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The European Union (EU) is one of five superpowers that holds great influence over Earth in the early 21st century, the others being the Holy Britannian Empire, the United States of America, the Chinese Federation, and the Russian Federation.


In the Flames of Revolution[]

Historians still debate on 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 (as well as the success of the American Revolution and the resulting birth of the United States of America), which began in 1789, with the calling of the French Estates-General in Paris. Brought together to find solutions to the economic and social problems that plagued France at the time, the estates soon found themselves divided between the First and Second estates - the Clergy and the Nobility respectively, and the Third estate; everyone else. Though the Third estate outnumbered the other two by a considerable margin, it was sidelined by a voting system in which each estate had one vote; allowing the First and Second estates to outvote it. Frustrated Third estate delegates met in the Tennis Court at Versailles on June 20th, swearing their famous oath not to separate until their demands were met. Unable and perhaps unwilling to use force to break them up, King Louis XVI recognized the validity of the 'National Constituent Assembly', as the delegates called themselves. Nevertheless, many Parisians feared that the King or the other two estates would attempt to break the new assembly by force. On July 14th a Paris mob marched on the infamous Bastille fortress, demanding that its garrison surrender and hand over the weapons rumored to be stockpiled within. The garrison fought back, until army defectors - including the King's own Gardes Francaises Regiment, arrived to support the Parisians. The Bastille fell in the afternoon, and the French Revolution was underway.

Over the next three years, France would go from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy, to revolutionary republic. Tainted by his attempt to escape from Paris in June of 1791, Louis XVI was later deposed and then executed in 1792. But significant changes had taken place in French society well before then. The year 1789 saw the abolition of feudalism and clerical privileges, the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and the writing of France's first modern Constitution. In April of 1792, with tensions mounting across Europe, France declared war on Austria and Prussia. The execution of the King brought Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands into the war in 1793. As France was slowly crushed under the combined might of Europe, the new French government - dominated by the Jacobin party - turned to ever more radical measures in order to survive. In an attempt to properly organize the hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen who had volunteered to fight for their country, the government issued the so-called Levée en Masse edict in August of 1793. It's opening words set the tone for the war to come;

From this moment until such time as its enemies shall have been driven from the soil of the Republic, all Frenchmen are in permanent requisition for the services of the armies. The young men shall fight; the married men shall forge arms and transport provisions; the women shall make tents and clothes and shall serve in the hospitals; the children shall turn old lint into linen; the old men shall betake themselves to the public squares in order to arouse the courage of the warriors and preach hatred of kings and the unity of the Republic.

The actual mobilization did not quite reach the levels this paragraph implied, but it was nevertheless beyond anything seen before. By September of 1794, French armies had a fighting strength of around 800,000, supported by a vast military-industrial complex overseen by the mathematician Lazare Carnot.

But France's troubles had been political as well as military in this period. 1791 and 1792 had seen political chaos in France, and especially in Paris. Widespread fears of Royalist plots and foreign invasion repeatedly spilled over into violence, with riots in many cases deliberately stirred up by agitating journalists such as Jean-Paul Marat and Jacques Hebert. In one particular incident in September of 1792, mobs of National Guardsmen stormed the prisons of Paris and killed thousands of prisoners, most of them petty criminals. The situation grew ever more volatile, as the extremist Montagnard and moderate Girondin parties struggled for control. The Girondins were by this point in decline, discredited by the failure of a war they had started, and which they had promised would spread republicanism and liberty across the whole of Europe. Their final defeat came on May 31st, 1793, when a mob of sans-culottes (as the rank-and-file militants were known) stormed the Tuileries Palace and threatened the Convention; as the elected legislature of France was now known. Led by Jacques Roux and Jacques Hebert - members of a radical clique known as the Enraged - they issued a series of demands, including the arrest of 29 Girondin leaders. The Convention had no choice but to comply, leaving the Montagnards in effective control alongside their allies; the Jacobin movement. The rise of the Jacobins to power, culminating in the election of Maximilien Robespierre to the Committee of Public Safety in July 1793, would mark the start of a new era; the Reign of Terror.

In many ways, Robespierre's 'terror' was a backlash against the chaos of the years preceding it. For men like Marat and Hebert, liberty was embodied in the mob, in the armed citizenry unleashing righteous violence against all who would deceive or oppress them. For Robespierre, liberty lay in inner virtue and public order, to be imposed by any means necessary. But if Robespierre and the Committee put an end to the terror of the mob and the agitator, they replaced it with the terror of the state. Jacobin France became in many respects a totalitarian state, with dissent of any kind coming to be regarded as counter-revolutionary. Of the tens of thousands executed in the course of Robespierre's tenure, around seventy percent were workers or peasants; their crimes usually being hoarding, draft-dodging, desertion, or even outright rebellion. But his ruthlessness only served to weaken his grip over time, as revolutionary virtue came to be associated with endless bloodletting. Robespierre ended up making enemies everywhere, not least by his executions of revolutionary heroes such as Georges Danton, Jacques Hebert, and Camille Desmoulins. The final straw for many was his attempt to impose a new religion; the Cult of the Supreme Being. He then made the mistake of summoning any officials or representants en mission who refused to help implement the new religion back to Paris to answer for their actions; a case of keeping his enemies too close. On 8 Thermidor (26 July 1794), Robespierre further provoked his enemies with a ranting speech before the Convention, alluding to 'traitors' while failing to name names; thus convincing many that they were next for the guillotine. The next day, the Convention turned on Robespierre, condemning him as a tyrant and a man of blood. Robespierre and his followers fled the Hall of Liberty under the protection of loyal troops, only to be captured later at the Hotel de Ville. Robespierre and 21 of his colleagues were condemned and executed on 10 Thermidor (28 July 1794).

The Thermidorian Reaction, as the overthrow of Robespierre came to be known, brought its own brand of chaos. The dismantling of the Committee's terror regime also led to the dismantling of its economic controls, exemplified by the 'Law of Maximum.' The result was uncontrollable inflation, with paper currency degrading to as little as 3% of its assigned value. The refusal of farmers to accept the 'assignats' led to food shortages and outright famine throughout the country. By contrast, the better-off in French society met this time of crisis with an outbreak of decadence. Known as Incroyables and Merveillueses, these men and women reveled in self-expression through luxurious, over-blown fashions. It was the female Merveillueses who popularised a revival of ancient Greek and Roman styles in female fashion, scandalizing polite society with high-waisted, low-cut, and sometimes see-through dresses and tunics. The movement even had a militant wing in the form of the Muscadins, or jeunesse doree, dandyish youths who made a habit of attacking known or suspected Jacobins or sans-culottes with wooden sticks. May of 1795 saw the last hurrah of the sans-culottes when, on 1 Prairial, a Parisian mob stormed the Convention and tried to force it to release Jacobin prisoners and ensure food supplies. The rebels were put down by loyal troops, and the Paris mob would not rise again for many decades. Boosted by this, and military success outside of France, the Convention spent the following months crushing what remained of the Jacobin movement and voting to reorganize itself. These measures, which included an electoral college and a bicameral legislature, were as much as anything else intended to protect the Convention's members from prosecution or revenge over their past deeds.

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 British-backed Royalist invasions, the arrival of Charles Philippe, Comte d'Artois, on French soil galvanized 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 mobilized their National Guardsmen. By the time the Convention understood the danger it was in, at midnight on the morning of 13 Vendemiaire, it had only five thousand loyal troops under the command of General de Menou with which to fend off a Royalist uprising of between thirty and forty thousand. 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, Napoleon 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 the failure of an attack on Maddalena Island in February of 1793, Napoleon became convinced that Paoli was a Royalist and a Britannian agent; the former was entirely true, the latter only partially so. After trying and failing to overthrow Paoli, Napoleon was forced to flee with his family to mainland France in June of 1793. Corsica became a protectorate of the Holy Britannian Empire, only to be reconquered by France in 1796.

Despite this failure, great things awaited Napoleon. 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. If the French people had hoped for a moderate, compromise government that would put an end to the ideological strife and bloodshed of previous years, what they got was an ineffectual, self-perpetuating oligarchy. The response of the majority was bitter, cynical indifference.

The Directory's one saving grace was military success, in which Napoleon played a considerable role. After marrying Josephine Beauharnais in March of 1796, Napoleon returned to Italy as Commanding General 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, Napoleon proposed the invasion and conquest of Egypt; with a view to gaining greater access to France's allies in India and disrupting Britannian trade. On the way, he made a brief detour to capture the island of Malta, defended by the Knights of Saint John (otherwise known as the Hospitallers). The French-dominated order surrendered after a brief struggle, its members having no desire to fight fellow Frenchmen, regardless of their politics. Strange rumors have nevertheless surrounded the order's surrender, as they would surround Napoleon for much of his life. Napoleon 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, Napoleon 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, Napoleon 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.

Napoleon 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 Napoleon himself was given command of all local troops. Sieyès and Ducos resigned as Director 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 Napoleon's troops, they refused to cooperate with him or his co-conspirators. When Napoleon 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 Napoleon'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 Napoleon, Ducos, and Sieyès. But Napoleon 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, Napoleon 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. Napoleon's position was further strengthened by a military victory at Marengo on 14 June, where his Consular Guards won fame. A military march composed in their honor became an informal lietmotif for Napoleon himself. 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.

Empire of Liberty []

It is between 1800 and 1804 that Napoleon Bonaparte's story takes a strange turn. By the turn of 1801, he was First Consul of France, in practice a King in all but name. Though infuriating to hardliners on both the political Left and Right, his regime was broadly acceptable to, even popular with, the bulk of the French population. After years of chaos and bloodshed, it seemed that France finally had a statesmanlike leader, capable of solving the Republic's myriad problems. Of his many reforms, one of the most significant was the Code civil des Français (popularly dubbed the 'Napoleonic Code'), which came into force in March of 1804. Aside from guaranteeing freedom of religion and abolishing birth privileges, the code completely revamped the French legal system, replacing the patchwork feudal system and newer revolutionary legislation with a single, universal code; which drew heavily on ancient Roman law. Major changes included the introduction of juries for criminal trials, and a guarantee of legal counsel for all defendants. He also revamped the administration and began a series of public works projects intended to improve infrastructure and encourage trade. In religious matters, this period saw the 1801 Concordat between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII. It maintained the principle of secularism (laicite), and required that all priests swear an oath to the state (in return for paying their salaries), but in return acknowledged Catholicism as the majority religion and allowed the Church to depose bishops (though the state still nominated them).

But Napoleon was not the same man as he had been in 1791. While he still broadly believed in the ideals of the Revolution, their innocence (much like his own) had long since been lost. For Napoleon, liberty, equality, and fraternity all had to defer to the maintenance of public order. One of his darkest memories was of the Massacre of the Swiss Guards in Paris; where he claimed to have seen Parisian women beheading twelve-year-old drummer boys and parading their heads on pikes. In a meeting of his inner circle, he described his attitude thusly;

You say that I have oppressed liberty? What is this thing called liberty? What is this ideal so many have died for? Is it the liberty of nature, as Rousseau kept waxing lyrical about? In nature, the fox devours the lamb, constrained only by the farmer. This is the liberty of the thief to rob, the mob to kill and destroy, constrained only by order. Robespierre said that virtue without terror is impotent, and that terror without virtue is blind. I say that order without liberty is tyranny, and liberty without order is chaos.

This cynicism brought him into conflict with many in the upper echelons of the government, notably his brother Lucien. It is in the context of their relationship that another of the era's colorful characters makes her entrance. By the time of the Brumaire Coup, Brandon Bailey was already a well-known figure in the streets of Paris, renowned for his youthful handsomeness (especially his mid-length reddish-brown hair) and his reserved personality. He claimed to be the son of Bruce Bailey, who was a close friend of George Washington, the man who led the Continental Army during the American Revolution and ultimately succeeded in securing the independence of the United States of America. As a result, Brandon was forever in demand for stories about him. According to one such story, for instance, Washington, having been persuaded by a certain Ricardo de Bretaña, convinced the Iroquois Confederacy to cease their raids on American settlements and even ally with the Continental Army on the promise that their lands would be untouched, a deal which he kept his word when he eventually became America’s first President. Brandon’s relationship with the Bonaparte family was ambiguous, but he was at the time connected with both Napoleon and Lucien; Parisian gossip had it that he was their mentor. He certainly acted as a peacemaker between the two when arguments broke out and may have helped Lucien keep Napoleon on the straight and narrow; at least from Lucien's point of view. The question of whether Napoleon truly intended to declare himself Emperor of the French has excited scholars and conspiracy theorists for centuries, though the answer may never be known. If he intended such a bold move, it was undoubtedly Brandon who talked him out of it.

What cannot be doubted, however, is that Napoleon intended to expand the revolution across Europe. He described to his circle what he called an empire of liberty, a new Europe divided into smaller states led by elected Governors, with a government directly based on the United States, all the while with France acting as the dominant power. These new states would enjoy all the benefits of liberty, equality, and fraternity while lacking the power to mistreat one another or challenge France. Of the enemies France would have to defeat, the most dangerous in Napoleon's eyes was the Holy Britannian Empire. Backed by a global trading network, Britannia possessed financial resources with which to bribe or support other powers into attacking France. By December of 1804, with the Third Coalition menacing France, this plan was underway. It was at this time that Napoleon created his first eighteen Marshals of France, though this was a comparatively late step in a series of military reorganizations. By this time, Napoleon had around 200,000 troops available for field duty. These were organized into seven Corps, each a free-standing army in its own right. With anything up to 40 guns each, they could fight independently until reinforcements arrived. Napoleon added to these a cavalry reserve of 22,000 in eight divisions, each supported by 24 guns. By 1805, this force would grow to 350,000 men (partly due to Napoleon selling French Lousiana to the United States for sixty-eight million francs, in what is known as the Lousiana Purchase). In addition, Napoleon had his own Consular Guard of around 10,000, along with around 15,000 Gendarmes and a comparable number of National Guardsmen. With these forces, Napoleon planned to conquer Europe.

Napoleon's first move was the Ulm Campaign, launched in August of 1805. Napoleon planned to approach Austria via central Germany, attacking along the Danube. With Murat advancing through the Black Forest - the traditional French invasion route - Austrian General Karl Mack von Leiberich became fixated on what was, in fact, a feint. Not realizing that Napoleon was outflanking him in strength to the north, Mack became confused by contradictory reconnaissance reports and split his forces along the Danube. Napoleon ambushed the Austrian detachments and crossed the river in force, eventually surrounding the Austrians around their base at Ulm by 16 October. With food running low and his troops mutinying, Mack surrendered his army. Ulm was a rare example of a campaign in which no major battle took place, and it would live in history as one of Napoleon's greatest. But of arguably equal importance were the events that took place off Cape Trafalgar only two days later. A combined French and Spanish fleet under Pierre-Charles Villeneuve faced a Britannian fleet under Horatio Nelson, only to be dealt a crushing defeat by Nelson though at the cost of his life as well as the Britannian fleet being severely crippled.

Napoleon would be livid at the news, but he would not be deterred. If he could not defeat the Holy Britannian Empire directly via invasion, then he would do it through indirect methods. Indeed, historians speculate whether or not Napoleon secretly funded Harren Hoare and his rebels from 1805 to 1807 as a means of keeping the Britannians occupied or if Hoare acted alone, but regardless, the Battle of Trafalgar would ultimately force Britannia to pull out for the entirety of the Napoleonic Wars to salvage their resources, thus scratching one of France’s enemies off the list for now.

In the meantime, Napoleon had bigger problems. A Russian army had arrived to reinforce the Austrians, allowing them to pit 85,000 men against Napoleon's 75,000. Napoleon's response was to lure the allies into a trap near the town of Austerlitz, which he sprung on 2 December 1805. The victory was arguably the greatest of his career, killing or capturing over 36,000 allied troops for the loss of only 9000.

Dark Deeds on the Danube []

What happened after Austerlitz, in the opening months of 1806, is regarded as one of the darkest and strangest events in European history. The month of January saw a veritable cascade of misfortunes befall the Royal families of Europe. By the end of the month, almost all of Europe's crowned heads were dead, along with many of their relatives. Their deaths varied wildly, some being obvious assassinations while others appeared to be accidents, or completely without explanation. The deaths plunged the European monarchies into turmoil, as generals and powerful nobles struggled against impromptu pro-French revolts to secure the thrones for themselves. The immediate beneficiary was Napoleon himself, for the chaos allowed him to capture Vienna and secure Austria, while additional forces moved against other targets. Once Napoleon had control of an area intended for a new state, he and his representatives set about the task of converting the said region into one of his planned sister states. This met with varying degrees of success, as a great many Europeans resented having their countries dismantled and reformed, even as their crowned sovereigns lay piteously murdered. Napoleon did his best to mollify such feelings, burying murdered royals with all due ceremony, and forbidding the French people from celebrating the deaths in any public way. More than once, public celebrations of the murders by hardline republicans were put down by gendarmes acting on his orders. But even so, the need to smooth ruffled feathers and minimize resistance forced Napoleon to make any number of make-do-and-mend compromises. Some of the Sister States would see their borders change repeatedly, as French commanders and deputies tried to resolve local disputes.

The great mystery of the January Murders lies in their sheer scale. Napoleon was widely blamed for them since he was the obvious beneficiary. But he would go to his grave denying any knowledge, and no evidence has yet been found of any knowledge or planning on the part of the French government. The scale of the killings itself suggests that it was not a single, unified operation; it would have required the coordinated efforts of hundreds, perhaps thousands of operatives. The strange nature of some of the killings, in turn, lent itself to conspiracy theories and strange rumors. It was put about that some of the assassins had strange, inhuman powers; for by no other means could they have completed their missions. Speculation over responsibility fell on any number of figures, including Brandon Bailey. A tale spread that one of Napoleon's Consular Guards had overheard an altercation between the First Consul and Brandon. The precise content varies from version to version, but the most popular rendition has Napoleon exclaim something to the effect of "You never said anything about children! What have you done!?", to which Cecile replied "I said I would help you. I gave no details, and you never asked for any. You gave no order, and I told you nothing. Your hands are clean." This sent Napoleon into a rage, roaring "what have you turned me into, you bloody-handed warlock!?" The veracity of this supposed encounter has never been proven and seems to owe more to fevered imaginations than any actual conversation. But those close to Napoleon all agreed that he had reacted to news of the deaths with stunned disbelief and that his character had noticeably darkened in the following months.

Though the murders had seemingly left Europe at Napoleon's mercy, the victory was not as complete as it might have been. Of those European royals who survived the killings, the most significant was Czar Alexander I of Russia and Empress Elizabeth III of Britannia. Also, Napoleon was soon finding that he had underestimated the scale of the task he had undertaken. Resistance to his new order was widespread, especially in Spain, requiring the deployment of ever-greater numbers of troops to maintain control. Though Russia was out of the war for the moment, Britannia took ruthless advantage of these rebel movements; supplying them with funds and arms as best it could, despite the damage suffered to the Britannian Imperial Navy at Trafalgar. Napoleon was forced to resort to ever more extreme measures to get the troops he needed, including the reinstatement of universal conscription.

The Eagle and the Cross []

Even as Napoleon worked to establish his new order in Europe, events were unfolding to the south that would put him to the ultimate test. The January Murders had sent shockwaves through the Vatican in Rome as they had through the whole of Europe. The death of countless Catholic royalty, along with a great many high-level prelates, had thrown the Church into turmoil. Pope Pius VII had managed thus far to act as a moderating influence, but between the Murders and Napoleon's policies in his new territories, his moderation was starting to look like collaboration, at least in some quarters. Though the Papal States had been restored in 1800 and its small army revamped, they were surrounded by an Italy firmly under French control, and in the process of being reorganized into the State of Italy to the north and the State of Parthenopea to the south. The Papacy appeared weak and vulnerable, and to some, it seemed as if the entire Catholic world was crumbling under the hammer-blows of a new, godless tyranny. Pius continued to counsel caution and restraint, arguing that only by peaceful cooperation could the Church be preserved; to oppose him was to see it utterly destroyed. Until the horror of January 1805, he had been able to carry a majority of the Curia along with him, his policy having seemed to keep the peace.

The one who would strike the balance appeared on the Roman political scene in 1807, in the form of a young priest by the name of Enrico Maxwell. Born to an exiled Britannian father and an Italian (Roman) mother, young Enrico is known to have begun his career in the Dominican Order and is thought to have been involved with the Roman Inquisition. If the latter is true, he was almost certainly involved in the transfer of Inquisitorial documents from Rome to Paris, a humiliation which may in part account for his ill-feeling towards France and the revolution. Though regarded as an outstanding priest, by 1807 he was known primarily for a series of fire-and-brimstone sermons, in which he preached of the coming of the End Times. This was ironic, for the power of his oratory seemed at times to be maddeningly supernatural. It certainly came to unsettle the Curia, and in October of 1807, he was called to Rome to account for himself. If the Cardinals sought to suppress Maxwell, then allowing him to speak to them was easily their greatest mistake. So dazzled were they by his rhetoric, that the Curia unanimously dropped all charges laid against him. Maxwell was nevertheless ordered by Pius to remain in Rome for a personal audience; which he did for several weeks. If Pius truly intended to interview the young priest in private, he would never get the chance. On the morning of Friday the 13th of November 1807, Pius was found dead in his bed, having apparently died in his sleep. The events of the days following his funeral would prove equally shocking, for Maxwell was elected Pope by acclamation; the eighth and last Pope to be elected in that manner.

Within days of his election, Pope Maximus I was speaking of a new direction for the Papacy, and the entire Catholic Church. In a series of addresses to the Curia, he railed against Napoleon and the new, secular order he was imposing on Europe. He overtly blamed both for the misfortunes of Europe, notably the January Murders, and declared that the time had come for the Papacy to lead the establishment of a new order in Europe. Church and state would become one, and the Papacy would rule with the Imperial power it had inherited from the Roman Emperors. When one of the Cardinals pleaded that they had not the power to oppose France, Maximus retorted that he himself would provide the army. When asked how he regaled the Curia with a story he claimed to have heard from a missionary who had worked in India. The story concerned the Guru Gobind Singh and the Panj Pyare, the 'five beloved ones' of the Sikh religion. The story went that the Guru had called upon his followers, asking who among them would give his head for him. Three times he asked without success until one man at last volunteered. The Guru took the man into his tent and then emerged with a bloodied sword in his hand. He asked for more volunteers, and four more stepped forward, each to be taken inside and killed. The Guru then emerged again, bringing with him the five supposedly dead men, dressed in warrior garb; reborn as the first of the Khalsa. Maximus declared that this was the kind of devotion he expected, whether of the Cardinals around him or the soldiers of the legions he would raise. The first of these he raised on New Year's Day of 1808, having summoned a thousand male volunteers to St Peter's Basilica. Maximus had himself locked inside the Basilica with a handful of devoted followers and the volunteers, with strict orders that no one from outside was to enter for any reason. The doors remained closed for some time, with onlookers reporting cries of terror and the sound of swords cutting cloth. All at once the doors swung open, and the thousand marched out in serried ranks, clad in new scarlet uniforms and shouldering muskets. Maximus emerged behind them and proclaimed to the astonished crowd that this was only the first of his new Holy Legions, the army that would crush the godless tyranny of Napoleon.

The new legions would not be long in coming. By the end of March, Maximus had raised ten full legions, each numbering 5000, for a total of 50,000. Many of the officers were former officers and nobles from territories conquered by Napoleon, though the rank and file were primarily Italian. The Papal States were transformed into a war economy seemingly overnight, as the common people worked round-the-clock to supply the Holy Legions with their arms and supplies, fired all the while by Maximus' sermons. But for all his success in raising followers, Maximus had created an army out of nothing. Though the Papal army had been incorporated into the legions, the majority of the rank-and-file were raw recruits, whom Maximus' schedule gave little time for training. His first target was Parthenopea, its garrison busy with an insurgency in Calabria. Maximus led his troops south in early April, marching them with vigor, not unlike that of Napoleon's own soldiers. When French forces attempted to oppose them, they noted the crude, unskilled maneuvering of the Legions. But what truly shocked French officers was the zeal of the legionaries. They seemed to be without fear, advancing in their lumbering columns regardless of casualties. The French were overwhelmed, and Parthenope was secure by the end of the month. With the assistance of Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo, Maximus managed to add the island of Sicily to his new domain, and raise substantial new forces. His army became known as the Armate Della Santa Fede, the Army of Holy Faith.

As overstretched as he was, Napoleon could no longer ignore what had erupted in Italy. To make matters even worse, Maximus' agents had managed to spread the word of his crusade in Spain, which erupted in revolt in May. Napoleon rushed back to Paris, sending his newly-returned army south to reinforce the borders, and set about organizing additional forces. Though he had many hundreds of thousands of troops at his disposal, many were spread across Germany, Italy, and the former Austrian territories to hold down the new Sister-States. The only reliable non-French source of fresh troops was Switzerland, which would reward Napoleon for his 1803 Act of Mediation with four more regiments of infantry, on top of four they had already provided. Attempts to raise new troops in Germany proved unsuccessful, with the administration of the new states dogged by rebellion, conspiracy, and underground resistance. The new State of Poland was an enthusiastic ally, but Napoleon dared not draw on its services too much; Poland and its armies were a vital lynchpin of French control in Eastern Europe. But if Germany was mulishly stubborn, Scandinavia was positively rebellious. Denmark was firmly under French occupation, while Norway had been detached to form a state. But while the January Murders had claimed the life of King Gustav IV Adolph, the Swedish Riksdag had continued to govern without him, all the while searching for a suitable replacement. By May of 1808, Sweden was in the process of losing Finland to Russia, and Napoleon had planned to send an expedition under Marshal Bernadotte to force Sweden into line, but this was canceled. Perhaps made confident by Napoleon's troubles elsewhere, Russia declared war in July of 1808, ostensibly in support of Maximus' crusade. It is said that when a courtier suggested that this new war would finally break Napoleon, Czar Alexander declared "only him? I'll break them both!"

A Deal with the Devil []

Though Napoleon and his government made great shows of confidence in the face of the triple threat of Russia, Spain, and the Crusade, others knew better. His one saving grace was that his three enemies were proving somewhat slow to take advantage of his weakness. Russia had committed considerable forces to Sweden and was finding it difficult to mobilize quickly against French holdings further south. Though Spanish troops and rebels had forced French forces from Spain, the Junta was proving incapable of manifesting a coherent policy. In Italy, Pope Maximus had been persuaded to rest his forces for a few months, allowing reorganization and additional training. When he advanced north in August, his main army of 80,000 was considerably better trained and led than it had been before. By then, Napoleon had managed to send a few thousand troops and National Guardsmen south to reinforce the State of Italy. Their only viable strategy was to shelter behind the walls of Italian cities and towns, while Maximus' storm approached. All to little or no effect, as Napoleon was deluged with reports of walls and bastions overcome by human tidal waves. Maximus' armies suffered appalling casualties, but so long as he seemed willing to endure them and able to find replacements for them, there seemed little that could stop him. By September of 1808, with winter rapidly approaching, most of Italy was under Crusader control. The only upshot was that with the mountain passes frozen shut, Maximus' conquering armies were all but trapped in Italy.

Having evacuated what troops he could from Italian ports, Napoleon was forced to turn his attention east. By the summer of 1809, a full-scale Russian invasion was underway, with two main thrusts against Poland and Austria respectively. Napoleon had no choice but to head east and take personal command of his army near Vienna; a hastily-assembled force of over 150,000 men. Approaching him was a combined force of Russians and European exiles of around the same number. The fighting around Vienna would cost Napoleon the life of one of his marshals, and his relationship with another. When Napoleon met the Russians near Wagram on 5 July 1809, he won a decisive if costly victory. The cost was over 40,000 troops he could not afford to lose and the services of Marshal Bernadotte, whom Napoleon had sacked for abandoning the village of Aderklaa and failing to retake it. As the Russians withdrew, Napoleon received word that Maximus was finally attempting a thrust into southern France, the mountain passes having melted in June.

Napoleon rushed to Paris, and then to Marseille, with his younger brother Jerome in tow. Upon taking personal command, he was relieved to discover that for all his powers of oratory, Maximus was no strategist. He took ruthless advantage of the rugged terrain to divide and isolate the Crusader forces, tormenting them with his Chasseurs and 'flying batteries' of horse artillery. The final blow was struck at Sisteron, in September of 1809, shattering the Crusader army. Jerome had his part to play, tasked with investigating the strange method by which Maximus had bent so many to his will. As night fell over Sisteron, Jerome and his entourage were surprised to find groups of Holy Legionnaires wandering the battlefield in a confused state, apparently not knowing where they were or what they had been doing. Jerome secured them for interrogation and recorded his observations and discoveries in a single volume, that would enter the public domain only after the war. Rumors abound of other, more detailed volumes kept secret by Napoleon; though there is nothing to substantiate this.

But his victory was tainted by shocking news from his agents. A Swedish noble had made contact with the former Marshal Bernadotte and offered him the crown, and Bernadotte had not refused it. The situation left Napoleon deeply torn. His relationship with Bernadotte was far from good, but he could not believe that the man would betray him. If he allowed this to go ahead, then he would be betraying the new future so many had fought and died for. But if he tried to block it, he risked losing the whole of Scandinavia to the Russians, or a Russia-friendly monarchy that could lock France out of the Baltic Sea. After some discussion with Brandon, who by this point had reentered his good graces, Napoleon came to a decision. Having little choice but to appease Sweden for the moment, he gave his blessing to Bernadotte's acceptance of the Swedish crown; it was almost certainly his intent to bring Sweden to heel in the future. This gesture nevertheless proved controversial, provoking another storm of requests for territorial readjustments, constitutional alterations, and special privileges from the existing Sister-States. Even worse were the conditions of the German states, a cluster of republics led by apparently pro-French reformers and Jacobins. Taxes were not collected, and drafts of recruits for the state armies went unfilled. When exasperated French overseers tried to handle these processes, they faced walls of silence from local authorities, while young men of draft age mysteriously disappeared. Napoleon could tell that he was being taken for a ride but could do little about it. When his subordinates asked to be allowed to resort to harsher measures, Napoleon always refused, knowing that to do so would cause Germany to erupt as Spain had done.

This state of affairs continued until November of 1809 when Napoleon was contacted by a group calling itself the Großdeutschland Bund. At first, communications were handled purely by agents, until Napoleon finally agreed to meet with some of the group's representatives near Frankfurt. The Greater Germany League turned out to be a group of reform-minded aristocrats, former military officers, and big-name intellectuals, along with a smattering of low-level royalty who had escaped the January Murders and further purges by virtue of being too junior to take any throne they had a claim on. Napoleon was not surprised by the deputation's leader - former Prussian officer Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher - but he was enraged to discover that several of his supposed allies, even Governors of German Sister-States, were involved with the League. The League representatives admitted that they indeed been behind the widespread resistance, both active and passive, to French tutelage. When Napoleon only half-rhetorically said that he could always just call in his guards and kill the lot of them, Blücher is said to have replied: "You may kill us old men, First Consul, but there are plenty more to replace us."

The deputation explained that their goal was the unification of the German-speaking peoples into a single nation, a goal that was already well underway. The young men Napoleon's recruiting officers had searched for in vain were being armed and trained in secret places, ready for a mass uprising against the French and their collaborators. When Napoleon asked why they did not just do so, they explained that they saw much wisdom in Napoleon's ideas, a European union of free states joined together in common purpose. They called upon Napoleon to support them, to recognize the creation of a single German state, in return for which they would support him with their forces. If he refused, they would launch their uprising, and place upon the German throne a blood descendant of the ancient Hohenstaufen dynasty (the existence of whom cannot be historically verified). Angry, humiliated, but seeing no alternative, Napoleon agreed to their request. A decision that would forever alter both European destiny and the very course of history, though neither Napoleon nor those around him would ever realize it.

La Victoire est a Nous[]

If Napoleon was angered at being held to ransom by the Greater Germany League, or at having to reorganize his Sister State system again, subsequent events would bring him much-needed satisfaction. The League was as good as its word; its first act upon forming a government on January 2nd, 1810 was to order a full-scale mobilization in support of Napoleon. With tens of thousands of German troops organizing to march east, Napoleon turned his attention to Italy. In March he held a grand fete in Paris, in which his newly-expanded Consular Guard and the latest conscripts paraded before cheering crowds.

During this period, Napoleon would make one of the most bizarre actions ever made in European history, at least at the time. At some point during the Parisian fete, it was said that he, accompanied by his wife Josephine, had taken Brandon Bailey aside into his private chambers. There, legend has it that Napoleon made a personal request to Brandon: that he not only join his Grande Armee into Italy but that he does so as one of his Marshals. The same legend would also claim that when Brandon, despite being rather surprised by the request, would attempt to refuse, Napoleon replied:

"This request I do not make to Brandon Bailey, but to the man who once led a united coalition of colonies to war against an unholy enemy. The man who stepped down after the war was won, only to return to lead his people into securing their status as a nation of liberty, equality, and democracy. It is that man that I need now; to lead not only France, but all of Europe, into true liberty, equality and fraternity."

Whatever emotional response Brandon held to that proclamation has been lost to time; nevertheless, he eventually rejected the offer but agreed to accompany the Army as a "special advisor" and receive a brevet rank of Colonel. He also stipulated that it would be the only time he supported Napoleon "directly".

The army Napoleon took into Italy numbered around 100,000, one of the largest he had ever commanded, and large enough to crush the Maximian Crusade once and for all. Milan was retaken in late April, despite desperate resistance by the Holy Legionnaires and mobs of fanatics defending it. As the French armies moved south, they learned more and more of the horrid truth of Maximus' 'Holy Empire.' While passing through Tuscany, Jerome Bonaparte described one particular incident in his diary;

"We came upon a village that in better times would have been quite charming. We found it run-down and shabby, its inhabitants in the most desperate condition; starved and overworked like so many galley slaves. A group of nuns from a nearby convent were caring for them as best they could, and even they seemed mightily relieved to see us. They explained that Maximus had set all the people in the land either to fight or to work, and these unfortunates had slaved at the forge and the plough from dawn till dusk, even on holy days. At first they had done so joyously, but as their bodies weakened and Maximus did not return, despair had set in. They also showed us their prisoner, a shaven-headed woman in white whom they kept chained in a dark room. When we asked why, they claimed that it was to prevent her from harming herself. She was one of the Maximian 'white sisters', and she and her ilk had terrorized and enslaved the people to the will of Maximus. She spat at us, and cursed us with foul language, shrieking that we were the devil's minions who had denied her the path to heaven. She fell into terrible lamentation, wailing that her child was in hell for being a bastard and unshriven, and that only Maximus could release him. The sight of her would have broken the hardest heart."

Just as shocking in its own way was the arrival in Napoleon's camp of Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo, along with a handful of prelates. When taken before Napoleon to explain himself, Ruffo pleaded with the First Consul to save the Church, which was in the hands of a madman. Ruffo revealed how Maximus had burned a group of senior Inquisitors to death for trying to remonstrate with him over some of his theological 'innovations', and converted the rest of the Roman Inquisition into Holy Legionaries. It was this that had finally shocked Ruffo into action, for he could not make sense of how Maximus had been able to bend even them to his will. But Ruffo had paid a heavy price for defying Maximus, as he revealed when he let his mantle fall to the ground, showing his body covered in strange brand marks. He had escaped Rome only with the help of loyal priests, who had accompanied him to Napoleon's camp. Shocked and enraged by both the sight and testimony, Napoleon's response was to order an immediate march on Rome. This the armies did, only to finally encounter major resistance near the town of Montalto di Castro on May 22nd. The Battle of Montalto di Castro was the last great clash of the crusade, made famous by a legend described by Jerome Bonaparte:

"The enemy was lined up before us; the red legionaries in the center, flanked and supported by hordes of pilgrims in sackcloth and the white sisters. They were all singing in unison; strange hymns that seemed to praise Maximus as though he were Christ himself. So terrible was the sound that it was starting to unsettle the men. The First Consul ordered the bandmaster to play the Song of the Departure, and as the bands struck up, the song spread all along our lines, drowning out the blasphemous hymns."

Napoleon destroyed the crusading army in a battle lasting around eight hours. In particular, Brandon's performance during the battle was renowned. Though her regiment had been involved in several minor skirmishes previously, it was at Montalto di Castro that she would display especial valor by personally joining the initial assault against the Maximian force's infantry formation. This too would be described by Jerome Bonaparte:

"The battle began like so many others before; with a maddening, hellish cry, the legionnaires charged into the battle with wild abandon. The First Consul immediately replied with rifle and cannon fire to thin their ranks, then deploying our vanguard forward in a mirror of Hannibal's strategem at Cannae to encircle and ensnare the Maximian horde. And that was when he acted; without receiving any order from the First Consul, Colonel Bailey, with only a small contingent of light cavalry to support him, charged directly into the horde's center. Initially I believed him as maddened as the crusaders, but this was not the truth at all. Instead of an instant death, I watched with bewilderment as Bailey, my brother's companion, singlehandedly tore through the enemy ranks with but a sword in one hand and a banner in the other, all while his support units struggled to keep up. A true God of War given mortal form, he would continue his onslaught even after his horse had been slain from under him, until finally reaching the center of the Maximian formation. It was then that I at last understood not only his skill, but his genius; by breaking through the center, Bailey had both decimated the enemy advance and bifurcated its formation, driving the two smaller groups into the very mandibles of the First Consul's pincer attack. From there, it was only the sheer ferocity of Maximus' unholy soldiers that delayed the inevitable victory."

Within days his army was laying siege to Rome itself, with Maximus and all but a handful of his remaining forces trapped inside the city. Outraged by the horrors they had witnessed on their march, the French troops ravaged the city mercilessly. Maximus was found dead inside the Castel Sant'Angelo, along with most of his immediate entourage. Their deaths had been remarkably violent; the coroner's report described Maximus as having suffered over twenty dagger thrusts and sword cuts. The identity of the killers remains a mystery, for the deaths appeared to have taken place before the citadel was stormed. Yet another legend has it that, upon personal inspection of the scene, Napoleon and Brandon both came across a distinct marking upon Maximus' body; a brand of sorts, not unlike those that had been inflicted upon Ruffo, yet supposedly of an entirely different make. Whatever they saw would clearly disturb them both, such that Napoleon ordered the corpse to be cremated immediately and without elongated ceremony.

For administrative convenience, the ravaged peninsula was reorganized as a single Italian State. Napoleon gave what remained of the Curia a harsh ultimatum; accept a new Concordat stripping the Church of what remained of its legal privileges and much of its property, or be finally and utterly destroyed. Shamed by the crusade, the Curia acquiesced, with Napleon throwing in a perk; the establishment of the Vatican as an independent state under the Papacy and the Curia. Cardinal Ruffo was elected Pope Romanus II in July of 1810, on a platform of reconciliation and peaceful cooperation with the secular state. He would do much to rebuild the public standing of the Church, though it would never regain its former secular power. A handful of diehard Maximians and anti-reform hardliners fled to Spain to carry on the fight. But even then the writing was on the wall, as Spanish armies fell before French and German forces. By the winter of 1810, Spain had been effectively conquered, with Portugal following in 1811.

War and Peace []

By the turn of 1812, France was the leader of a united Europe, and First Consul Bonaparte was its undisputed master. But this vision of near-transcendent glory hid a more complex, messy, and potentially unstable reality. France had endured over twenty years of near-constant war to reach this point, though it was not without compensations. French success had made it the center of a vast European trade network, and the need to supply France's armies and fleets made for full employment. Spain would remain a festering sore for many years, but with its South American possessions in full-scale revolt and Nueva Espana (the Philippine Islands) having gone into business for itself (for a time), it did not pose a serious threat. Sweden was still a problem, for, despite the increasingly liberal direction of Swedish politics and society, it retained its monarchy; albeit in a constitutional form. On the one hand, allowing this state of affairs to continue would dilute the new order's republican character, and might encourage monarchist movements elsewhere in Europe. On the other hand, any attempt to force abolition would at the very least provoke the Swedes to resistance, and might even drive them into the arms of Russia. But the problems caused by Sweden, which in practice were essentially ideological, were as naught compared to those posed by Germany and Russia. The Sister-State system had been intended to divide Europe into small states that France could easily dominate; but circumstances had forced the creation of an enormous German state, whose allegiance to France could not be guaranteed. The mere existence of this state led to the formation of two political factions; the so-called Hegemonists and Unionists. The Hegemonists called for French domination of Europe to be maintained at any cost; including limiting the armies of other states by law and enforcing control by force. The Unionists favored the creation of a 'European Union', as hinted at by the Greater Germany League, in which the burden of security would be shared.

But none of these problems compared in severity to the threat posed by Imperial Russia. Having lost territory to France and been repeatedly humiliated by French armies, Russia was in no mood to keep the peace. But the conflict went beyond mere power-politics, and into the realm of ideology and culture. If France's motto was Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, Russia's was Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Nationality. The political and social changes seen in Europe encouraged inspired reform-minded Russians, but conservative opinion was almost universally horrified. Of all these changes, the most horrific in Russian eyes was the emancipation of the Jews. Across Europe, the ghettos were demolished, and Jews and other previously oppressed minorities reaped the benefits of a civil code that allowed no discrimination upon racial or religious grounds. Convinced that Napoleon would not rest until Russia was added to his dominion and that Russian culture and religion would be destroyed as a result, Czar Alexander I vowed to fight on, even as all of Europe fell under Napoleon's spell. Napoleon, in turn, had become frustrated by Russia's intransigence, and at some point in the early months of 1812 came to a decision that Russia had to be broken once and for all.

The invasion of Russia, which began on June 24th, 1812 with the crossing of the River Nieman, was on a scale unprecedented in European history. Varying estimates put the French force at anything up to 685,000 men, of which around half were French. Contrary to historical myth, these were supported by a vast supply train of around 10,000 vehicles. Napoleon's plan was to defeat Russian armies in detail in Russian Poland, thus forcing the Russians to terms. But his advance into Russia was met with little or no resistance, as outnumbered Russian armies retreated rather than face him. Against the advice of his Marshals, Napoleon pushed further and further into Russia, winning several minor victories but failing to catch and destroy the Russian army in detail. Though St Petersburg was the political capital of Russia, Moscow was still the spiritual capital, and thus Napoleon chose it as his target. It was at this point that his army began to suffer from supply problems, both due to the parlous state of the roads, and because Russian peasants took to burning their villages and destroying or carrying away their crops, livestock, and anything remotely useful to the French. This policy came to be known as 'scorched earth', for that was often all the French foraging parties could find. French armies had previously outmarched and outmaneuvered their enemies by living off the land, freeing them from the constraint of supply trains in an era where the ultimate in land-based transport was the animal-drawn wagon. Napoleon had nevertheless been moving away from this model, as it became apparent that this invariably involved requisitioning (or simply stealing) food from local people, a practice that made his troops hated and feared wherever they marched. But with supply wagons unable to keep up over primitive dirt roads, and with nothing left to forage, Napoleon's armies faced starvation.

The turning point came on September 7th, 1812, when the Russian army under Mikhail Kutuzov made a stand at Borodino. Having lost around 150,000 men to starvation, disease, and exhaustion by then, and with large numbers of troops occupied guarding the French supply lines, Napoleon could muster no more than 190,000 men, against a comparable number of Russians dug in along the Kolocha river. Among the Russian officers was a Prussian 'double patriot' by the name of Carl von Clausewitz, as well as Count Nikolai Ilyich Tolstoy; both of whose futures would be shaped by the war. Napoleon's strategy was brutally direct, launching full-scale attacks against the village of Borodino and the 'Bagration Fleches' on the Russian left flank. The Russians defended their positions stubbornly, and every defense lost was bitterly contested. With nightfall oncoming, Napoleon made the decision to commit the 50,000 veteran troops of his Consular Guard. Finally, the Russians broke, and the road to Moscow was open. But when Napoleon entered the city on 14 September, he found it all but deserted. Two-thirds of the population had fled before him, and what supplies had not been taken had been destroyed. Among those that remained were an ad-hoc force of criminals and other unfortunates, released from the city jails with the task of setting fire to Moscow in return for their freedom. This they did, on the night of September 14th; the fires would blaze for four days, destroying much of the city. The fire made Napoleon's situation, already difficult, all the more perilous. Food was running out, his troops were without shelter, and the Russians were showing no signs of surrender. On 20 September, Napoleon gave the order to withdraw from Russia. Thanks to the weakened state of the Russian army, he was able to lead his troops via a southerly route, through lands that had not been scorched. Historians agree that had he not left when he did, and taken a route with plentiful foraging, his losses would have been far worse.

The invasion of Russia was a costly failure. Rumors that Napoleon had lost his entire army spread across Europe, and may have contributed to an attempted military coup by Claude Francois de Malet in late October. The coup was swiftly thwarted, but it revealed a dangerous weakness at the heart of the French government. A habit of passive obedience had set in, to the point where Malet was able to gain the cooperation of government ministers and even a cohort of the National Guard simply by presenting forged documents. A handful of anti-French uprisings broke out across Europe, only to be put down by state forces. Napoleon had been humbled by his failure, but by no means beaten. Upon returning to Paris, he set about reorganizing his forces for the battles he knew were inevitable; the Russians would not soon forgive what he had done to their country. But although Europe remained broadly quiescent, France was not as enthusiastic about his wars as it had once been. Deluged with warnings of anti-war sentiment from the Ministry of Police, Napoleon was forced to adapt his plans; releasing thousands of veteran troops who had been kept long past their discharge dates, and relying more and more on his allies.

Le Rêve Passe []

It was this need for troops that caused Napoleon to turn at last to the Britannians, or more specifically, the Britannian exiles living in Europe. The success of the American Revolution, the chaos of the French Revolutions and later, the Napoleonic Wars, as well as the failure of Hoare’s Rebellion, would culminate in an orgy of bloodletting spread across the Britannian Isles. In 1810, right after Aegon Targaryen became Britannia’s new Emperor, he ordered the arrests and, later deaths of hundreds, perhaps thousands of suspected republicans and their families throughout Britannia (especially Ireland) in what is known as the Dragon’s Wrath. This led to many republicans and their families fleeing to either mainland Europe or the United States, mostly the former. In all, conservative estimates point to about 8% of the Britannian population being killed or fleeing altogether, and this would ultimately benefit Napoleon in the long run.

Indeed, the Britannian exiles in Europe had spent the intervening time reorganizing and rebuilding, and deciding just what sort of societies they wanted it to be in their new home. With the old Imperial army and its traditions long gone, they had rebuilt themselves along radically new lines. Though they wore their traditional red uniforms and fought in the linear style, the regular army had been organized and trained in a new style, based on the same experiments by Elizabeth III that gave rise to the Imperial Ranger Corps. The new Britannian exiles fought not with smoothbore muskets, but with new rifled muskets, based on a design developed by master gunsmith Ezekiel Baker. The new regiments were also very different, having abandoned not only the old linear style in favor of a new light infantry doctrine but also having broken down many of the social barriers between officers and enlisted men.

This new system, which called for initiative and self-discipline rather than mindless obedience, appealed to the middle classes in a way that the old army never had. Napoleon had initially been skeptical of "le système britannique", in part due to its one crucial weakness. Though the Baker Rifle was deadly accurate, capable of killing at two or three times the range of a standard smoothbore musket, it could not be loaded as quickly. The exiles overcame this weakness by equipping the riflemen with normal paper cartridges in addition to rifle ammunition, and by training them to fight as line infantry where necessary. But this made for a much longer period of training, which would make replacing losses more difficult.

But circumstances overcame Napoleon's skepticism, and at the turn of 1813 he called upon the Britannian exiles to provide him with contingents for his armies. When the Russians returned in early in 1813, the riflemen had the chance to prove themselves, outperforming the finest of Napoleon's own light infantry. But even in victory, there were problems under the surface. Far from regarding their French allies as saviors, the ex-Britannian troops displayed resentment and general ill-feeling towards the French troops; though they got on noticeably better with other nationalities, notably the Germans. It was suggested to Napoleon that he might build greater support among them by invading the Britannian Isles and succeed where Harren Hoare had failed. Napoleon would refuse, citing the newly built defenses in the coasts of Britannia, as well as the French-led navy still needing to recover from Trafalgar.

As winter descended, Napoleon prepared a new strategy to deal with Russia, one that would avoid the mistakes of 1812. His new plan was to defeat Russia a little at a time, carving away its territory piece by piece and smashing its armies until the Czar had nothing more to send against them. Dubbed the 'Daugava plan', it would take his line of advance up to the river Daugava and no further, allowing him to carve off most of the territory of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that Russia had acquired in the previous century. The plan would take two years to bear fruit; two years of hard fighting, as Bonaparte's increasingly European armies struggled to fight off one Russian army after another. Finally, in 1815, an exhausted Russia was finally brought to terms. In the Treaty of Smolensk, Russia surrendered sovereignty over the territory Napoleon had taken, which he incorporated into the State of Poland.

What followed was nine years of much-needed, if rather tense peace. With his Russian border finally secure, Napoleon was able to turn his attention south, to the crumbling Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans had faced their own challenges in recent years, with two uprisings resulting in the establishment of an autonomous Principality of Serbia under Milos Obrenovic. This new state bordered the State of Hungary and was of considerable interest to both France and Russia. It was for this reason as much as any other that Napoleon did not attempt a full-scale invasion in this period. He was nevertheless unable to prevent some Europeans from taking an interest in the Ottoman subject peoples, notably the Greeks. Panhellenism, fueled by a long-standing European fascination with Classical Greece, became widespread among the European middle classes and educated elite. Napoleon was privately sympathetic but took a cautious line. More immediate problems demanded his attention; in particular how Europe was to be governed in the future. Napoleon had fallen increasingly in line with the Unionist faction; allowing the various satellite states greater latitude in their defense arrangements. This horrified the Hegemonists, who feared that allowing the satellites to build up their forces would invariably encourage them to challenge French dominance. Unionist ambitions went even further, to replace the French Empire with a European Union of allied states, led by an elected government representing all states, yet beholden to none of them. In France, this movement was led by Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon, who had described his ideas in his 1814 pamphlet De la réorganisation de la société européenne.

Napoleon's willingness to countenance a dismantling of French control was as surprising to contemporaries as it was unexpected at the time. He may simply have been tired of years of war and dictatorial government and sought to create a society that could outlive him. Some, usually conspiracy theorists, have argued that he fell under some outside influence in his old age; Brandon Bailey being a popular suspect. The position of the French people was not as clear-cut as some commentators have claimed. While some were irritated, even angered at the apparent dismantling of France's glorious empire, others were remarkably accepting, even enthusiastic. To the latter, the new union represented the fulfillment of revolutionary ideas; the possibility of a peaceful, liberal Europe over which the tyranny of empire and the horror of war would no longer hold sway. The conflict was destined not to be resolved within Napoleon's lifetime, and it can be argued that those same ideas were never entirely realized. Either way, it cannot be denied that the early European Union was built on two guarantors; French military power, and German cooperation. Napoleon would spend many years overseeing the creation of a pan-European legislature, complete with voting and funding systems. The process was only mildly disrupted by the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in 1821, with Napoleon turning a blind eye to the involvement of the Philhellenes. But for all his titanic efforts, it was a flower he was not destined to see bloom. On the night of May 5th, 1824, Napoleon became violently ill while dining. Incapable of speech, he attempted to write his supposed will while in his sickbed, though he only succeeded in scrawling what appeared to be a strangely distinctive sigil. His personal medical staff did all they could but to no avail. Parisians woke the next morning to the news that First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte had died in the early hours of the morning.

Union of States []

Across Europe, Napoleon's passing was met with mourning and rejoicing in equal measure. To some, he had been a hero, a messiah, a shining beacon leading to a brighter future. To others, he had been a bloody-handed tyrant, a destroyer of nations and a despoiler of religion. But what he had built would long outlive him, whether as a French Empire or a European Union. When the European Congress met for the first time, its first act was to posthumously name Napoleon as the EU's first President. For the peoples of France and her allies, nothing less would do. The first elections for both the Circle of Senators and the Circle of Representatives, in July of 1824, went off with remarkably little disruption. Though resistance activity remained commonplace, it tended to revolve around local bandit activity, and rarely became anything local police or state gendarmeries could not handle. Against all odds, and with its founder dead, the new European Union seemed to have come to life.

Though peace had been maintained for nine years, Russia remained a significant threat. Czar Alexander had spent the period of peace rebuilding the damage wrought upon his country by Napoleon's abortive invasion and preparing his armies for the inevitable confrontation. In what contemporaries came to call the Long War, the EU and Russia stared each other down across their shared frontier and sought to undermine each other's overseas interests by means both overt and covert. Indeed, so high were the tensions in 1824 that it was widely believed that Napoleon's death would provoke a Russian invasion. There is strong evidence that Czar Alexander was planning just such a move, but his death in December of 1825 put any such plans on hold. What followed was a year of confusion, as Alexander had in 1823 secretly removed his younger brother Constantin from the succession in favor of their younger brother, Nicholas. The resulting crisis was eventually resolved in favor of Nicholas, but not before a group of three thousand officers and soldiers assembled in St. Petersburg's Senate Square on the morning of December 26th, declaring for Constantin and demanding a constitution. The so-called Decembrists were crushed in short order, but it was clear to Nicholas and his government that subversive ideas were spreading, and the EU was blamed. Despite this, Nicholas had no desire to take Europe on at that point and turned his attention to other, more promising targets. An unintentional war with Persia from 1826 to 1828 left him in control of Armenia and Azerbaijan, while a subsequent clash with the Ottomans gained him yet more territory, along with a guarantee of Serbian autonomy. He was nevertheless unable to prevent the EU from taking advantage of the Greek War of Independence, bringing the newly-independent Hellenic Republic (now the State of Greece) into the union in 1832.

Europe otherwise spent this period rebuilding after decades of war; arranging and solidifying the institutions that would maintain European unity and prosperity. Europe's ambition grew with its wealth and self-confidence, and European eyes began to turn towards Africa. The dark continent had already been extensively explored, but only a minimal European presence existed. Africa exercised a powerful hold over the European imagination, and calls for further exploration and colonization became more common and more strident. A new period of colonization began in 1830 when French forces conquered Algiers; putting an end to the Barbary Pirates that had plagued Europe for centuries. What followed was a series of waves of conquest and colonization, with almost all of Africa coming under European control by the turn of the century. This process was deeply controversial, becoming yet another fault line in European politics. Those who favored colonization tended to point to the cheap raw materials and scientific opportunities, while some argued that Africans were being uplifted by the benevolent hand of European civilization. Others saw this as mere conquest and exploitation, a morally-bankrupt farce in which the Rights of Man were extended to all white Europeans, yet denied to black Africans. This period saw one of the more disturbing developments in human history; that of scientific racism. Originally invented by plantocrat plantation owners and slaveholders desperate to justify slavery, it was increasingly adopted by the proponents of colonization. Perversely dovetailing with the sublime self-confidence of European culture and society, the result was a continent convinced that it was conquering other peoples for their own good. Thus would the Empire of Liberty spread itself over the globe.

But all was not well in Europe. European prosperity and development were built on the principle of laissez-faire, in which economic transactions would be subject to a bare minimum of official interference. The concept was itself a product of the Enlightenment, based on the idea that human potential could be unleashed via natural systems. The economist Adam Smith had long since argued that free trade and free markets allowed for human flourishing via enlightened self-interest; what he called the 'invisible hand'. In essence, if individuals were allowed to decide and act for themselves in a free market, then the best possible result would occur. This was news to those lower down the social scale, to the peasants and industrial workers who made up the bulk of Europe's population. Peasants had in theory done well out of the Napoleonic conquest, for the transfer of land ownership from landlords to peasant families had been a major theme of Napoleonic policy.

But if the intent had ever been to create a world of prosperous smallholders, it did not last long. The agricultural and industrial revolutions brought forth all manner of new possibilities, including the mechanization of farming. Though in theory smallholders made farming more flexible and responsive, economies of scale favored large, mechanized farms. Those able and willing to improve their farms almost invariably did better than those who could or would not. The result was an early known example of a jobless recovery, as the farming population shrank while productivity skyrocketed and food prices plummeted. Unable to compete, countless farmers were forced to sell up and head for the cities, where they added to a burgeoning population of industrial workers. From an economic perspective, this was the invisible hand at its best; greater abundance, cheaper food, and labor more efficiently employed. To the displaced farmers and the industrial workers, they were joining, it was a tale of human misery and exploitation. Almost overnight, an entire way of life was being all but destroyed, and the life that awaited had little to recommend it. The reality of life for an industrial worker was unceasing labor, low wages, and squalid living conditions.

The reaction finally came in 1848, in the form of a series of uprisings across Europe. Though they happened in the same year, separated by several months in some cases, the risings varied considerably in their following and goals. They have nevertheless been taken, on the whole, as a full-scale lashing-out by those who had suffered as a result of social and economic change; some of whom wanted to turn the clock back, while others sought a different kind of future. Of the social forces represented in the 1848 risings, among the most disturbing at the time were nationalism and communism. The Communist movement got its name from the German philosopher Karl Marx, who published The Communist Manifesto in 1848. In it, he predicted that just as the middle-class bourgeoisie had struggled against and supplanted the feudal nobility, then the working class proletariat would do the same against the bourgeoisie. Opposing this, and the wider socialist movement, was the equally widespread ideology of nationalism. This most commonly took the form of grievance over state borders, an issue that had festered ever since the Napoleonic Conquest. This did not only involve disputes between existing states, but by ethnic groups that had never been granted a state, such as the Basques in Spain, the Belarusians in Poland, and the Slavonic inhabitants of Hungary. This was a common cause of splits between nationalist movements, most notably in the case of Lajos Kossuth in Hungary.

A lawyer and journalist of lower aristocratic stock, Kossuth had a long-standing reputation as a political agitator before entering the Hungarian Diet (legislature) in 1847. When news of an uprising in Paris reached Budapest in March of 1848, Kossuth was elected Governor in a snap election of questionable legality. Though enormously popular with Hungarians, he alienated Hungary's Slavonic population by insisting on the superiority of Hungarian culture over Slavonic culture. But Kossuth's most dangerous, and arguably fatal, move was in April of 1849 to declare Hungary's independence from the EU. Though hailed as a hero by many rebels across Europe, he could not find a single state government willing to support him. Poland remained a staunch ally of France, which had acquired a new President in the charismatic figure of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte. Unlike previous presidents, the second President Bonaparte was a Hegemonist, seeking to maintain French dominance by limiting the power and independence of the other states. Frightened by the uprisings, the other state governments largely fell in behind him. Though Kossuth had managed to raise a popular army of some 170,000 men, it proved no match for the Franco-Polish army sent by Bonaparte. The revolt was crushed in a matter of months, and Kossuth was forced to flee. Ironically enough, he would spend the rest of his life in Britannia, seemingly a broken man.

More to come... 



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