• Hi Guest!

    The costs of running this forum are covered by Sea Lion Press. If you'd like to help support the company and the forum, visit patreon.com/sealionpress

WI: The Republic of Ezo survives as a French protectorate

SinghSong

Well-known member
Location
Slough
Pronouns
he/him
Back in February 1868, in the Boshin War, a plan had been formulated (with the help of the French ambassador Léon Roches) to stop the imperial court's advance at Odawara, the last strategic entry point to Edo, but Tokugawa Yoshinobu had decided against the plan. As a result, in early March, under the influence of the British minister Harry Parkes, foreign nations had signed a strict neutrality agreement, according to which they could not intervene or provide military supplies to either side until the resolution of the conflict. But after November 1868, with the fall of the Shogunate and the restoration of Japanese Imperial rule, the conflict was officially over, as was the neutrality agreement. The newly declared (French-inspired, with suffrage for the samurai class) Republic of Ezo tried to reach out to foreign legations in Hakodate, such as the Americans, French, and Russians, but wasn't able to garner any international recognition or support IOTL.

However, Jules Brunet had never formally resigned from the French army when he chose to ignore the Japanese Imperial decree for the French military mission to leave Japan, and left for the northern island of Ezo along with the part of the former shogun's navy led by Admiral Enomoto Takeaki, together with several thousand soldiers and his band of French military advisors. And in the Ezo army which Brunet helped organize, while Otori Keisuke was named as commander-in-chief and Brunet was technically second in command, all four brigades were commanded by French officers (Fortant, Marlin, Cazeneuve, and Bouffier). In a letter to Napoleon III, Brunet explained the plan of the alliance, as well as his role in it: "A revolution is forcing the Military Mission to return to France. Alone I stay, alone I wish to continue, under new conditions: the results obtained by the Mission, together with the Party of the North, which is the party favorable to France in Japan. Soon a reaction will take place, and the Daimyos of the North have offered me to be its soul. I have accepted, because with the help of one thousand Japanese officers and non-commissioned officers, our students, I can direct the 50,000 men of the Confederation."

Brunet demanded (and received) a signed personal pledge of loyalty from all officers, and insisted they assimilate French ideas. And his actions won him great popular support back in France. An anonymous French officer wrote that Brunet had taken charge of everything: "...customs, municipality, fortifications, army; everything passed through his hands. The simple Japanese are puppets whom he manipulates with great skill... he has carried out a veritable 1789 French Revolution in this brave new Japan; the election of leaders and the determination of rank by merit and not birth- these are fabulous things for this country, and he has been able to do things very well, considering the seriousness of the situation..."

So then, how much longer could the Republic of Ezo have endured if Tokugawa Yoshinobu had signed a treaty acknowledging a French protectorate over it, in a manner akin to the Kingdom of Cambodia a couple of years earlier (and to Annam and Tonkin, in the next couple of decades IOTL)? With the French deciding not to let all their hard work and influence over the region go to waste, counting their losses (with a view towards French expansion in East Asia at a later date, as in Southeast Asia IOTL), and intervened to send military supplies and reinforcements to the Republic of Ezo? Could they do so in sufficient numbers to dissuade the Japanese Imperial Navy from launching the Hokkaido campaign, or to repel their invasion force? And with a Republican Hokkaido effectively becoming a part of the French colonial empire at this juncture, how much could you envision this altering the course of history in Japan, France, the wider region of East Asia, and across the world in general?
 

Torten

Well-known member
Location
Wessex, UK
Reckon the Japanese might make a move during the Franco-Prussian war. The French would have more important things to worry about other than a dreary and cold protectorate on the other side of the world.

Additionally, the Japanese population was about 35 million at this point. Edo had about 100k. Japan has an advantage of sheer numbers.
 

SinghSong

Well-known member
Location
Slough
Pronouns
he/him
Reckon the Japanese might make a move during the Franco-Prussian war. The French would have more important things to worry about other than a dreary and cold protectorate on the other side of the world.

Additionally, the Japanese population was about 35 million at this point. Edo had about 100k. Japan has an advantage of sheer numbers.
If they did though, wouldn't this toss in the butterfly effect of Japan most likely being aligned with the Central Powers instead of the Entente when (/if) WW1 kicks off?
 

0.42@632

Active member
This would certainly butterfly away WW1- and Japan's quest for a colonial empire if the French are nextdoor.
 
Top