Indeed, but the Rosetta Stone increased the wave of Egypto-mania that swept the west during the 19th century, doubt other double inscriptions could achieve such level of public importance. Alas, Egypt is going to be less influenced by the west ITTL, which may turn out to be a good thing. At least for a while.
Are you planning for a second colonialism screw?
Are you planning for a second colonialism screw?
Not really a screw, since most of Africa is still going to be colonised, however Ethiopia will not be the only state to survive, while Europeans would focus more on the territories they actually control, with more abundant protectorates and princely-like states, keeping some of their institutions under a European mantle, not unlike India.
Not really a screw, since most of Africa is still going to be colonised, however Ethiopia will not be the only state to survive, while Europeans would focus more on the territories they actually control, with more abundant protectorates and princely-like states, keeping some of their institutions under a European mantle, not unlike India.
Here's hoping for a more successful Ethiopia in this case!
Chapter 29: Bonaparte's Hubris
~ Chapter 29: Bonaparte's Hubris ~

If Austerlitz is considered by many as Napoleon’s greatest victory, Wagram is considered as his greatest potential victory. If Napoleon had won the battle, it is likely that a repeat of the events of the War of the Third Coalition could have happened [1]. As it happened, the Battle of Wagram was nothing but a bloody mess. Napoleon’s strategy consisted of a blunt frontal attack that hoped to defeat the Austrians in a pitched battle, while the Coalition forces expected to stop Napoleon there and knock the French back across the Inn. Most historians agree that Napoleon’s perception of reality may have been twisted due to his dreams of grandeur and invincibility in battle, which combined with the recent death of his close friend Lannes and the sudden entry of Russia and Prussia into the war, made him miscalculate how the battle could develop [2].

The Battle of Wagram of July 4 put an end to French hopes of a quick, decisive victory against Austria, resulting in France suffering almost 30,000 men and the Coalition losing a slightly smaller amount. With overextended supply lines and an active war theatre to the north, Napoleon decided to pull back from Austria and reorganise his forces behind the Inn in allied territory. Meanwhile, the remnants of the Imperial French fleet were located by the British and destroyed at the Battle of Dumet, leaving the French coast open to invasion [3]. Knowing they had time and reserves to spare, Britain began amassing a large invasion force aimed at the Netherlands, concretely at the mouth of the Scheldt river, which would trap whatever French vessels were present and hand over the town of Antwerp and its port to the British, serving as a beachhead for the liberation of the Netherlands.


The bombardment of Flushing

On August 12, a force consisting of 45,000 men, 16,000 horses, numerous pieces of field artillery and two siege trains landed on the islands of Walcheren and South Bleveland, taking over the islands and executing further landings on the coast. Opposition was scarce and divided, with most troops in the landing area having been recruited from French allies and pressed on service (including the Irish Legion, composed of volunteers that had managed to flee from Hoche’s invasion of Ireland back in 1796), with most not being combat ready. The French struggled to grasp hold of the situation was the key port of Flushing fell on September, with the Imperials regaining some consistence with the appointment of Louis-Pierre Montbrun [4], but not enough to prevent the Redcoats from capturing Antwerp after a brutal siege on October 3.

Curiously, the worst enemy of the British in this initial phase of the campaign was a disease known as “Walcheren Fever”, likely a combination of malaria and typhus. The British were aware of this, as they had reports that French forces in Walcheren had already suffered 80% casualties while on duty years ago. However, the capture of Antwerp and further preparations made fighting the disease easier, especially as Antwerp had more salubrious conditions, albeit this caused an outbreak of disease within the city itself that took the lives of 8,000 inhabitants. Deadly as it was, the Antwerp campaign [5] achieved its main goal of securing a beachhead in the continent.

Walcheren Fever.jpg

Sick British soldiers are evacuated from Antwerp

This is not to say that Walcheren was the only theatre where British troops fought during 1809, as a major contingent of British troops, roughly 50,000 men and commanded by John Moore, was still active in the Hispanic Peninsula [6]. There, the numerous Spanish Juntas had coalesced in Seville under the figure of Floridablanca, a former Prime Minister that assumed charge once again until his death in December of 1808, with Vicente Joaquín Osorio taking the title of President of the Supreme Central Junta, a government body created with representatives from all over Spain and even including some delegations from the Americas, moving towards representing the interests of the whole empire, albeit colonial interests were woefully underrepresented.

The Junta imposed a war tax and centralised the army command under the figure of the Duke of Bailén, Francisco Javier Castaños, who had managed to reach Sevilla through Castille after the defeat at Riaza. He assumed command of the newly formed Army of La Mancha, opting to remain in the defensive until the troops had been properly trained and drilled not wanting a repeat of the almost disaster that was Tudela, thus allowing the French to keep the initiative [7]. General Sébastiani moved south in late February, aiming at the Despeñaperros pass, which would isolate Andalusia from the rest of Spain.

The count of Cartaojal, under orders from Castaños, retreated from Ciudad Real towards the foothills of the Sierra Morena mountains, where he encountered Sébastiani close to Cañada de Calatrava. The battle was initially favourable to the French until Spanish reinforcements arrived from the east following the Jabalón river, resulting in Sébastiani calling off the actions and pulling back. Cartaojal, believing the reinforcements were larger than they actually were, pursuited the French and the Franco-Polish cavalry decimated the vanguard of the Spanish forces at the Battle of Poblete on March 17. Sébastiani asked Joseph Bonaparte in Madrid for reinforcements, being granted 6,000 extra men from Jacques Verbais’ I Corps [8].

Vistula Lancers Poblete.jpg

Charge of the Vistula Lancers at the Battle of Poblete

Castaños assumed personal command of the army after Poblete, relieving Cartaojal and replacing him with Francisco Javier Vanegas, Marquis of Reunión. As both forces gathered men and supplies, Sébastiani moved further east towards Manzanares and then swinged south towards the Despeñaperros pass, encountering the Spanish army at Valdepeñas on April 18, the same place where civilians had attacked a French column back in 1808. Castaños decided to risk the core of his army there, and the battle turned into a stalemate as the French were unable to outflank the Spanish, that had placed their remaining artillery pieces at the hills to the south of the city. The second day of the battle saw less action, and Sébastiani eventually retreated, leaving 5,000 dead men on the ground.

Out of those, 3,000 were Spanish, which represented a high fraction of the experienced army reserves, but the victory proved that the Spanish would not fall easily and stopped Sébastiani from marching south to Andalusia and forcing the Spanish government to relocate once again. The French would then focus their efforts to the west and the north, giving the Army of La Mancha a much needed respite.

Soult attempted to march due west following the Duero river and capture Porto, which would split the forces in Galicia from the rest, and would deal a huge blow to Portugal by capturing its second city. The opposing forces were a mix of British forces under Moore, Spanish under the Marquis of La Romana, Portuguese under Caetano Vaz Parreiras, and Royalist French under Pichegru. Soult achieved a starting victory by dislodging the British from the fortified town of Zamora in March of 1809, taking minimal casualties, and then crushing a Spanish force under the Marquis of the Infantado near Formariz on April 2, inflicting over 2,000 casualties [9].

The Imperial French Army then entered Portugal following the Duero, while Sir John Moore fortified Porto. On April 12, the vanguard of the French forces reached the city to the north, encountering Moore’s line of defence extending from Cobrantoes to Sao João da Foz on the coast. The battle involved constant exchanges of artillery volleys, during which a missguided Portuguese round hit a bridge, causing it to collapse and drowning hundreds of fleeing civilians. By April 15, the battle was slowly turning into a siege, as French infantry was unable to pierce through Anglo-Portuguese defences. Unprepared for such a prolonged battle, Soult retreated towards Spain, harassed by the ordenanças (Portuguese militias).


Marshall Soult at the Battle of Porto

[1] - The events after Wagram IOTL were pretty much a repeat of that, albeit with no grandiose final battle like Austerlitz (albeit there was action at Znaim), but instead by a diplomatic meeting, the Armistice of Znaim.

[2] - Okay, this is a bit of a stretch on my part, playing with the psyche of historical characters is complicated. Anyhow, this is the perspective from a part of TTL’s historiography (remember the TL is written from inside that reality, and footnotes are often comparisons with OTL). This historiographical view is not necessarily correct and is more of a common misconception, when OTL Wagram happened the difference in quality between French and Austrian troops was mostly gone, and for the first time in a while whole French corps were routed (such as Masséna’s or Bernadotte’s). As TTL has less French troops with less equipment, and more Coalition troops with roughly the same amount of equipment, the battle turns to the Austrians instead.

[3] - This butterflies the Battle of Basque Roads, meaning Lord Cochrane is never discredited and denied the opportunity to serve afloat. However, it seems that by 1809 Cochrane was growing more interested in politics than naval affairs. It is likely that Cochrane’s implication in the Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814 is also butterflied away, mostly due to the fact that Napoleon will not last that long.

[4] - Bernadotte has already been removed from service and reincorporated before Walcheren to fight the Prussians. Montbrun is not on good terms with Napoleon either after an incident in 1808 when he delayed his march to Spain to protect his future wife.

[5] - Walcheren Campaign IOTL, the British never captured Antwerp.

[6] - The term Iberia was never popularised ITTL, already explained in a prior chapter.

[7] - The First Madrid Offensive is butterflied away ITTL.

[8] - IOTL commanded by Jean-Claude Victor, he was demoted to brigadier general after Espinosa de los Monteros.

[9] - IOTL the Marquis of the Infantado was commanding the Spanish forces at Uclés, resulting in a similar disaster to that of TTL’s Formariz. He was in Galicia in 1808, and grew close to John Moore, thus remaining in the western part of Iberia ITTL as per Moore’s request.
Chapter 30: The Battle of the Nations
~ Chapter 30: The Battle of the Nations ~

Napoleon’s gamble for a quick and decisive victory at Wagram turned out to be a massive mistake, exposing the flanks of his army to a reinforced coalition, now composed of Prussia, Austria, Russia, Spain and Britain. The situation in Germany was growing worse by the day, specially in Westphalia, where the rule of his brother Jérôme Bonaparte was shaking as the core of the Westphalian army switched sides after the battle of Sülzetal of April 12, while a militia force commanded the Duke of Brunswick were harassing French supplies east of the Rhine. Not that there were many French soldiers there, as the Prussian forces had either wiped out or captured most of the garrisons in Prussia and thanks to von Schill’s rapid advance. By June, the Kingdom of Saxony under Frederick Augustus (also de iure monarch of Poland) switched sides, with Bavaria being the only German state still actively collaborating with Napoleon.

In the Netherlands, Napoleon was growing infuriated with his brother Louis, King of Holland. He was genuinely liked by his citizens and not seen as much of an imposition as other rulers of the House of Bonaparte, for his attempts at learning Dutch [1] and removing French influence from the court, among other actions. Life was not easy in the Netherlands, as it became a French puppet state, with Napoleon employing Dutch currency reserves and even reducing the value of French loans from Dutch investors by three fourths [2], almost driving the Kingdom of Holland to bankruptcy. As the war in Europe intensified in 1809, Napoleon requested to take personal command of the Dutch Army, to which Louis refused, luckily for him, Napoleon could not spare troops to deal with his brother, trying to pressure him to abdicate.

When the British captured Walcheren in early autumn of 1809 they brought captured Dutch merchants and sailors, trying to establish a parallel administration to that of Louis. The failure of the French to respond to the attack, and Louis’ own hesitancy to deploy Dutch troops against the coalition forces led Napoleon to invade the Netherlands with reserve troops in October of 1809. Louis abdicated in favour of his second son, Napoléon-Louis Bonaparte, and fled to Austria. As French militias marched on Amsterdam, British forces crossed the Meuse into Holland proper. The French militias treated the Dutch harshly, causing sporadic bursts of violence that coalesced in a new Patriot Movement taking shape in the Netherlands. On December 6, inspired by the “Patriottentijd“ of the 1780’s [3], a mob in Amsterdam assaulted the French garrison and forcibly evicted them from the city, proclaiming the restoration of the United Provinces. France had lost another ally.

Dutch Patriots.jpg

Dutch patriots engage a collumn of French troops

During the summer Napoleon frantically toured Germany trying to take a hold of the situation. The Prussians had crossed the Rhine and defeated the Saxons, while the Poles were crushed by the combined armies of Austria, Prussia and Russia. Having failed at knocking Austria out of the war and fearing the loss of all of Germany, the Emperor turned his attention to Prussia, arguably the member of the coalition that could be defeated the quickest. He intended for a swift drive towards Berlin before Russian reinforcements could arrive and while the Austro-Prussian forces in Saxony were still reorganising.

France had a core of experienced and trained troops commanded by the reliable general Nicolas Oudinot [4]. He received orders to secure starting positions for a new offensive in September. The force left from Kassel on September 26, encountering von Schill’s Prussian Army near Nordhausen. The terrain consisted of a relatively narrow strip of flat land between two mountain ranges, and in such a narrow battle space the quality of the French Army won them the day, with Schill’s rearguard being separated and defeated at Brücken within a week from the beginning of the campaign. Having successfully crossed into Saxony, Oudinot waited for reinforcements commanded by Napoleon himself, who arrived on October 14 with 60,000 troops.

The Prussians scrambled to respond, placing their two main forces at Dessau and Leipzig, not knowing whether Napoleon intended to capture Berlin or crush their armies in a decisive battle. Napoleon intended to do both. In late October a relatively small force commanded by Jacques MacDonald departed to the northeast looking for a crossing of the Elbe. The final choice fell upon Ludwig von Yorck [5], who correctly judged that MacDonald’s push had to be a bait, and considering that numbers were not yet on his side retreated behind the Saale. By November, Russian and Austrian reinforcements had reached Saxony, outnumbering the French almost two to one. Now present in the battlefield, tsar Alexander insisted on being given supreme command of the Coalition forces, a request that Austrian foreign minister von Stadion-Warthausen begrudgingly accepted [6].

Alexander I of Russia.jpg

Tsar Alexander I of Russia (1801 - 1825)

After a brief period of reorganisation and receiving news that Yorck’s army was behind the Saale without nearby bridges, Napoleon gave the order to attack. The Coalition forces were arranged in a line that stretched from the Saale south of Halle to the Geisel valley [7], with the centre of the line anchored at the village of Bad Lauchstädt, with a hastily fortified town of Merseburg some five kilometres behind the line. The battle known popularly as the “Battle of the Nations” due to the great number of countries represented, began on November 2 10:12 AM Berlin time [8] as French infantry proved the centre of the line.

This attack was followed by an artillery volley near Oechlitz that forced the southern flank, composed by Austrians under recently-promoted General-major von Vécsey, to retreat. Napoleon intended to weaken the front to the south and defeat the Austrian component there, and then turn northeast following the Geisel valley towards the Saale, and then close the trap. In order to alleviate pressure Prussian forces pushed forward in the centre without much success. Alexander then sent the Russian reserve contingent to the front, temporarily stopping the French south of Beuna. However, this left part of the front exposed, and a cavalry charge led by Michel Ney broke through. The French artillery paralysed the Prussian forces in the northern part of the front.

Alexander ordered a fierce counterattack around 4 PM that was stopped by the Old Guard, effectively splitting the Prussians from the Austrian and Russian contingents. The Prussians under von Scharnhorst kept fighting for the rest of the day, while their engineers built pontoons over the Saale as the Prussians employed their cavalry to attempt to reconnect with the rest of the Coalition forces. Judging the Prussians to be essentially defeated, Napoleon shifted the bulk of his forces towards the Geisel over the afternoon and the night.

Austria Valley.JPG

A skirmish over a river near Beuna.

The next day the Russians were the first to attack around 8:00 AM but they were once again repelled. The lack of response from the French worried the Austrian commander, prince Henry of Reuss-Plauen, who warned Alexander about the possibility of a large attack later in the day. It took a while to convince Alexander, but when the French advanced five hours later some preparations were already in place. Sadly, these were not enough and the French overran the defences at Beuna and Merseburg, forcibly dispersing the Austro-Russian forces south and east towards Leipzig. The Prussians kept fighting until the fourth of November, but eventually Scharnhorst had to surrender his sword to the emperor of the French.

The Battle of Halle had proved that even if the French Empire was stretched to the very limit, it still had the potential to achieve major victories on the battlefield. However, this victory in Germany would not force a new armistice like Austerlitz, as the French were unable to pursue the enemy and winter was already beginning to set in. Halle would be the last relevant victory of Napoleon.

[1] - His Dutch was poor at the beginning, which led to him declaring himself as “Konijn van ‘Olland” instead of “Koning van Holland”. Koning means “king” while Konijn means “rabbit”. Another anecdote of Louis was that he could never stay in one place, until he visited the manor of a wealthy merchant and attempted to place his court there, even evicting the merchant from his house.

[2] - OTL loans were reduced by two-thirds, the French economy is in worse shape than IOTL and more drastic actions are needed to keep it afloat.

[3] - Already mentioned this event in the timeline, same as OTL.

[4] - Not promoted to Marshal of France due to the alternate Battle of Wagram of this timeline.

[5] - Not yet Wartenburg, that was a battle-given honour for his victory at Wartenburg IOTL on October 3 1813, during the Leipzig Campaign.

[6] - Alexander I tried to do the same IOTL with Moreau and Jomini as his deputies, but Metternich was able to avoid this because the post had already been offered to the Prince of Schwarzenberg. This is 1809, not 1813, so Schwarzenberg is still general of cavalry, and the Prussians and Austrians could not agree on who should lead their forces in Saxony.

[7] - The Geisel Valley is today filled with an artificial lake created in the early 2000’s. I almost included the lake in the timeline had I not searched for it and found out it was actually a reservoir. This is one case where I noticed that something on a modern map did not exist back in the time of the chapter, who knows how many things I’ve missed.

[8] - Before the advent of fast travel with railroads, most towns had their own independent time, this proved to be a large issue when the first railroads were built in the UK and people kept missing trains due to these subtle differences. I love small details like these, I even want to dedicate entire chapters to alternate scientific and technical developments, I've recently read Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything", which provides hindsight into early science without going into too much detail for the untrained public. If you're interested in biology, "Here be Dragons" by Dennis McCarthy is a very similar book.
Really hoping we'll see the eventual return of our Konijn to the Netherlands, and if not him his son is more than welcome to stay on.
Really hoping we'll see the eventual return of our Konijn to the Netherlands, and if not him his son is more than welcome to stay on.
Louis is out of the picture as he abdicated. Wether or not the Bonapartes can claim the Dutch throne depends on how the situation develops in the Peace Congress. The current Dutch coalition government is composed of nobles and merchants under British influence, and considering the British want harsh terms on the French, so I doubt they would support Napoleón-Louis as monarch. However, pretty much like OTL, the Netherlands would have to become a monarchy in the post-war, with William I taking the throne. Then there's the issue of the Austrian Netherlands. Stadion is more interested in keeping Austria's former territories than Metternich, so maybe the situation in Belgium changes. Who knows, if William screws up badly the Dutch may try to bring back the Bonapartes, the possibility is there.
Chapter 31: The Fall of the Empire
~ Chapter 31: The Fall of the Empire ~

The French victory at Halle was never a chance for the French Empire to resurge from the tumultuous year of 1809. As a matter of fact, the victory at Halle seemed to cast a shadow over the internal tensions that were threatening to rip the empire in half. Years of naval blockades had stripped the French of most overseas commodities and luxuries, taxes were ever increasing to finance the emperor’s unending and unfruitful campaigns, and more and more men were being drafted to fight, impeding them to collect the crops. As winter led to a new unofficial truce over most of Europe, France was heading for renewed internal conflict as the messages of revolutionaries and freedom fighters in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Spain began to seep in a population that was growing ever more tired. The emperor himself returned to Paris only in December of 1809 after failing to achieve a decisive victory in the Elbe Theater, scattering the Coalition forces but failing to take Berlin or even securing a major bridgehead over the river. When he arrived he quickly discovered that his ministers and appointees had committed excesses and were assuming powers that Napoleon never assigned them [1]. Napoleon started a round of purges, blaming his ministers for the sorry state of the French finances, barely surviving thanks to pillaging of the occupied lands. Many of France’s fortune owners were increasingly disloyal, with many turning to the royalist cause as promises of reduced taxation of high rents were issued by royalist agents, with either consent or ignorance from the Marquis of Caulaincourt [2].

During the winter of 1809 to 1810 the French lost control of the countryside in parts of Italy and Germany, albeit general Montbrun successfully recaptured Antwerp from the British. Napoleon ordered to pull most troops out of Spain through december, with Joseph Bonaparte abandoning Madrid on January 6, to great joy of the locals [3]. Anglo-Spanish forces did not pursue Soult as he crossed the Ebro, lacking reinforcements and supplies. Through the winter Austrian, Prussian and Russian forces amassed across Bohemia, Saxony and Upper Austria; commanded by August von Bennigsen (actually a Russian), Gebhard von Blücher and Ignaz Gyulai. Napoleon’s stance in Paris was short, nervous about where the Coalition forces could strike, while at the same time distancing himself further from his spouse Joséphine [4], to the point where a journal depicted a fake story of the empress dating a presuposed lover, which led to Napoleon clamping down on the press before leaving.


Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French (1804 - 1810)

Napoleon faced a dilemma over whether to attack or not, but he finally made his mind and opted for an offensive in Bohemia for the spring of 1810. According to historians, he planned to profit his prior knowledge of the area to obtain a victory greater than Halle, and force the Austrians to make peace, even considering proclaiming a separate Kingdom of Bohemia under Joseph Bonaparte, or dismantling the Habsburg state altogether. Alas, this was not to be. Before Napoleon departed from Wernberg on March 26, Bavarian general von Wrede had been contacted by Austrian envoys, and he agreed to relay information regarding the size and direction of the French Army. However, Bavarian Minister of Foreign Affairs von Montgelas discovered the filtration and, pressured by the large French deployment in Bavaria, reported the news to the monarch, who ordered the execution of von Wrede and purged the government of anti-French ministers [5].

Despite knowing about von Wrede’s treason, Napoleon advanced and crossed the Bohemian mountains at Pfraumberg, easily defeating the Austrian vanguard and heading towards the Austro-Prussian forces commanded by von Blücher and von Klenau. The battle took place near the town of Rokitzan, east of Pilsen, on April 21 and pitted 135.000 frenchmen against 150.000 coalition soldiers. Napoleon ordered a first advance between the Prussian and Austrian contingents, which successfully split the two, mirroring the Battle of Halle. However, von Blücher had studied the Prussian defeat at Halle in detail and had planned for an event like this, with the Prussians retreating in good order in a move that had been rehearsed during the prior weeks. The Prussian and Austrian cavalries were notably absent from the battlefield, so the Emperor ordered a cavalry charge headed by none other than Michel Ney, which was taken by surprise when Austrian artillery fired upon them from the hills to the southeast near Hradek. With the French cavalry damaged, von Blücher ordered a counterattack that trapped the vanguard of the French Army. Napoleon ordered the Old Guard to advance and break the circle, but they were unable to break through, hostigated by the Austrian cavalry under Hieronymus von Colloredo-Mansfeld. The emperor himself went forward to encourage his soldiers, however a stray bullet hit him near the knee and he fell, causing panic among French lines. The Battle of Rokitzan was Napoleon’s last major battle [6].

Battle of Rokitzan.jpg

The Battle of Rokitzan in Bohemia

Following Rokitzan, von Blücher rushed across the Bohemian mountains into Bavaria while general Gyulai pushed along the Danube in May, forcing the Kingdom of Bavaria to capitulate with the Armistice of Essenbach of May 28 [7]. Napoleon’s health began to decline due to a combination of stress and a mild infection of his bullet wound, having to go back to Paris to be attended by the best doctors of the Empire. With the emperor absent, the army went into a state of disarray, as most commanders decided to pull back to the Rhine before the Coalition forces surrounded them. Austrian forces also crossed into Italy once the Alpine passes were open, being greeted as liberators by the Venetian patriots and quickly marching to Milan, retaking the city for the Habsburgs after a decade. The French king of Naples, Joachim Murat, approached Austrian foreign minister von Stadion-Warthausen [8], offering to switch sides if he could keep his throne, to which the Austrian accepted. By the middle of the summer France had been reduced to its natural borders. The other remaining Napoleonic ally, Denmark, had left the sinking ship in the winter when the British offered somewhat lenient terms as the country was heading towards bankruptcy.

Further south, Soult’s retreat behind the Ebro led him to Saragossa. In April of 1810, as the forces of Moore and La Romana resumed the march from Madrid towards the Ebro, Soult was waiting for them at Milagro, with his forces dispersed along the river and also defending the nearby course of the Aragon. The Anglo-Spanish forces tried to break through the bridge at Rincón de Soto, but the French launched a fierce counterattack once a good chunk of the army had crossed the Ebro, capturing the bridge and splitting the army in two, with the British vanguard taking the brunt of the assault as they had to retreat to the bridge at San Adrián, some 12 kilometres upstream. Not everything went poorly for the Spanish, as they successfully launched an expedition that captured Corsica with the help of the FEIC fleet and Royalist regiments from the safe port of Valencia. From the island, general Pichegru proclaimed the restoration of the House of Bourbon as Coalition forces captured the port of Toulon on September 8, rapidly advancing through the mostly royalist Provence and laying siege to Marseille.

Rincon del Soto.jpg

Charge of the British cavalry at the Battle of Rincón del Soto

Napoleon tried to negotiate an armistice with the Austrians, granting them control over all of Italy in exchange for keeping France within its natural borders, however Stadion refused to negotiate any kind of settlement [9] with the increasingly unstable emperor, who was prone to bursts of rage as his condition worsened, imposing draconian measures to keep France’s armies standing. Riots over the price of bread and against levies became frequent, with Jacobin and Republican groups resurging, claiming that Napoleon had betrayed the values of the revolution, which led to even more crackdowns by the Imperial police. The literal nail on the coffin for the Empire came when on September 12, with the Coalition forces having just taken Mainz and heading towards the heart of France, a Jacobin threw a bomb at the emperor’s carriage near the Nôtre-Dame Cathedral, killing both Napoleon and Joséphine.

Without a leader and with morale under the floor, radicals proclaimed a Second French Republic in Paris. When news of the emperor’s death arrived, French armies began to decompose as most recruits deserted and returned home, with only a tiny fraction siding with the new Republican National Guard. Royalists surged from everywhere amidst the chaos, and British and Royalist French troops landed at Nantes, quickly securing Brittany, the Vendee, and pushing up the Loire, while Pichegru’s forces marched up the Rhône after capturing Arles in November. To the south, the Spanish forces crossed the Pyrenees from the west and captured Toulouse in a bloody battle against fanatic republican defenders, even if French forces were still present in Barcelona and Gerona.

The Second French Republic rapidly devolved into a radical dictatorship, with the renewed Committee of Public Safety ordering execution after execution, hanging supposed imperials and royalists alike in a desperate attempt to depurate the city out of potential traitors. The royalists in Toulon and the Loire rallied behind Charles, Duke of Artois and younger brother of Louis XVIII as he assumed the charge of Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom until Louis XVIII could safely return to the throne [10]. This reign of terror in Paris was put to an end by the force of arms as Russian general de Tolly assaulted the city in October, with the last French resistance collapsing the next month. After almost two decades of conflict, peace reigned over Europe once more. Now it was time for the victors to decide the fate of Europe.

Paris Russia.jpg

The Russian army enters Paris, marking the end of the Napoleonic Wars

[1] - This is a situation similar to that when Napoleon returned from Russia IOTL. An autocratic rule does not work properly when the autocrat is long absent.

[2] - Remember that ITTL the French police is much less effective as Fouché was dismissed over his failure to catch word of the 1803 Royalist Plot. Caulaincourt is his replacement, who was a diplomat at the time, but was on good enough terms with the soon-to-be emperor to be awarded the post.

[3] - January 6 is a festivity in Spain known as “Día de Reyes”, honouring the three biblibal magi, during this day kids are given gifts and sweets. Nowadays Christmas competes and even replaces this festivity. Oh well, as a kid I got gifts twice so can’t complain.

[4] - No victory in the War of the Fifth Coalition means Napoleon never married Marie-Louise of Austria. The relation between Napoleon and her is still on good terms, but an ever more nervous Napoleon makes it more difficult.

[5] - IOTL von Montgelas was one of the main supporters of the 1813 Treaty of Ried, by the terms of which Bavaria agreed to switch sides in exchange for a promise of territorial integrity, which was never realised.

[6] - Totally did not pull a Waterloo here. The presence of von Blücher and Ney is purely coincidental, I swear.

[7] - This armistice has nothing to do with OTL’s Treaty of Ried, Bavaria is treated as a defeated power and not like a possible ally. More to come in the peace congress.

[8] - Remember that Metternich never became Foreign Minister of the Austrian Empire. Without him the outcome of the war is going to be very different.

[9] - This is similar to the OTL Frankfurt proposals. However, Stadion is not Metternich, and he is not interested in keeping a strong France as a counter to Russia. Also, this approachment was initiated by Napoleon and not by the Coalition as was Frankfurt, a fact that points to Napoleon no longer believing he can win.

[10] - Pichegru insisted on Louis going back to France as soon as he captured Toulon, but the king was too fat to walk properly, Louis insisted that he should remain in his parish at Hartwell for safety reasons.
And so the Napoleonic Wars are over (I have the chapter of the Peace Congress written already). I'd like to see some feedback now that this arc of the Timeline is done, we'll soon go back to other things that are not European powers duking it out, don't worry about that.
A interesting turn of events. Napoleon killed earlier, France's opponents less propelled to mercy, royalists toppling a unpopular regime... Honestly, I can see many things being able to develop here, and I trust your writing capabilities enough that you'll deliver something good
Chapter 32: The Congress of Ratisbon

~ Chapter 32: The Congress of Ratisbon ~

As the dust settled over Europe the powers of the Coalition, as well as a newly restored Bourbon France, met in the Bavarian city of Regensburg (Ratisbon) to discuss the new map of Europe. The main figures playing a part in the discussion were the Austrian Foreign Minister von Stadion and Britain’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Richard Wellesley, among many other representatives from all across Europe. However, before the final changes were made, the peace deals with Napoleon’s allies had to be finalised.

Regarding Denmark, they had fought along the French begrudgingly, not defending the interests of Napoleon but their own. The Danes wanted to continue trading with France despite the British policy of inspecting neutral ships, which resulted in Britain considering the Second League of Armed Neutrality a form of alliance with France, and the Royal Navy attacked Copenhaguen in April of 1801, forcing Denmark to leave the alliance. Following the defeat of Prussia in the War of the Fourth Coalition, Napoleon was considering employing the Danish navy to attack the British fleet and closing the Baltic Sea to British shipping. The Danes would not collaborate with the French, and had placed the bulk of their armed forces defending the Danevirke fortifications in Holstein, fearing an attack. However the attack would come from the sea, as the Royal Navy attacked the Danish fleet at Copenhaguen in 1807, forcing the Danes into an alliance with Napoleon, albeit their actions were limited as their fleet had been crippled.

Wanting to secure access to the Baltic Sea, the British approached Denmark in the winter of 1809, offering them a peace deal. At the time, the Prussians controlled Hamburg and their contingents had recently captured Hannover, and Frederick VI feared Coalition forces marching on Jutland. British, Prussian and Danish representatives met at Kiel on February 14 1810 to discuss the clauses of a definitive peace treaty [1]. In the Treaty of Kiel, all Danish possessions that were occupied by Coalition forces were returned, except for the island of Heligoland which was ceded to Britain. Denmark was forced to abolish the slave trade from their forts in Ghana and had to contribute a token force to the Coalition war effort, with said force being financed by Britain.

The most problematic issue was the Coalition (mostly British) decision to split Norway from Denmark, Norway would consist of the bishoprics of Christiansand, Bergen, Akershus and Trondheim, as well as the coastal islands and the northern regions of Nordland and Finnmark to the Russian border; that is, Norway’s overseas possessions (Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands) were split from the realm and transferred over to Denmark. Initially the Danish proposed that prince Christian Frederick of Denmark was awarded the crown, however both Britain and Prussia insisted on the Danish royal family forfeiting any possible claims to Denmark, and should the right circumstances happen, a personal union could be renewed under Christian Frederick, so they began to search for new candidates. The chosen one would be prince Karl of Mecklenburg-Schwerin [2], who would become king of an independent Norway as Charles II.

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Charles II of Norway (1811 - 1833)

As for Bavaria, the terms of the Armistice of Essenbach served as guide rules for Bavaria. Count von Stadion was interested in enlarging Austria in a contiguous way, forcing Bavaria to relinquish Tyrol, Salzburg, Passau, and a number of villages in the Alps. The Austrians desired to punish Bavaria further by forcing them to return the lands they gained under the Mediatizations of 1806, however the skillful diplomacy of the Prussians Baron vom Stein and Wilhelm von Humboldt convinced Russia not to support a dismantling of Bavaria, albeit the Bavarian Palatinate was split off under a cadet branch of the Wittelsbach [3].

Now regarding the Congress itself, initially it was a pretty secluded meeting between the ambassadors of Great Britain, Prussia, Austria and Russia. Talleyrand tried to gain presence in the negotiations by allying with the minor powers of the Netherlands and Portugal [4], albeit he failed to convince the Spanish envoy, José García de León y Pizarro [5], who was instructed to follow the Austrian and British lines if possible. The Spanish envoy refused any collaboration with Talleyrand unless France handed back the works of arts and documents they had looted from Spain, as well as the exiled “afrancesados” still loyal to Joseph Bonaparte. Talleyrand desperately needed to get enough attention for the inner circle (Austria, Prussia, Great Britain and Russia) to admit him in, and he conceded the extradition of the “afrancesados” and a promise of restitution of a portion of Spanish goods, which was never realised. The inner circle eventually invited both Talleyrand and García de León y Pizarro to discuss the final terms without intervention from the smaller powers.


Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, a key figure in the Congress

French and Spanish participation in the inner circle would prove to be key when the discussion shifted to the lands of Frederick Augustus, namely Poland [6] and Saxony. Prussia insisted that all of Saxony and Poland should be incorporated into their realm as they took on the brunt of the French offensive in 1809, as well as suffering humiliation and pillage during the campaign of 1806. Most of the powers agree that the Polish territories should be given back to Prussia, however a full annexation of Saxony would not be accepted, especially by the Austrians, who would lose a major buffer state between Prague and Berlin. Tsar Alexander I of Russia interdicted, stating that Russia should be awarded territory for its participation in the war, and called for a revision of the Polish question. Prussia found itself without allies, and agreed to cede the province of New East Prussia to Alexander in exchange for his support on the Saxon issue, sensing some weakness on the British as Richard Wellesley was having one of his black-outs [7].

A rather desperate von Stadion turned to the Spanish and French representatives, who agreed to back the Austrians up lest the Prussians become too powerful with a full annexation of Saxony, thus formalising France and Spain into the great power circle, passing from the Big Four to the Big Six. Stadion went ahead to try to persuade Russia from supporting a full annexation by selling Austria as a potential ally and, surprisingly, the Tsar did a rapid volte face and turned back his support to Prussia [8], as members of the Prussian delegation such as vom Stein openly supported a united Germany, while Alexander favoured a united “third” Germany independent of both Prussia and Austria. Alexander decided to play as a mediator and it was decided that Prussia would obtain the eastern third of Saxony, mostly east of the Elbe [9], as a way to balance Prussia and Austria. Prussia was also awarded the Rhineland and most of Westphalia (except a part of the former Prince-Bishopric of Münster, which was secularized and given to a different prince), to form a strong bulwark against the French. However, this strong Prussia was not in the interest of the British, so when Wellesley returned he managed to browbeat the Prussian envoys into concending East Firisa and the mouth of the Ems to British Hannover. The Prussian ministed von Hardenberg insisted on being compensated with either Danish Holstein or Pommerania, but the other diplomats refused any enlargement of Berlin, stating they got more than enough with their portion of Poland. In exchange the Prussians proposed a series of territorial exchanges and payments, ultimately managing to negotiate the transfer of Swedish Pommerania in exchange for a payment of 5 million Prussian talers.

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A political cartoon of the time

Now that the largest obstacle had been dealt with, Germany underwent a major reform of its internal borders, reducing the number of states in the former HRE by several times, with Hannover and the southern states benefiting the most. Then came the issue of the Netherlands. Britain had promised the Dutch that they would obtain the former Austrian Netherlands, keeping Orange-Nassau inside Germany but renouncing to an independent Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Regarding France, they managed to scrape by with more territories than they had prior to the Revolutionary Wars, gaining towns in Alsace, the Low Countries and Savoy [10], albeit parts of it were awarded to Switzerland as two new cantons.

Finally it came to the question of Italy. There it was largely agreed that Italy should return to the pre-war borders as a general line. The Republic of Venice was restored in the mainland territories, but Austria kept Dalmatia, while the Ionian Islands became a British protectorate. Lombardy was returned to Austria and saw its borders expanded eastwards to the Mincio. The states of Padania were restored to their respective rulers, the Habsburgs under Ferdinand III in Tuscany and under Francis IV in Modena, the House of Savoy to Piedmont and Sardinia, and Parma to the Bourbons under Maria Luisa [11]. The Republic of Genoa was also reinstated thanks to the efforts of von Stadion and García de León, severely weakening Piedmont-Sardinia as they lost their chance at receiving a coast. Finally, Napoleon’s former ally in the Kingdom of Naples, Joachim Murat, was allowed to stay, albeit the British placed an embargo, to which the Spanish joined soon after, intending to force the fall of Murat and restore the Bourbons to the throne of Naples. Murat would indeed fall later on, but not because of economic pressures.

Some colonies would also be swapped, with the United Kingdom taking the Dutch Cape Colony and some French islands in the Caribbean, but overall most of the changes were made in Europe. In order to secure a lasting peace, representatives from Russia, Austria, Britain and Spain formed the Quadruple Alliance, to which Prussia joined shortly after as did France in 1815, however this alliance was tenuous and would not be able to uphold peace in the continent between the great powers for more than a couple decades [12].

[1] - Sweden is not a member of the Coalition, as crown prince Charles August (Christian August of Denmark) refused to join the war. As a result, Sweden does not have territorial ambitions over Norway, so the considerations regarding the destiny of the personal union are different.

[2] - The House of Mecklenburg had ties to the Norwegian throne for centuries, but the choice was more motivated by the Prussians wanting a close German prince in Norway as a check to Sweden, which still owns a part of Pomerania, and its pro-Danish crown prince.

[3] - Or rather, a full dismantlement. The lands Bavaria took to the northwest IOTL are denied to them, most notably the Grand Duchy of Würzburg, which remains a separate political entity under Ferdinand I.

[4] - Portugal barely has a presence in this congress as the War of the Oranges never happened, thus butterflying away the Olivenza dispute.

[5] - Who was Secretary of State at the time, by 1812 IOTL. The changes in Spain, most notably the Supreme Central Junta staying in Seville and producing the more moderate Charter of Seville as a constitutional basis result in changes in the envoys. Oh well, TTL avoided the utter embarrassment that was Pedro Gómez de Labrador, who was described as “that cripple, unfortunately, is going to Vienna” by Talleyrand and as “The most stupid man I ever came across” by Wellington.

[6] - A Poland consisting of only the Prussian part, without a French victory in the Fifth Coalition Poland is not expanded south to the size of OTL’s Congress Poland.

[7] - Richard Wellesley was prone to black-outs where he did not realise where he was. In such a closed room diplomatic event, this compromises the British position. Another effect of Castlereagh not being there is that the Congress does not decide to act periodically, butterflying away the future congresses as we know them.

[8] - Von Stadion is a calmer individual than Metternich. When discussing this same issue, Metternich suggested that Austria could beat Russia militarily, and tensions rose to the point that Alexander challenged him to a duel. Luckily this never happened, would have been quite a show at a multinational conference to see a diplomat and a monarch shoot each other. Alexander suddenly becoming more lenient is also taken from OTL’s Congress of Vienna. Trying to get into everyone’s psyche at the same time is hard.

[9] - OTL Prussia got three fifths of Saxony.

[10] - Pretty much what was given to France in the First Treaty of Paris, before Napoleon returned and his defeat led to France losing those territories.

[11] - IOTL the duchy was awarded to Marie Louise of Austria. ITTL she never married Napoleon so there is no need to grant her a fiefdom. Hence, the Duchy of Lucca was never created as compensation for the Spanish, and it remains part of Tuscany.

[12] - There is no Holy Alliance either, even if Alexander insists on getting on both sides good graces. Alas, the overall result of the Congress of Ratisbon is less absolutist than OTL’s Vienna, with Russia keeping a somewhat progressive government, and von Stadion being more of a reformist than Metternich. Liberalism will not be persecuted as harshly as it did IOTL.
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That is quite a lot of Polish land for the Prussians. I wonder if we'll see the Polish be a lot more well integrated into the state.
Pretty good update, with a dead Napoleon and a France with actually larger borders they will continue as a great power. It will be interesting to see the effect this will have in India too.
That is quite a lot of Polish land for the Prussians. I wonder if we'll see the Polish be a lot more well integrated into the state.
That's the same land given to Prussia by the Third Partition. What happened IOTL was that after the Fourth Coalition Napoleon separated a chunk of Prussian Poland and created the Duchy of Warsaw, which was expanded with Austrian Poland (not Galicia) when Napoleon crushed Austria again in 1809. Here, Austria and the Coalition actually win the 1809 war, meaning Austria does not lose its chunk of Poland. IOTL, Russia pressured for the Duchy of Warsaw in its entirety to become part of Russia under a special regime, to which the powers agreed with the exception of Posen (went to Prussia) and Krakow (free city). Even if Alexander tried to do the same here, that Russian Poland would barely have any connection to the rest of Russia, so it does not add much value.

As for Prussian Poland, they have divided it in provinces with the very Polish names of New East Prussia or South Prussia. IOTL in the parts of Prussia that were Polish-speaking the Prussians carried intense Germanisation programs, excluding the Poles from almost every aspect of government within the kingdom. Here they have an even larger part of Poland, even Warsaw, so they have a lot more Poles to try to Germanise. It won't end well, give it a couple decades

Pretty good update, with a dead Napoleon and a France with actually larger borders they will continue as a great power. It will be interesting to see the effect this will have in India too.
They continued to be a Great Power after the defeat, being a key player in maintaining the order in the Concert of Europe. If someone is going to survive as a great power here that's likely to be Spain due to their participation in the Congress, albeit they are going to be the lesser of the Great Powers. I plan on writing about India next, surely such a long period of effective self government for the FEIC and their lack of any sort of reinforcements is going to be interesting, to say the least.