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

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    A painting depicting the battle of Leipzig.

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    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.

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    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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    I. The Aftermath
  • I. The Aftermath
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    A painting depicting Emperor Napoleon's last stand at the Battle of Leipzig where he was embraced by his Old Guard who went down heroically defending and fighting alongside their Emperor who lead the charge to break the Coalition's encirclement.
    With the death its Emperor, the administrative and military structures of the Empire and its various political arrangements, and networks of allied and dependent states were left decapitated. Without the personage of the Emperor to unite the various disparate factions and peoples he ruled, the Empire was now rudderless and began to come apart at the seams. The remaining Bonaparte Loyalists and French patriots seeking to keep the Empire together lacked the means and the legitimacy to do so with the Grand Armee scattered and in shambles following the defeat at Leipzig. Now in the face of the Coalition's advancing armies, Europe was now free to be shaped in the vision of the Old Reactionary powers.

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    A painting depicting Eugène de Beauharnais while under service of Emperor Napoleon I as his viceroy of Italy. Eugène fought alongside the Emperor on the battlefield with distinction and is commonly referred to by historians, as the ablest of his relatives.​

    In Italy the ever Loyal Eugène de Beauharnais stayed loyal to Bonaparte dynasty where he proclaimed himself as Regent and Viceroy of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Rome in the interests of Emperor Napoleon II. But with the Austrians invading from the North, and the combined Anglo-Sardinian invasion from the South, Eugene's position looked untenable. While many of the Napoleonic client state and dependencies surrendered in the face of the advancing enemy armies, Eugene de Beauhrarnais refused to go down without a fight. Eugene was Emperor Napoleon's stepson, and with his biological father executed by the Revolutionaries because of his aristocratic heritage, he and his sister looked to the Emperor as a sort of fraternal/father figure. The death of Emperor Napoleon threw Eugene into a manic fit of rage of grief where he decided against the advice of his advisers and his own family and go down fighting seeking to avenge the man whom looked to almost as a father.

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    A map depicting the French Empire dominion and client-states in Italy [1].​

    In the battles for Italy, Eugene proved his martial skill by repelling the Austrian invasion north of the Alps near Venice. The Austrian troops high on their victory at Leipzig and their near bloodless reconquest of the Illyrian provinces were caught unaware by the ambush and fervor of Eugene's troops, many of whom were those who joined under Eugene's command after fighting alongside of the Emperor. The Emperor's death in battle against the Austrian troops enraged many in the French army who wanted an opportunity to avenge their fallen Emperor who had brought them and France glory with his many victories.

    Seeing his position in Rome as untenable, Eugene withdrew his Franco-Italian forces from the region and withdrew into his core territories after having Pope Pius VII released and reinstalled as Rome's ruler. Through the use of the Sardinian and British fleet, a small Anglo-Sardinian force landed in Genoa where they were fought to a stalemate by Eugene halting their advance in its tracks. While Eugene was talented on the field of battle, he knew his days were numbered with his limited numbers, and him being cut off from French support with the Empire now fallen and him nearly surrounded on all sides by the enemy. Eugene knew that any chance he had to ensure the Kingdom of Italy's survival, he had to coordinate with his other fellow Napoleonic veteran: Marshal Murat Napoleon's flamboyant cavalry commander and brother in law to Napoleon I and Uncle by marriage to Emperor Napoleon II.

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    A painting depicting Joachim Murat, King of Naples, Marshal of the French Empire during his coronation.​

    Eugene's downfall came with the treachery of Murat, the King of Naples whose betrayal is burned in the national consciousness of every Frenchman. Murat seeking to secure his throne had turned on Eugene siding with the Coalition going as far as to formally declare war on Eugene and opening Neopolitian ports to the British fleet facilitating Anglo-Sardinian troops in their invasion of Italy from the South. Now surrounded on all sides by the enemy, Eugene formally surrendered to the coalition seeing that his situation was hopeless and after his family beseeched him to give up fighting. He was allowed to flee to the Court of his Father in law King Maximilian of Bavaria where he would retire and was bestowed with the titles of the dukedom of Leuchentenberg and the Principality of Eichstätt.

    The vile traitor Murat had secretly opened negotiations with the Austrians in exchange for allowing him to keep his throne as far back as Emperor Napoleon's fateful decision to fight at Leipzig where he decided to abandon his Emperor and friend betraying his fellow Frenchmen. This notion was put in his head bye the Emperor's own sister Caroline Bonaparte whom Napoleon II later referred to as "Murat's whore" after excising her name from the House of Bonaparte. Caroline's and Murat's betrayal had shocked the other Bonapartes and the other prominent Bonapartists and had kicked off the fierce rivalry and blood feud between the House of Bonaparte and the House of Murat which would reach its climax during the Wars of Italian Unification.

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    A portrait of Caroline Bonaparte whose manipulations and betrayals of her nephew secured the Kingdom of Naples while starting the blood feud between the Houses of Bonaparte and Murat.​

    With the Emperor now dead, and its various allied states and client states now overrun by the combined might of the Coalition, Europe was now free to molded in the vision of the Reactionaries and the Ancien Regimes of Europe seeking to overturn the legacy of the Revolution and its ideals that Napoleon was an embodiment of. This took place at the Congress of Vienna where the various nations of Europe sought to forge a lasting peace in Europe that would be tempered by the principles of the balance of power where no one nation would be strong enough to dominate Europe in the same way Napoleon I or the Sun King Louis XIV did. Of course to a modern reader this notion seemed ridiculous when looking at the rise of Eaglet and the future waves of Revolution and spreading violence and chaos all throughout Europe, but to the people living in that era, it genuinely looked as though the old powers had won with the Revolution crushed and the Bourbons restored to their thrones.

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    The allied armies marching in Paris at the Place de la Concorde after installing the Bourbons to their thrones restoring the Kingdom of France.
    The diplomatic summit called the Congress of Vienna was composed of the Coalition member states' heads of state and other various dignitaries from other various dignitaries from other minor allied nation states and principalities. This was the largest diplomatic congregation Europe had ever seen at this point in history. With the Revolution seemingly crushed, the various monarchs of Europe sought to rest its clock to the days before the Revolution where notions of Divine Right and Feudal rite and authorial fiat were unquestioned concepts in Europe. In accordance with these principles, the Kingdom of France was restored with the French people once again placed under rule by the House of Bourbon under King Louis XVIII or Louis-Stanislaw Comte de Provence. Louis XVIII referred to by both Bonapartist and Republican historiographers as the Bourbon pretender was the brother of the late King Louis XVI who along with his wife Queen Marie-Antoinette was infamously executed by Revolutionaries during the French Revolution. His son the titular King Louis XVII died imprisoned at the under the Revolutionaries.

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    The political boundaries of the Kingdom of France after the 1814 Treaty of Paris formally established the Bourbon Restoration​

    While France after the Revolution had expanded into the Rhine River and the Alps securing ancient objective of the Kings of France, under the Coalition, but with the 1814 Treaty of Paris, its hard fought conquests were stripped from stripped from it with the nation reduced it its borders in 1792 borders. While these territorial losses were quite large France's core military and economic strengths were preserved with France allowed to keep strategically important regions like Saarbrücken whose coal mines gave France greater access and resources to industrialize later in the 19th century. France still remained a Great Power irregardless of these concessions. This was largely maintained thanks to the efforts of the Prince of Talleyrand Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord who along with Klemens von Metternich, were the greatest diplomats of their generation. Through Talleyrand's diplomatic posturing France was spared from the wrath of the Coalition unlike other allied states like the Kingdom of Saxony who unfortunately took its full brunt.

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    A watercolor painting depicting the various monarchs and dignitaries gathered together at the Congress of Vienna discussing the future of Europe.

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    A portrait of Talleyrand whose efforts largely allowed France to emerge intact out of the Congress of Vienna​

    Talleyrand despite the fact that he turned traitor to Napoleon when he sabotaged the Emperor's attempts to ally with Tsar Alexander, managed to gain France a seat at the negotiating table as another fellow Great Power: a rare instance of a defeated power being granted a seat at the negotiating table. One of the Congress' objectives was to keep France powerful, but contained so that it would be strong enough to serve as a counterbalance against Russia and the United Kingdom, but not enough so that it would be able to conquer and impose its hegemony over Europe like it did under Emperor Napoleon and the Sun King Louis XIV. Conversely by not treating France as harshly as it could have, it reduced the obstacles and opposition to the re-imposition of the Bourbon ensuring the smoothest possible transition of power from the Provisional Government to the rule of the more moderate King Louis XVIII.

    In regards to Germany, the question remained of what to do with various new German state-lets, principalities, and Kingdoms which once made up the Holy Roman Empire: the millennium old polity that once dominated Central Europe beginning with Emperor Charlemagne's (Karl der Große in German) coronation on Christmas day in the year 800. After the Empire fragmented with the various wars and subdivisions following the end of the Carolingians, the Empire was finally reconstituted under Kaiser Otto I "The Great" after he repulsed the Pagan Magyar [3] incursions Europe and took the Crown of Italy from King Berengar II. He was the King of East Francia the ancient forebear to the Medieval Kingdom of Germany. Being an ancient polity stretching over 1,000 years, the nature of this realm, and its power and institutions varied with the Empire fragmenting and the Emperor losing much of his powers and influence following the end of the Hohenstaufen Dynasty. After a long interregnum filled with infighting and civil strife among the various German princes, the Habsburgs managed to take control dominating the Empire with its many strategic marriages, and clever use of diplomacy which allowed it to assert its hegemony over the Empire's core of Germany.To many at the time, it seemed as though Austria would unite the various Germanic realms into a sort of federalized Holy-Roman Empire, as after the loss of direct control over Italy, the Empire's official title became the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation under Emperor Maximilian I von Habsburg. Few at the time could have anticipated the Rise of Prussia with the reign of King Frederick II "The Great."

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    The de Jure territories of the HRE in 1792 on the eve of the eve of the Revolution.​

    But now the Holy Roman Empire was officially dead with the Empire being dissolved by Emperor Francis II in the face of Napoleon's onslaught and conquests within Germany and Italy which he organized into the Confederation of the Rhine and the Kingdom of Italy. The dissolution of the HRE at the time was seen as controversial and illegal by some of the lesser German Princes and the Pope as there was no real precedent for such an action by the Emperor in its history. This however had the effect of Austria crafting one unitary state out of its various dominions into a single unitary state with Emperor Francis II proclaiming himself as Emperor of Austria uniting the Crowns of the Apostolic Kingdom of Hungary, the Kingdom of Bohemia, and the Archduchy of Austria. However with Napoleon now defeated, the questions of how Germany wold be reconstituted in accordance with the principles of the Coalition and the Congress of Vienna loomed over everyone's heads.

    The Old Emperor Francis I of Austria was in favor of restoring the moribund HRE and resuming his ancient and ancestral titles that once belonged to his ancestors. Some of the other minor German principalities and states were also in favor of this so they would have a means of preserving their autonomy and territorial integrity without fear of being subsumed or dominated by a larger political entity like Prussia or the Kingdom of Hanover. Though there was opposition from other parties as well like the Prussians who didn't want to be under Austrian dominion especially in its weakened state following the many defeats it suffered under Napoleon. There also remained the question who the Emperor would be in this instance as many did not want to seen another Habsburg resurgence in Europe, and there was the issue of Protestantism and Catholicism which also served as dividing lines among the various Germanic realms. One of the purposes of the historical Holy Roman Empire was to provide order to Europe as the Universal Christian Empire like what the Western Roman Empire of antiquity was, but with the Protestant Reformation occurring, Europe's religious unity was shattered with the Empire's rai·son d'ê·tre ceasing to exist, and the Empire carrying on due to the historical and cultural inertia it had over the geographic region which we now consider modern Germany.

    There was also the issue of German Nationalism, which called for one unified pan German State. The Holy Roman Empire while being a loose confederation near the end of its life, still had its own institutions that carried some weight. With the dissolution of the Empire, and the unification of Austria’s various possessions into one Habsburg Empire, the question remained of what would happen to the non-German parts of the Empire. Hungary was never legally part of the Empire and was administered separately alongside Bohemia. Including such a massive realm inside the HRE would threaten the other smaller German states.

    It was for these reasons that the German Confederation was created at the Congress of Vienna. While functionally similar in the role that the Late HRE played in Central Europe, but unlike the old Holy Roman Empire, this new Confederation of German states had a more secular and pseudo-Republican character with the confederation's nominal leader's title being mere President rather than Imperator Romanorum, or the Germanic equivalent: Kaiser. This implied that the Confederation would be more of an egalitarian character rather than having monarchical overtones with Emperor being the nominal feudal overlord of the various member states. One of Napoleon's lasting contributions to Germany was his mediatisation of the various scattered and fragmented German principalities, fiefdoms, and other states into the Confederation of the Rhine providing order to the various German states. Seeing this mediatisation as useful, the Congress resolved to have 37 new member states emerge in this Confederation which was a marked improvement from the well over 300 individual states and state-lets that made up the HRE, and keeping with the Germanic nature of the Confederation, only the dejure lands considered part of the Medieval Kingdom of Germany was included in the Confederation.

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    A map depicting the various member states comprising the German Confederation.​

    Though one of the main issues that manifested itself in the Congress of Vienna was the Polish Saxon Crisis and the issues of the other Napoleonic successor states. Prior to the Revolution, the once great Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had been partitioned by Austria, Prussia, and Russia. But with Napoleon's army marching into Central Europe where he crushed the armies of the three nations the Polish people saw a chance to regain their independence. Napoleon thus created the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, making it a client state in a Personal union with King Frederick Augustus of Saxony anchoring both to the French Empire. To the Russians, the idea of an independent Poland was intolerable as it would serve as a springboard for any invasion into their Empire. Not to mention that it would spark unrest among the various Polish minority groups within the Russian Empire. As such when the Sixth Coalition started moving against Napoleon, the Grand Duchy of Warsaw came back under Russian occupation while the Kingdom of Saxony fought fiercely against its historic enemy the Kingdom of Prussia. The Prussians wanted to annex all of Saxony to gain access to its wealth and to fulfill the ambitions of the Great King Frederick II, and to punish it for fighting nearly to the end along with Napoleon. The Russians wanted control over Poland as concessions for its involvement in the war seeking to impose a balance of power. The Austrians wanted to check Russian expansion, and to keep one of their historic allies: The Kingdom of Saxony from being subsumed into Prussia. To mediate this dispute, a compromise was negotiated where Saxony ceded much of its territory to Prussia while Russia was given a theoretically independent Polish State informally known as the Congress Poland ruled in a Personal Union with Russia with Tsar Alexander I as its King due to his more liberal views. The Austrian Netherlands was granted to the Dutch to provide a buffer and veritable check on French expansionism. Austria was granted compensation by being made the effective overlord of Italy with it being granted control of Venetia and Milan which made up the sub-kingdom known as the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia.

    1280px-Europe_1815_map_en.png

    The new map of Europe as laid out by the Congress of Vienna [2].​

    While many traditionalists wanted the House of Bourbon restored to all of its de Jure holdings, due to duplicity of the Murats turning cloaks on their French brethren, the Kingdom of Naples was kept from the Bourbons much to the chagrin of the Sicilian branch and the other senior rulers of France and Spain. This arrangement suited both Austria and Britain as it would serve to limit French influence and hegemony from re-emerging through the dynastic connections between the members of the House of Bourbon.

    With the main issues plaguing the Congress settled, the main powers sought to create a precedent to diplomatically resolve the varying issues between nations while working together to crush any lingering embers of Revolution that may try to spark new flames once again. This accord between nations is often referred to as the Metternich System after its chief architect working to create a peace hailed as monumental as the Peace of Westphalia as it led to the creation of the Holy League between Austria, Russia, and Prussia to protect the traditional old world ideals by crushing any sign of Revolution. Indeed to many at the time, it seemed as though lasting peace was forged with the "little Corsican" as those hostile to Emperor Napoleon refer to him, thrown along with his legacy into the ash heap of history. But as history shows us, the flight of the Eaglet would destroy this system.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Footnotes:
    [1] The Savoyard Kingdom of Sardinia and the Boubon Kingdom of Sicily depicted on the map were not part of Napoleon's Empire, but states opposed to him.
    [2] France should be bigger on here because there was no Hundred Days Campaign, and there would be no Kingdom of Two Sicilies as The House of Murat would be ruling Naples while the Italian branch of the House of Bourbon rules just the Kingdom of Sicily.

    Author's Note:
    I hope you guys enjoy this timeline! Please feel free to comment. Any form of feedback and/or constructive criticism are welcome.
     
    II. Was ist Österreich?
  • Was ist Österreich?

    800px-Austrian_Imperial_Standard_-_Infantry_pattern_mix_early_19th_century.svg.png

    The Imperial Coat of Arms of the House of Habsburg and the Austrian Empire displaying the crowns of the various realms all ruled by the Habsburg dynasty showcasing the Empire's status as a multi-ethnic realms united by common loyal to one family.
    In order to understand the complex history and political developments that led up to the formation of the Austrian Empire, one must first examine the rise of the House of Habsburg as Austria's rise to prominence within Germany and later the wider European political landscape, is directly tied to the fate of the Habsburgs. Despite the House of Habsburgs' status as one of Europe's oldest and premier royal families, it had a quite humble origins in some ways paralleling the origins of the Bonapartes as the early Habsburgs were nothing, but minor Swiss nobility within the canton of Aargau.



    Rudolf_of_Hapsburg_Speyer.jpg

    A non-contemporary statue of Rudolph I King of the Germans: the Founder of the Habsburg dynasty [1].
    With the extinction of the main line of the Hohenstaufen dynasty in the Second Half of the 13th Century, The Holy Roman Empire had been thrown into chaos. With the sudden loss of the centuries old Hohenstaufens whose rulers had shaped the character of the Empire, its nobles now had to select a new Emperor. But in this power vaccum new factions emerged which supported different claimaints to the thrones starting a decades long interregnum in which the Imperial Throne was vacant. It was in this period of chaos and uncertainty that the founder of the Habsburg dynasty Rudolph I emerged to prominence. Through astute usage of diplomacy, he managed to enhance his own power and prestige within Southern Germany. In this vacuum he emerged as the leading figure in a growling coalition against the powerful Ottokar II of Bohemia who himself was a contender for the Crown of Germany. Ottokar however was too dangerous a threat for the other German princes as his conquests of lands making up what would eventually be the core of modern Austria made him too powerful for them to contend with. And not wanting another set of Hohenstaufens who through the Stem Duchy of Swabia, held a large amount of power and influence over the German nobility, the Electoral College unanimously voted for Rudolph to take the throne much to the anger of Ottokar II. Following this victory Rudolph led a coalition of German nobles against Ottokar, containing the Bohemian Kingdom while also securing for his family the duchies of Austria and Styria would become the center of Habsburg power for centuries to come. The reign of Rudolph I King of the Germans firmly tied the Habsburgs to the Empire which they formally attained a grasp over in the 15th Century.

    Through a combination of luck, cunning diplomacy, strategic marriages, and warfare the Habsburgs managed to spread the influence and reach of their dynasty through which they managed to gain the Lion's share of the low countries through the Burgundian inheritance, the Crowns of Castile and Aragon, and later the Crowns of Bohemia and Hungary with the peak of Habsburg dynastic influence occurring during the reign of Emperor Charles V who by virtue of inheritance ruled a very large swathe of Western Christendom. With such large dominions under Habsburg control, the old concept of the "Universal Empire" had come the closest to being realized since Carolingians, and the Roman Empire of Antiquity. Though these ambitions would prove to be elusive and unrealizable as the Habsburg's monarchy's various continental possessions were too large and too disparate to by ruled by one central Authority. Despite the fact that the idea of a Universal Empire ruling all Christendom becoming unrealizable, it would see a revival under the Habsburgs later in the 19th Century during the formation of the Austrian Empire uniting the Habsburgs' various continental holdings as part of one unitary state as opposed to a composite set of Kingdoms ruled in a Personal Union with each other.



    1280px-Dominions_House_Habsburg_abdication_Charles_V.jpg

    A map depicting all of the Habsburg's continental holdings at the end of Emperor Charles V's reign showcasing the peak of their dynasty's and by extension, Austria's influence.​

    Despite its large size and on-paper theoretical strength, the Habsburg monarchy had to contend with wars against the French, the Protestant Reformations, and internal rebellions all of which threatened to unravel its carefully woven web of European hegemony it held over much of Europe. But despite all these lingering issues, Austria was able to strengthen its control and influence over Central Europe, Italy, the Balkans, and the Danubian/Carpathian region serving as a bulwark for Western Christendom against the fearsome Ottoman Turks, or the Eastern giant that was the Russian Empire.

    In the wake of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, the ancient supranational polity that was the Holy Roman Empire was shattered following Emperor Napoleon's campaigns into Germany which saw large swathes of it, conquered and made into new client-states by the French. With many of the old Prince-Electors now defecting to the newly crowned Emperor of the French, Emperor Francis II abdicated the Imperial throne and declared that the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved on the 6th of August 1806. Though the reaction to this move generally was met with indifference, or great apprehension by the Empire's former subjects.

    Emperor Napoleon's proclamation of the new French Empire had itself caused waves within Europe as only the title of Holy Roman Emperor was seen as the legitimate Imperial Title. After all in the west, the HRE was considered the successor of the Western Roman Empire by virtue of the concept of Translatio Imperii [2] as was set by Charlemagne's coronation. The Holy Roman Empire throughout the Middle Ages was not just any Empire, but was seen as the Universal Christian Empire claiming sovereignty over Western Christendom. Fearing that other monarchs such as the Russian Emperor, or the British King would soon elevate their titles in rank and dignity to his Imperial Title, Emperor Francis II proclaimed Austria and all the Habsburg dominions as one unified realm officially called the Austrian Empire. This Empire being within the Holy Roman Empire would ensure that while the title Emperor of Austria was equal to that of Emperor of the French, the title of Holy Roman Emperor would rank higher in dignity than both titles. Of course after Napoleon overrun the Holy Roman Empire and re-organized it into the Confederation of the Rhine, there was an opportunity for him to claim the Imperial Title which would have functionally made the Austrian Emperor his nominal subject. This outcome being unacceptable, and the ultimate humiliation, Emperor Francis II made the controversial decision to disestablish the HRE: a decision which would have far reaching consequence throughout the European political landscape especially during the mid and later half of the 19th Century.

    h._schlesinger_franz_ii.i._lithografie_19._jahrhundert_original.jpg

    An image of Emperor Franz I/II, final Holy Roman Emperor and founder of the Austrian Empire depicted in his full Imperial Regalia. The Globus Cruciger held in his left hand demonstrates the Emperor's authority as a divinely ordained ruler. It also hearkens back to the idea of the Universal Imperium being continued through the Habsburg dynasty.
    The foundations of the Austrian Empire and its consolidation under a single sovereign crown is directly tied to Emperor Napoleon I's rise. And while in France the First Napoleonic Age is as a period of French military glory and national triumph, from the Austrian perspective, it was seen as a period of chaos and uncertainty. Napoleon who through sheer military brilliance, crushed coalition after coalition assembled against him, had carved out most of Europe under his suzerainty leaving Austria isolated from any real political or economic influence within Central Europe or Italy which was something they had maintained since the 15th Century. And while the Habsburgs and Royal France have often had long spanning wars and rivalries with each other over territory and influence such as can be seen during the Italian Wars, 30 Years Wars, and War of Spanish Succession, the scale and results of the Napoelonic Wars were entirely unprecedented. While other French monarchs like Louis XIV were overwhelmed and contained to maintain a balance of power, Napoleon had placed most of Europe under his hegemony in a manner not seen since the Carolingians from over a millennium ago.

    Napoleon_Marie_Louise_Marriage1.jpeg

    A painting of the marriage between Emperor Napoleon I and Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria.
    Thus where warfare had failed them, the Habsburgs turned to skillful diplomacy and marriage to secure their position. Thanks to the efforts of the then Austrian Foreign Minister Prince Klemens von Metternich was able to initiate a Détente with Napoleon recognizing where the wind was blowing. And with Napoleon's warm relations with Russia, it would not have been in Austria's to oppose Napoleon if an alliance between the Romanovs and Bonapartes were to formalize. Thus Metternich was able to arrange a marriage between Emperor Napoleon and Emperor Franz's daughter Marie-Louise. this satisfied Napoleon's need to sire an heir, and gain legitimacy for his dynasty as he was now tied to Europe's premier royal families. For Emperor Franz and the Austrian Empire, this turned a dangerous rival and geopolitical opponent into an ally if not a non-aggressor allowing the Habsburgs critical breathing room to re-organize and adapt to geopolitical environment. This can be seen with Archduke Karl's reorganization and reformation of the Austrian Imperial Army based on the lessons from fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. This brief period of peace between Imperial France and the fledgling Austrian state also served to reduce the strain on its economy which had been suffering from the costs of over a decade of total warfare.

    800px-France_Departement_1801.svg.png

    An image of the proposed territorial reductions initially proposed by 6th Coalition where France would be rolled back to what was considered its "natural borders."​

    Following Napoleon's disastrous campaign in Russia which saw much of the Grand Armee, decimated from the Russian Winter, the Imperial Regime now appearing vulnerable saw itself in the cross-hairs of a renewed Sixth Coalition of which Austria was a part of. Now with almost all of Europe aligned against Napoleon, Metternich with Russian support offered Napoleon an alternate peace treaty where rather than France unconditionally surrendering with Napoleon being removed from power, it would keep the Bonpartes on the throne with France being reduced to what would be considered its natural borders of the Rhine River, Pyrenees, and Alpine Regions. As Napoleon was now tied to the Habsburgs by blood with his marriage to Empress Marie-Louise and his son Napoleon II, Austria had an interest in keeping a contained but friendly France as a potential ally and effective counterweight to both the British and the Russians. France with the Rhineland, was still powerful, but the general balance of power was maintained through its containment. Though this offer was not supported by the British as they didn't want France in control of strategic regions like Antwerp which would have made them vulnerable to French invasion. But regardless of this, Napoleon objected to the proposals as he saw the loss of the Revolutionary conquests as dooming the legitimacy of his Empire and continued reign and thus resolved to take the fight to the coalition at the Battle of Leipzig where he later died bringing down his Empire with him.

    With Napoleon now dead, and the Empire now leaderless, it began to collapse as its remaining garrisons in Poland and Germany were eventually starved out and forced to submit to the overwhelming might of the Coalition. Now with Napoleon dead, Austria sought to place his son Napoleon II on the throne rather than the generally hated Bourbons. Napoleon with his death in the Battle of Leipzig had become a sort of martyr to many of France's rank and file soldiers and some of the Revolutionaries. Once news of Napoleon's death reached Paris, the young Eaglet was proclaimed Emperor by a group of loyalists as Emperor Napoleon II. But in the wake of the Coalition's advancing armies, the French Senate hastily declared that Napoleon II had abdicated and recognized Louis XVIII as France's rightful monarch. Seeing the writing on the wall, Marie-Louise fled with her son to her father's lands seeking exile and protection from looming Royalist retaliation. While the deposing of the Bonapartes seemed moot in 1814, it would later cause controversy in France as neither the young Eaglet, nor his mother had made any official declaration, nor given consent to abdicate the French throne [2]. As such by technicality Napoleon II was by all rights still, Emperor of the French and the King of Rome, though at that point he was but a king without a kingdom. Indeed this fact was recognized by both Metternich and Emperor Franz who sought to use Napoleon II as a political bargaining chip to gain leverage over the Bourbons in diplomatic negotiations should the need arise.

    13234716-7590997-Portrait_of_Napoleon_I_1769_1821_and_Archduchess_Marie_Louise_wi-a-40_1571481...jpg

    A portrait of the Imperial Family depicting a young Napoleon II and his parents. It some ways it foretells the nature of the upbringing with him being simultaneously of the old world ideas of monarchy and tradition of the Habsburgs, and the Revolutionary Bonapartist philosophy of his father.​

    While Austria had initially committed to restoring the Bourbons to the French throne, the marriage of Emperor Napoleon and the birth of his son changed that as now both houses were tied together which changed the Habsburgs' priorities. With Napoleon's subsequent death at the Battle of Leipzig, by the laws of the French Constitution, Napoleon II was the rightful heir to the throne. But with the boy Emperor being naught but a small child, he had no real power-base, nor the means to rally the rest of France and its shattered military and administrative structures around himself. The Habsburgs preferred a largely contained, but powerful France to use as a counterweight to curb both British and Russian influence as they were the major victors of the Napoleonic Wars and potential obstacles to Austrian geopolitical objectives. With Austria's traditional ally in Germany, the Kingdom of Saxony all but gutted, and left as a mere shadow of its former self, Austria could have hoped to use a continued Bonapartist France as counterweight to Prussian influence within Germany. But regardless Emperor Franz kept his grandson in his court where he sought to educate him as befitting a Habsburg. Indeed it can be said that Emperor Franz held something of a soft-spot for the Young Eaglet much to the chagrin of Metternich who sought to craft a gilded cage within Vienna to bottle up the Eaglet in the hopes of preventing the ideals of Revolution from emerging forward and taking Europe by storm once again.

    With the final peace settlements being negotiated at the Congress of Vienna, Chancellor Metternich sought to create a new European political framework in the image of the Old Order that had been torn asunder by Revolutionary France. This new system enshrined the concept of the Balance of Power where each Great Power would have its own spheres of influence charted out, such that no single European power would rise to impose its continental hegemony over the Continent as the Eagle, Emperor Napoleon and the Sun King Louis XIV, nearly had done. This was done through a series of agreements and alliances struck between the various Great Powers in the hope of suppressing the ideals of the Revolutionary movements, nationalism, and to provide a stable framework throughout Europe. This system was intended to maintain a new long period of peace after over 20 long years of near unceasing warfare and Revolutionary waves rippling throughout Europe.

    Graf_Clemens_Metternich.jpg

    A portait of Prince Metternich the architect of the Concert of Europe c. 1830.​

    Through Metternich's diplomatic skill, he was able to arrange a favorable political position for Austria which often used diplomacy in place of warfare allowing the beleaguered Empire to consolidate itself and focus on restoring the old political order as much as possible. A signature achievement of this system was the formation of the Holy Alliance between Prussia, Austria, and the Russian Empire. This triple alliance was meant to preserve "Christian virtues and traditions" within along with old European traditions as an ideological counterweight to the Revolutionary ideals of Liberalism and Constitutionalism as all three monarchies were firm proponents in the notion of the "divine right" of kings. Though the other principle Great Powers like the Kingdom of France and the United Kingdom declined joining this ideological pact. The UK being the most liberal of the Great Powers, had a tradition of Constitutionalism and Parliamentarian rule and was not keen on supporting proponents of absolutism. The Bourbons of France while Reactionary and also supporters of the Divine Right of Kings were nonetheless forced to agree to signing a Constitution as a pre-condition for their Restoration to the Throne of France. This combined with the stain of being restored at the head of foreign army who presided over the liquidation of France's Revolutionary conquests through 20 long years of perseverance would have greatly upset the French populace and likely triggered unnecessary agitation towards the monarchy. There was also the elephant in the Room which was the legacy of Emperor Napoleon who had been seen as a martyr by many Bonapartists and revolutionary sympathizers for defending France to the death. Nevertheless, of all the ideals of the Concert of Europe, the idea of the Balance of Power would be the most enduring, as it would be one of the lessons of which Napoleon II would take heed of in his foreign policy after his restoration to power. Though his idea of the Balance of Power would be markedly different from what Prince Metternich ever envisioned, as can be seen in the later formation of the Entente prior to the outbreak of the Great War.

    KaisertumOsterreich.png

    A map of the territorial extent and administrative divisions of the Austrian Empire prior to the 1848 Revolutions.​

    With Austria's previous nature of being a composite monarchy, the sudden consolidation of its various dominions previously ruled in personal union with each other would naturally cause friction and internal problems to arise. After all, many of these states had enjoyed their own relative independence, or autonomy when administered as constituent states as part of the Holy Roman Empire. The formation of the Empire with its constituent realms joined as a single unitary state however led to many problems rising at the surface as the idea of an "Austrian Empire " was not really one with much political legitimacy, continuity, or even a geographic term like Italy, Germany, or Spain. This was unlike the previous Imperial structure through which the Habsburgs ruled through: the Holy Roman Empire which served as a timeless constant in the ever shifting landscape that was European landscape for over a thousand years. And in that period, other states like the Kingdom of Hungary which had long since been established with its own national identity with clearly defined geographical boundaries such as the Pannonian basin would prove to be a thorn in the side of the Habsburgs looking to centralize their governance over their lands. This resistance can be seen throughout the long history of Habsburg rule in Hungary with it featuring numerous rebellions against the Habsburgs. The more recent manifestation of of this discontent could be seen during the reign of Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II who in his attempts to create a common language for his subjects, tried to impose German as the state language which nearly saw the Kingdom erupt in revolt forcing the Emperor to back down from his plans.

    Though the situation regarding Hungary, and its Habsburg overlords could best be described as a "love-hate" relationship, as both parties required each other out of necessity. Hungary largely served as a granary and manpower pool for the Habsburgs who in turn provided protection from Ottoman domination. While the Hungarians had at various times rebelled against their Habsburg Kings, they at various points proved indispensable in support to the Habsburgs as is evident through the reign of Empress Maria-Theresa during the War of Austrian Succession, and Emperor Franz during the Napoleonic Wars. Seeing the Habsburgs as weak, the other Great Powers rushed to partition the Habsburgs' various dominions, but thanks to loyal Hungarian support, Empress Maria Theresa was able to secure the future of her dynasty. Similarly throughout the Napoleonic Wars Hungary backed Emperor Franz to the hilt with its troops loyally fighting for their monarch. Hungary despite Napoleon's various attempts at trying to get them to agitate for independence remained loyal to the Habsburgs, unwilling to become a French pawn. Hungary had also been angered by the seizure of lands which made up the Kingdom of Croatia in what was the Illyrian provinces as the Crown of Hungary encompassed the Crown of Croatia with the Hungarian monarch sworn to protect Hungary's territorial integrity.

    Without a common ethno-linguistic or geographical identity tying together the various disparate peoples within the Empire, the Austrians sought to create a new multi-ethnic and pan religious identity based on common loyalty to the Habsburg dynasty as the Habsburgs had ruled most of the constituent states for many centuries. This idea is considered by many political scientist today to be the natural continuation of the idea of the "Universal Empire.," but instead of claiming authority over Christendom, it sought to unify Austria's diverse peoples providing a stable polity within the Balkans peninsula and Carpathian regions. Though in some areas such as in Austria's Italian possessions which was organized into the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, this idea encountered resistance. The Habsburg's were largely perceived as foreign overlords, and as such nationalist and liberal agitation remained and would prove to be a persistent thorn in the sides of the Habsburgs finally bubbling to the surface during the 1848 Revolutions.

    The Early Years of the Empire while called the Age of Metternich, due to his pervasive influence in shaping the early character of the Austrian Empire and its foreign policy. And while Metternich is often cast as a reactionary stubbornly resisting the changing tides and as a scapegoat for the problems of this period, modern scholarship has challenged this view. Still this view is still prevalent in many British and French academic circles especially influenced by Emperor Napoleon II's private hatred of Metternich. Despite Metternich's goal of reversing the clock to the pre-Revolutionary era of European politics failing spectacularly, his efforts nonetheless secured the Habsburgs' position and influence within Europe. The Age of Metternich while rightfully seen as a period of political stagnation due to the fact that no major reforms to address the simmering structural and financial problems within the Empire were passed, its also been recognized as a period of steady economic expansion, population growth, and industrialization. Plus many of the later political issues that arose from the Regency council during Emperor Ferdinand's reign largely can be attributed to Metternich's decline in influence as the council was unable to agree on major reforms due to the rivalry and conflict between the members of the council.

    Similarly, the reign of Emperor Franz II/I has also been re-evaluated by modern scholarship. While contemporary historiography often portrays him as an obstinate ruler unwilling to reform in the wake of looming structural and economic failure of the Austrian Empire, the reality is far more complicated than that. And despite the dismissal of the Emperor has naught but a mere figurehead in Metternich's political machinations, the truth of the matter was far from the case. Emperor Franz did show keen awareness of the political situation occurring within Europe at the time which had a deep impression upon him making him suspicious of radicalism, the Emperor operated a very effective network of spies and censors modeled off the Tuscan system his father had setup which at the time had a reputation for being one of the most effective spy networks within Europe. But despite his more paranoid side, Emperor Franz portrayed himself as a genial and approachable monarch with him being personally well-regarded by his subjects as a sort of father figure to the Empire. Emperor Franz was often known to set aside time to meet with his subjects and converse with them in their native languages. This served to emphasize his role as Archduke of Austria, King of Hungary, King of Croatia, etc helping to reinforce the idea of an Empire transcending ethnic and religious lines based on the old world idea of common loyalty to one family. This image of the Emperor as a family man who's seen as the father figure of his subjects tending to them as though they were his family would also greatly influence Napoleon II, and would be one of the key reasons why Napoleon II remained consistently popular throughout his reign allowing him the power to reshape France where the Bourbons had failed.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    Footnotes:
    [
    1] Rudolph I while never officially holding the title of Holy Roman Emperor is still counted within the Regnal numbering as Rudolph I.
    [2] The concept of Translatio Imperii goes back to Charlemagne where the Pope justified his coronation due to fact that the West saw the Imperial Throne as vacant in the West. And with Charlemagne controlling much of the Western Empire's former territory as well as holding most of Western Christendom under his dominion, he was crowned as Emperor on Christmas day in the year 800. Through Napoleon's incorporation of the Pope being present during his coronation as Emperor of the French no less, he was symbolically claiming the mantle of Charlemagne.

    Author's Note:
    Wow its been a long time since there was an update. Sorry for making you guys wait for so long! I know I was caught up with schoolwork and other real life issues preventing me from finally publishing the darn chapter. I hope you guys enjoy reading this chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it.

    I'm planning/writing some of the future chapters as we speak. Here are some of the names I've chosen for some of the upcoming chapters. What do you guys think? Please use spoiler tags when discussing them.
    A Tale of Two Sicilies
    Dieu Sauve Le Roi!
    An Empire Upon Which the Sun Never Sets
    The Lily's Twilight
    Portuguese Blues
    Dios, Patria, Rey!
    In Britannia Salutem
    From Russia With Love
    Turkish Delights
     
    Last edited:
    Art and Media #1
  • I was thinking of eventually doing some sort of art for this timeline and some of my other fics. I was thinking of creating some art pieces for some of the major historical figures here in ttl. Here's one I made today of Charles X.

    What do you guys think? If you guys want to make your own artwork or memes for this timeline as well feel free to do so!

    SXWZ1ah.png


     
    Art and Media #2 Cover Art
  • Same here! For the Empire!
    Vive la France! Vive L'Empereur!

    Here's some cover art I finally finished. It features Napoleon II here and I based it off this painting by Leopold Bucher. Though I I reworked it from the original painting depicting him in a white uniform, and I changed the colors scheme to depict something more similar to otl's Second French Empire's uniforms. I also added a shoulder epaulette and a Royal sash. I based this on other contemporary paintings of Napoleon II and other ones on Napoleon III. The background painting is called "Return of the troops to Paris" by Emannuele Masse. Its one of my favorite later 19th Century paintings depicting the French Army.

    What do you guys think? I'm thinking of making this timeline eventually a pdf when I finally complete it and use this art piece as the cover art. What do you think of it?

    ONTmzVT.png

    edit: Made some corrections to the background image.​
     
    Last edited:
    Art and Media #3: Napoleon I Coronation Art
  • OZdiICp.png

    Sorry about the lack of an update, but I forgot about a paper I had to write, so I had to scramble to finish that (The lesson is don't procrastinate). As a token of my apology here's some art I made of Napoleon I in his coronation robes. This is based on the painting by Ingres in 1806. As today is the 216th anniversary of Napoleon's Coronation, I think its the appropriate time to post this here. I'll try posting the update as soon as I can.​
     
    Notice of Update
  • Sorry guys, but unfortunately the Christmas update I planned is going to be delayed a bit more. It appears that I've also contracted the virus as well. Good news is, that its not as bad as I thought it would be, but its does make me feel slightly more fatigued. I'll probably post the update in a few days when I'm a bit less tired.

    Regards,
    @Basileus_Komnenos
     
    III. Dieu Sauve Le Roi!
  • Dieu Sauve Le Roi!
    IIouMKbyDlgeUNbCLi9NlEf-AnvQEuHghkUjWCjnExnEXBwyNnXxy0mDgAZCkmFViVlECEE79o-zRCTTNoTdeW4-w5d3jCJHUsy4o1ACaa-QhexRiAOMEYEqJ92Q6V4sAAWPuNfA

    The Royal Standard used during the Bourbon Restoration. The white background symbolizes purity, and during the Revolution the flag became a rallying banner of the French Royalists. The subsequent removal of the Tricolor was an omen for the return of the old style rule of the Bourbon Kings of France.​

    With the death of Emperor Napoleon at the battle of Leipzig, the Empire now stood leaderless, spiraling out of control into a freefall as the advance of the Sixth Coalition’s Armies swept in through Germany and Italy inching ever closer to France itself. To many within the Empire the unthinkable had happened. Napoleon the indomitable master of war had been killed on the battlefield and with him the Empire had fallen and along with him the Grand Armee: the valiant soldiers and defenders of France and the Revolution. Now since the early days of the Revolution, France had been attacked from all sides by the forces of the Old Order of Europe seeking to re-establish the reviled Bourbons, undoing the legacy and achievements of the Revolution. Panic had now begun to spread throughout France as the government had fallen to anarchy as the prospect of Paris being occupied by foreign troops became apparent.

    Within old monarchist strongholds such as Bordeaux and the Vendee, demonstrations broke out imploring the return of King Louis XVIII and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. Within Paris, remnants of the Grand Armee stationed there, the city’s garrisons and other Imperial Loyalists quickly proclaimed Napoleon’s son as Napoleon II, Emperor of the French. But with the army largely scattered, and the government rapidly losing control over the country, the survival of the Empire was very much in doubt. And while Eugene’s valiant Italian counteroffensive raised the hopes of the Bonapartists, it ultimately proved to be nothing but the part of the final death rattles of an Empire collapsing at the seams.

    With the situation becoming increasingly hopeless, the now Empress Dowager Marie Louise, fled with her son escorted by the 1200 remnants of Napoleon’s ever loyal Old Guard into Austrian territory. There she had sought asylum in her father’s seeking to avoid the fate of her grand-aunt Marie-Antionette who was faced retribution by the successive French government with her family suffering similar horrors.

    UiwlWief0_rIL3Nca56eas8BFLZKzSJS8LFTJIyPh2RhmHMRq29v9dYbCArrjwN363O-0v25i_0Qaau8QtM7zU00_ULyTvZ72JemHqLJB-nC1-te7DN31dlCEd9VOggwGYduTjrp

    A portrait of Empress-Dowager of the French Marie-Louise of Austria

    young Napoleon II.jpg

    A portrait of the young Emperor of the French Napoleon II: L'Aiglon.​

    Still some loyalists within the Imperial City such as Marshall Marmont, and Marshall Mortier prepared a hastily assembled defense of the city with around 40,000 troops. Inspired by the Emperor’s sacrifice and heroic death to mount their own last stand in defense of France and its Revolutionary ideals. As the defenses were being prepared, the Prince of Schwarzenberg issued a message to defenders threatening to destroy the city if they didn’t surrender immediately. Though anti-Bourbon historians and propagandists would tout this as another example of the Ancien Regime bringing shame upon France, it should be noted that it was likely an empty threat meant to lower the defenders’ morale and coax them into surrendering the city without a fight. Leveling the city would have been counterproductive to the Coalition’s goal of restoring the Bourbon monarchy and pre-Revolutionary status quo. However, what was intended to lower the Bonapartists’ morale, only hardened the defenders’ resolve backfiring catastrophically for the coalition. And after about two days of brutal and unrelenting fighting, with occasional skirmishes breaking out between both sides, Marshal Marmont and Mortier engaged in negotiations which culminated with the defenders surrendering to the forces of the coalition realizing their situation as hopeless with defeat being inevitable.

    apaSzIuiiRzrTSf1n_6ab-2vOgFNp0sdLUw2jc5uxo3qWNUw7MnGiFSweeioD3rUIG-1m7KeCw5V4ycgOqRX-toeObCZStUq0AE6DIe3jNl81Ic7GG08H7Wc5Z8o_xrCWStICVsK

    A painting depicting French loyalists mustering to the defense of the city in anticipation of the Coalition's attack.

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    A portrait depicting Tsar Alexander leading the Russian army in its triumphant march through the city.​

    With the last of the loyalist garrisons surrendering, the Russian Army led by Tsar Alexander I marched into the city in triumph through the Porte Saint-Denis. The victorious Russian army was met by large crowds of various people with many of them wearing white, or waving white flags as a sign of goodwill at the sight of a foreign army entering the city. This gave the coalition a mistaken impression that the people overwhelmingly clamored for the return of the Bourbon Kings of France much to the elation of King Louis XVIII who still remained in exile in Paris. The truth was that most Parisians were apathetic to the Royalist Return. Most Frenchmen were tired of the long and unceasing war war and worsening economic situation that resulted from it.

    440px-Guérin_-_Louis_XVIII_of_France_in_Coronation_Robes.jpg

    A portrait of King Louis XVIII of France depicted in his coronation robes.​

    With the First Empire now dead, the Bourbon monarchy was reinstated under King Louis XVIII who was the younger brother of King Louis XVI. Though Louis' ascension to the French throne wasn't quite as assured as it seemed to be. Initially the allies were quite split on who should be crowned as France's ruler. The Austrians favored the boy-Emperor, Napoleon II as he was Kaiser Franz's grandson. The Russians however seemed to favor Louis-Philippe the Duke of Orleans or the former Marshal of the Empire and now Crown Prince of Sweden, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. It was largely thanks to the efforts of Talleyrand who sold the idea of a Bourbon Restoration being the most desirable outcome for Europe in order to ensure a smooth transition back to the old status quo where the balance of power was maintained. As the House of Bourbon ruled France for centuries, suddenly stripping it of its claim to the throne for a less-legitimate house would see said ruler's reign tarnished by the specter of illegitimacy that would inevitably lead to further instability festering in France. This fact in addition to various Royalist demonstrations breaking out in Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille, and Lyons made the idea of restoring Louis XVIII to his throne the logical next step in restoring the old political order on the continent.

    Louis_XVIII_relevant_la_France.jpg

    A painting depicting the Bourbon restoration as salvation for France. In accordance with Bourbon Propaganda, King Louis XVIII is depicted protecting the modesty of a woman whose dress fell off. The woman wearing the white dress with Fleur de-lis represents France. Louis XVIII's restoration to the throne is thus presented as restoring France's honor.
    Prior to his Restoration to the throne, the King spent life in exile in England where in Hartwell he issued a declaration of a more liberal character promising that those who served Emperor Napoleon I, or the First Republic would not suffer reprisals for their deeds. He also stated that the original owners of confiscated lands of the clergy and aristocracy would be financially compensated instead of having all their old lands and titles restored. This in effect recognized the property rights of those who gained land during the Revolution which helped to facilitate a much smoother transition to power for the incoming Bourbon government.

    With the Eaglet’s departure from France, the Senate formally invited Louis XVIII to take the Crown upon a precondition that he would rule France in accordance with a written Constitution. Despite Louis’ personal reservations about a Constitution, he faced pressure from the Coalition powers to accept it to ensure a smooth re-installation of the Bourbon Monarchy. Of course Louis being a more astute monarch and political figure, learned the lessons taught by the Revolution, and the Constitutional Monarchy of 1791, and thus rejected the Senate’s Constitution. Instead he made a promise to create his own Constitution for France. Louis knew that accepting the proposal would signal that his power and authority stemmed from that of an assembly of people which would give the impression that the Parliament was sovereign rather than the King of France. Louis being a traditionalist and a Conservative saw such ideas of popular sovereignty as ludicrous and untenable as a basis to rule.

    Watching how his brother the late Louis XVI was made into a figurehead for the National Assembly, and then executed by it, Louis resolved to reassert the monarchy’s power and authority through the framework of a Constitution made according to his terms. This was a lesson Napoleon II would later take to heart when laying the groundwork for his own Empire after the Imperial Restoration.

    In accordance with the Declaration of Saint-Ouen, Louis XVIII accepted a Constitution unlike his other Bourbon Monarchical counterparts. This more “liberal” tune to the Bourbon Monarchy was realized through the Charter of 1814, which acknowledged the new norms of a post-Revolutionary France such as the Napoleonic Code, private property, freedom of the press, etc. Though this seemed like a great victory for the French Liberals, the spirit of the Constitution was already being undermined from the moment the King’s pen touched the paper. Harsh press-censorship laws and restrictions on the franchising showed the government’s more reactionary and conservative nature.

    Charte_constitutionnelle_du_4_juin_1814._Page_1_-_Archives_Nationales_-_AE-I-29.jpg

    An image depicting the Charter of 1814, the Constitution of the restored Kingdom of France.​

    While the Constitution took inspiration from the British Westminster System with its bicameral legislature, it was by no means a Parliamentary Monarchy. In fact after the Charter was first drafted, it was presented as a gift from the King to the people of France. This in spirit connotes that the Constitution stemmed from the King’s traditional powers and prerogatives as opposed to its stemming from a public act. And although Parliamentary structures like the bicameral parts: The Chamber of Deputies and Chambers of Peers existed, the legislature itself was quite pliant to the will of the KIng. This was in large part due to the failure of proper parliamentary conventions developing much to the frustration of the more libeal members of the Legislature. Unlike in the United Kingdom, the Constitution was worded in such a manner that the King’s chosen ministers weren’t directly responsible to the Legislature. King Louis’ willingness to throw his personal weight into political manners also helped to assert the Crown’s considerable executive powers and influence over legislation.

    With the long and arduous Napoleonic Wars now finally over, Louis XVIII initially gained a slight boost in popularity being seen as a man bringing in peace and tranquility to France after many years of war and economic hardship. This initial boost in popularity motivated the King to slowly and subtly reassert the old manner of rule under the Ancien Regime. And while the King kept his promise in granting a Constitution and respecting liberal ideas such as property rights, his actions still signaled a symbolic rebuke of the Revolution’s legacy and achievements.

    One such example of this was the new social structure within the Bourbon Monarchy. Under the First Republic, class distinctions were abolished, though as the Republic devolved into anarchy, all semblance of social order and cohesion collapsed. When Emperor Napoleon seized the reigns of power, as a sort of compromise he fused together the ideals and principles of the Revolution with that of monarchism. His new system of patronage: the Imperial Nobility allowed for a great deal of social mobility for the time period. Those who had proved themselves in service to France through their own merits were quite richly rewarded by the Emperor creating a sense of meritocracy not seen in the old Ancien Regime. By contrast, the new system under Louis XVIII was more of less a return to the previous status quo with society becoming much more stratified once again. Thanks to its favoring of France’s wealthiest landowners, the franchise became greatly reduced with only roughly around 1% of the nation’s populace eligible to vote. This dispossessed a vast swathe of people who had become used to comparative liberties within the Empire. It also created a deep rift between what was the old nobility: made up of mostly former emigres who fled during the Revolution, and the nouveau riche Imperial nobility who attained their position thanks to by merit on the field of battle rather than by blood.

    Other examples of such symbolic rebukes of the Revolution was the Restoration government’s decision to change the French Flag from the Tricolor back to the old French naval ensign also known as the “white flag.” The Old Naval ensign was chosen largely because of how it had become a symbol and a rallying banner for French Royalists during the height of the Reign of Terror featured most prominently by groups such as he Catholic and Royal army counterrevolutionaries. The symbolism here wasn’t lost on anyone. Among what would be later described as French Nationalists, the move provoked extreme outcry especially among many veterans from the Napoleonic Wars. Among these individuals, the legacy of Emperor Napoleon remained strong with the image of the Emperor holding a saber in one hand, and a Tricolor in the other burned into their minds. To these men, the move was a slap in face, something which wouldn’t be forgotten in the coming years.

    In regards to the King’s powers and authority within the state, according to the Constitution, he retained a great deal of powers with the only major substantive concession being that laws relating to taxation need the support of the Chamber of Deputies. While the system of Absolute Monarchy initiated under Louis XIV had been abolished, in many ways the new Constitution proved to be quite advantageous to the Bourbons. Unlike his brother or grandfather Louis XVI and Louis XV respectively, the King had his powers and role within the state firmly codified in an official legal document which served as the framework for government. The monarchy no longer had to rely on flimsy legal technicalities based on interpretations of inconsistent and archaic feudal laws and principles to govern. Meddlesome institutions such as the infamous Parlement of Paris remained firmly abolished.

    While King Louis’ power was curtailed, the power and influence of the Crown’s traditional opposition: the nobility was greatly reduced with them unable to regain the full extent of their various social, legal, and fiscal privileges. In regards to legislation, the King was chief of state and head with additional powers to prorogue and summon Parliament, the right to draft and present laws Parliament, appoint judges, dissolve the Chamber of Deputies and call for elections. In the hands of a capable political figure such as Louis-Stanislaw, the Charter of 1814 was a perfect means by which the Crown could reassert itself, but fortunately for the Bonapartes, his successors were less adept at such political machinations.
    Portrait_of_charles_x_1757-183_hi.jpg

    A portrait of Prince Charles, the count of Artois and leader of the Ultra-Royalist Faction.
    Despite the its various political successes, the Kingdom faced a range of political and structural issues that threatened to upend the monarchy like a house of cards if left unchecked. France while Royalist once again saw the French monarchists divided into various factions organized around different political ideologies and visions of where to take the country. The first of these factions was the Ultras, also known as the Ultra-Royalists. This faction was led by the then Prince Charles, count of Artois and future King Charles X of France. Charles was Louis XVIIIs' younger brother who favored a return to a more reactionary and traditional French government along the lines of the Ancien Regime. The Ultras were made up primarily of the old nobility of France, many of which who were chased out by the Revolutionaries during the height of the Reign of Terror. The Ultras much like Prince Charles, favored a return to the ideals of the Ancien Regime, and after the humiliation they suffered thanks to the Revolution, they rallied around the Bourbons seeking to use the Restoration as an attempt to regain their past prominence and to gain restitution for their properties and fortunes.

    But their hopes were dashed with Louis XVIII's enthronement. The King had instead opted to go for a much more moderate route in terms of a Restoration of the Monarchy agreeing to a Constitution, and choosing to compromise with the liberals over the legacy and principles of the Revolution. To the Ultras this was a slap in the face as many of them wanted revenge against the Revolutionaries and Bonapartists. This anger was demonstrated with small scale riots which broke out against officials of the Empire as it collapsed following the Battle of Leipzig which was spun by Bonapartists and the Republicans as a "Second White Terror." In reality these riots were little more than small peasant revolts such as the ones in Bordeaux over economic issues such as the King going back on his promise to eliminate or reduce certain taxes. Regardless these Ultras proved to be a thorn in the side of the King with them being mocked as "more royalist than the King," which was true as the King himself astonished that they were more hardline than himself. And despite the monarchy's more reactionary turn under King Louis XVIII, by the 1820's he was forced to side with the more liberal and moderate members factions as the Ultras became more politically active and agitated for various concessions.

    The second of the major political faction during the Restoration was the Doctrinaires faction. The Doctrinaires consisted of a coalition of various French monarchists made up of mostly liberal and moderate individuals. Some prominent members included the Prince Talleyrand, and the Marquis de Lafayette. The Doctrinaires favored a moderate Constitutional monarchy as the basis of government, though the exact nature and type of Constitutional monarchy varied among these individuals as some favored a strong executive monarchy while others yearned for a more Parliamentary system similar to what was in the contemporary United Kingdom. While the Ultras consisted of mostly members from the old nobility, the Doctrinaires drew support from many former members from the Empire and the upper middle class.

    The third major faction during the Bourbon Restoration was a coalition of many hardline Republicans and Bonapartists who joined together out of mutual hatred of the Bourbon Restoration. This opposition faction within France was mostly driven underground thanks to heavy press-censorship from the Royalist government under King Louis XVIII and later the more reactionary Charles X. With the return of the monarchy, and the death of Emperor Napoleon, many prominent royalists sought to erase the legacy of the Empire from France. While many institutions and reforms created and fostered under Emperor Napoleon remained, other prominent symbols of the Empire such as the Tricolor or the famed Imperial Eagle standards used by the Army, were quietly done away with much to the anger of many Napoleonic veterans and rank and file troops. Still the general war-weariness within France, and the lack of a proper claimant (as Napoleon II was too young to hold the throne) prevented any serious attempt at insurrection against the Bourbons. In addition to this, the mutual hatred of the Republicans and the Imperial Loyalists shared with each other kept opposition to the Restoration from organizing, at least until the end of its first phase in the mid 1820's.

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    Author's Note
    After a long wait, here's the next chapter to this timeline. Sorry about taking so long, but I had some school issues and some real-life related issues to deal with. Thank you guys for your continued support in reading this timeline. Looking back, I didn't expect this timeline to blow up as much as it did, but I greatly enjoy writing this timeline, and hope you enjoy reading it.

    Please feel free to comment below. All feedback is welcome.
    Regards,
    @Basileus_Komnenos

    Also I'm including a shoutout to @Comte de Dordogne and @Eparkhos for their awesome timelines as which I think you guys should check out as well.
    If you're interested in early modern France, Comte de Dordogne's timeline The Sun of Rocroi is worth checking out. Eparkhos' timeline, The Undying Empire basically details the struggle for survival of the Empire of Trebizond in the 15th Century as the last bastion of Roman Civilization on the East.
     
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    Art and Media #4: Cover Art for The Bourbon Restoration

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    Here's some a minimalist portrait I made of Louis XVIII specifically for this chapter. What do you guys think?
    I've also started a Deviantart page where I'll also be posting the various bits of artwork/maps I've made if you're interested.​
     
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