Italo-Turkish War 1911-1912
Italy went to war with Turkey in 1911 and seized the Ottoman occupied Dodecanese Islands in 1912, along with the Paulovian Tylene Islands. These small islands were owned by the Royal Family through marriage to the Greek royal family. Diplomatic protests by Paulovia, Greece and Britain, resulted in the Italians handing back the Tylene Islands to Paulovian civil authorities. However, the relationship between Italy and Paulovia was soured.
The decline of the Ottoman Empire and the nationalistic ambitions of the various Balkan states with their diverse ethnic, cultural and religious divisions, kept the Balkans in constant unrest. All the Great Powers became involved, either directly or indirectly from 1908 to the outbreak of European war in July 1914. The First World War was a defining moment in Paulovian history which strangely ensured the survival of the Principality.
Paulovski Battalion in action 1915
The outbreak of war in the summer of 1914 did not immediately touch Paulovian life within the Principality itself. However, the declaration of war by Germany on Russia on 1st August, 1914, committed Paulovian troops not only to defend family estates in the region but as a diplomatic courtesy to the Tsar for previous favours shown to the Principality.
The Paulovski Battalion was raised from volunteers throughout the Principality, islands and territories, and from resident workers living on and around the family estates in Russia. One thousand officers and men were equipped by the Imperial Russian Army, and financed by the Paulovian treasury. The Paulovski Battalion served on the Eastern Front and took part in the Battle of Tarnow in May 1915 defending against the German offensive. The Paulovski Battalion suffered heavy casualties and were withdrawn from the line by the Paulovian government at the end June 1915.
Italian Front 1915-1918
In May, 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary. The secret Treaty of London promised territorial concessions in the Alps in return for entering the war on the Entente side. Italy subsequently declared war on Turkey in August, 1915, and Germany in August, 1916. The Italians also invoked conditions in the Volturno Accord between Italy and Paulovia, committing the bulk of the Paulovian Army to front line service with the Italian Army in the Carpathian Mountains and along the Isonzo River, from September, 1915. Reluctantly, the ailing Prince Charles I mobilised his small army. Under the ironic title, Volantario Legione (Volunteer Legion), 2,000 Paulovians were again committed to war.
|For two years the Volantario Legione fought with the Italians against the Austrians in eleven battles along the Isonzo River, advancing only ten miles in that time. In the autumn of 1917 the Central Powers launched an offensive with six German and nine Austrian divisions that broke the Italian line at Caporetto on 24 October, 1917. Within three days the Italians had been routed and the Paulovian Volantario Legion along with them. The arrival of British and French troops held the German and Austrian advance. Whilst nearly 300,000 Italian troops were taken prisoner and as many deserted, the remnants of the Volantario Legion joined the British in holding the line. For this act the Volantario Legion gained the respect of the Entente troops and the gratitude of the Italian King. In March 1918 the remaining 900 men of the Volantario Legion left the line for the last time and headed home to the Principality and the islands. Right: Paulovia Volantario Legione flag 1915-18|
Throughout 1916 Paulovian relations with Britain and France became strained over their continued naval blockade of Greece and the hardships caused to the civilian populace of the mainland and the people of the Paulovian Greek islands. King Constantine of Greece abdicated under French pressure and the new Greek government, under Venizelos, made concessions to the Entente powers and entered the war on their side on 27 June, 1917.
Between 1916-1923 the Greek Orthodox population then living in the eastern Black Sea region of Turkey were subjected to harsh treatment by the Turkish authorities. Those that could escaped to Greece. A Paulovian volunteer battalion called the "Tylene 500", sailed to the region in 1918 with noble intent and a desire to help defend the infant Greek Pontus Republic (1917-1919). This action was specifically against Prince Alexander's orders. However, the irregular unit was quickly destroyed by Turkish forces within a week of landing. The divided loyalty of the Tylene Islands led to their transfer to Greece in 1920 in exchange for the smaller and less strategic Andreas Islands. Tylene inhabitants wishing to retain their Paulovian nationality were transferred to their new home.
Left: The "Tylene 500" Irregular force carried this version of the Greek Pontus Republic flag
Revolution in Russia
In March 1917, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia abdicated. In October 1917, the 2nd All-Russian Congress passed the Land Decree which authroised the confiscation of large landowners property without compensation. Within weeks most of the Paulovian family lands, factories and business interests had been siezed in Russia and the first wave of Paulovian diaspora headed for the Prinicipality with as much as they could carry. Merchant ships leased by the Paulovian government ferried several thousand refugees to Paulovian islands in the Tyrrhenian and Aegean Seas throughout the winter of 1917 and spring of 1918.
Right: Russian Paulovian refugees flee revolution 1917
Versailles and the Pontine Treaty
Allies at the Versailles conference, 1919 (photo: National Archives of Canada)
Paulovia attended the Versailles peace conference in Paris as an observer state by virtue of its participation in the war in Italy. The Great Powers included a paragraph confirming the status of the Principality and acknowledged its territorial possesions under international law. The Italian government protested, but in need of finance and assistance to modernise the country, they acceded to agree the territorial integrity of Paulovia.
In a hard negotiated treaty signed on Pontine Island on 4th January 1920, off the coast of Volturno near Naples, Italy agreed territorial rights in exchange for Paulovian international banking services and investment through the offices of the Paulovian government. The Adriatic Amarantine Islands were ceded to Paulovia in return for significant loans and support for Italian claims on Austrian and Hungarian territory not satisfied by the Versailles Treaty.
The Principality of Paulovia had been bloodied by the war with a significant loss of its male population. But its skills as international financiers, global merchants and businessmen, secured the recognition of its neighbour that had been long hoped for, even though much of the mainland estate of Neuvo Volturno was reduced to a coastal enclave by the Pontine Treaty in order to gain Italy's recognition of Paulovia's right to exist. Effectively Paulovia had become a smaller version of Monaco on the Italian coast, but with scattered island possessions. However, danger had not passed as 1920 saw the rise of the Fasci di Combattimento and Mussolini in Italy. Mussolini maintained pressure from 1922 on Paulovia to cede its remaining mainland territory and accept Italian hegemony over the Principality's populace.
Right: Mussolini - architect of Paulovia's loss of sovereignty in Italy