Code Geass Fanon Wiki

European Union
800px-Flag of Europe svg

Anthem: Ode to Joy

Motto: Varietate in Concordia

(Unity in Diversity)


Paris (Western), Vienna (Eastern)

Official Language

French, German




Supra-national Confederation

Head of State

Tripartite Presidency/single Consulship

Head of Government

Chairperson of the Supreme Council

Upper House

Supreme Council

Lower House

Central Hemicycle


500,000,000 approx (Member States)



The European Union is a superpower in Juubi-K's Code Geass fanworks.


The EU's primary Member-states include all states in what is traditionally considered Europe. Associate states include Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria.


The French Revolution[]

Historians still debate precisely what date should be given for the true birth of the European Union, or of the chain of events that brought it about. It is nevertheless clear that the modern union was born from the events of the French Revolution; itself an event too broad and complex to be concisely covered here.

Suffice to say, that from a period of 1798 to 1793, King Louis XVI of France went from being the all-powerful monarch of one of Europe's most powerful and wealthy nations to a condemned prisoner, executed by guillotine before a cheering crowd. His death marked the beginning of the end of a social order that had broadly persisted since the fall of Rome, and the birth of the world's future superpowers.

Though reviled as a monster it the end of his life, Louis XVI has since been reconsidered as a well-meaning incompetent; wanting to help his people, yet unable to take on the aristocratic vested interests that enriched themselves on France's wealth while the poor spent most of their income on food, and by 1789 were facing mass starvation. His good intentions would not save his authority from the fall of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, or his freedom from the slaughter of his Swiss Guards on 10 August 1792.

For in April of that year, revolutionary France had declared war on several of its neighbours; including the Holy Roman Empire, Prussia, Spain, Britannia, and the Dutch Republic. With its armies ill-disciplined and left leaderless by the flight of aristocratic officers, France found itself in deadly danger; until on 20 September 1792, French forces finally repulsed a Prussian army at Valmy. The event proved a national sensation, and allowed the increasingly radical National Convention to declare a Republic the very next day. Louis himself would be executed in January of 1793, having been found guilty of "conspiracy against the public liberty and the general safety". His wife Marie Antoinette - one of the most misunderstood figures in French history - would follow him to the guillotine in October.

From June of 1793 to July of 1794, under the control of the Committee of Public Safety, France entered a period remembered as the Reign of Terror. Somewhere between sixteen and seventeen thousand people were executed as counter-revolutionaries - on the basis of circumstantial or tainted evidence - while as many as forty thousand died without trial or awaiting trial. This dark time, a forerunner of later totalitarian regimes, ended only with the downfall and death of the Committee's principal figure; the lawyer and Jacobin ideologue Maximilien Robespierre. The government that followed was led by a five-man Directory, overseeing a bicameral legislature; in an attempt to create a more sane and stable republic.

Directory and Consulate[]

It is at this point that one of the pivotal figures in European and world history finally made his entrance. In spite of the repeated failure of Britannian-backed Royalist invasions, the arrival of Charles Philippe, Comte d'Artois, on French soil galvanised the Royalist movement. Ill-feeling towards the Convention was widespread, with Royalists taking the lead. On 12 Vendemiare (4th October), while Muscadins and other Royalists demonstrated in the streets, six sections of Paris declared against the Convention, and mobilised their National Guardsmen. This uprising might well have succeeded, if not for the frantic efforts of two particular individuals. One was Joachim Murat, a cavalry officer who managed to fight his way through to Sablon and return with forty cannons left there by de Menou. The other was a Corsican artillery officer, who had given Murat his orders to fetch the guns, and who would command them in the fighting to come. His name was Napoleon Bonaparte.

Born on the island of Corsica in 1769, a year after it had been transferred from Genoese sovereignty to that of France, Bonaparte was destined to seek his fortune in the service of France. Educated in Autun from 1779, and the military academy at Brienne-la-Chateau, his childhood was lonely and marred by bullying; often over the Italian accent he would never quite shake off. He nevertheless coped through a combination of bloody-mindedness and rambunctious self-confidence. His success at Brienne took him to the Ecole Militaire in Paris in 1784, from which he graduated after only one year to be commissioned in the La Fère artillery regiment. Like many artillery officers, a highly educated and professional bunch by the standards of the time, he developed an interest in reform and revolutionary politics, becoming a member of the Jacobin club. His first attempt at playing politics was in his native Corsica, where he served as a lieutenant-colonel of Corsican militia under the command of the nigh-legendary nationalist leader Pasquale Paoli. After trying and failing to overthrow Paoli - whom he believed to be a Britannian agent - Bonaparte was forced to flee with his family to mainland France in June of 1793.

Despite this failure, great things awaited Bonaparte. He won fame at the Siege of Toulon, gaining a reputation as a dynamic leader and skilled tactician. Promoted to Brigadier General, he was given command of the artillery of the Army of Italy. The campaign of 1794, based on his plans, drove the Austrian Empire from northern Italy, winning the War of the First Coalition for France. But the fall of Robespierre left his career in limbo, and even as he dispersed the Royalists with a 'whiff of grapeshot' on 13 Vendemiaire, the Convention was turning itself into a new government; the Directory. The new government was distinctly modern, with a bicameral legislature and an executive made up of five Directors. It nevertheless proved unpopular, in part because so many of its members were formerly of the Convention, including some of those who signed Louis XVI's death warrant. Fearful of being assassinated if they tried to return to private life, the Directory's members held onto power by any means necessary; to the point of ignoring their own 1795 Constitution, overriding unfavorable election results, and using the army to suppress dissent.

The Directory's one saving grace was military success, in which Bonaparte played a considerable role. After marrying Josephine de Beauharnais in March of 1796, Bonaparte returned to Italy as commander of the Army of Italy. He found a badly-supplied and demoralized army, and led it to some of his most spectacular victories. Early in 1798, perhaps hoping to stay out of the ever-paranoid Directory's way, Bonaparte proposed the invasion and conquest of Egypt. On the way, he made a brief detour to capture the island of Malta, defended by the Knights of Saint John. Bonaparte landed in Egypt in July, and defeated the Egyptian Mamluks in a series of brutal battles. Even when a Britannian fleet under Horatio Nelson destroyed his supporting fleet at the Battle of the Nile, Bonaparte continued his advance north into Syria. Despite capturing several towns, he failed to capture the vital fortress of Acre, and was forced to withdraw his plague-ridden army into Egypt. In 1799, having heard of French military defeats in Europe, Bonaparte managed to return to France. He returned to a hero's welcome, and although technically guilty of desertion, the moribund Directory was too weak to punish him.

Bonaparte was by this point convinced that the Directory had to go, and he was far from alone. With the help of his brother Lucien, he formed an alliance with two of the Five Directors; Joseph Fouché and Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès. Other co-conspirators included Foreign Minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, and Roger Ducos, Speaker of the Council of Five Hundred. On 18 Brumaire (9 November), Lucien told the two councils that the Jacobins - who had been driven from power in June - were planning a counter-coup. The councils took his advice and moved to the Chateau de Saint-Cloud, while Bonaparte himself was given command of all local troops. Sieyès and Ducos resigned as Directors, and pressured Paul Barras to do likewise. The remaining two Directors, Louis Gohier and Jean-François-Auguste Moulin, were arrested and forced to cooperate.

By the next day, the two councils had realized that they were facing a coup. Despite being surrounded by Bonaparte's troops, they refused to cooperate with him or his co-conspirators. When Bonaparte faced the Council of Five Hundred, he was physically assaulted and had to be rescued by his escort of grenadiers. Lucien told the troops outside that armed deputies were threatening the rest of the council, pointing to Bonaparte's injuries as proof. In a gesture that would echo in history, he put his sword to his brother's heart and promised to plunge it in if he ever proved a traitor. The grenadiers stormed the building and expelled the deputies. In the evening, a remnant of the Council of Ancients legalized the coup and invested power in a new tripartite Consulate, consisting of Bonaparte, Ducos, and Sieyès.

But Bonaparte was not content to let Sieyès take power for himself, or to share power with two others. In the months that followed he worked to consolidate his position, a task made easier by his standing with the army. A public referendum of 7 February 1800 confirmed the new constitution, which vested primary executive power in the hands of the First Consul, Bonaparte himself; leaving the other two with only nominal powers. Of the three legislative assemblies set up under the new constitution, only the Sénat conservateur had any real power. Bonaparte's position was further strengthened by a military victory at Marengo on 14 June, where his Consular Guards won fame. In December he took advantage of a royalist bomb plot to rid himself of republican as well as royalist opposition. He was assisted in this by Sieyès, now head of the Senate. By this point, First Consul Bonaparte was in effect the ruler of France.

Dawn of the Eagles[]

Napoleon's tenure as First Consul got off to a good start. Already an organisational genius, he unleashed his skills and drive on almost every aspect of French government and society. His reforms included a National Bank, a formal system of secondary schools, and a complete revamping of the legal system into the so-called Code Napoleon. He also settled France's complex relations with the Catholic Church with the Concordat of 1801, which acknowledged Catholicism as France's majority religion, granted it freedom of worship, and agreed to pay the salaries of French clerics. But in return, Napoleon reserved the right to appoint Bishops, required the clergy to swear an oath of loyalty to the state, and refused to return confiscated Church property. The Concordat nevertheless effectively ended the conflict between the new order and the Church.

But the peace was not destined to last. Britannia, now under the leadership of the dynamic and ruthless Elizabeth III, declared war in May of 1803. The reasons were both economic and psychological; not merely due to a fear of being locked out of European markets by Napoleonic domination, but a general feeling of having lost control. Britannia would not fight alone, however. Early in 1804, Louis Antoine, Duke of Enghien, was convicted and executed - on dubious evidence - for trying to assassinate Napoleon. This damaged Napoleon's diplomatic standing, and caused Sweden and Russia to side with Britannia.

But for all that, the final straw did not come until May of 1804. Despite his revolutionary background, Napoleon had become disillusioned with the idea of popular sovereignty. He believed that reason, not the popular will, was the ideal guarantor of good government. To this effect, he became convinced - or convinced himself - that France once again needed monarchical rule; but of a new kind, rather than the corrupt old monarchy of the Old Regime. On 18 May 1804, Napoleon was granted the title Emperor of the French by the Senate, and was crowned on 2 December 1804. To the powers of Europe this was one insult too many, made worse when he crowned himself King of Italy - using the Iron Crown of Milan - a year later. It was this that drove Austria - effective leader of the Holy Roman Empire - into joining the Third Coalition.

Napleon's response to these military threats was to gather a new army near Boulogne, with a view to invading Britannia. This Army of England, later known as the La Grande Armée, became one of the largest and finest in human history. With so many men in one place, and the invasion delayed by the need to defeat the Britannian Royal Navy, the army had plenty of time for training at all levels; allowing it to master complex movements and maneuvers in a way most of its European contemporaries could not. By 1805, it had grown into a vast force of 350,000, divided into independent Corps; each a free-standing army with its own infantry, cavalry, and artillery - usually between thirty and forty guns - capable of fighting its own battles until reinforced.

With the situation changing rapidly, Napoleon transferred the bulk of his forces east, for a campaign in southern Germany in support of his ally; the Electorate of Bavaria. Through rapid marching and and a fast wheeling maneuver, Napoleon defeated and captured an Austrian army at Ulm on 20 October. As a Russian army under General Kutuzov retreated to link up with surviving Austrian forces, Napoleon advanced on Vienna; capturing the city on 12 November. His subsequent and arguably greatest victory at Austerlitz - on 2 December 1805 - knocked Austria out of the war. Months later, on 6 August 1806, the Holy Roman Empire - which had endured for almost a thousand years - was finally dissolved; replaced with a French-led Confederation of the Rhine. Emperor Francis II continued to reign as Emperor of Austria; having declared the separate title in 1804 for just such an eventuality.

But Austerlitz was not Napoleon's only triumph in 1805. His attempts to defeat the British Royal Navy and gain control of the English Channel would finally bear fruit in that same year. After years spent largely trapped in port by the Royal Navy, French and Spanish fleets finally managed a full-scale breakout in March and April. Combining under the command of Admiral Pierre de Villeneuve, the fleet sailed to the West Indies, only to sail back to Europe in June with a Britannian fleet - led by an exasperated Horatio Nelson - in pursuit. Nelson managed to catch the allied fleet near Cape Finisterre, but the resulting action was indecisive. Villeneuve led his fleet to Brest, with a view to supporting the French invasion of Britannia, only to retreat to Cadiz when he mistook two Britannian warships for scouts from the Channel fleet.

Enraged, Napoleon abandoned his invasion plan and sent his troops east for the Ulm Campaign; he also ordered Vice-Admiral François Rosily to go to Cadiz and take command of the fleet. Unwilling to give up command, a desperate Villenueve led his fleet out of Cadiz before Rosily could arrive. On 20 October, Britannian frigates spotted the Franco-Spanish fleet leaving Cadiz, and Nelson prepared his fleet for action. His plan was customarily bold; splitting his fleet into two, and attacking the Franco-Spanish fleet in two columns, seeking to split it into three. For his own part, Villeneuve lost his nerve and attempted to return to Cadiz, only for the Britannian ships to catch him up near Cape Trafalgar.

What followed was one of the most mysterious and tragic events of the Napoleonic period. Accounts of the Battle of Trafalgar vary, but there is a general consensus that the Britannian battle plan broke down at a crucial point, with several ships seemingly attempting to leave the battle prematurely. Explanations for this range from a panic to a communication era - very easy in an age where ships communicated via semaphore flags - to outright treachery. In truth, the battle was a confused melee with both sides suffering heavy losses; but it was the death of Horatio Nelson, shot by a French sniper, that made it a French victory of any kind. The battle caused outrage in Britannia, made all the worse when HMS Cadmus returned to port without her captain and several senior officers, and her seemingly mutinous crew defended themselves with talk of an aristocratic conspiracy. For his own part, Napoleon was unimpressed by the costly victory; and although he could not punish Villeneuve immediately, he never forgot his insubordination.

Britannia Falls[]

Despite the damage wrought on the British fleet at Trafalgar, and the loss of Nelson, it would take two more years before France could invade Britannia. Napoleon spent much of this period distracted by the War of the Fourth Coalition - against Prussia, Russia, Saxony, and Sweden. This he ended swiftly, defeating the Prussians at Jena and Auerstadt, and driving the Russians out of Poland; making peace with Tsar Alexander at Tilsit in July of 1807. This gave Napoleon just enough time to rush back to France and take command of a new force set aside for the invasion. Meanwhile, Britannia was wracked with political disorder; as Queen Elizabeth III struggled against aristocratic vested interests and growing public anger over the conduct of the war. The Cadmus Affair had caused a public outcry, with the Royal Navy seeking to execute the mutineers while the wider public demanded their exoneration. Elizabeth's intervention on the side of the mutineers enraged the officer corps and the aristocracy in general, with many officers resigning in protest. To make matters worse, French naval strategy since Trafalgar had been to wear down what was left of the Royal Navy; destroying its remnants piecemeal before they could unite.

The invasion began in August of 1807, with a series of landings along the south coast. These landings were supported by a force of hot air balloons; commanded by Napoleon's Chief Aeronaut, Sophie Blanchard. Contrary to popular myth, Napoleon did not seriously intend to land troops via balloon - Blanchard herself had shot down such suggestions - and nor was this the first aerial bombing raid. Some balloons did drop small, hand-held bombs as part of an experiment; but they caused little damage. The role of the balloons was primarily reconnaissance, though their presence contributed significantly to a mass panic along the coast. The first troops to land were units of light infantry and cavalry, whose job was first to screen the landings, and then to launch raids against nearby villages and towns; securing food and terrorizing the locals, adding to the general panic. Accompanying the landings were French combat engineers, who busied themselves with preparing fortified camps. Meanwhile, the local aristocracy - whose responsibility it was to organize the initial defense - dithered or argued among themselves; some pulling militia units away to defend their estates, others fleeing as quickly as their movable goods could be loaded. Any prospect of halting the invasion early - already a slim prospect - was lost.

But Elizabeth knew her nobles only too well, and had made her defense plan on the assumption that they would prove unhelpful. As word spread of the French landings, regular army and militia units mobilized and assembled in designated towns and cities; bringing their munitions and supplies with them. Interference by aristocrats and trouble-making by the lower orders - including pro-French agitation - complicated this process. But even as Napoleon took Portsmouth and managed to secure the south coast, he found himself faced with fortified towns and cities, protected by substantial garrisons. Though they could not hope to stop him, they were doing a fine job of slowing him down; exactly as their Queen intended. To make matters worse, the landing process was taking much longer than Napoleon had envisaged; a symptom of his lack of understanding of naval matters. Elizabeth further complicated matters by ordering a policy of 'scorched earth'; the removal or destruction of all foodstuffs from the French line of advance. Thanks to local resistance and aristocratic dithering, this policy was not carried out consistently.

Elizabeth's defense of her kingdom was hamstrung by two interconnected factors. One was the conflict between military necessity and public image, while the other was her increasingly bad relationship with the nobles and their interests. Her decision to move her government from London to York - though wise from a military point of view - damaged public morale and convinced many that Britannia was already lost. Also, her nobles became increasingly enraged at having their lands and property abandoned to the French or else destroyed; to the point where some ignored her orders or actively tried to prevent their fulfillment. Elizabeth either did not understand their concerns or did not care; knowing that defeating a monstrosity like the Grande Armée required defense-in-depth.

Napoleon took London in late September; and found the government, all soldiers, and the Bank of England's gold reserves gone. Perhaps realizing the situation he was in Napoleon began to take more risks; sending more and more of his light troops out in search of enemy armies, and trying to lure them into battle. He finally succeeded at Haslingfield near Cambridge; when a Britannian force attempted to ambush his advance corps. But Napoleon was forewarned thanks to Blanchard's aeronauts, and he crushed the Britannian force before moving on to take Cambridge. While Marshal Soult pushed west through Wessex, Napoleon made one last advance towards York, hoping at least to cover as much ground as possible before the winter.

But the Britannian were not beaten yet. As Napoleon's vanguard approached Grantham, they encountered an army of 50,000 under the command of Sir Arthur Wellesley. Born into an Anglo-Irish gentry family, Wellesley had won fame as a soldier in India, playing a crucial role in the defeats of both Mysore and the Maratha Confederacy. This reputation made him attractive to Elizabeth; who sought for alternatives to the aristocrats who had caused her such trouble. Summoned back from Ireland early in 1807, Wellesley had been granted command of a reserve army based in Lincolnshire; which he quickly set about licking into shape. By early October, when the reserve became the front line, Wellesley's mixed force of regulars, militia, and amateur 'Volunteers' was ready for battle. At Grantham, he halted the French vanguard with a reverse-slope defence, then threw them back; only to be forced to retreat days later as Napoleon's main army approached.

Grantham was a much-needed boost for Britannian morale, but it was also Britannia's last hurrah. As Wellesley had his troops dig in around Lincoln, he learned that Elizabeth had headed north on a tour of inspection, intended to culminate in a brief stopover in Edinburgh. On top of that, he found himself under pressure from a clique of aristocratic officers, led by General de Bourgh, to support an attempted counter-attack on Napoleon's main army. Wellesley was under strict orders to attempt no such thing, and in any case knew that de Bourgh's force - made up mostly of militia and volunteers - was no match for Napoleon's battle-hardened troops. He pleaded with Richard le Bretan - the Queen's Chief Minister and current lover - to constrain de Bourgh and his confederates, but le Bretan ordered Wellesley to support the attack. The battle, near Fenton, was a disaster for the Britannians; though Wellesley and his army fought well and were able to escape the rout.

Emperor and King[]

But for all that, Britannia might yet have triumphed, but for the events taking place in Edinburgh at that very moment. Elizabeth had set herself up at Edinburgh Castle, intending to direct the assembly and training of the troops before heading south. News that the French had become bogged down in Norfolk gave her hope. But she found Edinburgh incompetently administered, with food in short supply and the military logistics hopelessly disorganized. As word spread of their Queen's arrival, citizens of Edinburgh began to gather outside the castle, calling for bread and relief of their poverty. The gathering was peaceful at first, but the Edinburgh Revolutionary Council, as one of the local political clubs now called itself, started agitating among the crowds.

When the authorities tried to calm things down, the Revolutionaries unleashed their rank-and-file, a mixture of criminals, destitute weavers, dispossessed highlanders and other unfortunates. Edinburgh was plunged into chaos, and Elizabeth found herself besieged in the castle, with supplies for only a few days and no way to call for help. The Revolutionaries attempted a bluff, persuading the exhausted and despairing Queen that they were in control of the city, and that if she did not accede to their demands, then they would either storm the castle or leave its occupants to starve. Telling a tearful Sir Walter Scott "be off Sir Walter, I will not see you hang", Elizabeth signed both the abdication and an order for all troops to lay down their arms.

So sudden and unexpected was this victory, that the Edinburgh revolutionaries did not know what to do about it. Indeed, some historians have suggested that the abdication was a deliberate ploy by Elizabeth to escape from her imprisonment and rally loyal forces. If so, then it was a desperate and ultimately unsuccessful one. By the time Richard le Bretan famously rescued her, it was already too late for her to regain control. In those parts of the kingdom not under French occupation, law and order had broken down as word of the abdication spread. Revolutionary mobs rampaged through town and countryside in search of nobles and other 'enemies of the people'. They were opposed by a handful of remaining soldiers and militia, along with terrified townspeople and villagers who shouldered muskets and barricaded streets to defend their homes and property.

Bonaparte's response was to take ruthless advantage; pressing on until those Britannian forces unwilling to surrender were pushed back into the north of England. But even then, he was becoming unsettled at the chaos around him. To defeat Britannia's remaining forces was one thing, but to try and control a country collapsing into near-literal anarchy was quite another. Nearly three hundred-thousand French troops had been deployed to the British Isles - including the expedition to Ireland going on at the same time - and Napoleon knew that if they stayed there much longer, France's seemingly-pacified neighbors would start to get ideas. His best option was a negotiated solution, and in mid-November he managed to obtain a cease-fire from the Military Junta operating out of Newcastle. This done, he summoned the junta to a conference at the cathedral city of Durham, wherein he proposed a settlement. In return for Britannia subordinating itself to France and surrendering its colonies, he would allow Prince Michael - Elizabeth's youngest brother - to take the throne in his sister's place, and he would withdraw his troops. Seeing that they were not going to get a better deal, the Junta acquiesced.

Napoleon quickly set about returning his troops to the continent, leaving only a small garrison to oversee the handover. In the meantime, his small army in Ireland oversaw the establishment of a new Irish republican government in Dublin. The Irish campaign had been something of a sideshow; with its Britannian garrison having been largely withdrawn to the mainland. The French landings had been spearheaded by the Irish Legion; a cadre of Irish revolutionaries raised and trained by Napoleon in 1803, with a view to properly organizing Irish rebels in the event of an invasion. Following the new King Michael's recognition of an independent Ireland, and the withdrawal of the French troops, the Irish Legion formed the core of a new Irish army; and its leader, William Lawless, became Ireland's first Taoiseach, or Head of State.

King Michael's government faced extreme difficulty from its very first day. It faced opposition from both ends of the political spectrum; from hardline revolutionaries who wanted a republic, to hardline royalists who saw Elizabeth as the rightful Queen and Michael as at best a placeholder, at worst a treacherous usurper. Rebellions for one side or the other would plague Britannia for nearly six years, with Napoleon doing little to help or hinder; seemingly content to let the Britannian fight among themselves. The survival of Michael's government - and of monarchy in the British Isles - came down largely to a messy compromise between the monarchy and an increasingly assertive Parliament. This compromise reduced Michael to a Constitutional Monarch with limited powers, but nevertheless gave him popular legitimacy in the new age. His sincere concern for the wellbeing of the common people helped considerably

The Spanish Crisis[]

With Britannia crushed, French dominance in Europe was beyond dispute. Napoleon had taken a terrible risk in launching his invasion so late in the year; but the payoff was handsome indeed. For seventeen years, Britannia had been Revolutionary and then Imperial France's most stubborn and persistent enemy; fighting with money where it could not fight with men and ships. But without those funds, for Napoleon's remaining rivals to take him on was a much taller order. Concerned primarily with its own survival, the Austrian Empire was inclined to keep the peace. Prussia was resentful, but in no position to take France on alone. Far away in the east, Russia watched with suspicious eyes. To the west, Spain and Portugal seemed safely at heel. As 1807 passed into 1808, the peoples of Europe could have been forgiven for thinking that peace would finally break out.

But it was not to be. Just as Napoleon felt himself able to direct the development of his empire, complications arose in Spain. For many years Spain had been a reluctant but faithful ally of France, and the victory at Trafalgar and the defeat of the Britannian had seemed to cement that bond. The living symbol of the alliance was Manuel Godoy, Prime Minister and favorite of King Carlos IV and Queen Maria Louisa; a complex and slippery character in a complex and slippery age. Having reputedly gained Royal attention through his singing and guitar playing, he was accused more than once of having affairs with the Queen. But he was also a capable politician and administrator, who enjoyed the complete trust of the less-than-capable King Carlos. In 1801, as Captain-General, he led Spanish troops in a joint war with France against Portugal; a minor affair known to history as the War of the Oranges, which along with Britannia's defeat left Portugal cowed.

But for all Godoy's apparent power, he was not without enemies. In Spain he was far from universally popular; being seen in some quarters as a French puppet, or the power behind the throne. Trade disruption caused by the war, and Godoy's policy of siding with atheist France against Christian (if Anglican) Britannia only deepened public ill-feeling. Matters came to a head when rumours spread of a secret treaty with France, one intended to divide up Portugal and deliver Spain into the hands of Napoleon. It is known that Godoy had negotiated the so-called Treaty of Fontainebleu with France over the previous years, intending to divide up Portugal and grant himself one of the largest portions; the Kingdom of the Algarves. But Napoleon never ratified such a treaty, and his own writings strong imply that he never trusted Godoy. It may have been that with Britannia - Portugal's oldest ally - finally defeated, Napoleon felt that Portugal was no longer a threat; and that with so many troops tied up in Britannia, he did not want to provoke further troubles for the moment.

Nevertheless, opposition to Godoy finally erupted into violence in March of 1808, in the so-called Mutiny of Aranjuez. At Aranjuez, where Godoy and the Royal family were staying, rebellious citizens and soldiers attacked and stormed Godoy's residence, capturing him. The King was also captured, and forced first to dismiss Godoy, and then to abdicate in favour of his son, Prince Ferdinand of Asturias, who was also Godoy's most senior enemy. Promptly acclaimed as King Ferdinand VII, Ferdinand sought desperately to win Napoleon's recognition. But the Emperor was having none of it; indeed, he may have relished the opportunity this represented. Summoning both Kings to Bayonne, he forced Carlos to abdicate in favour of himself, and imprisoned Ferdinand; a move the Spanish government ostensibly accepted.

Napoleon's increasingly transparent attempts to take control of Spain provoked a national uprising, as the provinces rejected the authority of the Council of Castile - the central governing body of Spain - and raised their own forces. Napoleon responded by naming his older brother, Joseph, as the new King of Spain in June of 1808. Finding himself overwhelmed, Joseph attempted to abdicate a month later in the hope of being freed from his onerous new title; but Napoleon was having none of it. He invaded Spain with nearly three hundred thousand troops, double-enveloping and crushing the Spanish forces through November of 1808. By December, Joseph had been restored to his unwanted throne, and Napoleon soon afterwards captured Seville, and then Portugal. With Austria raising a new coalition against him, Napoleon was forced to return to France, leaving Joseph to fight on as best he could. The so-called 'Peninsular War' that followed would prove a brutal stain on Napoleon's legacy.

In the opening months of 1809, Napoleon led his forces against the Austrian Empire, which with the defeat of Britannia and the occupation of Spain found itself largely without allies. Nevertheless, the Austrians subjected Napoleon to one of his few major battlefield defeats; at Aspern-Essling on 21st May. After six weeks of planning and preparation, Napoleon attempted another crossing of the Danube; this time successful. He then faced the Austrians near the town of Wagram in the first week of July. The battle that followed lasted two days, and proved a costly but decisive victory for the French. It also cost Napoleon the loyalty of one of his marshals - Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte - whom Napoleon dismissed for abandoning the crucial village of Aderklaa in the face of heavy artillery fire. This would come back to haunt him later.

Amid the Winter's Snow[]

For central and eastern Europe, three years of peace followed; with the signing of the Treaty of Schonbrunn in October of 1809. Only in the Iberian Peninsula was the French Empire troubled, and even then only in parts. Portugal and the coastal cities remained under firm French control, resupplied by Napoleon's now-indomitable Imperial Navy. From there, French and allied forces maintained networks of garrisons in towns and cities, connected by military roads and lined where necessary with forts. Only the wilderness remained to the guerilleros, from which they fought on as best they could; supported by whatever funds and arms their exiled King Ferdinand VII and the similarly exiled Queen Elizabeth of Britannia could smuggle past French naval patrols. But although they seemed to achieve little, they kept the war on the boil, tying up hundreds of thousands of French and allied troops.

But for all that, Napoleon was confident; perhaps too confident. He and his empire, though seemingly at the height of their glory, were in truth in the early stages of decline. France had expended considerable resources to fulfill his ambitions - both human and material - and her allies had been squeezed hard in turn. Napoleon himself was no longer young, his body and mind beginning to fail. It was time to think of stability, and of the future. To that effect, he married the Archduchess Marie Louise, daughter of Emperor Franz II of Austria, on April 1st of 1810. Obedient and trustworthy, she was the wife he had always wanted; and on 20 March 1811 she fulfilled her primary function by giving birth to a son; Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles Bonaparte. The French Empire had an heir at last.

Nevertheless, storm clouds were gathering in the east. The Treaty of Schonbrunn had unsettled the Russians, especially for transferring Western Galicia from Austria to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. Russian generals began to draw up war plans, a fact that soon found its way to Napoleon. But even then, it took little to convince him to act. Having swept all enemies before him, even the mighty Britannian Empire, he believed himself invincible. With Russia one of the few powers left that might concievably threaten him, and some Polish territory still remaining in Russian hands, war with Russia soon took on its own logic.

Napoleon spent nearly a year planning and preparing for what was meant to be the greatest campaign of his career. The army he raised was vast beyond compare, numbering nearly seven hundred thousand troops, and supported by thousands of wagons, with entire cities turned over to the gathering and production of supplies. Having studied past attempts to invade Russia, Napoleon concluded that his troops must be kept well-supplied at all times, and that he must not advance too far and too quickly. He planned to take and fortify Smolesnk and Minsk, then winter his army in Vilnius; having first destroyed the Russian army in the field.

But all did not go as he intended. Even as his army crossed the River Niemen in June of 1812, his overworked wagon train simply could not keep the men supplied. Oppressed by heat and disease, and with the outmatched Russians retreating before them, the French had no choice but to march on; suffering and dying all the while, as heavy rain turned the crude roads to thick, swamping mud. Though he succeeded in taking Smolensk in August, and then Moscow in September, these gains came only at brutal cost; most especially at a battle fought near the village of Borodino on September 7th. Moscow itself proved a disappointment, the population having largely fled, and the city itself was set on fire by volunteers left behind by the Russians.

After weeks waiting for a Russian capitulation that would never come, Napoleon finally gave up and withdrew from the city, leading his army out of Russia. The retreat was, if anything, even worse than the advance, made over territory already stripped bare by hungry French and retreating Russians. Hunger and cold claimed countless lives, and Russian partisans and Cossacks harrassed the invaders wherever and whenever they could. Of the around seven hundred thousand troops that entered Russia under Napoleon's command, only twenty-seven thousand returned. Although the men and cannon would largely be replaced during 1813, the wagons and trained horses could not be; leaving Napoleon's army dangerously weakened.

La Reve Passe[]

For Napoleon and his empire, it was the beginning of the end. He soon found himself under attack by the so-called Sixth Coalition, whose key members were Russia, Prussia, and Austria. This would have been bad enough had they not been joined by the Spanish and Portuguese governments-in-exile, as well as Sicily and Sardinia. Most shockingly of all, the coalition included Sweden - now led by his former subordinate Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. Ireland professed loyalty, but could do little to help, leaving Napoleon only Italy, Naples, Warsaw, and Denmark-Norway to assist him.

Napoleon was initially able to resist, defeating a larger army at Dresden. But his lack of trained cavalry prevented him from adequately following up his victories, and the Coalition's vast resources began slowly to tell. Matters came to a head in October, as Napoleon faced a Coalition army near the city of Leipzig. The resulting battle lasted three days, and included so many nationalities as to be dubbed the 'Battle of the Nations.' By the time it was over, Napoleon had lost around a hundred thousand men - losses he could ill-afford - and was in full retreat. In the days afterwards, the German states that made up the Confederation of the Rhine abandoned Napoleon and joined the Coalition, leaving his position even weaker. They followed in turn by Britannia and Ireland in the same year, and then finally Denmark-Norway in 1814.

With his armies disintegrating and his empire crumbling, Napoleon met his final end in March of 1814, when he was found dead in his chambers at Fontainebleu Palace. The cause of his death was officially suicide by poison, but has remained the object of speculation and conspiracy theory to this day. As news of his death spread, a provisional government, led by Talleyrand, began peace negotiations with the Coalition.

Though all were content to end the fighting, a major complication presented itself; namely what to do about Napoleon's infant son; Napoleon Francis, Prince Imperial and King of Rome. His grandfather, Emperor Franz I of Austria, sought to place him on his father's throne, with his mother - Empress Marie Louise - as regent. The other powers opposed this, putting forward alternatives such as Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte - despite him already being King of Sweden - Louis-Philippe, Count of Orleans, and even the exiled Bourbons, in the person of Louis XVIII. In the end, the Bourbons emerged as the compromise candidate, the arrangement being formalized in the Treaty of Paris. Further matters were to be resolved at a grand conference in Vienna.

The Congress of Vienna, as this conference would come to be known, met in Vienna in September of 1814, with a view to establishing a new status quo in Europe, and ensuring long-term peace and stability. The conference attendees were divided into inner and outer circles, the former representing the major powers, the outer the lesser. The inner circle consisted of Austria, Russia, and Prussia, with France later allowed in. The agenda included three main controversies; the state of north-eastern Europe, the Italian question, and the Britannian question. The foremost was mostly concerned with the status of Poland, which was claimed by Russia, and of Saxony, which was claimed by Prussia. The Italian question covered the status of the Kingdom of Italy. The Britannian question, meanwhile, covered the status of the Kingdom of Britannia, the status of its former territories, and who was to sit on its throne; the young King Michael, or the self-styled Emperor of the Holy Britannian Empire, Ricardo le Bretan?

A Parting of the Ways[]

The Saxon-Polish crisis proved, on the face of it, relatively easy to resolve. Russia would recieve the bulk of Poland, known as 'Congress Poland', while transferring a portion to Prussia as the Grand Duchy of Posen. Meanwhile, it was agreed that Prussia should at the very least recieve a portion of Saxony. But the Prussians had begun to realise the relative strength of their position, and were increasingly asserting themselves in northern Germany. They wanted the whole of Saxony, something the other powers were reluctant to allow, even against a former ally of Napoleon.

But the Britannian and Italian questions proved even more fraught. The vague consensus of the congress was that King Michael, who had occupied the throne since 1807, should continue as King; if only to preserve continuity. This nevertheless complicated the Saxon question, as Michael, like King Frederick Augustus of Saxony, had been an ally of Napoleon, if not a mere puppet. If Michael was to be forgiven and allowed to keep his throne, then how could the congress allow Saxony to be annexed by Prussia?

Matters were even further complicated by the arrival of representatives of the Holy Empire of Britannia, now led by Emperor Ricardo le Bretan. Ricardo claimed the British Isles in their entirety as his righful patrimony, citing both his blood tie to the House of Tudor, and the simple fact that the dying Queen Elizabeth III had named him her heir in front of witnesses. This was particularly trying for the congress. If Ricardo were chosen, it would mean ending the independence of Ireland, and granting an ancient throne to a parvenu on little more than the former occupier's say-so. If Michael were chosen, they would make an enemy of Ricardo, and Prussia's ambitions to annex Saxony would be stymied; potentially leading to war.

What settled the matter, ironically, was Ricardo's high-handed attitude. The death of Elizabeth - some say the only woman he ever truly loved - left Ricardo alone with his autocratic fantasies. He saw himself as a new Arthur, chosen by God and Destiny to build a new Camelot in the Americas; a pure and innocent society, ruled by strong and noble warriors, untroubled by industrial modernity or Enlightenment ideas. This led him not only to try and stack the deck against Michael, and to oppose Austria's attempts to place Napoleon's infant son on the throne of Italy, but to attempt to enforce a reactionary order on Europe in general. The result was to make enemies among many of the delegates, including the French Foreign Minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand Perigord.

Talleyrand had no intention of allowing the British Isles to become a satellite of Ricardo's Britannia. Between Ricardo's past and current behaviour, he was able to win over Spain and Austria fairly easily, though buying off Prussia required the handing-over of Saxony in its entirety; leaving Ricardo only Russia. It was Talleyrand in the end who pushed for the Congress to name Michael as King of Britain - as the former Kingdom of Britannia was to be known - with Ireland remaining as an independent republic. His justification for helping Michael and not Frederick was twofold; for one, Michael had been a helpless child when he fell under Napoleon's control, for another the alternative was to leave the British Isles in the hands of an obvious lunatic. Infuriated at this snub, Ricardo retreated into isolationism.

The Italian Question[]

For Austria, the Congress of Vienna did provide one satisfactory outcome; the confirmation of Austrian authority over northern Italy. As a result, Emperor Franz II was able to maintain the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy as a single entity; combining into it those Italian territories which Napoleon had directly incorporated into the French Empire, except those needed to recreate the Papal States. This done, Franz proceeded to place his grandson - Napoleon's son, Francis - on its vacant throne; with the boy's mother, the Dowager Empress Marie-Louise, as regent. For Austria this was a convenient way to keep northern Italy within the Habsburg patrimony, while giving its people at least the appearance of autonomy. It also allowed the young King to be a focus for Bonapartism; close enough that both Paris and Vienna could keep watch, yet far enough away to limit any potential threat.

It was not long before Habsburg Italy faced its first major crisis, this one originating in the south, in the Kingdom of Naples. The King of Naples was Joachim Murat, one of Napoleon's most famous marshals, granted the crown in 1808. Though the Congress of Vienna had allowed him to keep his throne, Murat never felt entirely secure. Dependent in practice on the dubious protection of the Austrians, Murat was convinced that, sooner or later, the European powers would turn on him. His rival for Naples, the deposed King Ferdinand IV, still ruled in Sicily. Murat's paranoia got the better of him, and in March of 1815 he led his army north into the Papal States; loudly promising to expel the Austrians, cast down the Pope, and unite Italy.

Though he effectively overran the Papal States within weeks, and even took Bologna, he was soon faced by a large Austrian and Italian army. Though some Italian nationalists joined Murat, most were either unconvinced by his promises or too fearful of Austrian military power. Murat was defeated at the Battle of Occhiobello in April, and again at Casaglia, forcing him to retreat south. A further defeat at Tolentino in May marked the end of his ambitions, and he fled in disguise to Corsica. With Neapolitan resistance crumbling, the Austrians marched into Naples and restored Ferdinand IV to his throne. In October, Murat made one last bid for power; landing at Pizzo with a handful of men. But the locals proved hostile, many blaming him for the suffering his ambitions had inflicted. Murat was captured, and executed in the town's castle five days later.

For a time, Italy and Naples seemed cowed. But from the north there would come a storm, in the form of King Francis I of Italy. The young king's childhood had been a difficult one at times, trapped between the conservatism of his Habsburg relatives, and the idealistic yearnings of Bonapartists; who hoped to see in him a reincarnated Napoleon. In some respects this was the making of Francis, for it gave him a unique perspective on European politics, and the broader currents shifting under the surface of European societies and cultures. Though he was never quite the reborn Napoleon his father's adherents hoped for, he displayed other admirable qualities. Though lacking his father's common touch, he made up for it with a regal dignity and grace, and by a remarkable lack of the arrogance and hauteur one might have expected. He nevertheless inherited his father's energy, combined with a serious manner and a keen intelligence. His abilities as a ruler were developed gradually, being granted limited responsibilities by his mother at the age of thirteen, and gradually increased before he finally took the reins of power at sixteen, in 1827.

As King, Francis quickly set about reforming and improving Italy; expanding upon his mother's more cautious policy. Though he did not go so far as to issue a constitution - his ageing grandfather would not permit it - he promulgated a series of liberal legal and economic reforms. He also paid particular attention to the army, expanding and reforming it in line with the latest thinking. Being more interested in technology than his father, he also rearmed it with the latest weaponry, including percussion cap rifles. His reforms and gracious manner made him popular with his people, and Italian nationalists began to see him as the one who would finally unite Italy. For his own part, Francis was ambivalent about nationalism. He understood it, but the influence of his mother and his Austrian tutors had left him with a sense of the dangers such passions posed. Marie Louise nevertheless had great hopes for her son, and furiously lobbied her father to make him his heir. With his own son Ferdinand a martyr to epilepsy, Franz II was open to the idea; though this caused irritation among the Bourbons of France, Spain, and Naples.

The Young Eagle[]

The fame of the King of Italy, Napoleon's son, spread far and wide; but was by no means universally welcomed. In France in particular, Francis' success and reforming zeal were met with disquiet; not least by King Charles X and his supporters. They had accepted Francis being made King of Italy on the understanding that he would be an Austrian puppet without real power, but this was clearly not the case. Austria had in any case not formally made any such promise, and Francis was in any case a Habsburg, even if only on his mother's side. Better half a Habsburg, many in Vienna reasoned, than none at all. It has also been suggested by some historians that Franz II was treating his grandson's kingdom as a laboratory in which to test liberal ideas at a safe distance from the Austrian crown lands.

Francis also made a point of befriending King Michael of Britain, whom he saw as a young King like himself. Britain at that time was undergoing a period of radical economic, political and social reform; under the leadership both of Michael and his increasingly assertive Parliament. Humilated and resentful, the British had turned their back on their aristocratic and Arthurian heritage - as embodied by Britannia - and sought to remake themselves as a modern, industrial, ruthlessly capitalist power. Francis was greatly impressed by the new industry, especially the railways, and sought to make similar reforms in Italy; though this process would take many years.

Matters came to a head in 1830, as conflict between Charles X of France and the French Chamber of Deputies became increasingly heated. Charles responded to its criticisms of both his government and the Church by tightening censorship, and in March he went so far as to dissolve the legislature altogether. But his government's attempts to maintain control proved ineffective, and unrest spread. At the same time, Charles was under pressure from his Bourbon relations, most notably the King of Two Sicilies - as the united kingdom of Naples and Sicily was known - to do something about the King of Italy.

Charles' response was to declare that the Kingdom of Italy did not exist, and sent a military expedition to dethrone Francis and break his kingdom up. But the ill-considered and poorly-planned expedition proved a disaster, with both French thrusts being defeated by Francis' troops at the Battles of Pinerolo and Fossano. This humiliation only deepened public unrest, and in July full-scale revolt finally broke out in Paris, bringing down the Bourbon monarchy before the crisis could spiral into all-out war. Charles was replaced on the throne by Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orleans; a very different character, who sought to rule as a constitutional monarch.

But Francis' war was not over. For to the south, the inconveniently-named King Francis I of the Two Sicilies had marched through the Papal States to invade his country in support of the French expedition. Enraged, Francis led his troops south at the first opportunity, clashing with the Neapolitans at Padua, Modena, and La Spezza. Flushed with victory, and reinforced by Bonapartist deserters from the French army, the Italian forces were victorious, and threw the invasion back. But Francis was not satisfied, and proceeded to invade and conquer Naples. His namesake King Francis fled to Sicily, only to die of sickness and old age in November. Faced with an impossible situation, the Sicilians gave up, and the House of Bourbon-Two-Sicilies fled into exile.

Francis was quick to claim the abandoned throne, and declared the Kingdom of Italy to widespread rejoicing; at least in Italy. But then he almost ruined himself by turning on the Pope, who had seemingly backed the plot against him. Pope Pius VIII was a mild-mannered character, but had nevertheless followed the reactionary line favoured by the Catholic Church's upper echelons at that time. It is possible that he had become so fearful of Francis' reforming agenda that he had acquiesced to the attempt to remove him; only to see it fall apart. In any case, by the time Francis was able to march on Rome, Pius was already dead; one of the shortest-reigning Popes in history. It was this, along with frantic warnings from his mother and grandfather, that persuaded Francis to relent. The Papal States had won a brief reprieve.

Indivisible, Inseperable[]

Francis' success were enough to set him among the mighty in Europe. But in conquering the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, he had challenged the system established at Vienna in 1815. Nor, for that matter, had his victory entirely satisfied Italian nationalists; for the Papal States remained intact, and the Papacy was now in the hands of Gregory XVI, an unrepentant reactionary and ultramontanist. For Francis to move against the Papal States was to risk the ire of Catholic Europe; including the all-important protection of his grandfather. To leave the Papal States alone was to disappoint and irritate the Italian nationalists who had hitherto seen him as their hero and hope. Faced with so difficult a choice, Francis ultimately favoured his Habsburg half, and allowed peace to break out. In any case, he had his eye on greater things.

For in 1835 his grandfather, Emperor Franz II of Austria, finally breathed his last. Shortly beforehand, he had finally given in to his daughter Marie Louise's persistent lobbying, and named Francis as his heir. Leaving his mother as regent, Francis travelled to Vienna, and was crowned as Emperor Franz III. Like his mother before him, not to mention several of his predecessors, Franz faced the difficult task of marking a middle path between reactionary conservatism and liberal progressivism; two political forces not often of a mind to co-exist.

Having grown up in Italy, a seemingly homogenous but deeply divided society, Franz was all too aware of the difficulties he faced. In Italy, there were in effect three societies; the often-reactionary nobility, the progressive urban population, and the conservative peasantry; a divide broadly replicated across his Habsburg dominions. The excesses of the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars, made the divide all the more intractable. Franz was a committed reformer, but nevertheless understood, only too well, that only the velvet glove of tolerance - over the iron fist of power - could persuade these factions to co-exist without excessive conflict.

Franz first got around the problem by ingratiating himself with the army; upon which he lavished great care and attention, not to mention significant reforms. His first major social reform was to almost entirely dismantle the system of censorship put in place by his Chancellor; Klemens von Metternich. This brought Emperor and Chancellor into conflict, though Franz appeased Metternich to some extent by allowing his secret police network to remain in place; albeit repurprosed for Franz's uses.

The loosening of censorship helped to relax tensions between the government and the intelligentsia, setting the stage for Franz's single greatest reform; a complete reorganisation of government ministries over several years. As part of this system, those institutions offering public services - such as schools and hospitals - were required to register with the appropriate ministries and submit to inspection. This allowed traditional institutions - such as monasteries, nunneries, and Church-run institutions - to continue to provide public services in regions where they were wanted, but ensuring government control. Secular alternatives could also be established, thus easing the Spiritial-vs-Secular conflict that had been bubbling for decades.

But the one thing that Franz wanted most of all was yet denied him; military glory. His chance would finally come in 1839, when conflict broke out once again between the Ottoman Empire and one of its own satraps; the Albanian military commander and governor of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha. In June of that year, an Egyptian army - led by his son Ibrahim - defeated an Ottoman army at the Battle of Nezib, and looked set to take control of Syria. Seeing an opportunity to assert himself, Franz took Muhammad Ali's side, and began to threaten the Ottomans. He was supported in this by Metternich, who may have seen an opportunity to distract his energetic young master for a while.

The main focus of Franz's efforts was the Ottoman province of Bosnia, which lay between Habsburg Croatia and Serbia; then a suzerain principality that had gained partial independence in 1817. The Imperial forces did not perform quite as well as hoped - with some reforms still filtering through the army - but the Ottoman defenders were soundly defeated, and Bosnia secured for Austria. Far more dangerous for Franz was the reaction of Russia, which threatened to enter the war on the Ottomans' side; if only to enforce its own claims on the Danubian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, not to mention Serbia. It took some quick diplomacy by Metternich to prevent a wider war. This situation, some historians argue, may have been Metternich's plan all along; to make Franz appreciate his necessity as a diplomat and political manager.

For all that, the outcome was clearly a victory for Austria, and for Franz. The 1840 Treaty of London awarded Bosnia to Austria, and restored Syria to the Ottomans; but formalized Muhammad Ali as the hereditary ruler of Egypt, ostensibly in the Sultan's name. The death of Sultan Mahmud II during the crisis had brought a new Sultan to the throne - Abdulmecid I - who instigated a period of reform known as Tanzimat, lasting until 1876. Russia in turn grew increasingly suspicious of Austrian intentions towards the Balkans, and the Holy Alliance - which had brought down Napoleon I - looked increasingly unstable. It was whispered in many quarters, that the Austrians had a dangerous maverick on the throne.


For a few years, it seemed as though peace had finally settled upon Europe. But under a peaceful and prosperous surface, tectonic plates were stirring. Politics remained dominated by reactionary monarchies; themselves pale imitations of 17th century absolutism and 18th century enlightened despotism, increasingly incapable of handling increasingly complex and bureaucratic governing structures. Though Europe's kingdoms and empires enjoyed increasing economic and technological sophistication, much of that wealth was still controlled by the aristocracy, along with the rising business elite and a prosperous middle class. Increasing agricultural output led to population growth, beyond what rural economies could absorb. The result was a growing urban population, providing cheap labour for growing industries. The price was human misery unlike anything ever seen, with workers paid as little as would induce them to turn up, and condemned to live and work in squalid conditions.

Widespread popular anger, and desire for reform, found its way out in three primary forces; liberalism, nationalism, and communism. Of these, liberalism and nationalism were the most popular in the 1840s, though communism and related ideas were making their presence felt. Of these, the more moderate reformers favoured the establishment of formal constitutions, the expansion of electoral franchises, the removal of serfdom where it still existed, greater liberalization of the economy, and the further reduction of aristocratic privilege. More radical elements sought to replace monarchies with republics of one sort or another, and to reorganise the economy along socialist or outright communist lines. But what ultimately drove the events of 1848 were a series of economic shocks in the years leading up to it; notably a series of harvest failures, which forced the poor to spend more and more of their income on food.

The first demonstrations occurred in January across Italy; consisting largely of demonstrations by students and middle class reformists in urban areas. Their demands varied somewhat, but they had in common a formal constitution, an expansion of the voting franchise, greater economic freedom, and greater secularization of education. Emperor Francis' regent in Italy, Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany, sought to reason with the demonstrators; but found himself under pressure from reactionary elements, notably aristocrats and some clerics, who sought not only to resist these reforms but actually hoped to roll reform back. Secularization proved particularly controversial, riling both the progressive urban and conservative rural populations against eachother.

But the first great shakeup of 1848 came in France a month later. Growing unrest over poverty and restricted political access had led the previously liberal government of King Louis Phillipe to restrict public assemblies; to the point where reformist politicians resorted to a series of fundraising dinners - the Campagne des Banquets - to get around the restrictions. When even these were finally outlawed in February of 1848, middle class opinion was pushed too far. Middle class reformists, quickly joined by the poor, marched through Paris, blocking the streets and calling for the removal of the Prime Minister, Francois Guizot. The very next day, both Guizot and the King fled the city, and several days of chaos ensued before the army could restore order, and a new government could be established. The Second Republic was declared, and in December would elect its first and last President; a certain Louis Napoleon Bonaparte.

In March, uprisings spread to Denmark and the German states, and unrest became apparent in the rest of the Austrian Empire; particularly in Hungary and Bohemia. In Germany, governments were able to end the uprisings only by conceding to several demands; including the establishment of a pan-German Parliament, which would meet in Frankfurt. In the Austrian Empire, the main centres of unrest were Bohemia and Hungary, and for quite similar reasons. In Bohemia, Czech nationalists sought the creation of a Czech-speaking state within the empire, and found themselves opposed by German nationalists who wanted not only to join the new German Empire, but to bring the Old Crown Lands - Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia - along with them, whether anyone else living their liked it or not. In Hungary, the government came under the control of Prime Minister Lajos Batthyány, who sought to transform Hungary into a new Hungarian state with Franz as its King. His government demanded control of all Hungarian army regiments, and the right to collect and spend all Hungarian taxes; as well as full authority over Transylvania and Croatia-Slavonia.

In that same month, the revolution found its way to Vienna. Students and reformists demonstrated in the streets, loudly declaring their loyalty to Franz and the Habsburg dynasty, but demanding the removal of the ageing and increasingly reactionary Metternich; along with the establishment of a constitution and similar reforms. Matters got out of hand when one group of protesters drew close to the Hofburg Palace, and soldiers assigned to protect it fired upon them. The debacle provided Franz with a convenient pretext for dismissing Metternich; replacing him with the reformist Count Franz von Kolowrat. Kolowrat's first task was to organise an empire-wide constitutional convention, to settle these matters once and for all.

Indivisible and Inseperable[]

Franz's declaration of a constitutional convention blindsided the nationalists; dividing them between those who wanted to take part, and those who insisted on separate national arrangements. Regardless, the plan bought Franz vital time to organise his forces, and get a grip on the situation. While the declaration was enough to quiet most of the empire, Hungary remained a problem; as did the German National Assembly in Frankfurt, which met for the first time on May 1st. Matters were complicated by rumours that Batthyány's government was secretly negotiating with the Frankfurt assembly and the French Republic - and possibly the Kingdom of Great Britain - to invade and dismember Austria. Matters reached a head on 24th April, when Josip Jelačić, Ban of Croatia, publically threatened to declare independence from Hungary; denouncing as he did the Magyarization policy.

Franz pleaded for calm, and was able to keep a tense peace until May 5th, when the convocation in Vienna was able to issue a declaration of basic principles; a forerunner to a potential constitutional settlement. This included a declaration of the equality of races within the empire, and the right of all persons to speak their native language; as Jelačić and the Croatian Sabor had wished. The general idea was to divide the empire into subordinate kingdoms and territories, each self-governing with the Emperor as their head-of-state, while the Imperial government in Vienna would act as a central government for empire-wide matters. These states were to be Austria, Carniola (Slovenia), Italy, Bohemia, Moravia, Galicia, Bukovina, Slovakia, Hungary, Transylvania, Croatia-Slavonia, Serbia-Temeschwar, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

This met several of the nationalist demands, but met the greatest resistance in Hungary; whose government objected to Transylvania, Croatia-Slavonia, and Slovakia being granted statehood. Batthyány's government also objected to the declaration's policy on languages; which devolved such decisions to the local level, and required all states to make provisions for at least two languages. Batthyány's obstinacy on the issue enraged Francis, and drove him to issue what has gone down in history as one of the great anti-nationalist pleas of modern times;

How shall I serve you best? How shall you be satisfied? You cry for your own tongue, yet deny such to others. You cry for a land of your own, yet deny such to others. Why this selfishness? Why this cruelty? What gives you the greater right, that all others must bend? Why must one have have a nation, and all others be indigents?

Batthyány was stunned by the rebuke, and pleaded his case desperately; that without the full territory, Hungary could not be a viable state, and that without Magyarization, Hungarian culture could not survive. Others were less polite, notably Batthyány's finance minister, Lajos Kossuth. Kossuth denounced Franz as a hypocrite, retorting that Hungary's demands were those of a sovereign and free people, and need not bend to the will of a monarch.

The matter was forced in August, when Josip Jelačić led his army into Hungary, ostensibly in support of a Serbian uprising. The government in Pest declared the raising of a Hungarian Revolutionary Army, with Kossuth - a brilliant orator - despatched to rouse volunteers. To Franz's horror, most of the Imperial army's Hungarian regiments went over to the Honvédség, as the HRA was otherwise known. While he tried to reorganize his forces, Jelačić continued his advance, only to be defeated by a Hungarian army at the Battle of Pákozd, and forced to retreat towards Vienna. Seizing the opportunity, Kossuth issued a declaration of independence, denouncing Franz and naming Hungary as an independent republic. Outmanouvred and demoralized, Batthyány resigned shortly aftewards.

Though Franz had lost most of his Hungarian regiments, the rest of the army remained loyal. Even then, many on both sides found the war painful and even darkly comical, with soldiers fighting in the name of the Emperor facing off against Hungarians fighting in the name of the King; Emperor and King being the same person. Józef Zachariasz Bem, a Polish general in the Hungarian service, went so far as to write to Franz expressing his regret at the situation. Regardless, Franz could not and would not bend; taking personal command of the Imperial forces in October, and leading a full-scale advance into Hungary. Though Hungarian forces won many victories - notably when led by Bem, or the brilliant chemist and talented general Artúr Görgei - Franz's armies had the greater numbers and firepower, and a new generation of talented commanders who owed him everything. By August of 1849, it was all over.

Crimean Crisis[]

More to Come



Supreme Council

Central Hemicycle

National Governments