The Four Year War entered its final stage as Polish troops entered Prussia and Austria to strike directly at the heart of those nations. While the other countries had taken a lull in the fighting during the winter months, Poland had attacked there and then, knowing that that would be when Prussia and Austria would be at their most vulnerable. The Polish strike instantly sent the Prussian and Austrian High Commands into chaos, unable to fight back because they were so committed in the west. The situation was so bad that the 50,000 man Army in Prussia easily captured Posen on the 16th before heading straight for Berlin. Bavaria had to be stripped of troops which left the region ripe for attack which Pact forces did on the 21st, driving the Prussians out of Bavaria and into Saxony by the end of the month.
In Austria, the situation was even worse as Polish entry into the north had soon caused nationalistic sentiment to burst. Long suppressed by the Government, exploded in a tidal wave of destruction and rebellion. Unsure of what to do, the Austrian High Command sent all of its loyal troops that remained to the core territories of Austria and Hungary themselves, not wanting the two main regions of the Empire to be overrun. This had little effect upon the War in the north however as Poland ploughed through Galicia, sweeping away all resistance with its 40,000 strong Army. The French also managed to break through the defences around Venice as the Austrian forces retreated, overwhelming the remaining soldiers in the attack.
By the end of the month then, Prussia was scrambling to defend itself while Austria was crumbling under the Polish and French attack along with the nationalistic uprisings. The two German powers were unable to stop this as their defences were shattered and their enemies approaching. Now, only the two fatal strikes were needed to end the War…
As the Polish Army reached Berlin and started to lay siege to the city, the French Army struck into Dalmatia, destroying the Austrian forces that remained in the area. By the 9th February, Austrian diplomats were begging for a peace treaty although Prussia remained stubborn. Napoleon II himself wished for a lenient peace with Russia and Austria, not wanting to make the mistake of his father of leaving nations who were devastated and resentful of the French domination. He was not to get it however as, on the 14th, when he was in Nuremberg to discuss the outcome of the War with Meiningen Pact officials, the carriage carrying the Emperor was hit by a bomb, thrown by a Prussian nationalist who had lost his father in the previous War with France and two brothers in the fighting over the last year.
While the assassin was taken away for execution, Napoleon II was taken to Nuremberg Castle in order to get medical attention. After three agonising hours however, Napoleon II died due to his injuries and the last hope Prussia had of moderation went with him. The death if the Emperor happened tragically the day before the birth of his child, the Empress going to labour on the 15th and after eight exhaustive hours, gave birth to a son, inevitably named Napoleon III. After hearing about the death of her husband, the Empress collapsed in a faint and it took several attempts to revive her. The event left its mark on the Empress and Napoleon III’s later racism against Germans can easily be attributed to her attitude against those who killed his father and his mother’s ideas about them.
While France was sent reeling into a state of shock and mourning, the Siege of Berlin began with Polish forces bombarding the city with its artillery. The city was defended by a regiment of troops who did their best to stop the onslaught of the Polish attack but with little effect against the artillery aimed against them. Fires scorched the city constantly as the artillery shells struck the houses. Relief finally came with a Prussian Army of 48,000 to tackle the Polish threat and relieve the beleaguered city. The Polish Army withdrew to gather its strength and form a defensive position against the Prussians.
The Battle of Berlin would be the last major fight of the Four Years War. The Prussian Army was exhausted and ragged after a desperate month of marching in winter and morale was rock bottom. The Polish Army on the other hand, despite numbering less than the Prussians at 39,000 (Due to others being left as garrisons or to secure supplies), was much more motivated and had the advantage of being energised for the battle while also having the proper equipment to fight in the winter.
The Battle started as Prussian lines were struck with a general advance by the Polish infantry and a bombardment by the artillery. The Prussians, exhausted from their march, were only able to hang on as their ranks were gutted from the attack, gradually falling back as their numbers dwindled. The final straw came after three hours of battle when the Prussian cavalry attempted a break out attack against the Polish lines only to be violently thrown back after being repulsed. The cavalry fled back to the Prussian lines, causing chaos that was only amplified by a Polish cavalry attack which routed the entire Prussian centre. Before long, the entire Army fled to Berlin to escape the carnage.
The Prussian Army was followed by its Polish counterpart as the Army streamed to Berlin, hoping for refuge. The defences of the city were lifted to let the retreating forces gain refuge, a tragic mistake. The Prussian Army streamed in, causing chaos and rioting where they went, panicking so much that soon the entire city was in uproar. In this condition, the Polish Army found it easy to overcome the defences which hadn’t been thrown into chaos and storm into the city, taking it with few casualties. At least for them anyway, the rioting and crackdown on it causing no small amount of bloodshed.
With the fall of Berlin, the Prussian Government had no choice but to sue for peace, Pact forces also driving through Saxony made the situation beyond hopeless. On the 28th February, the Four Year War had come to an end, with diplomats from France, Spain, Prussia, the Meiningen Pact, Poland and the crumbling Austrian Empire meeting in the Versailles Palace to hammer out a final peace. It would be a damning one to those involved.
Two major political events occurred in this month, both on separate continents. The first was in Europe where the Kingdom of Italy was formed on the 12th with all the Italian territories being formed into one, despite the opposition of the Papacy. The infant Emperor was given the title King of all Italy along with being Emperor of the French. The movement brought greater support for the French amongst moderates and the common people who wanted a strong Italy. Although the Papacy opposed the measures, it could do little against the might of the French Empire.
The second event was the formal integration of the Shawnee and Sioux Nations into a single political block. Negotiations had been ongoing ever since the end of the fighting in North America regarding the form of the new nation. Although the city of Sawano Asiski kept its name and position as the political capital of the new Nation, the name had to be changed to that of a Sioux name in order to demonstrate the equality of both nations had in the Union. The name of the new Nation was Wanci Oyate (One Nation), the name symbolising that despite the differences the two nations had, they were still one whole nation, united. The Sioux Tribes were given seats in the Parliament (Renamed the Wanci Parliament) and the Europeanization of the Native Tribes continued, albeit with more than its fair share of arguments amongst even the Shawnee. The modernisation of the Tribes would stretch out over decades and produce some very interesting results.
On the 17th, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, securing peace throughout Europe but at a terrible cost for some involved. Poland, France and the Meiningen Pact all demanded their pound of flesh and a lot more. The Treaty changed the situation in Central and Eastern Europe for decades to come, securing the new shift in power. The Treaty was as follows:
1: Prussia was destroyed, completely. Poland cited their fear of being attacked and conquered much like the letters they had ‘found’ pointed to. The Meiningen Pact also wanted to demolish Prussia for their attack against them. As a result, Prussia was reduced to the single province of Brandenburg with Poland taking West Prussia and Posen. The Meiningen Pact took Saxony and the Northern provinces of Prussia up to Eastern Prussia where the German majority ended as well as laying claim to most of Silesia with Poland gaining the rest. As a final insult, Prussia was renamed as the ‘Kingdom of Brandenburg’, denying it its ancestral name.
2: With the collapse of the Austrian Empire, it was split into three separate Kingdoms as well as what France, the Pact and Poland took from it. France took the province of Dalmatia as well as the Venetian Territories and added it to the Kingdom of Italy; the Pact was secure with favourable border adjustments as it still had much work up north while Poland took Krakow and its territories, Lodomeria and Galicia while claiming the Czech and Slovak regions in a bid to present itself as a Pan-Slavic power against other national domination, much to the ire of Russia. The remainder or the Empire was split into the three Kingdoms of Romania, Austro-Hungary and the Kingdom of Serbs Slovenians and Croats. The latter being formed largely as a buffer against the Ottomans for Austro-Hungary who were dealt with more mercifully than their northern neighbour.
3: Brandenburg and Austro-Hungary were to pay indemnities of 10,000,000 francs each to Poland, France and the Meiningen Pact.
4: The Basque Territories were to be returned to Spain in return for a payment of 20,000,000 francs. France was quite relieved to be rid of the region, as only Napoleon II had wanted to hang onto the region and the French Government was relieved to sell it off. The move was hugely popular in Spain as after the disastrous North American War, the reclaiming of the Basque provinces actually restored a good deal of national moral. Spain could now finally turn to reforming the Federacion into a much closer knit system than it had been before.
The vast territorial changes were confirmed with riots breaking out in various Brandenburg towns and cities when the terms were discovered. But with the Polish Army still at Berlin’s gates, there was no choice. In a short few months, two of Europe’s great powers had been demolished and in their place, Poland had risen as the Titan in the East. France was secure in its dominance in the west while Central Europe was controlled by the Meiningen Pact, a great alliance that united Europe… for now.
The other two powers of Europe, Russia and Britain both reacted differently to the Treaty of Versailles. Russia, which was still in the throes of the Grand Isolation and was busy with overrunning Central Asia while establishing it’s dominance of Siberia anyway, made little noise over the Treaty although it raised its military presence in Western Russia noticeably and started to distrust Poland further regarding its ideas of being another Slavic power in Europe.. Britain on the other hand, was privately dismayed regarding the outcome of the War; it had tried to pressure France and Poland into being lenient but to no avail. The balance of power had been destroyed and now the Triple Alliance reigned supreme in Europe which meant for a potentially highly volatile situation should they ever challenge British power…
The electoral reform issue reached boiling point as the Conservative Government was forced to pass a piece of legislation that enforced the law of there being an election at least every four to five years. The pressure had come from Liberals and the common people who wanted a say in the Government after over a decade of the Conservatives in Government. It was a minor concession really but it was combined with a promise for an election to take place next March. Peel was unsure of the chances of victory, although the successful War had improved the popularity of the Conservatives; the issue of electoral reform had greatly eroded said popularity. Although it seemed unlikely to be a Conservative victory in the election, it did appear that it would be a close run thing…