WI: Franco-Prussian alliance in 1805?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Old1812, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. Old1812 Member

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    In August 1805, not long before the War of the Third Coalition, France extended an offer of alliance to Prussia. It mainly consisted of Prussia taking Hanover in exchange for an offensive-defensive alliance. Russia was preparing troops to cross into Prussian territory on 28 September, with or without consent. In any event, King Frederick William III was not interested, despite Hardenburg and Brunswick's counsel. He even recalled Christian von Haugwitz, the anti-French former foreign minister to resume his position.

    One possible POD is for Haugwitz to die. One of his stated reasons for leaving was poor health (but it was clear professional embarrassment had much more to do with it). FW3 could start relying on the pro-French Hardenburg, sending Prussia into the French camp.
     
  2. John Fredrick Parker Donor

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    This would be a really bad deal for Prussia; it would mean acceding to French control of pretty much all the other German territories, and would give them nothing in return save the "support" of royally pissing off the British Empire to boot. If Prussia could get better terms, a detente or even alliance with Napoleon might be possible, but there would have to be some mutual respect first, which likely doesn't come without some kind of military altercation.

    (Possibly relevant TL you might want to check out, where this issue comes up; they also reach military parity with the French, which has a lot of great potential in its own right.)
     
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  3. Old1812 Member

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    Assuming France still wins the War of the Third Coalition, I can see two possibilities that work in Prussia's favor:
    1) Napoleon and Frederick William "share" powers over the Rheinbund (to what degree I have no clue). Perhaps they both agree to be "Protectors". Unfortunately, I doubt this will work out though, considering Nappy's personality. It's also unrealistic - Napoleon's entire reason for creating the Rheinbund was to have a pro-French buffer in Germany, he'd surely balk at sharing this with Prussia.

    2) Prussia forms its own North German Bund, probably comprised of the Thuringian states, Hesse-Kassel, and Mecklenburg-Schwerin, among others.

    (Just in case anyone's wondering, I'm getting my info from Brendan Simms' The Impact of Napoleon.)
     
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  4. Indicus Raianus Indicorum

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    Prussia, with an army more horrible than anyone could have guessed, will be defeated big-time on the battlefield by the Coalition. Its only real hope is that it will be kept afloat by French military prowess, which I think is possible.

    In many ways, Prussia may be an albatross around France's neck, unless it gets its shit together and reforms its army.
     
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  5. Old1812 Member

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    See Spain for the results of what happened when Napoleon lost patience with one of his allies.
     
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  6. Indicus Raianus Indicorum

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    It won't be like Spain. It'll look more like OTL Prussia, with a country highly reduced in size and with a Polish population (which consisted of half of Prussia's population post-Third Partition and pre-Vienna) that is, at least, initially, highly supportive of him.

    Also, I recall that Napoleon planned to partition Prussia. Here, he may do so in anger. As seen here, Prussia was already puny post-1806.

    Here, he may very well give Silesia to Austria (depending on when this is) and break up the remainder, reducing Prussia to a small coastal country with no hope of ever regaining its power. Without Prussia as a significant Coalition member, I suspect the end result would be Napoleon winning the Napoleonic Wars.
     
  7. Old1812 Member

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    My remark about Spain was in jest, but point taken nontheless.

    But I digress - IS there a realistic way France and Prussia could have been allied through the Napoleonic Wars, or at least the War of the Third Coalition?
     
  8. Indicus Raianus Indicorum

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    There certainly is, but I do not imagine Prussia being a very valuable ally, instead being one that Napoleon feels held down by after the unreformed Prussian army gets crushed by the Coalition.
     
  9. FillyofDelphi Well-Known Member

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    Well, its possible, but it'd involve discarding the banner of Polish Nationalism. You can't exactly be promising independence to your ally's biggest and most recently conquered minority. Perhaps it could come as the result of an Austro-Prussian spat (The two were making conflicting claims in Poland at the time, and had troops staring eachother down). Britain sides with Austria, so Prussia naturally looks to France for support. If Vienna also continues to insist the Holy Roman Empire exists, perhaps hosting rival governments to those in the C.o.t.R, this could also be a point of contention that leads to France to see Prussia as a useful partner.

    In that case, I'd expect to see Austria get more mutliated than IRL, where Napoleon tried to make allies out of them. Maybe he backs Magyar Nationalism instead of Polish?
     
  10. Indicus Raianus Indicorum

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    He did back Magyar nationalism IOTL, offering Nikolaus Esterhazy the Hungarian throne. Hell, if anything, Hungary was more nationalistic than Poland before the Duchy of Warsaw, with several intellectuals being Hungarian Jacobins and notable Poles like Antoni Radziwiłł coming quite close to successfully pushing an accommodation by pushing for an autonomous Kingdom of Poland from the territory of the Second and Third Partitions.
     
  11. Old1812 Member

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    In reading Simms, it seems Prussia was fixated on acquiring Hanover (it was crucial to securing North Germany). Also, fears with Russia were definitely on the minds of FW3 and Hardenburg. While there were many more Prussians that were anti-French besides Haugwitz, he was the foreign minister FW3 relied on the most. Have Haugwitz die in early 1805 and Hardenburg and Brunswick might persuade the King that Prussia needs Hanover bad enough to join up with France.
     
  12. FillyofDelphi Well-Known Member

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    I diden't know that. Thank you for providing that information.

    If I recall correctly, Napoleon DID offer Hanover as a bribe to Prussia, but diden't finalize the deal because he considered returning it to King George III as part of a more permenant settlement with Great Britain. Having Britain reject any offers of even a temporary peace would go a long way to making the sign-over more appealing from a French perspective as well.
     
  13. Old1812 Member

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    I apologize for not clarifying, I was talking about the offer France made in August 1805, I believe you're thinking of the later Hanover crisis.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  14. longsword14 Well-Known Member

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    The Prussians had a war party that got stronger after 02/12/1805, when he went and reshaped Germany. POD should fall somewhere around that with Prussia getting some goodies.