What is Austria? Austria is an Empire. It is, was, and remains a mad conglomeration of lands, a collection of hereditary territories united only by the one tenuous connection of one family, one monarch. And it is weaker than ever. There is one thing that I shall admit, and it is this: that when Napoleon Bonaparte marched his armies from one end of Europe to the other, he ignited a force that will not be so easily extinguished. And that force is nationalism. Even now in secret clubs across the Empire there gather forces of instability and revolution. Even now in Lombardy-Venetia there are men who call themselves Italian; in Galicia-Lodomeria those who proclaim themselves Polish; in Bohemia those who would be Czech. And what do I say? I say that we are under siege; under siege from those who would refuse our control and our strength, under siege from the masses itself. The solution to this is simple. It is not going to be easy; we will have to make the identity of being Austrian, of residing within the borders of the Empire, more attractive, than staying among their own kind, their own race. The nations are but made of people; and people can be broken. We must destroy the nations, crush them with force, and lather them thinly across the Empire. And at the same time we must make clear that safety lies with Austria. If they do not want safety, then let them have danger! We will hunt their families from Vienna to Weissenberg, and we will butcher them like pigs. And we will do more than that, too, if they do not comply. -Ferdinand I “the Great” von Hapsburg, Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary and Croatia, King of Bohemia, King of Lombardy-Venetia, in Schönbrunn Palace, April 1835 19 April 1793: Ferdinand Charles Leopold Joseph Francis Marcelin is born to Francis II of Austria and Maria Teresa of Naples in Vienna. Their first male child, he is given a clean bill of health by physicians. Francis II hands him off to be educated by tutors, not recognizing just how lucky he is not to have a deformed, idiot heir. Growing up: Ferdinand led a largely Spartan existence. His teachers were cold, much like Joseph II was with Francis II. Instead of crumbling under their silence or succumbing to the need to obey, Ferdinand’s willpower swerved in an entirely different direction. Finding numerous ways to sneak out of his lessons, Ferdinand often barged into the lessons of his siblings or into the offices of his uncles, finding excuses to remain and fleeing from his furious educators. Francis II was largely indifferent to their treatment of him. Despite this, Ferdinand had a natural inclination to learning and comprehension. He cultivated a sharp memory and was often able to complete tasks that were set for him in a relatively short period of time. However, his body was spindly and weak, not suited for hard physical labour, and Ferdinand was often exhausted after the daily military exercises which he was put through as perpetual punishment. Napoleon: During negotiations for the Treaty of Schönbrunn, Napoleon I decides to explore the cavernous summer palace. Venturing into a musty old library, he hears the sound of dry pages turning, and moves to investigate. He finds a young man hunched over a pile of papers, who turns as he approaches. The library is dark; the only source of moderately bright light comes from the many lamps arranged around the desk. Napoleon asks what the young man is doing, alone in the library. The young man replies, “I am searching for a method to undo my family’s humiliation in the annals of the past,” and, with nary an indication, suddenly sweeps a pile of papers off the table in one forceful motion, where they scatter in the slight breeze. Napoleon notices writings from the time of Maria Theresa, and possibly some from even further back. After a brief conversation with the young man, Napoleon walks away, thoughtful, and subsequently begins to include the young Archduke Ferdinand in the marriage arrangements regarding Marie Louise, the Duchess of Parma; the Archduke will receive an education under Napoleon’s own men, and will serve as company for his sister. Francis II argues ineffectually against this taking of hostages, but is in the end forced to agree. Archduke Ferdinand remains impassive on the day of departure itself, the 16-year-old clutching the hand of his slightly older sister Marie Louise. Archduke Ferdinand will refer to this day in his personal diary as “a day that opened my eyes; today I realized that my father and my mother are useless, base creatures. Napoleon is a charming man, but he is not an Austria; he is not a German, or an Italian; he is a mongrel French. He says that he looks forward to teaching an Austrian aristocrat about the Empire of France. I think that I have nothing to learn from him.” Yet, against his own wishes, Ferdinand finds himself understanding and acknowledging the power of many concepts and ideas that Napoleon circulates and emphasizes in the daily running of France; nationalism, for example, and the forces of the intellectual, the bureaucrat, the noble, and the masses. In Paris, he is treated as nothing more than a curiosity, a strange aristocratic distraction. A combination of natural charisma and base cunning allows him to establish a rudimentary communications network all the way to the outskirts of Paris. He also maintains a private study in the Tuileries Palace. This study contains a dizzying array of records and maps, tracking Napoleon’s movement across Europe and back. Every night, without fail, Ferdinand will sit at his desk and scribble on about one topic or another, reflecting or speculating about esoteric, abstract topics. When the Coalition marches into Paris, Ferdinand will remain stiff and cold, even when his father hugs him perfunctorily. His records will be taken into the Imperial archives. Hello! This is a rehash of a previous thread. Basically, I released quite a few concepts rather prematurely in the old thread, and was generally inexperienced. Plus, that thread is dead. And I've tried to change the concept a bit. Ferdinand is still born; his physique is still pretty bad; but he's not completely retarded, so I reckon that counts for something. I welcome any and all graphics, since I'm personally quite shit at this sort of photo-editing. Hope you enjoy.