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Old 12-14-2013, 11:55 PM   #1
nothri
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Default New Reality Seeds

Hi guys. One of my favorite sections of the old Alternate Earths sourcebook(s) was the little blurb about additional reality seeds (e.g.- little points in history that have potential for significant divergence, some of which were later fleshed out into full fledged worldlines). I have a few ideas of my own in this area, all of which I eventually hope to write up into chapter length alternate worlds in the style of the original sourcebooks and such supplements as Britannica-6. In the meantime, I thought I'd try to share them as Reality Seeds, and hopefully kickstart a thread in which you guys share your own ideas about what worlds Infinity might encounter out there in the setting.

Washington DC, 1800 AD: Aaron Burr is mostly remembered as the man who killed Alexander Hamilton and to a lesser extent for plotting an (allegedly) treasonous adventure in the Western frontier. Fewer people know he came a hair's breadth away from being elected president over Thomas Jefferson in 1800 AD. Such an ambitious man given the reigns of power will have profound effects on the US, as will the survival of Hamilton. A more ardent ally might give Napoleon the edge he needs to triumph at Tralafagar, perhaps eventually overwhelming the British and installing his own regime in England complete with the puppet Prime Minister Lord Byron. In such a case Burr would have free reign to conqueror British Canada and Spanish Mexico (on the verge of their own revolution). On the flip side the writings of Alexander Hamilton originally founded the Federalist Party, and might be able to preserve it if he lives past 1804. Given the vagaries of that party, westward expansion might be curtailed or at least prolonged for many more decades than in our world.

Konstanz, 1415 AD: The pivotal Council of Constance had several important impacts on our history, from ending the Catholic Schism to the election of Sigismund as Holy Roman Emperor to the execution of Jan Huss and the resultant decades of bloody Hussite Wars. Should that Council fail, the effect would be a continuing erosion of Papal authority and survival of a major proto-Protestant martyr. Such a scenario could be used to strengthen the marginal cause of Conciliarism, a movement growing within the Catholic Church aimed at placing the authority of the Ecumenical Council over the power of the Pope...in essence making Catholicism more like Orthodox Christianity. Such a system might make the Catholic Schism and the multitude of popal claimants irrelevant, and may even allow for a reunion and fusion between Catholics and Eastern Orthodoxy. If the Hussites Wars never occur, Germany might possess the manpower to answer the calls for crusade from the doomed Byzantine Empire. On the other hand, if Jan Huss reconciles with the church, the cause of the Protestants might come early to history or be doomed forever.

Thebes, 1361 BC: Prince Thutmose of Egypt had been groomed to assume the throne of Pharaoh all his life. His sudden death shifted the throne to his inexperienced brother, the man soon to call himself Akhenaten, a reign remembered for his aggressive promotion of monotheistic Atenism and by the loss of power for the nascent Egyptian Empire in their conquests to the east. Should Thutmose survive to the throne of Egypt, he would most likely have continued the work of his father and grandfather in defending Egypt's ally the Mitanni and perhaps even conquering the rising power of the Hittites in the name of the Two Lands. His brother would be free to compose praises for the Aten and dream of his sun god to his heart's content, providing the ground work the fledgling cult would need to stand up against the powerful rival cults of Egypt such as Amun-Ra. His son Tutankamun (Tutankaten in this world) might be raised with both the military genius of Thutmose and the religious devotion of his father. Used correctly, Atenism could be the glue that binds Egypt more closely to the territories it has conquered, consolidating power and Egyptianizing the locals after the fashion of the Nubians. A more powerful Egyptian Empire can weather the attacks of the Sea Peoples and the Bronze Age collapse, making it the dominant power in an era known for the fall of classical civilizations across the Western World. Should Egypt annex some of these cultures while they are still so vulnerable it might be Egypt rather than Alexander's Hellenism that the world looks to as a model of for future civilizations. Atenism can then work as a kind of displacement for monotheism, serving perhaps to unite the German tribes (as Christianity did) or the Arabian tribes (as Islam did) into a new Dynasty or successor state that allows the Pharaohs to survive into the modern age.

Rebellion of the Seven States, 154 BC: Many have speculated that an ancient divided Chinese Empire could follow the path of Western History and form independent states that compete and colonize as the centuries mount. Perhaps the last chance for this to be truly feasible is in 154 BC, when the princes of the Chinese states rebelled against Han rule. Had the northern tribes of the Xiongnu honored their word and provided their own forces for the battles, the princes might have been able to assert their own control over the emperor. Such a happening could see a return to the Spring and Autumn period in terms of philosophy and technical growth, with the political system of China resembling more the loosely defined kingdoms of the Holy Roman Empire ostensibly governed by a single Emperor but largely independent of one another. This could be played as an acceleration of technology and science, perhaps with a revival of Mohist thought as the catalyst. For instance, gunpowder might be discovered in the next decade (the scholar Wei Boyang did find a formula for black powder around this time, but apparently never realized the full implications of the mixture...it would be hundreds more years before the alchemy was found again). In the West, a united Xiongnu might cause the Huns to rise earlier, or never to form at all. Either way such an event probably won't save Rome or prevent the migrations of tribes to the West, but it WILL have a dramatic impact on migration patterns and exactly when and how Rome will collapse. Back to China, the immediate successor to the (now weakened) position of Emperor will be Wu, one of the most interesting and long lived figures in contemporary Chinese History. His interest in the legendary western island of the immortals might see the conquest of Taiwan or Japan, especially if his military ambitions are blunted in other directions by the victorious Hegemonies. Such an interest in Western exploration, combined with decades to indulge himself, could lead to an early discovery of the Americas. An exchange of goods and ideas with the empires of the Maya and Olmecs could have unimaginable results for history.

Constantinople, 787 AD: Speaking of displaced geopolitics, the idea of using Chinese history to preserve the life of Rome was used to great effect in the Roma Aterna setting. But that was not the only great empire that might have been preserved under such a model. In 781 the daughter of Charlemagne was engaged to be married to Constantine VI, heir to the throne of the Byzantine Empire. Had his mother not broken off the engagement in 787 AD for her own political purposes, they would have united the immense territories of the Carolingian Empire to the throne of the Eastern Roman Empire. Byzantine models of society, architecture and engineering (including the all important building of roads!) might have bound the untamed wilds of Germany more tightly together, making it feasible to keep the continent united long enough to become a single massive nation-state.

The Hague, 1650 AD: Considered the height of the Dutch Republic's power and influence, the Stadtholderless period was nonetheless marked by major wars with Britain and France, the ultimate result of which was the loss of world power status for the Netherlands. The First Anglo-Dutch war came about when efforts by Lord Protector Cromwell to unite the republics with his nascent commonwealth were rebuffed by the Hague. Had the Orangists been more aggressive in protecting the position of future Stadtholder William III (at the time a new born), the region would have likely fallen to civil war. Cromwell might have then invaded the Netherlands and entered Holland as a liberator and a hero, receiving a more receptive audience to his talk of unification. Had he secured the Dutch as part of the Commonwealth, Cromwell's next order of business was the conquest of Hispanola and then the rest of the Spanish holdings in America. A united British-Dutch fleet would have made short work of the Spain's faltering defenses. The reforms that followed the death of William the second could be delayed in this timeline until the death of Cromwell, preventing the chaos that followed the collapse of the Commonwealth and allowing England, Scotland and Ireland to be integrated and organized into their own republics as part of the Dutch system. The inevitable clash between the Anglo-Dutch Empire and France could be delayed if Louis can be convinced to seek expansion in Egypt (as certain diplomats attempted to do in our history), perhaps leading to a conquest of the Ottomans and even the French Crown converting to Islam? Given a freerier hand in colonial affairs, the combined English/Dutch East India Trading Company could become a power unto itself, perhaps eventually grabbing power as a corporate state during the turbulent outbreak of republicanism due to come in the next century.

Those are the concepts I am currently working on. Feel free to ask me questions or share your own ideas. I'd love to know what people think so far!

Last edited by nothri; 12-15-2013 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 12-15-2013, 12:53 AM   #2
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I absolutely adored those little blurbs. Weren't there some in Who's Who also? I think your first two are very interesting, but now I'd better get back to preparing today's game instead of reading cool long forum posts ^^; Hopefully, there'll be more in the evening. If not, I'll see if I can't add a few.
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Old 12-15-2013, 10:37 AM   #3
nothri
 
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There are indeed a lot of good ideas in Who's Who. I was inspired in part by some of the information found in those volumes as well as timelines and some of the other GURPS supplements. I do like to think I've expanded enough on the concepts to be useful and unique all on my own, however :) I'll let ya'll be the judge.

Anyone else have worlds to share?
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Old 12-15-2013, 12:25 PM   #4
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Okay, back for more. I really like your ideas one to four, but think the last two are a bit too fantastic.

Constantinople, 787 AD doesn't work for me, because I think that Charlemagne's Empire was basically doomed to fail without his extraordinary personality and the web of leaders loyal to him as a person. There were just too many disparate entities in one empire for it to be stable. The eventual outcome might differ, but I really think nobody could keep Aquitanians and Saxons in the same empire and keep the borders safe against Iberian muslims, Viking raiders, Hungarians and so on. Having a greek foreigner at the head wouldn't help. Even with the power of the Roman Empire, which was hard pressed by the Arabs, to back him up, the infrastructure just wasn't there to maintain it.

The Hague, 1650 AD seems a bit too optimistic as far Cromwell's success and French inaction is concerned. A Netherlands close to England wasn't quite as dangerous to France as the opposite, but it can be safely assumed that the French would be tempted to stir up trouble and look for allies. Spain wasn't quite the mess at the time it was after Charles II's reign also. Not to mention that there was considerable European interest in restoring the monarchy in England.

I'm not saying a band of plucky heroes or ISWAT members couldn't swing those the way you describe them, but they are just a tad too unlikely for me as a campaign backdrop.

Rebellion of the Seven States, 154 BC is very interesting and seems to combine some of the ideas from Lebow's Unmaking the West, which is a very fascinating book if you look at things from a historian's (and not a novelist's or a GM's) perspective. But I really don't know that much about ancient Chinese history to comment, but good stuff nevertheless.

But you asked for more historical vignettes, not detailed criticism, so I give you two rough sketches.

Berlin/Jerusalem 1916: The German and Ottoman Empires are hard-pressed to hold the line against the Entente Powers. To pre-empt a British attempt to garner Jewish support (what happened in OTL with the Balfour Declaration) German diplomats convince the German and Ottoman governments including a reluctant Wilhelm II (who didn't care for his Jewish subjects very much, but didn't mind Zionism as an easy way to be rid of them) to sponsor a "National home for the Jewish in Palestine". While the leading Zionists in the Entente Powers wisely decline to comment on this development, it earns much interest in Germany, Austria-Hungary and occupied Russian territory. It also turns Jewish opinion in the US in favour of Germany. This combined with the wise decision not to resume unrestricted submarine warfare kept the Americans out of the war (but still friendly to the Entente). The eventual German collapse is just as complete as in OTL, but when the British Empire reluctantly takes up the Zionist cause afterwards the Germans still get all the praise for taking the first step. With Jewish charities in America setting up donations to help starving German children and invalids, anti-semitism has much less appeal in the immediate post-war situation and leads to a minor Austrian corporal in German service to return in disgust to his Austrian native soil. Anti-semitism still plays some role in German politics, but it doesn't form an important platform in any of the major parties. Without a strong NSDAP the Weimar coalition of Zentrum, DVP and SPD manages to weather the storm of the World Economic Crisis and Germany manages to avoid another dictatorship.

Yekaterinburg 1918: The Czechoslovak Legion frees tsar Nicholas II from Bolshevik Imprisonment. The tsar goes on to become a popular figurehead for the White forces and manages to arrange a united front against the Bolsheviks. Despite intial successes the Russian heartlands cannot be held, but Entente interventions and the ongoing war against Poland convince the communist leaders to agree to a ceasefire that grants Siberia to the Whites. With a safe haven in the east, many political opponents emigrate over the urals swelling the White ranks and at the same time tempering Soviet policies. An uneasy truce exists between the two Russias that continues at least until the end of the 1920s - not in the least because of obvious western support for the Siberians. This may change when Japanese expansionists have to decide whether to go after China in earnest or grab Siberian lands.

For extra fun, combine the two seeds. Hope you find them at least somewhat plausible.

Last edited by Blind Mapmaker; 12-15-2013 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 12-15-2013, 02:07 PM   #5
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The Hague, 1650 AD seems a bit too optimistic as far Cromwell's success and French inaction is concerned. A Netherlands close to England wasn't quite as dangerous to France as the opposite, but it can be safely assumed that the French would be tempted to stir up trouble and look for allies. Spain wasn't quite the mess at the time it was after Charles II's reign also. Not to mention that there was considerable European interest in restoring the monarchy in England.
Not to mention that amongst other dubious achievements Cromwell had, by the time he died, alienated enough of his own allies that there was a fair degree of interest in England in restoring the monarchy. Added to which given the lack of a suitable successor to Cromwell I would think that the Anglo-Dutch empire probably won't be a republic for very long.
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Old 12-16-2013, 09:58 AM   #6
nothri
 
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On the Dutch timeline, some comments:

That's part of the point, really. The Lord's Protector, the monarch-in-all-but-name title that Cromwell eventually adopted for himself, was not an altogether alien concept to the Dutch. Their own Stadtholder had served more or less the same function in their society. My thinking is, if we merge the two societies, then disgust with Cromwell could follow the pattern that disgust for William the Second did in the Netherlands- e.g. a series of reforms aimed at putting power into the hands of a counsel of representatives of the major republics in the region (in this case to include representatives from Ireland, England, and Scotland...oh yeah, and Wales. I always forget about Wales...). And when people get tired of that chronically sluggish institution accomplishing literally nothing and calling that lack of progress a virture, William the 3rd can throw his hat in the ring as Lord's Protector just in time for this world's version of the Glorious Revolution.

At for France, at this point in history Louis had not yet begun to consider the Dutch or the English as a bigger threat than Spain. The Dutch grew more hostile towards France after Louis invaded the Spanish Netherlands (regions the Dutch had long considered theirs to liberate, and were no more welcoming of French control over than they were of Spain). The Dutch in turn made alliances with Spain against France, which Louis considered a kind of betrayal. If Cromwell invades the region first while France is still hostile towards Spain, the French might be persuaded to remain neutral regarding the whole affair. In addition, Louis was reluctant to immediately dive into a war with the Dutch, who at the time were allied with Britain and Sweden (a rising power at this stage). Louis worked to end the alliance between England and the Netherlands as a prelude to open conflict with the Dutch, something he succeeded at in our history. An Anglo-Dutch Empire more firmly united could present a big enough hornet's nest than Louis wants to kick, especially if neither Empire has a reason to ally with Spain. Louis was never a firm ally of the Ottomans, though he would support them readily enough when doing so undermined his enemies. Pushing into Egypt would invite Ottoman wrath (even though I believe it was controlled by the Mamelukes at this point in history) but it would also win allies in the East Holy Roman Empire and Russia (a good counterbalance to the Dutch-Swedish alliance). War can't be postponed forever, but I do think Louis is less likely to start wars against opponents that seem powerful than he is to build an empire along promising trade routes in regions who are showing signs of instability. Besides, I'm a fan of injecting some amount of high strangeness into my parallels just to give them that "not in Kansas anymore" vibe, and a French speaking Sultanate (perhaps brought about when the monarchy is forced to flee to colonial holdings during their version of the French Revolution?) certainly qualifies.

I don't know so much about WW1 history, but your ideas certainly sound interesting. I especially like the "Siberian Csar" scenario. If there's a Hitler in this timeline, it certainly begs the question as to which Russia he will seek an alliance with.
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Old 05-11-2014, 05:27 PM   #7
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Berlin/Jerusalem 1916: The German and Ottoman Empires are hard-pressed to hold the line against the Entente Powers. To pre-empt a British attempt to garner Jewish support (what happened in OTL with the Balfour Declaration) German diplomats convince the German and Ottoman governments including a reluctant Wilhelm II (who didn't care for his Jewish subjects very much, but didn't mind Zionism as an easy way to be rid of them) to sponsor a "National home for the Jewish in Palestine". While the leading Zionists in the Entente Powers wisely decline to comment on this development, it earns much interest in Germany, Austria-Hungary and occupied Russian territory. It also turns Jewish opinion in the US in favour of Germany. This combined with the wise decision not to resume unrestricted submarine warfare kept the Americans out of the war (but still friendly to the Entente). The eventual German collapse is just as complete as in OTL, but when the British Empire reluctantly takes up the Zionist cause afterwards the Germans still get all the praise for taking the first step. With Jewish charities in America setting up donations to help starving German children and invalids, anti-semitism has much less appeal in the immediate post-war situation and leads to a minor Austrian corporal in German service to return in disgust to his Austrian native soil. Anti-semitism still plays some role in German politics, but it doesn't form an important platform in any of the major parties. Without a strong NSDAP the Weimar coalition of Zentrum, DVP and SPD manages to weather the storm of the World Economic Crisis and Germany manages to avoid another dictatorship.
Pretty longwinded explanation riddled with lots of what I would not agree with. Whatever you can say of Wilhelm II, he did not try to get rid of Jews - the Germany before WWI was among the most tolerant countries with respect to Jews in the world. Wether Jewish sympathy would have helped a lot to keep America out of the war is also doubtful, in my opinion. It's probable that Germany's resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare (which in any case should have been used relentlessly against Britain as long as the despicable Hunger Blockade was maintained) was only a pretext for America to enter the war. They would have found something else, one always does.

It's also not the case that Germany was more antisemitic after the war than any other nation, and in any case, Hitler's right wing party enjoyed no great successes at first. Even as late as in 1928 the NSDAP achieved a meagre 2,5% result in the election, the soaring rise of this party only began in 1929 with the Depression.

To avoid the NS dictatorship ("Yet another dictatorship"? Had there been another one before that?), all this convoluted stuff isn't really necessary. All kinds of coincidences might have achieved the same. For instance, something may have convinced the conservative parties not to seek a coalition with the NS Party in early 1933. No government can be formed, so another election is held in which the NSDAP achieves only an unspectacular result of 27% (they were on the downward slore, having achieved 37% in late 1932, but only 32% in early 1933). Hitler never becomes chancellor and remains a footnote in history.

Or even simpler: During the Bürgerbräu-Putsch, policemen fire upon the putschists, and one bullet's trajectory leads it right through Hitler's Brain. End of story. Alternatively (should you share Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth's sentiment about saving the latter for transplantation experiments), simply assume that Hitler faces a far less understanding judge in the trial afterwards, and is sentenced to 10 years in prison for treason. After being released in 1933, he emigrates to the US, where he becomes a third class science fiction author, who later founds his own religion called "Systemology" (mainly to avoid paying taxes). He dies as a rich man in 1976.
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Old 05-12-2014, 09:43 AM   #8
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Simply assume that Hitler faces a far less understanding judge in the trial afterwards, and is sentenced to 10 years in prison for treason. After being released in 1933, he emigrates to the US, where he becomes a third class science fiction author, who later founds his own religion called "Systemology" (mainly to avoid paying taxes). He dies as a rich man in 1976.
Another tack might have been a shrewder attitude toward Germany in France. Since by 1922 the French knew that the Americans had been deeply insulted by them and were turning deeply isolationist anyway, and the Brits weren't likely to be that much help, maybe instead of trying to pound Germany down, the French try charm. The French work on winning the Germans over to an allience with them. This allience, strongest on the left by far, slowly but surely moves Germany in a democratic direction. Many of the destabilizing event never occur. When the Spanish Civil War breaks out, a Franco-German allience aids the Loyalist cause. Italy tried to intimidate them, and gets told off. Spain, France and Germany, form a sort of proto-EU/semi-Soverine (I'll check spelling).

Later in the 1940's, Stalin, seeing instability in his Soviet Union, decides that conquest of the decadent West will bring a new unity to Russia.

Basically a proto-EU, Britain and America, Versus the U.S.S.R. in a twisted WWII with Japan and Italy as twisted kibbitzers.

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Old 03-17-2017, 04:00 AM   #9
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There are indeed a lot of good ideas in Who's Who. I was inspired in part by some of the information found in those volumes as well as timelines and some of the other GURPS supplements. I do like to think I've expanded enough on the concepts to be useful and unique all on my own, however :) I'll let ya'll be the judge.

Anyone else have worlds to share?
Love those in Who's Who. My favourite is probably Robert E Howard and HP Lovecraft faking their own deaths to adventure overseas and fight nazis.
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Old 03-17-2017, 11:00 AM   #10
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If it were my game, I'd want to see the players pulling strings to bring about this coalition, only to have Napoleon try to pull a last minute betrayal to surprise his foes when their guard is down. There will be dire quantum-reality consequences if this is not averted or managed...
You can do what you want but … Napoleon wasn’t noted for betraying his allies or even leaving them in the lurch. Second, the Ottomans are an existential threat, so neither Napoleon nor the Sixth Coalition have a lot of incentive to betray each other until after the Ottomans are dealt with. Third, Napoleon needs a really big incentive to even think about betraying the Coalition. At this point, he wants to be left in peace to rule France as its emperor. Allying with the Sixth Coalition is his best shot at getting that. Even if he can crush all the armies of the Sixth Coalition, and history says he can’t, (The Sixth Coalition, which already existed in the winter of 1812, defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig, Saxony (Battle of Nations) 16-19 October, 1813.), all that means is that the Sixth Coalition raises another set of armies and, if he’s betrayed them before crushing them, he’ll probably be sent to St. Helena, instead of Elba, if they don’t execute him. France will probably be occupied by the Sixth Coalition to ensure there no revolts against the Bourbon Restoration. The occupation might last an entire generation (twenty years).

Aside from that, although Napoleon was an effective leader, his rise to power and his ability to keep that power came in large measure because the values he represented aligned closely with the values of the French people themselves, particularly during the Revolution. Just because it’s Napoleon betraying the Coalition, it doesn’t follow that his troops will go along with him, at least not if it’s clear to them that he is betraying the Coalition and France. and betraying the Coalition before the Ottomans are defeated will be viewed as betraying France.

Having the Coalition with Napoleon stopping the Ottomans at Vienna, moves the Battle of Nations (as the largest and bloodiest battle in Europe prior to WWI) to Vienna (where the Ottoman Turks were defeated on 12 Sep, 1683) and may move the date of the battle up a bit. It could be fun to have your PCs negotiating the alliance with Napoleon (but the really tricky negotiation would be getting the Spanish to trust Joseph).

In terms of betrayal, the Sixth Coalition is the likelier of the two to betray Napoleon. They are unlikely to betray Napoleon before the Turks are defeated (for the same reasons Napoleon is unlikely to) and might even keep the alliance going long enough to liberate the European possessions of the Ottoman Empire (OTL [date of independence/liberation]: Wallachia and Moldavia [Romania] [13 July, 1878], Bulgaria [3 Mar, 1878], Serbia [14 Sep, 1829], Montenegro [13 July, 1878], Macedonia, Greece [3 Feb, 1830], Albania [28 Nov, 1912], Bosnia and Herzegovina [26 Feb, 1909]). The primary reason for such a betrayal would be a distrust of Napoleon’s (and France’s) territorial ambitions coupled with a distrust of the idea of the revolutionary democracy.
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