Part 84: Springtime of NationsChapter 4 - Springtime of Nations - 1845 to 1850
As 1845 begins, newspapers across Europe are all captivated by a single topic: the outbreak of rebellion in India, where a group of sepoys had just launched a massive revolt against their Moroccan commanders.
Several long decades in the making, the Sepoy Mutiny was the result of years of autocratic rule, harsh taxes and indiscriminate conscription, with thousands of Indians shipped across the world to fight in Moroccos wars. The Great Gharbian Revolt changed everything, however, spurring the sepoys to band together and launch an attack on Berber fortresses. The Almoravid Empire is frail and teetering, and if the Indians are ever going to cast off their chains, then this was the time.
A war scare also broke out closer to home, with the already-hostile relations between Al Andalus and León-Castille sinking further when an Andalusi nationalist in Burghus was imprisoned and executed. Several nobles in the Majlis Assembly immediately began calling for war, but the final decision wasnt down to them, but the Grand Vizier and Sultan.
Unfortunately for the sabre-rattling Royalists and hawkish Imperialists, however, the Moderates won another term with a comfortable margin. And not eager to war with Morocco just yet, the moderates quickly deescalated the war scare, soothing the strained relations between Al Andalus and León-Castille.
And perhaps it was for the best, because Al Andalus would have its hands full for the next few years, as liberal sentiments were on the rise all across Europe. Even in Iberia, radical and democratic ideas began to waken and spread, with the people growing increasingly agitated.
Before long, campaigns demanding greater representation in the Majlis began to gain traction, with the people driven to action by a series of illegal publications. The moderates were quick to quash these movements, but this only forced them to move underground instead, where they were all the more dangerous.
And with a rise in liberalism, there will inevitably be a rise in separatist movements, as Portuguese governors and mayors began to encourage nationalist publications. The Majlis quickly put a stop to it, of course, replacing these malcontents with more capable and loyal Andalusi administrators.
Across the straits, Morocco had been suffering through a difficult few years, but finally caught a lucky break with the discovery of several diamond mines in their African colonies. This sudden influx of money was quickly funnelled into the recruitment of new armies, which would then embark on the long voyage to India, where Berber forces were preparing to face the mutineers.
In Benin, meanwhile, modernisation efforts had been progressing nicely for several years now. Despite significant opposition from the aristocratic elite, Oba Eweka managed to forcibly reform the administration and economy, though the standing army was positively primitive.
It was clear that Benin would need foreign help if they were actually going to modernise, so the king dispatched missions to several great powers of Europe, instructing them to report back on any useful information regarding their military, industrial and educational systems.
And as one of Europes rising powers, Qadis was the first stop made by the Beninese diplomats, who marvelled at the many architectural and cultural landmarks of the city. After several months spent touring the country, meeting with top officials and inspecting factories and railroads, the Beninese requested assistance in doing the same in Benin City, their capital and the largest city in West Africa.
The moderates werent interested in meddling in Africa, but Benin could make a valuable ally if war ever broke out with Morocco, so they eventually decided to aid them in building an industrial foundation.
Moving eastward, the Balkan peninsula had been consumed by war these past three years, with the triple alliance of Hungary-Bulgaria-Greece declaring war on the Kingdom of Serbia. Rather than deal with the three invasions concurrently, the Serbian leadership decided to tackle one at a time, throwing back the Bulgarians after a short campaign that ended in the capture of Sofia.
The campaign had lasted just four months, but that proved long enough for the Hungarians and Greeks to push deep into Serbian territory, promising an early end to the wars.
That was before the Celtic Union intervened, however, honouring their alliance with Serbia. Landing a small army at Euboea, the Celts quickly marched on Athens and brought the Greeks to heel, forcing them to accept the status quo.
The belligerent Hungarians would prove a more challenging and resilient foe, however, as theyd consistently demonstrated over the course of the Tirruni Wars.
Across the width of the Atlantic Ocean, meanwhile, another war exploded between New England and Neimni Sund. The New English were determined to absorb the entirety of the republic, it would seem, and challenge the Ibrizi for dominance in the continent.
Further south, on the other hand, war was only just coming to an end. After a disastrous invasion of Walidrar, the armies of Nuquril were surrounded and crushed in the Andean Mountains, with the Imjiri armies then pushing south and marching on the enemy capital.
The war would end a year later, and Nuquril was left devastated and bankrupt, with no choice but to submit to the aggressors. The Sultan of Nuquril was forced to abdicate his crown to his grandson, who promptly agreed to all of Imjirs demands, surrendering the sovereignty of his nation.
And with that, over fifteen years of war in South Gharbia comes to an end, with Imjir emerging triumphant as the dominant state in the continent. And in a momentous occasion, the Sultans of Imjir, Walidrar and Nuquril met at Imariz, where they joined hands to declare the dawn of the Union of Berber Sultanates - or, as it would quickly become known, the Berber Union.
In an attempt to soothe tensions between and unify their already-rivalled peoples, the Three Sultans choose Imariz as their new capital, a diverse metropolitan city that is situated much closer to Walidrar and Nuquril.
Its already clear that this Berber Union has the potential to become one of most powerful countries in the world, but its beginnings were difficult and chaotic, so it will take several years of peace and stability before they can truly be called a union. All the same, a new era is undoubtedly beginning in Gharbia, where the once-assured preeminence of Ibriz is no longer set in stone.
It wasnt long before the attentions of the Andalusi were ripped from the new world, however, and back to their own peninsula. The past couple years had been very tenuous, with the moderates walking a dangerous line between appeasing the liberals and safeguarding their age-old rights as nobles.
And, to put it bluntly, they failed. Tensions continued to rise across the country, protests and demonstrations often turned violent, and clashes between liberals and reactionaries became commonplace. It was clear that the people could not be cowed or intimidated this time, with thousands of workers, students and intellectuals forming a broad coalition, adamant in their demands for political reform.
Al Andalus wasnt the only nation affected by this sudden wave of liberalism, of course, with countries all across Europe trying and failing to stem the tide. Demonstrations and protests, clashes and confrontations, insurrections and revolts all overwhelmed the continent, as the new revolutionaries were stirred from their slumber and into action.
Thus began the Springtime of Nations.
In Al Andalus, the liberal revolutions began as largely non-violent affairs, with their demands very modest in nature. These initial demands were quickly inflamed by radical publications and ideological developments from noted revolutionaries, however, and before long the liberals were calling for weighted male suffrage, extensive voting reform and freedom of press. Ridiculous demands, every one.
Uthman al-Houd, the Grand Vizier of Al Andalus, attempted in vain to maintain order in the country. He called for stability in the upper and lower houses, an end to the fighting in the streets, and moderate concessions to the liberals. And Uthman was a good orator, but his speeches werent enough to sway the Majlis from their long-established traditions, which the assembly refused to compromise.
At the same time, industrial development continued unabated with the incorporation of the practical steam engine into the mining and farming networks dotting Iberia, making the process much more efficient and greatly improving their output.
And in an effort to draw the restless youth away from protests and marches, the moderates invested thousands of dinars into upgrading several factories in Ishbiliya and Granada, massively increasing their employment capacity.
The growing capitalist class in Al Andalus also managed to scrounge together enough funds to join the industrial game, launching a luxury clothes factory in Ishbiliya.
Further development into railway technology was slow and ponderous, but the Majlis did authorise an extension of the Western Railway, linking the two major cities of Lishbuna and Burtuqal. A smaller stretch of rail was also constructed in the north, linking the major industrial towns that dotted Galicia.
The moderates clinched another impressive victory early in 1849, as negotiations to build an electrical telegraph line between Iberia and North Africa ended in success, with the project launched by Sultan Utbah a few weeks later. The wire would stretch the 25 miles between Qadis and Tangier, spanning the Straits of Gibraltar and allowing for rapid communication between Al Andalus and Morocco, serving as a bridge between continents.
The government didnt have much time to bask in their achievement, however, as spectators and observers turned to the rising tensions in Italy. Peaceful demonstrations for greater autonomy had been ongoing for years now, but the Bavarians refused to budge on their stance, insisting on direct military rule in the region.
And with liberal movements sweeping across Europe, it was inevitable that these peaceful protests would explode into violence before long, attracting the attentions of several Great Powers.
Determined to stay at peace whilst the liberal revolutions were ongoing, however, the great powers agreed to maintain the status quo in Italy. The Italians would not have a state of their own...
That is, if the great powers had their way.
The Italians werent happy with a bunch of Germans negotiating away their rights and liberties, and they certainly werent going to sit back and do nothing about it. So in a sudden and wide-ranging uprising, a powerful coalition of politicians and generals toppled their Bavarian governors, seizing control of Venice, Romagna, Ancona and a few isolated cities in Lombardy.
It had been centuries since the Italians had a king of their own, and with Europe caught up in waves of liberalism and reformists, the new administration in Italy unanimously agreed to uphold democracy and republicanism above all else.
Before they could elect a new president, however, the Italians had a war to win. And unless they managed to entice the intervention of a great power, their chances of doing that are very slim indeed.
Jumping back to Iberia, meanwhile, the Andalusi had troubles of their own to worry about. Several revolts had erupted in western Iberia, but unlike those in Italy, an ideological split had divided the working classes and the soldiery. As a result, these uncoordinated rebellions consisted almost entirely of badly-armed, untrained factory workers - not exactly a revolution.
Grand Vizier Uthman was quick to dispatch the Andalusi Army, under the supreme command of Cyrah ibn Cyrah, with stern instructions to quash the rebellions and restore order.
The veteran commander did just that, demanding the rebels to lay down their arms and surrender, and gunning them down in the streets when they refused. After mere weeks of fighting, thousands of rebels were dead and buried, with thousands more dying in hospitals and being carted to prisons.
Unfortunately, a scant few hours before he was to depart Shilb, a well-aimed bullet caught Cyrah ibn Cyrah in the back of the neck and sent him sprawling. The assassin was quickly wrestled to the ground, but the damage was done, and the commander was dead.
Unsurprisingly, the atmosphere in Qadis was grim for a few weeks, but some much-needed good news arrived before long. Andalusi diplomats had just concluded a formal military alliance with Benin, and in return for extensive assistance in their modernisation, the Beninese had agreed to grant the Andalusi extensive trading privileges, as well as extraterritoriality to any Andalusi residing within their kingdom.
To the north, meanwhile, the French-Hanoverian influence war being waged in the Rhine Confederacy had been heating up these past few months. It was obvious that Hannover wanted to absorb the Rhine into any future German union, whilst the French saw it as their rightful reward for the sacrifices made during the Revolutionary Wars, and wanted to maintain it as a buffer state against Hannover.
Further east, the liberal revolutions plaguing Hannover, Poland and Russia had been firmly nationalist in nature. Hannover and Russia were both able to crush these movements easily enough, but the petty states separating them werent as capable or powerful, with pan-nationalists seizing power in both Eastphalia and Brandenburg.
In the Balkans, meanwhile, five years of destructive war finally ended with the Serbs victorious. The final cost in lives numbered almost two hundred thousand, but to the Serbs it will have been well worth it, as they reinforced their position in the peninsula, humbled both Bulgaria and Greece, and saw their primary rival in Hungary collapse to infighting and revolution.
In India, meanwhile, the Sepoy Mutiny was firmly crushed by Moroccan forces after four years of heavy fighting. Despite suffering hundreds of thousands of casualties, nationalist tensions will continue to simmer over the next few decades, with the Indians waiting for the next opportune moment to rise up.
The Berbers, on the other hand, have already launched several aggressive campaigns into neighbouring states. Sultan Yahya dreams of a Berber Raj that stretches across the entirety of the subcontinent, and as he grows ever older, he only becomes more determined to see it realised.
Across the frenzied waters and ocean breezes of the Atlantic, the second war between Neimni Sund and New England ends as expected, with the latter seizing vast stretches of territory and incorporating into their realm.
Back in Iberia, the brutal and decisive defeat of the liberal revolts had resulted in a gradual ebbing of liberal sympathies, as the various demonstrations and marches became less common. By the early days of December, in fact, the moderates proudly proclaimed an end to the Liberal Revolutions in Al Andalus, which had been sparked off so long ago by the funeral of Sahim Tirruni.
Even better, a breakthrough in rail technology was made shortly afterwards, as Andalusi engineers and inventors created working models that relied completely on steam power.
The Majlis quickly authorised the construction of new track all along the Qadis-Ishbiliya line, with several steam-driven locomotives also being commissioned, a much more productive and efficient alternative to the horse-drawn trains that had been used until then.
Across the Mediterranean, meanwhile, the Italian Revolution had been raging without break over the past two years. Italian prospects initially looked very bleak, but a year into the war they managed to win a powerful ally in Hannover, with the north German state intervening shortly thereafter.
And with their new ally suddenly reviving their odds and giving new life to the Revolution, the Italians launched a massive counter-attack into Venice, whilst Hanoverian armies descended on München from the north.
The Bavarian capital fell a few weeks later, and with that, their hopes of bringing a quick and decisive end to the Italian Revolution were dashed. The following negotiations were bitter and spiteful, with Hannover imposing a harsh and humiliating peace on the Bavarians, who were forced to formally recognise Italian independence and Hanoverian supremacy.
Bavaria, crushed and desperate, immediately reached out for new allies. They failed to find any in Russia and France, but the moderates in Qadis were more receptive, always eager to strengthen their alliance network.
Christmas arrived and ended without anything of note happening, but a few hours into the new year, all eyes hurtled towards Paris.
On the 1st of January, 1850, Queen Julianna Roman made a historic proclamation in her capital. In response to growing nationalist movements, Julianna declared the formation of the Dual Monarchy of France-England, effectively annexing England into her empire - thus allowing her parliament to levy new taxes, recruit troops and administrate it directly.
This declaration was met with uproar all across Europe, as it was seen to be a direct contradiction of the borders set down by the Congress of Cádiz, and (more importantly) it turned France into the undisputed powerhouse of Western Europe. Even the noblemen of the Majlis protested the decision within their assembly, but when asked to comment publicly, they instead professed support for the Dual Monarchy.
No sense in making enemies of their strongest ally, after all.
The other Great Powers were not so meek. Both Morocco and Hannover had settled their internal troubles, and now felt confident enough to take the fight to this so-called "Dual Monarchy".
War was thus declared, with the official casus belli being to uphold the rulings set down by the Congress, but to anyone with two eyes it was clear that Morocco and Hannover were looking to cut France down to size. The only real question was simple - how far were they were willing to go?
The Dual Monarchy immediately dispatched diplomats to their allies and spherelings, including Al Andalus, requesting aid in their war. And since this was a defensive call-to-arms, the moderates had little choice but to accept, joining the fray.
And with that, fifteen years after the Congress of Cádiz, Europe is at war once again.