After years of suffering from mental illness, King George III passed away in his sleep, his body succumbing to its own collapse. His death was widely grieved in Britain while actually celebrated in places such as Ireland and America. With the death of his father, the Throne was clear to be taken by George Frederick or George IV as he would become. The once promising young man was by now obese, lazy and rabidly anti-Catholic much to the dismay of the more Liberal elements of the Government. Realising that any lifting of the draconian anti-Catholic laws would be even more difficult with George IV on the Throne, Castlereagh decided to take action.
On the 30th January, flanked by many Liberal Ministers and even the Duke of Wellington, Castlereagh confronted the King about Catholic Emancipation. At first, the King refused to even listen to the Ministers, his own prejudices coming to the fore. Only the Duke of Wellington was able to get through to the King, stressing that the King would be seen as tyrant by refusing his Catholic subjects the right to live freely when other nations had emancipated their subjects completely (Religious Emancipation was enacted in France and her satellites, Poland and most recently, Spain).
Constantly barraged on all sides by the Ministers and Duke, the King finally relented and agreed to give his consent to a Catholic Emancipation Bill when it was passed by Parliament and the Lords. The Ministers then left, believing a job had been well done and their victory was complete. While the more Conservative elements of the British Government would split blood at this move, the ground had been laid for Emancipation and little else could be done.
After two months of wrangling, the Catholic Emancipation Bill was passed through Parliament and after a lot of double-dealing and back-door pressure in the Lords; it is passed there as well. Only Royal Consent was needed to allow the law to pass and to that end, Castlereagh requested that the Duke of Wellington to be there to pressure the King into giving the consent. It was a good thing he had done so for King George had come close to changing his mind about the whole affair.
Though difficult, Royal Consent was finally granted to the bill and for the first time in over a century, Catholics were allowed to live freely in Britain once more. There were some cases of rioting against Emancipation but they were eventually put down. The Catholics were there to stay.
A new nation was created on the 3rd as the Spanish government was forced to recognise the Republic of Mexico as a sovereign nation. The twelve year rebellion against Spanish rule was at an end with the signing of the Treaty of Cordoba which recognised the new Mexican Republic. While somewhat dismayed at losing such vast amounts of land, various Liberal elements in the Spanish government were quite glad to see the end of the Mexican problem, the problems of governing and modernising Spain making Mexico a much lower priority than reorganising Spain’s internal problems. The latest in a line of successful independence wars, there was an undercurrent of feeling that something had to be done if Spain was to retain its status as even a second-rate power.
Despite that though, there were those in the Spanish government who were sympathetic to the Liberal side of the new Mexican and gave some silent support in the early days, seeing a friendly nation on the border of their American territories would be preferable to a belligerent one. Due to the support of Spain (And later on, Britain), the conservative factions of Mexico were never able to mount a serious threat to the Liberals, lacking the resources granted to their rivals.
With the advent of a new country created from a former Spanish colony, many feared that the move would create equally powerful rebellions and resolved to find a way to keep their colonies close to the homeland. The solution was suggested by suggested by Carlos de Seville, a thirty three year old Liberal from Cadiz who had risen in the new regime with vigour. Inspired by the American model, Seville proposed an ‘Imperial Federacion’ of Spain and her remaining colonies.
Seville proposed that the Spanish Empire would be unable to hold on to their territories in the New World by force of arms and therefore, needed to find some way to convince the colonies to stay Spanish. The only way to do this then was to allow the colonies a say in their own affairs as well as the Empire’s. Seville in fact, proposed that the Spanish Empire should no longer be an Empire, but a federation of nations.
The proposal was radical and meant a huge change in the way Spain governed her overseas territories. The proposal was seized by the Spanish government however who, seeing the rising influence of Britain in Asia, wanted to regain the old glory and saw the Imperial Federacion as the way to do it. After a three day debate, messages were sent to the leading elites of all remaining American colonies and invited them to a conference in Cuba in January 1821. There, negotiations would take place between the representatives from all sides in order to gain an agreement on the Imperial Federacion. Hopes were low but, as Seville himself headed to Cuba on behalf of the Spanish government, there was still some chance an agreement could be reached.
In the German countries, the Treaty for a new Confederation had finally been hammered out between the eight countries of Westphalia, Bavaria, Wuttemberg, Saxony, Oldenburg, Baden, Berg and Saxe-Meiningen. All of these nations sought to be independent of French, Prussian and Austrian domination by binding themselves closer together with the Treaty of Meiningen, a Treaty abolishing trade tariffs between the nations and pledging mutual support in any military endeavour.
The Treaty was secret in order to prevent the ire of both Prussia and Austria against each nation. While the Treaty was going to be made public, it wouldn’t be until the new German Confederation was confident enough that it could support itself.