“Royal authority is sacred… God established kings and emperors upon this earth as his ministers and reigns through them over the nations… the royal throne is not the throne of a man but the throne of God himself.” – Bishop Boussuet, 1761.
The words of Bishop Boussuet underline the organic links connecting the Church and an increasingly absolutist state. The ingredients for a national revolution had been provided by this link, and they were seen in play in the Revolution of 1702. Francis Joseph II, a strong absolutist monarch, was briefly deposed by the masses in that Revolution. The Emperor, who was already old, feeble and suffering from stomach cancer, was under the strict influence of the First Minister, Cardinal Suger. Suger was not popular in the eyes of Alexandrians because of his foreign origins, corruptly amassed fortune and his romantic involvement with the Emperor’s sister, Mademoiselle du Carpignac. In 1702, Suger announced that the royal coffers were empty and that the salaries of Imperial officials would not be paid for the next five years. National rebellion soon followed and the leaders of the opposition assembled a National Convention composed of delegates selected from around the nation. The National Convention called for a definite end to royal tyranny: veto power over new taxes, habeas corpus law, abolition of heavy inheritance taxes, among other things. When Suger had the parliamentarians arrested, Geneva rose in a massive revolt. Suger, along with the Imperial Family, escaped to Wesloderia. Nobility and peasants alike joined the Revolution: urban revolts in Markion City, Franciscania and Gradlia coupled with peasant revolts all over the Empire. The National Convention, now secured in power, proceeded to reform the nation. Despite repugnance for the absolute monarchy, no political entity offered a viable and coherent alternative. Each group thought in terms of its own advantages and produced disorder. Through its existence, the National Convention had to cope with belligerent nobles and peasant revolts. By 1705, the Imperial League, assembled by Suger, marched on Geneva and installed the Emperor back into power. The Revolution had collapsed.
Traumatized by the events of 1702-1705, Emperor Louis XIV, the first monarch of the House of Portela, consolidated power in his own hands. Under his reign, the Emperor achieved an unknown amount of control and power over three critical administrative functions: use of armed force, formulation and execution of laws and the collection and expenditure of revenue. Francis II and Phillip IX further strengthened their control over these affairs, creating the most efficient and centralized state of its time.
The most fundamental cause of the Revolution of 1774, however, was an economic depression that hit Alexandria after 1755. After a half century of enormous growth, the economy suffered a series of severe setbacks. Just when the massive population expansion from 1730-1755 had produced millions of new mouths to feed, Alexandrian agriculture failed to feed them. To this followed impoverishment, severe unemployment and inflation. The economic downturn resulted in a severe drop in tax revenues, forcing imperial debt higher and higher. Tax rates went along with it. The tax collection process slowly began to disintegrate and army loyalty began to slip. Levels of petty crime and vagrancy rose sharply. To cap it all, horrible harvests made the prices of food such as bread skyrocket out of control.
Calling the Estates-General
Finances had become so shattered that in 1773, Phillip IX called for an assembly of all the financial experts of the nation, called the Comptroller-General to authorize a new land tax to bail out the government. The Comptroller-General released the bottled energies of public opinion. Phillip IX then proceeded to call the Estates-General, for the first time in 200 years. This opened a new experience for people, who had to participate in their first ever elections. Instead of working on how to solve the national financial problem, they quickly began to work hard to push massive national reforms.
During a long night session on July 27, 1773, feudalism was abolished. Reforms introduced by the Estates-General began to set in place a constitutional monarchy in Alexandria. To avoid bankruptcy, church properties were nationalized and sold. Religious tolerance was finally introduced, followed by economic liberalism and the institution of guaranteed human freedoms. Now that the press was “free”, a vast number of newspapers, journals and pamphlets began to appear almost overnight.
From the earliest days of the Revolution, Phillip IX proved incapable to play the role of a constitutional monarch. In August 25, 1774, Phillip IX and his family, accompanied by two loyal Puerto Nuevo regiments and several Royal Bodyguards, fled the country in secret. When news reached Geneva, a crowd of more than 100,000 people assembled and marched on the Estates-General demanding the establishment of a “one and indivisible” Alexandrian Republic. In August 27, 1774, despite severe opposition in the Estates-General, the monarchy was abolished and the Alexandrian Republic was proclaimed. “Church and Emperor” peasants, notably in Asunción and Puerto Nuevo, took up arms. This uprising, fueled by opposition to radicalism, religious reform and antagonism towards new taxes and Revolutionary demands, plunged the nation into war. The Estates-General, led by Michel Leblanc, began a campaign in which Jews and other minorities were held as scapegoats. Persecuted for “crimes against the economy of the nation”, many were killed or forced to flee. Counterrevolutionary nobles and “refractory” priests were deemed prime suspects as well.
The Estates were dissolved in September 16, to be replaced by a newly elected Constituent Assembly. The country, including its capital, was now in the hands of an executive council led by Georges Antel and Michel Leblanc. They both used their powerful oratory to energize the nation in defense of the Revolution. By April 1775, the counterrevolutionaries had been contained and in May 1st, the Constituent Assembly met for the first time. The 748 elected deputies now had to draw up a constitution for the new Republic.
From exile in [[____________]], Phillip IX saw these events in horror and shock. Two of his cousins who led the revolts were killed, as well as many of his close relatives. He appealed his host nation, [[__________]], to intervene and restore the monarchy. King ____________ of [[_____________]] organized an army of 40,000 men, including an army of exiled Alexandrians of 23,000 men. From May of 1775 to August of 1776, the Revolution faced its darkest hour. In rapid succession, Alexandria faced another severe subsistence crisis, a war with ____________, a renewed and stronger royalist revolt in Asunción, Puerto Nuevo and Baudrix, the treason of a leading general and the fall of Franciscania to Phillip IX. To meet these multiple threats, the Assembly issued thousands of decrees and assembled 14 armies. Wide ranges of measures were implemented to fix the price of food and other goods. The Council for Revolutionary Security was created to oversee the massive war effort and was given near dictatorial powers. The Council included most of the most famous names of the Revolution. It was led by Gabriel Joseph du Roblien, called the “Great Organizer” and an “Incorruptible Man”.
Roblien assumes control
By the end of the summer of 1776, the Council had succeeded in repressing internal rebellion and in repulsing the invasion. Roblien had done this at the expense of more than 150,000 citizens, 58,600 of them executed by the Council on charges of “counterrevolution and treason.” Roblien had assumed full control and executed moderate and conservative deputies in the Assembly.
Roblien was ousted in September by Georges Antel and Michel Leblanc. They, along with Joseph Thiers, led the efforts of a less radical faction of the Assembly to draft a constitution. In January of 1777, a new Constitution was implemented through a national vote, which created the Alexandrian Commonwealth. This Constitution placed the nation back on metallic currency, “consolidated” public debt, regularized tax collection and created one of the finest armies in the history of Alexandria.
Following the ratification of the Constitution, Joseph Thiers was elected President of the Alexandrian Commonwealth in an election filled with voter fraud, intimidation and abstention. Phillip IX died in exile on February 18th, 1778- his death was celebrated throughout the new Commonwealth. His son, Crown Prince Francis Joseph, would spend the next four years in exile with little to do but hope and avoid blunders. He began courting widespread support among many nations which saw the Revolution and Thiers’ expansionist rhetoric as a grave threat. In 1781, after a failed invasion by [[_____________]], Thiers saw his administration in the middle of the same conditions as 1774. Hailstorms destroyed crops, peasant uprisings again threatened the stability of the Commonwealth, and the government began to overtax the people to pay for a large naval and army buildup. Again, the government entered into serious debt.
The End of the Revolution
Francis Joseph watched from far away and judged that it was time to strike. On May 26th, 1781, Crown Prince Francis Joseph set foot in Franciscania with a force of 1,987 men, after having spent seven years abroad. Capitalizing on local discontent and campaigning to overthrow the Commonwealth, his small force quickly turned into a force of 34,900 men. When news reached Geneva on May 30th, a coup in the National Assembly was successfully carried out, this gave Thiers full power. A countercoup on June 12th carried out by General Georges Chateaubriand overthrew President Thiers.
The entire fate of the nation seemed to rest in the hands of one man: Chateaubriand.
The Crown Prince arrived in Geneva on June 18th. Upon his arrival to Geneva, Chateaubriand met him and surrendered the nation to the Crown Prince. In a speech before the National Assembly two days later, he promised to “serve the people as a liberal monarch” and pledged to move towards peace, prosperity and democracy. The Declaration of 1781 was signed by the Crown Prince, in which he assumed the Crown in exchange of pledging to work together with the nation to create a constitutional monarchy. He was now Francis Joseph III, Emperor of Alexandria. A new National Assembly was called to draft a new constitution. The new Constitution was put to vote in November 5th, 1782 and ratified by the people. This was immediately followed by a national election in which Jacques Briotte, a moderate liberal who headed opposition to Thiers through the Democratic Party, won the Prime Ministership with a landslide 60% of the vote.
Francis Joseph III was crowned as “Emperor of All Alexandrians” in July 11th, 1782 in one of the most extravagant and pompous coronations ever recorded in Alexandrian history. Phillip IX’s body was brought to Puerto Nuevo to be laid to rest in the Portela Family Mausoleum. His body was placed next to that of Francis Joseph II, which happened to be a very strange coincidence.