Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.



Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlefolk.

This blog will be devoted to my literary and cosplay interests and stories set in my own alternative historical steampunk background. I hope people enjoy the stories, as much as I enjoy devising and writing them and that it stimulates their own artistic interests, entertains them or if nothing else fires their own imaginations.

A special note to new readers of this blog, the entries "Nation States" are gazetteers of the nations as they exist in the An Age of Steam, Steel and Iron background, each with a few remarks/observations about each nation as they exist within. Any post headed by the title containing the words "Story Snippet" or "Fragments" is a stand alone, snapshot of the background, they will be developed into fuller stories in future, but at present they serve to give the viewer/reader a measure of what this world is like, what is going on in it and who some of the players are. Full stories, will be headed by their title and a roman number, as they will generally be in several parts.

Comments, suggestions or remarks by readers are welcomed.

I would like to thank the following people:

Yaya Han, for getting me seriously interested in cosplay at a time when things were looking very glum for me back in 2006 with several extended stays in hospital due to illness, and motivating me to get actively involved.

Ashley Du aka UndeadDu, for her unfailing friendship and cheerful support since we first met in 2014 at the Hamilton Comic Con, and for being my Cosplay mentor and advisor.

Sara Marly, for her interest in and support for my writings, since we first met in 2016 at the Hamilton Comic Con and incidently helping me make up my mind to finally do this.

Stephen Thomson, my friend, for his advise and assistance with creating and setting up this blog.

Daniel Cote, my friend and co-worker for his advise and friendship over the years.

The People of the The Aegy's Gathering (particularly Jonathan Cresswell-Jones, Scott Washburn and Jenny Dolfen, all of whom I have kept in contact with over the years), who were brought together in friendship by a certain randomness of chance and a common interest in the Honor Harrington books and stayed together despite distance and the strains of life.


The People of the Wesworld Alternative History website, who gave me the opportunity to sharpen my writing and story telling skills while directing the affairs of Lithuania and briefly France during their 1930s timelines.

My parents Mary Ellen and Logan, my siblings Adam and Danika and various friends both online and at work and play for putting up with me, encouraging and supporting me both in the very good times and the very bad times.

I remain as always yours very sincerely, your obedient servant, Matthew Baird aka Sir Leopold Stanley Worthing-Topper








Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Paradox of Austria-Hungary, A constitutional history of the Danubian Monarchy

Excerpts from the 1889 Public Lectures of Professor Jonathan T. H. Amberley-Prescott, Senior Chair of Historical, Political and Economic Studies, the Lushington Academy, the City of London, Great Britain.

Professor Amberley-Prescott, mounted the podium that stood above the horse shoe shaped galleries of tiered seats and benches that occupied the large lecture hall in the Academy. Amberley-Prescott was popular with the student body, both for his lively, often humourous and interesting lectures and study courses and for his encouragement of the students in their studies and aspirations. He tapped the control boards on the lectern to make sure their were active and dialed up his files for the current historical study he was planning to teach today. The Massive screen behind him flickered to life and then dissolved into images of pure static as it tried to display both the text of his lecture and assorted images that he had programmed to showcase what he was going to discuss.

The dark haired albeit slightly graying, dark eyed and ever so slightly stooped professor, noted the puzzled expressions of the assembled students in the galleries and realized something was awry. The professor half turned in the podium to see what the viewing screen was likely up too... again. With a bemused snort, he observed the sizzling images of green and black static, he turned back to the lectern and touched several of the controls to resolve the static. When that did not work, he hefted his beautifully carved, dark wood walking stick, with its ornate metal handle (a birthday gift from last year, from the undergraduates, that pleased both them to present it and for him to accept it.) and slammed it violently into the lectern panel.

The static vanished in the blink of an eye and the great view panel began to resolve into neatly printed text and the images of three colourful flags. Amberley-Prescott, nodded to himself satisfied that things were going the way they should be, he turned back to his students. Adjusted his reading glasses, absently smoothed his long moustaches and beard and he began by addressing himself to his expectant listeners, who he noted had recorders, note books and data slates to hand to keep whatever notes they thought necessary.


Austria-Hungary, is by all rights one of the most complicated and perplexing countries to exist upon this planet from a perspective of history, constitutional developments and political affairs. It is very much a unique and curious creation and: like all it's internal institutions, government and society; a product of time, space, history and ethnic and religious diversity.


The Holy Roman Empire 800 A.D.  - 1804 A.D.

 For much of it's history, Austria-Hungary, was effectively a part of other states with many of it's present constituent territories having been intimately linked in one way or the other with several of Europe's historic or present kingdoms or empires but most particularly with the development, rise and eventual decline of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which to use Voltaire's famous and rather sarcastic phrase, was "neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an empire". Be that as it may, it also has to be said, that the Holy Roman Empire managed to effectively hold itself together despite it's internal conflicts of all sorts social, economic and religious and it's own particular constitutional compromises and even to prosper after it's own fashion for slightly over a thousand years and had it's banner fly over a considerable portion of this world's surface, which is in it self an accomplishment.

The Revolutionary Wars (the First and Second Wars of the Coalitions) between France and it's neighbouring nation states were to bring this state of affairs to an end forever. Repeated military disasters and losses of territory caused the Holy Roman Empire to begin to break up, as it's constituent states began to look increasingly to their own survival and make accommodations with France.



The Austrian Empire 1804 A.D. - 1848 A.D.

The future Austro-Hungarian Empire's foundation as an economic, military and political reality in our world's history really begins in the year 1804, when Napoleon Bonaparte declared himself Emperor of the French, and though his success in both the political and military spheres began rearranging the then established order of continental Europe to suit his own preconceptions, as well as France's then current political and military needs. Emperor Francis II, became effectively the last Holy Roman Emperor regnant in that year (although in point of fact, the Habsburgs have never or even official abdicated their claim to that title), and proclaimed himself the first Emperor of Austria, when he established that title around the Habsburg family's oldest traditional dynastic holdings and estates and became Emperor Francis I of Austria in consequence.

The Napoleonic Wars (the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Wars of the Coalitions) were not overall successes for the Habsburgs, in point of fact, many of these wars were downright disasterous, although not with out a few bright moments, and even triumphs of Austrian military skill or diplomacy. Both Francis I and his empire, managed to both endure these trials and rebuild, sometimes from the very foundations up and outlast the Napoleonic Empire, which tried to dominate it. By the period of 1814-21, Austria was from a military, political and economical standing point, at the height of it's powers both physically and from a point of the ability of influencing world or at least continental events. The Metternich Era, named for the Habsburg's chief minister Klemens, Prince von Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein, and architect of the Metternich System: two decades of ultra-conservative reaction, reorganization and re-entrenchment had begun.


Emperor Francis II of the Holy Roman Empire 1792 - 1806 A.D. and  Francis I of the Empire of Austria 1804 - 1835 A.D.

The Austrian Empire was itself to last for some forty-four years under Emperor Francis I and his successor from 1835, Emperor Ferdinand I, until the fateful year of 1848 A.D.. This singular date is now remembered as the Year of Revolutions in which many of the monarchical thrones of Europe were either overthrown or shaken to their very foundations. What was also shaken all to pieces was the existing sense of international order that had been established and built upon by the Congresses of Vienna in 1814, 1815 and 1821 and largely maintained by the efforts of the conservative interventionist Holy Alliance of Russia, Austria and Prussia and the power balancing arrangements of the Pentarchy of Great Britain, France, Prussia, Austria and Russia.

The Austrian Empire however was in trouble from the 1820s on, as various areas under it's control, particularly in Italy, were wracked by revolutionary disturbances, most in the long run unsuccessful. 1830 saw revolutions uprisings or intense civil unrest breakout across Europe, starting in France, and spreading eastward through the Kingdom of the United Netherlands, Switzerland, the Italian States: Parma, Modena, and Romagna (Papal States), the German States: Prussia, Hesse-Kassel, Frankfurt-am-Main and Saxony. Revolts also rocked the Austrian province of Venetia-Lombardy. Poland was the last country within Europe affected by this period of instability. In many ways, 1830, was a precursory or dress rehearsal of what was to happen in 1848, but the warnings were largely ignored by many in various governments.

Austrian Galicia was hit by two revolts in rapid succession in 1846, first a revolt by the Polish nobles, followed by a similar revolt by the Galician peasantry. Both revolts were firmly put down, but public dissatisfaction with the circumstances in which the Austrian Empire found itself continued to simmer on. A severe economic recession struck the Empire in 1846-57, causing considerable economic dislocation and inflation, which only exacerbated the political problems, that faced the Austrian government.

1848, smashed all previous diplomatic arrangements, all institutional counterbalances and all governmental and societal obstructions that had protected and nurtured the Old Order of Europe. Revolutionary activity, revolts, riots and civil disturbances of all sorts shot across Europe, governments wobbled or toppled in it's wake. The Metternich System and the Holy Alliance fractured apart from the pressures placed upon it. The Habsburgs faced a serious crisis both militarily and politically. The crisis required both an immediate change of government and policy but a fundamental change of both leadership and the principals that governed the empire. These changes altered both the nature and character of the then existing Austrian Empire, into the current Austro-Hungarian Empire that it then became. Emperor Ferdinand I, who was in many ways an admirable and kindly man but not up to the rigors of being an absolute ruler, that Austria required due to serious health and mental defects, abdicated that year. He was succeeded by his eighteen year old nephew, who became Emperor Franz Josef I.



Emperor Ferdinand I of the Austrian Empire, 1835-1848 A.D.


Emperor Franz Joseph I of the Austrian Empire 1848 - 1849 A.D. and Austro-Hungarian Empire 1848 - to the present date.


Franz Josef, the eldest son of Archduke Franz Karl and the Archduchess Sophie, was faced with an impossible situation: The revolutions and revolts staked the empire, in Italy both in the independent Italian states over which Austria exercised a large degree of political hegemony and in the Italian provinces over which Austria had direct control. Then revolutionary outbreaks occurred in Austrian provinces of Bohemia, Upper and Lower Austria, Styria, Croatia-Slavonia, Hungary and Galicia At all events, Franz Josef grasped the stinging nettle firmly before him and tried to put all the shattering pieces back together again.

To add to the turmoil that was already complicating everything, two wars broke out on the borders of the German Confederation and the Austrian Empire, the 1st Schleswig-Holstein war between the Danes, Schleswig-Holsteiners and the German States. While the Italian Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont declared war against Austria in support of the revolts in the Italian provinces in what was to become the 1st Italian War of Independence. 1848-49, initially saw the Austrian government and military forces frequently wrong footed and on the defensive, although extensive Russian military and economic assistance helped the Austrian government to stabilize the situation and take the offensive against the various rebel movements and external enemies.

Emperor Franz Josef issued a steady stream of imperial, royal and apostolic patents and diplomas throughout 1848-49, reorganizing the Empire's civil administration, economy and military and security forces while working to address many of the underlining issues which had brought the Austrian Empire to the edge of ruin. Pursuing a policy of Austro-Maygarism and Austro-Slavism, a new model of government was evolved and put into practice.

While maintaining a system of heavily centralized, neo-absolute government, a great deal of administrative and some legislative powers were devolved upon the individual states or crown lands within the renamed Austro-Hungarian Empire. There were some thirty-six crown lands within the Empire according to the reorganization known as the 1848-49 Compromise or Ausgleich. Within the
'German' half of the combined empire i.e. the Empire of Austria, there were some twenty-six crown lands: Liechtenstein, Voralberg, Tyrol, Salzburg, Carinthia, Carniola, Gorizia & Gradisca, Istria, Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, Austrian Silesia, Galicia, Bukovina, Dalmatia, Bosnia-Herzogovinia, Croatia-Slavonia, Serbia and Montenegro, as well as the Italian states of Modena, Parma, Corsica, Tuscany, and Venetia and Lombardy. These lands were designated as Imperial-Royal, or Kaiserliche-Königliche (k.k.). Within the 'Hungarian' half, the Kingdom of Hungary, there were now some six crown lands: Upper Hungary, Lower Hungary, Slovakia, Siebenbürgen (Transylvania), Banat-Vojvodina, and Ruthenia. These lands were accordingly designated as Royal Hungarian or Königliche Ungarn (k. or k.u.). The Austrian Empire's four overseas colonial possessions: North Borneo, the Nicobar Islands, the Austrian Virgin Islands and the Diu island enclave, were now designated as Imperial and Royal, or Kaiserliche und Königliche (k.u.k) under the new system.



The Austro-Hungarian Empire 1848 A.D. to the present date 1889 A.D.


Vienna, was designated the Imperial and Royal capital of the new Empire, and contained all the senior or common ministries and administrative offices of the Empire and was the seat of both the Emperor-King and the Common Parliament, called the Imperial and Royal Council. The Parliament was divided into three branches with both legislative and executive powers, the k.u.k. House of Lords and Magnates (representing both the members of the Habsburg dynasty, and the higher titled peers and the ecclesiastical lords of the various religious sects within Austria-Hungary), the k.u.k. House of Representatives and Deputies (which represented the common people of the municipalities and rural communes in at first four, later five estates or curia) and the Imperial and Royal Senate. The Senate acted to represent both the individual crown lands and ethnic groups within the Empire.  Government and civil administration and appointments throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire were now determined by one of four levels: the Imperial and Royal Court, State, Municipal and Commune. The Empire was official trilingual as regards languages: Latin, German and Hungarian and were required for service and/or advancement in the Armed Forces, the Imperial and Royal government, administration and court circles. All other of the recognized languages used by the various ethnic groups within the Empire were protected by a series of special constitutional laws and authorized for use at local or crown land levels for either administration, education or instruction as might be required on ethnic and linguistic composition of the inhabitants.

Each Crown land had it's own Assembly, headed by a Statthalter or State Holder, who was typically a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine or one of it's cadet branches such as Habsburg-Este (Modena) or Habsburg-Toskana (Tuscany) or Habsburg-Bonaparte (Corsica). In the cases of Parma and Liechtenstein, the State Holder was a member of the House of Bourbon-Parma, and the House of Liechtenstein respectively. Each Assembly had an executive branch headed by a Prime minister and a cabinet council who were nominated to their positions by the Statthalter and confirmed or denied by the Emperor-King. Each Assembly's legislative branch war formed by a Chamber of Lords, and a Chamber of Deputies, which represented the local minor titled peers and the untitled landowners and the local urban and rural populations.

Graz in Styria was designated as the capital of the Imperial-Royal (k.k.) administration within the Common Empire, while Budapest in Hungary was designated as the capital of the Royal (k.u.)administration. In point of fact, the common government in Vienna subsumed these two bodies role in governmental details, administration and appointments. The Chancellor of the k.u.k. Cabinet Council was automatically also the Minister-President of Austria and Prime Minister of Hungary. The separate foreign ministries of Austria and Hungary, were effectively abolished, only the Common Foreign Affairs Ministry functioned after 1848-49. Thus both these administrations only existed as an Austrian and Hungarian Defense Ministries and concerned themselves almost exclusively with organizing and administering to their respective territorial defense forces, the k.k. Landwehr and k.k. Landsturm and the k.u. Honved and k.u. Landsturm and the Standschutzen and Volunteer Schutzen in the respective crown lands under their jurisdiction. The Justice and Police functions were overseen by a k.u.k. Justice ministry and police establishment although a k.k and k.u. Gendarmerie and Landsgendarmerie were organized in the two halves of the empire for regular every day police duties and security in the urban and rural areas of the empire. The foreign colonies were covered by their own k.u.k. Gendarmerie and Landsgendarmerie, as was the capital city and its environs.  Border security was handled only by a k.u.k. frontier and customs ministry which handled the Grenzpolizei and Grenzschutzen units.

Ironically, much of Emperor Franz Josef's reign which started in one conflict, was to be involved in numerous further internal and external conflicts. Which despite everything, the Austro-Hungarian Empire has endured and even managed to prosper from.

1852-53, 1st Austro-Ottoman War
1853-56, Crimean War
1859 - Austro-Franco-Sardinian War (2nd Italian War of Independence)
1861 - Dalmatian Revolt
1861-62, 2nd Austro-Ottoman War
1864 - Austro-German-Danish War (2nd Schleswig-Holstein War)
1866 - Austro-Prussian War (3rd Italian War of Independence)
1876-78 - 3rd Austro-Ottoman War
1878 - Bosnia-Herzegovinia Revolt 
1882 - South Dalmatian Rebellion
1885 - Austro-Bulgarian-Ottoman War


The Austro-Hungarian Empire was in consequent of these wars to see both an expansion of its borders particularing with regard to those crown lands in the Balkans but also the permanent loss of several of it's crown lands. the Italian crown lands of Parma, Modena, Corsica, and Tuscany were lost to the Kingdom of Italy through the 1859 and 1866 wars. However due to the large number of émigré nobles and peoples from these former crown lands, who resettled largely in adjacent k.k crown lands, they are still represented in the Austro-Hungarian Common Parliament, particularly the House of Lords & Magnates and k.u.k Senate.

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