King of All He SurveysEdit
"Power is my mistress."
-Caesar Napoleon I
French emperor Napoleon was having a delightful time in 1808 and 1809. With Britain in self-inflicted tatters, and his own cult of personality growing daily, nothing seemed to dampen his plans. With its main ally Britain out of the way, Portugal knelt to Imperial Throne of France under force of arms, a huge defeat for those resisting the Continental System and also a main source of Britain's economic collapse. The Portuguese Confederation was formed. Despite much antagonism between Spain and France since the French Revolution, Napoleon seemed content enough to let the Spaniards have the southern part of the new vassal state to itself. The Corsican's growing empire was becoming a colossus, brow-beating neighbors such as Prussia into submission with the threat of brute force, also known as the Grand Army. Austria was crushed at Wagram in the summer of '09, and the Continental System was imposed on the former Holy Roman Empire. In the fall, Austria was finally defeated and a treaty was signed at Schönbrunn Palace, in Vienna.
In order to understand the expansion of the French Empire during this period, and the later events in the centuries following, we must look at in more depth the power Napoleon wielded at this point.
The Continental SystemEditOn the 21st of November, 1806, Napoleon signed the Berlin Decree in response to the British Royal Navy blockading his coast. While at first the strategy did not seem to be working, it really kicked in the following year, upon the George IV Murder-Suicide. The other countries started to regard Britain as something of a joke. Stories, sometimes utterly false, were released by France's propaganda industry that told of the drunken debauchery of the British nobility. Still others claimed King William was illegitimate, or perhaps a homosexual, or even both. Catholic Austria, France's main rival, had never had a good relationship with the British Isles, going back several hundred years. They, too, now looked upon the British government as incapable. The Royal Navy still ruled the Atlantic, but the Mediterranean was nothing short of a French pond. Royal Navy sloops and some other smaller ships patrolled North Africa to some degree, but it was only a token force protecting land the French Emperor was not interested in at the moment.
In 1808, British citizens own growing reluctance to rally around their throne hugely aided the Continental System, and some historians say that the entire collapse of the British economy was caused by it, with Napoleon jumping to take credit. Russia, a reluctant friend of France, was satisfied that Britain was falling, and thus strengthened their alliance to bring about the "Final Defeat of the Lobsterbacks."
When Britain prepared to sing the praises of its own Indian cotton, Georgia kicked in North America. It was protected from Britain by being locked in an area with allied European and neutral American regions. The sale of Napoleon-approved Georgian cotton to Europe was a devastating blow to Britain during a time when it needed more cash to continue the war effort.
This, however, led to another problem. Carolina, still under Andrew Jackson's fist, asked to be a trading partner with France, with cotton and tobacco as the major products. Carolina was the largest non-British tobacco provider in the world, and Europeans were willing to pay Carolina's prices rather than smuggle in British tobacco. In fact, Jackson was asked by Napoleon to deliberately lower his tobacco prices to undercut Britain, even if only for a while, with promises of losses being paid in full by France at a later date, upon the ruination of Britain. What was the problem then? Britain did not like the "Colonists" hacking into their payday.
William finally had had enough, and ordered the Royal Navy to start confiscating American goods and sink American ships. In late 1808, an entire joint Georgian-Carolinan trade fleet was sunk by the Brits. In the first show of collective support since before the Treason Trials, the American countries (with the exception of the Republican Union) pulled together to issue a unanimous declaration of war against Britain for violating their "neutrality." Though it refused to go to war for fear of Canada invading (as well as the general dislike of the Southrons), the RU agreed only to build ships for Napoleon's American allies. The Union struggled along economically while the South prepared to set up a "new era of industry" for itself; this is a pivotal moment in the North-South rivalry.
The exact date of Britain's total economic ruin cannot be pinpointed, but it certainly began around the time of the Berlin Decree, and was close to the end by the time William took the throne. The Napoleonic Wars were not over, and neither was Britain, but the Pound might as well have been minted out of feces by 1810.
The Grand ArmyEditNever, since the days of the Roman Empire, had such a massive, multi-ethnic army won so many victories. Napoleon's personal obsession with all things military led him to christen his forces the Grand Army in 1805. A Roman-style eagle became the symbol which men from over a dozen different major countries and regions would carry to "Glory Eternal" on the battlefields of Europe. Prussians, Russians, Bavarians, Austrians, Americans, Saxons, and even some English were all common sights in the ranks during the height of French power. The Grand Army brought utter destruction to all who opposed it, from Austria to Prussia. Any time a French "ally" got ideas to violate agreements or go to war again, it was the fighting men of the Grand Army that went in to "put them down like dogs."
This tactic, though, was not wildly popular with the citizens of other nations. Rebellions were common, such as those in Prussia in 1809. These rebellions were to be crushed by the Emperor's order by the home country. If they failed, the Grand Army would invade. One means the oily Corsican came up with to keep the populace in check was to conscript or hire as many foreigners as possible, for, as he put it, "A man is much less likely to raise arms against an occupying force when his own brothers and fathers wear the occupiers' uniforms and carry their Imperial Eagles."
The Alliance SystemEditNeedless to say, essentially all of Europe was allied to or conquered by Napoleon at this point. 1810 was what the Emperor declared "A new dawn. The beginning of an era of peace." Peace after "Britain's total destruction," that is.
Empire of France (areas bowing directly to the French throne):
- Duchy of Warsaw
- Kingdom of Italy
- Kingdom of Holland
- Kingdom of Etruria
- Principality of Lucca and Piombino
- Kingdom of Naples
- Swiss Confederation
- Confederation of the Rhine
- Portuguese Confederation
- Kingdom of Denmark
- Kingdom of Sweden
- Chesapeake Republic of Maryland
- Ottoman Empire
- Austrian Empire
- Republic of Virginia
- Empire of Russia
- Confederation of the Carolinas
- Kingdom of Prussia
- Qajar Persia
- West Florida Republic
- Republic of Georgia
- The Republican Union
- Green Mountain Republic of Vermont