Well, Greece could still become a power in its own right - there are always ways and methods to develop a soft power and become a modern and strong power. For now it's already a Greece wank - having Crete decades earlier than OTL is a resounding success which could lead to earlier acquisitions (an earlier Thessaly, then an earlier Macedonia, then...) and so a working liberal democracy and a valid king as well with good connections.

Demographic umbers are a first factor to become a great power - but there is also more to achieve.
Oh for sure, Greece is in a much better situation right now than it was in OTL; already having Crete, Chios, Samos, etc, it has a lot less debt ITTL than it did in OTL, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha is King of Greece, and Ioannis Kapodistrias managed to serve as Prime Minister for 14 years as opposed to 4 years in OTL, all of which will certainly make some of their future ventures much easier and much more successful than OTL. Greece may not be a global hegemonic superpower by the end of this timeline, but it will be an important country in the world more so for its cultural and economic power than its military prowess.
 
Part 68: The Great Polish Uprising
Part 68: The Great Polish Uprising

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Submission of the Russians

The Great Polish Uprising of 1848 was not a sudden development made in the heat of the moment, nor was it a surprising development given the mounting oppression the Poles had endured over the past few decades. It was a decision that had been made after countless years of struggle, compromise, defeats, and disappointments in the quest for Polish independence. Aside from a brief return of independence during the Napoleonic Wars, the lands and people of Poland had existed under foreign occupation since 1795 when their Kingdom was finally swallowed up by the three partitioning powers of Austria, Prussia, and Russia. For a proud people like the Poles, this development was an unacceptable and unenviable position for them, and one which they would attempt to rectify through various revolts and rebellions over the ensuing years, all of which were doomed to failure. While these uprisings would fail to win their independence, it would succeed in winning them recognition for their cause as the Congress of Vienna in 1815 would attempt to address the Polish Question by granting the former territories of the Kingdom of Poland with various rights and local autonomy. Russia, Prussia, and Austria would agree in principle to these concessions, but the moment the Congress had ended, they began reneging on their promises.

Under Tsar Alexander of Russia, the much reduced “Kingdom of Poland” theoretically existed in personal union with the Russian Empire through the Emperor, but in truth Poland was a state which he cared little for beyond the prestige associated with it and the annual revenue it added to his coffers. Instead, the responsibility of governing and ruling the Kingdom would be pawned off to Alexander’s younger brother, Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich who would rule the Kingdom in his brother’s name, effectively making him Viceroy of Poland in all but name. Konstantin would find great interest in the position, choosing to live in Warsaw year-round and would even select a prominent Polish noblewoman for his second wife, an act which would force him to privately renounce his claims to the Russian throne in favor of his younger brother Nicholas.[1]

Despite his own interest in the position and his thoroughly Polish wife, Countess Joanna Grudzińska, Konstantin was deeply despised by the Polish people for his tyranny and oppression. He empowered the dreaded Okhrana to crack down on the Polish press with near impunity. He routinely flaunted the Polish Constitution by appointing Russians to high offices over native Poles and he regularly threatened political opponents with imprisonment without trial as required under Polish law. He physically assaulted his Polish deputies and would publicly insult them for even the slightest of errors. Beyond that, he was a personally vainglorious man, whose overly combative and arrogant personality spurned even his most stallwart supporters. He was so maligned in Poland for his tyranny that when news reached Warsaw of his death to Cholera in September 1830, the people of the city celebrated in the streets with reckless abandon. The premature death of Konstantin Pavlovich also sparked a meager revolt against Russian rule, the so-called September Rising of 1830, but due to the disorganization of the movement and the differing goals of its leaders, the rebellion was put down by year’s end.

While the autonomy of the Kingdom of Poland had been steadily eroded by the Russian Emperors since 1815, the September Rising in 1830 would quicken this process as the Polish Kingdom found itself coming under increasing Russian control. The city of Warsaw was placed under martial law for the remainder of 1830 and much of 1831 as well, with Russian soldiers remaining a common sight in the city even after the official end of military rule in July 1831. The University of Warsaw was subject to intense surveillance by the Russian government, with many of the school’s professors and students being arrested for their involvement in the revolt. Russian bureaucrats came to replace Polish officials in the government, while the rights of the regions’ nobility were steadily curtailed. Opposition parties were barred from the Sejm and any officials deemed hostile to the Russian Government were barred from public office. The sessions of the Sejm were also steadily shortened until it was finally shuttered entirely in mid-1840 by the Russian dominated Council of State.

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Martial Law in Warsaw

The closing of the Sejm would prompt a few minor protests and riots, mostly in and around the city of Warsaw itself, but would eventually cease after a few weeks of modest demonstrations. This limited response by the Poles likely betrayed their own malaise and contempt towards the institution which had become so notoriously corrupt in their eyes, largely for its perceived support of the union with Russia.[2] More insults were soon to follow as the Polish Army was slowly subordinated to the Russian army with a number of its officers removed from command over concerns for their loyalty to the Russian regime, while Russian and Ruthenian officers were implanted in their place. Russian products were steadily pushed into Polish markets, while the Kingdom's finances were brought into line with the rest of the Russian Empire. The Kingdom of Poland’s already limited internal autonomy would be reduced even further, with most domestic policy decisions being made in St. Petersburg rather than Warsaw, while the rest were made only with the expression permission of the Imperial Government.

The final slight would come on the 19th of April 1848, when Emperor Nicholas of Russia formally abolished the now thoroughly gutted Polish Constitution and declared the Kingdom of Poland dissolved into the Russian Empire. The decision to finally end the nominal independence of the Kingdom of Poland was likely the result of many years of effort on the part of Emperor and his ministers who had viewed the Poles with distrust and disdain. Even though he recognized that they were a rebellious and dissentious people, Nicholas had come to believe by 1848 that they had been thoroughly beaten into submission, citing their relative peaceful acceptance of the Sejm’s closure in 1840 and every subsequent reduction in their autonomy since then as proof. While the State Council would expect there to be some level of public dissension by the Poles, they believed that it would be relatively minor and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things; something that would run its course in a matter of days before returning to peace. They would be terribly wrong.

Instead of a few minor demonstrations, they found armed revolutionaries rising in rebellion all across the former Kingdom of Poland. Less than a week after the Tsar’s proclamation, several hundred Polish officers, soldiers, students, intellectuals, laborers, and peasants marched on the Royal Castle where they forced their way past the few guards outside - killing several of them in the process - before holding an impromptu session of the Sejm. In what was widely lauded as a show trial, the venerable Prince Michael Gedeon Radziwiłł declared Emperor Nicholas an unlawful King of Russia. Decrying his oppression of his loyal subjects and his violation of the Polish constitution, Radziwiłł stripped Nicholas of his crown in absentia, before declaring the independence of Poland to the exuberant cheers of the assembled crowd. Having declared Poland free, the gathered men committed themselves to freeing it from Russian rule.

Departing from the Royal Castle, the Poles of Warsaw were infused with a great patriotic fervor that spread like wildfire through the city as men and women poured out into the streets by the tens of thousands armed with guns, swords, spears and whatever else they could get their hands on. The museums, manors, and castles of Warsaw were looted of their weaponry, both ancient and modern, with which they hoped to kill as many Russians as was necessary to win their independence. Standing against the entire city were a few thousand beleaguered and bemused Russian soldiers who quickly fell back to the Pałac Namiestnikowski where they endeavored to make a stand. Despite their terror, the Russians would successfully hold out for several long hours before they were finally routed by the frenzied Polish mob and forced from the city entirely. The Great Polish Uprising had begun.

News of the liberation of Warsaw would disseminate throughout the countryside; from neighboring Pultusk where the town’s famished farmers and impoverished laborers fell upon the small, but pungently well-fed Russian garrison with terrifying ferocity; to the city of Kalisz where the cadets of the city’s military academy turned on their Russian instructors with lightning speed and brutal efficiency. Everywhere the Poles were on the march and the Russians were in retreat. The Polish Revolutionaries were aided immensely in their efforts by the quick defection of the Army of Congress Poland to their side, bringing with it several skilled officers and thousands of disciplined and well-equipped soldiers. Even though the tight cohesion of the Army had been shattered after the Russian takeover in 1846 - most of their senior commanding officers were now Russians, Ruthenians, and Russophile Poles – the rank and file soldiers, and many of the junior officers remained zealous patriots who dreamed of a free and fair Poland. With their aid, the Polish people quickly overwhelmed the isolated Russian garrisons across the country with relative impunity.

While it would have seemed as if all of Poland was united in defiance to the Russian Empire, there were some who were not yet willing to make that leap, chief among them was Count Wincenty Krasiński who had fled from Warsaw alongside the Russian Army. Despite considering himself to be a loyal son of Poland who had fought on its behalf in the Napoleonic Wars, Count Krasiński was a realist who recognized that any confrontation between Russia and Poland would favor Russia. Instead, Krasiński believed that cooperation and friendship with Russia were the only way for Poland to achieve a better future, and so when he was forced to choose his loyalty to Poland, or his loyalty to Russia, he chose Russia in order to save Poland. However, to his former friends and colleagues in the Sejm, Krasiński was a villain of the greatest treachery, as he betrayed his countrymen to the Russians for a pair of epaulettes and a baton.

Men like Krasiński were in the minority of the minority however, as the recent encroachments on Polish autonomy by Russia had driven most moderates and even a few Russophiles into the ranks of the Nationalists. Convening in Warsaw in late May, these notables and magnates of Congress Poland put their pens to paper, reaffirming the declaration of independence from the Russian Empire and requesting aid from all good peoples of the Earth in their fight for liberty. Despite his advanced age, Prince Radziwiłł was selected as Head of State for the Provisional Government of the Polish State with Radziwiłł choosing his close ally, the talented General Ignacy Prądzyński as commander of the Polish Army. The Sejm would also approve the implementation of conscription for the duration of the conflict, with each of Congress Poland's provinces being required to commit 10,000 men to the cause. Beyond this however, the Provisional Government busied itself establishing its control over the country, creating government ministries and preparing for the inevitable Russian response. To their great surprise, however, it would be nearly one month before that response finally came.

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The Sejm Declares Independence from Russia

The lethargic Russian response to the Polish uprising would be a result of the false sense of complacency the Poles had provided to them over the past decade. Nicholas and the Imperial State Council had underestimated the Polish psyche so completely that troops had been reduced from Poland over the past few years, believing the province to be thoroughly pacified. As a result, the Russian Government would remain on the back foot for the remainder of April and all of May as they were forced to rely upon Count Krasiński and the few remaining soldiers already in Poland until the Russian Army could organize a meaningful response. And respond they would, for on the 16th of June, the Russian Namiestnik (Viceroy) of Poland, Field Marshal Hans Karl von Diebitsch reentered Congress Poland at the head of a sizeable force, hellbent on retaking the country.[3]

Diebitsch, the old Prussian expat turned Russian Field Marshal who had won a series of brilliant victories at Silistra, Provadiya, and Adrianople during the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, had been appointed Namiestnik of Poland after the death of Grand Duke Konstantin and the September Uprising in 1831. Even still, Diebitsch remained a military man at heart and committed himself to the Army even after his appointment as Viceroy. Moreover, his position would provide him with a degree of influence which he would use to great effect in his frequent meetings with the Emperor and the State Council, discussing all matters of business from Poland to the military. His frequent trips to St. Petersburg would be his undoing however, for it was during one of these absences from Warsaw that the Poles would strike out, taking advantage of his departure for their own gain.

Determined to rectify his own mistake, Diebitsch gathered an army at Brest, some 76,000 strong before marching back into Poland at its head. Advancing slowly and methodically through Eastern Poland, Diebitsch and the Russian Army would easily steamroll all resistance in their path; an attempt by General Prądzyński's to oppose them near Siedlce was brushed aside with relative ease, while an engagement outside of Mińsk Mazowiecki would see the town reduced to rubble and the Polish army reduced to dust. Despite his great skill as a commander, General Prądzyński's army, comprised largely of recently conscripted farm hands and poets was a poor match for the mighty Russian Army. Unable to stop them, the Polish Army would be forced to flee all the way to Warsaw, yet upon their arrival on the outskirts of the city in early July, they committed themselves to a siege of the city. When the Russian Army arrived a day and a half later on the 29th of June, they found a well-fortified and well stocked city along with a large host of angry Poles ready to resist them no matter the cost.

Nevertheless, the Russian siege of Warsaw began well, with the neighborhoods on the right bank of the Vistula falling under Russian control within the first week of the battle. The Northern and Southern approaches to the city were also cut off by the Russian Army rather quickly, but despite their best efforts the Western half of the city, separated by the Vistula, remained opposed to them. Polish General Prądzyński's committed his forces to holding the bridges over the Vistula, preventing Diebitsch from crossing the river in force, while earth works and hastily erected redoubts to the north and south of the city, prevented the Russian advance in those arenas. More troubling for the Russians, the roads to the west of Warsaw remained open to the Poles thanks to the tireless efforts of the Congress Army. This would allow a steady stream of supplies and reinforcements to pour into the city, stiffening the Polish resistance even further. Still, it would seem to many that the end was near for the recently revived Polish State. The Poles, for all their passion and patriotism remained incredibly outmatched, both in numbers and in munitions. As day after day passed, the situation for the Poles began to look bleaker and bleaker, until suddenly it didn’t.

Desperate to break the siege, the Polish defenders would attempt a sortie across the Vistula in the early morning on the 22nd of July only to be driven back with heavy casualties. Spotting an opportunity, Diebitsch ordered an immediate Russian counterattack, which would succeed in gaining a small bridgehead on the other side of the Vistula before grinding to a sudden halt. Desperate fighting would continue for hours as the Russians proved unable to push further into the city and the Poles unable to push them out. Seeking to press his advantage, Diebitsch elected to join the offensive himself, throwing his guard into the action, which would succeed in pushing the Poles to the gates of the Royal Castle and the Pałac Namiestnikowski, forcing the Sejm to withdraw from the city. Once again, the Polish resistance would harden as General Prądzyński rushed more men to the area, bringing the fight to a bloody standstill. Still believing that the battle could be won there and then with one last push, Diebitsch galloped to the front lines to rally his exhuasted men, but in doing so he came into the sights of an awaiting Polish sharpshooter who found the Russian Field Marshal's backside to be a particularly attractive target. As if guided by divine providence, the sniper’s shot flew straight and true into the back of Count Diebitsch, sending the old Field Marshal plummeting to the ground as his anguished cries filled the air. Despite the quick action of his aides to tend to their commander, the wound would prove mortal and by nightfall he would be dead.

The death of Diebitsch would be a bitter blow for the Russian Army. Forced to assume command, Diebitsch's deputy General Ivan Fyodorovich Paskevich ordered an immediate artillery barrage of the city in relatiation for his comrade's death. The cannonade that followed would be a brilliant display of Russian firepower, as 101 cannons of all sizes fired shot after shot upon the Polish capital. Although the spectacle would continue throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning its strategic effects were surprisingly minimal. Undeterred by the failure of his artillery barrage, Paskevich ordered a mass infantry assault on the city, hoping to use his men’s grief as motivation to overcome the enemy. At first, it would appear that Paskevich’s gambit would pay off as the Russian soldiers forced their way across the Vistula en masse, expanding upon their earlier bridgehead near the old Royal Castle, and even taking several other bridges further downriver. The Castle would see some of the fiercest fighting that day, with each side gaining then losing control over it a dozen times, only for the Poles to finally recapture it by midday. Further to the south, Count Krasiński's men would push the deepest into Warsaw, seizing and then immediately losing control over Łazienki Palace.

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Scene from the Battle for Warsaw

Grief would prove to be a lesser motivator than that of dire necessity however, as their progress into the city began to wax and wane, exhaustion began to take root in the demoralized Imperial Army, enabling the frenzied Poles to start pushing the dispirited Russians back. The Russians fought not only the Congress Army, but the people of Warsaw itself as the men, women, and children all contributed to the fight against the Russians. Little by little, the Russians gave ground, until finally around mid-day they had been forced back across the river to their original starting point the day before. Sensing that victory was close at hand, the Polish commander Ignacy Prądzyński counterattacked the tired and disheartened Russians with everything he had left to throw at them. Although Paskevich would organize an admirable defense, his center was a spent force, having spent the better part of the last two days engaged in bitter urban combat. Ultimately when push came to shove, the Russian center collapsed, prompting Paskevich to sound the retreat.

The Siege of Warsaw was over, the pursuit to Brest was now on, as Prądzyński elected to pursue the Russians with his cavalry, cutting down scores of fleeing men, and capturing hundreds more, before ceasing his pursuit just to the east of Siedlce. The shattered remnant of the Russian Army of Reconquest was so chastened by the defeat at Warsaw and the disastrous retreat that they refrain from taking the offensive for the remainder of the Summer, choosing instead to remain in Brest where it rearmed and reinforced. Still, the situation was not a good one for the Poles as another Russian force, larger than the last was presently mustering to march against them although it would still be some time before it was ready. Military supplies and munitions were also hard to come by in the Kingdom of Poland as the Russian Government had assumed complete control over the Polish Army’s logistic network over the years, denuding the country of its military resources. A few munitions factories in Warsaw, Kalisz, and Plock would mitigate this shortfall somewhat, but it was clear that the Polish state alone could not withstand the Russians indefinitely. Fortunately they wouldn’t have to as they would soon receive some much needed assistance following the revolt of the Prussian Poles in early August 1848.

Like the Poles under Russian rule, the Prussian Poles had suffered from years of foreign occupation, in many ways it had been even worse. Rather than granting the Poles even the incredibly limited self-rule the Russians had initially done in Congress Poland, the Prussians patently rejected this approach entirely, choosing instead to rule the Grand Duchy of Posen directly. At first, the Prussian Government would present a veneer of Polish self rule by appointing the Polish Prince Antoni Henryk Radziwiłł as the First Governor of Posen, however, this was little more than a facade as Radziwiłł was little more than a Prussian puppet, with little power of his own and forced to enact whatever decrees Berlin demanded of him. With its authority affirmed, the Prussian Government would slowly begin eroding Polish rights and privileges, specifically the usage and teaching of Polish in schools and access to free and fair trials by their peers. Eventually the Prussians would do away with the entire façade of autonomy altogether following Governor Radziwiłł’s death in 1833, replacing him with the thoroughly Prussian Eduard Heinrich von Flottwell who immediately accelerated the Germanization of the Grand Duchy.

The Prussian Government would abolish the local self-governance of the Polish Nobility upon their own lands, replacing them with German Commissioners appointed by the State. Local voting rights were affixed on the basis of wealth, a criterion which favored the objectively wealthier German settlers over the poor Polish natives, in effect making the vast majority of local government in Posen dominated by Germans. Even Polish customs and Polish dress came under attack by the Prussian Government, with their public displays being subject to fines and regulation. When the Polish people of Posen began to protest these needlessly oppressive measures, the Prussian Government cracked down on them hard; opposition leaders were imprisoned, their weapons were confiscated, soldiers were ordered to the streets, and numerous citadels were constructed across the land, cementing Prussian dominance over the Grand Duchy of Posen. The persecution of the Poles would lessen somewhat under the reign of weak-kneed King Frederick William IV, however his meager concessions and tepid platitudes did little to mollify the Polish people of Posen after nearly three decades of egregious oppression.

The final spark would come in the Summer of 1848 when several Russian Poles were arrested by the Prussian authorities of Ostrow after they had crossed the border into Prussia. The reasons for their imprisonment differ from source to source, but the most common account implies they were charged with arms smuggling and sedition against the Prussian government. While there were some who were attempting to purchase medical supplies and foodstuffs for their kin in Warsaw, none of them were hiding weapons or attempting to smuggle illicit goods across the border. Most in fact were women and children seeking safety from the violence and fighting in Congress Poland; this made little difference to the Prussian authorities who summarily imprisoned the lot of them. Angered by this cruel display, the Poles of Ostrow began rioting in the streets demanding their immediate release. The Prussians refused and ordered the crowd to disperse and when they failed to leave in time the Prussians opened fire on the crowd, killing several dozen and wounding several more. This would be the last straw for the Poles of Posen who flew into revolt three days later, setting the entire region ablaze with revolution.

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The Battle of Wolysztn

While the Grand Duchy of Posen would see the greatest degree of warfare between the Poles and the Prussians, the conflict was not limited solely to Posen, as both Prussian Silesia and parts of East Prussia experienced sporadic fighting in the months to come. Warmia in particular, would see some of the most dogged and vicious battles in the entire conflict, resulting in the deaths of thousands and the destruction of numerous settlements, both Prussian and Polish. Many Silesian and Wamiak Poles would also contribute to the cause of Polish independence by fighting alongside their Posen brothers against the Prussians on the field of battle and joining them in the organization of their provisional government at Posen. Under the auspices of the Polish National Committee, the Grand Duchy of Posen declared its independence from the Kingdom of Prussia before immediately joining with the neighboring Kingdom of Poland, effectively combining their two separate uprisings into one greater one. The effects of this union were largely nominal at first; aside from declaring their loyalty to the Sejm in Warsaw, the Posen Poles along with their Silesian and Warmiak allies were largely on their own. But with time, the two Polands would unite their meager resources as best they could to fight off the Russians and the Prussians.

By itself, the Posen Uprising would have presented little issue for the vaunted Prussian army of old, but years of budget cuts had gutted it extensively, down from its former height of 358,000 men at the end of the Napoleonic Wars to a little more than a third of that on the eve of the Polish Uprising. Making matters worse for Berlin, 8 of the Prussian Army’s 18 Army Divisions were in Belgium and the Rhineland with Prince Wilhelm, fighting a bloody war against France and their Belgian lacky. The Army in the East was further drawn down by pressing concerns in Berlin, where the Radicals and Republicans threatened revolution against the House of Hohenzollern forcing the King to call upon the services of II Armeekorps. The arrival of II Armeekorps from Stettin in late May would restore peace to the city, but with the Conservatives and many Moderates fearful of anarchy in the streets should they suddenly leave, they were forced to remain in the capital indefinitely. The War in Schleswig-Holstein would also serve as a bit of a threat to Prussian interests. Although Prussia remained aloof of the conflict directly, owing to its ongoing engagement in Belgium, they did send the remainder of II Armeekorps to defend their ally Mecklenburg against a possible Danish invasion. Finally, problems in the rest of the German Confederacy, soon to be German Empire, would further stretch Prussia’s attention as the success of the Liberals in Baden, Bavaria, Hesse, and Saxony forced IV Armeekorps to remain in place near Magdeburg.

This left only the I, V, and VI Armeekorps to fight the Poles and for a time it would prove to be more than adequate for the task. The Polish uprising in Marienburg was crushed with extreme prejudice, while the Silesian Uprising never really developed beyond minor bands of highwaymen and brigands. The Poles would find more success in the Grand Duchy of Posen itself, defeating isolated detachments of V Armeekorps near Pniewy, Wolsztyn, and Rogoźno, but they could do little against the stout walls of the many Prussian fortresses that dotted the countryside. As such, the Prussian government remained confident in their chances for total victory as the Poles in the North and in the South were being beaten back, albeit slowly. Only in the Posen did the Prussian Army know defeat and even this was minimal, as the Poles had not achieved any great victories there either. Once the Warmiaks and Silesian Poles were defeated, the I and VI Armeekorps would join their strength with the V Armeekorps and finally bring an end to the rebellion. This would change dramatically following the August Revolution in France and the rise of the Second French Republic, which immediately threw its support behind the Polish Revolutionaries.

For many years now, France had been a sanctuary to Polish emigrants and exiles, including many former politicians, soldiers, and statesmen from the now defunct Duchy of Warsaw, with most settling in Paris where they would frequently lobby the French Government for aid in the liberation of Poland. Due to the politics of the day, however, these requests for aid were regularly denied by the conservative Bourbon and Orléanist Governments who did not wish to upset their nominal allies Austria, Prussia, and Russia. While they would permit them to reside in France with every freedom and right of a native Frenchman, the French Governments would do little to actively aid them between 1815 and 1848.

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Members of the Polish Government in Exile meeting with Representatives of the July Monarchy

The War between Prussia and France in 1848 would begin to change this however, as the rigors of war would force the French Government to look to other means of bringing the Prussians to heel. While they would consider many different options and initiatives, Louis Philippe staunchly resisted using such methods as sedition, especially since any such support for Polish liberation would in effect undermine Russia and Austria with whom France had no significant quarrel at this time. His son and successor Ferdinand-Philippe would also share in these views for his brief 2-month reign, but unlike his father, he would humor the Polish Emigres Committee’s requests for humanitarian aid. The ban on military aid to the Poles would continue however despite the appeals of the Polonophile French people who overwhelmingly supported the Polish people. The true turning point, however, would come following the deposition of the July Monarchy in August 1848.

The rise of the Second French Republic instantly destabilized the nature of Europe. Liberals, Republicans, and Radicals, who had formerly been on the retreat across the continent were now emboldened to fight back and strive for more. The French Republic, being the paragon of liberalism and republicanism in Europe, supported these endeavors the best it could, earning it the harsh condemnation of Austria and Russia, thus removing the only remaining deterrent to French support for Polish independence. With the War against Prussia still raging and no longer worried about the repercussions for supporting Polish Independence, the French Republican Government immediately lifted the ban on the selling of weapons to the Poles, seeking to destabilize and weaken their Prussian adversary while also distracting Austria and Russia. Thousands of crates of old muskets and rifles, hundreds of barrels of gunpowder, and even a few cannons were shipped to the Poles, but as the sea lanes were closed thanks to the war, they needed to be smuggled overland through Germany.

Here they would find great success as the war-torn states of Baden and Bavaria would prove unable or unwilling to stop the French armaments. In many instances, the Liberal opposition in these states would prove cooperative to the French smugglers, offering them guidance and protection through their lands in return for weapons of their own, a deal to which they readily agreed. The route through Saxony proved more difficult as the Saxon Government of King John II managed to retain control over much of his country with Prussian support. Even still, the Saxon Liberals maintained large swaths of territory in the South and East of the Kingdom, enabling the French and Polish convoy to proceed through Saxony relatively unmolested. The greatest challenge would be traversing Prussia itself as the Prussian VI Armeekorps remained in their path. However, with the aid of the Silesian Poles, the supplies were successfully smuggled across the border and into Polish hands by the end of November. Some crates of weapons and barrels of gunpowder would be captured by the Prussian soldiers and some French smugglers would be shot and killed during the trek East, but the vast majority of would reach Posen, boosting the Pole's offensive capabilities immensely.

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French Smugglers Skirmish with Prussian Soldiers

Equipped with French weapons, the Poles of Prussia would immediately go on the attack, seizing several lightly defended cities across the region and enabling them to formally lay siege to the fortress city of Posen in a battle that would push the outnumbered Prussian soldiers to the very brink. After a month-long siege, the Prussians would be forced to cede the town to the rebels but would continue to resist them from the safety of the Posen’s citadel for another few weeks. The recognition of France would also strengthen the Polish State’s position in gaining further foreign recognition, most notably in the form of Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and the Belgian state.[4] Britain was also incredibly sympathetic to the Poles, but given their complicated involvement with Prussia, they would not make any overt declarations. Still, many British politicians readily supported the Polish uprising in Russia as a means of weakening the Great Bear, prompting several prominent men to donate to the cause. Finally, the events in Prussia would inspire their countrymen across the border in the Austrian Empire, leading them to revolt against Vienna in late December 1848.

Compared to the oppressive rule of the Prussians and Russians, the Austrian governance of Polish Galicia and Krakow was much more tolerant of the Poles than either of its neighbors. This tolerance was of little benefit to the peoples of Galicia as the region was among the poorest in all of Europe, thanks in large part to the neglect of the Imperial Austrian Government. As it was geographically and culturally cut off from the rest of the Empire, Vienna intentionally refrained from investing capital and resources into the region; there was no significant industry in the region, no great infrastructure projects, no modernization initiatives. The lands of the Kingdom of Galicia-Lodomeria were virtually indistinguishable from the Middle Ages, with the Galicians completely dependent upon agriculture for any form of sustenance. Despite being called by many the breadbasket of the Austrian Empire, Galicia was subject to terrible famines on an almost annual basis which left scores of people dead while over 70% of the region’s populace lived in abject poverty.[5]

To their credit, the Austrian Government was not entirely oblivious to the woes of the Galicians, and when the peoples of their Empire began rising in revolt against them they offered several concessions in return for their continued loyalty, or if nothing else, their continued neutrality. Instead, when the Poles saw the success of their brothers in Warsaw and Posen they took heart and made preparations for their own rebellion. And when they saw the Austrians humbled again and again in Italy and Hungary, they realized there was no better opportunity than this and so, on the 26th of December 1848, the Poles of Galicia-Lodomeria rose in revolt against the Austrian Government.

Unlike Russia which would quickly respond to their own Polish Uprising, or the Prussians who eventually mustered a response to their own Polish uprising, the Austrians could neither resist the initial Polish revolt completely, nor could they respond to it in any meaningful way. The region of Galicia-Lodomeria and Krakow had been almost entirely stripped of its garrison earlier in the Fall, in the vain hope of reconquering Northern Italy and when this failed, the Austrian Army of Galicia-Lodomeria was recalled to Vienna in time for the Rebellion of Hungary and Lajos Kossuth's march on the capital. Without the Army, the Crownland of Galicia-Lodomeria quickly succumbed to the Polish rebels in a matter of days. Only the cities of Lvov and Krakow held out for any significant period of time, but cut off as they were from any source of aid or rescue, they would eventually succumb by Spring of 1849.

For the Austrian Government, the loss of Galicia was a bitter blow as it was a significant producer of foodstuffs for the Empire as well as a humiliating development for the already embattled Imperial Government. But with the Hungarians in open revolt and the Italians nearing total victory in Italy, there were other more pressing concerns for Vienna than an impoverished little backwater far from the reach of the capital. While it certainly hurt their prestige and their pride, the province was effectively written off as they were simply unable to handle yet another crisis at this time. Perhaps one day when Hungary was humbled and Italy reconquered, they could return and retake Galicia, but until that time, it would have to wait.

Next Time: Wails and Woes

[1] Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich was the former Brother in Law of Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha by way of marriage to Leopold’s sister Juliane (known in Russia as Grand Duchess Anna Fyodorovna). Konstantin and Anna would prove completely incompatible with one another right from the start as Konstantin was solely interested in military matters, while Anna was little more than a child at the time. Konstantin would also be rather cruel to Anna, locking her in her chambers and humiliating her in public. Eventually they would separate in 1801 but were not legally divorced from one another for several more years until 1820 when Tsar Alexander annulled her marriage to Konstantin. Two months later, Konstantin would marry Countess Joanna Grudzińska, but since it was a morganatic marriage, Konstantin was forced to renounce his claims to the Russian throne, which he did in private. This would cause its own issues a few years later with the Decembrist Revolt, but that is another matter altogether.

[2] There were in fact several members of the Sejm who supported the union with Russia in OTL, especially during the early years of the Russian occupation. However, as time progressed and Russian infringements upon Polish autonomy continued the number of unionists rapidly declined. ITTL, as the Sejm was not entirely abolished following the September Rising (TTL’s much less successful November Uprising) those members opposed to the union were either arrested by the Russians or forced out of the country, leaving the Sejm largely in the hands of Russian puppets.

[3] In our timeline, Field Marshal Hans Karl von Diebitsch was dispatched to Congress Poland in response to the November Uprising before dying to cholera soon after. As a result of the shorter and much less successful September Uprising ITTL, Diebitsch is not sent to Poland in 1830, thus avoiding his OTL death and survives to 1848.

[4] The Ottoman Empire would be one of four countries to protest the Partitions of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth and would even continue diplomatic relations with Poland after its final partition in 1795. The other countries to protest against the Partitions were Denmark, Spain, and Persia. Belgium is included here because by late 1848 ITTL it is a French puppet in all but name.

[5] The poverty in Austrian Galicia was so bad that the region was almost always in a state of famine under the rule of the Hapsburgs, so much so that Galician Misery became a common proverb for the region. Galicia is comparable in many ways to Ireland during the Potato Famine, except instead of only lasting from 1845 to 1850, Galicia was in one famine or another from 1815 to 1918 with few breaks in between. It was really that bad.
 
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If Poland can hold on long enough they could win this thing though they are going to have to hold long enough for the other great powers to get more involved and view them a serious contender (excluding france which already is involed) and pressure the Russians, Prussianst and austriahungray if it still exist or is still jsut at war with itsgrantingant them independence
Well I don’t see how Austria is supposed to come back front this at this point if they can’t feed themselves how are they supposed to fight there enemies at all sides
 
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If Poland can hold on long enough they could win this thing though they are going to have to hold long enough for the other great powers to get more and pressure the Russians and the Prussians to grant them independence
Well I don’t see how Austria is supposed to come back front this at this point if they can’t feed themselves how are they supposed to fight there enemies at all sides

The Austrians's only hope is the loyalty of Bohemia. If would crack also that last security, the Haspburg Empire is doomed.
 
The Austrians's only hope is the loyalty of Bohemia. If would crack also that last security, the Haspburg Empire is doomed.
there no way they have a small chance with bohemia even then I suspect they lose large amount of land to the rebellions
has there been any unrest in bohemia at the moment because the Austrians requiring more for the war effort?
 
there no way they have a small chance with bohemia even then I suspect they lose large amount of land to the rebellions
has there been any unrest in bohemia at the moment because the Austrians requiring more for the war effort?
There haven't been any rebellions or riots by the Czechs, but there have been a few demonstrations compelling the Austrians to enact some reforms, namely granting the Kingdom of Bohemia local autonomy, recognizing the Bohemian Diet, and writing a constitution, all of which Vienna has agreed to do in principle, but not in practice as of yet.
 
There haven't been any rebellions or riots by the Czechs, but there have been a few demonstrations compelling the Austrians to enact some reforms, namely granting the Kingdom of Bohemia local autonomy, recognizing the Bohemian Diet, and writing a constitution, all of which Vienna has agreed to do in principle, but not in practice as of yet.
Unlikely but the bohemian diet could try to force some bigger concessions out of them or they could threaten to rebel( even though they don’t have the support at the moment
 

Gian

Banned
At this point, the collapse of the Habsburg Empire could potentially be not an IF but a WHEN. In my view, Britain will try to prop up the Ottomans as a counterweight (if nothing else but to provide a new effective counterweight to Russia's ambitions in the Balkans).

Of course, that could mean that Greece could be left out in the cold, since the British would start backing their larger neighbors in the north. While that might certainly mean all of their territorial ambitions might be thwarted (for now), the fear could be that the Sultan might start to go cocky/arrogant* and begin making plans for a reconquest (at least thinking that he has the greatest military superpower on the planet at the time on his side)

*Just like a certain Black and Gold Brigade that somehow has ambitions for a Super Bowl despite the massive structural flaws in their organization (only to somehow fall to teams like the Bungles and the Factory of Sadness).

Either that or I'm just overanalyzing things like I always do.
 
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Deleted member 67076

How do the British feel about the Poles? Is the Great Game at this point enough of an annoyance for the Secretary of Foreign affairs to turn a blind eye to any support going into Poland?
 
How do the British feel about the Poles? Is the Great Game at this point enough of an annoyance for the Secretary of Foreign affairs to turn a blind eye to any support going into Poland?
it says in the chapter that there are waiting to see how thingd are going and they are at the moment they are dipping in and seeing how the poles do, some british have supported them with finicail aid and the british parliament is very supprotive of them
 
How do the British feel about the Poles? Is the Great Game at this point enough of an annoyance for the Secretary of Foreign affairs to turn a blind eye to any support going into Poland?
The British are generally pretty supportive of the Poles, mostly out of a desire to knock Russia down a few pegs on the Great Power scale, but there is also a genuine philanthropic desire to support them as well. If the Polish Uprising were limited just to Russia, then absolutely the British would absolutely support it with everything they could get away with short of actually going to war with Russia.

Sadly its a bit more complicated than that as in TTL, the Poles of Prussia and Austria have also revolted and wouldn't you know it, Britain is secretly supporting Prussia in the Belgian War against France. While the Great Game is certainly a thing and Britain definitely doesn't want Russia to keep expanding its influence in Central Asia, they also don't want France to gain control over the Low Countries. Even still, there are a few Members of Parliament donating to Polish advocacy groups, but beyond that they aren't selling weapons or sending volunteers.
 
One can only hope.
I don't know the break up of the empire sound it going to be extremely violent(it already is) and even after its collapses it sounds like it going to be a least 5 years before the border solidify and the border conflict between the new states and even if the great powers intervene and forces a conference to decide the borders. There will still be quite a bit of bloodshed
 
I don't know the break up of the empire sound it going to be extremely violent(it already is) and even after its collapses it sounds like it going to be a least 5 years before the border solidify and the border conflict between the new states and even if the great powers intervene and forces a conference to decide the borders. There will still be quite a bit of bloodshed

Any birth has a little bit of blood shed. Doesn't mean what comes out of it can't be meaningful.
 
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