Napoleonic Victory Fragments

napolonic-europe-1815

The League of Europe, 1815

I’m currently working on a real post about Napoleon Bonaparte filled with actual history but as that has been delayed due to various reasons, I’ve decided to tide over my hordes of screaming fans with some creative writing. These are my Napoleonic Victory Fragments! The conceit is that they are excepts from history books written in a world where Napoleon won. I hope you find them amusing. 

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CHAPTER THREE: THE CONGRESS OF FRANKFURT (1814)

The degree to which the Continental System and associated French economic warfare brought about the British capitulation has long been debated, and this volume will not abstain from that discussion. Still, the deciding blow to British counsels certainly came on the 21st of June, 1813, at the Battle of Vitoria. When news reached London that the largest British army yet put into the field had been routed, and that the Marquess of Wellington was dead, financial markets plummeted. When, mere weeks later, word arrived that American troops had destroyed York, the capitol of Upper Canada, spirits sunk even lower. The news that Sir Thomas Graham had surrendered the remnants of the Anglo-Spanish army at Bilbo on July 11th was the final straw, and the Cabinet voted to agree to discuss the possibility of a peace settlement. It was not that British war capacity was exhausted that brought about this decision, but that it had become apparent that a British victory would take decades more. No more continental powers remained to take the field against the Corsican: Prussia was broken beyond recovery, Austria was bound to France by ties of marriage, and the Franco-Russian Alliance had proven surprisingly resilient. Finally shorn of puppets, British arms had dared take the field against the Titan—and had been cast down. Today, Britain’s concession seems foredoomed, but we should remember that even then peace negotiations could have broken down……

…….the Final Act of the Congress of Frankfurt was a massive document, understandably so given that it was an attempt to bring about a final solution to twenty-one years of general warfare. Essentially, the Congress was an attempt to balance the interests of three powers: Britain, the French Empire, and Russia. That France was the clear victor of the Wars gave them an advantage at the negotiating table, but not an insurmountable one: Czar Alexander I still possessed an unbeaten army poised at Europe’s throat, and Britain’s occupation the French colonial possessions and ongoing naval blockade proved a powerful bargaining chip……

….the terms were complex in the details, but simple in the abstract: with minor adjustments, Napoleon’s redrawing of the map of Europe were accepted, as were he and his siblings various Royal and Imperial titles. French suzerainty over the Continent was formalized in the creation of the new ‘League of Europe’, a free-trade and mutual defense association whose hereditary presidency was to be vested in Napoleon Bonaparte. The Austrian Empire was forced to accept membership in this League, though this blow was softened by Napoleon’s ‘magnanimous’ decision to reduce by half the indemnity they owned under the Treaty of Schönbrunn from 85 million francs to 40 million francs, and to guarantee Austrian commercial access to the Illyrian ports. Of the West European powers still outside the Napoleonic Sphere, Sweden and Sardinia were able to remain fully independent, though the House of Savoy was forced to finally relinquish claims to Piedmont. The Kingdoms of Portugal and Sicily entered the League, though both retained their preexisting defensive alliances with the United Kingdom (an unusual situation that would not be resolved until the Oporto Crisis of 1884). The question of the Papacy was answered delicately—the Papal States were not restored to sovereignty, but the Pope was given direct ownership of most of the major public buildings of Rome and the right to appoint the city’s ruling Councilors, as well as a yearly stipend of 2 million francs. Napoleon was granted the title Lord Protector of the Church.

The Russian Empire, of course, received much more consideration than any western nation. Russian territorial gains in Bialystok, Tarnopol, Bessarabia, Finland, and Persia were recognized, and the sovereignty of the Duchy of Oldenburg and several other small German states ruled by the Czar’s relatives were re-affirmed. In addition, the Septinsular Republic (a French protectorate) would grant a 99-year lease on the island of Antikythera to the Russian navy, giving the Czar a base in the Mediterranean. A Treaty of Amity and Friendship between the Russian Empire and the League of Europe was to be signed, and ‘legitimate Russian interests in the Balkans’ were to be protected. In addition, the Russian Empire was given rights of policing and intervention in the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, to prevent Polish irredentism. Likewise, Great Britain came out of the Congress with ample compensations for her loss. Though the Electorate of Hannover’s loss was acknowledged, the House of Hannover was awarded ownership of many of their mediate estates there, and the French Empire agreed to pay Great Britain a onetime lump sum of five million francs. In addition, Napoleon managed to avoid his mistake from the Peace of Amiens, signing a liberal trade agreement with Britain that opened up the Continent to British goods once again. Moving beyond Europe, the colonial settlement reached was quite favorable to the British, though Napoleon avoided undue losses through the expedient of trading away the colonies of his allies. As a result of the Congress of Frankfurt, Britain annexed St. Thomas, Tobago, Ceylon, the Seychelles, Cape Colony, São Tomé and Príncipe, Spanish East Florida, and received recognition of its rule in Belize. France picked up rights to Spanish Hispaniola, and Spain was obligated to sell West Florida to the United States as part of the settlement of the Second Anglo-American War.

It is questionable whether any of the signatories of this Peace intended to honor it for more than a few years, but events soon spiraled out of anybody’s control…

  • Excerpts from The New Caesars: Bonaparte and the Making of the Nineteenth Century

 

CHAPTER FIVE: THE REGENCY (1824–1832)

As late as the summer of 1823, Napoleon still spoke openly of the coming Christian Crusade against the Ottoman Empire, but it was clear to all that he was dreaming. Negotiations with the Russians broke down repeatedly, and the Emperor’s illness grew obvious to all as he spent more and more time in Paris…..

…….On May 5th, 1824, His Imperial and Royal Majesty passed away, leaving as his heir a fourteen-year old boy…..

……In hindsight, the event seems to pass almost without incident; riots in Genoa and Turin, minor uprisings in the Spanish and Naplolese highlands, and though a few vaguely revolutionary pronouncements from minor German princeling were issued, nothing much came of it. However, we must remember that at the time, it seemed likely that all of Europe was about to erupt at the death of the Corsican Ogre. That it did not is an accomplishment not of destiny, but of the prompt establishment of a Regency Council, an achievement not so easy as one might think. Paris was rife with factions, each seeking to seize power for itself, and each determined to block its rivals. More than a few of these factions were led by Marshals and enjoyed military support. Quite likely, fighting in the streets of the capitol was only avoided by a last-minute compromise between several of the major power-groups, achieved at the famous Meeting at the Tuileries on May 12th. None of the founders held official government posts, and their authority was questionable, but together they could command the support of the Old Guard, the civil ministries, the Bonaparte Clan, and the royal family itself. It is highly likely that the Senate would have happily ratified the Council’s creation, even without the presence of several brigades of Imperial grenadiers in the city.

The resulting Council was a large and fluctuating body, usually consisting of between fifteen and twenty men, but for the entirety of its existence it was dominated by the four individuals who met the fateful day: Minister-at-Large Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Marshal Michael Ney of the Grande Armée, Joseph Bonaparte I, King of Spain and Mexico, and the Archduchess Maria Louise, the Empress Dowager.

Historians often overlook the Regency, sandwiched awkwardly as it between the shining glory of Napoleon the Great’s conquests and the pomp and splendor of the High Napoleonic Era that would fill the middle 19th century. But it’s importance in stabilizing the regime cannot be overstated. Of primary importance is King Joseph I and his liberal reforms. Freed of his brother’s influence, Joseph sought to bring the same freedoms he had introduced into his Spanish dominions north of the Pyrenees as well. Under the Regency, regular elections for the Chamber of Legislators were finally held, and appointments to the Senate were made to most of the Empire’s grandees. Joseph was not a republican, but he believed firmly that the propertied classes must be given a stake in the regime and a voice in Imperial Councils. Joseph loosened censorship laws, pardoned political prisoners, and allowed the formation of a Loyal Opposition, so long as it avoided Lèse-majesté or open attacks on the legitimacy of the state. This liberal tendency should not be overstated, as the brutal suppression of the Le Meurice plot of September, 1828 showed, the Regency Council was still able and willing to crush its opposition. Still, as the remainder of this chapter will show, the successes of Napoleon II and Charles Joseph I were unlikely without the Josephine Reforms.

Of equal importance were Talleyrand and Maria Louise’s efforts to stabilize the international situation. As of Napoleon I’s death, the situation with Austria remained tricky. She remained a powerful country, ruled by an ancient and native House, but she had been humiliated repeatedly during the Wars of French Supremacy (1792-1813), and Bonaparte had done little to assuage her during the years of peace that followed. It was the Regency Council that worked to truly make Austria “the bride of France and the mistress of Europe”, in Talleyrand’s famous words. Hapsburg officials were appointed to high-ranking positions in both the League and the Confederation of the Rhine, and Imperial French money was poured into helping the House of Hapsburg build up an international merchant marine and network of colonial outposts to compensate them for their territorial losses in Europe. Despite Emperor Franz I’s high hopes, his daughter was never able to secure the return of the Illyrian Provinces (with the exception of the cities of Cattaro and Ragusa, which were retroceded in 1825), but France supported Austrian military-diplomatic efforts in the Balkans that led to de facto Hapsburg protectorates in Bosnia, Serbia, and Wallachia. It should be noted that despite decades of rumors, it has never been proven that Talleyrand and the Dowager Empress were lovers at this time.

Meanwhile, Marshal Ney had a much more simple and straightforward task: to act as the Gendarmerie of Europe, a task admittedly made much easier by the 1818 British Revolution……

  • Excerpts from The New Caesars: Bonaparte and the Making of the Nineteenth Century

 

CHAPTER SIX: L’AIGLON TAKES FLIGHT (1832–1866)

Much ink has been spilled on the subject of Napoléon François Charles Joseph Bonaparte, i.e, His Imperial and Royal Majesty Emperor Napoleon II, much of it contradictory. If it is undeniable that he lacked the brilliance of his father, it is also undeniable that he was intelligent, studious, and determined to do right by his people and family. His youthful demands that he be allowed to cover himself in martial glory like his father were unfortunate, and his assumption of the personal command of the Algerian Expedition of 1835 was a disaster that led to the annihilation of the 19ème Régiment des Dragons at the Chott el Hodna, it be must be acknowledged that he learned from his mistakes: never again he would countermand one of his Marshals on the field of battle.

There are other criticisms of course, but all of them must be more or less qualified. He was more interested in the pageantry of high society than the hard work of government, yes, but he appointed competent ministers and left them to their work. He had a temper, true, but he was rarely cruel or arbitrary in his dealings. Disregarding youthful adventurism, he pursued an admirably conciliatory foreign policy, cooperating with the British Commonwealth to abolish Caribbean Slavery in the 1830s, mediating the peace to the Third Anglo-American War (1842-1845), and enforcing the General Arms Embargo on the Confederacy during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Politically, he attempted with moderate success to continue the liberalizing policies of his uncle Joseph; though these were generally abandoned after the 1848 German Revolts, he does deserve credit for undoing some of his father’s most reactionary legislation and restoring female property ownership and divorce laws to the French Empire (though many credit his friend and confidante Princess Sophie of Bavaria for this).

Undoubtedly, he was not the man most would have chosen to be Master of Europe, but it is clear that he made an admirable effort to rise to the challenge. This can be seen almost immediately following his assumption of full powers on March 20th, 1832…..

  • Excerpts from The New Caesars: Bonaparte and the Making of the Nineteenth Century

 

CHAPTER EIGHT: THE FOUNDATIONS TREMBLE (1893-1905)

Charles Joseph I’s death in the spring of 1893 marked the end of the direct Napoleonic line of descent, but there was no reason at the time to think it any other sort of demarcation point. When his cousin King Napoleon I of Holland was coronated as Emperor Napoleon III of France at Notre Dame cathedral the following month, the ceremony was presided over by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII in Carolingian style, and attended by the kings of Bavaria, Saxony, Westphalia, Naples, and Spain, the Emperor of Austria, and more dukes and princes than could be counted. No one who stood there that and watched the assembled crowned heads of Europe pay solemn tribute to the young emperor would guess that within a year he would be dead, gunned down by an anarchist’s bullet on a street corner in Brussels, and that six months later the largest war in nearly a century would be raging across the Mediterranean world.

Though undeniably dramatic, the emperor’s assassination is far less important to the events that followed than a long and tedious series of diplomatic maneuverings in the foreign ministries of St. Petersburg and Istanbul that had been going for years by this point. No doubt it was disorienting for both the French and their fellow Europeans to see a third branch of the Bonaparte Dynasty occupying the Tuileries within two years, but Crown Prince Victor of Westphalia (soon to be Emperor Victor Emmanuel I) is rightly regarded as the most capable sovereign of the Empire since Napoleon himself, and the actual impact on government policy was generally limited to the creation of several dozen new martyrs for the French left. Contrarily, when Czar Peter IV order Russian troops across the Danube on November 3rd, 1894, the war that followed resulted in over a million deaths, the virtual destruction of the Ottoman Empire, and a complete shift in the balance of power, ending eighty years of effortless Imperial French domination, and throwing the world into a sort of geopolitical chaos that would not really end until the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese war.

The roots of the Great Eastern War (1894-1899) can be traced back as far as the reign of Empress Catharine the Great if one wishes, but begin in earnest at the 1808 Congress of Erfurt, where Napoleon I had rather rashly promised Czar Alexander that……

  • Excerpts from The New Caesars: Bonaparte and the Making of the Nineteenth Century

 

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CHAPTER THREE: LET THE CANNONS ROAR

President Clay did not want war with the British Commonwealth, but by September of 1842 he was probably the only American who didn’t. Unlike far too many of his compatriots, Henry Clay was an astute observer of European politics, and he knew that the odds were against the American Republic. Britain desperately desired victory in a foreign war to wipe away the shame of their defeat in the Wars of French Supremacy and had spent twenty years preparing for it, while Emperor Napoleon II had made it clear that he would not intervene in any North American colonial dispute. For Clay, neither the St. John river valley or Oregon Country was worth the risks a war would entail. Unfortunately, the choice wasn’t up to him. Following the ‘Aroostook Incident’ that summer, war fever had swept the nation, and both the Whig and Democratic Parties now demanded war. Threatened with revolt within his cabinet, President Clay reluctantly requested a Declaration of War from Congress, who enthusiastically voted in it with only a few dozen votes against. As the cheering crowds filled the streets of Washington, President Clay is reputed to have muttered to Secretary of State Webster “This damn war! If they want to kill each other so much, why’d they have to involve me?”

Across the Atlantic, the reaction of the Commonwealth’s leader was quite different. Prime Minister Robert Peel gave a rousing speech to Parliament, promising victory. “Let the cannons roar!” he famously bellowed. Parliament nearly unanimously voted war credits for the government and the mobilization of the National Militia, several divisions of which were immediately embarked for the Canadas, along with three squadrons of the Home Fleet to blockade the American shores. The only opposition came from elements of the Radical Liberals, many of whom felt that the Republics of the world ought to form a common front against Monarchism and Bonapartism, but they were easily overwhelmed by the Conservative Coalition, the Liberal Unionists, and the right and center wings of their own party….

  • Excerpts from Fire on the Frontiers: The Third Anglo-American War, 1842-1845

 

CHAPTER TWELVE: DOWNFALL

…….Reconvening in Philadelphia after their inauspicious flight from Washington D.C and the advancing British marines, the U.S Congress then launched one of the most farcical incidents in American politics. Declaring that the recent defeats suffered by the United States could only be explained by treason at the highest levels, Representative William Henry Haywood Jr. (D-NC) introduced articles of impeachment against President Clay on November 16th, 1844. Clay’s disapproval of the war had never been a secret, and now dozens of Democrats (and not a few Whigs) rose in the drafty courthouse temporally enlisted as a Capitol Building to level charges of treason and incompetence at the President. After the year of disasters that had come before and the weeks of terror as the government fled, it seems likely that many Congressmen were eager to find a target upon which to vent their spleen. After only two hours of debate, the articles passed on a vote of  159 to 64. With the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court being absent, the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was drafted to preside over the Senate’s impeachment hearings, a questionably legal decision that would quite likely have invalidated the entire proceedings if Clay had not been too dignified to press a legal challenge. The next day, the Senate voted to convict, impeaching President Clay on charges of treason by 29 to 25.

President Clay, for his part, knew nothing of this, as he was still in Baltimore attempting to organize a new American defensive line north of Annapolis. When a messenger arrived from Philadelphia bearing the news, his initial reaction was disbelief. When convinced of its veracity, he swore violently for several minutes, then collapsed into a nervous faint. He would not fully recover for several days, at which point he departed for his Kentucky estates, forswearing politics forever.

Meanwhile, back in the new capitol, the new president, William Henry Harrison inaugurated his regime with a three-hour speech to Congress outside of Independence Hall, in which he swore to vigorously prosecute the war and drive the invaders from American soil. Unfortunately, it was raining that day. President Harrison soon came down with severe pneumonia, dying on December 14th. A baffled Senate President pro tempore  Willie Person Mangum was sworn in as President that day by the Chief Justice, who had finally caught up to the retreating government.

As the Year of the Three Presidents drew to a close, President Mangum was not in an enviable position. The American invasion of the Canadas had been decisively stopped, and though an American garrison still held out it Montreal, Commonwealth forces now held almost all of the State of Maine, as well as the cities of Buffalo and Rochester. The British Navy’s blockade had paralyzed U.S commerce worldwide, N.Y.C and Boston had been repeatedly bombarded, and British marines had seized New Orleans and Washington D.C. Thousands of former slaves armed with British rifles roamed the fields and swamps of South Carolina and Georgia, burning and killing virtually as they pleased. Only in Florida had American arms been universally successful, and even there the U.S occupation forces were being bled white in endless skirmishes with the Seminoles. And worse was to come: word would not reach Philadelphia for several months yet, but General Taylor’s invasion of Oregon had come to an ignominious end at the Battle of Spokane Falls. Left to his own devices, President Mangum would likely have begun peace negotiations that Christmas, but the specter of Clay hung over him. The war would continue for six more months, and tens of thousands would die uselessly.

  • Excerpts from Fire on the Frontiers: The Third Anglo-American War, 1842-1845

 

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: LEGACY & AFTERMATH

Since before the ink dried on the Treaty of Paris, Americans have been attempting to assert a victory in their third great conflict over the North American continent. Apologists for this position will invariably make the claim that, while the United States was forced to cede all claims on the entirety of Oregon Country and the Aroostook – Madawaska region of Maine, the American Republic did not truly surrender any sovereign territory to the foe, as both these regions were merely ‘disputed border provinces’. Meanwhile, the British Commonwealth ceded East Florida to the U.S.A, thus making the war at the very least an inconclusive draw and perhaps even an unlikely American triumph. If my colleagues will forgive me for my bluntness, this claim is completely specious.

It is true that both of the regions ceded to Commonwealth control by the 1845 Treaty were ‘disputed’ but it is also true that the United States considered them integral parts of their territory—else why go to war for them with such fanfare? As for East Florida, it is true that Britain allowed the United States to purchase it for the munificent sum of £15,000,000, a thinly-disguised indemnity if there ever was one. And even for that, the sale included neither the Florida Keys or St. Augustine, whose citadel remained untaken throughout the entirety of the war (the U.S.A purchased it in 1906 for an additional £500,000). No, unlike either of its predecessors the Third Anglo-American War was a clear victory for Great Britain. But however historically foolish this debate may be, it serves the very important purpose of demonstrating an important truth: the great effects of the war of 1842 were not geopolitical or economic, but psychological. To the British, it partially restored the confidence lost in Frankfurt in 1815. For the Americans, it directed attention away from expansion and towards internal issues, leading directly to the outbreak of Civil War a mere fifteen years later….

  • Excerpts from Fire on the Frontiers: The Third Anglo-American War, 1842-1845

 

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INTRODUCTION

……but whatever one’s political views, one cannot deny that Bonapartism is a syncretic philosophy, perhaps because Napoleon I never consciously set out to create a philosophy, but rather to gather together whatever props he could find to support his decidedly shaky throne. As J. Christopher Herold puts it in The Age of Napoleon, “Whether it was politics, the arts, the sciences, religion, or history—whatever the subject of his inquiries—he never approached it with a desire to gain knowledge but as an arsenal he could ransack for whatever weapons he required for his purpose.” Thus, the Bonapartists support dynastic monarchy, and one with an absolute authority the Ancien Régime never could have dreamed of possessing, and yet they base their claims to authority not on divine right of kings or hallowed tradition but on an almost Robespierren ‘will of the people’ that is not expressed through majoritarian  democracy but instead through the armed forces and a ‘national soul’ (Âme nationale), interpreted by the ruler. If Bonaparte can be said to have ended the French Revolution, then it must also be admitted that he brought about many of its most cherished objectives; meritocracy in the military and civil government, a comprehensive unitary legal code, and the abolition of feudal privileges. If this seems contradictory it is, but only until you abandon any coherent political ideology and attempt to judge things solely from the perspective of ‘what increases Napoleon I’s power and makes it easier for him to rule’.

Bonapartism is often described as ‘centralized egalitarian monarchy’. This is not strictly true—it should be ‘centralized egalitarian autocracy’. The Bolivarian regime in the Republic of Gran Colombia (1821-1852) was certainty Bonapartist in nature, and the American Bonapartist Party has never advocated for the establishment of a monarchy (merely a military dictatorship). But given that Bonapartism’s strongest bases have always been in Bonaparte-ruled Imperial France and her sister kingdoms, this conflation is unsurprising. It has been said that only Bonapartism could have allowed monarchy to survive into the 19th century. This may be true, if so, it is also true that Bonapartism laid the foundations for monarchy’s destruction….

  • Excerpts from An Intellectual History of Napoleon Bonaparte

 

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CLAUSOWITZ: A CASE STUDY

 

…….there is some evidence that the young and impetuous Clausewitz took part in one of the filibustering freikorps that bedeviled the northern Germanies throughout 1815-1817, but if so, he was discreet enough about it that no charges were ever filed, and by 1819 he was certainly back in regular Prussian service, assigned to the staff at the War College in Berlin……

……like many Prussian officers, Colonel Clausewitz chafed under the restrictions of the French-imposed Concert of Europe, and burned with a fierce desire to restore Prussian power to the heights it had achieved during the preceding century. In 1827, he took the route of so many of his colleagues, and applied to be seconded to the colonial ministry for overseas service. His request was granted, and he was named governor-general of Preußische Kamerun, then nothing but a string of trading posts hacked out of the jungles along the banks of the Wouri river and the Gulf of Guinea. With only two regiments of infantry and an artillery battery he sailed from Stettin on July 5th, arriving in Fredrick-Wilhelmshaven six weeks later. He would never again see his native land.

Clausewitz spent the next nine years of his life in a whirlwind of activity. In a series of initial campaigns, he either destroyed or forced into submission the major coastal tribes. From their remnants, he raised battalions of askaris, strengthening his forces enough to push Prussian control into the interior. In 1833, he founded the town of Neue Magdeburg on the Nyong river, nearly 300 kilometers away from the colonial capitol, and began construction on a road between the two (thought it would not be completed until 1852). He encouraged the establishment of cocoa, coffee, and banana plantations, and built schools for both the settlers and the native population. By the time of his death of malaria in 1836, Kamerun was undoubtedly one of the most successful European colonies in Africa.

Two years after Clausewitz passed away, his wife published his unfinished writings on military theory, titled simply On War. Amongst military professionals, the book was a nearly instant sensation, and generals in Prussia, Austria, and the Confederation of the Rhine seized upon its precepts as proof that the French did not have a monopoly on martial prowess, and as a path towards regaining military supremacy, or at least parity. In the French Empire, the book was initially banned due to its rather vicious criticisms of Emperor Napoleon I, but within a year a censored version was on the curriculum at the École Militaire and the École Saint-Cyr…….

  • Excerpts from Up From The Ashes: Blücher, Bismarck, and the Revival of the German National Spirit

 

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BYZANTIUM, PATRIARCHATE OF: The Patriarchate of Byzantium is an ecclesiastic state under an Imperial Russian protectorate, centered around the Sea of Marmara and the city of Constantinople. Byzantium’s head of state is the Patriarch of Constantinople, guided and assisted by the Russian Ambassador, and the nation is run according to Orthodox Christian law, though freedom of worship has been guaranteed to its Muslim inhabitants since 1908. The Patriarchate has land borders with the Tsardom of Bulgaria to the northwest and the Turkish Sultanate to the east, as well as an oft-disputed maritime border with the Hellenic Kingdom.

Byzantium officially considers itself to be the successor state to the Eastern Roman Empire, a position internationally disputed but supported by the Russian Empire and the Principality of Armenia. The Patriarchate was officially founded on Easter Sunday, 1898, during the Great Eastern War, and received international recognition under the terms of the Treaty of Alexandria in 1899. Among the state’s most well-known accomplishments are the reconsecration of Hagia Sophia as a cathedral and the…..

  • Excerpts from the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 Edition

 

FIRST ITALIAN UNIFICATION PLEBISCITE (1876): The First Plebiscite on the Political Unification of the Italian Peninsula was held by the League of Europe on May 22nd, 1876, the result of decades of agitation and demands by the Liga Liberale and other allied intellectuals. Voting was done on the principle of universal manhood suffrage, and the question put to the voters was: “Should the Kingdom of Italy and the Kingdom of Naples amalgamate into a single state?” Voting was not held in the Imperial Prefecture of Rome, the French Illyrian & Piedmontese provinces, the Kingdom of Sicily, the Republic of San Marino, or the sovereign principalities of Lucca, Pontecorvo, and Benevento, a fact much protested at the time.

The ballots were not fully counted until the following July, when it was announced that “No” had won a narrow victory of 17,000 votes. Immediately, accusations were made against both King Lucien I of Naples and the Italian Hereditary Viceroy Eugène de Beauharnais II of vote-tampering and election-rigging. Rioting broke out in Florence, Bologna, and Naples, and a dozen smaller cities, while a general strike was declared by the Tuscan United Industrial Workers. In Milan, the Senate Consultant withdrew its support from the government, and Eugène II was forced to govern by decree for the next two years. Peace was not fully achieved until Emperor Charles Joseph I deployed VI Corps of the Grande Armée across the Alps to restore order.

At the time, foreign observers mostly believed the charges made by the Liga Liberale, though more recently historians have begun to question…..

  • Excerpts from the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 Edition

 

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PART III: “SIR, I WILL NOT OBEY THAT ORDER”

 

….the unrest continued to grow throughout 1818, with protests occurring on a near daily basis in many cities. Grievances included oppressive working conditions in the factories, the Corn Laws and the associated high food prices, tyrannical land-owners, aristocratic incompetence, and a general charge of misrule leveled against the aristocracy. The outcome of that year’s general parliamentary election, announced on the 4th of August merely intensified the fury, with polls delivering a resounding victory to the Tories—a result that certainly never would have happened if the urban middle class and bourgeoisie had been enfranchised, to say nothing of the proletariat and the peasantry. Violent protests in London were met with volleys of musketry by the 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot, leaving seventeen dead. This was followed by Prime Minister Earl Liverpool’s introduction into parliament of a bill that would grant the government extraordinary authority to suppress ‘sedition’ and ‘treason’….

……the Manchester Convention was not, as many Whig historians have alleged, the first ‘nationally representative’ parliament in British history. The peasantry was completely excluded, as were most of the urban industrial workers, and the Irish boycotted the entire proceedings, as could be expected. The Convention consisted of the industrialists, the manufacturers, the merchants, the petty bourgeoisie—in short, the new middle class—in alliance with the more liberal members of the gentry, some scapegrace peers, and mid-ranking military officers. It was, however, the first parliament since 1678 to include Catholic representation, and it was far more representative than the ‘legitimate’ London Parliament….

……on November 17th, after two weeks of deliberation, the Manchester Convention declared itself to be the legitimate governing parliament of the United Kingdom, electing Robert Owens as Chief Minister of the Emergency Government…..

  • Excerpts from A Very Whigish Revolution

 

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CHAPTER FIVE: THE END OF THE SAKOKU

As the terms of the 1858 Treaty of Amity and Commerce show, the French Empire’s initial interests in Japan were marginal and wholly economic in nature. Ambassador Jean-Baptiste Louis Gros demanded trading rights for foreigners in half a dozen cities, extraterritoriality for French citizens, and the right to establish coaling and resupply stations for European whaling fleets, and showed little interest in the internal affairs of the Shogunate. For their part, the Tokugawa were well pleased with this arrangement, having only agreed to this western encroachment under duress, they still hoped to contain it to a few coastal enclaves. But as the years went on, pressure from both sides began to force drastic changes in this policy.

As the Russians consolidated their hold in Outer Manchuria, Kamchatka, and Alaska, and British influence in China and the Hawaiian Kingdom grew, the Quai d’Orsay increasingly looked upon the Japanese isles as one of the few potentially friendly regions in a hostile northern pacific. In 1862, a military convention was signed, leasing the Imperial French Navy land near Nagasaki to build a permeant base and sending several hundred samurai to train at the French war college, and starting in 1865, the Shogun was pressured into accepting an increasing number of French ‘advisors’ within his government. The Tokugawa would likely have put up a much fiercer resistance to this if they had not been so desperate. By the mid-19th century, the military feudalism of the Bakafu was starting to collapse under the weight of its inefficiencies, and the Shogunal court in Edo found itself relying on Imperial aid to prop up its regime, both legally and militarily.

Thus, it was a committee of French ministerial advisors who overhauled and modernized the Japanese tax structures between 1865 and 1868, and when the Tokugawa feudal levies crushed the Satsuma Revolt of 1872, they did so assisted by two battalions of the French Foreign Legion and the guns of the armored cruiser L’Orient. This created a vicious feedback cycle; the more reliant Edo became on foreign aid, the less legitimate it appeared to the daimyo and the samurai, and the more it needed that very same aid to reassert its lost authority. Meanwhile, in the League-administered Treaty Ports….

  • Excerpts from The Eagle and the Dragon: French Imperialism in the Far East

 

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2 thoughts on “Napoleonic Victory Fragments

  1. What a fascinating world! It reads like a true text. Perhaps we can’t trust what we read, even if it sounds good.

    That being said, this must be true since Britain clearly lost to Bonaparte, but managed to claim victory anyway and limit French domination in the second half of the century.

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