Which countries could have realistically moved their capitals in the late 19th or early 20th centuries?

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,806
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#21
In the US Civil War Washington DC was just across he river from Rebel territory at first until they began conquering parts of the CSA. Washington was very heavily fortified to resist possible Rebel attacks. If Maryland had joined the CSA Washington wold probably have had to be abandoned.

If the Civil War ended with a Rebel victory would Washington have been abandoned as the capital and a new capital selected?
 
Likes: Futurist
Jun 2017
2,881
Connecticut
#22
Which countries could have realistically moved their capitals in the late 19th or early 20th centuries? Russia would be an obvious example because its Tsar had absolute power until 1905-1906 and a lot of (albeit no longer absolute) power even after 1906. However, what other countries could have realistically qualified for this?

I mean, Italy moved its capital to Rome in 1870, but would there have ever actually been the desire to move the Italian capital out of Rome and into a different city? Somehow, I strongly doubt it due to the historical importance that Rome had and still has for Italians and also due to the fact that Italy wasn't an absolute monarchy like Russia was.

Anyway, what are your thoughts on this and on this question of mine?
Well important to note that Italy wasn't really Italy in the beginning the same way Germany wasn't really Germany. It was Sardina and Prussia. With the Germans with no ancient universally recognized German capital, today Prussia's old capital is the German capital. While the Italians had Rome which makes for a nice unifying capital, it could have been Turin. But that just reinforces the(accurate) perception that Italy is really the Sardinian Empire not a unified Italy. And seeing the Pope didn't want the Italians in Rome, I'm guessing this scenario would be most likely to pass if the Italians respect the Pope's wishes and do not seize the city.

Interestingly Peter's capital change served a similar function as Rome despite St Petersburg not existing before. Moscow's importance is as the capital of Muscovy which unified Russia, St Petersburg, like Rome, is a neutral capital that isn't associated with the one duchy. This seems to be a relatively common theme for capital changes. The US originally had it's capital in Philadelphia then NYC but both of those aren't neutral sites, they are in individual and important states(which in a Republic is inherently an unfair advantage) so Washington D.C. was created as it's own city for the sake of being a capital.

Civil wars where territory changes hand can also force a countries hand if a capital is occupied or a capital isn't as secure such as we saw with the Chinese civil war.

My opinion is that all countries can change if the purpose is running the government rather than a status symbol for most important city in which case it can't. Logistically it makes sense to have a capital be it's own city rather than just be the most important city. In US states you see a trend where a state has major cities yet the capital is usually in some relatively minor town that's only important because it's the capital. For example in NY you have NYC, capital is Albany. Pennsylvania has Philadelphia yet the capital is Harrisburg. Incredibly neither former US capital is the capital of it's own state.

This trend continues with most other major US cities. In California you have Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose,San Francisco, Oakland.......and the capital is Sacramento. Illinois has Chicago.....capital is Springfield. Florida has Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa Bay, capital is Tallahassee, Texas it's Austin despite Houston, Dallas and San Antonio being larger. You can keep going on and on but the largest city in the US tends to not be the house of government, nor the second for that matter.

By the American practice anywhere can be capital. In Europe(and most of the remainder of Earth) though they don't do things this way(unless forced by circumstance such as the Vichy) and the capital is almost without exception a countries most important center. My guess explanation is since a capital used to mean where a King was located, the fanciest city clearly is most appropriate while in a Republic hosting a state legislature is a different concern. But it's not a practical limitation, they could change the location they just don't want to. One exception I noticed is Turkey where Ankara not Constantinople is capital. The change technically happened when you point out, as the Ottomans had Constantinople I'm thinking that might be symbolic or something.

Per the European/Middle Eastern standard, not the American standard, capitals changed due to a King preferring another location. Examples are Charles IV and Prague and Charlemagne and Achaean. In the Middle East the Assyrian Empire and Persian Empires are great examples of empires where a new ruler could mean a new capital if they want to build their own city. Typically though in Europe capital is the rulers family's original home. Paris is the French capital because the Capetians came from Paris and by the time they came out of power Paris was the only rational location. Before then though the capital was Achaean because Charlemagne liked it. Once absolute monarchy ended like you mentioned, a King's authority to unilaterally change the capital's location died. I think the Tsar would have had that freedom though still.
 
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Likes: Futurist
Jun 2017
2,881
Connecticut
#23
In the US Civil War Washington DC was just across he river from Rebel territory at first until they began conquering parts of the CSA. Washington was very heavily fortified to resist possible Rebel attacks. If Maryland had joined the CSA Washington wold probably have had to be abandoned.

If the Civil War ended with a Rebel victory would Washington have been abandoned as the capital and a new capital selected?
Obviously the US couldn't have helped that DC was close to the CSA border but I've never understood why the CSA thought it was a good idea to make Richmond the capital. If Washington fell, it's more likely the US makes a settlement and the USA gets it back. It would need to occupied for an extended period of time for their to be a permanent change. But if this didn't happen guess it would go back to NYC, because that was the previous location(and Philadelphia would be close to the Confederacy). In the names of keeping the new capital even further away from the border Boston could be a choice(though NYC is quite far for the CSA to have made it even in their wildest scenarios) but NYC seems the logical choice since it was the capital before D.C.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,731
SoCal
#24
Obviously the US couldn't have helped that DC was close to the CSA border but I've never understood why the CSA thought it was a good idea to make Richmond the capital. If Washington fell, it's more likely the US makes a settlement and the USA gets it back. It would need to occupied for an extended period of time for their to be a permanent change. But if this didn't happen guess it would go back to NYC, because that was the previous location(and Philadelphia would be close to the Confederacy). In the names of keeping the new capital even further away from the border Boston could be a choice(though NYC is quite far for the CSA to have made it even in their wildest scenarios) but NYC seems the logical choice since it was the capital before D.C.
Wasn't Virginia the most industrialized part of the Confederacy? If so, maybe that explains why they made Richmond their capital.
 
Jun 2017
2,881
Connecticut
#25
Wasn't Virginia the most industrialized part of the Confederacy? If so, maybe that explains why they made Richmond their capital.
New Orleans was the CSA largest and biggest city. Know they produced the ironclads there, guessing but don't know that it was the industrial heart of the CSA(until it fell). Then again the Union captured that in about a year so maybe that wouldn't have been a great choice.

Don't know why industrial capacity would make a place a good house of government. Another good one by that standard would have been Jackson in Mississippi. Issue with Richmond is it's location and the fact assuming the war didn't end right away the Virginians(who even without West Virginia were technically in the CSA as a show of support to the original 7 rather than cause they wanted to secede on their own) knew the product of that decision would be a bloodbath in that small geographic area. Just don't know why they would have agreed to that. Not sure how Virginia's industrialization compared to other states maybe supply lines was a factor but just under the impression it was the largest and oldest state besides Texas which was a relative baby at this point.

Perhaps a different capital location would have seen much smaller armies like we saw in the West and less bloody battles(Shiloh one of the West's record breakers was nowhere close to the most deadly battles in the East). Seeing the South had less people, fighting a war where the incentive was always for the Union to march a massive army to seize the capital and win the war in one stroke doesn't make any sense from their perspective. A war where the main Union objective was not the capture of Richmond just a few miles from D.C. would have been much harder for the Union to win. Should have been easy regardless but still.
 
Likes: Futurist
Oct 2015
5,221
Matosinhos Portugal
#28
I will give my opinion the alternative capital for me was Coimbra, first has the oldest university in Portugal where
helped the evolution of the Portuguese language.

Today everyone knows that Lisbon is the capital of Portugal. But for many Portuguese consider that the real capital of Portugal is the city of Guimarães was there that was born the kingdom of Portucalense that today is Portugal





Aqui Nasceu Portugal --- Portugal was born here

City of Guimarães
 
Likes: Futurist
May 2019
14
Saint-Petersburg, Russia
#29
. Moscow's importance is as the capital of Muscovy which unified Russia, St Petersburg, like Rome, is a neutral capital that isn't associated with the one duchy
I disagree this idea. To my mind, this is an example of what I've said in this topic before: a one big reason to move country's capital is big social and political changes. So that's what we face while learning Peter I's reign: big changes need to be done in neutral city, far away from center of old aristocracy. Problem that you've mentioned (association with any Duchy) had been solved in 16th century by Ivan IV's reign.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jun 2017
2,881
Connecticut
#30
I disagree this idea. To my mind, this is an example of what I've said in this topic before: a one big reason to move country's capital is big social and political changes. So that's what we face while learning Peter I's reign: big changes need to be done in neutral city, far away from center of old aristocracy. Problem that you've mentioned (association with any Duchy) had been solved in 16th century by Ivan IV's reign.
Well to be fair the other countries in that situation don't typically create neutral cities. Russia and the US have(it's a US staple at every level, build a specific city for governing that is relatively small).

I'm saying that's why Moscow was the capital pre St Petersburg. Muscovy conquered Russia and Muscovy's capital remained until St Petersburg. If some other duchy had unified Russia Moscow would not have been the capital until Peter the Great decided to change it or again during the Soviet era until now. It'd be just another major city. That's what I meant by it being given it's importance by being the capital of Muscovy. Even if the people there or leaders didn't care about that, that's why it was capital, same with Paris or Berlin. Over generations it just became the capital. I was not referring to a "problem" tbh think you're referring to something else, I wasn't referring to any events from Ivan IV's time just why Moscow became capital. Russia is one of the only countries to create a "government city for government city" though. Almost all of the major cities of the old world besides St Petersburg were founded MUCH earlier because almost no one else did that. Italy moved towards an ancient already existing city and the Germans and French kept their non neutral capitals and they became neutral over the passage of time(Berlin much more recently than Paris obviously). Most countries just waited for that association to fade away and if it didn't oh well. Feel Europeans and Asians see their biggest cities as appropriate capitals because it puts on the most impressive show for diplomats and before that because government=King and government city was going to be fancy as a result.

St Petersburg differs from Washington though in that you guys were trying to build an opulent showpiece city, and were replacing the importance of Moscow(in ancient history a lot of examples of this, in modern history it's unique though). Also unique in that most replacement capitals were pretty close to the old ones, cause that was usually the desirable region. St Petersburg was very far from Moscow. Washington was just a neutral site and in the beginning Washington was basically hell on earth(people joke about "cleaning the swamp" well it was literally a swamp). All it's importance comes from history and tourists wanting to see that but it's like the 19th or 20th biggest city or something like that aside from political stuff there's very little to do there and the same is true of most American state capitals. St Petersburg was built as a new neutral capital but it fit the profile of an old one.
 
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