the the Triple Eagles??
Well, I have envisaged a full German-Russian-Italian-American alliance to happen later during WWI (that horrid scream you just heard is the death-cry of the British Empire ;):p:D, if the Allies are really nice, they let Britain keep India to play with :p), but you can be sure that the Germans and Russians shall give plenty of aid to the Yankees during this early war, even if they do not officially enter it. Can we say "volunteer expeditionary corps" ? And "naval maneuvers" ? ;) So it would become "Triple Eagles and the Lion" during WWI, yes.

The main reason I would delay the forging of the Quadruple Alliance is twofold: a) if the Great War happens in 1898, we are robbed of some further nice great-power geopolitical and colonial squabbling in 1898-1912 b) if the USA join the Triple Alliance too early, it might defuse WWI entirely since Britain might have second thoughts against ever going to war vs. US-GER-RUS compact, and even Boulanger might or might not be megalomanic enough to pick a fight against such a massive power bloc.

I'll have a go at doing one, then PM it to you. It'll probably be wrong, mind :p
I would have no qualm asking you for corrections that I'm not able to do myself. ;)
 

General Zod

Banned
I thought we were going to have a neutral but Pro-Triple Alliance America.
Up to 1912, and during the early phase of WWI, yes, surely. But I also have plans for mid-late WWI. Not yet set into stone, but I rather fancy playing a total reversal of OTL on Britain and America. A combination of heavy-handed British blockade (reverse of submarine warfare), pro-Alliance American public opinion (reverse of OTL, thanks to 1898 and different Alliance strategies), and a different President (TR, mindful of 1898 and trade links with the Alliance). Think, TR ending his career as the conqueror of Canada.

However, do you have troubles with the idea ?
 
That seems like a better option to me. Again, if war broke out the Brits would be trying their utmost to win the Americans over(unsuccessfully of course), since they would see them(rightly) as the only way to turn the tide against the massive combined power of Russia and Germany, and would not try to piss them off that much.

About German expansion in Africa: So do they get all of what was the Belgian Congo/Congo Free State? How does this come about(though I'm happy that Leopold's brutal rule is cut short ITTL).

Also, it seems there is a problem with the Russian succession thing. Apparently Russian succession doctrine would have Nicholas still take the throne if Alexander II outlived Alexander III.
 

General Zod

Banned
That seems like a better option to me. Again, if war broke out the Brits would be trying their utmost to win the Americans over(unsuccessfully of course), since they would see them(rightly) as the only way to turn the tide against the massive combined power of Russia and Germany, and would not try to piss them off that much.
This is a very good point. Let's say that I am still rather enamored of going Turtledove and having the Yankees conquering Canada in WWI, but I'm not going to push the issue against all political plausibility. But remember, nations can make screw ups, too. According to common sense, OTL Germany should have pulled all stops to appease the USA, not piss them off. Yet, PO they did, thanks to a string of bad diplomatic and strategic choices. It is entirely feasible that Britain could make similar blunders.

About German expansion in Africa: So do they get all of what was the Belgian Congo/Congo Free State? How does this come about(though I'm happy that Leopold's brutal rule is cut short ITTL).
More or less, yes. Bismarck ITTL is less focused on picking colonial spots to be in the way of British expansion so as to push UK into an alliance (Wilhelm has more illusions, but the Chancellor rightly foresees that alliance with Russia means enmity with Britain), so he picks areas of expansion more for their intrinsec value and strategic advantage. He singles out Congo as a potentially valuable area that is not directly in the French (northwest-northeast) or British (northeast-southeast) expansion vectors. He also brokers a deal with Britain by which he forsakes possible German claims on Tanganyka in exchange for British recognition of German claims over Congo. With a British-German deal, Leopold's claims over Congo are simply ignored as irrelevant, as even Boulanger would not push the issue overmuch. There is still much annoying French presence in Middle Congo and Gabon, which breaks the territorial continuity of German colonies and shall heighten Franco-German hostility further still. There is also lingering British-German rivalry over the mineral-rich Katanga plateau and the Zambesi basin. Bismarck tries to make a deal by which Britain hands over most of OTL Zambia and Germany hands over southwest Africa, and both nations seize and partition Portoguese colonies (Angola to Germany, Mozambinco to britain), but the British do not accept it (owning to Rhodes' lobbying).

Also, it seems there is a problem with the Russian succession thing. Apparently Russian succession doctrine would have Nicholas still take the throne if Alexander II outlived Alexander III.
Hmm, this is an interesting issue. I admit I am not familiar enough with Russian Empire's succession law to make a judgement of the issue. Anyway, even assuming Nicky takes the throne, I do not think that this would alter the TL significantly. IOTL Nicholas II was fairly Germanophile (he was a good friend of cousin Wilhelm II), and he would have very likely found a working relationship with the Duma if he had found the constitution already in place for a decade at his accession (he did so during 1906-14 IOTL). Of course, Alexander might have changed the succession law, but there is not a real reason to do so. Nicholas was not so stubbornly reactionary nor Germanophobe as his father, rather a good-willing but weak-willed man, prone to follow the example of dominant father-figures. IOTL, it was his Tsar father. ITTL, his father never takes the throne, and dies a bitter and frustrated man, it is much more likely that Nicky would have molded himself as a liberal Germanophile Tsar, following the example of his successful grandfather.
 
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Ok, here's my first draft of a "world 1898" map for 2 Eagles. Point out to me where I've gone wrong, and I'll correct it ASAP :) I've changed a couple of colonial frontiers in Africa, reasoning that the "Scramble" would be different ITTL.

(edit: Map updated with proposed changes plus one or two of my own)

twin eagles map.png
 
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This is a very good point. Let's say that I am still rather enamored of going Turtledove and having the Yankees conquering Canada in WWI, but I'm not going to push the issue against all political plausibility. But remember, nations can make screw ups, too. According to common sense, OTL Germany should have pulled all stops to appease the USA, not piss them off. Yet, PO they did, thanks to a string of bad diplomatic and strategic choices. It is entirely feasible that Britain could make similar blunders.
But Germany had less to care about.

Britain has Canada, Carribean colonies, South American colonies, and LOTS and LOTS of business interest in the United States itself.

Because of this, not only is the pro-Britain lobby incredibly strong in the states, the pro-American lobby (moved by both security and business) is also incredibly strong in Britain.

Britain has spent essentialy almost all of its history with America post 1812 supporting her.

The Monroe doctrine; Britain made sure it happened.

The Alaska dispute; Britain settled it in America's favour INSTEAD of her dominions.

The only flirtation that Britain ever really had with pissing of the states was the civil war, and the british public wouldn't have it.

Really, in all honesty, if there was even a strong whiff that America WOULD come down on the other side, I don't think you'd see Britain declare war, let alone Canada's parliament.

Really, if you want American intervention against Britain, or Britain and Canada to consider war with the states, you'd need Britain to intervene in the civil war.

Anything else just won't jump the hurdle of shared heritage, good feelings, shared business interest that had been growing for the last hundred years.

You'd need British political stupidity nearing ASB levels for Britain to be at war with the States.

I am not lying when I state that Britain, and most certainly canada "damn the mother country" would pull out if America intervened. They'd throw their reactionary allies to the dogs.

EDIT: Also, on that map, you've forgotten that NewFoundland is a seperate Dominion and not part of Canada.
 
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General Zod

Banned
Your map seems fine. Originally, I had envisaged the French keeping Middle Congo and Gabon as IOTL, and stated so in the TL, but looking at your map, I see that it might easily make sense even this way as you did in the map, with Middle Congo and Gabon German as well. I'm a little uncertain about the issue. Your opinion, OW ?

I would think that Italy ought to have its own concession/sphere of influence in China (IOTL, they got a tiny one, part of Tientsin in 1901, but ITTL Italy is economically and militarily significantly stronger, so they ought to have one earlier and rather bigger than OTL). I'm uncertain where to place it, although. Any suggestions ?
 
I would think that Italy ought to have its own concession/sphere of influence in China (IOTL, they got a tiny one, part of Tientsin in 1901, but ITTL Italy is economically and militarily significantly stronger, so they ought to have one earlier and rather bigger than OTL). I'm uncertain where to place it, although. Any suggestions ?
Why not give them a sphere of influence in Thailand instead, as their major port to the east? Carve up the country between the British, French and Italians
 
Your map seems fine. Originally, I had envisaged the French keeping Middle Congo and Gabon as IOTL, and stated so in the TL, but looking at your map, I see that it might easily make sense even this way as you did in the map, with Middle Congo and Gabon German as well. I'm a little uncertain about the issue. Your opinion, OW ?

I would think that Italy ought to have its own concession/sphere of influence in China (IOTL, they got a tiny one, part of Tientsin in 1901, but ITTL Italy is economically and militarily significantly stronger, so they ought to have one earlier and rather bigger than OTL). I'm uncertain where to place it, although. Any suggestions ?
We could have the Germans take the French Congo and Gabon in WW1 to create Mittelafrika. In other worlds, we'll leave it the way it is. As for Italy and China. Perhaps they can get a concession after the Boxer rebellion near Fuzhou or something?
 
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