Grand Duchy of AuvergneTimeline: The Once and Never Kings
OTL equivalent: Auvergne
|Government||Unitary Constitutional Monarchy|
|-||Grand Duke||Louis VIII|
|-||Raised to Grand Duchy||1766|
Named for the Celtic Arverni tribe that resided in the area, until conquered by the Romans under Julius Caesar in 52 BC, Auvergne was founded as a county within the Carolingian Kingdom of Aquitaine.
In 987, as a vassal of the now-Duchy of Aquitaine, Auvergne fought in the Capetian War on the side of Hugh Capet. Auvergnes contribution would be minimal, however. After Capets defeat, and the ascension of the Carolingian Charles IV as King of the Franks, Auvergne found an oppritunity to secure greater autonomy from the throne. Eager to undercut Aquitaine, which sided against the Carolingians, Charles and his son and successor, Otto, would grant Auvergne, with other counties, greater privileges.
After the extinction of the male-line Carolingians, and a brief Norman reign, the Dukes of Aquitaine were promoted to kings of the Franks three consecutive times. Hoping to restore its authority over lost vassals, Aquitaine waged a series of conflicts on the counties it lost. For almost fifteen years, the so-called Auvergni Wars, several counties were re-subjugated by Aquitaine, and nearly pushed Auvergne to the breaking point. A timely alliance with Normandy allowed Auvergne to maintain its autonomy, free from Aquitaines grasp.
This alliance returned a few years later, when Norman Duke William II challenged the election of the Champagni Count Odo. After Williams victory, the Norman now-Emperors would used Auvergne as a staging point for expeditions into southern Francia and northwest Iberia.
Afterwards, Auvergni relations with the Francian throne began to sour, particularly when it was occupied by Brittany or Paris. Most evident of this worsening relation was Auvergne siding with Aragon and the Cathars in the Albigensian Crusade, defying a Papal decree and ignoring an excommunication, in an act of spite towards the Parisian Emperor Louis VIII.
After the Aragonese-Auvergni victory, Auvergne found itself capable of exerting its influence beyond its borders meaningfully for the first time, and it built itself a power base largely in southern Francia. And this, coupled with alliances with Normandy, and backing by Aragon, allowed Auvergne to maneuver its way to secure the 1340 election, and Count, later Duke, John I became Emperor.
Auvergne would be among the first Francian states to embrace Lutheranism when the Reformation arrived in Francia. Duke John IV would accept the position of the de facto leader of the Francian Schmalkaldic League. A competent military commander, he lead the Francian Lutheran states to several victories. These victories, despite ultimately losing the war, would force Francia to accept the practice of Lutheranism.
Less than a century later, Duke Louis III would lead the Francian Protestant League in the Forty Years War. An ambitious man, Duke Louis held plans to create a Protestant empire in southern Francia, even taking the title "Emperor of Gallia". But as the war dragged on, his dream went from unrealistic to outrageous. After his 1632 death, his son and successor, Charles V, refused to adopt the same plans. Nevertheless, Auvergne was among the higher ranking negotiators for the Protestant side in the negotiations that would produce the Peace of Hamburg.
In the eighteenth century, Auvergne would come under the rule of the House of Bourbon, and was for a time the center of a united realm that included it, Bourbon, Provence, Albret, Bearn, among others. This union would produce a close relationship that lasts to this day in the form of the "Bourbon League".
Auvergne would take a leading role in the Francian response to the Tuscan Revolutionary Wars. Duke Henry II made the controversial decision to abandon the left bank of the Rhone River, leaving the city-states of Marseilles and Arles, among Provence, Orange, and Dauphin to Napoleones armies. Despite holding off Napoleones Italian armies from crossing the Rhone for three days, his armies were forced to retreat, and were eventually overrun.
With Italian troops breaking down the gates to Clarmont, Henry II was forced to surrender. In order to remain in power, he switched sides, turning his troops against the Breton Emperor Charles. However, he saw himself betrayed as Napoleone chose his sister as leader of the newborn Confederation of the Rhone. Despite that, Auvergne fought on the side of Napoleone until the Battle of Bisanz in late 1868, when Henry II lead the mass defection of the Confederation of the Rhone troops, turning against Napoleone.
After Napoleones final defeat, Brittany initially wanted to push retributions against Auvergne. But the lack of support, both from inside and outside Francia, and its own precarious military position, Brittany was forced to drop the matter.
Into the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Auvergne became one of the most industrialized nations in Francia, and among its leading manufacturers. Currently, it's considered the most senior Francian state, outside of the Emperor.