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Literature / A More Personal Union

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In 1560, Francis II was the King of France. His wife, Mary Stuart, was Queen of Scotland. It looked like France and Scotland were settling down into a formal Personal Union—when Francis died under a year into his reign of an infection brought on by a cold. And so, Mary went back to Scotland, and history as we know it happened.

But what if Francis had survived—at least a bit longer? Long enough to produce an heir?


Well, perhaps this.

An alternate timeline on, A More Personal Union details what Francis's longer reign entails. Needless to say, it's interesting for France...

Historical characters who appear or are referenced in the timeline:

  • Francis II, King of France: The eldest son of Henri II and Catherine de Medici. Sickly, weak-willed, and easily-led... mostly.
  • Mary, Queen of Scots: Also Queen Consort and later, Queen Mother of France. Has one child with Francis, a son named Henri after the King's father. Henri is nicknamed "le Cyclope" because he is blind in one eye.
  • Elizabeth, Queen of England: Once Francis and Mary have a son - who has a very strong claim to the English throne - and it becomes clear that the personal union between France and Scotland will endure, she entertains the idea of getting married and bearing her own heirs more seriously than in our timeline. She decides against it, and comes to accept Henri as her Heir.

Provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Augusta, King of Poland.
    • Winifred Shakespeare
  • The Alliance:
    • The Catholic League — Spain, Portugal, Savoy, Tuscany, the Papal States, the Holy Roman Empire, Serbia, and Sweden (which is Protestant, but joins out of Realpolitik).
    • The Grande Alliance — Scotland, England, France, Navarre, the Dutch Republic, and Denmark. Poland doesn't formally join, but does fight alongside them.
    • The Pavian Compact, a defensive coalition of northern Italian city-states neutral in the League/Alliance fighting.
  • Alternate History: As should be self-evident.
  • Amazon Brigade: Red Tiger's concubines.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: While obviously there's something of a mix, the House of Guise seem to be living this trope.
  • Arranged Marriage: One that's happened before the story begins can be said to kick things off, and many more occur as the story goes on.
  • Advertisement:
  • Battle Couple: Winifred Shakespeare and Geoffrey de Bourbon are one. Their son is currently being raised at his paternal grand-uncle's estate, while mom and dad go globetrotting on their mercenary business.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: The Chinese Emperor and his sons kill themselves rather than let Red Tiger take them.
  • Big Damn Heroes: "Men of France! England is here!"
    • France reciprocates when Spain lands an invasion force in England and besieges London.
  • Big Little Brother: Henri of Orleans is this to Charles of Provence.
  • Butch Lesbian: While there are no explicit references to Augusta of Poland having sex with women, she does openly flirt and dance with women.
  • The Caligula: The Red Tiger, upon installing himself as the Emperor of China. Aside from the cannibalism, his first decree is to start purging all "enemies of the people", which he defines as nobles, bureaucrats, scholars, and people who wear shoes. It gets worse from there.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Subverted to hell and back. France doesn't surrender. Not even when facing excommunication, civil upheaval and Spanish invasion. At the same time.
  • The Chessmaster: Francis' mother, Catherine de Medici.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Happens first with young Francis, and then again with his son, Henri III.
  • Cool Old Guy: Englishman John Foxe departs for the New World at the age of fifty-five, tours the Spanish Empire despite the extraordinary danger (England and Spain are enemies), and reports back on the evils of slavery he's seen, writing a book that he publishes at the age of sixty-three that more or less gives England and France the moral high ground in a future war with slave-holding Spain.
  • Decadent Court: The French Royal Court, to a T.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Without warning, Poland rescinds their non-aggression pact with the Holy Roman Empire and declares war on them.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Francis Drake suicide bombing the Spanish Armada.
  • Egopolis: OTL Panama City becomes this after Ferdinand flees to the New World and makes it his capital. Though only its founder calls it by that name; everyone else calls it El Dorado.
  • The Empire: There are several empires (lower-case), but it is Ferdinand's Golden Roman Empire that aspires to be the actual trope, albeit subconsciously.
  • End of an Age: The conclusion of the Great War as the Hapsburgs lose control of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, and the latter loses its northern half to Denmark and Poland.
  • Exact Words/Loophole Abuse: To encourage migrants to Gloriana Elizabeth I decrees that "all who be imprisoned, or bound fast in gaol by debt, or enchained in some other manner, save those who have done murder or treason, [...] shall have their sentences commuted, or their debts forgiven, such that they set foot upon the soil of the New World and dwell there". Notice there is no mention of English prisoners in the decree
  • Eyepatch of Power: Henri III starts wearing one after assuming his throne, embroidered by his wife with the French lily, Scottish thistle and English rose.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "Francois, je vais être avec vous bientôt." ("Francis, I'll be with you soon.") —Mary, Queen of Scots
    • "My body perishes, but my spirit endures. Long have I been married to Lord England, now death divides us. I go first, and he shall soon follow." —Elizabeth I, Queen of England
  • Fictional Document: Many, including:
    • John Foxe's Slavery in the New World
    • Shakespeare's plays (all of them)
    • Thomas Kyd's Tragedy of Themistocles
    • Edmund Marlowe's Massacre at Troyes
  • Final Battle: The Battle of Toledo is this for the Great War. The siege of Madrid by the Alliance afterwards is more a denouncement than anything.
  • Fisher King: Francis II verges on this at times.
  • Foreshadowing: Shakespeare's face is described as beardless, soft and boyish.
  • Freak Out: Francis Drake goes off the deep end when his son is killed, and spends the rest of his life enacting a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on the Spanish.
  • From Bad to Worse: The "foolish seedling" stem rot killed most of China's rice crops. Things started with widespread famine, and quickly progressed to cannibalism, revolts and foreign invasions.
  • Gender Reveal: Winifred "Black Bill" Shakespeare
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Catherine, the Queen Dowager of France and Mary, the Queen Mother of France spend the entirety of their regency locked in a rivalry, jockeying for power. The state of the country is secondary in this contest.
    • Averted by Madeleine, Queen Consort of France and Henri III's wife. She is a Shrinking Violet who would much rather not be involved with politics.
  • Gossipy Hens: The French Royal Court, once again.
    • Jadwiga of Poland.
      "Hedwig knows all secrets and every dalliance at court, and there is not a man who plant his seed in a maid's garden in Warsaw that she does not know it," says the Danish ambassador. "She cares only for rumor and scandal and gossip."
  • Goth: Anasztazia, Queen Consort of Serbia. It doesn't do her any favors among her subjects.
  • Government in Exile: The Golden Roman Empire is this for Hapsburg Spain.
  • The Heretic: Quite a few of them, including Francis II, if you agree with the Pope.
  • Hold the Line: The French do this against the Spanish at the Battle of Orleans, knowing that if they fail, Paris will quickly fall as well. They last long enough for the English to come to the rescue.
  • Ill Boy: Francis II is... not in the best of health.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Ming China in the 1600s gets hit by a famine so hard people are forced to eat each other. Notably, the bandit Red Tiger.
  • The Ingenue: Marie Antoinette, Princess of Wales, much to the displeasure of her husband, Henri Alexandre.
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
    • It's Gloriana, not Virginia
    • It's San Francisco, not Caracas
    • It's Yosei Engoku, not Australia
    • It's Celadon, not New Orleans
    • It's Nouvelle Occitanie, not New Zealand
    • It's the Hercules River, not the Mississippi
    • It's Puerto Foca, not Cape Town
    • It's Melusina, not Tampa
    • Ironically, it actually is Constantinople, rather than Istanbul
    • It's Malagasia not Madagascar
    • It's St. Brendann's, not Amelia Island.
    • It's Drakeshire, not Louisiana.
    • It's Brendanshire, not Florida.
    • It's Carlotta, not Buenos Aires.
    • It's Onakenis'kanata, not Manhattan.
    • It's Skeleton Island not Key West.
    • It's Alexandria not Cairo.
    • It's Ferdinandopolis, not Panama City.
    • It's Puerto Foca, not Cape Town.
    • It's Ivanograd, not Sevastopol.
    • It's Agnessa, not Odessa.
    • It's Brinewater Bay not Lake Pontchartrain.
    • It's the Alpheus River not the Ohio River.
    • It's Kunisagiri not San Francisco. Our San Francisco, anyway.
    • It's the River Elizabeth not the Aptamaha River
    • It's New Hatfield not Neptune Beach.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: A tremendously twisted version in the Chinese bandit Red Tiger. He takes the reform slogan "The nobles must feed the people" to it's extreme logical conclusion, by murdering and eating nobles. He then relinquishes their estates and property to the peasants.
  • Kangaroo Court: The Red Tiger skips straight to the death penalty, saying he'll hold a trial later.
    • During the Mexican Witch Trials, if they even bother giving you a trial, it's already rigged.
  • Kid-anova: Henri Alexandre, the heir to the Valois thrones, is a borderline example. At age 15, he already has an illegitimate daughter.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: When the Alliance invades Portugal as a backdoor to Spain, King Sebastian almost immediately surrenders his vastly outnumbered forces.
  • The Lad-ette: Augusta, as a consequence of being groomed for a male position from birth.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Red Tiger. And how!
  • Mêlée à Trois:
    • The Italian theater of the Great War, as the Pavian Compact is formed to kick both the French and the Spanish out of their territory.
    • The unrest in China during the early 1600s has the Imperial court, a sizable army faction that's gone rogue out of disgust at the court's corruption, Red Tiger's revolutionary army, and the Jurchen invaders (the latter two eventually reluctantly teaming up), as well as numerous smaller groups.
    • The Spanish Civil War has four claimants fighting over the throne, as well as having to deal with an uprising by the Muslim Moriscos.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Francis II's reaction to rumours that his wife has cuckolded him.
  • Name's the Same: Fascism is a political movement centred around the idea of merging the Valois realms for economical purposes. It has nothing to do with totalitarianism or institutionalized racism.
  • Neutral No Longer: Shortly before the Great War breaks out, Poland signs a nonaggression pact with the Holy Roman Empire, but doesn't outright join the Catholic League. Then, more than midway through the war, they stab the Empire in the back, no longer being willing to play second fiddle to the Habsburgs.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Mary and Catherine de Medici don't get along. At all.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, as is typical among royal and aristocratic families. Lampshaded In-Universe, with Henri III, King of Navarre (who also became Henri IV, King of France in our history), becoming known as "Henri l'Autre", or the other Henry, because of an already reigning Henri III who is King of France.
  • Only Sane Man: Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor is the only one to see that another Franco-Spanish war will leave everyone vulnerable to Ottoman aggression. He repeatedly smooths over relations and does everything he can to keep peace. Sure enough, as soon as he dies, war breaks out almost immediately.
  • Outlaw Couple: The Hamilton Cousins.
  • Peace Conference:
    • The Austrian-mediated Treaty of Bordeaux, which ended the First Franco-Spanish War. Aside from bringing hostilities to an end, it also forces Spain to recognize the independence of France's allies in Navarre and the Netherlands.
    • The Livonian War ends with a peace conference at Stetten, wherein a defeated Sweden is forced to acquiesce to Denmark and Russia's demands, giving them both increased hegemony in Northern Europe.
    • There's a formal treaty signing at Pamplona after the end of the Second Franco-Spanish War, though that's just a formality finalizing months of backdoor negotiations elsewhere.
    • After the Great War ends, all of Europe meets at Geneva to hash out peace terms.
  • Penal Colony: Elizabethan America has shades of this.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Elizabeth of England devised the marriage between Madeleine Stanley and Henri the Cyclops to strengthen Henri's claim to the English throne, nothing more. Henri and Madeleine are happy together anyway, probably thanks to them growing up together.
  • Pet the Dog: A crew of Japanese sailors trying to circumnavigate the earth are apprehended by the Golden Roman Empire. The fanatically Christian and fanatically racist Ferdinand releases the Shintoist Asians, apologizes for their capture, repairs their ship, and lets them leave with gifts for their Emperor.
  • The Pope: Several of them play a bit of a role.
  • Realpolitik:
    • Protestant Sweden joins, and is allowed to join, the Catholic League in order to serve as a counterbalance to Denmark.
    • When Denmark and Poland occupy the northern Holy Roman Empire, Emperor Wilhelm lets them annex those provinces outright, as it eliminates their ability to use them to influence the Electors and gets rid of most of his Protestant subjects.
    • Augusta of Poland and Maximillian of Hungary are both experts at this, playing all the other powers of Europe against each other for their own benefit.
  • Regent for Life: What Catherine was for Francis II. Catherine and Mary were also engaged in a power struggle about who would get to be this to Henri III. Henri defies this by staging a coup and throwing them both out of the court.
  • Richard Nixon, the Used Car Salesman: Francis Drake, colonist captain turned revenge-driven crazed pirate, and poet-mercenary captain Black Bill Shakespearenote .
  • The Rival: Ferdinand of Uceda (heir to the throne of Spain) and Henri III of France.
    • Cain and Abel: Ferdinand and Henri are cousins, but close enough.
  • Rousing Speech: These are quite common. Most notably, Francis II's speech at Notre Dame where he founds the Gallican Church, and Henri III's to his men right before the Battle of Toledo.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Lots and lots of kings, crown princes and electors leading military charges.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • When Henri seizes power in Paris, Mary flees to Scotland.
    • As the English-backed slave revolt in Cuba overruns Havana, the Spanish governor leaps from his mansion into the sea, taking his chances with swimming to safety over being captured.
  • Secret Police: The Inquisition Real is this for the Golden Roman Empire.
  • She Is the King: King Augusta of Poland.
    • Augusta now has a daughter, who may be on her way to becoming Jadwiga II of Poland.
  • Shout-Out: Many
  • Sibling Rivalry: Charles of Provence and Henri of Orleans have a certain level of this.
  • Smug Snake: Philip II of Spain, who plots against Francis quite frequently.
  • Spanner in the Works: Francis Drake. Ferdinand worked so hard on that Armada...
  • Start My Own: Francis II decides to pull a Henri VIII and separates the Gallican Church from Rome.
  • Succession Crisis: The death of Queen Ursula of Spain prior to birthing an heir triggers one, leading to four claimants with various levels of legitimacy fighting for the throne.
  • Superweapon Surprise: The Haudenosaunee/Iroquois have managed to pick up some Western technology from some unfortunate Scottish colonists-to-be they captured, and are now planning to run amuck over all of northwestern North America with their Game-Breaker weapons.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Winifred "Black Bill" Shakespeare
  • Take That!: In-Universe, Lope de Vega's Principe de Dinamarca mocks the Danes, with whom Spain is at war, while Thomas Kyd's Tarquinius is aimed at Philip II of Spain.
  • Teen Genius: Henri III is only 13 years old when he stages a coup to take back his throne from his mother and grandmother.
  • The Theocracy: The Most Christian Republic of Naples.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Augusta of Poland and her daughter Jadwiga.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Japanese acquired Western ship-building knowledge, circumnavigated the globe, and are now in the middle of colonizing Australia and eastern North America.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Francis II and Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • The Unfavorite/"Well Done, Son!" Guy: Ferdinand of Uceda has been one ever since his older half-brother Carlos died in battle. In the end, with his last words, his father laments Carlos' death, and how much better a king than Ferdinand he would've been.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Cardinal Charles de Lorraine is quite frequently played by Catherine de Medici.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: With Madrid about to fall to the Alliance, Ferdinand flees to Mexico with his family and loyalists.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Scotland's politics are... interesting.
  • War Is Hell: Every war between France and Spain seems to be worse than the previous one.


How well does it match the trope?

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