STELLA POLARIS

The Life and the Era of Sofia Augusta, the Grand-Duchess of Finland

written by Jussi Olavi Jalonen

A mon feu qui s'éteint rends sa clarté premičre
C'est du nord aujourd'hui que nous vient la lumičre.

- Voltaire, 1769

Introduction

One of the little-known curiosities of Scandinavian history is that after the Swedish defeat and the Russian takeover of Finland in the so-called "War of the Hats" (1741-1743), Empress Elizaveta seriously comtemplated forming an independent Grand-Duchy of Finland out of the newly-conquered provinces. Later historians have seen the plan as one part of the general 18th century Russian policy of creating nominally sovereign buffer states that were supposed to act as barriers between Russia and the neighbouring Europan powers - in this case, Sweden. However, unlike the Grand-Duchy of Finland which was eventually created by Tsar Alexander I in 1808-1809, the resolution which Elizaveta was considering back in 1743 did not envision an autonomous Finnish state within the Russian Empire, but rather a separate state of Finland under Russian protection, dynastically detached from the Empire and ruled by one of Elizaveta's relatives. The designated ruler for Finland was Duke Karl Peter Ulrich of Holstein-Gottorp, a nephew of the Tsarina, who, in our timeline, is best remembered from his short reign as the Emperor Peter III... and also, indirectly, from the rather more glamorous career of his wife.

For various reasons, Elizaveta's plans for Finland came to nothing. But what if history had taken another course? What if the state of Finland had seen the light of day as early as in 1743, under the erratic rule of Duke Karl Peter Ulrich and the suzerainty and protection of the Russian Empire? What would have been the effects on the 18th century Scandinavian, Russian, European and World history? What if, as the above-quoted line from Voltaire suggested, the Light of Reason really had come to Europe from the north?

The following timeline - originally written for the usenet newsgroup soc.history.what-if, one of the main forums for the discussion and study of alternate history - is a modest attempt to provide an answer to these questions and explore the subsequent history on all possible levels.

As a special note, all the dates given in the story are, for convenience's sake, in accordance to the Gregorian calendar, unless otherwise mentioned.

The overture: July 1741 - August 1745
The second part: August 1746 - October 1748
The third part: October 1748 - March 1751
The fourth part: April 1751
The fifth part: May 1751
The sixth part: June-July 1751
The seventh part: July-August 1751
The eighth part: August-September 1751
The ninth part: October-November 1751
The tenth part: December 1751
The eleventh part: January - March, 1752
The twelfth part: April - August, 1752
The thirteenth part: September, 1752 - April, 1753
The fourteenth part: April, 1753 - February, 1754
The fifteenth part: March, 1754 - December, 1754
Bibliography

The overture: July 1741 - August 1745

July 28th, A.D. 1741: Attempting to bind Russian forces to the north and prevent the assistance of St. Petersburg to Maria Teresia in the ongoing war over the Austrian succession, the French government incites Sweden to attack the Russian Empire. Eager to gain revanche for the humiliation of Nystad, the Hat cabinet in Stockholm launches the prepared war of aggression against Russia, but the decision results in a quick disaster, as the Russian army advances on Finnish soil and inflicts a bloody defeat on general Carl Henrik Wrangel's forces at Villmanstrand on August 23rd. On November 24th, Ulrika Eleonora, the Queen of Sweden, dies. Meanwhile, the Swedish invasion facilitates the planned coup in St. Petersburg, and on November 25th, the infant Emperor Ivan VI and his mother, Empress Anna Leopoldovna, are overthrown by the Grand-Duchess Elizaveta Petrovna and the Imperial Guard. The hostilities on the northwestern border cease, as the new Empress concludes a truce with the Swedish commander-in-chief, field-marshal Carl Emil Lewenhaupt.

On February 1742, Elizaveta denounces the truce and the war is renewed, as Russian troops march to Finland once again. On March 18th, Elizaveta issues a manifesto to the "Estates and People of the Grand-Duchy of Finland", offering protection to the Finnish people and holding out a promise for an independent State of Finland, should the inhabitants of the country seek to break from Sweden, the realm which has acted against the best interests of its Finnish subjects by waging an unjust war against the Russian Empire. Stockholm reacts by issuing a countermanifesto, warning the Finns of the Russian false promises. The last Swedish military forces in Finland surrender in August, leaving the eastern borderland once again under Russian occupation.

At the Russian orders, the Provincial Diets of Finland convene in the towns of Vasa and Åbo in September. Seeking protection from the invading army, the Finnish estates swear allegiance to the Empress. The meeting in Åbo takes up the issue of Holstein succession, suggesting Duke Karl Peter Ulrich, the nephew of Elizaveta and the great-grandson of Carl XI, to the throne of Finland and Sweden. The Russian military officials refuse to permit the delegation to present the matter to the Empress, claiming that since the Duke has been already named next in succession to the Russian throne, he will also become the ruler of Finland. The question of the Finnish government is taken up for discussion by the Imperial Council in St. Petersburg on February 1743. Chancellor Aleksei Bestuzhev and his brother Count Mikhail Bestuzhev, the Russian ambassadour in Stockholm, both support the formation of an autonomous Grand-Duchy of Finland, ruled by one of the relatives of the Tsarina, under the protection and overlordship of the Russian Empire. Field-marshal Ivan Trubetskoi and councillor von Brevern, on their part, advocate granting Finland full independence as a sovereign, neutral state. In the end, the future of the newly-conquered borderland depends entirely on the decision of the Russian Empress.

Meanwhile, the Swedish riksdag is faced both with the need to negotiate a quick peace and also, after the death of the Queen, to decide on the succession to the childless King Fredrik I. Christian VI, the King of Denmark, senses the opportunity to fulfil the age-old dream of reuniting the Scandinavian crowns, and promotes the claims of his son, the Crown Prince Frederik. The Danish candidature is advocated by the Swedish peasants' estate, who press the issue with force. As the peace treaty between Sweden and Russia is being negotiated in Åbo on June 1743, a peasant army of 5'000 men from Dalarna marches to Stockholm. The "Stora Daldansen" reaches its height on June 20th, as the Dalekarlians, by their sheer force of numbers, take control of the panic-stricken capital and capture both the King and the estate leaders. The military units refuse to fire on the rebels. Caving in to the popular revolution and threatened by a possible Danish incursion in Skåne, the Swedish riksdag is forced to elect the Danish Crown Prince as the successor to the throne on June 19th.

The final peace treaty is signed in Åbo on August 7th, 1743. Anxious to detach themselves from the conflict with Sweden and turn to the more urgent matters on the Continent, the Russians reluctantly recognize Frederik as the Crown Prince of both Denmark-Norway and Sweden. All of Finland, east of the Kemi-Ounas riverline, excluding the Åland islands, is separated from Sweden. Following her original manifesto and accepting Bestuzhev's proposal, Elizaveta creates Finland as a nominally independent Grand-Duchy under Russian suzerainty, a buffer state against the new Scandinavian Union. Preparing her nephew for the accession to the Russian throne, the Tsarina grants the crown of Finland to Karl Peter Ulrich, and on September 11th, 1743, the Lantdag of Åbo unanimously accepts him as the Grand-Duke of Finland. Obtaining the nation's voice in the matters of common good, the new monarch graciously affirms the traditional rights and privileges of the Finnish estates.

An unprecedented event has taken place in Europe. The traditional balance of power has been rocked by the birth of a new state in the north, although at first, most of the Great Powers are too preoccupied by the war on the European continent and the Jacobite uprising in Scotland to pay any attention to the small Russian protectorate next to St. Petersburg. The Finns gradually reconcile themselves with the new situation, and many are quick to find out the benefits of the independent position. Relieved from the competition with their former Swedish countrymen, Finnish nobles make good use of the new career opportunities opened in the administration back home. The peasants pass through a short fear of unknown, but soon regain their sense of security. After all, the war and the occupation are over, their age-old rights have been guaranteed and the separation from Sweden hasn't been the unmitigated disaster it was feared to be.

Everything continues to carry on more or less as before. Even though the new Grand-Duke is a bit of an odd fellow - some say he's a _lot_ like Erik XIV - he's surrounded by competent advisors, is a devout Lutheran, and many Finns consider the new court in Åbo to be more receptive to their needs than the grandees in Stockholm ever were. And on August 21st, 1745, the people of Finland have all the more reason to feel proud of their new status, as the Cathedral of Åbo hosts a grand, fabulous wedding. The new Grand-Duchess, the 16-years old German Princess Sofia Augusta of the house of Anhalt-Zerbst, is definitely one of the most beautiful and charming women ever to have graced this small, northern country...

The second part: August 1746 - October 1748

- The year 1746 is an election year in Sweden, as the Hats and the Caps rally their forces and make their bid for the riksdag seats. The aged King Fredrik continues to ignore his duties in favour of leading a happy life of indolence, and the equally idle and pleasure-loving crown prince - who has just recently been crowned as Frederik V, the King of Denmark and Norway - doesn't express any particular interest in the elections, either, refusing to engage in party politics. The official opinion of Copenhagen is that the Swedes are free to have their folly if they want to. Although the Danish court has traditionally had little sympathy towards the proud constitutional traditions of Sweden, these differences of opinion are now temporarily erased by the presumably common interest of the two Scandinavian countries: the Russian menace and its bridgeheads in Holstein-Gottorp and Finland. [1]

However, the elections testify that Sweden is burying her past antagonisms towards Russia for the time being. Despite the fierce competition over the parliamentary seats, the outcome is nonetheless predictable; the calamitous war, the loss of Finland and the ensuing financial crisis have effectively discredited the Hat party. Marshal Carl Gustaf Tessin fights hard, but nothing can save the Hats from defeat. For the first time, the Caps can also match the organization of their opponents, and the proxy votes bought up with the Ŗ50'000 credit from colonel Melchior Guy Dickens, the British ambassadour, secure three out of four estates to the Caps. The scramble for the council seats is an equal success, and on the New Year's Eve, the Cap leader Samuel Åkerhielm is appointed as the new Chancery President. A timely death has spared Gyllenborg from witnessing the demise of his brainchild. [2]

The British influence over the Swedish elections is partly due to the commercial links; although Sweden has lost the Ostrobothnian tar, Britain still imports a good deal of her bar iron from Sweden. Moreover, the potential succession of Frederik V to the Swedish throne has also rekindled British interest in the Scandinavian affairs; the apparent shift of Denmark-Norway to the French camp and the Danish restrictions on British exports are more than sufficient to arouse the fear that if the Scandinavian crowns are united under a Danish monarch, the Baltic might once again turn into Mare Clausum. Thus, in order to secure the traditional access to the Baltic naval stores, the British plans are to dispute the succession by diplomatic, economic or - as the last resort - military means. As the first steps towards this goal, Britain continues to focus on cooperation with Russia and support for those mostly non-peasant Caps who are seen as potentially pro-British. The leader among this Anglophile faction of the Caps is the Stockholm burgher Kristoffer Springer [3].

- The everyday life in the newborn Grand-Duchy of Finland continues happily. The peasants tend their farms, hear the proclamations of their monarch in the parish churches and pay their taxes as they've always done - except that now, the country finally has its own treasury, headed by native officials, and the irksome regulations from Stockholm have disappeared. The burghers on the western seaboard still continue to trade with the former mother country, but St. Petersburg is fast assuming the place formerly held by the Swedish capital in the Finnish commerce. Even better, the uplifting of the old Swedish trade restrictions has made Finland an ideal country for British and Dutch merchants, who more and more often buy their timber and tar directly from Finnish ports. The influx of wealth has a profound effect on the country, as the town burghers and peasant-traders in Ostrobothnia and Satakunta begin to invest in shipbuilding on a scale never seen before. In the years 1746-1750, over five hundred vessels are constructed in the shipyards of the new Finnish staple towns.

However, the higher echelons of the Finnish society have somewhat lost their contentment. It's fairly obvious that the Grand-Duke Karl Peter Ulrich is not only a drunk - which, in itself, is nothing bad - but also a complete physical and emotional retard, who possesses neither competence nor interest in actually governing the country. Most practical matters are decided by Adam Fredenstjerna, the Head of the State Council [4], who directly consults the Russian Empress in the matters regarding the foreign and military policy. The latter is gradually turning into a source of constant displeasement; the presence of the Grand-Duke's Holsteiner Guard is more than the experienced and patriotic officers of the Finnish army can tolerate, and fights between Finns and Holsteiners break out on regular intervals. A circle of dissidents is forming around ex-Hats such as governor Anders Henrik Ramsay [5], who, while having come to terms with the separation, cannot accept the fact that the fatherland is ruled by a frail foreigner who's personally nursed by the Russian Empress during his times of illness.

Curiously, not many people have noticed that the Grand-Duchess Sofia Augusta has so far failed to produce an heir. The sad truth is that the marriage hasn't been consumated, and the young couple are barely on speaking terms. The days of the lonely Grand-Duchess are mostly filled by the study of the Finnish language and folk poetry - which she finds absolutely fascinating - and political philosophy, from Plato and More to Hobbes and Voltaire. Even still, Sofia Augusta isn't totally isolated in her estate in Helsingfors - in fact, her manor in Ekudden has become the favourite meeting-place for a number of young, strapping Finnish military men, mostly from Nyland dragoon regiment, who are cavalierly enough to grant their Grand-Duchess the satisfaction her husband cannot deliver.

- On October 1748, the Treaty of Aachen ends the War of Austrian Succession, or, as the American history will come to record it, King George's War. After eight long, bloody years, the European Continent is finally blessed with a period of peace, but some scars won't heal that easily; behind the scenes, Maria Teresia is already plotting vengeance against the cunning King of Prussia.

Notes:

[1] Holstein-Gottorp was the arch-enemy of Denmark, and the marriage of Duke Karl Friedrich to Grand-Duchess Anna Petrovna, the daughter of Peter the Great and Catherine I, in 1725 also added the Russian threat to Denmark's security concerns. By the mid-century, Denmark was gravitating towards the French alliance system in order to resolve the Gottorp question and concluded a subsidy agreement with France in 1741. As told, in this ATL, Karl Peter Ulrich, the son of Karl Friedrich and Anna, is the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, the Grand-Duke of Finland and the next in line to the Russian throne. Fredrik I, the King of Sweden, is simultaneously the Landgrave of Hessen, whereas Frederik V, the King of Denmark-Norway, is the Crown Prince of Sweden.

[2] For those not familiar with the 18th century Swedish parliamentary politics, count Carl Gyllenborg, who died in 1746 also in OTL, was the mastermind behind the Hat party, so named after the French tricorne favoured by his supporters. Miraculously, the Hats actually won OTL's elections of 1746 and forced Åkerhielm's resignation; despite the post-war discontention, they were able to outmanoeuvre the Caps with the support of Crown Prince Adolf Fredrik and his wife Lovisa Ulrika, the sister of Friedrich the Great. The aggressive Russian diplomacy on the eve of the elections also played in the Hats' hands, allowing Tessin to appeal to Swedish patriotism. As told, in this ATL, the Danish prince is his own indifferent self, and since the Tsarina has already detached Finland from Sweden, the Hats are far more humiliated and the Russians have no need to carry out further demonstrations to press the issue. The Finnish Caps are obviously removed from the picture, but then again, same goes for many Finnish Hats.

[3] Springer was prosecuted, tried and convicted to life imprisonment by the Hats after OTL's 1746 elections. He attempted to seek asylum from the British embassy, which led to a face-off between Dickens and the Swedish government. Eventually the Britons turned Springer over to the Hats and recalled their ambassadour, which severed the Anglo-Swedish diplomatic relations for sixteen years. After five years in jail, Springer managed to escape and relocated to Russia.

[4] Adam Schütz, later ennobled by the name Fredenstjerna, was a native Finn, a high Cap and the Chief of the Åbo Court of Appeals in 1758-1768. His most memorable literary work, Unvorgreiflicher Entwurf, was a harsh accusation both against the Hats in particular and the Swedish rule in general. His request to the ambassadour Nikita Panin in 1749 called for the Russians to invade Finland and grant the country an independent legislature. Fredenstjerna's "separatism" was not nationalism in the modern sense of the word, but rather simply an aggressive rhetoric motivated by his broader political intentions; however, I figured that the man would still opt to stay in his native land after the breakup of the realm, gaining a central position in this ATL's Finnish government.

[5] An ardent patriot and a bellicose man, Ramsay was known as a fervent advocate of the Finnish language and interests in OTL. A political misfit, who shifted from the Hats to the Caps, and later on to the Court Party. No democrat, but an officer and a gentleman very aware of his rank and class.

The third part: October 1748 - March 1751

- The middle 18th century is blissful period for the ancient state of Denmark. Despite the hopeless drunkenness and debauchery of King Frederik V - who follows his chosen motto, "Moderation and Constancy", with 50% dedication - the Royal family, especially the English Queen Louise, enjoys its highest popularity ever. The administration of the realm is in the competent hands of the astute and conscientous Mecklenburger Count Adam Gottlob Moltke, the trade in the Gold Coast, China and the Virgin Islands is bringing immense profits to Copenhagen, and the sight of a naval squadron flying the Dannebrog in the harbour of Algiers is more than enough to convince the Bey that raiding on Danish merchant vessels is not a good idea. The Kingdom of Denmark-Norway may not rank up with the Great Powers of Europe, but it definitely has its own place in the sun.

However, the foreign relations are by no means entirely trouble-free. The late Christian VI may have considered the revival of the Union of Scandinavian crowns as his greatest accomplishment ever, but the men directing Denmark's affairs after his death find this legacy most burdensome. On the Christmas eve of 1748, the Russian chancellor Aleksei Bestuzhev informs Johan Schulin, the foreign minister of Denmark, that the Russian Empire will apply the seventh article of the treaty of Nystad also on Denmark-Norway if the union with Sweden is concluded [1]. Relying on support from France and Prussia, Schulin succesfully repulses Bestuzhev's diplomatic offensive. The price for the French assistance is declared as the Franco-Danish subsidy agreement is renewed shortly afterwards; Abbé Lemaire cordially informs Schulin that in the future, France will expect Denmark to fulfil Sweden's former obligations as the guarantor of the treaty of Westfalen.

The French bid for a new diplomatic dominance in the north goes not unnoticed in London, and in spite of its matrimonial links to the Danish Court, Britain prepares for the worst-case situation; the prospects of a Danish-Swedish-Norwegian union with a combined fleet of fifty ships-of-the-line guarding the Baltic in alliance with France are something the British government doesn't wish to even begin contemplating. Increasingly nervous over Britain's vulnerable position on the Continent, the Duke of Newcastle finds a ready ally in Bestuzhev, who's equally alarmed not only by the French intrigues in Denmark and Poland, but also by the territorial ambitions which Prussia is expressing towards the Duchy of Kurland.

- In Sweden, Åkerhielm's new Cap régime succesfully consolidates its position; the licentiering of the government is completed in the few months following the elections, as the Hats are totally purged from the State Council and the central administration. The Caps continue to base their support on the elder nobility, the clergy lends near-unequivocal support for the party, and the government's concern for agriculture is more than enough to satisfy the peasants' estate, which has considerably increased its prestige after dictating the succession. Excluding the town craftsmen and Springer's merchant circles, the burghers' estate still remains a Hat stronghold, as the large exporters and manufacturers refuse to swallow the Cap victory. Nevertheless, the grievous defeat has laid bare the deficiencies of the Hats' program, and some of the bourgeois intellectuals realize the need to shift the party policy and character; so far, however, the small reformist line lacks a leader.

The Hat aristocrats, led by Tessin and his close comrades, Gustav Fredrik von Rosen and Axel von Fersen, react to the humiliation of the 1746 elections far more aggressively. The malcontents' petition to the Crown Prince bears no fruit, as Moltke opts not to meddle in the Swedish internal affairs; the fact that Denmark already has to suffer from Sweden's former foreign obligations is more than enough. The Mecklenburger's negative attitude turns the already-disgruntled Hat noblemen into rabid danophobes, and the clique begins to hatch plans for a coup d'état - first and foremost, against the Caps, but if necessary, also against the future King. The plans are kept well hidden, but the French diplomats in Stockholm are able to notice the factionalism and the threatening divisions which already begin to show within the Swedish armed forces. The enlisted Guards' officers in Stockholm hold on to their commitment to the Hats, whereas the indelta units and the navy largely side with the Crown and the Cap government. The secret party agitation systematically builds up the bitterness and resentment of the discharged Hat bureaucrats and officers, poisoning the opposition with deep suspicions and outright hatred towards the government, which is accused of conspiring with the "perfidious Jutes". With the international status of the country already uncertain and insecure, the domestic politics are beginning to suffer from a disease of chronic proportions.

- Karl Peter Ulrich's residence in faraway Finland hasn't removed the Holstein-Gottorp thorn from the Danish side. The Duke is showing absolutely no intention of ever renouncing his claims to the Ducal lands of Slesvig, let alone to his hereditary possessions in Gottorp. During his deliriums, Karl Peter Ulrich rambles about landing 10'000 Finnish troops on Sjælland and expelling the Danish Royal House to Tranquebar, a plan which is neither shared nor even understood by Fredenstjerna and the other Finnish ministers. As the Grand-Duke drifts further and further away from reality, his wife begins to exercise an ever-growing influence in the State Council, the committees and, in particular, the army. Sofia Augusta's participation is welcomed and appreciated by Fredenstjerna, who also approaches his former political opponents with an appeal to bury the old party divisions, stressing the importance of national unity in the difficult and potentially vulnerable predicament. In reality, the way becomes open for a variety of intrigues and court plots, as Sofia Augusta ambitiously starts to build up a clandestine power base of her own.

At the same time when Bestuzhev confronts Schulin, St. Petersburg adopts a harder attitude also towards its northwestern protectorate. On August 1749, Elizaveta inquires whether stationing Russian troops in Finland would be necessary, but Fredenstjerna manages to convince the Empress that such a move would be only counterproductive, and that the defence of Finland would be best left to the Finns themselves. Although the Tsarina has her suspicions, she decides to endorse the solution. The task of reforming the old Finnish indelta army of 10'000 men and constructing a suitable place d'armes to guard the Gulf of Finland is given to the patriotic lieutenant-colonel Augustin Ehrensvärd, who has left Sweden and settled in his land of birth after being discharged by the Cap government [2]. The combination of Ehrensvärd's talent, Finnish labour and Russian money yields result, as imposing fortifications begin to rise on the isles off Helsingfors on the following spring.

- On March 11th, 1751, the people of Denmark and Norway mourn, as the beloved Queen Louise dies in her sixth childbirth. Two weeks afterwards, a violent stroke takes the life of King Fredrik I in Stockholm, opening the throne of Sweden for the succession of Frederik V.

Notes:

[1] Schulin was Bavarian; therefore the "foreign minister of Denmark" instead of the "Danish foreign minister". The government was in German hands for the entire reign of Frederik V; only one Dane and one Holsteiner sat on the Royal Council during the period. The seventh article of the Nystad peace treaty (1721) granted Russia a legalistic excuse to intervene in Swedish internal affairs as the guarantor of the form of government, a right which wasn't entirely revoked until the treaty of Värälä (1790).

[2] No surprise, Ehrensvärd was given exactly the same task by the Hat government of Sweden in OTL. One of the most brilliant artillery and fortifications officers of his day, with experience from the War of the Hats and the War of Austrian Succession. In the latter one, at least, he had the privilege of serving on the side which was both competent and victorious.

The fourth part: April 1751

- The year 1751 witnesses the kite of Benjamin Franklin flying on the skies of Pennsylvania, the publication of the first volume of Diderot's Encyclopedia, Qing army marching across Tibet, and Robert Clive conquering the town of Arkot in India. In the eyes of most European contemporaries, however, the decisive events of the year take place in the small Kingdoms of Scandinavia.

- On March 31st, the late Queen Louise of Denmark is escorted to her final rest by an impressive cortčge, in tune of Johann Adolf Scheibe's mourning cantata. The death of the idolized Queen is a severe loss to the country; mad with grief, King Frederik sinks ever deeper into dissipation and alcoholism, and Moltke soon finds it extremely difficult to control the excesses of his Royal master, let alone to prepare him for the upcoming coronation in Stockholm. Chancery President Åkerhielm has presented Moltke with the draft Royal Oath for Frederik, in accordance with the Swedish Constitution and the wishes of the Swedish estates; as the King of Sweden, Frederik is to rule by the advice of the State Council in Stockholm, and approve all the decisions of the Council and the Estates both in Swedish internal and external affairs. The Mecklenburger Count has endorsed the text in principle, counting that Frederik's relatively nominal authority as the King of Sweden could somehow allow for Denmark to extract itself from the bothersome liaison before it's too late. However, other events are already underway beneath the surface.

- On the midnight of April 1st, the Hat conspiracy is activated, as Svea Livgarde occupies the core areas of Stockholm in a coordinated coup. By the sunrise, a Hat Confederation founded by von Rosen, von Fersen and somewhat more hesitant Tessin, against the "traitorous" Caps and the Danish "tyrant", takes over as the new government in Riddarholma, with six-pound cannons placed in front of the Royal Palace. The first outburst of violence occurs on the Norrbro Bridge in the mid-afternoon, as the Hat Lifeguard clashes with general von Ungern-Sternberg's Cap soldiers of the Stockholm garrison. In the southern parts of the city, Springer attempts to feverishly muster the burghers' infantry corps to defend the legitimate Cap régime, but the mobilization is ended by the sudden appearance of the Guard. The Hats disperse the crowd with grapeshots and cavalry charge; the number of casualties isn't counted, but it's fairly clear that the coup and the massacre have hurled not only Sweden, but the whole of Northern Europe into one of the worst crisis of the modern history.

- The Finnish public reacts to the "second bloodbath of Stockholm" with utter horror. Almost nine years of separation from the former mother country haven't removed the innumerable bonds of blood and sentiment which spin the Gulf of Bothnia, but the impending civil war in Sweden finally deals a mortal blow to all age-old ties. The Lutheran ministers preach the official condemnation of "Swedish anarchy" across the country, and regardless of their rank or estate, the good inhabitants of the Grand-Duchy take the message well into their hearts... which is definitely the most rational course of action, especially since St. Petersburg hasn't failed to notice that the coup d'état is led by largely the same people who organized Sweden's revanchist war against Russia back in 1741. The loyalty of the Finns to their new Russian suzerain survives its first test with flying colours, and the relieved Tsarina finds herself free to deal with Sweden and Denmark as she sees fit.

- In Copenhagen, Moltke and Schulin are caught stunned by the news, but the worst is yet to come. Åkerhielm and the Cap government have withdrawn from Stockholm to Karlskrona, and managed to dispatch a direct appeal to King Frederik. Rather strangely, the limitations imposed on the monarch in the Oath don't seem to matter that much anymore, as the Council is now demanding an immediate Royal intervention against the Hats. By a curious twist of fate, the Danish King receives the news during one of his rare moments of sobriety between the drinking orgies and sado-masochist escapades. The initial opinion of the sovereign is that the legacy of Christian VI, the national honour and his legitimate rights to the Swedish throne must be defended. The peace-loving German ministers are vehemently against any military entanglement in the Swedish mire, and do their utmost to keep the degenerate King on an even keel, pacify the bellicose elements in the Royal Council and seek for a quick, honourable way out of the dangerous situation. Regretfully, the short drift between the King and his advisors has already created long enough of a delay to give the Great Powers a rather distorted view of the Danish intentions.

- The approach of the western powers is complex. Abbé Lemaire and the Scandinavian branch of le Secret du Roi suddenly have several irons in the fire; first and foremost, the French interests call for supporting the Union of Scandinavian crowns, but as a backup, the ambassadour is also instructed to maintain close connections with the Hat Confederation in Stockholm - which, after all, consists of Francophile aristocrats cherishing the memory of Sweden's past great power status. For the moment, the French are content with exercising pressure on Denmark and waiting for the British reaction... and the decision of the Pelham-Newcastle ministry is quick, facilitated by ambassadour Dickens' last, somewhat exaggerated reports, which vividly describe the general mayhem in the Swedish capital and the Hats' execution of Springer as an "English spy". As the news of the Caps' appeal to King Frederik become known to the British government, the policy of the United Kingdom is clear; in order to preserve the balance of power in the North and prevent Scandinavia from falling within the French sphere of influence, the coup in Stockholm must be suppressed, and the King of Denmark-Norway has to be pressured to renounce his claims. Completing the first task falls on Russia, whereas the second is given to the Royal Navy.

The final Anglo-Russian alliance is concluded between the Duke of Newcastle and the Russian ambassadour acting on behalf of chancellor Bestuzhev in Westminster on April 30th; both sides agree to support the candidature of Prince Friedrich of Hessen, the son-in-law of King George II, for the throne of Sweden. A day later, the Russian archipelago flotilla docks in Helsingfors under the command of admiral Mikhail Golitsyn, and on the early morning of May 4th, a British naval force of thirty-five sail, including fifteen ships-of-the-line, sets out to the sea, with strict orders to force King Frederik to abandon his claims to the Swedish crown. The first shots in the War of Swedish Succession are fired at 55,29° N 5,48° E at 11:48 AM, as the overenthusiastic gunnery crew of HMS Assistance practices its aim by shelling three stray North Frisian fishing vessels.

The fifth part: May 1751

- On May 2nd, Sofia Augusta, the Grand-Duchess of Finland, celebrates her twenty-second birthday, which, in many ways, signifies the first great divide in her life. Ironically, the long years of loveless marriage and residence in an obscure, faraway country have allowed her to discover, define and strengthen her own, individual identity. By now, she has grown into a woman, speaks fluent Swedish, Finnish and Russian, has mastered the practice of statecraft and exercises an ever-growing influence both over Fredenstjerna's government officials and Ramsay's opposition circles. Fully embracing Christian Wolff's idea of the pursuit of personal welfare and happiness on intellectual and physical level, the young Grand-Duchess has found her calling and won the admiration of everyone. Her excellence in riding, skiing and shooting has made her an icon in the eyes of every Finnish military man - one in particular; cavalry captain Jakob Magnus Sprengtport [1], a young warrior of 24-years of age, with experience and education from French Army and Ehrensvärd's fortifications service. Sofia Augusta's overwhelming sexuality finds response in the ardour of the strong, handsome Finnish officer, and the affair soon rises above all other liaisons of her life. Already in love with her new homeland, she also falls in love with the man, and the white nights of the north witness the passion of the young Grand-Duchess and her secret consort.

In contrast, the Grand-Duke himself has become totally alienated from Finnish society and politics, spending most of his time drilling his Holsteiner Guard for battle; with the events in Stockholm and Copenhagen, Karl Peter Ulrich senses the perfect opportunity to embark on his crusade against Denmark. The Empress isn't all pleased with her nephew's enthusiasm, especially since his obsession with Holstein-Gottorp is obviously making him neglect his more important duties as the heir to the Russian throne. Also, the Young Court has still failed to produce an offspring, which is a constant weight on Elizaveta's heart; if her line dies out with Karl Peter Ulrich, the legitimate claims of the imprisoned ex-emperor Ivan VI and his four siblings will resurface once again. Even in the middle of the war preparations, the Tsarina realizes that the future of the Russian Empire depends entirely on the young couple's capability to procreate, and gradually, she begins to contemplate increasing the surveillance on both Karl Peter Ulrich and his spouse.

- The imminent outbreak of hostilities on the Baltic rocks the tranquility of Sanssouci to the very core. King Friedrich II [2] is quick to realize the threat which the Anglo-Russian alliance poses to the house of Brandenburg. At the same time, diplomatic contacts between Vienna and St. Petersburg reach a new peak, and ambassadour von Ammon's reports from Versailles start to look more and more worrying; count Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz, Maria Teresia's new emissary in Paris, has rapidly worked his way into Louis XV's inner circles, and the French foreign minister Antoine-Louis Rouillé has seemingly warmed to Kaunitz's grand idea of Habsburg-Bourbon reconciliation. Even worse, the cunning Austrian count has found a kindred spirit in Madame de Pompadour, who has _never_ been a great fan of Fritz. For the Kingdom of Prussia, the future would seem to hold mostly isolation and insecurity, but Fritz isn't the kind of man to stand idle and wait for the punch. Bestuzhev and Kaunitz want war - fine, they'll get it, but Fritz sure as hell won't allow them to beat him to the base. Wasting no time, Berlin launches a massive propaganda campaign against Austria and Russia on the pages of "Hamburger-Correspondenten", sets out to salvage the flailing military alliance with France, and begins the mobilization of the armed forces.

- The first month of the Hat Confederation, full of random arrests and occasional executions of the few remaining dissidents, goes to the annals as the darkest period in the history of Stockholm. The threat of a Russian intervention doesn't improve the atmosphere, but manages to lend a new kind of solidity to the revolutionary government. Many people still remember admiral Apraksin's raids during the Great Northern War and are horrified by the potential Russian attack against the Swedish capital. Tessin is quick to exploit the appearance of a foreign foe, and masterfully turns the situation to the Hats' advantage; von Rosen, entrusted with the defence of the capital, suddenly has no dearth of recruits, as 2'500 new, fully-armed soldiers are enlisted to the Hat forces. The Hats also establish a financial security, as von Fersen negotiates a monthly subsidy from le Secret du Roi. The one major worry of the régime are the naval defences of the Capital; the Swedish battle fleet in Karlskrona has sided with the Caps, and the small archipelago flotilla in Stockholm is no match for the might of the Russian Baltic Fleet. Alone, vice-admiral Karl Ridderstolpe's Confederate galleys maintain a silent, desperate vigil in the archipelago, waiting for the ultimate Russian onslaught.

So far, however, the Hats' fears are unnecessary. The Russian fleet receives a hospitable treatment in Helsingfors, and while Ehrensvärd is glad that he doesn't personally have to bear arms against his former countrymen, he nonetheless gives a warm welcome to Golitsyn and orders quartermaster Anders de Bruce to see to it that the galleys and their crews are provisioned with speed and zeal. De Bruce does what he's ordered to, but in the end, the Russian vessels still end up incapacitated in the Finnish harbour - not because of any logistic hitch or mishap, but a sudden outbreak of typhus among the sailors.

- On the first three weeks of May, the Anglo-Danish relations turn into a tragic comedy of errors. No one, not Pelham nor Newcastle, and least of all the German ministers of the Danish Royal Council really wish for an armed confrontation, but in the end, the decision isn't theirs to make. The diplomatic relations disintegrate through a complicated series of distractions and misunderstandings; the sudden death of the Prince of Wales, French overtures on behalf of Denmark, an ill-worded ultimatum of the Whig cabinet, distorted reports from the British minister in Copenhagen, King Frederik's careless order to rig the fleet for battle, and finally, by the resignation of the old, tired and exhausted Schulin and his replacement by the Hannoverian count Johan Hartwig Ernst Bernstorff. The new foreign minister of Denmark now faces the hard challenge of leading the country out of the conflict.

On May 23rd, the British squadron passes to the Öresund, moving to a lightning attack against the Danish-Norwegian fleet. The Swedish navy remains in Karlskrona; even though Åkerhielm has appealed to King Frederik for help against the Hats, the Caps refuse to give the Danish monarch an equal support against Britain, the power which has traditionally adhered to the Cap party. Cursing at the Swedish betrayal, vice-admiral Christian Conrad Danneskiold-Laurwig damns the risks and unleashes his twenty battleships head-on against the Britons. The Norwegian sailors prove their mettle, and outmanoeuvred by a foe who's fighting on familiar waters, vice-admiral John Byng [3] soon finds his situation far more hazardous than he had first anticipated. By the sunset, after the first British battleship has gone ablaze and two frigates have run aground within the range of the Danish coastal batteries, Byng decides to break off, retreat, regroup and wait for reinforcements. The Battle of Tre Kroner has ended in Danneskiold-Laurwig's victory.

- Hearing from the British defeat, Russian troops begin to mass in Livonia on the first week of June, and with the tacit approval of the Saxon Elector-King August III and his minister Heinrich von Brühl, some units already cross the border to the Rzeczpospolita. The Tsarina and Bestuzhev make their intentions towards Prussia painfully clear, sternly demanding King Friedrich to allow free passage for the Russian army en route to Swedish Pomerania and Holstein-Gottorp.

Notes:

[1] The Sprengtporten-brothers were major players in the 18th century. Originally, the family was Baltic German; the progenitor, Wolmar Jakob Rolandt, was ennobled by the name "Sprengtport" in the 30-Years War, presumably because he had broken the gate of an enemy fort. His son, Magnus Vilhelm, served in the Great Northern War and was captured in Poltava. After his release, he settled in Finland and married Anna Margareta Amnorin, the daughter of the vicar of Jaakkima. The couple had three sons; Johan Vilhelm, Carl Henrik and Jakob Magnus. Johan Vilhelm served as a diplomat, and after he was raised to the rank of friherre in 1766, the family name was written "Sprengtporten". Carl Henrik chose the military career, and was slain in the siege of Malchin in the Seven Years' War, 1762. As told in the script, Jakob Magnus was a crack cavalry officer, whose most important accomplishment was his support to Gustav III's Royal Coup in OTL 1772. The youngest brother, Göran Magnus, was born in 1739, from Magnus Vilhelm's second marriage with Elsa Catharina Ulfsparre; of all the brothers, Göran Magnus' career became the most unusual, unique and historically significant. We'll hear from him later on...

[2] He was called "Friedrich the Great" already after his victory in the Second Silesian War... but, well, we'll just have to see whether the name will stick this time around.

[3] Following the footsteps of his father, Sir George Byng, who also commanded a British naval expedition to the Baltic in 1717-1718; in OTL, John Byng was stationed in the Mediterranean ever since 1748, but I'm relying that the butterflies which have directed the British attention towards the Baltic would also draw Byng over there. Poetic licence; just humour me on this one.

The sixth part: June-July 1751

- The heavy casualties of the Danish-Norwegian navy in the battle of Tre Kroner are quickly forgotten as a wave of patriotic fervour washes over the dual Kingdom. Every good Dane feels a noble pride, "Te Deum" is sounded at churches and cathedrals throughout the realm, and Tyge Rothe glorifies the victory in verse and prose on the pages of "Kjøbenhavnske Danske Post-Tidende". Foreign minister Bernstorff, however, fully understands both the advantages and the dangers of the naval triumph, and keeps a cool head. After an intense discussion in the Council, Bernstorff finally succeeds to convince King Frederik that Denmark has done far more than honour requires, and that a continued conflict against Britain could only result in the destruction of the realm. Entrusted to steer the country out of the war, Bernstorff signals Britain and Russia that the house of Oldenburg is willing to abandon its right to the Swedish crown in exchange for concessions elsewhere. The satisfaction which the foreign minister has in mind is, as always, Holstein-Gottorp.

- The débâcle of the British naval expedition in the Sound thrusts the United Kingdom into a political reshuffle. Indoctrinated to believe that the Royal Navy can't lose any of its battles, the public is outraged at the government and demands to see heads roll. Fleet Street is having a field day with Newcastle's floundering foreign and imperial policies, King George II is frightened that his former son-in-law might invade Hannover and half of the House of Commons is calling for an infinite justice against the murderous Danes (sic). On the top of everything, the position of the First Lord of the Treasury is becoming vacant, as Pelham, increasingly burdened by his ailing health and the nerve-stretching situation, submits his resignation [1]. With the news of the Prime Minister's decision, William Pitt's rhetoric and criticism against Newcastle grows sharper and sharper, and as the glorious result, the government of Great Britain is paralyzed by internal dissension at the verge of a major war. Bernstorff's repeated diplomatic initiatives to the Court of St. James fall on deaf ears, and for the time being, Denmark once more finds herself at war against her own will.

While the politicians back home argue, the Royal Navy dutifully follows its original commands and carries on the conflict against Denmark as a guerre de course. After the bold attempt to destroy the enemy fleet in the port has failed, the Navy decides to attempt a new strategy. As the first summer weeks pass by, close to a hundred Danish and Norwegian merchantmen are seized by British warships, the Norwegian ports fall under a near-airtight embargo, and orders to capture Tranquebar, Frederiksnagore and the Danish Virgin Islands are dispatched to the Imperial forces abroad. The Danish-Norwegian navy responds in kind and takes the necessary measures to protect the sea lanes and the commerce of the realm. From Helgoland to the Færøes, the Dannebrog clashes with the White Ensign of the British Royal Navy, leaving the North Sea littered with the corpses of Danish, Scottish, Norwegian and English sailors.

- In Sweden, the Caps, seeing that neither Danish nor British support is to be expected, decide to commence an offensive on their own, march to Stockholm and take out the rebellious Hats before the capital gets ravaged and looted by the intervening Russian forces. As the most senior high-ranking officer, general Mattias Alexander von Ungern-Sternberg [2], is appointed as the commander-in-chief of all the land forces rallied by the Cap Council, amounting to approx. 6'000 infantry and 4'000 cavalry, all indelta units. Ungern-Sternberg succesfully secures Norrköping on the Midsummer and, encouraged by the news of a peasant rising against the Hats in Dalarna, begins the advance towards Stockholm. Von Rosen's Confederate army - by now distinguishable by the white armbands of their uniforms [3] - encounters the Caps at Strömsfors on June 25th. The first land battle between the rivaling Swedish factions results in a triumph for the old Carolin in charge of the Hat forces [4]. The Caps' numerical superiority of is more than matched by the rebels' advantage in artillery, and in the end, the mauled Cap ranks break under the Hat life-dragoons' disciplined and well-executed charge. The Caps' casualties amount to 1'500 men killed, 1'000 captured; the Hats come out with 1'000 dead and wounded. Only the persistent threat of a seaborne Russian attack from the east deters von Rosen from pursuing Ungern-Sternberg, who hastily withdraws his demoralized forces to Linköping.

By the first of July, the lines of the Swedish Civil War have become clear. From Stockholm, the Hat Confederation has consolidated its position in Uppland, Södermanland, Västmanland and most of Bergslagen; in the west, Göteborg is tilting towards the Hats, and overseas, Swedish Pomerania has opted for the Confederation. From the naval stronghold of Karlskrona, the Cap Council controls Skåne, Blekinge, Halland, Småland and most of Östergötland; in the north, all of Dalarna and Hälsingland are readily taking up arms in defence of the legitimate government.

- The Russian action against the Hats remains suspended for well over two months. The troops in Helsingfors have lost around a quarter of their strength to the diseases, and even the commander of the first squadron, captain Zerbulov, has fallen from typhus. The news of the Hats' success at Strömsfors boost Elizaveta's anxiety to settle the situation on her northwestern flank as quickly as possible, and admiral Golitsyn is now adviced to give the command of the invasion force to the highly-qualified general James Keith, the former Russian military governor of Finland [5]. The 55-years old Scotsman proves himself as efficient and competent as ever, and together with Golitsyn, Ehrensvärd and de Bruce, manages to breath new life into the fleet and the army. Strengthened by fresh reinforcements from the Preobrazenski and Semenovski Guard Regiments, the Russian galleys set out to the sea on July 15th, planning to land on Åland and use the islands as a springboard for the assault towards the Swedish capital. The few Confederate galleys under Ridderstolpe try to stall the attack the best they can, raiding the Åbo archipelago and ambushing Finnish vessels sailing amid the skerries. The only real achievement of the Hats' naval endeavours is a deepening Finnish animosity towards the former mother country.

- In Versailles, the Prussian diplomats press 24-hour workdays in a frantic attempt to secure the continued goodwill of France to counterweigh the increasing hostility of St. Petersburg and Vienna. Calling in all his supporters from Marshal Belle-Isle to Marquis d'Argenson and staking out whatever influence the King of Prussia still has in the Bourbon court, ambassadour von Ammon musters the French anti-Austrian cabals to a diplomatic offensive against Kaunitz. In the end, the flailing Franco-Prussian alliance prevails, just barely. Impressed by the Danish-Norwegian maritime performance against Britain, Louis XV judges the continued cooperation with Berlin as the equally best deterrent against Russia. Gradually, the vision of a new alliance system begins to develop in Paris; with two capable proxies on the European Continent, one at sea and another at land, the King and Rouillé hope to be able to focus the French attention entirely on the developing overseas colonial conflict. [6]

- With Fritz's paranoia and bellicosity mounting every day, his French house-guest begins to find Potsdam not only dull and boring, but also a potentially dangerous place of residence. Voltaire's repeated implores for a peaceful, diplomatic solution are fruitless; Friedrich is adamant in his justified conviction that Russia and Austria are plotting the destruction of Prussia. The militant King and his libertine philosopher are on a collision course, and it's fairly clear that the situation is bound to turn even worse if Prussia gets drawn in the renewed European conflagration. After a particularly heated exchange of veiled mockeries with his Royal host, Voltaire finally decides that it's high time to seek solace from somewhere else. For a while, he considers swallowing his contempt towards the rabid Calvinists of Genčve and relocating to Switzerland, but at that moment, he receives a letter from an astute and intellectual woman, one of his most devoted admirers; Sofia Augusta, the Grand-Duchess of Finland. Finland? - Ah, yes; he remembers the country from the times when he wrote Histoire de Charles XII. - That ignoramus Maupertuis used to travel there some years ago; the Grand-Duchess herself is an acquaintance of Bentinck and also the daughter of one of the King's old field-marshals [7]. Finland, indeed. A small, unknown northern country of virtually antediluvian peace, free from petty despots, narrow-minded church authorities and secret police forces. The perfect resort! Enthusiastically, Voltaire writes an answer to Sofia Augusta, informing her that Finland is the country where he'd like to be, and starts packing his bags for the journey to the mythical, faraway land of Aurora Borealis. Being a man who never leaves quietly, however, Voltaire intends to do as much damage to his former patron as possible before making his final sortie from Prussia.

Notes:

[1] The health reasons alone made Pelham to consider resignation even in OTL 1751.

[2] We met him briefly already in the fourth part; a high Cap, Ungern-Sternberg was the Commander-in-Chief of the Swedish forces in the initial stages of OTL's Seven Years' War, also known as the Pomeranian War (1757-1762). Yes, he's related to the mad Baron and White general who became the Prince of Mongolia in 1921.

[3] Gustavian Royalists used the same insignia in the late 18th century; the colour was intended to symbolize the purity and righteousness of their cause.

[4] Gustav Fredrik von Rosen, whom we've also met in the previous parts, was born in 1689, served in the Great Northern War and accompanied Carl XII in his Turkish exile and the famous ride across Europe. As a high Hat, von Rosen replaced Ungern-Sternberg as the Commander-in-Chief of the Swedish forces in OTL's Seven Years' War.

[5] A skilled commander, James Keith had served as a general in the Russo-Swedish war of 1741-1743. As a curiosity note, the C-in-C of the Russian forces during the said war was an Irishman, field-marshal Peter de Lacy. The Gaelic diaspora; Keith himself had fled Scotland after participating in the Jacobite Uprising of 1715, and after serving in France and Spain, eventually settled in Russia. Aside his military endeavours, he was also the Grand Master of the Russian Masonic Order. In our timeline, he fell from Elizaveta's favour for whatever reason in 1747, and had to relocate to Prussia; however, with the rather different end to the War of the Hats and his participation in the organization of the Finnish administration both during the war and, more importantly, in its aftermath, his dismissal would definitely be open for a change. Besides, I like the man.

[6] Yes, no diplomatic revolution this time around. The Franco-Prussian alliance was still in force at this time; formally, it lasted until OTL 1756, and was allowed to lapse as a reaction to the Convention of Westminster. IMO, the continuation of the alliance would seem as the most natural solution in the context of the preceding events in this ATL, particularly vis-ā-vis the Scandinavian situation and the Anglo-Russian pact. Also, the anti-Austrian opinion remained quite prevalent in France even at the outbreak of OTL's Seven Years' War, so I wouldn't consider this too far-fetched an outcome. Rest assured, however, that the French commitment to the Prussian cause will be far from enthusiastic.

[7] Mathematician Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis had traveled in Finland back in 1736-1737, conducting survey on the Polar Circle and demonstrating Newton's hypothesis; he was the President of the Berlin Academy of Science at the time of this story, and detested Voltaire. Countess Charlotte Sophie von Bentinck was one of Voltaire's mistresses, and Sofia Augusta had met the emancipated countess in Varel back in 1742. Sofia Augusta's father, Prince Christian August of Anhalt-Zerbst (1690-1747) had served as a field-marshal in the Prussian army in the War of Austrian Succession.

The seventh part: July-August 1751

- At the end of the summer of 1751, Denmark is, against all odds, still holding on. The British command of the high seas is thinly spread, with the distant colonial commitments and the potential threat from France and Spain [1] distracting a good part of the Royal Navy; thus, the Danes and Norwegians are able to face the enemy fleet, now commanded by vice-admiral Edward Hawke [2], on more or less equal terms. Nevertheless, the war has effectively cut the Danish Atlantic possessions and the overseas colonies adrift from the mother country, and even maintaining connections with Norway has become a hazardous task. The northern half of the monarchy is gradually beginning to feel the burden of war, and although the more well-to-do Norwegian merchants manage to compensate the loss of the maritime trade by privateering against British commerce and profiteering on the Swedish Civil War, the future of the peasantry looks increasingly bleak; the Danish grain shipments have serious difficulties in reaching Bergen, and the harvest extracted from the soil of Nordhordland is as lean as always before. Although the Norwegian concerns aren't all that high on Copenhagen's priority list, Bernstorff still sees the first warning signs of the imminent and desperately renews his approaches towards the two allied powers. The Hannoverian finally meets with at least modest success, as minister Dickens arrives at Copenhagen and decides to enter in negotiations with Bernstorff independently, without the authorization of his government. The ambitious move of the wandering British diplomat is well-noticed by Abbé Lemaire, who informs Versailles of the latest turn of events in the British-Scandinavian conflict.

- Public enthusiasm for the war remains surprisingly high in the United Kingdom, and is further fueled by the stubborn resistance of the enemy fleet; the news of the few Danish-Norwegian sea victories are enough to provoke regular outcries demanding the restoration of Britain's honour by the complete destruction of the perfidious Northmen. On the surface, the government has managed to pull its ranks back together, as the King has succesfully persuaded Pelham not to resign; however, the old, sick and tired First Lord of the Treasury has tremendous difficulties in bridging the widening gap between his brother and Pitt, as the opposition outside and within the government holds Newcastle responsible for the humiliations which Britain has suffered in the Danish hands. Regardless, the ministers and the naval leadership realize that once started, the war has to be brought to an honourable end. The first news from Dickens, arriving by the second week of August, arouse the hope of terminating the conflict, but Bernstorff's first terms, requesting British support and guarantee for the future Danish acquisition of Holstein-Gottorp in exchange of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst, are difficult to meet. The Russian refusal to agree to any kind of a settlement in the Gottorp question is as strong as ever, and consequently, any British approval of the Danish proposal could only alienate Russia, cause Britain to lose her only ally on the Continent and jeopardize the security of Hannover, which neither the King nor Newcastle are ready to approve. The dissension-ridden cabinet is faced by a diplomatic dilemma, torn between the desire to quickly end the northern conflict and the fear of losing the Russian goodwill and the increasingly vital access to the Baltic naval stores [3].

- By the mid-July, the Swedish civil war reaches a new stage, as the lack of recognized authority and the disintegration of the orderly society unleash all the old class antagonisms. The first outbursts of rural unrest occur among the tenant-farmers on the noble lands in Halland already in July, but these minor incidents, quickly mediated by the Cap Council, are far surpassed by the surge of violence and terror released by the peasant levies of Dalarna, Hälsingland and Värmland later on the summer. The peasants' deep-rooted suspicions and hatred against the aristocracy and the large manufacturers are manifested in the random murders of landowners, crown officials and entrepreneurs suspected of collaborating with the Hats. The desolation of the razed, deserted manors in the countryside is well-matched by the wrecked, abandoned mines and iron works in Bergslagen. The Dalekarlian revolt once again arouses the spectre of 1743, and von Rosen feels compelled to send a force of Guard's battalion, life-dragoon squadron and artillery company to quickly suppress the insurrection and protect the northwestern flank of Stockholm. The Dalekarlians clash with the Confederates at Hedemora on July 23rd; the bloodbath claims the life of 1'500 men, but the uprising remains unbeaten. Moreover, von Rosen's decision to split the Hat forces has proven to be a fatal one.

- On July 31st, after concentrating on Åland and waiting for the temporary fog and calm to pass, Golitsyn leads the hundred galleys and ten battleships of the Russian Baltic Fleet through the Stockholm archipelago, ruthlessly smashing Ridderstolpe's Confederate vessels in a bloody, uneven sea fight at Södra Staket. Hastily, Keith dispatches couriers to the Caps in Karlskrona and begins to land his men and materiél at Dalarö. The insanely-enthusiastic Grand-Duke Karl Peter Ulrich and his Holsteiners are among the first on the beach... and among the first to retreat back to the ships, as the disembarkation is intruded by the swift attack of von Rosen, who throws his rearguard forces against the bridgehead, attempting to beat back the invasion at its most vulnerable stage. However, the Scottish general is a far more stubborn and capable adversary than Ungern-Sternberg, and the Russian soldiers show a formidable contempt towards death, fight their way ashore and finally emerge from the carnage victorious, although with thinned ranks. The worst losses are suffered by the Semenovski Guard Regiment; among the dead is a brave, gifted 23-years old Tver Karelian nobleman, who has gallantly fought in the first line of the assault, sergeant Aleksandr Vasilevich Suvorov [4].

- In the south, another squadron of eighteen Russian ships-of-the-line, operating from the free port of Danzig, maintains a threatening presence outside Stettin and Stralsund; officially, keeping a watch on the Hat-controlled Swedish Pomerania, but in reality, maintaining a constant pressure on Prussia and goading King Friedrich into making the first attack. By the last week of July, Elizaveta and Bestuzhev have drawn their conclusions from the recent diplomatic contacts between Versailles and Berlin, and made the decision to seize the opportunity and exploit the northern conflict by moving the whole might of the Russian Empire against Prussia as fast as possible. In a series of leisurely sessions chaired by the president of the War College, field-marshal Stepan Fedorovich Apraksin, the general-in-chief, count William Fermor and the Chief of Staff, general major Petr Semenovich Saltykov, the Secret War Council in St. Petersburg drafts the final plan for the total destruction and dismemberment of Prussia, irrespective of whether or not the Habsburgs will provide assistance. In the spirit of the resolution, yet another contingent of Russian troops is marched to Poland, which now quarters close to 100'000 green-clad soldiers.

The ominous massing of Russian armies on the eastern border, together with de facto blockade of Stettin and the threat of Russian landing in the Swedish Pomerania finally produce the desired result. The outbreak is preceded by a stern exchange of ultimatums between Berlin and St. Petersburg; the Hohenzollern King demands the immediate withdrawal of the Russian warships from the vicinity of Prussia's main port, and the Tsarina responds by informing that the fleet will leave only if the Russian army is granted a free transit through Prussian territory. The deadlock is absolute. As the sun rises over the parade field of Potsdam on August 3rd, Fritz mounts his steed in front of his Brandenburger Guard and leads his men eastwards to join with the forces already concentrated on the Polish borders - close to 80'000 men in Farther Pomerania and Silesia under field-marshals Hans von Lehwaldt and Kurt von Schwerin, with an additional observation force of 10'000 men under general von Manteuffel maintaining a guard on the Saxon border. The declarations of war are skipped; in Fritz's opinion, actions speak for themselves, and it's better to pre-empt rather than to be pre-empted. As long as Louis XV is in his pocket, Maria Teresia will be diplomatically outmanoeuvred and likely to remain passive, so the war can be limited entirely on the Polish soil... could one possibly wait any longer?

- On the last two weeks of July, Voltaire busily withdraws all his spare cash from Berlin and secretly invests it in Mitau with the Duchess of Kurland. After having his last, lonely supper at the round table of Sanssouci, the author of La Henriade burns his bridges in two diabolical literary diatribes - the first one manifesting his resentment towards Maupertuis and the Berlin Academy of Science, the second one crystallizing his frustration over his former Royal host and the renewed war. A day before the historic publications which nail Maupertuis on the pillar of immortal ridicule and humiliate the King, the Frenchman leaves his chamberlain's key and Pour le Mérite on the table of his private quarters and speeds over the Polish border with his suitcase full of Prussian diplomatic papers. While Voltaire scrambles towards Danzig, the outraged Fritz orders the Berlin hangman to confiscate and burn all the copies of Voltaire's pamphlets and instructs the high Prussian police and military officials to arrest the renegade philosopher and strip him of whatever documents he may have in his possession. The landreuter patrols chasing the French intellectual luminary become the first Prussian military units to cross the eastern frontier in the undeclared war against the Russian Empire.[5]

- While the war begins to rage in full over the Northern Europe, the first shots are fired also on the American Continent. The rivalry between the Anglo-French colonial speculators over the fur trade in the Trans-Appalachian West has continued to remain intense after the end of King George's War, and the Ohio Company has rapidly extended its settlement, seeking to parry the French commercial influence in the territory. Reacting to the threat, the French authorities have decided to protect their interests by military action, and the year 1751 witnesses the second French expedition to Ohio, led by Chabert de Joncairé. The French attempt to capture the fortified British trading post in the Miami village of Pickawillany fails due to the hostile response of the Ohio tribes and a ruthless smallpox epidemic sweeping through the Great Lakes region on the same summer. However, the political situation remains simmering, and plans are made for a new French attack on the coming year. The command of the war party is assigned to the brilliant young Métis lieutenant Charles-Michel Mouet, Sieur de Langlade, better known among his Ottawa kinsmen by the name Akewaugeketauso.

- On August 16th, bells toll all through Finland, as the good inhabitants of the Grand-Duchy are blessed with the happiest news possible; the Grand-Duchess Sofia Augusta is expecting a child. The news are received with equal delight also in St. Petersburg, and the minor detail that Karl Peter Ulrich left to assist with Keith's expedition well over four weeks ago somehow manages to escape the cheerful Tsarina's attention. The young Grand-Duchess, on her part, is elated, knowing that she's bearing the child of the man she well and truly loves.

Notes:

[1] The events in Spain have proceeded largely in accordance to OTL, with Carvajal and Ensenada quarreling over the proper direction of the Spanish foreign policy in general and the colonial disputes with Portugal in particular. British preoccupation with the Scandinavian affairs is allowing France a slight advantage in the diplomatic game in Madrid, but deep down, Fernando VI is strictly loyal to his original, neutral position. As in OTL, Maria Teresia has dispatched count Esterházy to Madrid, with a mission to secure the pacification of Italy before Austria's next round against Prussia. So far, Britain isn't entirely safe with the Spanish neutrality, and must maintain some guard in that direction; Spain is a considerable naval power, and at this moment, it appears that Ensenada and the anglophobe faction just might actually be able to gain the upper hand.

[2] Byng was replaced, but he's by no means dead.

[3] The North American products were becoming less secure during the 1750s, which made the Royal Navy to turn once again back to Sweden for its supplies of tar and pitch. As noted, in this ATL, Finland and the Ostrobothnian tar have been under Russian control since 1743, and Russians are well on their way to take over also the remaining part of Sweden... in which case the Tsarina is going to have John Bull in the leash. In OTL, Britain was usually able to exploit the fact that Russia didn't have any merchant marine of its own, but this time, this is somewhat compensated by the fact that the Empire can rely on Finnish vessels instead (see the second part for the 1740s shipbuilding boom in Finland). As it is, even though the limitless Russian expansion on the Baltic is undesirable to London, Britain nonetheless cannot risk antagonizing Russia at this critical moment, when the Baltic naval stores are becoming more and more crucial. As for the other supplies important to Britain, the devastation in the mines of Bergslagen will obviously have a serious hit on the bar iron imports.

[4] His background is disputed, but at least according to his own testimony, to the Swedish chargé d'affaires Jennings in 1791, Suvorov was indeed a Karelian; he was born in the Karelian regions of central Russia, spoke fluent Karelian and Finnish from his childhood, claimed that his original family name was "Syvävaara", and during the Italian campaign, amused his subordinates and guests with Karelian folk songs. Obviously I was hesitant to kill a relative, but well, sometimes one has to take even the most unpleasant task and do what's necessary for the timeline.

[5] Loosely modeled after OTL, except that this time the drift between Fritz and Voltaire is, at least on the surface, far more direct and severe, happening in the context of an outbreaking war. Voltaire's quarrel with Maupertuis had evolved independently ever since 1746, after the philosopher had taken the side of Swiss mathematician Samuel König in the dispute over the authenticity of certain Leibnitz letters considering the least-action principle, which Maupertuis had claimed as his own discovery. The fight flared up at this precise time; broad-mindedly, I'm allowing Voltaire to finish his scientific pamphlet on Maupertuis a year earlier from OTL, and also publish a second, entirely political diatribe, where he throws some additional vitriol against the King himself.

The eighth part: August-September 1751

- On August 6th, 1751, the Sarmatian idyll is broken as the armies of the Kingdom of Prussia invade the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania from three directions at once; field-marshal von Lehwaldt from East Prussia in the north, field-marshal von Schwerin from Silesia in the southwest, and King Friedrich himself directly from Farther Pomerania in the northwest. The first wave of the Prussian Deluge faces little resistance; the common people observe apathetically yet another foreign incursion and the Polish Komput remains firmly in its quarters, with no intention to challenge the best military in the world. In five days, von Lehwaldt has laid siege on Danzig, most of Royal Prussia is overrun, and Fritz is sweeping like an arrow across Wielkopolska, intending to engage and destroy Apraksin's main Russian army between the Notec and the Warta.

- The Prussian lightning attack comes as no surprise to Versailles, where the invasion is accepted as an unavoidable, preventive war, but still outside the Franco-Prussian treaty obligations which allow direct military assistance only in the case of an outright aggression against the house of Brandenburg. Having observed the repeated Russian military demonstrations in the east, foreign minister Rouillé has come to realize that his original wish of maintaining the traditional alliance between the Seine and the Spree as an instrument of deterrence is no longer viable, and that a completely different logic seems to be at work. The French minister is content by reiterating the moral support for Berlin, but he also remembers very well the frequency with which the Prussian King signs and breaks treaties, and deems it best to play safe and limit the concrete French involvement to a promise of subsidies and one diplomatic gesture. Ambassadour Comte de Broglie is instructed to take the initiative in Warsaw and raise the old claim of Prince Louis-Franįois de Conti to the representatives of the Francophile Potocki family once again [1]. The proposal results in a principal declaration for August III's removal and Conti's succession, announced by an ad hoc Confederation founded under Franco-Prussian auspices in Leczyca. The King of Prussia is thus served with yet another legal pretext for his invasion, although Fritz's attitude towards the machinations of Conti's Franco-Polish cabal is still considerably less sanguine than the power-hungry Bourbon Prince would prefer it to be.

- Suffering from chronic operative slowness due to its ridiculously heavy supply train, the Russian army is unable to react sufficiently fast to the Prussian advance. On August 13th, general Friedrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz leads a nocturnal cavalry raid upon Apraksin's unfortified camp at Wegershoff, capturing hundred Russian artillery pieces. The Russian outposts disperse and fall back in front of the attack, make an unorganized withdrawal eastwards and end up encircled against the riverbanks of Notec two days later. The early morning of August 16th sees the first major encounter between the two armies, with Fritz's 25'000 Prussians face to face against Apraksin's 45'000 Russians on the field outside Ujscie. The now-perfected Prussian oblique order of the battle proves a success, but the victory doesn't come as easily as the King has expected; even in a state of disorganization, the Russian infantry puts up a stubborn fight, until finally routed after three repeated charges by the dragoons of Ansbach-Bayreuth under Seydlitz. By the end of the day, the confrontation has ended in a resounding defeat for the Russians, who have lost half of their men dead or captured. Notwithstanding the defeat, Apraksin's stand at Ujscie has purchased Fermor and Saltykov just enough time to prepare the Russian reserves behind the Warta.

The anticlimax of the Prussian victory is immediate, and even Fritz has to confess that the émétique hasn't worked quite according to his original wishes. The Tsarina categorically scorns all suggestions of withdrawal and negotiated settlement, issues a formal declaration of war against Berlin and orders another Russian army under general Aleksandr Buturlin to cross Niemen and invade East Prussia. During the fortnight following the battle, Fermor and Saltykov manage to outmanoeuvre Fritz and succesfully frustrate all attempts to force another encounter. The arrival of the autumn rains marks a momentary halt to the military operations on both sides, but grants no relief to the Polish rural population chafing under forced contributions imposed by the two foreign belligerents. The northwestern provinces of the Rzeczpospolita remain quiescent under the heel of the Prussian landreuter, and the grain shipments passing through the Vistula fall in von Lehwaldt's hands without resistance [2]. In the east, the nominal guerilla activity pursued by the Confederates of Leczyca poses only a minor nuisance to the Russians, but Apraksin's plans for a late autumn counteroffensive are suddenly interrupted by a far more serious and unbridled flare-up of violence in October, when the Russian military presence unintentionally triggers an unpredicted Haidamak uprising against the Polish gentry in the Palatinates of the Right-Bank Ukraine [3].

- After barely shaking off his pursuers and making it safely to Danzig, Voltaire leaves the besieged Free City aboard a Dutch merchantman on August 15th and arrives at Riga a week later. Accepting the invitation from the Duchess of Kurland, Voltaire silently settles in Mitau and takes his time to tend his health, which has suffered during the desperate flight from Berlin. While the poet enjoys his stay in the small Baltic state and rejoices of his new freedom from the clutches of the Prussian monarch, he's also beginning to develop more and more pessimistic attitude towards the world. What good is there left on this earth? The Swedish constitutional government, which he once admired, has plunged the country into the anarchy of party strife and civil war. Englishmen are slaughtering Danes, and his beloved philosopher-King has once again turned for military conquests. Everywhere, Europe is degenerating towards a state of total moral and physical evil, from where there's no escape.

Je crois voir des forįats dans un cachot funeste,
Se pouvant secourir, l'un sur l'autre acharnés
Combattre avec les fers dont ils sont enchaînés.

Or is there? Can one still find a refuge from the forgotten corners of this miserable continent? While shaping his depression into new works of art and reason, Voltaire writes a letter to Sofia Augusta, informing the Grand-Duchess that he shall arrive in Finland on the Shrovetide of 1752.

- Contrary to general Keith's expectations, the Caps delay and delay the promised military help for the attack against Stockholm, and the Russian expedition is forced to wait for reinforcements in Dalarö for several weeks. The discharge of Ungern-Sternberg has temporarily left the Cap forces leaderless, and the fratricidal summer campaign has also made the Council in Karlskrona unwilling to sacrifice any more Swedish blood than necessary. Realizing that Åkerhielm and his grandees are now planning to leave the dirty work to the Russian army and collect the fruits of the victory for themselves afterwards, Keith's ressentiment soars. Facing the task of taking Stockholm alone, the angry Scotsman requests Elizaveta to grant him full power to get rid of both the Hats and the Caps and construct the post-war Swedish government according to his own wishes. Preoccupied by the Prussian intervention, the Tsarina accepts the general's appeal, and the Caps are promptly disciplined for their unreliability when Golitsyn sends his battle squadron to the port of Karlskrona on August 21st. The Council and the Swedish naval leadership can only make futile protests as the Russians seize the twenty-five ships-of-the-line in the harbour and bluntly inform that the Empire will require the vessels in possible further operations against Denmark. After a week, the Russians depart, with the entire Swedish battle fleet in tow.

Having received the news of the Prussian surprise attack in Poland and noticing the drift between the Russians and the Caps, the Hats are indulging themselves in an unfounded optimism and cultivating new hopes of victory, but in truth, the moment of the Confederation has come. Even though Keith has temporarily redeployed his main force towards Nynäshamn in the south, the deep-range cavalry attacks by general major Christian Teophilus von Kindermann's Serbian hussars continue to steadily undermine the Hats' position in Södermanland, which is furthermore threatened by the still-continuing Dalekarlian rising. The hard-pressed von Rosen is effectively unable to exploit the delay in the arrival of Keith's reinforcements during the crucial August and September weeks. The early autumn storms prove to be only a small hindrance for the Russians, and the second wave of Keith's invasion force disembarks at Dalarö on September 11th. In the north, separate cossack contingents are landed on Gävle and Grisslehamn on September 18th and 23rd. Finally, on September 26th, Keith begins his march and two days later, meets and destroys von Rosen's army in a five-hours fight at Huddinge, clearing the way for his entrance to Stockholm itself.

For the first time in history, a foreign invader has reached and captured the Swedish capital. The Imperial Guard of Semenovski and Preobrazenski, followed by the regiments of Kazan and Rostov with their green-red standards, march through Stockholm in triumph on September 29th, the 191st anniversary of the death of King Gustav Vasa. An eerie silence falls over the city, while Keith takes over residence in the Royal Palace at Riddarholma [4]. A short graffiti has been daubed on the facade of the building, two words which aptly describe the situation of the realm: "FINIS SUECIAE".

Notes:

[1] Conti's claim to the Polish throne was part of the paradiplomacy pursued by le Secret du Roi at this time. Not many people even in France will take Conti's shot at the Polish throne seriously, but the faux-Confederation can still, at least nominally, operate under his name.

[2] The year 1751 was the last success of the Vistula grain trade, with 100'000 lasts (230'000 tons) passing through the port of Danzig.

[3] There was a round of sporadic Haidamak risings even in OTL 1750-1751, an interlude between the Insurrection of 1734-1738 and the Kolivshchizna of 1768. Not that these fellows have any particular political program or anything; they're just figuring that with the Russians in the country, the season is perfect for whacking out some obnoxious Polish landlords and Jewish money-lenders.

[4] I'm referring to Kungshuset. The actual Royal Castle of Stockholm had been under construction ever since 1697, but would still be somewhat unfinished; in OTL, it was completed in 1754. There was a Russian military parade in Stockholm even in OTL, November 30th, 1745, but back then, they were invited guests.

The ninth part: October-November 1751

"It is resolved that I do love and will love you, and am committed therein. The priceless hours pass without you... all, all will pass, except my passion for you." - Sofia Augusta, the Grand-Duchess of Finland, in a letter to cavalry captain J. M. Sprengtport, Oct. 18th, A.D. 1751.

"Es lebe Säbel und Bayonnett
Keine garstige Retraite
erste Linie durch gestochen
andere umgeworffen."

- Field-marshal Kurt von Schwerin's last order for his troops, Oct. 24th, A.D. 1751

- Grand-Duchess Sofia Augusta's blessed condition hasn't distracted her from her dedication to the Finnish government and economic affairs, which she has determinedly begun to pursue in the spirit of Johan Kraftman's physiocratic program [1]. By the end of 1751, the matter of land consolidation, under discussion since 1746, has received a push forward from the decree of the Grand-Duchess, the charter of the Finnish Economic Society, proposed by Ramsay, is drafted, and Hans Henrik Boije's Flax Cultivation and Spinning School, the first vocational school in the country, is founded and granted official state support in order to encourage the slowly developing textile manufacturing industry in Messukylä. Even the wartime responsibilities of quartering and supplying the Russian forces result in one permanent improvement for the country, as the military infirmary which Ehrensvärd has set up in Helsingfors becomes the first hospital in Finland. While the mother Svea has allowed her house to fall to ruin, the wayward maiden of Finland is building a new, succesful life on her own.

Regretfully, the ability in statecraft which the young Grand-Duchess has shown in Finland receives no recognition or attention in St. Petersburg. The one and the only interest the Tsarina has in Sofia Augusta is the pregnancy; as far as Elizaveta is concerned, after the Grand-Duchess has produced an heir, she has served her purpose and can go to hell - an attitude which, needless to say, profoundly angers Sofia Augusta. All in all, Sofia Augusta's visit to the Imperial Court in mid-October is a failure, filling her only with utter disgust and contempt towards the decadent, depraved atmosphere of the metropolis of the Neva. The war, the whirl of the Imperial politics and the petty machinations of the Russian court cliques hold no interest to her; in her heart, she's committed to her adopted country and to the man she loves. Finland, Sprengtport and the unborn child... in the end, those are all that she has left, the three things she'd give her life for. After days of lonely melancholy in the Russian capital, Sofia Augusta regains her spirits and decides that when the time comes, she will defy the Tsarina, raise her son or daughter alone, and instill the child with love and faith for Finland, and Finland only.

- Ignorant and indifferent of the situation of his wife, Grand-Duke Karl Peter Ulrich is celebrating the capture of Stockholm in neverending drinking orgies in Kungshuset. In his sick, degenerate mind, the Imperial heir has come to believe himself as the true conqueror of the Swedish capital, and is more than ever yearning to take the war to the Danish soil and reclaim his hereditary rights in Slesvig. However, the Grand-Duke's drunken gaiety suffers a sudden blow from the news of the Russian declaration of war against Prussia. Shocked to learn that his aunt has turned against his personal hero, Karl Peter Ulrich spends a few days moping alone, until an ambitious scheme begins to hatch in his depraved brain. Isn't he himself a Grand-Duke on his own right, a ruler of a country with armed forces of its own, small in size but with formidable traditions, a country bordering the Russian Empire in the immediate vicinity of St. Petersburg itself? Couldn't he himself, then, from this position, take the initiative, shift the fortunes of the war and provide assistance for his idol, the Great Friedrich?

As the late autumn nights grow darker and darker in the Russian-occupied Stockholm, mad laughter and discordant sound of violin echo with renewed mirth throughout the Royal Palace [2]. Karl Peter Ulrich has come up with a plan...

- With the Russian conquest of Stockholm, Sweden sinks in a state of total apathy. The civil war ends as spontaneously as it started; all through the realm, guns fall silent and men return to their homes, to wait passively for the reckoning of the fratricide. Von Rosen, Tessin, von Fersen and the other Hat leaders scramble out of the country the best they're able, making it to Copenhagen and Paris more or less safely, whereas the already-humiliated Caps face still further chastisement, as Keith refuses to allow Åkerhielm's Council to enter Stockholm as the legitimate government, and eventually dissolves it on October 15th. During the following months, the Scottish general rules the Kingdom of Sweden as the military governor with dictatorial powers, receiving provincial deputations and organizing the administration of the country as he sees fit. After meeting with those estate leaders who haven't participated in the Hats' rebellion, Keith issues a manifesto ordering the Swedish estates for a general convention on October 19th. The famous "silent riksdag", surrounded by Russian soldiers, is officially opened in Stockholm on November 23rd, and on the same day, the assembly, with Ungern-Sternberg as the marshal of the noble estate, indifferently passes an unanimous resolution excluding the King of Denmark from the Swedish throne and accepting the succession of the British-Russian candidate. On the next day, Keith extracts a parliamentary consent for his appointment of a new Conseil de Régence and a special committee to study the preparation of a new constitution for the realm.

Hesitant and uncertain of his future position as the King of Sweden, but nevertheless feeling obligated to accept the responsibility, Prince Friedrich of Hessen is escorted to Karlskrona aboard the Russian battleship Gangut on November 30th. The Prince is accompanied by his family; his wife Mary, the daughter of King George II of Britain, and their two sons, Wilhelm and Friedrich, now the Dukes of Södermanland and Östergötland. While Keith prepares the coronation in Stockholm, the new-fledged Crown Prince familiarizes himself with his new homeland and spends a couple of weeks in the former Cap capital, where he's introduced to various representatives of the Swedish intelligentsia. One of the guests is the new court physician, no less a person than professor Carl Linné, who, after having observed the civil war and the Hat occupation of Uppsala with utter revulsion, is hoping for a restoration of the Royal authority as the best guarantee for prosperity and progress in the realm [3]. Friedrich's presence in Sweden stirs up everyone's interest already in the first days, and a small circle of Royalist-minded individuals, eager for a political change and complete breakup from the past, starts to gather around the 31-years old Hessian King designate. One of the nobles, the ambitious, young count Erik Brahe quickly establishes himself as the close confident of the future monarch. [4]

- The mid-autumn sees three confrontations between Russian and Prussian forces in Poland and East Prussia. On September 30th, Saltykov's diversionary counterattack results in an indecisive battle with von Schwerin at Kalisz in Wielkopolska; by the evening, both sides opt to withdraw from the scene. Two weeks later, Buturlin soundly defeats von Lehwaldt at Gross Jägersdorf in East Prussia, forcing the hapless field-marshal to retreat behind the Pregel. After repeated setbacks on the military and diplomatic fronts, Fritz decides that it's high time to improve the condition with yet another doze of Brechmittel. After series of skirmishes against the Russian advance posts, the King links with von Schwerin at Kolo, quickly advances southeast, crosses the Bzura, and forces an engagement against Apraksin and Fermor at Piatek on October 24th. Distracted by the outbreaking Haidamak rising in their rear and still uncertain of how to deal with the revolt, the Russian commanders are caught stunned by Fritz's surprise attack, and have no choice but to stand their ground and fight. The countryside turns into a slaughterhouse as the two huge armies clash against each others in one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare. At the end of the day, 55'000 men lie dead on the field. The Prussian losses have exceeded those of their enemy, von Schwerin is reported killed in action and Seydlitz is carried off from the field wounded, but miraculously, the Hohenzollern King has still turned the battle into his victory. Acknowledging defeat, Apraksin collects the remains of the Russian main army, withdraws back to Warsaw, and after a fortnight, is recalled by the furious Tsarina, who charges him with treason and promotes Fermor as the new commander-in-chief.

- The Prussian attack in the east has provoked a minor storm in the Reichstag of the Holy Roman Empire, but the representatives of Berlin succesfully settle the situation by specifying that the war concerns the sovereign King of Prussia, not the Elector of Brandenburg, and the invasion of Poland-Lithuania does not constitute a hostile act against the Elector of Saxony, despite of the position of August III as the ruler of the Rzeczpospolita [5]. Rather surprisingly, the Prussian explanation is also accepted by Vienna, which is still cultivating a hope of breaking the Paris-Berlin axis by reaching an understanding with France. The British Royal House and the government, on their part, are greatly reassured by the apparent Prussian desire to keep the other German states out of the conflict, which seems to de facto offer the desired guarantee for the security of Hannover. The relief felt in London proves to be short-lived, however, as the cabinet soon receives a cold shower from the Tsarina, who now raises the stakes by demanding Britain to uphold its commitment to subsidize the Russian military effort and mobilize an army of observation against Prussia in Hannover. Suddenly, the Anglo-Russian cooperation is giving results exactly opposite of what Newcastle had wished for.

The Russian demands are reported to Versailles, where the potential consequences are realized by both Louis XV and Rouillé. Any British involvement on the Continent would force France to fulfil her treaty obligations towards Prussia, mark the final end of the truce signed in Aachen three years ago, and escalate the Anglo-French overseas hostilities to an outright, large-scale war. On the other hand, the King and his minister do not consider that possibility that risky anymore; the sorry performance of the British navy against Denmark-Norway has considerably decreased the French respect towards the maritime power of the United Kingdom.

- In the meantime, the colonial contention between Britain and France intensifies. In India, the British power is strengthened further, as Clive pursues his imperial goals with an untiring energy. After the brilliant seizure and defence of Arkot, the ambitious English captain proceeds by taking the French fort of Timari and dispersing Rájá Sahib's forces on an open field battle at Arni in the early November. While Dupleix himself remains unbeaten, it's fairly clear to everyone involved that the struggle over India has decisively turned in favour of Britain.

- The battered, but far from defeated Danish-Norwegian fleet deals its last humiliation against the British Royal Navy, as admiral Danneskiold-Laurwig succesfully ambushes an enemy squadron off Helgoland on October 16th. One British frigate is sunk, another runs aground in the retreat, and the flagship, HMS Falmouth, limps away from the fight so crippled that Hawke has to order it scrapped afterwards. Regardless, although Denmark has held brilliantly against Britain, the Russian takeover of Sweden has already decided the conflict to the defeat of Copenhagen. With the takeover of the Caps' fleet, Golitsyn now has close to sixty battleships in his disposal on the Baltic, and Keith is ready to move his land forces on the Norwegian border. As his last option, Bernstorff chooses to negotiate with the two allied powers separately. The ongoing talks with Dickens finally result in an armistice on November 24th, the terms of which include King Frederik's agreement to renounce all his claims to the Swedish throne. However, the formal peace treaty between the United Kingdom and Denmark-Norway is made dependent on the Danish compliance with the Russian terms - which are very harsh, demanding the restoration of all the hereditary lands of Slesvig, Holstein and Gottorp to Karl Peter Ulrich. Even with his back against the corner and the very existence of his realm at stake, Bernstorff isn't easily startled; the foreign minister realizes that as long as the Russians are entangled in the war of attrition against Prussia, their opportunity to enforce the said claims will be severely limited.

Aware of the difficulties, Bernstorff doesn't bother to present the Russian demands to his King, who has, thankfully, drifted to the state of drunken unconsciousness once again. The Hannoverian informs Bestuzhev of his willingness to meet the Russian requirements, and the Danish-Russian negotiations are set to start in December. The British government is allowed to send its representative to observe the talks, and Newcastle's choice is a man whom Bernstorff already knows by reputation; a foreign aristocrat who's also a close, old friend of Danneskiold-Laurwig.

Notes:

[1] Kraftman was the first Finnish physiocrat, whose lectures in the Åbo Academy in 1746-1749 stressed the importance of agriculture as the true basis of the national wealth. Contrary to Quesnay and the other French contemporaries, the early Swedish and Finnish physiocrats did not attempt to envisage any grand theory of a detailed economic system, but instead operated from the fashionable utilist base; whatever is practical, whatever works, whatever benefits the country the most.

[2] He actually did play violin, very badly.

[3] I hadn't forgotten him; however, since his most significant achievements either predated the PoD or were nearing completion by the time of it, there was really no reason to assume any fundamental changes in his career. As I understand it, Linné was a man above the party divisions, and his personal prestige and influence in the Academia far exceeded that of the rigid Hat-headed intelligentsia. Given that the scientific community succesfully pursued its own independent line even under the Hats, its accomplishments during this ATL's Cap régime of 1746-1751 should be broadly similar. As for the post as the court physician, Linné was granted the same honour also by Adolf Fredrik in OTL.

[4] Count Erik Brahe was one of the leaders of the botched Royalist coup attempt in the summer of 1756 in OTL. He and his co-conspirators were sentenced to death by the Hats, and beheaded in front of the Church of Riddarholma on July 23rd-26th, 1756.

[5] The Wettins themselves always made a clear distinction between their actions as the Electors of Saxony and Kings of Poland, and the Prussians are now using the very same reasoning against them.

The tenth part: December 1751

- On December 1751, the two-years' struggle over French taxation revision comes to a dramatic end, as Louis XV dissolves the assembly of the high clergy and graciously declares the prelates subject both to the general law and the new tax. Enjoying the full support of his sovereign, contrôleur général des finances Machault d'Arnouville gets his wish; the cabal of dévots yields in front of the partisans of fiscal reform, and the Church of France joins the other orders as a subject to the vingtičme. The King's temporarily-injured Catholic conscience is readily soothed by the praises of his court, ministers, the philosophes and the ever-comforting Marquise de Pompadour. Even the King of Prussia sends his sincere congratulations from the east, complimenting the resoluteness of his French colleague. [1]

- The magnificent coronation of Friedrich, the Prince of Hessen, as Fredrik II, the King of Sweden, takes place in the medieval Cathedral of Stockholm on the clear, calm winter day of December 16th. The estates watch in silence as the Hessian swears his Royal Oath and receives the Crown of St. Erik from Arch-Bishop Henrik Benzelius, the former leading Hat clergyman [2]. The return of the status quo is greeted with relief by the common people, and the gracious amnesty of all former Confederates (with the exception of their exiled leaders) turns many of the remaining Hats into new Royalists. Nevertheless, the imposition of a foreign monarch on a Russian bayonet point isn't entirely acceptable to everyone, least of all to the humiliated Caps, whose party now lies in shatters and who've been almost completely excluded from the new government. The King's promise to reinstate the "constitution of Gustav Adolf" also raises aristocratic fears of a renewed absolutism, even though in truth, Fredrik has no intention to involve himself personally in the formation of the new Constitution. The task is left entirely to the new State Council, which now includes, among others, Count Erik Brahe, Count Erik Wrangel, Count Adam Horn, general von Ungern-Sternberg, and, as the representative of those Hats who haven't participated in the rebellion, Count Carl Fredrik Scheffer, the former Swedish minister in Paris, whose enlightened credentials have earned him a post as a Royal advisor and the chairman of the constitutional committee [3]. The dreaded "end of the realm" has proven to be a new beginning, and in the meantime, the developments in the government continue to be observed by general Keith, who, as a recognition for his victory, is granted a field-marshal's baton by the Tsarina on the Christmas Eve.

- After a particularly bloody and exhaustive military operation, the Russian army finally rounds up the last Haidamaks in the Right-Bank Ukraine by the third week of December. The brief but destructive uprising has left behind a trail of 30'000 butchered Polish nobles, Catholic priests and Jews. The insurrectionaries are dealt with matching severity; the first Christmas snow falls on long lines of impaled figures decorating the roads on the Volhynian countryside, and the rebel leaders are publicly flayed alive by the Polish Komput at the marketplace of Human on the New Year's Eve. The brutal executions are observed by a sotnia of Don cossacks, one of whom has brought his young son along for the campaign. The event makes a profound impression on the boy, who feels deeply moved by the strength of character with which the convicted Ukrainian revolutionaries face their deaths [4].

- On the Christmas Eve, ambassadour Kaunitz gives Maria Teresia a full personal account of the failure of his diplomatic mission in Versailles. Even in all his arrogance and self-importance, Kaunitz has to recognize that the prospects of fulfilling his grand idea of rapprochement between Paris and Vienna have been rendered extremely bleak; the Franco-Prussian alliance has held firm, the Bourbon court is financing the military effort of Berlin, and despite of Kaunitz's popularity with de Pompadour, the ministers Rouillé, d'Arnouville and d'Argenson have remained adamant in their opposition against any cooperation with Austria. The unsuccesful mission has equally increased Kaunitz's mistrust towards the French politicians, and the diplomat now angrily yields all his previous schemes to the Devil, advicing the Queen-Empress to seek settlement with Great Britain instead. Despite of her deep bitterness over the British betrayal of Austria in the treaty of Dresden, the Habsburg Landesmutter acknowledges the political realities and the judgement of his ambassadour, and dispatches Count Starhemberg to the Court of St. James with a mission to negotiate a new treaty securing the British support for the reconquest of Silesia. Simultaneously, the contacts with St. Petersburg are reopened, and Count Haugwitz is informed that Austria has to be ready for war by the summer of 1752. The initiation of the hostilities against Prussia is made dependent on the timely conclusion of the necessary treaties with Britain and Spain. [5]

- On the Christmas Day, a small Prussian observation force under colonel Belling crosses the border on the Peene and invades the Swedish Pomerania. The troops encounter no resistance; the Swedish garrisons in Greifswald, Stralsund and Rügen have sided with the Confederation during the civil war, and the commanding officers now renounce their allegiance to Stockholm and welcome the Prussians with open arms. The takeover is explained by Berlin as a justified response to the Russian occupation of Sweden, a necessary precautionary measure to safeguard the Prussian rear and to deprive the Russians of a chance to use the Swedish Pomerania as a base of operations against Brandenburg. As a further pretext, the Hohenzollern King invokes the ancient rights of Brandenburg to the Hither Pomerania in accordance to the treaty of 1529, and with speed and efficiency, imposes a Prussian system of administration upon the territory [6]. While the ancient privileges of the Pomeranian estates are drowned in a flood of decrees from Berlin, the other German rulers - in particular George II, who views the Prussian move as a direct threat against the Electorate of Hannover - express their anxiety at the obvious violation of the stability and neutrality of the Empire.

- On the early morning of the Boxing Day, a lone, shady figure departs from the residence of doctor Abraham Gomes Ergas in St. Mary Axe and silently disappears amongst the busy inhabitants on the streets of the London City. The mysterious person carries a passport en blanc, an authorization from the Duke of Newcastle to represent the interests of the United Kingdom in the negotiations with Denmark-Norway and the Russian Empire. [7]

Notes:

[1] This may sound implausible, but I think it's a judgement call. Le Roy Ladurie points to the correlation between the French foreign diplomacy and internal politics at the eve of OTL's Seven Years' War; the Alliance of the Catholic Powers, hand-in-hand with the Alliance of Throne and Altar. I figured that since the one has worked the opposite in this ATL, so would the other, and with the continuing Franco-Prussian liaison in this ATL, the French clergy would also have to swallow the vingtičme. Even though there's no direct connection, it'd be keeping with the consistency of the zeitgeist. Initially, Louis XV was very firm in his decision to carry it out and had every chance to do so, and I think that in the context of this ATL, he just might press the matter to the end.

[2] Benzelius was a moderate Hat, who had become the Arch-Bishop of Sweden already before the PoD. Given his conciliatory opinions and obligations as the head of the State Church, I'd expect that Benzelius would have remained outside the Confederation, perhaps even condemned it. Also, when it comes to the matters of the Evangel Lutheran Church, I should probably mention that the old diocese of Åbo (Finland) has by now been elevated to the status of an independent arch-bishopric. As in OTL, governor-general Keith had appointed Johan Wallenius, the professor of theology in the Åbo Academy, as the head of the temporary Cathedral Chapter in the war year 1742, and in this ATL, Wallenius would have held the post until his death in 1746. Since 1746, the position of the Arch-Bishop of Finland has been held by Carl Fredrik Mennander, of whom we'll hear more later on.

[3] Scheffer was another moderate-reformist Hat who later on shifted to the Court Party; a true physiocrat whose main concerns were the population growth and the industrial and agricultural development. He presented a memorandum dealing with the said issues in the riksdag of 1760, and the analysis was, in many ways, very much ahead of its time. In addition, Scheffer was in charge of the education of the future king Gustav III in OTL 1756-1762, and played a key role in guiding the young and ambitious crown prince in the virtues of the enlightened absolutism.

[4] Perhaps too early and dramatic for an entrée, but there you have it; we'll definitely hear of him in the future. As for his age, the actual birthdate of the man seems to be unknown. I've seen sources which suggest 1742, but then again, I've seen others which claim that he was born as early as in 1720. In the latter case, he'd have been witnessing the executions alone by himself, as a seasoned, rank-and-file cossack. So, pick your favourite choice.

[5] Even in his OTL mission of 1750-1753, Kaunitz was, at times, ready to throw in the towel, and in the setting of this ATL, there really is no other choice. Haugwitz's military reforms have proceeded as in OTL, and the Spanish aspect of the Austrian foreign policy has been mentioned already in the first footnote of the seventh part.

[6] Similar to Fritz's excuse of invading Silesia earlier on. The agreement of 1529 had stated that the Pomeranian Duchies were to pass to the Elector of Brandenburg after the death of the ducal line; the line had gone extinct in 1637, and Brandenburg had obtained compensation in the subsequent division of Pomerania with Sweden, but as the First Silesian War has demonstrated, old claims can always be revived at the right moment.

[7] His exact whereabouts in 1751 are, not surprisingly, unclear. He had resided in London ever since 1743 and reappeared in Chambord in 1758, but it's not known exactly when he had left Britain and arrived in France, and whether he had lived somewhere else in the interim period. A later testimony by the Prussian diplomat von Knüpphausen, who had served as the chargé d'affaires in Stockholm in 1748-1751, hints that he may have traveled in Scandinavia during the period, so in light of that, I think that sending him to mess with the Danish-Russian peace talks would be a plausible solution.

Map appendix: The War of Swedish Succession and the battles between Russian and Prussian forces in Poland

The eleventh part: January - March, 1752

- The year 1752 is a landmark in the history of the Åbo Academy, as Pehr Kalm, the disciple of the great Linné, returns from his four-years long journey in the Far East with his knapsack full of exotic Siberian plants and seeds, and begins his professorship in the natural history and economics at the University. Kalm's lectures become an instant hit among the students, laying basis for the further study of natural sciences in the Academy [1]. While the utilist creed in sciences continues to connect the Academy with the former mother country, the humanities are giving the 112-years old institute a rather more distinctive appearance as an essentially Finnish university. After the passing of the old Juslenian intelligentsia, the dignitas of the common people has found an equally committed spokesman in Principal Henrik Hassel, whose continuous defence of the native speech finally bears fruit as the first Finnish-language academic dissertation, Ajatuxia maantalouden parannuxesta Suomenmaasa is presented in the early January [2]. Hassel's concerns reach beyond his native surroundings also to the international scene; the past civil war in Sweden and the threat of a new all-European conflict haven't failed to make an impact on the pacifist principal, who doesn't hesitate to express his opinions. As so often before, Hassel's moral condemnation of war and aggression takes the shape of a historical study, this time focusing on the Imperial Rome. The first part of his De magnitudine Romana appears in the early March, with a clear message; the decline of the Roman freedom and civic virtues, as well as the decadence which eventually led to the fall of the Empire itself, were due to the fact that the Imperium was created and sustained entirely by military victories and conquests. In the long run, Hassel argues, no country can base its future on the expectations of war.

- Regretfully, the enlightened words of the Finnish professor aren't listened in the European capitals, least of all in Berlin, St. Petersburg or Vienna. The battlefields in Poland have temporarily fallen quiet after the Russians and Prussians have moved in their winter quarters at Poznan and Warsaw, but both sides still continue to carry out occasional raids while making preparations for a new spring campaign. The situation has made Fritz more worried than ever; Buturlin seems to have settled in Königsberg as if he's never going to leave, and the persistent silence from Hofburg is beginning to seem both unnatural and ominous. However, despite of the tightening encirclement around him, the King of Prussia keeps on taking pleasure in annoying as many foreign powers as possible. On January 15th, after a series of personal aggravations, Fritz promptly hands the British ambassadour Charles Hanbury Williams his passport, severing the diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom and offering uncle George yet one more cause for personal apprehension. [3]

- Scheffer's constitutional committee presents its final draft to the Swedish riksdag in a convention held at Kungshuset on February 12th. The discussion of the new form of government has remained intense, and opinions have varied; some, most notably Count Brahe, have urged the restoration of an outright royal absolutism, whereas a few people such as Ungern-Sternberg are still more or less committed to the established parliamentary traditions. The new King himself is quite aware that he's expected not only to offer a resolution to the impassé of the past party strife, but also to respect the traditional rights of the nation and, perhaps even more importantly, satisfy the expectations of Russia and Britain while still maintaining the sovereignty of the realm. Wisely, Fredrik relies on Scheffer's judgement in the matter. The eventual constitution reveals something of Montesquieu's influence on Scheffer, but above all, is a compromise which seeks to revive the old tripartite equilibrium by clearly spelling out the duties of each branch of the government. The executive power is vested in the King, the appointment of the State Council is made the prerogative of the King, and the members of the Council are made responsible to the King. The King is obliged to consult the Council in the matters pertaining to justice, war, peace and treaties with foreign powers, in which the Council is granted the right to overrule the monarch by an unanimous vote. The Estates are to continue convening regularly every four years, with the monarch having the power to initiate or reject legislation on his own and summon extraordinary meetings. The traditional control over taxation and the consent for waging offensive wars remains with the Estates. The old practice of licentiering is abandoned.

Two days before the convention, the draft is reviewed by field-marshal Keith, who expresses his satisfaction; given the reliability of the current monarch, the strengthening of the Royal power is not detrimental to the Russian interests, and in the long run, the various checks still give an effective guarantee against any adventurous policies which either the Crown or the Estates might pursue in the future. The new constitution is immediately accepted by acclaim and signed by all four Estates, who also quietly accept the King's decision to forbid all use of the old party names and labels for the sake of national unity and concord. After thirty-one years, the Age of Liberty has expired, and the Kingdom of Sweden has entered a new era in its history.

- On the Shrove Tuesday, author Franįois Marie Arouet, also known by the name Voltaire, arrives at the city of Åbo after a short, comfortable sleighride through the Russian Baltic provinces and over the frozen Gulf of Finland. Voltaire's depression, caused by his disappointing Prussian experiences and his prolonged separation from his beloved niece [4], is gradually beginning to pass away, and the enchanting landscape of the wintertime Finland, together with the simple, peaceful idyll of the capital of the small Grand-Duchy, finally lifts his spirits once and for all. After sipping a few tankards of home-made hard ale at master Johan Seipell's beer-house, Voltaire feels a sudden inspiration taking over and bursts into song. The legendary Epître de m. de Voltaire en arrivant dans sa terre prčs du fleuve Aura becomes the purest of his lyrical masterpieces, praising the breathtaking, virginal beauty of the faraway northern country, extolling the liberty and self-confidence of its inhabitants and concluding that in Finland, freedom has remained a self-evident and inalienable right of the people. [5]

On n'y méprise point les travaux nécessaires;
Les états sont égaux, et les hommes sont frčres.
Liberté, viens m'y faire un destin nouveau!
Embellis ma retraite, présidez ā mes derniers jours!

The Åbo Academy has prepared for the arrival of the foreign intellectual for some time, and Voltaire is heartfeltly welcomed by Hassel, who has arranged ready accommodation for the guest at his rusthåll in Pussila. The ordinary wooden countryside manor proves reasonably adequate for Voltaire's needs, and after refreshing himself in Hassel's sauna, the Frenchman feels reinvigorated enough to write the opening passages of what will someday become the Dictionnaire Philosophique. On the following day, Sofia Augusta, by now at the last stages of her pregnancy, receives the academician at her manor at Ekudden. The meeting is a cordial one, and even though Voltaire has had enough of Royal patronage for one lifetime, he's pleasantly surprised by the astuteness of the young Grand-Duchess and gladly accepts her invitation to stay in the country for as long as he pleases.

- The appearance of the strange foreigner who calls himself "Comte de Saint-Germain" is reported by the Copenhagen newspapers on the second week of January. According to persistent rumours, the mysterious nobleman is a representative of either the British or the French government, on some kind of a secret mission, but his first behaviour suggests otherwise. Rather than traveling post haste to participate in the negotiations which are already underway in Copenhagen, the Count spends a full month meeting the local landowners in Aalborg, advertising a new machine which can produce starch from potatoes instead of grain [6]. The eccentric aristocrat doesn't arrive at the Danish capital until mid-February, and for a man presumably performing a covert duty, proves himself to be a terrible publicity hound, regularly appearing together with admiral Danneskiold-Laurwig in the salons of the city and flashing around a diplomatic passport supposedly signed by the Duke of Newcastle [7].

Saint-Germain's surprising entrée results in a minor confusion in the ongoing peace talks. The well-informed Bernstorff has received the word of his mission beforehand, but nevertheless takes neither the man nor his credentials seriously. Ambassadour Dickens, who has himself also entered the negotiations without an official permission from his government, is bewildered by his replacement by a foreign charlatan, and writes a letter to Whitehall, requesting clarification for Saint-Germain's authorization. The response from London is delayed, as le Secret du Roi seizes the opportunity to obstruct Dickens' correspondence with his cabinet. Abbé Lemaire's efforts inadvertently allow Saint-Germain to meet Ivan Andreievich Osterman, Bestuzhev's personal representative in Copenhagen, on March 1st. Osterman is sufficiently convinced by Saint-Germain's passport, and his short discussion with the Count leaves him with the impression that Britain is reluctant to upset the Northern Balance any further, unwilling to revoke its 1720 guarantee for the Danish incorporation of Slesvig, or even to support the previously-proposed cession of Oldenburg-Delmenhorst to Karl Peter Ulrich.

Saint-Germain's careless words suddenly give new momentum to the negotiations. Bernstorff is quick to exploit the new lever in his reach, and points out that Denmark is, in fact, willing to accept more concessions for a final peace and resolution to the Gottorp question than Britain wishes to allow. The Russian diplomat agrees with Bernstorff's reasoning, and although sceptical of the validity of Saint-Germain's information, becomes equally suspicious of the British commitment to the alliance with Russia. The situation is eventually settled by the intervention of Vienna, which gives Osterman a major trump to show to his Empress; in exchange for the moderated Russian demands in Slesvig and Holstein, Maria Teresia gives her assurance to declare war on Berlin before the end of the coming summer. Filled with holy wrath against the King of Prussia and anxious to enlist everyone on her crusade, Elizaveta deems the interests of her nephew expendable and agrees to maintain the status quo in Holstein, although Bernstorff is sternly noted that the solution is, at best, a temporary one. In the end, the Russo-Danish treaty is signed in Copenhagen on March 31st, with no reference to Great Britain. The War of Swedish Succession is over, but simultaneously, the peace settlement has provided a warrant for another, far more destructive European conflagration.

- After a week of isolation, Grand-Duchess Sofia Augusta gives birth to her first child in the manor of Ekudden precisely at the midnight of March 30th-31st. At the moment of the delivery, two stray white-tailed sea eagles circle around the main building, their shrieking mixing with the distant thunder which can be heard in the darkness from beyond the Gulf of Finland. A fortnight later, Arch-Bishop Carl Fredrik Mennander christens the newborn baby girl - who has inherited the green eyes of her father - to the Evangel Lutheran faith by the name Adelaide Gustava.

Notes:

[1] In OTL, Kalm embarked on his North American journey after Linné's suggestion in 1747, and this ATL's Siberian trek would have also been done after the mentor's proposal; it seems reasonable to assume that the cooperation between Åbo and Uppsala would have continued fairly extensively after the separation, but with the new links to the east, Kalm could pursue this other alternative to conduct natural studies, especially since he had already traveled in European Russia before. In this ATL, Uppsala has sent one of its resident scholars to the Americas, while Kalm's voyage had the financial support of Grand-Duchess Sofia Augusta, the Finnish State Council, and the Academy of St. Petersburg, which would have certainly considered Kalm's contribution very valuable.

[2] Hassel was born as a son of a Lutheran minister in Åland back in 1700, and began his academic career as the professor of eloquentia in the Åbo Academy in 1728. A disciple of Francis Bacon, he held the chair for 48 years, and unlike some of his colleagues, didn't leave the University even during the war and occupation in 1741-1743. Given his commitment to his post, I believe he'd have remained in Finland also after this ATL's separation. Hassel was interested in contemporary politics, advocated the development of the written vernacular, and demanded that even the Academia should begin to use the native languages (Finnish included) instead of the classical ones. From a professor of eloquence, this was a unique argument at the time, and while Latin still maintained its position in Uppsala and Lund, the Åbo Academy was allowed an exceptional right to approve thesis in the first language of the realm; during the Age of Liberty, Åbo published more Swedish-language dissertations than Uppsala and Lund combined. Given Hassel's views and the nine years of separation in this ATL, it's IMO perfectly likely that we'd see also one Finnish-language publication. As in OTL, Juslenius' Finnish dictionary has appeared in 1745, and would be used as a reference work; the dissertation mentioned in the text appeared also in OTL, under the title Velmente tankar om landt-hushållningens förbättrande i Finland. Most of Hassel's own literary works defended peace, liberty and humanity, but after a bitter clash against the Hat vice-chancellor Johan Browallius over the censorship of a Wolffian dissertation De origine anima rationalis in 1751, he decided to withdraw from most active academic life. In this ATL, Browallius has relocated permanently to Uppsala - unlike Hassel, he did leave Åbo back in 1742, and in my judgement, wouldn't have returned in this ATL - so Hassel will continue to remain active and influential in the Finnish intellectual life for a long time to come.

[3] Williams had remarked to the Duke of Newcastle that "it's better to be an ape in the island of Borneo than to be a minister at Berlin".

[4] The niece in question is Marie-Louise Denis, daughter of Voltaire's sister Marie-Marguerite, and also the mistress of the great writer. They had planned a reunion after the end of Voltaire's service in Prussia. Incest was acceptable practice back then. Tsk-tsk.

[5] Partly, this view would be a natural result from his previous journey through Prussia, Poland and Livonia; historically, nearly everyone who traveled in the Baltic was impressed by the freedom and social standing of the Finnish peasants, in comparison to their enslaved Danish, Estonian and Latvian counterparts. You may recognize the quoted verses from Voltaire; in addition, you can expect him to comment that not only is this country a beacon of liberty, but even the beer is pretty damn good.

[6] Philip Dormer Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield, the Vice-Roy of Ireland, had mentioned in his letter to Thomas Prior on June 14th, 1746, that he had met a foreigner who had made such an invention, and S. Albert Kivinen suggests that the person in question may have been Saint-Germain. The Count was residing in London at the time and was, according to Horace Walpole, a very close acquaintance of Lord Chesterfield; it's also known for a fact that Saint-Germain had something of a technical flair - he manufactured and sold pumps and dredgers in his later years, for example - so a starch-machine would certainly fit in the picture.

[7] Saint-Germain and Danneskiold-Laurwig had become friends in London during the admiral's service in the British Navy in 1744-1746. Danneskiold-Laurwig was a high-ranking freemason; Saint- Germain's membership in the order isn't known for certain, although the admiral's letters to him at least hint at the possibility.

The twelfth part: April - August, 1752

- Despite of a few initial difficulties, Voltaire gets fairly quickly accustomed to the atmosphere in the "wretched capital of a barbarous state" - the words with which his niece has described the city of Åbo in her letters. The spring of 1752 sees the poet happily settled in the small, countryside manor of Åminne, now renamed "Les Délices", and reconstructed as the "palace of a philosopher", in a fashion which has attracted the attention of the entire country. Limiting his participation in the cultural life to occasional cordial meetings with Hassel, Kalm and the other local luminaries, Voltaire spends most of his time in the quiet solitude of his rural retreat, reviewing his past works, and adding a couple of new paragraphs regarding the Great Wrath in his Histoire de Charles XII. The newly-updated history of the Warrior-King is presented as a gift to the Åbo Academy by the author himself.

As the harsh winter of Finland finally passes, the Frenchman begins to compile his social observations into a new literary work. Aside of his interest in the hereditary, freeholding Finnish peasantry and its participation in the popular government as the fourth estate, Voltaire devotes considerable attention to the influence and the position of the Evangel Lutheran Church, which is quite unlike anything he has ever encountered before, the Church of England included. Voltaire is positively astonished to notice that despite of the Protestant uniformity and the conventicle laws inherited from the Swedish rule, the Enlightenment has penetrated the very bastions of the Finnish Church, rationalism has made a real breakthrough in theology, and the clergy as a whole is both actively promoting reforms and genuinely dedicated to the improvement of the common people. The tolerance and open-heartedness of arch-bishop Mennander makes an equally favourable personal impression on the poet, and Voltaire's Essai sur la église de Finlande, the first version of which is finished in August, eventually finds its way to his Dictionnaire Philosophique [1].

Although Voltaire finds the small northern country full of vigour and enterprise, he also notices that the good intentions and the spirit of reform are, sadly, limited by the lack of means and resources. However, he also recognizes that the state has at least one invaluable asset, the Grand-Duchess herself. After several private discussions at Ekudden and Åminne, Sofia Augusta's image has come to replace that of Friedrich in Voltaire's dreams of a philosopher-King, and repeatedly, he reminds his hostess of her responsibility to her adopted country, urging her to find a way to break free from her political shackles and assert herself as the ruler which she already, for all practical purposes, is. The personal endorsement of the admired philosopher deeply moves Sofia Augusta, whose courage and self-confidence have been already greatly increased by her recent motherhood.

- Frustrated, Grand-Duke Karl Peter Ulrich leaves Stockholm with his Holsteiner Guard on April 5th, heading straight to St. Petersburg without bothering to stop to see his wife and her newborn child in Finland. The news of the Russian peace settlement with Denmark have come as yet another shock to the Grand-Duke, now deprived of the chance to launch his long-planned crusade against the House of Oldenburg. Karl Peter Ulrich's sense of betrayal is aggravated further by the fact that his aunt has sacrificed his hereditary rights in his beloved Holstein in exchange for a military coalition against his personal idol, the King of Prussia. The Grand-Duke's prestige and honour have been insulted on every possible level, but the arrival at St. Petersburg improves his mood somewhat, as he notices that the health of the Tsarina is beginning to falter [2]. While the Empress remains confined in Tsarskoe Selo, the Grand-Duke spends the spring and the summer months in the fresh air of Peterhof, hunting, drinking, telling tall tales of his heroic feats in the campaign against the Hats, badmouthing his aunt's hostility towards Prussia and making grand promises of how he is going to fix relations with Berlin once and for all as soon as he becomes the sovereign.

With Elizaveta's condition deteriorating and Karl Peter Ulrich's Prussian sympathies shining forth more and more clearly, the tensions at the Imperial Court wind tighter. Chancellor Bestuzhev is abhorred by the sentiments of the Grand-Duke and senses his own downfall in Karl Peter Ulrich's potential succession. Bestuzhev's apprehensions are increased by the machinations of the Francophile Shuvalov faction in field-marshal Apraksin's humiliating court martial, and by the fact that the Grand-Duke, despite of being widely detested in the Court, has nonetheless come to enjoy a small popularity both among the Shuvalovs and certain ambitious officers, who feel discontent with the ruling regimé [3]. The currents of the Russian court politics have acquired additional intensity also from Sofia Augusta's failure to produce a male heir, which has disappointed both Bestuzhev and the Tsarina herself [4]. Profoundly angered at the young Grand-Duchess who has betrayed her expectations, Elizaveta briefly considers recalling her to live with Karl Peter Ulrich in St. Petersburg on permanent basis, but eventually, she decides to do the opposite and orders the bothersome Grand-Duke to leave the capital and join his spouse in Finland for the time being. Sofia Augusta herself is bluntly adviced to give birth to a son as soon as possible, and the task of overseeing the Grand-Duchess is entrusted to Fredenstjerna and Nikita Panin, the Russian resident and the Imperial representative in Finland [5].

As the severely-ill Tsarina removes her obnoxious nephew from her sight, the various court cliques begin to contemplate their plans of action in the event of her demise. Bestuzhev considers the possibility of persuading Elizaveta to disinherit her nephew in favour of Sofia Augusta's daughter under a Regency Council led by the old chancellor himself, whereas Count Alexander Shuvalov, the head of the Secret Chancery, and Count Petr Shuvalov, the Minister of the Interior, regard the Grand-Duke as their best option to gain full control of the Imperial administration. In the military, the feelings are rather more mixed; although a few officers support Karl Peter Ulrich, most still cultivate a hope that a more genuinely Russian candidate could somehow emerge to challenge the Holsteiner's claim to the throne.

Elsewhere, far away from the palace conspiracies of St. Petersburg, in a desolate place which the Zyrians call by the name "forsaken house" [6], an eleven-years' old youth still remembers his heritage and rights as a direct descendant of the great Tsar Aleksei and as the last legitimate male heir of the Romanov family. Silently, he is waiting for his moment in the shadows.

- The rumours of Elizaveta's illness delay the planned spring offensive of the Russian army in East Prussia and Poland somewhat, but Buturlin and Fermor eventually commence their advance on the last week of April. As usual, the Russians score their major successes in the north, where Buturlin manages to complete the occupation of East Prussia and besiege Danzig, which has been held by the Prussian army for only a few months. Further in the south, general Petr Aleksandrovich Rumiantsev succeeds in trouncing general Wedel's Prussian contingent in a brief scrap at Kutno on May 16th, which is followed by Fermor's slow, steady thrust towards Silesia. Hard-pressed by his predecessor's dismissal and court martial, the newly-appointed Russian commander-in-chief is compelled to look for a field confrontation with the enemy, and at Saltykov's advice, chooses to march against the Prussian King at Pünitz. The third major battle of the Polish campaign is fought in a cool, gentle valley on the clear and pleasant summer day of June 9th, with the Russian army once again having superiority both in numbers and firepower, and also, for the first time, the advantage of the surprise. Being attacked while still on march, Fritz is largely saved by the high mobility of his army. As the smoke settles, over 40'000 soldiers, slightly less than a half of them wearing blue uniforms, have lost their lives, but the following morning still sees both participants withdrawing from the scene - the Russians due to their acute shortage of ammunition, the Prussians due to their sheer exhaustion and Fritz's bad memories from Piatek. The battle is reported as a victory both in Berlin and St. Petersburg, and the statesmen at Versailles and Hofburg subscribe to the respective versions accordingly.

- The continuing stalemate in Poland increases the Russian political pressure on Sweden. Pointing to the illegal Prussian occupation of Swedish Pomerania, Bestuzhev demands King Fredrik II to honour his commitment to preserve the territorial integrity of his realm and act as the guarantor of the Treaty of Westfalen by declaring war on Berlin. The new monarch is reluctant to bind himself to the conflict on the Continent, especially since his fragile Kingdom is still recovering from the tragic experiences of the last year, but he's also unable to ignore the wave of indignation which the Prussian takeover has aroused in Sweden, not to mention the fact that he owes more or less his entire position to the Russian goodwill. However, the Hessian King is shrewd enough to secure acceptable terms for his participation in the war against Brandenburg and ensure that it will cost him and his realm as little blood and treasure as possible. As the first precondition, the Tsarina graciously agrees to return the Swedish Battle Fleet, seized by Golitsyn during the Civil War, and also provide Russian troops for the recovery of Hither Pomerania to Sweden. The discussions between Bestuzhev and Count Brahe result in preliminary plans for the reconquest of Rügen, the capture of Wolin and Usedom and the destruction of the Prussian Navy in the spring and the summer of 1753. The command of the expedition is given to field-marshal Keith; since the King of Prussia has initiated the hostilities by violating Swedish territory, consulting the Estates isn't necessary, but Fredrik is sensible enough to understand that his best political guarantee is still to acquire parliamentary consent.

- Dickens' inquiry of Saint-Germain's authorization finally reaches the Court of St. James on the first week of May, and leaves the British cabinet thoroughly confused. The Duke of Newcastle denies having ever bestowed the mysterious foreign aristocrat with any kind of a diplomatic passport [7]. Embarrassed by the exclusion of the United Kingdom from the treaty of Copenhagen and threatened by new accusations from Pitt, the British secretary of state acts, for once, fast, and orders Dickens to present Bernstorff with a request for Saint-Germain's extradition to London. The mischievous count is, however, too smart for his pursuers and senses the noose tightening around him. While Bernstorff is smiling at the British diplomatic fumbling, the charlatan quickly and quietly leaves Copenhagen aboard a post ship on June 3rd. Amused, the foreign minister of Denmark soothes the feelings of his British colleague by declaring "the person known as Comte de Saint-Germain" a persona non grata in the Kingdom. Meanwhile, the Count - whose diplomatic adventures have now made him an all-European celebrity - settles at Lund, where he demonstrates the principles of pigment manufacture to the University and entertains the local notables by holding violin concerts. As the British demands of extradition reach also the Swedish court, Saint-Germain suddenly goes underground and temporarily disappears from all public life. The last unconfirmed sight is made at the harbour of Grisslehamn, where a strange, masked individual boards a merchantman bound for Finland on July 15th.

The brief diplomatic incident with Saint-Germain is soon forgotten in London, as the situation on the Continent becomes more alarming. The Prussian occupation of Swedish Pomerania and the expulsion of ambassadour Williams from Berlin have convinced Britain of the necessity to maintain cooperation with Russia in order to protect Hannover, and on May, Pelham agrees to a permanent, annual subsidy of Ŗ670'000 for the Russian war effort, with the intention to pin down Prussian forces and satisfy the Russian government enough to guarantee the continued British access to the Baltic naval stores. The French response to the British move comes already three months later, with the finalization of a new, extended alliance agreement between Versailles and Berlin; in case of a direct or indirect British or Austrian attack against Prussia, Louis XV committs himself to provide 80'000 men and fourty million livres per year in support of the Hohenzollern King.

- The spring and the summer of 1752 are a busy period for the Austrian diplomats. A secret pact with Russia, giving ironclad guarantees of an Austrian declaration of war against Prussia before the end of September, is signed by Kaunitz and Osterman on April 30th, and on the early summer, Maria Teresia finally accomplishes yet another long-term goal of her foreign policy, as Austria and Spain conclude a settlement which neutralizes their Italian possessions in the case of a European war. The new treaty guaranteeing the sovereign rights of Spain, Austria and Sardinia in Italy is signed by Count Migazzy, minister Carvajal and Marqués de Marsan in Aranjuez on June 14th. All sides greet the solution with relief; Maria Teresia has released herself from military obligations on one of her most troublesome flanks, and Fernando VI has succesfully strengthened the neutrality and the international standing of his realm.

At the same time, the new solidity in the Franco-Prussian axis acts as a spur to the rapprochement between the Danube and the Thames. At first, the Anglo-Austrian understanding manifests itself in the success of Count Starhemberg's approaches to The Hague, aided by the strongly pro-British and anti-French stance of Anne of Hannover and her advisors. Starhemberg begins his negotiations with Bentinck van Rhoon on the late March, and despite of the opposition of the States General, the talks result in an alliance agreement between the Princess-Gouvernante and the Queen-Empress. The defensive treaty between Austria and the United Provinces, with Great Britain as the third party, is renewed on July 31st, and Dutch troops under the command of Duke Ludwig Enrst von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern, are marched in the old Barrier garrisons in the South Netherlands once again. For better or worse - but mostly, at least in the opinions of the Amsterdam bourgeoisie and the Holland regents, for worse - the Orangist Republic has chosen its side in the coming European conflict. [8]

With the southern and western flanks of the Habsburg family entailment covered, the first Austrian troops begin to march through Hungary, Bohemia and Moravia by the Midsummer, taking their positions on the Silesian, Polish and Saxon borders at the end of July. For Maria Teresia, the time of her long-awaited vengeance against the King of Prussia has finally come.

- On mid-July, chief Langlade leads a war party of two hundred and fifty French, Ojibwa and Ottawa soldiers from Mackinac down south to Ohio. Langlade's lightning attack succeeds in finally taking the fort of Pickawillany, the British traders in the village are taken prisoners, the Miami Coalition forced to severe its connections with the Ohio Company, and the chief Memeskia, known by the nickname "Old Britain", is slain, boiled and eaten. While Langlade's warriors enjoy their rare culinary treat, the French authorities take quick measures to consolidate their power in the Ohio region by allocating 400 million livres to an intensive programme of fort-building, aimed to establish a permanent stranglehold over the British North American colonies. The British influence in the Trans-Appalachian West has suffered its worst setback so far, and the war has broken out for real in the New World.

- The Kingdom of Denmark-Norway emerges from its short war against Great Britain badly shaken, politically isolated and its vulnerable neutrality still very much threatened by the developing European conflict, but nonetheless intact. With the exception of the Atlantic islands and the Norwegian coastal regions, the war has barely touched the realm itself, and both the intelligentsia in Copenhagen and the general public remember only the glorious performance of the Danish-Norwegian navy in the defence of the Kingdom and Bernstorff's masterful diplomacy in the peace negotiations. Everywhere through the country, the war is regarded as a Danish victory, and for the moment, the cultural life in Copenhagen becomes dominated by new works of art and literature extolling Scandinavian martial virtues. Wartime themes find their way also to the music and the theatre; J. A. Scheibe's fantastic suite commemorating the victory of Tre Kroner gets its first performance at the Royal Music Hall on the first anniversary of the battle, whereas Ludvig Holberg's last play, telling the story of three Norwegian sailors and their wartime adventures in his usual ambiguous and satirical fashion, has its opening night at the Royal Theatre in August.

Although the war has, curiously enough, given a major boost to the popularity of the crown, the financial shape of the state is very unstable. With the stop of the French subsidies after the peace settlement, the national debt has soared, and as the sale of crown property and lands yields relatively meagre incomes to cover the continuing expenditure on the navy and the army, the administration has to find new measures to come up with cash. As the first solution, Moltke and his Council decide on the imposition of a special levy, which is declared on September 1st. The new poll tax adds one and a half rigsdaler to the annual tax burden of every Danish-Norwegian subject, excluding only the peasants of Iceland, Finnmark and the Færøes. The institution of the extraordinary financial contribution does not delight the common people... least of all in Norway.

Notes:

[1] I'm not exaggerating. The Enlightenment gave no rise to anticlericalism in the Nordic countries, precisely because the Church itself played a very active role in the intellectual movement; in the case of Finland, Anders Chydenius is the class example, and arch-bishop Mennander was an equally open-minded representative of the clergy, committed to improvements in the public education and health care, aside of which he also showed remarkable toleration in his approaches to integrate the various Pietist movements with the established Church. Voltaire's contacts with the Finnish Lutheran Church are likely to make his theological observations in the Dictionnaire Philosophique a bit different from OTL; the devastatingly negative approach which we remember from our history seems to have been at least partly due to his harsh experiences during the years in Genčve.

[2] Elizaveta suffered her first bout of "constipation" as early as in the winter of 1748-1749 in OTL, after which it was steady downhill for her. The earlier outbreak of hostilities in this ATL - first with the Hats and then with Prussia - obviously isn't helping her condition.

[3] There was a short-lived and unsuccesful officer conspiracy even in OTL 1749, led by lieutenant Iosif Baturin, seeking to murder Elizaveta and place Karl Peter Ulrich on the throne. This particular incident hasn't taken place in the course of this ATL, but some of the same elements still exist.

[4] Female members of the Imperial family had the right of succession in Russia at the time of this story, but male ones were always preferred whenever possible - and especially in this case, since a female successor still couldn't legally contest the claim of Anna Leopoldovna's heirs. Elizaveta had made it quite clear that she wanted Sofia Augusta to produce expressly a male heir (and she didn't much care who'd be the father, either), so I figured that she wouldn't take charge of the education of Adelaide Gustava in this ATL, but would instead ignore her and continue to hope for a son instead.

[5] Born in Danzig as a son of a Petrine senator, Panin was one of Elizaveta's long-time favourites and served as the Russian ambassadour to Stockholm in OTL 1748-1760. Since the Caps won the 1746 Swedish elections in this timeline, ambassadour Johan Albrecht von Korff was not recalled from Stockholm in 1748; therefore, I had to figure out some other post for Panin, and placing him as the Russian rezident in Finland seemed the appropriate choice.

[6] Zyrian Kolemgort, "forsaken house", Russian "Kholmogory", which is occasionally also thought of as being derived from the Norse "Holmgård". Also known by the name Kar-Dor among the natives, but nowadays more often by its Christian name, Arkhangelsk.

[7] According to the reports of French diplomatic representative Chiquet and the memoirs of Horace Walpole, Newcastle had met Saint-Germain a few times, and had been involved in his arrest back in 1745. Saint-Germain's passport was a fake, of course; the man pulled a fast one on Newcastle, much the same way as he did with d'Affry in OTL 1760.

[8] The Barrier negotiations of OTL 1753-1754 collapsed simply because Austria was drawing closer to France at the time, which isn't the case in this timeline. Here, van Rhoon's desire to strengthen the Dutch military presence in the south is matched by the Habsburg willingness to entrust the defence of the Austrian Netherlands to someone else, so that the main attention of the Austrian military could be turned against Prussia. Absent the diplomatic revolution, Dutch involvement in the war on the Anglo-Austrian side seems fairly plausible, and its repercussions are likely to be quite far-reaching. The four decades of undisturbed peace and economic growth in the Austrian Netherlands after the treaty of Aachen were one major factor which contributed to the early Industrial Revolution in the region, but the territory will regretfully not be quite as fortunate in this timeline.

The thirteenth part: September, 1752 - April, 1753

"It would require a great philosopher and historian to explain all the causes of the famous war in which Europe engaged itself in the autumn of 1752..."

- A month and a half pass by after Kaunitz has broken the long silence between Berlin and Vienna by a stern-worded ultimatum requiring King Friedrich to denounce the Franco-Polish Confederation, accept Austrian mediation in his conflict against Russia, withdraw all Prussian forces from Swedish Pomerania and return Silesia back to Maria Teresia. As expected, the Prussian response proves to be resoundingly negative, although behind the scenes, Fritz manages to use the Austrian threats to his advantage and acquire the tacit consent of Versailles for pre-emptive Prussian operations against Saxony in the case of an Austrian attack against the House of Brandenburg.

During the last three August days, the first military units wearing Habsburg colours begin to slowly venture across the border of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at Spisz, Nowy Targ and Nowy Sacz. On September 1st, field-marshal Count Karl Jķzsef Batthyany's troops cross the Silesian border in force, beginning the Third Silesian War between Austria and Prussia.

- At the end of the sailing season of 1752, the Finnish commercial houses record immense profits. After the setback caused by the closing of the Öresund during the War of Swedish Succession, the reopening of the seas has marked an immediate rise in the Finnish timber exports, and the expectations of war have made the prices and demand for naval supplies to peak. The traditionally-constant flow of Finnish commodities to Zaandam, Dortech, London, Hull and Cadiz has reached new heights and become more intense than ever before, and even the usually ruthless competition for foreign markets between the Finnish timber-traders is balanced by the fact that virtually everything seems to be in demand. Tar from the Ostrobothnian farmers; planks, deals, battens and boards from the export sawmills of Viborg, Fredriskhamn and Helsingfors; balks and spars from the forests of Tavastia and Savolax; and ready-made sailing vessels from the shipyards of the western seaboard. From the Spiel Clubb of Viborg to the quays of Uleåborg, the Finnish town burghers, sawmill-owners and peasant-traders become intoxicated by the colour of the money. [1]

Of the more modest domestic crafts practiced in the coastal towns, one particular article catches wider attention in the country during the years 1752-1753. The first official reviews and presentations of lace-making in the town of Rauma have convinced the local Provincial Governor Johan Georg Lillenberg and Mayor Johan Eek of the contribution which the lace can make to the small community and its surroundings in western Finland. By the end of 1752, the annual amount of cheap, straight bobbin lace made by the women of Rauma has risen to 4'000 ells, most of it sold at the rural parishes of southwestern Satakunta, gaining the producers an additional income of 2'000 silver dalers per year. While satisfied with the progress, both Lillenberg and Eek have hopes to develop the small provincial cottage handicraft still further into an actual manufacturing industry along the Danish and Dutch models which could produce fine, glamorous and intricate lace fit for nobles, a lace which in terms of quality could measure up even to Brabant and Valenciennes.

In the spring of 1753, one step towards the realization of this goal is taken with the assistance of a talented, mysterious foreigner - a Frenchman according to some, a Spaniard according to others - who has taken up residence in Rauma during the past autumn and acquainted himself with lieutenant Carl Gustaf Hjulhammar and his beautiful wife, Johanna Elisabet Forbes. Under the endorsement of Miss Forbes, the first specimens of new, fine lace from Rauma are made of the best Otavala thread in the winter of 1752-1753; the imaginative, almost mystical motifs are matched by the lively, shining colours owing to the masterful dyework by the French visitor. The samples reach Governor Lillenberg and Grand-Duchess Sofia Augusta in April, immediately raising curiosity for the origins of the design and the colours.

- In North America, the sporadic clashes between the French, British and the natives continue in the Ohio country all through 1752-1753. Most of the tribes, even the Delawares under the Unalachtigo chief Shingas, have renounced their connections with the British and the Iroquois in the aftermath of Langlade's attack and opted to side with the French instead. The hostilities also escalate southwards to Louisiana, where the Governor Pierre Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal, decides to eradicate those natives who are suspected of pro-British sympathies. The brutal attempts of the governor fail, as the French and their Chocktaw allies are repeatedly defeated by the neighbouring Chickasaws, who also beat back the occasional raids by the Ottawa from the north. The British colonial authorities, on their part, have decided to restore their control over the frontier and cut the French expansion short by a full-scale military expedition before the end of the new year; a tall, twenty-one years' old Virginian officer with the rank of a major is given the task to assemble and command the expeditionary force.

- The Austrian invasion of Silesia forces King Friedrich to pull all his remaining men out of Poland and concentrate them entirely on the defence of the Prussian soil. While the Russian army is able to exploit the new opportunity and enter Danzig and Poznan almost unopposed, Fermor doesn't advance any further, mostly because he hasn't prepared any coordinated plan with the Austrians. The lack of common strategy between Austrians and Russians allows Fritz to throw his whole weight against the Habsburg army and meet Maria Teresia's forces in battle at Liegnitz on October 5th. Lacking the strength to envelop the flanks of his enemy, Fritz finds himself fighting over the entire front against an army over twice the size of his own, but nonetheless succeeds in throwing back the Austrian centre. The Prussian victory is a costly one, and Batthyany still manages to withdraw in good order and settle down to wait until he has worked out the contacts with his Russian allies. Meanwhile, Fritz scrapes up his troops, force-marches them to the Saxon border, links up with von Manteuffel's reserves and turns to deal with another Austrian army which has marched to Saxony under the Jacobite field-marshal Maximilian Ulysses von Browne. The fresh reinforcements and a brilliant application of the oblique order of the battle allow Fritz to rout the combined Austrian and Saxon forces and emerge from his encounter at Pirna on October 27th victorious. Browne is soundly beaten back, and in the following week, almost half of the Saxon army capitulates to the Hohenzollern King, who disperses the ten thousand surrendered Wettin recruits all over his own regiments [2].

More importantly, the battered morale of the Prussian troops has been decisively elated by the two victorious confrontations against the Austrian enemy, and the soldiers can withdraw to their new winter quarters at Dresden, Breslau and Frankfurt-an-der-Oder confident of their military prowess and the leadership of their King.

- With the Russian attention fully turned towards Central Europe, the construction of fortifications in Helsingfors has halted for the time being, but Ehrensvärd is still kept busy by the Tsarina and the members of her War Cabinet, who are interested in the insights which the Finnish officer has to offer from his personal experiences with the Prussian army. While at home, Ehrensvärd is also consulted surprisingly often by Grand-Duke Karl Peter Ulrich, who suddenly appears to be awfully fascinated by the small Finnish territorial regiments and begs Ehrensvärd to help him to train his Holsteiners so that the two establishments could be integrated to one fighting force. Although Ehrensvärd is baffled by the new enthusiasm of the Grand-Duke and definitely not interested in involving himself any more closely with the man, he considers Karl Peter Ulrich's obsession harmless enough to allow him to tour around the fortress and attend to one demonstration of light artillery. The other officers, however, particularly Ramsay and Sprengtport, are rather more worried than pleased by the sudden and abnormal curiosity which the Grand-Duke has developed towards the Finnish military.

Karl Peter Ulrich's latest mood-shift at first escapes the attention of Sofia Augusta, who is taking a brief break from the affairs of the state and spending most of her time taking care of herself and her daughter. When not concentrating on her personal life, she entertains Voltaire and her other guests. One of the new faces often noticed around the Grand-Duchess is Isak Wacklin, the portrait artist from Uleåborg, who has temporarily returned from Denmark back to his homeland and, in the course of the autumn of 1752, finishes a portrait of Sofia Augusta. The serene, elegant image of the young Grand-Duchess is captured sitting in a Gripsholm-style armchair beside her writing-table at Ekudden with a copy of Histoire de Charles XII in her hands, dressed in a blue-and-white robe ā la franįaise and her full, dark hair, decorated with one single hepatica, freely descending on her shoulders in contrast to the fashion of the day. Wacklin's painting of the Grand-Duchess becomes the singlemost praised masterpiece of the early Finnish colourism [3].

Elizaveta's attempts to place Karl Peter Ulrich and his wife under more intense surveillance haven't bothered Sofia Augusta all that much, and she has succesfully managed to maintain her freedom and privacy by securing the personal confidence of her appointed supervisors. As always, Fredenstjerna's first loyalty lies with her Grand-Duchess, and even the otherwise meticulous Panin is quite taken with the feminine charms of his hostess and prefers to overlook her private affairs; moreover, the Russian minister is more than a little frustrated by the chaotic state of Elizaveta's administration and considers his appointment to Finland as a personal vote of no confidence from the Tsarina. Consequently, Sofia Augusta finds herself reasonably free to return to pursue her political ambitions once again, and after hearing from Sprengtport of her husband's latest antics, she starts to keep a closer eye on Karl Peter Ulrich, hoping to reveal his intentions.

- The final end of the peace on the both sides of the Atlantic doesn't raise much alarm in the already-fatalistic British cabinet. The preparations for a new conflict commence effortlessly in the winter of 1752-1753, with the memories and experiences of the War of Swedish Succession stimulating the rearmament and reorganization of the naval establishment under the guiding hand of Lord Anson. Vast loans are raised by the government to finance the reform of the navy and the reconstruction of new vessels, while the noblemen and people of condition show their own loyalty by raising regiments on horse and foot to fight against the enemies of the realm in Europe and America. The three kingdoms ring with military music, as Great Britain marches to war against France for the third time in the century.

- On the other side of the Channel, a relative civil peace prevails all through 1752-1753. Despite of the sparks which the Hôpital général dispute has created on the French religious front, the anticipated clash between the established Church and the Jansenists has failed to develop any further, mostly due to the eventually complete rout of the high clergy and the dévots by Conseil des Finances in the vingtičme affair. Faced with an obvious lack of Royal support and forced to deal with the repugnant task of announcing the true income of the Church, arch-bishop Christophe de Beaumont masters his temper and decides it best to take one small step back and delay the offensive against Jansenism until such time when the clergy has managed to emerge from its current predicament. For the moment, the refusal of Church sacraments to the Jansenists is given no public or official enforcement. The parlementaires, on their part, regard the climb-down of the clergy as a suitable satisfaction for the grievances caused by the previous dismissal of the Hôpital général administration. Thus, aside one particularly violent food riot in Rouen and a few forced rebaptizings of Huguenot children in Nîmes, everything remains surprisingly quiet within the Hexagon.

The quiet domestic situation of the Kingdom is compensated by intense action in the foreign affairs. In late September, Louis XV, less than wholeheartedly but knowing his obligations as a monarch, signs two diplomatic notes: the first calling Vienna to return to the status quo ante and cease all hostilities against Prussia, and the second demanding Britain to stop the continuous marauding of the French merchantmen en route to the Americas and also restore those vessels already seized by the Royal Navy during the Anglo-Danish conflict. As the war becomes inevitable both in Europe and the New World, its expenses to the ill-prepared country begin to worry both the King and his ministers; the new taxes, established with great effort, have only barely managed to balance the budget and fill the financial deficit caused by the War of Austrian Succession, and demanding new sacrifices from the population to cover the rearmament might very well risk the precious social concord.

In the end, the King of France and his ministers are left with little choice in the matter. As expected, both London and Vienna fail to provide a satisfactory answer to Louis XV's demands, and finally, on November 1st, with the full support of the public opinion that is enthusiastic at the victories which the admired Brandenburger King has gained over the despised Habsburgs, the Kingdom of France declares war on Austria. During the winter of 1752-1753, three military contingents are mobilized to face the Habsburg power in the east. From his sharply-organized camp at Beaucaire, Lieutenant-General Louis-Hyacinthe Boyer de Crémilles keeps a guard on the upper Rhine; in the Saar and Alsace, Lieutenant-General Franįois de Chevert, bold as ever, takes charge of operations with the bulk of the French cavalry; and in the north, Lieutenant-General Charles de Rohan, Prince de Soubise, a close friend of Marquise de Pompadour, manoeuvres the army of Flanders from his headquarters at Aimeries.

So far, however, the demonstrations against the House of Habsburg are still intended merely as a symbolic gesture to convince the King of Prussia of the French commitment to the alliance. The first strikes of the war will be made on the sea and in the colonies against the primary enemy, Britain. An expedition of three thousand regular troops is dispatched to the Americas to reinforce Marquis de Duquesne in his fight against the British colonists, and in Toulon, the French Navy prepares to deal the first blow against the British power on the Mediterranean.

- The summer and autumn of 1752 witness a significant increase in the international prestige of the Åbo Academy, as several Voltaire's literary works are published by the Finnish University. Alongside the light, satirical Micromégas [4], the first edition of his longest, most challenging task, Le Sičcle de Louis XIV, originally intended to be published in Berlin, also sees the light at Kristian Trapp's printing press in Åbo. In addition, the Frenchman also finishes a short composition titled Počme sur la loi naturelle, intended as a praise of the universal human virtues in refutation to the ethical rigorism on one hand and the materialistic hedonism on the other. The poem is dedicated to Sofia Augusta, the Grand-Duchess of Finland, with credits.

La nature a fourni d'une main salutaire
Tout ce qui dans la vie ā homme est nécessaire.
Les ressorts de son âme, et l'instinct de ses sens.
Le ciel ā ses besoins soumet les éléments.

Voltaire's poem ventures to explore the uniformity of the natural law, the common conscience of the mankind and the depths of the human affection, marking an interesting departure from the previously-held views of the author in one important respect. Morality is both natural and universal, manifested by but also independent of the supreme being, and while these moral standards can - and often will - be corrupted through social intercourse, they may sometimes also be perfected through the same process; the guise of an institutionalized religion doesn't inevitably have to disfigure the principles of the natural religion, but instead it can also prove itself capable of preserving the said values and serve in inculcating them to the humanity. The prerequisite named in the verses is the same which Voltaire has outlined already in his essay regarding the Church of Finland, describing the mechanisms with which even an established faith may succesfully prove itself able to sustain the virtues of tolerance and justice. After all, if the fundamental good can be achieved by any individual conscious of the virtue and the ethical standards, why could it not be achieved just as well collectively by any social group, even a hierarchy, consisting of virtuous and conscientous individuals all adhering to these same, common principles reflecting the pervasiveness of the natural law?

Nevertheless, Voltaire's strong conviction that in the end, the responsibility for the social harmony and the reign of the law must rest on one individual, has not changed. On the contrary, this belief has only strengthened, and Voltaire has hailed especially Louis XV's resolve in the institution of the vingtičme with delight.

Je prétends qu'un roi, que son devoir engage
A maintenir la paix, l'ordre, la sûreté,
Ait sur tous ses sujets égale autorité.
La loi dans tout Etat doit ętre universelle:
Les mortels, quels qu'ils soient, sont égaux devant elle.

While the prospects of spending the winter of 1752-1753 in Finland don't generate much enthusiasm in Voltaire, the idea of returning to the war-torn Continent appears even less attractive. In spite of his concern for his health and his longing for warmer environments after the time in Prussia and Finland, the bitter and hostile northern climate still seems a relatively small sacrifice to make in exchange for absolute tranquility and independence. Furthermore, Voltaire has accepted a new offer from the Tsarina, who has invited the French poet to write a biography of Peter the Great. The biography of the Great Tsar requires a good deal of Voltaire's time in the autumn of 1752, but his most intimate attention is devoted to the finishing of another biographical work which dwells on the matters of authority, religion and love, as reflected in the character of Duke Johan and the history of his reign over the Renaissance Finland.

- In the early spring of 1753, the Anglo-French hostilities break out in Europe. Counting that a quick victory in the Mediterranean would gain France a decisive advantage over Britain, Duc de Richelieu has chosen the British base at Minorca as the first target for the French Navy, and on March 3rd, a French invasion force of 15'000 men lands on the island and besieges the fortress of St. Philip. Having already received intelligence reports of the French naval preparations in Toulon, the Royal Navy has hastily organized an ad hoc relief force of ten ramshackle, barely battleworthy ships-of-the-line with scarcely any auxiliary vessels. The British fleet reaches Gibraltar on April 4th, and in spite of the lack of promised reinforcements and the general pessimism among his fellow officers, the commander of the expedition, Vice-Admiral Charles Saunders, decides to take his chances and sails towards Minorca with the intention to force a battle with Marquis la Galissoničre's French squadron.

The two fleets engage each others off Minorca on the morning of April 26th. Although outgunned by the heavier cannons of la Galissoničre's French warships, Saunders takes aggressive action and leads his squadron straight against his adversary and manages to cut the enemy battle line in an extremely daring manoeuvre. After the French battleship Zodiaque has gone ablaze under the British gunfire and the French line has fallen in total disarray, la Galissoničre attempts to break off and turn away, but is mercilessly pursued by the bloodthirsty British admiral who takes everything out of his ships and his men. The pitched battle and the general chase continue until the very end of the day, eventually resulting in a hard-bought British victory. Of the twelve French ships, nine survive the encounter and make it back to Toulon, four of them crippled beyond repair. Although half of the British vessels are also more or less permanently out of the commission with their sails and spars torn and splintered, Saunders has nonetheless prevailed and succeeded in maintaining the British command of the seas around the Baleares. A fortnight later, five battleships dispatched by Lord Anson arrive to reinforce Saunders' squadron, and the French troops on the island, facing their lines of communication and supplies cut off, are forced to surrender. Britain has recovered her reputation as the master of the seas, and started her war in Europe with a clear victory over France.

Notes:

[1] Simple, really. The disappearance of most Swedish commercial and forestry restrictions in Finland after the separation of 1743, the rising demand for tar and timber abroad at the outbreak of the global war, the reconstruction period after the civil war in Sweden together with Stockholm's traditional habit of favouring iron works as the main export industry instead of sawmills, and finally, the effects of the Anglo-Danish hostilities, mainly the British reluctance to purchase timber from the Norwegian suppliers and the Danish preference to retain their strategic supplies for their own use rather than to ship them to Britain. The result, a golden age for the Finnish timber and sawmill entrepreneurs.

[2] In OTL, Fritz failed to do this, which resulted in a wholesale desertion of entire Saxon formations later on. Since in this ATL, he'd have to reinforce several individual regiments after two years of bloody campaigning, I'd think that he'd disperse the Saxons all over his army rather than absorb them as independent units, and could thus manage to avoid making the same mistake this time around. Incidentally, the Prussian losses for the years 1751-1752 are somewhere around 70'000 men killed, which means that Fritz has lost pretty much half the strength of his original army.

[3] At least this timeline will have one good-looking portrait of her - not to mention that Wacklin will also finally have a good-looking model to immortalize. Wacklin was one of the mysterious figures of the 18th century Finland; born in 1720 as a son of a drunk postmaster and a priest's daughter, he left Uleåborg (Oulu) for Stockholm in 1737, moved later on to St. Petersburg and eventually ended up in Copenhagen, where he studied art under the Court Painter Carl Gustaf Pilo. In our timeline, he briefly returned to Finland in 1755; due to the events in Denmark, this time around he arrived a few years earlier. Wacklin's version of rococo wasn't quite as light-hearted as the general European trend; some of his works can be reviewed from the collections of the Finnish National Gallery.

[4] Even OTL's Micromégas actually has few references to Finland, in the sentences where the travelers from Sirius observe Maupertuis' scientific expedition to the Polar Circle with amusement.

Stella Polaris, the fourteenth part: April, 1753 - February, 1754

- The spring of 1753 sees the palaces of Dresden stripped of their former glory. Most of the royal treasury and crown revenue of the exiled Elector-King have been seized by the Prussian army, and the exactions from the occupied Saxon capital have amounted to over forty million thalers, which have proved a welcome addition to Fritz's war chest. Among the most badly vandalized estates is the schloss of Grochwitz, the former residence of the double-dealing minister von Brühl, which has been thoroughly ransacked by the Brandenburger Guard under the express orders of the King. The Hohenzollern monarch himself has established his headquarters at August III's old castle, where he's now, between his evening flute concerts and recitals of Marcus Aurelius, pondering his next strategic move in the war.

After brushing both Batthyany and Browne aside in two victorious battles, the Prussian King has little respect left for the skill of his Austrian adversaries, but he still acknowledges the threat which the beaten, but nonetheless very intact Habsburg army poses on his southern flank. Since an effective assistance from France is unlikely to materialize in any short notice, Fritz has to knock out the Austrians by himself, and he realizes that his best option to incapacitate the enemy is to strike a blow against their most important magazines on the upper Elbe, in the very heart of the Austrian defences in northeastern Bohemia. And, in order to seize and sustain the initiative against the enemy, he has to do something he has never done before; he has to lead a large force across the frontier on the eastern bank of the Elbe, which is a move that the Austrians are not likely to expect from him. By the second week of April, a detailed plan has taken form in Fritz's mind: launch his main offensive from Zittau against the Austrian army corps which the aged field-marshal Giovanni Serbelloni is preparing for action around the large magazine at Jung-Bunzlau, lure Batthyany to direct the best part of his men to the aid of his Lombard colleague, follow up with an immediate flank attack through Braunau towards the arsenals of Königgrätz and Pardubitz, destroy the stores, get the hell out of the Czech lands as soon as possible and turn to deal with the Russians afterwards.

As usual, Fritz wastes no time in putting his plan in action. On April 15th, a force of 20'000 Prussian soldiers - a good part of them captive Saxon recruits, now fully enrolled in the Prussian service by Fritz's most iron-handed officers - under the King himself descends from the hills over the Iser in full force, while another contingent of 15'000 men under general Hans von Winterfeldt gathers around Landeshut, preparing to move against Königgrätz as soon as the moment is right.

- Although the Continental newspapers have made the European public aware of Comte de Saint-Germain's antics in the previous peace negotiations at Copenhagen, hardly anyone knows that the count has now taken up residence in the town of Rauma on the western seaboard of Finland, where the locals have already given him a nickame "Särmaanin greiv" [1]. The inhabitants of the seaport are traditionally familiar with foreigners traveling under false names and invented titles, so not many of them take Saint-Germain's nobility seriously, but the townspeople must nevertheless admit that there's definitely something in the character of this strange "aristocrat" which stirs the imagination and gives birth to all sorts of wild rumours. Craftsmen such as Johan Matts Tjäder, the town goldsmith, are impressed by the skill which the mysterious foreigner has shown in the jeweller's profession, and suspect that the "count" is in fact an exiled court jeweller from the Continent. Some others, such as Miss Forbes, hold an opinion that he is indeed a person of noble, perhaps even Royal heritage; an illegitimate son of some minor Polish or German prince, who has been forced to leave his land of birth. Some other people suggest, half-jokingly, that he's actually a son of the Devil himself. Although these rumours are by no means serious, they provoke a small complaint to vicar Johan Gråå, who, however, takes no action and ignores the allegations as superstitious nonsense [2].

But whoever the count really is, he's making an effect on the town. In addition to his contribution to art and lace designs, Saint-Germain also involves himself in Mayor Eek's long-time plans of clearing the harbour of Rauma, mentioning the dredge-pump which he has seen used in similar projects in Besanįon. The sharp and cautious Mayor wishes to know for certain whether this European innovation could be succesfully adopted to the different conditions of Finland, and after acquiring sufficient information, agrees to present Saint-Germain's idea of using French-manufactured pumps to the town burghers - who, as the main beneficiaries, have promised to assist in financing the venture. The Mayor's goal is not only to dredge the port and the mouth of the stream, but also to construct an actual walled canal allowing a water traffic closer to the heart of the city. [3]

Saint-Germain's projects in Rauma haven't escaped the attention of Grand-Duchess Sofia Augusta, who, as a shrewd and well-informed lady, remembers very well the stunt which this stranger pulled on the Duke of Newcastle in the last spring, and is genuinely curious of the personality of the mysterious nobleman. Eventually, the count is summoned to meet the Grand-Duchess in May, and after a long discussion, Sofia Augusta decides that she may yet have some use for the skills of this foreign charlatan. Saint-Germain himself doesn't have to consider the offer of the Grand-Duchess for too long, and fawningly, he agrees to enlist as Sofia Augusta's personal agent. As expected, the first task of the count is to infiltrate the inner circle of Karl Peter Ulrich - who, as a rather immature person, is notoriously susceptible to all sorts of magic tricks and charlatanerie -, win his confidence and, if possible, reveal the plans which Sofia Augusta believes her husband is secretly harbouring.

- The defeat at Pirna and the loss of Saxony to Prussians have had little effect on the spirits of old field-marshal Browne, who has now settled in Prague. The grey-headed ex-Jacobite officer has paid no attention to the malicious rumours which are circulated of him in Vienna, but has instead spent the winter quietly reinforcing his army and preparing for the upcoming spring campaign in Bohemia. Having anticipated that the Prussian King might, contrary to the expectations of the other Austrian commanders, make his next move on the right bank of the Elbe and attempt a quick strike against the characteristically slow-moving Serbelloni and his army, Browne has conceived a plan of dispatching a flying corps across the river to engage the enemy before their force can even reach the sluggish Lombard field-marshal. Browne's old Celtic foresight doesn't fail him, and two days before the Prussians begin their advance, his hand-picked band of eight thousand men arrives at Alt-Bunzlau on the eastern side of the Elbe and immediately commences its forced march towards the northeast.

The Irishman encounters the King of Prussia at Münchengrätz on April 17th. Mistaking Browne's advance guard for Serbelloni's rearguard and believing that he's dealing with a withdrawing Austrian army, Fritz sends his cavalry straight to Browne's ambush, and the charging Prussian horsemen are badly mauled by the surprise fire of the concealed Krajisnik soldiers. Covered by a vicious action of general Nádasti's hussars, the Austrians fall back from the scene, while the short little confrontation allows the rest of Browne's men to complete their march from Prague and link up with Serbelloni. By the time when Fritz approaches Jung-Bunzlau and launches his manoeuvre against the magazines on April 21st, he finds the position defended by an enemy army twice the size he had expected. After witnessing the assault of his Guard ground to a quick halt and the Austrian cannon shots cleaving the air above his own head, the Prussian King has no choice but to admit that he's not dealing with the old-fashioned Habsburg soldiers anymore and quickly depart from the scene of action. The retreat over the Isergebirge with the pursuing Magyar cavalry on his heels is the most horrible experience ever in Fritz's military life, but eventually he makes it back to Saxony alive. Worse is yet to come.

In Maria Teresia's court, the aged Wild Goose is hailed as the hero of the day, and his defeat from the last year is quickly forgotten. Other officers who have distinguished themselves at Jung-Bunzlau, such as the 28-years' old count Franz Moritz Lacy, Browne's personal protégé from the regiment of Jung-Colloredo, receive equally favourable attention from the Queen-Empress. By the end of May, when the grass is growing, the Habsburg army in Bohemia is once again moving the offensive to the enemy territory.

- In April 1753, vicar Abraham Achrenius delivers his first sermons to his new congregation at the church of Nousis. The past hard years as an impoverished prison-house preacherman at the Castle of Åbo and the various family tragedies - including the death of his newborn boy-child Fredrik on the last Christmas - have been a difficult trial for the pious minister from Somero, but eventually, he has found his path. Achrenius has decided it best to severe his old, controversial connections with the Separatists and the Herrnhut brethren, and chosen to operate inside the established Church once again, acknowledging it as the one proper source of spiritual guidance for the common people. And in Achrenius' opinion, providing this kind of direction for the community of believers is especially important at times such as these. While Achrenius has heartily welcomed the newly-found tolerance and freedom of thought within the Lutheran Church, he has also noticed that this liberty has brought a consequence which does not delight him - namely, the worldly disposition and religious indifferentism which has spread even among the clergy, and which is apparent also, for example, in the lavish residence of that French writer at Åminne. Even the ordinary people have become to value wealth and crude material acquisitions over humility and spiritual well-being, and the town burghers haven't hesitated to derive financial gains from the European war, something which Achrenius finds difficult to approve. The 47-years' old vicar senses the need for a new awakening, but he hasn't yet found out where it could arise from and who in the Church could guide it. Thankfully, his new position at Nousis has opened his eyes to see the right solution.

As so many times before, Achrenius eventually discovers his answer from the Old Testament, this time from the book of Zechariah and its prediction of the four chariots coming out from between two mountains of brass. For what else could this prophecy mean, but the four spiritual movements of the past decades, and their hard-pressed journey between the Crown and the Church? What could the first chariot symbolize but the Pietists, with the red colour standing for their painful experiences and suffering? Are not the horses of the second chariot in fact those of the Separation movement, with the black colour symbolizing its rigid intolerance and lack of mercy? Are not the white horses of the third chariot those of the Herrnhut brethren and their message of pure joy and grace? And have not the Separatists and the Herrnhut brethren traveled from Germany to Finland, just as the black and the white horses of the prophecy went forth from south into the north country?

And the grisled horses of the fourth and the last chariot? After long, thorough reflections, Achrenius has become confident in his interpretation that they must stand for the final spiritual movement, which shall be the most powerful of all, and manifest that the spirit of the Lord has found its place here, in the north country of the vision... the movement of Zion, first witnessed in the birth of the awakened congregation at Ähtävä already thirteen years ago, in which Achrenius also played his own part. And just as the grisled horses of the omen went forth from the north country towards the south, this movement shall also spread from Finland to everywhere, and bring forth an era which shall see the greater glory of the Lord, our God.

Secure in his heart that he has been chosen to testify this final awakening which shall herald the fulfilment of the prophecy, Achrenius prays the Lord to grant him strength. He knows that the day is coming, and he knows that he has a heavy burden to bear, but he will not resile from the duty which the God, in His infinite wisdom, has bestowed on him.

Nu, o verld, jag dig ej aktar eller vaktar
på ditt val i Herrans ort,
Der Gud Zions dag utväljer och ej kväljer
mig med werldslig walet stort.

- In India, the news of the outbreak of another European war have made the recently-married Robert Clive to change his plans. Sensing that the campaign over the Coromandel Coast isn't quite over yet, and that there's even more prize to be gained in the fight against the French, the old hoodlum from Market Drayton has decided to cancel his return to Britain and opted to remain in Madras for the time being. Having distinguished himself in operations at Arkot, Covelong, Chingleput and also Tranquebar - which, after a brief occupation by the forces of the British East India Company, has reverted back to the Danish Crown as the news of the Peace of Copenhagen have reached India - Clive spends most of 1753 preparing for a new action against Dupleix, who has managed to reassert the French influence in the northernmost parts of the Carnatic once again. Reinforced by a regiment of regular infantry and a naval squadron under Vice-Admiral Charles Watson, dispatched to the East Indies in the autumn of 1752, the small forces of the British Crown and East India Company are drafting plans for an expedition to Dekkan, attempting to enlist the cooperation of Nanasaheb Péshwa and the Mahratta Confederacy against the French. Meanwhile, the ever-tenacious Dupleix, who has no intention of holding back, is making his own diplomatic and military preparations, ready to teach a lesson to the bothersome Englishman and his employers. [4]

- During the summer of 1753, the Finnish military officers witness various strange developments in their homeland. In spite of the fact that most of the Russian soldiers usually stationed in Finland have been either transported to the Central European front or entrusted with new occupation tasks in the Swedish garrisons, the military activity in the Grand-Duchy is showing no signs of decreasing. While the Russians have left, they've been replaced by Grand-Duke Karl Peter Ulrich's Holsteiners, who have extended their presence in the country still further and become a common sight on the streets of Åbo, Helsingfors and especially Fredrikshamn. Some of the officers passing through the latter town have also noticed the increased activity in the port; aside the tar and timber cargoes regularly leaving the harbour, some unknown shipments have also arrived to the local Holsteiner soldiers, who have transported these curious imports further inland. In addition, governor Ramsay has heard a rumour that Christian August von Brockdorff, the Grand-Duke's new Holsteiner Chamberlain, has secretly ordered a construction of several new, heavily-guarded storehouses somewhere amid the forests in the northeastern borders of the Kymi province.

What's even more exceptional, however, is that the Grand-Duke has finally managed to fulfill his plan and installed several of his Holsteiner officers in command of the old Finnish army units - namely, the reorganized Ostrobothnian infantry regiment, where both the regimental and the company commands have been completely staffed with new professional military men from Kiel, Itzehoe, Eckernförde and Lübeck [5]. Furthermore, Holsteiner expectants have also been appointed even to the regiments of Tavastehus and Savolax, a move which has stirred up the anger of the local native Finnish officers at Karl Peter Ulrich's blatant favouritism towards his countrymen once again. The growing discontent among the Finnish officer corps is manifested mostly in cold disdain towards the intruders, although occasional drunken brawls also result in a couple of duel challenges issued by the insulted Holsteiner officers [6]. So far, the Finns still manage to restrain themselves from engaging in public bloodshed, but some of the younger soldiers who have participated in fistfights against the Holsteiners are subjected to minor punishments; among the youngsters is also the thirteen-years' old cadet Göran Magnus Sprengtport, arrested for taking a small punch at one of the Grand-Duke's ensigns. Although these disciplinary actions against Finnish military remain extremely rare, they provide all the more fuel for the resentment towards the foreigners.

Neither Panin nor any of the other Russian officials who are aware of the situation are much concerned by it, and the few tacit complaints made by Fredenstjerna and other Finnish administrators fall more or less to deaf ears. The dominant opinion in St. Petersburg is that as long as the Grand-Duke and his bothersome soldiers remain outside Russia, everything is fine; while the Holsteiners are garrisoning Finland, they release Russian troops for operations elsewhere, and the ensuing friction with the Finnish gentry is only a welcome lesson to Karl Peter Ulrich. Grand-Duchess Sofia Augusta, who has to personally deal with the repercussions, isn't quite as complacent, and remains worried of her husband's intentions.

- On June 17th, two companies of Virginian volunteer militia under young major George Washington, accompanied by a group of Mingo warriors loyal to the British, settle at the forks of the Ohio river after hacking their way across the Alleghenies, and begin to build a fortress with the intention to block the threatening French advance. Although reports of Washington's arrival reach his enemies in a short time, the French are nonetheless unable to take any swift action, mostly due to the spread of diseases among their troops who have already spent the past months engaged in the construction of new fortifications at Presque Isle and Le Boeuf. A month later, after long and difficult preparations, captain Claude Pécaudy de Contrecoeur finally leads a war party of three hundred men down the Allegheny in an attempt to repel Washington's men from their entrenchment. Thanks mostly to the assistance of their Mingo allies, the Virginian militiamen manage to stand their ground and inflict a painful defeat on the attackers, forcing de Contrecoeur to take his men back to Le Boeuf and wait for reinforcements from Marquis de Duquesne. As the high summer passes by, Washington's men succesfully complete the construction of their new base, which is named "Fort Necessity". [7]

Alarmed by the continuing clashes on the frontier and the recent outbreak of hostilities in Europe, the Colonial Assembly of Virginia decides to raise an additional regiment to garrison the new fort against any further French incursion. A debate whether the eventual counterattack against the French should be mounted by a colonial force, a British army, or a combination of the two, dominates the public discussion in the colonies for the latter half of the year, eventually becoming one of the agendas presented for the upcoming Congress of the Colonial Assemblies in the summer of 1754. The final decision, however, is not for the colonials to make; in London, the Duke of Cumberland has already ordered two regular regiments to be dispatched to North America, and has also chosen one of his own long-time favourites as the commander of the force which is supposed to strike a decisive blow against the French power in North America.

- The old Russian proverb "the fish begins to rot from its head" is especially true in St. Petersburg, where the Tsarina has once again fallen incapacitated by another bout of illness. While Elizaveta is again unable to dictate the political decisions by herself, the conduct of foreign policy and war has drifted entirely in the hands of the special War Council headed by Bestuzhev and the other leading government officials in the imperial capital. From the beginning, the Council is plagued by an internal distrust and dissension, as the aged Chancellor has to fight a continuous defensive action against his political opponents, the francophile Vice-Chancellor Mikhail Illarionovich Vorontsov and above all, the increasingly powerful Shuvalov brothers. The latter family has come to exercise an influential role also in the management of the army, as Petr Ivanovich Shuvalov has secured himself a position as the Master General of the Ordinance, replacing the old blackamoor general Hannibal as the director in charge of the artillery and engineering corps [8]. During the winter of 1753-1754, Shuvalov begins his task by revolutionizing the artillery establishment; a detailed code is drawn for the conduct and the staff work, long exercise camps are held for newly-recruited gunners, and several new designs of lighter, more mobile and versatile artillery are introduced. The most succesful of Shuvalov's new models is tested in several shoot-offs at Tula, and becomes known by the name odinorog, "unicorn".

Although Shuvalov has committed himself to his task with genuine enthusiasm and conviction that the army can still strike terror in the hearts of Russia's enemies as well as allies, his desire to further his own personal goals and the political ambitions of his family is also having an adverse effect on the Russian military effectiveness. The differences of opinion and the lack of coherent policy within the War Council spread all the way to the front, and every now and then, commander-in-chief Fermor - who has become a client of Vorontsov and the Shuvalovs, whereas Saltykov and Buturlin have remained loyal to Bestuzhev - finds himself dealing with a bewildering number of different kind of orders from the various Council members. The gradual disintegration in the Russian chain of command is not unnoticed by the British and Austrian diplomats in the capital, but so far, at least, the performance of the Russian army nonetheless remains more than adequate.

- By the New Year of 1754, Prussia's fortunes are at their lowest ebb. Fritz's disastrous incursion to Bohemia has triggered a series of new calamities on every front, and he has finally come to realize that he's now essentially fighting for nothing else but his own survival. On June 19th, the King has still managed to fight Batthyany's and Serbelloni's renewed offensive to Silesia to a standstill in a bloody battle at Leuthen, but the temporary success is bought at the expense of sacrificing almost half of the conquered Saxony to Browne's forces. Simultaneously, the Russians advance towards the heart of Brandenburg itself, and on June 20th, Fermor enters the Prussian town of Landsberg-an-der-Warthe in triumph, escorted by two thousand Volga Kalmuks and Don Cossacks in a wonderful, glimmering parade of barbaric, Asiatic splendour. Two days later, the Livonian general meets and defeats field-marshal von Lehwaldt's forces in a magnificent set-piece battle at Zorndorf, and a week afterwards, Fritz himself, who has rushed from Silesia to check against the Russians, experiences his greatest disaster ever as he suffers a crushing, nearly decapitating defeat to Fermor and Saltykov on the fields of Künersdorf. The crippled Prussian army is left in a total disarray, and the Russian drive to Berlin is prevented only by the sudden inflow of contradictory orders from St. Petersburg and the problems of arranging an effective supply route for Fermor's monstrous columns by river from Poznan. Later in July, a joint Russo-Swedish force of 15'000 men under field-marshal Keith and count Brahe, aided and supplied by an extensive Russian archipelago fleet and British auxiliary vessels, captures the islands of Rügen, Usedom and Wolin, closes the Oder from French and Danish merchantmen, lands on the Hither Pomeranian mainland, lays siege to Stralsund and threatens Stettin. Finally, in August, Buturlin's forces encircle the port of Colberg on the Farther Pomeranian coast, and by the late autumn and early winter, Russian cavalrymen are rampaging freely across the plains of Brandenburg.

Contrary to Fritz's fervent expectations, no concrete military assistance is forthcoming from France, which, after the disaster of Minorca, is more concerned by the British threat. For the moment, both de Chevert and de Crémilles have settled for a few leisurely, casual operations against the German Reichsarmee and field-marshal Arenberg's Imperial forces guarding the upper Rhine. Further in the north, Dutch forces march to the Prussian Upper Gelderland, Kleves, Ostfriesland, Lingen and Mark in the late summer, encountering little opposition from the small Prussian garrisons and provoking no response from Soubise's French army, which has dared to make only the most tentative forays into the Austrian Netherlands. Meanwhile, a new Army of Observation consisting of British, German and Dutch troops is assembled at Hannover - although thankfully for Fritz, the disputes of command between the Duke of Cumberland and the Duke von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel still effectively hinder all offensive plans against Brandenburg. Surrounded by enemies from all sides and faced with a military extinction, Fritz begins to grasp for straws, hoping to find some way of bringing down the Coalition by eliminating or distracting at least one of its members by whatever means possible.

The King of Prussia is suddenly presented with exactly such an opportunity a few months after his return to his winter quarters at Frankfurt-an-der-Oder. On the early morning of February 23rd, an emissary who introduces himself as lieutenant Olshausen arrives at Fritz's headquarters, requesting an audience with the King. The young officer, weary from an apparently dangerous and exhausting journey, speaks with a recognizable Kiel accent, is dressed in a Holsteiner uniform, and carries a heavy parchment letter which is sealed with the insignia of Karl Peter Ulrich, the Grand-Duke of Finland and the heir to the throne of the Russian Empire.

Notes:

[1] "The Count of Germain", "Särmaani" being the most obvious twist for "Germain". The dialect of Rauma has a peculiar kind of mutation; whenever a word which begins with either consonant p, k or t is preceded by another word ending in a consonant m or n (usually, such as in this case, a genetive-attribute) the first sound is softened to b, g or d. Thus, in this structure, the word "kreivi" ("count") becomes "greiv" (the western dialects also tend to use more diminutive forms of the average Finnish words).

[2] The last recorded case of witchcraft took place in Rauma as late as in 1744, when wife Sofia Algeen was accused of milking the mayor's cows by magic means. Vicar Gråå, being an educated man, disregarded the accusations and refused to deny the communion from Sofia. As for Saint-Germain's extraordinary skills as a jeweller, an anecdote by Madame du Hausset, one of Marquise de Pompadour's companions, describes him restoring a fractured diamond for Louis XV. Although the reliability of du Hausset's memoirs is questionable, Jean Overton Fuller has quite correctly noted that this kind of feat is perfectly believable and requires no paranormal talents whatsoever; back in the 18th century, the surface of a cracked gem could be easily fixed by, for example, boiling it in acid.

[3] As you may know, the land is on a steady rise and the sea is retreating everywhere on the Baltic. Until the modern times, many coastal towns have had to cope with the occasional problem of losing their old access to the sea. Saint-Germain was historically involved in the business of manufacturing and selling dredgers, and acted as an agent for an inventor named Ligničre from Franche-Comté in an attempt to market the innovation both in France and Netherlands in 1755-1756 (presumably) and 1760 (definitely). As mentioned, the machine was based on a pre-existing model utilized in Besanįon, but regretfully S. Albert Kivinen hasn't included its exact blueprints in his article. Shame, really.

[4] As you can see, given the circumstances of this ATL, Clive shall not return to Britain in 1753, and Dupleix's recall in the autumn of 1754 is becoming equally questionable, since the Frenchman still has a fair chance of recovering his fortunes. Due to the earlier outbreak of official hostilities between Britain and France, there'll be no treaties of neutrality in India in these years, and essentially, the previous Anglo-French contention on the sub-Continent will develop directly into an integral part of this new global conflict without any kind of an interim peace.

[5] Most of the officers in the Ostrobothnian Infantry Regiment had traditionally come from mainland Sweden; in this timeline, the posts have remained vacant ever since the separation, so filling them with Holsteiners has been relatively easy. The term "expectants" in the following sentence refers to half- paid officers waiting for future vacancies, a fairly common phenomenon in the Swedish-Finnish armed forces during the 18th century.

[6] Duels were extremely rare in Sweden and Finland in this era, in marked contrast to Brandenburg-Prussia, Austria, England and France, which all tolerated and sometimes even encouraged the practice among their officer corps. According to the Duel Placate issued by the Swedish crown in 1682, challenge to a duel was punished with loss of rank, a fine of 2'000 silver riksdalers and two years of imprisonment. Killing an adversary in a duel was a capital offence, and duelists were also denied a Christian burial. The Placate was renewed in 1719, 1738 and 1751. In Sweden and Finland, officers worked out their differences of opinion and their questions of honour mostly in courthouses, and the very few secret duels which took place were fought to the first blood, not to the death. - For Göran Magnus Sprengtport's family connections, see the first footnote of the fifth part. In this ATL, the young Göran Magnus obviously isn't receiving his education at the Cadet Corps in Stockholm, but instead at the Sukhoputnyi Shlyakhetskii Korpus in St. Petersburg, which, believe it or not, wasn't quite as closed, intolerant or rigid place as its Swedish or other European counterparts.

[7] The name is from OTL, of course, but as you may have noted from the story, this fort stands at the location of the historical Fort Duquesne. This time around, the Americans actually managed both to fend off the French attack and finish the construction, so unlike in OTL, recapturing the fort is not an issue in the coming year.

[8] "General Hannibal", Peter the Great's famous black African favourite, is perhaps known to you already. Born as Abraha Zerai in the village of Lagwen in the territory of the present-day Eritrea in 1690, Hannibal - or Abraham Petrovich, as he was properly called in Russia - had arrived to Russia as a slave from Constantinople, and eventually managed to build himself an exceptional career in the army. He became the mentor of the young Aleksandr Suvorov, and also the great-grandfather of the poet Aleksandr Pushkin. In our timeline, Hannibal retired in 1759, and died in 1782.

Stella Polaris, the fifteenth part: March, 1754 - December, 1754

- On March 6th, 1754, Henry Pelham, the First Lord of the Treasury and the leader of the House of Commons, one of the last remaining great British politicians, dies in office. The death of the Prime Minister and the loss of his stabilizing influence immediately thrust the British cabinet to a bitter internal strife, as the antagonisms between the Duke of Newcastle and the Pitt-Fox faction resurface more forcefully than ever before. The confrontation over the late Prime Minister's legacy is given additional stimulus by the differences of opinion regarding the conduct of the war, which has reached a crucial state. At the moment when the Prussian military power appears to be on the verge of collapse, Newcastle argues more strongly than ever on behalf of a continental strategy exploiting the British position in Hannover, which would bring a quick resolution in Europe and consequently force the isolated France to agree to a settlement also in the colonial issues. On the other hand, the new opposition, headed by Pitt and supported by the growing imperial sentiment in the Parliament, points to the past success at Minorca, and defends a maritime strategy, based on actions against France in America and India, with the European theatre entrusted to the heavily subsidized Austrian and Russian allies.

The protracted power struggle, fought in verbal duels at the House of Commons as well as on newspaper headlines on Fleet Street, leaves the United Kingdom without a functioning ministry for four long months, in the middle of one of the greatest European wars of the century. By the Mid-July, the support of the King himself has tipped the scales in favour of Newcastle, who has also gained the support of Fox by promising him a post as a cabinet minister. In the end, as expected, the Duke of Newcastle takes over the post of the First Lord of the Treasury after his late brother, and William Pitt remains as the voice of the opposition. While the political crisis at home is resolved, however, the war on the Continent as well as in the colonies suddenly takes a sharp turn to the worse.

- On the Whitsuntide, Grand-Duke Karl Peter Ulrich and Grand-Duchess Sofia Augusta honour the town of Rauma with their presence by participating in a holiday celebration at the estate of the Ridderstad family. The majestic, elegant festivities are a testimony of the new prosperity of the west coast, and witness the demise of the previous official attempts to curtail excessive consumer spending [1]. The impact of wealth on the lifestyle of the local petty gentry is visible especially in the fashion, and most of the lace-adorned déshabillés of the attending ladies carry a beautiful blue-and-white colouring after the example of Sofia Augusta's gowns. In addition, the feast includes a performance by a notable continental violinist, who's no less a person than count Saint-Germain himself.

Saint-Germain's diabolically masterful performance with his original Bagatella captures not only his local benefactors and audience, but also Karl Peter Ulrich, who is vain enough to regard himself as a "fellow musician" [2]. During his subsequent conversation with Saint-Germain, the Grand-Duke finds himself enthralled by the charisma of this mysterious aristocrat, and his interest is piqued still further when the count mentions his brief experiences during the Anglo-Danish peace negotiations in Copenhagen. The fact that foreign minister Bernstorff has declared Saint-Germain a persona non grata in Denmark and exiled him from the Kingdom proves to be a major recommendation in the eyes of Karl Peter Ulrich, who still hates the House of Oldenburg as passionately as ever. When the count openly confesses that "I loathe Denmark just as much as you do, sire", the Grand-Duke knows that he has found a true kindred spirit, a man whom he can trust with his most important secrets. By the end of the evening, Saint-Germain has readily agreed to place his diplomatic skills and connections, as well as his other talents in the service of Karl Peter Ulrich.

As the exceptionally rainy summer of 1754 passes by, Grand-Duchess Sofia Augusta observes with pleasure the developing friendship and trust between her husband and Saint-Germain. In the meantime, the Grand-Duchess spends her own pastime riding, swimming and making love at the manor of Ekudden. While at the manor, Sofia Augusta decides to re-decorate her bedroom as a realm of sexual fantasy, and orders local master carpenter Henrik Jacobsson Lang to prepare a set of new rococo furniture with erotic carvings. The new suite is finished in the autumn, and the Grand-Duchess is especially delighted by Lang's colourful alder armchairs; the arms and legs of each bergčre en confessionel are skillfully carved into realistic figures of men and women embracing each others in various forms of sexual intercourse. The most magnificent piece of the collection, however, is a decorative console table made of pine, with a base consisting of three massive falloses in erection, holding the table atop bursts of eternal ejaculation. As an intriguing detail, the testicles are carved into the form of female breasts, combining the essence of both sexes in a surreal artistic statement. [3]

- On the last week of May, the King of Prussia saddles his horse and leads his army to the field once again. Although the past three years of continuous carnage weigh heavily on his heart and soul, the King has not lost his determination, and understands the importance of the upcoming campaign. The strange, baffling news from Finland have provided him with a new hope, but he nonetheless realizes that Karl Peter Ulrich's offer will not provide him with immediate salvation. The curious machinations of the Grand-Duke of Finland may perhaps yet grant Fritz a way out of the war - at least, he has nothing to lose by trying - but in the meantime, he still has to fight to save his country from the immediate brink of destruction. The desired time for diplomacy, and the necessary time for executing the Finnish conspiracy in detail, must be bought with a success on the battlefield.

At the opening of the campaign season of 1754, a rather disturbing process is unraveling in Eastern Central Europe. The most imminent threat to Prussia is once again Fermor's fearsome Russian army, which is slowly but steadily preparing a position of decisive superiority, in preparation for another march westwards from Poznan and Landsberg-an-der-Warthe, with the intention of taking Frankfurt-an-der-Oder and perhaps even Berlin itself. Meanwhile, Browne's Austrians are busily reducing the Prussian strongholds in Saxony one by one while simultaneously holding down an entire Prussian army corps under Prinz Heinrich on the Elbe. Finally, three Austrian army corps under the joint command of Prinz Karl of Lothringen and field-marshal Leopold von Daun are pushing north towards Sagan in Silesia, with the intention of linking with the main Russian force.

For Fritz himself, the main business is to throw back the Russians, whom he considers his most dangerous enemy. After his past defeats, Fritz has abandoned his previous disregard and contempt for his Muscovite adversaries, and understands the need for a clear vision of the Russian strengths and weaknesses. In the course of the first summer days, Fritz observes with satisfaction Fermor's straggling, disjointed manoeuvering, his excessively heavy supply trains, his lack of effective reconnaissance and the diversion of his cavalry, which has been sent to forage further afield after consuming all of the grasslands around the Warthe. Finally secure in his analysis and conclusion of the situation, Fritz moves to direct action.

On the night of June 6th-7th, the Prussian troops at Küstrin open a cannonade on the far side of the Oder, while two regiments of the Royal Army reach Alt-Güstebiese with a pontoon train and construct a bridge over the river. The exceptionally swift crossing by the main army remains undetected by the Russian observation corps under count Petr Aleksandrovich Rumiantsev, who has deployed his cavalry further downstream to Schwedt. Two days later, Fritz reaches Landsberg with his 35'000 men - approximately half of them forced Saxon recruits and other expendable foreigners, and half of them better trained and armed native Brandenburgers, Pomeranians and Magdeburgers. Wasting no time, the King crosses the Warthe and begins a quick march southwards, with the intention of attacking the Russian army from behind while on march.

Uncertain of the location of the main enemy army but sensing that something is underway, Fermor has taken his own force of 60'000 men towards southwest, hoping to meet Daun's Austrians on the Oder. The decision turns out be to a miscalculation, and the Livonian general never reaches his destination. Moving with a lightning speed reminiscent of the first years of the war, Fritz reaches the Russian army at Paltzig on June 12th. After a quick, surprise cavalry attack has eliminated the Russian rearguard, the Prussian regiments form into attacking echelons while marching parallel to the enemy, launch an assault over the ridge overlooking the battlefield, and force the Russians to fall back against the broad, swampy Eichmühlen-Fleiss. By the end of the day, the marshland on the left bank of the river is covered in blood, and the Russians are rescued only by Saltykov, who organizes a difficult retreat across the wetlands to Nickern and Züllichau. Aside the 9'000 men who have ended up dead or captured and the 15'000 wounded, the Russians have lost 90'000 silver rubles in their money chests, most of their supply train, and several of their new artillery pieces, including some of Shuvalov's new, light odinorogs, captured by Seydlitz's cavalry during the battle.

Even in defeat, the Russian resistance has been extremely fierce, and the casualties of the victorious Prussians are equally heavy. The King of Prussia finishes the day with almost 10'000 of his men permanently out of the action in one way or another, but to his great delight, Fritz notices that most of the deceased or wounded soldiers represent the less valuable foreign part of his manpower. Distributing the booty among his troops and dispatching the captured bullion to Berlin, the victorious warrior-King crosses the Oder and continues his drive towards the south, on the eastern bank of the Lusatian Neisse, towards a new showdown against the advancing Habsburg army.

- While the meadows of Greater Poland and Silesia continue their role as the principal bleeding-ground of European soldiers, the former territories of the moribund Mughal Empire also get a fresh taste of the new global war. On the Midsummer, the British designs in the region suffer a catastrophic setback, as the much-vaunted expedition to the French-controlled Dekkan, begun with a defiant march from Bombay two months earlier, ends in an utter disaster. After a six-hours' long battle fought on the fields south of Aurangabad on the afternoon of June 23rd, the forces of the French East India Company and the Subahdár of Dekkan - equipped with five modern French field-guns and three mortars, and thoroughly drilled and disciplined in the best European fashion by Marquis de Bussy-Castelnau, Dupleix's sword and shield on the sub-Continent - finally manage to compel the mauled British soldiers, sepoys and their Mahratta allies to withdraw from the scene of the battle. After the British colonel Scott is killed by a canister shot, the command of the disintegrating force shifts to the recently-promoted lieutenant-colonel Robert Clive, who makes the last attempt to restore order and renew the assault before his men are driven to the river Godavari.

For the first - and the last - time, Clive's reckless gambling fails. From a distance, the red-coated figure of the British lieutenant-colonel is noticed by an enemy officer known by the name Haidar Ali, a Muslim warrior from Mysore who has enlisted for military service under the French masters, with the permission of his lord Nanjiraj. Hearing Clive's stern, loud orders, Haidar Ali spurs his steed, closes the distance in a mad gallop and deals one fast, deadly strike with his scimitar against the surprised Englishman who never manages to fire his sidearm. After a long flight in the air, Clive's severed head lands on the feet of a Welsh major, who has no choice but to order the panic-stricken British company to commence an immediate, all-out retreat from the battlefield.

- After two years of delightful residence in Finland, Voltaire sublets his beloved "Les Délices" at Åminne to Principal Hassel and bids farewell to the small Grand-Duchy on July 1st. As his last serious literary work in the country, the French author presents the Åbo Academy with the premiere version of his Essai sur les moeurs et l'esprit des nations nordiques, a long treatise on the history and character of the nations inhabiting the Fennoscandian Peninsula. Based on his own studies on the history of the Scandinavian countries, Voltaire describes the desolation and calamities that have regularly plagued the northern nations in the past, while simultaneously contrasting these with the civilization and progress which have transformed these countries - especially Finland - into the most advanced and enlightened states in Europe.

The lengthy narrative presents specific facts and details side by side with overt generalizations, concluding, among other things, that popular customs, common sense of morality and other traits of human character are decisively influenced by the surrounding nature - which, contrary to the deistical commonplace, is not always and everywhere the same, as testified by the uniquely harsh conditions in North Europe. While setting forth his paradoxical panorama of desolation and progress, Voltaire subjects every event in the history of the North to his original individual interpretation. As one example, Voltaire's portrayal of Gustav II Adolf provides a curious example of a man who, forced by the circumstances, contributed to the desolation and destruction of the earth while simultaneously advancing the ethical state of his subjects as well as the intellectual and esthetical state of his realm. Voltaire also devotes several pages to Daniel Juslenius, who, amidst the disasters of war and famine, succesfully emerged as the man who provided his nation with a sense of identity and purpose [4]. Although the paradox of destruction and progress is not resolved in the essay, one of the underlining themes of the work is the belief that even the most negative qualities of nature and human society may often act as a stimulus for the birth of a greater social good, which, when measured, will inevitably exceed all evil, thus constituting progress. In years to come, the essay will acquire historic significance as the last testimony of Voltaire's early optimism.

On a more delightful side, Voltaire also composes two poems before his departure from Finland. The first and the more intimate one is titled La Vierge and is dedicated to Eva Merthen, general James Keith's wife, whose personal history has made a deep impression on the French writer [5]. More generally, the poem is also a testimony of Voltaire's own experiences with Finnish ladies, whose bold, emancipated and self-confident nature - in many ways, somewhat similar to that of French women, but nonetheless still very different - he has found most enthralling. The poem conjures an image of Finland as a person, a maiden who, in spite of the violations that she has experienced in the past, has retained an uncompromised sense of dignity and virtue, and whose virtue is elevated still higher as she willingly grants her body and soul to the man whom she loves. For what virtue could be greater than love, whether love for a native country or love for a fellow human being, a spiritual as well as a physical statement of the purest and the most honest of all human emotions?

Car je suis femme; je me fais honneur
D'avoir ma part aux humaines faibles;
J'ai dans mon temps possédé des aimés
J'aime encore ā retrouver mon coeur.

The second poem is a laudatory epistle dedicated to Sofia Augusta, apostrophizing the Grand-Duchess and her country as the twin heralds of the Enlightenment in northern Europe. With a full title Epître ā la grande-duchesse de Finlande, Sophie Augusta, l'étoile du nord, the afterworld will remember the poem simply by the name "Northern Star", and in the following years, Latin translations of the poem are distributed all across Finland under the name "Stella Polaris". The closing lines of the original French text are carved on a bronze plaque attached to the oaken framework of the portrait which Isak Wacklin has painted of the Grand-Duchess:

A mon feu qui s'éteint rends sa clarté premičre;
C'est du nord aujourd'hui que nous vient la lumičre.

After a pleasant journey through Sweden and Norway, Voltaire boards a merchantman in Bergen on August 9th, arriving at Calais a week later. After five long years, France has recovered her greatest literary talent, and in the subsequent months, Voltaire's writings on Finland are utilized by Diderot and other philosophes, who gradually construct an image of Finland as a philosophical and libertarian paradise in the distant north, ruled by clergymen, intellectuals and a Grand-Duchess committed to the best principles of the Enlightenment and populated by a nation which, in itself, is a paragon of freedom. As the Age of Reason is reaching its high summer, an exceptional sense of kinship between Finland and France is slowly beginning to take root in the minds of the cultural élites in both countries.

- Having frustrated the French attempt to contain the American colonies with a chain of inland forts, the local British command has chosen the late summer of 1754 as the best moment to strike against the heartland of New France. After reinforcing the positions which the recently-promoted lieutenant-colonel George Washington has established at Fort Necessity, the newly-appointed commander-in-chief of the British forces in America, major general Edward Braddock, prepares a plan of an offensive from three directions at once. One Anglo-American force, backed up by the British navy, is to recapture the fortress of Louisbourg, denying the French of all reinforcements; the second is to take the French forts at Niagara, travelling up the rivers from the Hudson; and the third is to advance from upper New York to the junction of the lakes Saint Sacrement and Champlain, storming the French fort of Carillon, also known by its native name, Ticonderoga.

Regretfully, Braddock's ambitions aren't matched by his actual talents as a military coordinator. Although vice-admiral John Boscawen's squadron manages to intercept a few of the French supply convoys, the mouth of the St. Lawrence still remains more or less open to the French troopships. Meanwhile, the deep, personal animosity between Braddock and Boscawen prevents all effective cooperation between the land and the sea forces, and the only permanent results of the British plans in Nova Scotia are seen in the process known as le grand dérangement, the mass deportation of the local French Acadian population. On the land front, the planned advance to Niagara has to be postponed, while the expedition to Fort Carillon, led by Braddock himself, ends in a total disaster. After a long, laborious journey from Albany, Braddock's force of 15'000 men - approximately 6'000 British regulars and 9'000 colonial militiamen - is decimated in a battle fought in the wilderness on August 16th. Before even reaching the French breastwork at Ticonderoga, the Anglo-American force is ambushed by French-Canadian and Ottawa snipers, who rake Braddock's soldiers with rifle fire from invisible positions. Badly wounded, Braddock survives the encounter only barely, and is carried off from the battlefield by Washington, who has served as his aide-de-camp in the expedition.

Having personally saved the commanding British general as well as the entire expeditionary force, Washington is hailed as the hero of the day by the colonials. The succesful retreat is, however, a cold comfort for the British command, and by the beginning of the autumn of 1754, the initiative in North America has decisively shifted to the French and native forces of Marquis de Montcalm-Gozon.

- Unlike their European and American colleagues, the Finnish military men are largely spared from the duty to defend their crown on the battlefield, but instead, the officers of the Grand-Duchy face the need to defend themselves and their interests against the encroachments of the crown. After installing his Holsteiners in charge of the Ostrobothnian Infantry Regiment, Grand-Duke Karl Peter Ulrich has now caused additional fury by demanding a new oath of allegiance also from the Finnish officers - an oath explicitly and personally given to him, as the rightful Grand-Duke and the ruler of the country. The seasoned Finnish officers are both unable and unwilling to digest the idea of formally submitting under the command of a disgusting, mentally unstable and physically incapable foreigner who has already repeatedly violated their rightful privileges. Furthermore, the Finnish cadets who have served in St. Petersburg, as well as the highest-ranking officers such as Ehrensvärd - who has recently received an imperial promotion to the rank of lieutenant general - are, first and foremost, constrained by their obligations towards the Russian Empress.

Ehrensvärd's arguments against the separate oath and its controversial nature are at first disregarded by Karl Peter Ulrich, who claims that since he is also the heir to the throne of the Russian Empire, those Finnish officers who have chosen to accept an imperial commission will also, eventually, owe their allegiance to him. After some time, however, the Grand-Duke decides to abandon his more extensive demand, fearing that it might prematurely antagonize his aunt, and settles for insisting an oath only from those Finnish officers who hold ranks within the old, native territorial military establishment.

As Karl Peter Ulrich presses the issue and attempts to divide the officer corps, he provokes a dramatic reaction. On the autumn equinox, the leaders of the military resistance gather at the ancient castle of Olofsborg and swear a Confederation. The Confederates draft a lengthy document, expressing their collective refusal to take an oath to the Grand-Duke, stressing the legitimacy of their action and listing point by point their various grievances demanding immediate attention. Among the first signatories of the adress is cavalry captain Jakob Magnus Sprengtport, the secret lover of Grand-Duchess Sofia Augusta.

By the end of the year, the note is signed by the majority of the Finnish officers, in a magnificent demonstration of solidarity within the native military class. On the first Advent Sunday, the inner circle of the Confederation organizes itself into a secret society, after the fashion of the masonic lodges and chapters of the day [6]. The new fellowship is given a formal charter, official code of conduct, special decorations, a table of ranks and a banner displaying an emblem of two crossed swords across a blue, four-pointed star on white background. The blue colour is adopted from the old Carolin uniforms, whereas the white is chosen as the symbol of the purity and righteousness of the brotherhood's cause. The society is christened as "The Knights of the Northern Star", taking its name from the poem of Voltaire.

- While the British war in the colonies is experiencing increasing difficulties, the war on the European Continent isn't proceeding any more favourably for Britain's allies. After the decisive Russian defeat at Paltzig, Prinz Heinrich has succesfully broken free of the Austrians in Saxony and brought 15'000 Prussian troops to central Silesia, where he has linked with Fritz on June 15th. Six days later, the two brothers meet the 60'000-strong Austrian force of Prinz Karl and field-marshal Daun head-on in a glorious battle on the fields outside Sagan. Taking up the command from the front line with a rallying cry "Lads, do you want to live eternally?", Fritz wheels his army to the vulnerable right flank of the enemy, crashing at the already-demoralized Bavarian and Württemberg regiments. Simultaneously, the Austrian centre is subjected to an unexpected, frightful carnage wrought by the Prussian heavy guns and the captured Russian "unicorns". By the sunset, the Habsburg army is shattered, with no less than half of the soldiers dead, wounded and captured. Entire regiments have been overwhelmed, destroyed or taken as prisoners, and consequently drafted to Prussian service. Furious at the cataclysmic defeat, Maria Teresia promptly discharges his brother-in-law, triggering a complete reshuffle in the Austrian high command, as new, promising faces are promoted over the old commanders.

After securing Silesia once again, Fritz busily turns his attention towards the west. Encouraged by the Russian and Austrian defeats, de Chevert and de Crémilles have commenced a slow, systematic program against the German Reichsarmee on the upper Rhine, which has forced Browne to divert part of his reserves to Arenberg's help. As a result, Fritz is granted an opportunity to exact revenge for Münchengrätz and defeat the Irishman in a quick, bloody battle at Hochkirch on June 26th. During the following fortnight, Saxony falls back to the Prussian hands, as Browne's battered forces are chased back to Bohemia and the Black Eagle is raised over the fortress of Königstein once again. Three victorious battles have already left the rest of Europe stunned by the magnificent, relentless campaign led by a monarch who, for a while, was already believed to be beaten. Fritz, however, is not satisfied until he has eliminated every single one of his adversaries, and on the second week of August, one Prussian army corps under Prinz Heinrich himself is dispatched to Hannover.

While Soubise's French army has begun to show disturbing signs of life, the Dutch soldiers and the Duke von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel have temporarily relocated to Flanders, leaving the command of the Army of Observation in Hannover entirely in the hands of the Duke of Cumberland. The prospect of facing hardened Prussian regulars in battle doesn't generate much enthusiasm in the Butcher of Culloden, who is more used to ordering massacres of wounded and helpless soldiers. On August 15th, the Duke surrenders to Prinz Heinrich at Hastenbeck, and, in spite of the vehement protests of George II, declares Hannover a neutral territory. As the autumn passes by, Fritz expresses his respect towards Cumberland and his declaration by exacting a cool sum of twenty million thalers from the remaining royal chests of his uncle, enrolling over ten thousand local men to his army and, purely out of personal pleasure, by heaping scorn and ridicule on the United Kingdom in the front page articles of the "Hamburger-Correspondenten". For Britain, the death of the Prime Minister and the military disasters in India, America and Europe have turned the year 1754 into an annus horribilis.

By November, Buturlin's Russians are forced to abandon their siege of Colberg, while Keith's Russo-Swedish expeditionary force cautiously withdraws behind the Peene, taking up winter quarters in Stralsund and Rügen. For the moment, Fritz has saved his realm and secured his prizes in Silesia and Saxony. Having soundly humiliated three major European powers, the Hohenzollern King has obtained an aura of a demi-god both at home as well as abroad, but Fritz himself remains well aware of the continuous danger to the existence of Prussia. The "Miracle of the House of Brandenburg" has provided him with a breathing spell, but the campaign has also badly depleted the core of his army, and even the best of his new recruits hardly measure up to the worst of his old soldiers. Realizing that the war has to be brought to an end in the following year, Fritz prepares a furious diplomatic offensive designed to activate his French allies for a serious offensive against Austria. Meanwhile, he also finds time to compose a cordial, personal answer to Karl Peter Ulrich, expressing his sincere gratitude of the letter and his willingness to consider the option presented to him by the Grand-Duke of Finland.

- On the Eve of the Feast of All Saints, Abraham Achrenius, the vicar of Nousis, delivers one of his most memorable sermons ever. Although the vicar has discounted the wild stories of the immoral lifestyle of Grand-Duke Karl Peter Ulrich and his wife as idle rumours, he has nevertheless quietly resented the obviously lavish and worldly behaviour of the couple for a long time. Furthermore, the troublesome political situation in the country has finally made it necessary for Achrenius to publicly form an opinion of the actions of the crown. Even though the vicar has by no means endorsed the decisions of the Finnish officers, he nonetheless feels obligated to provide his congregation with the means of observing the nature of the Confederation of Olofsborg in the light of the Lutheran doctrine. On the basis of the Christian faith, what kind of an attitude should a common person assume towards this resistance of the military men against the crown?

Slowly, but surely, with a clear sense of his goal, Achrenius recites his conclusion from the pulpit. The vicar relies on an old, raw and primitive Protestant base, from which he nonetheless manages to construct a framework for an eloquent argument, worthy of the best standards of the European Enlightenment. Stressing the importance of a correct interpretation of the Pauline doctrine, Achrenius explains that the authority bestowed upon the rulers by God is, in the true spirit of the divine law, always measured by the consent and the will of the good people. Using the arguments of Theodore Beza's insurgent 16th century Protestantism as his guideline, Achrenius saturates his congregation with a maxim that ever since the times of the ancient Israel, rulers have been created only for the welfare of the people, and that rulers may enjoy divine sanction only when they truly remain as servants of the people.

The message of Achrenius' sermon is simple and clear. While every soul should be subject unto higher powers, the subjects must always refuse to comply with the demands that are contrary to their conscience, even when so ordered by their rulers. Whenever a superior magistrate violates the rights of his subjects, then, by the law of nature, by the law of men, by the divine law and by the true religion and worship of God, the inferior magistrate ought by God's mandate to resist him; not with violence, or by force of arms, but by a simple refusal to collaborate. Achrenius ends his sermon in a conciliatory plea to his flock, calling the good people of the country to pray for the welfare of the crown, so that the rulers would follow the will of God and agree to a compromise with those subjects whose rights they have, perhaps unintentionally, affronted.

Achrenius becomes the first and the last clergyman to comment on the friction between the Grand-Duke and the Finnish officer corps. A fortnight after the sermon, a patrol of Holsteiner soldiers arrives at the vicarage, places Achrenius under arrest, and escorts him away from the parish. For the second time in his life, Achrenius has been disciplined by the authorities because of his statements of faith. This time, however, the action has not been ordered by the Cathedral Chapter, but instead by Chamberlain Brockdorff. Having received a report of the sermon, the Holsteiner administrator has informed Grand-Duke Karl Peter Ulrich of the situation, and received a quick order to immediately suppress the "seditious utterances" of the Lutheran minister.

- The year 1754 witnesses a miraculous resurgency not only for the Prussian arms, but also for the French monarchy, which has marvelously managed to regain and even increase its old popularity. The long-awaited opportunity to take revanche against the loathed Habsburgs and their British minions has adequately satisfied the anti-Austrian cabals and other chauvinist political factions in Paris, erasing the sense of betrayal and disappointment caused by the Treaty of Aachen. Even though the French army hasn't met with much success on its own yet, Louis XV is given full credit for his treaty with Friedrich the Great, and the astounding military victories of the Prussian King are celebrated with magnificent parades and illuminations on the streets of the French capital. The sign-painters everywhere are employed to draft portraits of the hero of Paltzig and Sagan, and soon, the image of old Fritz, with his cocked hat and long pigtail, decorates the walls of nearly every public house in France.

At the same time, the firm approach of Louis XV against the high clergy and d'Arnouville's succesful imposition of the vingtičme - which is now providing the Kingdom with a respectable revenue - have suitably humoured the traditional anti-Roman tendencies of the parlementaires all around the country, and acted as an additional reinvigoration to the public figure of the Bourbon monarch. As a side result, the issue of billets de confession is permanently buried by Pope Benedictus XIV's new bull Ex Omnibus. Negotiated by the skillful mediation of count Étienne-Franįois de Stainville, the French ambassadour to Rome [7], the new Papal encyclical tacitly and quietly bestows Jansenists with an inalienable right to sacraments. While the magistrates grant full recognition to the arbitration of the crown in the religious quarrel, the last remaining sparks of the "basochienne" agitation are gradually doused and eventually forgotten. Simultaneously, Archbishop de Beaumont's protests are cut short rather more drastically, as the King silently exiles him from Paris to a temporary winter retreat at Conflans.

The political and diplomatic acumen of the King, as well as the alliance with the most capable military power of the day, are a source of pride and joy for every French subject, and the nation has wholeheartedly bestowed the affectionate title "well-beloved" upon Louis XV once again. What's more, by the end of the year, the French public has even more reason to feel exultant of the news of the victories that their own forces have accomplished overseas. Noticing the triumph over the British in India, the Crown promptly discharges Marquis Étienne de Silhouette from his position as the Royal Commissioner to the Compagnie des Indess, and summons Dupleix to take charge in his place. While Dupleix prepares himself for the position, the command over the French forces in India is left entirely in the competent hands of de Bussy-Castelnau, who is now given the demanding task to secure the riches of the Orient by establishing a truly imperial French presence in India.

- On the Boxing Day, Grand-Duke Karl Peter Ulrich receives count Saint-Germain, his new confident, at the winter manoeuvres of his Holsteiner Guard in the heath of Parola. Encouraged by a hot vodka punch and the cozy atmosphere of their warm, comfortable bivouac under the starlit midwinter sky, Karl Peter Ulrich opens up and completely confides in his aristocratic friend. After revealing all the details of his secret plan, the Grand-Duke politely requests Saint-Germain to travel to St. Petersburg with him for the New Year, in order to provide him with necessary assistance in the execution of the plot.

Although Saint-Germain is familiar with the practice of paradiplomacy and other shady aspects of statecraft, the Grand-Duke's wildly insane and irresponsible plan is a shock even to him. Maintaining his cool appearance, Saint-Germain accepts Karl Peter Ulrich's offer, but simultaneously, he memorizes his every word, so that he will be able to deliver a completely accurate report to Sofia Augusta.

Notes:

[1] In our timeline, "wasteful consumption" was frowned upon in Sweden and Finland for most of the 18th century. An "extravagant" lifestyle was considered immoral especially in light of the devastation and poverty wrought by the famines of the late 17th century and the subsequent Great Northern War. Thus, clothing was regulated by legislation, luxury goods such as tea, tobacco, coffee, snuff and face-powder were taxed far more heavily than elsewhere in Europe, and coffee was briefly declared illegal. In the end, the anti-luxury legislation proved to be very ineffective; in the era when even the common people were becoming more and more prosperous, everyone desired for good things in life also in the material sense. As you can see, in this timeline this process is happening earlier, and the crown is setting a tasteful example.

[2] Saint-Germain was a very good violinist, and several of his compositions have survived even in our timeline - sonatas, arias, and light popular songs which professional musicologists have described resembling the 20th century swing. As already noted before, Grand-Duke Karl Peter Ulrich also played violin, very badly.

[3] Lang was an excellent and talented craftsman, but he was also loathed by his colleagues all through the country. By 1755, Lang was nearly broke, and thus ready to accept a commission to manufacture pornographic furniture in this timeline.

[4] Juslenius was the father of the 18th century fennophiles. His works Aboa Vetus et Nova (1700) and Vindiciae Fennorum (1703) - written in the middle of the ravages of the Great Famine and the Great Northern War - were aggressively patriotic in nature, underlining essentially Finnish virtues and national characteristics for the first time in history. Juslenius' patriotism was multi-layered, following the example of the Imperial Rome, and made a distinction between the concepts of the state and the nation. Below, there existed a virtuous Finnish nation (gens, populus, natio, natio nostrum) and the beloved Finnish fatherland; further above, there was the higher "Patria", the Great Power Sweden, the realm to which everyone, both the Finnish as well as the Swedish nations owed their ultimate loyalty in a partnership of equals. Juslenius didn't consider language as the defining factor of the nationality, but instead, he based it on the common homeland; in his worldview, everyone born and raised in Finland, regardless of the language, belonged to the Finnish nation.

[5] Eva Merthen was the 18th century Finnish equivalent of countess Maria Walewska. A daughter of the Mayor of Åbo, Eva was a tall, attractive, shapely brunette, well-educated and fluent in Finnish, Swedish, French, Latin and German. During the Russian occupation of Finland in 1741-1743, she fell in love with general James Keith, a former Jacobite officer and the commander of the invading Russian Army (who has appeared several times also in this story). At first, Eva acted as Keith's interpretor, liaison and assistant, and eventually, as his mistress, earning the nickname "the Duchess of Finland". Eva and Keith married in 1756, morganatically, without the formal confirmation of Keith's Clan or the King of Scotland and England (presumably Keith still considered the Stuart candidate as the legitimate King). After Keith's death in the battle of Hochkirchen in 1758, Keith's brother, the Lord Marshal of the Clan, attempted to contest his last will, without success. Eva inherited her husband and settled comfortably in Stralsund, where she was briefly courted by Prinz Heinrich of Prussia. Eva died in 1811.

[6] The first masonic lodge in Sweden was established in 1735, and the first in Finland in 1758. The 18th century was the golden age of secret societies, and this country was no exception.

[7] The future Choiseul. He supported concessions to the parlementaires and the Augustinians also in our timeline, and was involved in the negotiation of a similar document from the Holy See, although under far more unfavourable circumstances than in this timeline.

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© Jussi Jalonen, 2003

Maps: © Kristian Järventaus, 2005