Part 84: Coalition
How much money has Greece made by the British buying supplies for the war? Also how big is the Greek national debt right now? Are you also going to show the process of integrating Greece new territories. Will land reforms happen there?
1.we don't know as of yet. 2. Down to 2 million pounds from around 5 to 6 million pounds. 3 and 4 yes the author Said that after the war he will turn his focus back to greece and land reforms should be the government's top priority
I don't have an exact figure in mind, but I'd say somewhere between 1 million to 1.5 million Pounds Sterling (£). The reasoning for this relatively low figure is that the British are still shipping the majority of their supplies from the Home Islands and they can still service their ships at Malta (or any number of Ottoman ports if they really wanted). Basically, they've been making an effort not to spend money if they don't have to. That said, they are still buying Greek products in abundance, particularly foodstuffs, wines and oils which the British officers are consuming at an increasing rate. The upgrades to Greece's ports are relatively minor, with the larger ports of Piraeus, Patras, Chios, and Heraklion receiving the bulk of Britain's attention and resources. They are also not funding the renewed construction of the Corinth Canal, they're only providing technical support and oversight for the canal.

Emperor Joe is correct, the Greek National debt is hovering around 2 million Pounds after several adjustments by the British over the past few decades.

Yes. Once this current War is over (I only have two updates left on it, technically three if I include the post war update on India), I'll have several updates in a row going over Greece and the integration of these new territories, which will include land reform among many other things.

How large is Leopold fortune? And does Jewish people have rights in Greece?

Leopold is a very wealthy man.

Prior to becoming King of Greece, Leopold was the third son of a minor German duke, with few prospects in his native Saxe-Coburg. The invasion of France in 1807 would force him from his homeland and he would then spend the next 8 years of his life serving in the Imperial Russian Army as a cavalry officer, earning him a decent salary. In 1816, he would marry Princess Charlotte of Great Britain, which entitled him to a very generous allowance of 60,000 Pounds Sterling per year. This continued even after her untimely death in 1817 all the way to 1830 ITTL, when he had to forsake it as part of the deal for the Greek Crown.

As King of Greece, he initially received a stipend of around 400,000 Drachma/Phoenixes (~£15,000) in 1830, which increased gradually to 1 million Drachma (~£36,000) by 1854. However, a sizeable chunk of this is used to finance the Crown's affairs namely the payment of courtiers and the royal household staff, the maintenance on the Royal Palace and Royal yacht, and providing allowances to his children among other things. Generally, Leopold has been very careful with his money and has shrewdly invested his money into Greece's nascent industrialization which is now paying significant dividends for him. He has also patronized several Greek artists, writers, and sculptors over the course of his now 26 year reign. Overall, I'd estimate his personal net worth to be around £2.5 million to £3 million by 1855, making him one of the wealthiest men in Greece at this time.

The Jews do indeed have rights in Greece. According to the Greek Constitution of 1831, the Romaniote Jews were given full Greek citizenship and equal protection under Greek law.

Part 84: Coalition

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The Northern Colossus; A Caricature of Tsar Nicholas of Russia

The Russian Government’s decision to continue the war with the Ottoman Empire and United Kingdom in early July 1856, was met with great concern across the European continent. The Anglo-Ottoman Alliance had been clearly defeated both in the East and in the West permitting Russia to make gains at their adversaries’ expense in any peace deal between them. Yet for some reason, the war continued, a decision that would only lead to more suffering and more death in the days that would follow. Many came to believe that it was the vile Russian Emperor, Tsar Nicholas who ordered the continuation of the war against his beaten foes. Perhaps they did so out of a desire for vengeance, seeking justice for years of abuse and past indignities by the Turks. Or perhaps it was some ploy meant to better their standing at the ensuing peace conference against Britain who remained largely unharmed by the war’s events. Ironically, many Russians were equally confused by the decision to continue the war, with the Tsar’s Cabinet splitting itself in twain over the issue in the days and weeks following the capture of Silistra.

Count Karl von Nesselrode and his supporters, the so-called German Party – a reference to Nesselrode’s German heritage and his pro German diplomatic leanings, supported ending the war with the Ottomans and the British as they had achieved the most of their pre-war goals. In the East, they had repelled the Ottoman invasion of Russian Caucasia and had occupied much of Eastern Anatolia in retaliation, marching up to the walls of Trabzon and the foothills of the Anatolian Plateau. In the West, they ousted the Turks from the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, and they had secured the southern shore of the Danube River from Sistova to the Black Sea. The British had been decisively defeated at Ryakhovo and the Ottomans were at their complete mercy after the loss of their great strongholds.

Moreover, with their fleets unable to overcome the Royal Navy in the Baltic or the Black Sea, the war had reached its logical conclusion. The Russian Empire was triumphant on land, whilst the British were undefeated on water. Their attempts to counter this paradigm had all failed, the Baltic Fleet was blockaded in their ports, the Black Seas Fleet had been thoroughly defeated, and the Pacific Fleet (the Okhotsk Station Flotilla) had been completely annihilated. Without naval superiority, Russia could not carry the war over to the British Isles or their many colonies, and with Ottoman resistance effectively broken – as evident by their recent truce proposal - there remained little reason to continue the war.

The Russian Minister of Finance, Pyotr Fedorovich Brock also stressed the need to make peace now as the continued blockades of their Black and Baltic Sea ports by the British and Turks was causing untold damage to the Russian economy. The Government was deeply in debt and many of their soldiers were in arrears. Unable to pay their bills, they had resorted to taking out loans and printing more banknotes to make ends meet. However, this in turn led to a rampant rise in inflation, which would see the cost of bread increase fivefold between the Spring of 1854 and the Autumn of 1855. Because of this, bread riots became an increasingly common occurrence across the countryside in late 1855. Not willing to risk internal unrest while at war with a rival power, the Russian Government quickly reversed course, ending its inflationary policy in early 1856. Now forced to look elsewhere, the Government began embezzling tax and tariff revenue from occupied Galicia-Lodomeria. This would help lessen the Russian Government’s growing deficit, but in doing so they were playing a dangerous game with Vienna as their duplicity could not be hidden forever. Rumors of this were already circulating throughout Schönbrunn Palace, indicating that Austria was conscious of Russia's deception.

Even without this looming diplomatic catastrophe, pressure to end the war was already building across Europe. The Emperor of the French, Napoleon II Bonaparte was leading the effort to end the war, offering “amicable terms” for all involved. Beneath his honeyed words, Nesselrode would report subtle undertones of hostility in the French Emperor’s words, although he personally doubted that the French would declare war at this late hour. The Kingdoms of Hungary and Sweden-Norway were more vocal in their demands for peace and would go so far as to threaten war against Russia if they continued their present course against the Turk. Even their nominal ally Prussia was quietly suggesting that Russia come to terms with the defeated Ottomans. Most of all, the Turks themselves wanted peace and the reports from Tsargrad indicated they were willing to give quite a lot for it.[1]

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Count Karl von Nesselrode, Russian Chancellor and Foreign Minister

However, rather than push them towards peace, the Ottoman truce proposal in earl July only emboldened the Russian war hawks even more. Led by the boisterous Commander in Chief, Prince Alexander Menshikov, and the Chairman of the Cabinet and State Council, Prince Alexander Chernyshyov; the Orthodox Party – called so for their overly religious rhetoric - demanded the war continue until the Turkish Empire was finally removed as a threat to the Russian state. With their adversaries on the run, the Balkans ripe for the taking, and the road to Tsargrad more vulnerable than it had ever been before, this was the moment they had had been waiting all their lives. If they made peace now, they would lose out on this golden opportunity to reclaim the City of Cities for Christendom, an opportunity they may never get again. Most of all, they had a moral obligation to destroy their ancient enemy, so that future generations would be spared from conflict with the Turk.

They would argue that the decimation of the Russian economy - while certainly a tragic loss for the peasants and the serfs - was not a mortal wound from which they could not recover. Enough product was still being exported via Greek smugglers and land routes that the economy could limp along for a few months more, albeit in a greatly reduced state. Similarly, the naval blockades and coastal raids by the British were mere pinpricks, that caused little lasting damage to the Empire. If anything, these acts had only served to anger the Russian people and heighten their passions for revenge against the Britons. Much more so than the Ottomans, the British were the leading instigators of this terrible conflict. Their vile machinations had convinced their Turkish stooges into starting this awful war. They had stirred unrest in the Baltic, in the Caucasus, and among the Poles. They had armed the Turkmen hordes of the Steppe and they lined the purses of the German and Italian mercenaries who now fought against them. Their insidious actions had killed countless Russian sons, ruined countless Russian lives, and ravaged Russian land. No, there could be no peace with the perfidious Britons until they had been made to suffer as the Russians had.

Menshikov would be especially vitriolic in his diatribe against Nesselrode, whom he disparaged as a coward and a criminal who had colluded in secret with the traitorous Germans (Austria and Prussia) to undermine Holy Russia. Under the terms of their Alliance; Austria and Prussia had pledged to lend their aid to Russia in times of war. Yet in this current War of Turkish Aggression, when Russia needed them, Austria and Prussia did nothing of the sort. Their concerns of Russian expansion should not then concern Russia, for they were craven liars and oathbreakers. Little concern was also given to the bluster of Hungary and Sweden-Norway for they were weaklings against the might of glorious Russia. Lastly, they would also dismiss France’s interjection into the peace process as well.

Although their strength warranted increased respect and concern in St. Petersburg, many senior officers in their company proudly recalled the Patriotic War of 1812. The Corsican Devil had marched against Russia with a host far greater than France could boast of today, with men of greater stature and talent than those of today. If the French had joined with the British and the Turks in making war in 1854, things might have been very different for Russia. Instead, they had done nothing and now Emperor Napoleon II had the gall to play peacemaker. If he followed up on his threats and made war now, then he was a fool. The Son would share the same fate as the Father, and the Armies of Holy Russia would march through the streets of Paris once more.

Finally, a flurry of good news had arrived in early June, lending its support to the War Hawk’s cause as General Alexander Baryatinsky reclaimed Fort Navaginsky from the British in late May. With its capture the Allied supply lines to the Circassian Confederacy and Caucasian Imamate were finally and completely cut. Although the fight with the Caucasus Muslims would continue for some time; the loss of their last major lifeline had all but doomed them to destruction. More good news would arrive from their nominal ally, the Qajari Empire who had joined the war at the behest of St. Petersburg in late 1855. The Qajaris had provoked a war with Britain when they invaded the Emirate of Afghanistan and within a month’s time, the entire country had fallen to Persian arms. The British in neighboring India would attempt to respond to this transgression and would ready an army to liberate the country just as they had in 1848. However, in doing so they inadvertently sparked an uprising of the Indian Sepoys who feared they were instead being sent to fight against Russia – one complaint among many others. With all these events going in Russia’s favor, Menshikov and Chernyshyov saw little reason to stop the war now whilst they were ahead. Ultimately, the decision lay with Tsar Nicholas himself.

Despite his penchant for militarism and his increasing support for Pan-Slavism, the conflict’s rising toll in blood and treasure ravaged his old heart and threw him into a deep depression. On many occasions, he would become quite bellicose, violently thrashing out at the nearest attendant for even the slightest offense. Other times, he would be rather somber and barely stir from his private chambers, only doing so to attend weekly mass. Coinciding with this marked decline in his mental faculties was an equally upsetting collapse of his physical health. Over the course of the conflict Nicholas would lose a tremendous amount of weight, becoming rather gaunt in appearance. Moreover, he would also suffer from frequent lightheadedness, routine chills, and the occasional coughing fit. This was made worse by his vehement refusal to seek proper medical attention, instead demanding that his physicians attend to his beloved soldiers.

Although he was still far from death’s door, the Tsar’s declining health forced him to begin delegating his responsibilities to his son and heir, Tsarevich Alexander Nikolayevich who fell firmly on the side of Menshikov and Chernyshyov. Despite his “liberal” political views, Tsarevich Alexander was a devout Christian and a stout Pan-Slavic Nationalist who supported the continuation of the war to the gates of Tsargrad, which he would liberate for Christendom in the name of his father. Most of all, the Tsarevich firmly believed this is what his father would have wanted.[2] With the Cabinet reaching a decision, albeit a decision that was far from unanimous, orders were dispatched to Prince Gorchakov. He would march on Constantinople.

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Tsarevich Alexander Nikolayevich circa 1856

By the time Prince Mikhail Gorchakov received the order to advance in mid-July, he would find that much of the Allied Army had escaped to the Balkan Mountains. Desperate to stop the Russian advance, the Sublime Porte declared a state of emergency and ordered Omar Pasha to hold the line no matter the cost. Short term conscription was enacted across the Empire and all men with military experience were recalled to the service no matter how old or infirm. The delay by the Russians would give Omar Pasha precious time to build up a series of defensive works in the passes of the Balkan Mountains. The surrounding countryside was despoiled, trenches were dug, stockades were hastily erected and roads were blocked with fallen trees and rocks. In spite of all these preparations, the situation in the Balkans still favored the Russians greatly.

At worst, Prince Gorchakov still held a two to one advantage in numbers over the Anglo-Ottoman Army and unlike the Allied host now fleeing before him, his army still possessed its entire artillery corps. Defeatism was also rampant among the Allied ranks after their recent defeats and a deep divide had formed between the British and Ottomans after the latter's peace attempts. Nevertheless, Gorchakov still took a rather cautious approach southward, choosing to keep his two armies rather close to one another so that the Allies could not separate them or single one out as they had attempted previously. General Panyutin’s Army of Wallachia was ordered to march upon the fortress city of Shumen, whilst Count Lüders Army of Moldavia would proceed towards the port of Varna.

Departing on the 18th of July, Panyutin’s march southward would take the better part of a week to reach the city of Shumen. The reasoning for his slow advance was twofold. First, the Russian Army of Wallachia had suffered extensive casualties over the last three months of fighting, losing close to 46,000 soldiers between battle, disease, or desertion. Another 65,000 were suffering from various injuries or ailments, of which roughly half were invalids. The arrival of 18th Division from the Anatolian Front in late June would help replace these losses boosting his total to around 73,000 men, but overall, Panyutin’s force was only slightly larger than the British Army he had just decimated a month prior.

Another issue plaguing Panyutin’s Army were its increasingly long supply lines. With the sea still firmly in Allied hands and the countryside now increasingly hostile, Russian logistics were stretched to their limits.[3] It is also important to note that sizeable contingents of the Ottoman and British Armies still remained north of the Balkan Mountains and continually harassed the Russian columns. The Ottoman irregulars, the Bashi-Bazouks had performed quite poorly in the trenches and forts surrounding Silistra, but out in the hills and forests of Rumelia, they were free to run wild. They would frequently target the Russian baggage trains and supply lines before slipping away into the wilderness time and time again. Despite their slow progress, Panyutin’s Army would reach the outskirts of Shumen by the 24th of July and immediately placed the city under siege.

Opposing the Russians once again was the Ottoman Commander, Omar Pasha who had elected to remain north of the Balkan Mountains and would personally lead the defense of Shumen as a bulwark against the Russian tide. Like Silistra and Ruse; Shumen was a part of the Ottoman Quadrangle Fortress system that guarded Northeastern Rumelia. Because of its strategic location along the main road from Silistra to Constantinople, the Sublime Porte had erected several polygonal fortresses around the city in the years leading up to the war. It would see additional fortification during the war as Omar Pasha would use the lull in fighting between the Fall of Silistra and the Siege of Shumen to dig connecting trenches around Shumen and would even make moderate repairs to the old citadel which he used as a temporary headquarters.

Unfortunately, by the Summer of 1856, the Porte simply lacked the men to properly garrison Shumen. By the time Omar Pasha arrived in late June he found scarcely 3,400 soldiers and 1,700 swiftly organized militiamen ready to defend the city against the approaching Russians. Although the odds were stacked against them at nearly 15 to 1, Omar Pasha and his men remained in good spirits. Victorious Shumen had withstood three previous attacks by the Russians in 1774, 1810, and 1829. So long as Omar Pasha had a say in it, Shumen would not fall to them here either. Moreover, Shumen had become a safe haven for Muslim refugees fleeing Russian oppression and Christian reprisals. As such, many of his men were fighting to defend their own families, so they would not surrender without a fight.

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Muslim Refugees fleeing to Shumen

As this was taking place, Count Lüders’ Army of Moldavia began its own advance towards the Black Sea coast, occupying the city of Hacıoğlu Pazarcık (modern Dobrich) on the 19th, before reaching the environs of Varna four days later on the 23rd. Unlike Panyutin’s Army of Wallachia, the Russian Army of Moldavia had fared much better despite enduring four months of almost continuous fighting, only losing around 32,000 men and suffering an equal number of wounded, giving him a fighting strength of well over 90,000 men. His adversary was more than up to the task of opposing him, however, as British General George Brown had sent General George de Lacy Evans and his 2nd Division to defend the port of Varna.

Although General Brown’s Army had been thoroughly gutted in the Battle of Ryakhovo, losing nearly 23,000 men and almost all of its cavalry, the British 2nd Division had escaped the battle relatively intact thanks to the skilled leadership of General de Lacy Evans. In the heat of the battle, the “Fighting Second” had kept their discipline and formed Infantry squares to fend off the approaching Cossacks, before retreating in good order under the cover of the Heavy Brigade’s counter charge. As it was one of the only British units still in fighting shape, General Brown felt it pertinent to dispatch them to Varna, where the Royal Navy had made its base the past two years. Many British warships were still in port at Varna, receiving repairs or routine maintenance and could not be evacuated before the Russians would arrive. Fortunately, Varna was a formidable fortress in its own right, as it made up the last quarter of the Ottoman Quadrangle. With its strong landward fortifications and its back to the sea – seas still controlled by the British and Ottoman Navies – it was an ideal redoubt against the approaching Russian hordes.

This did not deter Count Lüders, who immediately ordered an assault on Varna’s outer works. Four time's Lüders men would attack Varna's defenses and four times they would be driven back. A fifth attempt would finally succeed in securing one of the outer redoubts surrounding Varna, but a timely counterattack by the soldiers of 95th Derbyshire Regiment would drive them from the fort. Despite their nearly six to one advantage in numbers, the Russians would ultimately be forced back by the British defenders after several hours of bitter fighting. A second assault the following day would meet with much less success as the Russian soldiers conducted three attacks on Varna before returning to their camp, disgusted and disgruntled at the continuing war. Their homes were safe, the honor of their beloved Motherland had been upheld, their adversaries had been punished, and yet, for some unknown reason they continued to fight and suffer and die. Although they were loyal to the Tsar and hated the Turk, many were simply tired of the war and wanted nothing more than to go home. A third assault scheduled for the 28th of July was cancelled when it became known that their soldiers threatened to mutiny if ordered to do so. With the British able to resupply Varna by sea, the siege effectively came to an end as Lüders could neither assault the city’s defenses nor starve out its defenders.

Outside Shumen, General Panyutin would be much less aggressive in pushing his exhausted soldiers. His once powerful army had been whittled down after months of campaigning and his men were simply spent after two years of hard fighting and campaigning. Nevertheless, the opposition facing him was far too weak to pose much of a challenge to his substantially larger force. As such, his army made progress merely by momentum. Over the course of two and a half weeks, Panyutin’s soldiers quickly surrounded the city, before beginning to reduce the Ottoman outer works one by one as they simply lacked the men necessary to guard every approach at once. By the middle of August, it was clear to all that Shumen would eventually fall to the Russians despite the great heroism of its defenders; it was only a matter of time. Unfortunately, time was not on the Russians’ side as a few days later, news arrived from Vienna that would upend everything.

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Russian Soldiers storm an Ottoman redoubt outside Shumen

In early January 1856, new Austrian Finance Minister, Baron Karl Ludwig von Bruck ordered a cursory review of the Empire’s taxation system. Austrian tax collection had never been a very efficient process as money would often change hands between the taxpayer and the Government’s treasury – up to 27 times in extreme cases - making the Austrian Empire’s tax collection system a bureaucratic nightmare. Because of this, it would actually cost more to collect the taxes, than not in some rare instances. Having only assumed the office a few months prior, Bruck was immediately struck at the inefficiency of it all and began looking for remedies to the antiquated and highly corrupt system; hence the review. The results of this review were within the expected norms; corruption and inefficiency were rampant across the board, but one outlier that stood out was Galicia-Lodomeria.

Austrian Guldens had continued to flow out of Galicia-Lodomeria throughout the Winter as it normally had over the past five years of Russian occupation, only to slow dramatically in late February before stopping entirely by early April. A second audit of Galicia-Lodomeria’s records conducted in May would return the same results. Were it simply a matter of a few hundred or even a few thousand missing Guldens, Baron Bruck might have written it off as a simple clerical error or a corrupt tax collector pocketing a few coins. In this case, however, it was on the scale of several million Guldens, a figure that could not be ignored so easily.[4] Moreover, the entire earnings of Galicia were missing, not just a single city or county.

An investigation on Bruck’s part would reveal that the Russians had collected the missing revenue in Galicia as they had done for the last five years on Austria’s behalf, only for it to disappear somewhere on the road to Vienna. Unsure how to proceed, Bruck would report the matter to Austrian Chancellor, Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg and Foreign Minister, Count Karl Ferdinand von Buol who in turn submitted an inquiry with Russian Ambassador Prince Alexander Gorchakov about the issue.[5] Having spent the better part of the last two years fending off British machinations in Vienna, Gorchakov had only the slightest inkling of his government’s activities in Galicia. Nevertheless, he did his part to not incriminate his government and offered the full support of the Russian Government in this matter and sent word to his superiors in St. Petersburg.

Upon receiving Gorchakov’s missive, Count Nesselrode would promptly travel to Vienna to meet with his Austrian colleagues in person. Arriving in mid-June, Nesselrode would lay the blame squarely at the feet of Polish Partisans. Polish brigands were known to hide out in the forests and mountains of Galicia-Lodomeria, from which they routinely raided Russian outposts. Given the war with the Turks and the British, Nesselrode claimed that troops stationed in Galicia were now being ordered elsewhere, emboldening the Poles to greater acts of resistance. As such, the Russian Governor General of Galicia, Count Fyodor Ridiger had chosen to withhold the money so as not to risk its loss to brigands and thieves.

Although they were rather annoyed that the Russians had not informed them of this earlier, Schwarzenberg and Buol accepted Nesselrode’s account at face value. However, they requested that the Russians dispatch the funds as soon as they were able. Nesselrode agreed to their request and promised to send word to Count Ridiger, ordering him to dispatch the coins at once. For a brief moment in time, it would have appeared that the issue was at an end. Nesselrode had bought his government invaluable time to settle their affairs before Venna learned the truth of Russia’s deception. But for the whimsy of a British diplomat, Lord John Russell this could have been true.

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Lord John Russell, British Plenipotentiary to the Austrian Empire

Seeking to stir up tensions between Austria and Russia, Lord Russell began paying off several low-level figures in Schönbrunn Palace to spread salacious rumors of Russian infidelity. Through his contacts within the Austrian Government, Russell had learned of Vienna’s missing money and sought to add fuel to the dying fire by insinuating that St. Petersburg was the true culprit. Although he thought nothing of it at the time, he had unwittingly struck upon the truth. Soon the entirety of Schönbrunn was abuzz in rumors of Russian treachery, a logical conclusion for most given that Russian agents were the last seen actors with Vienna’s missing money. Making matters worse, a month had passed since Nesselrode's promise of action and yet no word had arrived from Galicia-Lodomeria regarding the delivery of Austria’s Guldens lending further credence to the rumors.

Hoping to dispel these allegations and to hasten the delivery process, Austrian Foreign Minister Buol would travel to St. Petersburg in early July, hoping to meet with Count Nesselrode once more. Unfortunately, Nesselrode was away in Berlin at the time and would not return to St. Petersburg for several weeks. Instead, Count Buol would meet with Chairman Alexaner Chernyshyov. However, aside from a promise to send word to Count Ridiger, little was accomplished in their first meeting. A second meeting between the two was scheduled three weeks later on the 24th of July, but Chernyshyov would suffer a convenient stroke and would die soon afterwards, leaving Buol to meet with his deputy Prince Menshikov instead.

Menshikov was no wordsmith and he was certainly no diplomat as he would essentially regurgitate Nesselrode’s earlier account only in a less articulate and flattering manner. Menshikov would also repeat Chernyshyov’s earlier promise to dispatch Austria’s money as soon as Count Ridiger was able. However, when Buol attempted to draw more decisive action from Menshikov, the latter abruptly adjourned their meeting and left without so much as an explanation, leaving the Austrian delegation thoroughly confused. Seeking answers, Buol would turn to Tsar Nicholas in the hopes he might do more to resolve the issue. However, the Tsar was suffering from another of his melancholic fits at this time and rejected Buol’s request out of hand. A second attempt to meet with the Tsar would instead result in a meeting with Tsarevich Alexander. The pair would exchange some pleasantries with one another, but otherwise their meeting only agitated the Austrian Foreign Minister even more. With the Austrians increasingly agitated by Russian misdirection and continued rumors of Russian fraud, Buol’s delegation naturally began to suspect the worst.

A second meeting with Menshikov would all but confirm Buol’s suspicions. As he attempted to repeat the Russian Government’s account of events, Menshikov erred and stated that Polish brigands had in fact stolen the Austrian’s missing money. When pressed to redress this inconsistency, Menshikov would attempt to reverse course and repeat Nesselrode and Chernyshyov’s account that they had withheld to protect it against Polish partisans. Unconvinced, Buol pressed further. At which point, Menshikov became hostile to the Austrian Foreign Minister, blaming corrupt Austrian bureaucrats for their missing money.[6] He would then berate the Austrians as ungrateful oath breakers who betrayed their ally Russia in their time of need. Incensed, Buol erupted into a similar diatribe against Menshikov and the Russian Government. Insults were thrown between the two men and fists would have too if not for the intervention of their aides. The meeting would end with one final insult from Menshikov all but confirming Russia’s robbery of Galicia. Thoroughly convinced of Russian treachery, Count Buol departed St. Petersburg in early August having all but confirmed Russia’s criminality.

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Prince Alexander Sergeyevich Menshikov, Commander in Chief of the Russian Military and acting Chairman of the Cabinet and State Council.

As this was all taking place, rumors and reports from Galicia-Lodomeria continued to arrive in Vienna, providing further evidence of Russian malfeasance. Despite the ongoing war with the Turks, Austrian agents in Galicia would report that the Russian garrison in the region had not been reduced as Russia had claimed, but rather increase to slightly over 340,000 soldiers by the Summer of 1856. Moreover, they would also remark that the unrest in the region had been on the decline over the past four years, a process that accelerated once the War with the Turks began as many partisans would leave Galicia to fight against Russia in the employ of the Ottomans and the British. The final piece of evidence would come in late July as the nominal Austrian Governor of Galicia-Lodomeria, Count Agenor Gołuchowski reported that carriage traffic to and from the Russian Empire had increased dramatically over the past few months, carriages laden down with numerous chests under guard by the Russian Army. When Count Buol returned to Vienna in mid-August, the Austrian Government could no longer ignore the reality that was staring them in the face; Russia was embezzling their taxes and tariffs from Galicia-Lodomeria.

Events began to move quickly in Vienna as Chancellor Schwarzenberg met privately with Russian Ambassador Alexander Gorchakov on the 20th of August and demanded an explanation for their duplicity. When he could not provide one, Schwarzenberg gave him an ultimatum: return every single Gulden that Russia stolen from them or the Austrian Landwehr would march on St. Petersburg. They had three months to comply. It was an impossible demand. Even if Russia wanted to, they simply lacked the time to scrounge up all the coin in question – much of which had already been spent on the ongoing war effort.

Several weeks later in early September, the venerable Count Nesselrode journeyed to Vienna in a desperate attempt to soothe the Austrian Government’s ruffled feathers. Sadly, his efforts were in vain as Prince Schwarzenberg refused to see him and Count Buol repeated the same demands that they had made of Ambassador Gorchakov. With it now apparent that war with Austria was inevitable, Count Nesselrode sent word to St. Petersburg imploring them to make peace with the Ottomans and recall the Army of the Danube before it was too late. Unfortunately, the Tsar, or rather Prince Menshikov and his supporters simply refused to budge on the issue. Hoping to avoid a disaster, Nesselrode would go around him and sent word to Silistra, warning Prince Mikhail Gorchakov of Austria’s intentions to declare war. For General Gorchakov, this development was an unmitigated disaster.

No matter Russia’s decision, it appeared as if Austria would be at war with Russia within a few weeks’ time. While they would normally be little threat to Gorchakov on their own, his armies were dangerously overextended in the Summer of 1856 with barely a quarter million men scattered between the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains. Moreover, many of these soldiers were exhausted, they were severely undersupplied and reports from Count Lüders army reported that the troops were increasingly restless and disobedient. Fortunately, Gorchakov still had the better part of two months to prepare and immediately requested permission from Menshikov to recall his armies to a more defensible position. Menshikov refused, however, declaring that the Austrian ultimatum was merely a bluff and the Gorchakov needed to continue his push on Constantinople at once.

The situation would be made much worse for Russia in late September as Count Ridiger - acting under orders from Menshikov - closed the border with Austria. He would then place his Austrian counterpart, Count Gołuchowski under house arrest effectively ending any remaining notion of Austrian authority in Galicia-Lodomeria, annexing the province to the Russian Empire in all but name. In response, the Austrian Government would reveal Russia’s criminal behavior to the world, eliciting a wave of condemnations and rebukes from across the European continent.

The Emperor of the French, Emperor Napoleon II would denounce Russia as a barbarous country, with no respect for the laws or rights of men. In early October, he would travel in person to Vienna where he would meet with his cousin, Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph and promised his country’s aid in Austria’s pursuit of justice against Russia. The Hungarians and Swedes would take a more definitive approach, agreeing to formal military alliances with Britain on the 4th and 16th of October respectively and promised to join the war against Russia before the end of the year. The Italian and German states would also lend their voices to those condemning Russian thievery. Even Russia’s nominal allies, Prussia and Greece could no longer abide by Russian actions and began applying their diplomatic and economic pressure upon them.

With events reaching a fever pitch, Prince Gorchakov once again wrote to Menshikov urgently requesting, no begging him to recall his soldiers to a more defensible position along the Danube River. Once again, Menshikov refused to budge on the issue, accusing Gorchakov of cowardice and defeatism. With the situation to his North rapidly deteriorating and his superior proving obstinate, Gorchakov would unilaterally order General Panyutin and Count Lüders northward to the Danube. When Menshikov learned of this, he immediately reprimanded Gorchakov and sent orders for his arrest, only to be reprimanded in turn by Tsar Nicholas who finally emerged from his self imposed isolation. Having seen the damage wrought by his absence, the Tsar would rebuke Menshikov’s belligerency and order his resignation, which the latter reluctantly agreed to. After which, Nicholas would instruct Count Nesselrode to reach out to the British; Russia was finally ready for peace.

Next Time: The New Order


[1] The Russian/Slavic term for Constantinople.
[2] In the OTL Crimean War, Alexander pushed his diplomats to reject the Anglo-French peace terms, despite the very real threat of Austrian and even Prussian intervention against him. With Russia clearly winning this war ITTL, I don't think he would be very inclined to make peace as he has a golden opportunity to finally end the Ottoman Empire as a real threat to Russia. Moreover, Alexander was a very religious man and was quite supportive of the Pan-Slavic cause in his youth.
[3] A large plurality of the population in Eastern Bulgaria at this time was Muslim, particularly the region between Silistra and Shumen.
[4] Sadly, I don’t find any mid-19th Century Austrian tax records to look through, so I had to resort to GDP instead. According to the Contours of the World Economy, Galicia-Lodomeria would have had a GDP somewhere in the ballpark of 7 billion dollars or about one fifth of Triune Austria’s total economy. Given there was a rebellion there recently and a brutal subjugation by the Russians, along with an exodus of several thousand people I'd estimate its around 5 billion dollars as of 1856 ITTL, which would still result in annual tax of several million Guldens per year.
[5] A distant cousin of the Russian General, Prince Mikhail Gorchakov.
[6] Prince Menshikov was not the best diplomat, as evident by his OTL diplomatic mission to Constantinople in 1853 where he essentially provoked the Ottomans into starting the Crimean War.
 
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I don't have an exact figure in mind, but I'd say somewhere between 1 million to 1.5 million Pounds Sterling (£). The reasoning for this relatively low figure is that the British are still shipping the majority of their supplies from the Home Islands and they can still service their ships at Malta (or any number of Ottoman ports if they really wanted). Basically, they've been making an effort not to spend money if they don't have to. That said, they are still buying Greek products in abundance, particularly foodstuffs, wines and oils which the British officers are consuming at an increasing rate. The upgrades to Greece's ports are relatively minor, with the larger ports of Piraeus, Patras, Chios, and Heraklion receiving the bulk of Britain's attention and resources. They are also not funding the renewed construction of the Corinth Canal, they're only providing technical support and oversight for the canal.

Emperor Joe is correct, the Greek National debt is hovering around 2 million Pounds after several adjustments by the British over the past few decades.

Yes. Once this current War is over (I only have two updates left on it, technically three if I include the post war update on India), I'll have several updates in a row going over Greece and the integration of these new territories, which will include land reform among many other things.


Leopold is a very wealthy man.

Prior to becoming King of Greece, Leopold was the third son of a minor German duke, with few prospects in his native Saxe-Coburg. The invasion of France in 1807 would force him from his homeland and he would then spend the next 8 years of his life serving in the Imperial Russian Army as a cavalry officer, earning him a decent salary. In 1816, he would marry Princess Charlotte of Great Britain, which entitled him to a very generous allowance of 60,000 Pounds Sterling per year. This continued even after her untimely death in 1817 all the way to 1830 ITTL, when he had to forsake it as part of the deal for the Greek Crown.

As King of Greece, he initially received a stipend of around 400,000 Drachma/Phoenixes (~£15,000) in 1830, which increased gradually to 1 million Drachma (~£36,000) by 1854. However, a sizeable chunk of this is used to finance the Crown's affairs namely the payment of courtiers and the royal household staff, the maintenance on the Royal Palace and Royal yacht, and providing allowances to his children among other things. Generally, Leopold has been very careful with his money and has shrewdly invested his money into Greece's nascent industrialization which is now paying significant dividends for him. He has also patronized several Greek artists, writers, and sculptors over the course of his now 26 year reign. Overall, I'd estimate his personal net worth to be around £2.5 million to £3 million by 1855, making him one of the wealthiest men in Greece at this time.

The Jews do indeed have rights in Greece. According to the Greek Constitution of 1831, the Romaniote Jews were given full Greek citizenship and equal protection under Greek law.

Part 84: Coalition

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The Northern Colossus; A Caricature of Tsar Nicholas of Russia

The Russian Government’s decision to continue the war with the Ottoman Empire and United Kingdom in early July 1856, was met with great concern across the European continent. The Anglo-Ottoman Alliance had been clearly defeated both in the East and in the West permitting Russia to make gains at their adversaries’ expense in any peace deal between them. Yet for some reason, the war continued, a decision that would only lead to more suffering and more death in the days that would follow. Many came to believe that it was the vile Russian Emperor, Tsar Nicholas who ordered the continuation of the war against his beaten foes. Perhaps they did so out of a desire for vengeance, seeking justice for years of abuse and past indignities by the Turks. Or perhaps it was some ploy meant to better their standing at the ensuing peace conference against Britain who remained largely unharmed by the war’s events. Ironically, many Russians were equally confused by the decision to continue the war, with the Tsar’s Cabinet splitting itself in twain over the issue in the days and weeks following the capture of Silistra.

Count Karl von Nesselrode and his supporters, the so-called German Party – a reference to Nesselrode’s German heritage and his pro German diplomatic leanings, supported ending the war with the Ottomans and the British as they had achieved the most of their pre-war goals. In the East, they had repelled the Ottoman invasion of Russian Caucasia and had occupied much of Eastern Anatolia in retaliation, marching up to the walls of Trabzon and the foothills of the Anatolian Plateau. In the West, they ousted the Turks from the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, and they had secured the southern shore of the Danube River from Sistova to the Black Sea. The British had been decisively defeated at Ryakhovo and the Ottomans were at their complete mercy after the loss of their great strongholds.

Moreover, with their fleets unable to overcome the Royal Navy in the Baltic or the Black Sea, the war had reached its logical conclusion. The Russian Empire was triumphant on land, whilst the British were undefeated on water. Their attempts to counter this paradigm had all failed, the Baltic Fleet was blockaded in their ports, the Black Seas Fleet had been thoroughly defeated, and the Pacific Fleet (the Okhotsk Station Flotilla) had been completely annihilated. Without naval superiority, Russia could not carry the war over to the British Isles or their many colonies, and with Ottoman resistance effectively broken – as evident by their recent truce proposal - there remained little reason to continue the war.

The Russian Minister of Finance, Pyotr Fedorovich Brock also stressed the need to make peace now as the continued blockades of their Black and Baltic Sea ports by the British and Turks was causing untold damage to the Russian economy. The Government was deeply in debt and many of their soldiers were in arrears. Unable to pay their bills, they had resorted to taking out loans and printing more banknotes to make ends meet. However, this in turn led to a rampant rise in inflation, which would see the cost of bread increase fivefold between the Spring of 1854 and the Autumn of 1855. Because of this, bread riots became an increasingly common occurrence across the countryside in late 1855. Not willing to risk internal unrest while at war with a rival power, the Russian Government quickly reversed course, ending its inflationary policy in early 1856. Now forced to look elsewhere, the Government began embezzling tax and tariff revenue from occupied Galicia-Lodomeria. This would help lessen the Russian Government’s growing deficit, but in doing so they were playing a dangerous game with Vienna as their duplicity could not be hidden forever. Rumors of this were already circulating throughout Schönbrunn Palace, indicating that Austria was conscious of Russia's deception.

Even without this looming diplomatic catastrophe, pressure to end the war was already building across Europe. The Emperor of the French, Napoleon II Bonaparte was leading the effort to end the war, offering “amicable terms” for all involved. Beneath his honeyed words, Nesselrode would report subtle undertones of hostility in the French Emperor’s words, although he personally doubted that the French would declare war at this late hour. The Kingdoms of Hungary and Sweden-Norway were more vocal in their demands for peace and would go so far as to threaten war against Russia if they continued their present course against the Turk. Even their nominal ally Prussia was quietly suggesting that Russia come to terms with the defeated Ottomans. Most of all, the Turks themselves wanted peace and the reports from Tsargrad indicated they were willing to give quite a lot for it.[1]

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Count Karl von Nesselrode, Russian Chancellor and Foreign Minister

However, rather than push them towards peace, the Ottoman truce proposal in earl July only emboldened the Russian war hawks even more. Led by the boisterous Commander in Chief, Prince Alexander Menshikov, and the Chairman of the Cabinet and State Council, Prince Alexander Chernyshyov; the Orthodox Party – called so for their overly religious rhetoric - demanded the war continue until the Turkish Empire was finally removed as a threat to the Russian state. With their adversaries on the run, the Balkans ripe for the taking, and the road to Tsargrad more vulnerable than it had ever been before, this was the moment they had had been waiting all their lives. If they made peace now, they would lose out on this golden opportunity to reclaim the City of Cities for Christendom, an opportunity they may never get again. Most of all, they had a moral obligation to destroy their ancient enemy, so that future generations would be spared from conflict with the Turk.

They would argue that the decimation of the Russian economy - while certainly a tragic loss for the peasants and the serfs - was not a mortal wound from which they could not recover. Enough product was still being exported via Greek smugglers and land routes that the economy could limp along for a few months more, albeit in a greatly reduced state. Similarly, the naval blockades and coastal raids by the British were mere pinpricks, that caused little lasting damage to the Empire. If anything, these acts had only served to anger the Russian people and heighten their passions for revenge against the Britons. Much more so than the Ottomans, the British were the leading instigators of this terrible conflict. Their vile machinations had convinced their Turkish stooges into starting this awful war. They had stirred unrest in the Baltic, in the Caucasus, and among the Poles. They had armed the Turkmen hordes of the Steppe and they lined the purses of the German and Italian mercenaries who now fought against them. Their insidious actions had killed countless Russian sons, ruined countless Russian lives, and ravaged Russian land. No, there could be no peace with the perfidious Britons until they had been made to suffer as the Russians had.

Menshikov would be especially vitriolic in his diatribe against Nesselrode, whom he disparaged as a coward and a criminal who had colluded in secret with the traitorous Germans (Austria and Prussia) to undermine Holy Russia. Under the terms of their Alliance; Austria and Prussia had pledged to lend their aid to Russia in times of war. Yet in this current War of Turkish Aggression, when Russia needed them, Austria and Prussia did nothing of the sort. Their concerns of Russian expansion should not then concern Russia, for they were craven liars and oathbreakers. Little concern was also given to the bluster of Hungary and Sweden-Norway for they were weaklings against the might of glorious Russia. Lastly, they would also dismiss France’s interjection into the peace process as well.

Although their strength warranted increased respect and concern in St. Petersburg, many senior officers in their company proudly recalled the Patriotic War of 1812. The Corsican Devil had marched against Russia with a host far greater than France could boast of today, with men of greater stature and talent than those of today. If the French had joined with the British and the Turks in making war in 1854, things might have been very different for Russia. Instead, they had done nothing and now Emperor Napoleon II had the gall to play peacemaker. If he followed up on his threats and made war now, then he was a fool. The Son would share the same fate as the Father, and the Armies of Holy Russia would march through the streets of Paris once more.

Finally, a flurry of good news had arrived in early June, lending its support to the War Hawk’s cause as General Alexander Baryatinsky reclaimed Fort Navaginsky from the British in late May. With its capture the Allied supply lines to the Circassian Confederacy and Caucasian Imamate were finally and completely cut. Although the fight with the Caucasus Muslims would continue for some time; the loss of their last major lifeline had all but doomed them to destruction. More good news would arrive from their nominal ally, the Qajari Empire who had joined the war at the behest of St. Petersburg in late 1855. The Qajaris had provoked a war with Britain when they invaded the Emirate of Afghanistan and within a month’s time, the entire country had fallen to Persian arms. The British in neighboring India would attempt to respond to this transgression and would ready an army to liberate the country just as they had in 1848. However, in doing so they inadvertently sparked an uprising of the Indian Sepoys who feared they were instead being sent to fight against Russia – one complaint among many others. With all these events going in Russia’s favor, Menshikov and Chernyshyov saw little reason to stop the war now whilst they were ahead. Ultimately, the decision lay with Tsar Nicholas himself.

Despite his penchant for militarism and his increasing support for Pan-Slavism, the conflict’s rising toll in blood and treasure ravaged his old heart and threw him into a deep depression. On many occasions, he would become quite bellicose, violently thrashing out at the nearest attendant for even the slightest offense. Other times, he would be rather somber and barely stir from his private chambers, only doing so to attend weekly mass. Coinciding with this marked decline in his mental faculties was an equally upsetting collapse of his physical health. Over the course of the conflict Nicholas would lose a tremendous amount of weight, becoming rather gaunt in appearance. Moreover, he would also suffer from frequent lightheadedness, routine chills, and the occasional coughing fit. This was made worse by his vehement refusal to seek proper medical attention, instead demanding that his physicians attend to his beloved soldiers.

Although he was still far from death’s door, the Tsar’s declining health forced him to begin delegating his responsibilities to his son and heir, Tsarevich Alexander Nikolayevich who fell firmly on the side of Menshikov and Chernyshyov. Despite his “liberal” political views, Tsarevich Alexander was a devout Christian and a stout Pan-Slavic Nationalist who supported the continuation of the war to the gates of Tsargrad, which he would liberate for Christendom in the name of his father. Most of all, the Tsarevich firmly believed this is what his father would have wanted.[2] With the Cabinet reaching a decision, albeit a decision that was far from unanimous, orders were dispatched to Prince Gorchakov. He would march on Constantinople.

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Tsarevich Alexander Nikolayevich circa 1856

By the time Prince Mikhail Gorchakov received the order to advance in mid-July, he would find that much of the Allied Army had escaped to the Balkan Mountains. Desperate to stop the Russian advance, the Sublime Porte declared a state of emergency and ordered Omar Pasha to hold the line no matter the cost. Short term conscription was enacted across the Empire and all men with military experience were recalled to the service no matter how old or infirm. The delay by the Russians would give Omar Pasha precious time to build up a series of defensive works in the passes of the Balkan Mountains. The surrounding countryside was despoiled, trenches were dug, stockades were hastily erected and roads were blocked with fallen trees and rocks. In spite of all these preparations, the situation in the Balkans still favored the Russians greatly.

At worst, Prince Gorchakov still held a two to one advantage in numbers over the Anglo-Ottoman Army and unlike the Allied host now fleeing before him, his army still possessed its entire artillery corps. Defeatism was also rampant among the Allied ranks after their recent defeats and a deep divide had formed between the British and Ottomans after the latter's peace attempts. Nevertheless, Gorchakov still took a rather cautious approach southward, choosing to keep his two armies rather close to one another so that the Allies could not separate them or single one out as they had attempted previously. General Panyutin’s Army of Wallachia was ordered to march upon the fortress city of Shumen, whilst Count Lüders Army of Moldavia would proceed towards the port of Varna.

Departing on the 18th of July, Panyutin’s march southward would take the better part of a week to reach the city of Shumen. The reasoning for his slow advance was twofold. First, the Russian Army of Wallachia had suffered extensive casualties over the last three months of fighting, losing close to 46,000 soldiers between battle, disease, or desertion. Another 65,000 were suffering from various injuries or ailments, of which roughly half were invalids. The arrival of 18th Division from the Anatolian Front in late June would help replace these losses boosting his total to around 73,000 men, but overall, Panyutin’s force was only slightly larger than the British Army he had just decimated a month prior.

Another issue plaguing Panyutin’s Army were its increasingly long supply lines. With the sea still firmly in Allied hands and the countryside now increasingly hostile, Russian logistics were stretched to their limits.[3] It is also important to note that sizeable contingents of the Ottoman and British Armies still remained north of the Balkan Mountains and continually harassed the Russian columns. The Ottoman irregulars, the Bashi-Bazouks had performed quite poorly in the trenches and forts surrounding Silistra, but out in the hills and forests of Rumelia, they were free to run wild. They would frequently target the Russian baggage trains and supply lines before slipping away into the wilderness time and time again. Despite their slow progress, Panyutin’s Army would reach the outskirts of Shumen by the 24th of July and immediately placed the city under siege.

Opposing the Russians once again was the Ottoman Commander, Omar Pasha who had elected to remain north of the Balkan Mountains and would personally lead the defense of Shumen as a bulwark against the Russian tide. Like Silistra and Ruse; Shumen was a part of the Ottoman Quadrangle Fortress system that guarded Northeastern Rumelia. Because of its strategic location along the main road from Silistra to Constantinople, the Sublime Porte had erected several polygonal fortresses around the city in the years leading up to the war. It would see additional fortification during the war as Omar Pasha would use the lull in fighting between the Fall of Silistra and the Siege of Shumen to dig connecting trenches around Shumen and would even make moderate repairs to the old citadel which he used as a temporary headquarters.

Unfortunately, by the Summer of 1856, the Porte simply lacked the men to properly garrison Shumen. By the time Omar Pasha arrived in late June he found scarcely 3,400 soldiers and 1,700 swiftly organized militiamen ready to defend the city against the approaching Russians. Although the odds were stacked against them at nearly 15 to 1, Omar Pasha and his men remained in good spirits. Victorious Shumen had withstood three previous attacks by the Russians in 1774, 1810, and 1829. So long as Omar Pasha had a say in it, Shumen would not fall to them here either. Moreover, Shumen had become a safe haven for Muslim refugees fleeing Russian oppression and Christian reprisals. As such, many of his men were fighting to defend their own families, so they would not surrender without a fight.

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Muslim Refugees fleeing to Shumen

As this was taking place, Count Lüders’ Army of Moldavia began its own advance towards the Black Sea coast, occupying the city of Hacıoğlu Pazarcık (modern Dobrich) on the 19th, before reaching the environs of Varna four days later on the 23rd. Unlike Panyutin’s Army of Wallachia, the Russian Army of Moldavia had fared much better despite enduring four months of almost continuous fighting, only losing around 32,000 men and suffering an equal number of wounded, giving him a fighting strength of well over 90,000 men. His adversary was more than up to the task of opposing him, however, as British General George Brown had sent General George de Lacy Evans and his 2nd Division to defend the port of Varna.

Although General Brown’s Army had been thoroughly gutted in the Battle of Ryakhovo, losing nearly 23,000 men and almost all of its cavalry, the British 2nd Division had escaped the battle relatively intact thanks to the skilled leadership of General de Lacy Evans. In the heat of the battle, the “Fighting Second” had kept their discipline and formed Infantry squares to fend off the approaching Cossacks, before retreating in good order under the cover of the Heavy Brigade’s counter charge. As it was one of the only British units still in fighting shape, General Brown felt it pertinent to dispatch them to Varna, where the Royal Navy had made its base the past two years. Many British warships were still in port at Varna, receiving repairs or routine maintenance and could not be evacuated before the Russians would arrive. Fortunately, Varna was a formidable fortress in its own right, as it made up the last quarter of the Ottoman Quadrangle. With its strong landward fortifications and its back to the sea – seas still controlled by the British and Ottoman Navies – it was an ideal redoubt against the approaching Russian hordes.

This did not deter Count Lüders, who immediately ordered an assault on Varna’s outer works. Four time's Lüders men would attack Varna's defenses and four times they would be driven back. A fifth attempt would finally succeed in securing one of the outer redoubts surrounding Varna, but a timely counterattack by the soldiers of 95th Derbyshire Regiment would drive them from the fort. Despite their nearly six to one advantage in numbers, the Russians would ultimately be forced back by the British defenders after several hours of bitter fighting. A second assault the following day would meet with much less success as the Russian soldiers conducted three attacks on Varna before returning to their camp, disgusted and disgruntled at the continuing war. Their homes were safe, the honor of their beloved Motherland had been upheld, their adversaries had been punished, and yet, for some unknown reason they continued to fight and suffer and die. Although they were loyal to the Tsar and hated the Turk, many were simply tired of the war and wanted nothing more than to go home. A third assault scheduled for the 28th of July was cancelled when it became known that their soldiers threatened to mutiny if ordered to do so. With the British able to resupply Varna by sea, the siege effectively came to an end as Lüders could neither assault the city’s defenses nor starve out its defenders.

Outside Shumen, General Panyutin would be much less aggressive in pushing his exhausted soldiers. His once powerful army had been whittled down after months of campaigning and his men were simply spent after two years of hard fighting and campaigning. Nevertheless, the opposition facing him was far too weak to pose much of a challenge to his substantially larger force. As such, his army made progress merely by momentum. Over the course of two and a half weeks, Panyutin’s soldiers quickly surrounded the city, before beginning to reduce the Ottoman outer works one by one as they simply lacked the men necessary to guard every approach at once. By the middle of August, it was clear to all that Shumen would eventually fall to the Russians despite the great heroism of its defenders; it was only a matter of time. Unfortunately, time was not on the Russians’ side as a few days later, news arrived from Vienna that would upend everything.

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Russian Soldiers storm an Ottoman redoubt outside Shumen

In early January 1856, new Austrian Finance Minister, Baron Karl Ludwig von Bruck ordered a cursory review of the Empire’s taxation system. Austrian tax collection had never been a very efficient process as money would often change hands between the taxpayer and the Government’s treasury – up to 27 times in extreme cases - making the Austrian Empire’s tax collection system a bureaucratic nightmare. Because of this, it would actually cost more to collect the taxes, than not in some rare instances. Having only assumed the office a few months prior, Bruck was immediately struck at the inefficiency of it all and began looking for remedies to the antiquated and highly corrupt system; hence the review. The results of this review were within the expected norms; corruption and inefficiency were rampant across the board, but one outlier that stood out was Galicia-Lodomeria.

Austrian Guldens had continued to flow out of Galicia-Lodomeria throughout the Winter as it normally had over the past five years of Russian occupation, only to slow dramatically in late February before stopping entirely by early April. A second audit of Galicia-Lodomeria’s records conducted in May would return the same results. Were it simply a matter of a few hundred or even a few thousand missing Guldens, Baron Bruck might have written it off as a simple clerical error or a corrupt tax collector pocketing a few coins. In this case, however, it was on the scale of several million Guldens, a figure that could not be ignored so easily.[4] Moreover, the entire earnings of Galicia were missing, not just a single city or county.

An investigation on Bruck’s part would reveal that the Russians had collected the missing revenue in Galicia as they had done for the last five years on Austria’s behalf, only for it to disappear somewhere on the road to Vienna. Unsure how to proceed, Bruck would report the matter to Austrian Chancellor, Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg and Foreign Minister, Count Karl Ferdinand von Buol who in turn submitted an inquiry with Russian Ambassador Prince Alexander Gorchakov about the issue.[5] Having spent the better part of the last two years fending off British machinations in Vienna, Gorchakov had only the slightest inkling of his government’s activities in Galicia. Nevertheless, he did his part to not incriminate his government and offered the full support of the Russian Government in this matter and sent word to his superiors in St. Petersburg.

Upon receiving Gorchakov’s missive, Count Nesselrode would promptly travel to Vienna to meet with his Austrian colleagues in person. Arriving in mid-June, Nesselrode would lay the blame squarely at the feet of Polish Partisans. Polish brigands were known to hide out in the forests and mountains of Galicia-Lodomeria, from which they routinely raided Russian outposts. Given the war with the Turks and the British, Nesselrode claimed that troops stationed in Galicia were now being ordered elsewhere, emboldening the Poles to greater acts of resistance. As such, the Russian Governor General of Galicia, Count Fyodor Ridiger had chosen to withhold the money so as not to risk its loss to brigands and thieves.

Although they were rather annoyed that the Russians had not informed them of this earlier, Schwarzenberg and Buol accepted Nesselrode’s account at face value. However, they requested that the Russians dispatch the funds as soon as they were able. Nesselrode agreed to their request and promised to send word to Count Ridiger, ordering him to dispatch the coins at once. For a brief moment in time, it would have appeared that the issue was at an end. Nesselrode had bought his government invaluable time to settle their affairs before Venna learned the truth of Russia’s deception. But for the whimsy of a British diplomat, Lord John Russell this could have been true.

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Lord John Russell, British Plenipotentiary to the Austrian Empire

Seeking to stir up tensions between Austria and Russia, Lord Russell began paying off several low-level figures in Schönbrunn Palace to spread salacious rumors of Russian infidelity. Through his contacts within the Austrian Government, Russell had learned of Vienna’s missing money and sought to add fuel to the dying fire by insinuating that St. Petersburg was the true culprit. Although he thought nothing of it at the time, he had unwittingly struck upon the truth. Soon the entirety of Schönbrunn was abuzz in rumors of Russian treachery, a logical conclusion for most given that Russian agents were the last seen actors with Vienna’s missing money. Making matters worse, a month had passed since Nesselrode's promise of action and yet no word had arrived from Galicia-Lodomeria regarding the delivery of Austria’s Guldens lending further credence to the rumors.

Hoping to dispel these allegations and to hasten the delivery process, Austrian Foreign Minister Buol would travel to St. Petersburg in early July, hoping to meet with Count Nesselrode once more. Unfortunately, Nesselrode was away in Berlin at the time and would not return to St. Petersburg for several weeks. Instead, Count Buol would meet with Chairman Alexaner Chernyshyov. However, aside from a promise to send word to Count Ridiger, little was accomplished in their first meeting. A second meeting between the two was scheduled three weeks later on the 24th of July, but Chernyshyov would suffer a convenient stroke and would die soon afterwards, leaving Buol to meet with his deputy Prince Menshikov instead.

Menshikov was no wordsmith and he was certainly no diplomat as he would essentially regurgitate Nesselrode’s earlier account only in a less articulate and flattering manner. Menshikov would also repeat Chernyshyov’s earlier promise to dispatch Austria’s money as soon as Count Ridiger was able. However, when Buol attempted to draw more decisive action from Menshikov, the latter abruptly adjourned their meeting and left without so much as an explanation, leaving the Austrian delegation thoroughly confused. Seeking answers, Buol would turn to Tsar Nicholas in the hopes he might do more to resolve the issue. However, the Tsar was suffering from another of his melancholic fits at this time and rejected Buol’s request out of hand. A second attempt to meet with the Tsar would instead result in a meeting with Tsarevich Alexander. The pair would exchange some pleasantries with one another, but otherwise their meeting only agitated the Austrian Foreign Minister even more. With the Austrians increasingly agitated by Russian misdirection and continued rumors of Russian fraud, Buol’s delegation naturally began to suspect the worst.

A second meeting with Menshikov would all but confirm Buol’s suspicions. As he attempted to repeat the Russian Government’s account of events, Menshikov erred and stated that Polish brigands had in fact stolen the Austrian’s missing money. When pressed to redress this inconsistency, Menshikov would attempt to reverse course and repeat Nesselrode and Chernyshyov’s account that they had withheld to protect it against Polish partisans. Unconvinced, Buol pressed further. At which point, Menshikov became hostile to the Austrian Foreign Minister, blaming corrupt Austrian bureaucrats for their missing money.[6] He would then berate the Austrians as ungrateful oath breakers who betrayed their ally Russia in their time of need. Incensed, Buol erupted into a similar diatribe against Menshikov and the Russian Government. Insults were thrown between the two men and fists would have too if not for the intervention of their aides. The meeting would end with one final insult from Menshikov all but confirming Russia’s robbery of Galicia. Thoroughly convinced of Russian treachery, Count Buol departed St. Petersburg in early August having all but confirmed Russia’s criminality.

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Prince Alexander Sergeyevich Menshikov, Commander in Chief of the Russian Military and acting Chairman of the Cabinet and State Council.

As this was all taking place, rumors and reports from Galicia-Lodomeria continued to arrive in Vienna, providing further evidence of Russian malfeasance. Despite the ongoing war with the Turks, Austrian agents in Galicia would report that the Russian garrison in the region had not been reduced as Russia had claimed, but rather increase to slightly over 340,000 soldiers by the Summer of 1856. Moreover, they would also remark that the unrest in the region had been on the decline over the past four years, a process that accelerated once the War with the Turks began as many partisans would leave Galicia to fight against Russia in the employ of the Ottomans and the British. The final piece of evidence would come in late July as the nominal Austrian Governor of Galicia-Lodomeria, Count Agenor Gołuchowski reported that carriage traffic to and from the Russian Empire had increased dramatically over the past few months, carriages laden down with numerous chests under guard by the Russian Army. When Count Buol returned to Vienna in mid-August, the Austrian Government could no longer ignore the reality that was staring them in the face; Russia was embezzling their taxes and tariffs from Galicia-Lodomeria.

Events began to move quickly in Vienna as Chancellor Schwarzenberg met privately with Russian Ambassador Alexander Gorchakov on the 20th of August and demanded an explanation for their duplicity. When he could not provide one, Schwarzenberg gave him an ultimatum: return every single Gulden that Russia stolen from them or the Austrian Landwehr would march on St. Petersburg. They had three months to comply. It was an impossible demand. Even if Russia wanted to, they simply lacked the time to scrounge up all the coin in question – much of which had already been spent on the ongoing war effort.

Several weeks later in early September, the venerable Count Nesselrode journeyed to Vienna in a desperate attempt to soothe the Austrian Government’s ruffled feathers. Sadly, his efforts were in vain as Prince Schwarzenberg refused to see him and Count Buol repeated the same demands that they had made of Ambassador Gorchakov. With it now apparent that war with Austria was inevitable, Count Nesselrode sent word to St. Petersburg imploring them to make peace with the Ottomans and recall the Army of the Danube before it was too late. Unfortunately, the Tsar, or rather Prince Menshikov and his supporters simply refused to budge on the issue. Hoping to avoid a disaster, Nesselrode would go around him and sent word to Silistra, warning Prince Mikhail Gorchakov of Austria’s intentions to declare war. For General Gorchakov, this development was an unmitigated disaster.

No matter Russia’s decision, it appeared as if Austria would be at war with Russia within a few weeks’ time. While they would normally be little threat to Gorchakov on their own, his armies were dangerously overextended in the Summer of 1856 with barely a quarter million men scattered between the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains. Moreover, many of these soldiers were exhausted, they were severely undersupplied and reports from Count Lüders army reported that the troops were increasingly restless and disobedient. Fortunately, Gorchakov still had the better part of two months to prepare and immediately requested permission from Menshikov to recall his armies to a more defensible position. Menshikov refused, however, declaring that the Austrian ultimatum was merely a bluff and the Gorchakov needed to continue his push on Constantinople at once.

The situation would be made much worse for Russia in late September as Count Ridiger - acting under orders from Menshikov - closed the border with Austria. He would then place his Austrian counterpart, Count Gołuchowski under house arrest effectively ending any remaining notion of Austrian authority in Galicia-Lodomeria, annexing the province to the Russian Empire in all but name. In response, the Austrian Government would reveal Russia’s criminal behavior to the world, eliciting a wave of condemnations and rebukes from across the European continent.

The Emperor of the French, Emperor Napoleon II would denounce Russia as a barbarous country, with no respect for the laws or rights of men. In early October, he would travel in person to Vienna where he would meet with his cousin, Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph and promised his country’s aid in Austria’s pursuit of justice against Russia. The Hungarians and Swedes would take a more definitive approach, agreeing to formal military alliances with Britain on the 4th and 16th of October respectively and promised to join the war against Russia before the end of the year. The Italian and German states would also lend their voices to those condemning Russian thievery. Even Russia’s nominal allies, Prussia and Greece could no longer abide by Russian actions and began applying their diplomatic and economic pressure upon them.

With events reaching a fever pitch, Prince Gorchakov once again wrote to Menshikov urgently requesting, no begging him to recall his soldiers to a more defensible position along the Danube River. Once again, Menshikov refused to budge on the issue, accusing Gorchakov of cowardice and defeatism. With the situation to his North rapidly deteriorating and his superior proving obstinate, Gorchakov would unilaterally order General Panyutin and Count Lüders northward to the Danube. When Menshikov learned of this, he immediately reprimanded Gorchakov and sent orders for his arrest, only to be reprimanded in turn by Tsar Nicholas who finally emerged from his self imposed isolation. Having seen the damage wrought by his absence, the Tsar would rebuke Menshikov’s belligerency and order his resignation, which the latter reluctantly agreed to. After which, Nicholas would instruct Count Nesselrode to reach out to the British; Russia was finally ready for peace.

Next Time: A New World Order


[1] The Russian/Slavic term for Constantinople.
[2] In the OTL Crimean War, Alexander pushed his diplomats to reject the Anglo-French peace terms, despite the very real threat of Austrian and even Prussian intervention against him. With Russia clearly winning this war ITTL, I don't think he would be very inclined to make peace as he has a golden opportunity to finally end the Ottoman Empire as a real threat to Russia. Moreover, Alexander was a very religious man and was quite supportive of the Pan-Slavic cause in his youth.
[3] A large plurality of the population in Eastern Bulgaria at this time was Muslim, particularly the region between Silistra and Shumen.
[4] Sadly, I don’t find any mid-19th Century Austrian tax records to look through, so I had to resort to GDP instead. According to the Contours of the World Economy, Galicia-Lodomeria would have had a GDP somewhere in the ballpark of 7 billion dollars or about one fifth of Triune Austria’s total economy. Given there was a rebellion there recently and a brutal subjugation by the Russians, along with an exodus of several thousand people I'd estimate its around 5 billion dollars as of 1856 ITTL, which would still result in annual tax of several million Guldens per year.
[5] A distant cousin of the Russian General, Prince Mikhail Gorchakov.
[6] Prince Menshikov was not the best diplomat, as evident by his OTL diplomatic mission to Constantinople in 1853 where he essentially provoked the Ottomans into starting the Crimean War.
A surprise to be sure but a welcome one
 
Uffda! Well, Russia has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory through sheer ncompitent diplomacy. Though they are very likely to emerge from this war having gained territory, they will have done so at the expense of their economy and much of the goodwill they had pulled together in the paast decade or two. It's not enough to make them a pariah state, but it is going to hurt all the same. And they've also managed to push Austria back into some level of reapproachment with the Kingdom of Hungary and other regional powers - the chances of an anti-Russian alliance forming is now very real (Including Austria, France, Sweden, Hungary and maybe even Britain).

So, this war is going to end with Russia as the nominal winner, but with both her and Britain badly bloodied, and the Ottomn Empire an even sicker Old Man of Europe. This of course, is going to likely create a power vacuum in the Balkans, into which our Greece will likely expand (after, of course, it manages to incorporate its new territories).

As I said: uffda!
 
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Idle question but how strong would be the triple monarchy on its own, to threaten Russia with war? Different matter as part of a coalition of course, although being together with Hungary would present... difficulties to say the least. Of course from the moment France jumped into the fray...
 
Idle question but how strong would be the triple monarchy on its own, to threaten Russia with war? Different matter as part of a coalition of course, although being together with Hungary would present... difficulties to say the least. Of course from the moment France jumped into the fray...
On its own, Austria can reasonably field between 140k to 160k soldiers of relatively decent quality. If they really wanted to, they could strip the provincial garrisons to the bare minimum, enabling them to field something closer to 200k. Obviously they aren't a threat to Russia on their own, but an Austrian declaration would likely convince Hungary to declare on Russia as well and they can field a similar number of men as Austria. While it would certainly be odd for the two of them to be fighting on the same side as one another after having just fought a bitter war against each other only a few years earlier, war has a tendency of making strange bedfellows. France would be the real force behind any coalition against Russia though, providing roughly four hundred thousand troops to the war effort.
 
Hungarian soldier: Never thought I'd die fighting side by side with a Hapsburg lackey.
Austrian soldier: What about side by side with a fellow russophobe?
Hungarian soldier: Aye. I could do that.
 
Reading all the chapter till the end I was believing that all of Europe was going to march against Russia, but I appreciated the last plot twist. Glad that the Russians in the end sought reason; the part about the Galician issues was really interesting, and if I may say, really well written.

Apparently, the war would already have a clear winner: France. With Russia, Britain, Turkey, and also Austria weakened in a way or another by the entire conflict, Napoleon II settled himself as the needle of balance in all of Europe, without even a French soldier lost.

His father would surely be proud of him.
 
Reading all the chapter till the end I was believing that all of Europe was going to march against Russia, but I appreciated the last plot twist. Glad that the Russians in the end sought reason; the part about the Galician issues was really interesting, and if I may say, really well written.

Apparently, the war would already have a clear winner: France. With Russia, Britain, Turkey, and also Austria weakened in a way or another by the entire conflict, Napoleon II settled himself as the needle of balance in all of Europe, without even a French soldier lost.

His father would surely be proud of him.

It's going to be interesting to see how that develops. I forget exactly what French-Greece relations are like in this timeline, so far - but this is basically going to give Greece another major power to play against the British and the Russians. If France becomes the cornerstone of an anti-Russian alliance, they may actually be opposed to Greek interests in the future: it's a sure bet that the Ottomans would join such an alliance after the shallacking they just took, and Greece has always had strong political and cultural ties with Russia. However, as I stated, Greece's best bet is to staay moderately neutral and to just play the three major powers off one of another in order to see who gives them the best deal.

Also, I wonder how Napoleon is going to use his nation's position. He came to power following a revolution spurred on by discontent over a quagmire of a war, and though France was able to come out of that with some gains, he's still a Bonaparte and is going to want to do something to really cement his legitimacy both domestically and internationally. However, the Belgian fiasco was a major drain on France, both in lives and treasure, and I'm not sure that its recovered enough to make a big push. Here's hoping Nappy II is able to either avoid his cousin's OTL reputation for adventurism, or at least be more successful at all. (And for some reason, I'm now imagining Nappy trying to turn France into the preminent industrial and scientific power of the 19th century. "My Father fought for the glory of France upon the battlefield. But in this new century, Empires are won not at the edge of a sword alone, but by genius of a nation's spirit and mind!" or something to that effect :D )
 
It's going to be interesting to see how that develops. I forget exactly what French-Greece relations are like in this timeline, so far - but this is basically going to give Greece another major power to play against the British and the Russians. If France becomes the cornerstone of an anti-Russian alliance, they may actually be opposed to Greek interests in the future: it's a sure bet that the Ottomans would join such an alliance after the shallacking they just took, and Greece has always had strong political and cultural ties with Russia. However, as I stated, Greece's best bet is to staay moderately neutral and to just play the three major powers off one of another in order to see who gives them the best deal.

Also, I wonder how Napoleon is going to use his nation's position. He came to power following a revolution spurred on by discontent over a quagmire of a war, and though France was able to come out of that with some gains, he's still a Bonaparte and is going to want to do something to really cement his legitimacy both domestically and internationally. However, the Belgian fiasco was a major drain on France, both in lives and treasure, and I'm not sure that its recovered enough to make a big push. Here's hoping Nappy II is able to either avoid his cousin's OTL reputation for adventurism, or at least be more successful at all. (And for some reason, I'm now imagining Nappy trying to turn France into the preminent industrial and scientific power of the 19th century. "My Father fought for the glory of France upon the battlefield. But in this new century, Empires are won not at the edge of a sword alone, but by genius of a nation's spirit and mind!" or something to that effect :D )

Well, with the matter of Italy settled for now, France and Austria didn't have real reasons to be hostile on the European board, and both have to look at Prussia; and Belgium was not a fiasco on the shoulders of Nappy II so he had still diplomatic credibility on his side. The only real possible source of European sparkling tension for France may be Spain depending what is going to happen there, therefore, the Emperor could look to one of the dreams of his father - building an overseas colonial Empire. With Britain which would be bogged down in India for a while (sepoy riot and war with Persia at the same time), there is plently more opportunities in Asia to exploit TTL for France... And of course in Africa. For the cultural side, he is still a Bonaparte and a Hapsburg, so we can surely see him being a great mecenate and renovate Paris too.

If France can start to cultivate bonds with Greece at this point? Depends how much Nappy II 1) wants to meddle in Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean affairs. Britain for now still have the upper edge in naval side, and Trafalgar may be a word lingering in his head - even more than any other French - which may would induce the Emperor to always think twice before ending on whatever conflict with Britain which would involve a naval showoff.

But, Britain may be interested to a partial retreat from the Eastern Mediterranean giving its current positions, therefore allowing France to have a certain role in the Levant because London currently couldn't hold them. This would lead to Paris eventually to think: to keep the Russians at bay, the Turks may be able to do it? I think Nappy II may be inclined to not believe it - in part because if letting Russia to lick its wounds, they would heal faster than the Ottoman Empire, and besides in a second aggression wave in the future, the Russians may have the path open in the Balkans and the Caucasus.

So, France may be tempted to search reliable allies in the Mediterranean, so the Italians and the Greeks. With Britain and Austria weakened, the process of Italian unification may proceed undisturbed now - if France would let it of course, gaining at the same time influence in the peninsula. And Greece, Nappy II had the advantage to present himself with a clean slate with Athens, always to see where would arrive to support Greek rise at clear Turk disvantage. Probably, the Greeks would start to aim at Macedonia and Paris may support them to secure the region, and London may agree to say yes if the Balkans would be predominantly pro-Russian.

At the same time, allowing Greek expansionism may allow Paris to convince the same Greeks to distance more from Russian positions, once both Athens and Saint Petersburg will be more near to the city which both dream to own eventually one day if the Ottoman Empire will exhale its dying breath... If the French will play on Greek nationalism, they would get any bond with them.
 
There's also the question of if Napoleon II want to create a relationship with his bastards half-sibling

The Bonaparte normally stood with each other regardless of their provenience so why it shouldn't change TTL. Napoleon I and III didn't care so is possible II wouldn't as well. Always, if in this case his half Hapsburg side won't prevail... But also considering his TTL ascendance to power, I think he would stand with his paternal blood first. Nappy III was in good ties with his half brother, if I am not wrong he gave even positions of power as well during his reign, and II could use his Polish half-sibling for similar situations...
 
With events reaching a fever pitch, Prince Gorchakov once again wrote to Menshikov urgently requesting, no begging him to recall his soldiers to a more defensible position along the Danube River. Once again, Menshikov refused to budge on the issue, accusing Gorchakov of cowardice and defeatism. With the situation to his North rapidly deteriorating and his superior proving obstinate, Gorchakov would unilaterally order General Panyutin and Count Lüders northward to the Danube. When Menshikov learned of this, he immediately reprimanded Gorchakov and sent orders for his arrest, only to be reprimanded in turn by Tsar Nicholas who finally emerged from his self imposed isolation. Having seen the damage wrought by his absence, the Tsar would rebuke Menshikov’s belligerency and order his resignation, which the latter reluctantly agreed to. After which, Nicholas would instruct Count Nesselrode to reach out to the British; Russia was finally ready for peace.
I'm just imagining the Tsar going off on a Malcolm Tucker style rant, because holy shit, the idiots he left in charge had ONE job: Press the war until they scream, not pick a war with all of Europe at once.
 
While this is a temporary pause in Russia vs The Western world I can’t help but think we’ll be back at this precipice before to long. Alexander supported the fired war mongering minister so he might hire him back when he’s tsar, and is a bit of a turkophobe himself. A second war could start in 10-15 years regardless of how wise it would be to fight again that fast. And While France was content to sit out this one I’m not so sure Napoleon II would be content to sit out the next round. Same with essentially all the bordering European countries minus Prussia. While Russia just barely didn’t decapitate herself diplomatically, she definitely hobbled herself for a bit.

I can’t help but wonder how the Ottomans will view Europe after this. I doubt they appreciate the coalition much. Nobody cared about them it was all for Austria. I can’t help but think that perhaps the ottomans, while certainly angry at the Greeks, don’t kind of develop a certain twisted respect for them.

“A Russian will set your house on fire, an Englishman will lie and say help is coming, and a Catholic will pretend not to see the fire until your home burns down to ashes. At least when the Greeks take the clothes of your back for access to their meager well you know they’ll follow through!”
-Common Turkish Proverb after the Eurasian War.
 
I can’t help but wonder how the Ottomans will view Europe after this. I doubt they appreciate the coalition much. Nobody cared about them it was all for Austria. I can’t help but think that perhaps the ottomans, while certainly angry at the Greeks, don’t kind of develop a certain twisted respect for them.

“A Russian will set your house on fire, an Englishman will lie and say help is coming, and a Catholic will pretend not to see the fire until your home burns down to ashes. At least when the Greeks take the clothes of your back for access to their meager well you know they’ll follow through!”
-Common Turkish Proverb after the Eurasian War.
god i would love to see amth like that
 
I don't have an exact figure in mind, but I'd say somewhere between 1 million to 1.5 million Pounds Sterling (£). The reasoning for this relatively low figure is that the British are still shipping the majority of their supplies from the Home Islands and they can still service their ships at Malta (or any number of Ottoman ports if they really wanted). Basically, they've been making an effort not to spend money if they don't have to. That said, they are still buying Greek products in abundance, particularly foodstuffs, wines and oils which the British officers are consuming at an increasing rate. The upgrades to Greece's ports are relatively minor, with the larger ports of Piraeus, Patras, Chios, and Heraklion receiving the bulk of Britain's attention and resources. They are also not funding the renewed construction of the Corinth Canal, they're only providing technical support and oversight for the canal.

Emperor Joe is correct, the Greek National debt is hovering around 2 million Pounds after several adjustments by the British over the past few decades.

Yes. Once this current War is over (I only have two updates left on it, technically three if I include the post war update on India), I'll have several updates in a row going over Greece and the integration of these new territories, which will include land reform among many other things.


Leopold is a very wealthy man.

Prior to becoming King of Greece, Leopold was the third son of a minor German duke, with few prospects in his native Saxe-Coburg. The invasion of France in 1807 would force him from his homeland and he would then spend the next 8 years of his life serving in the Imperial Russian Army as a cavalry officer, earning him a decent salary. In 1816, he would marry Princess Charlotte of Great Britain, which entitled him to a very generous allowance of 60,000 Pounds Sterling per year. This continued even after her untimely death in 1817 all the way to 1830 ITTL, when he had to forsake it as part of the deal for the Greek Crown.

As King of Greece, he initially received a stipend of around 400,000 Drachma/Phoenixes (~£15,000) in 1830, which increased gradually to 1 million Drachma (~£36,000) by 1854. However, a sizeable chunk of this is used to finance the Crown's affairs namely the payment of courtiers and the royal household staff, the maintenance on the Royal Palace and Royal yacht, and providing allowances to his children among other things. Generally, Leopold has been very careful with his money and has shrewdly invested his money into Greece's nascent industrialization which is now paying significant dividends for him. He has also patronized several Greek artists, writers, and sculptors over the course of his now 26 year reign. Overall, I'd estimate his personal net worth to be around £2.5 million to £3 million by 1855, making him one of the wealthiest men in Greece at this time.

The Jews do indeed have rights in Greece. According to the Greek Constitution of 1831, the Romaniote Jews were given full Greek citizenship and equal protection under Greek law.

Part 84: Coalition

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The Northern Colossus; A Caricature of Tsar Nicholas of Russia

The Russian Government’s decision to continue the war with the Ottoman Empire and United Kingdom in early July 1856, was met with great concern across the European continent. The Anglo-Ottoman Alliance had been clearly defeated both in the East and in the West permitting Russia to make gains at their adversaries’ expense in any peace deal between them. Yet for some reason, the war continued, a decision that would only lead to more suffering and more death in the days that would follow. Many came to believe that it was the vile Russian Emperor, Tsar Nicholas who ordered the continuation of the war against his beaten foes. Perhaps they did so out of a desire for vengeance, seeking justice for years of abuse and past indignities by the Turks. Or perhaps it was some ploy meant to better their standing at the ensuing peace conference against Britain who remained largely unharmed by the war’s events. Ironically, many Russians were equally confused by the decision to continue the war, with the Tsar’s Cabinet splitting itself in twain over the issue in the days and weeks following the capture of Silistra.

Count Karl von Nesselrode and his supporters, the so-called German Party – a reference to Nesselrode’s German heritage and his pro German diplomatic leanings, supported ending the war with the Ottomans and the British as they had achieved the most of their pre-war goals. In the East, they had repelled the Ottoman invasion of Russian Caucasia and had occupied much of Eastern Anatolia in retaliation, marching up to the walls of Trabzon and the foothills of the Anatolian Plateau. In the West, they ousted the Turks from the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, and they had secured the southern shore of the Danube River from Sistova to the Black Sea. The British had been decisively defeated at Ryakhovo and the Ottomans were at their complete mercy after the loss of their great strongholds.

Moreover, with their fleets unable to overcome the Royal Navy in the Baltic or the Black Sea, the war had reached its logical conclusion. The Russian Empire was triumphant on land, whilst the British were undefeated on water. Their attempts to counter this paradigm had all failed, the Baltic Fleet was blockaded in their ports, the Black Seas Fleet had been thoroughly defeated, and the Pacific Fleet (the Okhotsk Station Flotilla) had been completely annihilated. Without naval superiority, Russia could not carry the war over to the British Isles or their many colonies, and with Ottoman resistance effectively broken – as evident by their recent truce proposal - there remained little reason to continue the war.

The Russian Minister of Finance, Pyotr Fedorovich Brock also stressed the need to make peace now as the continued blockades of their Black and Baltic Sea ports by the British and Turks was causing untold damage to the Russian economy. The Government was deeply in debt and many of their soldiers were in arrears. Unable to pay their bills, they had resorted to taking out loans and printing more banknotes to make ends meet. However, this in turn led to a rampant rise in inflation, which would see the cost of bread increase fivefold between the Spring of 1854 and the Autumn of 1855. Because of this, bread riots became an increasingly common occurrence across the countryside in late 1855. Not willing to risk internal unrest while at war with a rival power, the Russian Government quickly reversed course, ending its inflationary policy in early 1856. Now forced to look elsewhere, the Government began embezzling tax and tariff revenue from occupied Galicia-Lodomeria. This would help lessen the Russian Government’s growing deficit, but in doing so they were playing a dangerous game with Vienna as their duplicity could not be hidden forever. Rumors of this were already circulating throughout Schönbrunn Palace, indicating that Austria was conscious of Russia's deception.

Even without this looming diplomatic catastrophe, pressure to end the war was already building across Europe. The Emperor of the French, Napoleon II Bonaparte was leading the effort to end the war, offering “amicable terms” for all involved. Beneath his honeyed words, Nesselrode would report subtle undertones of hostility in the French Emperor’s words, although he personally doubted that the French would declare war at this late hour. The Kingdoms of Hungary and Sweden-Norway were more vocal in their demands for peace and would go so far as to threaten war against Russia if they continued their present course against the Turk. Even their nominal ally Prussia was quietly suggesting that Russia come to terms with the defeated Ottomans. Most of all, the Turks themselves wanted peace and the reports from Tsargrad indicated they were willing to give quite a lot for it.[1]

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Count Karl von Nesselrode, Russian Chancellor and Foreign Minister

However, rather than push them towards peace, the Ottoman truce proposal in earl July only emboldened the Russian war hawks even more. Led by the boisterous Commander in Chief, Prince Alexander Menshikov, and the Chairman of the Cabinet and State Council, Prince Alexander Chernyshyov; the Orthodox Party – called so for their overly religious rhetoric - demanded the war continue until the Turkish Empire was finally removed as a threat to the Russian state. With their adversaries on the run, the Balkans ripe for the taking, and the road to Tsargrad more vulnerable than it had ever been before, this was the moment they had had been waiting all their lives. If they made peace now, they would lose out on this golden opportunity to reclaim the City of Cities for Christendom, an opportunity they may never get again. Most of all, they had a moral obligation to destroy their ancient enemy, so that future generations would be spared from conflict with the Turk.

They would argue that the decimation of the Russian economy - while certainly a tragic loss for the peasants and the serfs - was not a mortal wound from which they could not recover. Enough product was still being exported via Greek smugglers and land routes that the economy could limp along for a few months more, albeit in a greatly reduced state. Similarly, the naval blockades and coastal raids by the British were mere pinpricks, that caused little lasting damage to the Empire. If anything, these acts had only served to anger the Russian people and heighten their passions for revenge against the Britons. Much more so than the Ottomans, the British were the leading instigators of this terrible conflict. Their vile machinations had convinced their Turkish stooges into starting this awful war. They had stirred unrest in the Baltic, in the Caucasus, and among the Poles. They had armed the Turkmen hordes of the Steppe and they lined the purses of the German and Italian mercenaries who now fought against them. Their insidious actions had killed countless Russian sons, ruined countless Russian lives, and ravaged Russian land. No, there could be no peace with the perfidious Britons until they had been made to suffer as the Russians had.

Menshikov would be especially vitriolic in his diatribe against Nesselrode, whom he disparaged as a coward and a criminal who had colluded in secret with the traitorous Germans (Austria and Prussia) to undermine Holy Russia. Under the terms of their Alliance; Austria and Prussia had pledged to lend their aid to Russia in times of war. Yet in this current War of Turkish Aggression, when Russia needed them, Austria and Prussia did nothing of the sort. Their concerns of Russian expansion should not then concern Russia, for they were craven liars and oathbreakers. Little concern was also given to the bluster of Hungary and Sweden-Norway for they were weaklings against the might of glorious Russia. Lastly, they would also dismiss France’s interjection into the peace process as well.

Although their strength warranted increased respect and concern in St. Petersburg, many senior officers in their company proudly recalled the Patriotic War of 1812. The Corsican Devil had marched against Russia with a host far greater than France could boast of today, with men of greater stature and talent than those of today. If the French had joined with the British and the Turks in making war in 1854, things might have been very different for Russia. Instead, they had done nothing and now Emperor Napoleon II had the gall to play peacemaker. If he followed up on his threats and made war now, then he was a fool. The Son would share the same fate as the Father, and the Armies of Holy Russia would march through the streets of Paris once more.

Finally, a flurry of good news had arrived in early June, lending its support to the War Hawk’s cause as General Alexander Baryatinsky reclaimed Fort Navaginsky from the British in late May. With its capture the Allied supply lines to the Circassian Confederacy and Caucasian Imamate were finally and completely cut. Although the fight with the Caucasus Muslims would continue for some time; the loss of their last major lifeline had all but doomed them to destruction. More good news would arrive from their nominal ally, the Qajari Empire who had joined the war at the behest of St. Petersburg in late 1855. The Qajaris had provoked a war with Britain when they invaded the Emirate of Afghanistan and within a month’s time, the entire country had fallen to Persian arms. The British in neighboring India would attempt to respond to this transgression and would ready an army to liberate the country just as they had in 1848. However, in doing so they inadvertently sparked an uprising of the Indian Sepoys who feared they were instead being sent to fight against Russia – one complaint among many others. With all these events going in Russia’s favor, Menshikov and Chernyshyov saw little reason to stop the war now whilst they were ahead. Ultimately, the decision lay with Tsar Nicholas himself.

Despite his penchant for militarism and his increasing support for Pan-Slavism, the conflict’s rising toll in blood and treasure ravaged his old heart and threw him into a deep depression. On many occasions, he would become quite bellicose, violently thrashing out at the nearest attendant for even the slightest offense. Other times, he would be rather somber and barely stir from his private chambers, only doing so to attend weekly mass. Coinciding with this marked decline in his mental faculties was an equally upsetting collapse of his physical health. Over the course of the conflict Nicholas would lose a tremendous amount of weight, becoming rather gaunt in appearance. Moreover, he would also suffer from frequent lightheadedness, routine chills, and the occasional coughing fit. This was made worse by his vehement refusal to seek proper medical attention, instead demanding that his physicians attend to his beloved soldiers.

Although he was still far from death’s door, the Tsar’s declining health forced him to begin delegating his responsibilities to his son and heir, Tsarevich Alexander Nikolayevich who fell firmly on the side of Menshikov and Chernyshyov. Despite his “liberal” political views, Tsarevich Alexander was a devout Christian and a stout Pan-Slavic Nationalist who supported the continuation of the war to the gates of Tsargrad, which he would liberate for Christendom in the name of his father. Most of all, the Tsarevich firmly believed this is what his father would have wanted.[2] With the Cabinet reaching a decision, albeit a decision that was far from unanimous, orders were dispatched to Prince Gorchakov. He would march on Constantinople.

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Tsarevich Alexander Nikolayevich circa 1856

By the time Prince Mikhail Gorchakov received the order to advance in mid-July, he would find that much of the Allied Army had escaped to the Balkan Mountains. Desperate to stop the Russian advance, the Sublime Porte declared a state of emergency and ordered Omar Pasha to hold the line no matter the cost. Short term conscription was enacted across the Empire and all men with military experience were recalled to the service no matter how old or infirm. The delay by the Russians would give Omar Pasha precious time to build up a series of defensive works in the passes of the Balkan Mountains. The surrounding countryside was despoiled, trenches were dug, stockades were hastily erected and roads were blocked with fallen trees and rocks. In spite of all these preparations, the situation in the Balkans still favored the Russians greatly.

At worst, Prince Gorchakov still held a two to one advantage in numbers over the Anglo-Ottoman Army and unlike the Allied host now fleeing before him, his army still possessed its entire artillery corps. Defeatism was also rampant among the Allied ranks after their recent defeats and a deep divide had formed between the British and Ottomans after the latter's peace attempts. Nevertheless, Gorchakov still took a rather cautious approach southward, choosing to keep his two armies rather close to one another so that the Allies could not separate them or single one out as they had attempted previously. General Panyutin’s Army of Wallachia was ordered to march upon the fortress city of Shumen, whilst Count Lüders Army of Moldavia would proceed towards the port of Varna.

Departing on the 18th of July, Panyutin’s march southward would take the better part of a week to reach the city of Shumen. The reasoning for his slow advance was twofold. First, the Russian Army of Wallachia had suffered extensive casualties over the last three months of fighting, losing close to 46,000 soldiers between battle, disease, or desertion. Another 65,000 were suffering from various injuries or ailments, of which roughly half were invalids. The arrival of 18th Division from the Anatolian Front in late June would help replace these losses boosting his total to around 73,000 men, but overall, Panyutin’s force was only slightly larger than the British Army he had just decimated a month prior.

Another issue plaguing Panyutin’s Army were its increasingly long supply lines. With the sea still firmly in Allied hands and the countryside now increasingly hostile, Russian logistics were stretched to their limits.[3] It is also important to note that sizeable contingents of the Ottoman and British Armies still remained north of the Balkan Mountains and continually harassed the Russian columns. The Ottoman irregulars, the Bashi-Bazouks had performed quite poorly in the trenches and forts surrounding Silistra, but out in the hills and forests of Rumelia, they were free to run wild. They would frequently target the Russian baggage trains and supply lines before slipping away into the wilderness time and time again. Despite their slow progress, Panyutin’s Army would reach the outskirts of Shumen by the 24th of July and immediately placed the city under siege.

Opposing the Russians once again was the Ottoman Commander, Omar Pasha who had elected to remain north of the Balkan Mountains and would personally lead the defense of Shumen as a bulwark against the Russian tide. Like Silistra and Ruse; Shumen was a part of the Ottoman Quadrangle Fortress system that guarded Northeastern Rumelia. Because of its strategic location along the main road from Silistra to Constantinople, the Sublime Porte had erected several polygonal fortresses around the city in the years leading up to the war. It would see additional fortification during the war as Omar Pasha would use the lull in fighting between the Fall of Silistra and the Siege of Shumen to dig connecting trenches around Shumen and would even make moderate repairs to the old citadel which he used as a temporary headquarters.

Unfortunately, by the Summer of 1856, the Porte simply lacked the men to properly garrison Shumen. By the time Omar Pasha arrived in late June he found scarcely 3,400 soldiers and 1,700 swiftly organized militiamen ready to defend the city against the approaching Russians. Although the odds were stacked against them at nearly 15 to 1, Omar Pasha and his men remained in good spirits. Victorious Shumen had withstood three previous attacks by the Russians in 1774, 1810, and 1829. So long as Omar Pasha had a say in it, Shumen would not fall to them here either. Moreover, Shumen had become a safe haven for Muslim refugees fleeing Russian oppression and Christian reprisals. As such, many of his men were fighting to defend their own families, so they would not surrender without a fight.

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Muslim Refugees fleeing to Shumen

As this was taking place, Count Lüders’ Army of Moldavia began its own advance towards the Black Sea coast, occupying the city of Hacıoğlu Pazarcık (modern Dobrich) on the 19th, before reaching the environs of Varna four days later on the 23rd. Unlike Panyutin’s Army of Wallachia, the Russian Army of Moldavia had fared much better despite enduring four months of almost continuous fighting, only losing around 32,000 men and suffering an equal number of wounded, giving him a fighting strength of well over 90,000 men. His adversary was more than up to the task of opposing him, however, as British General George Brown had sent General George de Lacy Evans and his 2nd Division to defend the port of Varna.

Although General Brown’s Army had been thoroughly gutted in the Battle of Ryakhovo, losing nearly 23,000 men and almost all of its cavalry, the British 2nd Division had escaped the battle relatively intact thanks to the skilled leadership of General de Lacy Evans. In the heat of the battle, the “Fighting Second” had kept their discipline and formed Infantry squares to fend off the approaching Cossacks, before retreating in good order under the cover of the Heavy Brigade’s counter charge. As it was one of the only British units still in fighting shape, General Brown felt it pertinent to dispatch them to Varna, where the Royal Navy had made its base the past two years. Many British warships were still in port at Varna, receiving repairs or routine maintenance and could not be evacuated before the Russians would arrive. Fortunately, Varna was a formidable fortress in its own right, as it made up the last quarter of the Ottoman Quadrangle. With its strong landward fortifications and its back to the sea – seas still controlled by the British and Ottoman Navies – it was an ideal redoubt against the approaching Russian hordes.

This did not deter Count Lüders, who immediately ordered an assault on Varna’s outer works. Four time's Lüders men would attack Varna's defenses and four times they would be driven back. A fifth attempt would finally succeed in securing one of the outer redoubts surrounding Varna, but a timely counterattack by the soldiers of 95th Derbyshire Regiment would drive them from the fort. Despite their nearly six to one advantage in numbers, the Russians would ultimately be forced back by the British defenders after several hours of bitter fighting. A second assault the following day would meet with much less success as the Russian soldiers conducted three attacks on Varna before returning to their camp, disgusted and disgruntled at the continuing war. Their homes were safe, the honor of their beloved Motherland had been upheld, their adversaries had been punished, and yet, for some unknown reason they continued to fight and suffer and die. Although they were loyal to the Tsar and hated the Turk, many were simply tired of the war and wanted nothing more than to go home. A third assault scheduled for the 28th of July was cancelled when it became known that their soldiers threatened to mutiny if ordered to do so. With the British able to resupply Varna by sea, the siege effectively came to an end as Lüders could neither assault the city’s defenses nor starve out its defenders.

Outside Shumen, General Panyutin would be much less aggressive in pushing his exhausted soldiers. His once powerful army had been whittled down after months of campaigning and his men were simply spent after two years of hard fighting and campaigning. Nevertheless, the opposition facing him was far too weak to pose much of a challenge to his substantially larger force. As such, his army made progress merely by momentum. Over the course of two and a half weeks, Panyutin’s soldiers quickly surrounded the city, before beginning to reduce the Ottoman outer works one by one as they simply lacked the men necessary to guard every approach at once. By the middle of August, it was clear to all that Shumen would eventually fall to the Russians despite the great heroism of its defenders; it was only a matter of time. Unfortunately, time was not on the Russians’ side as a few days later, news arrived from Vienna that would upend everything.

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Russian Soldiers storm an Ottoman redoubt outside Shumen

In early January 1856, new Austrian Finance Minister, Baron Karl Ludwig von Bruck ordered a cursory review of the Empire’s taxation system. Austrian tax collection had never been a very efficient process as money would often change hands between the taxpayer and the Government’s treasury – up to 27 times in extreme cases - making the Austrian Empire’s tax collection system a bureaucratic nightmare. Because of this, it would actually cost more to collect the taxes, than not in some rare instances. Having only assumed the office a few months prior, Bruck was immediately struck at the inefficiency of it all and began looking for remedies to the antiquated and highly corrupt system; hence the review. The results of this review were within the expected norms; corruption and inefficiency were rampant across the board, but one outlier that stood out was Galicia-Lodomeria.

Austrian Guldens had continued to flow out of Galicia-Lodomeria throughout the Winter as it normally had over the past five years of Russian occupation, only to slow dramatically in late February before stopping entirely by early April. A second audit of Galicia-Lodomeria’s records conducted in May would return the same results. Were it simply a matter of a few hundred or even a few thousand missing Guldens, Baron Bruck might have written it off as a simple clerical error or a corrupt tax collector pocketing a few coins. In this case, however, it was on the scale of several million Guldens, a figure that could not be ignored so easily.[4] Moreover, the entire earnings of Galicia were missing, not just a single city or county.

An investigation on Bruck’s part would reveal that the Russians had collected the missing revenue in Galicia as they had done for the last five years on Austria’s behalf, only for it to disappear somewhere on the road to Vienna. Unsure how to proceed, Bruck would report the matter to Austrian Chancellor, Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg and Foreign Minister, Count Karl Ferdinand von Buol who in turn submitted an inquiry with Russian Ambassador Prince Alexander Gorchakov about the issue.[5] Having spent the better part of the last two years fending off British machinations in Vienna, Gorchakov had only the slightest inkling of his government’s activities in Galicia. Nevertheless, he did his part to not incriminate his government and offered the full support of the Russian Government in this matter and sent word to his superiors in St. Petersburg.

Upon receiving Gorchakov’s missive, Count Nesselrode would promptly travel to Vienna to meet with his Austrian colleagues in person. Arriving in mid-June, Nesselrode would lay the blame squarely at the feet of Polish Partisans. Polish brigands were known to hide out in the forests and mountains of Galicia-Lodomeria, from which they routinely raided Russian outposts. Given the war with the Turks and the British, Nesselrode claimed that troops stationed in Galicia were now being ordered elsewhere, emboldening the Poles to greater acts of resistance. As such, the Russian Governor General of Galicia, Count Fyodor Ridiger had chosen to withhold the money so as not to risk its loss to brigands and thieves.

Although they were rather annoyed that the Russians had not informed them of this earlier, Schwarzenberg and Buol accepted Nesselrode’s account at face value. However, they requested that the Russians dispatch the funds as soon as they were able. Nesselrode agreed to their request and promised to send word to Count Ridiger, ordering him to dispatch the coins at once. For a brief moment in time, it would have appeared that the issue was at an end. Nesselrode had bought his government invaluable time to settle their affairs before Venna learned the truth of Russia’s deception. But for the whimsy of a British diplomat, Lord John Russell this could have been true.

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Lord John Russell, British Plenipotentiary to the Austrian Empire

Seeking to stir up tensions between Austria and Russia, Lord Russell began paying off several low-level figures in Schönbrunn Palace to spread salacious rumors of Russian infidelity. Through his contacts within the Austrian Government, Russell had learned of Vienna’s missing money and sought to add fuel to the dying fire by insinuating that St. Petersburg was the true culprit. Although he thought nothing of it at the time, he had unwittingly struck upon the truth. Soon the entirety of Schönbrunn was abuzz in rumors of Russian treachery, a logical conclusion for most given that Russian agents were the last seen actors with Vienna’s missing money. Making matters worse, a month had passed since Nesselrode's promise of action and yet no word had arrived from Galicia-Lodomeria regarding the delivery of Austria’s Guldens lending further credence to the rumors.

Hoping to dispel these allegations and to hasten the delivery process, Austrian Foreign Minister Buol would travel to St. Petersburg in early July, hoping to meet with Count Nesselrode once more. Unfortunately, Nesselrode was away in Berlin at the time and would not return to St. Petersburg for several weeks. Instead, Count Buol would meet with Chairman Alexaner Chernyshyov. However, aside from a promise to send word to Count Ridiger, little was accomplished in their first meeting. A second meeting between the two was scheduled three weeks later on the 24th of July, but Chernyshyov would suffer a convenient stroke and would die soon afterwards, leaving Buol to meet with his deputy Prince Menshikov instead.

Menshikov was no wordsmith and he was certainly no diplomat as he would essentially regurgitate Nesselrode’s earlier account only in a less articulate and flattering manner. Menshikov would also repeat Chernyshyov’s earlier promise to dispatch Austria’s money as soon as Count Ridiger was able. However, when Buol attempted to draw more decisive action from Menshikov, the latter abruptly adjourned their meeting and left without so much as an explanation, leaving the Austrian delegation thoroughly confused. Seeking answers, Buol would turn to Tsar Nicholas in the hopes he might do more to resolve the issue. However, the Tsar was suffering from another of his melancholic fits at this time and rejected Buol’s request out of hand. A second attempt to meet with the Tsar would instead result in a meeting with Tsarevich Alexander. The pair would exchange some pleasantries with one another, but otherwise their meeting only agitated the Austrian Foreign Minister even more. With the Austrians increasingly agitated by Russian misdirection and continued rumors of Russian fraud, Buol’s delegation naturally began to suspect the worst.

A second meeting with Menshikov would all but confirm Buol’s suspicions. As he attempted to repeat the Russian Government’s account of events, Menshikov erred and stated that Polish brigands had in fact stolen the Austrian’s missing money. When pressed to redress this inconsistency, Menshikov would attempt to reverse course and repeat Nesselrode and Chernyshyov’s account that they had withheld to protect it against Polish partisans. Unconvinced, Buol pressed further. At which point, Menshikov became hostile to the Austrian Foreign Minister, blaming corrupt Austrian bureaucrats for their missing money.[6] He would then berate the Austrians as ungrateful oath breakers who betrayed their ally Russia in their time of need. Incensed, Buol erupted into a similar diatribe against Menshikov and the Russian Government. Insults were thrown between the two men and fists would have too if not for the intervention of their aides. The meeting would end with one final insult from Menshikov all but confirming Russia’s robbery of Galicia. Thoroughly convinced of Russian treachery, Count Buol departed St. Petersburg in early August having all but confirmed Russia’s criminality.

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Prince Alexander Sergeyevich Menshikov, Commander in Chief of the Russian Military and acting Chairman of the Cabinet and State Council.

As this was all taking place, rumors and reports from Galicia-Lodomeria continued to arrive in Vienna, providing further evidence of Russian malfeasance. Despite the ongoing war with the Turks, Austrian agents in Galicia would report that the Russian garrison in the region had not been reduced as Russia had claimed, but rather increase to slightly over 340,000 soldiers by the Summer of 1856. Moreover, they would also remark that the unrest in the region had been on the decline over the past four years, a process that accelerated once the War with the Turks began as many partisans would leave Galicia to fight against Russia in the employ of the Ottomans and the British. The final piece of evidence would come in late July as the nominal Austrian Governor of Galicia-Lodomeria, Count Agenor Gołuchowski reported that carriage traffic to and from the Russian Empire had increased dramatically over the past few months, carriages laden down with numerous chests under guard by the Russian Army. When Count Buol returned to Vienna in mid-August, the Austrian Government could no longer ignore the reality that was staring them in the face; Russia was embezzling their taxes and tariffs from Galicia-Lodomeria.

Events began to move quickly in Vienna as Chancellor Schwarzenberg met privately with Russian Ambassador Alexander Gorchakov on the 20th of August and demanded an explanation for their duplicity. When he could not provide one, Schwarzenberg gave him an ultimatum: return every single Gulden that Russia stolen from them or the Austrian Landwehr would march on St. Petersburg. They had three months to comply. It was an impossible demand. Even if Russia wanted to, they simply lacked the time to scrounge up all the coin in question – much of which had already been spent on the ongoing war effort.

Several weeks later in early September, the venerable Count Nesselrode journeyed to Vienna in a desperate attempt to soothe the Austrian Government’s ruffled feathers. Sadly, his efforts were in vain as Prince Schwarzenberg refused to see him and Count Buol repeated the same demands that they had made of Ambassador Gorchakov. With it now apparent that war with Austria was inevitable, Count Nesselrode sent word to St. Petersburg imploring them to make peace with the Ottomans and recall the Army of the Danube before it was too late. Unfortunately, the Tsar, or rather Prince Menshikov and his supporters simply refused to budge on the issue. Hoping to avoid a disaster, Nesselrode would go around him and sent word to Silistra, warning Prince Mikhail Gorchakov of Austria’s intentions to declare war. For General Gorchakov, this development was an unmitigated disaster.

No matter Russia’s decision, it appeared as if Austria would be at war with Russia within a few weeks’ time. While they would normally be little threat to Gorchakov on their own, his armies were dangerously overextended in the Summer of 1856 with barely a quarter million men scattered between the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains. Moreover, many of these soldiers were exhausted, they were severely undersupplied and reports from Count Lüders army reported that the troops were increasingly restless and disobedient. Fortunately, Gorchakov still had the better part of two months to prepare and immediately requested permission from Menshikov to recall his armies to a more defensible position. Menshikov refused, however, declaring that the Austrian ultimatum was merely a bluff and the Gorchakov needed to continue his push on Constantinople at once.

The situation would be made much worse for Russia in late September as Count Ridiger - acting under orders from Menshikov - closed the border with Austria. He would then place his Austrian counterpart, Count Gołuchowski under house arrest effectively ending any remaining notion of Austrian authority in Galicia-Lodomeria, annexing the province to the Russian Empire in all but name. In response, the Austrian Government would reveal Russia’s criminal behavior to the world, eliciting a wave of condemnations and rebukes from across the European continent.

The Emperor of the French, Emperor Napoleon II would denounce Russia as a barbarous country, with no respect for the laws or rights of men. In early October, he would travel in person to Vienna where he would meet with his cousin, Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph and promised his country’s aid in Austria’s pursuit of justice against Russia. The Hungarians and Swedes would take a more definitive approach, agreeing to formal military alliances with Britain on the 4th and 16th of October respectively and promised to join the war against Russia before the end of the year. The Italian and German states would also lend their voices to those condemning Russian thievery. Even Russia’s nominal allies, Prussia and Greece could no longer abide by Russian actions and began applying their diplomatic and economic pressure upon them.

With events reaching a fever pitch, Prince Gorchakov once again wrote to Menshikov urgently requesting, no begging him to recall his soldiers to a more defensible position along the Danube River. Once again, Menshikov refused to budge on the issue, accusing Gorchakov of cowardice and defeatism. With the situation to his North rapidly deteriorating and his superior proving obstinate, Gorchakov would unilaterally order General Panyutin and Count Lüders northward to the Danube. When Menshikov learned of this, he immediately reprimanded Gorchakov and sent orders for his arrest, only to be reprimanded in turn by Tsar Nicholas who finally emerged from his self imposed isolation. Having seen the damage wrought by his absence, the Tsar would rebuke Menshikov’s belligerency and order his resignation, which the latter reluctantly agreed to. After which, Nicholas would instruct Count Nesselrode to reach out to the British; Russia was finally ready for peace.

Next Time: A New World Order


[1] The Russian/Slavic term for Constantinople.
[2] In the OTL Crimean War, Alexander pushed his diplomats to reject the Anglo-French peace terms, despite the very real threat of Austrian and even Prussian intervention against him. With Russia clearly winning this war ITTL, I don't think he would be very inclined to make peace as he has a golden opportunity to finally end the Ottoman Empire as a real threat to Russia. Moreover, Alexander was a very religious man and was quite supportive of the Pan-Slavic cause in his youth.
[3] A large plurality of the population in Eastern Bulgaria at this time was Muslim, particularly the region between Silistra and Shumen.
[4] Sadly, I don’t find any mid-19th Century Austrian tax records to look through, so I had to resort to GDP instead. According to the Contours of the World Economy, Galicia-Lodomeria would have had a GDP somewhere in the ballpark of 7 billion dollars or about one fifth of Triune Austria’s total economy. Given there was a rebellion there recently and a brutal subjugation by the Russians, along with an exodus of several thousand people I'd estimate its around 5 billion dollars as of 1856 ITTL, which would still result in annual tax of several million Guldens per year.
[5] A distant cousin of the Russian General, Prince Mikhail Gorchakov.
[6] Prince Menshikov was not the best diplomat, as evident by his OTL diplomatic mission to Constantinople in 1853 where he essentially provoked the Ottomans into starting the Crimean War.
I loved this update, seems that the peace treaty is very close for now. I wonder how russian behaviour would change the result of this treaty
 
I loved this update, seems that the peace treaty is very close for now. I wonder how russian behaviour would change the result of this treaty

Honestly, they just managed to hand the British and the Ottomans one helluva bargaining chip. They now have the majority of European breathing down their neck, and also being super aware of what the provisions of the treaty are. Should the British walk alway, and Sweden, Austria, Hungary and France jump in as they are threatening, the Russians are going to get bloodied somewhat terrible and are going to end up with nothing. And so, Russia likely ends up taking much less than they otherwise would have been able to get.

I could definitely see this having some major impacts within Russia itself. There is going to be a lot of finger-pointing, trying to figure out what went wrong (and who did it). Right now, the Russian economy is sinking, and the army has been victorious but at the expense of a lot of blood: if they don't get as much from the treaty as they feel they should, there's going to be a general sense that the sacrifice was worth nothing. Will they turn outwards and blame the rest of Europe for hemming them in at their moment of victory? Or will they turn against parts of the govenment? That remains to be seen, but it's going to be interesting.
 
Honestly, they just managed to hand the British and the Ottomans one helluva bargaining chip. They now have the majority of European breathing down their neck, and also being super aware of what the provisions of the treaty are. Should the British walk alway, and Sweden, Austria, Hungary and France jump in as they are threatening, the Russians are going to get bloodied somewhat terrible and are going to end up with nothing. And so, Russia likely ends up taking much less than they otherwise would have been able to get.
What's that phrase.

Win every battle but lose the war?

Realistically this should have huge ramifications for the nationalists given that it's entirely their overreaching which led to disaster. And in the short-medium term, they're probably going to be pretty weakened. But long term I could easily see some sort of lost cause narrative arising, especially among the public. Something along the lines of "We were going to win, we won every battle, we played fair, until all those other powers decided to stop us because they hate us."
 
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