• We have updated our Community Code of Conduct. Please read through the new rules for the forum that are an integral part of Paradox Interactive’s User Agreement.
Superb AAR as usually. I cannot wait to see another of your AARs.
Congratulations for finishing the AAR, @RossN ! With your superb writing accompanying us from the beginning to the end, it has been an immense pleasure to as a reader be allowed to follow along on this historical account of an alternate France during a century. It surely sets a very high standard in the historybook genre and AARs in general, with thorough research and detailed chapters that give a full picture of not only the covered country but also the world surrounding it. I know you have done your best in trying to shape the story in a both an accurate and interesting way in accordance with the game as it unfolded, and you have certainly been very attentive to all the comments, always taking your time to react and reply.

In game terms, this final election means that the future battle for the prospect of France will be between the left and liberals, in shaping a post-war and post-colonial society that can take into account both the aspirations of the working class and those of the oppressed in the colonies overseas. The "État providence" seems to be one of those important struggles given the existing precarity and resurgence of the SFIO. As for the Union française, we can only hope that its fate in this timeline will allow for democratic progress and prosperity to speed up the decolonisation process rather than war and misery that it brought in our timeline. Without a shameful experience of Vichy dictatorship France is however on a far better ground to peacefully shape a new social pact for the society as a whole.

I do very much look forward to reading your next work! :)
World Map 1936.jpg

The world as of 1 January 1936.

Appendix - The Great Powers in 1936

1. The French Republic

Head of State: President Albert François Lebrun
Head of Government: Pierre-Paul-Henri-Gaston Doumergue
Population (including colonies & overseas departments): 201.58 million
Capital: Paris

2. The United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland

Head of State: King George V
Head of Government: Prime Minister Sir Herbert Samuel*
Population (including colonies & dominions): 365.43 million
Capital: London

* Sir Herbert is Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The Dominions (Canada, Australia, Ireland, South Africa, Aotearoa and Southern Rhodesia all have their own individual prime ministers.)

The decisive triumph of the Liberal Party in the 1934 UK general election saw Ramsay MacDonald's weak Labour minority government knocked down to third place after the Conservatives. Sir Herbert Samuel the new Prime Minister has presided over an upswing in the economy after a long period of low growth. This combined with the temporary weakness of China and the French victory in India has opened the door towards a more 'muscular' policy in the Subcontinent.

The British Dominions are at once sources of strength and disunity for the British Commonwealth (the term 'Empire' is beginning to fall out of official favour.) Canada and Australia are growing into substantial 'middle weight' powers in their own right and the former boasts a higher population, at 32 million and a larger economy than any European country smaller than Italy. Additionally the presence of the self governing 'white Dominions' means the British government is less prone to the disruption France experiences with her own politicised colons. The disadvantage is that the Dominions are not shy about making themselves heard whether it be Canada negotiating her own trade treaties with the Americans, Southern Rhodesia practicing openly racial politics that shame the democratic world or Irish frustrations over the 'Ulster' border that had been presumed temporary but is now showing all the signs of permanence.

Currently Britain is in a bright position but India, the more quarrelsome Dominions or trouble in Africa all represent fault-lines waiting to open up.

3. The United States of America

Head of State: President William Borah
Head of Government: President William Borah
Population (including territories & the Philippines): 179.73 million
Capital: Washington D.C.

The decline of the Socialist Party in the early Twentieth Century saw the United States of America become almost a one party state on the executive level. In 1932 Senator John Blaine succeeded fellow Republicans Hiram Johnson and Theodore Roosevelt in the White House. Blaine's term would prove tragically short however as he passed away suddenly from natural causes in 1934. Vice President William Borah assumed office in his stead.

America is one of the three great industrial powers of the world and, to French, German and British chagrin is now the leading producer of motion pictures, giving her unparalleled cultural reach through the great popularity of the silver screen.

Domestically, the prosperity of the United States and the continued dominance of the Republicans hid some problematic divisions in American life. A dramatic influx of immigration from Central Europe and (especially) Russia in the first three decades of the century have provoked an increasing backlash from nativist movements. The Klu Klux Klan, dormant for many years had revived in many Eastern States as a rally cry against the Russians emigres, many of them Jewish. In the face of public pressure Congress passed a strong anti-immigration act in 1930, and another in 1934. Meanwhile racial relations inside the Southern States in particular is not a problem that is going away soon.

America is broadly isolationist but she certainly plays favourites; during the recent war public sentiment strongly favoured France. The république sœur spirit between Washington and Paris remains strong.

4. The Empire of Japan

Head of State: Emperor Shōwa
Head of Government: Prime Minister Okada Keisuke
Population (including territories & Korea): 74.22 million
Capital: Tokyo

Japan is unmistakably a power on the rise. She is politically stable in a Prussian constitutionalism form of government dominated by moderate conservatives, possess a prosperous economy and boasts the world's third largest merchant marine after Britain and France. Her navy rebounded from the Franco-Japanese war of the 1890s and now represents one of the strongest and most modern fleets in the world while her army is the strongest in Asia.

Unfortunately for Japan her avenues for expansion are limited, surrounded as she is by Great Powers: China, Russia, France and (in the Philippines) the United States of America. Though Japan has humbled the Qing in her recent past the Chinese are certainly not weak enough to take a bite out of (save, perhaps, for Taiwan) nor do the others look like tempting targets. Russia is weak enough Japan could win a war on her own but inevitably war with Petrograd would bring in France while war with either France or the United States would bring in the other 'sister republic'.

Still, short of a major revolt in Korea Japan has perhaps the least internal problems of any of the Great Powers.

5. The Qing Empire

Head of State: Xuantong Emperor
Head of Government: Prime Minister Zheng Xiaoxu
Population (including territories and Taiwan): 568.1 million
Capital: Beijing

The sole advantage China enjoys over Japan is her sheer size. In every other respect the Qing Empire trails her neighbour but that scale is a potent advantage all of its own.

Defeated in two separate wars in less than fifteen years the Qing still maintain an immense military, sufficient to deter even her hungriest neighbours and even her most malcontent subjects. Her industry is large (though small compared with the size of the country) and the institution of a somewhat more liberal government in Beijing - like Japan and Russia China is a semi-constitutional monarchy - promises possible reforms.

China's problems are three fold. The first is her booming population, thanks to rising living standards and medical care since the turn of the century. The result has been the most lopsided demographics of any Great Power save Russia (which faces the opposite problem.) With over half the population under the age of thirty the Qing are faced with millions of restless citizens pressing against a creaking, corrupt and reactionary government system. Furthermore China's titanic population can see the much higher standard of life in Japan and the Western Powers through the medium of motion pictures, increasing their discontent. It is not a happy situation.

China's second great problem is her weakness at sea. Between them Japan and France have all but wiped out the Qing merchant marine and the Imperial navy has been restricted to small craft on the Yangtze. Aside from the obvious blow to the Chinese economy the Qing have no control over their own territorial waters. Smuggling and even piracy is a problem and more than once the Imperial government has suffered the humiliation of requesting aid from the French or Japanese navies after Chinese nationals have faced dangers at sea.

The third great problem is linked with the second. In the early 1920s China suffered a republican rebellion. Though the revolt in the mainland was swiftly crushed the republicans managed to secure control Taiwan, where the Qing had no significant troop presence. Regaining control of the rebellious province would require a fleet capable of transporting an army and China has no such fleet.

Most foreign observers believe China will either dominate the second half of the Twentieth Century, or implode into a civil war of truly terrifying proportions.

6. The German Empire

Head of State: Kaiser Wilhem
Head of Government: Chancellor Franz von Papen
Population: 71.27 million
Capital: Berlin

In spite of everything Germany thrives in her own fashion. The death of Kurt von Schleicher has led to the foppish Franz von Papen taking the Chancellorship, but even with Ludendorff banished to the outer darkness it seems unlikely Germany fascists will tolerate an outsider holding power for long. The lure of Ostpreußen is very strong, Russia is in clear decline and it is by no means certain the French will intervene yet again on behalf of the Romanovs...

7. The Russian Empire

Head of State: Emperor Michael I
Head of Government: Alexander Kerensky
Population (including Finland): 126.37 million
Capital: Petrograd

Russia is a mess.

The Emperor is the comparatively moderate and popular Michael but he is torn between a Socialist dominated Duma relentlessly pushing for more power and an angry and reactionary aristocracy furious at the power already surrendered. Russian industry is small and inefficient, the territories seized from Germany at the turn of the century are rebellious and the state is kept afloat by French bonds.

Most frightening for the Russian government is that even one of Russias constants, her vast population is looking doubtful. Population growth in the Empire almost stagnant from a combination of low birthrates and a staggering emigration rate. The 'brain drain' has for many years flowed to the United States, but with that valve shut off via legislation many young Russians are seeking their future in Canada, Australia, Brazil, Aotearoa and even South Africa. They leave behind a slowly aging society that offers few opportunities for new generations whether educated graduates of the universities or the vast class of rural poor.

Unless Russia can reform herself it is not clear her position as a Great Power is secure.

8. The Republic of Italy

Head of State: Benito Mussolini
Head of Government: Benito Mussolini
Population: 38.91 million
Capital: Rome

It is strange to refer to Italy as the least of the Great Powers when in many respects she is in far better shape than China or Russia. Nevertheless Italy's small size - relative to her rivals - and modest in scale industry currently keep her below Russia in the informal rankings.

In many ways the Italian position is akin to that of Japan, save that the average Japanese subject enjoys greater personal freedom than that of the average Italian citizen. Italy is surrounded by Great Powers, or weak countries like Turkey that are protected by Great Powers. Having witnessed the French victory in the recent war Mussolini is in no hurry to anger France, but the shrewd Italian dictator does contemplate opportunity in allying with her sister fascist Great Power Germany.

An alliance with Germany would be formidable and realistically perhaps a combination France and Russia could not overcome. Fortunately for European democracy Mussolini chafes at the thought of being a junior partner to Berlin, which given the disparity in strength between Italy and Germany is a real concern. Thus far the negotiations have led nowhere substantial, but should Mussolini grow confident he could manipulate whoever takes power in Berlin or alternatively grow so desperate and envious of French power he is willing to accept a subordinate role then war is assured.
Final Notes

L'Empereur est mort is finished. It has been the longest AAR I've written both in terms of length and in the time taken in writing it - two years almost exactly!

In early 2016 I was determined to write a new AAR. My CK2 Byzantine story had ended, or rather file save corruption had ended it and though I dearly love CK2 I was interested in trying something different. I knew I wanted to write about the Age of Sail - naval warfare and exploration has always been a passion of mine - which meant either EU IV or Victoria 2. I strongly considered the former, toying with the idea of either a French or American Revolutionary AAR but eventually moved on to Victoria 2. I knew the period a little better and the opportunity of using both sail ships of the line and cavalry and aeroplanes and dreadnoughts in the same AAR was too tempting to pass up.

At that point my choice was between France, Austria and Russia. France seemed to offer the most opportunities, I had at least a vague knowledge of the language and history and to be honest I have always had a soft spot for the beautiful country and her dazzling people. I'm glad I made the choice I did, though I do wonder how those alternate universe Austrian or Russian AARs fared. I would like to especially note the help loup99 gave me in navigating some of the less familiar shoals of Gallic history!

I don't think I've made any secret of the fact that I have a soft spot for constitutional monarchism and from the beginning I wanted to keep the Orléanists in power. Ferdinand Philippe was my favourite 'real' character to write in this story, if a man who outlived his real counterpart by three decades can truly be called 'real' instead of fictional. That said when faced with the giant revolution of 1875 I decided to set aside my personal feelings and go where the game seemed to want to go. I was sad to see the monarchy go - and had the combined royalist 'vote' ever reached a certain threshold I would have modded it back in - but I will say that in retrospect it probably made for a more interesting story. Certainly the frustrations and quarrels between the political groups gave me a lot to work with and allowed me to use some of France's seemingly endless gallery of political heroes and rogues from Briand and Clemenceau to Poincaré.

The other aspect I greatly enjoyed (and Bored Student1414 pointed this out earlier) was crafting characters out of the random generals and admirals the game gave me. Victoria 2 is perhaps a less obvious source of in game characters than, say, CK 2, but every time I came across an officer with 'Bootlicker' or 'Uncommonly Young' or one of the other colourful traits that pop up it inspired me to work with that. I ended up enjoying it so much one of my fictional generals became President of the French Republic! It made the story come alive for me.

I have to admit the game could be frustrating at times. The early Westernisaton of China threw a permanent wrench in the global economy.For much of the late 19th century I seemed to be the only one building warships, which given I started this at least partly because I wanted to see navies clash was annoying. Finally the Great War took off far too late, meaning I had to end it earlier than I would have wanted or risk it over running the end of the game.

Still those quibbles aside my main memory was how fun this was to play and to write and how much all of your feedback helped push me onwards. I am awed by the fact that this AAR has won awards, something that owes more to all of you than to me because without you readers this would just have been a fun game I'd have played and forgotten about.

Thank you all and see you around! :)
Thank you for the final round-up.
Looks like the coming decade could be a perilous one indeed. Plenty of powder kegs around the world just waiting for a spark to set them off... China in particular looks like it's going to undergo quite a bit of turmoil, though the Qing might very well weather the storm as they've been doing regardless -- they seem to be especially resilient this time around.

A few other odds and ends of interest gleaned from the map:
  • The Turkish Republic still holds the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina -- possible flash point with the Arabs?
  • The United Provinces of Central America appear to have survived -- nice!
  • Looks like Chile managed to snag the lion's share of Patagonia from Argentina (though I do recall most of that region starts the game uncolonized; maybe the Chileans just won their own little Scramble for Patagonia?)
  • A couple of brown / purple blobs in Southern Congo; surviving precolonial states?
And once again, do keep me posted on your future endeavors :)
Thank you for giving us this final appendix and your own notes in the game! As Specialist290 points out there are certainly some interesting facets of the final map. Personally I noticed Iceland seems to be independent and that light blue spot survives in the middle of the French colonial empire in the region of Burundi. I'm also happy to have been able to provide you with some little bits of advice on French history for the AAR, which given all the effort you have put into crafting this story as an authAAR seemed to be a resonable contribution from my side as a mere commenter familiar with the history of my country. :)
Looking forward to any next AARs you plan.

Not sure if I agree with the pessimism about the BE in your epilogue, and it certainly is a different world in which (Southern) Rhodesia is allowed to remain a "bastion" of racialist/racist policies compared to British efforts against local whites IOTL.

Still, I empathise with the problems of early Chinese Westernisation, it even causes problems for playing China when you finally do it and crash the world economy.
I've now caught everything up and see this amazing story ends.
Thank you for this magnificent AAR !

I was away from AARland for some times so I did not participate much in the 2nd "part". But I still took an eye on it. :)
Read till the twelve weeks war .Gosh man .That's some heavy work man .This is one of the most detailed AAR that i am reading .This AAR's gonna be on every reddit 'Which is the best vic2 AAR list .I can compare it to the Germany and Egypt AAR's of the veterans .
I so love these hyper-realistic AARs. This can be transformed into proper alternate history novel and people would totally bought it.

In what ifs scenarios, we too often fall into dreams what could be in best way possible. But we just can't predict all possible horrid consequences.
And so it is over. A most excellent story you have told @RossN , and I am happy I got to be here for the entire ride! Imagine it has been two years. :eek: Well done, and thanks for doing it!