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Alternate History

France (The Boulanger Era)

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French State
Fr-boulanger
Official language French
Capital Paris
Head of State Chancellor Boulanger
Establishment 1889 (current constitution)
Population -
Currency French Franc

History

The current French state apparatus came about following a coup d'état by General Boulanger in 1889 who declared himself chancellor with full powers. The Chancellor has publicly stated his will to fix the "Alsatian problem" (annexed by Germany during the Franco-Prussian war) and most observers assume a new war will soon engulf Europe.

Organization of the French State

At the head of the state was the General who surrounded himself with a group of advisors. Boulanger derived his legitimacy from referenda taken once in a while on national policies. The first such referendum was to get approval for his coup and to dissolved the Chamber of Deputies to replace it with a Constituent Assembly. This assembly have members who are chosen by the chancellor from lists of candidates voted on by the French citizenry.

Attempted Restoration of the Monarchy

While not overtly monarchist himself, the General saw the restoration of a monarch as a mean to legitimize further his own regime and to create a rallying point. With the last widely recognized Bonapartist claimant death's in 1879, it was felt that a king would be easier for citizens to accept. As per the 1871 compromise between Legitimists and Orleanists, the crown was offered to the Comte of Paris. While he was willing to accept a role as a constitutional monarch, he quickly realized he would have no real power whatsoever and so declined.

Even without the imprimatur of a king, Boulanger nevertheless managed to appropriate some of the monarchist legacy through the creation of a Civic Order, composed of those who had served the nation, complete with titles, symbols and perks that imitated Napoleonic and Bourbon nobility. He also had himself being referred to officially as "Chancellor" after the ancient regime title for a king-appointed prime minister.

Social Organization

The new regime rejected egalitarian principles in favour of a politic of "class cooperation" whereby the various social classes are given rights and responsibilities for which the government act as guarantor.

To do so, the government created "corporations" in effect cartels which grouped together all members of a given profession. These corporations, which in the case of the working class served as a sort of unelected trade unions, were meant as intermediaries between their members and the government. On one hand they brought up grievances to the attention of the Constituent Assembly and on the other, ensured that that the later's decrees would be enforced within its ranks.

Religion and the State

In term of religion, Boulanger adopted many of the Gallicanism principles:

  • The popes authority extend only over spiritual matters.
  • The pope cannot send priests, bishops or legates to France without the consent of the head of state. Similarly, once in place, a member of the catholic church cannot be recalled without the same consent.
  • No French catholic may be excommunicated if the reason for doing so was due to said person performing an act in the service of France.
  • The catholic church could not own land but only occupy it at the discretion of the Government.

That being said, Boulanger did bring back a veneer of religion into the government by, among other things, inviting the French primarch to bless the Constituent Assembly on its inauguration day.

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