Alternate History

Chapter 6: The Second Colonization Starts... (The Legacy of the Glorious)

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Part I – The European Politics

A decade after the start of Leopoldo I's reign, Europe was a much changed continent. Ten years before, the United Kingdom remained aloof of the happenings in Europe, France was the continent's greatest power, Prussia was looking forward to unify all the German nations under the same flag, Austria-Hungary looked with mistrust to Prussia, Italy was looking toward Rome with greed, the Ottoman Empire controlled a good part of the Balkans and Spain had been looking for a king.

Now, France had gone from Empire to Republic to Monarchy while going through an astronomical war debt and the loss of part of its national territory, Germany had become the greatest power of Continental Europe, all of Italy had become one thanks to Vittorio Emanuele II, the Ottoman Empire had lost most of the Balkans due to several wars of independence, and Spain had become solidified as one powerful nation on its own right.

However, a deeper look at how things had evolved would be interesting, given how things had changed.

The United Kingdom, which still was the greatest power in the world, was currently in the middle of the successful reign of Victoria I. In 1876, Queen Victoria had taken the title of Empress of India, as the subcontinent finally became an official part of the British Empire, the same year Disraeli's government bought the Egyptian shares to the Suez Canal from the impoverished Khedivate, and in 1878, she lost her second daughter, Alice, to diphteria. Lord Gladstone, the Prime Minister at the time of the Hohenzollerns' War, had gained the reigns of government after the 1880 election, in which the Liberal Party had campaigned against Benjamin Disraeli's expansionist policy, calling it “disgraceful”.

Despite this, the empire would keep expanding during Gladstone's mandate: in Egypt, Colonel Ahmed Urabi, angry at the state of the nation, which was controlled economically by French and British people representing the European banks, and politically and militarily by an elite formed by Europeans, Albanians and Turco-Circassians, decided to revolt in Spring 1881, taking control of the government with the support of the lower classes and a good part of the army, which felt threatened by Khedive Tewfik Pasha's plans to shrink it in order to reduce costs. The British and the French sent a joint note to the Egyptian government, asserting their support for the Khedive, sparking new threats against European interests in the region. In the end, the political turmoil exploded in a huge riot in the city of Alexandria on January 8th, which ended with 300 deaths, most of them Egyptians.

When attempts by the British to attempt to stop the riot from spreading became a fail, the British House of Commons chose to vote for the British Army to invade Egypt and bring the revolts to a stop. Landings in the Canal Zone and Alexandria were taken almost immediately with success, but further advances became more difficult, and there were also several defeats. However, the victory in the Battle of Adabeya in July 1882 helped to put down the revolt, and suddenly the British were met with the fact that they actually controlled all of Egypt, even though their intention was just to stop the rebellion and keep the Suez Canal under their control. While attempting to restore Egypt for their future, there were some within the United Kingdom that were ready to accept that, de facto, Egypt had become part of the Empire.

France was still on the throes of an economic expansion that had started right after the war payments had finished. Having to pay eleven billions of francs-gold to Germany and Spain, plus the costs of occupation, had spurred the French government to follow slightly extreme economic policies that helped to make up enough money to pay the entire debt in just six years. King Philippe VII had, for many, become the savior of France, because he had provided the nation for a shining symbol to look up at, and had been a stabilizing figure for the politics, a role that, ironically, many would compare to the one Leopoldo I had played for Spain.

The government, currently lead by Premier Albert de Broglie [1], was centered in two main foreign policies: finding new allies for the future war against Germany and Spain –the planning for had started almost as soon as Philippe VII had become King of France– and re-establishing the image of the Kingdom of France as a superpower, which had suffered a hard hit due to the Hohenzollerns' War.

The former was achieved relatively easily. Knowing that one of the few nations with the power to counter the Germans and the Spaniards was the United Kingdom, the French sought to gain them as allies. It was not an easy task, given that the United Kingdom tried to maintain itself over the political matters of the continent, but the French government persevered, especially since, as Germany's power grew, so did British concerns about them, and the potential problems it could cause to the balance of power in Europe. Thus, France tried to find ways to collaborate with the British in such a way that they would be willing to help them in the future. The only thorn in the side was that the British were adamant that Corsica was to remain independent for the time being, and they would have to acquiesce if they wanted to have the French as allies.

Russia was also a great possible ally, because, even though both nations were ruled by kinsmen –Kaiser Wilhelm I was Czar Alexander II's uncle through the latter's mother–, Germany's and Russia's interests in Europe ran opposite to each other.

The second part was achieved by impulsing their colonial policies. Using their current colonies in West Africa, they took as much land as possible in there. Cayor fell to their armies, as did many other local kingdoms. Algeria was also expanded toward the south, in an attempt to connect with their West African colonies and completely cut-off Spain's access to the interior of the continent. They also did their best to encourage people to emigrate to those colonies, in order to solidify their position there, and also took to start settling further into southern West Africa.

However, the chance to recover their place in the world would happen half a world away: in 1882, complaints by French merchants and missionaries led to an expedition led by Commandant Henri Rivière, that took Hanoi. The Vietnamese chose to ask the Black Flag Army – a bandit force that controlled the Red River – and the Chinese to support them. Chinese support appeared in the form of an invasion of Tonkin by troops, ostensibly to prevent the French from using their port in Tonkin to invade the rest of the region.

Unfortunately for the Chinese, when word of the event got back to Paris, King and Government saw an excellent chance to take over the rest of Vietnam, and also to get back into the international scene. Thus, they sent several reinforcements to Cochinchina and Tonkin, and when things were ready, the French declared war on China, using the Chinese invasion of Tonkin as a casus belli, as they stated it threatened their port city.

The French troops made mincemeat of the small Vietnamese army, and very soon had occupied the entire Vietnam. Of course, just like it happened in the Spanish Independence War, occupying a region was not the same as controlling it completely, because the Black Flag Army was still up in arms, preventing the French from easily taking control of any place out of the cities. It would take the French many years to pacify the region enough for it to be considered relatively safe.

As for the Chinese, it was a matter of numbers trying to fight technology. Unlike what happened in the Hohenzollerns' War, this time the more modern technology used by the French was able to fight and defeat the numbers of the Chinese several times. This became especially evident in the Battle of Nui Bop of February 7th, when 2500 French troops faced 15,000 Chinese soldiers and earned a hard victory after 1000 Chinese troops died while only 34 Frenchmen died and 56 were injured. The Chinese were still able to gain a few victories thanks to their knowledge of the terrain, but it was not enough, especially when compounded with several overwhelming defeats in the seas.

In the end, the Chinese Empire was forced to ask for peace terms from the French, who milked them for all their worth: as well as Vietnam, the French took the islands of Hainan and Taiwan, as well as two new concessions in Kwang-Chou-Wan and Hankou, joining those in Shangai, Shamian Island and Tianjin. This victory gave France great prestige in Europe, having fought the Asiatic giant alone and defeating it in a year, and imbued its people with the feeling that it could eventually be possible to restore the French homeland and recover the lost territories of Alsace-Lorraine and Roussillon.

Meanwhile, Germany was living in a golden age. The war victory still permeated much of the German society, with some of the more optimistic people even talking about the Deutsch-Französischen Krieg being the start of a so-called Pax Germanica. However, the most skilled politicians of the moment already knew that it was but a matter of time that the Kingdom of France used any excuse they could find to declare war on Germany once more.

Thus, the militarist atmosphere that permeated Germany remained, although slightly relaxed as it was apparent that a war was not as near as thought. This relaxation was also helped by the growth of the industrial base, although many times these also wound up to have problems of their own, as many factories were under control of cartels that controlled much of the German industrial power, and many times the workers' rights were denied to them. This changed with the establishment of the Sozialstaat by Bismarck, who intended, through his paternalistic policies, to ensure that Socialism's influence within Germany was reduced – an effort that had started in 1878 with the Anti-Socialist Laws, forbidding all socialist organizations and literature – as well as reducing the outflow of immigrants to the United States.

Bismarck's attempts to prevent Socialism's entrance into German politics failed: despite the existence of the Anti-Socialist Laws, socialist-minded candidates gained seats in the recently built Reichstag by running as independent candidates, a loophole in the German Constitution that the socialists exploited, encouraged by the growing successes the PSOE was enjoying in Spain. The socialists, who were unofficially part of the German Socialist Party –SPD, Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands – and other left-leaning deputies, such as those from the National Liberal Party –NLP, Nationalliberale Partei– or the German Progress Party – DFP, Deutsche Fortschrittspartei – used the Spanish political system as an example Germany could – and perhaps should – follow, a position also held by the linguistic and political minorities, which pointed out how Spanish legislation allowed autonomy to parts of its national territory, as well as the use of minor languages.

These discussions, and comparisons to the Kingdom of Spain, were more accentuated in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Dual Monarchy had, since its formation in 1867, struggled to ensure that the Balkan minorities did not rebel against the Emperor. However, knowledge of how Spain dealt with its own minorities carried back to the Balkans – thanks to traders, diplomats and journalists –, and soon the demands for greater rights and for local and regional autonomy started to grow. The protests were supported in the sly by the young nation of Serbia, which hoped to be able to unify all southern Slavs just like Prussia had unified all Germans.

However, Serbia would find their task to be far more difficult than how it had been for the Prussians: for starters, the Empire's army was far greater than that of Serbia. Also, Austria-Hungary had been dealing with the minorities for a lot of time, and thus knew how to prevent those demands from becoming mainstream, even if their methods were rather brutal. They also had the support of their northern neighbor and ally, Germany, which knew that anything that might unsettle the balance in Austria-Hungary would reduce their effectiveness as an ally.

Meanwhile, Russia was undergoing the reign of Alexander II, who had several years before initiated reforms to help Russia modernize, having given the freedom to the serfs in 1861, and now supporting the expansion of the industry and the railway network, which he expected to be able to connect the nation from the capital in Saint Petersburg to the young city of Vladivostok within twenty or thirty years. He had also made plans to initiate the democratization of Russia, which he and many of his ministers regarded as the best way to prevent the lower classes from revolting.

On March 13th 1881, however, the Czar's plans nearly went awry when several members of Narodnaya Volya Наро́дная во́ля, The People's Will –, an organization that demanded the democratization of Russia, although with many socialist overtones – such as placing factories under the control of the workers or giving land to the peasants –, attempted to kill Alexander II as he went to the Mikhailovsky Manège for the weekly military roll call. Three bombers were ready to attack the armored carriage Alexander II was riding: the first bomb, thrown by Nikolai Rysakov, killed one of the Czar's Cossack bodyguards and injured several of the people that were nearby; the second bomb was thrown by Ivan Emelyanov toward the Emperor, who had come out of the carriage shocked after the first explosion, but a courageous man called Aleksandr Levitsky [2] managed to catch the suitcase in which the bomb was kept, dying when the bomb exploded seconds after. A third bomber named Ignati Grinevitsky was tackled to the floor by nearby people when it became clear that he was also carrying a bomb.

The Cossack bodyguards managed to get the Czar back into his carriage and had the conductor take the carriage toward the Manège as fast as possible in case there were more bombers around, while they, together with the policemen that had been called by the Chief of Police – who had been riding a carriage right behind of that of the Czar –, arrested the would-be regicides and ensured that all the injured people were taken to the nearest hospitals.

It is said that Alexander II wept bitterly when he realized how near he had been to death, and ordered that the three men that had tried to kill him were interrogated until all other members of the terrorist organization were captured. However, they were not to be killed, as he did not want for them to become martyrs for other potential terrorists.

The next week was relatively calm, as the Narodnaya Volya members were arrested one by one. Most of them were freed, as they showed that they were not aligned with the most extremist members of the organization –most of Narodnaya Volya only asked for a Constitution to be approved, and for Russia to become a constitutional monarchy–, but the rest would be condemned to hard labor for their actions. The family of the man who had given his life to save the Czar was brought to the Winter Palace, and Aleksandr Levitsky was ennobled posthumously, so that the title could go to his older child, and the entire family would be provided for during the rest of their lives.

Exactly one week after the attack, Alexander II went forward with his plan to democratize Russia. His first act was to call for the election of a Duma, an elected parliament, which he had finished drafting the plans for the day before the attack [3], but the attack had shaken him enough to delay the announcement.

He knew it would be a hard and difficult task, as he would have to go against years of tradition and against most of the nation's nobles, but with he also knew that, if he persevered, none of the nobles would be able to stop him.

[1] Those that have enough knowledge of physics will recognize the surname.

[2] Invented name. The man's children may have an important role in the future, though...

[3] 100% true. He had planned to release his plan for the creation of the elected Duma 2 days after that fateful Sunday, but, obviously, his death put a stop to said plans. In fact, Alexander III's –Alexander II's son and successor– first act after being crowned was to take those plans and tear them up. In RL, there was not an elected Duma until 1905, and even then it was only treated as a consultative body by Nicholas II.

Part II: ¡Cánovas, Presidente!

The victory of the Liberal-Conservative Party in the last elections meant much to the people of Spain, but even more to the cadre of politicians that had led La Gloriosa. In the first place, it was a clear signal that the Spanish democracy was working, as the registered data had shown that a 81.09% of the voters had come to the urns to cast their opinion for the different parties. It was also a moment that would test Cánovas' commitment to Leopoldine Spain: considering his past as a supporter of the Bourbon monarchy in the person of Alfonso de Borbón, some believed – based in unfounded fears, fortunately – that Cánovas may attempt to use his new position as the springboard for Isabel II's son's potential accession to the throne; and there was also the matter of Cánovas' complete disagreement with the form rights were conceded to the people, thinking that said rights had to be legislated to prevent their misuse, as opposed to the Constitution's concession of said rights.

Despite the fears some people had, Cánovas, in his speech to Congress after being invested as President of Spain, swore to uphold the Constitution in its current form, and not to push for reforms of the Constitution unless it was clearly necessary. This pleased the liberal opposition, which was glad that, although they had lost the elections, at least their opponent was a reasonable man.

His first policies were, surprisingly for a man as convinced of the civil authority's superiority over the military, concentrated on improving the Spanish Armed Forces. The number of soldiers in the army was expanded, and the weaponry was improved to include the last technological developments, among them the newly created smokeless gunpowder, which was more powerful and had the added benefit of not producing any smoke, thus making detection much more difficult. The Tercios Especiales was also increased in size, reaching the memorable number of 15 platoons and 900 soldiers before his first term was through.

He also increased funding for the Navy, especially important as recent developments by the Monturiol-García Sáez team had proved to be very interesting, and, in fact, the Navy was already the proud owner of a small submarine fleet that, although it was quite primitive, it still was a powerful weapon – and Spain wished to maintain the lead in the submarine production and design, as other nations' navies had copied them. The team had also recently taken in a man who was very interested in the matter of submarine design, Lieutenant Isaac Peral – a veteran of the Cuban Revolutionary War –, who had already made several schematics of possible future design. These initial designs gave fruits in March 1884, when Isaac Peral presented his Proyecto de Torpedero Submarino – Project for a submarine torpedo boat –, which was a submarine with a electric motor that allowed the submarine to dive whenever its captain wanted. This attracted the attention of the current Minister of the Navy, Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete, who was interested in any ideas that might result in the improvement of the Navy, and arranged for a first prototype to be built. The tests for the first Peral-class submarine – christened Gloriosa – were done nearby the coastal city of Cartagena, where it showed that it had great potential, although it still had much room for improvement.

Another of his plans was to send explorers to Guinea in order to expand the size of the colony, and claim as much land as possible down there before others arrived. It was but a race against time, space and illness as several explorers tried to map the interior of Africa and made deals with local native tribes in order to ensure that they would regard Spain as their sovereign – not that it would require much of them, at least right now: the main reason behind the explorations was not to bring civilization to the uncivilized, but to bring greater glory to the Kingdom of Spain by making it look like it was doing its utmost to do so.

It was also during this time that the transference of administrative powers to the Foral Regions was finally completed. This, and the fact that most of the policies carried out by the Cánovas government did not rock many boats, meant that he was popular enough to be reelected in the 1883 elections, and the Liberal-Conservative Party held the majority, although with a smaller margin.

Cánovas' second term as Presidente did not start on a good foot, though: for example, a law approved in November 1883, the Ley de recursos monetarios, which included tax reductions for the greatest fortunes in the nation and slight tax increases for the middle and lower classes, was bitterly opposed by most of the opposition, with only the Liberal-Conservative Party and the minor right-wing parties approving it. It was not an issue, thanks to his party's majority, but Cánovas saw that the line between support and opposition had clearly divided Congress in two.

This would set the theme for the entire legislature: several laws Cánovas got passed were met with complete opposition by the Democrat-Radical Party and other left-wing parties, while being supported by his own party and the others, although a few laws were neutral enough – such as the Ley de arrendamientos, which had been created to develop a series of government-owned living buildings that could then be rented to families that did not have enough money to buy or rent other living space – to be accepted by most people in Congress.

However, Cánovas' attitude in favor of the high classes irritated great part of the population, and even more when he attempted to pass a law – Ley de educación religiosa – that would have enforced teaching of religion in state-controlled schools. Surprisingly for Cánovas, this law was defeated in Congress, with the opposition parties voting against it en masse and several Liberal-Conservative deputies joining them, stating that the church had no place in the public education.

As the 1886 elections approached, Cánovas was trying to find a way to ensure his victory in the urns, but most of his ideas were being shot down by an increasingly hostile Congress, the population had chosen to make its discontent with the President's choices through manifestations, and, on May 1885, the first-ever General Strike happened, spurred on by the trade unions that had started to form in the nation, spurned on by UGT's success.

Summer 1885 was considered by many the lowest point of the Cánovas' presidency. Most people knew that, if the elections were to be held in that moment, the Liberal-Conservative party would have lost by a large margin.

It was around that time when one of the President's advisors, who, unknowingly to him, was an Integrist Party supporter, suggested to Cánovas the possibility of making use of the still present, but now unimportant, caciques, as well as the control over the electoral process, to falsify the results and give the right-wing parties a clear victory in the elections. Cánovas said nothing when this suggestion was made, but the following day said advisor found himself laid off from his position in the government and arrested. While this was not enough to let the people recover their trust in Cánovas, it was at least a good enough signal that he was as committed to democracy as the leaders of La Gloriosa.

However, the incident that would mark the Cánovas presidency forever in the memory of the Spaniard people was yet to come.

It all started innocently enough. The Dominican Republic was ruled by Alejandro Woss y Gil, who had become President after Francisco Gregorio Billini resigned. In November 1885, he had to go through the nth coup d'état attempt the Republic had suffered in the last century, which had started in the province of Auza. Initial efforts to control the uprising failed, and soon the coup extended through the entire Republic, despite Woss' efforts to stop it. It took a month for the coup to be put down, but in the end Woss managed to gain the loyalty of enough soldiers to stop the coup and have all traitor generals arrested and shot.

The problems for Woss and the Dominican Republic started when it became known that, among the deceased in the coup, were several Spaniards, traders that had arrived to the country to sell industrial products and that had been caught in a bad situation by rebel troops, which had killed them all.

When news of this reached Spain, Cánovas thought it was the perfect thing to distract the main population from the problems his previous choices had caused. Immediately, he sent a message to the Dominican Republic government, through Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos O'Donnell – nephew of Leopoldo O'Donnell, who had led the old Liberal Union until his death in 1867 –, demanding that the Dominican government immediately compensate the families of the deceased for the deaths and the lost merchandise – which had been looted by the rebel soldiers. Woss sent back a message in which, while he offered his condolences for the deaths of the Spanish businessmen, he stated that he had no reason to pay, as the event in question had been initiated by men that had chosen to betray their oaths of loyalty to the nation.

Unfortunately for Woss, the Spanish government was not willing to accept that as an excuse. The Ministry of the Army sent word to the troops in Cuba and Puerto Rico to prepare themselves for a potential invasion, and the Caribbean Fleet also readied itself for entering action. They sent the Republic's government an ultimatum: either they paid compensation for the deaths and losses, and gave a sincere apology for their inability to protect foreigners, or there would be a state of war between the Kingdom of Spain and the Dominican Republic. When, a week after the ultimatum was given, there was no answer from the Dominican Republic, the army and navy were given the go ahead to start the invasion of the Dominican Republic.

The sorry state of the Dominican army, due to the recent attempt by several generals to take control, meant that it could not do much to oppose the almost unstoppable attack the Spaniards unleashed, especially when coupled with the almost surgical attacks the Tercios Especiales were doing, destroying munitions depots and basically raising hell behind the enemy lines. By the end of February, all of the Republic's cities and coast were under Spanish control, and troops had started to take control of the rest.

There were several problems when it came to controlling lands out of the cities, though. As the Spaniards had learned in the past, it was easy for a defending nation to use its forests, jungles and mountains to fight an invader the guerrilla way, and now they were on the invader's side. Many a soldier was killed or injured due to the attacks of the Dominican guerrillas, and it took a lot of time for the Spanish Army to finally detain those guerrillas. It would have been much longer if the Tercios had not been there, making good use of their training and weaponry to find them.

This war was, unfortunately for Cánovas, not enough to avoid losing the 1886 elections to the Democrat-Radical Party, although the Democrat majority was not as big as they had expected:

  • Democrat-Radical Party: 227 deputies

  • Liberal-Conservative Party: 123 deputies

  • Federal Republican Party: 25 deputies

  • Republican Party: 20 deputies

  • Progressive Party: 15 deputies

  • Integrist Party: 5 deputies

  • Traditionalist Party: 2 deputies

  • Cuban National Party: 2 deputies

  • Puerto Rican Independent Party: 1 deputy

The new President, Cristino Martos, felt well when he first sat down in the seat of government. He had been working toward the goal of helping Spain become a democratic nation, and, after decades of effort, not only had he been an instrumental part of those efforts, but he had also managed to gain the Presidency, which he would have not expected to be able to do when he had joined the old Democratic Party more than twenty years ago. He did not expect to be able to gain a second term – in fact, he did not plan to do so – so he decided to make the most of it and do as much as possible for Spain.

One of the first things done was to negotiate an end to the war with the Dominican Republic. In the end, things did not go as bad as the Dominicans feared, and in fact there were several things that happened to benefit the Dominicans more than the Spaniards, but it was still potentially disturbing for their future:

  • The Dominican Republic will become a protectorate of the Kingdom of Spain. All attributions related with relations with other nations will be controlled from Madrid.

  • The Dominican Republic will pay 1,500,000 pesetas to the relatives of the deceased people, and 3,000,000 pesetas to the Kingdom of Spain.

  • The Kingdom of Spain will help the Dominican Republic reconstruct its infrastructure and improve it.

  • Spanish businesses will be allowed to set up factories in the Dominican Republic without any opposition from the local government, beyond what is already in its laws.

  • If, at any point, the people of the Dominican Republic desire to become part of the Kingdom of Spain through a referendum, the Dominican Republic government will resign and allow Spanish proper authorities to establish control. The Dominican Republic will then become a Foral Region on the same level as Cuba or Puerto Rico, and will be able to send representatives to the Spanish Congress of Deputies.

All in all, it was quite the good deal, what the Dominicans got, especially considering what had started the whole thing, although, of course, some rightly feared that the Dominican Republic might fall once more under control of the Spanish. Still, they thought that the Dominican people would remember the struggles to gain independence from Spain in past years.

The victory in Santo Domingo, as well as the establishment of the three Filipino Foral Regions – see Part IV –, helped to restore Cánovas' image as a good President, even if many of his decisions had been considered quite wrong by most of the population. He attempted to gain once more the control of the Liberal-Conservative Party, in order to attempt to achieve the Presidency in the future, but it was clear that, right now, Cánovas would not be asked to lead the party again.

Cristino Martos' only term as President was fairly uneventful. Save for a few slips in the colonization of the Spanish colonies in Africa that required the intervention of the army, the ship was hardly rocked by Martos' policies, as the old Granadino politician was interested in keeping things together between all the democratic forces and reducing the tensions between the nation's two main parties. Thus, Martos was acclaimed as a fair President, willing to hear what everybody had to say, and yet strong enough to put into law what he felt was necessary for the nation to work well. His influence helped Segismundo Moret, who had been Minister of Justice with Martos, to gain the Presidency in the 1889 elections, which would be marked in the people's calendars because of a completely unexpected event: Pablo Iglesias, founder of the PSOE, became the Socialist Party's first deputy, having presented himself as a candidate in Madrid. However, this would soon be forgotten due to the events in Portugal – see Part VI –, which would radically change the entire world.

Part III – The African Division

The situation in Africa was certainly getting a bit out of hand. Britain's almost accidental conquest of Egypt had led the European nations to a lull in the attempts to take control of North Africa. However, the same did not happen in the rest of Africa, as the more important nations of Europe tried their best to put as much territory under their control.

Bismarck had initially been completely opposed to Germany having any colonies, because he knew that colonialism would eventually lead to unrest and that the burden of obtaining, maintaining and defending such possessions would, most likely, outweigh any potential benefit it might bring. However, starting in 1883 Bismarck's advisors noted a significant change in the colonial policy of the government: New Guinea was finally taken over completely in less than a year, and the colony of Kamerun started to expand, as did a small one north of Portuguese Moçambique. However, it was not enough, and Germany was running out of potential land to expand into. Also, the expanding colonies meant that, at any point in time, two nations might, at any moment, have a bad encounter and start to fight each other for a piece of probably worthless land.

Thus, he had the idea of organizing an encounter in Africa, so that all colonizing nations could agree on how to divide Africa within their own spheres of influence. He knew that it would be almost impossible to get all nations to agree, and that probably no nation would be happy enough with what would be eventually be chosen, but he guessed that, by pushing everyone, he might be able to find something most everyone could agree with.

To that end, he sent a message to the embassies of all European nations and the United States to invite them to a conference in the city of Berlin, where he expected an agreement could be hammered between representatives of said nations. Answers were sent, and on September 1884 representatives of many nations met in Berlin. The attendants came from Austria–Hungary, Belgium, Corsica, Denmark, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden-Norway, the Ottoman Empire, and the United States.

Problems started even before the conference officially started. The presence of a representative from the Kingdom of Corsica almost led to a fight between him and the representative of the Kingdom of France, who claimed that Corsica was part of the Kingdom of France and, thus, should not have a place in the Conference as if it were an independent nation. The standoff only subsided when Bismarck told the French representative that, since the conference had been initially agreed by the French government, if they chose to leave it then no French claims would be recognized by those nations attending the conference. The French representative relented in the end, but it became clear from the start that they would be blocking any and all attempts by the Corsicans to gain even a port in the Dark Continent.

The conference first dealt with the matter of the current colonies. All nations agreed that colonies that had been established up to that point were to remain in the hands of their current owners. The following points were also fixed, so as to provide the members of the conference with a common reference to work on:

  • The members of the conference would work together to prevent the continuation of the slave trade within their spheres of influence.

  • All signatories would be able to trade freely along the Congo Basin and Lake Niassa.

  • The Congo and Niger rivers would be free to navigate for all signatories.

  • Taking possession – either directly or through a protectorate – of a portion of the African coast would have to be notified to all other signatories.

  • Uti possidetis [1], or Principle of Effectivity, would be in place: the only way a power could hold a colony is if they actually possessed it, demonstrating so with treaties with local leaders, the establishment of an administration to govern it and keep order, and flying the flag there, as well as through economical use of said colony.

  • No nation would attempt to interfere in other nations' areas of influence in Africa.

These terms were, at least, terms that everyone could agree to. The worst would be, Bismarck knew, when it came to deciding the borders between the areas in which each nation would be able to have influence. The diplomatic and military conflicts of the last twenty years were surely going to be brought to the negotiating table, and it would surely take hours – probably even days – of exposition and backroom deals to reach enough consensus in regards to the division of Africa.

The main contention points would take most of the time, and required the representatives of the competitors to make good use of their diplomatic and negotiating abilities to gain as much as possible for their nation:

  • Morocco: the control over the Sultanate of Morocco was pretended by France and Spain. France, after the loss of the Oranesado, wanted to protect Algeria's western flank and completely surround the Oranesado to ensure that, in the event of a war with Spain, they would be able to claim it thanks to their control over all land around the Oranesado, while Spain wanted Morocco to ensure a land communication between the cities of Melilla and Ceuta, as well as land support for Orán and its surroundings. Both nations gave solid arguments for why the region should fall within their own sphere of influence: Spain could point out to their past with Morocco, the existence of Ceuta, Melilla and Orán being so near to Morocco and the actual bordering between Morocco and the colonies of Sidi Ifni and Western Sahara; meanwhile France tried to use the border with Algeria, the existence of other French colonies in Africa, Asia and America –an almost useless reason to offer, since Spain had also the three of them– and the fact that Spain already had the Canary Islands, as well as Ceuta, Melilla, Sidi Ifni and Western Sahara, which they could use for whatever they wanted Morocco for. As negotiations slowly showed that nations were more willing to accept Spain's proposal of “borders” between the Spanish and French spheres of influence in there, the French representative tried to gain at least something, by proposing to divide Morocco between the Spanish and French spheres, with Spain gaining the north and south and France gaining the rest, but that suggestion was immediately shot down by the Spanish and German representatives. In the end, all nations save France, the United Kingdom – who voted against – and the Ottoman Empire and the United States – who abstained – approved the Spanish plan for the region.

  • Tunisia: this region was pretended by France, Corsica and Italy. France was, naturally, completely opposed to the mere idea that an upstart, rebel region – as the French representative called Corsica, which nearly provoked a fistfight – could gain control over even a square centimeter of African land. Italy was also opposed to it, but more on the terms that the more land other nations gained were lands that would not go to them – and perhaps a little of the still existent irredentism over Corsica. Finally, Corsica wished to establish itself as a nation to account for in Europe, on a level similar to Serbia or Greece. The smaller nations in the meeting, like Portugal or Belgium, supported Corsica's claim, as they wanted to make sure that the conference was not going to be dominated by the great powers. Spain and Germany supported the Italian claim, while the United Kingdom and Russia were more supportive of France. In the end, however, another proposal was made to divide Tunisia in two, the north going to Corsica and the south going to France. Realizing it was the better they could aspire to, the Corsicans accepted the proposal, and in the end the only ones that rejected it were France – which still demanded control over all of Tunisia –, Italy and the Ottoman Empire.

  • Egypt: Egypt was pretty much accepted as a British protectorate by most of the conference attendants, given the British troops' fundamental role in stopping the rebellion that had hit the region. The fact that they also used their position in Egypt to take over Sudan was not much of the concern of most of the Europeans, especially since the Mahdist rebellion had started there, and kept the British well busy and distracted, which was all too well for their European rivals. The only problem surged from the Suez Canal. Its strategical position made it all too important for the foremost European powers, especially those who had territories in East Asia – the United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Portugal and Russia – and for whom the Canal represented shaving off several thousands of km when traveling from the Mediterranean to Asia. After negotiations, the British Empire proclaimed that the Suez Canal would become a neutral zone under their protection, and that all ships would be allowed to use it, but they reserved the rights to stop warships from using the canal in times of war.

  • Ethiopia: Ethiopia had been an independent empire since 1137, and they certainly did not want to lose that independence. Their main defender was the United Kingdom, whose representative and government stated that, as Christians, they deserved to be independent from the main European powers. Opposed to the notion was Italy, which looked forward to controlling the ancient land, which might become the pearl of the Italian Empire. Unfortunately for the Italians, the other attendants supported the UK's choice, and Ethiopia was recognized as an independent nation.

  • The Horn of Africa: the British, French and Italian representatives were making demands around this region. The three nations had been signing treaties with many of the local tribes, and had now to present those treaties in order to establish those territories as their protectorates. Both the United Kingdom and Italy had been the busiest in that region due to their interests in there, and soon a map started to be drawn with the claims. The French, however, had not been sleeping on the job, and were thus able to claim protectorate status for many tribes. In the end, the region became divided between the three nations, and there was no more problem with it.

  • West Africa: opposed to what had happened with Morocco, France had the upper hand in the region, thanks to their already existent position in Algeria and their control over a good part of the coast. Also, not many were interested in taking control of the Sahara Desert, given that it was probably lacking the resources to make it worthwhile to spend the money to establish forts to lay claim to that territory. At most, it might be interesting to take the coastal regions, but those had already been claimed, so everyone let France connect Algeria to its colonies in West Africa.

  • Liberia: this being the only item that directly affected the United States, there was little people could say about it. Saying that the American government had a vested interest in Liberia's independence was an understatement. Thus, no one had any problem with Liberia's status as an independent nation, allied to the United States. The only problems were with the potential of their using Liberia as a platform for the attacking other colonies, but the United States' representative stated that his country did not have any designs on territories outside the Americas. This, naturally, made the nations with colonies in the Americas – France, Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom – a bit nervous, but they regarded the potential American threat toward their American territories as a problem for the future.

  • Gulf of Guinea: the Gulf was, fortunately, easily divided between France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. France gained a land connection between Algeria and the Gulf thanks to the sphere of influence in Dahomey, Spain managed to lay and force as accepted a large claim surrounding the current Spanish colony in Guinea, Germany claiming the so far untaken region north of Guinea, known as Kamerun, and Nigeria and the Gold Coast falling into the British zone of influence. France did try to reduce the Spanish claims over Guinea, but the support from Germany, Portugal and Italy prevented that from happening.

  • Congo: the Congo was, for most nations, the potential double-edged knife. On one side, it had great number of resources that, if exploited, would make a nation rich. On the other side, it was such a large and mostly unexplored territory that it would be hell to claim. Everybody wanted a piece of the region, but few dared to voice a claim on it. France had, however, already claimed a piece at the north, as they stated their wish to connect French Guinea with their hold in Central Africa. In the end, the solution came from an unexpected source: Henry Morton Stanley, who had been exploring the Congo region in the name of King Leopold I of Belgium. Considering the neutrality of Belgium, it could be an excellent idea to concede the Congo to them. Leopold I wished for the region to be turned over to the authority of the International Association of the Congo, a private company presided by himself. However, the British, Dutch and American representatives did not feel well with the idea of a private company holding control over such a large territory, remembering what had happened with the British East India Trading Company and the Dutch Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie. In the end, however, after negotiations with the Belgian government, the British, French and German agreed to lend the Belgians enough money to buy the AIC from the King and thus turn over the Congo to Belgium without problems.

  • East Africa: East Africa was a bit of a quagmire, as several nations desired to lay claim to a piece of the region. Germany, thanks to their establishing a colony there, managed to lay claim to the zone surrounding Lake Malawi and the coast opposite to Zanzibar. The British Empire claimed Kenya, the land of the feared Maasai natives. The British would have liked to take a part of the German claims on Tanganyika, as they planned to make a railway connection between Egypt and South Africa, but in the end negotiations with the Belgian government gave them the possibility of building a connection through the Congo.

  • Madagascar: the island of Madagascar was subject to a serious and very long debate. On the one side, France argued about the legality of the Lambert Charter, which, according to them, gave the French government exclusive rights to exploit the island's natural resources. On the other side, Spain and Germany argued that said Charter could not be considered legal, as neither Lambert nor prince Rakoto – who had reigned between August 1861 and May 1863 as Radama II – had no legal support from neither the French government nor the Malagasy queen at the time, Ravanalona I, as well as showing the other nations about their deals with the Malagasy people. In the end, however, the British argued that, given that it had been fairly isolated from the civilized world, unlike Ethiopia, the Malagasy would need someone to bring them into the present, and the French were the ones that had a better chance to bring the mission civilisatrice to Madagascar. Only Spain, Germany, Corsica and Italy voted against it, and France would soon be the only foreign nation that would face the Malagasy.

  • South Africa: the greatest problems in the conference came from the discussions surrounding who would have the rights to the territories of southern Africa. The territory of the south-west, between Portuguese Angola and British South Africa, went to the Germans after a short diplomatic struggle, since German settlers had arrived there the previous year. The main problem appeared when it came to the region surrounded by British South Africa, Angola, Moçambique, Congo and German East Africa. Portugal wished to connect its two South African colonies, but that ran against the British Empire's plans regarding the Cape-to-Cairo Railway. Both nations argued intensively, presenting comment after comment, argument after argument, proposal after proposal, over why one or the other nation should be the one to have the rights to that region. The one thing that won the day was the fact that the British Empire already had a lot of land under their control, so the Portuguese representative was able to spin conceding that region to Portugal as a way to preserve the balance of power, as well as acting as a buffer between German East Africa and British South Africa. Only France supported the British plan, the rest of the attendants went with Portugal's Mapa Cor-De-Rosa [2].

As Bismarck predicted, no one left the meeting entirely happy, but at least the conference had helped to prevent potential conflicts in the future. Unfortunately, he had not completely foreseen the great interest the British Empire had in connecting the north and south of Africa, and that was the spark that would initiate one of the most influential conflicts of the later nineteenth century.

[1] This sentence, meaning “as you possess”, comes from uti possidetis, ita possideatis, “as you possess, you shall possess henceforth”.

[2] Literally, “Pink-colored Map”. The reason is because the Portuguese representatives presented a map where Portugal's claims in South Africa were painted in pink.

Part IV – Three More Regions

In the year 1886, the Philippines were now developed enough to be considered for becoming a Foral Region. However, there was a problem no one had considered when the idea of giving autonomy to the Philippines: the archipelago was too big to actually become just one region. Given the powers the Overseas Foral Regions were given, many in Madrid –and even some people in the Philippines– had realized that the city of Manila was too far away from parts of the archipelago to act as the seat of the regional government. There was also the fact that some pro-independence groups were getting organized already, demanding that the Philippines cut off all ties with Spain. So far, those groups were in the clear minority, but they were still enough of a problem to make some people nervous.

Cánovas – who was looking forward to the elections that would happen in July that year – was personally opposed to the concession of autonomy to the Filipino people, arguing that they were not advanced enough to understand the democratic process, and that they would be better remaining under the control of a Governor-General appointed from Madrid. However, he also knew that attempting to go back might provoke in the Philippines the same rebellions that had hit Cuba twenty years before, so he guessed that, since Philippine autonomy was unavoidable, he could, at least, make sure that the potential danger Filipino autonomy could cause was reduced.

Thus, on March 1886, Francisco Silvela y de Le Vielleuze, Minister of Home Affairs, boarded the liner Reina del Pacífico and traveled to Manila, unknowingly tracing the same path Governor Carlos María De La Torre had traced twelve years before. When he arrived to Manila –by which time the elections had happened, and the Democrat-Radical Party had gained victory– he met the Governor, and presented him with the plans to organize the future of the Philippines. De La Torre was initially opposed to the plan, arguing that it was possible to control all the Philippines from Manila, but Silvela countered that the differences between Manila and Davao, the most important city of Mindanao, would make ruling everything from Manila as difficult as it was to rule Cuba from Madrid, and that it would be better if the government's plans went ahead. De La Torre relented.

The next week, the main newspapers of Philippines carried the notice: in order to better organize the archipelago and make sure that no citizen would have reasons to argue they did not feel identified with their regional government, the Philippines would be divided in three Foral Regions: Norte, formed by the archipelagos of Luzón and Palawan; Visayas, formed by the archipelago of the same name, and Sur, formed by Mindanao and the old territories of the Sultanate of Sulu. Not everybody was happy with these arrangements, of course, as this would now divide the islands in three competing regions that would not be able to pull their weight together as they would have if the Philippines were one region, but there was nothing they could actually do about it.

Of course, one group of people that felt most content was the people of Mindanao. They had not expected the Spanish government to follow on with the promise to concede them autonomy. They guessed that they would just be given some little things to pay lip service to the promise given ten years before, but instead they had gotten full autonomy, like the other regions in the Philippines, and now the Sulu Archipelago and Sabah were also under their control.

In Spain, this was seen as a good move made by Cánovas, partially restoring his popularity among the Spanish population. They knew that the Philippines were quite big, not bigger than Spain, but much bigger than all regions, so it made sense that it was divided in three parts for the better governance of the region. Among some even rested the theory that, since the Filipino were “inferior”, if they had some sort of self-governance, it was better if the territory controlled was smaller than normal –of course, this was ignoring that each of the three regions were similar in size to the Spanish regions–.

The arrival of the autonomy to the new three Foral Regions of Hilaga –formed by Luzón and Palawan–, Kabisayan –formed by the Visayas– and Habagatan –formed by Mindanao and the old Sultanate of Sulu– [1] was received with great joy by the Filipino people. They would finally be able to decide their own local matters without having to wait for Madrid or the governor to tell them what they had to do.

Very soon after the news were made, the old pre-Foral flag of the Philippines was taken down and replaced with three new flags, that now flew alongside the Spanish flag in the new Foral Parliaments in Manila, Ciudad Cebú and Davao, the capitals for Hilaga, Kabisayan and Habagatan, respectively. The Parliaments, provisionally formed by the main Ilustrados and some of the foremost town councilors, voted in the Foral Charters approved by the Spanish government, adding things that only affected their regions and also started to debate the first, most important regional laws.

It had been a long travel for many of them, but finally they had managed to earn a position as equals with the rest of Spain.

[1] Hilaga means North in Filipino, Kabisayan is a slightly modified version of the name for the Visayas in the Winaray language –spoken in the eastern Visayas– and Habagatan means South in Cebuano.

Part V – Stars, Bars, Seas

The once friendly relations between the United States and Spain, which had improved after Leopold's accession to the throne, and even more after both Cuba and Puerto Rico were given autonomy, had slowly soured over time. The Manifest Destiny idea, although not as expanded as before, was still a popular idea, especially when combined with the Monroe Doctrine, according to which all of the Americas should be under the influence of the United States government. Spain's continued hold over the two Caribbean Islands, the influence it was gaining in South America and the recent war against the Dominican Republic were seen as insults toward the United States. There had been even talks about declaring war on the Kingdom of Spain due to said war, but in the end it was all wet paper.

Despite all of this, the government took care of not antagonizing the Spaniards too much, beyond protesting for the imposition of a protectorate status over the Dominican Republic: they still hoped that, in the future, the Spanish government might be amenable to selling or leaving its possessions in America. Meanwhile, they would continue with their current work, and perhaps they could start funding the pro-independence parties to convince Spain that abandoning the Caribbean was better for its own interests than maintaining territories in the Americas.

Mexico, then led by Porfirio Díaz after his almost unanimous victory in the 1884 elections – which, whichever the way you put it, had been a complete sham – looked at Spain as a potential ally and friend. Just like they had done with Peru, Díaz hoped that an alliance with Spain might first bring prosperity and then further stability to Mexico. He wished to push back the growing influence the British Empire and the United States were gaining within Mexico, and the Spanish could be perfect for that. Not to mention, their common past may be great to attract some Spanish capital and perhaps even workers.

The Mexican democrats, those who were working to fortify the Estados Unidos de México into one solid, fully democratic state, also looked at Spain with the hope of their becoming what the United States had been for the rebelling Spanish American colonies in the early nineteenth century: a role model, a nation that could be imitated and that might perhaps be approached to aid them in their objectives. Besides, Porfirio's almost dictatorial presidency was something they thought an insult to actual democracy, and they hoped Spain's pressure would help put it down.

Most of Central America was fairly uninterested in what Spain was doing. They had enough with trying to keep up with the day-to-day of their nations, smashed between the British and American-backed companies that did and undid at their whims. The only nation that was partially interested in Spain was Nicaragua: since they were the only nation in the region – apart from Colombia – to have a coast both in the Atlantic and in the Pacific, they thought that perhaps it might be possible to attract investors to their nation, especially if they came to help in the construction of a possible water connection between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

They had previously tried to get American millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt to fund such a gigantic works, but in the end they had only managed to connect both coasts with a railway-and-coach line that did little to help with what they thought was the important matter. They would then realize that the expense of building such a great work was only up to the richest nations. The United States or the British Empire might be interested, but Nicaragua wanted to get free from their influence, and Spain and Germany offered a possible counterpart to both Anglo-Saxon nations. It would still be years until the possibility was suggested, but it was a first step.

Further to the south stood the South American nations. Tensions between many nations threatened war: a new war between Peru, Bolivia and Chile always seemed to be right around the corner; Brazil disputed with Bolivia over the Acre region, rich in resources such as rubber and exotic woods; Argentina and Brazil were disputing themselves the role of main South American power; Britain and Venezuela were exchanging angry words over the latter's border with Guyana... Anything could spark a great war between them, and it was only the delicate work of diplomats, both South American and from the rest of the world, that prevented the powder keg from being lighted.

In Colombia, the recent attempt by the Societé internationale du Canal interocéanique to build a canal that joined the Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean had recently been suspended. The engineering project, which had started in 1884 [1] under the direction of Ferdinand de Lesseps – the man in charge of the construction of the Suez Canal - was met with many problems almost from the start: the men's lack of experience in that kind of working meant many setbacks, lack of knowledge over the region's geology and hydrology provoked many landslides that covered the opened canals, illnesses took many workers' lives... After 220 million dollars, 6 years of work and around 15,000 deceased workers, the Societé internationale stopped the works, leaving Colombia in search of someone that could finish the entire Canal.

Further to the south, Peru and Bolivia were, fortunately, more than able to protect themselves from the Brazilian and Chilean threats. The trade with Spain had brought not only great weaponry and ships to their armed forces, but also had brought several instructors that were able to bring up both armies up to better standards. The alliance was also commercial, as Peruvian traders slowly found their way toward the Spanish colonies in the Pacific and in the Caribbean, while Spanish businessmen financed the construction of new factories in the two nations, exploiting the natural resources and bringing a benefit to both themselves and the two nations.

Brazil was currently in the middle of one of the most turbulent periods in time: in March 1888, the Emperor of Brazil proclaimed the end of slavery. The five million black people that were enslaved then in the nation suddenly found themselves out of work, so most of them chose to leave for the cities, as Brazil was becoming industrialized at the time. The great loss of workers affected thousands of farmers, who became broke as their crops – like coffee or sugarcane – required very intensive labor that was lost. All of this resulted eventually in an attempt by the Army to launch a coup d'état against Dom Pedro, but this instead ended in an one-month-long civil war as troops loyal to Dom Pedro managed to arrest the rebelling generals. The Emperor did not have the generals killed, though: he knew there was a chance someone would take them as martyrs, and attempt to follow the generals. Instead, the Emperor decided that the generals would be imprisoned and expelled from the army, in order to prevent them from acting similarly, and so that they could live as reminders of what betrayal of the Emperor might bring.

Chile, unable to gain in the north what they thought was theirs, decided to go toward the south in order to expand its territory and perhaps find more resources to replace those that had not been gained from Bolivia and Peru. Thus, a frenzied claiming of territories started, in an attempt to cut Argentina away from the Pacific Ocean and also claim the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago. The existence of gold in the latter made it all the more important that they could reach it. Argentina ended up threatening war if Chile did not stop. An eventual agreement, supported by neutral Ecuador, divided the archipelago in two: the larger half, the western half, went to Chile, while the rest went to Argentina. Peace was preserved, but the enmity between both nations remained.

[1] The different social-economical situation in France pushed back the initiation of the French works in Panama.

Chapter VI, Part VI – Consequences Of An Ultimatum

The Portuguese government had felt very happy when they had managed to convince the other European nations that it was their right to connect Angola and Moçambique overland, without having to deal with borders. The only pity was that their British allies could not connect their northern and southern colonies, but they would have no problem with allowing them to build a railway across Portuguese South Africa... at a fee, of course. Given the width of the territories claimed by Portugal, they saw it as a potential good source of money.

The British would not have any of that.

They had already had to compromise on building part of the railway through the Belgian Congo. They had fought for gaining the territory between their own South Africa and the Congo, but most of the other attendants of the Conference had agreed that Portugal deserved it more, and that had almost derailed – if you would pardon the pun – the plans to connect Cairo with the Cape. They had chosen to set that problem aside for a couple of years, expecting to solve it at a later point, and some even thinking that Portugal would soon seek some other nation to sell the rights to those lands.

The four years after the Conference were quite peaceful for Portugal. There were some problems related to the governance, as Portugal went through the period that was named Rotativism, as the two main political parties (the Progressistas (the equivalent to the old Spanish Unión Liberal) and the Regeneradores (the equivalent to the old Partido Conservador)) rotated their position in the Portuguese Government at the petition of the King. The Regeneradores had managed to keep power for more than six years already, thanks to the support of Luís I, King of Portugal and the Algarves.

Then, catastrophe struck: on July 21st 1889, Luís I suffered a serious heart attack that left him partially disabled. Although his intellect remained intact, his body became weaker, and he could not be as effective as a leader as he had been in previous times. His son Carlos was forced to take on several of the tasks usually reserved to the king, among them the approval of laws. The following months were increasingly difficult for the Royal Family, as Luís I's condition deteriorated, with Carlos further taking on more tasks, to the point that Carlos was de facto the King of Portugal.

The British, conscious of the weakness the nation of Portugal was now presenting, realized that this was the perfect moment to achieve their objectives. After some deliberation, the British government presented an ultimatum in January 1890: Portugal could either leave all claims to the territory between Angola and Moçambique (the lands that were inhabited by the tribe of the makololo, whose protection had been “assigned” to the British Empire thanks to several agreements thanks to Cecil Rhodes' efforts) to Britain, or abide by the consequences. What the “consequences” were, it was left to the imagination of the Portuguese government, but the gathering of their ships in Gibraltar and Zanzibar pretty much said everything about it.

The government did its best to attempt to negotiate with the British: they offered the possibility of building a railway line without paying to the Portuguese government, building it partially underground so that there was a direct land connection between Angola and Moçambique... anything to avoid losing the claims to so much land, because they knew that such loss would lead to grave consequences for Portugal, both in terms of territorial and resource losses and in terms of prestige, as well as possible revolts. However, the British government was adamant. They did not care for the consequences their erstwhile allies may face after giving up the land.

The negotiations, or attempts to do so – the British being entrenched in their positions, and threatening to do even worse to Portugal if they did not acquiesce immediately – lasted for four months. Protests came from most of the other signatories of the Treaty of Berlin, stating that they were stretching it to the point of breaking – as the Portuguese had already established a military presence in the disputed region, thus making it Portuguese by the Uti Possidetis principle - but Lord Salisbury's government brushed those protests aside and continued pressuring Henrique de Barros' government to accept the “offer” they had made. With no other choice, the Portuguese accepted.

On July 29th 1890, the Portuguese Ambassador, as the representative of Portugal, signed the Treaty of London, defining the definite territorial limits of Angola and Moçambique. In exchange of a paltry 10,000,000 pounds, the Portuguese government renounced to the claims of the terrains outside of said territorial limits.

On August 1st, the Portuguese Ambassador arrived to 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the British Prime Minister, and personally gave Lord Salisbury a succint telegram that had come from Lisbon, and contained the following message:


With those words, the Treaty of Windsor, the old alliance between the nations of Portugal and the United Kingdom, that existed since 1386, was reduced to ashes, all because of the United Kingdom's greed and inability to negotiate with Portugal over a territory they had indirectly accepted as Portuguese through their signing of the Treaty of Berlin. Many decried Salisbury's political blunder in alienating the United Kingdom's greatest ally, who had stuck with them for more than four centuries, and were now cutting off that alliance. The error would mar Lord Salisbury's career forever.

In Portugal, things got very hot soon, and not only due to the summer. Despite the immediate breaking of relations with the United Kingdom, many felt that the government had ashamed itself and the nation for ceding to British demands, and a great number of people took to the streets in order to show their bad opinion of the government, manifestations that were led and fed by the Portuguese Republican Party, which saw in the King's illness and the Treaty of London the manifestation of the weakness of the monarchy, and thus saw this moment as the chance to establish a Republic in Portugal.

Unknowingly, the stress of the situation was starting to get to the King, who felt guilty at not being able to lead his nation as well as possible, and his weakened heart suffered and weakened as more bad news reached his room and palace.

Luís I, King of Portugal and of the Algarves, died in the night of August 21st 1890 of a new heart attack, that this time could not be survived. He would not be found until the morning after by his valet, who had arrived to start with the king's day.

The funeral for Luís I would be held three days later, and representatives from most European nations came to say goodbye to the man that had led the nation of Portugal for twenty nine years, and that, despite his failings at maintaining a stable government, he had done his best to ensure Portugal's pre-eminence as an European power. The only nation that was not represented in the funeral was the British Royal Family, and not because of the latter's willingness: both the government and the yet-to-be-crowned King Carlos had banned the entrance of any British representative, whether they may be of the royal family or not, as their ultimatum regarding South Africa, their subsequent actions and the consequences brought from them were considered the causes of Luís I's death.

A month later was when the crowning of Carlos, future Carlos I of Portugal and the Algarves, would be held. This was expected to be the return to normalcy – at least, to as much normalcy as possible, considering past events – for Portuguese society, so the government and the King's staff made sure that the crowning ceremony were to go as smoothly as possible, and demonstrating that the nation would go on, and perhaps improve, as Carlos was seen as an intelligent man that had matured much during the last year.

The ceremony went very well. Carlos was, after the Mass, crowned as King Carlos I of Portugal and the Algarves, and his wife Amélie de Orléans (daughter of King Philippe VII of France) was crowned Queen Consort of Portugal and the Algarves. It was attended by members of most European royal houses, with the British being, once more, the only ones excluded.

The ride back to the Palácio de Ajuda, however, was much, much worse. In fact, it would be the start of one of Portugal's most tumultuous times, which would shock the entire nation and plung it in destruction and death.

As the newly crowned King and Queen entered the carriage that would take them to the Royal Palace, a group of pro-Republican officers took control of several military units stationed near Lisbon and ordered them to enter the city and imprison the King. The soldiers, carefully chosen for their sympathies toward the establishment of a Portuguese Republic, obeyed the orders without discussion.

It was the first step of a plan the Republican Party had developed. With it, they expected to be able to take control of the city of Lisbon in a quick move and arresting the King, who would later be forced to renounce to the Crown in his name and that of all of his family, thus leaving the way open for the establishment of their desired Republic.

It was supposed to be a bloodless coup. The officers expected to be able to force the guards protecting the Royal Couple to stand down by means of showing their great superiority in numbers. Then, the King and Queen would be “escorted” to the Royal Palace, where they would present him with a document establishing his, his descendants' and all of his relatives' renounce to the Crown. When that happened, the few Portuguese Republican Party members in the Parliament would push for the declaration of the Republic, as there would be no one that could claim the throne.

Of course, as famed German general Helmuth von Moltke the Elder said, “no plan survives contact with the enemy”.

When the soldiers appeared in the middle of the parade and opened their way through the population, they ordered the King's bodyguards to stand down and lay their weapons on the floor. The bodyguards chose to ready their weapons and aim them at the soldiers.

The main officer, João Álvares [1], told them that they had a last chance to surrender, or else they would shoot. The bodyguards' leader's last words would be later reported by one of the fleeing civilians.

We have sworn an oath to protect the King and the Queen, and we intend to follow it till the last! Something you should remember!

The following shooting lasted twenty minutes, and by the end of it, every bodyguard was dead or dying, as did seven soldiers, with twelve more bleeding from injuries caused by the bodyguards' weapons, and six civilians that had not been able to run away before the shooting began.

However, tragedy had already struck: when the soldiers opened the carriages' doors, they found that both the King and the Queen had died in the crossfire. Not knowing what to do, they decided to commandeer the carriage and reach the palace as fast as possible so as to be able to capture the couple's children: Luis Filipe, the heir to the throne, and Prince Manuel. As this happened, troops in many other places in Portugal and its colonies rose up, led by their pro-Republican officers, and faced those troops that had chosen to remain loyal to the Monarchy.

The Portuguese Civil War had started.

[1] In RL 1891, there was a republican revolution in Porto, but it failed. I tried to find the names of any of its ringleaders, but nothing appeared, so I have invented that name.

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