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Well, this throws a considerable wrench in things, doesn't it? Maybe Napoleon IV will be able to harness the socialist revolution to his advantage, or maybe King Henri of the Rhineland can gain ascension to the French throne, uniting both kingdoms under one monarch. Only time may tell.
Finally some revolution! France has once again rekindled the flames of revolution and returned to the radical tradition. The guard joined the people in the fight for liberty, equality and fraternity. This must bring tear to the eyes of all the great left-wing heroes. Now it is time for some great changes and the establishment of a stable republican regime. Vive la République!
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I'm excited to see where you go with this. The game is certainly keeping you on your toes!

Léon Gambetta proclaims the Second Republic of France.

Part Forty One: The Second Republic

On 17 January 1875 a group of deputies met at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris. It was an uncertain, nervous gathering, and was notable for the absence of any royalist politicians, many of whom were either in hiding or had fled Paris altogether (for many years after a rumour circulated that the Duc de Broglie had fled Paris disguised as a woman; in fact he was with the King and the rest of the Royal Family as travelled by train to Belgium.) The remaining politicians, representing various strands of opinion but tending towards moderation were united that France was now a republic. Unfortunately that was all they were united about.

French socialism in the early 1870s had little presence in national politics. Outside of a handful of colourful deputies, who in some cases were scarcely distingushable from the radical wing of 'conventional' liberal bourgeoisie republicans, they lacked any serious presence in the Chambre. Where the socialists thrived was in the shadowy world of radical journalism. Paris was home to countless journals encompassing every political persuasion but few could match the indignation of the radical press. One such journalist turned leader was Louis Charles Delescluze, a veteran of the 1830 Revolution that had toppled Charles X. Delescluze was a deputy in the Chambre, one of very few on the far left and he would prove important in being a go-between for the elected deputies and the more militant socialists.

Also important were the National Guard. Fortunately for the deputies General Gustave Franchet d'Espèrey, the official commander of the National Guard was a moderate and personally sympathised with the liberal republicans like Émile Ollivier. There were some members of the Guard who were very radical but with Franchet d'Espèrey in charge the situation was not completely chaotic.

Informed by Franchet d'Espèrey that the King had formally abdicated and quit Paris the Hôtel de Ville group began organising a provisional cabinet to take control of the country, and forestall either a descent into mob rule or a coup by the National Guard (not everyone trusted Franchet d'Espèrey's control of such a powerful weapon.) After an inconclusive vote the meeting broke up in scenes of bitter argument. It would not assemble again until the morning of 23 January, after one of the more millitant groups in the city had stormed the (now empty) Tuileries Palace and set fire to it. Deeply shaken the deputies met again and elected Léon Gambetta as chairman of a provisional government. Though he would not be officially titled as 'Président de la République française' until several months later Gambetta would prove the leader the confused young republic desperately needed. [1]


Millitant socialists topple a statue of the Emperor Napoléon. Destructive acts such as this convinced the republican deputies they had to form a government swiftly, or see France fall further into chaos.

Gambetta was a very strong personality, a quality he shared with many of the militant socialists. What he possesed that they did not was experience in politics and the ability to talk to opponents. A great orator Gambetta had often needled both the late Prince Louis-Napoléon and the living Duc de Broglie in the Chambre, but now he spoke in terms of patriotism and stable government. He knew what Delescluze and other even more militant leaders like Louis Blanc either did not know, or could not bring themselves to realise: outside Paris France was in the main a conservative, Catholic country. Frenchmen might be brought to accept a republic; they would not accept one ruled entirely by the most radical sections of Paris. It was at Gambetta's urging that the provisional government approached the Army. Though not as devoutly royalist as the Navy the French Army was a conervative institution and few of the senior officers welcomed a republic.

Ever since retiring from Paris Marshal Napoléon Lebouf had made his headquarters at Verdun. Marshal Lebouf had escorted King Louis Philippe II and his family to the Belgian border and as yet had made no contact with the republican government in Paris. Sixty one years old and harsh in manner and speech Lebouf was not a born diplomat. He was however a natural leader and Gambetta shrewdly realised that no man, save possibly Franchet d'Espèrey, might more easily break the fragile republic. After a tense exchange of telegrams a delegation was sent by train to Verdun to personally speak with Lebouf. The leader of the provisional government delegation was General Jean-Baptiste Campenon, a military officer with repulican sympathies and a friend of Gambetta. Campenon argued persuasively that the King had abdicated and that therefore Lebouf was no longer bound to his oath of loyalty. So the alternatives were between recognising the provisional government, or handing over France to the most militant of radicals.

Meanwhile the provisional government was organising a set of new elections, trying to cut out the ground from under the millitants who had done nothing to help their cause by boycotting Gambetta's elections. The vote was held only in Paris and with no royalist or Bonapartists standing the 'government socialists' won a decisive majority. Gambetta now his mandate, flawed and uncertain as it was and when on 29 January Marshal Lebouf officially declared for the provisional government it was all over bar the shouting. A few of the most extreme socialist millitants were arrested but the majority bowed to the inevitable. [2]

Gambetta's gamble was that French conservatives and liberals, faced with the awful vision of the likes of Blanc ruling the country would follow the example of Lebouf and back the provisional government, with it's promises of stability and respect for property. He was right. Remarkably, over the next few months rural, royalist conservative France did not rebel. As the main royalist newspaper the Journal des débats stated: 'We are not for a republic but we are for the provisional government.' Foreign governments agreed. By the end of the month Britain, Prussia and Austria-Hungary had also recognised

On 20 June the provisional government, by now fully consolidated in Paris, was able to unveil a new constitution - it was from this point that historians now speak of the 'French Second Republic'. Surprisingly, the constitution hewed close to that of 1830, with the obvious absence of the King (replaced by a directly elected President) and various reforms confirming the secular and democratic nature of the republic. [3] The document was a disappointment to many on the far left, but came as a relief to many moderates. Of course it would only truly be tested when put to election. Currently the Assemblée nationale (as the Chambre des députés was renamed) was overwhelmingly dominated by Parisian socialists, elected in dubious circumstances with little reference to the rest of France. Gambetta became President of the French Republic with the moderate republican deputy Jules Grévy as president of the council. The provisional government's challenge was how to delay elections long enough to stabilise the republic and how to stave off any challenge from either an embittered far left, or a right that had shaken off it's numbness.


Léon Gambetta, President of the French Republic.


[1] Of course Léon Gambetta is not the only man in the provisional government; the Second Republic is not a dicatorship even if it's democratic mandate is doubtful. Gambetta is however the dominant personality and 'face' of republican France.

[2] In game terms the government didn't actually change from HM Government to Democracy until 20 June 1875 so I am counting this period as weeks of in-universe confusion, consolidation and head butting between the provisional government represented by Gambetta and the other moderate socialists and the more militant socialists. With the backing of both the National Guard and the Army the provisional government was able to regain control over France.

[3] The Second Republic in this time line has some aspects of both the historical Second Republic and the Third Republic. Two chambers with a Senate replacing the Chambre des Pairs and a relatively powerful presidency (made more powerful by being held by Gambetta.) Mostly this is a sop to moderates and conseratives, the support of which the provisional government needs to survive.
Nikolai: Perhaps. I'm definitely going to take a look at the royalist and Bonapartist reaction to all this!

Tankman987: Well i'm glad someone's pleased! :D Also thank you! :)

Shinkuro Yukinari: Partly, but less bloody, less radical and more successful. In some ways this is more like the Revolution of 1848.

Mat Man: Indeed! I'm not sure myself how this will go.

Specialist290: Not sure I'd call the France of Louis Philippe II particularly extreme but yes at least it was relatively peaceful!

loup99: I thought you'd be pleased! Thanks again for your help and suggestions here. :)

Valhallas Call: You can say that again!
A constitution has been established for the new regime, and the republicans have stabilised their grip over the power by rallying key forces. However as highlighted, the radical socialists are still ready to fight back, as are the monarchists of various kinds. The diverse and disunited nature of these groups should nonetheless give the advantage to the established order, although when it comes to the universal suffrage, anything could happen.
Seems like this might go well after all. Some shrewd moving by the players there. Hopefully civil unrest can be kept to a minimum.:)
With the current "democratic" government being set up, and solely catering to the likes of Parisian socialists, a counter -revolution wouldn't be totally out of the question. Maybe this will be a point where the monarchists and radical socialists find common ground. Or maybe, in reference to the French Revolution of old, the Great Powers will intervene to bring stability. No matter what happens, Gambetta has a hell of a full plate to deal with from here on out.
Finally reading through this. Just completed Part Nine (on page 4). Very impressing telling so far, and can't wait to read some more.
Won't lie, I've been reading through this for a few days now, and I'm glad to b caught up! Excellent AAR!
I'm sort of in the same boat as @loup99 and @Mat Man. On the whole, the French seem to have avoided the excesses of previous generations of revolutionaries, but I wouldn't count out either the Far Left or the Far Right just yet -- after all, with L'Internationale on the one hand and the web of dynastic relationships on the other, there's plenty of room for them to enlist powers outside France to their aid, for good or for ill.

And speaking of "powers outside France": Given how things typically go, I wouldn't be surprised if the fall of the French Crown inspired some sort of ripple effect among the populations of Europe's other monarchies -- perhaps another reason for France's neighbors to worry.
And speaking of "powers outside France": Given how things typically go, I wouldn't be surprised if the fall of the French Crown inspired some sort of ripple effect among the populations of Europe's other monarchies -- perhaps another reason for France's neighbors to worry.

When France sneezes Europe catches a cold.

Henri, comte de Chambord ('King Henri V' to Legitamists.)

Forty Two: Beyond Paris

The sudden and complete collapse of the Orléanist monarchy owed much to the polarisation of French society. Paris in particular was dramatically to the left of the bulk of the country, but the cities as a whole leaned liberal and republican. It was the conservative rural population that tended to vote royalist in elections. Indeed in the quickly overturned election of 1875 rural France had again given the Orléanists a majority in the Chambre. [1] The Army was mostly royalist too and the Navy so pro-Orléanist the republican government found it impossible to appoint a sympathetic admiral as Minister of the Navy and the Colonies and fears of a potential 'Navy coup' would grip the government for the next two years.

However the apparent strength of the royalist position had hidden weaknesses. The royalists might have made up a larger bloc than either the liberals or the socialists, but that bloc was split in three and the death of Ferdinand Philippe had exposed those splits to public view. At the time of the 1875 election the Legitamists had been prepared to back the popular Ferdinand Philippe as monarch, but with his passing they now openly turned to Henri, the Comte de Chambord. The Comte was not a popular figure, well known for his statements on the tricolour and other topics and his followers openly pined for the days of Charles X and a strong king. The Bonapartists had also broken with the Orléanists in favour of establishing a Second Empire under the son of the late Prince Louis-Napoléon.

The reason for this rupture of the royalist bloc had nothing to do with the character of King Louis Philippe II, who was a moderate and intelligent man who served gallantly with the Army as a youth. In another time he might have made a fine King of the French. Unfortunately he was not his father. Though Ferdinand Philippe's reign had not always been happy and ill health had often dogged the late monarch had been genuinely popular. However this personal popularity had disguised how fragile the monarchy really was. The 'July Monarchy' founded by the first King Louis Philippe had always been a precarious compromise at a time of turmoil. It lacked deep roots (as the Legitamists never tired of pointing out). As one foreign diplomat put it: 'The French honour Ferdinand Philippe, but their respect is as for a great and admirable gentleman, not the devotion and awe due a king.' That may have exaggerated the weakness of the Orléanist cause, but there was something to it all the same. [2]

In contrast to the Orléanist royalists the Legitamists and Bonapartists were far more emotionally connected to the past and to bloodlnes, less bound to the popularity of individual men, which was fortunate for the stubborn and charmless 'Henri V'. For the Bonapartists 'Plon Plon' still controlled the party, but his influence was in decline as the dashing young Prince Napoléon grew to manhood.

Camden Place.jpg

Camden Place near London, the home of Louis Philippe and his family in exile.

The revolution had, for obvious reasons, shaken the Orléanists to their foundations with many of the party leaders having followed the royals into the safety of exile. De Broglie of course was gone; so too were Pierre Magne (though he quickly returned) and the Duc Decazes. The Bonapartists were equally scattered Prince Jérôme had made for refuge in Sardinia and young Prince Napoléon and his mother for Spain. The Legitamists were more fortunate. Oscar Bardi de Fourtou, the ferociously conservative leader of the Legitamists deputies in the old Chambre des députés was still in France and suddenly the way was open for a consolidation of royalism under de Fourtou. The Comte de Chamboard was nearly twenty years older than Louis Philippe II and he was childless. To the Legitamists it made perfect sense that 'Henri V' take the throne as a compromise, with Louis Philippe his heir.

Meanwhile the fall of the French monarchy had not gone unnoticed abroad. In Britain, where Louis Philippe II was rather popular the response of the response of Benjamin Disraeli's government was immediately hostile and it would take a long time for the Gambetta government to soothe relations there. The fallen king and his family would arrive in London in August to be met with great public sympathy. In contrast the Prussians were delighted. For decades a weakened Prussia had been stuck between France and Austria. Rhineland, carved out of Prussian territory as a client kingdom of France had been both a national humiliation and a stumbling block to good relations between Berlin and Paris. On a personal level Hans Victor von Unruh, the liberal Minister President of Prussia might have sympathised with King Louis Philippe II. On a national level however he was ready to seek an understanding with Gambetta. In July the Prussians would sign an alliance with the new French government, at once providing a great propaganda coup for the republican government in world of foreign policy. After the Prussian alliance was announced the great majority of other European states were prepared to officially recognise the French Republic.

Rhineland was not mentioned but the newspapers in London and Vienna speculated what this might mean for the tiny German kingdom with a French king.

Franco Prussian Alliance.jpg

The Franco-Prussian Alliance of 1875.

In Rhineland itself King Henri made no public comment on the abdication of his nephew. In a sad irony the Rhenish monarch had enjoyed a more stable reign of late, but now he was left in the thankless position of depending on Gambetta for security. That or accept the protection of Austria-Hungary.

Other foreign reactions were varied. In New York and Philadelphia the public houses and saloons saw many toasts drunk to the new republic, not out of any particular affinity with the French socialists but more because of believe France was following the American model in ridding herself of kings. In Brazil and the Ottoman Empire, France's great allies and monarchies both there was deep concern.

The most excited reaction came in Italy. France was by far the most dominant influence in the Italian principalities with only Sardinia (currently home to 'Plon Plon') being outside her sphere. Italian republicans like Giuseppe Garibaldi greeted the revolution with delight while King Francis II of the Two Sicilies was so appalled he at once sent a telegram to King Louis Philippe II offering him sanctuary in Naples (the French monarch politely declined an initation from one of the least loved monarchies of Europe.) The most difficult task of all fell to Pope Pius IX. The pontiff could hardly welcome the triumph of an anti-clericalist in Paris [3], but the Church could not afford to alienate any of the pretenders to the French throne. Therefore the Holy See pursued a suprisingly quiet course for the next couple of years, waiting to see how the republicans would act in practice.



[1] As I said before the Orléanists actually won the election the revolution overturned - 57% of the vote against 37% for the liberal republicans and a feeble 6% for the socialists.

[2] In this timeline the July Monarchy lasted far longer than in OTL so it is hard to compare like with like, but from what I have read the real Ferdinand Philippe was rather popular. The theory that the support for the monarchy as an institution might be hollowed out while the individual remains popular draws from what I have read about King Juan Carlos of Spain and also the slow erosion of the British monarchy in late 19th early 20th century Ireland where some historians have suggested that the personal popularity of Queen Victoria and (especially) King Edward VII didn't cross over into the political.

[3] Anti-clericalism is one of the factors that unites the Socialist and Liberal republicans. France isn't quite as badly divided over Church and State as it will be a few years later in OTL but there are very much tensions earlier - as I noted earlier King Ferdinand Philippe was unwilling to appoint Prince Jérôme first minister due to the later's passionate (and for his party very much minority) views on the Church.
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loup99: Those are good points. I think a great deal depends on how long the republicans can hold off an election - it is very much in their interests to steady the ship first, especially as they are by no means assured of victory at the polls.

Nikolai: I guess we'll see! Luckily for the government the economy is doing well, so that removes at least a potential sore.

Mat Man: Oh, absolutely! As I noted above the current government is caught in a bind; call an election and (probably) lose or try and keep on and hope the near future is stable enough to win true national popularity.

Zzzzz...: Heh. To be honest I sympathise, but I am trying to play fair here!

stnylan: wow, thank you very much stylan! I hope I continue to keep your interest and to hear your further thoughts as you catch up! :)

Gidia: Thank you! :) I'm always glad to meet a new reader! :)

Specialist290: Those are very good points, though oddly I also have to decide how to handle how things work if I stay stable (how do I handle a monarchist election victory for instance.)

GoukaRyuu: Very true! :)
Now read through to part twenty (page 8).

I especially like this line from the Anglo-French war "The French Navy had a brilliant and romantic war, the French Army an exhausting and bloody one." some real poetry there.

Where I am, Prussia has just declared war on Rhineland with Austrian help. A very dramatic moment to leave the post I have to story. Almost @Storey like in its cliffhanger nature. I really like the various spins you are putting on things to make in-game stuff make historical sense.
With the widespread popularity of the French Revolution in Italy, and the rise of an unpopular republic, perhaps French intervention in the Italian peninsula isn't too far fetched. It would be a great distraction from the lack of confidence people have in the new government. It would also prove fruitful for the Gambetta if France could actually get something from said intervention.
It may be time for the newly created republic to carve out some military glories in Italy against some Francophone territories or illustrate itself in the colonies, but on the other hand the more radical socialists will threaten the established order if there is no election in the near future.
Just finished reading Part 30 (page 13) - Britain has just declared war whilst your attention is in Indochina.

Let's say I believe my conclusion that you subscribe to the @Storey school of cliffhangers is confirmed. I am still finding some quite lovely phrases peppering this work - this one from part 26 about the ending of the war with Spain I thought especially good: The magnificent Spanish Navy had been all but swept from the seas and the finest of the officer corps lay in shallow graves in the bleak slopes of the Pyrenees or beneath the rich dark soil of France.

I continue to be impressed with the depth of the faux-history, and its consistency over as relatively prolonged period of real-time writing.

I hope to be able to catch up properly this weekend. Here's hoping.