Trans Syldavia 1848

The 1848 Nationalist Spring

Before 1848

A new chapter is to be added to New Byzantium's chequered history, and that is the 1848 Revolts. In 1848 a wave of nationalism swept Europe.

Trans-Syldavia lies east of Syldavia proper, separated by the Syldavian Alps (Stare Syldavna), a part of the larger Dinarian Alps. It was liberated with Syldavia at teh battle of Zhileroum but, being the "wrong side" of the Syldavian Alps was reconquered by the Ottomans over the following centuries. It had a brief period of semi-independence in the late 18th century as part of New Byzantium in the confusion following the 1719 and 1737 Austro Turkish Wars, but after the  settlement after the 1791 Austro-Turkish War it and the the rest of Novo Byzantium was returned to Turkish rule.

However the whole area bacame more self governing, almost independent, and Trans Syldavian troops fought for the Hapsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire in the Napoleonic Wars. After that the region started to smoulder as powerful forces of nationalism were kindled, and in 1848 the fires broke out

1848 and all that

1848 was a year of revolutions throughout Europe. In the Balkans, European Turkey, Russia and the Hapsburg Empire territories were all conglomerates of various central European nations and was among the regions ravaged by insurrections. The so-called Holy Alliance was created by Russia, Austria, Prussia and Britain to guard the old system of monarchies in Europe

But to no avail - in Austria-Hungary from March 1848 through July 1849, the  Hungarians, Slovenes, Poles, Czechs, Croats, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Ruthenians, Romanians, Serbs and Italians, all attempted revolution to either achieve autonomy, independence, or even hegemony over other nationalities. But on March 18, Italian revolutionary nationalists in Milan revolted against Austrian rule, and on the 22nd the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont declared war on behalf of the nationalists in Austria's Italian provinces. A Romanian liberal and Romantic nationalist uprising began in June in the principality of Wallachia, closely connected with the 1848 unsuccessful revolution in Moldavia, it sought to overturn the administration imposed by Imperial Russian authorities.

A bloodless revolution by liberal and radical elements in Pest (Hungary) on March 15, 1848, finally put an end to the continual debates regarding class representation by a Diet (national assembly) that represented only the nobility. 

The territory of 19th-century Hungary included the entire Carpathian basin, but less than half of the population spoke Magyar as their mother tongue — the other ethnic groups spoke a variety of Slavic languages, Romanian or German. Those ethnic groups set out on the road to modern nationhood almost simultaneously with the Hungarians, and although they welcomed the achievements of the revolution, the Balkan peoples - Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Romanians, Slovaks, Trans-Syldavians and others - soon started to demand autonomy themselves. Their ambitions were not appreciated by the Hungarian politicians, who did not tolerate political autonomy for any other ethnic groups while seekingtheir own. 

Believers in Greater Serbia also saw this as an opportunity to consolidate their aims and already looked forward to acquiring Bosnia (37.1% Serb), Herzegovina (37.9% Serb), and Montenegro (32.0% Serb). But some supporters of Greater Serbia also threw in acquisition of the northern part of Albania (less than 1% Serb) as another desirable goal for Serbian acquisition, not so much because of any ethnic link, but rather so that the Greater Serbia would have ""access to the sea". And others of course had their eye on Trans Syldavia.

The Habsburg Imperial court took advantage of this situation, inciting the various national movements to revolt against the new Hungarian government and supporting their efforts with promises of money, arms, troops and future greater independence.
The first uprising within Hungary was launched in June 1848 by ethnic Serbs living on the southern border, who received support from Serbian frontier guards and armed volunteers. On September 17, the Croatian governor, Colonel Josip Jellacic, attacked Hungary. Then, in October, the Romanians living in Transylvania began an armed revolt against the Hungarian community.

Trans Syldavia in 1848

New Byzantium, in common with many semi independent Balkan principalities under Turkish rule, was slowly re-gaining a form of nationalism, but the 1848's event proved too compelling for the ambitious Grand Zupan of Trans Syldavia, who saw an opportunity to increase his personal power, prestige and wealth from the Austro-Hungarian civil war.

But, while trying to become free of the Ottomans (and Byzantines) he also wanted to avoid being sucked into the whole “Greater Serbia” idea. While there had been Serbs within Trans Syldavia for centuries, they were yet another group alongside the polyglot other races in Trans Syldavia, and the majority - the Syldavians - themselves did not want to replace one foreign ruler's boot with another.

This then set the Trans-Sylavian preferred course – a revolt against Hungary, but not too much, in support of general Pan Balkan ideals, while taking Austrian money to recruit forces and building relationships with Austria to try to ensure protection from any future Serbian or Hungarian ambitions

The Gaming

We wanted to play a 19 th century period that was different, preferably for big skirmishes and small battles, a limited buildout to about 120 figures each.  We didn't want t do napoleonics or Colonials or 1870. My friend Janos, being Hungarian, wanted to play an Hungarian force, and 1848 suggested itself for all the other reasons above, plus being very colourful, and I had some lead lying around in boxes already - I had some generic Turkish & Balkan troops, plus a few French Zouave types so the obvious area to game was the Serb-led Balkan revolts against the revolting Hungarians. As my figures were generic for the area and not pure "Serbian", I invented a small imaginary fairly mixed Balkan principality whose troops (oddly enough) had just the sort of variety of uniforms my figures did, a blend of Turkish and Balkan fashions. Tintin's Syldavia was set in the right region, it had the sort of ethinicity I required, and so Trans Syldavia was born.

The Forces

We started off playing small skirmish games with a few figures using skirmish rules liek Songs of Drums and Shakoes, increasing the scale of the games as we built up forces, until now we are playing major battles under Black poweder

The Trans Syldavian Forces available for the 1848 revolt are (in declining quality):

-  The Zupan's Guard Zouaves
-  The Trans Syldavian Grenz (Border) Guard Regiment
-  The Zupan's Huszar Regiment
-  Attached Trans Syldavian Artillery Batteries
 -  Two battalions of the local Trans Syldavian First Infantry Regiment
-  One batallion of the Trans Syldavian Second Infantry Regiment 
-  Trans Syldavian City Militias and Gendarmes
-  Local bashi bazoukhs/bandits/peasants/mountain men/etc
- Volunteer Free Companies from Syladavia, New Byzantium, etc

Janos' Hungarian Forces are:

- Don Miguel Line Infantry Regiment
- 14th Szekeler Grenz Infantry
- 15th Szekeler Grenz Infantry
- Jager companies
- Honved (hastily raised troops)
- Squadrons from 2 Hussar Regeiments
- 6pdr battery guns