Chapter 22: Caesar's Second Coming
~ Chapter 22: Caesar's Second Coming ~

The Battle of Trafalgar and Villeneuve’s folly ruined any chance of invading Britain for the French, as well as badly damaging their navy, losing a grand total of 19 vessels during the campaign to meager British losses. The decreased French naval power allowed the British fleet to continue their operations in the Caribbean unmolested, capturing Tobago in November of 1805, Saint Lucia six months later and Dominica in July of 1806. Attacks against French aligned nations also took place, notably the capture of the Danish West Indies in December 1807. The Haitians also tried to exploit French weakness and raided the eastern part of Hispaniola still controlled by the French after Aranjuez, albeit they were repelled. The Haitians massacred the population of cities such as Santiago de los Caballeros and laid waste to the fields. The last substantial French fleet in the Caribbean under Pierre Lahalle was destroyed in November 1809 off the coast of Guadeloupe. All of the captured islands and territories were given back to the French Royalists, with the exception of Tobago, which was annexed by Britain [1].

In Europe, France performed much better. When Austria declared war on France Napoleon reacted quickly and departed Boulogne with the former Army of England, now known as the “Grande Armée'' for Germany. The Austrian army had been reformed recently by Archduke Charles, the brother of the emperor, who took away power from the Hofkriegstat, the organism responsible for decision-making in the Austrian army. However, no matter how prepared Charles was as a commander, he was unpopular in the court and was opposed to a war with France, so when the War of the Third Coalition began he was replaced by Karl Freiherr Mack von Leiberich as commander in chief. Von Leiberich suspected that the French would repeat their prior campaign in Italy, a decision that was backed by the Aulic Council, who thought that the natural defences of southern Germany, specially those around Ulm, made a French attack along the Danube too difficult to try [2]. Thus, the main Austrian Army under Charles was sent to guard the Mincio River, while a smaller force under von Leiberich was to invade neutral Bavaria and reach Ulm before the French, trying to hold the line there.

Plans rarely survive contact with the enemy, and this was no exception. The French crossed the Rhine en masse on September 26 1805 between Mainz and Neuf Brisach, while Bernadotte attacked from the north crossing through Prussian Ansbach. Von Leiberich made the critical decision to hold his ground at Ulm while the bulk of the French forces pressed further north and then turned south, trapping the core of the Austrian Danube Army at Ulm. On October 20, and without fighting any grandiose battle, Karl Mack von Leiberich surrendered to the French, giving Napoleon control of Bavaria and opening the route for Vienna. Russian forces under Kutuzov were supposed to be present along with the Austrians, but due to calendar reasons they were still at the Austro-Bavarian border [3].

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The Austrian Army surrenders at Ulm

The remnants of the Austrian Army fled east to Vienna, with the Grande Armée following their footsteps. The Russians finally made contact with the Austrians at the Ill River. A series of battles ensued between the French and the Austro-Russian alliance on the Danube valley, notably at Dürenstein and Hollabrunn, attempting to delay the French advance as Kutuzov retreated north of the Danube. On November 13 the forces commanded by Murat took Vienna falsely claiming an armistice had been signed and secured a bridge over the Danube. The great finale of the War of the Third Coalition would be decided at Austerlitz, close to Brünn [4]. There was a rough parity in raw numbers of troops, but the mostly-Russian force almost doubled the French in the number of artillery pieces.

It was at Austerlitz where Napoleon would win his most brilliant victory. Khutuzov had correctly guessed that the French supply lines were overextended, and that a defeat right now would be catastrophic for the French. Napoleon was also aware of this fact, but he employed it to the best of his abilities, feigning weakness and nervousness in his interviews with the enemy, and making constant proposals for an armistice that he would never concrete. Napoleon, meanwhile, had distributed his forces leaving his right flank extremely weakened. Khutuzov suspected this to be a trap, but the rest of the commanders believed that French weakness was real, and so ordered an attack. The Coalition forces sprung the trap Napoleon had set, and they were crushed. The French inflicted more than twice the casualties they suffered and captured over 20,000 prisoners at Austerlitz, as well as routing the Coalition forces. 22 days after the Battle of Austerlitz, the Austrians signed the Peace of Pressburg. The treaty ceded Tyrol and Further Austria to Napoleon’s German Allies, as well as the former territory of the Republic of Venice, which was granted to the Kingdom of Italy, of which Napoleon became king last year. The French had also conquered Naples and Napoleon placed his brother Joseph on the throne.

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The Battle of Austerlitz

The following year would be one in which the French would secure control over Germany. They established the Confederation of the Rhine, dismantling the Holy Roman Empire and completely changing the political landscape of Germany, reducing the number of states in the Confederation to almost 40 from the hundreds of polities that conformed the Holy Roman Empire, dissolved officially after Francis II of Austria abdicated the imperial crown, albeit imperial authority was non-existent already. Napoleon offered Prussia an alliance in order to check the still hostile United Kingdom and Russia, but the Prussians refused, fearing to become French puppets. Sweden also sided with the Brits and Russians, especially after French troops evicted them from Hanover in April 1806, soon after the British increased their pressure on the French, declaring all ports between Bordeaux and the Elbe River to be blockaded in the Order-in-Council of May 19 [5]. Napoleon also placed Murat as ruler of Cleves and Berg, ejecting a Prussian garrison, and throwing Prussia into the Coalition camp.

The Prussian king Frederick William III, influenced by his wife Louise and the officer corps of the Prussian Army, decided to go to war against the French independently of other powers in August 1806. The Prussian king had remained on the sidelines during the War of the Third Coalition as the rapid French advance made them vacillate, but now Prussia would spearhead the Fourth Coalition. And it would become another unmitigated disaster. Only eight days after declaring war, the French won their first victory at Schleiz, and the day after the Prussians were again defeated at Saalfeld, where Prussian prince Louis Ferdinand died. On October 14, exactly two weeks after Prussia and Saxony declared war on France, Napoleon achieved a decisive victory at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt [6]. The Prussians were crushed and Napoleon entered Berlin thirteen days later, visiting the tomb of Frederick II the Great and saying “If he were alive we wouldn't be here today”.

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Napoleon at the Battle of Jena

Napoleon issued the Berlin Decree on November 21 as a response to the British Order-in-Council, prohibiting all trade coming from the continent with the United Kingdom and hoping that this embargo would crash the British economy. As a matter of fact, the Continental System only strengthened the British, as Europe was cut off from any products coming from overseas, and the embargo was not popular at all in Europe, not even in France. As the defeated Prussians issued a series of decrees proclaiming levies, the affected Poles in Prussian territory rebelled under Jan Dabrowski, with Napoleon assisting the Poles, creating a Duchy of Warsaw in 1807, to be controlled by his new ally the King of Saxony, who had switched sides on December 11 1806.

Prussia’s allies proved ineffective, with the Swedes contributing scarce forces and the Russians still coming from their country and barely crossing the Nieman River as the French pushed for the new Prussian capital at Königsberg. Russian forces finally arrived, only to take part in the inconclusive Battle of Eylau, which was so bloody that both forces had to halt their military operations. Napoleon dispatched general Bertrand to negotiate a separate peace with the Prussians, but they again rejected and opted to continue the war along with their Russian allies. After months of recovery, a new battle happened at Friedland, where the French won a decisive victory and forced the Russian tsar to the negotiating table.

Both sides signed the Treaty of Tilsit, which resulted in a significant reduction of Prussian territory and a tacit Franco-Russian alliance against Sweden, Great Britain and the Ottoman Empire. Both sides were aware that this alliance was nothing but wet paper, and as French forces did nothing against the Ottoman Empire, Emperor Alexander I began to have doubts regarding the alliance, especially as he was forced into war with the United Kingdom after they shelled Copenhaguen. Secretly, and without Napoleon noticing, through 1807 and 1808 the tsar would take profit of the terrible shape of the French secret services, completely hijacked by French royalists [7], to machinate against Napoleon while keeping a façade of friendship, going to war with Sweden over Finland. However, Napoleon’s control of Europe was not yet complete, and a French army crossed the Pyrenees and invaded Portugal, expelling the royal family to Brazil. However, the French Army had other intentions.

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The Portuguese Royal Family flees to Brazil

[1] - Further political changes in the Caribbean will be negotiated when the war ends.

[2] - I mean, Bavaria is no French ally and the last time they went through the Danube they were crushed at Blenheim, why would they try? Thought von Leiberich.

[3] - The Austrians used the Gregorian Calendar and the Russians the Julian Calendar, which by 1805 were twelve days apart.

[4] - Did I ever mention I’ll be using in-timeline present city names for the chapters? Well, this is a small spoiler.

[5] - May 16 OTL and only covering from Brest to the Elbe. The naval balance of power is much worse for the Imperial French Fleet ITTL, mostly due to having a French Royalist fleet also opposing them, and the Spaniards being inactive.

[6] - Which was actually two parallel battles instead of a single engagement, just as IOTL.

[7] - Fouché was dismissed and one of his many successive replacements (Élie Decazes) was a covert royalist, who managed to apparently calm down the situation in France by telling the Royalists to step down their opposition, thus winning Napoleon’s confidence.

Note: Sorry for this mostly OTL chapter. Next one will bring a different style and some divergences.
 
Depending on how the war on the continent goes, we might see the Portuguese royal family actually staying in Brazil permanently and transforming it to their new seat of power, which would radically alter South American history.
 
Depending on how the war on the continent goes, we might see the Portuguese royal family actually staying in Brazil permanently and transforming it to their new seat of power, which would radically alter South American history.
Which means that if they regain mainland Portugal but stay in Brazil, Portugal would effectively become a Brazilian colony. The tail would be wagging the dog.
 
Which means that if they regain mainland Portugal but stay in Brazil, Portugal would effectively become a Brazilian colony. The tail would be wagging the dog.
It's why The Porto Revolution happened, asides from the general unrest from being occupied by foreign powers, the fact that Brazil had become more powerful and important and practically independent from the main land and the lost of commerce irritated the Portuguese enough that they immediately made moves to limit the king's power once they got the chance. If Napoleon is successful here, the Portuguese won't have any other options but keeping their head down and watch as their own creation surpasses them like a father seeing his son getting way better in anything that he could do.
 
Interlude 1: Distrust
~ Interlude 1: Distrust ~
Salamanca, February of 1808
Salamanca.png

A group of Spanish officers secretly meet in one of the plenty of pubs the city has. Among them there are personalities such as Vice-Admiral Federico Gravina, Lieutenant General Joaquín Blake, General Gregorio García De La Cuesta, or General Juan Miguel de Vives. The total attendants were around 12, filling a private room within the pub to discuss politics. Presiding the meeting, Federico Gravina spoke:

- Gravina: Gentlemen, I have long been an advocate that the alliance between the Kingdom of Spain and the French has always been one sided. We have been treated as lackeys and not as sovereign allies. Our interests have been brushed away, and we were forced to partake in campaigns that achieved nothing to defend the kingdom. I, myself, have also had to endure this, first during Bruix’s failed Indian expedition, in which he used part of the Spanish vessels as a bait for the British fleet while abandoning the battlefield. That coward! Then I was put under the command of Villeneuve, another incompetent who ruined the entire operation by mistaking a couple British ships with their entire fleet, and sailing south, only to be obliterated by Nelson at Cape Trafalgar. If I had followed him and not mutinied, it’s likely that the Kingdom’s fleet would have been sunk, or captured.

A general feeling of erie extends through the room.

- Gravina: My warnings fell on deaf ears due to that bastard Godoy, always in a lust for power. Now the French have invaded Portugal and placed troops there. And as of now, February 27 1808, we have news that French forces have crossed the Pyrenees. The French have taken the fortresses of Barcelona and Pamplona, employing force to take over them and shooting at Spanish soldiers and folk alike. I don’t know what you gentlemen think, but for me, this is a clear act of war.

Blake and other attendants reaffirm Gravina’s position. General De La Cuesta speaks:

- De La Cuesta: Vice-Admiral, with all due respect, I think there must be rational thinking behind this. I am the first one opposing a French presence in Spain, however our duty as soldiers is to obey orders...

Before De La Cuesta continues he is interrupted by Juan Miguel de Vives:

- Vives: Spanish orders, that is, not French ones. My home city of Girona has been occupied by the French and judging from a letter coming from a cousin, they are not behaving in a “correct” manner. I am as loyal as you all are, but we can not stay idle while French forces are doing what they please across our fatherland.

- De La Cuesta: Then what do you suggest? A rebellion? We have orders to do nothing.

- Blake: No. We don’t have orders to “do nothing”. We have no orders at all.

- Vives: Maybe if Godoy did not spend the whole day fornicating with the queen we would have clearer instructions.

The bold comment sparks laughter among the meeting’s officers. After some seconds a still smiling Gravina asks the attendants to calm down.


- Gravina: Gregorio is right, we can’t stage a rebellion, as Godoy or someone else could use it as a pretext to pump even more French troops inside Spain or God knows what. I purpose that you, my fellow military men, train your forces to the best of your abilities, and communicate with each other secretly via people you personally trust. The French secret service has a well earned fame of incompetency, but we must be careful nevertheless. I have a feeling that the current government is about to fall, for a little bird told me the prince is planning a coup [1]. For sure the French are going to step in and maybe use it as an excuse to conquer Spain; And that’s where we enter the arena. No matter what orders come from Madrid, from Charles, or any of his sons, we are to arrange our forces and confront the French. I have no clue regarding the common people’s actions, they could either flock to our side or to whoever ends up wearing the crown. But one thing is sure, we will stand for Spain.

A general ovation ensues. The rest of the clients in the pub are a little freaked out by the sudden reaction of the attendants. The Spanish Army was resolute to stop the French should chaos ensue.

[1] - “A little bird told me” is a Spanish expression for when somebody tells another person a secret and said person does not want to reveal the identity of the informant.

Note: This is the first time I try writing in this style for this Timeline. I want feedback, do you guys like this interlude format? If so I will try to bring more chapters on this style.
 
Last edited:
Note: This is the first time I try writing in this style for this Timeline. I want feedback, do you guys like this interlude format? If so I will try to bring more chapters on this style.
Imo this is a good way to bring the readers closer to the timeline's characters and events, so I encourage further interludes written this way.
 
Chapter 23: Colours of Blood and Gold
~ Chapter 23: Colours of Blood and Gold ~
"You are making a mistake, Sire. Your glory will not be enough to subjugate Spain. I shall fail and the limits of your power will be exposed."

Joseph Bonaparte to Napoleon

The fact that the Hispano-French alliance had outlived its purpose after the defeat at Trafalgar. Spanish colonies were occasionally attacked by the British, notably the British attack on Buenos Aires in 1807 after the British conquered the Dutch Cape Colony [1]. The British successfully took Buenos Aires in a surprise attack and forced viceroy Rafael de Sobremonte to flee with the treasury, an action that made him look like a coward despite following the law [2]. The British attack was driven out exclusively by local troops raised by Martín de Álzaga and commanded by figures such as Belgrano or Liniers, that deposed Sobremonte and handed the power over to the Royal Audience with Sobremonte remaining governor only on paper, before being deposed and replaced by Santiago de Liniers in 1808 due to his unpopularity. This was an act of defiance to the crown, as one of their representatives had been deposed, however, the Spanish crown had bigger problems.

On February 24 Napoleon declared that he was no longer bound to the Treaty of Fontainebleau nor any of the previous treaties. By March up to 100,000 French troops had entered Spain and Joachim Murat established his headquarters at Vitoria. King Charles IV anticipated a French move against Madrid and departed the city in March of 1808, going south and hoping to take a vessel to the Americas just as the Portuguese had done. However, his son Ferdinand took advantage of the popular outrage against prime minister Godoy to launch a coup d’état in Aranjuez on March 17. Prime minister Godoy went missing as a tumult stormed the Aranjuez palace, and he was found hidden within a rug soaked in his own urine [3]. On March 19 Charles, to avoid Godoy’s execution, abdicated on Ferdinand and departed Aranjuez, secretly asking Napoleon for help, a statement that convinced him of the weakness of the Spanish monarchy. On March 25 Murat entered Madrid and Ferdinand VII requested a meeting with Napoleon, with the emperor telling him to go to Burgos and then to Bayonne, where Ferdinand was forced to abdicate on his father, and then his father was also forced to abdicate, but this time on Napoleon, who passed the crown to his brother Joseph, at the time King of Naples. Charles was compensated with the lordship of Chambord and the palace of Compiègne.

Before departing for Bayonne, Ferdinand created a Government Junta and ordered them to pursue and punish any violence against the French, who were behaving in an increasingly aggressive way, murdering civilians on the way. There were still Spanish royals in Madrid, concretely the princess Maria Luisa and the prince Francisco de Paula. The Junta received orders from Ferdinand himself to have them arrested and taken to Bayonne on May 1. At dawn of May 2 a mob had gathered surrounding the Royal Palace of Madrid in order to stop the French from taking prince Francisco. As tensions continued to rise throughout the morning, a French force forced the gates of the palace and the mob attacked them, to which the French responded by shooting artillery at the civilians. Hell broke loose in Madrid after this, as the whole city rose up in arms against the occupiers in a brutal street battle that lasted two days during which the French army massacred soldiers and civilians alike [4].

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Defense of the artillery positions at the Monteleón park

Later that same day the mayor of Móstoles issued an incendiary proclamation against the French, declaring that the town would oppose any foreign troops on its soil, and many towns all across Spain joined this spontaneous uprising. Within a week the whole country was in rebellion, with the army quickly taking control of the situation as a power vacuum formed as entities such as the Council of Castille ceased to operate, and the army formed the Supreme Junta of Spain and the Indies in Seville headed by Gravina, albeit he soon conceded the power to former PM Floridablanca, who headed the parallel General Government Junta of Cartagena, thus unifying both entities. The authority of this Junta was shaky outside of Seville as French forces occupied many neuralgic points and communications were difficult, but at the very least the Spanish army began to fight the French under a clear command structure, albeit regional juntas often tried to gather power for themselves, albeit these attempts were rapidly aborted. The division in Spain was not clear cut, as many members of the upper class opted to support the French [5] and side with the new king Joseph. Meanwhile, the viceroyalties started recognizing Ferdinand as the legitimate king of Spain one by one, refusing to follow Joseph’s government.

A similar rebellion, likely impulsed by the Spanish army, arose in Portugal and expelled most French forces from the country. Further north, news of the uprising began to extend in Europe. The Spanish Army of the North, a force of 15,000 professional soldiers stationed in the Danish island of Funen, had been mostly isolated from the outside world since May, with the exception of their commander, Pedro Caro de La Romana, who had negotiated a secret deal with British representative James Robertson, assisted by the recent envoy from the Government of Seville, Rafael Lobo. The Spanish fleet collaborated with the British to take part in an operation to rescue the Army of the North, and in July 12 1808 La Romana rebelled as he got news of an approaching Anglo-Spanish fleet, taking over the port of Nyborg with most of his garrison, with only the Guadalajara regiment left behind [6] as it was surrounded by a larger Franco-Danish force and compelled to surrender. As the remnants of the French Imperial Navy were bruised from the seas by the Anglo-Spanish fleet, La Romana landed in Santander in early September, building up its forces and training the local militias, actions which would prove to be key for the northern theater of the Peninsular Campaign.

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The pledge of the Marquis of la Romana at Nyborg

Allowing La Romana to escape was not the last mistake the French would commit in 1808. When the Spanish authority collapsed back in May of 1808, the French Army decided that the best way to crush the rebels would be to capture Seville and Cádiz, hopefully liberating the French fleet that was still in the harbour of the island (unknown to them, the fleet surrendered in early June to the Spaniards). The French army hoped to cross the Sierra Morena mountains through the Despeñaperros pass, however the hostility of the population was so intense that in towns such as Valdepeñas the Imperial Army was met with clubs and buckets of boiling water thanks to the actions of Juana Galán, who captured the French plans and gave them to Castaños’ Army of Andalusia. The French Army finally crossed into Andalucia in early July after much delay, however conditions were rapidly deteriorating, as their army was running low on supplies.

Castaños’ plan consisted on letting the French cross into Andalusia and trap them there, expecting the weather and the geography to do the rest [7], as both forces met at the Battle of Bailén. The heat impeded the French from using their cannons as they expanded and could not shoot, while the French soldiers were hallucinating from lack of water. In this sorry state, Spanish General Teodoro Reding attacked the French and crushed General Dupont’s forces, which surrendered after a fierce battle. Over 17,000 French prisoners were captured, which included more than half of the total French forces destined to the south. The remains of the French Army, now commanded by Vedel, retreated to Madrid, and on July 28 Joseph Bonaparte himself was forced out of Madrid by the Spanish Army. Shortly after the French were also defeated at Vimeiro in Portugal, albeit Sir Harry Burrand allowed the French to escape, even keeping the goods they looted from Portugal.

Bailén shattered the myth of Napoleonic invincibility. An entire French Imperial Army had been destroyed by a nation that Napoleon considered as nothing but scorn. With Napoleon’s aura in tatters, the balance of power he worked so hard to build crumbled. In an open letter the Pope condemned Napoleon’s actions, the Prussian patriots who had been preparing an uprising received more fuel [8], the pro-war faction in Austria won out and prepared the country for a fourth round against the French, while in Russia the Tsar was doubting more and more of his alliance with France. The French Empire had reached the zenith of its power, the only way now was down.

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Dupont surrenders his forces at the Battle of Bailén

[1] - IOTL the Cape Campaign happened in 1805 and the attack on Buenos Aires in 1806.

[2] - A law passed by viceroy Pedro de Cevallos stated that the city’s treasury should be kept safe no matter the cost. By the way, during this alternate campaign, the royal treasury was not lost to the British.

[3] - Just like IOTL.

[4] - Here, the entire Spanish Army fights against the French instead of only fractions of it, but it’s not enough for a victory.

[5] - Those supporting the French are called “Afrancesados”, and formed the basis of the Bonapartist government in Spain both IOTL and ITTL.

[6] - IOTL the Algarve and Asturias regiments were also captured. The number of troops escaping is 12,000 instead of the 8,000 of OTL.

[7] - In Andalusia, summer temperatures often go over 40ºC and water is scarce.

[8] - Baron Vom Stein’s letter is never intercepted ITTL and he keeps plotting against the French and implanting reforms in Prussia.
 
Spain seems to be doing better, at least I hope that when the war ends, Spain at least begins to restrict the power of the king.
 
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