Vanished Kingdoms – Etruria

This chapter in Norman Davies‘ book on lost nations in Europe concerns Etruria, a little statelet in Italy that was set up by Napoleon and the French in 1801 and later un-set it up in 1807 and incorporated it into “Greater France”.  All of this went down when Napoleon fell from power in 1814, of course.

In the previous 5 years before 1801, England, France and Austria had been using the Po Valley as a convenient battleground in their wars.  Without Napoleon, Austria and Russia had made it all the way to Switzerland.  When Napoleon was there, matters were far different, with his armies reaching nearly to Vienna.

After the third campaign in the area, the First Consul decided to shake things up.  Redrawing the map wasn’t a French invention, as it was common for provinces to be traded, swapped, or swallowed up as a result of wars for hundreds of years.  The statelets in the Po Valley were swallowed  up, some into France, some into dependent republics.  On the fringes, he made some changes to try to protect his borders.  The Grand Duchy of Tuscany, ruled by an Austrian Grand Duke, was reconstituted into a Kingdom under the Bourbon Dukes of Parma.  Parma itself was ceded into the satellite republics of North Italy.  The intent was to reduce the use of the port of Livorno by the hostile English and settle down the Italian Front.

While having Napoleon set up a Bourbon King has its ironic side, the Kingdom itself staggered along under its new rulers. The King died and the Queen became regent. One of Napoleon’s sisters used the area as a private playground, building Museums and the like.  In only a few years, though, matters had changed enough that a new settlement of the area was put through.  The Kingdom was abolished, part going to his sister and part being incorporated into France.

When Napoleon fell, the winners set up their own little galaxy of statelets in Italy, which lasted until the Unification in the middle of the 19th Century.

Like Galicia, this chapter seems an odd choice for a chapter.  There are thousands of these kind of states in history. none amounting to much.   I suppose I prefer ones that had a  moment that mattered in history, rather than those that never did or could have.


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