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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

History in Fiction

I started writing a new historical fiction story as a challenge from Mausi. I have set the tale in the Baltic beginning in 1809 and it will track the events that eventually led to Napoleon's downfall after the disaster for the French at the gates of Moscow. In the process of doing the background research for the story I uncovered a fascinating side show of the history of the French Revolutionary Wars that fed directly into the Napoleonic War. It is fascinating as it was a key 'domino' in the chain that eventually toppled Bonaparte and gave rise to the British Empire.

It is fascinating for several reasons, not least because, until Napoleon succeeded in imposing a blockade on trade with Britain through the Baltic, British Trade in this area was worth more than 43 million Pounds a year. In 1809-10 the blockade began to bite and trade fell steadily until it was only 5 million pounds in 1812. The British economy almost collapsed, but was saved by the opening of new markets in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and the Americas. In part, the disputes over who carried what to where and under what flag also led to the War of 1812 with the USA - a war which was fortunately resolved quite quickly, probably because both sides realised they had better things to do.

The Baltic Trade recovered, once Sweden, Russia and the Northern German States evicted the French and re-opened their ports and harbours, but it never again held the primary importance it had in 1809.

Equally interesting is the fact that these upheavals and the French invasions and threats of invasions also led to a series of alliances and agreements between the rulers of the Germanic Principalities and Kingdoms which paved the way for Bismarck's Grand Plan of a Unified German State and People. Prussia - once covering all of what is today Northern Poland, Mecklenburg Strelitz, Schwerin Mecklenburg, Schleswig and the Danish province of Holstein, Brandenburg, Saxony, Thuringen and the Hanseatic City States of Rostock, Wismar, L├╝beck, Hamburg and Bremen were all part of these early beginnings. Until 1836 the English Royal House were also the Electors of Hannover and the English Crown held onto the Islands of Heligoland
until a Treaty was agreed in 1900 with the Kaiser, handing them back to German control.

Having always been fascinated by the way in which seemingly unconnected actions and events lead to consequences and events elsewhere, this is a fascinating journey for those interested in the history of the 19th and 20th Centuries.

My story is entitled 'A Baltic Affair' and can be found online by clicking on the title. I hope you'll take the time to read the chapters posted so far and perhaps leave some feedback.

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