CHAPTER 12: THE CONGRESS OF VIENNA 1826
Napoleon I arrives at the Congress
In early 1826, after over a decade since the end of the Great Wars of the Empire and the beginning of the "Pax Napoleonica," Austria's Kaiser Franz I, his own father-in-law, started to protest the way Napoleon had not broken up the British Empire among the Allies and rewarded them in other ways, as had been the promised arrangement and one of the main reasons the other countries fought for Napoleon in the first place (the other being blatant fear of total destruction). Thus, Napoleon, who was seemingly surprised by the anger and proclaimed to have just been busy conquering India from the British and East India Company holdouts and the native Indian warlords, agreed to hold a World Congress, the first of its kind, at Vienna.
The Indian topic needs not to be glossed over, however, as when Britain collapsed in Europe, India fell into civil war and unimaginable bloodshed. The East India Company, under Governor-General Paul Horace Greer, had attempted to maintain order as they waited on word from the homeland on what step to take next. Finally, as word spread that the Royal Navy had been sunk and Great Britain was in the midst of falling apart, Greer and his top officers proclaimed the independent "Empire of India," with Greer taking power as Emperor after snuffing out all opposition within the Company. When couriers arrived from England saying half of Indian holdings were to be turned over to the French, anyone who doubted Greer's leadership put aside their enmities and fought together against the Frogs.
Flag of the Empire of India, following the collapse of Great Britain
In early 1816, the French Imperial Navy seized all islands near the Indian coast and, ironically, arrested EIC officers for treason against the English Crown and Parliament. Also ironically, the English Royal Navy was also on the scene fighting alongside the French against a mutual enemy. While some English supported the Empire of India as a last stand of Britannia against the French tyrants, others indeed viewed them as backstabbing traitors. After all, under Napoleon's terms England would have kept a substantial portion of their holdings. Now with the EIC rebelling and the lack of manpower to police the innumerable regions of the Indian subcontinent, it became unlikely that England would keep much at all.
For nine years the battle raged in India. Greer was a fierce opponent who wasn't going to go down easily, but he would eventually make a fatal mistake. In January, 1825, Greer, or the self-styled "Paul I, Emperor of India," was invited by the Maharajah of Mysore, Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, to come to his palace to discuss an alliance against the French and English. Supposedly, Mysore would fight for the Empire of India and in exchange keep its independence and a yearly tribute. This sounded like a great deal to Greer, and he, several loyal native warlords, and some of his troops made the trip to the massive city.
Arrival of Emperor Paul I in Mysore
However, all was not what it seemed. Following a lavish banquet and much trinket-exchanging, the Maharajah's favorite dancing girls entertained Greer and his men. All the while, outside the impressive, ornate palace, footsteps could be heard. At first just a few. Then many. Before long, English and French troops had completely surrounded the building. Now drunk out of their minds and enjoying wine, women, and song, Greer and his loyalists had no idea the Maharajah had betrayed them and sold them out to France in exchange for nominal independence.
Outside, the orders finally came. With loud rally cries of "Down with the Traitor Greer!" and "Vive César de France!", the combined forces smashed their way into the palace, their boots clicking by the dozens on the marble mosaic floors. When Greer, drunk and just waking from a nap, finally noticed the betrayal, troops were already two rooms away. The Maharajah fled the room as his bodyguards drew their curved swords and began gutting Greer's men like fish. It was a bloodbath. Greer, panicked and stumbling, drew his sword and charged into the fray. French and English troops burst into the room, their bayonets shining in the light of the chandeliers and their faces filled with rage. Then and there, Paul Horace Greer, the first and only Emperor of independent India, was cut down.
Illustration of a battle between Franco-Indian troops and Greer loyalists
Upon the news of Greer's demise, the warlords who were originally loyal to him started to send apologies and tribute to Bombay, the main French occupied city in India. In other parts of India, fighting would rage on as former EIC men now fought for native warlords and princes, but it was never the same. The death of Greer sealed India's fate to resubmit to European rule. France would ruthlessly stamp out all forms of resistance and Bombay was renamed as the Principality of Bombay. The old British colonial borders were reinstated, and English officers were brought in to try to normalize French rule.
Flag of French Imperial Indian holdings
Thousands of troops had been dying in this "Pax Napoleonica," and the Continental Alliance felt more and more like something that was falling apart every day. Napoleon grew very worried about increasing discontent among the Allies and feared that he might yet loose his throne in a last War of the Coalition. He need to keep the peace and show the other nations they were respected and their problems could be solved peacefully. And so it was that he summoned the long-anticipated Congress of Vienna. He had planned for it to be held in 1820, but continued problems in India, South America, and Africa had kept him too busy. Now, at last, the leaders of the world would gather in peace at the first meeting of its kind, and a step closer to a peaceful Napoleonic system Caesar desperately wanted to leave his children.
The Congress's opening was full of pomp and circumstance. Several days were allotted for the monarchs and leaders to drown themselves in the praise and salutes and bows of the others, all given and received with doubtful sincerity. The following is a list of most of the leaders present (their dignitaries are not counted, which sometimes numbered in the hundreds):
- Napoleon I, Caesar (also Emperor of India, King of Andorra, King of
Italy, Lord of Mann, Mediator of the Helvetic Confederation, Protector of Brazil, Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine, and Protector of the Free City of Lisbon)
- Michel Ney, Prime Minister
- Frederick VI, King
- Otto Joachim Moltke, Prime Minister
- Edward VII, King (traditional title of King of Hanover given to Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia six years prior to the Congress)
- John Wallace, Prime Minister
- Franz I, Kaiser (also King of Hungary and Bohemia)
- Prinz von Metternich, Chancellor
Kingdom of Prussia and Hanover:
- Friedrich Wilhelm III, King
- Count von Wylich, Chief Minister
Kingdom of Bavaria:
- Ludwig I
Kingdom of Saxony and Grand Duchy of Warsaw:
- Frederick Augustus I, King, Grand Duke
- Wilhelm, King
- Karl, Grand Duke
- Stéphanie, Consort, Daughter of Napoleon I
Portuguese Confederation and Etruria:
- Louis, King (Powerless puppet following orders directly from Napoleon I)
Principality of Lucca and Piombino:
- Elisa Napoleona, Princess
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (formerly Naples and Sicily):
- Zénaïde, Queen, Daughter of Joseph Bonaparte
Kingdom of Holland:
- Louis I, King, Brother of Napoleon I
Kingdom of Sweden:
- Karl XIV, King (Jean Bernadotte, former grand marshal under and bitter rival of Napoleon I)
- Ferdinand VII
- Benderli Selim Sirri Pasha, Ottoman Grand Vizier
- Nicholas I, Czar (also Grand Duke of Finland)
- Charles Goodyear, Representative
- Miles Romney, Representative
Confederation of the Carolinas:
- Andrew Jackson, Chancellor
- John C. Calhoun, Colonel of the Confederation (unique title; essentially Prime Minister)
Virgin Islands Confederacy:
- Thomas Bragg, Governor-General (answered directly to Jackson and
also brought young son Braxton with him; the Congress had a "profound"
effect on the boy)
Republic of Virginia:
- Henry Clay, President (also representing the Chesapeake Republic of Maryland)
- Daniel Webster, Vice President
Republic of Georgia:
- John Hardee, Representative (also representing the West Florida Republic and the Republic of Jamaica)
Green Mountain Republic of Vermont:
- Jay Thomas Powell, Chancellor (stormed out after being ridiculed by Ludwig of Bavaria)
The Canadian Question and Goodyear's Tirade, July 5th-6th, 1826:
The whole reason that the Republican Union really bothered to show up to "Napoleon's tea party" was the long-standing dispute over the Canadian territories. The Republican Union had a fiery young businessman named Charles Goodyear as their chief negotiator, who was in turn balanced by the mild and moderate Miles Romney, a State Consul of Massachusetts. Goodyear had become a Union icon in recent years following his almost single-handed turnaround of the the Erie Lake Canal Company, founding his own business empire, Goodyear Enterprises, and bringing industry and commerce booming back to the Republican Union. He was a fiery orator as well, and he absolutely detested Europeans, and especially the French. He blamed the French and the Southron governments for the death of his father in the War of 1812 and for the Canadian Invasion killing tens of thousands of his countrymen. He was still largely unknown to most European at the time of the Congress of Vienna, but when he left everyone would remember him.
The millionaire ranted for over an hour on July 5th, the first official day, over how the Republican Union had been abandoned by France and its allies and how 50%, if not more, of Canada should be theirs. Frederick Augustus, of Saxony and Warsaw, and Louis, of the Portuguese Confederation and Etruria, both stood up, along with their entire entourages, and booed him publicly. Goodyear had never been doubted or ridiculed to his face, and that face "looked red as a hot coal" and he turned and launched a brutal tirade of anti-Polish, anti-Eastern European, anti-Catholic, anti-Portuguese, and anti-Italian slurs, until Henry Clay of Virginia stood up calmly and told him to "calm down, you ignorant fool." Incensed, Goodyear stormed out and would not come back till the next day, leaving his job to Romney.
Romney calmly discussed Canada with the other parties concerned, and agreed to drop all other claims to to the French Colony in exchange for Nova Scotia. Goodyear would allegedly slap Romney in the face and call him a gutless coward to his face the next day. Furious beyond words, Goodyear again came before the Congress and ripped up the yet-unsigned Treaty of Canada right before everyone. Napoleon sighed audibly and the aging Caesar lifted his hand. Finally, after another hour of Goodyear explaining about the death of his father and the feelings in America of complete and total betrayal, Napoleon invited him to a private room. There, for five hours, the two men bickered back and forth, with Romney and Ney simply watching from the sidelines. Crippled with economic problems, possible conflict in Europe, and rebellions in India, Napoleon finally agreed to a better treaty. The Union was to receive Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, disputed areas of Maine, New Brunswick, and the Ontario Peninsula, with its gem Toronto, for 20 million dollars. Romney couldn't believe the way Goodyear was getting away with such a steal. Acquiring the Ontario Peninsula meant cementing the Great Lakes under Union control. This also helped Goodyear on a personal level, as he owned half the shares in the Erie Lake Canal Company at this point. All the new trade traffic would directly enrich him.
Goodyear stood, man-to-man, with Caesar Napoleon, a god among men. The grand restorer of the Roman Empire. And he treated him like a business rival. Napoleon actually developed a weird sort of respect for Goodyear, as he reminded him a bit of himself in his younger days, always pushing, pushing, pushing, usually more than he knew he would get, always seeking the offensive. Goodyear was obviously a racist crackpot of sorts, but it couldn't be said he wasn't successful and an amazingly relentless opponent. At last the men came back to the Congress and before the world announced the new Treaty of Canada and signed it immediately. This was a major victory for America, and Goodyear was about to become the greatest living American this side of the Prophet Burr. Andrew Jackson, Chancellor of the Confederation of the Carolinas, meanwhile, stormed out of the building and never returned, furious at the Union's growth. It was at that moment that relations between France and the Carolinas began to break down. The other Southron nations also weren't happy with France's concessions, but realized they couldn't do anything about it.
A courier was immediately dispatched back to the Union to spread the news, and long before the Goodyear and Romney returned there were mass celebrations in the streets. For once, the Union had won. Thousands of people flooded into the streets, waving flags and singing patriotic songs. The wounds from 1812 were far from healed, but at last they were starting to get their way. At the same time, as news hit the new American Canadian holdings, a mass immigration began of people fearing American rule and the spread of the AFC Church. Among those who fled were thousands of people who had already fled America once, mostly on religious grounds.
Celebrations in Boston over the Treaty of Canada (or the Goodyear Treaty as Americans called it)
King Karl of Sweden Dies and Oscar I Speaks, July 7th-9th, 1826:
Another of the most shocking episodes came on the third day of the Congress, on July 7th, when, following a heated exchange with Napoleon I, King Karl (Bernadotte) of Sweden dropped dead, struck down by a massive heart attack. The decision as to who would be speak for Sweden had to be made immediately. War was brewing between Sweden and Russia over the Finland Question, and with no leader, the matter might spiral out of control.
The little-known Swedish heir, Oscar I, now an un-crowned king, stood up and shocked everyone in attendance with his excellent speeches and oratory. The fact that he was Napoleon's godson and that he, unlike Karl, loved and respected the French emperor did not hurt his case with many of France's puppets. Frederick Augustus, of Saxony and Warsaw, and Louis, of the Portuguese Confederation and Etruria, stood up, beckoned their entourages to do the same, and "openly wept like babies, as if their very thrones depended on this tearful action." The graying French Caesar nodded approvingly. The matter was then resolved so that Finland became independent and completely neutral. Trade was opened to both Russia and Sweden. If any country violated the treaty, they would have to answer to the Continental Alliance and the French Empire.
The Spanish Bankruptcy Question, July 10th-15th:
Certainly one of the most pressing and potentially devastating matters undertaken at Vienna was the growing instability of Spain, its colonial empire, and its economy. Despite the gift of a good 60% of Portugal from France during the Great Wars, it was still a backward, poor country, a mere shadow of its former glory and power. It was also rapidly losing control of its colonies, especially in the Americas.
New Spain had experienced its first real revolt just five months prior to the World Congress, when 50 Spanish troops were killed by a mob of impoverished farmers in Cuba. Spain had responded with brutal and quick reprisal, killing citizens senselessly in what Napoleon I called "a needless massacre." The open revolt that followed was still raging at the time of the Congress, where Spain was told to get its act together on the island and stop murdering the Cubans or suffer dire consequences. Little did those in Vienna know that Cuba had declared independence five days before, or that Virginian and Carolinian ships were currently peacefully blockading Havana to prevent Spanish troops from landing.
In the end, the Congress refused to help Spain if it suffered rebellions, as the nations feared a brutal, prolonged conflict in the jungles and deserts of North and South America helping an elderly empire no one really liked much anymore. It also didn't help that many nations were verging on declaring war with Spain since it wouldn't (and couldn't) pay back huge loans stretching back a century. Austria was the most angry about not being recompensed, and it showed when charismatic Prinz von Metternich personally threatened war. Napoleon barely defused the situation, but it was just prolonging the inevitable. Many were suspecting that multiple European countries would support insurrections in New Spain.
The Partition of India, July 16th-28th, 1826:
After the grueling talks over Spain's looming collapse, the Congress brought up the most touchy subject of the entire meeting: India. Napoleon and Ney declared that they had fought and bled for the conquest of India and the overthrow of the insane Paul Horace Greer, but they would be willing to "fairly" divide the spoils with their Allies.
Everyone who was anyone got trading rights with the valuable subcontinent. France had set up its Asian capital in Bombay, and declared the entirety of "Bombay Principality," stretching from the Baluchistan border down to allied Mysore and including Kutch and Kathiawar, to be an official colony of France. The Sikh Empire nearby detested the return of a strong European military presence so near to their country when the French had first sent expeditions in in 1816. The British East India Company and its later incarnation as the Empire of India had suffered multiple horrific defeats at the hands of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the fearsome Sikh emperor, after he had tried to expand his borders and faith into Rajputana.
France had favored the Muslims of India for quite some time, and after the East India Company holdouts destroyed the Hindu Maratha Confederacy in 1818 (their last real conquest), the Muslims of the remnants of the Mughal Empire agreed to submit to being French clients in exchange for protection against the Sikhs and the destruction of the Greer-supporting holdouts still occupying Mughal territory. Thus, by the time of the World Congress, the Franco-Sikh War was well underway. Napoleon II, the baby-faced, half-Austrian 15 year-old "King of Rome," grandson of Kaiser Franz, had volunteered to serve in Bombay during the beginning of the invasion, and there he began to show he had inherited his father's knack for strategy as he worked on mapping under the supervision of the French generals stationed there. Everyone gathered in Vienna expected the Sikhs to crumble before long, and many also expected that Napoleon II would be proclaimed Prince of Bombay once he came of age in a few years time. At the Congress, Kaiser Franz was proud of his grandson and awarded him the title of Duke of Reichstadt, and a medallion representing his new title was gifted to Napoleon I, for him to present to the King of Rome upon his return.
Bengal, the makeshift capital of the East India Company and later Empire of India, put up some stiff resistance to French rule, but in the end surrendered by the end of 1825. This effectively ended any real form of English-born rule in Asia for good. At the World Congress of Vienna, Bengal was proclaimed a principality, and Napoleon offered the position of prince to Ferdinand of Austria, Kaiser Franz's son and the future leader of Austria. Once it was made clear to the mentally deficient Ferdinand that he would not actually be living in Bengal, he accepted gladly. Thus, Bengal fell under Austrian domination and essentially became the first colonial administration of the Hapsburg Crown, though it would not have been able to function without French support. Austria did not even have a seaport, with goods from Bengal having to be brought in through France's Illyrian Provinces, sometimes known as Slovenia.
Ferdinand, Prince of Bengal
Goa, which had been under Portuguese rule for centuries until the East India Company seized it once British-allied Portugal collapsed in 1809 and was under Dutch occupation in 1826. At Vienna, Napoleon announced that the Portuguese Confederation was simply not economically capable of managing the far off colony. Instead, it was given to Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia and Hanover.
Denmark-Norway, desiring to further its efforts in Africa and because they were no longer making a profit in places like Trankebar, on the south-east coast of India, sold all of its Indian possessions to France. The Danish East India Company thereby permanently closed its doors.
The Mughal Empire was known to be failing in Hyderabad in the face of civil unrest and economic collapse. The French announced they were going in, and the Principality of Hyderabad was declared in Vienna on July 27th, 1826. French Prime Minister Michel Ney was awarded honorary title of Prince; as in Bombay, Napoleon and the French military and navy would make day-to-day decisions involved in the running of the colonies- the princely titles were strictly honorary. Another interesting locale was Bhutan, which had been under fire from every Western power in India for decades, and it finally submitted to being a satellite state of France in 1825. It's independence was "guaranteed" by France at Vienna.
The Australia and Malay Archipelago Partition, July 29th-August 2nd, 1826:
The Australian Question was raised by Louis Bonaparte of Holland, who had been in a joint occupation with France of the former British colony since the last year of the Great Wars of the Empire. Louis requested official borders be drawn up. France agreed, and the border disputes were promptly put to rest, though several days of negotiations went on over various nearby islands. The Andaman Islands, a British penal colony, were awarded to the Dutch. The Dutch had long desired a monopoly in the Maylay Archipelago, and the local Spanish outposts were almost all abandoned. Thus, Louis requested sovereignty over all of the Archipelago, including New Guinea. Napoleon feared a total monopoly of the Dutch in the area but did not have enough time or manpower to police the region itself. Instead, Australia was divided directly in half, with the western half going to France and the eastern half actually being reinstated under English rule, partly as kickback for helping to end the Empire of India. Dutch control over the Malay Archipelago was guaranteed, however, so this kept the Dutch from being too upset. Many Dutch were disappointed that total Dutch rule over Malaysia and Australia hadn't been achieved, but Australia was looked upon as a backwater; a large backwater, but a backwater none the less.
The Finland Independence Question, August 3rd-15th, 1826:
Since it had been agreed to by Russia and Sweden that Finland would be a neutral independent state, the matter of who would lead the frozen northern country lingered until August 3rd, when Napoleon presented the faithful, elderly, French lapdog Frederick Augustus I, King of Saxony and Grand Duke of Warsaw, as a candidate for the new Finnish Crown. Sweden, under the very cooperative Oscar, and Russia, under Napoleon's personal friend the Czar, agreed to this, and the "Fat Saxon" gained yet another hereditary title for himself and his daughter Maria Augusta. Prinz von Metternich called the Saxon monarch "a man with far more titles then he deserves. Three too many, in fact."
Frederick Augustus I, King of Saxony, Grand Duke of Warsaw, Grand Prince of Finland
Caesar Napoleon I, Age 57 (drawing by a Prussian diplomat at the World Congress)
The first-ever World Congress continued until October 15th, 1826, though many leaders had gone home earlier. Almost all American diplomats, for instance, had left in early August (with the exceptions of Goodyear and Romney), shortly after Virginia had purchased Bermuda (which incensed Goodyear yet again). Goodyear continued to launch angry tirades almost daily, even when the leaders were discussing matters with little to no effect to the entire North American Continent. This scored him even more major popularity points back home when the young tycoon returned to a hero's welcome as the "Man who stood up to Europe." The Congress was, overall, a civil affair, despite Goodyear, the death of Karl of Sweden, and the fact that many countries being represented hated each other beyond reason. Plans were made to convene again in 1832, and Berlin was voted to be the site of the next Congress. Friedrich Wilhelm III left in an extremely good mood and was already jotting down notes on how he would shock the world with a splendorous militaristic circus of an event when his city's time came.
The Congress had taken up a good part of Vienna, with the troops and guards and horses from all over the world needing food, shelter, and drink. The housing for most of the leaders was beyond extravagant, and the more powerful a leader was, the more luxurious and showy it became. The Czar of Russia, for instance, had a "camp" so large, that Austrian citizens said it was like "some sort of reenactment of life in downtown Moscow." Meanwhile, the hotel being rented by the Republican Union was set up by Goodyear to show off the latest technological gimmickry and machines from his workshop. The highlight was Napoleon, who always claimed to be a "scientist at heart," stopping by to see "Goodyear Enterprises' Vulcanized Rubber" and the latest version of the steam engine. One of Goodyear's aides gifted a small piece of "chicle candy," wrapped in a wax paper to Bonaparte. Unfortunately, Napoleon quickly bit his tongue and broke one of his fragile teeth, and he left the hotel in agony. Rumors flew that Goodyear had deliberately offered the "dirty Frog" a stale piece of the sweet, though the Republican Union ambassadors promptly denied this.
Thus, the "Pax Napoleonica" continued. Until the North American and Spanish leaders returned home to find their countries on the brink of all-out war...