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Jape: Thank you. :) Sorry, I should have been clearer about Thomson. He continued in his post under the current Socialist dominated government but facing the same strained financial circumstances as before the election - a liberal government would have kept him but spent more on the Navy while a conservative government would have replaced him, but still spent more on the Navy.

AvatarOfKhaine: I hope I've helped answer this in the new update but see also my reply below.

Bored Student1414: Yes, that's a good overview of the situation. Thanks! :) And I'll try and update the table of contents, I'm afraid I have let that slip.

loup99: The British have been under the rule of the Liberal Party for some years now. While Lord Rosebury and his successor Richard Haldane are not warmongers building a larger fleet - or restoring the Royal Navy as they not unreasonably see it - has been a priority.

guillec87: True enough, though the Chinese Empire is larger still.

stnylan: Well said, and thanks for your follow up post. I tried to give it some life. :) I'm slightly out of my depth dealing with the politics here; as I've said before the French combination of weak president+weak prime minister is a little hard for me to grasp.
I get Bonapartism, but what exactly are the differences between Action Francaise, the Legitimiste and the Orleaniste? What branches of the house Bourbon do they support? What is their stance on the power of parlement?
Ah, the good old parliamentary backstabbing and scheming we all know and love. As much as the talks between the different parties could have meant a radical change and circumstantial alliance between the different tendencies of the right-wing, their failure to materialise into anything concrete and the closed nature will mean that they will end up just being one of those unexplored alt-history possibilities, to the dismay of the Royalists. Nonetheless Poincaré's time has come, so let us see if he is able to solve the difficult equation of the current Parliament.
Whilst it seems naval superpower rivalry between Britain and someone else is inevitable, I don't think war between the two is. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if there's some sort of Entente Cordiale and respect of spheres of influence. Combining to face Austria suits both powers.

I'm not surprised to see Britain ramping up Naval production, even with a Labour government. IMO labour governments of this era were very much 'conservative with a small c' with Empire et al still big concerns. Interesting to see the politics of the various armed forces in France too.
I get Bonapartism, but what exactly are the differences between Action Francaise, the Legitimiste and the Orleaniste? What branches of the house Bourbon do they support? What is their stance on the power of parlement?

The French right-wing royalist movement isn't exactly my area of expertise, but to my understanding:

Legitimists advocate the restoration of the head of the main line of the House of Bourbon, the legal heirs of Louis XVI and Louis XVIII -- at this timeline's "present" this would be Jaime, Duke of Madrid (who incidentally is also the Carlist pretender to the Spanish throne). As a general rule they tend to be associated with "ultra-royalist" traditional conservatism, the divine right of kings, and direct rule by the monarch in the manner of the ancien regime.

The Orleanists prefer the Orleans branch of the House of Bourbon, the heirs of Louis Philippe -- at present Prince Philippe, Duke of Orleans (who was mentioned briefly in the latest update). They tend to be more associated with the moderate wing of conservatism, the idea of the monarch as receiving legitimacy from the accord and consent of his subjects, and a constitutional monarchy with limited powers for the monarch (though still much stronger than a republican executive). They tend to be more amenable to liberalism than the Legitimists, but still hold reservations about democracy.

Action francaise, to the best of my understanding, doesn't really prefer either the Legitimist or Orleanist line in particular, so long as they get a king (and preferably a strong one). They tend to be more "reactionary" than properly "conservative," very much pro-nationalist, pro-Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-Huguenot, anti-immigrant (really just generally chauvinistic and anti-anything-not-French), and explicitly counter-revolutionary.
how is in game represented the way to a stronger President?
Let us not forget the memorable moment in the dreadnought race leading up to WW1 when the British Liberal government, elected to reduce expenditures, found itself greatly expanding the naval estimates. As the Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, wryly noted: "The Admiralty had demanded six ships; the economists offered four; and we finally compromised on eight."

In Vic2 I find the Royal Navy is slow to come to the battleship and dreadnought, but once they start construction they don't stop until the Atlantic is paved over in steel. It is pretty much a waste of time to try to keep up with them - either fight them early, when you have better ships, avoid a war or avoid naval combat if war does come. Every one of their million battleships will dog-pile anything you send out, and quantity assuredly wins.
Hey. Are we sure that the Royal Navy is really composed of dangerous dreadnoughts and heavy cruisers capable of destroying ingame and not merely a hundred weak and small raiders? The latter would be not interesting. But if Director is correct... well "Rule, Britannia. Britannia rule the waves" will be a worthy challenge but peace with the UK is far better for France.
Another very interesting update! :) You really get the feel for those characters.

Raymond Poincaré in 1917.

Part Seventy Six - Rome, Vienna & Paris.

The socialist Italian republic born in the ruins of the Mitteleuropan War was from conception on the source of the darkest fears and brightest hopes across Europe. Ultimately it would prove neither Heaven nor Hell, but for a time it was feared and hated by the Right as a source of revolution and adored by the Left for the same reason.

The complex relationship France had with the Italian socialists has already been touched upon. The simple truth was that whatever French misgivings the government in Paris could not afford another pariah state on her borders. Carlist Spain, the most absolutist monarchy on the globe seemed determined to turn her back on not just the Twentieth Century, but the Nineteenth Century with it. For French royalists the shadow of Madrid loomed far too large, not as a military threat but as a stick for republicans to beat them with. King Jaime III of Spain was also, to Legitimist circles, King Jacques I of France. Nothing had done more to kill off Legitimism in France than the 'success' of the Carlists in Spain. [1]

Italy on the other hand could not be allowed to turn into a red version of Spain. Strategically and economically she was too important. So the French government worked hard to keep lines of dialogue open with Rome. On 3 December 1914 Raymond Poincaré arrived in the Eternal City to meet with Costantino Lazzari. The French premier's train pulled into the
Stazione Centrale delle Ferrovie Romane to be greeted by hundreds of waving flags, a military band and the sunlight of a crisp Italian Winter morning. M. Poincaré himself had been careful to dampen the glut of optimism that had flooded Paris before he set out. He had a tricky juggling act to pull off. Poincaré's majority in the Chambre depended on the votes of the Radicals and Socialists but personally he had no love for the Italian regime and neither did his ideological followers. The Right, making a virtue of opposition, loftily declared their could be no deal with the Italian republic until the position of the Holy See was defined. Poincaré saw this for the facade it was. The Italian socialists, while admittedly having many anti-clericals in their ranks, pursued a religious policy scarcely different and no more hostile than that of the fallen Kingdom of Italy. Pope Benedict XV, a new and young - for a pontiff - incumbent would not officially meet Poincaré but there was some contact via third parties and the acquiescence of the Italians, with whom Benedict was also trying to reach an understanding.

As it turned out, the game of Chinese Whispers the French premier played with the Bishop of Rome would bear more fruit than the detailed talks Poincaré had with Signore Lazzari. The French were not willing to retreat a step on laïcité but Poincaré was no personal foe of religion and wanted to repair some of the ties with the Roman Catholic Church. With the Italian Government on the other hand Grenoble and Nice leaned too large in the background, casting shadows on every word of friendship and international brotherhood. The French might not be as loathed as Austria but with 'Italian' soil under the tricolour any prospect of an alliance was doomed. After six days of banal conversations Poincaré departed for home.

Few others at the time realised what Poincaré had caught wind of during his Roman holiday: the Lazzari regime was losing or already lost popular support. The revolutionaries had enforced a radical new economic policy but it had failed to curb the nation's disastorous debt. Italy was a pariah state on the international stage, including to Brazil, Russia and the Ottoman Empire, all fragile and suspicious of revolution and all French allies. Though the 1910s where a grim time across the globe when it came to money (France included) the Italians where squeezed tighter than any other great state in Europe. In May 1915 the Lazzari government would been overthrown in a coup d'état by a new group that drew inspiration from the fringes of French political thought. The 'Fascists' as they were termed, in some ways seemed closest to the Blanquists but there were strands there of the Action Francaise movement and Benito Mussolini, the Fascist leader and from mid-1915 on dictator of Italy praised the nationalism of that movement. It was not an admiration returned by Charles Maurras, who looked on the new government with contempt. [2]


Benito Mussolini in 1915.

For all the headaches it created Italy was a sideshow next to the true behemoth of Europe, the Tripartite Monarchy. Vienna, every bit as exhausted from the recent war as Paris, was being pulled towards yet another conflict with the North Germans in early 1916. The Hapsburg domain had suffered (or provoked) constant trouble with the government in Berlin and recently the North Germans had signed a treaty of alliance with China. The Qing Empire had formerly been an ally of the Tripartite Monarchy, but the government nominally led by Prince Chun (as regent for his young son the Xuantong Emperor) and Prince Qing (as Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet) and really led by General Yuan Shikai had drifted away from Austrian friendship.

No one in France wanted a new war with the Tripartite Monarchy. For all their sabre-rattling even the Action Francaise dreaded the thought. France already had five million German speakers inside her borders. Adding millions more would not leave the country more harmonious. This view, as widespread as it was did not mean there was significant pro-Hapsburg sentiment in France. Far too much blood and treasure had been squandered for that. Among the fiercest Austrophobes was Alexandre Millerand. The French President was a Russophile, had indeed been one of the loudest voices in supporting Russia in the Mitteleuropan War. He would be a stumbling block to any understanding with the Austrians, a problem Poincaré solved by keeping his own head of state outside of the loop as long as possible.

The secret treaty cooked up by Poincaré and Graf von Berchtold, the Imperial Foreign Minister in the first half of 1916 was based on a pragmatic understanding that neither France nor the Tripartite Monarchy had further designs in Continental Europe. The Russians where not informed of the negotiations - largely because Poincaré did not wish them to talk to M. Millerand - but Poincaré secured a promise that the Hapsburgs would remain neutral in the event of a Russian war with another power.

When war actually did break between North Germany and China on the one hand and the Tripartite Monarchy on the other on 15 July 1916 the French government promptly declared neutrality to no one's great surprise. It was only when Poincaré spoke in the Chambre on the evening of 16 July, praising the 'Austrian efforts to keep the peace against Sino-Prussian aggression' that the world discovered that France was neutral but tilted in favour of the Hapsburgs. [3]

Franco Austrian Alliance.jpg

The secretive Franco-Austrian talks of 1916.

Millerand was incandescent but there was little he could do without fatally undermining the government, and shaking French foreign policy to its roots. The president considered resignation, but after much soul searching decided to cling on. Still, for the next year relations between president and prime minister where ruinous.

What both men knew was that the country was due to undergo legislative elections in October 1917. A wave of byelections over the life of the government had shown that the Socialist vote - really the entire Left - had collapsed to levels not seen since the turn of the century. The economic situation was almost uniformly bleak and the wave of goodwill that had supported M. Briand in wartime and (less enthusiastically) M. Viviani in peacetime had now melted away entirely. As early as January 1917 the newspapers and journals predicted it would come down to a straight fight between Poincaré's liberals, running on a economic reform platform the prime minister had been unable to act on because of his dependence on the Left and a largely monarchist and clericalist Right unhappily divided between the Comte d'Haussonville's Orleanists and the Action francaise.

The expectation was that if anything might upset the election it would be a radical breakthrough in the war but that blood laced quagmire proved sullenly indecisive throughout 1917. The upset when it came was domestic. On 10 April 1917 Marshal August Canrobert, the Minister for War and the most popular man in France was killed in an automobile accident in Strasbourg. The marshal, ever reformist minded, disdained travel by train and preferred to go by car whenever possible. After a late evening dining and swapping stories with fellow officers at his club Canrobert had decided on the spur of the moment to visit an old friend who lived some miles outside the city. Unfortunately it had rained heavily during the previous day and in the darkness Canrobert's driver lost control of the vehicle on a sodden stretch. Canrobert's Darracq Type V14 spun into a tree, killing both men immediately.

Canrobert dies.jpg

10 April 1917: Marshal August Canrobert dies.

Canrobert's sudden death plunged the nation into mourning and robbed France of one of her finest soldiers. It also left the political situation completely uncertain. The next presidential election was in March 1921 and expectations had been that Canrobert would run. Though much would depend on the composition of the Chambre it would be a very brave parliament that ignored the man whose mustachioed portrait graced so many private homes. The obvious winner of Canrobert's passing was Millerand. The sitting president had no intention of running for office for a third term but with the 'dauphin' dead his own stock rose. Poincaré meanwhile had lost a talented member of his cabinet, but also a potential rival.

The death of Canrobert and his lavish state funeral later in the month had a chilling effect on political discourse. Save for marches on behalf of the women's suffrage movement, which reached ever increasing size this year, there was surprisingly little going on in Paris during the Summer of 1917. Everyone was keeping their powder dry for the election. During the damp, dreary weeks leading up to the election day of 15 October there were but two questions: how badly would the Socialists and Radical-Socialists fare and who would come out ahead, the liberal republicans or the Right?

When the votes were counted the rout of the Left exceeded all their worst nightmares. Vivani, Briand and Jean Jaurès all lost their seats and Georges Clemenceau barely managed to keep his. Alexandre Ribot's Moderate Republican might have considered them fortunate as they yet again faltered at the finishing post. [4] As predicted the real race was between the liberal republicans and the monarchists. The Poincarist plea for the parliamentary strength to reform the economy had struck a chord with the French middle classes and a majority of the German and Italian speaking vote also went to the liberals. However the monarchists overall - including mainstream royalists and Charles Maurras's reactionaries - made up the single largest bloc in the Chambre...

Election 1917.jpg

The election of October 1917.


[1] I still feel guilty over what happened to Spain. In 1864 Spain was a relatively peaceful and prosperous liberal constitutional monarchy. Then came the Second Danubian Crisis and, largely because of my military efforts, Spain never recovered.

[2] Mussolini's Fascist state has not seen fit to restore the Italian monarchy (though there are monarchists in the Italian ranks.) The French government as a whole is now resigned to the fact that after two revolutions in less than a decade Italy is the second failed state (to use an anachronistic term) they must share a border with.

[3] This event surprised me, but my relations with North Germany are even worse than with Austria-Hungary. I allied with the Hapsburgs but declined entering the war.

[4] The Moderate Republicans always do better in raw vote share than their numbers suggest but trail the Royalists pretty much everywhere.
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My apologies at such a long silence. Other things distracted me and it really is good to be back. I've missed this place. :)


stnylan: Thank you very much. I admit extended periods of relative peace can be a little harder to write for so i'm glad it isn't too dull!

J_Master: I can't do much better than Specialist290's excellent summing up of the factions.

loup99: Poincaré made a virtue out of a necessity by focusing on foreign policy. His own supporters would much rather he handled the economy (largely by abolishing industrial subsidies in favour of the free market) but as he was dependent on the Left for a majority there was little he could do there.

Andreios II: Good points. France does not want or need a war right now but she has to have some level of preparation either by diplomatic methods or via an armaments build up.

AvatarOfKhaine: Hah. Well said! :D

guillec87: There isn't one. A parliamentary republic like the historical French Third Republic is not mechanically different from a presidential system like the United States. Both are Democracies in game terms.

Director: I fear you may be all to right there.

Bored Student1414: Unfortunately I have seen British dreadnoughts and cruisers at sea.

Nikolai: Thank you very much. :)
Ah the royalists are back with an minority government. Will they find the support to finally restore the monarchy or will their unholy alliances and divisions in the monarchist coalition ruin their efforts yet again? Do voters really want the king back all this time later or do people just vote for them because they are the largest and most successful conservative party? If the Second Republic lasts 3 more years (1875-1917 currently or 42 years), it will tie the July monarchy (1830-1875 or 45 years) in time in existence.

Fascists rise in Italy although in a very different context than in real life. I wouldn't be surprised if another coup or revolution happens again in Italy. Let's hope the fascists don't try to conquer Europe this time.

General Canrobert is dead. His undignified and unfortunate death smacks a little bit of Patton's death. Who can replace him now? More war for the Triple Monarchy? I doubt the rump North Germany can resist the Hapsburgs and the Chinese are too far away to help North Germany but more Hapsburgs pointlessly spilling blood is a good thing.
Edit: You still have not updated the table of contents yet!
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As ever, glad to see you back and in top form, Ross! :D

Canrobert's death is undoubtedly going to be one of those shocking swerves that so captures the public imagination. I can picture the following decades being filed with all manner of speculation on what France would look like had he survived to make a run for the presidency, as well as conspiracy theories calling into question the accidental nature of his death and each trying to pin the responsibility in their own favorite scapegoat.

As for the election... The right may have a plurality of votes, but with a minority government they'll need to walk a fine line to keep that wedge between the liberals and the socialists in place. I'm not seeing them being able to restore the monarchy or perform any sweeping legislative rollbacks any time soon, though they might be able to entice a few liberals into helping them trim some of the socialists' pet programs down to size.
[1] I still feel guilty over what happened to Spain. In 1864 Spain was a relatively peaceful and prosperous liberal constitutional monarchy. Then came the Second Danubian Crisis and, largely because of my military efforts, Spain never recovered.
Don't feel bad. I get the feeling a PU is in the making;)
But on a more serious note, the monarchist will need to make a pact with republicans and combine that with internal differences and nothing will really get done and any chance at restoration will be destroyed once the government makes a big blunder
And so the pendulum swings again... at home and abroad.

Poincaré should be well pleased with his term of office I think.

Great to see a post.
so, you entered an alliance but did not honor them... I guess relationship with the A-H empire went down
Good to see an update. Do you think that the economic slowdown you mention in this game, the same one that pinched the Lazzari government, is one caused by the westernization of China? They always seem to crash the economy as they flood the world market. Or was that just role play of sorts?