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→ historical events: the French Revolution

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France that lasted from 1789 until 1799. Following the Seven Years’ War and the American Revolutionary War, the French government was deeply in debt and attempted to restore its financial status through unpopular taxation schemes. Years of bad harvests leading up to the Revolution also inflamed popular resentment of the privileges enjoyed by the clergy and the aristocracy. Demands for change were formulated in terms of Enlightenment ideals and contributed to the convocation of the Estates-General in May 1789. The Republic was proclaimed in September 1792 after the French victory at Valmy. In a momentous event that led to international condemnation, Louis XVI was executed in January 1793. Large numbers of civilians were executed by revolutionary tribunals during the Terror, with estimates ranging from 16,000 to 40,000. After the Thermidorian Reaction, an executive council known as the Directory assumed control of the French state in 1795. Dogged by charges of corruption, the Directory collapsed in a coup led by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799. Napoleon, who became the hero of the Revolution through his popular military campaigns, went on to establish the Consulate and later the First Empire, setting the stage for a wider array of global conflicts in the Napoleonic Wars. X

“Capitalism is inherently natural, peaceful, and based entirely on voluntary and mutually beneficial interactions” is probably the most historically ignorant line churned out by the noble defenders of capitalism over the internet.

Okay so…

1) if its so natural then how come it’s only existed for about the last ~300 years out of the 20,000 year long existence of humanity

2) The capitalist revolution during the English Civil War in the late 1600s, which called for the end of feudalism and marked the beginnings of agrarian (and soon to be industrial) capitalism, forced peasants out in the country side to become workers and to create wealth for the traders and business-owners who enforced their claims to land and property.

You think the English middle class (the bourgeois) just went up to the nobility and said “Hey, so we no longer acknowledge your claim to lands, property, and riches, so we’re gonna handle that for now on because capitalism, okay?” to which the nobility would respond “Capitalism? Oh shit, you’re right, here, take my land, take my claims to labor and riches, all this money and power is yours now?” Of course not!

3) The capitalist revolution in amerika during the 1770′s was meant to be a complete severing away from the feudal nobility and their claims which demanded compensation and taxes from the capitalists to the crown. This revolution created a government which was originally intended to cater to, and be ran by, rich, white property and land owners – the capitalists. Not only did violent revolution create capitalism in the states, but it also required a workforce that could be paid for cheap (or nothing) and demanded large claims on land to maintain the system so focused on constant wealth and profit generation – all of which further justified slave labor and indigenous extermination in the united states.

Because stealing land and enslaving others is cost-free.

4) The capitalist revolution in france during the 1790s took up amerika’s example and waged a bloody civil war against the nobility for another government that would cater to the bourgeoisie. But when Napoleon took power via coup, the Napoleonic Wars, which was waged all across the European continent, broke up feudalism with almost every country it touched and introduced economic and political reforms that catered to the bourgeoisie in each country.

Capitalism spread throughout the world via war, repression, and revolution, not “human nature” or “voluntary market transactions” or whatever snake oil capitalist-stans want you to believe.

Here is a scenario I’ve had rumbling around in my head for quite some time, about my own take on a universe with a successful First French Empire, one of the more popular scenarios in alternate history.  

In this world, the divergence occurred with a more intelligent Napoleon who did not exploit his allies, particularly Spain, so much and managed to end the war in Europe after years of heavy fighting via treaty with Great Britain and Russia in 1814, and so quiet settled over Europe. However, while the Continental System worked while Napoleon was alive, it did not hold together too long after him. After the passing of Napoleon Bonaparte, control of the Continental System and of the First French Empire passed to Napoleon II, who quickly made a mess of things.  

By trying to rule with an iron fist but lacking his father’s charisma, daring, or intelligence, by the mid-1840s the Continental System began to come apart. Revolutions tore through much of Europe, creating new states overnight and forcing Russia, Britain, and Portugal to hold off striking France while it was down to deal with their own domestic problems. For a time, it seemed as if France would fall on its own, were it not for the intervention of Maximilian Joseph Eugene Auguste Napoleon de Beauharnais, nephew to Napoleon II via Napoleon I’s first marriage and husband of Grand Duchess Maria of Russia.  

Originally sent by the Russians to try to calm France and perhaps let Napoleon II fall and France with him, Maximilian instead took the support given to him by the French nobility and ruling classes, who in their distaste for Napoleon II would side with anyone, and gathered enough support to enact the so-called “Quiet Coup” upon Napoleon II in 1848. Spiriting Napoleon II out to Corsica, where he would live out his days in his family’s mansion, proved to be the easiest part of the coup, as Maximilian, now taking on the title of Emperor of France, was forced to wage war to settle down the extremist revolutionaries in France while settling with the revolutionaries in the countries outside of France.  

In the end, the Continental System fell, to be replaced by the Continental Alliance with the new nations of Germany, Italy, Holland, and the Danubian Federation that had sprung up in place of the previous states under France’s protection. Under the Continental Alliance, nations dependent on or allied to France would have equal partnership in all affairs foreign and domestic, and would be allowed sovereignty separate to France’s own. In addition, Maximilian gave the Papal Lands to Italy in exchange for a permanent presence in the Vatican as well as the Pope staying for 6 months of every year in Avignon, and set free the more rebellious lands in Germany to better consolidate France’s gains. In the end, the new alliance proved to work with the new governments in place, and became the largest and most powerful alliance in Europe.  

For his treachery, Russia never forgave Maximilian for stealing away the Grand Duchess and betraying them, and formed the Holy Alliance with Prussia in 1852 (joined by the Ottoman Empire in 1901) to fend off the French in Europe. The Holy Alliance and Continental Alliance have fought many border clashes since then, and even two wars, the latter of which, lasting from 1912-1914, resulted in the freeing of Serbia and Bosnia from Ottoman rule as well as the expansion of Greek territory beyond the pittance they had originally been given. Even years later, in 1930, the Russians and Prussians hold a strong distaste for France, even while pushing their affairs toward the East and the quagmire that is China, seeking to gain a greater foothold than Britain or her ally China.  

Britain, ever the enemy of France, was eventually forced to move its affairs beyond Europe with a disastrous war in Egypt against France and an even worse war for the Turkish Straits that ended British dominion over Europe. Instead, the British grew their alliance with the United States into full partnership and expanded their influence over much of the Americas, save for the French ally that is the Empire of Brazil. The British Empire is still the largest in the world and, despite its lack of a presence in Europe, is still one of the strongest nations on Earth. Though, in recent years, the strength of the British has begun to be supplanted by their American allies, who are rapidly growing into a superpower themselves.  

It is, in fact, the growth of Russia and the United States toward superpower-dom (the latter more than the former) that has prompted France’s push for a more unified Continental Alliance via the Continental Free Economic Zone (CFEZ). Under the CFEZ, the nations allied to or dependent upon France would share a policy of open borders and a shared market for their goods to travel between nations, as well as strengthening the military ties between all members. In Paris, Maximilian II dreams of someday uniting the Continental Alliance into a single nation, a “Europa Universalis” that would be a superpower unto itself. While France is, without a doubt, the strongest power on the ground in Europe, and its colonial empire still great, a push toward uniting with much of Europe would keep the British and Russians from ever standing against them.  

His ambitions are well-supported within the Continental Alliance. The peoples of the allied nations have enjoyed reaping the benefits of their alliance, particularly after the last war. Fair wages, good working hours, pensions, the beginnings of nationalized healthcare, and more have spread through the CA. Even without the CFEZ, art and entertainment is distributed freely around the CA. The prestigious universities of Denmark, for instance, already open their doors to all students from the CA, and have thus gained a reputation of academic excellence in Europe. Budapest, the shining capital of the Danubian Federation, reigns as the second-greatest city in the alliance besides Paris, and is a major hub of Eastern European art, literature, music, and cinema. Germans, Spaniards, Italians, Greeks, Serbs, Dutch, Danes, and French have come together to make the Continental Alliance one of the greatest alliances in the entire world. Now, it is up to Emperor Maximilian II to keep it that way against the Russian and American giants.