Prologue
Imperator Francorum: A Napoleon II Timeline

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“I envy that boy. Glory is waiting there for him: I had to run after her. I will have been Phillip: he will be Alexander. He has only to extend an arm, and the world is his.”

--Napoleon I's remarks about his son to Marshal Ouidnot.
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Prologue: The Rise and Fall of the First French Empire


The French Empire at the height of its territorial extent and influence under Emperor Napoleon I.
In order to truly understand the circumstances that led to the rise of Emperor Napoleon II "Auguste" commonly referred to as the Eaglet by the French one must first look towards the past to the events leading up to the fall of the First French Empire: the Battle of Leipzig.

France during the Revolution had seen the nation thrown into chaos with the King and Queen executed, and with tyrants, and the incompetent and corrupt directory running France into the ground while inflicting a reign terror upon the population. Through this time of chaos and uncertainty one man rose to the challenge to save France preserving the ideals of the Revolution while ensuring competent and just governance for all peoples: Emperor Napoleon I.

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A young Napoleon bearing the standard of France while leading his men on the front lines at the Battle of Toulon against the First Coalition against France.
Emperor Napoleon I was a man forged in the fires of Revolution tempered by the chaos of the battlefield . With his drive for glory, his unwavering determination, and his grand ambition he raised France and its people to heights it had not seen in centuries since the Carolingians.

With his many victories on the battlefield crushing the armies of the various coalitions assembled against France, Napoleon safeguarded the French people from the machinations of the Old Order seeking to reimpose the tyranny and excesses of the Ancien Regime back onto France and its people. And through these daring efforts, he gained acclaim and the French found a new hero to rally behind to place their hopes that they would finally be delivered from the years of anarchy and instability that they had been suffering through.

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The Coup of 18 Brumaire where the Emperor emerged to provide strong leadership to France,​

With the incompetent and corrupt Directory mismanaging the nation and its people, a general state of malaise had taken over the populace as its members cared little about the values of Revolution or the people, preferring to aggrandize themselves and their cronies at the expense of the population. Through Coup of 18 Brumaire France was finally relieved of its inept government allowing for Napoleon to create an altogether new system after seizing all political power becoming the virtual dictator of France. With near absolute power in his hands, the Emperor adopted the title of Consul of France hearkening back to the period of the Roman Republic where he perhaps fashioned himself as a Caesar of the 19th Century. Like Caesar, Napoleon was a man of action swiftly working to help restore order in France and overhauling its government and financial system providing it with a balanced budget for the first time in many decades, something which not even the Bourbons and the Revolutionaries had managed to do. In addition to this, he introduced a new form of French Civil Law: The Code Napoleon which serves as the basis for modern Europe's legal framework to this day enshrining the principles of the Revolution establishing the equality of men under the law. While the Revolutionaries, during the Reign of Terror tried to bring down the Church imposing their godless Cult of Reason and Cult of the Supreme Being upon the French, Napoleon stuck a Concordat with the Pope restoring moral values and the place of the Church in French society earning him the support and praise.


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An image of the Napoleonic Code amended for the trappings and framework of the French Empire.
With the idea of the Republic discredited, to safeguard the ideals of the Revolution, Napoleon chose to Crown himself as Emperor of the French tying together the ideals of monarchy and the Liberalism of the Revolution to create the foundations for a lasting state as France had been a monarchy since its foundation with the Ancient Frankish King Clovis the Great. The return to monarchy and the reconciliation with the Church worked to bring moderates and Conservatives into the fold with many French Emigres returning to France.

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The Coronation of Emperor Napoleon I depicting his power and the foundation of the House of Bonaparte as a new French Royal Family much to the contempt of most of Europe's royalty.


A painting of Emperor Napoleon I in his coronation robes where he is portrayed as both the successor of Charlemagne and the Roman Emperors of Antiquity with the Pomp and Circumstance of his Empire Style Aesthetic.
Despite all these domestic accomplishments, France and its Revolutionary ideals were not secure, as the old Powers of Europe continually banded together determined to remove Napoleon whom they saw as an illegitimate usurper once and for all. Yet despite all these odds, Emperor Napoleon managed to continually inflict countless defeats upon the Coalition which enabled him to assert France's geopolitical dominance and hegemony all across Europe. After victories like Austerlitz and Jena, he became the master of Italy and Germany organizing the states into his own client states and allies. With the Confederation of the Rhine being created following the dissolution of the ancient but moribund Holy Roman Empire, Napoleon introduced the Code Napoleon and his Enlightened style of rule all across Europe. Germany was reorganized into the Confederation of the Rhine while in Italy a new Kingdom of Italy while Naples was given to his brother and then later Marshal Murat. This unprecedented dominance over Europe made the French Empire the largest and most far reaching European polity since the Ancient Roman Empire. Though with his reorganization of Northern Italy into the Kingdom of Italy which he later bestowed upon his infant son Napoleon II with the title of Le Roi de Rome (The King of Rome), he signified the pre-eminence of his dynasty and the connections between his Empire and that of the Carolingian Empire of Charlemagne.


A painting depicting the Battle of Austerlitz also known as the battle of Three Emperors saw France decisively defeating Russia and Austria during the War of the Third Coalition effectively making Napoleon the master of Continental Europe allowing him to create the Confederation of the Rhine.


A painting of Napoleon crossing the Alps. Artwork was a standard piece of Napoleonic propaganda showing himself as the embodiment of the Revolution and the old splendor of the Frankish and Roman Empires. Names like Hannibal and Charlemagne with the latin form Karolus Magnus help to cast Napoleon as their spiritual successor.

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A contemporary marble bust of Emperor Napoleon I depicting him with the Iron Crown of Lombardy: the ancient crown of past Kings of Italy allegedly forged from an iron nail from the True Cross.
However all of this glory and splendor began to unravel with the Emperor's rash and ill fated attempt to add Spain into its Empire. The Peninsular War or "Napoleon's Spanish Ulcer" as its commonly referred to strained France's resources with many of the Emperor's best troops caught in Spain spreading his forces too thinly to effectively maintain his Empire. Smelling blood in the water, France's allies soon moved against her declaring war seeking to snuff if out of existence once and for all. But Napoleon once again defeated the armies of the Coalition forging an alliance with Tsar Alexander in the hopes of securing his empire allowing him to isolate Britain. Feeling secure in his standing, the Emperor made the grave error of enacting the Continental System in attempt to construct a pan-European blockade of Britain in the hopes that by economic interests it would be forced to the negotiating table allowing France to forge a lasting peace.

Unfortunately for His Majesty Emperor Napoleon, the Continental System backfired as Britain still had ongoing trade with its other overseas colonies and with the Americas. The results for French and European traders was catastrophic to say the least, as the inferior quality of French goods to certain British goods made them unattractive to European markets. As a result of this crime and smuggling became widespread with many nations choosing to openly flout the conventions of the Continental System to avoid total economic collapse. Russia under Tsar Alexander I became openly hostile to Napoleonic France with it withdrawing from the Continental System and resuming trade with Britain forcing the Emperor to being his ill fated invasion of Russia.

Russia openly withdrawing from the provisions of the Continental System in Napoleon's eyes was an insult to France also setting the example that he was no longer to be feared or respected. By punitively invading, and defeating Russia, the Emperor would have essentially made an example out of it and demonstrated to the rest of the world that the Sun was still rising over Imperial France. But where Napoleon's drive and ambition had led him to success many times throughout his long and illustrious life, here it utterly failed him leading him to near ruin. Thus the Emperor gathered a large army drawing upon his forces from all across the Empire from even places like Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, etc to defeat the large and powerful Russian Army on the battlefield. But Russia was unlike anything the Emperor had faced with the army retreating further inwards refusing to battle the Emperor preferring to used a scorched Earth strategy to deprive the French of any resources with the Russians going so far as to even burn the city of Moscow as soon as the Emperor reached its gates. Seeing himself without any means to resupply his army which was slowly being reduced in number due to starvation, disease, and harassment from enemy troops, the Emperor was forced to retreat with his army from the frozen wastelands of Russia. With France's proud Grand Armee decimated, his enemies seeing weakness turned on him with Prussia and Austria joining a final sixth Coalition against the Emperor determined to crush his Empire and ideals once and for all.

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The Emperor's retreat from Moscow which saw large portions of his army lost to the cold, disease, starvation, and enemy harassment.
The War of the Sixth Coaltion was the final Coalition assembled against France in this Age of Napoleon. With the Emperor's rash decision to invade Russia much of the Emperor's Grand Armee was scattered and broken leaving it a withered husk of its former self. To make matters worse, all of Europe now stood poised and ready to crush the young French Empire heel grinding its legacy and contributions to history into the dust. Any ordinary man would have folded against such terrible circumstances, but Napoleon was no ordinary man. He was the living embodiment of the revolution who single-handedly saved France from ruin from the Coalitions before picking up the Crown from the gutter and built an Empire of such splendor and scale not seen since the heights of Imperial Rome over a millennia ago. Napoleon seeing himself as Caesar incarnate would not let his enemies bring him down and was determined to pull off another Austerlitz demonstrating himself as the master of Europe once and for all, or at least this would have been the case had tragedy not struck during the accursed Battle of Leipzig.


The Emperor reviewing his troops before battle determined once more to deliver France from the hands of defeat.
With all of Europe marching against France, the Eagle was determined not to go down without a fight, and though he was battered and bruised he was far from broken and in preparation for the final battle of the Leipzig he had raised a new Grand Armee full of fresh recruits and conscripts from the enclaves of the wider French Empire still loyal to their beloved Emperor. What this army lacked in terms of combat experience, they more than made up for in terms of their ferocity, Imperial zeal, and fanatical devotion to the Emperor.

The lead up to the battle of Leipzig involved France seeking to try and defend its Imperial holdings and various client states and allies from the Coalition's advances with Napoleon seeking to knock them out of the war in order to arrange a cessation of hostilities allowing for France to negotiate a peace from a position of strength. Unfortunately for the French Emperor, his old foes had studied his tricks and maneuvers over the years and used their knowledge to great effect. The Coalition still fearing the idea of facing the Emperor on the battlefield resolved to instead engage his marshals while avoiding a direct confrontation with Napoleon. Their gamble had paid off with the Coalition scoring a series of victories against the French making Napoleon unable to follow up his victory at the battle of Dresden. This had the effect of stretching the French supply lines to their breaking point while also worsening the desperate situation in regards to Napoleon's manpower deficit and shortage of horses which made him less able to properly scout to gather intelligence on enemy troop movements.


A painting depicting the battle of Leipzig.


The Coalition offensives of October 18th where they attempted to encircle Napoleon's outnumbered army [1].​

But despite the weakened size of Napoleon's Grand Armee, it was still more maneuverable than the large unwieldy combined forces of the Sixth Coalition which the Emperor used to great affect choosing the battlefield of Leipzig whose strategic position allowed Napoleon to maximize his mobility. Among the forces of the Sixth Coalition, were the two main monarchs who had faced Napoleon earlier at Austerlitz: Kaiser Francis I of Austria and Tsar Alexander I were present on the battlefield. This initially led to the command being paralyzed by petty rivalries and incompetence which was gone after the battle had started with the Coalition forces crafting and effective strategy to encircle the outnumbered French army. The Coalition's encirclement was quite effective as Napoleon found himself cut off from resupply leaving him to fight a battle of attrition with his enemies. Seeing that he chance for victory was dwindling fast, the Emperor made peace overtures to the Coalition, but all three monarchs refused. Emperor Napoleon seeing the desperate situation his army was in, made one last desperate gamble to break the encirclement.

The Grand Armee triumphantly fought on in a desperate attempt to repulse the Coalition's offensive, but its lack of provisions combined with had taken its toll upon us as the army began to lose discipline. And then all of sudden in the midst of the battle the Emperor like a man possessed picked up a French standard in one hand and beckoned his men to follow him into victory one last time, where he led the charge against the enemy. At that moment with L'Empereur leading his men, the old Revolutionary Artillery Officer at Toulon re-emerged as the Grand Armee began breaking through the encirclement in what seemed like his own Battle of Alesia [2]. But the unthinkable happened as the Emperor fell from his horse after being hit with a lucky enemy shot. Seeing the Emperor fall from his horse, the French army soon lost its cohesion with the soldiers beginning to panic as the Coalition's counteroffensive led by Blucher crushed the broken Grand Armee.


The dead Emperor lying in state as his marshals and soldiers wept at his loss.​

With Napoleon dead, his Empire soon collapsed. The Grand Armee no longer united by the charisma and leadership of its Emperor was scattered and broken with whatever remaining units that had any semblance of cohesion now operating like ships adrift on the sea without a working rudder. Panic had erupted in the streets of Paris when news of the Emperor's defeat reached them. In Royalist bastions like Bordeaux and Vendee armed peasant rebellions in favor of the King broke out with the remnants of the French Army scrambling to put down the rebellion while simultaneously preparing the defense of France. With the death of Emperor Napoleon I, his son the King of Rome, was hastily proclaimed as Emperor Napoleon II with a regency council emerging to defend the interest of the young Emperor. But with the impending arrival of the Coalition's forces, and the imminent restoration of the Bourbon monarchy Marie Louise fled with her son in tow to the court of her father Emperor Francis I of Austria.

After the allies of the Coalition entered Paris, the French Senate declared that Emperor Napoleon II had abdicated the throne in absentia presenting it to Louis-Stanislaw the Comte de Provence who adopted the regnal name of Louis XVIII acknowledging the brief reign of his nephew who died in prison. With Emperor Napoleon now dead, and Napoleon II being carted off to Austria who would no doubt try to raise him as an Austrian rather than as a Frenchman, many assumed that the Bonapartes were finished, doomed to be a mere footnote in the history of France continually ruled by the House of Bourbon, but as history shows us, the Young Eaglet returned with a vengeance to reclaim his birthright as all of Europe trembled once again in fear of the House of Bonaparte.

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Footnotes:
[1] I know this picture is of the Battle of Leipzig in otl, but the battle basically went similar to otl until Napoleon decided to make his final gamble to try and break the encirclement.
[2] The reference was to Caesar' Battle of Alesia, as Caesar led a daring charge against Vercingetorix's forces which shattered their morale breaking the Gallic army which had encircled and caught Caesar by surprise.

Author's Note:
At long last this prologue of this long awaited Napoleon II timeline has been completed. It took me forever to finally write it with things like the Corona Virus disrupting everything along with the increasing demands of schoolwork distracting me. The basic POD involves Napoleon I dying at Leipzig which involves France avoiding the Hundred Days Campaign cementing his legacy as that of martyr allowing for the Eaglet to eventually take up his mantle to restore France's glory and its fallen Empire. With classes being cancelled from the Corona Virus, I now have more time to devote to my other fics and historical timelines. While I may sometimes be slow in updating my timelines or fics due to real life issues and concerns, a new chapter/update is coming. Anyway I hope you guys enjoy reading this tl as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Also special thanks to @Comte de Dordogne, @Emperor Constantine, @Trackah, @Kurt Steiner, @The Federalist, and @Earl Marshal for helping me map out and brainstorm this story. I highly recommend checking out their awesome tl's which served as an inspiration for me to begin writing this tl.

If any you are big fans of 17th century French History I recommend checking out @Comte de Dordogne's timeline: The Sun of Rocroi- A better Grand Condé

Please feel free to leave any comments, constructive criticism, suggestions etc. I'll also be happy to answer any questions you guys have.
 

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Eparkhos

Gone Fishin'
Nice.

However, as I started reading at 6:04 and was distracted by something else, I feel that I mine is the first comment.

You ninnies.
 
Nice to see we agree on the second point!
I am a simple man. When I see a Basileus_Komnenos timeline about Napoleon, I like and read!
At the same time it is difficult to disagree on the second point. On the other hand, on the first point I will have to make you a proposal that you will not be able to refuse. 😏
 
looks nice! Am proud to have been the first to like and comment!
Thanks man. I'm glad you're enjoying it so far.

At the same time it is difficult to disagree on the second point.
Thanks!

Just beautiful!
Thanks! Glad to know that you're enjoying it.

Great open, looking forward to this!

Wonder what all the towns named Waterloo in the US/Canada/Australia will be called ITTL?
I'm not sure. Though the history of the US will be radically different from current day US history due to butterflies. I can't really reveal any more without spoiling it, but I feel like you guys are going to like it.

Great start IAM really curious to see how this timeline progresses
I felt kinda bad when reading about the Eaglet. He was the grandson of Francis and the son of Napoleon tying together two of the most legendary dynasties in all of European history. Napoleon II "L'Aiglon" is descended from Napoleon, and the bloodline of the 400 year old Habsburg dynasty whose dynasty ruled Europe for centuries. Yet despite this impressive pedigree, he died at the age of 21 from Tuberculosis in a gilded cage in Austria. Napoleon II himself was quite depressed about this as well, the sad part is that he was described as a very intelligent kid by his contemporaries. He was also showed some military ability with his small Austrian battalion he was given command over, so who knows what potential he could have had he been raised by his father, or even been allowed to see combat.
 
I can just picture a DBWI in this world: What would have happened had Napoleon I not died at Leipzig? :)
I can picture the replies from a timeline using that as a POD on Alt-AH.com...

"Wait, he abdicates and then gets exiled to Elba? The small island off the coast of Italy?
Then he escapes, overthrows the Bourbon king in less than a month without fighting any major battles vs the Royalists?
He fights a campaign, loses a big battle in Belgium, and gets exiled to Saint Helena? He dies there a few years later?
Sounds like ASB to me! Do better on your next timelime so it is more plausible :)"
 
I felt kinda bad when reading about the Eaglet. He was the grandson of Francis and the son of Napoleon tying together two of the most legendary dynasties in all of European history. Napoleon II "L'Aiglon" is descended from Napoleon, and the bloodline of the 400 year old Habsburg dynasty whose dynasty ruled Europe for centuries. Yet despite this impressive pedigree, he died at the age of 21 from Tuberculosis in a gilded cage in Austria. Napoleon II himself was quite depressed about this as well, the sad part is that he was described as a very intelligent kid by his contemporaries. He was also showed some military ability with his small Austrian battalion he was given command over, so who knows what potential he could have had he been raised by his father, or even been allowed to see combat.
"My birth and my death, that's my whole story. Between my cradle and my grave there is a big zero."
 
"Wait, he abdicates and then gets exiled to Elba? The small island off the coast of Italy?
Then he escapes, overthrows the Bourbon king in less than a month without fighting any major battles vs the Royalists?
Well I feel like this would be even more of a possibility in this timeline since his legacy is much stronger. Plus here in ttl Napoleon was killed in battle right as we was about to break the encirclement. In otl he nearly won Leipzig with French cavalry spotting a group of enemy outriders that strayed too far into enemy lines. The French decided not to pursue, but it was later revealed that this group included Tsar Alexander, King Friederich-Wilhelm IV, and Kaser Franz I in addition to various members of their military command. Such a capture would turned what likely would have been a Pyrrhic victory into an Austerlitz scale one allowing Napoleon to negotiate from a position of strength. The Coalition initially fell apart due to issues in chain of command at the beginning of the War, but now with the Coalition essentially decapitated, he would negotiate from a position of strength.

The Royalists in otl were made of many members of Napoleon's army. The Bourbons didn't bother to purge them until they were restored a second time by the Congress of Vienna.

He fights a campaign, loses a big battle in Belgium, and gets exiled to Saint Helena? He dies there a few years later?
He was actually treated quite badly at Elba by its governor who put him in quite substandard living accommodations for a man of his station. Napoleon also had good reason to escape from Elba, as rumors spread the Bourbons were going to assassinate him, and the pension he agreed that he would receive, from France never materialized.

Napoleon's plans for the Battle of Waterloo was actually very precise and strategically sound. The problem was that it was failed in implementation as the Emperor didn't have enough men nor enough horses to operate on the field like he had used to. Plus Napoleon defeated once before was not the same man as he had once been, which led to him failing to take risks at certain points that his younger self would certainly have taken.

But to the people living in this tl, the events of our timeline would certainly seem implausible. If anything they might speculate that had Napoleon lived, he likely would have went on to crush the Coalition. Things like fate of the European monarchical systems and the way the Concert of Europe broke down in our would might seem laughable to them.

"My birth and my death, that's my whole story. Between my cradle and my grave there is a big zero."
Couldn't summarize it better myself.

Wonder what happened to the other Bonapartes during this time?
That'll be coming in the next chapter. Let's just say that due to the divergences there will be some radical shifts in the nature and style of the Napoleonic dynasty.

Well, this looks interesting! :)
Thanks man! I'm happy that you're enjoying it.
 
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