Back in 1995 I was invited by some friends to go and watch a cinematic production of Richard III at a small art-house theatre in one of Adelaide’s Eastern Suburbs. I had heard of Richard III (the King that is, but then again most of us who have watched Black Adder, or even paid attention to a particular carpark in England, have probably heard of the guy), however I had never actually seen the play. Being Shakespeare I had no problems going, however I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.
We basically left off with the Netherlands at war with the Spanish and many of the artists fleeing to the North from what is now Belgium, bringing their styles and skills with them. Initially, this was a form known as mannerism, which focused on the raw beauty of the subject, in an idealised setting. However, in Italy, Caravaggio was starting to make his mark, with a much more realistic feel to his paintings, a more down to Earth, grittier style. As such, this began to filter north to start influencing the Dutch, resulting in a change in style and a movement away from Mannerism.
Once again I was watching one of those really informative videos on the Alternate History Channel (and I will embed the video, as I usually do, below) and it fueled my imagination – this time in regards to the Russian Revolution. However, as I was thinking about how I would tackle this I suddenly realised that so many different things could have happened that would have had a significant effect upon the way the modern world would turn out, it is difficult to simply take just one path.
I’ve just finished reading a book on the French Revolution of the Napoleonic Wars entitled Revolutionary Europe 1785 – 1815 (and you can also read my review of the book here, namely because I discuss, albeit briefly, some ideas that I won’t be talking about in this post). Anyway, I have to say that the author, George Rude, seemed to gloss over a number of important events, one of them being the Battle of Austerlitz. In fact this is what he says:
(Czar) Alexander, who had taken command of the Austro-Russian forces, fancied himself as a commander and was easily persuaded by an incompetent chief-of-staff that Napoleon was in a weak position and could be defeated. Infatuated with the prospect, he let himself be lured to the village of Austerlitz in Moravia, where Napoleon, in the most decisive of his victories, cut his army in two and inflicted a loss of 27,000 men.
I’m sure we are all familiar with the background to World War I, namely how a guy in Sarajevo stopped to buy a sandwich, saw the Archduke Ferdinand go past in his carriage, grabbed his gun, ran outside, and shot him, thus triggering a series of events that would shape the 20th Century (though that story is a somewhat a myth – apparently he planned to meet the Arch-Duke there, it still sounds good). In fact, one can go even further back to when the French ambassador ran into the Prussian king, had an informal chat which was twisted by the German Chancellor to start a war against the French, which in turn laid the groundwork for what was to become World War I.