Being the account of an Albanian game in mostly vanilla Vic2. The only changes being different colours for some nations, and nerfed bureaucrat NFs (they work at 1/3 the vanilla rate and cannot be used on colonies).
Travel with your mind’s eye to the year 1822. Ali Pasha, the Albanian ‘Lion of Yannina’ is in revolt against the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II. See the prosperous Epirote city of Ioannina, built on the shores of a lake. In the lake is an island, on the island is a Greek monastery. There, Ali Pasha, awaiting a pardon from the Sultan, is betrayed and shot dead, thus ending his insurrection. Now shake your head until that image blurs and dissolves into something else. The Pasha isn’t there. He has taken refuge in the north, where he is raising new armies, and even at 80 years of age continues the fight, while Greece raises its own banners of revolution in the south, splitting the Ottoman attention. The Sultan is eventually forced to accept the de facto independence of the Albanian north, even though the Sublime Porte officially holds suzerainty over it. Ali Pasha’s heirs become kings of Albania and history has diverged, but not by much. No, not by much. Even in 1836, the Empire continues its course with a semblance of unity with Albania, even as another Albanian, Ibrahim Pasha, rules Egypt as an independent entity, and Greece has been its own kingdom with no changes in its timeline. In 1838 Tripoli is subdued and the Ottoman Empire is at peace. Albania now enters the stage as an actor. Its decisions are its own.
Albania starts out on its journey as the most insignificant of all civilized nations. It has no prestige, no industry, and only an army of three brigades of irregular troops to give it some military power. It has one state, a fairly homogeneous population, predominantly Sunni, and four coastal provinces surrounding one inland capital province. All the Greeks are located in the South, in Gjirokaster. It borders the Ottoman Empire on its north, south and east and the Adriatic Sea on its west. It is an absolute monarchy and poor but honest.
By 1838, both Albania and the Ottoman Empire have researched freedom of trade (I played as the Ottomans for two years to subdue Tripoli, so I could release Albania in peace. I made sure that tech was researched so the Ottomans would have an easier time later on in the game). Albania focused its minds on setting up a local enlightenment movement, researching Idealism and Malthusian Thought. Being so close to the Ottoman Empire it was soon placed within its sphere of influence and granted an alliance with the Porte. In 1843, the Albanian Enlightenment reaped its first fruits by being the first philosophical school to come up with Hegelian Idealism. Albania’s prestige increased from 1 to 21, and its position in the world from 66 to 20. The world would soon see that Albania would be a cultural force to be reckoned with.
Albanians were not only concerned with philosophy, however. Two of the original three irregular brigades were disbanded and replaced with a more professional army, two regular infantry brigades that made up the 1st Division ‘Skenderbei’. It was a glorious name that carried Albanians’ hopes for continued independence and perhaps even conquest in the future.
In 1845 the Albanian king found a rare opportunity to do just that. The once formidable colonial nation of Denmark had been greatly reduced in strength by Austria, which was now at war with it again demanding Jutland. It seemed that the Danish Empire was at the brink of dissolution, its remains being carved up by whoever was courageous enough to throw modesty to the wind and ride on Austria’s coattails to victory. So it was that the tiny country of Albania declared war on Denmark, demanding the even tinier island of Saint Thomas, that made up the Danish West Indies.
A brigade of irregulars was transported with a clipper to the undefended island while the 1st Infantry Division guarded Albania from possible Danish counterattacks. In the meantime, a frigate was commissioned to augment the two clippers that made up the totality of the Albanian Navy.
Saint Thomas fell easily, and it took Denmark long before the Austrians would let it respond to the Albanian situation. When they did, they could only send two clippers with two brigades to invade Albania. They were intercepted at sea in the Straits of Otranto, and were forced to accept the loss of their Caribbean island in the face of impending defeat.
Albania had thus gained a state (alas, not a colony) in the West Indies. Its population was small but restless. Liberalism was rampant, as was a desire to return to the previous slave-owning regime which was not supported by Albania’s administrative system.
This victory gave Albania prestige and tobacco, but its safety still lay in the well-being of its protector, the Ottoman Empire, and the latter was facing a grave threat. The Russians declared war in 1846, and all the Ottoman armies had to rush off to Anatolia, leaving it up to their allies to defend the European part of the Empire. The 1st Division marched up to the border with Moldavia and came face to face with overwhelming odds.
Still, it was a defensive victory, if a costly one at that.
One month later, the Albanian soldiers would not be as fortunate. Assaulted again, they had to retreat in defeat, leaving the Russians free reign in Wallachia. With Wallachians and Austrian allies continuing the fight there, the Albanian division left for Anatolia, where the Ottoman and Persian armies seemed like they could make a difference against the Russian advance. That estimate was proven wrong, and as the Ottoman armies were scattered the Albanian division was surprised by a Russian vanguard, that drew it into a fight it would sorely lose.
The losses were so great that one of the three brigades of ‘Skenderbei’ would be dissolved, as there were not enough men from that province to keep it manned. After that, the Division retreated to Albania, where it stayed for the remainder of the war. In the peace of 1848 the Ottoman Empire lost no core territories, but Russia took control over northern Nejd, which had been taken by the Ottomans some years back. In the following years, Russia would complete its conquest of Nejd, and then add Abu Dhabi to its colonies. But it would no more directly threaten the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire. A storm had passed. The rest of history awaits.