Perfidious - Though Peace Be Made: 1836-42  (British Union AAR)

Author: Discix
Published: 2017-05-22, edited: 1970-01-01
A Vic2 AAR of the Republic of Britain, run on a modified version of Napoleon's Legacy.
Hark, traveler, come hear this tale of the dying Age of Sail, of shattered crowns and bloodied swords, of feuding kings and petty lords, of powder dry and faces wet, of a war we won't forget, one auld Empire's last sunset.

[Welcome one and all, to a little AAR series where we try and steer this fiercely republican alt-historical abomination back into the geopolitical limelight, with the stated goal of ultimately exterminating the tyrannical House von Hannover and reclaiming the Ever-Sunny Empire.]
Following one of the most grueling wars in European history, the heirs of Napoleon Bonaparte reign supreme on the continent. Though new monarchies had risen to replace the old, the ideals of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity blazed a fiery path across the continent, forcing the scions of the old order to retreat across the pond.

Perfidious Albion was the last of the old order to fall; with the failure of the Peninsular Campaign and the withdrawal of the continental allies from the Coalition, Napoleon was able to commit the totality of his resources to challenging British naval dominance. Besieged on all fronts, the Empire managed to crush a secondary uprising in the American colonies (resulting in a dismantling of the Confederation and the reestablishment of the Dominion of New England), but was unable to prevent French forces from instigating a successful uprising in Ireland.
War-weary and threadbare of pocket, the disgruntled men and women of the home isles did the unthinkable and rose up against their King; with uncanny resemblance to the events over a century past, the rebels ultimately resolved to abolish the monarchy as each of their more moderate demands for royal concessions was met with scorn from the King. Unlike the old Commonwealth, however, this Union professed democratic principles inspired by their erstwhile Gallic opponents, forcing old King George to retreat to his new seat in Canada with what few loyalists remained.
Britain in 1836 stood more divided than it seemed. The tide of liberalism has awoken ancient tensions among the Highland folk, and many Gaels work the smokestacks of Manchester and Liverpool. The era of rapid political and economic change has further divided the people of the Foggy Isle, with the pro-industrial Modernists struggling against the Luddites who pine for their bygone idyllic pastoral lives.
In the wake of the sudden abolition of the House of Lords and political upheaval within the Commons, numerous new factions and parties have arisen to fill the power vacuum. Dominance is held by the Statists, a cabal of ex-noble Royalist defectors and members of the Admiralty dedicated to the reestablishment of Britain's old political and economic position's, albeit minus the King. Decried by Republicans as blackguard reactionaries and by true Royalists as underhanded traitors, the Statists are little-loved.
Nevertheless, the Statist's heavy-handed economic policies have done much to maintain and protect nascent British industries. While industrial preeminence was usurped by the French Empire, British industry remains a formidable competitor, especially considering the geographic and resource disparity between the two.
Edward Ellice, called "the Bear", was a former director of the Hudson Bay Company who leveraged his considerable wealth and influence to assist the Republican cause during the Revolution. The retreat of Royalist forces into Canada led to the seizure and nationalization of his holdings, leaving him destitute but firmly anti-royalist in disposition. His allies in the upper echelons of the military and economic elite secured his position among the Statists, and in 1836 he was declared Prime Minister.
While the Republic managed to maintain a large portion of the old Royal Fleet due to widespread defections and mutinies by the common sailors, the upkeep of the fleet became a massive drain on the young Republic's coffers. Ever the coin-conscious merchant, PM Ellice ordered the disbandment of the Mediterranean fleets, citing their obsolescence following the peace with both the Empire and France.

The Septinsular garrison and local Greek populace strongly protested the move, as they feared invasion from Turkish forces, but their concerns were ignored by Parliament.
The various squadrons still based in the home isles were consolidated into a single fleet colloquially and affectionately known as "the Wooden Wall".
Admiral Oliver Cochrane was appointed as head of the "Wooden Wall". A former Royal Navy Commander, Cochrane earned distinction by defeating his commanding officer, Admiral of the Red Skeffington Lutwidge, and sinking Lutwidge's flagship, the HMS Terrible. Cochrane held great popular appeal as a loyal servant of the Republic and his propensity for daring acts inspired his troops (much to the horror of more traditionally-minded officers).
Irritated by what they saw as lingering traces of royalist and noble influences in British society, a group of disgruntled MPs flocked to Salisbury, where they drafted a common platform outlining shared principles of expanded suffrage, secularism, and government non-intervention that were quickly adopted by many of the disparate liberal factions.
This meeting culminated in the formation of the "Reform Club", the liberal response to the so-called "Carlton Club", itself formed by a number of ex-Tories and Royalist sympathisers who remained in the Republic.
Far to the South, nationalist stirrings were felt in the Aegean as a number of Greek intellectuals, inspired by the Gallic Revolutionary fervor and Western liberal ideals, began to organize their resistance against the Sublime Porte. Military officers based in the Mediterranean Station urged Republican intervention as a means of re-expanding British influence, whereas the avantgarde intelligentsia of the Oxbridge schools dismissed the rebels as "not true Greeks", much to the consternation of their Hellenophilic peers.
After much deliberation, the Statist-controlled government, ever seeking the restoration of British prestige, agreed to fund and arm the Greek rebels, the vast majority of which were composed of petty bandits (klephts) and disloyal militias (armatoloi). Whatever their origins, the Hellenes would soon grow in strength as both British and French coin poured into their coffers...
Meanwhile, back on the home front, British Conservative circles were thrown into a panic by the announcement of the Reform Club's formation. While they still remained in control of the government, many of the moderates were swayed by the Reformists' promises of structural reform, and public opinion of the Carlton Club remained low due to said organization's ties with the royalist Tories. As such, many leading conservatives rallied to Yorkshire, where they planned counter-revolutionary measures should the Liberals attempt to seize control by force.
In mid-1837, the Republican government was presented with a curious proposition; botanists from Cambridge University planned an expedition to Siberian countryside to examine flora unique to the local boreal forests and taiga, and all they needed now was diplomato assistance in securing passage to the Russian Empire as well as diplomatic
Sensing an opportunity to legitimize the new Republican government, Prime Minister Ellice personally led the transit agreement talks and thus secured safe passage for the researchers. The young Republic won a small but crucial diplomatic victory when Russian officials extended thanks to, "the Most Honourable Minister Ellice and his fellows in the British government for working diligently to expand the breadth of human knowledge whilst still respecting the sovereignty and authority of His Imperial Majesty", wherein Ellice's government was recognized not merely as a Republican usurper, but rather as the sole legitimate government of the British people.
As election time drew ever closer, the Statist government scrambled to appoint as many of their own people to positions of power as possible. The Revolutionary Guard, oldest and most esteemed of the Republic's armed forces, was assigned to the command of General Alfred Jellicoe, a former Royal Guardsman and Tory who led the storming of Buckingham Palace.
The Home Army was comprised of the various people's militias and members of the Volunteer Corps who defected to the Republican cause during the Revolution. While not as well trained as the Revolutionary Guard, the Home Army was more numerous and was charged with defense of the nation and the opposition of Royalist sedition. General James Wolseley was a former cavalry captain who lost his right eye during the disastrous Battle of Waterloo and defected to the Republic shortly thereafter. His noble roots, however, led him to side with the Statists and other ex-Tories to maintain his family's wealth.
On September 10, 1839, King William IV Henry of the House of Hannover was found dead in his sleep. After a week's mourning and a state funeral, the Imperial loyalists hastily crowned Princess Alexandrina Victoria as Queen Victoria I, the last of the Hannoverians and first British monarch to be crowned in exile. Worried that the charismatic new Queen would rekindle latent royalist sympathies, Ellice's government ordered the raising of additional artillery regiments as an expression of Republican power and heavily censored reports of the coronation.
As the British Empire went through its own growing pains as it adjusted to the passing of a monarch, the Union found its own political stability tested with the Election of 1840. Despite longstanding tensions between the various rival political factions, the 1840 elections surprised the British people by its orderly and civil nature, kindling hope in the longevity of this radical new democratic system.
With memories of the Revolution and Napoleonic Wars made fresh once more by the crowning of the new Queen, one of the foremost topics of the election was war policy. The Statists (aided by their Roundhead allies) proposed a foreign policy of "Benevolent Empire", wherein the Union would leverage its military might to extinguish the Royalists once and for all and reclaim the lost territories of the Empire. Their radical republican and Jacobin opponents strongly disagreed, proposing instead the idea of "Fortress Albion", wherein the regular army would be divided into regional military commands for the sole purpose of defense of the island and the "Wooden Wall" relied upon for blockade defense instead of trade interdiction.
Religion was another major topic of concern in the young Republic. For centuries, the English had taken a staunchly anti-Catholic stance due to a shared belief in the religious authority of the King. With the King in exile, however, the Church of England on the home isles was thrown into ecclesiastical and organizational chaos as the remaining bishops attempted to clarify the role of earthly authority in the Church. Many of the so-called "High Church" bishops looked to the Archbishop of Canterbury as the new religious leader, though many of their detractors denounced the move as excessively papist in character.

The "Low Church" congregations in turn tended to ally with the Calvinists of the Scottish north and became increasingly similar to the American Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches, favoring decentralized dogmatic authority and application of liberal democratic principles into ecclesiastical life. While there certainly was a trend towards increased religious acceptance, many of the eligible voters remained staunchly Anglican/Reformed in outlook, and thus shunned the Low Churches' efforts.
The principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity lent themselves towards expanded citizenship rights, though many British voters remained conservative in that regard, a residue of centuries of distrust of foreigners.
Ultimately, the 1840 election concluded amicably with a landslide victory for the Democrats, who had come to encompass the various conservative groups in the Newcastle Convention. Despite widespread popularity among the commonfolk in Devonshire and Cornwall, the Reform Club failed to attract many eligible voters who felt that their chosen party, the Radicals, threatened traditional social structures overmuch. Meanwhile the incumbent Statists decided to back the Parliamentarian "Roundheads" as the party of strong governance, though ill memories of the era of the Protectorate soured the minds of many voters against them.
The new Democrats synthesized remarkably liberal policies on economy and trade with a staunchly conservative social outlook and opposition to social reform. Their "Fortress Albion" foreign policy ultimately won the day, however, as the British people were unwilling to risk war so soon after claiming their independence, as the folly of the American colonies had so recently proved.
Henry Gouldburn was declared the new Prime Minister and head of government. Later historians would label Gouldburn as a visionary whose policies would further British national goals while still protecting individual liberties, though he was little appreciated in his own time.
Gouldburn was a known conservative who managed to win overwhelming support for his own party from many former Whigs and moderates by championing the addition of liberal elements to the Democratic platform. An observer at both the Salisbury and Newcastle Conventions, Gouldburn swayed many Reform Club members disillusioned with the Radicals' extreme positions on reform to vote instead for the Democrats, while still appealing to the main signatories of the conservative Newcastle Convention.
One of Gouldburn's first concerns was the dearth of talented entrepreneurs available in the Union. Though many capitalists had professed liberal ideals during the Revolution, most ultimately defected back to the Empire when they realized the extent they relied upon Imperial control to expand their interests in North America and Asia (with the noted exception Edward Ellice). Thus was the Empire able to create a new industrial base in Canada as the factories of the home isles foundered in the absence of capable leadership.

Gouldburn introduced a series of land taxes that penalized absentee landlords (which thrilled liberals disgusted with the notion of old, aristocratic landowner's keeping power in the republic) whilst offering generous policies that supported the growth of new industries by exempting factory owners from said land taxes (thus appeasing the landowners themselves and offering them opportunities to continue profiting from their holdings). Gouldburn made great strides, though his attempts at introducing industrial subsidies was unfortunately blocked by zealous radicals from the Reform Club who despised government intervention in the economy.
Gouldburn's political successes and fidelity to his campaign promises would be tested, however with an abrupt, but not entirely unforeseen, occurrence: rebellion in Ottoman Greece. What few units remaining in the Mediterranean Station scrambled to attain combat readiness. On September 25, the Gouldburn government received a dire missive from one Demetrios Makris, Greek captain and chief representative of the Greek rebels to the British military, requesting direct military assistance against the Ottoman troops.

The Prime Minister was caught in a difficult position- the previous Statist government under Ellice had promised material support for the Greek rebels, but Gouldburn's own campaign had fiercely opposed intervention. Hellenophilia was reaching fever pitch among the British public, but opinions were still strongly divided on the domestic front.

Whichever way he goes, one promise will be kept while the other must needs be broken. In an era of uncertainty, one thing is certain: this will not be an easy choice, and whatever path the PM chooses now shall have a lasting impact on the young Republic's foreign policy now and evermore.

Check out another AAR:

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Rise of the Sun of May - Part 1: Mr. Rosas Goes to Buenos Aires (1836-1846)

Images: 92, author: deadpoetic31, published: 2017-01-30, edited: 1970-01-01