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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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dragoon9105

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Chapter 42: The Hungry Beast

(Californian big game hunter Henry Smith photographed with an African Elephant)
Africa had a long and controversial history as an element in the world. Parts of Africa had always been tied to great empires Alexander, to Carthage to Rome itself. The Holy Roman Empire was in the past, different, She had taken Africa but instead felt the land unusable and barren filled with a hostile people housing a hostile climate.

Rather than see such lands return to Muslim hands however the Emperors of the Time such as Martin the Monk, Gotzelo the Crusader gave the land to capable family members and competent generals that formed separate, independent states to govern to protect Christians and spread the word of Christ once more.

While Jerusalem and Arabia fell back into Muslim Hands (and Eventually into Byzantine hands) Egypt and Africa had remained independent for hundreds of years. The former eventually being conquered by the Byzantine Empire and the Later eventually falling under personal union with the reborn Holy Roman Empire only to break away and form a noble republic only to be reconquered later on.

The rush for Colonies in America would change the Austrian Idea of Africa as less of a waste and instead an asset. Africa was now the best source of slaves in the world, the most valuable commodity for the growing colonial economy needed for the vast silver mines of Peru, Sugar Plantations of Brazil and Cotton Plantations in Mexico and New Anglia. With the Rise of increased trade with India and China the need for agriculture in Austrian colonies was replaced with a need for industry, with Cordoba and Portugal still highly dependent on slaves from Africa the practice was banned as just one more move in the political game of chess between Austria and her rivals. The Empire of Mali, the main source of slaves in the world collapsed, American Colonies both Austrian, Portuguese and Cordoban revolted and of course the African Colonies that Austria now had fought so hard to find south of Nigeria were costly and unprofitable.


This all changed with the discovery of gold, rubber, diamonds and other raw materials within the African Jungle. For Austria her south African colonies had turned from a backwater to a Shining Gemstone in the Kaiser's crown. Such a gem inspired greed and fueled Austria's wholesale conquest of Africa with little regard to the native population or environment.

Equipped with Machine Guns, Vaccines and Pickaxes and fueled by Greed Austrian pioneers flooded the continent claiming everything from Tunis to the Transvaal and everything else not protected by Mali or the Eastern Roman Empire. What they found however was vast expanses of Jungle, Savanna and Desert. While South Africa was the shining Diamond the remains of the African interior was an untamed moss covered rock of debatable value.

For Map makers and Politicians however, Austria had won a great victory, she was now after all the Largest Empire in the history of the world and stories of the Tribes and great beasts in the vast frontier attracted a different sort of Austrian, the Tourist.

Austrian Culture had remained ever frozen in the romanticized vision of Knights and Dragons. While the Knight's of Austria had traded Chivalry for Gentlemanly Honor the dragons of legend had faded away with the Myths of old. Africa was a Chance for some to relive those days. The Savanna's of Austrian Afrika would become a playground for the Rich Elite of Austria and the Big Game Hunters that killed the great animals of Africa for trophies, tusks and furs. Austrian Ivory would become a valuable commodity as valuable as African Gold.


For the Intrepid Engineers and Entrepreneurs that dared venture into the Jungle an entirely different discovery was made, African Rubber the missing ingredient for making the new technology of Electricity to become available on a massive and affordable scale. Later Coal, and Iron deposited would also be found and in the jungle Isolated Mines and plantations had begun to spring up.

While Slavery was illegal in the Holy Roman Empire such isolated mines and plantations rarely afforded payment to their native workers. Colonial Authorities, often corrupt and on the payroll of Austrian Colonial Companies such as "Standard-Gummi" and the "Manstien Congo Company" would turn a blind eye to the practices, so long as the money kept following.


In Austria proper the poor and middle class continued to struggle under the Iron grip of the Nobility and Ultra-Rich. The Liberal party once in control of nearly 45% of the population had been losing steady support for years despite making good on promises to protect assembly, press and union rights. The National-Liberal Party had been the ruling party in Austria now for well over a decade and what used to be the Conservative Party had evolved into what was now being called the Social Conservative Party a half attempt for the older conservatives to extend an olive branch and reach out to the rising tide of Socialism in the country for more support.

(Social-Conservative Leader Charles von Salzburg)​

The Social-Conservatives were an odd face in the Reichsrat. Longstanding Liberal control of the government and economy had forced upon both parties an "Enemy of my Enemy" situation. With the Black party of austria having been absorbed by the Kaiser's National Liberals the Conservatives remained the only source of effective resistance to the Yellow led Reichsrat and council. The Party however was often more a coalition than a true conservative party and as the old conservative elements died off one by one the Socialists were more than willing to fill the space with one of their own. These tensions had culminated in the recent stroke of Conservative leaning party chair Charles von Salzburg. Charles was an unfit but diplomatic man often criticized for having a bit too much of an open mind by his Blue Brethren. Not expecting a stroke Salzburg's protegee and leading figure within the Red branch of the Social Conservatives assumed his place as Party chair, Sigmund Freud.​


(Sigmund Freud de-facto head of the Social-Conservative during the Illness of Charles Von Salzburg)
Freud was a doctor interested in the burgeoning science of psychoanalysis. Freud hoping to generate some interest in what he hoped could become a new field published a controversial series of papers featuring psychoanalysis of Austrian Emperors of the past. In 1886 Freud published these papers, detailing a central part of his belief that all people held an "Anniona Complex" that in summary meant every person wished to 'Kill the Father' and marry their sister or brother.

Considered widely controversial a ban was placed on the papers almost immediately. With Social-Conservative backing Freud attempted to appeal based on the more recent freedom of the press laws and was denied. Since that point Freud remained an influential element of the party, eventually becoming Von Salzburg's protegee now with Salzburg's strike Freud was acting party chair, a Psychologist turned Politician in charge of one of the most volatile political coalitions in the world.​


The Following months would see a radical change in Austrian Politics. Social-Conservatives continued to gather support outside of the Reichsrat and what little Liberal elements remains had been polarized. One particular member of the Reichsrat, Countess Juliana Orsini would give a particularly firey speech on may second likely as a response to an unprecedented may-day parade, stating:
"Austria is a great Hungry Beast, a beast that will never be sated not with conquest or growth but none the same she must act, expand and grow if she is to survive. Like Rome before us, should we stop we shall fall before the great enemies that lay both within and around. I will not let such corruption take my Austria, I will not allow my rome to fall. Let them march the streets, let them speak their minds but vote, never. Industry is Austria's future and in Industry our great beast becomes a Knight, armored and clad, One that can strike down this Red Hydra, Smite the Russian Bear and Humble all the other eagles in the sky"
While riling up the Reichsrat however Juliana's speech would do little to calm the coming tensions as the front page news but a day later would be yet another Scandal in the silent war between blue and yellow.


The Grand-Mayor of Venice, a traditionally Liberal position had been contested in a recent election. To keep power the National-Liberal Antonio Falcone had taken liberties in the election and won, causing a predictable response in the media and Social-Conservative party. The Issue eventually would land on the Governor of Illyria's desk where it would be dismissed as Social-Conservative garbage.

The SS Vienna, a ship that had docked and left Venezia shortly after the Governers dismissal had left to dock in London on a routine patrol mission. The Vienna was expected leave London November 14th to America to help inaugurate an Imperial-American alliance to be signed in New Orleans. Rather than blaming the Social Conservatives however and risking revolts and even possibly civil war Kaiser Ferdinand instead blamed the Celts and used the issue to further his Scottish agenda.

The Russians of course called Kaiser Ferdinand a liar and sided with the Celts. The Eastern Roman Empire and Westphalia however were more than willing to accept the HRE's excuse and what little premise for peace in Europe was gone yet again.
 

TheAnguishedOne

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So little social reform in the Holy Roman Empire... it's a bad time to be poor (though when isn't it?). If nothing changes, I imagine some potentially problematic groups will gain popularity with the people. Communism is now five percent of the upperhouse...

Love the bit about Freud. He's got a strange position of power in this history.
 

Dohaeris

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Fantastic story, read through the entire V2 portion in a couple sittings. Looking forward to the next update.
 

dragoon9105

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Hey thanks glad you like it, Though i've got a bunch more to come.

Chapter 43: Seek and Destroy


(Political Situation in Europe at the Onset of the Second War of Scottish Liberation)
The second round in what was now appearing to be a series of wars over the independence of Scotland had quickly begun. With the Lords and powerful officials within europe growing ever more uncompromising sides were now being drawn less on principle and more our of sheer pragmatism. Russia and the Celtic Empire were once again the defenders against Austrian 'aggression' this time the attacking side was going to be quite different. Joining the Holy Roman and Eastern Roman Empires was none other than the Kingdom of Westphalia, recovered and once again taking the opportunity to carve out gains from Russian's Lithuania and the French Rhineland.

In opening months of the war however the Kingdom of Flanders and Kingdom of Sweden would also join the attacking side stating separate more up front demands for territory from the Celtic and Russian Empires respectively.


The Holy Roman military however was once again expecting to be doing most if not all the heavy lifting in the war as Russia completly outclassed the Eastern Roman Empire despite the later's technological edge. Westphalia though very much appreciated for Joining with the Roman alliance was also militarily weak and expected to only contribute to the Russian front by harassing the Baltic Coastline and supporting the Kingdom of Flanders who was expected to mobilize a sizeable army.


The war quickly began to play out as a repeat to the last war, with one notable exception. The Westphalian Military had been preparing for this eventuality of a two front war for some time and had adapted Austrian Military Doctrine to make the much smaller Westphalian Military a force to be reckoned with on the field, despite being heavily outnumbered.


The Austrian military had their own ace to play. The telegraph has been a relatively restricted technology, and had mostly been kept out of the public eye through Imperial bribes to the media and general misdirection. For the most part hiding the technology was unsuccessful, the Austrian Military however did manage to hide the construction of a new communication network under the premise of performing 'Railroad Repairs'. By the time war broke out the Government had an unprecedented amount of control and communication not seen since the days Austrian emperors rode alongside their men in the days of old.


There would also be a second, far more expensive invention that would be birthed from the need for an easily accessed communication system that didn't require a skilled operator. The Telephone as it was called was invented in rural austria for entirely different reasons though once filed the patent was bought and the Imperial Government put the invention into production immediately in hopes that completed systems could make it to soldiers on the front before the end of the war.


France would be the first to fall in the war. The combination of the Imperial Fleet and Army alongside Flanders and Westphalia had proved too much. Within a year Paris was under siege yet again and for the first time in centuries, Imperial flags flew from London.


The Russian front saw similar success though limited by a particularly harsh winter and the typical Russian strategy of arming massive numbers of peasants to use as cannon fodder. With Russian industry having grown since the last war the numbers of Russian conscripts had risen exponentially and Generals on the eastern front had begun issuing general "Seek and Destroy" orders for their commanders, mostly cavalry to move out ahead and harass Russian armies. Once battle was joined, the telegraph had allowed commanders to properly communicate troop placements at longer distances which of course meant more casualties, more disorganization in the Russian lines and constant reports of Russian casualties for the media back home.


At home however was where the optimism stopped. With the Army being forced to leave for the front wholesale only small garrisons remained in problem areas of the country. Communists, angry that they held no representation within the government organized a nationwide general strike. The strikes quickly turned from peaceful protests to violent ones until they had become full blown riots. The Military's success had actually led to overextension, soldiers now needed to be pulled off the lines carefully lest they weaken to such an extent all of Austria's gains be lost by an effective enemy counterpush.


Though as the saying goes, blood in the water attracts the sharks. Slow response to the Communist strikes led to an even greater general uprising. Over a million Jacobin aligned suffragists rose up throughout austria. These revolts started with far less sincere and were militant from the very beginning, many former Austrian Military personnel had taken the opportunity to lead ambitious groups of revolters who were more than adequately armed.


With the Military nowhere near capable of sending troops in time local garrisons had to be relied upon. In areas that had been relatively stable over the last century such as the balkans and southern germany the garrisons had been continually downsized and now the government was paying for this, dearly as Illyria fell into rebel hands and the capital itself fell under siege.


It was here however, at Vienna where the first major stand occurred. A completly green division commanded by the relatively young Colonel Arthur Blos had arrived in the city mere weeks before the Jacobin uprising. The 202nd Imperial Linemen were intended to go on parade and then shortly leave for the rather lackluster Russian front. Instead due to being the only major army within a day of the Imperial palace Arthur Blos found himself defending the Imperial family against twice his number of Jacobin revolutionaries.

In what amounted to no less than a miracle Blos had been promised reinforcements from Prague within the week by rail. Sabotage along the Prague-Vienna line however had delayed the Imperial Guard and Blos had held the Government district of Vienna for over three months. Throughout the time Kaiser Ferdinand perhaps foolishly refused to flee the city and assisted Arthur Blos in commanding the defense until the rebels attempting to take Vienna had all but scattered in a defense worthy of song.

By the spring General Gotzelo Edelweiss had finally arrived from Prague to find the capital all but destroyed and the Imperial Palace still standing in the ruins having weathered the storm.


One would think, the mass suffragist revolt would have given the Celtic and Russian Empire a reprieve they sorely needed but this proved to be false. The damage had effectively already been dealt and with Paris, London and now Kiev fallen the Celtic-Russian Alliance was now prepared to surrender, first to Flanders.



And then to the Holy Roman Empire.

 

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I believe the Celtic Empire is well and truly done now, after yet another loss. Now it's time to put down these rebels, before they cause too much damage.
 

Dohaeris

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That's got to be the end of the Celts, I'm not sure how many more setbacks they'll be able suffer through now. Should pave the way for unchallenged HRE dominance in Western Europe.
 
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dragoon9105

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Chapter 44: Another Fleeting Peace

(Council of Rome December 21st 1890)
With the Imperial Capital in ruins it fell upon the victorious Great Powers to first decide a place to hold peace talks. The Eastern Roman Empire of course wished the host to talks outside Constantinople and Westphalia in Lubeck. A More neutral option of Stockholm was also brought up and would have been the prefered choice if not for the weather and particularly harsh winter in sweden. Instead the City of Rome, was chosen as a place to house the diplomats for the upcoming breakup of the Celtic Empire as well as settling other grievances between nations that would no doubt dominate the talks as they had in the past.


Despite problems in Illyria and Germany the Holy Roman Empire initially dominated the peace talks, while the revolutions are home were a 'small' blemish on her reputation the Empire had practically won the war singlehandedly through a powerful and perhaps oversized and overfunded military that sent both Celtic and Russian forces aback with ease. The primary issue of Holy Roman Concern was the cause for the war, an Independent Scotland.

The problem here came with the definition of 'Scotland' as the Geographic state of scotland made up northern half of Britain but the old kingdom of Scotland had included all of Ireland and reached down into wales at one point. Scotland's borders would be argued about throughout the convention, ultimately Scotland being released with Ireland and the Duchy of Lancaster due to large scottish majorities in these areas and the Irish delegates preferring to go with Scotland rather than stay in the fracturing Celtic Empire.


The Second issue was exactly that, handling the Breakup of the Celtic Empire. There were strong arguments for a complete and total breakup, separating the Kingdoms of Albion, Brittany, Wales and France but such a measure was quickly shouted down as arguably adding more instability to an area that been unified for centuries now. Moreover Celtic, French and Briton cultures were virtually indistinguishable from each other besides some local traditions and differences in linguistics so instead the Council of Rome would go after a different minority, the Wallonians.

The Wallonians, a people descended from the original kingdom of Frisia had spent much of their existence being lorded over by other nations. This ended of course with the rise of the Kingdom of Flanders who alongside the Flemish another dutch rooted culture had finally given them a voice in government. It was needless to say Flanders wished to unite its entire cultural sphere but it was here things became difficult. Wallonians had over the centuries spread down into the german Rhineland, a very valuable and sought after location for hundreds of years. The Westphalians in particular had desired the region for well over a century and the Holy Roman Empire had also ruled over the region in the past and there was a strong call for reannexation. So instead of being wholesale to the Flemish the region was partitioned three ways, not particularly glamorous for the Wallonians but for the moment, satisfying all three parties so long as the area remained stable.


Another dispute to be solved would be the matter of Scandinavia. Sweden has probed to be, 'problematic' in the past for stability in the region. Russia meanwhile had been loath to govern it's acquired scandinavian territories as it's focus had drifted ever inward towards Eurasia and away from Europe. Now with the Celtic Empire effectively rended toothless by Holy Roman guns the Russians agreed to sell it's holding in Finland to the Swedish for a reasonable price, The Swedish agreed.


The last and most controversial issue of the Council was the fate of Samara. Time and again the region had been fought over by the Eastern Roman and Russian Empires. The Eastern Roman Empire had nearly completly fallen apart to the Russian military in the first war and in the second the results had not been much better. As such in addition to Russia, The Holy Roman Empire and Westphalia were both loath to give the Byzantines anything besides a harsh word. Still the Byzantines were members of their alliance and they needed to be given something, so the Useless tract of land in Siberia would be it. It wasn't worth souring relations with the Russians over giving something actually valuable away like Crimea. The Russians reluctantly agreed fully confident in their ability to take Samara back when the time came.


Needless to say the Eastern Romans were fairly displeased with this turn of events. Though their military was in shambled from the war they did protest the fairness of the peace talks and accused the Holy Roman Empire and Kingdom of Westphalia heavily favoring their own allies and interests. The GRP would capitalize on these feelings of being passed over in the talks by declaring that should they win more seats in the house they would ensure the next war the Empire fought would be total and complete and nothing less.

The Russians ever amused and the Hawkish Duma passed several toothless laws as a statement to the Greeks that they too would hold nothing back, stating thier intentions to drive the Greeks out of Eurasia entirely up to the Caucasus and would settle for nothing left.

Perhaps foolishly Kaiser Ferdinand would later issue his own statement stating that any attempts to upset the balance he oversaw in Rome would be met with a complete partition. Prompting other leaders to make thier own nationalist intentions clear. The next war in Europe was no longer going to be a limited and honorable affair, it would be total.


Other things of note in the council was the Invitation of American ambassadors which had previously been unheard of. With the fall of the Celtic Empire, The United States of America had been cordially invited by her Holy Roman ally and economic partner to participate in the talks. Though she wouldn't have much to say in the conference the United States had now formally entered the Global Stage and the world was awaiting what song she would play.


The Council would be considered a success, for about three months. Like clockwork issues in europe had given way to issues in asia once again. Rumors of a Military Coup brewing in Kosala had been ignored by the monarchy. By Spring such rumors proved to be a dangerous, reality as what had seemed to be a few rogue man nationalist officers had been working with the Wu Dynasty of China and Empire of Kamarupa.

Known as Bloody Wednesday the Military overthrew the Raj of Kosala and executed much of the Royal family and their supporters. Now effectively a Chinese and Kamarupan puppet the powers of Asia held their own congress in Delhi to decide to fate of the Subcontinent, It's people and the birth of a new Empire. The Holy Roman Empire had denied her crown from the gutter not once but twice and yet for the nations of the subcontinent, long fighting for the day they could finally call themselves one nation and one people, that crown would come at just the right time.



For India, had arrived.​
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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The Celtic Empire is all but doomed to decline, the USA has become a Great Power, and India has formed... exciting times. Perhaps the newly independent Scotland will achieve greatness. Maybe the USA will continue to expand over North America, only to be destroyed by the Knights Transient (fingers crossed).
 

dragoon9105

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Chapter 45: Setting the Stage

(The Union Jack, The Flag of the United Kingdom of Greater Scotland)
While the council of rome had given Europe some small measure of peace those nations not in attendance or otherwise ignored had quickly set about pushing their agendas outside the realm of diplomacy. While India was of course the major event in the world, Europeans remained ever focused on primarily European affairs, namely the sick man of Europe, the defeated broken and collapsing Celtic Empire.


The Scottish had taken great advantage of the chaos caused by the Holy Roman Invasions of france and england and had organized themselves more quickly and efficiently than world leaders realized. The Council of Rome that officially had given the scottish independence was little more than a formality as a functioning government was already being established on Ireland, a Fledgling republic that upon news of Scotland being deprived of it's rightful territories in Wales was toppled by radical elements within the Scottish Liberation movement.

The Scottish Radicals were led by a Richard Caledon a mixed Briton and Scottish military man who had defected and quickly used his influence and power to gather a personality cult of like minded nationalists in the movement. On November 12th 1892 Caledon and his followers marched on the republican assembly at ulster and swiftly arrested and tried most of them, proclaiming them publically to be French or German aligned puppets seeking to weaken Scotland. A week later Caledon had himself crowned himself the King of Great Scotland and officially proclaimed that the Kingdoms of Albion and Wales to the south were rightful scottish territories.

Intervention came in the form of not Breton but Holy Roman Garrisons following a statement from Kaiser Ferdinand making his intent clear to put down the upstart scottish state if they moved into Celtic Territory.​


Unable to defend itself and still in chaos from the Holy Roman occupation the Celtic Empire had fallen from grace and the once great member of the Holy League had now been reduced to a minor power, inferior to even it's rival the Flemish to the north. By the year's end the Celtic Empire was officially no more. King Arthur V and the remains of the Celtic branch of Anniona-Bretagne had fled to the Byzantine Empire the remaining nobility being primarily French and Breton Court reorganized the second Celtic Successor state, the Breton Empire and crowned Arthur's cousin Gerard Cornwallis as the Emperor in Paris. The Final straw for Russia who had now given up on trying to prop up a dead state.


Though the Breton Empire was still large in size it had become a wreck both socially and economically. The Britons in England now had begun entertaining notions of independence of thier own. Meanwhile the Kingdom of Occitan while little more than an Austrian puppet still was stable and prosperous, something that the people of Aquitaine had not experienced since before the Napoleonic wars. The remaining Walloonians in the east of course had the Flemish waiting eagerly to use any minority to justice another annexation of Celtic Land. The Breton Empire's hold was truly only weakening by the day.


The Spanish response to the Celtic collapse was to prepare for war themselves. King Antoine of Spain was now the last remaining member of house Anniona-Bretagne outside of the Eastern Roman Empire. With his french Cousin in exile he now stood in a unique position to claim the Throne of France for his own and announced his intent to make good on his claim by reforming both the internal and external Spanish Military. The Basques had spent the last century as the whipping boy of Europe but now Antoine knew his opportunity had come. The Puppet would now become a master.


(King Antione I of Spain)
Antione would make his first moves towards power by using his Civil Guard to arrest remaining french officials in Spain that refused to publicly support his rightful claim. By the Winter of 1892 Antione had successfully eliminated or integrated what remained of the French loyalists but had divided spain into three camps, the Nacionalistas, who were the Pro-Monarch Nationalist group within Spain loyal to Antoine. The Other two factions were the dangerous but isolated Communist party and the remaining Liberales who had ties running back to the Spanish Civil war revolutionaries at the dawn of the century both of whom had been effectively neutered by years of suppression by Antione in the past.

Antione's actions of course were wholly illegal, spain had a parliament after all, though through years of French led corruption the people themselves had begun to favor what they felt was perhaps thier last remaining chance to obtain agency. It was Antione after all who called for a council of great powers in Spain, It was Antione who had used his remaining powers to keep Spain neutral even when faced with criminal charges from a Breton controlled parliament that would have saw spain Join the Celts and lose alongside them. Now it would be the people who would call for a general referendum for legislative reform one the Nationalists were more than prepared to seize with a timely crisis.


Cordoban revolutionaries of spain had been chafing under the absolute monarchy for hundreds of years. While quiet at first continued loss after loss and costly colonial wars had finally brought things to a breaking point in north africa. The Nationalists quickly would spin the crisis to allow spain to become the center of the debate, and with the balance of power at risk the Austrians and Eastern Romans predictably jumped into the situation like sharks awaiting a meal. More concerned with fighting each other the Eastern Romans nor the Holy Roman Empire fully understood the situation in spain and by the end the Nationalists had used the rising tension to restore most power to the monarch, abolishing the french formed parliament for a Council of Lords.



Unwilling to fight a pointless war eventually Kaiser Ferdinand stepped in to defuse a Crisis that truly never existed in the first place, Embarrassed the Byzantines also backed down though soon they would discover the Spanish had betrayed them and the principles of house Anniona-Bretagne to better advance a french agenda.


Then of course there was India. The situation in India was convoluted, complex and completly unpredictable. In summary a coup had been brewing within the Kosalan royal guard had been brewing for more than a decade. With the royal house of Kosala executed or in exile the Subcontinent would finally know unity and perhaps democracy.

Except it didn't, Emperor Wu Shan died suddenly and with no heir apparent the Chinese government into turmoil which had left the Kosalan military in a bit of a predicament. Rather than step down as the provisional government the Military extended it's powers indefinitely. In response several coalitions of Nobles and lesser Raja's who had their rights guaranteed at Delhi gathered their own supporters and marched on the provisional capital. The streets of Delhi would run red with blood for the third time within three months and the street's of the capital quickly descended into anarchy as the nobles then turned on each other for the prized Crown of India. If the fighting continued India would of course simple break apart again into a nationwide civil war of Austrian and Chinese proportions. Luckily it didn't and at the end of nearly half a year of fighting, the Indian Revolution had ended with victory not from the act of any man, but a woman instead.

The 'winner' would be the illusive Masked Rani of Ceylon, Ishanti Messa who had rather than participate in the battle for Delhi had gathered allies, namely government and military officials throughout the fledgling country promising representation, self rule and religious tolerance for India. By the end of the bloodshed the Raja of Kamarupa had arrived in Delhi and had claimed the crown, but without Wu backing had found himself surrounded and outnumbered by Free Indian armies who demanded his abdication to Ishanti and signature on the new Indian constitution that had been written in the midst of the noble civil war.

Not much was known about Ishanti Messa in the West besides the fact that the Rani of Ceylon wore a mask. Though it's highly possible it was not through any physical deformity but Ishanti's lineage as house Messa had both tied to the Messalian Raja's and Teutonic Order in centuries past. Conspiracy theorists would suggest that the Teutonic Order never died, merely reformed and fled south to the Island awaiting the day it could finally reclaim what it thought was theirs.

Was was known was Ishanti Messa was a christian, unmarried and was strongly suspected that her advisors and suspected lovers were baseborn children of her father. Not that it would matter in the End as once the government had been reformed, Messa followed through on her promises and signed the Indian constitution. The Masked Empress would later marry the Russian Prince Vladimir to seal an alliance with Russia. For her benevolence in following through on her promises to the Indian people Ashanti Messa had become an Icon for the newly unified India, a Symbol the newborn country could now rally behind even when religious and cultural tensions would otherwise threaten to rip the new republic asunder.​

Russia and India indeed had become quite close, leading to further speculation that the masked Empress was indeed, not of true Indian blood. The Alliance with Russia however had garunteed that regardless of any rumors, Russia would now defend her new ally against threats both foreign and domestic, though Russia's interests of course would always be primarily, Russia First.


(One of the more famous Photographs of the Russian Empress Victoria)
While Russia had not managed to compete against the Great Powers of the world, under Victoria's economic and Expansionist policies the wealth of Siberia had been opened to the newborn Russian Industry making Russia one of the most powerful economic engines in the world. Russia remained, one and indivisible and fully a master of her own destiny. Now in old age Empress Victoria finished a final series of Economic and Foreign policy reforms, India of course being a chief ally but many expected this also included signing secret alliances with much of Europe and the world at large's leadership. After all the Wu were entering a succession crisis, the Eastern Roman Empire was militarizing at an unprecedented rate and now Austria was uncaged and capable of devouring the next Empire that dared defy it, Russia needed allies if she were to survive. However In 1893 a sudden heart attack would force the Empress into an early retirement, and abdication. Though she would love for another two decades, Mother Russia herself weeped for the passing of her daughter's departure with the harshest winter experienced in two hundred years.


(Tzar Victor III Of Russia in 1893)
Victoria's eldest son Victor would continue where his mother left off for the most part. Taking the Throne at 43 Victor was already an experienced Statesmen, Strategist and leader but had largely operated on the good fortune of his birth to advance him despite his shortcomings. The Russian Duma largely considered Victor to be a brute and a warmonger but his first act as Emperor would be quite the surprise for his opponents as victor opened with an act of diplomacy rather than war.


An official alliance with none other than the Holy Roman Empire. While it was of course a simple gesture of peace, seeing as Russia and the Holy Roman Empire had been rivals for decades there were others that suspected something far more sinister was in the works behind the closed doors of Prague where Kaiser Ferdinand and Emperor Victor signed secret deals that would change the very fate of Europe.​
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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The Celtic Empire is well and truly dead now. We'll have to see how Great Scotland and the Breton Empire fair, if they'll be worthy successors. Who knows, maybe Spain will surprise us and they'll unite the region. That would be a good threat to the Holy Roman Empire.

Love the part on Ishanti Messa. May she go down as a hero for India.

Intriguing that Russia is playing the odds now, making alliances with the new powerhouse of India and you. Perhaps they have plan, and those rumors of something sinister between them and the Kaiser.
 

dragoon9105

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Chapter 46: Opening Act

In nearby France the Collapse of the Celtic Empire had reached its next stage. In the Spring of 1894 the Flemish government issues a formal intent to reclaim Picardie and possibly other rightful territories of the duchy of Flanders.

Response to this move would ultimately never come as the Holy Roman, Russian and Eastern Roman Empire were rather distracted by rising tensions in Samara and Crimea. The Celtic Empire, broken alone and weak, entirely at the mercy of the fledgling great power.


While the Bretons still held the advantage in terms of sheer numbers their military was mainly made up of conscripted soldiers. Officers from the Breton military were also inexperienced and undertrained and those few veteran officers that remains were the very same who had led the Celtic Empire to humiliating defeat after humiliating defeat in the last two decades. The Flemish meanwhile were highly trained and had the momentum of their victory only a few years before.



(The Byzantine Cruiser ERS Constantine on patrol in 1895)
Meanwhile tensions in the Crimea were continuing to rise. The Treaty of Rome had guaranteed free trade within the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Now with every other thread from rome being torn and thrown away the Eastern Roman Empire once again closed the Bosporous, depriving Russia of her warm water port.

The Eastern Romans had spent a considerable effort rebuilding it's navy over the past two decades. Realistically the Eastern Mediterranean should have had been a Eastern Roman lake and now with control over the Suez Canal the Romans were in an ever better position to dictate world commerce. Along with the Bosporos the Romans stood as the Gatekeeper of the east, able to control trade out of Russia and to India and Asia from Europe.


(The HIES Bohemia patrolling near crete, 1894)​

The Reality of course was much different. The Mediterranean was contested through and through due to the Holy Roman Navy, the largest one in the world. Without her colonial empire Austria would have no need for a large navy at all, this was of course not the cased however as Austria had colonies and trading partners twice the world over. To defend these interests she had taken Gibraltar in the past, built the panama canal in recent memory and of course, funded her well prepared and world famous navy.

The Eastern Roman navy in Comparison was less than half the size of their western counterparts and despite complete control of the coastline and Suez, Byzantine trade remained ever at the mercy of the Imperials which had led to an uneasy truce, Suez and the Bosphorus stay open and the Imperial Fleet does not interfere with Greek interests. Now however russia was threatening to turn that fragile peace into cause for war.


The Greeks, now were refusing Russian shipping without payment of a heavy tax through the bosporus and in an effort to harm relations between Russia and India the Suez was closed entirely to Russian shipping. The Russian Duma and Czar Victor were furious and began to mobilize the army.

Kaiser Ferdinand meanwhile had ordered a new sweeping modernization of the Military, ordering three full battle groups to be built by the end of 1897 headed by Austria's pride, her Kingdom class Battleships.

The Kingdom Class was arguably the largest military warship ever produced at that time, covered in guns and armor plating the ships were slow, fuel efficient and ridiculously expensive. Austrian Naval policy itself was also designed around Cruisers and destroyers which allowed the Imperial Navy to reach its colonies and crisis areas quickly. In truth the Kingdom Class was a giant, expensive, prestige project from the Emperor and Imperial officials due to how impressive it looked in port and during events. The Battleships did however have some use, primarily for Naval Bombardment which in truth would be their only use in times of war due to Austrian dominance of the waves. Meanwhile the upper brass of the Imperial fleet would continue to demand Battlecruisers and yet once again they would receive more battleships that would be wasting valuable fuel and sailors.


(Heavenly Emperor Wu Zhang 1895)​

With mounting pressure and threats of war from the Russian and Holy Roman Empires, The Byzantines Senate was prepared to reverse course and re-open the Suez and Bosphorus. The act however would be veto'd by the Byzantine Emperor Leo Alexios, promising support from the new Chinese Emperor, Wu Zhang.

Wu Zhang was a cousin of the recently deceased Wu Shan and only living male left of the Wu Dynasty. While Wu Zhang had children the laws in China forbade female succession. While in past times such a succession would lead to civil war china was governed primarily by the Three Council system of legislature Emperor Wu Shan had put into place. In 1892 Zhang ascended the Dragon throne, declaring a promise that his regime would mean an end to Barbarian interference in China, The Liberation of Taiwan, Japan and Korea and punitive action against the rebellious Indians. The Crisis in the Mediterranean was now the perfect opportunity to push this agenda and now rather than seeking peace the Chinese and Byzantines were now signing treaties, finding allies.​


Russia's response was, subtle to say the least. The Russian Duma, fearing potential abandonment by the Austrians and becoming surrounded by both the Chinese and Greeks and whatever allies they found formally declared war and marched into Samara and the Crimea.

The Eastern Roman response was perhaps equally well planned, as Greek troops marched into Bulgaria following a declaration of war on the Holy Roman and Russian Empires. Kaiser Ferdinand responded with a Declaration of war against the Greeks. The Indians remained quiet, at least for the moment until the Chinese response came bringing in Mongolia and the Wu dynasty into the war.

By 1896 Four of the Great Powers of the world were at war, soon to be five once India declared war and invaded Byzantine Persia following Russian promises of India being given control over the Persian Gulf. Then Six as the Westphalians declared for the Greeks and invaded Germany and Prussia hoping to catch the Holy Romans off guard bringing in the Swedes with them. The Entry of China had prompted the predicted response from the Holy Roman Empire as well, meaning Malaysia, The Dominion of Japan, Dominion of California, South Africa, Mali, The American Powers and eventually Spain. Finally Denmark would also join the war.


Within months fighting had broken out in Africa, Northern and Southeast Asia, Europe and even America. Crown princess Gisela would later remark to the Reichsrat "This War is the Seminal Failure of our Empire, To rule the world and yet be powerless to stop it from burning itself alive"

 

TheAnguishedOne

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The modernization of the navy couldn't have come at a better time. The Great War, the first World War in this timeline. The Holy Roman Empire, Russia and the Indian Empire versus the Eastern Roman Empire, China and Westphalia... this is going to be intense, but I'm confident you'll win.
 

HIMDogson

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Well, that's one way to make it not boring. All hail Kaiser Ferdinand! All hail Tsar a Victor! All hail Empress Ashanti!
 

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This'll be interesting, hopefully the enemy will be a challenge to defeat.
 

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Chapter 47: 1st Symphony

While the War may have started on the High seas everyone involved from the lowest soldier to Kaiser Ferdinand knew it would be decided on land. In the opening week of the war however the Holy Roman Empire found itself completly unpreppared for war with the Greeks as most of the standing military was still either in France, Germany or the Carpathian Garrisons. The few troops that did have garrisons in the balkans were both undermanned and undersupplied and stood in the forefront of a greek offensive with intent to seize the mountain regions of the balkans in which to keep the Austrians out of greece.

The situation in the north was not too different though due to the more Urban and developed nature of Germany cities such as Frankfurt and Prague had garrisons ready to be deployed to the front. In the opening few weeks of the war there would be only minor border skirmishes as the Austrian and Byzantine Fleets met outside crete.


The Imperial Mediterranean weighed in with over 200 combat capable ships, Roughly 100 cruisers and lighter craft alongside 20 Battleships and 60 Transport craft. The Byzantines in contrast in their entire navy held only 140 Ships of varying size and class. Needless to say the Byzantines refused to give battle, instead retreating out of the Mediterranean Entirely after sending a small, perhaps suicidal force of Cruisers and other outdated craft to stall the Imperials at Crete. For a Full day the guns of the Austrian Navy would roar, the Byzantine detachment would be completly annihilated but the Byzantine Navy did manage to escape to Africa and eventually sail for China and eventually Australlia where it would conduct raids on Austrian convoys in the Pacific for the duration of the war.


In the Balkans the expected greek charge never came, Expecting to likely be cut off the Greek army instead moved to deal with the Russians in the Crimea. Greece as a whole was evacuated including the capital and both the Imperial Family and Senate relocated to Damascus, far from the reach of Austrian Guns or Marines. The Greek army of Adrianople to stall the Holy Roman military as long as humanly possible.


In africa the story was quite different. With the outbreak of war the Austrian Military enacted what was known as the Untergehende Sonne initiative, which meant the mass relocation of colonial garrisons to Korea and Japan. The Thought being that while Africa was valuable, the Loss of Japan would be utterly irreversible. Of course this also meant Africa was open to Invasion, something the Greeks were happy to exploit, though some would say perhaps they overcommitted to a relatively useless front.​


With war with Wu finally having arrived Kaiser Ferdinand set about the business of enacting the longstanding treaties signed during the earlier parts of his reign. India committed wholeheartedly to the war but also the Holy Roman Economic Sphere in the Americas was pressured into the war. While the Americans and Spanish did not promise to contribute much, with the Chinese Empire on the table any manpower that could be contributed would help drastically.​


On the Russian front Diplomatically, the Kingdom of Denmark also declared for the Holy league, which prompted Swedish intervention and eventual declaration on Denmark. The Flemish wrapping up thier war in France also prepared to side with the Holy League and of course Malaysia would the Holy Romans on the field yet again and bear the brunt of the Chinese first strike.​


In Asia the Chinese had preemptively invaded Malaysia get again. While the vast Southeast Asian republic was it's own power it was little more than an Austrian Puppet. Austrian Economic Aid had allowed the Malaysian republic to stay intact. There was also the Matter of Malaysian holdings in China, which many in the Wu dynasty to consider to be rightful provinces of the Empire.

In the opening weeks of the war the Wu would completly overrun Northern Malaysia, and continue their advance south into Vietnam, Siam and the Peninsula virtually unopposed.​


In the Balkans Holy Roman progress was swift. As had been practiced before, the Russian Garrison had departed and traveled due south by rail, arriving in Bulgaria mere hours before the Army of Adrianople. On the Adriatic coast the Imperial Navy managed to successfully pin another division at Vlore with overwhelming Firepower, allowing General Kurt von Baden to sweep in from for his original posting outside Zagreb and Liberate Albania as swiftly as it had come under occupation.​


By Summer the remaining Russian Garrisons had arrived and decisively pushed into Greece. With the Imperial Fleet of the Atlantic Invasion plans for North Africa and Achia had begun to be drawn up. Meanwhile the Eastern Roman and Russian Empires were engaging in the majority of fighting in Alania and the Crimea.​


By August Constantinople itself would fall under seige and Similar success was being Enjoyed in Westphalia. The real threat of course was never going to be the Eastern Roman Empire or Westphalia, their militaries were simple too small compared to the Austrian Juggernaut. This war was about China, and it would be the Blood spilt in India, Korea and Mongolia that would win the day.​
 

zenphoenix

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Well, looks like your enemies in Europe won't stand a chance. I sure hope China is a real challenge though. This war will probably be done by Christmas!
 
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HIMDogson

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I would t discount the Eastern Romans yet. They still have a bunch of land in the east.