Long term for this Greece I favor taking no land in Asia. Constantinople and north agean coast would still be quite the surprise. Along with as aggressive as possible greekification of the Albanians/misc people’s in the north of Greece. That plus the ALL the islands plus earlier industrialization strong military investment could see a Greece that is the strongest country south of Austria and west of Persia.
If Greece eventually is as strong and united as it appears it will become ITTL, it would be hard to see why they wouldn't end up in control of at least some parts of Asia Minor. If the Ottomans do indeed collapse, Greece would have the perfect opportunity to assert its claims to the parts of Asia Minor with significant Greek populations, and its hard to see how any Greek government would be able to resist calls for at least some expansion. Its not necessarily that this is the best move for Greece (although it definitely could work if done intelligently), its just that public opinion in favor of expansion and the pressure to protect the Greek populations in Asia Minor would be too powerful. While it might be possible to prevent reckless expansionism like was seen IOTL, unless something happens to remove the large number of Greeks from Turkey it seems likely that a strong Greece would feel compelled to seize land in a post-Ottoman collapse Asia Minor.
 
If Greece eventually is as strong and united as it appears it will become ITTL, it would be hard to see why they wouldn't end up in control of at least some parts of Asia Minor. If the Ottomans do indeed collapse, Greece would have the perfect opportunity to assert its claims to the parts of Asia Minor with significant Greek populations, and its hard to see how any Greek government would be able to resist calls for at least some expansion. Its not necessarily that this is the best move for Greece (although it definitely could work if done intelligently), its just that public opinion in favor of expansion and the pressure to protect the Greek populations in Asia Minor would be too powerful. While it might be possible to prevent reckless expansionism like was seen IOTL, unless something happens to remove the large number of Greeks from Turkey it seems likely that a strong Greece would feel compelled to seize land in a post-Ottoman collapse Asia Minor.
^ Of this I agree, but at this stage of the game, isn't the only areas of Asia Minor with a significant Greek population just the city of Symrna/Izmir and their environs? (Yes, I know Trebizond is another locale, but that's too far a location, and I'm pretty sure other locales will be wanting it as well, Russia for one.)
 
I woul not be suprised if greek did greekfaction, I also thought their were way more greek than that
Edit: sorry mispelled what trying to say russifction and that the greek would do it in Anatolia
 
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While it might be possible to prevent reckless expansionism like was seen IOTL
There is a common misconception that the greek drive towards Ankara was due to territorial expansion. In reality it was a drive to destroy the turkish field armies in order to force Kemal to recognize the Sevres Treaty. So, even then the territorial claim was strictly the Smyrna Zone. The fact that the campaign was ill-conceived and ill-executed had nothing to do with additional territorial ambitions in Anatolia. It would be the equivalent of claiming that Napoleon's drive to Moscow was because he wanted to add to France everything up to Volga.

Greece would have the perfect opportunity to assert its claims to the parts of Asia Minor with significant Greek populations, and its hard to see how any Greek government would be able to resist calls for at least some expansion.
This is the most important factor, especially in the age of nationalism. Anatolian Greeks themselves had access to quite good education and had a well-developed national consciousness.
A secondary factor was the economic importance of the West Anatolia valleys around Smyrna and Aydin. The region was rich in cash crops (raisins, tobacco etc). One can argue that exports of these cash crops fueled the ottoman economy. I have somewhere an interesting paper on the issue, I will try to find it.
 
It is pretty ASB. Not even the most fervent nationalist would want to take part in such adventures. In terms of power projection to North Africa I can see only "soft power" projection. By softpower I mean schools for the greek communities in Egypt, support for the Jerusalem and Alexandria Patriarchates, perhaps schools for the greek community in Sudan. Other than that, I don't find anything else possible. Otherwise, I see Greeks controlling the cotton trade and banking sector in Egypt.
Α (very) few Egyptiotes Greeks became so rich that built small palaces for themselves https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palais_d’Antoniadis
Actually during WW2 ideas of a Greek Cyrenaica, or alternatively of "opening Italian colonies the Greek immigration", after Italy was defeated were voiced (and shelved). So TTL a Greek Cyrenaica isn't entirely ASB. Certainy no need for hostile Ottoman ports that potentially can threaten the southern Greek coasts...
 
Actually during WW2 ideas of a Greek Cyrenaica, or alternatively of "opening Italian colonies the Greek immigration", after Italy was defeated were voiced (and shelved). So TTL a Greek Cyrenaica isn't entirely ASB. Certainy no need for hostile Ottoman ports that potentially can threaten the southern Greek coasts...
I didn't know that! Thanks for the correction!
 
Maybe a stronger Persia could take Mesopotamia and the Ottoman kurdistan? It would also be intresting but pretty Asb if they would take over Afghanistan as to that time the country was atleast 50 procent Persian
 
I'm still personally wondering what's going to happen with the geopolitics surrounding Serbia. At this point, the Austro-oriented tendencies of the Principality had yet to manifest, only really coming to fruition following the rule of the Ustavobranitelji (Defenders of the Constitution, or Constitutionalists) and the reign of Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević. I'm personally more aware of the linguistic developments going on across the border in Austria, what with the Vienna Literary Agreement of 1850 (with everyone deciding to instead chip into the Vukavian developments over the Illyrianist stylings, with implications and influence slowly coming out during the later 18th and the 19th centuries), then I am aware of the Ustavobranitelji, but checking Wikipedia should solve that.

The one thing I do remember is that they were, to some degree, nationalistic; Ilija Garašanin's Načertanije (The Draft), the secret program for Serbia's external and national politics, introduced conceptualizations of what we would today consider a Greater Serbia, through the framework of Serbia liberating Serbs and other Slavs, as well as having Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro and northern Albania (which was then considered part of 'Old Serbia', a term applied to Raška/Sandžak, Kosovo, Metochia and current-day North Macedonia, seen as the old core of the Serbs during the Middle Ages and brief Imperial era), even if said concepts were introduced more of the sake of the state's security than any sort of Serbian nationalism or Yugoslavism. As well, OTL, during this period, Serbian volunteers were sent under the command of Stevan Knićanin to help with the Serbs' struggle for autonomy in Vojvodina during the Hungarian Revolution, starting from May 1848, leading to protests from the Austrian consul in Belgrade, which were in vain. Garašanin was in support of collaborating with the Hungarians, but supposedly couldn't reach them because of their rigid nationalist views.

Reading up on the Serbian Wikipedia page; the starting regime consisted of Toma Vučić Perišić, Avram Petronijević, brothers Stojan and Aleksa Simić, and Ilija Garašanin (his father, Milutin, was also involved, but he died the same year they came to power). They were the ones who brought Aleksandar Karađorđević to power, and thus exerted their own power over the state. The Wikipedia page characterizes their regime as "bureaucratic and oligarchic", led by the maxim "the government is the tutor, and the people are the pupils." They emphasized the rule of law (and established law to protect their own interests), greater economic freedom, and the advancement of education (especially this, since they viewed the common people as not suffuciently educated, that is, lacking the political awareness to govern themselves, necessitating that they be the ones to teach them how to rule without their consent nor their will). It helps to keep in mind that whilst they were well-known individuals, consisting of bureaucrats, merchants, etc. who opposed Miloš' autocratic rule, they weren't democrats, nor egalitarians. The leaders weren't reformists.

During the OTL period, the Constitutionalists and the privy council were always in conflict with Aleksandar, with the latter trying to limit the power of the former, as he tried to increase his own (to no avail, for the most part; he did manage to name Stefan Stefanović Tenka president of the privy council in 1848, which they objected to). The most major instance of this early on can be seen with the June 1848 Saint Peter's Day Assembly in Kragujevac (nominally called to discuss the affairs in Hungary, by request of the people), where Aleksander and members of the government tried to supplant Toma Vučić Perišić and his supporters, whom had broken away in 1845 after becoming a prominent Russophile and a supporter of the orientation of Russia's foreign policy. Trying to get the support of the people, to try and force him out of the government, as he was one of the most powerful figures in the country, they failed, because he had many supporters in the assembly. Vučić ended up forcing them to dismiss several of his opponents, including Stevan Knićanin, and implement several demands. At the same time, liberals began to manifest, not just from the revolutions going on, but also because the assembly opposed the very notion of political division within the Principality, with no socio-economic conditions to force the introduction of political freedom at this point. At the same time, the pro-Obrenović movement ended up forcing a delay in the assembly from its original June 1st date.

OTL, after the revolutions, things didn't exactly calm down, with internal pressures from the pro-Obrenović and pro-Vučić movements, and external pressures from the Russians. Avram Petronijević, President of the Government since 1844, and known Turkophile, would die in Istanbul in 1852 whilst trying to assert the prince's dignity. He was replaced by Ilija Garašanin, influential with-in and -out of Serbia, but whom Aleksandar was not fond of. He was also a pronounced Francophile. Because of his attempts to get Serbia to have closer connections with France, Austria disliked him, and the Russians were just bothered by him in general (not just by the Francophilism, but also because of his extremely hostile attitude to them), so he got replaced by Aleksa Simić. Ilija, however, remained Minister of Foreign Affairs, and he was among those opposed to joining Russia against the Ottomans, and later, with his personal influence, secured Serbia's neutrality during the Crimean War.

With Austria weakened TTL, and Hungary likely not to let up on the minority front, it makes me wonder in what direction Serbia will face politically. Will the country maintain its neutrality whilst dealing with its internal woes? Will it end up swinging towards France, or to Russia? How much of OTL will find itself repeated? Will the government once more fall 5 times between 1855 (post-Simić) and 1858 (end of the Constitutionalist Era)? Will the 1857 Tenka Conspiracy to kill Prince Aleksandar happen at all? Would they actually succeed this time, or will it repeat as OTL (and then follow its logical conclusion with Aleksandar trying to use the situation to his advantage, failing, and with the masses being dissatisfied with him, ultimately leading to his abdication at the 1858 Saint Andrew's Day Assembly, and the return of Miloš Obrenović)?

...I just rambled on again, didn't I? Damnit.
 
Part 76: Moving Heaven and Earth
Part 76: Moving Heaven and Earth


Greece’s Great Engineering Challenge; The Corinth Canal

The dream of building a canal through the Isthmus of Corinth was nothing new to the Greeks having been tossed about since the earliest days of their civilization. Beginning in the late 7th Century BCE, the tyrant of Corinth Periander would initially propose digging a canal through the Isthmus as a ploy to cement Corinth’s grip on commerce throughout the region. But lacking the means to undertake such a colossal enterprise, Periander would instead order the construction of a primordial rail system of timber and stone, known as the Diolkos in its place.[1] This portage road enabled ships to travel across the isthmus at a rate faster than by sea, bringing great wealth and prestige to Corinth, over the next six hundred years. With the Diolkos a moderate success, Periander abandoned efforts to build a canal across the isthmus having accomplished what he had set out to achieve.

Eventually though the Diolkos would be lost to the annals of history, leading to the reemergence of the Corinth Canal within the minds of many prominent figures across the ages. Among them were Demetrius Poliocretes, Julius Caesar, Caligula and Hadrian, yet they, like Periander before them would eventually abandon the idea out of financial concern and superstition or die before they could begin work on it. Surprisingly, it would be the Roman Emperor Nero who actually came the closest to building the canal, as he would personally break ground near Corinth in 67 AD. Work at the site would progress at a reasonably rate thanks to a glut of Jewish slave labor and Roman ingenuity until it came to an abrupt halt the following year when the Governor of Gallia Lugdunesis, Gaius Julius Vindex rebelled against Nero necessitating his return to Rome.[2] Although many expected work to eventually continue, Nero’s death later that year would spell the end for the project as no serious attempt would be made for another 1800 years. Only when the Kingdom of Greece gained its independence in 1830 from the Ottoman Empire would talk of the Corinth Canal come to the fore once again.

Recognizing the enormous economic and strategic benefits a Corinth Canal could provide the new state of Greece, the Governor of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias publicly advocated for the construction of a canal at Corinth. By cutting a sea channel through the isthmus of Corinth, the time needed for the average sailing ship to travel from Piraeus to Patras would be cut by more than half, dropping from 320 nautical miles (600 km) to less than 130 (240 km). Based on this, the Greek frigate VP Hellas (the fastest ship in the Hellenic Navy at the time with an average sailing speed of 14 knots) could make this voyage in a little under 10 hours by traveling through the Canal as opposed to over a day and a half traveling around the Peloponnese. For a state as reliant upon sea travel as Greece was, the benefits to communication and commerce that the Canal could provide for Greece would be enormous.

More importantly, by building a channel through the Isthmus of Corinth, ships (both sail and steam) would no longer have to traverse the dreaded Kavomaleas and Kavomatapas along the Southern coast of the Peloponnese. Over the centuries, an untold number of men and vessels had been lost along these jagged shores, with their ships dashed upon the rocks by gale force winds and their crews drowned beneath the billowing waves that swirled off the coast. By bypassing the rugged southern shoreline of Matapan and Malea in favor of the Corinth Canal, shipping between the Aegean and Adriatic could theoretically continue year-round as vessels would no longer have to fear the tumultuous Winter storms which had sunk many a ship over the years. Instead they could travel through the relatively placid Saronic Gulf, through the Corinth Canal and into the similarly calm Gulf of Corinth.


Kavomaleas

As a result of this increased safety, many Greek economists predicted that annual traffic (both foreign and domestic) through a completed Corinth Canal would exceed 3 million tons per annum bringing a tremendous influx of cash to the region. Local communities along the Saronic Gulf and Gulf of Corinth would benefit immensely by the need to provide services and supplies to the numerous ships passing through the canal. This increase in traffic would also provide the Greek state with additional revenue in the form of custom dues and transit fees through the Canal, a prize that was greatly desired in the debt-ridden Greek state. The construction effort itself would also provide hundreds, if not thousands of jobs for the people of Argolis-Corinthia not just in the form of the laborers and engineers building the canal, but also in the form of cooks, innkeepers, entertainers, doctors, tailors, and blacksmiths who would support the building effort indirectly. The projected boon to the Greek economy both along the Gulf of Corinth and Saronic Gulf, and across Greece in general would be well worth the initial expenses with conservative estimates reaching into the tens of millions of Drachmas each year.

Yet that expense was incredibly high, with the projected cost of the project running north of 40,000,000 French Francs. Despite considerable interest in the project and his powerful grip on Greek politics, Kapodistrias would prove unwilling and unable to commit Greece to such an undertaking at the time. Despite this disappointment, Kapodistrias’ efforts would help lay the groundwork for its future construction. During his tenure as Prime Minister of Greece, Kapodistrias would commission various geologists and surveyors to locate potential sites for the Canal. After several months of meticulous surveying and research, they would conclude that the Isthmus was narrowest between the small fishing hovel Isthmia and the coast to the Northeast of the city of Corinth.[3] Kapodistrias would also be successful in garnering considerable public interest in the Canal, particularly in the city of Corinth itself, ultimately leading to the formation of the Corinth Company in 1842 (a conglomeration of entrepreneurs, bankers, and industrials who supported the construction of a canal at Corinth among other projects).

The Corinth Canal would also prove to be relatively popular amongst Kapodistrias’ political successors as well, with Andreas Metaxas beginning preliminary work at the site in 1843, when he had a team of engineers charted a route through the isthmus. The following year, Metaxas would send a new team of surveyors to examine the soil and rock composition along the chosen route indicating that construction on a Corinth Canal would begin in the near future. These hopes were dashed following the 1844 General Elections as the Fileléfthero Kómma (Liberal Party) under Alexandros Mavrokordatos came to power, resulting in a broad shift in priorities by the Greek Government away from the Canal.

Nevertheless, Mavrokordatos would approve a handful of contracts submitted by the Corinth Company, enabling them to begin work on the project themselves. After Ioannis Kolettis and his Nationals came to power in 1849 the Greek Government changed course yet again and began allocating funds from the Government’s infrastructure budget towards the construction of the Corinth Canal. However, it would fall to Constantine Kanaris to get the Vouli’s final approval for the endeavor as Kolettis’ gaze eventually shifted to other matters. Fortunately for Kanaris’ the situation in 1854 was vastly different than the one Kapodistrias had dealt with in the 1830’s.

Firstly, the Greek economy was leagues ahead of where it had been at the conclusion of the War for Independence. No longer was Greece a war-torn land, devastated by bloody battles, extensive pillaging, and needless massacres. Instead, it was a land of relative economic prosperity as years of continual growth and development had elevated Greece from an impoverished provincial backwater on the edge of Europe into a bustling hub of commerce and trade. Greece’s shipping industry was second to none in the Mediterranean, providing services to Britain, France, Spain, Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, the Italian States, Hungary, and the Triple Monarchy. Greece’s agricultural sector was also strong, having quickly surpassed its pre-war levels to heights unseen in recent Greek history. While it still ranked far below the agriculture powerhouses of Europe, the Greeks provided a generous supply of raisins, olive oil and mastic to European Markets, while still proving capable of feeding a million and a half people.

Thanks to this economic resurgence, the Greek Government’s finances had dramatically improved since the 1830's. Through numerous revisions of their tax, tariff, and custom codes, the incoming revenue for the Government in 1854 would be the highest yet at over 51 million Drachma (roughly £1,820,000). This, combined with masterful diplomacy and stellar accounting enabled Greece to lower its tremendous debt over the years, bringing the sum down from a staggering 6 million Pounds Sterling in 1831 to a much more manageable sum of 2.4 million Pounds in 1850. While 40 million Francs would still be a tremendous financial burden for the state to carry on its own, Kanaris and his regime would manage to convince a number of moneylenders, bankers, and private investors from across Greece, Britain, and France to aid in the financing of the canal.

In addition to Greece’s improved economic standing, the Corinth Canal had the benefit of foreign knowhow gained from the ongoing construction of the Suez Canal. Work on a canal near the port town of Suez, Egypt had begun back in mid-1851 when the Governor of Egypt, Ibrahim Pasha reached out to the French Diplomat Ferdinand Marie, Viscount de Lesseps regarding the construction of a canal across the isthmus of Suez.[4] Like the Corinth Canal, interest in a canal connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea had increased dramatically in recent years as global commerce steadily increased. By cutting through the isthmus of Suez, ships would save countless weeks, possibly even months traveling between Europe and Asia benefiting trade immensely. While various figures throughout history had proposed such a canal, it would be Napoleon Bonaparte who showed the most interest in the project in recent times, tasking one of his Engineers, Jacques-Marie Le Pere with surveying the sight and discerning the feasibility of such a project. Le Pere would erroneously record that the sea levels of the Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea were different by more than 9 millimeters, leading Napoleon to abandon the idea altogether.


An early sketch of what a completed Suez Canal would look like

Le Pere’s report would remain largely unchallenged until 1839 when the French Ambassador to Egypt, the Viscount de Lesseps arranged for Louis Maurice Adolphe Linant de Bellefonds to test Le Pere’s report. Linant would eventually determine that there was no discernable difference in sea level between the two seas, thus ammending Le Pere’s earlier result and paving the way for a canal at Suez. This development would prompt immense interest in the Suez Canal, but the outbreak of War between Egypt and the Ottoman Empire in 1840, followed by the ensuing economic recession afflicting Europe which deterred largescale investment and then finally the death of Mohammed Ali in 1847 all resulted in delay after delay for the project. By 1850 the situation had improved as Ibrahim Pasha had succeeded his father, and the French economy had recovered immensely thanks to the incorporation of Wallonia and Napoleon II's much needed economic reforms.

By the Summer of 1851, the gears were in motion for construction to finally begin on the Suez Canal. Linant would lead the day to day affairs while Lesseps and his compatriots in the Société d'études de l'Isthme de Suez focused on the logistics and funding for the project. The project also received its fair share of support from the Egyptian Government which supported the construction efforts extensively. Similarly, the French and British Governments provided some measure of political support as well.

Work at Suez had been ongoing for over a year before Kanaris even assumed office, yet during that time numerous developments had taken place that were relevant to the ongoing debate in Greece over the Corinth Canal. The use of dredges by the French and Egyptians was particularly ingenious as a team of laborers would dig a small portion of the canal by shovel, before flooding it with water. After a reasonable amount of water had filled the cavity, a dredge and barge would be floated into the now flooded segment of the canal to widen and deepen the channel. This process greatly expedited progress on the canal, enabling the Suez Company to dig 28 miles of the canal in just 3 years. In comparison, the Corinth Canal at only 4 miles, was much shorter than the 90-mile Suez Canal, leading many to believe that a Corinth Canal would be much easier to build. However, the Suez Canal had the benefit of running through sand and clay rather than rock and gravel (much of which was at or above sea level), they also had further advantages that the Greeks did not have, namely an abundance of cheap labor in the form of Corvées.

These men were little more than slaves, forced to work in appalling conditions for no pay under the brutal Egyptian Sun and subject to a myriad of diseases which plagued their camps. Although Linant and Lesseps were reluctant to admit it, several hundred of these laborers would die due to these circumstances between 1851 and 1854, but as result, the Suez Company had made impressive progress on the canal. However, for a liberal country such as Greece that believed so strongly in human decency and equality; such a system could not and would not be tolerated by the Greek people. Another problem encountered by the Suez Company was the rapidly increasing costs of the construction effort. Despite the benefit of free labor, the total cost of the canal was projected at 200 million gold Francs in 1851. However, costs would eventually rise upwards to 300 million in 1854 and continue to more than 400 million by 1858. Were such a development to occur for the Greeks, then the cost for the Corinth Canal would likely swell from 40 million Francs to 60 or even 80 million, a price that would likely bankrupt the Government.

It was clear that getting the approval of the Vouli would be an uphill battle for Kanaris and proponents of the canal as Mavrokordatos and his Liberals stood in fierce opposition to the project. Although Mavrokordatos and the Liberals generally supported infrastructure, they remained committed to the belief that the Government should refrain from interfering in the matters of private interests, who they called upon to construct the canal. Several more fiscally cautious members of the Nationals were in agreement with Mavrokordatos as well. Ultimately, a measure authorizing the construction of the Corinth Canal would pass through the Vouli by a slim margin of 71 to 62 with 4 abstentions.

According to the final bill, construction of the Corinth Canal would take place over a 6-year period beginning in the Summer of 1854. 8 million Drachma would be allocated to the project each year for a total of 48 million Drachma (roughly 44 million French Francs). The Canal would be 6 kilometers in length, 25 meters in width, and 30 meters in depth running from the village of Isthmia across the Isthmus of Corinth. Leading the operation would be the Macedonian architect Stamatios Kleanthis who was charged by the Interior Ministry with overseeing the entire construction effort.


Stamatios Kleanthis; Lead Architect of the Corinth Canal

Stamatios Kleanthis had been instrumental in the renovation and expansion of Athens following the War for Independence in 1830, personally designing several buildings across the city including Palace Square (later renamed to Kolokotronis Square in 1861), the British Embassy mansion, the Anglican Church of Athens, and the old University of Athens schoolhouse among many others. Following his extensive architectural work in Athens, Kleanthis would work in Piraeus and Eretria before moving to Paros where he opened a marble quarry on the island, exporting the precious stone to interested buyers across Europe. His marble was so sought after that it would win the coveted Golden Award at the 1852 London World’s Fair at the Crystal Palace.[5] It was this combined experience in architecture and mining that made Kleanthis an attractive candidate to lead the Corinth Canal project.

While Kleanthis would be the overseer for the project, the actual construction of the Canal itself, would be accomplished by laborers under the employ of the Corinth Company and the Hellenic Army Engineers regiment and its commander, Colonel Vasileios Sapountzakis. Although primarily viewed as a unit of military engineers, the Engineers regiment was also proficient in a number of civil works projects; primarily building roads and bridges, wells and aqueducts. While digging a canal was certainly within their capabilities, it would be by far the most expansive project they had worked on thus far. Nevertheless, the Engineers had received their orders and would begin work on the 23rd of June near the town of Isthmia.


The Hellenic Army Engineer Emblem

When the day of the groundbreaking finally arrived, the Royal Family was in full attendance for the day’s events; King Leopold and his wife Queen Marie, Crown Prince Constantine accompanied by his wife Grand Duchess Anna Mikhailovna and their infant daughter Princess Maria, Prince Alexander and Princess Katherine. Owing to his advanced age and a number of physical ailments, King Leopold would not perform the ceremonial groundbreaking himself, instead he would delegate the task to his eldest son, Prince Constantine. The gangly Prince, grabbed the shovel and in an awkward thrust, pierced the soil which he unceremoniously tossed to the side. Kanaris would famously quip that Constantine was picking up right where Nero had left off.

The first few weeks would go relatively smoothly with Sapountzakis and the Engineers making slow, but steady progress at Isthmia. Still, they had managed to make relatively good progress and had advanced some 100 meters in length, 20 meters in width, and 25 meters in depth by the end of July, impressive figures by all accounts. By Summer’s end, approximately half a mile had been fully dug near Isthmia, but problems would soon emerge that threatened to derail the entire project. Firstly, the cost of the construction effort was proving much greater than initially anticipated. Nearly the entire amount of Drachma set aside for 1854 had been used in the first three months, forcing an embarrassing stoppage of work at the site while the Government rushed to allocate more money for the project.

More problematic than the increasing financial difficulties were the political developments beginning to take place throughout the region. To the North, the Ottoman Empire -at the encouragement of Great Britain - declared war on the Russian Empire sparking what would later be known as the Great Eurasian War. While mostly confined to the Crimean Peninsula, the Caucasus Mountains and the Middle East; this war between three of Greece’s largest trading partners heavily disrupted Greek commerce in the region. When combined with the ongoing raisin glut, the Greek economy subsequently began to suffer from its first major recession since the War for Independence, a fact which significantly weakened the Kanaris Government.

With elections only a few short weeks away and the Corinth Canal proving to be a growing financial mess, the National Party naturally looked to other means of boosting their Government’s popularity across the country. To that end, they announced that Prime Minister Kanaris, Foreign Minister Konstantinos Kolokotronis (youngest brother of Panos and Ioannis Kolokotronis), and representatives of the British Governments had been secretly negotiating the transfer of the Ionian Islands to Greek administration. In what was to be a surprising blunder, Kanaris, believing that a deal with the British had been reached, let slip to his allies in the Vouli that the Ionian Islands would soon belong to Greece. Naturally, such joyous news spread like wildfire throughout the party rank and file, until it soon became public knowledge. When word of this revelation made its way to London, the British Government were understandably angered by this lack of confidentiality on Kanaris’ part. Combined with Greece’s rather overt support for the Russians in the war against the Ottomans, the British Government thought it best to halt negotiations over the islands and continue discussion on the matter another time. Unsurprisingly, the people of Greece were unhappy with this turn of events, and though most of their anger fell upon Perfidious Albion, Kanaris and the Nationals were not spared from ridicule either.

While this was certainly a misstep for the Nationals, especially in the days leading up to the 1854 Elections, the worst was yet to come in early October as eleven of the Corinth Company's laborers were killed when a section of the newly constructed trench collapsed upon them. Despite the loss of life, work continued on unabated leading to mounting criticism of Kleanthis, Colonel Sapountzakis, and Kanaris for ignoring the treacherous working conditions at the site. When this accident was followed up with another three weeks later, Kanaris was forced to order and immediate halt to all construction efforts at the site while a government investigation took place to develop better safety measures at the site. This stoppage would be too little to late for members of the Greek public who began protesting near the canal, calling on Kanaris' resignation.


Inside the Corinth Canal

Kanaris in a show of humility and deference to the public outcry against him, offered his resignation to King Leopold, but the King genuinely believing in the old Navarchos, refused to accept it and stalwartly stood behind the Prime Minister. This show of support would save Kanaris, but it would not save the National Party which lost 31 seats in the ensuing elections, dropping from their previous high of 87 back in July, down to 56 by December. While the Nationals were still the predominant party in Greek Politics, the 1854 Elections had destroyed their majority in the Vouli. Unable to govern on his party’s support alone, Kanaris was forced to approach his rivals for a coalition government.

Mavrokordatos would refuse him out of hand, denouncing the rather Anglophobic stance of the National Party had taken following the failure of the recent Ionian Island negotiations. Moreover, he blamed its ludicrous spending for the current economic recession Greece was presently suffering from. With Mavrokordatos and his Liberals out of the picture, Kanaris was forced to turn to his old ally Panos Kolokotronis for support.

Kolokotronis’ Laïkó Kómma had the lowest membership of the three parties in the Greek Vouli, with only 21 members as of January 1855, but as it shared many core values with the National Party, it was a natural ally for Kanaris to align himself with. However, there existed a degree of bad blood between Kanaris and Kolokotronis in recent years, owing in part to the perceived abandonment of Kanaris by Kolokotronis in 1848. Despite this, political necessity dictated that Kanaris make amends with Kolokotronis and convince him to form a coalition government between the National and People’s Parties. After some deliberation, the old Strategos would agree to Kanaris’ request in return for prominent positions in the cabinet for himself and several of his closest supporters.

Despite this stabilization of the Greek Government, work on the Corinth Canal had come to a definitive end for the time being, as public support for the project had collapsed and Greece’s energies were directed to the war taking place to the North and East. Yet in a surprising twist of fate, it would be this very conflict, this Great Eurasian War which would see the enosis of the Ionian Islands with Greece and the completion of the Corinth Canal finally become reality.

Next Time: The Great Game
[1] The exact origins of the Diolkos are unknown, but based on some circumstantial evidence, the construction of the portage road is generally placed in the late 7th/early 6th Centuries BCE during the reign of Periander.
[2] While Nero wasn’t the first to consider building a canal outside Corinth, he was the only one prior to modern times to actually attempt construction of the canal. Other famous figures to contemplate building a canal across the isthmus include Demetrios Poliocretes, Julius Caesar, and Caligula among many others.
[3] Roughly equivalent to the site of OTL Canal.
[4] There are two major divergences here compared to OTL which allow for an earlier construction of the Suez Canal. First, with Ibrahim Pasha surviving longer, his nephew Abbas never becomes Wali of Egypt in this timeline preventing him from opposing the Suez Canal’s construction for several years. This also benefits the Egyptian economy, which is stronger as a result. Secondly, relations between Egypt and France are much stronger ITTL thanks to France’s pseudo intervention during the Second Egyptian Ottoman War in 1840. French relations are also strong with Britain thanks to Napoleon II having spent several years in Britain, thus avoiding their initial opposition as well. Napoleon II also has a personal stake in this as it would fulfill his late father’s ambition. France’s acquisition of Wallonia also helps quite a lot, although this is balanced out in the short term by the devastation of the Belgian War and the fallout from the Revolution in 1848.
[5] Due to the added problems facing Britain ITTL, the Exhibition was delayed into 1852. Kleanthis’ participation in the Exhibition and the award for his marble is per OTL though.
 
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@Earl Marshal once again a fanstatic update, also Great Eurassian war... well that ominus... so the greek come out on a favorable postion where they a get reperations of some kind to complete the canal/terriotral gains hmmmm
Also congratulation on turtledove win!
 
Fantastic update! Regarding the Diolkos, the road built by Periander, there is this video, in 2 parts, describing how it worked.
In 1858 OTL there was a distructive earthquake in the Corinth area which resulted in the destruction of Corinth and in the rebuilding of the city 3 km south-west of the old city. I guess that this earthquake will certainly create problems in the building of the Canal.
 
An excellent update as always earl..i wonder how the 1858 earthquake is going to affect the canal
Thank you! The 1858 earthquake will definitely be a big problem for the Corinth Canal's construction.

Amazing update. Im hyped to see more :)
Thank you, I've got more on the way!

@Earl Marshal once again a fanstatic update, also Great Eurassian war... well that ominus... so the greek come out on a favorable postion where they a get reperations of some kind to complete the canal/terriotral gains hmmmm
Also congratulation on turtledove win!
Third times the charm! :biggrin:

Still, I am a bit surprised I won the Turtledove this year considering I only uploaded 10 parts this past year. This timeline was also on hiatus longer than it was active for most of the last year as well. That being said, I'm eternally grateful for everyone's support both here and in the voting. I honestly couldn't have done it without you all!

Alternative names for the Great Eurasian War include the Caucasian War and the Great Russian War among a few others. You'll see why especially once another actor gets involved. While the short term effects of the war will definitely hurt Greece, the long term effects will be instrumental in furthering its development.

Fantastic update! Regarding the Diolkos, the road built by Periander, there is this video, in 2 parts, describing how it worked.
In 1858 OTL there was a distructive earthquake in the Corinth area which resulted in the destruction of Corinth and in the rebuilding of the city 3 km south-west of the old city. I guess that this earthquake will certainly create problems in the building of the Canal.
This is a great find, thank you! The Diolkos was quite ingenious for its time, but given the tremendous amount of labor needed to unload the ships, pull them onto land, move them across the isthmus and put them back in the water; its no wonder it eventually fell out of use.

The 1858 Earthquake will definitely be a problem for the Greeks and the Canal, but they'll have some help in rebuilding.
 
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Alternative names for the Great Eurasian War include the Caucasian War and the Great Russian War among a few others. You'll see why especially once another actor gets involved. While the short term effects of the war will definitely hurt Greece, the long term effects will be instrumental in furthering its development.
Time for Khosrow's kind to reclaim their glory!!! :p :p;)
 
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