The timeline of "A Federation of Equals" covers everything that has happened ever since the point of divergence, from the Danubian Revolution all the way to the current events of the interactive AAR.
The page is currently WIP.
Klemens Wenzel von Metternich and Vlado Nikolić (1848-1852)
Main article: Prologue
By the time of the Danubian Revolution, Habsburg power had become regarded as an almost permanent fixture of European life. They had controlled the Holy Roman Empire since the middle of the 15th century and reigned over, at their peak, from Balboa in the West to Lviv in the East and from Amsterdam in the North to Syracuse in the South. Equally, however, the house of Habsburg had been on a seemingly inexorable decline, having lost all of her territories outside of Central Europe, and with her domination of Germany under severe pressure by the Prussians in the North.
Metternich: An Ominous Beginning (1848)
Main article: Assassination of Metternich
Metternich’s short time as acting-President was characterized by two things; controversy and catastrophe.
The former pertains to the tiny city state of Krakow, which had been formally independent for many years, but in that time it had always been firmly in Austria’s sphere. It distinguished itself during the Danubian Revolution in that it was the only of Austria’s allied states to side with either faction. During the war, Krakovian troops had supported Royalist forces in numerous battles throughout the Polish and Slovak regions of the country.
The Rise of Danubian Politics
Main article: The Rise of Danubian Politics
The death of Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich in the days succeeding the Revolution, brought forth moments of radical turmoil on both ends of the political spectrum. It quickly became apparent that the Federal Government was to consist of members of all types of society and ideology, from Radicals, to Royalists. With such wide varieties of opinion, moderate and stable action seemed to be the best approach to many weary citizens, which became the embodiment of the Conservative Movement, backed by Károly Vörös de Nyitra, the Councillor for Hungary. Councillor de Nyitra, was one of the first outspoken critics of the Krakow Act, despite his Royalist sympathies of which many liberals believed was directly correlated to Jingoistic approaches. His call for peace, rallied together Conservatives and Moderate Royalists, who stood behind him as he put forth his name in the first Presidential election.
1848 Presidential Elections
Main article: 1848 Presidential Elections
In the four days after Metternich’s assassination, the issue of Krakow rose to the fore once more. That Krakow Act was narrowly rejected by congress (When initially presented to the Council, it gained the support of only 39% of the house, whilst a very similar private members bill put before the Assembly accrued only 37%.), the following day can largely be attributed to his absence. According to its detractors, the Krakow Act was “an act of supreme irresponsibility” , fuelled only by “petty revengism” and certain to “enrage the Russian Bear”.
The announcement of the candidates in the 1848 election caused significant stir among Councillors and Deputies. Many Liberals feared that a combined Conservative-Royalist alliance threatened the Federation in its premature existence. Prominent liberals were quick to assert their desire for further equality among the people, one of which was Ion Horsa Cordinaru, who proposed the Petition of the Romanians of Transylvania, a motion that called upon Congress to acknowledge the equality of Romanians within the Federation. At the same time, Councillor Cordinaru, born in Transylvania and a staunch Romanian, put his supporters behind the Presidential Candidate, Vlado Nikolić. Conservatives, under with wing of Councillor Károly Vörös de Nyitra, took a risky move in the opposition of the Petition. Nyitra famously exclaimed against the act, "As to this Romanian Bill, I am completely opposed. Although I can tolerate the creation of a Transylvania State, I cannot agree with the disproportionate representation of Romanians in the Federal Government, as the bill intends. And further more, the conclusion of 'Magyarisation', a complete misrepresentation by the Romanians in any case, cannot be tolerated. The end of policies that support and protect the Hungarian population in Transylvania, labelled as 'Magyarisation', would completely violate and remove the rights of the Hungarian population."
Main article: Dalmatian Question
In 1848, the Danubian Revolution erupted due to a combination of repression, ethnic nationalism, and Liberal/Radical sentiment from various sections of the populace. This established the Danubian Federation as a Federation of the former Austrian provinces, which began to lead to ethnic troubles within the Federation. Soon after the formation of the Federation, the Venetian irredentist movement began to form. These Venetian irredentists, led by Councillor Vitale Morosini, thought of the Federation as a renewed chance for Venice to gain its former glory after the Austrian humiliation, beginning with Dalmatia, to which they had a historical and ethnic claim, at least in sections. In Croatia, on the other hand, nationalism arose defensively. Croatians felt repressed within the Federation, both as a result of the rise of the Irredentists in Venice, who threatened to take Dalmatia, and as a result of still not being recognized as fully equal within the Danubian Federation. They would be represented by Councillor Crepko Obradovic.
Nikolić: A Question of Statehood (1848-1850)
Main article: A Question of StatehoodBy all accounts, the presidential election of 1848 was a landslide. Vlado Nikolić won almost three quarters of the Electoral College vote, and gained convincing victories in the vast majority of states. Hungary provided the only effective resistance to Nikolić’s bid, where his plans to alter the constitution came across badly with an electorate left tired from the Revolution.
The bigger issues of the election were to erupt in the two states that plumped for the Reactionary von Salzburg: in Venice, Salzburg’s promise of reclaiming her former colonies in the Adriatic played to the nostalgia of a Republic twice annexed by foreign Empires; in Austria, von Salzburg’s personal militia, formally entitled the ‘Austrian National Militia Union’, became demonized as the ‘Royal Guard’ causing a constitutional crisis the day before the election. The conflict between Venezia and Croatia quickly became known as the Dalmatian Question. Both sides claimed the legal right to administer the province based on the former’s historical ties with the region and the latter’s cultural ties with its people. On 3rd December, von Salzburg’s declaration in support of the Venetians reignited an issue that had lain largely dormant since the dissolution of the Republic of Venice by Napoleon. Riots in Venice pushed the issue, but ultimately little was achieved through the Federal authorities. On 10th December and at the behest of the President, the Joint Council for the Future of Dalmatia was established to mediate between the two states. Both legislatures agreed a solution needed to be found and negotiations began, and a draft proposal was created whereby the province was to be administered by a bi-partisan body. Unfortunately for the states involved, a combination of the opposition of one or other of the state legislatures to each new draft and the stalemate that persisted in the Joint Council well into 1849 gradually led to the erosion of this body and the creation of a de facto autonomous state; the extent of the change in the politics of the region is evidenced by the fact that in the two years it took before the Joint Council dissolved itself in a mire of indecision, the Dalmatian Assembly had already began approving its own budgets and had replaced the roles of Co-Commissioners with a First Minister elected directly by the people.
Nikolić: Galician Troubles (1850)
Main article: Galician Troubles
The remainder of 1850 saw two important events in the Federation’s History; the first true interstate agreement and the first international war. Domestically, at least, the second half of 1850 was kinder to Nikolić’s government. Though there was little agreement over the wide range of reforms proposed, at least no crises emerged from them. The Ban on Private Militias Act brought none of the widely expected rioting that its detractors claimed. The Federal Army of the Danube Bill was quickly and cleanly introduced into the Army with the minimum fuss from those displaced.
The Krakovian War (August 1850 - January 1852)
Main article: The Krakovian War
Treaty of Budapest
Main article: Treaty of Budapest Such was the scale of the momentum now possessed by the armies of the Dual Alliance that an armistice request was received in Vienna by the 14th, stating that Russia accepted Federal terms as laid out by Congress the previous Summer. Fighting ceased the following day, with the official signing of the Treaty of Budapest on the 5th of January 1852. Under the terms of the treaty, the Russian gains from the Franco-Prussian war would be made a Federal territory of the Danubian Federation pending a plebiscite on whether it wished to join the Federation or be reincorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia, the city of Krakow would be released free of Russian influence and Franz Joseph would be extradited back to the Federation.
Both the transition of power in Ostpruβen and Krakow went relatively smoothly. In the event, Krakow voted almost immediately to apply for Danubian statehood and the plebiscite in Ostpruβen gave a slight edge to the Federation despite the area’s heavy links with Prussia. It is thought that the use of a council to administer the region prior to the plebiscite swung the lower classes, who were keen to experience democracy.
In many ways it was the last clause, almost added on as an afterthought, which proved the most contentious. Russian reservations over the Prince’s treatment left the possibility of further conflict on the table. It was only after the Prussians forced through a proviso that he was not to be harmed that the Treaty could go ahead. Despite protests, mainly though not exclusively from the opposition benches, the Prince was tried on four counts of Treason and sentenced (after a suspiciously speedy trial) to permanent house arrest. It took just three weeks for him hang himself inside the Schönbrunn Palace. With him the last dregs of the Royal Faction and the Royal Guard petered away.
With the last through months of legislative action, Nikolić pushed through his only lasting legacy, namely a series of school reforms that set up federally funded education for most children between the ages of 11 and 16. Meanwhile, a small number of acts were passed to increase naval funding and promote infrastructure, but the vast majority of genuine reforms proposed were rejected, even if by small numbers. Ultimately, federal government had achieved little during Nikolić’s entire four year term, though state legislatures managed to institute a wide range of reforms in the face of such stagnation, from the crowning of the Venice’s first Doge in over 50 years to increased rights for minority groups across the Federation.
Ion Horsa Codrinaru, Victor Kraus, Edvard Francois Masaryk and Elias de Sanctis (1852-1856)
1852 Presidential ElectionMain article: 1852 Presidential Elections
The primary season before the 1852 election was really a non-event. Though all the major parties held nominating conventions, most either opted to stand under another party in a coalition or not field a candidate at all. In the end, only three candidates appeared on the ballot in all nine states. By far the biggest reason for the blandness of the primaries was that the eyes of the political nation were almost all looking south as riots in Lombardia spilled over into an armed coup. A row that had developed within the Italian Independent Party (of which almost 90% of the citizens of Venezia and Lombardia were members in 1851) over leadership caused a split in the party, with the Venetian wing leaving the party in favour of the Conservatives. All over Lombardia, the traditional contempt of their water-loving neighbour fermented such that within just 3 days, the every population centre in the state had devolved into near anarchy. Out of the chaos emerged a reactionary and extremely ambitious militia commander by the name of Luigi Albinoni. He, through his powerful oratory, turned the Lombards’ anger against the Federation as a whole and used it to set up a military dictatorship within the state, with himself as its ‘acting’ Chairman.
Codrinaru: A Nagying Problem (1852-1854)
Codrinaru: A Slight Setback (1854)
Main article: Codrinaru: A Slight Setback
The war with the Ottoman Turks was hardly underway, when concerns arose of an increasingly dictatorial government in Vienna. The situation in Slovakia deteriorated in the days following the ultimatum, with the results of the plebiscite in dispute, the Slovak Provisional Assembly was announced in Bratislava, but was outlawed by the Hungarian Parliament before it could ever meet. A General Arrest Warrant was declared across the Federation by the Viennese Metropolitan Police (which became the basis of the last act to be signed into law by President Codrinaru as it became the Federal and Metropolitan Police, with expanded powers outside the city limits).The case of Councillor Sykora, who represented the state of Hungary but was a Slovak patriot at heart, became the prime example of the repression instituted by an increasingly reactionary Hungarian Parliament. Sykora was eventually pardoned by Codrinaru himself following the secession and released. He immediately traveled to Bratislava (which had stayed loyal to the Federation) to establish the Provisional Council of Slovakia legally. Its first meeting is still a bank holiday in Slovakia. Later examples, like the execution of four men whose only crime was to have been nominated to sit on the Assembly, were overshadowed in the eyes of many in Vienna who saw the persecution of their fellow politician as far more threatening to their way of life. Mob action, both in Budapest and Bratislava underlined the problem, but Codrinaru’s response of martial law only served to inflame an already tense situation.
Masaryk: A New Direction (1854-1855)
Masaryk’s new government began with a constitutional crisis in the recently incorporated state of Silesia. A referendum on the state’s constitution was bugled by the state administration, leading to the two further referendums and a protracted trial that left both sides embarrassed, as the ingrained lack of true oversight in the state came into sharp focus with the conviction of the Chancellor of Silesia on charges of Electoral Fraud and Criminal Negligence, Otto von Tipitz, and the later trial of Inspector-General Kragenhof of the Federal and Metropolitan Police for falsifying evidence. In many respects, Tipitz was lucky, being sent to a penal battalion that was to assist maintaining order in the newly created and somewhat unstable territory of Slovakia; Kragenhof, for what would nowadays be seen as a slightly less serious crime, was sentenced to death by hanging. Rumblings in Silesia continued for some time, but gradually petered out as the status quo became the acceptable norm.
Meanwhile, in the south, the war against the Ottomans was plodding on, with neither side able to land a decisive blow. The Turks had scored a number of victories over Egyptian forces, most notable at Aleppo where an Egyptian army of approaching nearly 18,000 men was completely routed as the city fell. Elsewhere, news was more positive; a small detachment of Federal troops, successfully, joined the Greek army in taking parts of southern Macedonia, while Federal troops effectively pacified Bosnia. The relative weakness of the Empire in Europe was thanks to a highly effective naval blockade of the straits by an expanded Red Star Fleet; Istanbul herself was put under siege for a period of about a month, before Federal troops were forced back onto the ships. The only area where an effective defence was being made was in the Empire’s two vassal states, who managed to make the only territorial gains against the Federation.
Considering that the Masaryk gained his mandate from the military, it is unsurprising that he had more success in war than in domestic matters. Though there were initially Hungarian incursions into Slovakia, which was claimed by the rebel leaders, a defeat for the Army of the Eagle in Budapest and some fairly large scale defections among Hungarian troops on the Southern front against the Ottomans, particularly in the 1st Southern Army where a majority of the troops swore loyalty to the Democratic Hungarian Republic, victories at Roznava and Nitra, not to mention Sisak and Kotor, left a weak rebellion looking pretty desperate. As the months passed, Federal troops pushed deeper into Hungary, not experiencing the sudden collapse that had characterised the Russian retreat only four years before, but every day moving a mile or two eastwards towards Budapest. The panic in Budapest reached such heights that the rebels were even reaching out to the Ottoman Turks for assistance, but the only state to reply was Prussia. Imagining the gains that could be made into Germany if there was no major power on her Southern border, the König convinced the Landtag to issue an ultimatum to Vienna. It simply read, “The Konig of Prussia demands the Danubian Federation accept the sovereignty of the Democratic State of Hungary and cease hostilities. Failure to comply will result in the termination of the Prusso-Danubian Defence Agreement.” The Federation’s official response came within a week; it was a resounding no. For Prussia, the results were devastating; she lost an ally but gained very little. Indeed, within just two weeks of the ultimatum, the Hungarian rebels had assassinated their leader and surrendered the city of Budapest to the Federal troops. Martial law was instituted in the state (this time without any political problems) to last until elections the following year, and the state was officially accepted back into the Federation. For the Federation, it was more of a mixed picture; yes, she had lost a valuable ally against the Russians, who were arguably the biggest threat at that time, but thankfully Codrinaru’s ghost continued to cast its altruistic gaze over the nation: a secret treaty with France, signed just two months before the former President’s death, came into effect. It stated that if ever the PDDA expired, the so-called ‘Alliance of Turin’ would become effective, which guaranteed mutual support if either was attacked (which was not only a marked improvement over the limited scope of the PDDA, but was with a stronger power).
The Turkish defeat in Libya was at the hands of the Swedes, who had allied with the Federation at the same time as the Prussians, but whose ties had, unlike those of Prussia, been deepened beyond a simple defence pact.
de Sanctis: Nobody's Business but the Turks' (1855-1856)
As the reign of the National Emergency Committee continued, fears rose about the return to democracy. Among the Liberal and Conservative journals of the political nation, Masaryk quickly became vilified as a tyrannical monster intent on imposing a radical dictatorship onto the Federation, entirely unjustly in the opinion of most contemporary historians given that he opposed such a measure and had neither the support of the political elite nor the generals who had put him in office in the first place. Nonetheless, Masaryk was forced out and Marshal de Sanctis took his place as Chairman promising a return to democracy, with elections set for early 1856.
In that intervening period, and despite much mistrust the coup had brought towards the competence of the military, Vienna focused not on the war itself but the expected gains. The issue of Religion quickly rose to the fore as provinces like Albania were majority Muslim. Though little was said in the constitution, the country was both nominally Christian and secular making the issues of non-Christian populations a matter of great debate. Though Jewish populations were in general disenfranchised, had little state protection for their religious organisations and often received disproportionate punishments, the small population size allowed the issue to be largely ignored; the sheer scale of the problem that inconsistent policy in the region would cause meant that this issue above all else would come, in some respects at least, to define the coming presidential term. All the focus on domestic policy in preference to the war led the Balkan-Levant War to be labelled across the Federation as the ‘Forgotten’ War. That said, it didn’t prevent the army making gains throughout the rest of the year. By the time the Presidential elections actually took place, all of Bosnia was under Federal control as was the majority of Albania and much of Northern Greece. In fact, gains were even made in Romania, where troops who had been occupied with Hungary were diverted south. Victories at the 3rd Battle of Nagyseben and the 2nd Battle of Bucharest among others forced Turkish troops to retreat back South. This string of victories culminated in the capture of Istanbul on 23rd December 1855, with those troops so recently forced back onto the ships in the straits reinforced from the mainland. Victory at Gallipoli two days prior to the fall of the city meant that the Turks now had no standing armies of any form in all of Europe.
The fall of the capital was expected to lead to an almost immediate capitulation, yet when, after some five days of heavy fighting, the troops of the Skala Italian Army who had led the charge into the city breached the inner walls of the Topkapi Palace, it became clear that the entire government had fled the city long ago. The Sultan had left the capital for Anatolia on the declaration of war. Turkish policy was not one aiming for total victory – the times when Ottoman troops could realistically march on Vienna were long gone and the Imperial Navy knew they stood no chance of holding the straits. Instead, the Ottomans aimed to force the Federations hand in the Middle East by bringing Egypt to its knees, hoping to regain its stake in Europe on the strength of their ever advancing armies in the deserts of the Sahara and the Levant. In a very real way, the policy seemed to be working and the debates that earned the war its honorary title had every chance of being entirely futile.
The Primaries of 1855
The primaries of 1855 seemed in many ways to be a formality. It appeared clear that three groups would contest the election; the Radical Union which had been bypassed as the king-maker at the last election, but had since seen a slide in support in Congress and two coalitions formed in fear of the other - the centre-right All-Danubian Coalition and the centre-left Alliance. In fact, two of the three main primaries were uncontested.
Meanwhile, little was happening outside of the political nation. For example, in the month of December, over which the conventions were held, only two diplomatic notes of note were received in Vienna, one from Prussia and one from France, both urging the support of the status quo in Germany after rumours that the Federation was seeking to incorporate the south German states.
Victor Kraus (1856-1860)
1856 Presidential Election
Main article: 1856 Presidential Election On the whole the primaries of 1856 were a sedate affair, with most of the political maneuvring having already been performed. Indeed, the Radical Union’s pre-election conference served only to rubber stamp the unopposed Gabriel Soukup-Valenta. The Coalition’s nominating convention saw a spark of excitement when it was rumoured that Victor Kraus, who as leader of the ADCP and principle force behind the Coalition was the presumptive nominee, had pulled out of the race; in actual fact, he had merely been absent from Vienna on official Treasury business and therefore unable to attend one specific rally that was attended by large portions of the conservative press. He went on to win the nomination by such a significant margin that one of his opponents is reported to have said, “I’m beginning to doubt even my own mother would vote for me.”
Kraus: Betrayed (1856)
The election of 1856 turned out to be fairly straightforward. Despite a last minute attempt by the left to unite, Kraus had amassed an unbeatable coalition. In the end, he fell just short of a majority of the popular vote, but regardless stood secure in terms of both his popular vote share and his position in the Electoral College.
The government he appointed would always have been controversial. The interplay between State’s Rights and Federalism that was implicitly strained within the coalition agreements was the biggest of the many disagreements that threatened to set the government against itself. In the end, the predicted fracas between the Ministries of Security and the Interior across Michealplatz was averted; the seemingly irreconcilable opponents would come to be the only Ministers to remain loyal to Kraus. Kraus’s first aim was to set about the ending of the war. As such, he personally attended the War Council in Istanbul within the first month of his term. The plan was simple; gain total control of the Balkans and then push into Anatolia across the straits. The implementation, though, turned out to be far from simple. The first troops to land in Uskadar landed with little opposition at the end of July. The supposedly parallel invasion of Canakkale from Galipoli came almost a month later, by which point the Ottomans had given up their demands on Egypt, focussing all their efforts on protecting the Sultan in Ankara.
The delay was caused by arguments within the War Council about whether the second crossing was a good idea given there was little Ottoman resistance in the area; some Generals argued that it was unwise to split their forces given the Ottomans would clearly divert their forces back North, but ultimately those who argued it was safer to secure the Straits entirely won through. In hindsight, this could be seen as a mistake, for the resulting weakness in the Republican National Guard on its push towards Ankara allowed it to be intercepted by the feared Ottoman General Halil Pasha at Bolu on the Black Sea. In the resulting battle, the great Pasha managed to encircle the Federal troops despite starting out in a much worse position. Total defeat was only prevented by mass reinforcements being shipped over from the Balkans. Pasha’s army was repulsed from the city with hefty losses and leaderless (Pasha was a great general but a rather outspoken critic of the regime. Though of noble birth, he had long argued that the Sultan’s absolute power would only lead to defeat. He was court-martialled after defeat at Bolu for suggesting (in somewhat heightened language) that the government should fall back to a more defendable position than Ankara). Nonetheless, the battle had shaken both sides enough that peace soon followed; Albania and Bosnia were transferred to Danubian control and referendums were scheduled for Wallachia and Moldavia. The biggest loser from the peace was Greece, and by extension her sponsor, Great Britain, who gained none of the territory she had been promised. Almost immediately, Kraus found his new peace was false. The smell of rebellion soon spread throughout his government. The odour of coup seemed rather sweet to many in the army too, returning from a war torn Balkans to a Federation that had so recently evicted the army from her political nation. The plotters quickly chose to elect an Emperor to lead them, and Marshal Elias de Sanctis proved ideal for this role. His subsequent assassination at the hands of an Austrian in Vienna left the rebels in a momentary state of confusion, but they soon rallied round the Chief of the General Staff, Alexander Kremvera. The loyalists, by comparison, were racked by the loss of support and were left at a significant military disadvantage, especially after Bavaria attempted in integrate Silesia in the name of the Royalist cause. Though many Royalists were equally annoyed at this perceived invasion, they welcomed the support at least initially.
By mid-November, the siege of Budapest and the blockade of Candia by loyalist forces were both underway, while in the north, it was unclear which side would take Prague and with it much of Bohemia. The only battle between members of the regular forces resulted in victory for General István Balogh of the rebel army, cutting off the route into Bosnia for loyalist troops leaving the Ottoman Empire, though this was far from a major engagement and the real fighting had yet to begin.
The Situation in April 1857The early months of the uprising saw little by way of active fighting. Winter quarters were sought in a style more similar to previous centuries than the fairly modern era in which the war was fought. Royalist forces in particular were slow to leave Bosnia, thwarting Kremava's plans to relieve Budapest, as the city fell to Klemens Eckhel and the Republican National Guard who had joined the Slovak militia and Hungarian loyalist forces besieging the city. Imre Than took over the state government proper, appointing more ministers from amongst his associates in Vienna than Budapest. Vazsary managed to escape the city by boat in the dead of night, but most of his government were tried and hung for treason. In Crete, flooding during January and unseasonably cold weather into early March meant harvests were poor. Food prices rose quickly, with the total naval blockade starting to bite and rumours abounded of potential starvation. Despite this, the Winter and Spring of 1857 could not be seen as a triumph for the Republicans. Royalist forces pushed out of Bosnia in late February, gaining great swaths of land, while the only major set piece battle proved to bring victory for the Monarchist forces of Bohemia.
The Situation in May 1857
The May of 1857 went badly for both sides. Long expected Bavarian intervention made President Kraus's numerical disadvantage ever more severe while Kremvera suffered from mass defections. By far the most telling of these defections was former Minister of War, Jovan Lilic, who had been one of the initial conspirators and who subsequently fled to Albania and then Greece, dismayed at the increasingly international flavour of the war. The rate of desertion among Kremvera's forces was high, particularly in the few days following Lilic's defection; the rebels lost the equivalent of almost four regiments in just five days. By the end of May, even some of the new elites Kremvera was installing were becoming twitchy, with the new Grand-Duke of Bosnia attempting to make peace only to be deposed forcibly at the cost of a further two regiments. Crete too suffered badly. By mid-May, the Duke had handed himself over to Federal authorities in line with a negotiated surrender of the island. Unpopular both with the merchants for his intervention and the people for the widespread food shortages, it is predicted that only around one in five Cretans supported the Duke by this point; however, many Historians argue that through a combination of smuggling past the blockade and rationing current supplies, the island could have lasted perhaps for another six months - time enough, some suggest, for Kremvera, or foreign powers, to break the blockade. Regardless, though the island was of little strategic value in a land war, the propaganda value for the President was indeed great.Despite all this, Kremvera managed to score victory after victory in battle. The rate of progress for his armies into Transylvania and Hungary was definitely far slower than in previous months, thanks to stronger resistance from Federal troops in the area and greater strain being placed on the existing resources; however, all armies did manage to gain a good number of miles over the month. The 1st Southern Army was especially successful, and Alexander took pride in leading it himself. Combined with the Army of the North, it surrounded the (Republican) Naval Guard in the city of Split. Without naval support to facilitate an evacuation, and with supplies starting to run low, General Aldo Orsatti was forced to face Kremvera in the field. The Battle of Solin which resulted (named after one of the towns just off the city's peninsula) was a resounding defeat for Orsatti and the Republican troops. Of the roughly 18,000 men stationed in the city, only around 4,500 men managed to escape the city limits. Furthermore, Kremvera lost less than half the number of men Orsatti did, and all those who escaped were harassed all the way up the Dalmatian coast to such an extent that only Orsatti and three members of his bodyguard managed to reach the Republican command center in Ljubljana to convey the news; the rest of the 18,000 men of the naval guard were either killed or captured.
Kraus: The Greatest Enemy (1857)
It is often said that the pen is mightier than the sword, and there are few cases in history where this is truer than the fall of Alexander Kremvera. The styling of Napoleon where clear at the time, from the Imperial nature of his title to the opposition referring to him dismissively as the ‘Little General’, yet only in hindsight do the parallels between 1812 and 1857 become clear – both leaders were gaining victories and territory, but the cost of attrition, one to the bitter cold of the Russian winter and the other to the war of words, was too much for either army to bear. By the start of June, Kremvera’s forces had halved in size, but had not stopped going forwards; on the day of Kremvera’s death, Royalist forces were far enough North to be within 50 miles of both Vienna and Budapest and in full control of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Carniola and Trieste as well as large portions of San Marco, Austria, Hungary and Transylvania. In fact, to some observers in the capital, it appeared as if the Republic was doomed and talk spread of the need for intervention or governmental exile. Recent evidence suggests that no less than four different plans for the evacuation of the government were proposed. The only one to gain real traction within the governmental quarter of Vienna was the Democratic States of the Danube, proposed by Councillor Vertucci and quickly code named “Plan B”. Such a move would have seen the remainder of the cabinet, large parts of the civil service and those members of the Hofburg who had stayed loyal heading North through Prussia and the neutral North German states into France or some other acceptable location from which to organise the resistance movement to the new Imperial government.
Many historians argue that Kraus’s policy of protecting Vienna at all costs made this territorial transfer inevitable but also ensured that it very unlikely that Kremvera would ever actually be able to gain absolute victory, yet few would disagree that foreign powers stood behind the rebellion over the Republic; with the notable exception of France, the other great powers would doubtless have sided with the self-proclaimed Emperor. From this point of view, Kraus’s decision not to call in his French allies in the face of Bavarian intervention can be regarded as the turning point of the war. Regardless, on the 12th June 1857, Kremvera was found dead with a bullet from his own pistol lodged in his right temple. It was declared a suicide, though there is no positive proof to this day that it was, and the royalist forces put down their weapons within just a few days. The court trials of those involved in the coup continued for well over a year at almost all levels of criminal courts, while the referendums for the liberated territories, plus Crete, were given an official date (5th January 1858). More than anything, 1857 was defined by the rise of a new force within Europe; the Federation’s “greatest enemy”, nationalism, made its mark felt in 1857 as never before. This term for nationalism can be attributed to Minister Janos Papp in his autobiographic work, The Castle of my Crimes. Many point to the cover of the book’s 1920’s English edition, designed by an unknown artist at the vanguard of the surrealist movement and depicting a soldier standing atop some battlements in front of a French flag as an African Swallow flies past carrying a coconut, as a major source of inspiration for the writers of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In Silesia, the Radical candidate, Günther Knittel, took victory by less than 1% in the race to replace the evicted Chancellor against an overtly pan-German opponent, while in Transylvania, protesters gathered in public places to call for secession and the formation of a larger Romania. In Italy, pan-nationalist Redshirts took arms in the city of Massa in the first revolt of its kind.
In Bavaria, meanwhile, a fiercely nationalistic newspaper secured a copy of a contract between Kremvera and the King whereby the Bavarian crown renounced its claim on Silesia in exchange for 21% of the Federation’s gross income for five years. The Bavarian state’s desire to suppress the document was from an understandable fear of crisis, but Prussian and Russian hostility to the Federation meant that eventual ultimatum sent under pressure of popular support got warm receptions in both St Petersburg and Berlin; there were but three options – hand over Silesia, give over a fifth of the Federation’s net income away in the face of mounting debts or go war for the 4th time in a decade.In France, nationalism was even encouraged by the government. Under fire from a spreading Jacobin resistance to his rule, Napoleon III of France attempted that ever present mantra of the unpopular government – success abroad brings popularity at home. He tried to stir up nationalism in his favour within the country, with a fair deal of success, in the process, declaring war on Prussia for the Rhineland.
Mr Vazary has his sentence upheld, and the court of appeal subsequently increases Mr Weinberg's jail term to 25 years (This judge wasn't quite so resistant to political pressure as Lord Justice Kuel).
France cedes Alcase-Lorraine to Prussia after being comprehensively beaten. Two weeks later a Republic is proclaimed in Paris.
A group of around a thousand Hungarians from across all social groups in Budapest sign a manifesto renouncing their nationality in favour of 'Danubian'. A similar group follows them in Vienna, but so far few have followed them.
The conference in Bavaria has been convened.
A massive amount of state money has been spent building forts in the south as well as investing further in the railways.
Kraus: Peace (1857-1859)
The remainder of Kraus’s term was largely quiet. Referendums were held in the liberated territories in January of 1858, with only Wallachia opting to stay out of the Federation all together. Though the result in Bosnia was arguably more divisive given fear of Muslim power is said to have pushed many Christians in the area to have voted for union with Croatia rather than statehood, the refusal of the Duke of Moldavia to co-operate in the election had a more immediate consequence. Within two days of the news reaching Vienna that the Moldovan government would not allow elections, a Republic had been installed with martial rule - many argue that this intervention allowed Moldavia to join the Federation rather than follow Wallachia.
Regardless, with the Treaty of Innsbruck signed and ratified, the Federation was left free from external pressures for the first time in her short existence. Though the measures where unjustifiable in the eyes of many, they were easily complied with. Despite what the Bankruptcy Scare might have implied, the Federation’s economy boomed. The population started to grow properly from the first time in a decade. Industrial subsidies fell by 90% in 3 years, while the economy grew by around 10% over the same period. This growth in the economy led directly to the growth in the activities of trade unions, such that by late June 1859, the numbers taking to the streets in Transylvania (whose numbers showed little sign of diminishing) was dwarfed by the scale of the marches in Vienna and Budapest calling for the deregulation of trade unions. Tax revenues followed the latter, such that by Election Day over 90% of government expenditure was covered by conventional taxes, compared to less than half at the end of the Balkan-Levant War. On most days, the government surplus exceeded £1000; a previously unheard of figure. Indeed, the £400,000 owed to Bavaria was paid off in less than two years, in addition to £20,000 in interest and the eradication of some £60,000 in national debt, in addition to a large increase in the size of the Army, the reintroduction of funds to the proposed forts in Silesia and the south and the commission of 17 Novara-class ‘commerce raiders’ whose purpose ranged from patrolling the Adriatic to protecting the Federal Transport Squadron.
Some historians point to the National Unity Tour of 1858 as one of the great achievements of the era - this was an event that had the potential to mark the maturation of the Federation into adulthood, embracing the ideals of the revolution as one rather than becoming stuck in a perpetual loop of internal strife. Logistically, it was a great success, after all taking 20-odd politicians to almost every state in 3 months is a tall order. Politically too it reaped great rewards, with its organizer, Councillor Vertucci, reported as being the most popular Federal politician in every state except Austria at one point in 1858. Despite all this, the tour the significance of the tour is easily overestimated, for, not only were the effect short-lasting, but its success was largely due to the times rather than the idea - looking back, it is much more of a symptom of the age then its greatest achievement.Overseas, a Portuguese attempt to subjugate Tunisia was rebuffed by French intervention. Seeking to assert her Great Power status, Portugal condemned herself to an unsustainable debt cycle and bankruptcy followed defeat as surely as the country’s brief foray in the spotlight quickly faded. The new French Republic’s government, meanwhile, only got suffering as reward for victory. Anarcho-Liberal groups claimed that the government’s support was rash and threatened to destroy the Republic – as time passed, their increasingly severe demands went unheeded, until the imprisonment of a leader of the French Libertarian Party set off a chain reaction that embroiled the country in yet another civil war. At home, the Adriatic Trading Company, in whom much of the political establishment held shares, claimed that the Tunisian navy were constantly harassing their peaceful shipping, with the sinking of the Acropolis in November 1859 leading to open demands for war. One group, called the ‘colonial league’ gained popular support across the nation – to them, such a colonial war was easy pickings, high reward and diplomatically stable given the French condition, and with the Primary season approaching, speculation grew louder than ever.
Gabriel Soukup-Valenta (1860-1868)
1860 Presidential Election
Main article: 1860 Presidential Election The primaries of 1859 were nothing more than a rubber stamp. All the political dealings having gone on in the months before, many newspapers relegated the primaries well into their inner pages - the political nation had after all divided itself neatly into three competing blocs, with the All-Danubian Conservative Party, now the Federation’s sole party to have fought in all three elections, fielding Kraus’s Minister of Security, Janos Papp, and the Radical Union fielding the long time President of Bohemia, Gabriel Soukup-Valenta, under the banner of the National Reform Union. Even the usually boisterous liberals had united under one banner for the first time since the heyday of the Slavic and Romanian Liberal Party in the form of Councillor Rodrigo Vertucci and the Federal Democratic Party.
Soukup-Valenta: Dancing on the Edge (1860)
The election of 1860 was by no means clear cut. The implosion of the Liberal bloc led by the Federal Democratic Party effectively secured victory for the left, yet wafer thin victories for the Conservative party in Austria and Hungary prevented the whitewash predicted in the pre-election analysis, while the record low turnout took away the clear mandate that such a victory should have brought. Regardless, this first victory by a radical party was historic in itself.Abroad too, historic elections were taking place. In America, the election of President Lincoln seemed to signal the start of a prolonged civil strife, having gained easy victory in every free state of the Union while failing to win even one where slavery was legal. Yet, somehow, Lincoln managed to preserve peace in a miraculous way; state after state brought forward resolutions for secession, only for them to fall a few votes short of enactment. In Prague, particularly, radicals were emboldened by their victory. The city, long famous for its leftist tendencies, became the centre for radical thinkers. Within just two months of the new President’s inauguration, no less than three societies in the city were promoting a new brand of radicalism they called ‘socialism’. Two days after the promised complete deregulation of trade unions was signed into law, Austria’s Councillor Schmidt was in the city to proclaim a new socialist party dedicated to the betterment of the working peoples; he called it the Social Democratic Party. Its pronouncement brought fear across the political spectrum, from the conservatives who abhorred such rabble-rousing action to the President, unprepared for a split in his party so soon into his term. The President had other worries early in his term too. The appointment of his flagship Diplomatic Corps brought about accusations of cronyism and corruption. To many in the press and on the right, the reward of highly-paid, civil service jobs for prominent supporters of Valenta’s campaign was nothing less than an affront to democracy and the meritocratic principles upon which the state was supposed to be built. To the government, it was nothing more than previous governments had done to ensure their policies could be enacted and considerably more legal than some actions of the last decade. To satiate fears, the Minister of Justice, the very same Lukas Schmidt whose political machinations threatened to destroy the Radical Union, announced an independent judge-led inquiry into allegations of corruption since the Federations foundation. Lord Justice Poriski was charged with leading the investigations in conjunction with the Federal and Metropolitan Police, though the results would not be published for another couple of years.
The Diplomatic Corps did have a wider affect than just on domestic politics. Their biggest success arguably came in Italy, where Giovanni Arpaio successfully managed to negotiate a treaty change with both Sardinia-Piedmont and Tuscany – in the deal, the relationship became much more like that between the Federal government and the states, with Federal government being given the power to legislate with respect to both of the two countries in return for deeper financial and political assistance and guarantees against Garibaldi’s red shirts. Meanwhile, Salamon Rosza’s posting to Britain convinced Westminster that the Federation was keen to promote trade, in what became a powerful message when combined with Valenta’s actions against the Tunisian pirates and his three-fifths cut in the overall tariff rate. Such was British enamour with this turn of events that a diplomatic cable received on the President’s desk in March 1860 asked for an alliance between the two nations. That said, the Diplomatic Corps did have one major failure, and it was one that played straight into the hands of those who argued politicians should not start replacing the professional and well established, Overseas and Diplomatic Service, which was part of the Foreign Ministry rather than accountable to the President’s Private Office. Such was French anger at the repeated faux pas committed by Pavel Pištora in his time in Paris, in particular his obstinacy in refusing French domination over Tunisia, that the Treaty of Milan was not renewed as it was scheduled to in the April of 1860. The logic goes that the ODS would have been less confrontational in its approach and that the alliance could have been salvaged if it weren’t for mistakes made by ill-experienced politicians. In Tunisia itself, the atmosphere was no less icy. An attempt by reactionaries in the state to seize power by force was thwarted in February, but this small victory for the Bey failed to restore order in any meaningful sense. Pirate attacks continued to mount throughout the spring and into the summer, while the Red Star Fleet became an ever more common presence in Tunisian waters. By March, the Adriatic Trading Company had bought, embezzled or captured 15 coastal cities, primarily focused around the northern port of Bizerte and the southern one of Gabes. In total, the company had 30,000 mostly German mercenaries in the country by mid-May when the unthinkable happened; while patrolling off the Maltese coast, the DFS Metternich, the Federal flagship, was lost to Davey Jones’s locker at the hands of the pirates. The issue could no longer be ignored and with no official word from the President in the morning papers, speculation mounted and ATC stock soared.
Soukup-Valenta: Into Africa (1860)
The siege of Tunis set the tone for the months that followed it. The city fell, but only after six weeks of Federal troops staring at the high walls. A combination of administrative and logistical errors meant that the artillery requested didn’t arrive in time to be of any use. Poor intelligence left commanders substantially overestimating the strength of the force beyond the gates, such that a direct assault was never attempted even though the Tunisians were at a clear disadvantage. Even once the siege was over, the results were distinctly underwhelming, with no Bey, no government and no real gain to be had. Over the next six months, Federal troops slowly gained ground, pushing back an elusive enemy from the coast into the desert. Where set piece battles could be claimed, such at Gafsa in October 1860, the Federal troops showed their great superiority. Yet as the war went on and the fighting left the leafy tidewater, more often then not the enemy would, in the words of one unknown soldier, “melt into the desert sands”. Federal troops were still making territorial gains throughout, with almost the entire coast under the Federation’s control by the start of the new year, yet attrition levels to both the elements and the guerrilla tactics the soldiers faced started to mount.
Meanwhile, legal proceeds began in earnest against the Adriatic Trading Company in Vienna. Try as it might, Federal prosecutors were unable to actually pin anything on most of the leading figures in the ATC. For those few who were found guilty, it was only of minor cases of fraud which were generally unconnected with the Tunisian affair. The Supreme Court simply couldn’t find the legal basis for the illegality of actions performed in other countries. That is not to say that the ATC was on the way to recovery, because the Company was slowly imploding. Within two hours of the declaration of war on Tunisia, the Company was taken off the stock market. The all remaining shares were bought by the company for, on average, 12% of their original price. Just two weeks later, most of the Company’s ships were sold off to various private companies across the Adriatic. The very survival of what had become a shell of its former glory rested on retaining some influence in Tunisia – in an attempt to stop what seemed inevitable, the Company shoveled more and more money into the Bey and the Tunisian resistance.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the whole affair was the impact it had on the economy. Though the financial crisis was not as bad as was first expected, the growth of the Kraus administration vanished. Companies stopped hiring new staff and factories ceased to expand. It took the stock market in Vienna five months to recover from the downward spiral of decay that the ATC represented. Though it caused panic, the recession never came and, save for an unlucky few, most households were unaffected. Unemployment rose slightly, but an increase in government subsidies offset this trend, as did renewed investment into infrastructure. For the government, however, the financial picture was less rosy; a toxic mixture of planned tax cuts, shortfalls in revenue, increased domestic spending and fighting a war took their toll on the Federal exchequer. The Federal debt was reintroduced in July to allow the government to borrow the money it needed – deficits of several hundred pounds daily left a fairly hefty (and ever growing) debt on the shoulders of the Treasury. To many it seemed that the Government was falling apart from within, not least the prominent Croatian Councillor, Janos Papp, who is reported to have said, “This war is a useless expense to assert the already faltering authority of this government, not even a year after its election.” Overseas, the slave-owning, primarily southern Confederate States of America declared their independence from the Free states of the Union, following the lead of Virginia. President Lincoln officially recognised the rebellion in a speech to Congress on the 29th December 1860, where he famously quoted from the Gospel of Saint Mark, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” In the earlier words of King George III about the last time the Americans had a civil war, “blows must decide.”
Soukup-Valenta: Lawyers, Legacies and L-Shapes (1861)
Vienna was certainly busy in the first few months of 1861. The Hofburg was a hive of controversy with the question of the legality of monarchies continuing to rear its head, but 1861 also marked a coming of age of one institution within the palace formerly thought of as a mere formality. The select committees had, since the Republic’s inception in 1848, scrutinised and offered amendments to the legislation passing through the Hofburg, but, on 28th June 1861, the Select Committee for Political Reform blocked a bill that had the approval of both the Assembly and the Council. This historic first was reaffirmed by the courts in spite of legal challenges by the government. According to the Committee, the Referendum Requirements Act was impractical to institute and dangerous if it did, and that was that; the bill got no further.
The courts, meanwhile, were dealing with a row that emerged from Tunisia over the appointment of Matthias von Marius-Parsifal, a socialist councillor for the small state of Carnolia, as Military Governor of the occupied territories. Famed for its beaches, despite having just 27 miles of coastline of which the vast majority is mountainous and rocky, the state has been far more successful in keeping its image in spite of circumstances than the man who was quickly ratted and evicted from his post. Ironically, the league of trading companies that united against him failed in their primary aim of removing the barriers to trade he instituted, with the Chief of the General Staff electing not to revoke them when he took over the reigns of Tunisian government.
Political strife in Vienna over what would become the Beylik and Protectorate of the Tunisian Emirate, a quasi-colony ostensibly under the rule of a native Bey but in reality under the control of a federally appointed Governor, contrasted with the success gained by the Naval Guard in subduing those areas of the nation still resisting Federal control. Helped by the termination of ATC funding to the Tunisian forces as the company sought to prevent nationalisation at all costs, victory can largely be attributed to a series of top-down reforms originating from Symon Revenjo which promoted the use of the irregular style employed by the enemy forces. In the end, it took until August for the war to be officially declared over, and, despite fears that the Tunisians would continue to resist, the region remained largely calm.
The 21st of August also marked the official end of the Adriatic Trading Company. Amid a growing government debt, £100,000 was spent compensating the remaining investors for their losses; the ATC simply didn’t own the assets that the Government planned to sell on nationalisation. However, the one thing it did have left made the purchase a bargain. The Suez Canal, constructed by the company and opened just weeks before, made Danubian waters in the Mediterranean the prime route to the East and the Federal Government had got it for just £100,000. For the ATC, it also provided a silver lining – the canal remains to this day a lasting legacy of the Company, with even the monolithic Adriatic House in Vienna not surviving even a year longer than its constructor. It was a splendid last hurrah and a fitting end to a Company that defined the politics of its day.
Meanwhile in America, neither side of the conflict could score a conclusive blow to take the upper hand. As the fighting wore on, focused on a the L-shaped area that makes up Virginia, Kentucky and the Mississippi valley, the Union pressed its initial advantage in terms of population and naval might to increase the pressure on Richmond, scoring victories at Huntington, West Virginia, Lexington, Kentucky, and Malden, Missouri, as well as on the Pacific coast and Idaho; yet the success gained by Confederate forces in mitigating Union territorial gains and even liberating some areas, like Louisiana which had fallen into the Union’s hands, meant that the war was far from over. To many in Richmond, the military size of affairs was secondary to the diplomatic struggle – it was argued that recognition by the Great Powers of Europe for the new state would make it impossible for the Union to win the political struggle that formed the basis of the civil war. While such recognition was roundly rejected in Vienna, epitomised through the deportation to New York of the Confederacy’s Ambassador, Britain and France continued to sit on the fence and the war hung in the balance.
Soukup-Valenta: Out of the Frying Pan (1861-1862)
In America, the civil war raged on, with the Union continuing to retain the upper hand. For President Valenta, this war would remain “an all-American affair” as long as it was within his power to keep Britain and France from intervening. Calls for a peace conference from his own back-benchers were rebuffed by the President, unwilling as he was to recognise the Confederacy in the way such a meeting would have required; yet, his own Vice-President was dispatched with all haste to Paris and London in an effort to present a unified European front – initial responses to this idea were positive, yet only time would tell if it would be enough to stop Europe from sticking its collective noses into the American’s war.
Domestically, little of note occurred over the period. The Treasury managed to decrease the Federal debt by around a fifth and Congress, as ever, was busy with inane arguments. The only truly momentous occasion came on 28th August 1862. Two days before the one year deadline described in the act that created it, the Referendum on Federal Monarchies was finally held. In spite of a heavy police presence, violence was rife. Riots broke out in cities as disparate as Breslau and Bucharest as tensions ran high. Three states (Silesia, Crete and San Marco) were placed under martial law as the conflict continued to mount throughout the weeks proceeding the vote and the National Guard was called out in far more. Vienna saw arguably the worst of the violence, being split between the traditionally conservative Austrians and the left-leaning urbanites and bureaucrats; the estimated cost in the city alone, with taking account for fatalities, is somewhere in the region of £50,000, or 5/6 of the sum Federal debt. Nationally, the Government estimated that 1,200 lost their lives in the biggest wave of coordinated action since 1848; historians today put the figure far higher. Even the result was controversial; official figures from the Federal Electoral Commission put turnout at 63% with 74% in favour of making monarchies illegal. However, in some states, most notably Transylvania and Carniola, turnout hardly reached 30%; some states, such as Silesia, were against the proposal by five-to-one. Compounding all this were accusations made by both sides of vote rigging, which the FEC refused to investigate given the chaos that surrounded the day. The vote came before Congress with the clock ticking to accept the result of the referendum or face fresh elections; it was nothing if not controversial.
Less than three weeks later, with the provinces still not truly calm, a messenger arrived from the Egyptian Embassy stating that the Kingdom of Spain had declared war upon the state, which had been under Federal protection since the Treaty of Trieste and the transfer of Crete. The Spanish Embassy confirmed the situation, stating that they were only taking this action to restore rightfully Ottoman territory. Rumour had it in Vienna that this was a last ditch attempt by a failing Spanish regime to restore its international prestige. The only question that remained was, would the Federation be going to war again, having only been at peace for a year?
Soukup-Valenta: At What Cost?... (1862-1863)
Following the narrow defeat of the referendum in the Hofburg palace, apocalyptic visions of the descent into anarchy abounded. The reality couldn’t have been further from the truth; the average Transylvanian or Galician really didn’t have the depth of feeling to cause trouble. Indeed, the talk of revolution and secession in the towns of Silesia disappeared overnight. That said, the period was hardly tranquil; President Valenta attempted to prevent the dissolution of Congress through executive action, but the Supreme Court dismissed this action as unconstitutional. Historians have long debated if the dissolution of Congress would have been harmful to the country, but, perhaps fortunately, it never came. The Danubian Revolutionary Brigades, a Republican militia formed during the Kremvera’s civil war and later having seen action in the fields of Bavaria, took action into its own hands; having found too little support in the regions to cause chaos nationally, the group went into what seemed like hibernation but was actually a dormant state of planning and preparation. Suddenly, on 26th February 1863, with no warning, the DRB marched on Bratislava with some 10,000 of its most radicalised supporters. Within a week, their number had more than quintupled. Then, they marched on Vienna. The Republican National Guard did make an attempt to keep back the rebels at Hainburg an der Donau on the Austrian border, but a combination of poor leadership and overconfidence lead to a humiliating defeat. All that was left was to organise a full scale retreat from the city. The institutions of Government were transferred south to the city of Sopron, just inside Hungary, where the Supreme Court suspended the snap Congressional elections until when they were scheduled to occur anyway – in a sense, the DRB had achieved a stability that had eluded even the President. On the other hand, they had seized the capital by force, which is hardly conducive to a stable democracy.
In Crete, Federal troops had far more success. The Danubian Expeditionary Force, stationed in Albania at the time of the uprising, was scrambled to the island. They arrived on October 1st, the same day, incidentally, as the states of San Marco and Lombardia officially merged to from Cisalpina. By this point, Metaxas had total control of the island. His Revolutionary Guard had routed out those who openly opposed him fairly brutally; public hangings were not uncommon. As soon as the DEF landed in Chania it became clear Metaxas had failed. The Federal troops were greeted as liberators by many, even some who had been ardent supporters of the Venetian Dukes. The same was true in every town the DEF entered; Kalyves, Vamos, Lappa, Rethimnon, Perama. Only in the outskirts of Heraklion did the atmosphere change. Metaxas was a native of the city and almost every member of his Government came from the city, not to mention the money he had lavished on the city, at the expense of the rest of the island. It was quickly decided that, with naval support unavailable, there was no choice but to storm the city walls. The ensuing battle was gory, to say the least, resulting in the death of some 2000 Federal troops and most of the Revolutionary Guard. Metaxas was eventually captured in the city’s Ducal Palace and handed over to the Republican authorities.
Meanwhile, the Federation was actually officially at war facing more than just some organised rebels. The Navy was quickly deployed to cancel out any threat from the Spanish ships. The first few engagements actually went fairly badly, because Tuscan and Sardinian ships were set upon by Spanish vessels before the Federal Fleets had even passed Sicily. Only the timely arrival of the Adriatic Protection Fleet averted the end of Tuscan and Sardinian support through the sinking of their fleet. Twin victories at Sassari and Toulon vindicated the expense of the new ships with their first taste of battle. By the end of 1862, not a single port on the Spanish mainland was operational, such as the dominance of the Federal ships and the efficacy of the ensuing blockade. The rest of Phase 1 on General Revenjo’s master plan for the war was the invasion of the small areas of Spanish Europe outside of Iberia. By April 1863, both the Balearic Isles and Melilla were in Danubian hands with the Canaries being slowly occupied by the Southern Reserve Corps. The plan was taken up even more eagerly by the Sardinians, who sent a small detachment to the Philippines.
The biggest event of war actually occurred near the city of Nice in the spring of 1863. 95,000 Spaniards marched over the Pyrenees and the south of France, where they met the two Federal armies and all the troops the Sardinians could muster, totaling just under 92,000 men. The battle for the city lasted from 16th January, when the Federal Fourth Army first engaged the Spanish Sixth Army, until 20th March when, at the cost of some 54,000 men, the Federal forces were proved victorious as the Spanish armies fled. The losses were terrible, but with 84,000 lost on the Spanish side, the calamity was nothing compared to the Iberian national tragedy.
In America, the Civil War continued to progress with the Union occupying ever more of the South. Valenta schemes within Europe seemed to be working. With this in mind he sent observers on behalf of the Federation to investigate reports of new weapons. The biggest innovation they reported during the first six months of the investigation stole the imagination of the President to such an extent that he ordered 10 of them to be constructed within the Federation as soon as they could be. The Ironclad was the latest revolution in shipbuilding technology and gave the US Navy supremacy all the way from Charlestown to New Orleans over the (much smaller) Confederate Navy.
Soukup-Valenta: Royally Screwed (1863)
1863 had started badly for the Federation. Vienna was in the hands of the Danubian Revolutionary Brigades, many of the military leadership, including Minister of War, Andrei Popa, and Chief of the General Staff, Symon Revenjo, in league with the rebels and even many Congressmen refusing to condemn the rebels, instead preferring negotiations. That is what President Valenta delivered, and as they got underway, moderation won out, and those who had initially endorsed using violence tried to scramble back to where they had been. In a final gambit to get back in with the Federation, Revenjo ordered what guns he had to fire upon Vienna. It was a stupid move, outnumbered as he was; most of the armies he had ordered to converge on Vienna were hardly leaving their quarters. Regardless, one short barrage was enough to get him acquitted in a court of law when charged with treason. The damage was minimal to the city and his troops, who retreated as soon as the DRB attempted to return fire, but not perhaps for his reputation; though he was restored to command in Spain, many in Vienna continued to view his motives with suspicion. Popa did not get off so lightly; he was eventually convicted for his responsibility in the secession of Romania and jailed for the rest of his life. In the end, the vast majority of the DRB’s demands were passed over, yet the President did offer three things: a general amnesty for all rebels, with their leader Lukas Schmidt being held responsible for all crimes, the foundation of a committee to reform the Electoral College and the abolition of all monarchies within the Federation. Eric Schmidt was found guilty of sufficient crimes to imprison him for three hundred years and hang him fifteen times. His moral defence, that his crimes were legitimised by the spirit of the Revolution that had brought the Federation into being, continues to be studied by linguists, historians and lawyers alike; the courts ruling, that rebellion against the legitimate government and the law was not sufficient excuse for committing such crimes is still seen by many as the real end of the Danubian Revolution.
Congress, however, did not accept the President’s right to negotiate such sweeping change. In the Declaratory Act, Congress nearly unanimously affirmed the supremacy of Congress over the Presidency. A Supreme Court challenge on behalf of the Schönbrunn failed to repeal the act, but did confirm the right of the President to act through executive order. As such, only the constitutional change barring monarchies was blocked. In the Hofburg, the debate dragged on and on, but it became unclear if either world-view would prevail. One man, the newly appointed Minister of War, Wojciech Gomułka, attempted to carry the treaty with force. Though some military elements did pledge support, he had totally misjudged the mood in Vienna – tired of the constant conflict, the majority had no desire for more war. His coup never took off, and he ended it within two days of its declaration; his suicide from within the chambers of the Hofburg itself deeply shocked the political nation, but the President seemed unphased as he declared Imre Than his third Minister of War in less than a month. Even so, the issue remained unresolved; as the clock ticked down on the 4th Congress, no agreement could be found.
Meanwhile, the long predicted protests started to materialise. In Vienna, people angered at the chaos brought by the DRB took to the streets as pro-choice. These men were not pro-monarchies per se, but they did oppose intervention by the Government on these issues. Outside the city, the DRB had a completely different effect, galvanising those who supported abolition, in proof that their voice could achieve something. Though there were copycat violent groups formed, mostly in more traditionally radical areas like Slovakia and Bohemia, the majority of protests remained peaceful. Indeed, the biggest night of violence seen over these months of discontent was seen in Vienna, as the pro- and anti- monarchy protestors met. Within the space of two hours, a hundred and fifty people are estimated to have died as isolated incidents in the streets turned into all out rioting. Order was only restored when the Republican National Guard left its barracks. The city was getting quite a reputation for violence. In Spain, by contrast, the news was extremely positive. The invasion of Valencia, though admittedly an inheritance from his predecessor, was relentlessly pursued by Minister Than to great success. At losses considerably lower than had been seen in Nice, the Spanish army was more or less destroyed and the Spanish mainland put under considerable threat.
Revenjo even managed to make up for his prior mistakes with a crushing victory over Spanish forces trying to force the 1st Southern Army back into the sea. The navy, meanwhile, scored victory after victory; the new Ironclad ships proved themselves capable in open combat, the first Ironclads under Danubian flags had experienced. By October, Spain was forced to the negotiating table, ceding the city of Melilla to the Federation. Victory had been achieved and, most importantly, Federal interests in Egypt had been protected. Concerns that the Federation was open to attack from Reactionary forces were further satiated as Prussia found itself embroiled once more in war with France over the latter’s claims on Alsace-Lorraine, though the state of the Federal treasury certainly didn’t make for pleasant reading for the radicals as the primary season approached once again.
Soukup-Valenta: Déjà vu? (1864-1865)
Main articles: Déjà vu?; 1864 Presidential Election
The election of 1864 was remarkable in many ways. To give just a few examples, the presence of a Liberal on every electoral ticket or the complete failure of the Liberal leadership to commit to a coalition even when it became clear that there simply was insufficient support for the outmaneuvred FDP and there was the possibility of union with both of the other candidates. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect, though, was the outcome, which saw Gabriel Soukup-Valenta become the first President to gain re-election. Often attributed to the strength of the Radical Union on a local level and the loyal following in the industrial cities of the Carpathians, the President overcame fiscal woes and personal attacks to swear the Oath of Office for a second time at the High Altar of St Stephen’s Cathederal. Being a Catholic Cathedral, St Stephen’s was a controversial choice for the inaugurations of a supposedly secular Presidency. The venue was only selected as the permanent site of inauguration prior to Codrinaru’s ascension after a clause was implemented, but which was never used, allowing the oaths to be taken at Metternich’s tomb instead. His victory was by no means assured, however, with his lead both in terms of popular vote and Electoral College seats eroded by his opponents.
Concurrently, the state of Carniola conducted a vote to determine its future. Emboldened by the unification of the Danubian-Italian states, pan-Slavic nationalists, of the sort not seen since the heyday of the Slavic and Romanian Liberal Party, forced a motion for the integration of the small state into Croatia onto the ballot. The result was uncompromising; 89% supported this new Illyrian construct. Fears of Austro-Hungarian dominance, fostered during the state’s rule by the tiny German minority and the internal conflicts of the Federation’s early years, made the Slovenes reach out to their Slavic neighbours for support. It was only a few months later that accusations of a massive Russian funding campaign emerged. No conclusive proof ever materialised, but the circumstantial evidence suggested Russian businesses in the region were merely covers for a wider operation. A small number of the papers were outraged, becoming increasingly xenophobic and anti-Russian. The more sensible ones urged caution, arguing that wild accusations would only harm relations with Russian and other powers alike.
The new government’s first actions were aimed at addressing the yawning deficit. A raft of legislation was forced through Congress expanding the Treasury’s powers to levy taxes, seeing tax rates increase for the first time in a decade. In addition, the Finance Minister, Crepko Obradovic, published his “peace-time budget”, a document slashing capital expenditure and reducing the military budget slightly, on the back of a commitment to the retention of peace. Councillor Than, the FDP candidate for the Presidency, was quoted as saying, “I should sue that thief for plagiarism”, referring no doubt to the similarity between his own platform and the administration’s fiscal actions, though he later denied the statement and neither party came off particularly well from the debacle. Initially all seemed well, but the cracks in the plan began to emerge as the figures rolled in over the coming months. State after state reported increased unemployment and industrial stagnation. For a country whose factories were primarily tuned to heavy industry and the armed forces, this austerity brought with it suffering. The fact that the populace were still largely employed by agricultural activities averted chaos, yet it spelled trouble for Obradovic and Valenta’s grand plan. Their policy of intervention may have saved the country from greater troubles, but it meant that 10% of the deficit still remained: by March that year, subsidies to industry had risen almost fivefold, the majority of which was accounted for in a small number of artillery and small arms factories and canneries in Slovakia, Silesia and Bohemia. It must be stressed that this phenomenon was acute to these heavy industries, showing clear correlation with government spending; capitalists in states like Austria were happily setting up more consumer-focused plants dealing in materials like glass even as the bust deepened in the North. As the crisis deepened, Valenta’s government took further action, but much of the press simply mocked what was labelled as “Emergency Inaction” - minimal changes, like a small increase in the taxes of the richest third and the sale of 10 wind-powered capital ships to Brazil, were made to a scheme that few outside the administration would actually support and even government agencies were happy to openly attack.
As the economic situation continued to deteriorate, the rest of Germany seemed to be following the Federation down the plug hole. In Bavaria, Pan-German nationalists role up, and though defeated, marked the start of an era in which such nationalists were happy to fight against the Great Powers of Europe, and in the back of the everyone’s mind was the knowledge that sooner or later these nationalists would strike in the north, where war with the French had just left the Prussian Eagle, battered and bruised, running home as fast as its wings would carry it. Little over five years had passed since the Prussian state had annexed the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine when they were forced at the Peace of Antwerp on 1st July to hand it back.
This peace might have heralded humiliation for the Prussians, but for their Southern neighbour it was a more joyous affair than could be anticipated – for Valenta, the military men of France did more than the Danube’s politicians ever could. Peace in Europe meant prosperity and, though those heavy industries struggled and continued to rely on the state, tax receipts and duty payments went up just as spending decreased thanks to projects like the new Ironclads that would form the Blue Star Fleet being completed on budget and ahead of schedule. By mid-September, the Government made its first repayment of £10,000 on the £183,000 accumulated and hope returned to the nation. Then two events broke the spell of good fortune. The first was the Wallachian Integration Bill; an act aimed at the total annexation of the Duchy of Wallachia, which had been legally tied to the Federation since the end of the Balkan and Levant War. The bill, proposed by Councillor Drăculeşti of Romania, was intentionally incendiary, declaring, “For too long the petty kingdom of Wallachia has put down the natives Vlachs under Wallachian jackboot”. In Vienna it achieved widespread contempt – to some it was a breach of an international treaty, to others an affront to the principles of democracy and to others a vehicle for Romanian domination. The irony here did not go unnoticed in the press. Not so long ago Transylvanians had lived in fear of their Hungarian ‘oppressors’, now the aggressors were most definitely the Romanians. For historians, the watershed moment of this change is best illustrated by the state’s changing name; the former symbolising to its people the past’s subjugation and the other the hope for expansion. Abroad, it was received with a cold silence, save for in two nations. In Bucharest, the Wallachian capital, the reply came as a stern no; not in a million years. This response is largely seen as the death of the Romanian Unification Movement, which had held protests across the state for years, but the more important answer came from Istanbul, where the Sultan, aggrieved by his loss of the Duchy not long before, issued a hands-off warning.
Had the Ottomans not been scheming in other areas, it is possible war might have been averted, but events on the Nile conspired to bring war upon the Danube. Ottoman officials had slowly been building power within Egypt under the noses of the Danubian administrators, under the pretext of aiding development but actually supporting an isolationist policy that would eradicate Western influences, culminating on the Egyptian Embassy Crisis of January 1855. Egyptian troops attempted to enforce an eviction notice sent to an unsuspecting President in Vienna. For two days the siege lasted, but, with no orders from above due to poor communications, the Ambassador was forced to surrender. His final act of defiance sparked what would become known as the War of Egyptian Submission, as he sent the Governor of Suez an order to resist Egyptian forces. This order spiralled into all out war, as the Valenta administration watched on helplessly. First the Ottomans declared their full support for the Egyptian cause, citing the Federations encroachment on their state and the situation in Wallachia. Then, they pulled in their ally, the United Kingdom, a nation beaten by the French with a government heading into an election and desperate to salvage some victory while still angry about the Federation’s failure to support Greece and worried about the implications of a foreign controller of Suez. History was set to repeat itself, as the Federation went to war once more with the Turks and the budget looked sure to spiral out of control again. The question was what action would be taken to ensure a Federal victory overseas against the most powerful naval force in the world, and could the Exchequer survive the trip?
Soukup-Valenta: Once More Unto the Breach (1865)
As January rolled into February, and as the troops were still marching happily to war without the knowledge of what was to come, two momentous events occurred just outside the Federation’s borders. The first was an invasion, as quick as it was unexpected, of the tiny Italian city state of Lucca. Despite being an ally of the Federation, no notification reached the desk of the President until the Belgian King, Leopold I, declared the state officially integrated into his realm. No sources survive explaining the lack of such notification, but various historians have proposed theories from internal rebellion to a pro-Belgian coup to explain the mysterious oversight and even mischief from among the civil service keen to retain the Federation’s alliance with Belgium. The only thing we really know for definite is that the invasion was bloodless, as is testified in numerous contemporary accounts of the city’s surrender, and that it was quickly accepted by the majority of European powers, both as too insignificant to matter and, tentatively, beneficial in a region that had seen much nationalist violence.
Meanwhile, a second successive attempt by the Romanians to enforce their hegemony, this time via the ballot box, drove events beyond even the imagination of the infamous Councillor Drăculeşti. Following the example of Tuscany and Piedmont-Sardinia, the Wallachian Prince had embraced the Danubian spirit into which he had been so unwillingly thrust and enacted a series of reforms creating the state’s first ever elected parliament and Prime Minister. The week after there was to be a referendum, earlier than billed under the Romanian legislation but brought forwards under the directive of the Interior Ministry that this issue should not be left to fester. There is a saying nowadays that a week is a long time in politics, but never has this proved more the case than in that short week in February. On the first Sunday, the elections were held, inconclusive in their nature leaving the broad range of parties frantically trying to form coalitions. Monday and Tuesday passed and still the Prince had not appointed a Prime Minister, with his preferred parties each in turn failing to amass the required majority. In the Royal Palace, the situation became ever more fraught until, under pressure from his advisors and almost certainly from elements within Romania too, the Prince appointed Radu Banciu, a well-known Liberal activist and a personal enemy of the Prince. Their relationship was perceived as so fraught that, the following day, the Ministry of Security, again most likely under Romanian pressure, was forced to guarantee the referendum and sanction the use of the Romanian militia to ensure order, albeit with the oversight of Federal officials. No-one was more pleased by this than Councillor Drăculeşti himself, declaring in a private letter that “This will allow us to apply the necessary pressure with ease. Those Federal pansies don’t have eyes everywhere!” In Bucharest, the mood was less jovial; Banciu called an emergency session of Parliament on the Friday to officially reject the Federation’s right to interfere in Wallachian internal affairs. By noon on the Saturday, with Parliament still in session, Banciu had been given almost complete dictatorial powers. Within two hours, and with the full support of the (fiercely nationalistic) Army, he had abolished both the Monarchy and the Parliament which had given him power, executed the Prince, declared himself President and unilaterally annulled all treaties the Wallachian state had with the Federation. By Sunday, the coup was complete and both Romania and Vienna were powerless to act. The referendum was no more.
Internally, the Federation was gearing up for war. Along the corridors of power, one of the fiercest debates was over the wartime budget. The questions were simple: how far should the Government’s budgetary targets stand in the way of the war effort and how much far could they tax the populace? The latter, to those with any say over the budget, was simple; a long, long way. By mid-March, when the war really got underway, the highest tax payers were subject to rates as high as 66% and even the lowest were supposed to contribute well over half of their income to the state, leaving little money in the pockets of investors and seeing the rate of growth slow in a more uniform manner than the year before; yet there were certainly pockets of growth, with the Slovak steel industries being a prime example. Rejuvenated by greater military spending necessitated by the war, the factories of the region went from sucking up hundreds of pounds everyday to contributing to the economy. Similar revivals were underway in other states afflicted by the recession of ’64 even though the lack of investment still bit hard in these areas, with no new constructions and factories in need of expansion but lacking the capital to do so. The real debate emerged over what sort of provisions should be made in the governments spending plans to account for the war they found themselves in. To many there was only one clear course of action – the Finance Minister, Crepko Obradovic, and keeper of the keys to the Treasury, was ironically one of the most ardent supporter of a ‘war at all costs’ approach. The President, however, won the day, arguing that the nation was now “fighting a war on two fronts; one with guns and one with gold.” The underlying logic was certainly gamble on the strength of the enemy, because it would risk leaving the soldiers undersupplied and the regiments undermanned, but the administration argued that fighting the strongest economic power in the world meant that the exchequer would have to sustained for the long term; controlling the debt burden remained the government’s focus, therefore, even as war came to the Danube. This constancy did ensure that the Treasury was still typically earning money over the course of the war, and a small amount of the debt was paid off over that first year, but ultimately the success of the policy would not become clear until the war had been concluded and the result settled.
The war can largely be divided into three theatres, though the last of these was by and large the most important; at sea, in Egypt and in the Balkans. First blood came at sea as the small British contingents in the Mediterranean were slowly picked off, before a largely unchallenged circumference was established in the Red Sea and off Gibraltar. The only serious attempt by the Royal Navy, in late June, saw nigh on 80 ships face off against each other but only one actually sunk. Indeed, the fact this was the only real effort made by the British to involve themselves in the first year of the war largely explains the success of the ‘Spiros Plan’ (as it was rather egotistically christened by its creator). In Egypt, the Federal forces swiftly outnumbered the few Egyptians who were trying to take the canal, recording a sweeping victory in the war’s first engagement on land. As the year went on, victory after victory was secured, at Manusra, Dumyat and under the shade of the Great Pyramid, leaving Egyptian forces few and far between. By December, the troops had captured Sinai in the east and the near side of the Nile Delta, starting the sieges of both Cairo and Alexandria in the late stages of the year. Victory seemed assured in the deserts; yet, with the rebellious government reportedly in Istanbul and their support persistent, the fight was certainly not up. The focus for the year was instead along the Federation’s southern border. The Minister of War, the aforementioned Aetios Spiros, was adamant that victory would come not through a mad dash for the Straights, as the previous war with the Turks could be seen, but through the mantra of Aesop’s Tortoise; “slow and steady wins the race.” The progress made by Danubian forces over the course of 1865 was certainly slow – the first land battle in Europe, a rather inconclusive victory for a numerically superior 1st Army at Pristina was only fought in late April – a full three months after war was declared. Federal troops were slowly capturing towns and cities, but the Federation struggled in open battle. To his credit, Artur Georgescu, the Chief of the General Staff and General of the 1st Army, was never forced into retreat, but often his efforts were worthy of Pyrrhus of Epirus. At the Second Battle of Pristina, for example, Georgescu managed to lose twice as many men as an Ottoman force that numbered less than half that of the armies under his direct command. This sort of failure to capitalise on the advantages at their command prevented the Generals of the day from carrying through Sprios’s plan for steady progress. In its place comes a very patchy picture indeed of the Balkan front; though advances were made, they were particularly strong in the south and west, encompassing by the end of the year Ottoman Montenegro, Southern Serbia, and Macedonia, with Federal forces strong and largely unopposed in their occupation of Ottoman Greece. This strength came both from fortune, in that Ottoman resources were more focused on the East of the front as the Federal forces continued to advance, and from some excellent generalling on the part of men like Ernst von Kirbach, who managed to repulse a larger, well-defended Ottoman force in Bitola, and then repel Turkish troops in southern Albania without any drastic casualties. It must be remembered that for the Danubian populace at the time, this entire war was fairly light given the memories of the slaughter in Nice just a few years previously; however, the performance of some of the generals in preventing casualties where they were not needed leaves much to be desired for the modern historian. The Eastern half of the front, however, showed just why Sprios’s plan for steady progress wasn’t working entirely as was desired. There were some great victories, such as the Sardinian-led battle at Stara-Zafora where almost half of the largest Ottoman force was destroyed for just 8,500 men, and a great deal of progress, certainly in the Spring and Summer of 1865 - Stara-Zafora was deep inside Ottoman territory. Yet the momentum could not be conserved. Victories were often wasted as Ottoman forces were allowed to retreat (A belated memo from the Chief of the General Staff confirmed the prerogative of the armies to pursue a retreating enemy, but the notification came too late for many and was often ignored in favour of the Minister of War’s favourite slogan. The victory at Stara-Zafora came off the back of a successful defence of the city of Sofia, but Arif Pasha’s Turkish force was only followed after the Sardinians elected to ignore their ally’s advice and attack anyway: Gavril Dunăren and the 2nd Army had little choice but to follow), while defeats were not uncommon and disaster was often only averted by tiny margins – the attack of Edvard Masaryk’s 3rd Army on a smaller Turkish force at Silistre, just South of Wallachia, in December was only saved by the timely arrival of some South German allies; even then, the allied armies as a whole lost some 24,000 men and Masaryk was forced to combine with other forces in the region because the 3rd Army was crippled. Indeed, after some nine months of good progress in the West, the Turkish forces were certainly turning the tide, removing the occupying forces from areas of the Black Sea coast and winning numerous battles. As the New Year dawned, two questions were left; could the Turks sustain a defence of Ottoman Europe? And when would the British make their mark?
Soukup-Valenta: Strength at the Straits (1866)
The first year of this war had been successful, but by no means an unqualified one. Indeed, Minister Spiros found himself under fire from some quarters for the supposedly unnecessarily high casualty figures; in the words of the Chief of the General Staff, who certainly was not one to mince words, “The problem is most certainly the losses we are taking against a technologically and numerically inferior foe.” In the barrage, the Minister did make certain concessions, leaving the comfort of Vienna for the new forward command base at Skopje in occupied Macedonia and granting further freedoms to Generals to pursue retreating enemy forces. He also removed the only remaining army within Federal territory, the Rebulican National Guard, such that it could lead a newly mandated push for Istanbul and the Straits in what was termed as an effort to “to pick up the pace”. In combination, these changes proved supremely effective at consolidating territorial gains in Europe; over the next four months, victory was achieved in all 6 major engagements, both within Federal borders, as the First Army proved in eradicating a Turkish incursion into Bosnia, and without, as the much depleted 2nd and 3rd Armies held off an Ottoman force some 3 times their size in the year’s opening days at Shumen, though admittedly with considerably higher losses, and the Republican National Guard, assisted ably by both the Army of Germany and the Naval Guard, stormed to victory in a string of battles at Varna, Stara Zaroga and Erdine. This last battle in particular has been seen since as a vindication for the changes the Chief of the General Staff argued so vociferously in favour of – by sunset on 4th April, all eleven thousand Ottoman troops in the city had been killed or had surrendered in the culmination of nigh on two months of constant hounding by Federal forces. Yet, the Minister never truly abandoned his master plan, in a sense creating a Plan A (mark 2) rather than any sort of Plan B; for Sprios, his policy of ‘slow and steady’ had always been the right one; whether he could continue to say “I do not believe that it is because of my strategy” for much longer would only become clear with time.Surely the key area for Sprios was in this regard the war at sea. That the Mediterranean was being held “against any expectations“, to quote Georgescu once more, cannot be interpreted as any sort of contemporary vote of confidence in the Admiralty or their ships; yet the blockade of Gibraltar is regarded by many historians as the most vital activity of the war, at least in its early stages when the Turks could still put up a good fight, simply because it prevented the British from really participating in any meaningful way. It is therefore with great surprise that news of repeated victory by the chronically underestimated Federal Navy was received in Vienna as the Royal Navy was repulsed over and over from the Straits of Gibraltar. By the end of August, seven ships bearing the prefix HMS were sitting at the bottom of the sea between Cape Trafalgar and Cape Spartel as the result of three engagements. The Federal Navy maintained its record of no ships sunk whatsoever. On the other side of the Med, meanwhile, a curious war was bringing unexpected rewards for an otherwise engaged Admiralty. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the only real independent power remaining in the Italian peninsula, had declared war upon Egypt the previous year for the transfer of areas of Syria to the Ottoman Empire. The strange thing about the war was that the Ottomans upheld their Egyptian alliance against their own material gain, presumably keen not to lose their only regional ally. By mid-1866, this had translated into a Sicilian control of the Straits, which meant that Federal forces need not be diverted from one Strait to the other to prevent an attack on Europe from Anatolia. Despite the naval supremacy in the Mediterranean, not one attack was made by Federal forces outside of Europe or Egypt in the year to August; the only notable nation to do so in the Danubian Alliance was Tuscany, who had by this point occupied both Cyprus and tiny Bermuda.
In Vienna, meanwhile, the Government’s focus remained firmly on reducing the debt burden, managing to pay off around a third of that remaining in these first 8 months of 1866. Their efforts risked being undermined as the Romanian legislature voted on yet another nationalist bill, this time to direct all income from taxation on property and land through the state administration, thereby threatening the income of the government in its largest state. Denounced as unpatriotic at a time of war, and with President Valenta himself weighing in on what many saw as a firmly state-based issue, it failed at the first reading; yet it proved for many of the Romanians’ ability to cause trouble and further encouraged anti-Romanian thinking on a very local level across the nation. In the capital, peaceful protests were taking hold of the city as the Working Hours Directive further reduced the maximum legal working day to 12 hours in line with existing Federal legislation. These protests were not, as one might assume, from the conservative right for whom this law was an affront to the free market economy for which many longed, though in the Hofburg there was no end of debate on this issue. Instead, the vast bulk of the protestors were calling for the introduction of unemployment subsidies, irate that working hours were being reduced over reforms that they argued would help the millions affected by the recession and the sluggish recovery. In total, it is estimated that some 1.5 million men took to the streets nationwide over the worst weekend of the protests, or just over 10% of the adult male population. Vienna was also the host of a great display of military might on behalf of the Austrian state government. On 10th May, the entirety of the Austrian Militia marched through the city’s streets. The event, aimed at galvanising support for the war, was hijacked by the President who organised an official reception for the ambassadors of the Great Powers of Europe on the same day. The scale of the reserves at the nation’s disposal at a time of war was greatly prestigious, so perhaps formed part of the logic behind the reception; however, the President’s true motive seems to have been to float the idea of a second Congress of Vienna to resolve the situation in Europe to the other powers. The response was mooted at best; the Prussians, for example, gave only lukewarm support stating they would not partake in any Conference unless the British did also. Her Britannic Majesty’s Ambassador had, unsurprisingly, declined the offer to attend the parade. The Russian ambassador proved to be the only foreigner to give support for the idea, perhaps sensing an opportunity to limit the Federation’s influence from extending further south. Either way, as May passed into June, any chance of the Foreign Minister’s much fêted ‘Balkan Congress’ actually materialising seemed to lie in tatters.
The Army, though, had other plans. Victories at Burgas, Varna and, most of all, the second battle of Shumen ensured an end to Ottoman military plans in Europe. The completion of the Siege of Istanbul at the end of August meant that, for the second time in just over a decade, Federal troops, this time lead by the Republican National Guard, stormed the Topkapi Palace, only to find it once again abandoned. There were even allied armies crossing the Bosporus towards an ever retreating Sultan. In Egypt, Federal troops had spent the year further occupying largely unopposed. The only place where minor setbacks were experienced was Tunisia, where just 3000 Turks were making good on the Government’s refusal to protect the colonies. All in all, without British support in the Mediterranean, the Ottoman Empire faced collapse and finally acquiesced to demands for an International Conference, though only if it was held in neutral territory; the Prussians, keen to see their ally extracted from this humiliation offered to host and the British were forced to include themselves for fear of the Federation’s wishes in the region coming true. The stage was set and, as the war raged on in the South, politicians from across the continent headed for the Congress of Berlin.
The Congress of Berlin
As of the Congress of Berlin, the war had been a disaster for Britain both at home and abroad. The notion that ‘Britannia rules the waves’ was starting to wear thin overseas and the Royal Navy, once the pride of a nation, began to lose its air of invincibility. Not since Napoleon had the British faced such a challenge at sea, but, outgunned, outwitted and outmoded, the Royal Navy didn’t seem likely to win a battle at Trafalgar any time soon. Domestically, though, the nation was in far deeper difficulties. In the dying days of Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston’s second and final ministry war had come to Albion. His powers certainly didn’t fade even right up to his death in October 1865. Indeed, having been a key supporter of President Valenta’s push to prevent recognition of the Confederate States of America, a diplomatic effort which has often been linked to the Union victory after the war, it came as a surprise to many in Vienna the ease with which Palmerston turned on the Federation in support of the Ottomans, reaching across the political divide to the Tories to ensure the passage of the declaration of war. Yet there are two very simple political reasons for his actions. The first, born out of sheer conviction, was that the nation’s chief political concern should be the defence of Turkey – for him, and a great many Brits, the Sublime Porte was the last bastion against a Russian dominated Bosporus and the re-establishment of Federal influence in Egypt. The second, and possibly more important, was the political necessity to retain his majority in the House of Commons at a time when the Tories had hegemony in the Lords; though it is not clear exactly whether the war was instrumental in electoral victory, the political nation certainly held great respect for the man who stood up to the aggressive republic and the elections of July 1865 returned an increased Liberal majority in the lower house. On his death, he was accorded a state funeral (only the fourth in the nation’s history for a non-royal) and interned into Westminster Abbey on the insistence of his cabinet and against his personal wishes. His passing was greatly mourned, but by none more so than the Liberal party; in the words of AJP Taylor, “Irresponsible and flippant, he became the first hero of the serious middle-class electorate.” Without him, the Liberal Party found itself divided and chaotic.
The man who tried to bridge the gap was John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, Palmerston’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and formerly Prime Minister between 1846 and 1852. His second ministry was remarkable purely for the length of time he managed to hang on to power against all the odds, lasting for almost a year. Around him the Liberal Party crumbled and his support waned as the failure of the war became ever more evident. In fact, his government was only pulled down by the revelation that he had actively encouraged attempts by the Ottomans to make a white peace separately in the hope that it would tempt the Federal forces out of the Mediterranean. The Conservative right, led by Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, lambasted this cowardice as attempts to back out of the war. In the short term, Derby got his way, overcoming the Tory’s minority position in the Commons and edging into power in June 1866, pushing the Liberals ever more into the wilderness in the process, but this association between the Conservative Party and the continuation of the war effort at all costs would come back to haunt the Earl’s third ministry. Beset by increasingly bad health, Derby’s failure to break through at Gibraltar despite increased efforts started a row within the Conservatives he would prove incapable of healing. With the fall of Istanbul at the end of August and the international acceptance of Wolfgang Liberalen’s ‘Balkan Congress’, barely two months after he took office, he tendered his resignation.
He left behind a party that could not agree on whether to continue supporting what had become a largely futile war. Some of the hard-liners, such as Derby’s Lord Chancellor, Frederic Thesiger, 1st Baron Chelmsford, attempted to take control of the party and assert Britain’s naval dominance, yet they were thwarted, supposedly by an intervention by the young Queen, who appointed Benjamin Disraeli, Derby’s Chancellor of the Exchequer and a more diplomatic man, to the top job in government. Disraeli started in a perilous position, lacking a majority in the Commons and with Derby’s legacy leaving his party unpopular his actions at the Congress would have to rescue his fortunes, all the time with the nagging itch of Chelmsford on one side and an ever more united Liberal Party under William Ewart Gladstone on the other. His objectives remained just like those of Palmerston and just as British policy always had been (which, as Sir Humphrey Appleby so elegantly phrased in the popular British sitcom ‘Yes, Minister’, can be summarised thus: “Minister, Britain has had the same foreign policy objective for at least the last five hundred years: to create a disunited Europe”). For Disraeli, the strength of the Ottoman Empire had to be maintained, both as a barrier to Russian and Danubian expansion. Furthermore, the newly independent government in Egypt must be maintained to prevent Federal dominance of the Suez Canal zone, which had proved increasingly useful in the years before the war to facilitate British trade to India. In short, the Prime Minister wished to live up to the title of his party and bring conservatism to European diplomacy.
The Return of the Reactionaries
Spring of 1866 broke in the Venice of the North just as in any other year. Russian diplomats across Europe may have been locked in a state of ever worsening anxiety over the progression of the war waged within Russia’s rightful sphere of influence, but to the Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias such minor matters need never apply, and the Russian social calendar continued as planned. This tranquillity wouldn’t last, and unfortunately for Alexander II, it wouldn’t last because of a gun. As he left Peter the Great’s Summer Gardens, Dmitry Karakozov ran forwards and shot at the Tsar, only missing after he was jostled at the last second by Osip Komissarov, a peasant-born hatter's apprentice. Karakozov, for whom all aristocrats ever did was “suck the peasants' blood” (an assertion that was ironic not just because of his noble birth but also due to reforms like the Emancipation of the Serfs which had gained Alexander the epithet ‘The Liberator’) was a 26 year-old man who had been expelled from both Kazan and Moscow State Universities and attempted suicide on at least one occasion. His final note is said to have read, “I have decided to destroy the evil Tsar, and to die for my beloved people”, but it was never read; according to folklore, it was lost in the post!
The Karakozov Affair proved largely irrelevant to the course of Russian history, unlike the Reaction borne out of Alexander’s eventual assassination, but it did have one important consequence in terms of Russian diplomacy. With Alexander and his Chief Minister otherwise engaged trying to calm a fraught domestic situation, not to mention trying 36 men on charges related to the attack, the Foreign Minister, Alexander Gorchakov, was given free reign in the appointment of the Russian delegation at the Congress of Berlin, and many historians speculate the Russian attitude might been less hard-line had the events of 4th April not occurred. Gorchakov elected to lead from the front, picking to take along men like Nikolay Pavlovich Ignatyev, Russian Ambassador to Istanbul, and Dmitry Andreyevich Tolstoy, Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod. Between them they represented the reactionary wing of an already pretty regressive nation. Ignatyev had been working on an unofficial level to undermine the Ottoman grasp on the Balkans since his appointment to the city two years before. Tolstoy, meanwhile, was Orthodox through and through, advocating Pan-Slavism and Russian power within the Balkans. Gorchakov, for his part, was appointed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shortly after the Russian defeat to the Prusso-Federal forces; he was about as anti-Danube as it is possible to get, engineering such schemes as the ‘alliance’ at the start of Valenta’s first term which was really just a ploy to delay Federal action in the Balkans.
To the West, a different series of events was manufacturing another lurch to the right. In Berlin, fresh elections to the Landtag showed just how hollow the revolutionaries’ victory over the old order had been, with the Junker aristocracy ever more coming to dominate the elected body though gerrymandering and sheer money. Fear of Pan-Germanic nationalists, especially in the form of the rebels and mobs that blighted the smaller German states in the wake of the 2nd Franco-Prussian War pushed the expanding middle-classes into the arms of their upper class cousins. More worryingly, defeat at French hands had left the Liberals broken and awakened a revanchistic fervour that empowered those
with the bluest of blood to bring about a revolution of their own, albeit in the form of diminishing the role and franchise of the Landtag. Any resistance, and there was a great deal of strife in the major cities, was greeted with brutality as a nation once held up as a shining light of liberalism descended once more towards autocracy. More than anything the government wanted peace abroad so that the new system could be easily maintained and strengthened; having their strongest ally, Britain, embroiled in an embarrassing war threatened to let their old enemy, France, back in to the equation once more and further endanger any hope of cementing the new old-order’s power. With this in mind, Wilhelm I demanded his new ‘Iron’ Chancellor, the man leading the rise of the right within Prussia, Otto von Bismarck, host the conference that would bring ‘Peace in our time’.
The Best of the Rest (Actually, just ‘The Rest’!)
Since the recapture of Alsace-Lorraine, the French Republic has been on the ascendancy. Domestically, the Democratic Republican Alliance has dominated politics, winning every election since the revolution which overthrew the most recent Bonapartist Emperor, and leads a nation that is stable and prosperous. Abroad, the army is the country’s pride, having brought victory over the Prussians, while the perceived failing strength of the Royal Navy has led to increased funding into the French fleets. The word of the French President would no doubt hold great sway, though Émile Ollivier was more concerned with obstructing the British and keeping the issue of the Balkans open to the detriment of all three Eastern Great Powers such that the Republic could continue to rise unchecked.
Spain was a defeated and disgraced power when she arrived in Berlin, yet her position on the Mediterranean gave her a unique position to punch above her weight. For Madrid, the reclamation of Gibraltar was paramount, and she was willing to concede the rest of the sea in return for those Straits at the edge of Europe. With the trouble the British found themselves in at sea, this demand started to seem enforceable, and the nations of Europe knew it, not least London.
Portugal was not the power it once was either, but as the only power in Western Europe willing to support the British they served perhaps to counteract any Spanish threat. In terms of the Congress though, the sheer distance from the Balkans limited the extent to which Lisbon would be able to exert influence directly.
The inclusion of the Ottomans was controversial in some circles, though it was nonetheless expected. The circumstances in which the Turks pushed Britain into the Congress was not. The Sultan, however, having fled East to India, had an ever diminishing role in Ottoman governance, with the diplomatic apparatus, virtually the only remaining branch of a collapsing bureaucracy, being left in the hands of the newly appointed Grand Visier Mütercim Mehmed Rüşdi Pasha. Skilled as he was at diplomacy, the Ottoman hand was simply too weak to achieve anything and the Ottoman delegates would be forced to grin and bear any resolution made by the Congress.
This Congress was regarded as the Holy Grail for the smaller Balkan states. Serbia and Montenegro saw it as a chance to expand at the expense of the Ottomans, and giving them some more breathing space from the Federation at the same time. For Greece, the promise of expansion heralded a return to normality by helping to prop up the ailing government. Blighted for years by a reactionary rebel army calling itself the ‘League for Hellenic Redemption’, though colloquially known as the ‘White Shirts’, the Prime Minister bet his job, and potentially his head as well, that the Congress would be kind to him, promising to reclaim Thessalonica before an expectant nation. Wallachia, meanwhile, had other problems, with rumours of potential Romanian military movements against the state, the Congress struck the country’s President as a matter of life or death – international recognition of the state had to be achieved, or else his neck was also on the line.
For the Two Sicilies, a nation also at war with the Ottoman Empire and Egypt, though only really in it for the international recognition, saw this Congress as a chance to make gains both in the Mediterranean and in the Italian peninsula. The state laid claims on islands like Malta in a hopeful plea for concessions, but their demands for a sphere of influence in Italy aroused anger in both the Federation and France, especially because the French regarded the Papal States, the only neighbour of the Two Sicilies, as under their protection. The other independent Italian states were simply fighting for their existence, fearful that they might become the next Lucca, while Tuscany and Piedmont-Sardinia were under duress to support Federal aims.
Bavaria certainly looked upon itself as a Great Power by 1866, and, for the King, being taken seriously here was a matter of international prestige. The location of the state, both landlocked and set between the might of the Federation and Prussia, the state’s government faced a difficult task; be too timid and the country would become irrelevant, be too vocal and you risked war. This balancing act in a country whose aims were also primarily to balance the two powers against each other could be considered of little importance, yet the increasing influence of the state among its smaller neighbours meant that it had the potential to unite the German states one way or the other. Between them, the German states had the potential to greatly moderate a debate that showed so many signs of being polarised.
Delegations were sent from all five of the nations in the Low Countries and Scandinavia, but, even with Swedish power in the Baltic taken into account, there was little influence they could exert over the proceedings. For the Belgians, the retention of Lucca was the only thing they really cared about. For the Swedes, anything that would distract Russia and Prussia from the frozen North was good news. For the rest, nothing save a few alliances was really determining their stance; for these nations of limited power, the Balkans were a very long way away.
Switzerland is an interesting case, being the only nation in mainland Europe to decline to send a delegation, maintaining that neutrality meant staying out of peace negotiations.
A Country of Controversy
The autumn of 1866 began almost as well as the summer had ended. September brought the crossing of the Straits on both sides of the Sea of Marmara, an invasion more successful than could have been imagined, partly thanks to the wholesale destruction of Ottoman forces during the occupation of Europe and partly thanks to the fact that the Turkish underbelly had already been subject to attacks further south by Sicilian forces. Within the four short months to the end of the year, and the beginning of the Congress, the occupying forces had even begun the siege of the second city, Ankara, having already secured the vast majority of territory to its west. October, too, brought little but good news. In Tunisia, the Royal Guards returned and utterly quashed the invaders, restoring all territory and entering into Libya before the year was out, having spent the long Summer months in the Holy Land, over fifteen hundred miles away (For those of you wishing that were in a more familiar unit, it is roughly equivalent to 400 leagues or 1.3 million Smoots. Oh, or 2250km). Even further away from Vienna, October saw a fourth victory at Gibraltar and an increasing desperation in London. While the Royal Navy had at last managed to sink a Federal Ship, the SBD Kopernik (The acronym SBD has been adopted the previous year to prefix all Federal ships, at the same time as the new crest was established. Derived from the German, “Schiff der Bundesmarine der Donau“ (Literally meaning “Ship of the Federal Navy of the Danube”), SBD replaced the wide array of regional and ship-specific prefixes, which are usually denoted in English as DFS (for “Danubian Federation Ship”)), only the second to have found its way to the bottom of Davy Jones’s Locker, and the first in wartime. In return, another six British vessels followed it. It was clear to all; nothing short of a miracle would bring the British into the war.
One thing that threatened to bring such divine intervention were the actions of the Minister of War. By all accounts he was a brilliant tactician, having guided the nation to the brink of one of its most conclusive victories and in the face of the world’s greatest military power. His resolution and determination were limitless, helping him to, in an apt metaphor, stick to his guns; a trait often credited with the efficiency with which the war was conducted, especially in its later stages. As the winter of 1866 drew ever nearer, he was being described, perhaps a little overzealously, as ‘the greatest military mind of his generation’ (The Times of Vienna, 18th November 1866), yet he was also capable of doing some very stupid things. On the face of it, his relocation to Istanbul was a sensible military move to a big city and nearer to the front. Indeed, his tour of the front in the weeks beforehand had been hugely popular both among the troops and at home, where he had been credited as, among other things, “A man who can deal in high office and still see the all the way down to the ground” (The Prague Gazette, 20th October 1866). Yet, when he arrived in Constantinople just as the golden bloom of autumn started to be hidden under the season’s first snow, he made a massive mistake with catastrophic diplomatic connotations. In the words of one (Turkish) historian, “Sprios only travelled to the city to give a big, fat, middle-fingered salute to the Sultan and his allies, as if in mocking anticipation of the end of the Empire.” While this view may be somewhat unfair on the poor man, he certainly caused a storm, intentionally or not. He slept in the Topkapi Palace for every night during his stay, for example. It was once the primary palace of the Sultan, but having been converted into the military headquarters by Federal forces it stood as a testament to Ottoman failings. To have a government Minister, and the Minister of War at that, stay there, reportedly sleeping in the Sultan’s own bed, was an affront to Ottoman pride, but the repercussions of this accusation, regardless of whether it was ever substantiated and in spite of however much it was denied, reverberated through Europe; this upstart Republic, born out of the flames of revolution, would remain tinged by the militarism with which it was perceived to be opposing the established powers of Europe. In spite of accusations on the part of the intelligentsia that the nation would soon become the “Pariah State of Europe” (A notion famously backed up by the Russian Foreign Minister’s first words to President Valenta when they met at a pre-Conference reception, “Ah, President Valenta. It’s an honour to finally meet someone so infamous as you! This Congress may have been established in your name, but I’m going to make sure it does nothing less than break you and your upstart little nation.”), the masses lapped up the patriotic sense of ambition held by their Minister of War. In some cases, there was perhaps a little too much entertainment extracted from the affair, with the Dalmatian Chronicle asking furtively whether Minister Sprios had yet “experienced the fabled delights of the Ottoman Harem.”Controversy wasn’t far away either when considering the politics of this four month period. In such a short space of time, three elections were held, two of which in less than harmonious circumstances. Crete was the exception – elections were organised, then held, the President appointed on the basis of this vote. In the event, it was a landslide victory for Vasilios Mitsotakis of the All-Danubian Conservative Party, in an election where none of the other mainstream parties really fielded candidates of any respectable calibre and electioneering hardly extended beyond polite greetings in the street. The debacle in Trieste that led to fresh elections, on the other hand, remains largely a mystery. The facts are thus; a statement was issued on the 18th September stating that “Signore Agostino Francesco Luigi Tommasso Savonarola has been confirmed in his position as Prime Minister of our Free Territory”, which was then refuted by a number of political parties sitting inside the House. Due to a strange set of rules limiting reporting on the activities of Parliament to official announcements, mostly relics from the era of Venetian rule in the city, we simply do not have any more evidence than this. As the reaction to Savonarola bubbled up to the surface, he bowed to demands for fresh elections, which duly produced a victory for his coalition, if not his party. The entire debacle was over within three weeks, but left the city-state deeply divided. Savonarola might have been the Prime Minister, but it didn’t mean he would ever truly escape the initial scandal, so deep was the riddle at the heart of his opening gambit.
The events that unfolded in Melilla were by contrast all too apparent, and firmly in the public eye. A public spat between President Valenta and the Consul-General of Melilla, Joachim von Kirchberg, over the failure of any National Reform Union member to qualify for ballot access. Little was made of it initially, with the odd exception of a little, deeply- hypocritical, political point-scoring in the Viennese dailies over whose opponents were sinking to lower depths in attempting to exploit the affair. None were more giddy with anticipation than the Vienna Morning Herald when it was announced on the first day of October that the Interior Ministry would send a team from the Federal Electoral Commission to investigate the allegations, denouncing the move as,”just another cynical ploy by the Radical government to use state apparatus as a weapon against those with different opinions.” None were more embarrassed than the Vienna Morning Herald when a week later the Commissioner announced that electoral fraud had indeed occurred. Typically, however, they printed the twenty word long apology hidden fifteen pages into their Thursday edition and tucked in the bottom right hand corner on a page full of small ads. It read simply: “In the wake of revelations of fraud in Melilla, we regret any offences that may have been caused by misunderstandings.”. Correspondence examined in a ‘raid’ on the Consul-General’s office cleared his name, but it was not until after the FEC held the elections themselves that the actual perpetrator was convicted. In essence the fault was in the system employed to place parties on the ballot; a strange cross between party-lists and first-past-the-post, once a party amassed 800 signatures they were eligible to present a candidate for every position up for grabs. In reality, no party achieved the active support of the 28% of the population required and the official who had designed the system panicked, forging over 1,200 just to get three parties on the ballot and save face. In its wake came a simple system where any man of sound finances and mind could stand with as little as DF£5 and 10 valid signatures. The elections were held smoothly, but the row between NRU and von Kirchenberg’s PDU had tarnished their reputations in the city meaning their local wings achieved just 7% and 12% of the vote respectively. The real winners were those centrist parties would had largely stayed out of the battle. The Conservative League of Melilla and the Federalist Citizen's Council between them won 78% of the vote and 87% of the seats on offer; the Federalists taking a majority in the city’s upper house and the Conservatives falling just two seats shy on one in the lower house.
Soon after the contest in Melilla had resolved itself, the nation’s eyes turned north. Just two weeks separated close of the polling stations in the African colony and the grand opening of the Congress of Berlin. The delegation had long been announced by this point, the selection in its time having attracted its own controversy, but with the rag-tag group largely already in Prussia, President Valenta, who completed the complement of five when he arrived on the 6th January, could rely on them to do their utmost to serve their nation. Possibly the most surprising choice was Artur Georgescu, the Chief of the General Staff, simply because he was neither a diplomat not a politician, but a general, and one who had just been going about the business of fighting a war with many others in attendance. As a proud Romanian, Georgescu wished to expand his state’s borders, seeking international recognition for an invasion of Wallachia. Yet he also went to the Congress with a great many military ideas, such as the desire for defensive border states in the Balkans or monetary reparations for the war, it was this aspect that saw Valenta plump for a representative for what he called, “the nation’s sword and shield.”His second delegate was Pier Paolo Arpaio, a man whom skeptics might say was picked for his socialist ideals (a criticism that really did hit hard when you take into consideration the lack of any voice for the right in this delegation). It was his work in Italy that made his name as a diplomat, and though he did wish for a certain amount of Italian Pan-nationalism especially in the wake of the Belgian actions in Lucca, Arpaio came with a well drawn out plan, and apparently even a map. While he did want to further expand the Federation, he knew the diplomatic dangers, so preferred to carve the Balkans into a Russian and Danubian sphere of influence, pushing the British out of the Med almost entirely in the process. The Foreign Minister, Wolfram Liberalen, was presumably an easy choice for the President. Praised as “a skilled orator, successful writer and politician”, Liberalen ticked all the right boxes, having served for almost eight years in the Foreign Office and another three as an Ambassador. Trying to draw off Metternich’s system of conferences that maintained the Concert of Europe, in certain journals he was increasingly called ‘the Prince’ as if he were the Federation’s founder himself. His wish was to forge a ‘Balkan Federation’ in the Danubian one’s image, though he really just wanted to end the vilification of the Federation at the hands of the other European powers.The delegation’s fourth member was a curious choice. Jan Jaromír was a politician who freely admitted he had no real aims for the conference and only wanted to go because he was asked to. Selected to represent Illyria, the other state affected by the war, Jaromír was only really in attendance because of interventions by the likes of the Finance Minister who wanted the southern state to have a voice. For his own part, President Valenta knew one thing for certain: Obtaining more land through this war in the name of the Federation, even if they were not the aggressors, would not sit well with the rest of the European powers. In many ways he believed that for the cunning and opportunist politician, a cause for war with the Federation could be easily found by the mere acquisition of territory. He advocated for a Balkan Federation on the basis that he suspected the people of the region would not be interested in joining the Federation and even if they did it could have political and diplomatic ramifications. At the very least they would no longer be under the yoke of the Sultan, they would now be free. Following their successes in the war against the British, Egyptians and Ottomans, the President knew that the Federation needed to be victorious in a new front: the negotiation table. With the likes of Bismarck and Disraeli representing their respective nations he could think of no better word to describe the challenge than ‘monumental’. Despite his thoughts on the Prussians dating back to the civil war and their offensive, though tacit, recognition of the rebels, he held respect for Bismarck and the same went for Disraeli, although for different reasons. The mission behind the selection of the delegation was two fold: represent as many voices within the nation as possible at the negotiating table and to ultimately counter the other delegations. Their objective: ensure that the treaty is accepted as much as possible abroad, with possible doses of pragmatism kept in mind. The question: would they succeed?
Four Weeks in Prussia
For two long weeks, the Congress was stuck in a state of constant obstructionism. The Russians, backed by a Prussia afraid that inequality in the Balkans would only lead to war, attempted to gain as much land as possible for their sphere of influence. The French, meanwhile, were far more concerned with retaining a status quo they saw as the perfect climate for a war – a war, no doubt, they would have refrained from dirtying their hands with. Add in a Federal delegation intent on creating a Balkan Federation – an entity never clear on how much it would resemble its big brother – and you get an idea of how little was actually achieved in these first two weeks. In the Federation, the majority of the blame was levied against the Russians, with whom Valenta and his team spent a good deal of time. Such blame was not entirely without reason, since the insistence of the Russian delegation that Serbia and Montenegro should not be party to referendums to decide the extent of the proposed Balkan Federation and that at least some of the land in the region should be put under direct Russian influence as an independent nation effectively killed the Foreign Minister’s simple idea for peace stone dead. Even as the delegation recognised this and started to see the futility of the entire affair, they still hoped that the approval of the other Great Powers might be enough to overturn the Russian obstinacy.
This breakthrough came immediately following the Congress had reconvened in the wake of an already scheduled half-time break. The move, dubbed “Georgescu’s Pivot” by the papers back home, amounted to selling Germany to win the Balkans, a move no doubt popular in his native Romania. Two short treaties with Prussia first sacrificed the Danubian prerogative to gain any sort of influence within the German states and then crafted an alliance for the safeguarding of the Balkans. While questions were raised within the delegation as to whether such a sweeping turn away from Vienna’s traditional outlook was wise, the promise of a strong ally proved too alluring. Liberalen, as the Austrian representative, did manage to extract some concessions safeguarding the Federation’s right to pursue normal diplomatic relations with the German states, but it did nothing to stop the torrent of hatred the delegation received after the event from certain circles within Austrian society. Together with a new, more moderate, proposal for the region’s borders from the Chief of the General Staff, it won over Bismarck’s delegation and stole them away from their ideological allies; in the words of the great man himself, “Security in the Balkans breeds safety at home.”
As that third week drew to a close, and a new spirit of joviality in progress swept the Federal delegates, if not the Russian ones, the President made his single biggest mistake of the entire conference. Looking for another backer to cement Georgescu’s proposal, the Federation entered negotiations with the British delegation. As a defeated power and a major player in the region, Valenta had hoped to secure both concessions in terms of land and wealth and support for the Federation’s proposals, giving little in return. Such a sweeping success already seemed in doubt with Disraeli’s own political career on the line combining with ingrained idea that Britannia was innately superior; yet, when Valenta mistook the British protectorate of the United States of the Ionian Islands for Ottoman property and attempted to sell islands to the British, he hardly made his position any stronger. Taken as some strange attempt to insult him and his nation, Disraeli refused, vastly cutting down the already depleted offers and threatening to oppose the Danubian plans outright. For the Viennese press, such a gaffe hardly mattered. When a letter from Georgescu to his wife which mentioned the incident was leaked, the press set upon the British Empire like hounds, demanding the delegation use all means necessary to force the British from the Mediterranean, cursing their temerity and attempting to vilify them even more than the Russians. Indeed, it was suggested by many that the Federation should threaten to uphold the Spanish claim on Gibraltar and generally just go around seizing British territory in the Mediterranean. Valenta, however, was far more concerned with not alienating the rest of Europe – Liberalen’s proposal for a Balkan Federation had, after all, been one designed to set the minds of Europe at rest by merely creating a buffer state; now, the Foreign Minister again urged restraint and pragmatism. So it came to pass that the British got off lightly from a war they had struggled even to involve themselves in, retaining all their lands in the region and gaining a Danubian guarantee on Gibraltar at the expense of a mere 3% of annual income and Danubian ownership of Cyprus.With the treaty more or less patched up and just 3 days of the month-long time limit to spare, a small treaty with the Sicilians, almost added as an afterthought, nearly brought war to the continent again. As a courtesy to the Sicilians, who had had their own war against the Ottomans at the same time as the Danubian one, the delegation offered the Italian nation the island of Rhodes. The Sicilians had other ideas, asking instead for the treaty to transfer Lucca from Belgian hands to their own, with the Federation gaining the Sicilians as allies for the favour. The proposal met with moderate support from the Federal delegation, believing they could then take Rhodes for themselves, but, fresh from the debacle with the British, Valenta had grown wise enough to check what impact it would have. The French and the British seemed at first largely indifferent to the fate of Lucca, and, though the minor Italian states did object, there seemed to be a general consensus that nothing was awry. Unfortunately, one of these tiny states informed the Belgian delegation, who demanded that the Congress leave issues outside the Balkans as they were out of its remit and kicked up such a fuss that the Russians took it as their opportunity to demand concessions or war. The French fearful of being dragged into a war by their Russian allies over the city, which was near enough to actually warrant some sort of French intervention, brokered a compromise with the Russians which prevented the transfer of Rhodes, removed Lucca from the treaty and blocked the unification of Wallachia and the Federation. With no time left before the Congress expired, and with the knowledge that war would come again to Vienna if they did not accept, Liberalen and Jaromír signed the treaty on behalf of the Federation as the two required signatories. President Valenta would have signed instead, but delayed over the nation’s recognition of Lucca as Sicilian in one of the sister treaties. Georgescu, for his part, refused point blank to be party to any treaty that deprived the nation of Wallachia. As the ink dried on the treaty, the delegation returned home ready for one final battle in Congress to decide whether the Federation would ratify the treaty or not – all the while, the nation and Europe watched expectantly.
Wolfram Liberalen (1868-1872)
1868 Presidential Election
Main article: 1868 Presidential Election
And so it came to pass that the primaries of 1867 were uneventful, seeming decided before they even began – the margin of victory was so great for Di Sanctis in the DPU’s primary that it was rumoured that not even his opponent voted against him! The election looked set to be anything but, with both parties holding conventions roughly equal in size and a close contest promised by all. In many ways, this distinction between an exciting election and a fairly short and dull primary season made it typical of the elections that had come before it, but in one crucial respect it was different – for the first time, the people of the Danube would not just be electing a President, but also crowning a Prince.
Liberalen: Full Circle (1868)The Presidential Election of 1868, coming as it did as the nation’s twentieth anniversary, would always have been more prominent than in times past, but with Valenta’s resignation and the Radical Hegemony seemingly drawing to a close, (These two events were often linked by contemporary authors in what could only be described as a watered-down Cult of Personality. Though it may seem fantastical now, Valenta, who would go on to become the Foreign Minister under the new administration in an elegant role-reversal, should not be underestimated as the force behind the Radical electoral machine that had solidly controlled the nation for nigh on a decade, or half its existence. While many reject this notion of a one-man radical movement out-of-hand, some historians maintain that the Radical Union only survived 1868 because Valenta remained behind the scenes to pull the strings, and to train the next generation of puppet masters.) A tightly fought race brought with it a series of firsts; the first election to poll over a million votes, the first election since 1848 to have less than one in five men not vote, the first election where both main candidates failed to win in their home state, the first election to see an independent candidate win the Presidency or even gain over 10,000 votes and the first election for the nation’s largest party not to field a candidate at all, the first election to be won by a margin below 5% and the first Presidential election to hold a state-wide recount. Though it might not be reflected in Liberalen’s Electoral College landslide, the 400,000 votes Di Sanctis lost by was the smallest margin in the Federation’s history. Indeed, it was in just three battle-ground states - all of which were supposedly strongholds for the Danubian Political Union - Hungary, Romania and Illyria, that the election was won by as few as 10,000 votes. Hungary was won by the conservatives only after a recount precipitated by a border dispute with Austria – another hundred German voters being enough to tip the state’s balance. By then though, shock victories for Liberalen, first in Illyria, by some 7000 votes, and then in ever-fickle Romania, by even fewer. We may have but circumstantial evidence that Liberalen’s visit to Romania in the days before the election saw him promise the Romanian state a free hand in the East, though the accounts we do have tend to agree that he was a great orator and statesman who consistently wanted what was best for the Romanian people, later events tend to suggest that this was more or less the case. In any case, this trip is credited with flipping a ‘safe’ state and winning the election for the charismatic Liberal.
The failure of the Conservatives to win back the reigns of power is often cited as a major cause of the Restoration movement. Over the course of the following year, the Triestines and the Albanians followed the Cretan legislature in presenting amendments that would restore monarchy to these lands, despite the former never having had such a position and the latter not for many, many years. Republican critics of the movement, supposedly designed to build the conservative base at a more local level, even argued that the Cretan monarchy was never legitimate due to its revolutionary birth (though it could be said that such republicans would regard all monarchies as illegitimate). Though they struggled initially to gain much ground even within the states themselves, as soon as legal issues were resolved, such as whether it was legal to change the constitution of Trieste (It was established that the constitution, while never ratified by referendum as was planned, did have de facto legal rights and the power of precedence behind it. All that was required was a 2/3rds majority of the city’s governing council and the signature of the city’s Grand Mayor; though it was argued that the amendment should be ratified by a referendum of the people, the Restorationists argued that such a referendum was not necessary in cases where it was not performed on the constitution it amends, the Supreme Court’s backing of which meant that State Governments were free to act as they would, since no constitution in the whole nation was ratified by a vote of its electorate.) (or even, somewhat perversely, whether such a document existed), and more practical ones, as when the Albanian crown was to be offered to a native rather than a foreign Prince, the movement gained enough support to be seriously considered by the legislatures and for votes to be called. It is notable that, while many were warning of the monarchical conflicts of Von Salzburg and Kremvera, no such violence was seen in any state where such changes were proposed in the year to October. Interestingly enough, the only city in which there is a recorded instance of civil disobedience over this issue was Bratislava, where citizens were said to have marched upon the state’s government to demand it annul all treaties with Monarchist States, in effect amounting to secession by stealth. The President refused and some 30 men were reported dead as the crowd attempted to storm the Parliament building on the first night of the stand-off. The matter only calmed when the President resigned in disgrace the following week; his Vice took office and immediately issued a statement of discontent at the resurgence of the monarchies, but simultaneously reaffirmed the state’s place in the Federation by calling upon the legislature to reaffirm the Slovakia’s ties with Vienna in a rousing speech noted more for the spontaneous signing of the Federal National Anthem, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, than its actual content. In any case, only 12 of the 200 MPs voted against the motion and Slovakia’s statehood was no longer in question.It was foreign-affairs, however, that continued to dominate the headlines, perhaps aptly for a President who had transformed himself from author to statesman through his role as a diplomat. Nationalism, surely the Federation’s oldest adversary and that which would eventually cause its downfall, was on the rise in both Germany and Italy. By mid-June, the entire state of Tuscany had fallen into the hands of the notorious Garibaldi’s unionist brigades. By mid-September, the same fate was sealed for the small German state of Hesse-Kassel. Though the rebels were not regarded as anything but by the international community, it would only be a matter of time before they would be the only viable government in their respective nation. Indeed, had other events not got in the way, the assassination of the Bohemian Minister-President Pavel Pištora at the hands of an extreme German Nationalist group originating in the (in their own words) ‘Occupied German Provinces of the Sudetenland’, resentful of the state’s ‘oppression’ of the German majority there, might well have sparked an intervention against the Pan-Germanic militias. Instead, both the Pan-Germanic militia’s and Garibaldi’s citizen armies were left unmolested, Bohemia had to mourn quickly prior to another election and the Federation stared into the worsening abyss that was Wallachia.
Despite his royal blood, Liberalen abdicated from the crown of Wallachia as his first action as President, nominating the High Minister of Wallachia, Gavril Dunaren, in his place. His reign began with somewhat of a false start, as the Wallachian Parliament petitioned the President to retain the crown and demanded not to be ruled by a Romanian; Liberalen refused to act unilaterally and Dunaren simply ignored the request, so the new order remained. Yet quickly, Dunaren managed to win the trust of the Wallachian masses; one particular speech, made to the Romanian Parliament just days before he was due in Bucharest for the coronation, is often cited as the watershed – his mature reflection that past administrations were used to “treating the people of Wallachia as though they were hostile strangers instead of our brothers and friends” struck a chord with many, and his pleas for a détente were answered in kind. All was well, despite a continued Russian undercurrent of diplomatic grumbling, but as Dunaren’s promises to become “full partners in a joint national endeavor” began to seem less of a pipedream and more of a possibility the international climate shifted. It was with a bill in the Wallachian legislature that would integrate the nation into its northern neighbour that there came the only Ultimatum needed to signal the end of the Treaty of Berlin’s short lived peace. Though it seemed likely that the Parliament in Bucharest would have opposed the measure under normal circumstances, the threat of Russia compelled them to seek protection under the wing of Romania and the Federation. The vote, carried by a majority of just 3, was followed the following day by a Russian declaration of war on Vienna, to ‘liberate’ the Wallachians. The Prussians, as they had promised, joined the fray, and the French, reluctantly, weighed in on behalf of their allies. This much was to be expected – the sudden rush of defections from the Federal alliance system, like the end of the treaties with Sicily and Bavaria, were not, nor were the associated declarations of war from nations who held the two Germanic states responsible for their losses in the Treaty of Berlin. Though the two forces were relatively well matched in terms of size, Minister Spiros would have his work cut out to prove to the press he really was a military hero – the Prusso-Federal Alliance was encircled by forces that would later be tied together by the Pact of Paris, bringing into the being the “Coalition for the Maintainence of the Concert of Europe”. What had once been a matter of any importance only to some crazy nationalists in the Federation’s most distant corner, now was the most important issue in the whole of Europe, and the Federation was stuck right in the heart of it.
Liberalen: Don’t Mention the War (1868)
For a nation at the heart of the world’s biggest conflict, more pressing concerns were somehow created across the nation, and specifically in four of the states along the Adriatic. Illyria was home to yet another referendum as the province of Carniola was set to vote on a divorce from the Slavic union after less than a decade together. Of the four Adriatic states with constitutional difficulties in the latter stages of 1868, Illyria was by far the calmest, with no major incidents being reported. Turnout was high, but the margin of victory for the nationalists was not so great – of the roughly 86% of men who voted, 52% came out in favour of a new state; a margin of just over 8000 votes in an electorate of approaching a quarter of a million. By the end of the year, the province, under the new name of Slovenia, was petitioning the Federal Congress for statehood. Crete the restoration of the Venetian Duchy amid political confusion – within just two weeks of the old monarchist constitution being restored, a new Duke had been crowned. Many within the state were unhappy that the referendum that had established the republic was being overturned without popular consent, but with the opposition in disarray and many seeing the old Duchy as the legitimate government in any case, Crete saw the smoothest transition of any Monarchical Rebirth of 1868. Albania saw far more trouble. Though the amendment was passed without opposition in the state’s Parliament unlike that in Crete, the reception was not met with the same enthusiasm, or even resignation. Without any precedent within living memory, the restorationists found it hard to convince much of the population of the merits of their movement – by initially appointing a foreigner to the throne, they bungled any chance of appealing to the strong sense of Albanian patriotism. Militant groups were quick to arise, and clashes between protestors and police became a regular occurrence in the state’s larger cities. Despite all this, by 1st November, with all the pomp and circumstance such an occasion requires, a glorious coronation in Tirana heralded the nation’s third monarchical state.This was nothing, though, compared with the mayhem that unfolded in the tiny city state of Trieste. The troubles began when an amendment to the constitution that would abolish the position of Grand Mayor and replace it with a monarchical head of state was vetoed by the Grand Mayor of the city. The city council, the 25-member body that held the state’s legislative power, passed a further motion declaring the council’s supremacy and unilaterally overriding the Grand Mayor’s veto, justified on the questionable legal basis that he couldn’t have a veto as the position no longer existed. The Grand Mayor refused to accept the council’s ruling and was imprisoned. This was seen by the city’s new administration as a conclusive victory, but the delay it caused allowed a bill to be passed in the Federal Congress that would profoundly alter the new government’s fortunes. The State Referendum Act, proposed by the President of Cisalpina, required Federally administered referendums for all successive constitutional amendments at state-level. Perhaps ironically, since it was unlikely that Marconi actually had this all planned out, it was Cisalpina that ended up as the only state to really take anything positive out of the act in the short term, gaining the administration of the city – in Crete and Albania, where the amendments had long since been signed into law, the act renewed the spirits of the protest movements against the new monarchs. In Trieste, it caused a civil war. The Triestine government, under pressure from Federal authorities and wary that the courts could order a referendum in any case, acted pre-emptively and invited the Federal Electoral Commission to confirm the amendment through the ballot box. However, the vote never took place because the enormity of the day led to a crescendo of violence between the two sides; the situation, like a man on an escalator at the Imperial War Museum, was slowly escalating towards conflict. By the date the vote was supposed to take place on, the city was embroiled in street fighting between two rival militias, ‘His Majesty’s Loyal Regiment’ and ‘The Free Citizen Army of the Republic of Trieste’. Both were ignoring demands to stand down from their supposed leaders and both were making any sort of constructive debate impossible. Indeed, the city's Grand Mayor was murdered by a Royalist militia who stormed his prison before he could even face trial. Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court cancelled the referendum, in the process effectively dissolving the Triestine state; since neither version would be confirmed there was now no constitution, and therefore there was no government. To compensate, the Court granted a Mandate to Cisalpina, who quickly deployed their militia to restore order. The Court did not, however, make the city’s eventual fate clear, potentially leaving that up to the legislature. With all this going on, it became a running joke in Vienna that there was war going on at all; one backbench deputy was reported to have said to a reporter after a particularly strenuous debate on the State Referendum Act, “Listen, don't mention the war! I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it all right.” The Deputy responsible, one Mr Basil Watt, aged forty and from Barcelona, was somewhat of a bungling fool; there are many other charming quotations attributed to Mr Watt, such as telling an American guest requesting a Waldorf salad that, “I think we're just out of Waldorfs” or that a certain favourite piece of music his wife was rather rude about “That's Brahms! Brahms' Third Racket!”. The government, in line with the proposals of President Valenta, started building three new Ironclad ships, but didn't expand into the new range of larger ships called Monitors, recently invented by the Royal Navy. Equally on land, though there was no expansion of the regular army, of which some estimates suggested at least another 58 regiments could be raised, the country saw its first ever General Mobilisation. As an aside, the state of Bohemia deserves some praise for the number of conscriptees it was able to raise, with 39,000 men signing up in Prague and its environs alone. Some historians believe that, by this time, Danubian military strength was second only to the British Empire. Diplomatically, though there was every effort made by the Foreign Minister and his subordinates, little was achieved: France remained in the war and no other nations could be persuaded to join the Federation in their fight. Even Greece, who approached the Federation requesting an alliance in thanks for the work done during the Congress of Berlin, would not commit to take up arms against the foe. On the battlefield, the war was very much a tale of two sides. In the West, the French pushed the front ever eastwards, as the Prussians faltered in the Rhineland and the Sardinians fell in Savoy. Even Federal troops there suffered badly – the Royal Tunisian Guard was defeated at the battle of Tunis losing half its number and forcing an evacuation from the colony, the Western defenders attempting to prop up the Sardinians were badly out-numbered and faltering as they faced battles over the New Year. In the East, however, it was an entirely different story, as the Russian bear failed to live up to its menace. The last Russian army was evicted from Federal borders in early December as Konstantin Fravlov’s force was repelled by a smaller Federal army at the battle of Chisinau. Great victories were achieved, such as the surrender of 17,000 Russian soldiers for the loss of just 500 at the battle of Przemysl, and even some territory was taken, but this didn’t help dispel the fear that Russia would still swallow up the Federation as she had taken Napoleon before her. The sheer number of victories in battle, both on land and at sea, gave the Federation the impetus to push for peace as the ‘victor’ but no embassy was willing to greet even a white peace – the question was surely whether the Russians would crumble in the East before the French conquered in the West.
Liberalen: An Unbearable Offer (1869)
1869 was meant to be a year of great things. Many members of the government had great plans. Former President Valenta, in his capacity as Foreign Minister, was going to rid Sweden of Russian influence and end the war through tact and diplomacy (while at the same time, in his capacity as Radical-in-Chief challenge, the new monarchies through the courts). The Cisalpine President, Silvestro Marconi, was going to give the city of Trieste a vote on its future. The province of Carniola was going to be readmitted as a state under the name of Slovenia. The Finance Minister was going to keep the country out of debt, President Liberalen would lead the country out of a war and the Chief of the General Staff was going to win that war. By August, however, none of these things had happened, and the government looked increasingly likely never to achieve any of them. Valenta was ignored diplomatically and in a legal dead end, as the Russians rejected all offers of a white peace and the Supreme Court decreed that constitutions are not bound by referendums unless they bind themselves. President Marconi was six feet under after a show trial at the hands of the French Army, where he was found guilty of organising armed resistance and of treason against the French state: his head would lie forevermore separate from his body and he would never preside over the referendum in Trieste. Slovenia got the Congressional assent it needed to become a state, and even adopted a new constitution, but with so many men off to fight, elections to form the new government there were delayed over and over again, so that it remained, in effect, a province of Illyria. De Palma did what he could, but in the end had little impact on the budget deficit while Liberalen was hardly seen for much of the year, deferring to his ministers in a policy he called “Responsible Delegation” – his absence was most telling in the delay in recruiting new soldiers for the war effort, with the Vice –President assuming responsibility for the action only after four more months of indecision – but when compared to Georgescu, all these men had had it easy. The Chief of the General Staff was in trouble by August 1869, and it was at this point that government received an offer of peace – an offer that would be intrinsically offensive to any government, but an offer that must be considered nonetheless. As Parliament was recalled from its summer recess, the same question was on everyone’s lips: would they agree to the unbearable offer? (The phrase was coined by a columnist for the British Newspaper, The Times of London. The story originally ran, “I find it hard to believe any truly sovereign state could accept an offer which is so unbearable from a beast so wild as the Russian bear,” but was quickly seized upon as the war’s defining pun by the British intelligenza. Sadly, this marvellous piece of wordplay on behalf of the English language doesn’t translate so well into foreign tongues, so the offer had more mundane names outside of the Anglo-sphere – in Vienna itself, for example, most Congressmen simply called it “the Russian offer”.)
At the start of the year, however, no one would have anticipated the way things were going to pan out. All that emerged from the eastern and southern fronts was a constant stream of good news. In the year’s opening two months, the Federation won battles at Vidin, Kovel, Bucharest, Izmail, Lublin, Pervomaisk, Ruse, Kovel again, Shumen, Odessa and Nikolaev while only being forced to retreat in the second battle for the city of Bucharest. Furthermore, the Federation came off a lot better from these battles losing just under 60,000 men in those two months fighting against the Russians and Ottomans compared to the enemy’s figure of 110,000 – in one battle were more than 10,000 Federal troops killed or captured, compared to the enemy’s figure of 5, and in just one battle. The first battle of Kovel, did the Federal forces sustain more damage. At the battle of Vidin, an entire Ottoman force of around 15,000 men surrendered for the loss of just 2000 home-grown fighters; the Ottomans front saw no active fighting after the last Ottoman army in Bulgaria surrendered on 21st March. Even in the West, where orders came to withdraw from Piedmont culminated in a humiliating withdrawal from Turin at a casualty rate of around four-times that of the French, the relatively calm exit of the rest of the armies from the battle. By the end of January, the troops were safely back in home-territory to recuperate and prepare their defences, a new sense of calm said to be found for many after the turmoil of near catastrophic defeat – something that was not shared by what remained of the Piedmontese army and government, left to flee back behind Federal lines, or the government of Cisalpina, which was abandoned to the French in the hopes of better defensive ground. While the state did put up more than token resistance to the French occupation and its people showed great spirit resisting its oppressors, Cisalpina was quickly subdued by the might of the French, her President dead and her government neutered, but with reinforcements shortly arriving from the Ottoman front, it seemed increasingly likely that the war could be won through resistance alone.
What came next defied belief for many in Vienna, let alone those in the corridors of power – the Eastern front collapsed. There was no warning and there appeared at first to be no apparent cause. All plans hinged on success in the East and assumed that if anywhere was going to crumble, it would be against the French. No mitigation policy had been made to limit losses if the Eastern front fell and no reinforcements were on their way, save some of Than’s new recruits who would still take at least a month to muster. The real turning point was a massive defeat at Radom in Russian Poland – deep in enemy territory after pursuing the foe, well over half of the Eastern front found itself against a force of Russians with 50,000 more men behind it. In the month long battle, the Federal forces managed to again outgun the Russian troops and force hard losses on their opponents, but ultimately sheer weight of numbers prevailed and the retreat that followed was nothing less than a rout. Some of the troops fleeing the battle were captured in the following weeks and even those that made it back were in no shape for battle. Defeat in Chinisau in mid-April cemented the Russian victory and forced the entire front to retreat towards Vienna. Events in the Tirol merely worsened matters. Though Federal troops did manage to capture an entire French army of 23,000 men in Innsbruck in late April and they did take 35,000 Spaniards for just 6000 men a week later in Bozen, the Federal forces faced the same steamroller as they did in the East. Sheer weight of numbers meant that the French army could afford to lose consistently twice the number of men the Federal armies did and still push onwards. Defeat at Treviso and Verona forced the Western front backwards towards the capital from which point a ring was created around the city for its defence, which certainly did its initial job of clearing Vienna and its environs of some stray French regiments, though it was untested against serious opposition.It was in this atmosphere that the Russian Ambassador arrived with an offer. Many historians think that the sheer weight of early victories left the Federation ahead a rather opaque and technical term called “war score”, which for reasons of clarity and ease of understanding shall merely be expressed here as a measure of the success of a nation In a war, though even when this score came out really rather strongly in favour of the Federal forces prior to the battle of Radom, the Russians would not accept the white peace repeatedly offered by the Foreign Minister. Their proposal was simple, accept our demands and we will end the war - the implied threat being that a total defeat would mean far worse, though with the French then also able to dictate terms, the result might be markedly different. The Russian motives were clear; end the war so that the Tsarist regime could focus on suppressing pro-democracy rebel groups and end the war to ensure the party who made gains where themselves, rather than France. What was not clear, however, was whether the Federation would bow to the Empire’s demands.
|The province of Wallachia shall be liberated and placed into the Russian Sphere of Influence.|
|Serbia and Bulgaria shall be restored to the Russian Sphere of Influence.|
The Federation shall accept Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria as Emperor, with the powers of the Presidency transferred to an appointed Prime Minister. The Emperor will have the power of veto over all legislation and amendments and will be commander in chief of the armed forces, but the constitution would be otherwise unchanged.
Liberalen: On the Revenjo Plan (1869-1870)“The Revenjo Planen Mark III is widely considered the last desperate action of the Danubian Federation, facing the institution of a Hapsburg Emperor at the hands of Franco-Russian forces.” (This extract derives from the well-respected and factually-accurate account of the Revenjo plan written by one of his descendants.) The rejection of the Russian peace offer did not come as a surprise to any in Vienna (Some historians suggest that it wasn’t a surprise in Russia either, asserting Tsar Alexander II once said, “they may be weak, but they are not fools”, though there is little documentary evidence to prove this.) and for a time it was expected that the political experiment that had made such an impact on central Europe was soon to be no more. The Russian ambassador, angered at the callous behaviour of his hosts towards him, left the country without any replacement being sent and recommended to the Tsar that the Federation should be dissolved upon the restoration of order by the Franco-Russian forces: this was not just a very real threat to the continuation of the Federation, but occupied areas were being established as independent in this light. While the French government continued to administer Piedmont-Sardinia as their own, the Cisalpine union was torn asunder in the granting of Lombardy its own (nominally independent) government; in Galicia, the state’s legislature was forced to declare its independence from the Federation by Russian forces. By contrast, occupied areas of Prussia were largely ignored politically by the occupying forces. The message from both St Petersburg and Paris was clear, if never said aloud – when we win, we will wipe you off the map. Facing this existential threat, Revenjo’s “last desperate action”, endorsed by the Chief of the General Staff Artur Georgescu, was certainly effective and served to alleviate the more immediate issues, but its shortcomings also highlight some of the more systematic failings inherent in the Danubian position.
Before continuing, it is important to stress the superb effort made by the army in this period. Under some of the best leadership Federal forces would ever see and in the face of near constant retreat over the previous few months, the Army fought back against the odds to achieve a feat many saw as impossible. The General Revenjo should not be faulted for his actions, nor should the bravery of the troops be ignored, but neither should we ignore the raft of other factors that turned impending doom into some semblance of success. The biggest of these is the simple fact that the Danubian military’s position was never as bad as it was perceived to be in Vienna or St Petersburg, or even as poor as modern popular wisdom would believe. Not only was there a large body of spare manpower from which to lead a new surge of military recruitment and a well-rested body of troops concentrated around the capital with whom the military elite could organise the fight-back (Neither of these factors could viably be credited to General Revenjo, much as some over-awed historians have attempted too, the former being a simple advantage of the sheer size of the country and the latter merely the result of the forced retreat and subsequent unwillingness to act that had been the ultimate result of defeat on both fronts.), but the relative strength of the enemy is easily overstated. By late-1869, French supply lines were stretched to breaking point, with reinforcements scarcely making it to the Front and the Generals there struggling to communicate. In Spain, Anarcho-Liberal rebels were sweeping the country largely unchecked, though Spanish forces did continue to serve on the front. The perception of strength in the south also encouraged the French to withdraw more of their armies from Italy into Germany and the fight with Prussia, who continued to pose a threat to France in a way that Paris thought the Federation unable, but perhaps the biggest failure of the Franco-Russian forces in 1869 was to allow the Federation time to regroup – had there been a concerted and co-ordinated attempt to deliver a knock-out blow, or even any sort of aggression with a view to taking Vienna, it seems unlikely there is much that Federal forces could have done. Instead, arrogance and a distinct lack of reliable information led to a strategy of occupation and bought Revenjo time to act.
If we add to this misperception some of the underlying strengths that country still possessed, it starts to become clear why Revenjo was able to turn the situation on its head quite as much as he did. The nation’s size, for example, very simply meant that there was time enough and space enough to retreat and prepare in peace. Her populace, empowered by their democratic rights and no stranger to having to fight for them, were creditable in the level of resistance they offered. Financially, the Federation might have been losing money by the shed-load, but her record for repaying her sovereign debt combined with the fresh availability of neutral, British credit ensured low cost borrowing and financial solvency. These factors and many more, combined to well prepare the Federation for prolonged conflict and ensure the stability of the state at a time when it looked deeply vulnerable to external influence. Almost certainly, however, the nation’s strongest non-military asset was its government. Liberalen’s administration provided all the materials required by the army, increasing its funding despite tight-finances, and carried out the necessary diplomacy with courage and flair. The Foreign Minister’s pet project, Operation Brotherhood, gained cabinet approval late in 1869. Initially opposed by Liberalen as costly and diplomatically volatile, it was an attempt to incite rebellion in Russian territory by exploiting ethnic differences and the funding of separatist groups. When Berlin cited concerns about the impact this would have on their own Polish provinces, Vice President Imre Than was dispatched to quell the Prussians’ fears. The success of the trip and the Prussian endorsement of the policy (if not contribution) was overshadowed by the Vice President’s capture by a Russian scouting force less than 50 miles north of Breslau. For the Russians their new hostage was but a consolation; though the impact of Operation Brotherhood was minimal, it scared the Russian establishment to such an extent that it is often cited as the main reason the Russians returned to the table the following year. Some historians also argue that Operation Brotherhood was the catalyst for the intensification of the policy of ‘Russification’, whereby minorities were actively repressed in an attempt to make them more Russian. More orthodox diplomacy also brought success, with the end of hostilities against the Ottoman Turks and the Greek entrance into the war turning the balance of power in the Balkans in the Federation’s favour and a historic alliance secured with the newly reunited United States to bring about their first entrance into a major European conflict.By November 1870, the Russians were back at the table, offering a restoration of the pre-war status quo. The Russian Foreign Minister himself was sent to deliver the offer as a sign of sincerity, though for the papers this simply drew attention to the Russian detention of the second-most important man in the country. Although what the Russians were asking for, namely the ‘liberation’ of Wallachia, was not a white peace with regards to the facts on the ground, it is worth considering the many weaknesses that had either been exposed by Revenjo’s plan or were visible when it had concluded. The first and most obvious was that large parts of the nation were still occupied by enemy forces - though the French had been driven out of Federal territory almost entirely, both Piedmont and Tunisia remained firmly in French hands and the amount under Russian ownership, particularly in Romania and Slovakia, had actually increased over the year to November. Contrary to what the diplomatic rearrangements might suggest, French intervention in the Balkans had actually ended the uneasy truce in the region – Greece had failed to defend itself in the face of superior firepower and Albania was slowly being captured by the French. At sea, too, the Federation’s early advantage had been lost; while the Federation probably remained the world’s foremost naval power behind Great Britain, her dominance of the Mediterranean and Black Seas was ended with defeat to the Russians off the Crimean coast and the increasing success of the French in evading Federal blockades. The spare manpower available in 1869 had been used up and the sheer scale of the losses made in increasingly harder for regiments to reinforce themselves and the question of rebels remained of the utmost importance, particularly with the fate of Tuscany still under the control of Italian pan-nationalists unclear. The Federation’s biggest problem, however, was Prussia. With no other consequential European ally, and no indication that America would actually do anything to aid Federal forces, the Prussian collapse was of great concern. Despite numerical superiority in the West, the Prussians had allowed almost all of the Rhineland to fall under occupation. In the East, the story was even worse, with no Prussian troops remaining to halt the Russian march on Berlin. The imminent defeat of the Prussian fleets in the Baltic hardly helped while from Pomerania to Württemberg German pan-nationalists were making an unwelcome return and further compounding the woes of the Prussian state.
Liberalen: Italy Rises (1870-1871)The Peace of Berlin brought an end to what was arguably the most destructive war of the 19th century. In the space of two years, a little under two million military personnel lay dead in the fields of Europe – around three times more men were lost in the Federation’s first international war, which was formerly its bloodiest conflict, and five times more soldiers were lost per year than in the all-consuming Napoleonic wars. Much of the Federation, particularly in Galacia and Italy, was left in tatters, as were vast swaths of Germany and the Balkans. Though the central powers made concessions to the Russians under the treaty, the only change of any importance was the admission of Wallachian independence under Russian guidance. Satiated that the Danubian advance into the Balkans and towards the Straits had been arrested, Russian rhetoric towards their Western neighbours softened commencing a period of détente. The Foreign Minister even managed to negotiate the unconditional release of the then captive Vice President, Imre Than. Sadly, Valenta’s triumph was marred by the death of Than to the Russian winter just north of Vilnius. Valenta returned to Vienna empty handed, but with keen stories of unexpected Russian hospitality. More significant diplomatic changes were afoot elsewhere as the Prussian King, Wilhelm, under pressure from a newly elected Conservative government and increasingly vocal reactionary militants, refused to renew his alliance with the Danubian Federation. In compensation the only new alliance proposals given were from the minor states of Hesse-Darmstadt and Switzerland. It was also in Switzerland where the Geneva Convention, designed to draw up the rules of engagement for future conflicts, was nearing its end and the Congress in Vienna would have to choose whether or not to sign it. Domestically, the country was returning to prosperity. By the end of 1871, the country was the third wealthiest nation making up around 10% of world GDP. Per capita, Danubian citizens were better of than those of all but five nations, with only the French placed better on both metrics. Indeed, most historians reckon that around this period the Federation drew level with or even overtook France to become the second greatest nation on the planet. There were also many signs of an increasing internal acceptance from areas only recently incorporated into the Federation of their position; parts of Bosnia, particularly in the Croat-dominated west, became part of the Federations patrimony to such an extent that they start to be seen by modern historians are part of the Federation’s core territory. Only one sector floundered during this period of benign neglect – the end of the war dramatically decreased demand for the armaments and food that many of the Federations factories were producing, forcing them to rely on state subsidies and in turn preventing any real recovery in the state of government finances. Politically, 1871 also saw the birth of a new movement. In the North German city of Oldenburg, at the sixth meeting of the International Workingman’s Association, the socialist movement split in two – a new brand of the movement, called Communism, emerged, which professed Marxist teachings should be followed more strictly than the socialists and the radicals had done in times past. The government’s biggest success actually came outside the Federation’s borders. With the end of the war, and the withdrawal of the financial support the Federation had been supplying to their satellite states, the Tuscan state was finally forced to declare itself bankrupt. With it, any hope the reclamation of the nation by the King’s forces were dashed, and the Pan-Nationalist forces, led by the infamous Giuseppe Garibaldi, were able to establish a provisional Republic of Italy. Garibaldi was, however, outmanouvered by the King of Sardinia-Piedmont, Victor-Emmanuel II, and his government. A popular revolt in the Two Sicilies a month after the Provisional Government’s establishment, which successfully overthrew the temporal powers of the Church only thanks to Garibaldi’s assistance, crowned the Sardinian as King of Italy, mainly thanks to the work of a Sardinian spy-ring in Naples. Within a month, every independent Italian state except for the Republic had either suffered a successful rebellion in favour of Victor-Emmanuel, as happened in the Papal States, or had voted in favour of annexation to the new state. Garibaldi’s victory was also his undoing, as the Italian state he had helped to foster turned upon him. Garibaldi died under house arrest two years later. In January of 1871, Garibaldi’s ministers ejected him from power to join the fledgling nation. The Pope became a ‘Prisoner in the Vatican’, having lost all temporal powers and refusing to accept the existence of the Kingdom it was encircled by. Save from the city of Lucca and the Danubian state of Cisalpina, Victor Emmanuel had succeeded in unifying Italy; yet his new state remained bound by the treaties it had signed with the Federation and, despite its obvious increase in strength, the Kingdom of Italy would remain a satellite of the Federation.
The Primaries of 1871
The last month of 1871 proved to be the busiest politically. In the primaries, it became clear that President Liberalen would be a major contender again at the election, against one of two front runners in the race for the conservative nomination. The bigger question was whether he would face a threat on the right, and the convention of the Radical Union became the focal point for the nation's attentions - former President Valenta, the de facto party elder, had suggested the party once again endorse the independent candidate, but with a challenge to this view from within the party, it was not clear that Liberalen would face as smooth a journey to the Schönbrunn Palace as he had four years ago.
In terms of her international relations, the Federation's enthusiastic endorsement of the Geneva Convention (Thanks largely to the massive extent of the losses in the Wallachian War, the proposal with simply waved through on the nod.) was the most significant issue of December 1871, but constitutional reform was the most important issue domestically. A renewed effort on behalf of republican parliamentarians in Crete to remove the monarchy starting off a chain of events that led to General Symon Revenjo calling publicly for a constitutional convention. Though the measure was generally endorsed by major political figures, there simply wasn't a clause in the original constitution to enable the dissolution of the state. The Supreme Court, at the request of a group of Congressmen aiming to block the bill's passage, provided guidance on the matter. The result of their inquiry, released only four hours before the pre-election dissolution of Parliament, was that if such a bill was an amendment then it was legal, provided there was a strict time limit in which to replace the constitution - the bill, which would allow just one year to completely rewrite the constitution, was presented simultaneously to both houses of Congress. Clearly, there was not sufficient time to cancel the elections, but if the amendment was passed, it would mean that the first act of the new Presidential term would be to choose whether to annul the constitution that had elected him.
Aetios Spiros (1872-1880)
1872 Presidential Election
The official and enthusiastic endorsement of a new Constitutional Convention to replace the hastily drawn up document from 1848 by both houses of Congress was thought by many to have been the defining surprise of the year, but in the eleven days between Christmas and the election, two announcements shook the political climate. The primaries themselves had hardly gone as many commentators had expected, with the Radical Union electing not to reaffirm its support of President Liberalen, only the Federal Democrats now endorsed the President officially, leaving an increasingly flimsy looking base from which he could gain re-election. The President did, however, manage to reach the ballot in all states, as did the socialist Aetios Spiros and conservative Jovan Lilic – the nominee of the All-Danubian Conservative Party, Charles Jakopin, did not manage to amass the necessary signatures to stand in sufficient states to achieve a majority of the electoral college, despite his party’s primary receiving almost the same level of national attention as the Danubian Patriotic Union’s counterpart. The shock came on Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve when Lilic and Liberalen respectively announced the suspension of their campaigns and endorsed Spiros as their nominee for a national unity government they christened the “Grand Coalition”. The idea, which made the election effectively a formality, was to ensure that the country could remain united in the wake of the most terrible war it had ever seen. President Gabriel Soukup-Valenta, bastion of the moderate wing of the Radical Union, and public supporter of Liberalen’s re-election bid, is usually credited with fostering a bond between the two men and, indeed, suggesting the idea of a unity government. According to sources close to the deal, Spiros and Lilic had been discussing the proposal since long before the primaries were even held, though there was never any official statement that confirmed a date anywhere near as early as some claimed – it is certainly true, however, that Lilic and his family were the guests of honour at Spiros’s Viennese townhouse for Christmas Day. Liberalen’s involvement came later, though sources disagree on which party was first to call for the President’s support of the movement. Either way, by the New Year, all real threats to the Spiros’ bid for the Presidency had faded away, and the Cretan was free to enter the history books as first man to win the support of every single member of the Electoral College.At a lower level, however, politics was somewhat less convivial. In the newly formed state of Italy, bound by the King’s Treaties of Allegiance to the Danubian Presidency, discontented citizens, from the Alpine foothills to the plains of the Heel of Italy, were taking up arms. Though never truly united in their aims, the rebels could largely be categorised into two camps; nationalists, calling for the separation of their newly formed state, and reactionaries, led by the Umberto Ramorino and Piedmontian Reactionaries who formed the White Armies which were the chief threat to the Italian state in the north of the country. Indeed, with no navy to speak of, the most dangerous group of militants faced by Victor-Emmanuel were the Piedmontian Nationalists on the island of Sardinia. The idea of intervention by Federal forces was first floated by a back-bench member of the Chamber of Deputies in a question to the Leader of the House. The reply – “We cannot prevent the execution of our allies when we have signed our own death warrant.” – quickly saw the end of what could have been a promising career, but it also served to highlight the incapacitating nature that the Constitutional Convention was going to have on the state. President Spiros’s first action, after his inauguration at the foot of Metternich’s tomb, was to dissolve the constitution that gave both himself and his government the capability to act: the only body which retained the power to act, as a quirk of the time requirement upon the convention, was the notoriously slow Supreme Court – every other function of the state remained only in name, with the two chambers and the entire armed forces powerless to act without the express permission of the judiciary. This was made all the more serious by the emergence of a new radical republican cult, easily identified by the red, phrygian caps worn by its members. Though peaceful for the most part, the group’s nationwide growth was indicative of a growing unease within society about the nature of the state, and hinted at future violence.
Spiros: The Infallibility of Constitution-mongering (1872-1874)Described by one of the Vienna dailies as “the worst decision made in European politics since Caesar’s trip to the Senate on the Ides of March”, the Supreme Court’s decision to suspend the old constitution pending the Convention of 1872 made it, arguably, the most embattled institution in the Federation. Two days later after this particular article in the famously militant Morning Herald, all seven justices resigned in disgrace after restoring the old constitution in full. Interestingly, the following day, the Morning Herald chose to run the headline, “Supreme Court Disgrace Nation” regretting how they had bowed out in the face of undue criticism. Indeed, though the official release of these powers later had to be affirmed by the successors to the ‘Sinister Seven’, as they were readily dubbed by the tabloid press, their policy of political neutrality before and during the conference can only be described as an abject failure. It is a popular idiom to suggest that a particular act was the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’. The editors wish to give an unreserved apology for the following analogy, which is shoddily written, confusing, unnecessary and far too long: the author, meanwhile, doesn’t care. In this case though, the camel (that is the Supreme Court’s decision to suspend the constitution) was certainly weak in the first place, was under constant attack from nearby enemies (the court’s critics in the press and elsewhere) and was already under a heavy strain (the increasing militancy of a population not entirely under control as the political pressure was ramped up and the government was more-or-less powerless to act). Moreover, the straw was less like a wheat-stalk placed delicately on the camel’s back and more like an industrial girder dropped from 100 ft onto the camel’s head – the Venetian Secession Crisis threatened to bring war both internally and externally to the Federation. As a direct result, the Sinister Seven left and constitutional rule was restored. The Venetian Succession Crisis itself only came about as the result of a series of curious events in the city of Durres. The Venetian Quarter of the Albanian municipality of Durres, the only enclave of the Serene Republic to survive the many crises that chopped up the former Venetian territories, pronounced itself the direct successor to the state of old. With the Dukes of Candia removed in favour of an elected republic (The Supreme Court, however, would later find that the new republic was not democratic enough to comply with the constitution, forcing changes to again be made to the city’s constitution), Trieste an independent city, the Illyrians established in total control over Istria and the mainland state first overthrown by revolution to become the state of San Marco before being incorporated into Cisalpina, only a handful of these Venetian territories remained. In the waterways of the city itself, the opportunity was seized to rid the city of rule from Milan; something the famously proud city-folk could bear a good deal less than their land-dwelling cousins. The city’s Council, in a fit of national pride, issued a similar declaration, and followed it within hours by a full constitution for the new republic, which would wash away the elitist throes of yore. Though the Venetian territories in Albania were swiftly handed over to the state’s government (In any event, the vast majority of citizens in the Venetian Quarter at Durres simply sold up and left for Venice, so securing Albanian control of the city was no difficulty), similar enclaves in the Cretan cities of Iraklion and Chania elected to join the new republic, in the process giving the new state the largest end-to-end distance despite having the smallest area. For the Cisalpine government, however, this unilateral secession was nothing more than rebellion. Though the local elections a short time before had been dominated by anti-Cisalpine rhetoric, little information reached Milan. It took two conferences and an intervention by the Federal government to avert a civil war that could surely have ended in utter destruction for the Venice. Despite this threat, the Belvedere accords must stand as one of the greatest feats of diplomatic triumph in the face of a weak hand. The Cisalpine concession of total independence for the city, backed up by the passage of the Cisalpine Partition Act through the state’s legislature, marked complete triumph for the Venetians. For President Vertucci, back in Milan, the tensions had sundered his state against his will and now, thanks to the treachery of certain members of his government and the existence a letter written in a fit of rage, the Italian King was demanding the transfer of Cisalpina into Italian hands. Many historians speculate that, had violence actual broken out in the state, the Italian army would have moved in to restore order and have simply never left – this was certainly the tactic employed by the Cisalpine Militia against the city of Trieste, which regained its independence only because the crisis left the state in want of troops. Indeed, an all out diplomatic crisis was only averted after the Vertucci offered the Italian King a referendum and Spiros offered the Italian King federal assistance in reclaiming Sardinia, the only part of the Italian nation that continued to resist Umberto’s rule. In July, even before the constitutional convention was over, the Danubian Expeditionary Force landed on the island’s south coast and routed the rebel forces for a loss of but a few hundred men. They remained on the island to assist with the restoration of order, but the whole operation was over by September. The referendum was held in October, and somewhat unsurprisingly showed that the people of Cisalpina wished to stay in the Federation. The big problem, which only added to the list of sticking points that were building up between the two nations, already ranging from the Federation’s claims to the entirety of the Adriatic Sea to the continued Danubian recognition of the papacy as an sovereign nation, was that Lombardia actually supported the transfer, but was prevented from by the international agreement that mandated the referendum. Venice received its statehood on 11th November 1872, but thanks to the new constitution was only admitted as a city state, on a par with Trieste.
Despite all this, the Constitutional Convention of 1872 was generally regarded as a success. Out went some of the less popular institutions of the state, such as the Electoral College, and in came a raft of new measures intended to increase participation in the affairs of the state. Indeed, popular perception heralded it as the solution to the problems the state had faced over the previous 25 years, from monarchies to states rights and beyond. Certain areas of the constitution did indeed require the immediate attention of the Federal Constitutional Court, with the most notable being the case brought by Tunisia, Suez, Melilla and Cyprus against the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which was attempting to exercise its right to appoint the Governor-Generals of Federal Colonies by confirming the appointments made when the posts were responsible to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Finding that there was no enumerated position for these existing colonies, the court ruled that they would have to fit into the two categories of state mandated for territory gained after 1872, and further to this, that as they were gained through war rather than colonisation, these areas had to be regarded as territories rather than colonies. The resulting grant of autonomy was massive and had a great effect upon the governance of these former-colonies, not least because it changed the criteria under which a petition for statehood could be made; only two years later, all four launched petitions for statehood with the support of, on average, 92% of the population. In the case of Tunisia, this only came following a case in the Supreme Court, where it was established that the monarchy there, having existed at the start of the convention, could continue under the same terms as those in the Federation proper, though this case was not without controversy, as the wording of the clause in question did not make entirely clear whether the continuation of the monarchy in such a state required it to have been a state of the Federation at the start of the convention. In the poorer areas of the states themselves, however, it was not the legal difficulties of existing and would be states that held the attention of the masses – instead, two clauses snuck into the Charter of Rights of the Citizen at the last minute, entitling all “to receive free public education from the state” and “to receive benefits, subsidies, and welfare from the state as necessary to preserve their dignity and quality of life” proved to be Godsends for trade unionists and the radical left. The direct effect of which was to increase the desire of the population for the social reforms they now felt were legally mandated.
Internationally, the world over the next two years remained more or less at peace, with a few minor wars here and there but none involving Great Powers. The only war of note from a Federal perspective was the Greek attempt to transfer control of part of the Black Sea coastline from Bulgar hands into Wallachian ones; a war that proved the Greek King as vainglorious as he was foolhardy. Faced with popular dissatisfaction, quelled only temporarily by his successes in Berlin, the King was now attempting to bolster his support at home with martial success; however, the war, which would transfer a small amount of territory from a Russian sphereling to a Russian sphereling and which was driving the state to the brink of (and in all likelihood into) bankruptcy, can hardly be said to be a good idea. In America, a new concept in military thinking, whereby all of a state’s resources were committed to all out conflict should there be more than one Great Power among the massed ranks of the enemy, meant that the era of the Great Wars had began. All the while, despite the best efforts of the Foreign Ministry, the other Great Powers of Europe remained hostile to the Federation which, combined with the continuation of the complication an empowered Bavaria added to Southern Germany, meant no diplomatic successes could really be reported.Domestically, the foundation and extraordinary rise of the Temperance League in Danubian politics made its mark on the Federation, as did a massive outbreak of Smallpox in Romania a year earlier, contained only with a generous supply of funds from both Federal and State governments, both of which helped make increasingly public the plight of the poor and both arguably empowering those moralist and pluralist groups who began to make a fight back against the long-time secularist attitudes of the elites. The rise of separatist ideologies, meanwhile, prevented the unionist elements within the Galician state from keeping her intact held on the same day as the first mid-term elections, with just under 60% of the votes in favour of the split. The Galician state was thus dissolved, just as it sent its delegates to Vienna. Thankfully for the lawyers who seemed to face the task of working out what to do with the vacated seats and what to do should the states be readmitted, a bill was hastily passed enabling the candidates already elected to remain in office until the end of their term, conditional upon the admission of both halves of the former state. Both Lodomeria and the rump province of Galicia petitioned for statehood within a month, meaning there was by this point a record number (six) of regions applying for statehood concurrently. Indeed, the midterms proved largely positive for the President, in spite the dissolution of one of the more favourable states. The new electoral rules, along with the President’s general popularity, meant that the Radical Union made gains and became the largest party by far in both houses, if short of a majority. This success was particularly marked in the President’s home state of Crete, where Radical Union members took every seat contested. The Danubian Patriotic Union, meanwhile, having long surpassed their rivals on the right, the All-Danubian Conservative Party, in Presidential Elections, finally took more seats than its older cousin in both houses, even if this advantage was lost with Galicia: many thinkers ascribe this success to the popularity of the convention’s initiator General Symon Revenjo, who finally gave the movement the critical mass to perform on a local level. Perhaps the most interesting turn up for the books was the domination of the city of Venice by a minor party called the “League for the Freedom of Trade”. The League was interesting both because it was totally incorrectly named, being in favour of protectionist policies, and because it was the only party which openly endorsed colonialism in the African continent. Though it did field candidates from other cities, the long Venetian tradition of colonial power provided the perfect place to foster a new breed of colonialism into the ‘Dark Continent’. In December of 1872, after new advances in science and technology made it increasingly feasible to tame the wilds of Africa, the Adriatic and African Company was formed and proceeded in attempting to form a Federal colony in West Morocco largely independently of the state, relying on public shares and subscriptions in a similar fashion to the Adriatic Trading Company which had caused so much trouble not so long before. Indeed, the ATC’s direct descendant, the majority state-owned Suez Canal Company who employed around 90% of the workforce of the Canal Zone, launched their own initiative to establish colonies in Somalia and Djibouti. The most successful attempt, however, to expand the Federation’s borders, and certainly the quickest, was that made by the Bey of Tunisia into the Algerian desert. With the assistance of the Tunisian Royal Guard, it proved possible for the Tunisians to establish the colony properly just weeks after the midterm elections, though to the disappointment of the Bey, it was constitutionally not allowed to be incorporated into the territory as it was deemed to be a Federal Colony – the formal pronouncement of the colony in late February made the colony of Algeria the first of what many in the Federation clearly hoped would be many. The colony itself sparked a crisis that legitimised an invasion of the uncivilised nation of Algeria, but events elsewhere were also moving to enable the colonisation of Africa: the Bey of Tunisia declared that the Royal Guard would be officially aiding the colonisation of the West African Coast and the Suez Canal Company officially petitioned the Ministry of War to transport the Suez Guard to Somalia to assist with preparations there, while the Adriatic and African Company included the Mauritanian coast in their civilisation efforts and missions to Senegal and Guinea were established by the West African Company (based in Melilla) and the Federal Trading Corporation (based in Vienna). Between them these four companies formed the next wave of European colonisation of Africa, but one could be sure that the rest of the continent would not be far behind.
Spiros: Money, Money, Money (1874-1876, Part 1)
The second two years of the ‘72 term drew a fairly stark contrast to the first two, which had been notable for their intrinsic lack of governmental action and permeated by high profile battles in the Supreme Court: for two years, government became all about the money. With the quarter of million pounds worth of debt built up over the course of the Wallachian War still hanging over the treasury, Spiros’s chief aim was to put the nation back in the black by the election season; an ambition he achieved comfortably thanks to an unpopular, if effective, 5% increase on taxes across the board. Though under the new constitution, the explicit power for the control of government finances was left to Congress alone, there was little opposition in either house to a series of acts in the wake of the convention granting day-to-day controls to the Treasury, meaning the Presidency could act independently of Congress should they not wish to interfere – it seems likely that had Spiros been forced to enact his budgets in the legislature, he would have struggled to get the increase on the books, which was naturally unpopular thanks to putting the headline rate of tax at fairly staggering 65% (though the effective tax rate was almost certainly far lower thanks to the numerous exceptions and loopholes which already riddled the tax system and the unfortunate scale of tax evasion, that had been little curbed despite the best efforts of successive governments). A backbench proposal which would have forced the government to pass an annual budget in the National Assembly failed thanks to the scandalous “efficiency” measures taken by the Deputy who tabled the act – there was, however, no guarantee for whoever won the election that Congress would take quite such a relaxed attitude to fiscal issues in the future.Meanwhile, the president was putting his new-found wealth to good use. In August of the same year, £100,000 of debt was paid off by the Treasury, in the process wiping all of the bonds held by foreign nationals. The remainder of the bonds, which were distributed by the Bank of Austria (which had also been the Federal Central Bank since 1855), were paid off on New Year’s Eve, 1875, just five days before the nation went to the polls. Ironically, the vast majority of foreign debt held by the Bank of Austria was that of the Russians, who had been the main player in giving Sprios the debts he was now dealing with, and who now needed funds to bankroll their war to expand their territories in China, by taking yet more of the area south of Beijing. The new surplus of money was also fed back into spending programme; for example, the construction of the 2,000-mile long Dniester line (so named because it approximately followed the valley of the Dniester Rivier) at the behest of the Minister of War, as a replacement for the aging Severní Obranné Linie (‘Northern Line of Defence’) cost at least £150,000, even though in reality it was more of an addition to the pre-existing defences, and an expansion of the defence-system to the East into Moldavia. On top of this, several strategically important points, mainly important ports and coastal cities like Melilla and Dubrovnik, but also the entire length of the Suez Canal, got major investment in their naval facilities and their defences, both from sea and from land. In spite of all of this spending on infrastructure, with the Dniester Line being the largest single governmental project during the entire term, the most publicised of all was surely the replacement of the Red Star Fleet. Since the peace established at Berlin just eight years before, the Danubian naval supremacy that had kept British forces out of the Mediterranean had slipped slowly but steadily away: the original breed of Dalmat-class Ironclads were rusting into oblivion after having taking a beating in Gibraltar from which they would never really recover, yet they were to remain in service for the foreseeable future as guardians of Suez; while President Valenta’s legacy scheme to build 30 new Ironclads over a decade, the Naval Armament and Modernization Program of 1867, folded due to lack of funds just a year later despite never formally being shut down; furthermore, the fact that the technological advances made in the 1860’s had not been replicated in later decades, combined the lack of investment in the infrastructure since the Federation’s foundation, with most port facilities dating from the Habsburg-era if not older, left the Federation a relative backwater without the advantage that early implementation gave; and all the while, the nation’s competitors, not least the Russians, had been working at strengthening their hand in the region, as had been evidenced by plenty of defeats to Russian fleets in the Black Sea not so long before. In 1866, no one believed the Federation had the naval strength to repel the Royal Navy for a sustained period, because the British had been more or less undisputed masters of the waves for a century. Less than a decade later, no one believed the Federation had the naval strength to repel the Royal Navy for any period at all, even after the fearsome reputation of Her Majesty’s armed forces had been brutally shattered. To rectify this, President Spiros commissioned the construction of 11 new Monitors: small, shallow-draft ships that were neither extremely fast nor overpoweringly armed, but being both relatively manoeuvrable and strong in relation to their size, they were a good compromise between the cumbersome Ironclads that were the current mainstay of the Federal Navy and the Commerce Raiders that preceded them. The first such ship, DBS Csikós, was launched from Dubrovnik on Boxing Day 1864. She was named after the mounted horse-herdsman of Hungary due to, according to official sources, the record breaking speeds she achieved – this was later to be proved wrong, as the actual records from her sea trials were uncovered in 2001, stating her top speed was only 12 knots, less than that achieved by the now 15-year old Novara-class light ships of the Adriatic Protection Fleet; nonetheless, the myth stuck, and when the last of the old Man’o’Wars were decommissioned in late 1876, the Red Star Fleet adopted the slogan, ”Aenean quam ventus“ (“Faster than the Wind”).
Spiros: Money isn’t Everything (1874-1876, Part 2)1874 was also important in Federal politics because it saw a grwat many changes domestically, not least the admission of a record five states into the Federation, including cities as far flung as Melilla and Suez, though the latter certainly caused some consternation within the Federal Electoral Commission who were unsure whether it counted as a Free City of no; the canal zone being comprised of three separate cities. The decision by the President to tour the new states, a mission that was scheduled to take three months, but was driven to nearer six by bad weather and other complications, was vilified by the Viennese press, though it was popular, in particular in the formerly Spanish city of Melilla where the sheer isolation had left many hankering after a defection to the mother country. The decision by his deputy, Francesco de Palma, to accompany the tour, rather than stand in for the absentee leader, was outright mocked. However, the most controversial applicant was the only one of the six who failed to gain entry, not because Congress voted against them, for there was considerable support for Tunisian statehood, but because no state could be admitted without a Republican style of government. A scheme was concocted by high ranking Tunisian politicians to circumvent the rule by temporarily altering the state’s constitution (before changing it back after admittance thanks to the territory’s perpetual right to its monarchy guaranteed by the Supreme Court even in the case where it became a state). For the Bey, however, this plot looked suspiciously like Treason; the conspirators were left to while away their remaining days in an African prison cell and the wave of anger, directed both at the Federation and the Bey himself, soon subsided, but the whole affair left the territory uneasy with itself and with its political position. Outside of Tunisia, Danubian players in Africa were moving from strength to strength. Colonial fervour enticed investors into the Dark Continent, even paying for the erection of railway tracks deep into the Sahara desert. In the Horn of Africa, the Suez Canal Company had more or less free reign, to great success transferring Somaliland into the hands of the Ministry of the Interior before the end of the year, then establishing a mission in Nairobi to push further into the continent, aided again by the support of the Suez Guard. For the company, however, this was not the big fish, though it was the one that was easier to sell in Vienna – the really big fish was the ports offered at the mouth of the Red Sea by their colonisation efforts in Djibouti, where progress on building the necessary infrastructure for government had deliberately been slowed down to allow for the legal situation of the region to be ironed out. In short, though there was no constitutional provision for the attachment of colonies to particular states, the Company, whose ownership of the Canal gave them limitless influence in the Free City of Suez, demanded the colony be a legal department of their state – the elections, and lobbying this entailed, seemed like the perfect time to call on the political classes to grant their wish. On the Western Coast, meanwhile, three companies was quickly becoming two, as though the West African Company was successful in forging a colony in the Gambia, it came considerably after the Adriatic and African Company announced success in Mauritania more or less concurrently with the success of the Federal Trading Corporation in Guinea; encircled and seen as behind, the West African Company simply couldn’t attract the investment it needed to launch any further schemes. The Adriatic and African Company, meanwhile, agreed to a deal whereby they would expand the colony of Algeria and play up the border disputes still ongoing with their primitive neighbours in return for preferential treatment and influence. The success of the colonisation of West Morocco to further expand the Mauritanian colony in November 1875 was counterbalanced by the extension of their mission Southeast towards Bamako. The Federal Trading Corporation kept pace by establishing two new regional directorates in Southern Mali and west of the Ivory Coast. Supposedly done under the supervision of the Ministry of the Interior, there was no officially backed horse in the race, though historians still debate whether this hurt the Federation’s efforts in this period or not. It also is worth noting that it became clear who the main foreign competition would be for control of the African Continent. Though the British were fighting a seemingly successful war against the Moroccans come election time, only the French could compete technologically with the Federation. With French success, this time overtly state-sponsored, in Senegal and the Niger Delta, further French missions were established as far apart as Ghana and Namibia, but mainly focussed in the Gulf of Guinea, into Southern Nigeria and Cameroon.
European diplomacy also saw the Federation come into conflict with the French, who were increasingly cast as villains by the press and the public at large – indeed, some suggest that this ‘rhetoric of hate’ was going to aid the Federation in its progress, though the extremist certainly had negative effects for the nation, such as the emergence of (primarily nationalist) terrorist cells, such as the Serbian Black Hand Gang roving the streets of Illyria. The biggest sticking point was Italy, seen by both countries as strategically important for the security of their borders and for command of the Mediterranean - the competition for influence in Italy with fierce, and quite costly, with both nations investing thousands in the Italian railways despite the fact that they almost never ran on time. Indeed, reports started to emerge that taxpayer’s money was going into the hands of corrupt businessmen towards the end of 1874, after the Foreign Office had handed over more than £11,000 to Italian companies. Despite the controversy, diplomatic necessity forced further funds to be sent just to keep abreast of French efforts. To the East, events took a more violent turn, with the Greek government still claiming victory over the Bulgars after being forced to declare themselves bankrupt thanks to an anarcho-liberal revolution that installed a dictator in Vidin – the unexpected victors of the conflict being the Foreign Office, who achieved their aim of taking the Balkan state from the Russian Sphere of Influence without even lifting a finger. Reports suggested that the success of copycat rebels in the Ottoman Empire would succeed in overthrowing the Sultan to establish a dictatorship during 1876, freeing a much larger prize from British influence.Domestically, though the invention of synthetic dyes and of the cracking process were certainly significant breakthroughs, they can’t really be said to have had a great effect on Danubian life – no reliable source of oil having been found anywhere in the world largely limited to potential manufacture of fuel while the first dye factory, established in the Bohemian foothills, had only just been commissioned at the time of the elections. The more important strand of day-to-day life was the increasing politicisation of the population, and in particular the working classes. Though 1875 saw the foundation of the Women’s Sufferage League, the leaflet campaigns they organised were a thankless task, with neither the ideological sophistication nor the political will in the population to carry through such reforms. Indeed, the movement was completely overshadowed by the other reform movements which had as much more strength in depth – roughly three million working age men (or roughly 20%) were signed up with one of the three most popular. Of these three - the Campaign for Old Age Security, the Universal Healthcare Movement and the Campaign for Unemployment Subsidies – it was the latter who made the biggest impact; the movement’s 1.8 million members held more or less weekly marches in Vienna and other important cities, and had established a permanent camp outside the Hofburg palace.
1876-1879 – Spiros: The Smell of RebellionThe elections of 1876 were a mess. For the first time in Federal history since it became mandatory to place nominees for the Vice-Presidency on the ballot, not one major party announced their candidate’s running-mate in advance of election. Worse, no party published a manifesto outlining their policies beyond the briefest and vaguest of words, between which there was little difference in the four main candidate’s views; such was the similarity that two candidates dropped out to endorse their rivals, leaving just the President and his DPU opponent, Donato, in the race - the press hardly stirred. On the day, Spiros held his office, taking 70% of the vote, in the process becoming the first President to be legally barred from running again; yet, his victory was merely thanks to his success at not losing – if politicians were apathetic towards the voters, the voters positively hated their overlords. Colonial growth and the leftover goodwill from the Constitutional Convention kept the government where it was and helped the Radical Union take a slim majority in Congress. The figures, however, masked a grim reality for Spiros – he was unpopular nationally, and with the turnout falling by 26 percentage points since the last time the Presidency was really contested 8 years before (which translates as around 30% fewer voters going to the polls). More worryingly, the associated rise of ‘independent’ politics had left the ranks of all parties filled with MPs unwilling to tow the party line, costing the Government day-to-day control of both Houses, preventing any budgetary changes and more or less stalling any legislative proposals – in the four years following Spiros’s re-election, covering two parliamentary terms, only 143 bills and resolutions were enacted as law, compared to 3256 of the same passed in two years between the 1874 Midterms and the 1876 Election. This trend was more or less confirmed in the Midterm elections of 1878, as independent candidates took 32% of the vote and almost 30% of the seats – party politics itself was threatening to break down, and with it any chance of the executive had of governing the nation. Indeed, the deadlock was blamed upon the President, and his party suffered disproportionally, with the largest vote share falling to the Danubian Patriotic Union, depriving the Radicals of the ascendancy they had held since the time of Kraus more than a quarter of a century previously.
More worrying, however, even than this lack of engagement in the political mainstream, was that even apathy failed to entice much of the populace – this growing sense of disillusionment translated into popular militancy that only grew during Sprios’s term, as the stalemate in Vienna grew worse. Primarily falling into four groups (Anarcho-Liberals, Reactionaries, Communists and Nationalists), these rebel groups sought to imitate successful revolts in the Balkans. The first to act, before the government were even really aware of the scale of the issue they were set to face, were the Liberals, who took up arms in the Spring of 1876 – though few in number (with the largest force, which for a time occupied the city of Oppeln in Silesia, numbering just 12,000 men) they nonetheless made their mark on the public perception of the legitimacy of the 1872 constitution, both in making clear the prerogative it gave the government to use force against its own citizens and in demonstrating the willingness of the army and the executive to use it: at Oppeln, all 12,000 men were killed, wounded or taken prisoner; just 470 government troops were lost in return. The only real success these early rebels has was in Africa, where the Tunisian Bey was captured an executed along with his family at the end of a 117 day long siege of the Monarch’s palace. Though the eventual return of the Tunisian Royal Guard from activities in the colonies managed to contain, and eventually remove, these rebellious forces from Tunis, the Federal Territory of Tunisia quickly fell into a state of turmoil. The territory was converted into a republic almost unilaterally, with the imposition of a foreign ruler being universally rejected and the elevation of a local to the rank of monarch too contention, but in the elections one party came head and shoulders above the rest: the Tunisian Brotherhood, a nationalist, religious organisation dedicated to the independence of the territory, twisted the rejection of Tunisian Statehood into powerful anti-Federation rhetoric. The merciless destruction of Tunisian lives by the (mostly ethnically Czech) Royal Tunisian Guard served only to fuel this resentment. As the election of 1880 approached, the Tunisian Parliament unanimously petitioned the Federal Congress for a binding vote on Tunisian Independence. Elsewhere, nationalists of other colours took a different approach to Independence; rather than seeking the mutual end of their relationship with the Federation, organisations like the Free Army of Trieste embraced the tactics of Terrorism, and soon, outright conflict. The defeat of 24,000 Triestine nationalists in mid-1979 spelled the end of this violent fight for independence, but many see it as instrumental in opening the door for the domination of anti-government thinking within Europe by Reactionaries, in much the same way that those dissatisfied in the colonies tended to embrace the Communists. Both had their attractions; a new wave of Nostalgic Romanticism fuelled chiefly by notions of a lost divinity helped reactionary groups recruit new members, whist a movement that heralded the Communist Party of the Federation as the “Vanguard Party” leading the way toward the socialist utopia eased the recruitment of those for the fight. The government, meanwhile, took moves of its own; possibly unbeknownst to the President or possibly with his blessing, the top echelons of the Army established an intelligence unit in 1877. Called the Evidenzbureau (EB), the military didn’t admit to Congress or the wider world of its existence. This division would quickly develop into what we would recognise as a secret police force, targeting internal dissidents and paramilitary groups. The office’s subsidiary dealing with foreign intelligence, the Kundschaftsbureau (KSB), was founded a year later, and made a separate body by the General Staff in November 1879. Though their effects in reducing rebel organisation were clear, especially in terms of wiping out nationalist movements after the Triestine Rising, their public existence was merely one of rumours and speculation. By election day, the EB estimated over 6 million men had signed up to rebel organisations of one form or another (or more than a third of all adult males in the nation) including an unknown quantity within the army itself. Though public dismissals for anti-patriotic actions were commonplace, no solid evidence existed for the scale of the threat either within or without the army.The only real successes of Spiros’s second term came in terms of foreign affairs, where President Valenta once again proved his worth to the Federation in rekindling the Federation’s defensive alliance with the Prussians and expanding Federal influence in Italy, Ethiopia and Bulgaria. The latter of these was controversial, in some circles at least, because accusations abounded regarding the treatment of the Turkish minority within the state and state-sponsored violence in general; however, after the declaration of a dictatorship in the Bulgaria, the Foreign Office happily filled the void left by outgoing Russian interests, further beating back the Russian Sphere of Influence in the Balkans. In Turkey, however, the Russian government managed to patch up relations, ensuring the continuation of Russian access to the Mediterranean in spite of having fought against alongside the now defeated Sultan. In Africa, despite a slight setback caused by the rebellious Tunisians, the Federation continued to forge ahead of the pack, reaching as far south as the Congo and almost reaching from the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans by the time the Primaries of 1879 rolled around. For many, this factor above all else is the reason why the Federation can be reliably credited as the most prestigious power in the world in 1880, if neither the strongest militarily or economically.
The Primaries of 1879
With the primaries fast approaching, the political manouvers of the parties were well under way. In both conservative parties, clear favourites for the nomination emerged. However, with Nicolò Donato electing to contest his state's leadership rather than the national nomination, the (some would say, infamous) former military man Jovan Lilic took the DPU further to the nationalist right than it ever had been before, meaning it was ever harder to unite the two parties' bases against a still stong and united left. The Federal Democratic Party, meanwhile, once more coalitioned with the Radical Union and its long-time ally, the Republican Alliance. Interestingly, despite the strong hold the Radical Union had held for years over the nation, it would not field a high-profile candidate at the convention. Within the party, this caused somewhat of a schism between the leadership, who were happy to assert their influence through proxies, and the membership as a whole, whose interests were is maintaining and extending the party's power in Congress and on a more local level - with the voting system changed to be more pluralistic and responsive to voting preferences, the idea of strength through unity was losing ground: the inevitable result was a hastily drawn up compromise which prevented the party from officially endorsing a member of another party at a subsequent election. Other parties, fearing similar revolts by their back-benchers and grassroots, copied the resolution, effectively bring the era of the grand coalition within Federal politics to an end: 1880 would be the coalition's last hurrah, and a benchmark by which each party could measure the success of the change.
In the closing days of December, just before Congress was officially dissolved ready for the election, the Tunisians got their reply to their referendum plea. The resounding no that came from Vienna, with both houses slating the idea of any state leaving the Federation, let alone a miserly colony. The President even promised to veto it, should it come to his desk. Ironically, the President was widely criticised in the tabloid press (if not the broadsheets) for his eagerness to criticise the Federation and all it stood for. His speech on the subject, an impassioned argument which heralded the collective security the Federation offered and the chance to do a greater good against the wishes of the few, would be remembered in the popular conciousness for one phrase: "This Federation is flawed". As the Vienna Morning Post memorably wrote, "The Federation is flawed in only one respect: its President." The Tunisian government promised to hold the referendum anyway.
Jovan Lilic (1880-1885)
1880 Presidential Election
In the run up the the 1880 elections, the rumour mill was in full operation. The press was in full panic-mode, running stories to press telling of Lilic's clandestine meetings with leaders of the Reactionary rebels and Vertucci's with the Communists. Some ran stories alleging that the Federal Electoral Commission itself were corrupt, though they could never produce their sources when state officials came knocking to investigate. After a series of high profile murders (or what most assumed to be murders despite no one ever being convicted for them) shook the publishing word, as those editors who had been quickest to print whatever they heard on the grapevine were soon found dead in suspicious circumstances. Various groups were blamed, from reactionary and Communist rebels to Tunisian terrorists, but no one group ever came forward, deepening the impression many had that the country was now being run by shadowy cabals behind the scenes. 1880 looked set to be another controversial election.
1880 Election Results
The results of the 1880 Presidential Elections, as released by the Federal Electoral Commission. They were, however, verciferous denounced by many members of the radical left, who claimed that the election had been rigged, though when pressed for a name by police all that even the most informed could give was the name 'X', who was supposedly leader of the Reactionary militias. According to one source, the diaries of a young Communist by the name of Vladimir Jendargo who claimed to have infiltrated the reactionary movement but was not found by police (a body found in the Danube some days later was reported by many papers to have been his body, though it was never officially confirmed) said that one in every five of Vertucci's votes had been removed from the ballot boxes by corrupt influences in the Federal Electoral Commission thereby depriving him of an absolute majority. Most elements of the conservative press dissmissed the claims as the ramblings of a known criminal. Though these accusations were investigated by police, they were not sufficiently heeded to delay the run-off, held a week later which named Lilic the winner of possibly the nations most controvesial election to date.
Lilic: Accused (1880)
In the wake of the elections, Vienna was a flurry of activity. For example, the Supreme Court, out of session at the time, was reconvened to rule upon the constitutionality of Lilic’s pending inauguration. Their eventual answer was made irrelevant, however, by the surprisingly speedy resolution of the inquiry into the alleged corruption. In the space of just 10 days, the panel of the incoming and outgoing Ministers of Justice had convened, examined the evidence presented and published their findings. There was even time for the Supreme Court to uphold the inquiry’s findings before the inauguration’s original date, stating they could find “no grounds upon which to doubt the veracity of the conclusions drawn.” Indeed, since it was well publicised who was attending the Inquiry even though the actual hearing was held in complete secrecy, many assumed the inquiry would find in favour of the ‘prosecution’, if such a term can be applied. This it certainly was; most papers at the time reported the inquiry as if Lilic himself were in the dock, accused of the misdemeanours mere civil servants were being examined for. The main witness for the prosecution was an Austrian clerk named Max Mustermann – a name which greatly amused the media since he was literally a German ‘John Smith’ – who worked at the Federal Electoral Commission dealing with electoral registrations for candidates in the city of Vienna, but who also oversaw voter registrations. He therefore would have come into contact with Presidential candidates, who almost registered their candidacy in Vienna, allowing him to make contact with Edoardo Vertucci. He also came into contact with the Commissioner of the FEC, who ran the organisation as the Chairman of the Executive Board, about whom he made some pretty fantastical accusations at the inquiry: the Commissioner was corrupt, accepting payments into a Swiss bank account from an anonymous donor, while frequently holding correspondence and meetings with a man who signed his letters ‘X’ working for an organisation named (to the best of Mustermann’s knowledge) the ‘Nationalist Alliance’ and dressed head-to-toe in black, wearing a sharp, black three-piece suit with a black shirt, a black tie, black shoes and even black cuff-links (The only exception, according to Mustermann, was the bright white hood that covered his face). The man even managed to produce a letter from the mysterious X to President-elect Lilic which he claimed to have stolen from the then-Minister’s pocket upon seeing the same handwriting he had seen in the letters to the Commissioner. However, the letter, whose contents are reproduced below, was discounted due to doubts over its authenticity: the Old Vienna Police Station was destroyed by fire from a neighbouring bakery at around the time when the meeting was alleged to have taken place, while there were no documented sightings of anyone entering or leaving the building for a period of weeks beforehand nor of Lilic going anywhere near the building, having an alibi corroborated by his wife for the day the meeting was alleged to have taken place, and no similar letters could be found in the possession of either Lilic or the Commissioner. Indeed, the entire case failed to stick for similar reasons: Mustermann asserted that a discrepancy between the calculated turnout and the total number of votes cast in each constituency compared to the number of registered voters proved that the claim that around one in five of Vertucci’s votes had simply disappeared was based in fact, and he produced the records for Vienna to prove it; yet, despite others repeating this claim in varying strengths from across the nation, there remained no solid evidence of how reliable these records where, especially when conflicting information about the number of votes cast was given by the central offices of the FEC. Indeed, the panel was about to order a general recount when it emerged that the central warehouse to which the voting slips had been transported, supposedly in complete secrecy, had been blown up and all its containing evidence destroyed. The attack was blamed on Communist extremists. Eight days in, and with the case resting more and more on Mustermann’s character in the absence of any real facts, both sides were waiting for a decisive blow. That blow came when the Commissioner eventually appeared before the inquiry, complete with a full staff record for the Commission: Mustermann’s name was not on the list. He was in fact a Communist radical by the name of Tomáš Mlynár, a Slovak who was veteran of various campaigns, not least taking up arms in Schmidt’s DRB rebellion in Vienna. The evidence against him - records of employment, birth records and criminal convictions, to name but a few – mounted so quickly the prosecution’s case fell into disrepute, with the accusation made by the Commissioner that Communist forces were attempting to infiltrate and rig the inquiry going effectively unchallenged. Lilic, which much pomp and ceremony, was inaugurated as Spiros’s successor four days later.
We are sure you share our goal of peace within the Federation. A civil war will do no one any good. We can ensure your victory in these elections. We ask merely for your co-operation in returning the federal government to its natural order and your lack of interest in our methods. If you are interested, meet us at the abandoned Old Vienna Police Station. Bring only those you trust.
Seen above is the letter alleged to have been sent by the myserious X to President-elect Lilic prior to the elections.
Lilic: Fog of War (1880-1883, Part 1)The war with Yemen was a farce. Buoyed by the accusations of misconduct laid against Yemeni authorities, Congress approved the use of force by an impressive margin; ‘act now, ask forgiveness later’, was the motto of many. Perhaps ‘act now, ask later’ would have been a more fitting motto, as even while the war was still underway, a report by the civil service, supposedly suppressed by factions within the government, cast doubt over the verisimilitude of the Yemeni infractions. Indeed, sailors returning from the Red Sea were reported as widely have no knowledge of the embargo, and the war started to look more and more like an act of colonial aggression. The government, needless to say, argued that they had acted upon verifiable information and gradually stories verifying the government’s position began to emerge. It appears that all records of this period were burned, either by Lilic’s government when it eventually office or by one of its many successors who opposed Lilic’s ideals, meaning there is little evidence beyond that reported in the press to give a valid opinion, and since it is well known that the press was under manipulation, unbeknownst to the populace at large, by less than scrupulous forces, this evidence must be treated with suspicion. Whether or not Lilic had lied to Congress, however, was rendered moot, as an attempt to impeach the President failed horribly and Lilic remained in office despite taking a knock in the polls. Things only became more farcical when the war’s scope was broadened. After a more or less successful occupation of Yemen by the Danubian Expeditionary Force, which was more or less left to its own devices by commanders in Europe, Federal troops marched over the border into Oman and its African colonies. Acting on information that the Yemeni government was a puppet of the Omanis, the army concluded that the declaration of war applied to the parent state as well. Though this statement was disputed on an international level, the Omani’s main ally, Persia, was not willing to press the case against the most powerful nation in Southern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Attempts were made to avert the war in both Congress and the Supreme Court, but both failed. Though the conflict lasted for over a year, it was little more than a restoration of order: Yemen was formally annexed, without the consultation of Congress, on 23rd November 1881; Oman followed in the same manner in October of 1882. Both were admitted as Federal territories, allowed to retain their own systems of government more or less unaltered, though the port of Aden (along with the Island of Socotra off the Somali coast) were admitted as the Gulf of Aden Territories and the Omani’s African possessions were divvied up between the Somaliland and Federal East Africa. Around a year later, a petition was received by the Federal Congress to allow the small colony of Djibouti to be incorporated into the Gulf of Aden Territories under a lobbying campaign led by the Suez Canal Company and supported by many leading figures within the navy. Elsewhere in Africa, Federal colonisation was proving successful, though with the unclaimed land rapidly diminishing, many predicted that the ‘Scramble for Africa’, doubtlessly dominated by the Federation, was drawing to an end and that business and government could once more start to focus on internal affairs.
Lilic: Blurred Lines (1880-1883, Part 2)Domestically, the President had a somewhat rocky ride too. Mounting violence started to be a problem once again; continuing violence against the press was used to justify stricter rules at the Censor’s Office, a three-year long attempt at the prohibition of alcohol brought into force at the request of the Temperance League after a series of studies linked violence with alcoholism was aborted just three months before the election as critics in Congress finally struck down the legislation used to uphold it (Unlike Prohibition in other countries, notably the United States, no special amendments were made to the constitution to enable prohibition and no laws explicitly outlawed the sale or production of alcohol; however, certain trade legislation (for example, the Dangerous Goods Act, 1854) did give the President the right to restrict the sale of goods that “posed a threat to the peace and stability of the Federation”. When Congress finally amended this key piece of legislation, however, the sale of alcohol was explicitly discounted from the act and this power was transferred to state executives, due to the need to gain the support of at least some DPU members of both houses. This short period of prohibition is usually cited as one of the main reasons for the rise of organised crime groups), mob violence became commonplace forcing the government into laying down strict rules on what public protests were allowed and trade unions were increasingly shut down by their new regulator as more and more links with radical Communist groups emerged. Measures such as these were widely attributed for the fact that, despite concerns about Lilic’s integrity, the DPU continued to make gains in Congress taking an additional 46 seats at the midterms. It is worth noting that, while allegations of corruption did surface once again, few took them seriously.
|Danubian Patriotic Union||13||25||+12||189||223||+34|
|All-Danubian Conservative Party||5||4||-1||46||35||-11|
|Radical Union of the Federation||7||6||-1||76||69||-7|
|Federal Democratic Union||8||8||+0||74||68||-6|
Overseas, Danubian influence continued to spread. An series of trade deals culminating with a military alliance was forged with the primitive African nation of Sokoto, one of the few independent nations on the continent, as a barrier to further French expansion in the region. Egypt was restored to the Federation’s sphere of influence as the protection of the Suez canal become more and more important for the Federation’s trade interests. Some postulated that this influence could aid in the creation of a Jewish home-state in the Levant, yet this did not seem likely without the government's support. Indeed, President Lilic vowed to take the country to war to annex the Arabian nations of Hedjaz and Nejd over exactly these concerns after intelligence reports. (Though these reports were rumoured to have been filed by KSB, the government did not acknowledge the body’s official existence, and the sources of these allegations was not officially disclosed.) suggested the nations were seeking the restoration of independence to Yemen and Oman; a promise that seemed certain to be carried through with if Lilic won the election thanks to his party’s already dominant position in Congress. In the Balkans, however, moves within Congress to declare all Serbians and Romanians [I]de jure[/I] citizens of the Federation was increasing tensions both with the Balkan nations and with Russia, who continued to oppose further Federal expansion in the region. While most commentators suspected it would not precipitate a major European war on its own, the Russians feared that a successful attempt to incorporate the Serbs and the Wallachians would only strengthen Ukrainian independence and secession movements within their own territory. Further afield, the only conflict of note was a successful French colonial war against Portugal over Morocco, whose independence was supported by the French. Though further demands were made of the Portuguese for the transfer of control of parts of Angola (potentially making the unification of the French colonies in Africa seem more likely) the decision by the French military not to invade Portugal proper (despite having at large army sitting just outside Portugal in Northern Spain for the majority of the war) prevented this secondary target from being reached.
1884 Presidential ElectionsThe month before the 1884 Presidential Elections was one of the most hectic periods of change seen in Europe in years. To the Federation’s north, the Prussian King, Frederick III, was appointed President of the North German Federation on 1st January 1884. Dominated by the Prussian State, the Confederation was only agreed to after an invasion scare in the western state of Hessen, where newspapers blew a story out of all proportion regarding the stationing of troops from the neighbouring South German Federation on the border. Further south, in Greece, the British changed the constitution of the Ionian Isles, a British protectorate comprising Corfu and the Peloponnese, in order to make the Greek King Head of State. Many commentators saw this as a preparation for a British exit from the region, after the retention of the Isles was derided in Parliament as “an expensive farce to maintain a strategic location we do not need in times of peace and cannot defend in times of war” by the Leader of the Opposition. Already exiled from Greece proper by an anarcho-liberal uprising which seemed certain to secure effective control of the country, King George happily agreed; however, just as the dissolution of the Hanoverian state during the formation of the North German Federation had soured relations between Britain and the Prussians, it seemed the move would greatly limit British diplomatic actions in Greece, opening up the nation to the influence of other powers just as Russia was moving towards diplomatic hegemony in the Balkans. The spark for this change was arguably the Declaration of Unity proposed in the Danubian Congress, which would have seen all Serbs and Romanians living outside the Federation’s borders named citizens of the Federation. Though the proposal failed by a slender thin margin, the message was heard across the Balkans: the Federation wishes to expand. Serbia saw the biggest change in alignment, as the new Serbian King, Milan I, took the Declaration as a threat against his rule, revoking all treaties he held with the Federation and offering his hand to Russia instead. Presumably encouraged by the Russians, who knew that Serbia’s western neighbour would not fall out of the arms of the Federation so easily, Milan proclaimed the Republic of Montenegro an integral part of the Kingdom – though Monetegro’s President Miljanić hardly seemed enamoured by the possibility, forcing him to keep his state’s ties with the Federation open, an attempt to garner a similar diplomatic status to Italy was scuppered after it emerged that the Italian Monarch, largely under duress from a pro-independence government, would be petitioning the new post-election government for full-blown Italian sovereignty. Denied this opportunity of protection from both the Federation and the Serbs, Miljanić made one final plea to the Federation, begging it dropped any further attempts at similar declarations while also threatening to turn to the Russians if the Federation continued to threaten Montenegrin stability. The Federation’s only other ally in the region, Bulgaria, found itself absorbed into long-time opponent of the Federation, Wallachia, after the Communist rebels seized the capital and looked ready to cement political power throughout the state. Denied the military access necessary to put down the rebellion and unwilling to provoke Russia into an unnecessary war, Lilic watched on powerless to stop Russian influence establish itself like never before in the Balkans. Domestically, however, Lilic was not powerless domestically. Though the Primaries proceeded more quietly than normal, with the only seriously contested nomination coming in the FDP, where the victor, Edvard Krejčí, graciously placed the, Alexandros Petrakis, as his running mate. To the amusment of many, and the consternation of senior figures in both the Radical and Patriotic Unions, current Vice-President de Palma was placed on the ballot as the running mate of both Lilic and Banik. Though legal, it certainly caused concern among many in the populace that the current system of government was corrupt, running via shadowy cabals, and increased the fear of (and the alterness to) voter fraud. De Palma was in America at the time of the elections, attempting to convince a spectical American public that they should retain their only alliance in the old world, therefore preventing him from commenting or campaigning for a good deal of the pre-election build-up. The greater controversy, however, came regarding the increasing regulation of the trade unions, with many critics claiming that the Trade Unions Congress, intended merely to facilitate negotiations between employers and employees, was suppressing worker rights and the voice of the worker. An amendment intended to secure the freedom of trade unions was vetoed by the President even though it went on to receive rather half-hearted endorsements from both chambers. Many credit the failure of this amendment with the founding of the Danubian Workers’ and Labourers’ Party, which was the first openly Communist Party in the Federation’s history. Some historians use the lateness of the emergence of Communism as a political entity to cast doubt over the extent to which Communists were responsible for those acts of violence and sabotage attributed to them over the previous decade while others suggest the bare faced cheek of publically declaring the creation of an illegal paramilitary group (which was hastily removed from the party structure) suggests the clear militarisation of Communism, though it must again be stressed that little reliable documentary evidence survives from this period.
1884 Election ResultsThe results of the 1884 Presidential Elections, as released by the Federal Electoral Commission.
Jovan Lilic is duly re-elected President of the Danubian Federation
1884 Election Recount
The results of the recount of the 1884 Presidential Elections, as released by the Federal Electoral Commission and verified by the Capital's domestic security force, the Free National Army. The results showed that roughly 250,000 ballots for each Banik and Krejci had been altered to be in favour of Lilic, however did not change the overall result.
Lilic: War is Hell (1884)For the third election season in a row, corruption was the order of the day. Accusations of fraud surfaced within hours of the polls opening. Few Danubians, and certainly few members of the opposition, continued to class their nation as a democracy. Indeed, when the results inevitably came for another Lilic victory and further gains for his Danubian Patriotic Union, the nation moved to arms, with militancy an ever growing threat to the government. Protest after protest sprung up both against and in favour of Lilic’s government as country gear up for war. Peaceful at first, they gradually devolved into an increasingly bitter struggle. Silesia was the first state to mobilise its National Guard, just three days after the results were announced. Rioting in the Croatian city of Zagreb saw the first death of the thousand or so due to civil strife which would come in the fortnight after the election, though it was in Verona, Cisalpina where the first barricades were erected. However, the focal point for and symbol of the struggle against the President was the so-called ‘January Rebellion’ in Vienna. Opposition members, led by defeated Presidential candidate, Lukáš Banik, organised a boycott of Congress, with representatives from the Federal Democratic Party, Radical Union and the various smaller socialist parties refusing to take their seats and with protestors blockading the Hofburg Palace. A police charge by unarmed officers aimed at clearing entrances and exits to the building only served to inflame the crowd. Shots from the crowd killed 10 members of the security forces within 5 minutes; within an hour, barricades were up around the Hofburg and there was a bitter stand off between the army and the rebels in the streets of the capital. However, the rebels soon found themselves isolated politically with popular opinion against them – Banik denounced the rebels for their use of force and even attended the funeral for the 56 troops and policemen killed in the 18 hours before the Republican National Guard succeeded to restoring Federal control to the building. The defeat of the January Rebellion was not the only failed attempt to remove Lilic from power by force to falter as it found itself on the wrong side of public opinion; however much the common man was fed up with Lilic and his corruption and his dictatorial style, General Otto Metzler found to his cost that they weren’t prepared to stand up and fight. Perhaps expecting more support from the military for the creation of a ruling Junta, like that of Masaryk and de Sanctis, he found no friends in a military more concerned with the enemy without than within. Even in the territory he did find support, principally in the colonies, where his leadership was respected by his subordinates, he had trouble retaining any meaningful control. Crete is the most extreme case; after the military on the island defected to Metzler, all hell broke loose. Radical Cretan nationalists, supported by a coalition of Greek separatists, Communists and other anti-Lilic groups, stormed the Cretan Parliament and passed a motion severing Cretan ties with the Federation. Based in the capital of Heraklion, the movement quickly took control of most of the island with the help of militia forces and the local population. Opponents to the rebellion fled to Chania where they started to organise a fight back. Responding to events, Metzeler ordered his forces, located in Chania but already starting to defect to both sides, to honour the integrity of the Federation over all else, going so far as to effectively cede control of the troops to the loyal military command, ending any hopes he had of his coup succeeding. On the island, the fighting intensified into all out civil war with neither side capable of gaining a decisive edge in either the plains to the east of Chania or the White Mountains to the south, where the bulk of the fighting took place. Though a Federal blockade of the island had been planned, it was prevented by wider events and, without further support, the forces loyal to the Federation would have to win a long fight, if they could win at all.
The political crisis was made even worse a month after the elections when Congress voted by a margin of over 80% to expel all members who had failed to take their seats, leaving minimal representation for the political left and a slew of new by-elections which would be continually postponed due to the ongoing conflict. A week later, a constitutional amendment was passed striking Part 3, Article 5 from the statute book and allowing Lilic to stand for another term. To his critics, the change only confirmed his position as a dictator; to his supporters, it was another victory for democracy.All of this was, however, eclipsed by even bigger news: Italy unilaterally declared independence from the Federation, demanding the return of core states like Lombardia. French support and mass mobilisations on both sides, completed in the case of the Federation within a month, made this one of the largest wars ever seen. Lilic even ordered the construction of a further 48 units of within the first few days of the conflict, in another massive expansion of Federal military power. Fearful of making the task even harder by provoking the Russians (who were already embroiled in a war in China and were not willing to aid the French unless their interests were directly threatened), Lilic decided not to call upon his German allies or stand by the Montenegrins in the face of Serbian aggression. Instead, his diplomatic policy was aimed at keeping as many nations out of the war as possible; one example is that after careful negotiation, the Swiss agreed not to join France in war but only give their closest allies military access through the Alps. Initially, the plan was to hold a line from the Alps down to Genoa against the French and then push towards Rome against the weaker Italians. The war started off well enough, with the larger Federal fleets easily picking off the stray French and Italian ships which dotted the Mediterranean and the Federation’s well equipped and trained armies fairing well against the Italians. Indeed, it was not until 10th February that the French even joined the fight, over three weeks into the war, engaging with only a small force outside the Italian city of Parma, under siege by Federal troops. This battle, however, quickly grew: 3 days later, Federal forces were outnumbered by 56,000 men; within a week there were 118,000 more French troops than there were Federal ones. The size of this battle should not be underestimated; the main battles against Italian forces, with victories at Bologna and Florence pushing Italian forces back to the Liguria Sea near Leghorn, roughly 200,000 men were fighting in total and it was organisation rather than numbers which was leading to these victories for Federal armies. At the beginning of march, Federal forces were engaging French troops in the continuing battle for Parma and also a French attempt to break through in the Alps. The Battle of Bergamo had almost 400,000 men fighting on the 6th of March, more than double the number than took part in the battles against Italy, but this was dwarfed by the 812,000 troops continuing to struggle over Parma. The losses were expected to massively outstrip those of the battle of Nice, where 138,000 men had died but there were less 200,000 on the field and which had seen a wave of national mourning pass over the whole country; in the words of the Verona Guardian,”War is Hell, but even the devil would be loath to lose so many.”
Lilic: The Fate of Nations (1884-1885)
The restoration of Danubian rule to Italy was always the goal for the Federation during the War of Italian Independence, yet as 1884 progressed many in Vienna became less and less certain of achieving this aim. In March of 1884, French forces were still holding Federal troops up against, if not within, the Federation’s own borders, threatening to push south and aid the far smaller Italian forces in the peninsula who were inflicting serious casualties on their own. Though the Italian forces continued to be pushed back in successive Danubian victories, Federal forces were not scoring the decisive victories needed to prevent Italian troops from reclaiming occupied land. A game of cat and mouse ensued, wearing down Federal forces to such an extent that operations to push south in Italy were suspended in July having made little progress since the start of the war. The 2nd Battle of Florence, which ended in Danubian victory at the start of May, serves a good example: continuing off the back of victories at Bologna, Florence and Leghorn, Italian forces had returned to a region previously secured by the Federation and managed to inflict significantly greater casualties, despite being forced from the area. The General Staff estimated that 7472 of their own troops were either killed or captured during the battle compared to just over 2000 Italian soldiers – when the war had started, the Federal force had been significantly larger than the Italian army it was engaging, but post-Florence, it was more than 30,000 troops short of the number the Italians were able to field and needed to be reinforced by troops previously engaging the French in Switzerland. In a report to what remained of Congress, the General Staff attributed the high loss count to superior leadership on the side of the Italians, after problems with a limited pool of leadership available for promotion – their intelligence suggested that the Italians had lower morale and organisation than their own troops and claimed that this was not something which should by rights be repeating itself. Unfortunately, it did, with the same story being repeated at Siena, Ancona and Ravenna the following month; on average, Italian forces inflicted six times more casualties during June than they took.
War in the colonies was going even worse, with French forces significantly outgunning the Federal forces south of the Congo. By mid-March, much of Angola (the southernmost Federal territory in Africa) was under formal occupation and Federal forces were yet to engage any French troops and, though there was initial success for the armed forces in removing the French presence east of Sokoto, the first engagements with the French in the south ended embarrassingly, with 16,000 men lost in a matter of days outside the Congolese town of Nsheng as Federal forces failed to repel the French invaders. Even at the nominal victory near Lusaka, 8,000 Federal troops were lost to fewer than a thousand Frenchmen. Even discounting a high attrition and desertion rate among the increasingly disillusioned troops, casualties were unsustainable, and a full retreat was eventually ordered, sending most of these African regiments scampering back to the Somali coast where they would remain for nigh on a year. By the time the local command felt secure enough to reengage the French forces, more or less the entirety of the Angolan and Congolese territories had been ceded, representing a far greater territorial change than was even possible in Europe. Even then, the African command only acquiesced to fight again when reinforced by troops shipped to Kenya from the Danubian mainland. Perhaps the biggest reason for the ineffectiveness of Federal troops in Africa was the lingering distrust and inner strife brought about by armies in the region supporting Metzler’s coup, which only compiled problems caused by the numerical advantage the French troops held.
Events in the Arabian peninsula also handicapped the Federation’s colonial forces, however, as wars begun by Lilic against first Hedjaz and then Nejd drew Federal forces away from the fight against the French. The nations were invaded upon obviously trumped up accusations of collusion with the French and eventually annexed to form the Territory of Arabia. Given even Lilic’s pet Congress only just passed the two declarations of war, it’s not surprising that these unnecessary wars were lambasted by the mainstream press even though it was surprisingly supportive of the controversial President. Outside the capital, particularly in Cisalpina where the French threat was still felt keenly, this deployment was overwhelmingly unpopular. In the end, however, the wars in Arabia were fairly uneventful, with the supply of 30,000 men in the desert posing a greater challenge than the native forces. Indeed, the annexation of Hedjaz, coming at a time when little else seemed to be consistently going the Federation’s way, probably helped boost support for the European war, which had been waning in the face of mounting casualties. Nejd probably had a lesser effect, but with a more legitimate dispute ongoing with the Trucial States over restrictions the Sheikhdoms placed upon, primarily, the Opium trade, the possibility of further expansion in the Middle East was still open to the Federal government.
Victory, however, in this war was never going to be about Africa. As Lilic misquoted William Pitt to Congress, the Federation would “win Africa on the banks of the Rhône”. As much as Italian occupation was the aim for the Federation, her Generals knew it could only be achieved once the fighting had been pushed back across French borders. Though the early signs were promising, with the first victory recorded over French forces coming outside Bergamo in mid-March, proving that the Federation could manage to win a battle without taking higher casualties than their opponents, even if that required fielding 160,000 more men. However, the subsequent occupation of Trent by French forces proved that the war at sea would be the only wholly positive aspect of the conflict for the Federation; in three attempts the French made to break into the Mediterranean at the Straights of Gibraltar, the Federal Navy managed to repulse them without losing a single ship – about a dozen French Monitors and Ironclads joined those British ships already sent to the bottom of the ocean there by Federal firepower. However, the balance of power changed decisively in favour of the Federation when the city of Parma was finally secured for the Federation in mid-August. In a battle that had raged on for over 6 months and taken the lives of approximately 130,000 men on each side, vastly outnumbering the casualties at the Federation’s previous most bloody battle outside Nice, French forces were cast into a series of retreats from which they would not recover. Underscored by big victories in the following months over Franco-Italian forces at Verona and Modena, the war was more or less finished as a contest when the North German Federation and her southern counterpart declared war on France for the province of Elsace-Lorraine. Though France did receive support from her Swiss and Spanish neighbours in this war, she was already committed in Italy and extremely vulnerable. Indeed, as the tensions built before an official declaration of war was received in Paris on 19th September, France made multiple fruitless attempts to secure a white peace with the Federation – an unacceptable compromise in Vienna which would have seen Italy remain independent.
The reality of Federal victory was more or less confirmed when Danubian Troops crossed the French border just east of Nice on 12th February 1885 and when Rome finally fell to the Federation 16 days later. It was not until June when the last Italian army was defeated outside it city of Vlore in Albania and it still then took another month for the Italian government and constitution to be officially dissolved by the Federation, with Lilic appealing to Congress on 13th August for the annexation of Italy as a Federal Territory with a provisional government led by an appointed Governor. By this time, France was more or less fully under occupation of one form or another by either the Federation or the Germans, and Lilic started to ask Congress to make its demands of France so the war could be ended swiftly. The war had been a real boost for Lilic and, while some members of the opposition questioned whether it had been engineered by the President in order to distract from the internal political strife, it certainly had. The papers were happily reporting all-time high approval ratings for the President as the war drew to a close and some government figures placed supporters of the war some 4 times more numerous than those who opposed it. With it, the opposition found they had lost much of the momentum which had seen activists take to the street; though there was increased talk in opposition groupings of taking decisive action to finally oppose Lilic, they found themselves increasingly distant from the very people they claimed to be protecting. Though few commentators would guarantee internal peace, foreign correspondents from around the world were noting that the Lilic government had never seemed so secure.
Lilic: Viennese Despair (1885)The story of the last seven days of Jovan Lilic’s political career, and indeed of his life, is an interesting one not least because we know so little about it. Historians have been able to piece together the fragments of information that remain into a narrative of sorts, even if it cannot be said to be reliable. The saga begins during Liberalen’s tenure in the twisting streets of Vienna’s old town where, among hustle and bustle of daily life and under the shadow of government offices, the criminal underworld took its first steps. Aided by the new freedoms offered in 1872 under the Constitution and the growing sense of unease as Spiros’s term progressed, many of these organisations flourished. Violent crime in the city was dramatically up during the 1870s than against what it had been even a year before, and it was all because the rival gangs were taking bigger and bigger risks to gain the upper hand. Within a matter of years, these criminal organisations, already with roots in government and the police, started to build militia forces – some were for the protection of their own, but others had more ideologically motivated intentions. One such group, which seems to have originated in the city’s richer east, was struggling to survive in an increasingly competitive world. Founded as either the ‘Twin-Eagles’ or ‘Habsburg Angels’, the gang’s initial membership were largely Austrian nationalists and royalists who hankered for the glory-days under God’s appointed sovereign. Though they had strong control over the city itself, the gang could not keep up to pace with its rivals in money or man-power as they expanded into new territory daily. The oldest and largest of the Viennese gangs of the 1870s was probably the ‘Favoriten’ (who originated from the city’s ‘Favoriten’ region). When the ‘Favoriten’s leader was arrested in 1878, he proudly claimed in court that his organisation had ‘men on the ground in every square mile of this country and more manpower than the Federal Armed Forces’. Though this claim couldn’t save him from the noose, and it certainly seems he had been hung out to dry by his own men, this idea of national power gripped one particular young man and drove the Eagles to carry out the most daring criminal act we know about and succeed. We do not know terribly much about this man, which is amazing given what he achieved, but it seems likely that he was raised in one of Vienna’s poorer districts and only got the bare minimum education before he was forced into the real world. There he struggled, seemingly spending his final teenage years on the streets before, in 1872, he was recruited by the Eagles and totally indoctrinated by its anti-Federalist, Austrian nationalism. He started at the bottom but rose quickly though the ranks. On the eve of the Favoriten trials, he found himself a newcomer into the gang’s inner circle and it was in this instant that he rebranded himself and his organisation. By the time he had secured the leadership though a calculated series of murders, he had become Professor X. Hiding in the shadows he dressed all in black: a sharp, black three-piece suit with a black shirt, a black tie, black shoes, even black cuff-links. The only exception was the bright white hood that covered his face in an even darker blackness. His organisation had been transformed into the Free National Army; his aim was the destruction of the Federation through its most powerful figure – the President. The plan hinged on two central deceptions; the candidate chosen for the Presidency (who would certainly not have made to the election alive had he declined or tried to tell the police) had to be convinced of the FNA’s unbounded influence and strength, even while the organisation struggled to maintain its own territory against stronger rivals, and the populace had to be convinced that this man had been elected President legitimately. The former of these two seems to have been the easier to achieve, with evidence to suggest that Lilic and X met only once before the 1880 elections. It seems unlikely Lilic knew, or even asked about, X’s true intentions until his last days in office. The latter, by contrast, nearly broke the organisation and on multiple occasions it seems X was lucky to escape arrest. Indeed, limited resources meant that infiltrating the Federal Electoral Commission had to take priority over all of the other avenues of FNA business and it seems that on two separate occasions members of the FNA attempted to overthrow and murder X only to be thwarted by, in the first case, luck and, in the second, a pair of quick-witted bodyguards. Even on Election Day, the plan seemed to be failing: the FNA lost contact with most of its undercover agents in the weeks running up to the poll and record-numbers reported irregularities or fraudulent actions. That it worked at all was a miracle – that the public at large swallowed a story concocted by the press on the back of a stitched-up Communist was even more so.
The FNA slowly built up their power from that point, using corruption in the system to destroy their rivals in the crime world and cream money off every action the government performed. The appointment of the FNA to guard important civic buildings and politicians allowed X to exercise more power than the President even had through spying and coercion. The success of the FNA is illustrated in the glorious irony that they were appointed to resolve the discrepancies they’d made during the 1884 elections. By the time Lilic’s government fell, press-freedoms were non-existent, unions could only operate with the state’s consent, voters rights were laughable and the nation had long been a Dictatorship in all but name. With success for Federal troops in the Italian War of Independence, named the Italian Royalist Uprising outside the English-speaking world, Danubian citizens had far fewer rights than they ever had, yet they remained remarkably stoical and the President, for all his controversies, was popular, even if there remained an undercurrent of violence.However, even if victory over the French mollified the people, the vast majority of the political classes, particularly in state governments, felt threatened that Lilic’s dictatorial style would not be a passing craze. The day before Italy was signed into the Federation as a new Territory, Lukáš Banik, who came second to Lilic in 1884’s Presidential Elections, declared he was the legitimate President and asked for the rest of the nation to stand behind him. On the ground, he was initially ignored as crazy; after all it had been well over a year since he had lost the election and his protestations at the time, even amid the worst of the protests, had always stopped short of taking action. In state government’s however, he received support and he received it quickly – within two hours, his home state of Slovakia had declared its sympathies with the President; within four days, Bohemia, Cisalpina, Crete, Galicia, Illyria and Lodomeria had joined his side. Attempts to issue statements of support for President Lilic in other states were foiled. Romania declared its unilateral secession, with some speculating to this day that a pact guaranteeing Russian support for the Romanians had been brokered by FNA agents working within the Foreign Office. Even the army, busy in France and Africa, refused to stand behind the President and on the sixth day after Banik’s announcement, word reached Vienna that any part of the army actively returning to Federal soil before the war without explicit orders from the Chief of the General Staff was to be treated as deserters and detained, regardless of which side they supported. Expecting popular support, Lilic’s last hope of survival was dashed when his own men turned upon him the following day, taking the much of city of Vienna with it. It seems that the FNA collapsed as the bad news flowed in, with the official designation by the State of Austria that they opposed Lilic pushing the organisation over the edge. Vienna burned for her citizen’s crimes. The iconic building that had defined the Federation and the democracy it offered, the Hofburg Palace, fell in a cloud of rubble and smoke, blown up at the hands of those who had already tainted Danubian democracy irrevocably. Lilic had been crushed by the ruins of the Hofburg, his body discovered days later, naked and covered in scars: a post-mortem suggested he was dead before the building collapsed. X was seen reportedly fled to South America (his movements after this point are unknown, but there have been many reported, if contradictory, sightings of the enigmatic man since). Vienna, for its part, no longer wanted the seat of government and no longer held the trust of the nation; moving the capital seemed necessary. The only winner of this sorry tale; Banik, whose executive orders were put into almost immediate effect, and Francesco de Palma, long time Vice President and official heir to the Presidency.
Francesco de Palma (1885-)
De Palma: Constitutionally Limited (1885)
Suppressing Italy had been the main aim for the political classes for the war against France and with little to be gained but many global powers increasingly critical of the Federation's expansionism, weeks of internal bickering during negotiations with France stole political momentum and ensured a huge let off for France who, though not out the woods, was saved from certain collapse with that slight slap on the wrist. Indeed, the new President, De Palma, was far more concerned about the issue of Romanian independence. Though the rest of Europe was busy with its own wars, diplomatic cables were converging on the temporary capital of Milan, Cisalpina, warning of possible diplomatic moves by the other Great Powers to broker a deal - it seemed unlikely the whole of Romania could be restored and many doubted the Federation's claims to legitimacy, particularly over certain Moldovan provinces. To make things worse for de Palma, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that, given increasing evidence calling Lilic's 1884 victory into question (and therefore De Palma's legitimacy as President) elections would have to be held within three months, leaving little chance of De Palma's desired pause in Federal Politics. To make things worse, Congress itself was dissolved by the Court. Elections for the legislature were scheduled for October, where their first priority would be agreeing upon a new capital. More or less simultaneously, the major parties of the Federation were to hold their primaries shortly after, with the first round of the Presidential poll scheduled for November 5th, exactly three months after the Court's ruling. Politics was immobilised, but the politicians had to run fast to keep pace.