[QUOTE="SilentSpaniard, post: 21197965, member: 147936"]
Oh, my... So detailed, plausible and [I]terrifying.[/I] Like a "Banana Republic" system, [I]On Steroids![/I]

"The Party knows everything. The Party reaches everywhere. [I]Nothing shall exist outside the Party.[/I]"

I'm getting some Orwell vibes here...

It’s not a far leap from OTL’s “Solid South,” just on steroids!
Loving the tension of the Mexican war, though I initially found it odd that Reyes would decide to hole up in Guanajuato. The city is almost completely ringed by low mountains that would make any approach aside from the southwest incredibly difficult. Sure, it's an highly defensible position, but it also allows the rebels to simply bypass Reyes' army completely. (Not to mention, a rail junction would be better placed, in my view, in Silao, which lies near the entrance of the valley Guanajuato is located in.) But then, leaving a large force like that behind your lines is asking for trouble, so Lerdo's men would be forced to reckon with them sooner or later.
On another note, the ants nest worth of tunnels under the city would make for some interesting maneuvers by the defenders, should the attackers attempt to force entry into the city itself.
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Loving the tension of the Mexican war, though I initially found it odd that Reyes would decide to hole up in Guanajuato. The city is almost completely ringed by low mountains that would make any approach aside from the southwest incredibly difficult. Sure, it's an highly defensible position, but it also allows the rebels to simply bypass Reyes' army completely. (Not to mention, a rail junction would be better placed, in my view, in Silao, which lies near the entrance of the valley Guanajuato is located in.) But then, leaving a large force like that behind your lines is asking for trouble, so Lerdo's men would be forced to reckon with them sooner or later.
On another note, the ants nest worth of tunnels under the city would make for some interesting maneuvers by the defenders, should the attackers attempt to force entry into the city itself.

Love this response! My sense from Wikipedia (lol) led me to imagine Guanajuato, with its beautiful colonial architecture, as more of a natural chokepoint rather than being entirely ringed, and a place the rebels would have no choice but to eventually address.

Loving the idea of the tunnels under the city, though. I'm for sure going to do something with that...
The Waldersee Putsch

The Waldersee Putsch was a failed coup d'etat attempted on November 7th, 1883 in Berlin, Germany, by General Quartermaster of the German General Staff Alfred von Waldersee and forces of the Prussian Army loyal to him against the German government, most prominently Kaiser Frederick III, Germany's Chancellor the Prince Hohenlohe, and Vice Chancellor, and leader of the National Liberals, Rudolf von Bennigsen. On November 7 the putschists managed to seize much of central Berlin, taking control of the Prussian Landtag and forcing recently installed Prime Minister Botho zu Eulenberg and much of his Cabinet to flee, and besieging the Reichstag and City Palace, which were defended through the night and next day by government-aligned troops. The coup began to collapse the next day when Frederick III returned to Potsdam from Hanover, where Waldersee had expected sympathizers to arrest the Emperor, and when Otto von Bismarck, the recently dismissed Chancellor, gave a thunderous address against the violence in Berlin from the steps of the War Ministry, held by Field Marshal von Moltke and his own men against a siege of police officers who flipped to Waldersee's cause.

The fighting in central Berlin ended the next day with the arrival of Paul von Hindenburg and his Kreiskorps, a young infantry officer who's men broke through the forces of Alfred von Schlieffen encircling the Reichstag, allowing von Bennigsen and other officials to flee the city safely. Additional infantry units being raised in the proximity of the capital to move against the plotters, and the surrender of several insurgents in the late evening, led to Waldersee's suicide by pistol in the Herrenhaus Chamber of the Prussian Landtag.

The attempted putsch came at the conclusion of a politically tense summer in which street violence and social polarization spiked over fears of socialist upheavals, the renewals of anti-socialist laws, and the political rivalry between the moderately liberal Frederick and Bismarck, who was aligned with conservatives in both the Prussian government and military. Waldersee had expected considerably more of the Prussian elite to support him in his effort to oust Frederick and serve as a dictatorial Chancellor, perhaps with a new monarch such as Crown Prince Henry, in place. The support failed to materialize, the surviving plotters were shunned, and the event served as an impetus for Frederick to pursue substantial constitutional reforms that minimized the powers of individual states and centralized much of the authority of the Empire in his hands as well as the imperial bureaucracy.

Waldersee Putsch Infobox.png

Author's Note: Huge, huge shoutout to @TheHedgehog for helping me figure out how to do infoboxes properly!
Frederick and Victoria: Consorts of Germany
"...that a strike in the coal mines of Silesia, and sympathy strikes in the Ruhr, nearly toppled the German government remains difficult to believe, but the fear of a "Belgian Uprising in Germany," as the nationalist press put it, was the catalyst for Waldersee moving forward his plans to finally usurp the Emperor and supplant the upstart National Liberals who he felt were forgetting their place in the German order. For maximum effect, he waited for when Frederick would not be in Berlin, and when he knew that the Crown Prince would be on sea drills. The civilian government would be the easiest to sweep away, was the belief, despite Schlieffen's skepticism of moving forward with an outright coup rather than organizing a political bloc for the military to use as a political pressure point in the Reichstag. Waldersee's desire to serve as Chancellor in his 'Restored Germany' also rankled many of his sympathizers, despite the enthusiasm many footsoldiers had for the idea, and the lack of enthusiasm Schlieffen had for the endeavor could explain its eventual failure..."

"...Frederick's return on the morning of the 8th, not long before "Der Held Hindenburg" made his gallant attack with his men into the heart of the siege zone, was what forever endeared him to the German public in a way that he had never been able to earn their trust before. Despite the conservatism of 1880s Germany it was still an increasingly liberal, educated society that believed in laws and not settling internal disputes via violence; the German street reacted with shock to the Belgian strikes earlier that year for their ugliness, and had the same reaction when the hard right behaved that way in Berlin over three days that November. Waldersee was doomed to fail not just because of logistics but because he fundamentally misunderstood the people he sought to rule..."

"...the Waldersee Putsch in the end did little more than set back the cause of violent reactionary politics in Germany. Bismarck, despite his calls for peace, was blamed by liberals, progressives and socialists for fostering the enmity by playing political parties off one another to stay in power over the previous 15 years. The Iron Chancellor, revered on the German right to this day for his role in uniting the Reich via iron and blood and still a national hero, was to his contemporaries a sad old disgrace who stayed past his prime. A generation of rising military talents were humiliated; Schlieffen and Hahnke's acquiescence to Waldersee's self-serving plot had their careers ended before they had had a chance to truly begin. The octogenarian von Moltke retired shortly thereafter, embarrassed that he had "allowed such a cancer to grow under my nose," though his reputation was substantially rehabilitated in future years. Caprivi would replace Moltke, largely in thanks for his brave efforts managing the siege from the War Ministry. Hindenburg, now a popular hero, was only at the very start of his own glittering career. And yet, the military was always viewed askance by the civilian government from then on, and its fundamental role in German society would reach an ebb until the next great European war broke out. [1] The Junkers would keep their economic influence for decades more - Frederick's antipathy towards socialism and land reform, and his successor's similar attitudes, helped stave off attempts to break up their massive and uneconomic estates. Despite this, the aristocratic Landtag, with its three-class electorate, would decline in influence as Frederick positioned himself first and foremost as Germany's Emperor and pursued his New Course..."

- Frederick and Victoria: Consorts of Germany

[1] Ruh-roh!
"...sorry, ASB. Waldersee was completely and utterly delusional and he cost five hundred Germans their lives, including his own, proving it. There was no universe in which the Prussian Army would have turned en masse against the Kaiser; he couldn't get his own gang of idiots to be fully bought in! (Germans have debated since 1883 whether or not Schlieffen basically phoned in his role during the battle in Berlin against his peers, and the very lenient treatment he got suggests that Caprivi certainly suspected as much). The Prussian Army may have bristled every now and then at Friedrich's liberalism and quiet opposition to the Unification Wars, or thought it was untoward how much his *gasp* British wife dominated him, but he had acquitted himself well as a soldier, had never once denied a military budget increase, and supported the right of the Kaiser to dissolve any legislature that tried to cut the Army's privileges or expenditures. Put bluntly, whatever tensions existed between the Kaiser and his former Chancellor's conservative, landed aristocratic base, were of the normal political kind. Waldersee wanting to purge the German state because it was insufficiently anti-Semitic and anti-Socialist was purely his own madness. It's honestly remarkable he found anybody willing to go along with him; had the Great Coal Strike not broken out in the German coal mines, and Frederick's response not been exceedingly lenient in view of how poorly the public had reacted to a similarly inauspicious start to general strikes in Belgium only six months earlier, its doubtful that Schlieffen or Hahnke join in, and without them, and the fear of socialism permeating the Prussian Army's staff corps, then there's no Putsch.

Even beyond that, though, let's say a butterfly flaps its wings and the gang of idiots who couldn't even take the Reichstag after seizing the Prussian Diet manage to actually do it. What then? Do they start executing political enemies? Waldersee wanted to line Bennigsen up against a wall and shoot him, along with the Kaiser. Do you think Schlieffen is onboard with that? How do the other German states respond to the head of the Reichstag and the Emperor being murdered by renegade Prussian officers who are now charging to establish a dictatorship of the Prussian elite? Remember, the German Imperial Army was as convoluted and chaotic a mess as its general government at this time. Saxony's army would have been mustered within hours; indeed, King Albert had orders ready to mobilize his forces. What about Bavaria, which had always bristled a bit at Prussian hubris? Luitpold - who let's be real, was running the show in Munich even at this stage - would not have stood for that despite his support for the unified German state. If Hindenburg and Caprivi hadn't pacified Berlin, a mob would have, outraged at the murder of the Emperor. And if they hadn't, well, then, Germany is teetering towards civil war. And Waldersee has nowhere near enough support to win street fighting in the capital, let alone take on a Bavaria and Saxony that, combined with much of the Prussian mainstream, will want revenge and has the perfectly acceptable Heinrich ready to go. There's a reason Heinrich was so popular on the throne in OTL - nobody had any reason not to like him, they even called him "the Most Amiable."

So no, the Waldersee Putsch is a bizarre episode in history, a culmination of tensions that Bismarck cynically let spiral out of control until a gang of idiots took matters into their own hands and started shooting. Only in Waldersee's deranged mind (seriously read his diaries sometime. There's a reason the German far-right still worships him) could this have ended with anything other than him eating a bullet, which he did once he could hear Hindenburg's men coming down the halls of the Landtag. He was a coward, a moron, he got hundreds of people killed and he got what he deserved."

- AHC: Make the Waldersee Putsch Successful
The mentions of the "next great European war" give rise to many questions. I find it interesting that while Bismarck in both OTL and TTL was an arch-conservative despite (or perhaps because of) his realpolitik, the ascension of a more liberal Kaiser and Waldersee's own crazed gambit has shed more light on the conservatism rather than his impressive role in unifying Germany. Napoleon IV's own social reforms to subvert socialist sentiment also probably did not help this reputation, as here Bismarck ITTL is just another rightist enacting popular laws to counter the revolutionaries rather than a singular visionary who established one of the first welfare states in the world.
Very interesting chapters! And nice infobox, by the way.

So, we get a triple point of view for Waldersee's Putsch: its entry in Wikipedia, a historical source and some AHC/ASB in TTL's Alternate History. Quite complete and well rounded! I did enjoy the experience.

The support failed to materialize, the surviving plotters were shunned, and the event served as an impetus for Frederick to pursue substantial constitutional reforms that minimized the powers of individual states and centralized much of the authority of the Empire in his hands as well as the imperial bureaucracy.
And yet, the military was always viewed askance by the civilian government from then on, and its fundamental role in German society would reach an ebb until the next great European war broke out.
This makes quite a difference! I'm guessing other countries won't tend to identify so readily Germany with "Prussian militarism" in TTL.
Very interesting chapters! And nice infobox, by the way.

So, we get a triple point of view for Waldersee's Putsch: its entry in Wikipedia, a historical source and some AHC/ASB in TTL's Alternate History. Quite complete and well rounded! I did enjoy the experience.

This makes quite a difference! I'm guessing other countries won't tend to identify so readily Germany with "Prussian militarism" in TTL.

Thanks! Now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, I think I’ll be including more media in this TL, since just paragraphs of my rambling presumably gets old haha
Titan: The Life and Presidency of James G. Blaine
"...the issue of black rights was thrust suddenly back into the political sphere when the Supreme Court - surprisingly, after having been quite friendly to matters of import to African-Americans during the Davis Court - ruled 7-2 that the 14th Amendment did not apply to public accommodations for black citizens, with even Chief Justice Davis joining the majority in a concurrence. Only Ebenezer Hoar and George Edmunds dissented from the ruling by Joseph Bradley, meaning all justices appointed by Lincoln (Davis, Bradley, Miller and Field) or by a Democratic administration (Fuller, Phelps, Thurman) effectively narrowed the scope of one of the Abolition Amendments, dramatically denying blacks their civil rights. In unusually strong language, Edmunds blistered, "I helped pass this Amendment in the Senate. I remember what the legislative language, intent and debate was, and I know what it's provisions mean. The Court, apparently, does not. Therefore, I dissent." Blaine reacted calmly to the news, but other prominent Liberals did not - Hay in particular was outraged, pointing to the case in Illinois seven years earlier that had struck down state efforts to ban African-Americans from settling within certain counties. The fairly limited scope of the "Civil Rights Cases" [1] was around accommodations by private businesses, but it still seemed to be a license to discriminate. Garfield suggested that federal laws protecting non-discrimination may be necessary, particularly around the right to vote, which had gone unaddressed in the Abolition Amendments and under Supreme Court jurisprudence; northern papers even touted "the return of Dred Scott."

Of course, the reaction of many sympathetic Liberal state legislatures was to pass nondiscrimination laws with some teeth, almost all of which were upheld by state and federal courts over the next many decades. But despite his sanguine reaction, Blaine saw the outrage both at more moderate, pre-Liberal and well as Democratic justices as an opportunity. As Congress returned in early December of 1883 and grumblings about the fancy mansions of his Cabinet members started to permeate the press, he and Hay started to develop their campaign themes for the next year - that the nation had not healed from the War of Secession as much as had been hoped, and Democrats wanted to drag it back. Black voters across the Union were an up-for-grabs constituency having grown in numbers and citizenship, and having been politically homeless since the collapse of the Republicans a decade earlier. Indiana, still run by a Democratic legislature and Governor at this point, responded to the Civil Rights cases by dramatically restricting black rights within the state, and only the election of a Liberal legislature in Ohio prevented the narrowly-elected governor of that same state from doing the same, as if to prove his point..."

- Titan: The Life and Presidency of James G. Blaine

[1] So this is actually a real case and the voting lineup is more or less the same, though the OTL case actually went 8-1 rather than 7-2 (of course, the OTL court only shares Bradley, Miller and Field as members in 1883 with TTL).
Maximilian of Mexico
"...the Irapuato to Silao salient held, regardless of attack after attack; the rail junctions did not fall, and the rebels finally retreated back to their base at Leon rather than waste more bodies on another wave. A bold move was drawn up by Casavantes and approved by the others - to attempt to cross the high ridges around Guanajuato City to both seize the valuable silver mines there as well as flank the Imperial forces from the northeast. The attack was a massive failure - unable to get supporting artillery up into the hills, the rebels attacked downhill, chewed up by gunfire from the small garrison Reyes had left there. Once down in the city [1], fighting extended to the narrow colonial-era streets and the maze of tunnels beneath the cobblestone paths itself. The bloody battle ended with nearly all 500 rebels who attempted to take Guanajuato killed or captured.

A final maneuver towards Reyes' camp at Irapuato ended with Casavantes and, more importantly, Garcia killed on the same day by stray bullets, throwing the rebel units from Chihuahua and Zacatecas into disarray. Many of the fighters had come due to personal connections to their "jefes" and fear of reprisals back home against them or their families if they did not. The continued frustrations of the anti-centralist forces on open fields over several weeks, at the far end of their supply lines, rather than in an invested siege depleted morale, as did disease and infighting between the various caudillos. Lerdo made the decision finally to withdraw back past Leon, under cover of their limited fire on the ridges above the city to prevent their retreat from being harried, and then further to Lagos de Moreno and then Aguascalientes to regroup for the next spring, praying that they would not be pincered.

Such hopes were to no avail. The retreat was shambolic and harassed all the way to Leon, where Reyes pulled back his men as they came into the line of protective fire. The Northern Alliance was shocked when Ramon Corona's men hit them from the west, marching from Guadalajara, scattering many units and resulting in the capture and execution of Antonio Ochoa, throwing the until-now disciplined Batopilas contingent into disarray. Lerdo and Gonzalez fled to San Luis Potosi with their most veteran fighters and began calling for reinforcements to come south; Terrazas and Canales were trapped in Aguascalientes, and now the roles were reversed as both cities fell under siege again, this time with the Imperials investing them. Even Miramon moved out of his quarters at Queretaro with reinforcements now ready for the November offensive; by the end of the month, both cities broke. Terrazas surrendered and was granted amnesty by Maximilian over his generals' protests; Canales shot himself as the city fell. Lerdo and Gonzalez fled further north, to Torreon, but the exhausted Imperial forces stopped their advance with the conclusion of the fighting in November to regroup, train more conscripts, and turn their attention to finally crushing the Oaxaca insurgency to keep pressure off the Bajio..."

- Maximilian of Mexico

[1] Much of this material regarding geography in the area and some cool stuff about Guanajuato itself is credited to @pathfinder for his ideas!
The Sino-French War
"...though a muddled result in most ways and hardly the press-friendly daring triumph Paris hoped for, the victory at Son Tay met its most critical objective - the breaking of Liu's Black Flags as an effective fighting force in Tonkin. Liu's anger over the Chinese and Vietnamese courts relying on him so heavily, and the subsequent disaster inflicted upon his men and lack of support even after his previously vindicated campaigns had succeeded in keeping the French harried, led to his withdrawal to the rural north. As France raised new battalions to deploy to the Far East, particularly Foreign Legion soldiers recruited from Africa and the Balkans as four battalions were now dispatched to Tonkin alongside swelling numbers of Marines. The fifth Foreign Legion battalion would be routed to Korea by late January. [1]

In Beijing, meanwhile, Li Hongzhang saw the only path forward being one where French provocations were answered. Several armies were raised in China and moved to Yunnan and Manchuria in preparation for expected conflict..."

- The Sino-French War (US Military Academy, 1987)

[1] This is, of course, a much larger force dispatched to the Far East than IOTL
The Revisionism of Reconciliation: The Real History of the Confederate Grand Consensus
"...even in the midst of the Grand Consensus's zenith, there were cracks in the armor. Though nothing like the bubbling revolt against Democratic autarky that would come in the following decade, the success of the "Readjusters" in Virginia marked one of the few places in Dixie where any kind of opposition party secured a foothold. The Readjusters had taken advantage of an ugly rift among Democrats in 1881 to elect their own William Cameron as Governor; in 1883, a year in which former Virginia Governor Longstreet was otherwise consolidating power at the national level for the Democrats, the Readjusters secured a majority in the House of Delegates and dramatically reduced the Democratic advantage in the Senate. Of course, there was more to this at a deeper level - the Readjusters took advantage of fusion voting to cross-endorse Democrats, absorbed disaffected "Tories" from the mountainous Southeast and Shenandoah, "city crackers" in the infamous slums on the outskirts of Richmond, Alexandria and Norfolk and also picked off "Jubileers" - those loyal to former Vice President Jubal Early and his political faction, as well as the losers of the patronage disputes arising out of Longstreet's Governorship that bubbled over in 1881. Cameron managed to navigate his ally and party leader William Mahone into Early's old Senate seat in the 1883 elections thanks to an alliance with some Democrats, making Mahone the only non-Democratic Senator in the 12th Confederate Congress.

The Readjusters provided a roadmap to the opposition that would emerge in the 1890s and beyond - cross-endorsements within the Democratic superstructure, finding disaffected members of factional disputes that were meant to be handled "between gentlemen," as Wade Hampton once phrased it, and appealing to the forgotten corners of the Confederate electorate. The same voters who would make up the later Farmers' Alliance and its successors were at home with the Readjusters who attempted to rebalance the state's debt favorably; small farmers, often tenants or those evicted by larger plantation owners; miners and factory laborers; "Tories" from Appalachia who had been Union sympathizers in the war; the urban poor, and Indians with the franchise. The Cameron government raised taxes to build a hundred new rural schools, prosecuted oyster boat pirates and reformed patronage; they were rewarded in 1885 when Cameron's choice of successor was defeated in a contentious election marred with irregularities and the Readjuster legislative majority evaporated in a landslide. The Longstreet Machine adjusted quickly to the new and nascent threat to crush it; it also assimilated it, as many Readjusters returned to the Democratic fold and were the nucleas of the future National Reform League and the ruling party's modernizing wing..."

- The Revisionism of Reconciliation: The Real History of the Confederate Grand Consensus
Maximilian of Mexico
"...Maximilian was stunned by the Zocalo Riot on Christmas Day morning, especially by how many troops returned from the front participated in the mass demonstration. Though many present were hardly Lerdistas, the anger over food shortages in the city and aggressive policing seemed to threaten the regime so badly that he nearly evacuated the Chapultepec to his country home in Cuernavaca (that his longtime mistress in the city was pregnant with their sixth child and soon to give birth was certainly no coincidence) [1]. The victories in Guanajuato and beyond in the months prior had seemed to firm up the regime, but Zuloaga finally decided that the political dimension needed to be addressed now that the military one was looking more optimistic, and in late January made his "Zuloaga Pledge" that began the eight-year period of Mexican history generally known as the Feliciato. The Pledge had three components: a promise of amnesty to any rebel who laid down their arms and surrendered to the Rurales or the Army, regardless of rank or prior behavior in the war, an offer as generous as the Ley Blanco during the French Intervention; a promise of new taxes on raw materials mined and exported in Mexico with revenues to be distributed for projects similar to the Plan Nacional, with the north a particular focus; and political reforms to give the departments more influence in the capital. Secularism in education or civil matters was not considered, but the Pledge marked the first genuine peace offering from the central administration to the revolting people, and most importantly, addressed their concerns rather than the personal piques of the rebellious caudillos. It would serve as a baseline for a further shift towards a conservative constitutional framework rather than the outright personalism that had dominated Mexico for so long..."

- Maximilian of Mexico

[1] OTL Max even bought her a house *across the street from the church*
The Iron Marshal: France in the Age of Bazaine
"...Rouher's death on February 3 of 1884 marked the official end of the age of "Le Trois," even though he had been effectively shown the door years ago. And 1883 had marked the last year of Bazaine holding substantive influence; in Boulanger he had a trusted successor in managing France's foreign and military policy alongside MacMahon, and the Emperor's ever-growing confidence, especially in fatherhood, led Bazaine to believe that the future of France was entirely secure. Even as war clouds brewed in Asia as he announced to a surprised Napoleon that he would be stepping back from his vague, amorphous duties - what official title Bazaine had held under the Young Eagle were ever-shifting - he made the determination that his fifteen years steering the ship of state had left France as a strong continental power, a thriving economy (especially compared to anemic Britain), a rising imperial force overseas and the protector of Catholicism in Europe. Under his watch, France had rebounded deftly from the humiliation of the Luxembourg War and subsequent rise of Germany, as well as the crisis of the May Commune. It held protectorates in Korea and Indochina, control of the Suez Canal, economic suzerainty over North Africa and the Levant through its dominance of Ottoman lending, outstanding relations with Vienna, Copenhagen, Richmond and Mexico City, had averted potential wars with Britain and Spain in short succession, cooled the passions of the working class through paternalistic conservatism as a blueprint to other European powers, and cemented monarchist and Catholic supremacy at home through support for the Pope and the joining of the Bonaparte and Bourbon claims under one bloodline. It did not heart that Bazaine's rival Bismarck had been ousted for making a gamble the shrewd Bazaine would never have attempted and then seen Germany nearly destabilized in an attempted coup thereafter; the aftershocks of the Waldersee Putsch of November 1883 as compared to France's domestic tranquility would be felt for the rest of the decade. Though the Belle Epoque is often credited to the astute Napoleon IV, it was Bazaine who poured the foundation upon which the Young Eagle built his grand gilded house.

That did not mean that the last seven years [1] of Bazaine's life were entirely uneventful. He split his time between Versailles and Biarritz; his expertise in foreign matters became crucial again as war between France and China broke out, though more as an informal advisor than as a direct force in government. Boulanger would lean on Bazaine for the remaining five years of the Marechal de Fer's life; a number of ideological and intellectual successors to the Bazainoisie sprouted out of lunches and lectures at his estates. He was shrewd with his investments and took up painting, writing and horsebreeding in his final years, and the gruff old soldier in his late seventies even began to show a sense of humor about himself in interviews with foreign publications. He and Pepita were eager hosts for visiting diplomats and nobility, though as he turned eighty - and as France descended into the Great Panic of 1890 - his entertaining lessened. Finally, his heart gave out in January of 1891, weeks shy of his eightieth birthday, in Biarritz. Only the funeral of Napoleon IV fourteen years later drew more attendees in Paris, and he was escorted with a massive honor guard to and from his estate for when he lay in state both in the Tuileries and in Notre Dame herself. Rural Frenchmen, the backbone of Bazaine's proud, nationalist and Catholic state, gathered by the road to throw flowers on his funeral train, which moved by horse cart so that more of his people could see him. Even in death, the Iron Marshal held sway over an empire's imagination..."

- The Iron Marshal: France in the Age of Bazaine

[1] Lives longer due to not being an exile in Spain and in poor health, or depressed, about his vitriolic treatment at home

(Though he'll obviously be alive for another seven years of the narrative, this is our effective farewell to Francois Achille Bazaine, who of course has had one of the biggest changes from his OTL life. In our world, he died an exile, penniless, in Madrid after being scapegoated by the Third Republic for the losses in the Franco-Prussian War)
Hartington: Britain's First Modern Prime Minister
"...the informal grand coalition [1] between Liberal and Tory that had formed out of the Egyptian debacle - which Northcote never ceased to assault the government with - eventually collapsed under the weight of the centrifugal forces defining both parties. The Representation of the People Act of 1884 was the last major piece of legislation to emerge via consensus for some time; negotiated carefully between Hartington and Northcote to extend the same voting rights to the countryside as to the towns, it was really the brainchild of Chamberlain and Churchill, two men who had more in common by the mid-1880s than they perhaps did with the leaders of their own parties. But, alas, Ireland bubbled over once again; Chamberlain's frequent absences from Dublin Castle became acute when Permanent Under-Secretary for Ireland Thomas Burke was assassinated in Phoenix Park in March of 1884 [2], triggering a major crackdown by the RIC. Though the assassination was condemned by Parnell and carried out by the Irish Republican Brotherhood's most radical breakaway, the National Invincibles, it occurred in volatile political circumstances just as Hartington was once again tabling land reform - weaker than in previous iterations - after taking Tory input. The outrage over Burke's assassination, and Chamberlain having once again "neglected" his duties in Dublin to tend to NLF matters, split the Liberal Party and set up a long-awaited showdown between Hartington's old Whigs and the rising Radicals. For Churchill, meanwhile, the dispute was the perfect opportunity to thrust his National Union into the mix, eagerly anticipating the government falling. Land reform failed, this time in the Commons, as the IPP joined the Tories to vote it down after the RIC carried out a series of aggressive raids on St. Patrick's Day, a date that went duly noticed by Irish leaders. The "Green Riots" in Dublin broke out as a result, overwhelming the RIC in possibly the worst urban violence on the island since the original Fenian campaigns or the aftermath of Prince Alfred's assassination. But two days later, the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, announced a railroad strike in Birmingham, throwing rail transport in the Midlands into chaos. Hartington would later remark that March of 1884 was perhaps the most difficult month of his life.

With Parliament in chaos, Hartington and his brother Frederick went for "a walk around Whitehall" on the evening of April 1. While their conversation was forever private - both men in their diaries would refer to it solely by that mutual description - when Lord Hartington returned to Downing Street he called a Cabinet meeting, announced that he would be resigning, and then set off for Buckingham Palace to announce his anticipated decision to the Queen. Though his first ministry had been one of ambitious reform, since 1882 he had governed conservatively and had grown quite close to Victoria; upon hearing of his resignation, Victoria despaired that he would recommend she call for Chamberlain, whom she and Prince Arthur both despised. Thankfully, though, Hartington severely mistrusted Chamberlain as well and blamed the Radical leader for the upheaval in Ireland and for failing to "control" his labor allies in Birmingham, and would only further take that view as the 1884 Northern Strike spread to other occupations and eventually required aggressive strikebreaking by the home office, poisoning Liberal relations with organized labour for half a decade. Hartington instead recommended that Victoria call one of Harcourt or Childers, both of whom he described in his diary later as "able men, party men, keen in debate and in the maneuvers of the Commons; in their hands, not the Federation, I can trust Westminster's stewardship." Victoria, after consulting Arthur carefully, decided to call for Harcourt. It was the last time that a sovereign would be presented one of two options by an outgoing Prime Minister and have to make the determination themselves, though if Hartington had been pressed he surely would have gone with Harcourt in time.

So thus the most transformative premiership until that time ended. On April 3rd, 1884, William Harcourt was invited to kiss hands and form a government. Hartington returned to the backbenches until his elevation to the House of Lords in 1891 as the Duke of Devonshire; shortly thereafter he would replace the Earl of Rosebery as Liberal leader of the House of Lords and serve in Chamberlain's Cabinets in his career swansong, when the two men reconciled. Of course, that was some time off; Chamberlain had been outmaneuvered once again. As Harcourt made decisions on how to rearrange his Cabinet, Chamberlain came to him and notified him that he had lost interest in the Ireland Office; Harcourt reportedly quipped to his private secretary, "You don't say, Joseph?" and informed him that he would instead inherit the presidency of the Local Government Board, a substantial demotion compared to one of the Great Offices that Chamberlain had thought himself entitled to (albeit one within his wheelhouse from his experience in Birmingham and the Cabinet office in which he arguably most excelled in the 1880s). Lest he be entirely exiled, however - and to prevent a precarious party split that would throw Downing Street to the Tories if his Radicals rebelled - Chamberlain begrudgingly accepted. Harcourt kept the rest of Cabinet mostly intact; Frederick Cavendish was made Home Secretary, George Trevelyan tapped to replace Chamberlain in Dublin, the Earl of Rosebery made Lord President of the Council and James Stansfeld made Minister of War..."

- Hartington: Britain's First Modern Prime Minister

[1] Probably should have checked in on domestic British affairs more during 1883; this TL is sprawling and sometimes gets away from me. Nevertheless, since Parnell holds the balance of power, Parliament mostly passes noncontroversial matters in order to avoid empowering the IPP, despite a poor working relationship between PM Hartington and Opposition leader Northcote
[2] About two years after OTL
Chessboard: The Splendid Isolation and British Foreign Policy
"...Russia's seizure of Merv in Turkestan marked an inflection point in the escalating Great Game; the pathways towards Herat and Afghanistan were now before the Bear, which concentrated all her attention and might upon her Asian conquests. From Afghanistan, Russia could pincer Persia, or break towards India - either way, British foreign policy began to realign towards containing Russia as much if not more than France as the passions of the Egyptian disaster cooled and Germany continued to acquiesce to British dominance over southern and eastern Africa..."

- Chessboard: The Splendid Isolation and British Foreign Policy
The Nassaus
"...Wilhelm's marriage to his first cousin Emma of Walbeck and Pyrmont was a comparatively muted affair, as many royals throughout Europe had not yet sussed out what they thought of Adolf I and his new dynasty. The Netherlands had a strong tradition in the preceding decade of constitutional monarchy, but it remained to be determined how the new king would rule. Emma, meanwhile, was enthusiastic about the match; despite disparaging remarks made about her appearance and girth in the Dutch press upon the announcement of the engagement and her wedding photos being unflattering, the Princess Emma made efforts soon after returning from the couple's honeymoon in the south of France to endear herself to the Dutch people who had seen three kings die of the old, disliked royal house over the course of just over a decade. Despite the stolid politics of the Netherlands, there was still some republican and radical agitation under the surface, particularly in Amsterdam; she would become one of the royal family's most critical ambassadors over the intervening decades, starting with the birth of first child, Adelaide, the following year, celebrated across the land..."

- The Nassaus (Oxford University, 1983)
Frederick and Victoria: Consorts of Germany
"...regardless of its efficacy, Frederick pushed ahead with trying to find the balance between the "controlled chaos" of Germany's constitutional design and the centrifugal personalism of the Bismarckian Era. Aware that he would have a brief moment with which to enforce his new policies upon the state after his victory in the 1883 Crisis and splits in his opposition, he implemented a number of now-formal changes. First, that the office of Chancellor would serve concurrently as head of the Bundesrat by right and as head of the Imperial Cabinet; plans to have the Chancellor hold the confidence of the Reichstag were scrapped. The Vice Chancellor would by right, however, serve a more Prime Ministerial role, appointed by the Emperor upon the advice of the legislature. In this sense, power would be more diffused - in the words of Frederick, the body politic of Germany would come to be that of "Kaiser, Kanzler, und Reichstag."

No officer of the Imperial Government could hold any "lower office;" this forbade the hybrid Premiership of Prussia in tandem with the Chancellery. Nor would one man hold a position as Foreign Minister of one state and another role in the Imperial Cabinet. Frederick's goal was to professionalize the state and bureaucracy, diffusing power through multiple nodes, while still appeasing the Junker elite that held much sway in Prussia. It was also meant to hold the Kaiser supreme above all others; musings about stripping other Kings (particularly the Bavarians) of their royal titles were just that, musings, but nevertheless betray the conversations amongst German liberals about the base of a modern nation..

Of course, as Frederick would find out, there was a reason why Bismarck had retaken the Premiership of Prussia, and also held the Foreign Ministry as his personal portfolio. The federalist nature of the Reich - unlike Britain, or France - made a unitary government difficult to accomplish. Prussia, the vast majority of German territory and population, had its own unique interests that did not always intersect with German ones. Rivalries between the various kings and princes, and the legislatures that governed in their names, had not gone away. All Frederick had served to do was abolish a strictly personalist system under the Iron Chancellor and replace it with a more chaotic, aimless one..."

- Frederick and Victoria