Historical Background

Variant Rules
Historical Background

This page starts with a brief overview of the Congress of Vienna. This is followed by profiles of the leaders and diplomatic goals of each nation during the period of the Congress of Vienna from a historical perspective.

The newest version of the variant begins starts in 1815 (more on this later). In the preceding decade, Napoleon conquered most of continental Europe, and the pre-existing order and borders were disrupted. Napoleon was defeated first in Russia in the winter of 1812. Sensing that Napoleon was vulnerable, an Alliance of Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Great Britain formed, and was able to force Napoleon to capitulate in the Treaty of Fontainebleu in April 1814. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1814, the Congress of Vienna met to discuss the post-Napoleonic situation. Using Europe as essentially a blank tablet on which to create their own Balance of Power, the Great Powers of Great Britain, Prussia, Austria, and Russia (with France, the defeated power, playing a lesser role) re-drew the map. At numerous points during the negotiations, various powers threatened the use of force, and it appeared that certain questions may not be resolvable diplomatically. However, the Congress of Vienna concluded peacefully, and laid the foundations for relative peace between the Great Powers of Europe for 40 years, until the Crimean War of 1854-56. The 1815 variant explores an alternate path: that the Great Powers of Europe engaged in war to attain their objectives in Poland, Saxony, and other disputed areas.

First, I will go over a brief history of the Congress of Vienna, and then present a brief description of the Great Game in Asia, followed by an in-depth summary of each power in the game. At the Congress, the initial issue was what to do about the vanquished French Empire, including France's borders and who the new ruler of France would be. Regarding the borders, France's borders had expanded to include Belgium, the Netherlands, Westphalia, Hanover, Tuscany, the Rhineland, Illyria, and other territories. Punitive measures were never really considered, and France was restored to essentially her current borders. Napoleon II, the Duc d'Orleans, Bernadotte of Sweden, and others were considered, but the Bourbons were restored to power. With the very lenient peace imposed on France including no reparations, France was left strong to be a major power in Europe.

The Congress of Vienna had two primary points of contention: Poland and Saxony. During the initial phases of alliance against Napoleon in 1812, after Napoleon was expelled from Russia, Prussia made an agreement with Russia. Prussia pledged to give up their interests in Poland (except for the northern strip of Posen connecting Brandenberg and Prussia, which on the map is the western part of the province of Prussia), with Russia gaining control of all of Poland, in exchange for Russian support of Prussia gaining Saxony and other German territories such as the Rhineland. Austria in particular was not pleased with this arrangement, and was not wiling to cede Galicia, which was the Austrian bit of Poland. England's diplomatic goal was to create an independent, liberal, strong Poland, and to make sure that the victorious Russians did not dominate Europe. Partially to get back into the Congress, France proposed a Secret Alliance with England and Austria, in which the three pledged to go to war with Russia and Prussia if R & P insisted on their arrangement. This created an impasse.

The Questions of Poland and Saxony took a long time to settle, but eventually the following arrangement was arrived at. Looking at the map for this variant, Prussia gained Posen and the Rhineland. Saxony was split into two, with the upper half given to Prussia, and the bottom half become the reduced Kingdom of Saxony. A theoretically independent, liberal, reduced Duchy of Warsaw was created (Warsaw on the map), but in reality was dominated by Russia. Russia's gains in the Balkans (i.e. Bessarabia) and Belarus (White Russia), from the earlier partitions of Poland-Lithuania, were affirmed as well. Austria kept Galicia, and to compensate them for getting relatively little in Germany and Poland, were awarded the Kingdom of Lombardo-Venetia, a Hapsburg was put on the throne of Tuscany, and Austria had indirect control of the Two Sicilies as well. Other results included the union of Sweden and Norway, the confirmation of Russia's annexation of Finland, the union of the Netherlands and Belgium into the United Provinces of the Netherlands, Switzerland's neutrality was guaranteed, freedom of navigation was guaranteed for most European seas and rivers, and the slave trade was condemned.

Away from the European theater, Great Britain and Russia engaged in the so-called Great Game, competing for influence in Central Asia. Russia had the ultimate dream of gaining access to a warm water port, and generally wanted to expand the Russian Empire. Great Britain was most concerned with protecting the "jewel" in the crown of the British Empire: India. Accomplishing this goal entailed supporting buffer states or directly annexing territory.

By the end of the 1840s, the British expanded into Rajputana, Sind, Punjab, and Kashmir (comprising Punjab on the map). Baluchistan was conquered in 1887. Russia incorporated much of West Turkestan in 1824, and then East Turkestan in the second half of the 19th century. Both powers competed for influence in Persia and Afghanistan, with British and Russia exerting control through diplomats and loans. By the 20th century, Persia had been carved into British and Russian spheres of influence. The addition of Persia as a player in the game, as well as the ability of players to influence the units in Asia with Diplomacy Points, recreates the Great Game in this variant.

This variant takes place a little too early for Britain and Russia to engage in direct warfare in Central Asia. For example, the British lost badly in the First Anglo-Afghan War of 1838-41, making it unrealistic that they could simply pass an army through Afghanistan enroute to Turkestan in 1815. Nonetheless, expanding the map to Central Asia is not completely anachronistic, and I think it will add greatly to gameplay quality.


Great Britain

The prime minister of Great Britain from 1812-27 was Lord Liverpool of the Tory Party. The main British foreign policy goal was the defeat of Napoleon, and preventing France from ever overrunning Europe again. Due to the great distance between London and Vienna, Foreign Minister Lord Castlereagh operated essentially on his own at the Congress of Vienna.

Great Britain was the most steadfast opponent of France during the Napoleonic Wars, and had been at war with France since 1792. A major role for Britain was as a financier, providing loans to other powers (including Austria and Prussia) so that they could continue fighting Napoleon. After defeating the French navy in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the British navy had complete dominance of the seas, and used this naval power to disrupt French trade, seize French colonial possessions, and support the Iberian resistance. Napoleon countered with the Continental System, in which Napoleon tried to prevent territories under his control from trading with France. The British army, on the other hand, posed little threat to France or the continent. The other Great Powers, especially Russia, viewed themselves as the conquerers of Napoleon, giving Great Britain less diplomatic capital.

Regardless, Britain got most of what they wanted at the Congress, partly due to their different conception of national interests. The other powers were more concerned with "hard" rewards, like added territory. Britain's goals were "soft," with the primary goal being setting up a balance of power on the continent, to ensure peace and prevent another Napoleon. This meant containing France, the previous dominant power, and Russia, whose armies reached Paris, and looked like a possible threat. To contain Russia, Castlereagh wanted a strong Prussia to emerge, with territory added from Germany, and a strong independent Poland with liberal, democratic values. Britain also wanted to establish buffers on France's borders, including the United Province of Netherlands (with Spanish Netherlands, or Belgium, added), a neutral Switzerland, and Austrian influence in Italy. All of this was accomplished, except for the Polish state. Most of Poland was carved away by Prussia, Russia, and Austria-Hungary. The small remaining independent Polish state, Congress Poland, had a liberal democratic government on paper, but ended up dominated by Russia, and was annexed in 1831.

Other British goals were achieved with relative ease. One goal, pushed in particular by Lord Liverpool, was the abolition of the slave trade, which the Congress condemned. Another goal was assuring international maritime rights, allowing the British to sail freely on all seas and rivers. This was desirable after Napoleon's Continental System. Castlereagh wanted France reduced to its previous size, but not punitively damaged, and this was the consensus at the Congress. Britain also wanted to remain relatively disengaged from continental affairs.

Some criticized British diplomacy at the Congress of Vienna. At home in Britain, it seemed that all the money and effort spent in fighting Napoleon accomplished little. While the removal of Napoleon was welcomed, the restoration of the Bourbons was not what British opinion had in mind. A chance to spread liberal values was missed in France and Poland. Britain gained no territory, except for some overseas colonies (South Africa being the most important one). From Elba, Napoleon criticized British diplomacy, saying that he could have achieved the same result if he was defeated. If Britain wanted to ensure France could never conquer Europe again, he wondered why Britain did not claim French territory in Normandy, Provence, and Brest, or claim the Netherlands for themselves, instead of creating an independent state there.

In the end, it's hard to argue with British results. Great Britain became the preeminent world power of the 19th century, and the balance of power was largely preserved in Europe without major conflict until 1914.



French diplomacy in this period begins with Napoleon. Napoleon was defeated in Russia in the winter of 1812, but the war continued until 1814. He had numerous chances to negotiate a peace so that he could have remained in power, but spurned them all, believing that his military genius could overcome the steep obstacles facing France.

After Napoleon's fall, Talleyrand stepped forward immediately to negotiate with the Allies. He had been a diplomat for Napoleon, who famously called him "a piece of dung in a silk stocking." Talleyrand was happy to get revenge. The Allies trusted him, and asked him what form of government would be most amenable to the French people. Possible options were Napoleon, Napoleon II (his son), the Duc d'Orleans, and foreign royalty such as Bernadotte of Sweden. Talleyrand urged the restoration of the Bourbons, and Louis XVIII was put in power. He also negotiated the cancellation of French debt, which was massive after years of war, so that they could start with a clean sheet.

Before the Congress, a secret clause in the Peace of Paris ensured that the four Great Powers would handle all substantive questions at the Congress on their own. In previous diplomacy, by the principle of legitimacy, all royalty were treated theoretically equally, as all were monarchs with divine right. Talleyrand managed to make himself the representative of the small powers, and defended the principle of legitimacy. In this way, he managed to get France included in the substantive talks. When Russia and Prussia proved inflexible in their alliance, Talleyrand orchestrated a triple alliance with England and Austria-Hungary, in which they pledged to use force if Russia and Prussia did not back down from their position. Talleyrand's diplomacy was instrumental in France cementing their continued status as a Great Power, when they easily could have faced a far more punitive settlement, and been reduced to a minor power.

The Hundred Days must be mentioned as well. Napoleon fled from his exile on Elba, and fought his way back to Paris, where he was hailed as a hero. After the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, Napoleon was exiled to remote St Helena. Prussia in particular sought fierce retribution, and demanded French territory, a 12 million francs war indemnity, and that the Pont d'Iena in Paris, named after an 1806 victory over Prussia, be blown up. Again, Talleyrand practiced masterful diplomacy, and managed to have the Bourbons restored, despite their obvious unpopularity, and to preserve the same lenient settlement France received before.



Prussia's king was Frederick Wilhelm III. Frederick Wilhelm III was an incompetent, childish ruler. While the Peace of Paris was being negotiated, he spent his days toboganning down the slides of the Montagnes Russes (manmade ice-covered hills set up for people to ride down in Paris). He was personally enthralled with Tsar Alexander I, and was inclined to follow his lead in all matters.

Prussia was represented diplomatically by Karl August Furst von Hardenberg. By this point in his life, Hardenberg was mostly deaf and not especially competent. This diplomatic void was filled by a group of Junker generals who took a very hard diplomatic line, and were perceived by the other diplomats as irritating to deal with. Prussian diplomacy was also hindered by the dissonance between the King and the generals. The generals would negotiate something, and then the King would promise Alexander something completely different.

During the Napoleonic Wars, Prussia was defeated by Napoleon in 1806, and in the Treaty of Tilsit was reduced to a minor, debt-ridden power. Prussia had the primary goal of expanding its territory to be a Great Power. When agreeing to help Russia fight Napoleon beyond the Russian borders, Prussia agreed to give up its rights in Poland (in Posen) in exchange for the rights to Saxony. The other powers did not agree to this exchange, for it would have left Russia completely dominant in Poland, and Austria wanted Saxony. In the end, a compromise was arrived at, and Prussia kept Posen plus gained the top half of Saxony. In Germany, Prussia received Westphalia, the Rhineland, Swedish Mecklenburg, and other minor states.

Despite its sometimes incompetent diplomacy, Prussia stood the most to gain from the Balance of Power concept, which required a strong Prussia in central Europe between France and Russia. The result was that Prussia was probably the biggest winner at the Congress of Vienna, as she became a Great Power and her territory expanded well beyond its borders before the Napoleonic wars.


Austrian Empire

Franz I was the Emperor of the Austrian Empire. He was involved in the leadership of his country, but Metternich was the dominant force in Austrian foreign policy. Metternich's foreign policy was based on the concept of the balance of power. According to this theory, it was up to the Great Powers of Europe to arrange matters so that any one power would be deterred from aggressive action, and another Napoleon could not emerge. Metternich's primary concern at the Congress of Vienna was constraining Russia, whose armies looked dominant after marching across Europe to defeat Napoleon and conquer Paris. He was furious with the quid pro quo that Prussia and Russia worked out over Prussia trading its Polish territory for the whole of Saxony. Furthermore, he had a very antagonistic personal relationship with Tsar Alexander I, whom he regarded as overly sentimental and unstable. Metternich tried to put together an alliance with Britain and Prussia, so that the three of them could put up a united front, and prevent Russia from taking Poland. However, Frederick Wilhelm III of Prussia proved impossible to negotiate with, as he deferred to the Tsar in all diplomatic matters. These were the circumstances that led to the formation of an alliance between Austria, Great Britain, and France, who agreed to counter Russia and Prussia by force if necessary to contain an overly powerful Russia. From Austria's perspective, an alliance without Prussia was not such a bad thing, since they were not enthusiastic about Prussia gaining too much power in Germany.

The British-French-Austrian alliance was able to disrupt the Prussian-Russian plan to some degree. Instead of Russia gaining all of Poland, Prussia was awarded Posen, Austria kept Galicia, and an independent Polish state was created from the Duchy of Warsaw (although this state later was absorbed into Russia). Austria was able to prevent Prussia from gaining all of Saxony, but did not get any piece of Saxony for herself. The Austrians were compensated with territory in Italy, and with the return of Tyrol and Illyria. The German Confederation was founded to succeed the Holy Roman Empire.

Metternich maneuvered to set up the structure of the German Confederation such that Austria played a major role, which both expanded Austrian influence and ensured that the Confederation could not accomplish the liberal, nationalistic goals of many members. On a larger scale, Metternich attained the same leading position in Europe, as Austria was the indispensable centerpiece of the Metternich system which froze Europe in its Congress of Vienna configuration for half a century. Given Austria's major limitations - it was a polyglot, militarily weak empire in fundamental contradiction with the political trends of the era - it is quite amazing that Metternich became the leading statesman of his era.


Russian Empire

The Russian empire was led by the Tsar Alexander I. Formally, Count Karl Nesselrode was the Russian Foreign Minister, but practically Alexander conducted his own diplomacy. During his youth, Alexander was tutored by the Swiss La Harpe. La Harpe inculcated Alexander in liberal values, and Alexander saw himself as an enlightened monarch who would bring progressive values to Russia and Europe. However, this was only one side of Alexander's personality. The other side listened to the Russian nobles, who were reactionary, and saw liberal ideas as a threat to their privileged status. Diplomatically, this side took a narrow view of Russian interests, and sought territory to add to the glory of Russia. Alexander veered wildly between these two viewpoints, and the other diplomats, particularly Metternich, became frustrated at negotiating with seemingly a different person each time. Complicating matters further, Alexander considered personal honor to be extremely important, and sought to keep the promises that he made, even when this was made difficult by his split personality.

Because Alexander was such a passionate man, his personal relations with the other leaders and diplomats were key to Russian foreign policy. Alexander had a close relationship with King Frederick Wilhelm III of Prussia, who called Alexander his "divine friend." When forming an alliance, Frederick Wilhelm promised Alexander that he would surrender any claims to Poland, in exchange for Russian support of Prussian interests in Saxony.

Alexander and Metternich, on the other hand, clashed. Alexander viewed Metternich as a slick diplomat with no morals or honor. At one point during the Congress, Metternich was playing both sides of the fence with Prussia and Russia, saying different things to each power to break up their alliance. When Alexander found out, he was so incensed that he challenged Metternich to a duel. Relations between the two empires were chilly for a long time, until the Holy Alliance was formed in September 1815.

Alexander managed to poison relations with Great Britain and France as well. Before the Congress of Vienna, Alexander made a state visit to London, where he was greeted as the hero who defeated Napoleon. However, Alexander took offense at some perceived slights, and showed his displeasure by sulking, and taking hours to arrive for lavish events thrown in his honor. He also made a point of meeting the Whig opposition leaders in London, which offended the Liberal administration. In similar fashion, Alexander was offended greatly by King Louis XVIII of France, whose restoration he had urged, when Louis refused to show him the proper deference, and in fact insisted on Alexander showing him deference while visiting at Versailles. Thus, Alexander's volatile personality played the largest role in determining the alliances at the Congress, with Russia and Prussia pitted against Great Britain, France, and Austria.

The Polish question was complicated for Russia. Alexander developed a close friendship with Prince Adam Czartoryski of Poland, who wanted to see an independent, liberal Poland reconstructed to undo the wrongs done to Poland in the Partitions. His sense of honor inflamed, Alexander promised Czartoryski that he would do all he could to aid Poland. Alexander promised to construct the new Poland out of the Duchy of Warsaw plus the Prussian (Posen) and Austrian (Galicia) parts of the Polish partitions, while keeping its part of the partition (Belarus and the Baltic states) for itself. Needless to say, this was not taken well in Prussia (aside from Frederick Wilhelm) and Austria. When Prussia and Austria raised their concerns in 1813, Alexander basically told them that he had the biggest army, so they had to deal with it. In the end, it was agreed that the Polish question would be settled later.

The Polish issue was complicated further by the Russian nobility. They could not comprehend why Alexander would make such a promise. In their minds, Russia did the lion's share of the work in defeating Napoleon, and should be richly rewarded with Polish territory. They did not like the idea of making the Polish state a liberal constitutional democracy either, as it could set a dangerous precedent for Russia. Russian liberals were also upset - if a constitution is good for Poland, why not for Russia?

These complications led to Alexander missing a golden opportunity in Paris in 1814. He stood victorious in Paris, with his Russian army looking invincible. Alexander could have insisted that he would not sign the Peace of Paris ending hostilities until he was given Poland. Metternich was implacably opposed to this, but Prussia was on board, and a jubilant Britain could have been brought to Russia's side. France was irrelevant at this point with no government. However, Alexander messed up his relations with Britain, and was unsure himself what he wanted. Did he want to create a Polish state, or take Poland for Russia? Fearing the wrath of the Russian nobles, Alexander decided to punt, and went back to Moscow to discuss the issue with them before settling the Poland question at the upcoming Congress of Vienna. In retrospect, Alexander threw away a dominant position, when he could have insisted on anything he wanted, before his armies returned to Russia.

Alexander's mercurial personality worried Metternich, Castleraugh, and Talleyrand greatly. They did not see him as part of a stable Europe, and conspired to give Russia as little as possible in Poland, while strengthening Prussia to counter Russia. In the end, Congress Poland was created, and it showed how Alexander could not reconcile his two sides. From the Duchy of Warsaw, Posen was sliced off along with a bit of Galicia to create Congress Poland, which included perhaps half the area of contemporary Poland. Congress Poland was given a Diet (a.k.a. Congress), but in the constitution, it was written that this was a "gift" from Tsar Alexander I. As Alexander became increasingly reactionary in his old age, this gift was gradually rescinded, until he finally annexed Congress Poland in 1830.


Sweden & Norway
 The king of Sweden was Karl XIII, and he obtained the alternate title of Karl II of Norway when Sweden acquired Norway.  Sweden's representative at the Congress of Vienna was Count Carl Lowenhielm.
 Going back a few years, Scandinavia was a minor theatre throughout the Napoleonic Wars.  Karl XIII's predecessor, King Gustav IV Adolf, was passionately opposed to Napoleon, whom Gustav viewed as the Antichrist.  Therefore, Sweden allied with Great Britain in seeking to break Napoleon's Continental System (a trade embargo against the British).  Denmark-Norway was allied with Napoleonic France, and sought to continue trading with France while enforcing the Continental System.  During the Gunboat War, the Danish-Norwegian navy was destroyed, leaving the Danish to impotently attempt to disrupt British trade in Scandinavia using improvised gunboats.
 Following the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807, Russia was allied with France, and Tsar Alexander I insisted on Sweden barring British warships from Scandinavian waters.  Using this as a pretext, Russia launched the Finnish War against Sweden in 1808.  With minor assistance from Great Britain, Sweden had the upper hand in the naval battle with Russia in the Gulf of Finland.  Meanwhile, a combined Danish-French army threatened Sweden on both the Danish and Norwegian borders.  Sweden was forced to divide its army, and the weakened Swedish army in Finland suffered numerous defeats against its Russian counterpart.  With Russian armies at the Swedish-Finnish border, Sweden sued for peace, and ceded Finland.  The incompetent King Gustav IV Adolf took the blame for this disastrous loss, and following a coup d'etat, Karl XIII took the throne.
 At the Congress of Vienna, Norway was added to Swedish dominions.  This was a logical way to reward Sweden and punish Denmark for taking their respective sides in the war.  In addition, strengthening Sweden was another way to contain Russia, and curb the Bear's appetite for Swedish territory.  The Norwegians didn't quite see things this way, and fought for their independence.  With a well-executed land and sea campaign, Sweden crushed Norwegian resistance within two weeks, and the Union between Sweden & Norway was formed, with Norway granted significant autonomy within the union.
 With this history, Sweden's inclusion as a player in the 1815 variant is logical.  Sweden was an independent minor power whose military power was not insignificant.  The power balance between Sweden and her neighbors on the map seems historically appropriate.


Ottoman Empire

The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire at the time was Mahmoud II. Mahmoud II was a reformer who tried to bring the military and local governments under stronger central control. His reforms achieved some success, most notably in the abolition of the Janissaries, who were practically an autonomous military force.

The Ottoman Empire was in a period of decline throughout the 19th century, and earned the monikor "The Sick Man of Europe."  While researching the variant, I was surprised by the degree to which Ottoman control weakened the further one gets from Istanbul (read the Provinces tab for more detail).  The formal Ottoman borders on a map truly were meaningless, and I have tried to reflect the reality of actual Ottoman power in 1815 on the variant map.

On the other hand, the Ottoman Empire was not completely impotent by 1815, and retained a substantive core in Anatolia, Thrace, Bulgaria, and Macedonia.  For example, in the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-12, the Ottomans were able to stalemate the Russian army for over five years, until finally General Kutuzov (the same general who defeated Napoleon) was able to break through and force Turkey to sign the Treaty of Bucharest.  Although the Ottoman Empire lost the war, it was strong enough to fight a war with Russia in which the survival of the Ottoman state was never endangered, and the worst case scenario was the loss of some peripheral territory.  This history indicates that the Ottoman Empire is worthy of a position in the 1815 variant as a minor power (although Turkey's strength in Standard Diplomacy is another story!).


The leader of Egypt in 1815 was Muhammad Ali Pasha (Pasha is a title roughly equivalent to Lord).  Ibrahim Pasha was his son, and was a successful general as well as the successor to Muhammad Ali.
At first, I did not even consider Egypt as a possible player in the variant.  My research into the history of the Ottoman Empire convinced me not only that Egypt certainly should be included, but that arguably Egypt should be included and the Ottomans shouldn't!
In the 18th century, the Ottoman Empire had loose control over Egypt, with a constant power struggle between the local rulers (the Mamluks, a military force comprised of poor Christians, often from the Caucasus, taken from their families at a young age and raised to be soldiers) and Istanbul.  Then in 1798, France invaded Egypt, ostensibly with the intention of helping the Ottomans re-obtain control of the province, but actually with the intention of disrupting British trade and the route to India.  At first, Napoleon was victorious in the Battle of the Pyramids, but then British naval power was brought into play, and the French were forced to retreat.  By 1803, the British left Egypt, leaving behind a power vacuum.  Three forces contended for power in the civil war over the next 5 years: the Ottomans, the Mamluks, and the Albanians.  Previously, the Albanians were a part of the Ottoman force, but they revolted after not getting paid, and became an independent force led by Muhammad Ali.  By 1807, Muhammad Ali's Albanian force emerged victorious, and consolidated their control over Egypt.
 In 1802, the emerging Saudis conquered the holy lands of Mecca and Medina.  This was a huge loss of prestige for the Ottoman Empire.  In 1811, the Ottomans made a deal with Muhammad Ali: Ali would re-capture the Hejaz (Mecca & Medina), and formally acknowledge Ottoman sovereignty over Egypt, although the Ottomans would not dispute his control of Egypt, and would allow him to keep any land he conquered in Arabia.  By 1815, Ali had conquered the Hejaz, and in 1818 Ibrahim Pasha's force razed the Saudi capital of Diriyah to the ground.  Diriyah was never re-built, and remains a ghost city today, with the current capital of Riyadh being built nearby.
 In 1820s, the Ottomans were faced with another challenge: rebellion in Greece.  Unable to quash the insurgents, in 1824 the Sultan again asked for Ali's help, allegedly promising him Crete and Syria in exchange.  Muhammad Ali had spent the last decade gathering military strength by training a professional army in the European manner, and building a high quality fleet with the assistance of French advisors.  With the added strength of Ali's forces, the Ottoman-Egyptian side started to roll back the Greeks.  At this point, the Europeans intervened to aid the Greeks, and Ali's impressive fleet of warships was annihilated at the Battle of Navarino (1827) by a combined British/Russian/French fleet.
 With this defeat, the Sultan refused to cede Syria to Ali.  Furious, Ali rebuilt his forces, and invaded Syria in 1831.  The Egyptian forces routed the Ottomans, and reached Anatolia within a year.  Fearful of both Ottoman collapse and Ali's growing power, the Europeans decided to support Istanbul, and a Russian army was sent south to halt the Egyptian advance.  Peace was negotiated, with the Ottomans ceding control of Syria to Ali.  Ali attempted again to attack the Ottoman Empire in 1839, but was again blocked by European armies, and signed the Convention of London in 1840, which ceded formal control of Egypt to Ali and his heirs.
 Besides his involvement with the Ottoman Empire, Ali expanded his territory into Sennar (modern-day northern Sudan), the Red Sea coast, and eastern Libya.  Without European intervention, it seems clear that Ali would have supplanted the Ottoman Empire, and created a vibrant Islamic power with control of the Middle East. 


The leader of Persia from 1797-1834 was Fat'h Ali Shah Qajar (Shah is the leader of Iran, Qajar is the name of the dynasty).  His son, Abbas Mirza, was the crown prince of Persia, and sought to modernize the military.
During the 19th century, Persia was the focus of much international intrigue, due to Persia's strategic position between the Russian and British Empires.  Historically, areas such as the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Afghanistan have fallen in and out of the Persian sphere of influence.  Persia's power in these regions slowly ebbed in the 1800s, despite her attempts to play the European powers off each other. 
In the Russo-Persian War of 1804-13, Persia thought she had the support of Britain and then France against Russia, but was ultimately betrayed and ended up ceding Azerbaijan to Russia.  In response, Abbas Mirza tried to reform and modernize the army.  Using a minor incident in Persian Azerbaijan as a pretext, Abbas Mirza tested out his new army against the Ottomans in the Turko-Persian War of 1821, and routed the Ottoman force.  In 1828, Persia tried to reconquer the Caucasian areas lost to Russia, and at first made progress as the local khans switched to the Persian side.  However, even the modernized Persian army proved no match for the Russian army, and Persia was forced to sign the humilating Treaty of Turkmenchay, in which Persia was forced to cede more territory in Caucasia and pay an indemnity to Russia.  Generally, Persia followed the same pattern as the other minor powers in this game: strong enough to initially stalemate and then lose to the Russians, before surrendering peripheral territory.