In Europe, as the Austrians' fortunes declined despite becoming the Holy Roman Emperors, a shrewd Habsburg from a junior line decided to invest heavily in steam power and material philosophy. Great advances were made, and material philosophers flocked to Vienna to seek the emperor's patronage. One of the most important was the harnessing of electric power, so named by its Hungarian discoverer. Then the Austrians browbeat their longtime enemies the Czechs into an alliance, using their steam-powered war machines to back their threats. A small town on the Austrian border was destroyed utterly by steamwalkers and geared artillery to prove their strength. This incurred general hatred of the Austrians among the Czech population, but they buckled down and did as the Emperor commanded. Now unencumbered by the Austrian threat, Czech forces moved into Silesia and kept going, overrunning Poland and much of central Germany as Austria consolidated its claims to Hungary and much of the Balkans, defeating the Ottoman Empire in three set-piece battles despite being vastly outnumbered.
Spies relayed these advances throughout Europe, and one result of this was the invention by Brandenburg of the zeppelin or airship, adding aerial warfare to the possibilities in the coming struggle for Europe. Britain, being an island which could only be invaded by sea or air, adding to their formidable naval defenses the Royal Aeronautical Forces (RAF) to repel any attack. The Muscovites explored the strange new field of magnetism, seeing a way to link vast swathes of Siberia with electromagnetic railroads.
None save the Ottomans knew what was going on in the vast plants along the Persian Gulf, which belched black smoke day and night and sometimes in Media, just across the Gulf, strange machine parts washed up, often shaped like human limbs or bodies, filled with gears and tubing.
France was the next to arrogantly challenge upstart Austria, demanding they leave Switzerland and the Rhineland. Austria refused of course, and battles raged for weeks at a time, men dying in droves, until Austria, realizing the futility of this plan, developed the novel military tactic of using zeppelins to land soldiers in Paris and at one blow shatter the French resistance. French splinter states still existed in Aquitaine and Normandy, although. Habsburg Spain occupied the south of France, despite having done no fighting. Then the Habsburgs struck at Italy, again splitting it with the Austrian branch gaining the north and the Spanish line the south, and Sardinia and Corsica. Then the rest of Europe- the French remnants, Portugal, Denmark-Norway, Sweden, Muscovy, Ukraynya, Karelia, Brandenburg, and Britannia- all declared war on Austria. The United Provinces' position would have become too untenable if they joined the coalition, but British troops rode to the Continent in Dutch hulls flying British flags.