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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

slothinator

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Hmm. Something is going to go down over Africa at some point...
That's still a fair amount of Africa unaccounted for, and an awful lot under contention. Europe is going to go to war yet, I think.
Unfortunately, I think it's going to be Italy kicking it all in twice. Libya is the obvious target for them, and just enough of a conquest/change that everyone else will get involved.
Plus, given the papacy is in charge of Italy, I can only expect them to carry on to try and reclaim more Holy cities from the Ottomans. The holy land is the obvious target but constantiople is important too.
This may well be how they make amends with Austria. They gang up on ottoman together, making an utter mess of everyone else's plans.
Yeah, the great powers did some little work at the Conference but there are still too many disputed regions among major powers. This is one of the reasons why Innocent wanted to keep out of it but European wars are getting to the point where few people are left out.
An early mis-step from the new Pope I think. Sure the Papacy was never going to get anything out of the conference, or probably even have any influence, but sending an actual diplomat might have been a better long term investment. Some diplomatic connections and relationships formed over a Ferrero Rocher and a well timed quip could be useful later.

Instead he sent Formica who frankly could have just not turned up and I doubt anyone would have noticed.
Yeah, shouldn't they be adopting OTL Italian diplomacy of being a hissy toddler that everyone else needs to look after/placate every so often, because the outcome otherwise is a load of blood and poop and screaming?
Innocent has many reasons to not join in the Scramble for Africa, more or less reasonable.
On the one hand, Italy has a very small fleet and no colonies outside the Mediterranean, not to mention the impending war with Austria-Hungary; on the other, Callixtus already denied Papal participation in colonialism at Vatican I so that would require some amending.
A delightful use of one's time, if you ask me.

Is it the unification war that Formica refers to, or some other conflict to come?
By this point, the unification war is over and Austria-Hungary has made good on its threats. The war will be explored more in detail in this week's chapter.
Given the declining religious quality and education of the last few popes this could result in Papal armies conquering Mecca and Medina from the Ottomans, due to confusion on what exactly the Holy cities of Christianity are.
Hey, someone says they saw god there once. Or an angel. Whatever.
The important thing is, lots of people like to go there for some god bothering reason or another. This means lots of warm bodies that can be charged for entry and then further fleeced in the over-priced gift shop (is there any other kind of gift shop?). And that will be the main thing the Curia will focus on.
All that is needed is some simple Pan-Abrahamic ecumenism and then we can sell holy bobbleheads in every holy site we can find, that and commemorative plates. Who's to say, we could even branch out into decorative lawn flamingos with saints' faces if we want to be really classy.
 

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All that is needed is some simple Pan-Abrahamic ecumenism and then we can sell holy bobbleheads in every holy site we can find, that and commemorative plates. Who's to say, we could even branch out into decorative lawn flamingos with saints' faces if we want to be really classy.
Glad to hear the Curia is finally turning to trusted advisors for its policy.

 

TheButterflyComposer

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Glad to hear the Curia is finally turning to trusted advisors for its policy.

Why can't we be friends, why can't we be friends...

...and who needs age of consent laws, anyway?
 

DensleyBlair

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TheButterflyComposer

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Assuming this is about Plastic Jesus, I think I am missing something.
The old joke about the Vatican city having 12 as the age of consent. It isn't true anymore, at least. It's actually 18, which is rather old for Europe...
 

DensleyBlair

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The old joke about the Vatican city having 12 as the age of consent. It isn't true anymore, at least. It's actually 18, which is rather old for Europe...
Ah, I’m with you. For a minute I was worried there was something I didn’t know about the Goldcoast singers…
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Ah, I’m with you. For a minute I was worried there was something I didn’t know about the Goldcoast singers…
Well...there may well be, but we don't know either way....
 
Chapter XXXIV: It’s a Long Way to Piemonte New

slothinator

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From the correspondence of Corporal Luigi Ughetto

UyWUwBVl.png

Alba, 10 February 1879
Dearest Tina,
I'm sorry it took so long to send you a letter, I've barely had a moment to myself with all the training. The Romans seem awfully worried about this war and they want every one of us in Austria next month already. I had counted myself lucky to miss out on the fighting when the Romans came in with their French friends but, now that we've lost, I suppose I don't have much of a choice left. On the bright side, I met Pinin (you know the one, he moved to Alba a while ago and gave us that fancy dresser) and we got on famously, we really should invite him over for dinner after this is over. Unfortunately, we're not in the same platoon but we cross paths often enough so that's good news to me.
I remember that you told me to write where we would be heading but the sergeant said that we can't give that sort of information in letters so the best I can say is that we'll head East until we find the Krauts and make them to back off. In any case, we'll leave soon and we should meet up with the fancy soldiers all the way from Torino. I even heard that the new king might see us off, that would be quite the sight, especially since we didn't even have time to see his brother on the coins.
I have to go now to prepare the baggage but give a kiss to Perin for me and you can show him this letter so he can practice his reading.
Always yours,
Vigin

ODsxjR0l.jpg

Treviso, 1 March 1879
Dear Tina,
It's been a long and tiring series of train rides, but we are finally at the last camp before we head off into Austrian lands. Now, I know you said you're worried, but you wouldn't believe how many men are here ready to fight on our side. It may sound crazy, but Pinin reckons that we have almost twice as many soldiers as people live in Turin. It starts to become more real after you meet people coming all the way from Sicily and you can only understand a word or two of what they're saying. I was talking with some of the boys from my platoon and they told me I should watch my wallet around those Neapolitans, so I made sure to be extra careful whenever I happen to see them pass by. I have to say, I feel a bit like a boat in the forest with these strange types out and about, but I suppose it's nice to have a common uniform to tie us together a little bit. We're lucky that our lieutenants are mostly good Piedmontese folk because I don't think I could react quickly to the Romans giving orders, but I guess that the officers are required to speak Italian to communicate with the higher-ups. Even the Pope sends us messages of encouragement in Italian so I'm doing my best to learn. It's nice to know that Perin will learn some of the language in school as well.
Anyway, we'll be here for a few more days and I hope to have your answer by then, but you can keep sending your mail here since this is where they'll keep it for us until we find the next safe place to make camp. I hope that running the shop isn't too hard on you and make sure to ask the Ferreros for help if it gets too straining. I'll do my best to return home as soon as I can.
Yours from the front,
Vigin

Gorizia, 12 March 1879
My darling Tina,
It's wonderful to be able to write to you at last since the past few days have been a terrible affair. I'm thankful that you managed to light a candle for me at the Madonna's sanctuary because I think that's what saved me from a couple of close calls yesterday. I'd like you to return one of these days and give thanks on my behalf, I'll give my own thanks when I get back home.
The good news is that we've finally made it to the city of Gorizia even though we've had a hell of a time getting here. I imagine it's a charming town when it's not being shelled, but our men had to do some pretty rigorous bombing with the artillery to push the Austrians out, they were dug in like you wouldn't believe. I must confess that while the guns went quiet, and the lieutenant gave us the signal to go for the city I did get quite scared. It's a marvel how slippery your rifle becomes if you're anxious, but I tried my best to think of my duty and do what I'm told. I was lucky to meet Pinin before the push and the daft fellow said he would race me to the town, that lifted my spirits a bit and it still makes me smile to think of it (He won the "race" in the end, my side took a while to push past a bridge the Krauts were holding on to). I'm glad we can now rest for some days while the general makes his plans, although I don't look forward to dealing with the bodies left behind, I'd cross myself whenever I pass them but there's far too many to recognize in the worst parts.
Oh, we've also started to mingle more with the southerners and most of them are good enough people. You would laugh if you saw us chatting though, we look like a band of Gariboja talking as slow as possible to make sense of our words. I'm getting along well with a lad called Luca, he says he's a fisherman down in Sicily and he's hoping to help his family with a debt once he comes home. It'd be nice to have him over for dinner someday as soon all this is done, I'm sure you'd get along.
How are things in Monchiero? I've read that Tilda is helping out with the shop so thank her on my behalf as well, I haven't seen her husband, but I'll give you any news whenever I get any. I'm happy to hear that Perin is behaving and his signature on your last letter gave me the widest smile I've had in weeks.
Let me know how you've been doing, and I'll try and write to you again if I have the chance, we should be in the area for a few weeks still.
Yours sincerely,
Vigin

2rnXBZUl.jpg

Adelsberg, 3 July 1879
Dear Tina,
It's been a rotten few weeks but at least we get to send and receive mail today although the bloody rain will find a way to ruin that too, I hope this letter isn't too smudged. We've been stuck in our defensive trenches around the town of Adelsberg pushing back attack after attack of the enemy and we've lost about half of our men with no end in sight. Luca says he heard from an officer that the Austrians are close to a retreat but I'm not sure I fully believe that. Even if that's true, we're heavily outgunned and the Krauts shell us every hour of the day and night and there's nothing we can do but hide away and wait for the next assault. It might sound strange, but I often find myself bored out of my mind here; sure, there's constant danger but there's nothing to do except watch and wait. I chat with Luca every once in a while and we tell stories of home but there's only so much you can say after weeks of nothing. When the rain first started to fall, we all welcomed it as something new to experience but I now definitely would prefer to be bored and dry rather than bored and wet. You may have noticed that I haven't written about Pinin but I wouldn't worry too much about him, the lucky sod was transferred south to Istria where he and his fellows can simply occupy a few poorly protected cities by the seaside. I was hoping I'd come to see the sea, but I'll have to wait a little more for that.
I miss your hugs and your smiles but getting your letter is the best part of my weeks so I beg you to write with even the simplest difference. I'm happy to hear that you're in good health and I hope the summer sun is growing some fine grapes to give us a nice vintage for when I'm back. I'm sorry that Perin is a bit of a handful these days but I'm sure he just misses his father. Give him a kiss from me and tell him I'll bring him back something nice if he's a good boy.
I can't write much longer because the postboy is leaving soon but know that I cherish you every day and I can't wait to return home at last.
Forever yours,
Vigin

Ragusa, 19 September 1880
Dear Tina,
We've finally made it to Ragusa and it's a wonderful sight. The Austrians had only a minor garrison and they surrendered almost as soon as we attacked; the rest of the day was just an improvised parade through the streets of the city. It brought tears to my eyes to see the cheering people waving Italian flags and every one of us was laughing and smiling because after so long the war is almost over. Even the officers decided to make it a special occasion by giving us the promotions that they'd held back during the march so you can call me Corporal Luigi Ughetto from now on. Needless to say, the rest of the day was spent in merriment with the Austrians and our worries far away.
The celebration was a godsend for all of us, but I saw many strong hard men burst into tears after a few drinks and I don't blame them. I try not to worry you, but it has been a huge trial for each of us to have to fear for our lives every day and not know if we'd ever return home, but now we can finally hope. I can't believe I'll be able to come back to you in just a handful of weeks, after so many months of separation, and see how my son has grown up. I've finally seen the sea and it's so beautiful tonight.
I will see you so soon my darling and even then, it won't be soon enough,
God bless you,
Vigin

Author's note:
Corporal Luigi Ughetto was injured and lost his leg in the battle of Karolyvaros five days before the armistice. He was awarded the War Merit Cross for his service.

The Austro-Italian war ended in a decisive victory for the Italo-French side and resulted in the forced reduction of the Austro-Hungarian army, the payment of hefty reparations, and the creation of an independent Dalmatian state under the direct authority of Pietro Doimo Maupas, archbishop of Zadar.

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TheButterflyComposer

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The Austro-Italian war ended in a decisive victory for the Italo-French side and resulted in the forced reduction of the Austro-Hungarian army, the payment of hefty reparations, and the creation of an independent Dalmatian state under the direct authority of Pietro Doimo Maupas, archbishop of Zadar.
Good news, but we are heading towards Austria joining Germany in an alliance out of desperation now. At which point, if Germany does defeat France in their own war (which must also be fast incoming), Italy is going to have to make a choice between rival European alliances...

The peace of Europe is defiantly shattered now though. The balkans are too good to not fight over...apparently.
 

DensleyBlair

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Some sort of Greater Germany must be a possibility after all this. The Austrians have got nowhere else to go. Which doesn’t bode well.
 

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An amazing update! It's always nice to see events from the bottom as well as from the top. And I'm glad Corporal Ughetto survived, though losing a leg is rather awful.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Some sort of Greater Germany must be a possibility after all this. The Austrians have got nowhere else to go. Which doesn’t bode well.
I would actually quite like this to happen, because Germany would then become very inward facing for many years as it tries and fails to germanise the balkans. Certainly, it would bode well for Russia, Poland and France...though not Italy.
 

eoncommander

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Vienna will have to reckon with its own weakness now, potentially aligning itself with Germany as several have pointed out already. Hopefully that means they will give up on regaining their influence in Italy, which would allow the Popes to join a new, conservative, Triple Alliance.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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That’s true. Although Russia could be tempted to cause some trouble if the Slavophiles have the desire.

Vienna will have to reckon with its own weakness now, potentially aligning itself with Germany as several have pointed out already. Hopefully that means they will give up on regaining their influence in Italy, which would allow the Popes to join a new, conservative, Triple Alliance.
Basically, if Austria joins Germany and Germany let's them in, its the end of the Austrian empire (at some point. Maybe not shown in game but we all know it'll happen). Austria proper will be another German state in the empire...but what happens to everything east of that I can't say.

Hungary is probably big and European enough to get away with being its own country (possibly heavily reduced). The rest of the balkans though? No idea. Its all up in the air. Ample pickings for Russia and Italy to go snooping around in.

But for now, Austrian empire joing the german one would be good news for everyone else. It solves the german question. They got their colonial empire: its the balkans. Congratulations.
 

DensleyBlair

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Tbh my first thought when I saw the Balkan map was that Hungary are absolutely about to leave the empire. No way Romania and the rest get to be independent and they have to stay tethered to Vienna.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Tbh my first thought when I saw the Balkan map was that Hungary are absolutely about to leave the empire. No way Romania and the rest get to be independent and they have to stay tethered to Vienna.
If Italy and Russia are smart (put your imagination caps on), they'll team up and split the balkans into spheres of influence relating to religion, culture etc and form a friendship of keeping it that way, undercutting the Ottomans wherever possible and keeping Germany in Germany (preferably on fire).

What France and GB are going to do if Grearer Germany happens and Russia and Italy capitalise by sphereing the independent balkans (and the soon to be independent balkans) I don't know. Probably trying to prop up the Ottomans in exchange for...something. that and try to poach Italy away with something really stupid that Italy would totally go for...like Libya.
 

slothinator

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Good news, but we are heading towards Austria joining Germany in an alliance out of desperation now. At which point, if Germany does defeat France in their own war (which must also be fast incoming), Italy is going to have to make a choice between rival European alliances...

The peace of Europe is defiantly shattered now though. The balkans are too good to not fight over...apparently.
Some sort of Greater Germany must be a possibility after all this. The Austrians have got nowhere else to go. Which doesn’t bode well.
I would actually quite like this to happen, because Germany would then become very inward facing for many years as it tries and fails to germanise the balkans. Certainly, it would bode well for Russia, Poland and France...though not Italy.
That’s true. Although Russia could be tempted to cause some trouble if the Slavophiles have the desire.
Basically, if Austria joins Germany and Germany let's them in, its the end of the Austrian empire (at some point. Maybe not shown in game but we all know it'll happen). Austria proper will be another German state in the empire...but what happens to everything east of that I can't say.

Hungary is probably big and European enough to get away with being its own country (possibly heavily reduced). The rest of the balkans though? No idea. Its all up in the air. Ample pickings for Russia and Italy to go snooping around in.

But for now, Austrian empire joing the german one would be good news for everyone else. It solves the german question. They got their colonial empire: its the balkans. Congratulations.
Tbh my first thought when I saw the Balkan map was that Hungary are absolutely about to leave the empire. No way Romania and the rest get to be independent and they have to stay tethered to Vienna.

The matter of Germany and Austria is going to be addressed in detail a little later on but, for now, Austria is definitely looking for allies to hold off Italy although it's being ganged up on by the Russia+Romania/Serbia team.
From now on, the Balkans are going to be the charming pot of ethnic and international tension that we all know and love.

An amazing update! It's always nice to see events from the bottom as well as from the top. And I'm glad Corporal Ughetto survived, though losing a leg is rather awful.

Thanks a lot! I thought it was good to have a reminder that all those thousands of people you send to the front would really rather just stay at home.
Also, as a teaser, this is not the last time Corporal Ughetto will intersect with our story.

Vienna will have to reckon with its own weakness now, potentially aligning itself with Germany as several have pointed out already. Hopefully that means they will give up on regaining their influence in Italy, which would allow the Popes to join a new, conservative, Triple Alliance.
If Italy and Russia are smart (put your imagination caps on), they'll team up and split the balkans into spheres of influence relating to religion, culture etc and form a friendship of keeping it that way, undercutting the Ottomans wherever possible and keeping Germany in Germany (preferably on fire).

What France and GB are going to do if Grearer Germany happens and Russia and Italy capitalise by sphereing the independent balkans (and the soon to be independent balkans) I don't know. Probably trying to prop up the Ottomans in exchange for...something. that and try to poach Italy away with something really stupid that Italy would totally go for...like Libya.

The Ottomans have been quite severely punished by the recent treaty "stabilizing" the Balkans so they're mostly going to act on behalf of whoever does the best job at influencing the sultan.
The German alliance is going to be very hard-fought and there are several interests against the creation of the monster that is Grossdeutschland but Italy will do its best to take advantage of the situation, whichever direction the Germans might take.
 

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Poor Corporal Luigi, a leg lost for his newly minted country. Will the Pope make sure this new Dalmatian state joins Italy in the fullness of time?
 

slothinator

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Poor Corporal Luigi, a leg lost for his newly minted country. Will the Pope make sure this new Dalmatian state joins Italy in the fullness of time?
Alas, the new country is built on the bodies of its subjects. Innocent is definitely planning on annexing Dalmatia but it's not going to be an easy path